Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Mother of the Year

Today I am being completely obnoxious, and am awarding myself
Mother of the Year.
 I am giving myself this award for Showing Kindness Where It Is Not Deserved, for Sucking It Up and Taking The High Road, for Infinite Patience in Circumstances I Thought I Would Never Find Myself In (I know, I know. It's "in which I would never find myself". Whatever.).

Is this my first time being awarded Mother of the Year?  Oh no.  I've been nominated and awarded this to myself many times over the years.

Those long nights, pacing the floor, swaying, patting, shushing, and nursing on very little broken sleep. Enduring countless episodes of baby spit up for five months straight.  Finding a job to support my beautiful babies after my husband financially devastated us, then left me.  That one time I had my sick two-year-old (and his ten-month-old brother) at the doctor's office and she very sweetly told me I would be going home, packing an overnight bag for my son and for myself, and to take him to the children's hospital.  He had pneumonia, and I "slept" next to him through the night while the IV worked it's magic.  Those long days of teething and tantrums.  The times during the public meltdowns of one or both toddlers, when I would smile at onlookers and say, "Don't forget your birth control!" and scoop my little ones up to go home for a nap...

Today is different though.  My boys are a bit older, so the things that require more of me have changed. This time, my oldest declares he wants me to teach him how to bake a cake. I am thrilled! We used to bake together often when they were toddlers and loved it!  The past few years find me pleading for them to work with me on cupcakes or cookies.  They sort of start to help me out, but get distracted and wander off, leaving me to do the work.  They just want me to let them know when the treats are ready. That's just not as much fun for me.

But Julian wants to learn to bake on his own, and I excitedly tell him he is certainly old enough. Then he explains he wants to make a cake for his dad and his bride-to-be.  As a gift.  His brother wants to make his own, also. Ah.

Ok. So we are making cake.  Yes, I will teach them, but their cake must be all their own.  And while at Target, I show them all the pretty wedding cards.  I ask if they want to pick one out to congratulate their dad and his fiancĂ©. They do! They each choose just the right one.  Then they choose a gift card for them.  Look at me, being the bigger person! I mentally pat myself on the back.

This may be normal for some divorced families, but certainly not over here. This is all very groundbreaking. I mean, it was only a decade ago that I was huge and round and nearing the delivery of my firstborn.  Had someone whispered in my ear that before my child's tenth birthday, I would be married to someone else and helping my boys choose a wedding gift for their dad, no way would I have believed it.  Their father barely speaks to me. Ever.There are no kindnesses extended, nothing like that. I am always biting my tongue, taking the high road, doing what's best for my children.

So we now have made all the cakes.  We choose and buy frosting. Now we need boxes to transport them in. Then Julian wants a small bride and groom to top his cake. It's hard to find anything at a reasonable price. We try to get creative. We are in a time crunch. I've spent much of my time and energy on helping each boy bake their very own cake.  And frost. And the dishes. And he really, really wants a bride a groom for his cake. I am so over the whole cake thing.  But this is important to my child.  And in a year from now, what's going to matter most? So my child gets the bride and groom that he wants (I feel a teensy bit better when I find a coupon for it).  He is happy.  That's really all that matters.

The boys both did beautiful jobs with their cakes. They are so proud to discover how capable they are. It shows in their faces.

 Knowing I helped each child create and give the gift they wanted to their father makes me a better mother.  I left all pettiness aside, because this isn't about me or my ex. It's all about the boys.

So for all the single parents, divorced parents, step parents, working parents, at-home parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and guardians.  For all of those moments when you Sucked It Up and Took The High Road, Held Your Tongue when you wanted to say something snarky, Did The Right Thing even though it wasn't fair, Kept It To Yourself for the sake of your children, and Acted Out Of Love for the sake of your beautiful babies, I also award you Mother of the Year.
Now pat yourself on the back. Hug your babies, no matter their age. No reward could possibly be greater.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bicycle! Bicycle!

I was the only one in my family of five without a bike to ride.

Until today.

Riding my bike when I was younger was fun. I had an orange Huffy with a banana seat. It had a white plastic basket with various colors of plastic daisies decorating it. My friends and I would ride around the neighborhood, toting our favorite little things in the baskets, and occasionally falling and skinning our knees.

As a mom, I now watch my children conquer their fears and experience the freedom that comes with mastering the skills of riding a bike. They all pretty much have the bike thing down, even Julian, my reluctant bike rider. He is nearly ten years old and just yesterday finally admitted how much fun he's having. He is also nursing a skinned and bruised elbow, but I don't think it will deter him.

My hubby is so stoked for us to go bike riding together as a family. He has been anticipating this since the day we said "I do" in our new home together.  After four summers of hard work, falls, skinned elbows, tears, encouragement and frustration, we finally have all three kids comfortable and confident on their bikes. Only one thing was missing: a bike for me.

After searching Craigslist and various stores, we go to Target to find a bicycle for me- my first in over twenty years. I know what style I want: what I call an "old lady bike".  One with a lower, wide seat (for my sort-of wide seat) and higher handle bars.  Hubby says I need gears. I joke about wantng a basket with a puppy inside. With those criteria, we check out a few of the selection.

And then he sees it.

And then I see it.

It's the style I want.

It is an obnoxious shade of pink.

With flowers.

And fenders. Fenders!

And a basket.

Hubby gets it down for me and I try it out. The front part of the seat is tilted bizarrely upward, but I look and am convinced it can be tilted down.

The ten-year-old me is giddy with excitement over the possibility of going home with this bike. The thirty-something mom me wonders if I should choose something more...dignified. If that's a word one would ever use to describe a bicycle.

My husband spots a different bike. It is definitely a more subdued color- a deep, matte plum. The seat is smaller, and it has shocks, which kind of freak me out as I hop on to feel it out. The handle bars aren't quite where I would  like them, but Batman shows me how they can adjust.

Both bikes have their pluses and minuses.  The "practical" one is more expensive.  I worry about my tendency to choose impractically based on what's pretty or sparkly. Straddling the ridiculously pink bike, I ask Batman if I will look silly riding this one.

"Yes", he says, without hesitating.

He is smiling, but he voices his honest opinion.

And then it happens.

A gentleman about a generation older than me walks by, sees me straddling the Ridiculous Pink Bike, smiles, and says:

"That thing come with a bell?"

He laughs. Batman laughs. I laugh.

I bury my head in my arm, laughing, turning red. I am simultaneously amused and embarrassed. I am mentally transformed into the young teenager who was cruelly teased so often for everything and nothing at all.  Still laughing and still embarrassed, I tell Batman I will get the other bike. The sensible-for-a-thirty-something-mother-of-three bike.

"That really did it for you?" he asks, amused.  "That really cinched your decision?"

I nod. I once again try out the practical bike. I'm not convinced the handle bars can be adjusted the way I want. And I'm frowning.

And then I know.

I look my husband in the eyes and tell him I am nearly forty years old and I don't care what anyone thinks- I will ride whatever bike I want. I will ride around our neighborhood on whatever bike makes me happy. And today that bike is Ridiculously Pink and has a basket and fenders.

And it makes me happy.

My husband smiles at me.

"That's my girl."

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Scared the daylights out of me!

It's February.  But it's also Kentucky, so it rained overnight.  In the wee hours of the morning, an enormous BOOM! woke me from my sleep.
Heart pounding, I sat up in bed.  A few low rumblings followed as I waited to hear small footsteps approach my bedroom. The steps never came, no knocking on my door. I fell back to sleep to the dripping of the rain, but no more thunder.

A few hours later, the cloudy day greeted my family.  I asked Gabriel if he even heard the giant, loud BOOM! of thunder.  Surprisingly, he did. He said he had thought about coming to my room, but decided he would just cover his head with his pillow if he heard another.  

"It was SO loud", I said. "It scared the daylights out of me."

Gabriel replied, "You mean the night lights, Mom. It scared the night lights out of you. Cause it happened during the night."

Ah, yes.  That's what I meant.

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Post, Chicken Host!

Remember that joke from when you were a kid that goes like this-
"Guess what?"
"That's what, chicken butt!"

Well Gabriel has learned this joke much sooner than I learned it.  Like all jokes, it was cute the first time.
This has now morphed into an entire lifestyle for Gabriel.
And us.
Every. Single. Answer. from Gabriel now goes like this:

"No fair, chicken hair!"
"What, chicken butt?"

"I don't know, chicken toe."

"But why, chicken thigh?"

"That's fine, chicken spine."

"Guess who, chicken poo?"
"Why not, chicken spot?"

"Go fish, chicken wish."

"Ugh, chicken thug."

"Yes, chicken mess."

"No thanks, chicken spanks."

"No fair, chicken hair!"

"No it's not, chicken snot."

"Goodnight, chicken fight."

That's the end, chicken friend.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Live long and...what?

Oh my.
It seems I've been complete negligent in my blogging.
The adventures of our summer, going back to school, and winter break have all been relegated to several fleeting Facebook updates.

I wanted more than that.

School is going well for the kiddos.  Gabriel managed to break his arm at the school skating night.  Frankly, I'm surprised it took him seven years before he wound up in a cast. He handled it all beautifully, and I'm impressed by how quickly he adapted to life as a southpaw for awhile.

All three children have recently lost grandmothers.  Maddie's mom recently married and the boys' dad has moved. Again.  After seven years, he finally has a place of his own.  Batman and I continue to strive to be the constant in their lives.  It's important to us that even with the frequent changes that happen in their other households that we keep our routines, maintain stability, and try to be the balance they need.  He and I both struggle with how things are handled with our exes (regarding the children, that is.  After all, they are the only reason we still have to interact with them).  We address things when needed, and just do our best for our children in our home.  I am learning that much of co-parenting is knowing when to speak up and know when to let it go.  It's hard, because we love our children more than anything in the universe, and we only want the best for them.

We have a newish bedtime routine.  For the first time in my boys' sweet little lives, I am required to check for monsters under the bed.  There never are any monsters.  What they don't know is they should be afraid of what's really under the bed.
Cat hair. Dust bunnies.  Random Lego pieces.  Stray blankets.  Pennies. Paper scraps. Stuffed animals who have either lost their way or are diving for cover.
And they have to see me check under the bed.  There's no convincing them I peeked real fast while they weren't looking.
Then there's the Spock thing.  I have to make the Vulcan hand sign thingy, and pronounce, "May The Force be with you."
Yes, my boys have combined their Star Trek and Star Wars geekiness.
I have added "Live long and prosper." while I do the Spock thing.
It just feels right.
Then I wish The Force with them. Especially for good dreams.
Then I blow them each kisses.  Gabriel requires an even number of kisses.  Just because.
I remind them a thousand times to whisper!
I wish them good dreams again. I tell them I love them.
Then I tell Gabriel "I love you bunches and bunches".
Just so he can reply, "I love you one bunches more."
Sigh.... I just love my boys.