Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Mom's Reflection

Dear D,

      You are the absolute light of my life, sweetie. Yesterday was your very first birthday and I was so proud and happy to watch you cheerfully playing with your new toys, interacting and flirting with everyone, enjoying every second being the center of attention. It was just an amazingly joyful experience to watch you.

       During these past 12 months I have watched you change so much and develop this incredible little personality that I learn more about with each passing day. You're so full of unbridled enthusiasm and every time you learn some new skill - crawling, walking, pointing - I find myself feeling so excited for you because it gives you a new way to explore this world you never seem to tire of.

      I won't tell you it was always easy. Colic, sleeplessness (yours and mine), teething, sickness - we've been through it all, buddy. While I still don't always have as much as I need, you have taught me the virtue of patience in ways that no one else ever could. You have reminded me of what it is like to be a child. You have made it so that everything old is new again. There have been many nights where I actually want you to stay awake past your bedtime because I will miss you if you go to sleep. (Luckily for everyone, common sense always prevails over that temptation.)

    My favorite moments of every day this past year, the one I will never forget even though no photos or videos exist of it, are those that happen when I bring you into bed with me in the mornings to cuddle, nurse and (hopefully) fall back asleep for a little while longer. So many of those times I have stared at your sleeping face in the crook of my arm, taken a mental snapshot, and said to myself "I have never loved anyone or anything more in my life than this little creature right here."

    My darling, sweet, baby boy, this year with you has been a gift. I love watching you turn into a little boy, and I will love watching you grow into a man. I promise you I will continue to do my best every day to make sure that your life is full of love, affection, and support as you grow up and make sure you have the tools you need to do well in this crazy, unforgiving, and complicated world.

    I love you more than words, D. Happy Birthday.


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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Still Dumbstruck

I am still absolutely dumbstruck by the events of 6/1. For those of you who haven't heard on the news, an EF03 tornado ripped through western MA in a 39 mile path of sheer destruction. I have family and friends in every single affected town and city, and the tornado missed them all by as little as a half mile and my house by about 8 miles. By sheer dumb fucking luck, we were all either just to the south or north of the tornado's path.

My former stomping grounds from my teenage years are all but totally leveled. People have lost everything. Again, by dumb fucking luck, only 4 people were killed. One of them, a mother, was killed when she acted as human shield over her 15 year-old daughter as their house came down on top of them. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about it.

I've seen many people on the news and on Facebook talking about how they prayed for God to spare them and their homes, and how it was a "miracle" they came through unscathed. I am amazed at the cognitive dissonance that belief requires. It has taken all of my self-control not to ask - do you somehow think you prayed harder or had more faith than the people who lost everything? Do you think you deserved to be spared and those affected didn't? How can you possibly believe in and justify the actions of a god who would do something like that?

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure that if my house had been in the path and I was forced to take cover in the basement, shielding my baby from flying debris, glass, and mother nature's blind-ass fury, you'd probably catch me, an Atheist, praying my ass off too. I think that's just human nature in the face of impending doom - not necessarily praying to a god, but to anything, everything that might be listening - even the tornado itself - "Please Mr. Tornado, please spare my baby, I am BEGGING you PLEASE!" - throwing your will and desperation out there to the universe and hoping it sticks somehow.

But then if you ARE spared, if you are one of the lucky ones, how can you possibly sit there and say, out loud no less, that "God" saw fit to save YOU because he heard your prayers somehow over the prayers of thousands of others praying just as feverishly and desperately as you?

I am dumbstruck by all of it. The destruction, the violence of it, the terror I went through calling my family members and saying "There's a tornado heading straight for your house!!!!!" while I'm watching the shit happen on the news. Being in a panic the entire rest of the evening with every rumble of thunder, every flash of lightning, a yellow-orange foreboding sky above - the whole time saying to myself "But this shit doesn't happen HERE! Not HERE!!!"

And I've been having nightmares about it ever since. As someone who truly loved thunderstorms my entire life, I don't think I will ever see them the same way again. Ever.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nature? I Forfeit.

Fucking tornadoes now? Really? REALLY?????

I bought formula at this grocery store at 1pm yesterday. I bought some booze at this liquor store around 1:30pm. This photo was taken around 5pm:

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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nature 2. JLK 0.

My loyal readers might remember the last time I tried to take on nature at our new house. It didn't go so well.

And it's only getting worse. In fact, I am looking forward to winter and it's only just Memorial Day. And I used to LOVE summer.

It got pretty hot around these parts pretty quickly. I was happy for the nice weather, but we don't (yet) have air conditioning in our house so the nights have been steaming hot on the 2nd floor. We've been forced to open the windows at night, knowing that the shitty screens were going to let some bugs in. And so for the last week or so, my house has been damn-near infested with every little creepy crawly you can imagine.

Then, on friday, we found ourselves having a pretty serious carpenter ant problem, especially in the living room. But even then I was okay, because I can kill ants, I'm not scared of them, and my husband all but eradicated the problem when he got home from work that same day.

Today we had all new windows installed in the house. We've been counting down the days for a month, so we were pretty excited. Every single window in the house is open right now and I am enjoying the bugless fresh air. Except for two nagging things:

1. One of the window guys felt the need to tell me that on one of the 2nd floor storm windows there was a big ass spider with fangs that jumped off the house before he could kill it, and...

2. The thing about new windows is, in order for them to install them they have to take the old ones out. Which means that for at least a few minutes, there were gaping holes in the house. So for most of the afternoon I have been killing MORE bugs and spiders and only keeping myself from losing my shit by telling myself that this is the end, these are the last bugs that are getting in here.

But the absolute KICKER today was when I headed out through the garage to go see the progress of the install. I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye and noticed a 6 FOOT LONG SNAKE dangling from the side wall of the fucking garage, trying to slither its way on top of the now-open garage door. I freaked the FREAK out.

A got the thing down and out of the garage, probably injured it in the process, and laughed at me for being such a chicken shit when we used to have a pet snake. But a snake in a cage that you raised from the time it was a baby and a wild snake from the woods that you don't know from Adam are two different things.

Either way I thought it was over.

Late this afternoon I noticed the garage door was still open. "Gee honey, I wonder how the snake got IN the garage in the first place????" I decided that since it had been open for so long, I should probably go out and check to make sure the snake hadn't returned. I didn't make it 3 feet in before I noticed a giant-ass snake skin hanging from the crawlspace above the interior entry door. I'm pretty sure it wasn't there last night. I'm also pretty sure it wasn't there this morning. Hubby isn't home to check it out.

I am now at the point where every time I go outside, I feel like Owen Wilson in Behind Enemy Lines - under constant fucking attack from creatures all around me. Bugs fly into my head, mosquitoes bite me, bees screw with me, spiders somehow decide that my yard isn't big enough and they need to come investigate ME. I've gone from telling my husband not to use pesticides in our yard at all, to saying "Spray that shit until it glows in the dark for all I care, just get rid of the fuckers!" Irresponsible and selfish? Yeah, probably. But I'm developing phobias left and right here.

So much for my gardening and landscaping plans. I have an awesome Yankee Doodle lilac to plant but I can't bring myself to go outside long enough to dig a hole.

This summer is going to suck. :(

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

It's Always Something

I've been away for a bit longer than normal, barely having time to read and comment on your pages. My Grandpa's death was like a 12 day event, with family flying in and staying with us and subsequent visiting with others who stayed elsewhere. I've also been working on planning D's first birthday party in June, which has turned into a minor clusterfuck because apparently everyone either waits until the last minute to rsvp or doesn't rsvp at all, which REALLY pisses me off.

But beyond all that, I'm feeling pretty beaten down in general. The absolute deadline for the bathroom renovation is the baby's party, which is less than a month away. That means that every single day, all day, I am by myself with D while A is at work. And when A gets home, we eat dinner, and then he goes to work on the bathroom until bedtime. So I am by myself with D all evening as well. For the past few weeks he seems to think that whining and temper tantrums over stupid shit are just the Awesomest way to spend time with Mama.

The first person among my friends to have a baby now has 2 of them, and the oldest is 5. A couple of years ago I asked her, "So how's motherhood?" At the time she still only had one.

She said, "It's pretty good. Once you realize and accept the fact that your kid is an asshole, it gets much easier. Because up until that point you constantly ask yourself what you're doing wrong and how can you fix it and it makes you crazy. But kids are assholes, and more often than not it has nothing to do with you."

I thought it was a pretty amusing thing to say and of course, back then, I didn't understand. Now, I do.

"Hi, my name is JLK, and my son is an asshole." *sigh*

I've realized it, but I haven't yet accepted it. Even just typing that sentence makes me cringe and itch to delete it and write something nicer. But that would be sugarcoating and I hate sugarcoating.

Everything right now feels like a struggle. Bedtime is a struggle. Diaper changing is a battle of wills. Changing his goddamn clothes is an exercise in futility. Keeping the child from eating the cat food, dumping their water bowl, or trying to explore the litter box makes me feel like Sisyphus, only instead of pushing a boulder up a mountain, I'm dragging a toddler across a tile floor.

It has only been getting harder.

He took his first steps the day before he turned 11 months, and hasn't shown any interest in walking since. This child is 24lbs and has weighed over 20lbs since he was 5-6 months old. I am so freaking tired of carrying him all the time that I could scream. He doesn't hang onto me to help with the weight - instead he leans over, flops around, and makes it as difficult as humanly possible. My upper body looks like Vin Diesel's right now.

There is so much going on, so many things I need to do, and I am losing my ever-loving mind over here.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Here's The Thing...

When you have kids, your shit just doesn't matter. And that can be a hard thing to take.

For example, if today you find out (through EMAIL!) that your grandfather died last night from a heart attack, your baby does not know or understand that your day has gone to shit.

So you must suck it up, ignore your sadness, bite back your anger about the email part, make the phone calls you were asked to make, nurse your son, soothe him when he cries, deal with his temper tantrums.

And none of it can be made about you. None of it. Because it's not ABOUT you anymore, ever, until your child is grown up and finally sees you as a another adult. And by that time, I'm guessing, most of us have learned to cope with our shit in silence and behind closed doors.

Cheers, Grandpa. I love you and I will miss you. I thank you for teaching me about gardens, orchids, birds, and woodland animals. I thank you for watching my fashion shows and looking at my home designs. I thank you for your patience and loving acceptance. As an American, I thank you for your service and sacrifice in the Navy during WWII. I'm sorry I didn't visit more. I'm sorry I didn't listen more. I'm sorry that I just never seemed to have time. I hope that you forgive me. May you rest in peace.

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

If Only

There needs to be a place where, on those days, you can just drop your child (or children) off and know that he or she is in very safe, capable hands until whenever you decide to return.

Image taken from Hollands Jewelers Blog

You know what I'm talking about - a place you can put them when you're seriously on the verge of losing your shit. Where you don't have to call first. You just show up with your frazzled self, hand off the little brat, and come back to pick them up whenever you're feeling better.

I started thinking up some names for such a place:

"Mental Health Day"care

The Sanity Asylum

The Sanity Sandbox

Take a Penny, Leave a Suzie

The Kiddie Kennel

Minor Retreat

The Rest Stop

Whine to Wine

Yes, JLK is being kind of an asshole right now. It's been one of those days and I won't lie, I was fantasizing about what it would be like to have the ability to drop D off somewhere and be like "I'll be back in a few days" and head off to the shore or something for some peace and fucking quiet.

An accurate representation of what my day would have looked like. If I had earplugs.

Please don't get me wrong. I love my son dearly. But today was a nonstop whine- and shriek-fest and I thought my head was going to explode when it was barely 2pm. I kept coming back to the same thought: "When your baby has colic, you tell yourself 'He's just a baby, it's not his fault, it's his only way of communicating.' But at what point can you comfortably acknowledge that he's just a brat sometimes? 11 months? 2 years?"

When does it become okay (in your own head or otherwise) to be like "Okay, kid. Now you're just being a douchebag"?

And I was also thinking what a better place this world would be if moms could go to a neighbor (or anyone else they know and trust, for that matter) and say "I'm about to lose my shit. Can you please take this child before I sell him in exchange for a bus ticket to Hoboken?" and feel okay about it. Feel like a better parent for recognizing her limits and taking a break when needed. Feel like it's okay to take a moment (or 10) for yourself every once in awhile.

As I put D down to bed tonight, my final thought was this:

"Fuck, would it be nice to paint my toenails in the middle of the day again."

Ooooh. If only........

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