Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Want to play dance ball?

One of my favorite things to do as a mom is eavesdrop on my kids when they’re playing nicely and using their imaginations to create their own fun.  The day before school started back for my big second grader I overheard him ask my soon-to-be-kindergartener, “Hey, do you want to play dance ball?”  In turn, she curiously asked him what that is.  He went on to say, “We take turns dancing, and if the person who’s the watcher doesn’t like the dance, they get to throw a ball at the dancer.” 

While it sounded like a rollicking time to me, it was hard for me to refrain from putting the kibosh on this game as I feared it would end badly, but I held my tongue and chose to spy on the game from afar unbeknownst to them.  I justified this, because the ball that “the dancer” was being pegged with by “the watcher” was one of those virtually weightless ball pit balls.  While I have a rule of no throwing things in the house, I let this slide.  After all, it was the last day of summer break, and there was no arguing going on & no one was crying yet.

You’re probably reading this wondering where exactly this story is going and anticipating a bad ending involving some sort of sibling rivalry just like I was as I played Nancy Drew in the corner; however, I am proud to announce that my kids played nicely whilst dancing, judging each other’s moves, and fairly taking turns hurling a ball at one another.  Also, I’m proud to announce that I let them proceed.

I have a tendency to be an overprotective, overbearing, over the top sort of mom.  I wish I could put my kids inside one of those large inflatable hamster balls for humans and let them roll the earth and the halls at school as opposed to traversing on their own two feet with their ceaselessly bruised shins.  I think it’s okay to think this way, but as they get older I am learning that I have to let them grow and let them go.  GULP.

The following day after the nice game of dance ball I drove my son to school all of 2.23 miles for his first day, because of course, I’ve deemed the bus no longer safe even if the ride is only 2.23 miles and he rode it for nearly two years.  After some issues on the bus, Mama Bear was done with her cub being bullied, punched in the crotch, and getting into trouble for fighting back on a bus with a driver who’s unfortunately too focused on maintaining a tight schedule that there’s no time to manage behavioral issues properly.  I mean I do want grandkids, and I do want to feel like my child is in good care when he gets on that thing.  He was consistently being seated by fifth graders in the back that he started to emulate and was seeing who knows what back there.  I vividly recall my thirteen years as a bus rider, and while I have some fond memories, I had some experiences that I don’t care for my son to be exposed to just yet (or ever).  Again, I’ll be the first to tell you how flawed and overbearing I am (my poor kids), and if your child rides a bus I’m sure it’s safe and you’ve made a sound decision.  I’m just an overprotective freak fed up with the issues on my kid’s bus, and dear hubby is even more of a freak than I am (love you, babe!).

The bus is definitely more convenient as opposed to lugging my portly one year old into his five point harness and corralling my sometimes feral brood into my personal bus, but we gain thirty extra minutes of sleep/wake up time by driving.  It’s nice, because I’ve never felt rushed to get him to school on time.  With my bear of an anti-morning person son who has to be told a minimum of five times to eat his breakfast - that wake up time is key to survival.  I’ve become partial to my bus as opposed to the big, loud, stinky, seatbeltless, yellow one which actually was 40+ minutes late the first day due to mechanical issues.  I do miss the morning social hour at the bus stop, but I’ve deemed the bus stop unsafe, too.  There’s new home construction, semis, questionable contractors, bull dozers, trees being crunched within twenty feet of the stop, and too much time for antsy kids milling about which can lead to drama, refereeing, and cold coffee.  Again, I’m overbearing and need to get over myself.  Honestly the bus stop began to feel like more work for me, so kudos to the parents that can get there on time and hack it.

Anyway, prior to loading up my bus the first day I gave him the choice of walking in on his own or having his siblings and I accompany him to his classroom.  He surprisingly chose to diss us and go stag.  He was like, “I know where my classroom is, and I don’t need you to walk me there.”  I’ll admit my heart felt like a needle had pricked it, but I gulped, honored his choice, delivered him to the front sidewalk, and watched my boy walk in with his little head held so high.  Ugh…he suddenly looked so big to me, and my heart hurt. 

You know these moments?  The ones where you look at your kid in utter shock at how much they seem to have suddenly changed.  I mean I know growth is a slowly gradual process, but seeing your second grader and noticing that their limbs are long, have muscle tone, and their new permanent front teeth look too large for their mouth is really stupefying.  I mean just yesterday I was rocking this baby boy to sleep.  It’s hard to accept that your babies are growing.  It’s hard to let them grow up and go.

I fear this year will be the one where I’m no longer allowed to hug him in front of his friends, because it’s not cool to hug your mom and what not.  I fear that this year will be the one that image becomes something that he’s aware of, and the images lacking in wholesomeness that our media leads our kids to think are cool are actually terrifying to us parents.  I don’t want my kids thinking it’s cool to be lewd like the pop and rap stars that do or say anything for a buck which our culture tends to throw in our face everywhere we look.  Don’t get me started about the recent VMA’s.  Blah.

I recall who these icons were when I was a kid, and how I lived for MTV.  I was a lucky third child whose older siblings had cornered our parents into getting cable on our wooden sided remoteless television.  I also recall how I was chastised by a neighbor mommy for innocently rolling around like Madonna at about the age my daughter is now.  A friend and I were creatively playing a dance game (not dance ball) where we were giving her mom a concert.  The album we were playing was Madonna’s debut album circa 1983, and you can guess which song we played, cluelessly lip synced and danced around to.  That neighbor mom promptly stripped our hands of our hairbrush microphones and pulled the plug on our concert by scratching my record (or maybe it was actually my big sister’s record that I had borrowed – whoops!). 

As a mom, I now know it takes a village, and that villager did a good thing.  I’d be mortified if my daughter acted like Madonna, Britney, Lady Gag-Me, or heavens forbid, the new, not so improved gyrating Miley.  I’ve used my overbearing ways as a villager and stopped neighborhood kids from doing/saying inappropriate things, and I fully expect my fellow village parents to regulate on my kids, too.

I try hard to shield my kids from the crap that’s all around us, and most parents I associate with do this, too.  It’s impossible to cover their little eyes & ears from everything and so conflicting as a parent.  I am unaware of what is going on in the world most days, because I also refuse to turn on the news.  They don’t need to see war images, hear about horrific crimes that our media sensationalizes, etc. and if my television comes on at night while they’re sleeping I’m watching some mindless fluff to help turn my brain off for the day.  I know we have to introduce our kids to the sad real world at some point and should also let them maintain some level of cool, but it’s not in my overprotective Mama Bear nature. 

Maybe I need to strike up a nice game of dance ball with our media, but maybe a harder, larger ball would be more effective in this game?!  Maybe I should just carry a ball in my bus, too, just in case I encounter one of those senseless scantily clad pop stars out here in the sticks.  Any other parents want to play dance ball?  Come on, you know it’d be fun to knock some sense into the stars your kids look up to!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Not Keeping Up with The Joneses

As I strolled through the mall today with my three kids in tow on a special back-to-school shopping extravaganza, I think I subconsciously made minimal purchases.  The lights, the air, the sounds, the smells, the ads everywhere, the inconsiderate people that don’t walk on the right side or the window shoppers that stop mid stride in front of you, the bored retail assistants, the money for this money for that just all got to me.  My senses were depleted, but I can happily say my wallet was not, and I’ve discovered I no longer like malls. 

I did get my kids some new kicks that are saved for the first day of school as if to say, “Hey, I’m not scuffed up yet”; a couple inexpensive shirts that they really don’t need, but $5 is a deal worth snagging; and first day clothes that I “let” them select.  Prior to entering the confines of commerce today, I had laid down some heavy mommy bartering before any of those said purchases were made.  I am so grateful that my kids are at an age where I can still do this and survive in a mall.

I am telling myself now that I will stand firm on this when they are pre-teens and they start badgering me for the latest fashion trends, but I am scared that this badgering will commence earlier than anticipated.  I recall how badly I wanted those redonkulous MC Hammer type diaper pants at the age of eleven, how overjoyed I was when my mom actually was convinced to buy them for me, and why she caved I’ll never remember.  I’ve long blanked on all of the sneaky things I would do or say to get my way as a kid, but I loved those pants, and mom, if you’re reading this, thank you for them.  I wish I still had them just to show them off like I did back then.  I remember wearing them to a school dance in sixth grade, and the confidence oozed out of me for once.  Maybe that’s why my mom caved.  They were crazy cool like the lavender jacket from Richway that I had at age six which resembled Michael Jackson’s red Beat It jacket complete with zippers galore.  That thing hung in my closet until it practically disintegrated. 

Since a young age I’ve been aware of the cool kids and their name brand this and name brand that covered in labels, grommets, alligators, high starched collars, and what not that just makes their clothing appear cooler than everyone else’s.  I even received a few cool hand-me-downs as a kid, but they were never as cool as my first pair of fancy raspberry high-top Chuck Taylor’s or my clunky clownish Doc Marten’s which I paid over $100 for as a teen thanks to a part-time job at – you guessed it – the mall.

I want the Joneses to stop paying so much for things.  I want the world to stop telling my kids they need to look like the Joneses.  I want the Joneses to take a permanent vacation.  I refuse to pay full price for anything just because the Joneses have it and my kids want it, because I have common sense.  This is the one thing that the Joneses do not have.  That full priced fashion will be over and out next month and/or my kid will (A) stain it, (B) grow out of it too fast, or (C) lose interest in it as soon as the Joneses do.  Can we all agree that keeping up with the Joneses is not what we should be doing?  I think so.  I also think it is imperative for us as parents to place more value on individuality than teaching our kids to highly value material goods.  I’m all for not keeping up with the Joneses.  Who’s with me?

Tortilla Snowflake

Two-thirds of my kids are picky eaters. Our nearly-off-the-charts-one-year-old would probably eat a phone book if we had one.  My five and seven-year-old would rather eat noodles, bread, sugary stuff, snack foods, dry cereal, and some berries every day.  Dinner time is interesting in our house, but it’s also fun because whenever possible we sit at the table together.  There’s typically a lot of bargaining at the table which can turn fun into stress.  Lots of if/then statements are made by my husband in generally thwarted attempts to get these two to try new foods.  Meanwhile baby in the highchair is the only one scarfing down a warm meal.  

I start to think the older kids’ palates are developing and then, wham, back to the nuggets.  Don’t judge.  I occasionally offer veggie nuggets which they don’t realize are not made of poultry, and I try to offer healthy options (or “healthful” if your name is Rachael Ray), but those options are sometimes quickly exhausted and so am I.  Maybe I’m giving myself a bad rap as I have been known to hastily throw in the mommy towel after a long day, but... I know, I know…Yes, I’ve read Jessica Seinfeld’s sneaky cookbook and even tried some sneaky recipes, but my kids are good detectives. 

Tonight my son asked me for a tortilla as I was whipping up some chicken enchiladas, one of dear hubby’s favorite meals that our kids balk at and make “BLEH” faces when they look at them.  Apparently my enchiladas are stuffed with “icky stuff” like rotisserie chicken, chilies, sauce, and “ewww – cheese” (Really, kids?!  Come on!  Cheese is glorious).  Anyway, I let him enjoy a plain tortilla (gross) as I finished making our dinnerS.   

I hear,”Hey, Mommy, look! Mom!  It’s a tortilla snowflake.”

As creative as it was I couldn’t say, “Son, don’t play with your food.”  I am a firm believer that squelching activity that sparks creativity in kids is a no-no (unless they’re harming themselves or someone else, of course; in that case I think a pleasantly raised voice is key – pronto!).   Instead of putting the kibosh on his gnawing of the tortilla I took a picture of it, because naturally he asked me to, and in this day and age we photograph everything.  Don’t we, folks, especially our food, right?

I wish his food choices would be as creative as his food art, but I know in time that will come.  I know this, because I recall what I was like as a kid.  I would pick hamburger out of things, put butter on everything like a mini Paula Deen, hid veggies under the rim of my plate like my big brother had taught me to, etc. I also recall what my sheltered palate was like before I graduated from microwaved Ramen noodle college, married a man with an adventurously spicy palate, travelled and finally sampled food from places other than the southeastern United States, and became addicted to The Food Network.

My son does eat things kids typically don’t eat, but things that we don’t keep stocked in our home like crab legs.  He has champagne taste I guess when it comes to some food.  My daughter would eat noodles with “Papa John cheese” (a.k.a. parmesan cheese – it’s just too cute to correct just yet) for every meal if we allowed it, but we do not.  I know waiting for their palates to develop won’t be like flipping a light switch, but as they grow, accept challenges, and have senses that also mature (like taste buds and sense of smell), I assume they will in fact try enchiladas and what not and maybe actually dig them.  I also know that I am in no rush for the flipping of the light switch to happen, because that will mean they’re no longer little and lately part of me just wants to freeze time and make tortilla snowflakes.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Cool Glasses

Remember your days as an elementary student?  When did you start using the word “cool” to label one’s looks?  Was it back then?  When you used that word did it describe someone wearing glasses?  I’m guessing not.  It seems that for ages glasses have been synonymous with nerdiness, and the title of this blog may seem to be an oxymoron; however, I believe the times are a changin’. 

I remember being in fourth grade and being so ashamed to tell my teacher that I couldn’t see the math facts on the overhead projector (something that is so not cool to use these days).  When she turned her back I would secretly shimmy out of my seat on the back row in an effort to steal a better view of the numbers up there.  The day I was caught out of my seat I quickly pretended to tie my shoe…my Jordache sneaker from Kmart that other kids had deemed uncool.  It wasn’t up to par with the latest craze that only 2% of our class could afford – cue the background choir of angels – Air Jordan’s.  Someone even called me “Air Jordache” for a few weeks. 

Later that day after I was busted for squinting in the aisle I confessed to my mom that I couldn’t see, perhaps the teacher even called her.  I sort of blocked parts of the aftermath from my memory.  I do remember the utter devastation I felt when the optometrist stated the obvious, “You need glasses.”  As soon as he left the room and shut the door of that tiny, dark exam room, I crawled into my mom’s lap.  Basically in fetal position in her arms I cried my broken eyes out.  I was dreading the torment that would come with my “four eyes,” but you know what, at first life with glasses wasn’t really that bad.  That sort of tormenting began in middle school, and then, I ditched the glasses for contact lenses and have been wearing them ever since - for twenty-three years.  Well, not that original pair.  I can only imagine how much dough my parents and I have spent over the years on these tiny little miracles.

As a kid, I shook off “Air Jordache” with all of the other horrid nicknames that came my way during those funtastic grade school years.  As an adult I like to think that my character is far more developed than that of all those little bullies.   I can be tough.  I speak my mind (well, maybe way too much…).  This mindset set in high school when I was dubbed, “Killer Rose,” thanks to my ability to foul out of a basketball game no sooner than had I left my seat on the bench.  My best friend’s dad thought it was hysterical to shout that name out as our team was greeted by Rebel fans from the stands.  He’d hoot and holler that little nickname he gave me as loud and as proud as he could, and I must admit, I ate it up, too.  I was more of a bench player anyway, so when fouls were needed I was my team’s go-to player.

I digress…I preach anti-bullying whenever I can to my kids.  Like a broken record I tell them it’s not polite to call others names.  Maybe this preaching will make my kids dorky and such over time when they repeat it to their friends, but to me they’ll always be pretty darn cool at the core.  And, well, let’s be honest, the nice kids and dorks are the cool kids later in life.  I speak from experience. 

As genetics would have it, my son failed his vision screening at his recent well check.  I had fully anticipated that he would.  I took him to the optometrist, and he was so stoked to go.  It amazed me.  He was even more stoked when the optometrist turned to me and said, “Well, mom, he’s going to be a lifetime glasses wearer.”  He shouted, “What?  I get to get glasses!?”  As the doc confirmed, he did his signature move, a Jersey-style fist pumping action that I’m sure he fashioned from some end-zone celebration that he’s witnessed.  He was thrilled to get glasses!  I was thrilled that he was thrilled!  There’s nothing wrong with this boy’s confidence – yet…I fear the day he’s met with cruel nicknames and what not.

When he finally got to select his frames he turned to me with his new specs on, and said, “Mom, now, I look even cooler.”  Now, I think that is cool, and even cooler is the fact that he’ll be able to see the Smartboard in his classroom (naturally I was snookered into paying for the additional anti-glare feature to make certain of this).  His little sister jealously chimed in, “Urgh, I want glasses, too!”  When he dons his new prescription sports goggles (like a Smartboard these are something I also never had), look out, opposing team, because he’s going to be a cool “killer” on the court and on the field!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

An Experiment, Cold Coffee, & 29 Days

Today I decided to do a little experiment.  I took out a piece of paper and made three columns.  At the top of those three columns were my three kids' names.  In each column I made hash marks which signified every action I made in response to a demand made by a child.

After one hour I deemed this experiment:

(A.) One that was way too hard to keep up with.
(B.) One that left me feeling like a bad person for ever having the thought to conduct it.
(C.) One that had expeditiously proven my hypothesis.

My hypothesis:  Moms don't stop.

We don't.  We move all day.   

No wonder I have:

(A.) Plantar fasciitis
(B.) Heel spurs that could cut someone.
(C.) Tendonitis in both ankles from standing and pacing ALL day.
(D.) Bad feet with x-rays to prove it. (Period.)

Let me be clear...I am only testing the scientific method here.  Which is as follows:

(1.) Make an observation (I never stop moving, and my kids keep me going like the Energizer Bunny - okay, that's two observations, but you get my point.  It's a wonder that I don't lose more weight).
(2.) Develop a Hypothesis (See above.  If you're too tired to scroll up, then I'll help you:  "Moms don't stop.")
(3.) Make an experiment (Grab a piece of paper, and chart your actions, moms.  It's simple.)
(4.) Carry out the experiment, and chart conclusions (It won't take long at all to do this.  Adding this little experiment to your day is like meeting one more demand on your mound of growing demands - think of it like a leaf atop of a pile that you just raked).
(5.) Draw conclusions (Now, imagine that leaf pile jumped in, kicked about, your hands tired from raking, and yet you must rake some more to keep the pile tidy.).

The conclusion here is:  In fact, moms do not stop.  We don't.  We go, and go, and go, and even in our sleep we dream of what needs to be done, what should have been done, what could be done, and what will be done, by gosh!  Then, we moms retreat to our coffee.  Cold coffee.  Mmm...thank you, science, for the microwave.  How many mornings have I finally sat down to take a sip of my first cup only to have the joy of it reduced to yet another demand?  That's a whole different experiment that I'm not willing to find out the results to.

There are exactly twenty-nine days left until my 2/3 head off to Kindergarten and 2nd grade.  Am I ready?  No (well, yes, but with some hesitation).  Are they ready?  Yes, most definitely.  While I am not ready to walk away from my BIG girl headed off to BIG kid school for the first time, I am ready to trust that she is ready for the challenges, new experiences, knowledge before her, and the thirteen plus years of grade school that await her before she heads off to college, then grad school, etc. (only the best for this little lady).  While I am not ready to admit that my eldest child is seven+ years old and no longer the first born baby that I once coddled profusely, I am ready to let him take on harder curriculum, continue to make his social mark as his personality grows & continues to shine through, and add to my pile of leaves by bringing home more homework, more extracurriculars, and more attitude (BAH!)...

The bottom line is that the science behind motherhood is a genuine feat of engineering - moms are machines.  We move.  We don't stop.  We move in both fluid and constrained motions.  We do not require fuel, hydraulic fluid, or coolant (well, maybe some occasional "coolant").  Our kinetic energy is made, collected, moved, and stored by one thing only - love - a strong love of those leaf pile trampling wild ones with nonstop demands, seemingly endless energy, sweaty heads, loud mouths, goofy grins, sticky hands, flood pants, and weed-like limbs.  We love them, and because of them  we move.  We move a lot, and we drink our cold coffee and love it, too.  In twenty-nine days we'll truly miss our kids for eight hours a day, and that hypothesis can also easily be proven.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bee-ooos, A Lone Barista, & The Beach

The Setting:  A random resort condo in Myrtle Beach

The Time:  5:34 a.m.

The Cast:  My family of five and hundreds of other unsuspecting vacation goers

The Story:

I had just drifted back to sleep after awaking at 4:54 a.m. for my baby boy's second stealthy feeding of the night. The first one took place at 1:01 a.m. not long after I had finally gone to bed post a long day spent in the waves, sand, watersides, and resort's pools with our kids at the glistening land of sun, fun and surf in Myrtle Beach. I chalk baby boy's TWO bottles a night up to a rough sleep in a not so cozy Pack-n-Play in the corner of our room. "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," right?  Apparently he wanted me to know that.

I was just entering the second stage of sleep, and my heart rate was beginning to slow as my brain waves were fast approaching the much more rhythmic pattern of deep sleep. Then, suddenly I was awakened by a blaring horn repeatedly honking: "BEE-ooo, BEE-ooo, BEE-ooo!" This was followed by a flat statement that made my slowing heart rate burst into fifth gear: "This is an emergency. You must evacuate the building. Do not use the elevators." The blaring horn and annoying digital voice were like the Energizer Bunny. They kept going, and going, and going...

I rudely awoke my husband and three nestled children just the way this horn and man's voice had done to me. Dear hubby would sleep through a semi entering our room. He was naturally discombobulated and bumbling as I said I would go outside to see if the alarm was legit. I took off outside, braless, and in horrid mommy pajamas where I was greeted outside our condo by an onslaught of stares from neighboring vacationers in the hall and more fellow confused evacuees four floors below on the ground level. Much to my dismay I turned the door handle and our door didn't budge. Argh! I had locked myself out - braless...

I banged on the door repeatedly which actually served as a more effective means of waking my seemingly hibernating bear of a hubby and kids. Hubby lumbered to the door, I bra'd myself, swiftly packed personal belongings, including our kids, and got out of there only to be greeted by flashing lights above our floor and more "BEE-ooos" followed by the man's elevator warning.

We promptly took the stairs, but we lagged behind several other pajama clad families cautiously waltzing down the flights of stairs carrying belongings and clamoring about what exactly this was all about. We made it down the four flights, and once we were in the midst of a crowd, hubby and I turned to each other and agreed we were thrilled to not be on the fourteenth floor or stationed on the floor that requires the snobbish "PH" button.

As luck would have it, I recall being asked by a resort representative upon making the reservation if we had a floor preference, and my reply was a random selection of "four or five" knowing that hubby has a phobia of extreme heights and that he wouldn't enjoy our balcony overlooking the ocean nor would he unlatch the sliding doors to allow our brood out there for fear that they'd attempt to fit through the slats in the railing, dangle from the top rung, or something crazy like that. I shouldn't pick on his vertigo, but after thirteen years of marriage which we "celebrated" during this "family trip" I have a permanent "Get of Jail Free" card when it comes to that sort of stuff. He and I do a good job of picking on each other's quirks. It's a great past time in our marriage.

Back to the story...

We were safely on the ground surrounded by others. As I surveyed the crowd, I noted we were surrounded by all sorts of others. There was some grand people watching to be had on the ground, and there was only ONE fire truck. So what was the "emergency" that woke us all up? Well, we still don't have a direct answer. We saw folks hanging out way up on the nosebleed floors looking down at us probably too tired or too sun burnt to traverse the stairs like we just did. It was all a very lazy and surreal type of evacuation like the stuff bad dreams are made of. There was no one really rushing around and one thing we all needed - coffee...

As things didn't seem to be a state of pandemonium, dear hubby and I decided to saunter down the sidewalk with our crew in tow to the next tower where we knew Starbucks awaited us. The poor barista was flying solo and unknowingly soon-to-be overwhelmed by an onslaught of fellow zombie-like, pajama wearing evacuated resort goers speculating about the purpose of the record scratch-like alarms in the tower next door. Hubby and I treated the kids to whatever their hearts desired from the refrigerated case of pastries, and number one & two shared a "ginormous cinnamon roll." Number three and his rocking bed head enjoyed bites of our shared apple fritter in his footie jammies. My beloved grande cafe mocha never tasted so good. At that Starbucks table - $21.34 later - our family had a moment. Dear hubby and I won't forget it. It was good stuff all around. Sweet kids, impromptu treats, and our whole day before us - family life doesn't get much better than that.

As I write this we are still in Myrtle Beach, the place dear hubby lovingly likens to "pink flamingos or other tacky yard art" where one just has to go to fork out tourist dollars from time to time. We are winding down day four of a six-day family vacation. We have a tendency to Griswold our vacations, and this is the longest family vacay we have ever treated ourselves to. Clark W. Griswold would be proud of what we suffered through this morning as it's something we'll surely all fondly remember even though the "BEE-ooos" aren't something we want to hear (let alone be awakened by) ever again!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Big ONE

My not-so-baby boy is officially the big ONE.  It feels surreal to think that this time last year I was a pin cushion of IV’s laid up in a hospital bed staring at ceiling tiles all night long wishing the stages of labor would swiftly move along and that my cervix and other parts would cooperate so he’d hurry up and get here.  Now that a year has passed, it seems that time does in fact have wings.

A year with a third child literally under foot has been a blur.  It feels like we just brought him home and just started adjusting to our party of five yesterday.  I still feel like I should be napping like he does, but instead I putz around the house doing chores that never feel like they’re truly accomplished all the while tackling the growing demands of my other two weed-like children.  I sometimes catch a glimpse of them and think, “Where did the baby go?”  They’re kids now.  Ugh.  My heart.

Number three is the most smiling baby of all time.  He really is, and for this reason I feel like he has something in store for us when he becomes a teenager.  He’s a charmer.  He’s rotund.  His knees have rolls.  When my sister sees him she says, “I want to squeeze the Charmin.”  My other two were not so pleasantly plump.  Not to brag, but he is one hunk of a baby, and to top it off he has a crown of ringlets that I refuse to cut.  He’s awesome, and even though I have dubbed him our “we’ve given everything away child” I am so amazed by him and so stinking glad he is a part of our family.
I was fortunate to share my third pregnancy with a dear friend (we’ll call her, “Liz”) who was also pregnant…with TRIPLETS.  We really indulged in some pampering towards the end of gestation.  While our kids were off at school, we’d drool over hibachi lunches doused in yum-yum sauce and pamper our swelling cankles with pedicures in massage chairs – those were the days.  Her babies were due five weeks after my little guy.

The night I went into labor just happened to be Friday, the 13th.  Our kids were sound asleep at the time, and a fabulous friend (we’ll call her, “Sam”) came over to sleep at our house to take care of them until grandparents could arrive for duty.   I am pretty sure Sam didn’t sleep at all as she was excited about spoiling this baby rotten, and she was virtually with me all night long as one of my dear mommy birthing coaches from afar via text and facebook.  After hemming and hawing over whether or not my contractions were close enough together to get me admitted at the hospital nearly half an hour away, my hubby and Sam convinced me it was time to stop cleaning the house and to get in the car.  I checked into the ER around 11:45 p.m.   
Shortly thereafter I received a text that Liz’s water broke.  I fool heartedly thought it was a joke, a text sent to ease my distressing thoughts of my long night ahead as I was merely a “three” when admitted seemed laughable.  But the text was no joke.  As midnight approached, Liz had bent down to cross the day off of her calendar.  It was something she did routinely every night in celebration of yet another day that she had successfully managed to keep her three little buns in her increasingly uncomfortable oven.  As she stood up, her water broke.    Her husband was working across town at the time, and his car grew wings to get him home in what had to have been record time.  Good job, buddy.

I received her text in between contractions. You can believe my shock; however, we had joked from the beginning of our pregnancies about being in delivery at the same time.   She & her husband checked into the ER merely two hours after us & were placed in a room directly across from ours.  Naturally our husbands who are bro-friends hugged it out in the hallway while us women huffed and puffed, and they passed the time by joking about tag teaming the coaching duties and such.  Ha, right…

Their babies were born in the middle of the night nearly eight hours before our little guy.  That’s right, our four babies share the same birthday.  During our hospital stays we had recovery rooms two doors down from each other, which made visitation easy for our shared friends.  She wheeled herself to my room for a visit and held my guy before most of her own, and I moseyed down to the NICU to ogle over her tiny, triple blessings.  Her sweet troopers remarkably spent less than two weeks in the NICU.  Today they are all healthy, happy, busy ones each with distinct looks and unique little personalities.   Their mom and dad are the perfect parents for such a brood, and the triplets’ big brother really loves him so babies and helps to entertain his siblings.  They are laid back, know how to roll with it, and contain seemingly endless energy that I wish was contagious.  I think of them whenever I get to the overtired woe is me part of a day after being up twice or more with my little sidekick in the middle of the night. 
I can’t imagine the demands of three.  I’ve seen Liz in action – all the buckles, straps, limbs, crumbs, toys, diapers, bottles – she’s AMAZING.  I have also seen how the public reacts when her stroller makes an appearance.  She has coined a phrase for those who stare dumbfounded.  They’re “Lookie Lous,” and they’re unknowingly rude.  The public sometimes drives me crazy with just my one baby in tow.  While on the topic, why do some strangers think it’s okay to touch your baby?  NO.  It’s not okay, random Walmart shopper.  And no, he’s not a girl.  He’s wearing blue.  This poor boy needs a haircut I guess, but I digress so pick your jaws up off the floor, Lookie Lous.  Liz gracefully entertains the unwanted commentary and questions that endlessly meet her everywhere she and her babies go.  She is a champ.  I stood in awe of her preggo belly a year ago, and today I stand in awe of her as one heck of a mom.

The events of that weekend one year ago are still surreal to me.  I am fairly certain our families experienced something worthy of a screenplay.  365 days later our homes and lives have adjusted to the increasing contents.  Why do creatures so small require so many large objects to entertain them, keep them safe, etc.?   Our pseudo quadruplets even had a block party to celebrate their birthdays complete with four smash cakes.  What a photo opp, and what a dingy bath tub of soggy cake water that was! 

I was worried about spreading the love before my guy arrived, but his arrival instantaneously made my heart grow at least 3x.  I do my best to dote on each one of my three throughout my day, and I’ve seen Liz do the same with her four.  Life sometimes gets crowded with demands.  Time clearly flies, and this is precisely why I try to pause whenever the moment hits me – when I hear my daughter bound for Kindergarten read to me or see that her legs must have grown two inches overnight, or I notice that my son’s new front teeth have finally grown all the way in and are like Chiclets - so big, square, and white or hear him say something so profoundly insightful, or when my baby finally says “Mom” as he did today for the first time.  In those moments my heart is like butter, and I just want squeeze my babies.  Sometimes they let me.    In those moments I just stare in total awe at the little blessings with such big hearts that my hubby and I are so fortunate to call our kids.  I am so beyond thankful for my weeds and for all of the time we have been granted to share this crazy life with them. 

Happy first birthday to my dear, forever smiley number three!