Friday, May 30, 2008

In the trenches

Parenthood is often a mixture of dodging projectiles-- milk, food, or other-- , laughter, tears, and triumphs. I personally consider my form of parenting my own personal Blooper's reality TV show.
For example:
  • One should never pull a diaper off a newly woken baby boy without having a cover handy. Yellow rain does not just mean our skies are too polluted, thank you!
  • Having a newly fed baby "shake their bootay" after a full feeding will only result in laundry, mopping, and a disgruntled nursing mother.
  • Poking a sleeping baby to make sure she's breathing will only get you an unhappy awake baby.
  • Potty training requires plastic covered everything.
  • Your baby will never sleep when you want her to. And she will never sleep when you do. They have internal sensors to tell them when you've just gotten into a really good, steamy dream and they will wake up at the most inopportune time possible.
  • Loggins and Messina's "House on Pooh Corner" is necessary potty training music--sung by you, how ever many times it take Mr. Poopie to plop plop.
  • No matter what food your child requests for dinner, it will yucky by the time it reaches the table.
  • A parent should never potty train two boys simultaneously. Trust me. Bad idea.
  • Bunk beds for young boys are just wrong and guaranteed to involve climbing and falling. Repeatedly.
  • A urine dribble needs to be celebrated for at least five minutes.
  • You will yell at your oldest to stop killing his brother at least once a day. And the minute you turn your back, the mayhem will resume.
  • Forget about sex. They know you're doing it. They know what it results in. They don't want any more siblings and they certainly don't' want you to have a good time.
  • And when all else fails, they will band together to wreak havoc in ways you've never even dreamed of, including, but not limited to: poo-poo painting, furniture sky diving, and the ingestion of foreign objects.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Things to think on

"Mommy, the poopie doesn't want to come out in the potty. It wants my diaper, don't you know that?"

When our husband's do it, it's not cute

But if its our baby, then we think its funny, or cute, or sweet.
For example, flatulence. When our spouse passes gas, it normally results in comments of disgust, outrage, and possibly, depending on the severity of the green gaseous cloud, threats of divorce.
When our five month old lifts her leg and lets it rip, we laugh.
When our husband makes a mess eating, we gripe and complain about bad table manners.
When its our baby, out comes the camera to capture the moment for posterity.
Diarrhea is greeted with a quick vacating of the area if its an adult, but if its a baby, we step right in and start cleaning. Same for vomiting. If my husband threw up on me, his world would suddenly end. When my baby does it, its a grimace and a clean up, but no real hysterics, even when its running down my blouse and making me smell oh so lovely and fragrant.
When our husband hogs the bed, there are elbows, knees, and dire warnings involving pillows and oxygen involved. With a baby, its a suffer in silence as your arms go numb and you cling to the last 2 inches of available bed space.
Dare to wake us in the middle of night to demand a feeding, not only would our husbands be told to get it themselves, but marital relations would be swiftly curtailed. But a baby does it, we drag our weary bodies from bed to oblige.
A baby needs to be rocked to soothe, fine, we're there. But I am not rocking my husband to sleep.
There is a distinct double standard. Why is it cute or acceptable when a baby does behaviors our husband's get in trouble for? Is it just due to age? Experience? Manners? When does it stop being okay and become no way?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A baby is just wired wrong

I know its not just me.
Every mother thinks it at least once.
My baby girl, Punk, has just turned five months old.
And she's turned into a demon.
Seriously, complete with a cute little tail and horns. I pierced them, just so you know.
Punk has begun exhibiting perplexing behaviors, that I, as parent, have certainly seen before. On nature TV shows with wild monkeys.
When its time to nurse, she lets loose a Tarzanesque war cry, rubbing hr little fat hands together in glee for the approaching innocent flesh. Then, when its close enough, she pounces, grabbing the nipple and shaking her head like a dog with a favorite toy.
(Don't recommend taking it away. Been there, done that, have the shattered eardrums to prove I lasted thirty minutes before caving.)
Then, she tries to strangle me. With my shirt, a necklace, her own little chubby fingers. The result is the same. My prying her fingers off my throat while she cackles.
Then there are the flying baby feet of fury. My ribs are fractured in two places.
And the mini baby mutant monkey toes, which dig into flesh and tear it off in chunks,
So, as you can see, nursing more closely resembles a WWF wrestling match than any peaceful bonding experience. I'm cowering in my corner, wearing spandex tights with drop down nursing flap, and she' crouched in her corner, clad in a spandex diaper, wearing an evil smirk.
We know which one will be down for the count of ten.
I just don't understand her.
Last night, I walked by her pen, er activity center, only to discover the diaper blow out up the back of her pale pink onesie (that's my girl. Poop on pink!). Upon further inspection, and picking her up, I discovered that it was running down her legs and cemented in between her toes.
I gagged. She giggled.
Tonight, we had a smaller re-enactment. She was ecstatic that she was sitting in her own feces, squirming from side to side and gleefully smearing it everywhere.
What kind of person like sitting in their own stool?
I think that's a sure sign of future societal deviations and mental imbalances.
As a mother, I've come to just one conclusion.
Babies are just wired wrong.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.
Today we honor all the soldiers who've died defending our country.
As a wife of a former Navy man (fourteen years and two wars worth of Navy man), and the daughter of a Navy man (two wars worth as well) and the mother of two sons, the days is especially poignant for me.
I am thankful every day that my husband came home from his last deployment in Cuba. Without his return, I would not only be without him, we wouldn't have our baby heathens either.
I am grateful that my daddy lied about his age to enlist in WWII. And again that he served in Korea.
And I am praying that all the madness stops before it touches my boys. I pray that I will never have to bury my son, a flag draped over his casket, because he felt compelled to serve.
And I am both grateful and ashamed that I feel this way when i look into the eyes of a mother whose only physical reminder is a flag in display box.
I always want to ask what her son, or daughter, was like. and to compare her story with my own children.
Was he blond haired and brown eyed? Tall and thin? Or was he dark haired and blue eyed? Did his cheek dimple when he smiled? Did he leave sticky fingerprints all over your fridge? Did he still have a spot on his neck where you could smell that baby boy smell? Was he like my own baby boys?
But I don't ask. I don't ask for fear of upsetting her, and for fear that the similarities might make me cling even more tightly to my sons when I should be letting go.
I am grateful, but I am also greedy. I want my children to outlive me, and to one day be old and gray when their own child must bury them.
I want a world free of fear and war and death in a faraway land. I don't want to wonder if my baby called for me and I wasn't there.
So this Memorial Day, remember all those mothers who've lost, who've sacrificed the unimaginable. And hold your own babies a little tighter.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The real meaning of protect and serve
This Chinese mother is a phenomenon and should be celebrated long withe very other hero created by the erathquake.
She's making sure the smallest citizens, the most vulnerable and the ones who cannot speak for themselves, are being care for.
And all I can say is thank you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Worth more than gold and jewels

I think we often forget that we are all human.
We were all born into this world in the same manner and, eventually, we will all die.
The means to our ends does not matter when that end arrives.
Hopefully, it will be at the end of a long and fulfilling life. But if not, if a child dies without ever taking a breath or a young man dies in a car wreck, do their lives still have worth?
Yes, they do.
But what about people who have committed crimes? People who have made mistakes? Doe their lives still have worth?
Yes, they do.
They are still someones child, parent, friend, lover, spouse. To someone, they have value, they have worth, and, when they die, they are mourned.
I think we forget that.
Yes, they made mistake and poor decisions. Yes, they took a life that also had value.
But when they die, they will be missed. Their mother will weep over their graves. Their father will look at a baseball glove or a pair of ballet shoes and remember only their child is gone forever.
Every life has value.
And that value is immeasurable.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The rigors of a post pregnancy life

We were told during our pregnancy that we glowed, were beautiful, and how amazing we were.
We were informed about the horrors of childbirth and the sleepless nights that would follow. We were given advice on breast or bottle, cloth or disposable, cry it out or attachment parenting.
Everyone had advice to give.
But no one mentioned the ugly truth of a post pregnancy life.
I mean the condition of your post pregnancy body.
You know what I'm talking about.
Things that were firm and flabby, what was pert is now droopy, what was once flawless is a road map.
You know what I mean, ladies.
Looking in the mirror is something to avoid at all costs. Allowing our husbands to see us naked in the harsh light of day, not happening. And shopping for clothes, now that's the stuff of nightmares.
Lets not even talk about the changes in your bathroom habits. Pushing out an eight plus pound chub out of your body is not exactly conducive to bathroom comfort, if you know what I mean.
And your healthy happy baby is supposed to make it all worthwhile.
Okay, so in some small way it does, but i really want my smokin' hot pre-baby body back all the same.
And I'm making it my goal in life to be honest. No, you are not glowing and you looked like Shamus lumbering down the street. Your ankles are now cankles and you are retaining enough water for the Olympic swim team to do laps. Your body will not be recognizable post delivery as anything but a weepy, saggy mess. You will leak and sway when you walk. Your hair will fall out beginning on your baby's third month of life. Your skin texture and moisture level will change, and you will feel about as attractive as a mildewed sack of potatoes.
Welcome to motherhood, baby.
I'm not going to debate.
I'm not going to argue.
I'm just going to state the facts.
The state of Oklahoma, and many states, do not require that insurance companies pay for treatments needed by autistic children and adults.
They do cover persons suffering from self inflicted diseases, such as lung cancer, alcoholism, and drug addiction.
They cover cancer, heart disease, and other physical illnesses and ailments.
But they do not cover autism.
I have been blessed with three healthy children, but I know other parents who are living within the financial burden of paying for an autistic child's many needs.
And insurance companies don't believe they need to cover those children.
Instead, we pay premiums and deductibles to cover people who have chosen to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
Seems perfectly reasonable to cover a consenting adult with bad judgement than a child with no choice.
Do something.
Contact your elected officials.
Make your voice heard.
Because an autistic child can't, we must speak for them.
Speak loud and long about this injustice. Look into the face of your children and consider how you would feel if your child was autistic.
Let the voice of an autistic child come from our mouths.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Preparation H--aka Becoming a Mother to Teenagers

I consider myself a fairly laid back person. (Okay, some people who shall remain nameless may disagree, but I said "I consider" so their opinion wouldn't matter anyway.)
I am constantly amazed by the ability of my children to find every stinking one of my pressure buttons an to push them all.
Sometimes at the same time.
There are certain unbroken rules:
1. Don't kill anyone. (Yes, your siblings count as anyone!)
2. Don't lie
3. Don't touch Mommy's books upon threat of the cat o' nine tails and the rack (see how serious I am about this one--more important than thy shall not kill. Books are serious business.)
4. Use an inside voice.
5. Mind me at all costs. (I'm sorry you've halfway amputated your arm. But I told you to pick up your toys. You want to go to the hospital, finish picking up your toys!)
6. All rules are subject to change without any prior notification, and, if I were you, I' frequently test the waters to gauge Mommy's mood.
Don't' get me wrong. I love my heathens--children--most of the time.
Some of the time.
When they are asleep.
But I don't understand the constant need to push and annoy and drive me into the funny farm just a few years earlier than I had already reserved to go.
(I have my padded cell picked out, but it won't be available until you hit puberty. By then, the current tenant will have lost all their marbles and have returned to the loving bosom of their family.
Bug loves t tell me what he will not be doing. I'm all about independence--when i tell him its okay to be independent as long as its all my idea. But this random acts of defiance and obstinance, now those are too much, even for my saintly soul.
Boo has entered the no stage. "Nuff said about hat.
Punk is clingy, determined not to be put down at all costs, including hair pulling and strangulation with necklaces. She's even tried assaulting me by head butting. I now have pretty new teeth that come out at night.
Why do they do it? Is it some malfunction in their DNA that makes them act like this?
Laying in bed waiting on one of them to crawl out of bed an declare that they wanted something (a drink, to snuggle, a story, you insert an action and it will be correct), I mulled it over and finally came t my own personal, maternal epiphany.
They're preparing me for having three teen-agers.
I called this morning and tried to push up my reservation date.
No such luck. The current resident is refusing to budge.
I'm so screwed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

You know you're parents when . . .

Nothing like routine and painful slaps in the face to remind you that you are longer young and carefree.
You're a parent.
You spend all your time telling your oldest son to get off his brother.
Sleep is interrupted by one of the following:

A sheer desire to torture you

You sit down to eat a meal and realize you have gotten three bites out of your whole meal. Your children are full though.

You go to get a drink only to find cookie crumbs floating in your Pepsi.

Getting ready to go someplace involves not only dressing yourself, but several other people.

You don't remember your car without car seats.

You routinely order Happy Meal and are more worried about the toy than the food.

Those weekends in bed are a memory. A fond memory, clouded in a sleep deprived haze.

Sex is a memory. And if you dare to try, you'll hear a child calling for you mid coitus, resulting in a lack of arousal for both parents. Nothing kills a good time like a child walking in the room and busting you.

Is it all worth it? Ask me in 18 more years when the kids are all in college and I can sleep in my own bed without interruption. Oh yeah. The husband and I might be able to resume marital relations by that time.


If he's lucky.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day. This blog is dedicated to every mother, every where. I've got your back, ladies.
This is for those women who pray every month for two lines instead of one. And this is for he mothers that extra line makes them.
For the women who've carried a child only to had I over to another woman whose womb will never quicken. And for those women who accept and love another woman's child.
This is for the mother's who've loved a flicker of life, only to lose it, and for those who have carried that life to term.
This is for every mother who has loved and lost, burying a portion of her soul with that angel child.
For the mothers who feed with their bodies, and those who don't. For those mothers who remove every obstacle from their baby's path, and those who know their child will have to learn to do it for himself.
For the mothers who wave bravely when their baby boards the school bus, and for those mothers whose children will never return home from a school day.
For those who are involved in every activity, and for those who wish they were.
For those who sit in the bleachers an cheer themselves hoarse for the losing team, and for those springing for pizza regardless of the outcome.
For moms who've endured being peed on, pooped on, vomited on, cried on and screamed at.
For those moms who hear "I hate you" more often than "I love you".
For moms who work insides and outside of the home.
For moms who hug their children goodbye, sending them overseas and praying just to hold their baby once more. And to those moms who will never hold their children again.
For moms of special children, and moms of especially normal children.
For moms who look at their teen-age daughter as she tearfully tells her she is to be a grandma, and for moms of sons who hold them while their boys weeps for a new life begun.
For moms who answer the call when her children are overwhelmed by their own babies, rocking, walking, and holding the screaming child just to give the parents a moments respite.
For moms everywhere, this is for you, for the sisterhood born of blood, sacrifice, and love. A circle unbroken, which, one day, will make room for our daughters.
And for my own mom.
Happy Mother's Day.

Monday, May 5, 2008

As fragile as an egg

Even the most solid marital foundation will show cracks in time.
And some parts of marriage are as fragile as an egg.
If you look at an egg, it seems both amazingly strong and painfully delicate. And, if lucky, in time, an egg produces a new life. The same oculd be said of a marriage.
A marriage seems to be the same, a strange mixture of strong and breakable.
So what happens when your marital egg gets broken?
What happens when one spouse breaks the bonds of trust and faith? How do you react?
Do you turn the other cheek, playing ostrich and hiding your head in the sand until the pain passes?
Do you cash in your chips and head for greener pastures, hoping the pain will ease in time?
Tell me, how would you handle a broken heart?

Sunday, May 4, 2008


Tomorrow I ship out my first two boxes of donated breast milk, over two hundred ounces.
When it arrives safely, it will be tested, processed, and pasturized. It will be proven safe. And then my body will help nourish a child who's mother could not. My body will help a premature baby live. My body will touch the lives of others.
I hope that when a worried mama watching her baby eat and grow and thrive my milk, that she knows it was given with love. I would hope someone would do the same for my own children.
As we near Mothers Day, I pray the gift from my body will ease the grief and worry in anothers.
I only wish I could do more.

There is a perfection in simplicity

Today is a good day.
My children woke of happy and whole.
They haven't tried to kill each other yet.
They are speaking like civilized human beings--and wee little baby beings-- and I actually feel joy in their presence, not the overwhelming weariness and angst ridden parental guilt they normally generate.
As I sit at my computer, reading blogs and writing responses, I glanced over, caught off guards by the sudden silence.
And all I can see of my boys is their bare feet, peeking out from under a blanket.
Two pairs of feet, both boasting a pinky toe that curls slightly under.
Both perfect. Both whole. Both beautiful in their simplicity.
Those feet pummelled me during pregnancy. Those feet pound the floor when they run hell bent for some toy. Those feet wriggle frantically when tickled.
Those feet are perfect, even if their wearers are a little less so. And in this moment of silence and simplicity, I bask in that perfection.

Snapshots in my heart

Life to me is made up of moments indelibly burned into my mind for all time.
Some of them are simple and I have no understanding why they are there or why they were important.
For example, being nine years old and at an auction with my parents. My daddy bid a few seconds to late on an item, and I remember hearing his voice booming in the silence.
It makes no sense why that memory is so vivid.
I remember each time I peed on a stick and it gave me those precious two lines.
I remember being told my baby had never developed a heartbeat and my pregnancy was no longer viable.
I remember getting to the hospital a few moments after my daddy had died. Just a few minute too late, but a million miles to cross before I would see him again.
I remember seeing Bug, Boo, and Punk for the first time, in that exhausted, satisfied way new mothers do.
I remember how each child felt at birth, their smell, the feel of their flesh.
I remember that goofy grin on my husband's face every time he held our baby for the first time.
First steps, first word, firsts for each of my babies are burned into my mind eye. They are snapshots I can pull up any time. They occasionally pounce on me unexpectedly, bringing tears to my eyes.
There is a snapshot I have never seen, but that I have anyway. I imagine a fourth child, older than Bug, playing with them. I imagine that child running to tell me about their day at school. I imagine a fourth bed, a fourth sleeping face, a fourth hand to hold.
Even though I never held that baby, it exists for me. It is a real and tangible as my other children. For me, my lost baby lives and breathes and is.
Its story, like so many others, is written on my heart. And that story and photo, I hold closer than the others, a precious gift that i will carry for all time, watching that lost child grow along with it siblings.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It could have been me

One of the ladies I know online lost her son to SIDS two years ago today.
Her son was born the same day as my Boo baby.
I find myself weeping reading her post about putting her baby down to bed on April 30th and on May 1st, he was gone.
It could have been me. It could have been my beautiful blue eyed Boo.
I'm lucky. I can still hold him, hug him, love him.
She can't. For her, her boy is a lovely angel, forever two months old, forever a baby.
Mine is a sturdy little boy with bruises and scratches from play, with a loud voice and a riotous laugh.
For her, her son is a bittersweet memory. For me, he's real and constant.
So for today, when I hug my Boo boy, I will be giving him an extra hug for the mommy who can't hold her son like I do. i will kiss him goodnight knowing that another mommy won't be able to.
For today, I'll share my Boo with another mommy, because my boy fills my arms and heart, and hers, just her heart.