in june 2010, our lives got turned upside down in the best possible way: the birth of our awesome kiddo, john. in october 2013, brother charlie charged into our life to change the status quo again. i'm proud to have "mom" to the list of titles on my resume, but i'm also still a hard-working professional. how does a working mom juggle work and family? ride along with me and see if i can figure it out!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

grandma

this was going to be a jaunty little blog about my trip to chicago - more adventures of the world-wandering dairy cow, some waxing philosophical about missing my family, the story of an awesome hotel upgrade, some pride in my husband for taking such awesome care of the boys.

i'll save my traveling tale for another day. instead, i find myself in a somber mood.

this morning, one of my favorite people on the face of this planet took her leave from it. my beautiful, sassy, spunky, brilliant grandmother passed away.

like all of the family, i knew this day would come, and probably sooner than later. she was 91 years old, and while she was doing mighty darn well for 91, that age comes with an expectation that time is limited. she spent a good part of this past weekend with her family, much of whom was in town for mardi gras. i understand that she was in good spirits and good form right up until the end. and she went quickly, which is as much of a blessing as anyone could ask.

also like all of the family (or i would assume, as i shouldn't speak for them) i am only beginning to process that she is gone. for the five years that our family lived in baton rouge, the greatest blessing for us was getting to be close to grandma. i got to be friends with her while we lived there - to know her as an adult in a way that many people never have the chance to know their grandparents. she knew john very well, and he knew her. she met charlie at christmas time.

but what my boys will not be able to know is the lover of books whose library upstairs was always ready to be raided for new material to read. they will not know the biting political commentary grandma could offer even in her later years - the witty repartee she would interject into a conversation just when you thought she was too tired and quiet to have known what was going on.

they will not know the adventurous woman who, with her husband, my papa, took my brother and cousin and i on a trip from maryland to louisiana in a red van, camping along the way, dodging storms at mammoth caverns and looking at horses running through the fields in kentucky, stopping in huntsville to learn about rockets and space, and laughing all the while about our traveling band's crazy antics.

they will not know why "blueberry killer" can reduce a generation of my family to giggling fits.*

they will not hear from her mouth her remarkable stories about being a young newspaperwoman, of not thinking she ever needed to get married, but then of settling down with a newspaperman and beginning a wild brood of five boys and a girl.

they will not know her love of her dogs.

they cannot hear, in their heads, her voice as she says to my papa, "oh, ed," when exasperated at his behavior or his jokes or whatever else might exasperate her.

but i can. i can hear it now, as he's probably welcoming her into heaven wearing a hat that says "i'm not prejudiced - i hate everyone."

i can remember all of these things, and so much more. and i will never grow tired of remembering.

because as sad as i am today as i type this, i am so very happy to have known this woman. and so very proud to carry her genes. and so grateful for the other descendants of "mama and papa."

goodbye, grandma. from the crazy young broad to the crazy old bat, i love you.

*years ago, grandma went nuts with a broom attacking a bug on her kitchen floor ... that wound up being a blueberry. a very smashed blueberry.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

perspective



left: diligently removing pjs one foot at a time. 
right: dirt is a boy's best friend.

today in dfw, a beautiful week-old baby girl is being laid to rest by her aching family. and today in dfw, the grey sky and chilling rain seem a perfect reflection of the sympathetic ache felt by anyone who hears this family's story. may they be uplifted by prayers and love from far and wide that somehow, somewhere, they might find some peace.

*  *  *
sometimes god and his universe conspire to give you exactly what you need.

today it is the weather that gives expression to my emotions. sometimes you need that mourning.

last week, it was a relatively simple message from a facebook friend who posted this thought: our children need our love the most when they deserve it least. i won't try to attribute that one -- many very wise folks have said similar things and i'm probably misquoting anyway.

but it rang in my head as i reflected on john's behavior, and how we respond to him. it speaks to the underlying motivations of his behavior. it speaks to the fact that it's easy to have higher expectations of my precocious guy than he could possibly uphold -- that at three and a half, he can speak like a five year old but that doesn't mean he has the emotional maturity and self awareness that even a five year old has.

so largely thanks to that message, we've been trying something new. when john acts out -- when he sasses, when he argues, when he doesn't listen -- we've been hugging him. holding him and telling him we love him.

we don't ignore the bad behavior of course. we talk about it. we talk about the choices he is making. and we talk about how when he chooses good behavior, it makes us so proud.

and remarkably (or not so much), it's helping. i'm not claiming it's a silver bullet miracle cure for acting out. and i'm certainly not claiming that we are executing this new strategy as well or consistently as we should. but i will say that there has been a little less yelling in our house. a LOT more hugs. and at least a little more good behavior. and i hope we are slowly learning to fill a need that john has for love and affirmation, so that he continues to make good choices that come from a place of knowing his parents love and support him. 

*  *  *
yesterday, it was a sense of peace about a challenging decision to change daycares. while the place the boys have been thus far is perfectly fine, we have had the nagging feeling that john needed a bit more challenge. that he needs maybe a little more structured learning environment and an opportunity to learn new things. i have felt almost ridiculous thinking these things at three years old ... but after much consideration we've decided another place is better equipped to give both boys what they need. so on march 10 they will have a little more transition, a little more change -- but i feel relief when i think of it now that the decision is made. 

*  *  *
and today, again, it is perspective. it is all in your perspective. 

today, a crying sky reigns grey over a funeral that shouldn't have to happen. that is proof that there is so much about god's plan that i do not understand.

but what i do understand is this: my family is so blessed. we are gifted with so much richness in this life. and i hope that is a perspective i might never lose.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

everybody talks

brothers telling secrets

friday on the way to work, the moon hung low in the sky, huge and orange. john was ecstatic to see it, and kept exclaiming, "mommy, look at the big man in the moon!"

i kept listening to his glee, and we talked about the moon for several minutes. eventually he got sort of quiet and pensive. and he said, "mommy, why is the moon at the bottom of the sky?"

of course i explained that the moon rises and goes up high, blah blah blah, but it stuck with me: the bottom of the sky. there's a certain poetry to the way children see the world, i think, a simplicity and beauty that i love to relive through john's eyes.

and his words never cease to amaze me. he has a way with them, i think. and he charms me all the time, but i'm his mom -- i think i am constitutionally required to be charmed.

but it's not just me. this morning when my husband picked john up from sunday school, his teacher told him that they were reading a poem today and john asked, "is that a haiku?"

i couldn't stop laughing when my husband told me that story. a haiku? what does my three-and-a-half year old know from a haiku? he says he learned about it on his iguy, which i suppose means caillou or barney or fireman sam or someone talked about haikus. and i don't really think john's about to start composing 5-7-5 poetry anytime soon.

but i am amazed that he recognized a poem, and recognized that it was related to a haiku, and remembered the word haiku. it's amazing the things kids know even when we are completely unaware of their knowledge.

*  *  *
meantime, charlie's begun chiming in on our morning drive conversations. as john and i discuss the moon, or the upcoming day, or a dream he had, we are accompanied by a nearly nonstop babble of "ahh ahhh ahhhhhh aha ha hahahh ahhhhhh," punctuated with a laugh here and there. 

my boys, the conversationalists.

Monday, February 3, 2014

boys in pjs

the best little couch potatoes ever
like probably most of america, we watched the super bowl yesterday -- no big parties, just in our pjs at our house watching the game.

no commentary from me -- don't care much about football, the commercials weren't great, the halftime show was entertaining enough -- since i think everyone else has already said all that matters.

what matters to me are those two brothers up there, snuggled on the couch, watching football with their daddy.

thought #1: charlie is going to outgrow big brother very quickly. even allowing for a little optical illusion with him closer to the camera, he looks HUGE!

thought #2: i should keep this photo for when they are beating the holy crap out of each other in a couple of years.

thought #3: i could watch them snuggling all day long. football? what football?

Friday, January 31, 2014

my little rocker

i scored front row seats to this particular show.

the other day it was pandora, playing my husband's "lightning crashes" station. (we met at a concert of the band 'live' a million years ago, in case you didn't know.)recently, one of john's very favorite activities is to have dance parties in our living room. sometimes we put on disney music, sometimes it's a cd, sometimes just the radio.


a few good ol' rock songs from the late 90s played, all with some serious guitar licks, and john insisted that he wanted to find "his" guitar. he actually has two - an elmo one that lights up and plays sesame street songs, and an old "guitar hero" one that doesn't connect to anything but still rocks out - at least in john's head.

so he gave the guitar hero one to daddy, and he grabbed the elmo one as his own, and charlie and i were treated to some fine guitar solos in the living room.

until john kicked daddy off his stage, said, "find your own stage, daddy!" and proceeded to rock out solo.

he's a rock star diva already ... what am i going to do with this kid.

charlie found it all very exciting, and gave us some full on giggles as he watched big brother perform.

when you think of quality family time, this isn't quite the cleaver family ... but it's my family and i wouldn't trade a moment of it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

oh, my charlie

my beautiful bitty.

this was going to be a post about my wonderful day on martin luther king day, and how charlie and i spent our day as a "nursing holiday" and had such a great time.

instead, i would like to tell you the story of the scariest night in my life as a mom.

most importantly, everyone is ok, uninjured, and totally fine. know that right up front.

yesterday a little after 5:30pm, i was walking through the living room carrying charlie when i tripped. and i dropped charlie.

he hit the ground with the most horrible thud i have ever heard in my life. and he instantly started screaming, which i know is actually a good sign.

so i scooped him him up to comfort him and calm him. he was breathing VERY fast, so i tried to nurse him, thinking that would help calm him down. he wanted none of it ... and then he just went limp and stopped. no crying. no wiggling. completely nonresponsive.

i immediately called 911. they dispatched an ambulance and while i waited, i called my husband out of an important meeting and told him he had to come home. i promised to call him and tell him where the ambulance was going to take us.

and then i held my unresponding 3.5 month old, checking to be sure he was breathing ... afraid to move him much in case he was really injured ... truly fearing he was going to die in my arms. i pray that no mother i know ever has to feel that feeling. even knowing now that it was a dramatic response and he's fine, it makes me want to puke to remember it.

in the four minutes it took for the firemen to get there, john was my hero. he put on his own shoes without fuss. he went and got mommy's "fast shoes" so i could put them on and be ready to go. when the ambulance arrived, he put buddy in his kennel so he wouldn't be in the way.

i handed my poor love to the firemen, who quickly checked him out. he started to respond to their stimuli, and stirred in their arms. he cracked his eyes open and fussed, then went silent. they checked him head to toe and confirmed that there were no traumatic injuries to his head or body.

they handed him back to me, assuring me that he seemed to be ok. they explained that oftentimes when an infant has a traumatic experience, they sort of hyperventilate and make themselves pass out. that jives with what happened. they were kind and compassionate and answered a million questions about what to be on the lookout for, how to tell if he was ok, what to be afraid of and what was normal recovery. they said they would transport him to the hospital if i wanted, but that they didn't think it was necessary. i asked what they would do if it was their child, and each said that they would just watch at home -- and that if they were really worried, they would be pushing me to let them transport him.

so i said no, we would watch him. and they left. as the ambulance left, my poor frazzled husband arrived, having made the drive home in record time. i explained, charlie continued to stir more, and finally within 15-20 minutes charlie seemed to be really awake.

i sat down to nurse him and totally lost it. i have never sobbed so hard. i feel so much guilt for dropping him. for not protecting him. for letting him fall. i will never unheard the sound of impact, or unsee his little body laying on the carpet.

by bedtime charlie was pretty much his normal self, if a little angstier than usual. this morning he was totally back to normal -- giggling, smiling, nursing happily. he is fine. we are all fine.

and i know i will be fine emotionally, too. i know it will take some time but that it will be ok. i KNOW that.

but please say some prayers for us, that i might forgive myself, that i might be able to let go of my fear and sorrow and guilt. 

and please say prayers for mamas everywhere who have to experience those moments of thinking their child is lost -- and most especially for those who are right. i saw just a corner of that last night, just a tiny speck of the darkness. and it is horrible.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

off balance

the letter "h"!
sleepy buddha
last night, john proved to me again what an awesome kid he is. he wanted to have a dance party in the living room and asked daddy to put on the radio.

daddy did, to a pop/top 40 type station. i can't remember what song it was, but john said, "no, daddy, a rock and ROLL dance."

so daddy changed. next station was a country song. "no, daddy. rock and ROLL!"

finally, daddy landed on an alt rock station. "that's it daddy! rock and roll, rock and roll ..." (insert cute hip/butt wiggle here).

what song had my kiddo rockin' and rollin'? 

"under the bridge," by red hot chili peppers. that, friends, THAT, is my child.

meantime charlie was sitting in his seat just smiling and laughing at big brother's antics.

*  *  *

and i needed that. i needed to be reminded how amazing my children are, because it was a rough afternoon before that. it started with a tough meeting with an employee at work, followed by trips to not one but two grocery stores on the way home. and in the car, i made the "mistake" of chatting on the phone with two friends who needed me rather than interacting with john, so he was on terrible behavior most of the way. and it carried over into the grocery stores where he whined and fussed and didn't listen and charlie got wound up and i was that mom walking thru walmart biting back tears as i pushed a cart of crying wiggling boys. (how can two small boys seem to be SO MUCH boy?)

and i know, we all have those days. and i know a lot of it is probably still a learning curve for me as a mom of two instead of one, as a working mom again, as a mom of a nearly four year old instead of a two year old, etc. i know, we're all still (and always will be) figuring out what to do.

but i struggle so much, because i want my kids to always know they are the center of my heart -- but they cannot at every moment be the center of my attention. and i want to make the most of my time with those amazing boys of mine (husband included), but sometimes i want to talk to a girlfriend who is having a tough time with her own family, or another who is in early labor with her first son. 

yesterday, i felt very much like i failed at the balance.

i didn't so much balance as teeter, wobble, fall, stumble, yell, cry, and make little ones cry.

and i know, today is a new day, blah de blah de blah. i know, we all have off days and all that garbage. i KNOW that. 

sooooo ... what's my strategy? i need a strategy.
  1. focus on rock and roll and giggles instead of yelling and carseat kicking
  2. take a deep breath. stretch. close my eyes. remember the peace i found just a week ago when i took the martin luther king holiday to stay in bed and play with charlie all day. (i should write a post about that. maybe tomorrow.)
  3. put into place my plan to take a day off once a month or so to spend time with one of the boys one-on-one -- again, including my husband.
mamas, how do you do it? how do you balance your life -- even if you don't work out of the home, how do you keep it together when you're losing it a little? and how do you recover after you lose it?