Sunday, February 28, 2010

Living with your heart outside your body...

Many years ago, before I became a seasoned mother of three, I once heard someone say that having children was like learning to live with your heart beating outside of your body. Of course, before having children, your life is focused on other things; your goals, your job, your spouse. But you are only responsible for yourself, and if you screw up, no one is the wiser.

Fast forward to the birth of our first son, Matthew. As I have mentioned before, just trying to bring him into this world was SO HARD! And yet, I always felt that God’s hand was always in it. Because, after all that fear, my son was perfect. He was the sweetest baby I had ever known. He would awake each morning with the brightest of smiles, was so agreeable and I WAS HIS MOTHER!

My heart would break when he was hurt or sick. And the worst was that infamous day in September of 2001. When I wasn’t there to protect him, to shield him of whatever might fall from the innocent looking sky. I had never known fear like that, and I finally understood what living with your heart outside your body felt like. Because my child DESERVED a better world than the one that permitted people to commit such atrocities…and I was powerless to make it right for my sweet boy.

When Andrew arrived, I had lost my father after a long battle with cancer. I was overwhelmed with grief, and once again, God’s hand was orchestrating. I discovered I was pregnant a month after my father’s passing. Andrew, without being larger than a lima bean, was already another, glorious ray of sunshine in my life. I picked myself up and lived because my children needed me. Andrew awarded you a rare gift of a smile if you were particularly worthy. And boy, did I treasure those smiles, with their accompanying wrinkled nose and crunched up smiley eyes…

But when Andrew’s mole on the back of his head began to grow and had to be removed, this normally tough lady felt her knees buckle as her little five year old son was wheeled into the O.R. And she had to put on her big girl panties and be strong for him, to be the last, smiling face he saw before he went under, and be the first smiling face he saw when he woke up…And when I found a lump under his ear last spring, one which did not dissipate over several months, the fear threatened to take me under. How could my child be faced with another potentially BIG problem? Blessedly, both surgeries were a success and the prognosis: happy, healthy, thriving almost seven year old. My very own heart beating outside my body…

And what to say of Joshua…my youngest has overcome so much in so little time. At nine months, my precious sweetness had not made any attempts to turn over. At his check up, the nurse practitioner was as cold and business like as a person could be…”your baby is floppy. You need to take him to a physical therapy evaluation. If he is not better within three months, you need to see a neurologist…”

I felt my stomach give way…The questions, the overwhelming fear, the powerlessness was back. As I gazed at my littlest guy, I also knew that a mother’s love is a powerful thing. When you awake the lioness that slumbers in each of us, you had better be prepared to do battle…and battle we did.

Phone calls, appointments, precautions. I begged and pleaded with the insurance company… I argued with doctors. Appointments a week away; not good enough. We went to physical therapy and I learned to do the same exercises at home on the off days. We saw a neurologist and after seeing the other children and their parents in the waiting room, my heart sank. My cross was so much lighter than theirs. How could I cry out? I refused labels other than FIGHTER and NORMAL… and blessedly, Joshua won that battle.

A few months after, just after his first birthday, my sister’s niece, who is an optometrist, happened to view some photographs of Joshua, all with an ominous white spot in the left eye. “Tell Maria to take him to a pediatric ophthalmologist, IMMEDIATELY.” The queen of Google went into full force and what I discovered took my breath away. Could be a brain tumor? Not my baby. Not the one who has battled for so long and is almost walking…not my medical miracle.

Those days before the appointment with the specialist, I have never felt so alone. My husband thought I had lost my mind and tried to comfort me. My sister, who always has the words to draw me out of my sadness, failed. My fear must have been a well placed mask on my face that morning. When the doctor started examining him, the first words out of his mouth were, “You can exhale, Mom, it is not a tumor.”

What words can begin to express the relief that washed over me when I registered that magical phrase? Not tumors, not cancer, not watching a piece of me battle a much harder and possibly unwinnable fight? Not watch my child be consumed by hospitals, experimental drugs, surgeries…Instead, watch your child grow, learn, blossom. The tears filled my eyes, and I did, indeed, exhale.

And so, all of this to say that sometimes, we learn the meaning of a phrase; and relearn it, over and over again. Some lessons are harder to learn. We become stronger as mothers when we are faced by seemingly insurmountable circumstances. But we all know that the harder the battle, the more sweet the victory.

But we question ourselves. Did we miss any signs? What could I have done differently? What did I do wrong? We are our own worst enemies. We all too often don’t need anyone to feed that monster named doubt…

Each of my sons has brought me invaluable gifts. They have taught me to find my voice, to question, to find strength I did not know I possessed.

They have taught me that every single day is a gift, because we all have an hourglass over our heads. That time is an ally and an enemy.

That as mothers, we are vigilant.  That we love and pray that the decisions we make are the right ones.  That we are indeed the people whom our children believe us to be.

But the greatest lesson I have learned from my sons: that l could not imagine my life without my heart beating outside my body.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oh my goodness...I got sunshine on a cloudy day....


A HUGE THANK YOU GOES OUT TO JESSICA AT Adventures of a wife and mommy for this Sunshine Award!

I know how excited she is to receive her first award! Congrats and thank you for sharing!

Other important news...

Liz at ...but then I had kids is having a great giveway of ANTI-MOM lingerie!  Check her post and leave a comment!  Deadline is March 2, 2010!

Thanks to all of you have visited for a while...and thank you for posting comments! I LOVE COMMENTS!

Come by and visit soon!

Friday, February 26, 2010

A wonderful start to the day…

Olympics be damned, I stayed up until after midnight to watch the women’s ice skating competitions before finally turning in. Exhausted, I lay awake before drifting off into sweet slumber.

At 2 a.m., I awoke and went to see where my dear hubby had collapsed from exhaustion and beckoned him to bed.

At 3:30 a.m., we had an uninvited visitor roam into our room and take a spot between us. The smallest of the bear cubs was surprisingly not in a snuggling kind of mood.

He thrashed and uncovered, twisted and turned. He removed my arm from around his warm little body and I retreated, defeated that my youngest child just wanted a warm bed.

And then, drunk from sleep, he grabbed my arm again. And enveloped himself within the curve of my body. We were nestled like those Russian dolls that I so loved when I was a little girl.

And for the briefest of moments, I thought back to when this child was completely enveloped by my body. Protected, fed, held so close for so long. I remembered how his little fingers and toes would delicately tickle my belly from the inside. I remember the yearning to meet this little person and discover who he was...

This morning, in the wee hours, I felt the warmth of his little body and his need to still be the baby, to still find welcoming arms on a cold night, after a bad dream or loneliness.

When we awoke this morning, my husband and I lovingly gazed our youngest treasure. He lay asleep, his dark long lashes curled on his slightly pink cherub cheeks. I thanked the heavens above for this most perfect gift...and my heart melted as it so often does when I look upon my three sons...

And I wondered, how did this perfect angel come upon us? How have we, in our infinite imperfections, been charged to raise this child, among his precious brothers? How can we become the people he believes us to be already?

And that is my goal for today; to be the person my almost three year old son thinks I already am...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Don't postpone joy...

I saw this on a bumper sticker on my way home from work yesterday. The message is so simple, but oh, so hard to put into practice. As women, as mothers, we are ALWAYS putting ourselves last on the list. And really, when we wonder why we aren't appreciated, thanked, valued the way that we want or deserve, it is because all too often, we have taught others how to treat us.

Although times have changed mightily and we enjoy the choices and freedoms our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers struggled to secure for us, we are rarely content with ourselves. It is not that we are not happy, we are overwhelmed. With the choices we must make to help our families stay afloat, with being torn into a million different pieces, with the multitude of roles we must fulfill in one given day.

And all too often, we are too tired to try to find some joy within our days.

Some days, it is all we can do to fulfill our job requirements to a bare minimum, come home, be mothers to our children: feed them, supervise home work and baths, tuck in bed. Then be wives to our husbands: lending an ear, holding a hand, comforting. We never stop to think that we CANNOT do these things for them, yet, repeatedly, we DON'T do this for ourselves.

How many of us have ever stopped our husbands mid-story and said, " I just need you to listen to me." How many times have we sacrificed our children's needs for our own...we are just not programmed that way. And I am NOT saying that our joy, our comfort for ourselves should come at sacrificing our children and spouses, but that we should also take the time in our day for ourselves...Because we ARE important.

If you think of it, so much is balanced on these shoulders of ours. We need to be on our game for the other people who desperately depend on us. Our children, spouses, elderly parents. How can we give when we ourselves are spent?

And what do we tell ourselves each day? Tomorrow I will...When I am done with this task, goal, whatever, I will...Days turn into weeks, weeks turn into months, months into years...We postpone our joy. Daily, constantly, decidedly, without compassion.

Perhaps it is not one big to-do that must happen to fill us with joy. Perhaps it is changing our expectations...I would rather a year's worth of silly or quiet moments with my family than a big blowout of a celebration for a few hours in one day and then 364 days of nothing.

I find that opening myself up to the beauty of each day: the gift of molding my children into the adults I would like to see, the gift of having a job that I so enjoy (on most days), that I live with a man whom I so love and respect; I prepare myself for the joy that the day will give me.

Because the joy maybe disguised in many ways. It may not be flamboyant. It might be that a particularly difficult day has finished with no one worse for the wear. It might come from a kind word from an acquaintance or the knowing smile of a stranger. The gift is unexpected, but there.

Or it might be something that I give to myself. That at the end of the day, the joy comes from knowing that another day has come and gone, that progress of some sort has been made. That I have crossed the finish line. The reward of joy might be a cup of tea, a few pages from a magazine that has been sitting abandoned for weeks, soaking a warm bath, clearing the slate for the next day; but something; something that is just for me, must happen.

However small, that daily offering to this weary goddess must be made. So that she can continue to exist in balance...and joy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

"You like me; you really like me..."

When I started this blog, all I really wanted to do was write about my experiences as a mother of three boys (I am still in awe of that!) and hopefully connect with other mothers about their experiences as well.

Imagine my surprise this morning when I looked at my comment section and found that I had received an award!

I am so honored that Betsy from The Zen Mama Blog has bestowed upon me a Beautiful Blogger Award! For someone who is pretty new around these parts, it is awfully nice to get a little recognition, but even nicer to think that we all share these experiences, and just want our children to grow up to be happy, well-adjusted people. To borrow from Sally Fields' Oscar acceptance speech, "You like me; you really like me!"

Here is how the award works: The recipient of the award chooses 7 bloggers to pass the award on to, and shares 7 things about themselves. Without further hesitation, here are my award winners:

1. ...but then I had kids. I am fortunate enough to call Liz a colleague and friend. Her honest and endearing blog gives us each the opportunity to see ourselves in her experiences...Thanks for inspiring me to do this, Liz!

2. Momalom. Written by sisters Sarah and Jen, who so often remind me of the relationship my sister and I share. Their thought-provoking and humorous views of motherhood resonate with me on a daily basis. One of my favorites!

3. Let's have a cocktail. JennyMac is HYSTERICAL! Her experiences and gift of storytelling is bar none! Nothing gets me laughing harder in the morning than this blog!

4 . Drama For Mama. I have just recently found Becca and love her perspective of motherhood. She has quite simply fallen in love with her children...So happy I happened upon this blog!

5. The Kitchen Witch. She was wickedly good recipes and her take on Valentine's Day: Then and Now sounds oddly familiar.

6. Life in Pencil. I was completely taken with the title and LOVE the insights of Elizabeth and Anne. Elizabeth is happily expecting her first child.

7. Motherese. Another new favorite! Kristen's heartfelt writing and reflections on herself are always on target with me.

And without further ado... 7 thoughts about me that don't include my children (this should prove to be interesting!):

1. My husband and I have known each other since our sophomore year in high school. We began dating our senior year and, God-willing, will celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss this December.

2. I was awarded a full scholarship at the University of Miami to complete my Master's degree in Education. I graduated 10(!) years ago this May.

3. I LOVE FOOD! At one point, I loved food so much that I lost close to 30 pounds!

4. My sister and I have a rare, exceptionally close relationship. We work at the same school and will talk to each other on the phone at least four times a day, outside of work!

5. I love to travel with my husband. At least once a year, we make time out for ourselves and visit a new place, just the two of us!

6. My favorite thing to do is read. From the time I was a very small child, I always found refuge in a good story.

7. I have learned to push my own boundaries since becoming a mother. I am really enjoying presenting challenges to myself, and then meeting them.

Thanks so much, Betsy! And a hearty congratulations to Liz, Jen and Sarah, JennyMac, Becca, The Kitchen Witch, Elizabeth and Anne, and Kristen!

* Recipients: Thank and link to the person that gave you the award. Then notify each recipient to let them know you’ve given them a Beautiful Blogger Award.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Finding your happy place...

As I have mentioned before, I teach a wonderful group of third graders who are a mere three weeks away from the State required exam for promotion. Needless to say, when they walked into the room on that very first day, you could smell the fear radiating from them.

We have spent the better part of the year preparing for the test. New skills and concepts taught and reinforced, practiced, drilled, tested, reinforced, drilled... you get the picture. And while their confidence is starting to become a little more evident, the worry-wart faces were there last week. Deeply burrowed foreheads, eyes shifting from one side to the other, nervously licking their lips; waiting, wondering when the other shoe would drop...So I stopped all the teaching of stuff that will be remembered for a short time and when on to teach them something that they will use for a long time. I taught them to find their happy place.

Wait a minute, you might ask. You are there to teach the state mandated curriculum and prepare these children for the exam that will promote them to the next grade. Yes, all of that is true. However, what good is it if they have learned all this material and they get so nervous, they can't perform...How good is all this preparation if I don't take it to the next level?

So, on that Wednesday afternoon, we closed our books and our eyes. I guided them into their happiest memories; trips to Disney, their own rooms, their grandparents' homes, even a bowl of buttered noodles (Hey, who am I to judge? Sometimes, your happy place is a plate full of carbs!) and let them stay there awhile, relishing in the sounds, smells, feelings of their happy thoughts. And you want to know something? The anxiety melted off those precious faces so beautifully. It was better than seeing them master a particularly hard concept, because they were happy. They were kids, thinking about things that bring them joy! When they opened their eyes, their expressions were knowing, as if they had unlocked this fabulous secret about themselves, and they couldn't wait to know more.

That afternoon, part of their unofficial homework was to fill in more details about their place. When they got back the next day, they were eager to share tidbits they had added, and to describe what their parents had thought and commented on. Some parents, God bless them, shared their own happiness havens...

What a gift for these kids! That their parents validated something that they so desperately needed! That they have found that they can do the very best job of calming themselves...that they will be okay...

As parents, we all need to have a place where we can retreat to when parenthood gets to be too much. We all need a place where the pressures cannot get to us, where we can decompress. Time and distance constraints keep us from being in a particular location, but we are always free to wander in our minds. We need to find ways in which we detach ourselves from the reality we find ourselves in and escape, for just a few moments, so we can regain our perspective, our balance, and we can go on, being the best we can be.

This lesson was not just for my students. While I was guiding them through, I thought about my own happy place. In my happy place, the sunlight dances on the ocean's waves, lifting the sun's rays back into the infinite blue sky. In my happy place, my children are laughing and chasing each other in the glorious sea shore, foaming under their brown toes...In my happy place, the sounds of the waves are the perfect backdrop to those three beautiful boys that I have been blessed with...and even when I open my eyes, I am still there...

Monday, February 22, 2010

The daily witching hour....

In our household, and I suspect in many others across this great land of ours, there is a "magical" time that spans from after-school through bedtime. My sister and I affectionately call this the witching hour.

It is almost like the convergence of several rare, meteorological spectacles, all rolled up into one...and if you have a toddler, the fun magnifies several hundred times. For several hours each late afternoon into early evening, everything seems suspended as in a time warp. Shall I walk you through a typical witching hour in our home? Will it remind you of good times of your own?

Our afternoon begins with a brisk sprint through the teacher's parking lot, desperately dodging other crazed teachers colleagues making their way home. My two older sons are usually still several yards behind as I make head way to the car, to unceremoniously dump all my belongings in the front seat, to begin the trek to pick up the toddler. In the car, as I steer clear of other mothers making their way home, the typical conversation ensues; one that carefully gauges the amount of homework my children will be responsible for completing that afternoon. Depending on the amount, we run an errand or two, or we just get home.

Picking up the toddler is the first stop. My youngest son's school is located in the most inconvenient of spots. There is a stop light after the school that you must wait at for at least five minutes. Five minutes should not be too bad, right? Except that I have that invisible Mommy clock over my head...the one that carefully marks when things are going to go south for any of the said children. The one that nary forgives a mistake, the one that is forever ticking my time with these precious children away. A mere five minutes can mean the difference between a kind witching hour or one that seems to go on FOREVER...

Picking up Joshua entails a security system, signing out, and the collecting of various personal belongings; namely the sippy cup (which are in very limited quantities in our house, as this is the last of the babies in this family) and the lunch box. Needless to say, a left behind sippy cup is fair game to any other parent who is also embarking on the witching hour, or it becomes the grossest of science experiments by the next afternoon's pickup.

Because Joshua is a toddler, all modes of reasoning and bargaining are off the table. Quite frankly, you never know how it is going to go once we are out the door. First, he must wash his hands before we go, which may or may not improve his mood as he exits the building. Then comes the routine of jumping down the steps of the administrative building. Finally, is the fight to hold his hand as we make our way through the parking lot. He likes to run in parking lots...enough said, people. By this time, I am ready to curl up with a sippy cup filled with an adult beverage and pretend I don't hear or see the children I gave birth to...but the best is yet to come...

Depending on Joshua's (and the two other children's) mood, I can then decide to risk the trip to the grocery store to pick up the invariably forgotten item I must have to complete this 24 hour stretch of day or just ask Hubby to bring it (which he may or may not forget...depending on his day). Other excursions, like say, the barber, dentist or picking up an item for a project turns into a battle of the wills. Who will cave first? How many times can I be asked if we are going home next? The world may never know...

After all torture runs errands are completed, I rush home with hungry, cranky children who need to complete homework. I rush to begin some semblance of a nutritious dinner and begin the 40th round of homework battles. Some days, like today, I get EXTREMELY lucky and everyone is done early and without too much pestering on either parent or child's part. Other days, I would rather have my four impacted wisdom teeth removed again, this time without the aid of pharmaceuticals. Yeah, it's that bad...but at least with the teeth I lost some weight as an added bonus...And all this with the soothing background music of Nick Jr., slowly eating away at whatever brain cells I may have left...(On a side note, shouldn't studies be conducted on the consequences of listening to toddler programming when you are in your late thirties? Just a thought...)

After feeding time at the zoo, (and for those of you who don't have boys, there are days that I know that they must have a hollow leg, because they are ALWAYS hungry...SERIOUSLY) begins bath time. When they were younger, I could put everyone in the tub at the same time and Hubby and I had an assembly line approach that would make Henry Ford proud. These days, it is one at a time, usually the older two bickering on who should go first, who went first. Think of a really bad play on Laurel and Hardy's Who's on First, but without the comedic genius. Then comes the squirmy toddler, who still smells delicious after a warm bath and looks better than anyone in striped pajamas...Bliss, right? So close to the finish line of today you can taste it? WRONG!

Joshua has now decided that he can roll right out of his little toddler bed and hang with the big boys, namely Andrew on the bottom bunk in the room all three share, or head on out to the family room, where his father and I try to gather up enough energy to finish picking up the kitchen, get a shower ourselves and pray that we fall asleep in our bed rather than on the couch...Not good times. Because he is so tired, he cannot walk straight, because, inevitably, the other two will start complaining that any given sibling is keeping him from slumber...

But more often than not, when I kiss all three boys good night, I close the door and hear them talking about their day to each other, making themselves giggle and whisper...the stuff dreams are made of, and definitely the stuff that fuels you for tomorrow night's episode of the witching hour...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Practicing B.C. to control laundry that multiplies...

I know that my deep hatred dislike for laundry is something that is shared with every parent that has a child, and that the dislike grows exponentially (much like the laundry itself) with each member that is added to your family.

If you are a working mom, you may have several approaches to dealing with the mounting problem. You may choose to divide your pain over several days during the work week, which lightens the load (no pun intended) but you are ALWAYS doing laundry.

I take a different (and equally fruitless) approach. My hot date with the washer and dryer spans from Friday afternoon when I pull up in my driveway and usually ends late Sunday night. Yes, in my infinite wisdom, I take my pain over the weekend.

The problem is not the actually washing, because honestly, THANK GOD there is no scrubbing board and coal iron to have to deal with that whole mess. The problem lies in the folding and putting away...because honestly, is it not just about the most unproductive thing you do as a mother? No matter how fast you do it, there is ALWAYS dirty clothes, there is ALWAYS clothes to be folded, and there is ALWAYS stuff to put away...

As I said, after that many loads, I definitely do not want to put away all that stuff...So it sits in my bedroom, on the floor, in baskets by load and owner...Matthew's stuff in one, Andrew's in another, Joshua's in yet another, and ours. Just because I hate it doesn't mean that I have to be disorganized about it, right?

But somehow, "I'll do it later" turns into "I'll do it tomorrow" which becomes, "Can you bring me Matthew's basket to put the stuff out of the dryer." (You see now why I keep it separate, right?) Pretty soon, it has become two week's worth of stuff to put away. And I am ashamed to admit this, but there have been times that it has actually been four week's worth and we have been living out of those darn laundry baskets...

And in that short period of time, my bedroom becomes an incredibly romantic place for those laundry baskets. I swear to you, those baskets need to be heavily chaperoned by on old, Cuban great-grandmother. They are like bunnies in heat, those baskets of clean clothes, reproducing their contents at an astonishing rate and that leaves all affected in a state of perpetual exhaustion from the upkeep...

So tonight, I am going to practice a little B.C. as in "basket control" and hope that I can curtail the current basket population in my bedroom, and replenish all those empty, forlorn looking drawers and closets, so that we can all breathe (and walk) a little easier.

Don't you wish it was as easy as taking a pill, though?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Warts and all...

Last night, after my son apologized, we talked about how families are...that we love each other, "warts and all," I said. He looked at me with this puzzled face and I went on to explain... "When we love someone entirely, in spite of their faults and we still like being around them, we love them warts and all."

I was raised with the notion that because someone is a family member, you should automatically feel something for this person...Not always so. Shared lineage does not a family make.

We don't really get to choose who ends up in our families, we just have them. We sometimes cannot reconcile the fact that they are indeed sharing the same genetic codes, and in spite of that, we have to distance ourselves. We don't like who we become when we are around them, or too many arguments, (besides those that occur at the dinner table over which way food should be passed), too many hurt feelings, too much bad drama. You can tolerate being in their presence for brief, highly controlled situations, and then move along. You take one for the team, to keep the peace, but there is no allegiance.

Families usually start when a boy meets a girl, they have babies, their babies have babies, and so forth...but families are cultivated with love, history, shared stories and concern for one another. And that often includes people we choose to include, that don't necessarily share Granny's ability to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue! Bird of a feather, flock together kind of thing...and that sometimes means taking the good with the bad.

And isn't this especially true of marriage. After the wedding dress is preserved and stored, after the monotony of daily life sets in (because it does), the warts really start to appear. They are very easy to spot on our spouse, but every once in a while, we see shadows of our own warts staring us in the face. When you really love someone, you can acknowledge all the warts (his, hers, ours), all those imperfections that make us, at times, intolerable, and still love them and the person they are attached to. It is not that you are blinded by your love for this person, you just love them enough to look past it, and they return the favor. And if you are really lucky, you might even get a running joke out of one or two of them.

Warts and all is the cornerstone of parenthood, I think. We love our children desperately...we give up sleep, sick days, our waistlines, sanity, and bank accounts because of our love for them. But that love does not diminish our abilities to see our children as they are. At least for me, that love gives me a sense of clarity when I look at my children as a whole. I can see their imperfections, and as their mother, perhaps I can help them fine tune those that need tuning.

Our warts shouldn't be a barrier or something that prevents us from the love of another. They are there to remind us that we are constantly in need of improvement within ourselves. That there is always the opportunity to improve those things in us that seem to make us uncomfortable. That if we love ourselves enough, we can really make those changes. And maybe, just maybe, if we can diminish our own warts, we might just be the inspiration for someone else to do the same for us. After all, there is always more to love without the warts...

Friday, February 19, 2010

This too shall pass...

It has been one of those days...the teaching of equivalent fractions has given me a sound beating and my oldest child has been practicing his litigation skills to justify a lack in effort that has resulted in a lower grade. Nothing major, but what has transpired because of it has me fuming...

My husband and I would like to think of ourselves as pretty laid back with minor stuff in the discipline department, but there are several biggies that cannot be ignored: disrespectful actions to another human being, lies, and lack of effort. Somehow, these three met up in one fell swoop and the "punishment" was handed out. Consequences were in line with the offense.

Except that, to a nine year old, it was was hurtful, it was mean...and he is trying. Hey, buddy, we all are...

Unfortunately for us parents, they don't take us aside and teach us how to hold it together when your child is on the defense, fighting to keep you from taking away what they so want. They don't teach us that these sweet, lovable babies learn to use their words, often with such skill and eloquence, that they can break our hearts with just a few simple words, strung together without too much effort...simple words that with the accuracy of a silver bullet, pierce and wound this heart...

And then, the unexpected. A thoughtful, contrite child returns, with tears in their eyes, at the true realization that they have hurt you. They return with a sincere apology, delineating where they have gone wrong, and what they need to do to make things right. They demonstrate what you so often pray for: maturity, impulse control, holding their tongue to avoid the hurt of others. They say this to you, and for a brief moment, you have a glimpse of the man they are to become. A righteous, honest man, who apologizes with all his heart. A man, who is still a child at heart, whose heart skips in happiness at the thought that his apology is accepted, and the bad moment has passed, and the healing begins...And that part, to witness that transformation, right before your eyes, is priceless.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Reversal of roles...

As hard as being a parent is, it is something that you sign up for. However delusional you are in thinking that it will be relatively easy (HA!), you have a say in the matter and you have 40 weeks to come to grips with the responsibility you are about to embark on. Hopefully, you have a network of friends who might be along the same stretch of the parenthood path to keep you company and trade stories with.

Not so much when you become the caregiver for an elderly parent.

My parents had my sister and I later in life. My sister and I like to joke that they were avant-garde in the "late thirties/early forties jump into first time parenthood" trend; about thirty something years too early. My father passed away after a very long battle with cancer almost eight years ago, and it was HARD to watch this man who had always been so strong just wither into a shell of what he once was. But his mind was clear, and for the most part, he followed his doctor's orders. That is not to say that he was easy, but he tried, as best he could, to not worry us too much.

My mother is a different story. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease almost five years ago. While at first, she followed doctors orders, the decline in her ability to care for herself became painfully apparent. At first, in small ways; then in ways that you could not ignore.

But harder than trying to convince an adult, mainly your parent, that they need help is nothing compared to your realization that they are not invincible. That they are becoming frail. That they are getting old. That inevitably, they will die. And that is scary, no matter how old you are.

And it goes back to how much we need our parents, even when we are adults. When we are children, we need them to take care of our most primal needs. When we become adults, we know that their wisdom is invaluable. That they have survived our own childhood. Our perspective changes. We don't think that they were always wrong. We might be persuaded to see their point of view, now that we ourselves are being challenged in the same ways by our own offspring.

So there is another force that tears us apart. We see ourselves in them. And that you too are getting older. That you too will become frail. That your body will give out.

We fear having to depend on our own children; to be a burden to them, to be another reason for them to worry.

We cannot prepare ourselves for this; becoming the caregivers to those who birthed us. It is too hard, too frustrating, yet, it must be done. Luckily, my sister and I, in spite of the five children we have between us, have found a rhythm for divvying up the tasks that help my mother try to maintain the mobility she has, that help unburden her of most of the things that would make her fret.

We have each other to lift the other up when she becomes overwhelmed with the reality that is upon us. The reality that mom needs us now. As much as our children need us, with the same fierceness to right any wrongs, with the same gentleness when the anxiety sets in, with the same tenacity that we face each day's challenges with them. And it is an emotionally draining tug-of-war between the responsibilities of parenthood and the responsibilities to your parents.

And I am grateful, even for this. That I can do something for the woman who worked so hard to provide for us, who did without so that we may have, who fought for us to have a better future. It is the ultimate thank you note...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sounds of silence...

For a moment, I have a little quiet in my house, the calm before the storm. Joshua is quietly napping, Daddy has taken one son to tennis in exchange for the other one coming home to a supper nearly complete.

For a day off from school and work, it has certainly seemed as busy as any other day. Children to wake up, feed and clothe, deadlines to meet, appointments to keep. Running from one end of town to the other, in fruitless pursuit of fulfilling never ending lists of things to do.

A few years ago, this silence would have unsettled me. It would have made me ill-at-ease, wondering what the Fates were cooking up; what the next challenge of adulthood I would have to meet and master. That was before these moments became so rare. That was before I found a place of peace within me. A peace that I rarely find with silence as the accompanying soundtrack.

So, for this brief moment, I will savor this silence. All too soon, all the inhabitants of this adobe will fill it with their bodies, their voices, their needs. For this moment, I will sit, and be content.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A delicious Friday night and Saturday afternoon...

My favorite day of the week is Friday...Of course for all the obvious reasons, but mainly because I am not torn in two different directions. My children and my job do not have to compete for my attention, and for 48 hours, I can pretend that I belong only to my husband and three children, instead of sliced and diced to be spread so thin, I need the help of an electronic device to remind me of where to be at any particular moment...

So last night, after wrapping up loose ends at work, I picked up my youngest treasure and decided to hit the little "fancy" grocery store around the corner. I picked up all kinds of tasty treats for hubby and I to share after this most stressful week. Along the way, the kids recounted their Valentine's semi-celebrations at school. My middle son had a performance in the morning that I was still swooning over, my youngest had drawn a beautiful Valentine for his father and I, and my oldest, what my oldest did floored me.

My two older sons attend the school that I teach at. Our PTSA sponsored a Valentine Teddy-Gram sale and I bought one for each of my boys, as I do every year. Matthew got his yesterday, and would not let it go. I mean, he carried it into the preschool to pick up his youngest brother, and he brought it with him when we got out at the grocery store...Floored, I tell you. Because, for the entirety of the school year last year, he would pretend not to know me when we saw each other at school. But yesterday, my son, who had my heart when he was still an unfertilized egg on the sonogram screen, my BIG nine year old son, clutched his little red bear like it was a treasure...and I was a happy woman.

Later on, after SEVERAL glasses of red wine and a nice dinner, I sat with my handsome men as we watched the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics. And my two older boys actually argued to see who would get to sit with me, hugging me, snuggling with me...and again, I was a happy woman...

Today, we went to our local arts festival...I love to submerse myself in the beauty and complexity of the colors and textures that are on display, and hopefully, find some inspiration among them. My middle son loves art. He has always loved to create and he enjoys discussing the incredible photography that is usually on display. We especially love to imagine where the photographer has captured a specific image. We detail the colors and imagery...and today, surrounded by this beauty, my two older sons held my hands; their fingers intertwined in mine, the heart beating through their palms and into my own, and again, I was a happy and grateful woman...

This evening, when they are in bed, my husband and I will share a quiet dinner and revisit the day. I will hold his hand as we talk, laugh about the day's events...and again, I will be a happy woman...

Because, right now, each in their own way, I am their Valentine and they are each mine. Because I have no need for the traditional trappings of the holiday. All I need, every once and a while, is to feel this loved; such as I have for TWO consecutive days. To be surrounded by these beautiful images, colors, textures; so that my heart is the canvas, these moments, the paint, and I have my own festival within my soul. To revisit time and again. Who could ask for more?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our version of the cloud's silver lining...

Our morning began with the same hectic mess that each week day brings...the continuing snoozing of the alarm clock, the frantic rush to clothe, feed and transport three children to three different destinations...if we are lucky, we dress in somewhat coordinating colors, down vitamins and coffee ('cause you know we need any and every chance to gain some momentum), grab something to eat on our way and we are off to join the rest of the rats.

This morning, John had an early meeting and left earlier than usual to drop Joshua at school. John turned at his usual intersection and got pulled over; THREE tickets, people! For a man so cautious, he is like a man walking a tightrope over thin ice...He calls me. He NEVER calls me. To tell me of what had happened...When I breathed a sigh of relief that it was JUST three tickets, he delivers the line that cracks me up. "Maria, the whole time I am waiting at the light, Joshua is screaming his head off because the sun was in his eyes. I turned, I got pulled over, and he is still screaming because the sun is REALLY in his eyes now. But as the cop is writing up the tickets, he was trying to get out of his car seat, and had managed to get himself part way out, still screaming his head off." He chuckles, then says, "The whole time, I was watching him through the rear view mirror, praying that the cop wouldn't notice what he had done and written me yet another ticket for him being out of the car seat. I guess I got lucky!"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I married this man. Because he is the only person on Earth who would be grateful for ONLY getting three tickets! And that he would call me to tell me the hidden punch line!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cliff notes on how your parenting outlook changes with multiple children...

As we all know, parenting isn't for sissies. On some sub-conscious level, we know very early on (like when the stick turns pink)that we are in WAY over our heads. The thing is, we never really fully accept how powerless we are in parenting until we ACTUALLY have kids. Let's examine this theory, shall we?

When we become first-time parents, we are enamored with the idea of a new little baby. We fantasize about how the baby will look, which of significant other's favorite traits the baby will inherit, and we can spend hours debating the merits of several name combinations with our spouse. When the time for the sonogram comes, we kick anticipation into high gear, seeking to know the sex of our precious bundle of joy, so that we can proceed to decorate the nursery that can only be rivaled in Architectural Digest. If you are lucky, you experience no pregnancy related discomforts, have an easy delivery, and have an easy baby.

We forget several key points trapped under our flowery thoughts. We forget that these sweet little babies grow up, learn to use their mouths for stuff other than smiling and feeding, and often beat the daylights out of their equally precious siblings...Sounds like we've all been taking a dip in denial!

I should have known at the get-go that this was MY pregnancy. My husband and I "issues" (not horrible, but enough to make me sob every time I found out someone ELSE was pregnant) getting pregnant. I felt like I was a part of a small scale science experiment (which REALLY explain my older son Matthew's fascination with science). So finally, when I had enough hormones to kill a two ton animal, the first sign of pregnancy came about; a missed period.

My very specific directions from the specialist was to report immediately for a blood test. I did as told. And, although it was REALLY hard to wait, I even WAITED until two minutes AFTER the day and time that had been designated for me to call for my results. Did I mention that this was me...yeah, well, the lab LOST MY BLOOD ! I mean, seriously, folks! Who loses a crazy overly anxious could-be-expecting woman's blood work. And then, to be told to wait some more!!! When I hung up, I stared at the phone and I just laughed. Not a "ha-ha that's so funny" laugh, but more along the lines of a maniac getting ready to be taken away kind of laugh....And when told, my hubby's response was priceless and went along the lines of "it will be ok." Seriously. Did he have any idea what that amount of hormones can do to somebody?

Needless to say, I went to the corner drug store, bought the first time mother's pregnancy test (+ or -, because you still have brains to figure out this particular code), peed on the darn stick and waited...big surprise, the test works fine and there's a negative, uh, wait a minute, is that a perpendicular line in the faintest of pinks?..OH S*%&#@! What do I do now?!! Not entirely the response that's documented in What To Expect When You're Expecting, is it?

You can very well imagine that every pregnancy malady that exists, I experienced. Sonogram, yeah, right. My kid, wanting to get a jump start in games children play with their parents, decided to cross his legs and not let us plan our Pottery Barn worthy nursery. Labor lasted 40 @*&%^$ hours! Only to have an emergency c-section. My precious baby had his mother's sense of direction and decided to go INTO the pelvic bone instead of THROUGH it...and we almost lost him. So, regardless of how crappy the last 36 weeks had been, Matthew's cry was the most soothing sound I had ever heard; because he was alive, he was healthy, and he was my son!

Motherhood was easy compared to what my body had gone through. He was the most perfect baby, slept through the night within the first month, hit his milestones, was a JOY! And me, I was a hard-ass. I wanted to keep a schedule, and I did. I corrected and modeled and he copied and took note. Then, I got pregnant again, faster than we had anticipated, because it had taken so long before.

Pregnancy #2 followed in suit with equal crappiness, but Andrew threw me a bone and was not camera shy at the sonogram. Father and son high-fived, and I grew concerned...another "oh, S*#@!" moment. Now, I am outnumbered, in so many ways... Andrew arrived at his scheduled c-section appointment time, and all was good. Except, you can't really be too much of a hard-ass when you are so tired. When all you are doing is changing diapers and feeding children. Did I mention changing diapers?

Now, all is still fine as #2 is confined to a play yard or pack and play. When he is kept separate from his brother. When you can no longer contain the second child, you are up the creek, because you have just entered an apprenticeship with the highly skilled, peace-keeping negotiating diplomats of the United Nations...and for any of you that have more than one child, you know exactly what I mean. Anything can set off an opportunity to practice your skills, and if you have a whiner, you will learn how to block from your mind any and all kinds of sounds emitted from your child that are not emergency related. Doesn't a college level course relating to this seem more practical than that Intro to Statistics you passed by the skin of your teeth?

Parenthood the third time around? No fertility drugs for once...the universe's cruel joke to turn me into Fertile Myrtle in my early thirties with two boys and a third child on the way...No concern for what sex he was. No, just concern for everything being okay and on track. No pregnancy maladies, mainly because I was so tired that I was numb to anything that wasn't sleep related or involved sick children...And really, pregnancy maladies are non-existent the third time around because you can't really take care of yourself the way you did when you were pregnant the first time...There are too many other bodies that need your attention. And if you did have any maladies, you are way too busy to deal with them. No delay in labor or waiting until the designated c-section day, because Joshua decided he wanted out, and wanted to get get mixed up the fray that was our family...And another healthy baby boy came my way.

Yeah, whole new perspective and mindset in approaching parenting went along with it. No more concerns for the superficial, because you are older and hopefully wiser. You know it doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl, you are just joyful in knowing that everything is where is should be and there is nothing extra or abnormal. No more tightly held schedules and silly rules, because honestly, the kids are okay. It's us; the parents, that seem to need to feel like we have more control than we really do. Don't get me wrong, some things are non-negotiable. You MUST be polite, respectful. You must try your best at school and in every thing else that is worthwhile. You must follow rules that guard your physical safety. But the stuff that's hiding under the dresser, who cares? That every article of clothing is placed in its correct location, who has time for that? Do you want to be remembered by your kids as the mom who chased them around the house to get everything orderly? Personally, the best chaos is one that is created with joyful, happy, secure kids...

With each additional child, you gain more to love and less to fuss over. You simply don't have the time, energy or inclination to waste any time you do have on stuff that doesn't matter anyway. You let go of the stuff that inhibits you from actually ENJOYING your kids. Because we all know how fast it goes...because before you know it, they are preschoolers, then in elementary school, MIDDLE SCHOOL (a whole other set of rules, I'm sure) and then, high school and college...and then, they are gone. And if you've done a good job in focusing on what's important, you might actually miss them. And they might just turn out to be the kind of people that you like...and THAT is something to be proud of....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Love Letter to the Men in my life...

In the spirit of camaraderie with the girls at Momalom and their Love It Up Challenge, I humbly submit my love letter to the men in my life:

Dear Guys,

In the past 19 years (YIKES!), I have had every childhood dream come true. I cannot pinpoint the exact moment I realized that the chain of events was set into motion, but I cannot believe how wonderful the ride has been so far.

First off, to Hubby:
I remember the day that we first met, so long ago. I remember your kind smile and thinking that everyone should be greeted by a smile like yours; warm, inviting and just a slight bit devilish. Although we would not begin our time together for a couple of years, there was an easiness between us that just felt right. When our interest in each other became more than just platonic, there was a certain amount of fear on my part. Could I succumb to this delicious, intoxicating lull that was love? Could I really say that I loved you and not be marked in some way? No, I could not just say it and not be changed. The fact that you had chosen me, even at just seventeen, was a gigantic leap of faith. You were a boy, in love with a girl, and just wanted a happily ever after. There was no trepidation on your part, and you simply caught me. You saw further than I could imagine...and in your eyes I saw a forever that made me feel cherished and equal. Because of you, I changed for the better. I became less defensive, more accommodating, more silly, more able to laugh at myself and my craziness. You gave me an empowerment that I had never known, and for the last nineteen years, we have stood side by side, certain that our strength together can overcome all that life has sent our way. Fears of infertility, job concerns, long shots that beat Vegas odds...together, we have withstood all of them, stronger, more in love, and deeply loved by the other.

Among all the gifts that you have bestowed, you have given me three beautiful sons. Yes, beautiful, because they are truly the best parts of each of us. They are a constant reminder of what true faith and a lot of love can produce. So I say to you, with all my heart; let's stay in this moment and enjoy...the best is yet to come.

To my Matthew: You were the first real miracle that I had ever been witness to. When I first looked into your newborn eyes after months of praying for your existence, I knew that I would be hopeless in my love for you. You changed me in so many ways. With you, I became a mother, without any idea of how profoundly that would shake me to the core. With your sweet smiles and witty sayings, you melted my heart. I know that there is still much that I need to learn. We are learning from each other, pushing each other's boundaries, finding our way together. Know that every time I look into your eyes, I see boundless possibilities. You are my gift from God and I love you dearly, sweetheart!

To my darling Andrew: You are the one who looks most like me and reminds me so much of the child I was. I watch you struggle between being the younger and older brother, the one in the middle. Yet, of the three of you, you have had the most courage. In your short time, you have dealt with challenges with indescribable bravery, even for your mother who is rarely at a loss for words. You are constantly analyzing those around you, thinking of how to fit in, how to please. I want to see you stand on your own, strong in your sense of self. I want to help you find the voice you keep silent to find your place among your brothers. As I once told you, you were sent to be the most important brother. Already, you try to bridge the differences that separate you from the others. You are so bright, yet are humble. Kind, but not willing to take anyone's nonsense. You are a series of contradictions, yet you love with your whole heart, without reservations...Life will reward you with a great love that will be as boundless as your very own heart. You have had my heart since I gazed upon you when you entered this Earth. You are my strength and my inspiration and I love you dearly, my brown sugar!

And my littlest angel, Joshua: You came to us the way the sun brightens an already breath-taking day. You came to us against all odds, and you have brightened every day since the day we knew you were on your way. Even though you are the youngest, you have been the one to overcome the most challenges in your short life. There have been many times that I have wondered how you could smile and be cheerful when my own heart was so full of worry and prayer over you. In spite of the regime that has brought you to full recovery, you never complained. In fact, you taught me that all that is important cannot be rushed. It must come in its own time, at it's own pace, so that the anticipation gives way to acceptance and joy. When I look at you, I see all that Daddy and I have prayed for, a healthy son whose very presence in our lives has been the cause of much more joy because of the worry. I know that of all of you, you will be the one to handle hardships with your father's patience and acceptance instead of my frantic worry and overdrive in trying to remedy. You have taught me that all you really need is love and faith. You are living proof of both. I love you dearly, peanut!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Insomnia: A mother's nemesis....

After an eventful Super Bowl, I retired for the evening. Expecting my cocktail to have worked it's magic on such a tired and willing-to-succumb-to-slumber body, I gleefully jumped into bed and waited. And waited...and nothing.

Insomnia is a bitter enemy of mine. I can remember many a night spent fighting a losing battle against it. As a child, it is frustrating, but your inability to sleep does not carry horrible consequences the following day. The game changes as you age. The older you are, typically, the greater your responsibilities. Add three children, and you are as good as done.

Last night, I would doze, wake up drenched in sweat, glance at the clock try to settle back in and repeat. (On a side note, not looking forward to menopause...) My old nemesis Insomnia was back, and getting sweet revenge from the woman who could sleep all day long.

See, the thing about motherhood is that you are a closet superhero. Childless people stand in awe at what can be accomplished when there are bodies hanging onto to you in every direction. Other parents understand the intricacies of parenting multiple children, and often compare notes on the easiest ways to accomplish tasks in spite of the children. Parenting is simply the stuff of superheroes. Even when you can't, you must. Your needs take a back seat to the needs of your children. And somehow, in spite of whatever challenge you must overcome, you don't (generally) feel neglected. It's what you signed up for. There ARE times when your needs MUST come first. You must replenish the source that fuels you, but it is amazing to find how much mileage you can get from refueling...

I have often longed for Elast-A-Girl's super powers in trying to keep my chickees together in a busy parking lot. But Insomnia is the kryptonite to this Superwoman. No amount of caffeine can counteract it's nightly victory. Much like a good cover up stick, coffee can hide some of the damage, but never really make up for the lack of rest. Alas, superheroes are separate from the rest of us. Most are not entangled with mere mortals. They do not have to worry about groceries, dinner, homework, sick children, overstressed spouses or their menstrual cycle. Most can function with very little going for them...that is of course, as long as their powers work. Their biggest concern is saving the world. Piece of cake! Ever tried putting a teething baby to sleep? Yeah, I thought so...

That being said, this Super Mom rolled out of bed this morning, determined not to have Insomnia have the last laugh. You see, I have three grumpy, sleepy children. The ones who demand so much of me and require me to have at least four hours of sleep. But even on the days that the sleep does not materialize; that the kryptonite is hanging around my neck, I have the ultimate power source: the love of my boys. Even Insomnia is powerless against that! And in this super-parents headquarter, everyone is past teething...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

When Mommy is down for the count, send in the reinforcements...

After a delightful evening out with very close friends and all the collective children, Hubby and I brought our brood home late last night in much cooler than expected temperatures. Cold, tired, cranky children are not the way to end a particularly nice evening, however; truth be told, the mission of getting everyone showered and in bed was much less painful than typical.

After the routine morning wake up (Joshua hollering that he needs something in particular at that precise moment, which also rouses his two older brothers), I tried to go back to bed. I had the beginnings of a migraine and wanted nothing more than just to lay in bed for a few more precious minutes to see if it would dissipate on its own.

I know that you all know how the story is going to develop. Joshua decided that the thing he needed the most was to climb up in bed with me, with Nick Jr. in the background, and use my tired, aching body as his own personal playground equipment. This would have been fine, (as a mother of three, there is MUCH that can be blocked out by sleep) except that the only way that this was going to be fun for Joshua was if he could continue to climb up and off the bed. Yeah, I know. I was also delusional in thinking that I would knock that migraine away early.

I got up, got the brood ready and did what needed to be done. Running errands on Sunday, particularly errands that involve wholesale stores, is something my children hate. They whine and beg and make general pests of themselves. And on this particular Sunday morning, I had big plans for getting my tires balanced too. My van is the vehicle of record for transporting my precious cargo. At over 84,000 miles, and nearly 5 years mine, I am determined to keep it as long as it will have me and keep it running safely. As soon as Matthew, my nine year old and Andrew, my almost 7 year old heard this, the verbal attack began. "But I'm so hungry," Andrew exclaimed. Matthew: "When are we going home?" Joshua: "I vant Dora!" We were off to a great start!

Somehow, in spite of the whining, complaining and overall repetitive commands by two desperate parents, it got done. Then came the debate over where to eat. No consensus, no problem. Hubby was quick with a "no one is getting what they want" rebuttal and we were off. Of course, the migraine is seeping into every lucid corner in my brain and the kids can smell the weakness in the air.

Children fed, check. One more stop before home...except that by now, I can't remember that we need sippy cups (because there is a sippy cup thief in preschool who loves our cups), that we need a new trash can for the kitchen because the old one doesn't open on command...and the two children who aren't strapped into a stroller are stuck together like magnets wrecking havoc in our path. Of course, I remember the things I have forgotten after we pull up to the house, as I am ever so carefully unloading my sleeping easy task for a woman who so desperately needs meds and a quiet, dark room.

I no sooner lay down for a short nap that will restore my superpowers (and at this point, I will be thrilled with human capabilities, at least) than the two older ones start in on their famous "but he's cheating at chess" tirade. They started at THE EXACT MOMENT my head touched the pillow. And Hubby sprang into action. Pleading, shushing, threatening...because we all know what scares Hubbies the most. Not a bad economy or the monthly household budget being out of whack. No. What scares this Hubby, (and I suspect that this is a common affliction), is when Mommy is out of commission. Because that can only mean one thing. That he is on his own until Mommy is as strong as a newborn colt...

I know that I am human. I shudder to think what would happen to "the routine" if something seriously happened to me. I know Hubby can hold his own. But the drudgery of everyday, the handling of the sibling rivalry requires the training of United Nations workers trying to diffuse a potential nuclear threat. The coordinating of schedules and transportation for activities rivals that of any political candidate in the throes of an election season. There is so much information stored in this aching head of mine, that it would be nearly impossible for me to list it all. How to describe how Andrew's face scrunches when he is upset about something? How to detail a course of action when Matthew is plotting an intricate plan to get you to do something he wants? How to respond when all Joshua needs is a really tight hug when he is so contradictory, that politicians would be envious of the fence-riding?

So, instead of beating myself up for being human, I continue to lay, knowing that I won't be able to sleep, but content in knowing that this rest will somehow be enough to fuel the rest of the day. So that it can be enough that this colt can stand and regain her strength. So that Hubby can exhale and be ready to dodge the next bullet...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

How this blog came to be...

Once upon a time, before the magic of new love gave way to the reality of daily life, I used to dream of writing. The fantasy would fluctuate from journalism to the high-powered lure of the advertising world. The underlying theme was just to write: to express my thoughts, to be creative, to generate a chuckle or two from an audience. Then one day in my infinite seventeen year-old wisdom; I decided to volunteer and help at a children's home. I found looking at those expressionless eyes of children nursing broken hearts, that I had the capacity to help others. That trip my junior year in high school changed me in very profound ways, and somehow, the need to write went by the wayside.

Fast-forward way too many years than I care to admit to, and the darn bug is back! The complications of daily life and three children seem to put a wrench in the how-to part. And somehow, this need of mine is not being pushed to the back of the line. I have finally (and quite loudly) found my voice...and I have a lot to say. And, being said mother of three boys, I have a lot of material...

A good friend and co-worker started her blog about parenting over a year ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and commenting on her posts. Not too many days ago, she commented, "Maria, you are always so honest about parenting, have you thought about starting a blog?" I pondered, I questioned, I was EXCITED! Could I really venture out in this and be good? Could I get a following? Could I get people to really think about what they do and how they interact with their kids and NOT feel guilty about not being "perfect?"

So, over the last few days, after the match was lit (Thanks Liz, at ...but then I had kids) and the fire was burning, I began to plot. Like lovers meeting, I would try out titles in my head, play with templates, look at my parenting challenges with the eyes of a blogger hunting for a post...and so it began. And today was just the day to do it.

This morning, as so many that begin with tired, overworked and worried parents, began with a not-quite three year old talking in his sleep in the EARLY hours of the day. Because said child will not nap in the afternoon and therefore, not be the delightful, articulate child he projects when he is in the company of people he is not related to. He becomes an unbearable child; whining, indecisive. Not at all what people contemplating parenthood should be exposed to or what they dream about when they are standing on The Ledge of Do We or Don't We. Swimming helped tire him out but Joshua did not mince words. "I no nap today Mommy!" What was my response? Not the first time mother response of trying to reason, "But you must nap, sweet are so tired and need your rest." Not the response of the second time around the block mom, "Because I said so." Nope. This gal grabbed her purse, phone and keys and walked out the door to a scheduled hair appointment, casually mentioning over her shoulder to Hubby, "Hey, don't forget. He really needs to nap this afternoon." Lesson to be learned here: When pleading and/or strong-arming don't succeed, jump ship!