Welcome to my less than perfect life!

Embracing the imperfections that make my life practically perfect in every way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Enjoy the Ride

Friend of ours recently had their first child, a beautiful baby girl (welcome to this crazy, beautiful, difficult, wonderful thing called life, little one).  I've been thinking a lot about them, about the early days of parenting.  Bringing home that little bundle and being thrust into sleepless nights, days filled with constant feedings and changings and laundry and naps.  I have wondered what advice I might give to new parents.  What is it that I would have wanted to know back then? 

There are lots of practical things, of course.  Tips that would have been useful.  Personally, I liked Luvs diapers.  They were some of the cheapest and did the best job at holding a mess.  Know, however, that your baby might reach growth periods that, whatever your favorite diaper is, she may need another brand to fit her better.  Also, despite what some people say, I put pure corn starch powder on at each diaper change; we never had diaper rash issues as long as we were doing this.  Follow your gut.  Listen to all advice but then figure out what bits work for you.  Gas drops work wonders in the early days.  Tylenol (once the doctor approves it) falls into the category of "Can it hurt, can it help?"; don't be afraid to try it if baby is inconsolable.

I could go on like that for days.  But as I thought about all of the advice I could give, the most important seemed to be this:  don't wish it away.

That may sound silly.  Of course you won't wish away your baby's time!  But there will be parts that you will wish away.  It is inevitable that you will find yourself rocking at 3:00AM, struggling to keep your eyes open, and thinking "When will this child sleep through the night?"  You can think that, of course you will think that, but remember this:

Children's lives are lived in stages.  Short, short stages.  Each stage comes with some good and some bad in it.  The moment you wish for something difficult to end, you will also be wishing for something that delights you to end.  For instance:

If you wish for more sleep in this very newborn stage, you will also be wishing away the only time in your daughter's life when she wants and needs NOTHING but you.  Endless snuggling and rocking and soothing may seem like your forever in the midst of things, but I promise you it lasts for less time than you can wish.

If you wish for peace from teething that makes your little one fuss, you will also be wishing away the sparkle in her eye as she learns to crawl and chases you from room to room.

If you wish away the fear that you feel as a wobbly new toddler learns to walk and threatens to fall and crack her noggin, you will also be wishing away the delight of chubby hands who have found their way to the refrigerator door and slap at it while she shouts, "Bezzie!!" because she has figured out how to compel you to get her some blueberries.

If you wish away the need to pack a million things with you everywhere you go, you will be wishing away the delight of those trips, both big and small, and the joyful memories that you are making together as you go.

I'm not the first person to try and express this.  Poets and heros, rock stars and philosphers have said it (and probably better) before me.  Time is a slippery thing that fools people into believing that it will last forever while it steadily ticks away.  Because of this, my advice is simple.  Just enjoy it.  Hold on to what you can, let go of what you need to and fill it all with great love for one another.

Enjoy the ride.  It's the best one you'll ever take.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Friday, June 22, 2012

This Moment

The Nugget has been an absolute delight lately.  I can only remember once in recent history when I even had to so much as put her in time out.  I realize that by writing this that I have now cursed us and this wonderful period will come to a screeching halt, but it's worth it because I want to remember this wonderful, wonderful time.

One of her current fascinations is singing.  She has learned most of the words to "Part of That World" from "The Little Mermaid".  If given time and opportunity, she will sing it.  Loudly.  Repeatedly.  She is still at that wonderful age where there is little to no sense of embarrassment, so we might even be out to dinner when she breaks loudly into song.  She is usually a little chagrined when I suggest that she needs to use and inside voice when out in public, but she will comply.  Comically, she gets a few of the words wrong which makes it all the more delightful.  A recent interpretation:

"Wanderin' freeze, wish I could be, none of that world..."   and
"What's a fire and why does it, what's the word, bird?"

Yes, our ears get tired after a while from the loud and repetitive singing.  It sometimes makes it hard to talk on the phone or concentrate on, well, anything.  But it won't last.  If there's one thing I know about parenting, none of it lasts very long.

She is also just so verbal.  She really is good at articulating things.  Sometimes she gets a bit stuck and goes into this long repeat mode where she starts a sentence over and over because she can't quite get what she wants to say in the end.  It makes me proud that she doesn't get frustrated and give up but she keeps trying until she finds the words she is looking for.  It is especially refreshing as we are coming out of a stage of regression where The Nugget, who was practically born talking in full sentences, wanted to grunt and talk in baby talk.  I tried to go with it and just encourage her to use words.  I try hard, and sometimes it really is hard, to let her be where she is and just be there with her however I can.

The other great thing about now is that we are starting to develop this real relationship with one another.  She enjoys doing errands with me (though she may have less patience for them than I do).  Just last night we were at Target and she said, "Mom, can I stay at Target forever?"  I laughed and laughed because of course I want to do the same thing!  Also, she and I can have lots of fun right now because she is not yet embarrassed of me.  We spent a good 40 minutes at the Beauty Brands store the other day just dancing, singing and trying on all manner of makeup.  I am certain that one day she will not think that is quite as cool as it is now.

This moment in time, it's a good one.  A great one.  I love being the mother of this beautiful, happy girl.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Shhh...It's Saturday

In honor of Father's Day - The Nugget
snuggles with The Mister while watching
NASCAR

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mother of the Year - NOT

As it turns out, my daughter won't be nominating me for the Mother of the Year award any time soon.  It's not just because she is only three and cannot read or write and is therefore incapable of completing her nomination.  It's also not because I'm pretty sure this award doesn't actually exist.  It's actually because yesterday was an absolute epic fail in my career as a mother.

We started out on a high.  I had an awesome play date planned with some of our best friends.  We just had to stop by home and take care of a few things after I picked her up from day care and we were on our way.  The Nugget was in a fabulous mood.  As she served one of our dogs her dinner she said, with a flourish, "Enjoy your dinner, Frolly!"

I buckled my happy baby into the car.  I shut the door and turned to load a couple of things in the back of the car when I heard what can only be described as a blood-curdling scream.  "MOMMY!!!"  I instantly willed what I knew to have happened away, but no luck.  I had shut The Nuggets fingers in the car door.

It will help you to understand that I have what's known as "suicide doors" on my car.  They look something like this:


This means that it is possible for The Nugget to reach forward and put her hand in the door hinge from her seat.  She has been doing this lately (I think she has only recently gotten tall enough for it).  I just didn't notice she was doing it this time.

Of course, I ripped her out of her seat and panicked in the most calming way I could, soothing her while I screamed obscenities at myself inside.  As it turns out, there was some swelling and a fair amount of pain, but no permanent injury.  We iced it and I gave her some Ibuprofen.  We called Daddy on the phone and that comforted her greatly (though I am sure it didn't help Daddy's evening at work).

I considered scrapping the play date, but she was having none of that.  Instead, I called my friend and gave her fair warning that we had just had an accident and I wasn't sure if the play date would go well but that we needed to try.  She kindly agreed.

The Nugget felt better bit by bit and had a fun time playing.  The popscicles and juice no doubt helped a lot.  Then we all decided to hit the nearest park for a while.  It was a great park that she and I had never visited, one of the kind with bouncy rubber beneath your feet in some parts and rubber mulch in others.  A very safe place to play.

The girls were all great.  They played, both together and separately, for a long time.  There were slides and swings and sand and all manner of fun to be had by all.  We were starting to wind down when The Nugget became really interested in climbing on a three foot high fish.  I sat on a nearby bench and beamed at how she shared with her friend; they both wanted to sit on the head of the fish and so were wriggling on together when The Nugget lost her footing.  And fell.  Head first.

As it turns out, that squishy, rubbery stuff doesn't help ease the pain of a face plant a whole lot.  She was bleeding and bruised in multiple places on her sweet little face.  My calming panic routine began again as I swept her up and brushed away tears.  It just wasn't going to be her day today.  Or mine.  We headed home.

With the tears stopped, she happily took a bath and snuggled tightly with me during our bedtime routine.  I watched her extra-long as she fell into a peaceful sleep, reminded that I will never be able to prevent all of her boo-boos.  The best thing I can do is help pick her up after she falls, remind her that she will be able to go on, that injuries heal, even the ones that change us.  That it's worth trying it all again because when things go right they can go really, really right.  And sometimes, even when things go wrong, it can turn out to be absolutely right after all.

I guess we both learn these lessons together.  Maybe there's redemption, even on the bad days.  Maybe, when she's old enough, she'll consider that nomination after all.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why?

We officially reached the age a while back that The Nugget needs to know why.  Why what, you ask?  Well, the answer is simple: everything.

I find myself answering a flurry of questions (often non-sensical) each day.  If I tell her that we are going home after a given activity, I might get the following conversation:

The Nugget:  "Momma, why are we going home and not to the store?"

Me:  "Because we need to get home and feed the dogs."

The Nugget:  "Why is the store closed?"

Me:  "The store isn't closed, we just aren't going there right now."

The Nugget:  "Why do the doggies need to go poopie?"

Me:  "Because everyone has to go poopie sometimes.  It's our job to make sure the dogs are taken care of because we are their owners and they are our friends."

The Nugget:  "Why did Dandy [one of the dogs] chew up my Snow White?"

Me:  "Because you left it on the floor and he thought is was his toy.  We all make mistakes."

The Nugget:  "Why do we all make mistakes?"

Me:  "Well, honey, nobody is perfect.  It's okay to make mistakes sometimes."

The Nugget:  "Why does Snow White taste good?"

Me: "...."

I've been wondering why I've been so tired lately.  Even just writing this post helps me realize how very much energy I am using to fend off this constant barrage of daily questions.  The funny thing is, I hardly even notice she's doing it most of the time.  I just answer on auto pilot.  We had friends over recently and the giggling of one friend sort of woke me from my question-answer stupor.  She was laughing at me and my daughter as we went through our current routine.

Which I guess leads me to one question:

WHY???

Friday, June 8, 2012

It Goes PAST Eleven

Today marks our 11th anniversary, The Mister and I.  Eleven years ago today, we said "I do". 

Eleven. 

Years. 

That number is simultaneously unbelievably large and incredibly, incredibly small.  In some ways, those years have flown and it seems unbelievable to me that it has been so long since I married this wonderful man whom I love, and who has loved me, so very much.  In other ways, it seems impossible for me to imagine that there was a time in my life, that there were 26 years, when I didn't know him.

Our marriage has been filled with depth.  We have had wonderful blessings and unbearable losses.  We have tested its strength and found it to be solid and capable of holding many joys and sorrows.  Eleven years ago I couldn't have imagined what the next eleven years would bring.  I know now that I also can't imagine what the coming years will bring.  I only know that I am ready to spend my lifetime next to this man who knows me and loves me as well as anyone ever could.

Tonight will be like others.  We will hold hands.  We will profess our love.  We will laugh.  We do those things every day.  But I will spend long moments giving thanks for this life that we have built together.

The Mister chose the song we danced to at our wedding reception.  "Now I Know How the River Feels" by Diamond Rio.  Such a beautiful, perfect song for two people who traveled a somewhat rocky road searching for the loves of their lives.  I am so glad, to paraphrase that song, that I have finally found the place I was always meant to be.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Raise Your Voice

Today people everywhere are working together to try and put pressure on international decision-makers to intervene in the violence taking place in Syria.  People are being murdered.  Children are losing their lives to unspeakable violence.  To read more about the crisis, you can click here to read a Huffington Post article.

You can help.  These problems may seem remote.  They may seem more than you can overcome or take on.  But you CAN help.  Together, we can raise our voices.  We can make it known to our leaders that we care and, by doing so, we can move them to action.  Please consider taking the time to click on the links below and sign petitions to encourage our government and governments everywhere to step forward and save these people, people just like you and I, people whose only mistake was to be born in an unlucky spot on the map.

You can raise your voice.

Save the Children


AVAAZ.org - The World In Action