“The Agonizing Wait For A Baby” on Her View From Home

Motherhood

I am so thrilled to post this link!!

The Agonizing Wait For A Baby

This link takes you to my first post to be featured on one of my very favorite websites: Her View From Home.

If you are a mama like me, who had to wait a lot longer for your family than you wanted to, you might already be familiar with “The Wait.” It can be so difficult!

Enjoy! And if you do, please feel free to share or comment on the post on the HVFH page!

Thanks for reading!

XO!

This is my *totally stoked* face!

Farewell – Beloved Morning Nap, I Will Miss You

Hank Humor, Motherhood

Hank decided last week that he was a big 15-month-old, and he had WAY too many things to do in a day, to waste time napping TWICE.

I, on the other hand, disagreed with him on that sentiment, and tried my heart out to adhere to the morning-and-afternoon-nap schedule.

It didn’t work. He won.

So, here we are, week two of only one nap a day, and we are doing just great! (Well, he is doing just great and I am dragging ass, but thoroughly enjoying my extra cup of coffee in the mornings–the one it takes to get me all the way from wake-up to the almighty afternoon nap.)

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We can sit here as long as you want, Mama, I’m not napping

Here I was thinking that he would make it to eighteen months (at least!), before he kicked the morning nap I loved so much. The nap that allowed me to shower in peace, to eat eggs that were actually WARM, to sneak off to work early, to fold the clothes that just came out of the dryer, etc., without chasing him around like a crazy person trying to accomplish all some of those things while he wrecked havoc all over the house. (And ok, I will admit it; the clothes NEVER get folded right after they come out of the dryer. Maybe they do in my dreams.)

Ahhhhhh, those were lovely mornings.

Nowadays, we just go directly from wake-up (zero) to full-bore playtime (sixty) in about 5.2 seconds, and we now stay there until 12:30 or 1:00, when we crater.

And I mean CRATER. I have never seen a little boy nod off in a highchair, until this week. I have never hauled a sleepy baby in from a car seat, and actually PUT HIM BACK DOWN TO SLEEP, until this week.

But here is the part that makes no sense to me whatsoever: Shouldn’t a one-hour morning nap and a one-hour afternoon nap convert into one TWO-HOUR afternoon nap?

Shouldn’t it?

Well, no. At least not by Hank’s logic. He just graduated himself into one more hour of play time. So mama just earned herself one more cup of stout, sugared-up coffee.

And I don’t even want to think about the day when we will have to go to NO NAP AT ALL. Hopefully, I have years before that happens.

If I don’t, please just don’t tell me.  Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

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Tired? Do I LOOK Tired? YOU are the one who looks tired, Mama!

Weathering The Storm

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood

Once we hit the 12-month mark, and my little Hank graduated from baby to toddler overnight, his development kicked into a higher gear. All of a sudden, instead of a new skill or sound or hand signal emerging every week or so, it was every day. Then there were two or three new tricks each day. Now it seems he’s hit the steep slope of the exponential curve that is toddler discovery, and I can’t keep track anymore.

This morning, he said “Up?” for the first time ever, arms outstretched to be picked up, like he had done it a hundred times. Scooping him up, I realized that in that brief exchange, I had relinquished my authority over whether or not he wanted to be held.

Then there were the stairs. He’d mastered going up them a week or so ago, but coming down was still daunting. We worked hard at sitting down first, then coming down slowly on his bottom. He held my hand (or daddy’s) tightly every time, steadying himself for each bump, bump, downward.

Today though, it clicked. My heart did a little flip-flop when he waved my hand away and scoot-scooted his own little bottom down the stairs. One by one, just like we had practiced.

Solo.

One more thing he doesn’t need me for now.

Outside, after dinner, my bold new Hank cuddled up against our Great Dane on the lawn, using him as a pillow for an impromptu snuggle session. This surprised me too; the only affection he had ever given Roscoe to date was a quick pat on the back as he toddled by him with a nervous giggle.

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Hmmm, I should use him for a pillow more often

Overwhelmed by all this new-found bravery, I was almost thankful when a summer storm rolled in and my little man suddenly needed his mama again. We hurried inside and I opened the blinds, so we could watch the angry clouds.

“Ma-ma-ma?” came his timid little voice, snuggling closer to me on the couch. He pointed wide-eyed at the ceiling each time the thunder rolled over the house.

“Hmmm?” he hummed, over and over, with a worried look on his face—his intense little mind in overdrive. I smoothed his hair and pulled him in a little tighter. His lip quivered and his stormy blue eyes balanced right on the edge of crying, brimming with anxious tears.

“It’s ok, sweet boy, Mama’s got you. We’re ok.”

Are we though? Inside my mama-brain, everything wasn’t ok. My husband had taken my three step-sons camping—two hours away with no cell service—so I was on single-mom duty.

In a huge electric storm.

Usually during the big summer storms, I am the one huddling close to him on the couch, shuddering at every thunder boom, hoping it will end soon.

Tonight it was up to me to be the calming force for our scared little son, since the daddy we both lean on couldn’t rescue us this time. Big storms with daddy are tolerable, but big storms without daddy are terrifying.

I scooped Hank up and carried him into his nursery, clicking the volume up a few extra notches on his bedtime Enya. Maybe I could cover up the sounds of the storm, and ease both of our minds.

Snuggling deep into the crook of my arm, he grabbed a firm grip on my shirt collar and sucked away at his pacifier. Silver-blue flashes of lightning glow lit up the dim room every few seconds; he hummed and looked up at me intently every time. Studying my reaction, watching me for how he should feel, how he should react. My little mirror.

Breathing out a long, deep breath, I tried to focus on the soothing strains of Caribbean Blue streaming out of the speaker on his bookshelf.

Calm, mama. I smiled down at him and kissed his forehead goodnight.

“Shh, sweet boy, mama loves you.”

We had gotten through many summer storms since Hank had arrived, but I realized in that moment how this one was substantially different. It hit me that for the first time ever, he was aware of itHe had slept right through most storms in the past, and we had always joked that they made him sleep better. Even if he had been awake for one, it wouldn’t have registered with him anyways; storm noise in the past was simply static in his busy baby brain.

But tonight, my tuned-in toddler was astutely aware of what was going on outside his nursery window. His baby startle reflex had evolved into full-blown little-boy fear.

I don’t have the luxury of being the scared one anymore.

I realized that whether I felt it inside or not, I had to show him only calm. I had to be a strong, fearless parent he could count on—just like his daddy. The daddy who isn’t always in town, to protect us from things like big scary thunderstorms.

As my tired boy finally drifted off in my arms, I felt the magnitude of my job as his mama hit me in a way it hadn’t before, and I didn’t want to lay him down in his crib quite yet.

I have a big job–I need to be his calm, for all the storms to come.

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My beautiful, (worried!) little boy

5 Things I Learned Today

Hank Humor, Motherhood, Step by Step

As a proud boymom of four rough and tumble stud-muffins (counting my three awesome stepsons), I am constantly learning things that take me by surprise.

Today was an especially exciting day full of (mis)adventures, and here are five handy little good-to-knows I took home from all the fun!

  1. A toddler can catch himself–and I mean completely save himself from falling down a row of bleachers by grabbing onto his mama’s ponytail. And surprisingly enough, even if that toddler weighs 25 pounds, it won’t even pull any of mama’s hair out! (She will, though, need a few advil for the headache that comes directly after saving a child’s life via ponytail.)
  2. Once a little boy learns how to run, HE WILL HAVE PERMANENTLY SCRAPED KNEES. Both of them. Especially when it is 90 degrees outside for weeks straight and just way too hot for long pants.
  3. Cherry limeade comes up out of carpet much better than you might think it would. (Sidenote- toddlers can also reach much higher than you think they can. So if you think that your cup is out of reach, just go ahead and put it up somewhere even higher. Your carpet will thank me.)
  4. Yogurt squeeze packets are the worst invention ever. But they are really, really fun for toddlers. If mama is busy doing dishes, and the aforementioned toddler holds one by the bottom with the top unscrewed, and spins in circles all around the kitchen, it will make pretty pink designs all over the sides of the island! And the floor, and the table and chairs, and the barstools. . .
  5. And lastly: Little boys can pretty much get away with murder. Because they are just so damn adorable. This mama is in BIG trouble!!!

Yep, better wash that off before it dries

Two Horses

Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old, Motherhood, We Are In This Together

My 15 month-old son taught me a valuable lesson a few weeks ago at our local fair. He demonstrated, in living color, the profound truth of one of my favorite sayings: You can’t ride two horses with one ass.

We had just gotten to the front of the line for the big, beautiful circus carousel filled with glossy painted horses of every color. Long flowing manes cascaded down their necks, and fancy “saddles” beckoned, calling out “Pick me! Pick me!” to every little boy and girl who ran up onto the platform.

Hank meant business when they opened the gate, and he latched on to the first horse we came to, claiming it as his. I was just thrilled that he picked one on the outside row, as I had strategically placed his daddy on the other side of the fence with our good camera, hoping he would capture this magical mother and son moment.

Hank sat up proudly on his fiberglass saddle, gripping the golden pole for dear life as his horse started to rise and fall in those graceful waves around and around.

My little boy was in his element. And I was too, soaking up the sheer joy he exuded as he galloped slowly around in carousel circles while the tinny circus music played.

Once his toddler attention span ran out though, the novelty of his white horse wore off and he started considering his other options. Hank suddenly decided that he wanted to try out the horse galloping up and down right beside his. He started reaching for its golden pole with everything he had, squirming out of my tight hold on his chest.

I figured it would be easier to switch him over there for the rest of the ride than to fight with him about staying where he was. I scooped him up and plopped him down onto the middle horse’s saddle. This thrilled him for a bit, but the excitement from mounting his new steed quickly turned to wails of frustration.

Hank frantically pointed back to the first horse and tugged on my arm. He let out an angry squeal to convince me to listen, so I scooped him up again and plunked him right back where he started, on his original mount. But the tears kept coming.

The ride slowed to a stop, and as I carried him back towards his beaming crowd of fans (daddy and his grandparents) he proudly puffed out his chest and a big smile appeared on his face. He was already thinking about the next ride.

All through the rest of that fun-filled fair day, I couldn’t stop thinking about his carousel ride, and how I fight that very same battle. I completely understood his dilemma. Life often leaves us wanting to ride two horses at once, but once we choose, we often wish (mid-ride of course) that we were on the other one!

My two carousel horses these days are motherhood and my career. I am blessed by the fact that I have the best of both worlds: I have a fulfilling (and most importantly, flexible) job, and I also get to be somewhat of a stay-at-home mom. (Two days a week and on weekends.)

Sick baby? I can work from home, and snuggle him.

Emergency at work? I can drop him at grandma’s and run up to the office at almost a moment’s notice.

But-even with the amazing flexibility I have in my work/family life, I do often struggle with whether I am doing what I should be doing.

I always dreamed of being a wife and a mother, raising babies and making incredible home-cooked meals each day; my perfect little family all gathered around the dinner table at the same time each night like clockwork.

But in reality, my perfect little family is a big crazy blended family of SIX, and our schedule is sheer chaos. We bounce around daily; juggling shared custody of my husband’s three sons and his work-travel schedule and my three days a week at the office and a toddler and football and baseball and naps and school and doctors appointments. Somewhere in there we manage to buy groceries and cook meals, but it’s certainly never like clockwork!

In my craziest moments at home, when the baby refuses to nap and I have a long list of important voicemails I still haven’t gotten to yet and my checkbook needs balanced and dinner needs figured out and I can’t get the Tick Tock song to quit playing in my head–all I want to do is drop the baby off and head to my quiet office where I can actually get something accomplished.

But then there are days at the office when I am dealing with taxes or plumbing emergencies or unhappy tenants and I would give anything to be at home with my son, singing silly songs and reloading his t-ball tee for him 50 more times.

And if that doesn’t complicate things enough, there are also days when I drive by the little rural school Hank will go to in four short years, and I miss teaching. On those days I feel guilty for not using my Masters in Education that I worked so hard for. The one I earned proudly and then put on the shelf so I could be the best mom I could be in these important, formative years. (And selfishly, so I could savor this precious time with my one and only baby.)

On those very same days, I see my friends posting their first day of school pictures on Facebook and I actually cry tears because I don’t want to think about the day when Hank will be old enough to go to school; when I will have to give him up for seven hours a day. Five days a week.

Five days a week that will mean that I have all the time in the world to go to work, or teach again, or both–and I will be wishing I was home with my son.

I know this is going to happen. But if I can already guarantee that I will feel this way in four years, shouldn’t it be easy to be present, right now? 

Shouldn’t it be easy to enjoy every second of playtime or mealtime or snuggle time with my baby, who–overnight–is no longer a baby?

Shouldn’t it be easy to move thoughts of work or responsibilities or dreams-on-pause to the back of my mind? And just be in the moment, fully present; a focused, relaxed, FUN mom?

And shouldn’t it also be easy to enjoy the fact that I have a job that I love, that I am good at, that makes me feel accomplished and helps keep our lights on and groceries in our fridge? Without feeling guilty for missing out on three days a week of Hank time?

The answer to all of those questions is yes. Yes, I should be able to do all of those things. But the problem is, I can’t.

I should be able to ride one horse at a time, because I only have one ass. I fully realize that I can’t ride two horses at once, but just like my little boy, I want to.

My answer to the ages-old motherhood struggle of stay home vs. go to work is this: There’s no right answer. Whichever you choose will still be hard. Because as mothers, no matter whether we are staying home, or working, or working from home, or some ever-changing random combination of the above, we will always feel like we aren’t doing enough. Like we should be riding two horses at once.

Being a mom and having a career aren’t mutually exclusive–but at times it can definitely feel like they are. Especially when you want to do an exceptional job at both of them.

Hank taught me in one short fair ride, that as long as you let your heart lead, and spend some time on each of those horses–you will come out smiling. (Even if you do regret your choice from time to time. Sometimes you simply have to ride it out.)

Just like those pretty fiberglass horses; sometimes you will be up and other times you will be down.

But no matter which horse you’re on, you will still keep moving forward.

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Life is a beautiful, crazy ride – Hold on tight!

If I Were My Cell Phone, Where Would I Be?

Hank Humor, Motherhood

The day started off spectacularly. Hank only got up once in the night, and he actually slept in. TIL 8:15 A.M. This was unprecedented.

Daddy was already well on his way to Nebraska for work. I scooped Hank up out of his crib, and could instantly tell he was in the most amazing mood! Usually on days when it’s just me at home, Hank is more clingy than normal, but today he was full of playful energy. After pouring him a fresh sippy of milk, I set him down to run around the kitchen. I fired up the Cuisinart, excited to have the luxury of both hands free to make myself a good coffee! No Keurig quickie-coffee for this mama today!

Well, it was a good thing Hank was entertaining himself, because I had phone call after phone call all morning long. The HVAC wasn’t working right at the building. Our electrician was fixing lights in a few suites. A gal inquired about available office space. The flower shop called to say they were having trouble delivering some flowers I had ordered for my best friend. Phone call after phone call came in, and thanks to the freshly-brewed cappuccino in my hand, I managed work from home pretty efficiently while also feeding the hungry one-year-old breakfast.

After I filled his little tummy up, I glanced over at the clock and had a minor freak-out! I still needed to get showered, dressed, makeup on, pack a lunch for baby, and get him down for his nap before I had to leave for a luncheon that started at 11:30! My wonderful dad was planning to watch Hank for me since my also-wonderful mama (his usual babysitter) was attending the luncheon with me. And I was getting picked up in 40 minutes!

I took the world’s fastest shower, threw on some clean clothes, and towel-dried my hair. That was going to have to be good enough! I looked for my phone to check with my folks about letting themselves into the house, since I would be putting Hank down when they arrived.

Hank.

I had just handed it to Hank, three minutes before, as he cruised around the bathroom like a crazy man, obviously mirroring his running-late mama. He was pulling things out of cupboards and drawers, yanking my wet towels off the shower door, and pulling clothes out of our closets. I had handed him my phone to try to keep him entertained, looking at “Hank and Daddy” on my home screen; turning it off and on, like he loves to do.

But now, the phone was nowhere to be found.

“Hank, where’s mama’s phone?” I asked him, well aware that even if he did remember where he put it, odds of him leading me right to it were slim to none.

He smiled and laughed. Clearly, this is a fun new game!

He smiled and laughed even more as I started running around the bathroom frantically, opening all the drawers, peering in all the cupboards, and crawling around our closets on my hands and knees, asking “Where is mama’s phone, Hankers? Where did you hide it?”

The harder I looked, the funnier Hank thought it was. He made sure to get in on the fun by tearing things apart even MORE while “trying to help me find it.”

He thought it was even funnier when I tried my best mama mime and acted out “phone” using both touch-screen and phone-calling charades to him. He obviously understood my charades perfectly well, because he started doing them back at me, laughing, of course! But did he take me to the phone? 

Nope.

You know what’s really helpful when you are looking for something important and you are already running late?

I don’t! But I do know that it is DEFINITELY NOT a one-year-old toddler!

Once our master bath and his-and-hers closets looked like a burglar had ransacked them, I finally got lucky. I happened upon a humidifier I used for Hank back when his crib was in our room. It was tucked under my hanging work clothes in the back of my closet. A little blinking light caught my eye from inside the dark blue plastic water reservoir. (Which thankfully, was empty.) THANK GOD for whoever commented on my Facebook or left me a voicemail or texted me or WHATEVER it was that caused that little light to blink!

MY PHONE!!!!! There it was, stuck down in the tank of the abandoned humidifier. I marveled at the fact that the hole he had shoved it through was hardly wide enough to get the phone pulled back out. That little turkey must have really worked at it, to even get it in there in the first place!
Even in my harried, frustrated state; I had to applaud my mischievous little blonde boy for his ingenuity! He found an absolutely incredible hiding place for my phone in less than three minutes, one I will know to check first the next time something I need goes missing.

What is the moral of this story?

Don’t give your toddler your phone as a toy?

Don’t keep some old humidifier stuffed back in the back of your closet, where your toddler can hide important things?

No. The moral of the story is this:

Don’t take the extra 10 minutes to make yourself a gorgeous, foamy cappuccino by hand, on a day when you have scheduled plans.

Make the 30-second instant Keurig cup of drip coffee. Because you are going to need that extra 10 minutes to FIND YOUR *#%@?!&* CELL PHONE!!!

On Being a Mama

Motherhood, Step by Step

I can pretty much sum up my entire life right now in three words: tired, happy, mama. I have never enjoyed anything more, worked harder at anything, or lost more sleep over anything in my life before my dream came true and I became a little boy’s mama. I try and try to put it into words, but I can’t find a way to adequately express my love for that little blonde boy, my great big dreams for him, or how hilarious I think all of it is sometimes. What I can put into words though, are my experiences as a tired, happy mama (and a tired, happy step-mama too). Here are some of them so far.

Being a mama means hearing the baby cry on the monitor when you only have one leg shaved, but jumping out of the shower anyways so he doesn’t have to cry any longer. It is also knowing darn well that you won’t get another chance to shave that other leg today, so it’s just going to have to go ahead and stay prickly.

Being a mama means cleaning boy pee off of the toilet seat, the floor, and the wall, yep that’s right, the wall; for the 50 millionth time and wondering if they are ever going to pick the seat up or learn to aim. (Or pay full attention while aiming.)

Being a mama means sitting at a baseball game in 97 degree July weather and dumping water over the baby’s head every 10 minutes so he stays cool, so we can be big brother’s full cheering squad for All-Stars.

Being a mama means washing load after load of boy clothes, spending hours of your life turning shirts inside out, picking grass pieces out of dirty socks, and trying to figure out which clothes go to which of the four boys. And eternally searching for the mates to those 6 or 8 socks that never seem to match any of the others.

Being a mama means making coffee its own food group, and looking forward all day to that beautiful glass of chilled white wine you can pour once they are all tucked in for the night and you can finally put your feet up and do YOU for a few minutes.

Being a mama means loving every second of your weekly Costco mission, pushing the heavy loaded cart through every aisle with a perma-grin on your face because the baby in the front of it smiles, waves at, and talks to every stranger who walks by him, and it makes both your day and theirs every time.

Being a mama means laughing your head off when your one-year-old’s favorite new pastime is standing next to you in your closet while you get dressed, so he can slap your once-toned thighs repeatedly because he thinks it’s hilarious how they jiggle.

Being a mama means knowing before you get there, that Spot IS actually in the basket, but acting surprised for the 5th time that night when he lifts the flap and finds him, just as delighted as he was the first time.

Being a mama means hours of washing and cutting-up, warming and testing, spoon-feeding bites, and sitting beside the high chair, dodging flying food and wiping messes off the floor. And doing it all over again 3 hours later.

Being a mama means letting him fling an entire package of Always panty-liners one by one across the bathroom while you get ready, because you know it will buy you just enough time to get your makeup on.

Being a mama means spending an entire night in a recliner with a sick baby on your lap, taking his temperature every 5 minutes and watching the clock tick the hours slowly by until you can give him his next dose of baby Advil.

Being a mama means crying your eyes out after you put the baby to bed on the night of his 1st birthday party, because according to the rest of the world, he is a toddler now and no longer a baby.

Being a mama means making a running mental list throughout the day of all the little things you need want to do once everyone is tucked in; like paying those bills, finishing up your own laundry, looking up that new recipe you saw online, or watching that recorded episode of the Bachelorette you have been dying to see – but then being so tired you just collapse into bed at 9:15 and do none of it.

Being a mama means dropping the baby off at Grandma’s for the morning so you can get caught up at the office, and feeling like a part of your body is missing all day until you get him back in your arms. Because part of your body really IS missing – your heart stays with him every time you leave him.

Being a mama means laughing, crying, praying, napping, wondering, playing, hoping, reading, practicing, teaching, learning, cleaning, chasing, hand-holding, snuggling, soothing, loving, and living.

And did I mention drinking coffee?

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This little boy has my heart.