Traveling Husband Survival: Coffee, Wine, and Satire

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

Well, as the hubs heads off for a few days of work in sunny Austin, I am gearing up to survive my three days of married-single-parenting a cooped-up toddler. (Thank you, freezing Montana winter.)

Good red wine and extra coffee have been purchased. . .and some satire therapy was in order!! 

Here are 5 Ways Traveling Husbands Are The Best Thing Ever When You Have Kids

(In case you were wondering.)

They are. Just ask me. Anyways, go have a quick laugh at my expense, and enjoy the other hilarity on MockMom (the satirical little corner of Sammiches and Psych Meds that I love so much). Now go!

Enjoy!

Hurry home, honey!

Puzzle Pieces

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

 

My little boy, Hank, has three heroes: his three big brothers. When they are with us, they throw balls with him and dive onto pillow piles and build endless towers to knock down. They make him laugh like neither their daddy or I ever can. He idolizes them; he wants to be just like them.

There is an electric charge in the air on the days when daddy arrives with Hank’s three big brothers in tow. He can sense when they are coming, and he can hardly contain his excitement. The door barely clicks open and he is running to the top of the stairs, squealing; racing to get to them. 

His puzzle is complete on the days we have the boys; all the pieces of our family are in place and his world looks as it should.

But three days later the puzzle falls apart; three major pieces of it suddenly go missing, and he has to try to make sense of it in a one-and-a-half year-old brain which knows nothing of parenting plans or shared custody. Nothing of divorce, or of real mamas and step-mamas. I am sure he thinks I am his brothers’ mama too—why wouldn’t I be?

“We”—our six-pack—is all he has ever known. I do not look forward to the day I have to explain things like divorce to my precious boy. Explain why his brothers have another mama; how it’s not me. Why they have another home, too, on the other side of town, or why he will go to a different school than they do.

I don’t know how to explain why some mamas and daddies don’t speak to each other, even though they share the same children.

And most of all, I worry about explaining why his big brothers have to leave us for half of every week. Because before he can truly understand, he won’t understand, and I know there will be tears.

I don’t want him to be heartbroken half of every week, his best friends in the world lost to him again. I know it is coming. I can already see the gears turning in that precious little head, wondering; the start of the dissonance.

Lately on the days without his brothers around, his little lip trembles when he sees their pictures. He runs into their rooms, just to check.

We will see them soon, sweetheart, I tell him, soon.

Hank’s big brothers have huge hearts buried under their tough exteriors. They play and wrestle and high-five and cuddle and pick up and carry and comfort their little brother. I know they miss him, too, when they are away.

They don’t treat him any differently because I am not their mama, too. They love him just like they love each other, even though they don’t say it.

Hank has no place in one of their two worlds, but they live for him in our world. They amaze me every day with their maturity and compassion. Their resilience as they bounce between lives; their acceptance of their new family.

When daddy loads them up to take them back to their mama’s house, Hank stands in the doorway waving his special wave. He opens and closes his little fist to each of them, saying I Love You, even though the words don’t come out yet.

His big brothers answer him with the same wave, their code, their secret send-off. The words don’t come out of their mouths, either.

But they don’t have to. He knows.

 

Originally posted on Tribe Magazine at: http://thetribemagazine.com/puzzle-pieces/#ixzz4OodjbHiL

Best Buds

Bookends

Killing It as Parents

Motherhood, We Are In This Together

My hubs and I, we are not perfect. But we sure do try.

Friday night was one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants kind of nights. A sick (teething) baby, errands to run after work, a birthday party to get ready for the next day, etc.

Attempting all of the above with the sick baby quickly deteriorated into a CRABBY baby situation, so we decided to divide and conquer.

Hubby dropped me and the poor lil one off at home, then headed back into town to finish the grocery shopping. I went in to try to soothe Hankers with some fruit and baby advil, but when I grabbed the box with the new bottle, I panicked.

On my way home from work that afternoon, I was in a hurry, and I had accidentally grabbed children’s advil, not infant!!! I immediately called up daddio, the math genius of the family, to try to figure out how to convert?/titrate? the big-kid medicine into little-one dosage.

Let me just say this: trying to compare Mgs per mLs, on two different ratios, over the phone with a husband who is driving, while both trying to use the phones we are talking on as calculators, is as hard as it sounds. And of course, the small print for dosage for 24 months and under simply said “call your doctor.” Which reinforced my fear that I might get this important calculation wrong. So I gave up. I told him to just go ahead and pick me up a few bottles of the RIGHT MEDICINE!

Which, he did, after turning back around once he realized (halfway to the store) that his wallet was still in his pickup, at home. Grrr.  (I hate when I do that, too.)

We. Are. Awesome.

Pretty much NAILING IT!!

Parenthood can be hard. But–when you get to do it everyday with your best friend, with adorable little cherubs running around creating mayhem all around you, that you love so much your heart almost bursts open just looking at them–the hard parts really don’t even matter.

Even when you want to scream, or pull your hair out. (Or when the little darling does scream, and pull your hair out, for you.)

Even when the same little darling dumps a whole bowl of rice crispies all over your lap, on the couch. (Yeah there was that, too.)

Luckily, there was a silver lining. By the time daddy finally got back with the groceries, there was a hot breakfast-for-dinner coming right off the stove, which hasn’t happened in a loooooong time (me actually cooking him a hot meal, that is).

We divided, and we conquered. And then we had a lovely dinner together for about ten minutes until the baby decided it was playtime again. Yet again, we divided and conquered–daddy entertained jr. bacon cheeseburger while I cleaned up the kitchen, and then it was bedtime. Glorious bedtime. For the baby, and then immediately thereafter, for his tired mama.

Do you know what goes surprisingly well with breakfast-for-dinner?

Seven deadly zins.

Truth 🙂

Try it sometime. Especially on one of those kind of days!

“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!

Open the Gates!

Motherhood

Help us, Lord. 

We took down the baby gates today. Now, we have THREE flights of stairs, which are fully accessible to the crazy toddler they were off limits to for the last seven months. 

Needless to say, this mama is FREAKED.

On two counts:

1) What if he forgets to scoot scoot scoot like we have worked so hard on, and tumbles down the entire staircase; and 

2) When did my baby boy become such a BOY, he no longer needs a baby gate???

I am so not ready for this.

The hubs repurposed one of the gates into a fireplace guard, so we technically aren’t 100% free of them. I guess I should rejoice in that. He is still baby enough to not be trusted around the fireplace, (which he can now reach just fine even over the hearth, thanks to his 90th percentile for height–ahhhhh!).

But–there is one upside to all of this.

I cannot wait to bring home my first carload of groceries now that I have a clear path from the garage door to the kitchen! Hauling bags through two gates AND stairs with a toddler “helping” was never one of my favorite mom chores!

Onward and upward! Literally  🙂

Here we are again, HELPING

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!