Author Archives: She's One of "Those" Moms

About She's One of "Those" Moms

Balancing a full-time job, a LuLaRoe business, two boys, a traveling husband, three cats, and a dog is an adventure too good to miss. I hope you'll stop by often to read up on our trials, celebrations, and misadventures.

Alexander

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I was ready for Alex to come in mid-November.  Planned my life around it – the laundry was finished and put away regularly, papers were graded, the house was cleaned.  And he never came.  Recently, I resigned myself to the fact that he was going to be a late baby.  The latest the midwife would let me go was Christmas Eve, and, in my mind, I knew I would be spending Christmas in the hospital – away from Robbie.

And then I woke up at 2:18 Saturday morning with intense contractions.  You know – the kind that are every five minutes and stay that way for five hours, so you finally go to the hospital, only to have them stop?  Completely?  Like you don’t have a single one while you’re hooked up to the monitor?  Yeah.  Those were the kind I had.

Justin and I left, two hours of our Saturday wasted.  I may or may not have cried, feeling stupid because I told myself I wouldn’t make the same false trips to the hospital that I had when I was pregnant with Robbie.  And you know what happened as soon as we left the hospital and sat down at a restaurant to have brunch, right?  Contractions picked up, five minutes apart.  However, I was not going to be fooled again.

Justin and I enjoyed our brunch, bought Christmas stamps, and headed home to clean the house.  I battled – and defeated – the kitchen, complete with crusted, colored icing on the counters from the previous night’s rushed cookie job before school’s holiday party.  I nearly conquered the sheets stained with blue marker from a certain big brother (and the father who wasn’t paying attention to what he was doing).  We addressed and mailed Christmas cards.  I vacuumed up the   We watched Santa Claus The MovieThe Right Stuff,  and started Tora! Tora! Tora!  Finally, after five more hours of contractions four to five minutes apart, Justin decided it was time to go back.  Apparently, my whimpering on the couch was enough to do the poor man in.

We headed back to the hospital, and, miraculously, the contractions didn’t go away.  In fact, they got worse.  All of a sudden, it looked like Justin’s wishes for a Pearl Harbor baby were going to come true.

Justin and I took hypno-birthing classes when I was pregnant with Robbie, and we decided it was pretty much a lie.  I have to tell you, after having Alex, I’m a little more of a believer.  I went the epidural route right away this time, which let me relax and not be miserable through labor.  It’s pretty incredible what a difference that makes.  Justin and I spent the next 90 minutes catching up with the midwife and the nurse, while Alex started to work his way into the world.  Eventually, I did need to push, but it was only when he was inches from being born.

I had dreaded that part.  With Robbie, pushing took 3 hours and 22 minutes.  I thought the poor child was never going to be born, and we were both going to be stuck like that forever.  Plus, I was exhausted from 48 hours of labor.  With Alex?  It was 21 minutes until he was in my arms.  Just like that.  All 8 pounds, 11 ounces of him.

You know how people tell you that you’ll love your second child, but it will be different?  And you can’t possibly imagine a scenario where you love someone as much as your first?  And you were terrified of how things would change?  All gone the moment he was in my arms in all his slimy glory.  Alex looked at me, and I was undone.  Undone in a completely different way than Robbie, my big boy and adventure partner.  I think this might be a beautiful thing.

What NOT to Say

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At 39.5 weeks pregnant, I’ve heard almost everything you can say to a pregnant woman.  In no particular order, I present you with the following list of things you should never say to a woman this pregnant.

1.  “You look miserable!” – Thanks.  I actually feel great.  Fantastic, even.  Miserable was weeks 30-34.  But right now?  I’m feeling awesome.  Telling me that I look miserable when I feel anything but is pretty crushing.  If I wanted to look miserable, I wouldn’t spend time doing my hair and make-up and making sure I had on clean clothes in the morning.  Instead, I’d sleep until 7:15 and roll out of bed just in time to make it to work.

2.  “I guess that baby wants to stay in for a few more days.” – Really?  You have a direct line to my child?  I’ve been hearing this one since about 37 weeks, way before I would have actually wanted my child to be born.  Double no-no if you repeat it to the pregnant woman every day.  If you have to comment about the baby staying put, at least only make it a day.  It just seems cruel to make it plural.

3.  “You should hold out and have the baby on (pick any random date).  It’s my best friend’s dog’s birthday.” – Gee.  Thanks for the input.  I will definitely do my best to go into labor and deliver my child on a day that is important to you.  This is particularly fun when the person’s birthday is three months after my due date.  If I was going to purposely go into labor on an important day, I might have picked my birthday or our anniversary or my grandfather’s birthday or the day we got engaged.

4.  “Did you get pregnant on purpose?” – Now, most people know this isn’t an appropriate conversation, but middle schoolers have no idea.  At all.  This has led to several conversations about the implications of this question.

5.  “Boy, are you swollen!” – That’s the equivalent of calling a pregnant woman fat.  Sure, my feet and ankles are so swollen that my socks don’t fit anymore and it takes effort to put on shoes.  I don’t really need you reminding me.  Trust me, I know.

Did I miss any?

Almost Four…

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It’s almost time.  Five days before my due date.  We are almost a family of four.  And I am, well, not sure how I feel.

We plan to cap our family at four, so I am trying to enjoy the last days of being pregnant, hoping to remember this for the rest of my life.  It’s only been four years, but I don’t really remember what it was like to be pregnant with Robbie.  I worry I haven’t enjoyed being pregnant as much as I could have,  but I’m grateful that the last month has been wonderful.  Sure, there’s been swelling and heartburn I wouldn’t wish on anyone.  And, no, I don’t sleep through the night, and my hips and shoulders are sore from sleeping on my side.  But, I’ve had energy and gotten things done.  I’ve done things people told me I’d feel too terrible to do – the Christmas shopping is done, the house is decorated, the sugar cookies are in the freezer waiting to be decorated, and the Christmas cards have been shipped.

I’m also a little terrified.  We have a pretty good thing going with Robbie; it’s been the three of us for the past four-and-a-half years.  He’s a “real” person – we have conversations and go on adventures – and having Alex will make that different.  This is probably part of the reason I haven’t done much writing in the past three months.  I’m trying to hold on to everything, to slow down time when it’s just the three of us.  It doesn’t work like that, though.  Time has passed – and quickly – so I try to soak up our adventures, no matter how ridiculous they are.

Two weeks ago, the whole house was up at 4:45.  I got panicked that I might never have the chance to take Robbie for an early breakfast before school with just the two of us.  Keep in mind, this is something I have never done.  Ever.  But we had to do it – that morning.  We both got dressed and were ready to leave the house by 6:30.  We lingered over waffles and bacon, talking about his friends and school and plans for the weekend.  It was perfect – right down to Robbie excusing himself to go to the bathroom and singing so loudly while he was in there that all of Waffle House heard.

And every night at bedtime, I linger long after Robbie has fallen asleep.  Will this be the last night that he is my only child?  Will this be the last night that I can cuddle with him without knowing there is someone else who also needs attention?  Will this be the last night that I don’t miss bedtime because of a hungry baby?  Nights like tonight, I feel a little bit worse because I sent Justin up to read stories.  What if I missed my last bedtime with just Robbie?

And the other part of me?  So excited to meet Alex that I’m not sure I can wait another minute.  I want to see what he looks like and smell the baby smell.  I can’t wait to cuddle him in little sleepers and watch Robbie with his brother.  To know that we are just days from having our family complete, and just in time for Christmas, makes me feel a little silly for even being worried.

Now we just wait.   After all, it’s a little late to be worried about the impact Alex will have and what will happen when Robbie isn’t my only child.

 

Responsibility

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I heard there would be a difference when Robbie turned four, but I was hesitant to believe it.  After all, I’d heard something similar about him turning three, and that was really more of the same terrible twos.  Except with a bigger child who could throw a louder fit.  However, this time, there was something to this whole turning four thing.  And maybe the whole becoming-a-big-brother-thing.

Lately, Robbie has started getting up in the morning and taking a shower on his own.  Then, he packed his own lunch and fixed his own breakfast.  He even dressed himself.  Yesterday, however, we hit a new high.  I was still getting dressed when Robbie came running into the bathroom, distraught.  The morning had gone so well; I couldn’t imagine what had gotten Robbie so upset.

“Mom!  I’m trying to make you a jelly sandwich for breakfast, and I can’t get the bread.  It was supposed to be a ‘prise.  Can you please help?” he sobbed into my shoulder.

I’m not sure I’ve ever squeezed my child harder.  Here it was, 7:05 in the morning, and he was making sure I had breakfast.  We walked into the kitchen, and I found that Robbie had gotten out both the jelly and the honey.  After a brief lesson on the benefits of simplify (and peanut butter), Robbie sent me back to finish getting dressed while he made the sandwiches.  Were they perfect?  Not really – there was a follow-up lesson on spreading.  But, it was probably the most delicious peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich I’ve ever had.

This afternoon, Robbie’s responsibility streak continued.  We were working in the front yard – will I ever get rid of the trumpet vine that seems to follow me everywhere? – when Robbie and I noticed that Barkley had left the yard and was at the corner.  Robbie called for Barkley, and the dog took off.  I told Robbie to get in the car, which is the only successful way I’ve found to track him back down, especially now that I can barely run ten feet.  Robbie yelled, “Mom, I’ve got this!  I’ll get Barkley!”   He took off down the road, in running pants and no shirt.

I hopped in the car, sure Barkley was all the way down the block and Robbie would be sitting on the sidewalk a third of the way there.  You can imagine my surprise when I turned the corner to see Robbie grab Barkley around the neck.  I held my breath, sure Barkley would break Robbie’s grip, and got out of the car ready to tell Robbie to grab the collar.  Before I could even get the door open, Robbie grabbed Barkley’s collar and started toward the car.

“See, Mom?” he said in a low, grown-up voice.  “I told you I’d get Barkley.  He can go in the car.  I’ll beat you back home!”  And he was off like a shot, beating me back home to tell Justin about his adventure.

 

Fall in the Bluegrass, Take II

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It hit me when I was driving home yesterday – the pure excitement of fall in Kentucky.  Maybe it was the clear blue sky that I haven’t gotten to see all day.  Or the fact that it was finally Friday.  But, all of a sudden, I got a little giddy about the fact that it was fall.  Football games.  Robbie’s first soccer season.  Keeneland.  It’s all here – or almost here.  After a few minutes getting excited about fall, it occurred to me that this was my second fall back home, and I wasn’t quite sure why I was as excited as if it was my first.

I thought on it awhile.  Last fall, I couldn’t be excited about all of the fun.  There was a house sale hanging in the balance in Boston – and one here that depended on it.  There was the fear that we (or, in all honesty, I) had made a huge mistake in pushing for the move, even when the condo hadn’t completely sold.  There was the pressure of living in my parents’ basement – something we appreciated being able to do.  However, it was difficult to go from living 1000 miles away to managing the stress of everything with other people around.  And, perhaps most importantly, there was the fact that Justin and I had to figure out Robbie.

None of that matters this fall, though.  We are settled in a house we love.  Justin and I both know that Lexington is where we want to stay permanently.  We have fantastic friends.  Family is nearby – and a Godsend.  And Robbie has gotten the help we all needed to get on the right track.  He is, generally, happy and able to act appropriately in different settings.  We have another little boy on the way.  As much as Justin probably doesn’t want me to say it because he’s worried I might jinx it – life is pretty perfect right now.

And so, without any constant worries, Justin and I sat in Commonwealth Stadium, awaiting kickoff for the first home game of the season.  We were able to fully embrace the afternoon, enjoying each other’s company and the intensity that is Big Blue Nation.  God, it was nice.  And there was nowhere else in the world I would have wanted to be.

Kissing

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I knew it would happen eventually, but I’d hoped it wouldn’t be quite yet.  Sure, I knew Robbie had a “girlfriend”.  We’ve even gone through the mall finding the perfect piece of jewelry for her.  But, deep in my heart, I kind of hoped he would go back to playing with the boys on the playground, coming home covered in dirt.

Saturday, while we were swimming, Robbie let me know that he had kissed his girlfriend.  We were just floating in the water, when Robbie looked at me and said, “Mom, do you think I’ve kissed my girlfriend?”  I’ve learned that, typically, the answer to these questions is yes.  This was no exception.

“Oh, really?” I asked.  “And where did you kiss her?”

“On the cheek,” he replied, nonchalantly.

“Oh.  And what did she do then?”  Is it wrong that I kind of hoped she ran away, horrified that a boy had kissed her?  It’s not that I want my four-year-old’s heart broken.  It’s just that I don’t want him serious with a girl quite yet.

“She kissed me back.”  Well, this wasn’t going at all how I planned.

“Hmmm.”  I was stalling for time at the point.  How in the world do you respond to finding out that your four-year-old and his “girlfriend” are kissing each other, even if it is only on the cheek.  “And when did all this happen?”

“After the bus brought me back to school.  When we were playing on the playground,” Robbie told me.

“I see.  And what did your teachers say when you two kissed each other?”  Here, surely, I would be vindicated.  The teachers wouldn’t allow kissing on their watch.  Their plan had to have been thwarted.

“They didn’t see.  We went far away from them.”  Of course they did.  I have a child smart enough to have nailed down a girlfriend this early in life.  It only makes sense that he would be smart enough to plan to kiss her away from the eyes of his teachers.

As difficult as all of this was for me to hear, I’m glad he told me.  I love that he’s excited enough about something like kissing a girl on the cheek that I’m the first person he wants to tell.  And I suppose I should be thankful that I’ve raised a little boy who would rather sneak behind the slide to give a kiss than push a girl down and make her cry in front of his friends.  But, the last thing I expected to hear this afternoon when I got home from school and asked about his day was simply, “I kissed my girlfriend again today.”

A New Year

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I’ve been a teacher for almost twelve years, and I’ve probably had close to 1000 students walk through my classroom doors.  I try to impart a little wisdom about reading and writing and a lot about how to be a good person.  Somewhere, somehow, I hope to have an impact on my students.  However, it wasn’t until I was a parent that I realized how deeply a teacher could touch a child.

We had a rough year at pre-school last year – transitions to a new school, feeling our way though Robbie’s sensory issues, difficult teacher interactions.  Over the summer, I had a hard time not pulling him out and starting over somewhere else.  But, I’ve always heard you shouldn’t make any drastic changes to your hair while you’re pregnant; I figured this fell into the same category.  That, and Justin talked a little sense into me, reminding me that Robbie loved his school and only had one more year there.  And so, unconvinced, we plunged into this year.

There was a lot to orchestrate before school started, including making sure that Robbie was enrolled in Early Start through our school district.  This would ensure that he was ready to transition to kindergarten and give him some additional services.  I wasn’t sure anything would pull together – and it did take much persistence (although I’m sure the people with the school system had another word for it) and patience.  But, two days before school started, we had a plan.

Justin and I went to Open House with Robbie, unsure of how we would feel about the new teachers, given some of our past experience.  I was relieved to find that the teachers had experience with both Early Start and sensory kids.  In fact, they didn’t seem the least bit put out over either.  They simply asked that we share strategies with them and give them information on anything that the school system decided to implement.  It was all I could do to not tear up – these women didn’t dread the challenge.  In fact, they embraced it.

Over the past two weeks, my child has been in “time away” once.  Once.  Last year, he was there at least once a day.  They tell me they redirect him and give him options.  For example, when the teachers noticed Robbie touching his friends in line, they suggested he come give them a hug if he needed to squeeze.  That’s exactly what he does, multiple times a day.  On the first day of school, Robbie snuck out of the classroom to get the gum he had smuggled in his backpack.  Instead of getting angry with Robbie, they kept the gum and told him he needed to come to them to ask for it.  So he does, especially right before it’s time to do a quiet activity.  I didn’t know this had been going on until he’d been there for a week.  Robbie simply explained, “Mom, I get gum when I have to be still.  It just helps me.”

My favorite option of all?  Robbie’s biggest trouble time is circle time.  He has to sit still and be quiet.  For more than two minutes.  His teachers know this and give him three choices.  He can sit in the big bean bag at the back of the circle.  He can actually sit on the carpet with his class mates.  Or, he can sit at a table right next to the carpet and do a puzzle.  Every time, he opts to sit at the table.  As soon as he finishes the puzzle, Robbie quietly slides onto the carpet and sits for the duration of circle time.  He just needed an extra transition, one which doesn’t distract the class or take the teacher’s time away from any other students.  One that allows him to be successful.

These changes aren’t just happening in the classroom.  He’s a different child at home – compliant and pleasant.  He helps cook dinner and rolled two of our three trash cans out to the curb yesterday.  In fact, my sweet child thanked me for doing his laundry twice on Sunday.  I know Justin and I aren’t doing anything different.  It can only be his teachers.

Robbie is in a place where he feels safe and successful.  His teachers are setting him up to believe in himself, despite needing extra transitions or gum.  They are giving my child ownership over his actions and his education, gifts I hope to instill in my own students.  And to see him smiling, telling me how much he loves school.  I just don’t even have words for it.

There was a lot of doubt about all the avenues we pursued over the summer to get Robbie the extra support he needs.  Seeing these accommodations put into place and the impact it has had on him makes it all disappear.  I don’t dread picking him up and hearing what went wrong during the day anymore; it’s a wonderful gift to hear what has gone right.

Summer…

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It was a futile fight, really.  Summer was going to end, no matter what I did to try to stop it.  Nevermind that I made it through almost all of my incredibly detailed to do list (every closet but one in the house is organized, so are all of the cabinets and drawers).  Forget that we did more traveling in two months than we had done in two years.  Summer was ending.

It was hard letting it go, knowing that I will never have another summer with just Robbie.  There will never be another summer where I can devote all my energy to watching him dig a hole in the sand or learn to jump off the side of the pool with the abandon.  Never another summer where he will learn to catch flashlight bugs or scooter so fast it terrifies me.  There will never be another summer where he turns four, thrilled at the idea of crossing off every day until his birthday.  And it makes me incredibly sad.

Don’t get me wrong; I am so excited for Alex to be born.  He will be the perfect child for our family, rounding us all out.  Granted, I don’t know how he will be, but I know he will be exactly what we need.  But it won’t be the same, and I’m a little afraid of that.  We have a really good thing going, the three of us.  We have our routines and our traditions.  The completely irrational side of me is terrified that it won’t be the same anymore, that it couldn’t possibly be better than it is right now.

And I’m right.  It won’t be the same, ever again.  In my heart I know that it will be better, that it will be possible to love a second child just as much as I love my first (after all, it worked with my second, third, and fourth cats).  I see all the good things that being a big brother has brought out of Robbie and know that he will continue to grow and mature once Alex is born.  But for now, I am trying to relish the days of only having one  child because the start of school means everything is moving much faster, including my pregnancy.

So, it was with great dread that I went back to work on Monday.  I felt cheated out of my last week of summer; with all the rain, there were no more final days soaking up the sun at the pool.  Everything fell short of expectations, making me clamor with increasing desperation to make some sort of lasting summer memory.  Of course, nothing measured up.  It never does when you approach it that way.

Today, summer was really over.  There was nothing I could do to try to stretch it out anymore.  Robbie started in his new classroom and I welcomed new students into mine.  But it was OK.  After all, with school comes more organized family dinners, complete with time spent together cooking, and structured bedtime with a little more cuddling.  So it’s not endless days making the perfect summer memories.  But it is three hours of time building something stronger, and that will be enough to get me through.

Here Come the Bees…

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After all the friends had left Robbie’s birthday party, we came inside, so he could show Nona and Pops his presents.  Robbie had been shooting Captain Hook’s cannons when he turned to walk to me.  All of a sudden, he screamed.  I assumed he had stubbed his toe on the ottoman.  Then the screaming took on a new pitch, and I knew something was really wrong.  Nona swooped in, just as I started to hear the buzzing and could finally understand what Robbie was trying to tell me.  He had stepped on a bee.

I grabbed him into my lap, trying to console him.  The stinger was stuck deep into his big toe, and Robbie was thrashing to the point of not being able to get it out.  Fortunately, Nona sprang to the rescue, running to get tweezers from her purse and making a baking soda paste.  While she did this, Robbie lamented, “Oh, my God!  Oh.  My.  God.  This hurts so bad!  This is terrible!  I hate bees!  Oh, my GOD!”  I may sound like a terrible mother, but, well, I had to laugh.  I’ve never heard anyone that dramatic in my life.

Eventually, the stinger came out, the paste was applied, and the Band-Aid was affixed.  Robbie had calmed down enough to start playing with some of his toys again and talk to his uncle Hunter on the phone for a few minutes.  As he was doing this, I looked down and saw it.  Another bee.  Crawling along the hem of his shorts.  There was no really good way to handle this, nothing I could do without alerting Robbie to the impending disaster.  All I could do was hope that neither one of us would wind up stung.

“Robbie, honey, please stay still,” I said quietly, hoping he would stay focused on his planes and phone conversation.  He didn’t.  Before I had even finished speaking, Robbie started screaming at the top of his lungs.  It was perhaps the most panicked scream I have ever heard from my child.  His body started thrashing, and I was trying to keep his shorts from moving, praying that the bee didn’t decide to sting him.  Once again, after what felt like an eternity, Nona swooped in with a tissue (how in the world she had tissues on hand to wipe away not one but two bees I’ll never know) and removed the threat.

Unfortunately, Hunter and his girlfriend, Laila, had no idea what was happening.  All they could hear was some sort of commotion and a blood-curdling scream coming from Robbie.  Poor Laila kept asking if Robbie was OK and no one could respond.  Robbie was too upset and I was laughing too hard.  Fortunately, that was the last bee we saw for the night.  Robbie is set to get four shots later this week.  I figure this is a good starting point.  None of the shots will hurt as much as the bee sting.  Right?

Happy Birthday!

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It’s kind of like Christmas.  Robbie has been crossing days off the calendar, counting down to his birthday, all month.  Invitations have been sent out, a theme set and shopped for, the cake ordered.  Last-minute panic about not being ready for the party and incredible relief when friends and sisters come through to help make everything possible.  You do your best to soak in every possible memory.  And then, well, it’s over.

We started early today, with Robbie waking up at 7:10, asking if he was four yet.  Together, we waited for the clock to say 7:22, when he was born.  There’s something about seeing that minute hit the clock, remembering exactly what it was like when you first laid eyes on the beautiful child beside you.  And then you realize that you have less than seven hours to get ready for the pirate party to celebrate, wanting the first birthday that he will really remember to be perfect.

For the first time since Robbie was born – the first time in our adult lives, really – Justin and I had ample space to host a birthday party.  It was work (and I completely understand why people don’t do birthday parties at home!), but it was so nice to not be sweeping up a driveway and hoping to make it nice.  The lawn had to be mowed, the garden weeded.  Shark blood and sea water Jell-o had to be made.  Pools had to be blown up – thank goodness for friends nearby with an air compressor and a sister willing to blow up the rest.  Water balloons had to be filled.  Cake and ice cream and pizza had to be picked up.  Miraculously, it all happened by 2:00, when everyone was set to arrive.

There were kids everywhere – in the pool (with an inflatable slide – maybe the best $34 I’ve ever spent), blowing bubbles, throwing water balloons, playing corn hole.  There was laughing and shrieking – sounds of a perfect birthday party.  Half the kids were in eye patches, everyone was soaked with grass covering their feet and legs.  And there was Robbie, grinning from ear-to-ear, all of these people here to celebrate him.

After the presents were opened, the cake was eaten, and the friends had gone home, Robbie changed his clothes and crawled into my lap.  “Mommy, I hate it when my friends leave.  This was the most awesome birthday ever!”  I’m not sure I could have asked for much more than that.