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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

WhyTH Am I Still Doing This?

I know, I know. Another long overdue post...sigh... As I sit here in the lobby of a VA Hilton Garden Inn basking in (fake) candlelight - we can't risk burning this fine institution down with legit flames, y'all - and my $7 red blend, it's been quite a work day. And since I don't see any couches or licensed professionals with notebooks, blogging will serve as tonight's therapy.  

Dallas, my sweet and demandingly snugglesome, suddenly rambunctious, super talkative and suggestively Elaine-style dancing (don't ask), child is five years old. WOW - I have NO idea how or when that happened. The reason I say this is not because I don't remember every crazed, rage engendering three-year-old tantrum (like that one when it was just he and I at the grocery store and I had to leave all of the perishable goods in the cart and drag him kicking and screaming to the car, give him a "stern talking to" and drag him back into the store, relocate the abandoned cart and finish ticking off the grocery list while he sobbed loudly...still recovering from that one, obvi) or back to the infant days when I never slept because of the stupid crib alarm that was supposed to save him from SIDS but actually only went off when he was basking in perfect slumber and, in fact, STILL BREATHING JUST FINE. No, no. Not those reasons.

I think the actual reason that I can't believe how far we've come is because I find myself still doing things that make me think to myself, "Why in the hell am I still doing this?" That said, this post really serves as an ode, if you will, to all of the helicopter, overprotective, and just plain old verge of psychotic activities that maybe... no, most definitely... made sense at one time in my child's development, but may or may not make any damn sense to continue doing any longer. How did I get here, you may be wondering? What broke the straw? Um, BECAUSE PEOPLE BE LOOKING AT ME LIKE I'M STRAIGHT CRAZY. And as a generally self-aware person, that gives me pause. That's why.

So yeah, awhile back I started making a list of these WTF activities and moments on my phone. Technology really is a gift. So, let's run it through. But please know... Just because I list all of these things that I should probably stop doing in my own blog post doesn't mean for one second that I'm going to stop doing them. I have kept this boy alive all this time by being my crazy, overly cautious self. Best I can do is promise to think about it. Make some concessions. Calm down a little. She says as her neck twitches ever so slightly...

Cutting up his food into miniscule pieces
So, my personal research has concluded that most parents stop doing this once their child stops sitting in a high chair. Now, I'm not saying that you normal people out there are giving your children crisply sharpened steak knives and a NY strip at age three and saying "Go for it" but you know what I mean. My level of crazy: If dinner is spaghetti and meatballs, I still cut back and forth through his spaghetti so that it measures approximately one-inch pieces. Next level: We were at a friend's house last weekend and the kids had those little peelable oranges. In addition to telling him to bite the wedges in half to eat them and the firm warning "Don't eat them whole!", I kept going upstairs where the kids were playing to make sure he hadn't choked on an orange wedge. Like probably 5 or 6 times. Oh yeah, I'm certifiable. Half of my mind is like - Reg, you're totally good. Your kid will NEVER choke on an orange and that's good parenting. The other half is looking around at the other parents who are clearly sane and it says to me, Reg, you are a f%@$ing lunatic. He's fine. Stop buggin'. That first, psychotically helicopter side always wins, though! What's funny is that there was a point where I never questioned my own logic. Until that day when I spent ten hangry, pre-dinner minutes painstakingly cutting up food into tiny pieces and then watched Dallas take the equivalent of four bites at once on his fork and be fine. He didn't choke. Yeah, that made me feel kind of stupid.

Pre-washing new clothes
Remember the days of Dreft? And then when you finally wised up and stopped buying separate detergent for baby clothes, so Tide Free or whatever you could afford between $1000/month childcare, a mortgage, car payments, gas, the light bill and food? And when I would go to Target or Old Navy and come back with all of those super cute outfits, I would take them off the hangers, take off all of the tags and pop them right into the hamper to be washed. You know, so all that "new clothes" essence didn't irritate his delicate and precious young, babyfied skin. YEAH, SO I JUST STOPPED DOING THIS LAST WEEK. I KNOW! I am like the sucker of all moms. What broke me? A school play. Dallas was cast as a tree or a goat, can't remember, in Three Billy Goats Gruff and he needed to wear a certain color shirt or shorts, can't remember that either, that he didn't have. It's all very foggy... Kohl's had a sale. End of the day, we threw the stuff on him, he acted out his part and guess what??? He did NOT break out in a deadly "new clothes rash". He really just went on living his life. Who knew??? Oh, you guys did. Well, thanks for telling me. See what I did there?

OK, hold your disgust. I will continue to keep Dallas on the right side of personal hygiene. What I'm referring to here is baths vs. showers. Bit of a story here. Back in late May we took a little mini family vacation to Myrtle Beach. It was awesome! The real crowning jewel, though, was getting Dallas out of his comfort zone and watching him willingly adjust to new things that at home, he had always rejected outright. Our hotel room was sans bathtub, but had a really cool walk-in shower. So, of course I panicked. My mind said, "Dallas is never going to take a shower. This is never going to work. He's going to fight this and freak out and this is going to suck." You know, that super positive, normal reaction that any well-adjusted parent would have. Thankfully, enter Daddy, stage left. Ever the salesman, Jason effortlessly sells D on the cool merits of shower life. Within literally two minutes of getting in, Dallas says "I looooove showers. I'm going to take showers all the time." We got back home and he couldn't wait to start taking showers! And guess what? Showers are WAY shorter! And there's not eighty-seven gallons of water all over the bathroom floor and all over me! Or a gaggle of toys to clean up! Of course, there's the slight issue of getting him to take a shower in his own bathroom rather than ours, but hey, nothing is perfect.

Using regular plates and getting his own water
Don't act like you didn't go to Target or IKEA and buy those plastic, BPA-free toddler plates, with or without the dividers, like as soon as your boo boo started eating solid foods. And remember how you couldn't wait to cut their food up in little bite size pieces and watch them try different things on those little blue, green, yellow, orange, hot pink and purple plates and bowls? Well, if this feels like a stretch to remember... If you're thinking back really hard to those days right now and your child is 6 and under, let me remind you BECAUSE UP UNTIL LAST MONTH DALLAS WAS STILL EATING OFF OF THOSE. At some point like last month it was dinner time and all those plates must have been dirty, so Jason thought "outside of the box" and decided to feed Dallas dinner on a regular a$$ plate like we adults eat on. Some genius $hit, apparently. So now, he eats on the same size plates as other regular-size humans. I should have known this grown-up plate thing was possible when one day he asked me for a cup, went to the refrigerator and got himself a cup of water. I almost cried nostalgic tears of joy. Obama was right... everyday these kids are taking one more step away from us. I'm not crying, that's you.

This paradox of simultaneously teaching our children to grow up and be self-sufficient while wearing our rose-colored glasses of their limitations is a hell of a drug. I swear that I want Dallas to be fearless and take risks, yet I toss and turn at night thinking of all of the things that frighten me as his mother. I literally couldn't sleep one night last week because he was going on a field trip to the splash park and I was imagining kids holding him under the water and him not being able to break free. DERANGED, I know. You want next level? I was thinking of driving to the splash park in my car and, you know, just keeping watch like a parking lot creeper to make sure that didn't happen...or that if it did, I would be there to rescue my baby bean. DERANGED SQUARED. But hey, the bus broke down and they didn't get to go. The role of "mom truly heartbroken that her son didn't get to attend the splash park fieldtrip" was played by Regan Love-Campbell that day. My performance was stellar.

Am I as alone as I think I am in this? What things are you still doing that reading this has brought to light? I'm sure I have more examples of pure mom insanity, but I needed to keep at least a small shred of my dignity in tact. Not sure I succeeded.

Stay sane and test those limits!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Sweetly Bittersweet Trade Offs

Hey Y'all... Yeah I guess I'm really leaning into this Southern lifestyle. Your Cali-turned-Northeast-turned-Charlotte-living mama is back! 

Now, It's been a long time and I absolutely should not have left you without a dope post to laugh to (laugh to, laugh to... fiki fiki). I realize that. It's what makes this return to the blog all the more intimidating. Because some of you are like, "Pssshhhh, this chick hasn't posted jack in over a year! She'd better BRING IT after all this time away..." accompanied by a super deep eye roll. I see you! I assure you, though, that this walk of shame back to the blog has been well thought out. Now that my "rocketship to 4" has come and gone, I am simply left standing in the vapors that characterize the passing of the toddler years while a man-child on the brink of turning 5 emerges from the smoke. Yep, my dramatic references are still on fleek...as I think the kids said in 2015. 

5!!!??? Like, how in the fresh hell did that happen? I mean, sure, there is no doubt that I have joked (lovingly) about blocking out those first few insanely terrifying infant months. "Is he still breathing? I think so...wait, he's definitely not. Oh no, he's good. How do you know? Because he just smile-farted..." What human can withstand that level of anxiety day in and day out with zero REM sleep and not want to MIB that shit from memory? Reason 4,387 for which there will be no "Take 2" on this baby having game. 

So sorry, back to the title of this jam which is all about trade offs. As I watch my precious butter bean become more and more of his own person every day, I can't help but notice how my own life and experience as a mother has changed over these almost 5 years. That said, this post will serve as an ode, if you will, to the aspects of baby parenting that we all eventually leave behind and are invariably replaced by other...um...interesting (or just plain maddening) realities. Here we go. 

Incoherent Babbles for Sass-Mouth 
As adorable as it was to watch my beautiful boy jumble together messy sentences and cutely mispronounce words, when a two-year-old is screaming indiscriminate sounds through streaming, snotty tears and YOU, the person responsible for making them stop, can't understand what the actual f%#@ he's crying for is one of the most helpless and frustrating feelings in the world. My mom and I still laugh at the time Dallas was nutjob inconsolable on a car ride over something we could not for the life of us figure out. At 2, the word "sweatshirt" doesn't always translate as seamlessly as one would think. Yeah so, 20 mins of pure hell later we threw him the "schweasherr" and he knocked off the damn screaming. 

And don't even act like you would have figured that out, Smarty McSmartersons. Yes, when spelled phonetically, I see it's not exactly the mystery it seemed at the time. 

Anyway, it's all different now. Let's just say that these days I am quite clear on what Dallas wants and doesn't want. Crystal effing clear. Those confusingly cute baby babbles have been replaced with deep, dramatic sighs followed by "Seriously?" complete with matching attitude face. Another (in)famous one is the "Mommy/Daddy, you interrupted me." Meanwhile, Jason and I can barely get through two sentences to each other without Dallas breaking in. And not for something important like having to pee or an Indiana Jones sized boulder careening in our direction... Nope, he's just updating us on the day of the week or letting us know that he doesn't really have a favorite Ninja Turtle. Matter of fact, he likes them all equally. Great, Dallas. Great. Now Daddy and I are going to go back to our convo about getting the taxes done. We've also noticed that he highly enjoys using the word "since". Like more than the average person. It's kind of weird. 

Diapers and Pull Ups for Shit Tons of Artwork and School Notes 
Now that the immense trauma of potty training has come and gone and I no longer have to chase Dallas around the house with the express intent of initiating poop functions (see that post from 2014), them diapers and pull ups are a distant memory. And as the moment comes when you know you've changed your last one...right before you shout hallelujah from the rooftops, what you don't realize is that all of the shitty diapers that you got to throw away back in them days will now be replaced with a literal crap ton of drawings, macaroni-glued toilet paper roll art projects and other random paper items that over the lifetime of one child could wrap around planet Earth...twice. 

So, what's the problem, you ask? The damn problem is that while you NEVER EVER thought twice about chucking that gross diaper into the trash, all of these preciously cracked-out, unrecognizable family portraits (where you couldn't tell the difference between you, Daddy and the dog), makeshift paper viewfinders and adorable school notes have MEANING! They can't just be carelessly tossed out in this Tuesday's trash! Case in point...look at this... 

This note - written on a ghetto half of a half of a 4x6 note card - has been sitting on my kitchen table for a week. Proudly! UM...Dallas helped Addison clean up! That note is proof that the child of my womb demonstrated a pure gesture of goodwill towards his fellow man! How do you throw that shit away??? ...BUT I NEED TO THROW THAT SHIT AWAY!!!   Le sigh... The struggle is real. Hence, 2 boxes full of art projects and school notes that will slowly decompose in my garage, never to see the light of day. Maybe if our town ever floods we can piece them all together to build a raft and save our own lives. Or something else totally useful like that...

One final trade off that I'm coming to terms with is watching the transition from that unaware, less articulate baby into the expressive, thoughtful boy Dallas is becoming. During one of our bedtime conversations he said, "Mommy, you're the best." When I asked why he said, "Because you do nice things." Through all of the whining about iPad time and TV shows and not wanting to get dressed for school or go the f$&@ to sleep, it's these small moments where I'm assured that my only child is going to be a good one. 

As I left for my work trip this week, Dallas woke up as I was heading out. He asked to walk me out and give me a push out the door like he does at school and we exchanged lots of kisses and I'll miss yous. I was carrying my bags so he opened the kitchen door, pushed the button to open the garage door and as I walked to my car I watched him wave at me, say I love you, push the button to close the garage and walk inside. It was such a simple moment...easy to overlook its significance. Not for me. He had never seemed more like a big boy than at that moment and it made me happy and sad for us both.

What trade offs are you experiencing? Are they sweet or bittersweet?

Stay sane in this weird limbo,