How did I get here?

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I have these “moments” every now and then where I seem to be hyper aware of being in the moment:  remembering the sights, sounds, smells, enjoying the present.  The first moment that I can truly recall like this was when I was hmmm… a sophomore in college.  I was driving around my little college town and breathing in what must have felt like the “freedom” of being a grown-up.  Of course I had no idea in my 19-year-old head what being an adult actually meant, but I was kind of trying it out.  Like trying on clothes.  I wanted to see what it was like, see if I could do it.  I remember that I had my windows down in my car, I remember what the wind felt like and that I was listening to a lot of Green Day at that point. It was springtime and warm outside and the air smelled sweet because the cherry blossom trees were in bloom.   I had a car phone.  (LOL!  Right?  That’s how long ago this was.  A CAR phone.)  I felt so important because I had a phone.  IN my car.  I was obviously not supposed to use it except for emergencies because it was absurdly expensive per minute, but still.  Fun to have.  I remember that I used to love checking my mail at the college post office because it was the first time I had an address that was just my own.

The next “moment” that I recall capturing was when we first moved to Chicago.  We had an adorable apartment on the north side of the city.   It had french doors opening to the dining room, a completely square kitchen and zero closet space.  I loved that apartment.  That is where DH and I really stretched our wings.  We had to “sink or swim” in the big city and we learned how to swim together.  Amidst all the other 20-somethings trying to figure out life and how to use the transit system.  We were very broke, so we spent a lot of time playing video games at home or playing rpgs (role playing games) with our friends.  I remember playing Theme Hospital on the playstation game system and feeling so content in my little apartment, 650 miles from my family.  We ate a lot of macaroni and cheese (from a box) and ramen noodles.  It was hard, really really hard, but also satisfying in the way that you might be creating  a sculpture and you’re trying to get the vision in your head worked out in tangible form.

Five apartments, 6 jobs and 2 college degrees later, my oldest son was born.  He was beautiful.  A skinny baby with long spindly legs and big blue eyes.  If I think back on it now, I can see his personality just as it is now, but emerging through his little baby gestures and sounds.  I remember the first time I cared for him by myself, completely alone after our visiting family left and DH was at work.  I had not gone back to the office yet, and there I was with this little newborn.  Had anyone even checked if this was ok?  That I had this little baby?  What was happening?  It was surreal.  I was sitting in an ugly-patterned orange wingback chair, a hand-me-down from family.  I loved that chair.  It wasn’t a rocker, but it was super comfortable, and most importantly, it fit in our tiny 2-bedroom apartment.  DS made little cooing sounds and wiggled around in my arms.  His little hat was too big and would slide around on his head like a lopsided sailor hat until I straightened it out again.  I was so astounded that I was responsible for this little life.  I had just sat down on this enormous rollercoaster of a ride without an end.  I didn’t even have time to think about whether or not I could do it, I constantly had to keep up with actually doing it:  the care, the love, the food, the diapers, stimuli, tummy time, eventually my workplace and socialization.  If I stopped to think about it anymore I would become overwhelmed, so I just looked at that little baby with the lopsided hat and green dinosaur slippers and smiled and cuddled and held on to him for dear life.  He’s 8 now.  I still love to watch him sleep.

So is this how we recall life in a series of flashbacks like this where you hit highlights and occasionally look up from all the busy-ness and see where you are before digging in again to “real life” and work and  details?  What a ride.  I wonder what’s around the next bend?

Be Fierce.  Buckle your safety belts.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

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You’re Never Too Old To Miss Your Mom

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I miss my mom.  Or at least I think I miss my mom.  She passed away a few years ago – 7 actually.  Wow.  I’ve been feeling like I’m missing something lately and I think that is what it is.  I also tend to feel blue around my mother’s birthday which is coming up this week.  I’ve heard this is common among people who have lost a parent, that you can almost sense when their birthday is by how you feel.  Its a particular feeling of being sad that you can’t quite put your finger on.  There isn’t really a remedy, and after a day or so you look at a calendar and realize your parent’s birthday is coming up.  Its an odd feeling.  My mother really didn’t make a big deal of her birthday before she passed, but boy I know when it is now.  The past few years, we have had a sort of “rememberance dinner” where we share memories and tell the children what she was like and we may show pictures, etc. I am planning to do that again this year.  Usually on our “big” summer trip I visit her gravesite, but I was unable to do that this year.  There was a terrible rain storm while we were on the way north and we just couldn’t spare the time with traffic and weather combined.  One thing that I really do miss is talking with my mom.  We used to chat almost daily.  It has become, thankfully, rose colored in my memory, but I do remember how frustrated she could make me over the phone.  Our personalities were so different and we (very) often clashed horribly.  We had terrible communication made worse by physical distance and cloud of emotional memories and expectation of one another.  Still that emptiness that she left remains.  I don’t suppose it really ever goes away.  I don’t always feel this melancholy about it, but a few times a year, it does hit me.  As I’ve gotten older, I have realized that without any siblings to help me remember places, holidays or events from when I was young, the memories that I have will die with me, unless I pass them on to my children.  Unfortunately I’ve also found it very difficult to recall some things.  DH has suggested I start writing down what I can remember, which I probably should.  I don’t really have a “best friend” that I can talk to right now, DH is pretty much it.  I have many many good acquaintances and a small, very cherished handful of friends.  Most of my friends are busy with their children during the summer or you know, they work outside the home.  Its just felt a bit lonely here lately as I haven’t even been seeing many of my acquaintances regularly without the rigorous schedule of the school year in place.   This too shall pass as they say.

Be fierce.  Cherish your memories!

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly

I can admit it, I’m sensitive

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We recently went on our “big summer” trip.  We traveled south for about 5 weeks visiting family, Disney World and the beach.  For much of that time, DH was with me, but for about the last 2 weeks of it, it was just me with the kiddos.  We were often around other family, because obviously, that was the point of the trip, but ultimately, it was just us.  It was work.  I mean, awesome, yes.  I got to sit on the beach and by the pool every day, but its not as relaxing as you might imagine when I’m  trying to make sure that I don’t 1) lose my 4 year old or ASD child and 2) that no one drowned, got sunburned or dehydrated.  And then… I wanted them to have fun!  (and also keep up on summer reading!!)

At one point we were visiting with some family and someone mentioned (to my children no less) how most parents worked and it was “hard” to fit everything in to your daily routine when you had a “job” and I swear I could not have been more offended.  So…. when you leave your child with a nanny or a daycare, those people at the daycare facility aren’t working?  Hmmm…. then why do you pay them?  How about babysitters?  Are they free?  Ours aren’t.  They’re about $15/hour.  Do all the childcare workers just care for your children, entertain them and keep them safe and engaged out of the goodness of their hearts?  Probably not.  This is a social problem.  Somehow it has been engrained in our society over the past couple of decades that if you’re not working for someone else, you’re not working.  If you’re not paying someone else to raise your children while you’re in an office you’re doing it wrong.   I would include independent contractors and those who are self-employed in this as well.  This is offensive.  I know every family has their own personality and “path” and not all parents have the ability or desire to stay home with their children and I respect that.  You do what is right for your family at the moment and this may change over time.  However, I expect to be respected for my choices in return.  There is more than one way to skin a cat folks.  When I was a working mom (I’ve done both), I had someone say to me that they put their son in daycare because they didn’t want him watching TV all day.  What?  Who in the world was letting him watch TV all day?  Why weren’t they doing their job of entertaining, teaching and engaging the child?  Oh, that’s right.  Its work.

Raising children is a job people.  Its a hard, rewarding, exhausting, amazing, soul bearing job.  I recently took the children to our museum’s Members’ Night in Chicago by myself.  Don’t tell me that wasn’t work.  Incredible, yes.  Am I proud?  Certainly!  But it was work.  And actually, I ended up feeling 2 parts proud, 1 part shame.  I was so impressed at how the children stayed together, enjoyed the exhibits, waited patiently in line for their turn, etc, but when we were in the car on the way home, Mr. M was very tired and had lost his composure, and decided he hated his museum gift bag and souvenir.  I just lost it.  I was tired too.  I know that he has difficulty understanding certain concepts and that he was tired, but I was tired too.  I probably lectured most of the way home about gratefulness and manners.  I was so hurt.  I felt that I had done this amazing thing by being able to handle all 3 of them in such a tumultuous atmosphere, and he was complaining about souvenirs.  Anyway, we got home, I calmed down, he calmed down, we talked it over.  Its work.  Even in our daily routine, I don’t just “sit around” all day.  I manage play dates, lessons and doctors’ appointments, we’re out at the park, we’re picnicking, we’re swimming, playing board games or baking cookies (well, today its muffins).  I usually have at least my 3 children if not 1 more in tow.  We’re doing science experiments with our at home kits to see how long it takes bread to mold – icky!!  We’re blowing bubbles and painting our homemade stuffed animal houses.  We’re practicing writing our  letters.  We’re learning how to to have good manners, share, take turns and apologize when necessary.

Whomever is doing this with children is working whether it is the parent or a childcare provider.  So yes, I am a bit sensitive.

#IamAFierceMom

Kelly