Monday, April 29, 2013

I have a home.

I have a home. I have a husband. I have children.

I'm a fucking grown-up and I can't believe it.

I am in my early thirties, and I still can't get over the fact that I have created my own family. I have literally created my own unit. I met a man that I wanted to marry. We had sex and created a baby. Then we did this two more times (the baby-making part) and now we have enough people to have our own basketball team. It's fucking unreal.

I get to stay up late and watch R-rated movies and drink orange juice out of the carton. I can eat popcorn for dinner if I wanted, and I do sometimes. Eat popcorn. For dinner.

I have to remember to buy toilet paper. I have a gazillion baskets of laundry waiting to be folded. I have to vacuum the dog hair littering our floor or else one would think we have carpeting.

If I wanted to rack up credit card debt buying a shitload of stuff I want, I could. I could apply for credit cards, and proceed to spend it. On just about anything. That's actually kind of exciting even if I don't take advantage of my grown-up-ness and buy shit I don't really need.

I can call my friend up at night and invite her over to watch Girls and drink beer and swear.

I haven't seen my dentist in almost two years, and I'm kind of afraid I have a cavity. I have copays and I have to fill out the forms when I visit a doctor's office. I have no fucking clue what members of my family had what disease so I sort of guess and hope I'm right.

I think college freshmen are young kids, and why the hell are they living on their own?! How the hell is 18 old enough to move away from home?!

I look back at pictures from high school and wonder how the hell it feels so dated. How were the 90's so long ago?!

I look at pictures of celebrities in their thirties and wonder why I look nothing like them. Nothing.

And then I look at magazines and skip the section that is for women in their 20's because I'm no longer there. Instead I focus on the 30's and 40's. Shit, I gotta know what is ahead!

I am a grown-up and I will only get older and wiser. I will keep moving down this path, and I can't believe how quickly it feels it's passing.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I hate my yoga class.

Alright, so maybe hate is a strong word. Maybe I should instead use these other phrases:

  • My yoga class is challenging. 
  • I find my yoga instructor demanding.
  • Yoga is bringing up some serious shit.
  • Yoga is fucking symbolic for life. 
I'm not a regular practitioner of yoga. I dabble. I'm a dabbler. I started taking classes last year before I got pregnant and then transitioned into prenatal yoga soon after. I took classes and then stopped with the excuse that I was too tired or too big or too lazy. I started back up again when my youngest was around 4 months, enrolling in classes at a local community center. I loved the environment, the varying ages, the absence of competition. After I met the requirement, I enrolled in the next level class, ready for a challenge.

Fuck that shit. 

Wait, what? My first class back was tonight and it kicked. my. ass. All I love about yoga felt absent, and I left feeling emotionally shaken and stirred. My instructor corrected my poses, talked way too quickly, and she had this condescending way of interacting with the class. 

"Right knee, right knee, right knee, other right knee." I had to slow my brain to process what the fuck she was asking of me, and I wanted to yell I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN! You know what? I kind of want to yell that every now and again to the world, to my family, to my children. I'M DOING THE BEST I CAN! She'd come over to me, adjust my hips, tell me to internally rotate rather than externally rotate my pelvis and stay engaged. I just wanted to crumple and tell her I'm still figuring this out. It's just the first day of the series. Simmer the fuck down! 

But I didn't say those things. 

I listened to her words, I did what I could to follow her instructions and when she praised me when I moved my body the way she asked, I felt proud. I felt strong. I felt like a motherfucking warrior. 

During the last part of class, the relaxation or savasana, I thought about what it is I'm looking for in this series. I'm investing my time, energy and money in this yoga class, and I deserve to walk away feeling better than when I started. I imagine if I stay in this class, my body will be stronger and more flexible. But at what cost? Is it worth it if I leave feeling belittled and frustrated? Is there any other way to approach this series so I leave feeling confident, strong and powerful? 

I think there is a way to make this series work for me, and I'm going to stick it out. Here's why:

My instructor challenges me in a way that I believe will ultimately change me for the better. I need to figure out how to handle challenging people in my life. Finding my voice, managing what power I give to other people and being stronger than I have been in the past are all attainable goals. I will grow through challenges and I will emerge more confident than before. 

My body will be made stronger through the work I do in class. I have the option to give up or switch classes or do the minimum that is asked of me, but I believe if I push my body and allow it to be moved in new and unfamiliar ways, I will ultimately grow in my yoga practice. Sometimes I'm okay with just doing the minimum because I'm not ready to push myself. But I think I'm ready now to push myself and be challenged. 

This class gives me good perspective in how to relate to others, provide encouragement and support varying needs. Ultimately I want to provide this great level of support to my family, friends and community, and being pushed to an area that challenges my comfort zone is going to make me a better support to others. Having the experience of walking away challenged in my feelings and what I think I know may help me professionally. 

Life is full of challenging situations where I wonder, how in the hell did I get here and how do I get out?! I always emerge stronger and more capable than before. I am never the same person as when I started, and my yoga class reminds me of this. I will have setbacks and times of frustration, but I will always be stronger than I was the day before, even if I may not feel it. 

How to host an amazing kids' party.

Perhaps you remember my previous post advising you how to throw a stellar party. It was full of colorful language and fun imagery. Here are some tips on throwing a kids' party!

Decide location. The location of the party dictates everything and must be decided before moving forward in the planning process. Depending on where you live and local birthday party culture, you will either have few options on location or you'll have a bazillion. Don't let adult peer pressure and the whole "keeping up with the Jones" mentality affect where your kid's party will be held. Community centers, parks, and gymnastic centers are all popular venues where we live, as they generally offer more room, may allow for the venue staff to assist in setting up, facilitating games and clean-up, and may add to the "wow" factor. But you also have to pay for use of the space, which may range from a simple reservation fee to a more costly party package. If you're looking to save money, you may want to consider hosting the party at your home.

Create invitation list. The number of invitees will depend largely on party location, though you will also need to consider your child's age and personality along with how well you handle crowds of small children. If you've chosen a venue that accommodates a large number of people and offers staff to assist with the party, you may be able to invite your child's entire class or extended family members. Perhaps your child prefers smaller groups or wants to have his party at a venue where it'd be too expensive to pay for more than a few children to attend. Once decided how many to invite, send out invitations in the mail. Email and other invitation sites are also acceptable, as are hand-delivering invitations to friends and family, but if you can manage it, mail the invitations to your child's friends. Yes, it may be a pain in the ass to find out the addresses and it adds to the cost factor, but who DOESN'T enjoy receiving a piece of mail, particularly children?!

Figure out the details: food, activities, decorations. If you find it enjoyable to plan for and execute birthday parties, then go all out on planning the party deets. Pinterest will provide you with so many ideas that you'll probably want to just drink yourself into a stupor, but take a step back and ask yourself a few questions: 1) Do I even like my child? Trick question, but hopefully this brings you to a place where you can really think about why you're going through the hassle of throwing a party for ankle-biters. 2) What can I reasonably afford, facilitate and execute? If you hate crafts, don't expect that you'll suddenly sew together a quilt of old baby clothes to hang behind the cake and snacks table. If you're a busy person (who isn't?!) then don't plan on baking, cooking and crafting together a party unless it TRULY makes you happy and doesn't make you want to run away from home.  3) Accept help when it's offered and don't feel guilty taking shortcuts. A party doesn't need to rival the ones featured in magazines or on websites. More than likely these were carried out by professionals, which you are not (unless you are, then in that case, just forget what I'm saying). If your partner is asking what he can do to help, give him tasks and let him do what needs to be done without micromanaging every. little. detail. If he buys shitty-ass, juice-free sugar water to serve to your kid's little friends, so be it. If he decides he wants to serve neon orange fake cheesy puffs, oh well. Focus your efforts only on what you find absolutely necessary and let everything else go. 

Celebrate your child, and remember the true reason for the party. Jumping ahead to the day of the party, stay in the moment and enjoy the event. Hopefully you've planned a party that isn't above and beyond your abilities, and you've managed to stay clear-headed and sane. You'll probably find that your child and her friends have managed to create a party vibe without even needing you to do anything but lightly supervise to make sure there are no major injuries from the excitement of seeing each other outside of school. Maybe that means you're skipping some of the planned games or opening up gifts earlier in the party than you had expected. Roll with the changes and remember these kids are just kids.

Monday, April 22, 2013

The middle one.

My middle child had another birthday.

We celebrated and sang and reminisced.

My son was born at home after having received thoughtful, considerate care from our midwife. I birthed him in our living room and greeted him with tears of joy. The next several months were spent figuring out how to parent my two young children. It was hard, really hard. I didn't access the resources available to me. I didn't think there was any way to circumvent these challenges, and wondered doesn't everyone have it this hard? Isn't this how it's SUPPOSED to be?! 

My son was more sensitive than my daughter; he was a completely different child than my first, and I didn't have the reserves to mother him in the way he needed. Could things have been different? Hells yes! I could have accessed postpartum support, sought support from a therapist and hired childcare for my older child to help me while I was balancing my own postpartum healing and transition.

But I didn't. <sigh>

My son made me work for his smiles. He studied his surroundings, and he didn't readily sit with people other than my husband or me. He was my sensitive soul, as I referred to him, and I tried to embrace his needs with love and acceptance. But boy, did I wish he was easier. I remember feeling resentful, confused and angry all at once when he just wouldn't display this easy-going disposition. I would feel this deep love for him, and I'd talk with others about how great he was, but then the moment we were with friends and family, he'd cry relentlessly and would only be peaceful if he were nursing or if my husband were holding him. I'd think, seriously?! What the fuck? WHY ARE YOU CRYING?! 

Looking back, I can now see that I just didn't have it in me to mother him in the way he needed. I loved him, I met his needs and I cared for him. But I was not joyful in the way I cared for his needs. I felt put out and burdened. I wondered why he was so difficult and I just wanted him to STOP CRYING! It wasn't until I made some friends, took advantage of playgroups and other local resources and got a handle on mothering two young children that I finally (again!) enjoyed mothering.

I love my middle child, my older son. He brings me joy and smiles, and I can't imagine my life without him. Though he still has bouts of frustration and moments of anger, I am more than capable of holding him in my arms, telling him "I'm here for you." He's my sweet, sensitive soul and I think he's absolutely amazing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Preparing for the life I want.

I want a life of simplicity. I want a home that reflects my values. I want our family's lifestyle to be full of simple joys.

I want our home to hold only the items that we use or will use in the following months. Our home is a haven, a place that holds our belongings, and our refuge from the world outside. If it's cluttered with stuff then we're going to spend all our free time managing our stuff. And what fun is that?! I say find a home for all that extra shit lying around and figure out how you're going to manage the crap in your house that is taking over your life.

Figure out a few areas in your home that are stressing you and figure out some possible solutions. I already know we need a better system to handle incoming paper (mail, kids' school papers, etc.). I could invest in bins, mail racks, letter trays and whatever else they sell to corral paperwork, but it won't do A DAMN THING. You know why? Because I'm an asshole that can't stay on top of the overwhelming crap that comes through my door. I also know we need a better laundry system. It seems I could spend an hour EVERY DAY to just stay on top of the craziness I call LAUNDRY HELL. And really, I don't feel like using my time this way! So basically, I'm lazy. There, I said it. I'm a lazy asshole.

Our family should spend quality time together. I envision our family taking walks after dinner, talking about our day while getting fresh air and some exercise. It's free and easy, but do we do this? No. Can I tell you why? It's because family life is hectic and full of tasks to complete and every other excuse I can throw your way. But we're in charge of our lives, and this would be an easy area to change. I think. Maybe. Who the fuck knows...

Really, I need to decide to be in charge of lives and make the changes I want to see happen. No one else will, and our family is still young enough to instill the traditions and routines I want our family to practice.

What changes do you want to make in your life? And how will you make it happen? And while you're at it, throw me some motivation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I have time for you.

My daughter came up to me while I was typing out a post (one of my many unfinished posts that never make it to completion). She settled in next to me on the sofa and started to say something. I interrupted her to say something along the lines of, Mommy is writing something and it's sort of private, like a diary. Since she can read, I didn't want her reading the post; I was self-conscious, first of all, that she was going to read something that wasn't ready to publish and second of all, it's not exactly appropriate content for a six-year old.

But then as she was getting off the couch to walk away, I clicked Save and closed the laptop. I remembered what I learned at a parenting class I attended, (not court-ordered or anything, but I attended by choice, thank you very much) and I used the words I remembered the instructors sharing: I have time for you. 

I have time for you.

How do we share this sentiment with the people with whom we interact? How do we communicate to the people in our lives, I am here with you. You are important. I am listening. 

I spent time talking with my daughter on the couch, cuddled up and sharing our thoughts. It was just the two of us, side by side, taking turns talking and listening. At that moment, my body language and words communicated to her just how important she is to me. And that felt so refreshing from how I might parent on nights when I'm tired and just ready for some quiet time.

I was thinking of ways to help stay in the moment. Here they are:

What is important? 

What would I want from a person I love? 

What kind of memory am I making? 

Is this how I'd want to be treated?

Is this helping or hurting my relationship?

What am I teaching my child?

I think I've said it before when I say I am not aiming for perfection. I realize my own limitations, and I am a better parent when I address my own issues and needs. But I also get that this time I have with my my family, my friends, and (insert your name here) is affected by how engaged I am in the relationship now. And yeah, it's fucking hard to make time and be there for the people I love. There are times in my life where I don't know how to care for anyone else's needs because I'm struggling to just keep my head above water. And that's okay. Because those feelings don't last forever and those are the times when my loved ones keep me afloat. And I know, down the road, that someday I will be strong enough to hold someone's hand during their shitty times.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Bitchy Bitch

I'm such a bitchy bitch.

It's like, I start talking and I just  know I should shut up and I don't and I keep going and I get more bitchy by the second. And the usual victim of my bitchiness? My husband, of course! The man that I promised to love forever and ever is the one that I happen to shit on. Not literally. Ew, gross.

So, when I feel like I need space because I'm tired of tending to my kids' needs, I really just shut down and need to be alone. I might be spending time on the computer, watching a show, writing a get the picture. But then my husband happens along and starts talking to me, as in, he wants me to listen to the words he is speaking. And he probably wants me to give a response in some fashion. And all the time I'm thinking in my head, I am doing something else here. Can't you see that? Give. Me. Space. 

So he does. He gives me space and he walks away to do something else. And then I feel incredibly guilty and annoyed and sad and all wishy-washy, and I'm a fucking mess inside. I wonder why I'm so mean, and why can't I just be with the man that I really and truly love to pieces. But then I tell myself it's okay to want space and it's okay to do something that brings me peace! Taking care of ME makes me a happier wife and partner! ISN'T THAT OBVIOUS?!

But for reals, how in the hell am I going to sustain this relationship, the one I want to last until we're 95 years old and wrinkled and full of memories, if I don't fucking care for it the way it deserves?

The challenge here will be finding the time I need (I truly, truly NEED my time) to pursue activities that renew my energy while balancing the needs of my husband (and children and friends and family and...).

Here are some changes I could make:

  • Determine a time to sit and talk without distractions. This time should work for both parties and should ideally be a time when there are no laptops, phones, TV, or needy children present that will totally distract you from one another. 
  • Decide a set amount of time for both parties to have "me" time. This may happen simultaneously so each person has an opportunity to work on their own interest or activity, or you can take turns so the other parent can tend to the children and/or pets while the other one can focus without interruption. 
  • If one of us needs to communicate with the other during their "me" time, figure out the boundaries and decide how you want to be interrupted. This doesn't just apply when the other one is pursuing a hobby or other creative interest; this may be when your partner is working on paying bills or tending to a job around the house. Being interrupted from the task at hand, especially one that requires concentration, can be frustrating and can break that focus.
  • When I am working on something that requires me to focus, I should remember to communicate clearly to my family when I will be available to tend to their needs. It's easy- "Kids? Husband? I am going to _____ but I will be available to you in ______ minutes." There. Done. Badda-boom-badda-bing. 
  • Prioritize. I may REALLY WANT to write or search aimlessly on the Internet because it brings me a sense of calm and helps me unwind, but if someone in my real life wants to talk with me then and there, I need to ask myself, what is most important right now? Maybe it will be that I NEED TIME FOR MYSELF and everything and everyone will have to wait until I'm recharged. But I'm guessing that most of the time I will be able to turn my attention to this important person in my life. 
  • Send my love through the words I speak. My family doesn't deserve someone to talk shitty to them or be short or bitchy. They just don't. When I'm tired and cranky and I snap, "WHAT?!" to my husband, that's not right. I don't need to be all perfect with my kids, but they deserve to have a parent that's able to check their own limitations and use a tone that communicates love rather than WHAT THE FUCK?! I'M BUSY HERE! 
I'd love to hear some of your suggestions on how you balance the needs of your family with the needs of self. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baking with Kids

Reasons why baking with your children is a stupid activity:

Your children will insist on helping. I shit you not, your kids will insist on scooping, measuring, pouring, mixing, and whipping. And when you try to correct them or show them how to do it because they have no fucking clue what "folding in" means, they act like babies and start whining. 

Your children have poor eye-hand coordination and will make a fucking mess.  Have you seen your kids try to measure out baking soda? Expect to lose most of said ingredient to the counter top because it ain't getting in the bowl the first go-around. No, you'll wind up with a counter top that rivals that of coke dealers, full of white powdery shit. You literally only need one teaspoon of baking soda and your kid has managed to rip open the box and waste all $0.90 worth of it. True, measuring out baking soda from a box that has a hole ripped in the side can be difficult, but let's not fool ourselves. Our kids' coordination sucks. 

Your children have no concept of time and will ask you ten thousand times if it's ready. Is it ready? Is it ready yet?  What about now? Now? Is is done? Can I have it now? Why not? How about now? It's ready isn't it? It's ready and you're just not giving me any. I wish we never did this. You're the meanest mommy ever. Is it ready yet? 

Your children's sense of taste is bunk. Kids will eat dirt. They'll put old cereal bits from beneath the couch cushions in their mouths, chew and swallow that shit. So don't be too flattered when they tell you how delicious those cookies you made together are or how yummy those brownies taste. They will eat the shittiest foods and turn their noses at the food they declared was their favorite just five minutes ago. There is no consistency with anything related to children.

Your children think everything is unfair, even when you're trying to make something inclusive. I fucking hate when I'm trying to introduce a fun activity and my kids just ruin it with their shitty attitudes. It's not fair. He got to stir longer. She got to pour in the flour. Blah-blah-blippidy-blah. It's totally annoying and I am certain I've said on many occasions, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! Life isn't even or equal or fair and this is something I try to explain to my kids on a daily basis. They just don't get it.

Your kitchen will be a mess. Not that your kitchen is spotless (mine isn't) but I'm going to warn you: your kitchen will be a fucking mess. It will. There's no way around it. And if you try to include your kids in cleaning up, it will just get worse. But really, your kids will be done with helping by that point and you'll be stuck cleaning up the chaos, and they'll be watching Phineas & Ferb and will forget all about the mess they've made.

If you decide to go ahead and bake with your kids, I wish the best of luck. And when you're done, don't forget to save me a piece of whatever deliciousness you made. 

Making Friends

It is fucking hard making friends.

I'll just say it. Making friends as an adult is awkward and weird and just plain complicated.

And it changes at different stages. Speaking as a mother, there are even different stages in which you make friends. Prenatally, you may just connect with another expectant woman because you're both growing little people and you're so hormonally driven that you fucking need to bond and talk about hemorrhoids and your vagina and shit. But then you have the kid and you're suddenly split into camps; are you breastfeeding, cloth diapering, going back to work, etc. You have to choose which team you're on because every decision you make regarding your child feels so huge and big and important.

But then your kids get older and you realize your kids have opinions about who they hang with and you have opinions so everyone has somethin' to say and now you have to figure that piece out.

But then one day you realize you can make a friend that doesn't revolve around playdates and you really don't fucking care if your kids even like each other because the fact is you really like this other person. And that's so great, it really is.

I'm not sure what will come of the friendships in my life. I certainly hope I can grow and nurture the friendships that are meaningful. And I feel some sadness over friendships that have morphed into something else. But I'm trusting that I will continue to grow my circle when the time is right.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Get Away.

How can I love, love, LOVE my family so much and yet dream about needing to just get a momentary break from them?!

(frantically waving hand above head "I know! I know! I know!")

Easy. It's BECAUSE I love them so much and I'm so damn invested in their lives. It's because I have three children with the youngest being 4 months and I'm his EVERYTHING right now. It's because I'm human and not super-human and I tend to get into these darker places where everything feels BIG and sad and overwhelming.

This is a place where Oprah could come and swoop me away for a weekend away and I'd fall in love with the idea to just LEAVE and yet I wouldn't be able to actually go. Because as much as I need my space and I wish I had just a few hours away (or maybe a few days...a few weeks?) I'm tethered and connected and I. Just. Can't. Not now, at least.

One huge reason is that I've chosen to breastfeed exclusively. My youngest needs me, as in, he physically NEEDS me and this is a choice I've made. You'd think that from the sound of it I'm resentful and pissed and that I'm all whiny about it. No, no, no, you're wrong. I love my son. I love breastfeeding him. I could ask other mothers for milk, I could head to the store to buy formula, I could pump 'round the clock to get a huge stash of milk for him while I fly away to some exotic location. I have options, people! I know this. But nature has made it that I wouldn't be able to walk away from my baby at this point; my body and heart and mind would be consumed with thoughts of him, and I'd be miserable if we were truly separated. A couple hours I can do, but soon after that my body literally begins to ache for him. And to be honest, I don't WANT to leave the boy. I just don't. Not yet, at least.

Another reason I couldn't leave now is I need my husband. Lord, our relationship isn't flawless. We are approaching our tenth wedding anniversary and we're raising young children. It's good enough if he remembers to set up the coffee maker for the next morning and I remember to switch over the laundry. We're consumed with simply keeping our kids alive, and we wear our parenting hats ALL THE TIME. And while I would love some time away from the family, I just really couldn't walk out the door without my husband. Because as much as I want time for ME, I really, really want some time for US.

Alright, why else am I bucking my fantasy vacation that resides only in my head? I look around my house and there's SO MUCH I want to get done before I get that break. Because really, I don't want to head off for my getaway knowing I have a shitload of laundry that needs to get sorted, piles of stuff that I need to bring to the donation center, floors that need to be mopped. Yeah, my husband would do a lot of that housework, but I kinda need my space to be cleaned and cleared away and organized before we leave on vacation because I know when we return it's going to just get worse with vacation laundry and unpacking and all that other stuff that happens upon return. So before I leave to go ANYWHERE amazing, I need to physically prepare my space and feel good about the state of our home.

I know I won't be in this place forever. Man, we have had times when our parents have watched our children and we are KID-FREE for days at a time. It's totally great, by the way, and I LOVE that time where it feels like it's just the two of us. But those are at moments in our lives when we're ready for that break and the timing is right. Now? Now the timing is not right. I'm in this place of mothering my youngest that keeps me from really wanting to be separated. I need to be with my husband and share time TOGETHER before escaping my life and responsibilities. And my home and space does not feel settled; I need it to feel ready in order for me to leave. And perhaps it doesn't feel ready because I'm not ready to escape and embrace a solitude getaway.

No. Right now I love my time when I can write or read or rest. Browsing mindlessly on the computer or going to work without the baby...these are all tasks I can totally embrace and own. I'm not ready to head off or runaway from my stage in life. Not yet.

And so Oprah, if you're reading this, please, PLEASE don't choose me for some fantastic weekend vacation. That is, not unless I can bring my family.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dear Diary.

It's late.  And my youngest kid is looking at me with these eyes that are screaming out I LOVE YOU and WHY AREN'T YOU TAKING ME TO BED?! Even on his dad's knee, bouncing away on the exercise ball, his eyes meet mine and we share a moment. 

We're watching Season 1 of The Wire, 'cause we're cool like that, and I'm wishing I had a cup of strong coffee at my side. And a piece of flourless chocolate cake. Mmm...that sounds good. But I don't and so I sit and write and rewrite and delete and save and keep writing. Glamorous, right?

Keeping this blog is a Dear Diary sort of experience and I don't really care who has access because that's too tiresome and I don't have time for that. And that's okay. 

My oldest kid is closer to seven than she is to six. She's emotional and smart and funny. She's really funny. The other day I made a pork loin and she said to me, "I must have this recipe so I can make it when I'm older." Really?! I love her and yet she can be so aggravating, and she challenges me in a way that frightens me. I want to keep her from feeling left out and awkward and all those other feelings I went through growing up. I dread the stage where she wants nothing to do with me because I love her so much. 

My middle child is nearly five years old and he's a hoot. I recall his infancy as stressful and hard, and he was just so sensitive. Nothing seemed to soothe his moods and I wanted him to just settle down and be calm. I hated hearing him cry and yet I didn't really know how to handle it. I let him cry in his crib and I wished for a different temperament. I wasn't a strong, able mother when he needed it most and I hate that. He's so talented at basketball, and he makes me laugh with his sense of humor. He says he doesn't want to live anywhere else than with me, but I know he'll change his mind. 

My youngest is sweet and he was born into my hands. I am ready to be the mother he needs, and I know someday my older children will tell me I'm letting their younger brother get away with everything. But I don't think it's about that; my priorities in parenting are different than they were six years ago. I'm savoring these sweet milky heavy breaths and slobbery kisses, and I'm more aware of fucking basic needs.  We need to be loved. We need to be held. We need to know that our loved ones will be there for us. 

My husband and I have been in each other' lives for around 26 years though we don't have many memories of each other until we were in fifth grade. We dated for a few months when we were fourteen and then resumed dating again when we were seniors in high school. We have a lot of history and while that's added to our relationship, it doesn't define us. We're figuring out what it means to be parents and partners, and though it's not perfect, I don't see my future without him. 

For now, I like to think of life as it is what it is. I'm going to be an old woman before I know it and my house will be clean and I'll finally own the white couch I've been coveting forever. I will hold onto these dear memories and wonder how in hell it went so fucking fast.