Lil snippets

***

Addie’s counting goes something like this:

“1…2…4…5…” It always ends with a clap.

 

***

The other morning I went in to the kids’ rooms (separated by glass French doors) and found Zack sitting next to Addie in her crib, rubbing her head and giving her kisses and saying, “It’s OK, baby, It’s OK.”

Now THAT is a great start to your day.

 

***

 

I’ve returned to writing. Very minimally.

As a freelancer for the Life section (human interest/features) of the newspaper where I used to work.

My first three stories are under my belt.

It’s good to be back.

 

 

***

 

A couple of weeks ago, I took a last-minute trip two hours away with a friend. And came back with a soul sister. The reasons were not what I wanted — I mean, I’d much prefer a fun story about Chip ‘n’ Dales or a few shots of tequila. But 11 a.m. margaritas and deciding who the man in the relationship was is almost just as good, maybe better.

Where’s the parking garage?

I brought a notebook!

 

***

 

Whenever Addie is stuck (which is often because she is a little monkey), she proclaims, “I SUCK!!!”

I can’t tell you how hard we laugh at this one.

“Oh no, Addie, you’re very amazing. Oh, you’re so smart and lovely.” Tears streaming down our face.

“I SUCK!”

 

***

 

I love our “other daughter” Aubrey more than words can say. She visits with us once or twice a week and she is like part of our family. (Also the most well-behaved child, haha!) I love her witty sentences and exclamations and the way she dances with Zack and converses with Addie.

 

***

 

Zack made a friend named Lily at his school when he first started in August. Lily first met me while I waited for ZMan in the hallway. She looked me up and down and asked who I was and I was so taken back by this tough lil lady that I had to laugh.

“I’m Zack’s Mommy.”

Zack’s not ready, she said. I’ll tell him you’re here.

I looked for the camera and the Candid Camera crew. That’s funny, I thought.

And she did bring him back, leading him by the hand and helping him put on his shoes. I’ve seen them hug and she always says goodbye to him when I pick him up at lunchtime.

Then a few weeks ago, I was waiting for him and she was in the hallway.

“You know, Zacky’s my best friend,” she told me with a smile.

“Really? That’s so nice. How come? What makes him a good friend?”

She thought for a second. “Well, he pushes me sometimes, but I push him back. I love him.” And she marched off, leaving me crying in the hallway in a moment that was much grander than a four-year-old’s from-the-mouths-of-babes moment.

Lily is off to a Big Girl School while Zack stays where he’s at for another year. And I’ll miss her. She is, for however long or however little, Zack’s first self-proclaimed best friend in a world that I thought would be too mean and too hard.

And she still asks about him. Her Mommy wants to set up a surprise playdate for the kiddos. I can’t wait.

 

***

I’m taking the kids on a grand adventure starting tomorrow. We’ll be visiting four stops of friends and family in NJ and MA. There will be beach time and lots of photo-taking and hugs and chickey kisses hopefully a glass of wine. I’m excited for our our first little vacation this year. I’m sad Scott can’t make it (because of work) but am so grateful for the life I’ve been given and the opportunity and love and how all the doors that have closed and opened have led me to this overpacked car.

 

***

Advertisements

What they don’t tell you

There are a lot of tough careers out there — I feel like retail and hospitality, both of which I’ve worked in, are pretty intense and stressful; and the ups and downs of a journalism career had its own share of adrenaline rushes, good and bad.

But this stay-at-home mom adventure I’ve been on these past two months is the most incredible experience I’ve ever felt in my life.

It gives the most amazing highs of highs. Until you’re a mom, I’m sorry but you just may not get it. The patting of a little boy’s hand on your back and in your hair and his sweet, slobbery kisses. The way you look into her eyes and see yourself and the way you stop in your tracks because she really is that smart.

I love the snuggles on sick days, being the only one who can make it all better. I’m grateful for the trips to the park and the walks to see the ducks; the first days of school and the scheduling of playdates. It’s a lovely little world.

Until reality sets in.

Because there is this whole other side to raising kids full-time that is so incredibly painful, in ways you never knew you could hurt.

I talked with one of my dearest friends last night and over the phone we whispered about how we’ve thought about punting our children across the room. Not very lovely, huh? It was nice to know I wasn’t alone and we laughed it out for a few moments, boosting moods on a difficult day. But the sad truth is that some days it is so very hard to be a  good mom for 15 straight hours on six or less hours of sleep to children who can squeal in such a high pitch that neighborhood dogs must lose their minds. A victory is not hurling your child across the room. (I never have, by the way).

You see, it’s a life of repetition.

“No” times 48.

“Please get out of the cat littler.”

“I said NO TOUCH!”

“Why are you in the toilet???”

“We don’t throw books at our sister.”

“Get out of the cat litter. NOW.”

You watch your tax paperwork get drawn on with crayons. You see scribbles on your work calendar. The remote gets hidden in the garbage. Then later, in a couch cushion. And then in the goldfish bag. And the cracker explosion on the floor and a leaking sippy cup.

You see, it all happens while you’re picking up the books and cleaning up strewn cat litter and doing silly things like attempt to fold a load of laundry and use the bathroom. Or you’re feeding the cats (don’t worry, their bowls will be thrown on the floor later) or taking the dogs out (while a child sneaks into the mudroom and you’ll later find a spiky toy in your left boot.

And then.

You hear the toilet flush.

And none of that takes into account a severe case of cabin fever from all three of you during the coldest, snowiest, most severe winter you’ve experienced in this state.

Pleas of “Outside” have to be ignored because the wind chill is -15 degrees and the snow is two feet high. There’s only so many crafts you can make and PlayDoh you can smash and cut and roll into little balls.

And you can’t help but feel bitterness towards your spouse who is enjoying 45-minute car rides with music and scenery and who interacts with adults for hours every single day. He’s not singing the Thomas & Friends theme song and he’s definitely not folding the same shirt for the second time after it — and the rest of the laundry basket — was pulled down from the table. You know, while you were sweeping up cat litter. And then he enjoys a night out once a week for sports and friends. Adult friends, again. And he works long hours and is tired when he gets home, so can you blame him for relaxing for a few minutes on the couch?

On the plus side, I know now how to cook a decent meal (meat, potato, vegetables — you betcha!) while yelling “HOT!” 73 times in 34 minutes. I can also wash dishes while hopping on one foot. Because the left foot is balancing the dishwasher door semi-closed because a certain 21-month-old loves to take the dirty dishes out while you load up the machine.

Somewhere in there, I’m sending e-mails and Facebook messages and attempting conference calls to further two independent, self-employed businesses (shameless plug for www.marykay.com/wzook and wendyzookphotography.wordpress.com HERE). I am so motivated and so determined and frankly, I’m kicking butt… but imagine what I could do with two solid hours of dedicated time every now and then? Silly, I know.

Oh, and none of this takes into account a trip to the Emergency Room with your eldest, where you alternate between near hysteria and eerie calm because he can’t catch his breath between coughs and he just looks at you with such discomfort and sadness.

It’s here that two ladies and one man in scrubs attack you from all sides, asking about your street address and insurance, medical history and length of symptoms. While your three-year-old clings to you, sobbing hysterically, batting away the stethoscope.

You pace the room for an hour, you hold up his arms while he cries during an x-ray. You frantically tell the nurse about the hole in his heart, just in case you forgot or she didn’t hear. “And you remember he has Down Snydrome, right???” you yell through an open door over a blonde head still screaming.

You spend four sleepless nights with him on the couch, aggravating an old running injury but catching up on your Olympics coverage, mumbling over and over, “Shhh, shhhh, it’s alright. Sleep, baby.”

Somehow, the laundry never ends, despite the fact that you’re lucky if you change your clothes three times a week. Everyone else in the house has multiple outfit changes a day, however. Plus, you’re finally noticing all of the neglected housework — the dirty curtains that need washed and towels and such. There’s closets to organize and couch cushions to clean and floors to mop and clothes to donate and socks to match and, well, this list, my friends, never ends.

So, don’t forget the Mommies. The ones who clean snot and clip fingernails among tears. The ones who push aside every selfish impulse (minus a venting, rambling blog post, it seems), to take care of their family.

It’s an illusion. We like you to walk through our door and say, “Gee, how does she do it?”

We, meanwhile, ask ourselves at least once a day, usually while running over our to-do list at bedtime or while hiding in the bathroom after a particularly traumatizing temper tantrum: “How can I do this?”

But you can.

I can.

She can.

I have to go now — the kids just threw all the books onto the floor and I can’t find the remote.

I hope it’s not in the toilet.

 

 

Back to work

I get asked a lot lately about how hard it is to go back to work; how much harder or easier it is to do this a second time around.

Well it’s a little bit harder and a little bit easier. Sometimes both in the same day.

The first time around, I didn’t think Zack could be OK without me as his 100 percent, all-the-time caregiver. And I certainly didn’t think I’d survive one hour or one day, let alone days or weeks or months or years.

This time, I know that no one will ever be as good of a mother to my children as I am, but I also know that we’ll all survive.

I know that no one’s kisses are more perfectly placed as mine and I know that my absence will make those kisses sweeter and better and much more appreciated on my children’s foreheads and cheeks and hands.

I know that I can tell the difference between a hungry cry and a tired cry and a bored cry and a pain cry, because I heard them in my soul long before I ever met either of my children.

I’m proud of the way that I can master two children, four loads of laundry, two letters, three phone calls, cleaning the downstairs and a blog post pretty flawlessly and yet there are dishes and dirt and dirty clothes around every corner when I come home from work.

I know that my mother-in-law is the best babysitter (cheap, too!) that we could have and that she loves her grandchildren so stinkin’ much, but I also know that she and I have different parenting styles especially when it comes to discipline and exercises. But after butting heads for more than a year, it’s just reached a point where I know I need to sacrifice a little bit of my control and some of my personal wishes for the loving environment my children get to have three or so days a week with her. As Zack and Addie get older, they will both probably see DayCare at least once a week. They need to be in an environment where they can run and play with other kids and do crafts and have some rules. Yadda, yadda.

Bottom line, I know my kids won’t love me any less or forget me any more because I work a few days a week.

(And if they ever give me any grief, I’ll just show them my C-section scars and remind them about three days’ of labor and months of postpartum blues and that ought to quiet them right up.)

A lot of it comes from a confidence in myself as a mother and wife and in doing what’s best for my family — a confidence I desperately wish I possessed half of in any other area of my life.

I want to give my children every thing they need, and sadly, that takes two incomes in our world. I want to have an adult conversation every now and then. I want to feel accomplished, proud, strong, needed. And I get all of that from being back at work. From trading in sweats and bare feet for suits and heels. From trading in lullabies, Backyardigans, walks and bubbles for computers, schedules, paperwork, greeting guests, solving problems and creating others’ happy moments.

But then there are the hard days.
The lump in my throat the first drive to work and the tears I had to hold back every time someone asked me about the kids.
Zack’s birthday when both kids decided to sleep in. I wanted to beg my mother-in-law not to wish him a happy birthday first and not to sing it to him, not to celebrate his coming into our lives two years ago. I bit my tongue and played it cool but couldn’t wait to scoop him into my arms that night.
The days I’ve stayed later than scheduled, missing an entire day of my kids’ lives — no Good Mornings, no meals, no snuggles, no playing and running and definitely no Good Nights. Those days are the hardest.
If I can manage even 30 minutes a day with one or both of the kids, I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing my family for my work; I don’t feel like I’m going to regret one of these days or all of these days. All I feel are sweaty arms around my neck. All I smell is peanut butter and jelly and baby lotion. All I know is love.

20120816-104959.jpg

20120816-105021.jpg

I sometimes call Scott pretending I need to ask him something or check on some task, but really I know that I’m praying for a cry or a shriek in the background, any noise at all to get me through the next hour or two.

Some of my coworkers have been beyond amazing. There have been gifts that mean the world with their thoughtfulness, e-mails and messages and hugs and yes, even putting up with the photo album I tortured everyone with my first days back to work.

But when I’m home, I’m home. I pull into that driveway, see my family through the glass, hear the familiar noises as I pass an open window. And surprises, so many surprises.

The quickness of Zack’s ever-improving steps.

20120816-104808.jpg

20120816-104819.jpg

20120816-104831.jpg

Addie sitting perched up in a corner of the couch. Or rolling over every chance she can get.

20120816-104725.jpg

20120816-104733.jpg

More frequent babbles and giggles form our little girl. seeing her working so hard to try and sit up already!

20120816-105326.jpg

20120816-105334.jpg

20120816-105347.jpg

Watching Zack put more and more things together in his mind — more words, more coordination, more problem-solving.

20120816-105119.jpg

And the way the two of them interact. Zack is so in love with his sister now, it’s official. When she cries, he goes over to her, petting her hair and laying his head down on the pillow or blanket next to her. He tries to hug her and she smiles now. He still takes her pacifier, but she doesn’t seem to mind anymore.

20120816-104609.jpg

20120816-104619.jpg

20120816-104639.jpg

This one beautiful moment the other day, I was curled up on the recliner after feeding Addie. Zack came over and motioned that he wanted to come up. I scooped him up with one arm and for 10 or 20 minutes, I had both children on my lap, both happy and sleepy and content.

20120816-104501.jpg

I’ve been carrying that moment around with me. And it helps make the hard days a little easier.