Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Halloweens of Octobers past

With October rolling in within just a few more days, costumes have been ALL the talk around here.  Truly, costumes take up a majority chunk of our conversations year round, but seeing as it's almost the month of Halloween, we are on official red level alert over here.  {Because you know, seven year olds.}  This year the internal battle is deciding between one of about 47 Transformers, or Batman, or Captain Jack Sparrow.  So you know, we're in a good place...

Thinking back to my early Halloweens, it was never a matter of which new costume I decided to settle on.  It was taking turns with my older sister between who wore the homemade witch costume that year or the homemade princess costume.  The witch wore a black tunic with the edges cut raggedy, a floppy black witch hat and of course, a misshapen wart-covered rubber nose.  The princess wore a homemade white dress with simple beading hand-sewn around the neckline and a crown made of golden pipe-cleaners.  Both were paired with running shoes to hasten the acquisition of candy.  Neither wanted to be the witch, but fair is fair, and free candy is free candy.

One year, my sister and I decided we were done with these as our only two options and decided to make our own costumes.  With the help of my mother, I settled on "Hobo Man".  Not the most PC of costumes, but it was the 90's...  After borrowing my dad's flannel shirt, applying what was likely an entire bottle of hair gel to my short hair and slicking it back while tucking it carefully behind my ears, my mom finished drawing the stubble on my face. I was ready to go.  First stop, my sister's soccer team Halloween Party.  I showed up to the party with my sister, excited to show off my unique costume and eat my weight in chips and jack-o-lantern shaped sugar cookies.  But my glee turned to horror as I realized her teammates not only did not know I was a "hobo", but also thought I was legitimately a boy.  A boy dressed up like a man.  And to make matters worse, its not as if that was the first time I'd met these girls.  They had been on the same team all through late summer and early fall.  They were indeed, well aware that Michelle had a sister.  No brothers.  In retrospect, I suppose I should have been pleased that my costume had been so realistically executed.  But no, instead I sat there in the corner, hoping to all but disappear as I counted down the minutes to the end of the party while the princesses, soccer players, Cleopatras, and characters from the Baby-Sitters Club, all danced, chatted and played games.

Having learned my lesson in cross dressing, subsequent years strictly consisted of female-only costumes.  These included the likes of "Tacky Lady" {OMG mom}, "Grandmother" and "1980's Aerobics Instructor".  Clearly, totally normal.  Thank God.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The good, the bad & the ugly

The good:  A successful thrifting venture earlier this week! Including a JCrew sweater, Via Spiga sandals, a new-from-Targs-pillow and a sweet little clock

The bad: Going down the slide at the park with Cora and ending up with my butt in a puddle at the end.  Even worse, it had not rained recently.  The worst, our pup, Willie, found the wet spot on my pants to be extremely interesting.

The ugly:  These stripperesque dolls also found while thrifting. To be clear, neither Miss Brazilian-Cut-Panties or Miss Go-Go-Boots-Belly-Button-Ring-Sparkle-Panties found their way into our cart.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


It was due to the swing set.  And a busy playground.  And a two year old with a mind of her own.

She was sitting at my feet digging in the dirt and the next moment she's running for the swings.  I casually start after her until it dawns on me that she is not headed toward the swings, no, she is headed directly into the swings. Taking the most direct route possible to the next available swing, she heads straight through the mid-line of the swing set.  While other children actively swing.  I run after her yelling out something like "Ohmygosh!Ohmygosh!" as images of black eyes and concussions flash through my head.  One mama grabs her baby's swing, interrupting it's trajectory toward Cora's left temple.  The next mama does not see the insane toddler's mad dash for the vacant swing next to her son.  At this point my arms are in full extension, willing them to go into a full on go-go-gadchet stretch.  I gasp.  Miracles of all miracles, it misses.  She makes it and turns to look at me with a smile, completely oblivious to her luck or the scattered circle of moms looking on wide eyed in her direction.

But I'm not oblivious to those moms.  I heard the chorus of gasps during her mad sprint and I saw their wide eyes.  I help Cora into the swing and sneak a quick glance around to try to size up the situation. I ready myself for the judgment as I prepare to offer a pathetic apology for my lack of mom-ness in that moment. But all that I see looking back at me is solidarity.  Or better yet, MOMidarity. They shot me knowing looks and with a smirk and a relieved chuckle, we shook our heads. And that was it, nothing more.  The playground resumed its normal activity.

And for that, I wanted to say thank you mamas. Thank you for your momidarity. Thank you for your quick reflexes, your kindness and your concern. Thank you for leaving the judgement at the door and instead offering  this mama a little grace. In a culture so focused on the "mommy wars" and the drama of the in-fighting of the motherhood crowd, this recent incident made me stop and reflect. And based on the sound statistical data I came up with during my brief reflection (that in no way included any type of actual research past my own feelings), I think it's safe to say that those that participate in the mommy-wars are the minority. I think that the majority understand that we are all here, everyday showing up and doing our best. I think that most of us understand that it takes a village.  I think that most of us give grace instead of judgement. I think most of us understand that there is no one-size-fits-all in this marathon called motherhood.  And I think most of us stand in momidarity.

So, all the fist bumps and high-fives to you, mamas!  Together, we've got this.

Monday, August 29, 2016

on the first morning of second grade

Today summer came to an end.  And while I wish we were still on the beach with the sand between our toes, watching the sunrise over the Atlantic, I instead watched the sunrise through my kitchen window this morning, as I carefully cut the crust from Sam's sandwich and tucked it inside his new lunchbox.

I dropped Sam off for his first day of second grade today.  He barely touched his breakfast, too excited-nervous to notice any hunger pangs.  We danced to 'Uptown Funk' on our short drive to school and in my best DJ voice announced, "This song goes out to Sam on his first day of SECOND GRADE!!"  He smiled and danced and looked confident and cool.  I only had to blink back tears once.  We scurried down the crowded halls, found his classroom, quickly met his teacher, set down his overflowing school supply bags, and he slid into his desk as the teacher handed me some forms to sign.  As Cora and I were about to leave the classroom, I realized I hadn't given him a hug goodbye.  I looked back at him sitting in his desk, talking to his new classmates and weighed whether or not its socially acceptable in second grade to have your mother run halfway across the classroom to give you a hug in front of all your classmates.  While my heart said, "YES, totally appropriate for ever and ever amen!" my brain said, "No mama, he's good.  Not this time.  Let him go."  So, I took Cora by the hand, and we walked away.

Cora cried when she realized she wasn't going to school too.  I didn't cry this time.  Just felt a little empty inside and a little tight in the throat and maybe just a little bit wet in the eyes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

the night we said goodbye to babyhood

This time around we made it 18 months.  Not that I was necessarily done with breastfeeding, but she was.  For the last few months we had weaned down to just the bedtime feed, but that too grew shorter and shorter until one night she didn't even want to finish.  And that's when I knew that she was ready to move on.  I squeaked a few more nights out of her as I did my best to prepare myself for the end of this era.  Because that's what it feels like, not just a phase of life, but an era.  Ask any mama, she'll tell you its true.

She called it "nee-nee".  And each night after zipping her into her little footed pajamas, she would hug me close and say "nee-nee".  And we'd sit on my bed in the dark, just her and I.  And there in the dark, she was my baby.  Not the busy toddler who runs through my home and insists on doing everything big brother does, not the toddler who climbs onto the counter tops and empties my drawers, not the toddler who is full of opinions and exciting ideas of her own.  No, there in the dark it was just like that first night she made her entrance into our world, and every night we'd shared thereafter.  Just she and I.  But she had grown and she had changed, and it was time for me to allow her to do so.

So without any pomp and circumstance, on just an ordinary night of an ordinary week in the middle of an ordinary January, I held her close and nursed my infant girl one last time.  And as she finished, I knew that my baby was gone and in her place lay my precious little girl.

Nobody warns you that the milestones of motherhood are going to be so bittersweet.  I suppose I learned that the first time around.  But as it turns out, familiarity doesn't make it less so. So don't slow down for me baby girl.  Grow and learn and run and climb.  And I'll be right behind with the bittersweet bursting from my heart with tears in my eyes and a smile on my lips.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

the things that keep you going

Can I just tell you guys how much I love this picture?

And geez, I love that guy.

He wakes up at 4:30 each morning and leaves for the hospital long before any of the rest of us even think about stirring. He spends fourteen long hours there before he comes home.  And does this six days a week.  Week in and week out.  Month in and month out.

Residency, oof.

The man must be utterly exhausted.  I would be.  To the depths of my soul, I would be.

But every evening, he walks through the door to be greeted by two tiny voices yelling "Daddy! Daddeee!" and a pup that would yell too, if only she could.  And he greets them each with hugs and cuddles and excited smiles.  After dinner, he lays on the playroom floor to become the human jungle gym.  And the house fills with laughter.  He reads books, plays legos and cuddles baby dolls.  He hauls kids to bed, tucks them in and reads a bedtime story, often falling asleep himself in the process.  But even when I offer to do the bedtime routine, he declines, because his time with them is already too short he says.  And it's true.

And before he knows it, the cycle starts again with the buzzing of his alarm at 4:30 in the dark of the morning.  How he does it, I truly don't know.  But he's like our very own super hero.  Our scrub wearing, coffee guzzling, totally exhausted super hero.  His super power, you ask:  loving his family.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

on the first day of first grade

*written two weeks ago, but just now posting.  because, life.*

Just this past Monday, my little baby boy started first grade. No longer in home school, but at a public school.  Full of other children, teachers, lunch ladies, librarians and crossing guards.  And in a moment's time he was no longer my baby boy.  Still my child, but now a child of the world too.  And this world is beautiful and hard, kind and not so kind, accepting and judgmental, full of love and full of spite.  For the first time, he was leaving my side to join the world as an active participant without my constant guidance and words of encouragement.  And my heart... oh my heart.  This mama heart was sinking to my stomach under the weight of it all.  I fretted for weeks, months really...  And on Sunday night, I took his peanut butter sandwich, cut it into the shape of two brontosauruses (just the way he likes) and packed it into his Spiderman lunchbox.  My husband watched me do this and it was obvious by the look on his face that he already knew the answer, but he asked THE question anyway.  Those three little words that manage to bulldoze right through that feeble wall that was already bowing under the weight of the sea behind it.

"Are you okay?"

And the flood gates broke.  How could I drop him off tomorrow?  With his big heart and tender soul, and just offer him up this great big world that would surely crush his spirit as it swallowed him whole? Jon hugged me and chuckled gently as he assured me that our boy would do just fine, BETTER than fine, in fact.  I wanted to believe, but a mother's heart is a complex thing.  This old heart longs to protect him from the hurt in this world  despite the knowledge my head holds that he was made to live in this world with all its beauty and all its mess, and it is his time to begin writing his own story. But reason rarely holds sway in a mama's heart.

Somehow, I left him in the classroom that next morning.  With what was almost certainly a painfully awkward smile pasted to my face.  And as I walked away, I kept looking over my shoulder to see that he was okay.  I don't think he even saw me leave--a desk covered with brightly colored papers & markers and surrounded by new friends to meet.  He seemed so confident, so ready to start writing that story of independence.  his story.

I suppressed the urge to "just drive by his school" at least three times that day.  And said about ten times that amount of prayers.  As 2 pm finally rolled around, I excitedly buckled Cora into her car seat all the while mentally preparing myself for whatever Sam's emotional condition might be upon our arrival.  He walked through the front doors of his school that afternoon, face beaming and proclaimed that it had been "the best day of my life!".  I cried then too.  From relief, from happiness, and well, just because that's what mamas do.

And everyday I still pray that these other people, the kids, the teachers, the lunch ladies, the librarians, the crossing guards... that they all see how special he is.  That they all see his tender heart and choose to fill it with kindness.  That he leaves each day feeling loved and valued.  That he doesn't have to learn quite yet just how hard this world can be.  Let him continue believing that he can do anything, be anything, accomplish anything, that good always wins and love is always the answer.  Isn't this every mother's prayer?

But I don't say all this to him.  No, instead I walk him up to those big glass doors each morning, give him a hug and whisper in his ear, "I love you!  Be kind & work hard.  Have a great day, I'll see you this afternoon!".  And then I let him go.