Month: April 2014

The Ants Go Marching Two By Two

Our home has been invaded by tiny black ants. The kind you can squish with your fingertip only to find three more emerge in their place. They started innocently enough in the hall by our front door. I put down some diatomaceous earth, problem solved. Then they began trickling into the dining room, under the baseboards, then the countertops through the electric outlets and now I feel like our house is crawling with them!

I called in the big guns; pest control. I tried to avoid the chemical onslaught, but it’s the only way at this point. I’m turning my nightmare over to the professionals. I’m so stressed by these ants. They’re minuscule nuisances that multiply faster than a trunk load of rabbits. I hate them. I’m starting to feel itchy just thinking about them. Let’s move on.

Needless to say, the past few days have been trying. Today alone was a day filled with vacuuming the whole house, changing everyone’s bed sheets, helping M. make a fairy house out of a Keurig box, battling all those damn ants, running to the grocery store, school pickup, returning emails, hosting a play date, chasing the baby down after he opened the front door and wandered out alone, more ants, drank strong coffee, ate mini chocolate cupcakes leftover from the play date, worked on a heap of laundry that will never be caught up, listened to B. read her unicorn book, devoured more mini cupcakes, cursed at the toilet that won’t stop running, made homemade bubbles and sent the kids outside, more freaking ants, breakfast for dinner, cleanup, bedtime routine, and collapsed in bed with the baby ready for some downtime.

Overnight the temperature dropped quickly and we woke up to white lawns and snowy spring blooms. Mother Nature had mercy on me with the cold snap, providing a much needed reprieve from those little black beasts. Tomorrow the bug man will be here and I can get back to my normal craziness. Thank God.

Paper Dolls

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Photo: ana_ng

While driving in the car today M. pipes up from the backseat, “Mom, did you know leaves regrow? It’s magic. It’s God’s magic. He didn’t make us out of paper ya know. I’m squishy. Paper is not squishy. I’m squishy.”  And she started humming, back in her own little happy world.

I sat there smiling, just taking in the wonder and wiseness of her words.

Then I realized…I’m squishy too.

Letter To My Daughters – My Messy Beautiful

Letter to my daughters

I have to say I’m sorry.  I feel like I’ve failed you as a mother.  I spread myself too thin.  I blinked too many times, was never looking at the right moment, turned away at the wrong time.  I cry tears of bittersweet now.

You are long-limbed and bubble gum, riding bikes with no training wheels, singing along to pop music.  In my mind you are still tiny enough to hold on my hip, eat smashed bananas, tuck in for naps.

You don’t ask me to cuddle anymore unless it’s bedtime.  Did I say no one too many times?  Why was I always so concerned with the damn dishes and dirty laundry?  In a minute, when I’m done with this, Mommy is busy right now, give me a second.  And you did.  You sat patiently and I never came.  I forgot.  Caught up in my chores; the sticky floor, the dried peas on the high chair.  Didn’t I know you’d soon stop asking?  How could I have been so blind?  So naïve to think you’d always want me in the same ways.

We cuddle now at night when I have the energy and patience left.  I hate feeling like I don’t always want to.  I want my own time, space, corner to just breathe and be.  Did I learn nothing from the past?  Will I regret these decisions the same way?  Judge myself so harshly in the same light?

How can I possibly love all three of you the same?  Divide my time, patience, hugs and kisses between you all fairly?  I feel like someone always gets less and there’s no way around it.  I’m doing the best I can.  And sometimes I suck at this thing called motherhood.  But other times I really nail it.  Everyone is all smiles, bellies full, hearts content.  Whose criterion makes me a failure?  In (your) eyes I am the best mommy ever.  In my eyes I stumble at every turn.

My only hope, my only saving grace is that you remember this one thing; even if I’m not looking when you do your first handstand, or if I empty the dishwasher while you read to me, or I tell you Mommy will lay with you tomorrow night, I promise; just remember you are loved fiercely, beyond reason and even in my failing I have loved you endlessly.  If you remember these four simple words, You Are Loved Unconditionally, then I know I did something right.

And yes, tonight I will sing you to sleep and cuddle in close.  Sweet dreams little ones.

Love,

Mommy

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, click here! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, click here!

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Don’t Live Someone Else’s Life

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All too often we compare ourselves to other mothers, tallying up all the things she has or does that we don’t.  She has a nice car, more expensive jeans, her hair is always perfect, she has a part-time job and runs in marathons and secretly I hate her.  Why?  Do I really think she has it all together?  Maybe her own mother is sick with cancer, but she keeps up appearances for her children.  Maybe her closet is full of all the latest designer fashions, but her credit card debt is through the roof.  Maybe she is just as insecure as the rest of us, but puts on a good act to hide her imperfections.  Maybe she is a little bit jealous of us, those of us who show up at school pickup without makeup, hair in a messy bun, just happy to see our kids. Maybe she wishes she could let go a little bit, not always be ON, just be herself, her real self, behind the perfect makeup and manicures.

Who knows?  Some days I want to be that mom who has it all together; hair done, makeup fresh, matching socks, crisp outfit, good mood, smile on my face, swooping my kids up and we are all perfect, perfect, perfect.  But in reality, those days are few and far between.  The stress to be the perfect mom is not worth the aggravation most of the time.  It feels good to portray an image of togetherness, but it doesn’t feel real or authentic at all.  My reality is messy and disorderly, chaotic and jumbled.  I’d rather spend time cuddling my baby than putting on makeup and trying on outfits.  I’m not a complete mess, I leave the house looking decent, but you know what I mean.  We all have those days when even putting on mascara is just. too. much.

So today embrace your true self.  Don’t compare yourself to any one else.  It’s hard to do, but try just for today to not care about fancy, blow-out, marathon running mom and focus on the fabulousness that is you.  The mascara can wait until tomorrow.

A Bunch of Things You Don’t Have Time To Read

It’s been a bad week for time vs. blog posts, so when I saw this questionnaire on Jodi Llewellyn’s blog I decided it would be fun to fill out.

THREE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF:
1. People often misjudge my shyness for arrogance.
2. I am a night owl, definitely NOT a morning person.
3. I used to work for a children’s hospital.

THREE THINGS THAT SCARE YOU:
1. Something awful happening to my children
2. Big, hairy spiders
3. Being in deep water alone; I’m terrified of sharks!

THREE OF YOUR EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS:
1. Dark roast coffee
2. My iPhone
3. A book, any book

THREE OF YOUR FAVORITE HOBBIES:
1. Watching foreign films
2. Reading books and magazines
3. Hanging out in book stores

THREE CAREERS YOU’RE CONSIDERING/YOU’VE CONSIDERED:
1. An author
2. A doctor.  If I didn’t have children, this would have been my career path, but I wanted babies.  Maybe in my next life…
3. Entrepreneur

THREE BOOKS YOU HAVE RECENTLY READ:
1. Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook
2. Daily Rituals: How Artists Work
3. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood

THREE THINGS YOU ARE WORKING ON, WRITING WISE:
1. Submission for Literary Mama
2. New blog post ideas
3. Submission for parenting magazine

THREE THINGS YOU WANT TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE:
1. Go back to Anguilla with my husband
2. Become a published author
3. Start my own business

THREE CELEB IDOLS (or crushes):
1. Audrey Tatou – Love her
2. Helen Mirren – Stunning
3. Tom Hanks – One of my favorites

THREE QUOTES:
1. “Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.” – Unknown
2. “I’m rarely bored alone.  I am often bored in groups and crowds.” – Laurie Helgoe
3. “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” – Dita Von Teese

Hey Jealousy

Baby F

A friend of mine is pregnant. She had some difficulty getting there, trying for almost two years before seeing those two pink lines, but now she is over the moon and sick with hormones. She feels fat and miserable. She looks happy and content, magnificently plump. Whenever I’m with her or see pictures on Facebook of her growing belly or never-ending parade of baby shower gifts, I feel a little twinge in the pit of my stomach.  At first I couldn’t understand it, I have three beautiful, healthy children of my own.  We are officially done having any more babies, but a tiny part of my heart will always long for just one more.  I think it’s natural as mothers to wonder when we are truly finished having children.  It’s such a personal decision made even more complicated by finances, age, even our own family size.

Before my third child was born, I strongly felt someone was missing from our family.  I can’t explain it, yet I knew someone else should be sitting at the dinner table with us, laughing around the fire.  I prayed and thought and prayed and worried and prayed some more.  My friend Jamie put it all in perspective.  She said, “You’ll never regret the one you have, but you’ll always regret the one you didn’t.”  I knew she was right and my son was born 10 months later.  The unexplained feeling disappeared.  I felt sure our family was complete.

I know exactly what my friend is in for.  Those first magical moments of disbelief when your child is brought forth from your body into your arms, still wet from your womb.  The feeling of that tiny being gazing into your eyes, peering into your soul the way they do.  The first moment they latch onto your breast and you know without a doubt why you were put on this earth as a woman.  The tears sparkling in your partners eyes as he holds his child for the first time and kisses your forehead whispering, ” You were amazing.”

I’ve had those moments now, three times, and my life is moving quickly onto new chapters.  Instead of newborn diapers and burp cloths, we are picking out cleats and little mitts for Tee ball.  We are driving to ice skating lessons and reading chapter books, instead of rocking into the wee hours with an over-tired infant.  I miss those times, even though technically my youngest is still in diapers, not even two years old, yet every day he moves steadily away from his baby self into his new big boy persona.  No more sippy cups for him, thank you.  He can do it all by himself, or at least he tries.  Soon he will be like the others, no longer needing Mommy for everything.  I used to complain about the constant demands, the hanging off my leg, the crying to be picked up, but now I see all of that disappearing beyond the horizon and I’m sad.

Am I just an empty shell now?  I am still the proud owner of ovaries and a uterus, but I will never again use them the way nature intended.  Is my biology making me weepy about the vacancy down below?  My stomach, soft after three pregnancies, will never again hold a little one.  My breasts have fed my children over 4,000 meals and they too will soon be just my breasts, not someone elses comfort or nourishment.  I should be happy about getting my body back to myself, but sadly I mourn the loss of my tiny charges and their wearying demands.

I try to cheer myself with the knowledge of everything else that accompanies new babies, things I won’t miss; sleepless nights, leaky nipples, middle of the night diaper changes that soil everything in their wake, recovering from childbirth, losing the baby weight (again), clumps of hair falling out, raging hormones, lack of sex, lugging around a heavy car seat, all those doctors visits, annoying advice from strangers, spit-up in my hair, not being able to drink wine, two-minute showers, and no time at all for me.

There are seasons to motherhood and they change and flow, often without warning.  As our children grow and change, we too are forced to morph into unfamiliar roles.  I was a mother to an infant then suddenly he is walking and saying Da Da and I am no longer the mother of a newborn, but an energetic toddler whose curiosity threatens to kill him.  It’s an exhausting, never-ending, uphill battle we fight as mothers; our goal to raise our children the best way we know how always seems just beyond our reach.  Just as we get comfortable in our role, we are thrown down a rabbit hole, searching in the dark for a light, a way out, for someone who knows all the answers, only to fall to the bottom in a dusty heap to start all over again.

When my friend catches her breath, meets her newest love and snuggles down into her cozy new life as a mother, these are the words of advice I will share with her:  It’s a new season of motherhood.  Be open to it.  Embrace what comes your way.  Enjoy each tiny moment.  Stay true to your authentic self.  Remember these days.

I’m still a little jealous.  But I can’t look back now.  There’s just too much joy and glitter on the road ahead of me.  I can’t take my eyes off of it.