Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Why Mothers Cry at Eagle Courts of Honor

If Ethan ever earns the rank of Eagle Scout, at his Court of Honor, when he bends down to pin that mother's pin on me, I will remember the day I worked so hard to sew patches onto his new and bigger shirt so that he could meet with his Scout leader the next night to pass off the One Last Thing he had to earn his Life rank.

And I will remember the next night, the night of the meeting with his Scout leader, when it was revealed at dinner that he hadn't yet done that One Last Thing.

I will remember the fighting as Ethan tried to teach Jonah how to tie a bowline knot using the EDGE method. I'll remember the screaming and the stomping and thinking there was no way those two boys would be able to cooperate long enough for Ethan be able to complete this One Last Thing in time.

However, miracle of miracles, they did! Now, all that was left was getting to the church with his Scout shirt and his Scout book so he could talk with his leader and schedule the Board of Review and advance to the rank of Life Scout.

And on that day (if it ever comes) when Ethan earns the rank of Eagle, this is what I will remember most: me, sitting in the car, waiting for him to come downstairs so I could drive him to his activity where he would meet with his Scout leader. I will remember how he came down without his Scout Shirt and how I said, "Go get your shirt!" The shirt I spent hours sewing patches onto so you would have it for this very moment! (I ironed that shirt, for crying out loud. Ironed!)

And I will remember Ethan saying, "No, I'm not getting it. I can't find my Scout book, so there is no reason for me to wear my shirt. I can't pass off that One Last Thing tonight."

And I will remember me begging to PLEASE, just get your shirt. Let's talk to your Scout Leader and see if we can get it passed off without your book.

And he said no.

So if you see me getting the mother's pin pinned to my blouse at the Eagle Court of Honor that may or may not happen, and notice a tear trickle down my cheek, you will know exactly what is playing through my mind.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Down With War

War. What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing.

This sage wisdom from Edwin Starr holds true for all war, but also for the most widespread, prevalent war: the Tired War. The tired war is being fought on every single continent between spouses and parenting partners over who is more tired.

Who is more tired? The parent who leaves the house to work at a demanding job? Or the parent who stays at home to work at a demanding job? And if both parents leave the house for demanding jobs, which job is more demanding?

The Tired War tries to answer these questions.

There are no winners in the tired war, only people who feel momentarily victorious for being more tired. And what is that good for?

Stop the Tired War!

Stop demanding your spouse or partner justify why they can't keep their eyes open at 2:30 in the afternoon, or 5pm, or 10am.

Do away with resenting the partner who sleeps well. For once. In 19 years.

If one person says she is tired, don't counter attack with your own more-tiredness.

And for the love of Mike, don't torture your significant other with sleep talk: how many hours you got; how many hours you think you will get tomorrow night; whether it was the sunlight that woke you up or the kids' fighting; the hour you spent awake during the night trying to get back to sleep. How many times you pushed the snooze button. Just stop.

We're all tired.

Let's just shut-up about it all ready and end the war.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Don't Forget

I read this paragraph on the Momastery blog the other day and it captured so well how I feel about mommying little kids--toddlers, babies, pre-schoolers. It's a feeling that is still fresh in my mind and in my heart even though we've made it through that phase. Even though my children are now mostly lots of fun to spend time with, I can still remember the days and nights of exhaustion; the feelings of demand. From everyone. Everyone just wanted, wanted, wanted.

And I'm posting the Momastery quote here. And I hope that's okay. I don't know Momastery and haven't asked her permission to repost (probably should do that, but I'm just a small-time nothing blog and I hope this thorough attribution, plus fan-praise is enough).You can click through to the actual blog post titled, "Save Your Relationships: Ask the Right Questions," to read it for yourself.

So here it is, Momastery's description of a day in the life of a mommy-to-toddler/babies. I couldn't have said it better:

"How was my day? Today has been a lifetime. It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode. I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone. I was saturated- just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again. I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do. Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst. At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption. Husband – when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period. But I’m not complaining. This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT. I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying- it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain- an entire day with lots of babies." 

And this is why, when I see a young lady, ready to have baby number one, I'm filled with so many emotions. Mostly I'm excited for her. But a part of me wants to hug her and say, "You'll be okay. You'll make it."

It's beautiful on the other end of that mommy-of-toddler world. It really, really is. Just hang in there.

And I hope I never forget this. I hope that when I have daughters-in-law, I'm sensitive, and helpful and cognizant of what it is really like. Not that fluffy diaper commercial moment where the baby never screams and kicks, or pees on you while you're trying to wrap up a diaper full of poo so it doesn't smear all over everything.

I hope I never say, "enjoy every moment. It goes so fast." Yes, it goes fast, but only in hindsight. When you're in the moment, those years go incredibly slow. Painfully slow. And you're sleep deprived for most of them.

I hope I don't give advice like, "sleep when the baby sleeps," as if it were that easy. Why do we say stupid things like this?

And I want my sons to know this paragraph from Momastery as well. I want them to understand and to empathize. I don't want them to come home at the end of the day and complain about traffic or a bad phone call and not acknowledge the emotional, physical, psychological strain of raising babies their wives are experiencing.

It's so hard.

But it's so worth it.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shoes vs. Children

The "Class Treasurer Heel in Blue" and I were meant to be together. I knew the first time I laid eyes on the pair of funky retro, not too high and not too low heels that they must be mine.

After browsing through the comment section on the shoe website, where everyone attested to the fact that the shoes ran small, and examining the American to European sizing chart (I'm a size 39 in France, evidently), I realized the Class Treasurer Heel in Blue was probably sold out in the size that would fit me best. Still, I had to chance it. I ordered the shoes in the next size down, prepared to send them back, but needing to know, one way or the other, if they could be mine. Besides, the shoes were occupying much of my waking thoughts, as well as the sidebar of my Facebook page. The only way to exorcise the shoes from my consciousness was to buy them.

After 5-7 excruciatingly long days, the shoes arrived. I got my thinest sock: a little nude-colored ped. At first glance, the shoe looked like it wasn't going to fit. The momentary tension was what I imagined filled the room when Cinderella and her sisters tried on the glass slipper. But I didn't let the tension build for long. I slipped my foot into the shoe and it fit perfectly.

Relieved, I set the shoes neatly in a corner where I could admire them for the next few days, and get a feel for all the different outfits I would be wearing them with.

Just looking at them brought me much joy.

Later that night, Jonah came in and asked, "What are those?"

"They' re my new shoes," I told him. "And I love them."

Jonah looked at me a little confused.

"But not as much as I love you." I assured him.

He looked relieved, but then I added, "But it's very, very close."

I laughed and kissed him and let him sleep on the fact that his mom might be passionate about something besides her children every once in a while. Then this morning, as he was leaving for school, I hugged him and told him that in a few weeks, my love for the shoes will diminish. New things are fun and exciting, but they become old quickly.

But my love for him, I insisted, would grow forever and never get old.

Did I redeem myself?

(I do love those shoes.)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hate Is a Strong Word

I don't hate the Olympics, but I really don't care for them. At all.

It all seems a bit disingenuous to suddenly become interested in something that I have no interest in the other three years, 50 weeks between Olympics. Two-man louge? Skeleton? Curling? Not to mention the myriad of sports our US broadcasters don't show us because a) we don't have an American participating or b) it really is too, too small of a sport to drum up any kind of dramatic interest in for the short-attention-span American television viewing audience. (Ski mountaineering anyone?)

But that is just one reason I don't care for the Olympics. The other, of course, is the drama. All those special interest stories they put together about how the athlete struggled and sacrificed and lived in a van down by the river eating government cheese so he could practice bobsled for 12 hours a day while his mom was on dialysis and his dad worked in the coal mine getting black lung--it's too much.

I don't need my heart strings manipulated like that.

I'm not going to watch the opening ceremony, or any of the sports in between--especially ice skating. I will endure the "spoiler alerts" on the evening news and look forward to the closing ceremonies, which I will not watch, but which I will be aware of their happening.

I have no desire to fake interest or get sucked into the manufactured theatrics.

That is all.