Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Day I Became a Clueless Mother

Four years ago today, I was 37 weeks pregnant with my first child. For two weeks straight I had been experiencing excruciating back pain that brought me to tears each day, limited how much I could sleep and forced me to spend almost every hour of the day bent over on my hands and knees on a couch because that was the only position that would even slightly reduce the pain. After two trips to the hospital, numerous blood and urine tests and eight tries to get an IV into me, the doctor still had no explanation for the pain. He gave me a prescription of Vicodin that he assured me would not harm the baby, but after taking it for three days with no relief I stopped because I saw no reason to put ineffective drugs into my body where my unborn child was living. My mom had been staying with us for about a week to help out while Chad was at work.

Four years ago today, my mom drove me to my doctor's office where Chad met me for my routine 37-week check-up. The doctor we were seeing that day was one that we had seen only once or twice before, and he was known for his sense of humor. Upon examination, he informed me that I was 6 cm dilated. Ok, haha, I thought, not really in a joking mood and just wanting to get back to the (dis)comfort of my hands, knees and couch at home. But when he looked at me seriously and asked if I was sure I wasn't having contractions, I knew he was not joking. He called the doctor from the practice who was on call at the hospital, and a few minutes later Chad and I were on our way home to get our suitcase and head for the hospital.

Four years ago today, Chad and I made our way up to the labor and delivery ward of the hospital, still trying to grasp the concept that we were about to have a baby. I assumed my hands-and-knees position in the hospital bed and waited for the doctor to come in. I'm pretty sure when she walked into the room she thought she had mistakenly walked in on a proctology patient, but after a brief explanation she realized the situation. It had only been about two hours since I had my check-up, and I was now 7 cm dilated, still not having any contractions. I knew right from the start of the pregnancy that I didn't want to be a hero if I didn't have to be, and I knew I wanted an epidural if there was time for one. Fortunately there was, though I think just barely. I won't go into many details of the delivery itself, but I will say that it was cake compared to the back pain that I had been having. I would go through that labor and delivery ten times before going through even one hour of the back pain I had. Fortunately as soon as the epidural kicked in the back pain disappeared completely and I felt amazing! After about five hours of easy labor and 30 minutes of pushing, our little boy arrived.

Four years ago today, Alec James entered our world and changed our lives forever. At exactly 10:05pm on January 31, 2008, I became a clueless mother. I stared at my little 6lb., 10oz. boy with a full head of hair and wondered what happened next.

What happened next was a blur of four years of Alec that has brought us to today. The past four years have been the hardest years of my life. I have never worked harder or been more exhausted. I have also never been so proud of my hard work. Every day, Alec amazes me with something he knows, humors me with something he says or brings me to tears with his tears. Somewhere in the past four years, Alec went from being a tiny little baby to a wonderful boy, and I am so proud of the boy he is turning into.

While I'm still a clueless mother, four years has made me pretty good at pretending I know what I'm doing. I still can't believe I have a child who is old enough to be sitting next to me playing his Leapster while I blog about him. I'm not saying the years have gone by quickly like I will probably say one day. But they have definitely been full of memories. And I can't wait to see what memories the coming years bring.

Happy 4th Birthday Alec James!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

It's Not Fair!

Ok, maybe I sound like a whiny little kid. But it's the truth: it's not fair!

Having children has taught me many things. It has taught me how to get myself from a sound sleep in bed to a semi-functioning adult in the car in under 10 minutes. It has taught me the humor in jokes that go like this: Alec - "Knock knock"; Me - "Who's there?"; Alec - "Banana"; Me - "Banana who?"; Alec - "Banana basket." It has taught me patience (ok, maybe I'm still working on that one). But I think the biggest lesson I have learned from having children is that life just isn't fair, especially with children.

I've always known that life isn't fair. People pass away who shouldn't. The rich get richer while the poor get poorer. The one day I run to the store for one lone item without even brushing my hair before leaving the house is the one day I run into five people I know. But having children puts a whole new perspective on the unfairness of life. Here are a few examples of what I mean:

1) Kids get sick. It's a part of life -- not a fun part, but an unavoidable part. But what's really not fair about it is that they always seem to get sick at the worst times. There's no real "good" time to be sick, but there are definitely times that are worse than others. Like a holiday, trip, or special event that the kids have been excited about for weeks. But you know that one week where you don't have any plans or anything going on over the weekend? Yep, that's the week that the entire family is healthy.

2) Housework takes twice as long, and there is ten times as much of it. How's that for unfair? Having extra people in the house means extra laundry, extra dishes and extra messes. But it's not that simple. You see, loading the dishwasher by myself takes about 10 minutes. But with a 21-month-old and a 4-year-old, I have to factor in their "help." For every one dish I put into the dishwasher, somehow two dishes get removed. Maybe each kid takes one out? I don't know... I just know that the more I try to fill the dishwasher, the emptier it gets. Same with laundry. And cleaning. It doesn't take a math genius to realize that when you have twice as much work, which takes twice as long to do, that's a lot of time that I could be spending doing something else!

3) Kids don't like to sleep when we do. If your kids are anything like mine, at least one of them is almost always up in the morning before I am ready to be awake. Alec is usually up at 7am, which I should be thankful for because I have several friends whose children are awake at 6am or even in the 5 o'clock hour. Regardless, when I get that 7am wake-up call I just want to crawl deeper under the covers and go back to sleep. But did you notice that I said this is "almost" always the case? There's always that ONE time when we actually have to get up at 7am, and THAT would be the one time when my kids both decide they need to catch up on sleep. It's not fair!

4) Kids drive us crazy for years, then don't want anything to do with us. This one seems the most unfair to me. As much as I love my children and enjoy spending time with them now, I tend to go a little crazy being around them ALL the time. I find myself constantly wishing for a few minutes of me-time throughout the day. Unlike Gwen Stefani, I haven't resorted to locking myself in a closet to escape yet, but that day may not be too far away! It seems like one of them always needs something from me - a clean diaper, a cup of juice, help with a puzzle, a towel to wipe up a spill. I know this is what I signed up for, and most days I really don't mind being a chef, maid, chauffeur, and nurse all at once. But some days I would give almost anything just to be able to finish a cup of coffee in the morning. But I also know that 12 years from now my boys won't want anything to do with me. They will be independent teenagers, embarrassed just to be seen within 10 feet of me. Forget hugs, kisses or snuggles. I know without a doubt that when that day comes I will be wishing for a spilled cup of juice or for one of them to need my help with homework. (Although at this point they will probably be sleeping in AND I will be able to finish a cup of coffee in the morning!)

So why can't my kids be healthy all the time? Why can't the housework take care of itself? Why can't my kids sleep until 9am every day? Why can't I have one day a month now that my kids want nothing to do with me, and then have one day a month 10 years from now when they want to spend all day with me? The simple answer is that life just isn't fair. But that just makes it even more important to enjoy the weeks when they are healthy, even if we don't have plans, or their help with my chores, or those rare days when they do sleep in, or their dependence on me. Because while life with kids may not be fair, that doesn't mean it can't be enjoyable. Afterall, a week at home with healthy kids who like to help with housework isn't exactly something to complain about!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Kids are Superheroes

In our house, our typical morning routine goes something like this:

Chad's alarm goes off at 7:00. He gets up, showers and gets ready for work. I usually wake up at the same time, but I stay in bed until Alec wakes up, usually around 7:15. Occasionally he'll wake up full of energy and run into our room yelling, "Wake up! Wake up! The sun is up!" But more commonly he comes over to our bedroom still half asleep and hops in bed with me to snuggle. We'll snuggle for a few minutes (ok, sometimes a half hour), and then I'll turn on Disney Junior for him to watch while I get myself ready. Chase usually wakes up between 7:30 and 8:00, but he tends to be a bit lazy in the morning and prefers to hang out in his crib and wake up slowly. So it's usually closer to 8:30 or so when I go in to get him. And then our day begins.

Most mornings this routine works just fine for us. But some days we have plans that start earlier, Chad has an early morning meeting or something else comes up that creates the need for a different routine. This usually doesn't cause much trouble (other than maybe an extra tantrum or two because we don't have time to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). But I have learned something very interesting from these mornings. I have learned that Alec has a super power.

His super power is almost like a sixth sense. It is a sense that wakes him from even the most sound sleep to alert him that Mommy has gotten up before he has. You see, if Chad has to get up early, he could set his alarm for 6:00, trip over toys on the way to the bathroom (sending them into loud, obnoxious choruses of music and noise, which in turn make the dog bark in alarm), bang the shower door closed, proceed to drop his shampoo bottle not once, but twice (causing loud thuds and perhaps an exclamation of frustration) and slam the door on the way out of the house at 6:45, all while Alec sleeps soundly in his room down the hall. But if for some crazy reason I decide I want to get up at 6:00 (say maybe I want some quiet time with a cup of coffee before the house turns into a tornado zone), the scene is very different. I quietly tip-toe to the bathroom and barely have time to put in my contacts before Alec comes running over in a full blown panic because I am up before he has climbed into my bed.

Now don't get me wrong. I enjoy our snuggle time immensely. I love cuddling with him and just enjoying some nice one-on-one time with him. I know that some day, probably sooner than I am ready, this snuggle time will come to an end. But as much as I cherish this time, every once in a while it would be nice to be able to get myself ready while the rest of the house (or at least the kids) sleeps quietly.

After I discovered that Alec has a superpower, I began to wonder whether Chase happens to have any special superpowers as well. And wouldn't you know he does! It didn't take me long to realize that Chase has been graced with the super power of controlling my emotions. It amazes me how one minute he can make steam come out of my ears, while the next minute he has me thinking that he's the sweetest child in the world. Alec may have a touch of this power as well, but Chase has it mastered.

Chase also happens to have the strength that comes along with being a superhero. Now granted I'm not what most would consider a large person. But for a petite 5-foot mom (5'3" with good heels!), I like to think that I have some impressive strength in me. I built up my arm strength as a drummer in high school and college, and I was the girl's push-up champion in high school. I have no problems lifting or carrying around my boys, who range from about 25-35 pounds. So you'd think changing the diaper of my 21-month-old would be a piece of cake. But the second I lay Chase on his changing table, his super-human strength comes out. I suddenly have to muster all my energy just to hold him still long enough to slide the dirty diaper off and the clean diaper on. That action alone makes me break a sweat. When there's a "number two" involved and I need to break out the wipes, it's all I can do to keep from sitting on Chase just to make sure he has a clean rear end. Most mornings I'm already exhausted by 8:35 simply from the act of getting Chase a clean diaper.

I guess it's pretty cool to have kids who are superheroes. As long as they don't try to fly off the house, I think I can handle it. Who knows... maybe some day they'll even rescue me from a burning building. But it does leave me with just one question... If both of my children are superheroes, does that make me Supermom?