Sunday, October 18

Eyeing the bigger picture

Can I just say I have moments where I actually pity myself? Can moms do that?

I mean, I'm past the covered-in-puke motherhood stage of raising infants where the cycle of feeding baby, changing baby and putting baby to sleep occur an exhausting twelve times a day. I've moved onto the toddler stage, which is tiring in a different state of mind where it's absolutely downright expected to play "158 Questions" fifteen times a day. With each child.

So can I have reflection of self pity? I have three healthy kids. I have a doting husband who is a good man, and a compassionate father. I can stay home with my kids. I have a house, food in my pantry, running water, and heat occupying the rooms barricading us from the too early wintry weather. In all those senses I am beyond fortunate and should not feel jealous or envious of the business woman walking downtown in her fashionable shift dress, posh knee high boots, and oversized hobo bag. Doing something important. By herself.

Yesterday was my moment of glory. Grocery shopping. By myself. In a stained sweater. With a frizzy rat's nest of a hair 'do, and a walking coat two sizes too big now. "Must be nice to be by yourself today, huh?" said the deli clerk who noticed I was missing the obnoxious toddlers, and husband who normally pushed the cart.

Clarity struck me. Where did that fashionista of a business woman go that I knew three years ago? This -grocery shopping- is now my important something.

At times, being a mom makes me feel like my brain is rapidly shrinking. I tire of wearing the same jeans day after day with the same shirts I bought on clearance two years ago at Marshall's. My hair always looks... scattered... to match my mind.

Yesterday, I got Justine ready for her first high school Homecoming. She came into our bedroom, and peeked into my closet. "Can I see your red stilettos? Not to wear, I mean, they just look so fun! I want to see if they fit me yet." A part of me twitched inside. Yes, I thought, you probably would have somewhere fun to wear these. Sure enough, they fit her perfectly and I envisioned her wearing them out to dinner with girlfriends or something like that. Maybe not. She's fifteen. And they're 3.5" spiked heel stilettos.

"Don't worry, Steph," she said noting my wistful expression. "You'll find something to wear them to soon. Something will come up, I'm sure!"


Like I said, I know it sounds dreadfully petty. But no matter how much important "stuff" I know I'm doing every day with my kids, don't you think it's difficult to stifle the notion that somehow I want to feel I'm doing something important too.... selfishly enough, something important to me? When I say that last part, my voice shrinks a bit and becomes small.

Becoming a mom is amazing on numerous levels; I've lost track of the benefits being at home brings our family. Staying at home vs. working are personal to each family and for us the former works better than the latter. But with each decision we make, there are gains and sacrifices.

It goes without saying that, at times, I think -no- I know moms are too proud to admit they miss having an identity a part from their kids. Because of the above- they have so many overwhelmingly wonderful blessings that should not be taken for granted, so why complain about the voice inside that wishes she had somewhere to wear that cute belted boho dress that she saw at TJ Maxx yesterday? So she doesn't complain, but the more she looks into the mirror every night after her shower, she begins to wonder if pieces of her identity wash away little by little down the drain.

And truthfully, it has less to do with the boho dress, and more with what I would do or where I would go looking so glam. And I guess this is why women started at home businesses and thrived in the spotlight of Mary Kay and Tupperware. It opened up professionalism in the home while still offering the possibility to be with kids at the same time. Somehow, there are moments when Mason and Peyton aren't yelling as they sprint seventeen times across the basement carpet and I can actually quietly think to myself, and I wonder what I would be doing if I weren't at home at this moment?

So if I could, would I trade it?

Perspective, along with my mind, is something I have lost over the past few years. Because on the flip side, I look down the road four years and it's a glaring reminder that right now it's just a different season of my life, as I reflected during a dinner out with friends last week. And it becomes obvious that I need to make the best out of now. Right now.

When I'm tearfully waving good bye to Mason going to first grade, Peyton starting kindergarten, and Justine stepping through the doors of college how am I going to reflect on my time I spent home with them? Will I be painted with regret for not enjoying them totally and completely in the time I spent during their early years?

Enjoy it now. That has become my mantra of sorts. Although I know there will NOT be a bystander considering me a business fashionista in passing as I walk with a stroller downtown, at the very least I have two sons in tote who fill my heart with more pleasure. Sometimes the small opinions matter more, I realize while I'm looking disheveled in the kitchen pouring myself a cup of coffee to open my eye lids one more quarter of an inch. Wearing my pjs with dried oatmeal pasted to my camisole strap, my oldest little boss looks at me over his cup of milk and says with wonderment, "Mommy, you're boo-ti-fool."

Guess I don't need those stilettos after all. They can wait.

Saturday, October 10

Two years, 364 days

I've been mustering the strength for about a week now to come to grips that Mason's days of being referred to as two are numbered.

Here it is. His last day, as I promised him this morning.

There are moments in my life, as a mom now, when a milestone takes place or a birthday arrives seemingly out of the blue and I'm forced to acknowledge the notion that life speeds quickly out of our control when we want it to slow to enjoy the simplicity a bit longer.

Three years ago I sat right now uncomfortably awaiting my first epidural. I had been in labor since 11 am that morning, and wouldn't meet Mason until 3:22 am the following day.

Sometimes I feel like I've been a mom forever but it's only been three short years. How strange it feels that my life has spun on its side a hundred times over in those 1,094 days. What was life before motherhood? It was predictable. It was extra sleep time on Saturday mornings. It was planning my dinners at a whim in the grocery store, and if I couldn't summon the energy to cook Tuesday through Friday- I didn't. I wasn't putting out fires every hour on the hour between two unruly toddlers. I had no gray hairs in sight.

And then he happened. Mason Paul. His pink pudgy skin, tiny button nose, and rosy cheeks to match his plump baby lips was all it took for my heart to just double over in size. His cries stood out over the other twelve babies in the hospital nursery and the newborn cry was mine to respond, and I couldn't wait. He belonged to me, his heart forever a part of mine, and my life was forever changed.

I absolutely miss Mason being a baby. Have another? Not likely. It's my babies being babies that I miss and surely always will. But I also love the stages they're in now. In honor of Mason I absolutely love listening to him talk passionately about every object somehow relating to trucks. His swing, his bed, the IKEA chairs in the basement-- they are all trucks, big big trucks. And when he says anything in reference to a truck, his small voice drops an octave sounding too masculine for a toddler. But in his mind, he's growing up to become a man every day, another step closer.

He tells me about every other day that when he's soon fifteen he's going to be on the football team. He's going to become a firefighter or a teacher like Daddy and someday he's going to go to the big big school like his older sister- and again his voice oddly becomes purposely and unnaturally deep. Incessantly, he fixes things that needn't be fixed but still insists the chairs are broken, the pipes need tightened or the screws in his tricycle are loose. His tools in nature are twigs, and he can honestly decipher among the 57 twigs of debris in our yard which one exactly he played with yesterday afternoon. And off he goes into the dirt pit of the jungle gym making power drill noises with his mouth telling me he's fixing the broken house.

And it is a chapter book I continue to write by the hour with my kids that truly causes me to question how exactly I ever considered my life fulfilling before the gray hairs, a small cosmetic infraction, of motherhood bestowed upon me. After all, that is just a minor problem, and nothing that can't be covered quite simply with a box of Clairol.

But this book of motherhood, could obviously not exist without my boys.

And so, with that, I tip my hat and my heart to you Mason. Happy Birthday little man.

I love you to the moon, over to the sun around the stars and back.