Friday, September 11, 2015

Take a Trip Into My Brain This Very Minute

Things that are currently taking up too much of my mental energy with wasted worrying:

am i ever going to catch up at work
my child's lack of vegetable consumption
whether the elastic in this expensive bra will last if I wash it in the washing machine instead of by hand
how much i can write about my child and this parenting experience without revealing too much, but this gig is hard and hilarious and i want to share without hurting the kid
my weight and my seeming inability to actually do anything about it except stress and my top button is digging into my belly button today and i ate the discarded toppings from the kid's pizza last night followed by seven Cheezits he spilled on the ottoman
my dog needs his teeth brushed
is there an actual Harvard Review or Lifehacker article that would make me more efficient with time management at work or would that just waste more of my time and i'd procrastinate reading it anyway
will i actually pass my huge expensive job enhancing CFRE test in two weeks
why do i feel guilty about taking a date night with my husband
my sandal is broken but i love it, so now do i repair or toss it
the tiny elderly lady who normally does any alterations for me isn't answering her phone. did she retire? is she in the hospital? did she die? will i ever know?

is there such a thing as a balanced life
when will i ever have free time again
why can't i just enjoy how clingy and cuddly my child is right now instead of feeling smothered
will my patience level ever increase
does anyone ever feel good at parenting, or feel like they're good at it for more than fifteen minutes at a time
should we get the kid a math tutor
why can't i manage to meal plan and prep for the week on Sunday afternoons
dying alone in a urine smelling nursing home
dying alone from sheer frustration while wiping up my ten year old's urine again
dying alone from the smelly force of my ten year old's well aimed farts
moving, will we? when? can we afford to? what about schools? what about kansas vs missouri? what about how the kid will transition? he has requested a bigger backyard and no trains too close and an upstairs, and what about how poorly funded our public schools are and the lack of diversity in other districts?
Man, I feel better already.

So what's running through your head today?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nine Monumental Little Weeks

We've known and loved Xavier for just about nine weeks now.

Our lives are now filled with karate classes, PTA meetings, homework, bedtime routines, play dates, screen time negotiations, constant reminders to stop laying your chin on the bowl when you eat your cereal, keeping track of glasses and Spider-man socks and small gloves, reminders to lift the toilet seat and stop wiping your toothpaste face on your sleeve again, hugs, bedtime prayers, reading out loud every night, movie nights snuggled on the couch with blankets and popcorn and a tiny body tucked up into my side, Transformer tooth brushes, all the Legos and Super Heroes that can be packed into a small ranch house, and all of the questions about the world and potential disasters and whether people on TV are alive or dead right now, and what's the difference between acting and just real life, and why are there different states and countries, and what would happen if and and and and....
This kid is a carnivore. Polished off a whole half slab of ribs by himself. I think we have a KC BBQ lover on our hands. #latergram

Xavier can be confounding and lovable and needy and handsome and sweet and challenging and ours, he is so totally ours.

Red Bridge Skating Party!! Watching my two favorite guys, they are in their element.

In just nine weeks he's visited 7 states, after having spent his first nine years in just Texas. And he seems to like traveling and seeing new places, at least from the comfort of the car with a fully charged tablet close at hand, and the candy of his choice at the next gas station stop.

He is constantly asking questions. At least when he's awake.

He is growing taller and more solid everyday, and the idea that when we look into his little face it will one day be 17 years old and covered in stubble still seems impossible, and yet it will happen so so soon I can hardly catch my breath. He can live at home and go to college still, right?

If I smile will you leave me alone so I can play Subway Surfers?

He has embraced being a part of our family so quickly. Quicker than we dreamed was possible. He is already Xavier Sands on every homework assignment. He loves being our son, at least until it's time to bring in groceries. Then he loses all interest in being in this family.  "Why does this family make me help all the time? Why do I always have to carry stuff?"

He told me he didn't like this one because he looked too serious. I said it went well with the fancy hat and tie.

Simple things, like attending X's Valentine's school party, are so fun. Introducing ourselves as X's parents, watching his face light up when we walk in the room, leading games for all the kids, helping him address his cards to his friends. We are constantly amazed by how little things make us feel so happy. Mundane is still there, but we're still in that early stage where all of the new parenting things feel fresh and sweet. Except homework, homework sucks and poor Joe gets the brunt of it so far.

Sometimes we are the parents who love him and hug him and tickle him and let him watch his own Netflix and his absolute favorite people, and sometimes we are the most terrible, mean parents in the entire world. Both of these emotions could occur in a five minute time span.

He loved playing with his cousins in Madison this last weekend and wanted to know if they would be his cousins even when he had his own wife and kids. I teared up when I got to say "yes, honey, forever" and explained that even when he got married and had a spouse and kids of his own, they will always be cousins. Always.

X and J, battling, Star Wars style.

This weekend was a wonderful chance for Joe's immediate family to all be together for the first time with X. We all celebrated Joe's 40th birthday, and Xavier was surrounded by his grandparents, uncles and aunt and cousins. We loved hearing X and his cousins laugh and run through the house, or watch him sharing a gummy worm with his little cousin Tierney, without being prompted. Just a gummy worm, but it shows who he is inside.

This guy is loving the Fantastic Mr. Fox. So so glad. Cuss Yeah!

He was tired on Monday night after a long weekend and five hours in the car. His veneer of good behavior started to slip, and he began to turn into the little wild mongoose that all small children seem to be underneath when they get tired.  Of course he started to melt down at the restaurant we stopped at for dinner. Lesson learned. Drive thru only at the end of a trip, unless you want to lose your cool at a dessert buffet when your child burps in your face five times in quick succession and refuses to say excuse me or sorry. Drive thru was invented for this very reason, people. Though the truck drivers seemed very entertained by our argument next to the homemade cherry cobbler.

Watching him play with his cousins' kitten or any animal makes us feel confident he has a sweet, kind, soft heart under the sass. And no, kid, we aren't getting a kitten anytime soon.

This is all easier and harder than we ever imagined. Loving him, easiest thing we've ever done. Not yelling, totally the hardest. He missed the bus this morning because he simply refused to walk out to the stop when I asked him to. Instead he wanted to have a little conversation. He just sat down in his coat and back pack and started asking me a bunch of silly questions. I keep forgetting that I'm learning how to do this parenting thing too, and I keep beating myself up when things don't go well. But this stuff is hard. This parenting. And I need to always give us more lead time when we're going back to school after a long break. He stalls. And I need to build more time in so the stall doesn't leave me yelling and furious, and leave him standing there wide eyed while I yell. Since I don't yell often I think he realized it was a serious issue. He quickly wanted to know how mad my boss was going to be when I was late to work after dropping him off. "Will you be in trouble or trouble trouble?" So hopefully that won't happen again any time soon. Plus lesson learned, build in more time to wait at the school bus stop. Also some mild yelling won't break him, but it does make me feel terrible. I'm pretty sure he'd forgotten after three minutes.

Watching a documentary about honey badgers and reading comic books to his Mr. Badger.

I was beating myself up for yelling at Xavier this morning and was telling one of my best friends, and fellow mom, about the situation and she nailed what some of being a parent has felt like for us so far. "Being a parent is always painted as something super rewarding and fun and wonderful. And it's all of those things. But it's also full of unwilling compromises, disagreements, constant pull and take, gritty work, sighs and tongue biting." I would add tiny wins, lots of serious side eye, and some mild alcohol consumption when needed, For us parents, not for Xavier.

Evening piggy back ride. I love these two dudes so much it makes my stomach hurt. #latergram

We have zero regrets about adopting Xavier. None. Our lives, and Xavier's, were completely turned upside down just nine weeks ago. Completely. And it's been the very best thing we've every chosen to do. It's amazing how quickly we all are adapting. It's not perfect. Nothing and no one is. But it's starting to feel natural and easier, at least a little bit every week. Somehow we have so little memory of the time before we had him. Oh, we remember the freedom and the weekends to ourselves and we loved those years, but the day to day, it seems like it's always been like this, or at least it was always supposed to be like this.

I miss some of our old freedom and the time we had for each other and ourselves, but I wouldn't trade that for the heart swell I feel when checking on my child while he sleeps, or the way his tight spontaneous hugs seem to force tears to my eyes, or the quiet times reading together when I kiss the top of his head and smell his slightly coconut scented black hair, or the tickle fights or the times when we see his dimple pop out from his wide natural smile. It's not worth the trade. Nothing would be.

"Sophisticated Stripes": #stylemefeb Just being all fancy, sitting here on the couch, barefoot, watching my kid play Minecraft. I live for these quiet moments.

I think it's so easy to get swept up in the little stuff, the basic needs of all of our every days, that until I have a quiet moment, like in the car on the drive home from Madison, I forget the momentousness of what we've done. For Xavier, for us, for our families. I forget because it's a huge, important thing we've done bringing this little boy into our family. And it's also the easiest most natural thing, because people become parents every single day. And so have we. In many many ways, we are not different. And in some important ones, we are very different. And I'm trying my best to stop and remind myself that we are doing our best, and so is Xavier, and that's all anyone can expect of us.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Identity Crisis, Scratch that, I Mean Epic Change

I'm having an identity crisis. Except crisis sounds so dramatic. And my crisis is much more about laundry, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and buying school supplies, and getting big hugs from small arms when I leave in the morning. And it's not a crisis. It's just an enormous shift in every single thing I do, think and feel. See? No crisis. Just change. Because of this little face.

I'm a mom now. And it feels weird still to type that and say it out loud. And it also feels totally normal. And I can't quite wrap my head around all of it yet. I'm sure I'll get there. It's only been a little over three weeks since we met Xavier and he joined our family. But I'm still figuring out who I am now. I haven't had this kind of change in my life in years. Maybe never. Maybe there isn't a bigger change than becoming someone's parent, especially the instant parent of a nine year old. Job changes are big, moving, deaths, illness. All big. Marriage is a huge change. I became Joe's wife, but that didn't feel drastically different than living together or dating. Just more fun, more permanent, more stable, more arguments about dirty dishes, and new words to get used to. Saying "my husband" was so fun those first years, and it's still one of my favorite phrases. But the mom role, it feels different. Bigger. Earthquake level big. I'm responsible for this other small person, completely.

And I feel different. I'm unsure about myself a bit more than I used to be. I'm generally a pretty confident person. I adore my husband. I thoroughly loved our independent life before kids. I like my work so much and so much of my identity comes from the job I go to everyday. I love my hobbies and passions. But it feels different now. And I cannot say exactly what it is. I can't find the right words to describe it, it just is different. It's not just the second guessing myself about whether I'm parenting Xavier well, I'm doing my very best and I'm still constantly second guessing, but it's something deeper in my core than that.

I feel unsettled. I feel unmoored a bit. And yet it's not a bad feeling, just antsy. I feel floaty and outside of myself more often now. Looking in and wondering about how different my life and my priorities, and my sense of myself as a woman have all been adjusted so abruptly. And I think about our son all the time. And I worry more. I'm scared more. So much more. I feel judged more and nervous about other people's opinions more. My heart feels exposed. And bigger. Swelled up with pride and worry and need. There's so much more now.

And my emotions are right on the surface all of the time when I think about him, especially when I'm not with him. But when I'm with him, somehow I feel totally grounded. Totally certain this is where I'm supposed to be, and who I'm supposed to be taking care of every day. He has no idea, but while he's in taking his evening shower, I love turning off his overhead bedroom light, turning on the paper star night light that hangs over his bed, layering the blankets he likes to sleep under, turning down the sheets, and waiting to tuck him into this safe, warm, cozy space when he comes barreling out of the bathroom, still wet, still wild, and totally not sleepy yet. I like folding his little jeans and putting away his laundry. I love figuring out what music he likes and throwing it onto our Xavier playlist on Spotify. I love helping him figure out what he wants for dinner or lunch, because we don't know all the foods he likes yet. Or just snuggling on the couch when our movie night choice gets a little scary. Or watching Xavier and his dad work on Legos for an hour. This all feels right to me. It doesn't feel weird at all. I want to hug and kiss this boy all day long, or at least in the five minute increments he'll allow in the early morning and late at night.

But when I think about how epic the change is to our lives or when I'm back to doing the normal work things or social things or just life things I've always done, they don't feel the same. I'm off kilter. I'm sure that feeling will slowly go away, but it will never feel like it did before. I'll never be the same person I was before. I grieve that a little.

I guess this makes me one of those "mommy bloggers" now.  But that term can be derisive and demeaning so often, and this is important to me. I need an outlet to write and talk about the change, because it makes me feel less alone in it. Because it's weird, isn't it? Becoming a parent? It's the strangest feeling. The best feeling, and one of those experiences that you can't describe to someone else who isn't a parent yet. I used to feel slightly condescended to when my very kind and wonderful friends talked about their own experiences of becoming parents. They didn't intend to be condescending, they were just stating the facts.  Phrases like "you'll understand when you have kids" can sound flippant and patronizing. But damn it, if it isn't true. I'll try my best to not be flippant or patronizing to my friends who don't have kids, just as mine did to me. Because a life with kids or a life without kids, one isn't a superior choice or a better life over the other. Both ways can be amazing and beautiful and hard and exciting if you do it right. So I'll get there. I'm figuring it out as we go. And goodness, if being a mom isn't the best trip I've ever signed up for.