Thursday, January 28, 2016

F*ck Hearts

It was bound to happen.

Yesterday Judah said "F*ck you" and showed me the middle-finger.

He learned it from his friend at school and didn't know what it meant.

I proffered a kinda lame explanation but it was the best I could do. I just said it means I really really really really hate you.

And Judah responded, well, then, can I say F*ck you Satan?


Uh...your dad can explain it to you.

Later on that day Judah found his old notebook from preschool. He loved his preschool with all his heart and flipped through the pages fondly. But then he started picking off all the hearts he had pasted on the cover as decoration.

When we asked why, he explained that he was drawing a picture in class today and drew lots of hearts on it. A classmate came over and laughed at it and told him hearts are stupid.

Typical Judah drawing - abounding in hearts.

As the mom of a son who has drawn "hearts for love" as soon as he could hold a crayon, I died a little inside.

Thank you kindergarten.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Humiliation of Me

A few days ago I was at a kid birthday party with a bunch of moms I didn't know and we do what all moms do when trying to think of conversation starters with stranger-moms - talk about kids and motherhood.

It's an instant bond-er.

One mom said, "Having kids is just so...humbling."

And we all groaned in deep resonance.

I may have groaned the loudest.

I used to run at a hundred miles per hour, but now I can barely crawl at 5.

Everything, EVERYTHING, is an ordeal.

Getting out the door requires advanced logistical planning and the patience of Mother Theresa. 
- gotta make sure there are sippy cups, snacks, changes of clothing, backpacks, sunglasses, gum,...and that's not even any of MY own wonder I'm constantly forgetting my wallet at home!
-cajoling, lots of cajoling and countdowns, and gentle to severe prodding, and more cajoling, and sometimes, when I'm really desperate, bribing, of which I am thoroughly not proud
-wrangling socks on feet, jackets on twitchy arms, jumpy feet in shoes...
-and once everyone is out the door, one person announces they have to poop, followed inevitably by the other person's suddenly loosed bowels.

So yeah, it takes about 30 minutes to do what I used to do in literally 30 seconds.

Eating is an ordeal. Snacking is an ordeal. Getting in and out of the car is an ordeal. Going anywhere more than 15 minutes away is an ordeal. And bedtimes. Bedtimes are probably the worst ordeal of all.

Not pictured: the ridiculous amount of wrangling and hair-pulling it took to get this picture.

But the hardest hit area of my life is professional. I had a pedal to the metal, be-all-you-can-be attitude toward academic and professional achievement. It was the cultural norm and I more or less enjoyed it.

And now? Reluctant stay-at-home mom.

I've come to terms with the end of my career as I've known it.

I've let go of all career options that would require more than 30 hours of week of work for the next 15 years.

I've accepted the role as the primary caregiver, which means being relegated to jobs that allow me to pick up my kids at 2:30 pm every day and at noon on a random handful of days.

I could outsource it, but that comes with its own set of problems and pain. Ultimately, I choose to be with them more often than not. And in order to be with them, I have to slow down. In every single aspect of my life.

And not just slow down, it's more like slowwwwwww wayyyyyyyyyy the heck down.

I remember when Judah first started to walk around. I thought it would be great to take a stroll through our neighborhood. It turned out to be one of the most frustrating experiences of my life.

I had not yet realized that for a one year old, walking means meandering in concentric circles, picking up leaves and sticks every 30 seconds, and trying to touch dog poop as much as possible. On our 10 minute walk, we maybe covered 3 feet of path.

But that's what I have to do if I want to be with them. 

Condescend. Lower. Abase. Be humbled.

And it is the most unexpected gift.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bob Helper Rubble

Dear Noah,

You have officially broken my heart by turning 3 last week. How could you?!

Oh my sweet chunk'o' 12 week old lovin'. I miss you.

You try your best to comfort me by pretending you’re a baby. Asking me to hold you because “I can’t walk mommy” and asking me to spoon feed you because “I’m a baby mommy”. You started doing this so much I worried that you were truly regressing. But then I asked you why you keep acting like a baby and you said “Because you love babies, Mommy. You sad that I’m growing up.”

Oops, my bad.

Didn’t mean to hijack your natural growth and development with my own emotional hang-ups. But aren’t you such a sweet, compassionate, insightful little bear?

For the last few months, you’ve been really into construction stuff. Your favorite show is Bob the Builder or Animal Mechanical and naturally your favorite Paw Patrol character is the construction pup, Rubble. You recently told us: My name not Noah. I Bob Helper Rubble.

Well, nice to meet you, Bob Helper Rubble.

You’ve always been really interested in mechanical movements, even as a baby, which totally explains why you are a puzzle fiend. You frequently take out puzzles on your own and spend long periods piecing them together, taking them apart, and piecing them together again.

And although you worship your older brother, these things are completely unique to you. Judah has never cared for construction related things or doing puzzles, being more of a ninja-superhero kind of guy.

I’m so glad you have your own identity. Your brother is an easy-going rule follower. But you. You are my stubborn one. My jokester. The king of the side-glance. The one who does the exact opposite in order to get a rise out of us. You make my blood boil in frustration like no one else, but you also make me melt into a puddle of I-love-you-goop multiple times a day.

You are a gift I get to open every day. Looking at you thrills me. Tickling and kissing your tummy fills me with joy abandoned. And your knock-knock jokes are truly the best, the logic just attenuated enough that I get it. I get it! And I love it.

Classic Noah Knock-Knock Joke:
Noah: Knock-knock
Me: Who's there?
Noah: Elephant
Me: Elephant who?
Noah: Elephant, I have a long nose!

This Saturday, we broke a tradition that we’ve been doing every Saturday morning for the last 2 years. Usually your brother goes to Chinese class Saturday mornings and you and me go grocery shopping at our favorite place – Trader Joe’s.

You sit in the little red cart and point at the seasonal plants on display. We start going through the produce aisles and you babble about fruit and veggies. You ask me where Cookie Monster is and get distracted looking for him. You want to hold the little plastic bags while I drop items into them. We talk about cheese and turkey and how daddy loves his salsa.

We grab samples and milk and butter and yogurt. You help me check for bad eggs. You get hungry and break into our snacks before we get to the checkout stand. All the old ladies smile at you.

You hand items to the checkout person one by one. You stick TJ stickers all over your face and all over me. We sometimes get help out because one cart just won’t fit all the food we bought.

But this Saturday, I did it all alone. And I’ll probably never do this with you again. Just like that, you turned 3 and were old enough to join your brother at Chinese school.

I missed you my little friend.

And it was hard to read the food labels through my tear-blurred eyes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Upward and Onward

2016 is only a few weeks old and already it's giving me a giant mental wedgie.

I don't even know what that is, but it kinda sounds like what I feel...disoriented, confused, reeling...

Between Christmas and the middle of January there are no less than 4 major celebrations that all combined together to pack a major wallop this year...

First, Christmas - wow, magical, love, goodwill...

Second, my birthday - wow, I'm old, no, like for real now, seriously this time, FO REALZ...

Third, New Years - ah, a whole new year, carpe annum, what am I doing with my life? goals, I need goals beyond mere survival of my young...

Fourth, Noah's birthday - wow, my youngest is getting big, no more baby, no more babies? hmmm...

Now that Noah's turned 3, and we don't really have any plans to have another baby, I feel like we've finally reached the next "stage" in family life.

I used to fantasize about this stage when Noah was just a few months old.

The long extended trips we could take.
The lack of diapers in the house.
The convenience of everyone eating the same food.
The freedom of not worrying about anybody's napping.
The verbal communication skills that would negate the need to scream like a banshee in my ear.
The big chunks of uninterrupted sleep, ahhhhhhhh.

We're not really there yet, but it's tantalizingly just around the corner...maybe by this Summer even...

2016, I have high hopes for you.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time

Last week Judah told me his classmate believes in magic.

Do we believe in magic Mommy?

Uh, that's a complicated question with some interesting nuances, son.

Of course that's just what I was thinking in my head. And what I was also thinking was it's your bedtime and I don't want to drag it out by getting into a discourse full of interesting, short answer - Nope! No, we don't believe in magic.

We don't believe in the tooth fairy, and witches, and wizards, and Santa Claus and all that jazz, I reaffirmed to Judah. BUT, BUT, I warned sternly, many kids do believe in all that so let's not take away their fun by telling them there really is no such thing.

Judah nodded in understanding.

The only problems is, I do believe in magic.

I believe in the kind of magic that makes cold lifeless statues come to life. That makes inanimate stuffed bunnies real. That reaches into the darkest pits of despair and plants a seed so potent, a hundred flowers blossom on it's eventual branches.

I believe in the magic of Love.

And no more do I experience that magic than in the daily, extravagant displays of affection from Judah and Noah. The light in their eyes. The warmth from their smiles. I am their mom and their first true love. I believe that if I love them well, it will set a seal on their hearts and protect them for all time - like the flashing talisman on Harry Potter's brow.

A few days ago, we were getting ready to go upstairs to start the bedtime routine and I started turning off all the lights downstairs. The only lights remaining were from the Christmas tree and (battery-operated) candles on our mantle. How beautiful and magical, I thought to myself. What a sentimental sap I am.

And then I heard Judah's little voice - Mommy, let's sit on the couch and huggle snuggle and enjoy this Christmas magic!

Oh my sweet child. You read my mind. You share my heart.

You know me. I know you.

And I think we both most definitely believe in magic.