Drop Off

“So remember, I’m not going help…”

He cut me off. “I know, I know, Mom. I am going to put my stuff in my cubby myself. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!”

Easy-peasy lemon squeezy is something his most excellent kindergarten teacher says.

T has changed so much in the short time he has been in kindergarten. He is growing into his own person. It is messy and exciting and wonderful and sort of heartbreaking. I looked over at him this morning while I was strapping his brother into the car seat. His hair was swept up under his winter hat which was framing his face. I saw the baby, the hilarious and bald baby, that he used to be. Man, I miss that baby. I looked at his face and start to laugh. He looked back at me and laughed himself.

“What?”

I smiled. And sighed. And suddenly was blinking back tears. “Nothing. I love you.”

We looked at each other and started laughing again.

I’m pretty much the definition of over-sharer. I know, understatement of the year. But many of the moments involving T that crack me up, or teach me something, or drive me up the wall are starting to seem like his stories. He should get to choose to share them or not. He isn’t going to disappear from the blog altogether, but I’m going to do something very hard for me and try to have some actual discretion when it comes to him.

At the beginning of November I told T we would work towards me dropping him off at school in the morning rather than coming in with him to get him settled. His teacher said he was ready. He panicked.

We decided we would take the month to slowly get used to the big step and have him ready by December. December came and I was no closer to dropping him off. Even though it meant C was late to school every day. Even though T’s teacher said he was ready. Even though I knew deep down that T was ready. Because it turns out I was not ready. I like walking him into the building and having the opportunity to check in with his teacher. I like feeling involved with his school life. I don’t want to let my boy go. When I think of dropping him off outside…it is another 10 minutes of his day that I’ve lost. I feel left behind.

I feel left behind. And when I realized that it became very clear that it was time to make the drop off happen. I can’t keep him close because it hurts me too much to let him go. It would be a different story if he needed me for a while longer, but he doesn’t. I’m holding him back. My job is to let him go. It is the best job I’ll ever have. And the hardest. I cannot tie my happiness to him. It isn’t fair to either of us.

It might seem early to start worrying about letting him go, but if I don’t start now it will be impossible when he is grown. If the idea of letting the kid walk to the door of his school, without crossing a street, with me watching him the whole time is tearing my heart out how is going to feel when he is ready to go to college? I need to get used to him growing up and away and into himself. Because it will happen in a million tiny steps between now and when he is a man.

So we started the work on Tuesday. I told him he needed to get his stuff settled without me, but I’d stand nearby. It didn’t work. He told me he couldn’t do it and begged for help. We talked more about it Tuesday night. He did better on Wednesday. I thought we would struggle for a few more weeks, but this morning he was all “easy-peasy lemon squeezy”!

He didn’t struggle this morning. I did.

skinny jeans

I mean, look at him! He is an honest to god kid!

floris hoodie

Hamming it up in a hoodie I wore to kindergarten at Floris Elementary a million years ago.

inside the lego table

Brothers in the lego table. Not allowed anymore. Because it is now falling apart, probably because the boys were sitting it in….

Fun Run

Years ago a friend who was moving back to her small hometown from Brooklyn said to us, “I’m a city mouse or a country mouse, not a suburb mouse.” For some reason it really stuck with me.

The suburbs were where I was raised and my childhood was pretty great. But as an adult I’ve found I’m a city mouse. Period. In fact, since moving to Manhattan in 1998 I’ve only lived in cities – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Providence, Syracuse. When we moved to Syracuse Z wanted to live on a big piece of land with a barn in the middle of nowhere. I had visions of being snowbound with a newborn and no chance of making friends. I mean, it is hard enough for someone with an anxiety disorder and a side of agoraphobic tendencies to meet people without throwing a remote location into the mix. If there wasn’t a small business district I could walk to it would be all over for me.

Every place has its pro and cons, city living is no different. But Syracuse has been pretty ideal for our family. We have the privacy of a single family home with a lovely yard, there are close parks, a library just 2 blocks away, several restaurants and coffee shops nearby, hell there is a live music venue. And we are surrounded by friends. If Z and I sit on the porch after putting the boys to bed within a couple of minutes someone we know will walk by.

It’s idyllic (right, Jeff?), but not perfect. There is crime — folks in the neighborhood have had break ins and cars stolen. We have had several alarming run ins with drunk college students that made me feel pretty unsafe. We get tons of folks trying to sell stuff — religion, natural gas, politics, floor cleaners, knocking on our door. For the snowiest city in America the street plowing sucks compared to the ‘burbs. Alternate side of the street parking is a pain in the ass to begin with, ours bizarrely switches over at 6pm.

It’s not perfect. The bottom line is the pros heavily outweigh the cons. We love it here.

There is a University Neighborhood Preservation Association that arranged a neighborhood kids fun run at a local park this morning. They plan on doing it annually, this year was the maiden run. The small kids (mostly with parent accompaniment) did half a mile and older kids did a 3K. T has been making noises about going running with me, when I saw the email last week this seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

We got to the park in time to snag a t-shirt and number for T. He told me he didn’t want to run with me so I let him stand up front and moved back and to the side a bit. He took off like a bat out of hell. I caught up to him about a 10th of a mile in. And we ran together. He started to slow just as we reached the half way point but I told him it would be awesome to say he’d run a quarter of a mile so he kept on going. He did walk a few steps several times on the back quarter, but dude ran most of it. He even seemed to be trying to keep pace with a family a bit ahead of us. He ran across the finish line and got his medal. I was absolutely bursting with joy and pride.

We found Z and C and were chatting with friends when T turned to me, “Mom? I need to talk to the lady with the medals again!” “Oh, ok.” We set off to find her. I was a bit distracted and didn’t ask him why he needed to speak to her. I was assuming he was unhappy with the color of the ribbon that the medal was on.

He approached her and said, “Excuse me. Can I have a medal for my little brother?” All that joy and pride I felt when he finished a few minutes earlier? It was nothing compared to how I felt at that moment. I do not think I have ever been more proud of my son.

I explained to him that we only paid for him to race and we couldn’t take another medal. The lady fished around in her jacket pocket and pulled out a bag full of toy medals, probably from Party City. She said they got them for younger siblings and she handed one to C who had wandered over.

This morning was wonderful. It was the exact reason this whole exhausting, frustrating roller coaster of a ride called parenthood is worth it.

pre race

Pre race. All the kiddos got number 1.

http://web.stagram.com/p/723443296559264241_28315859

Race action! YouTube won’t upload my video and though I have been called a computer savant (lies) I can’t figure out to embed a video from instagram. Or why the video restarts weirdly at the end. Sorry to make seeing the video one more step. These dang computer boxes scare the hell out of me with their high falutin’ ways and their…what do ya call it? Technology.

post race

We facetimed with my folks while the boys were in the tub tonight. My father asked T how far the race was. “50 miles!” he shouted. I laughed so hard. It probably did feel like 50 miles to him.

Blue Baby

“He was scared when he met me.”

T and I were cuddled in his bed, preparing to read the wonderful Eric Carle book “Friends”. He was holding his blue baby. It was a present from me on his very first Christmas. It was the first stuffed toy to go in his crib. He has slept with it on and off since he was about 9 months old (I know, I know, nothing is supposed to be with babes until they are one). We are currently very much in an “on” phase.

He rather makes a meal of arranging the baby in his peanut home with both little hands sticking out just so. Anything to stretch the bedtime routine out for another 90 seconds. Then he tucks bear shirt around the baby. Bear shirt is his number one comfort, the item he simply cannot sleep without. It’s a red t-shirt I got in the third grade from my elementary school. Decades ago I put it on a big stuffed panda that was my mother’s when she was a girl. The panda was among the menagerie of stuffed animals placed on T’s first big boy bed. T slipped off the shirt and cuddles it every night.

Earlier today he watched me wrap another blue baby purchased for the newest baby in our life, a little boy who was born almost two weeks ago. “Stop!” he cried as I started to apply the first piece of tape. He thundered up the stairs and back down a moment later, blue baby in hand. He introduced the two babies to each other and gently lowered his down to the new one for a sweet little kiss. Then he told me I could continue wrapping.

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“He was scared when he met me.” T told me tonight.

“Really?” I replied, putting the book down and cuddling closer. “How did you make him not scared?”

He draped bear shirt over the baby. “I showed him bear shirt. And then he wasn’t afraid.”

“He loves you.”

“Yes. He sucks on my finger. That’s where he gets the milk.”

My eyes filled up with tears.

The near month long radio silence here on the blog was because life sort of took over. Nothing dramatic happened. There was just a shit-ton going on at the end of the semester. I had a paper due, a 25 pager that stretched to 27 plus endnotes plus a bibliography: The International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes: History, Attitudes, and Implementation in the United States. Just did my final presentation yesterday, emailed the paper in Tuesday night.

Breastfeeding has been on my mind for the last month. How to advocate for increased breastfeeding rates while respecting the right of all women to choose how to feed their babies. Educating does not equal pressuring. If a woman wants to formula feed she should be provided the support to do so. But many women who do want to nurse struggle. The institutional and societal road blocks that prevent women from nursing successfully while telling those same women that “breast is best” must be addressed. The fact that cultural knowledge of breastfeeding has eroded almost completely in our society must change. I knew nothing about nursing when T was born. It was overwhelming and terrifying and it certainly didn’t feel natural.

But T and C will have some cultural knowledge of breastfeeding. They know it is how I fed them. C might actually remember nursing as he gets older. They are surrounded by women in our social circle who casually breastfeed as we hang out. They know some boobs make milk. I’m hoping they remember it and are comfortable with it even after they discover boobs are delightful for other reasons.

So yes. Breastfeeding has been on my mind. And watching my little man mother his doll and explain how he provides milk for his baby? Well, damn. It made me perfectly happy.

freckles

Can you see the constellation of freckles scattered under his eye and reaching across his face? They are my current favorite part of him. I can’t resist covering them in kisses every time they catch my eye.

field trip

Best part of a field trip? For a 4 year old it is always the bus ride.

 

Empire Half

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I often need to sneak up on myself. Otherwise I wouldn’t take the plunge. Signing up for a half marathon was not on this morning’s agenda. One of the other Moms in C’s classroom at school is a runner. She’s relatively new to the sport, but she’s already done a marathon and a bunch of halves. A few weeks ago she suggested I do a half near Albany for my first try. Today I told her I was considering signing up for it. “Oh, that’s already full.” she told me. “You should sign up for the Empire State Half Marathon. It’s in Syracuse in October.” “Is it pretty flat?” I asked. I mean, let’s get real. I’m slow and 13.1 miles is going to be a mighty struggle for me. Hills and 13.1 miles would be an impossibility. She assured me there was only one big hill.

So I told myself not to think about it. I drove home on autopilot, pulled out my wallet, got on the website and signed up. I’m excited. I’m terrified. Thankfully October feels really far away.

When it comes to doing things that scare the living shit out of me I need to announce them as soon as I commit. That way I can’t talk myself out of whatever I’m doing without looking like a quitter. Shortly after writing a FB status update stating that October 19th is the day I do my first half marathon my wonderful friend A signed up as well. I’d been bugging her to visit this year, and now we are going to have an insane adventure together. Knowing she is going to be there makes the idea of the race less scary.

This past weekend my friend did her first 25K race. She has been a big inspiration for me when it comes to this whole running deal. The last time I saw her in person was less than I year ago and I told her I admired the hell out of her and simply couldn’t imagine ever doing what she did. A few weeks later I bought my first pair of running shoes and somehow made myself do it. A year ago I wouldn’t have believed I could get up on a Monday morning and jog more than three miles without stopping. It wouldn’t occur to me that a goal of 13.1 miles was a possibility. Somehow my friend’s support from a couple of hundred miles away has been a huge factor in helping me realize I can do this. She gleefully commented that she can’t wait for how much more I’m going to talk about poop when I start running longer distances. I responded that I didn’t think it was possible for me to talk about poop more than I already do.

A couple of hours later T and I had the following conversation. It might not be about running, but Kelly this one is for you:

The boys are on antibiotics. Which means the boys have diarrhea. In the middle of the day they get yogurt and applesauce doctored with probiotic powder, but even still the meds upset their bellies. Both of their parents have wicked IBS, they never had a chance in terms of tummy troubles.

This afternoon T was giving me a particularly satisfying hug when I asked him if he pooped at school today. He nodded his head. “Diarrhea or solid?” I asked. “Solid!” he gleefully replied. “Really?” He could hear the excitement in my voice. “Well….it was solid in the middle. Kind of liquid at the beginning and end. It was poop-arrhea.”

It is certain that poop-arrhea will become part of our family’s vocabulary. I mean, it is a magnificent word.

So brace yourself for more jogging talk. More poop talk. And please wish me luck!

C poops

Caught this guy behind the curtain. He hides when nature calls. I asked if he was pooping. “Noooooo!” he shouted. He was lying.

me and my boys

Me and my boys.

Wegman’s Mystery Solved

Do you guys have feelings about numbers? Even numbers feel safe and cuddly and warm to me. Odd numbers feel dangerous. Multiples of 12 are friendly. Prime numbers are lonely and sad. I wasn’t thrilled to be turning 37, not because I’m worried about getting older (hell of a lot better than the alternative!) but because the number makes me uncomfortable. Especially after the warm fuzzies of the soft and gentle number 36.

While I’m not crazy about the number 37, life as a 37 year old has started off splendidly. Z let me sleep in again. He made me coffee and brought it and presents up to the bedroom. The boys and I cuddled while we waited for him.

I couldn’t wait to open T’s present. What did he get at Wegmans? I was burning with curiosity.

birthday bumblebee

Bumblebee the Transformer.

T got me a Transformer! Because he knew that is what I, um I mean he, wanted more than anything else in the world. I cracked up as I opened it. And as soon as it was out of the packaging I passed it right over to him.

It was kind of confusing. Wegmans is not known for its Transformer section. I looked at Z. “It was all T’s idea. He wanted to get you a Transformer the whole time. But if we said we were going to Target he thought you’d know what the present was. So he suggested we tell you we were going to Wegmans to trick you.”

Dude is four years old. Can I be all annoyingly parent-proud and say that his sophisticated thought process was actually a hugely gratifying birthday present? Even if he will use that trickery for evil soon enough? I was so impressed I couldn’t stop grinning.

Z passed me his present. Which was an awesome scarf I picked out at a craft fair last weekend. I dramatically wrapped it around my neck and told him I loved it. He told me there was something else in the bag. Surprised, I peeked inside.

It was an iPad mini.

I started to cry. Z told me that he’d had some money squirreled away. Definitely not the most responsible course of action. But some days it is pretty fucking fantastic to feel spoiled rotten and loved really hard.

37

Z’s card. There are 37 growth rings on it. Lovely, right?

It was a perfect day. Our friend came over to watch our boys so we could go to dinner. The restaurant scene in Syracuse is pretty grim. There are some “fine dining” places, but I always leave seething with anger. I don’t mind paying for excellent food, but New York City prices for mediocre? That actually offends me. Z warily asked where I wanted to go a couple of days ago. He hates going out to eat with me in this town because he knows I’ll tear the meal apart and sulk on the drive home. Yup, I’m a real prize. Aren’t you sad I’m not your wife? I suggested Lemon Grass, a Syracuse institution, because I hadn’t been yet.

Best meal I’ve eaten in this town.

The steak was awesome, the bacon app was divine, but the desserts were where the fun was.

raspberry balloon

Red Balloon. It’s raspberry puree frozen with liquid nitrogen on top of an almond sponge cake and some lovely Creme Anglaise.

chocolate pyramid

Chocolate Pyramid. The pyramid was filled with chocolate mousse (ok, it was gritty, but the taste was good). The vanilla ice cream was made in house.

Again, it was a perfect day. Now I can’t wait for Z’s birthday in May. I hope I make his 41st as special as he made me 37th.

grandma's coat

For the first time I wore my Grandma’s old winter coat. My Mom has had it in her closet for decades and she gave it to me a few years ago. I loved it, but just didn’t have the balls to wear it. The best part about getting older? I care less and less what people think. Z pointed out that 25 year old me wouldn’t have been able to handle leaving the house is something so attention grabbing. Man, am I happy not to be 25 anymore. 37 in a fabulous coat feels a million times better.

Vignettes

We were on our way to Target to get T his reward for handling the pain of a flu shot. Yep, I bribe my kids in order to make a scary event more bearable. I’m not even going to apologize. Yes, I vaccinate my children. Because I believe in science and herd immunity and I’m really not going to apologize.

I let an old lady’s car in front of me as we inched towards the intersection and out of the business park. Old lady put on her left turn signal and I cursed inside my head. We were going to be stuck waiting for her to turn forever. Sure enough there wasn’t a break in the traffic for ages. Finally one came. She did not pull out. I was biting my tongue to hold in the string of expletives that were flashing through my head. Another break came. “Grandma! Come on!” I shouted. She went.

From the backseat T was furiously craning his neck to try to see the other driver. “Mom? Do you have two grandma’s?” Yup, little man thought my actual grandma was in the car in front of us.

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C was in the front of the shopping cart as I walked down an aisle at Target, concentrating on the task at hand rather than my children. He shouted, “Socks!” as he grabbed a pair from the hook. Might seem like nothing, but when you kid has a speech delay and only a dozen words at 26 months old it felt like the fucking most amazing thing that had happened in ages.

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The boys were nearly out of patience as I herded them into a dressing room with five bras in my fist. I got permission from the attendant for each boy to take something into the room to occupy themselves. Play doh for C and T’s little transformer figurine flue shot reward. I stripped down to my waist as I begged C not to scream and T to get out from under the bench. I stood there in an ill fitting leopard print bra, flesh spilling from the sides of the cups. I’m sure to make that extra flesh feel less lonely my muffin top poofed luxuriously from the top of my jeans. I started laughing hysterically. Leopard Print. LEOPARD PRINT! Fat spilling everywhere. Muffin top. What was I trying to do? I’ve never quite felt so much like a Mother in my entire life.

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We all were ready to go home, but we were 5 stores away from LL Bean. And T has started to tell his teacher that he didn’t bring a hat so he can wear the awesome one in the classroom. The one he deemed much cooler than his own. The one from LL Bean. I figured we could get him one of his own as he’s worn his current chapeau for two years. As we left LL Bean hat in hand we passed a Mom with two kids, each probably a year younger than my own. I was trying to wrangle C who was throwing the great tantrum of ’13 so I didn’t get a close look, but the very young toddler was in a stroller. “That little fella was excited to go to the store because he thought he was going to play with me!” T exclaimed. And suddenly I was laughing again.

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At some point we are going to have to face the music and potty train C. We’ve promised ourselves that we will put him on the toilet first thing in the morning, but we’ve been too lazy to actually do it. This morning I sat with him on the bathroom floor and gave him two choices-the little potty or the big potty. He wept and raged and shook his head and said, “uh-uh” which means no over and over. We sat quietly for a minute and he pointed at the big toilet, so I put him on. Nothing happened, but I told him he did a terrific job. T called me out of the bathroom. I shut the toilet lid and left. A moment later I returned to find C standing at the commode on tiptoes, lid and seat raised, desperately trying to hold his penis above the edge. Guess he’s been watching how Daddy and T do it. I held him off the ground so he could “aim” properly, laughing hysterically and telling him what a clever monkey he was. Looks like we are going to have to get a stool.

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Parenthood is frustrating and exhausting and just when you think you have figured out every way possible to screw it up you surprise yourself with creative new ways to make mistakes. Admittedly I bitch about it nonstop. But the small little moments above? They all happened in the last 18 hours. No matter how bad my days are there is always a counterpoint of hilarity and delight and wonder. You know what I’m talking about. The moments of silliness or absurdity or parental pride that might bore everyone else on the planet to tears. The moments that will either be a part of your family lore forever, or be forgotten the next day.  The moments that actually make it possible to slog through your day. They are the reasons I wouldn’t exchange my kids for a million mornings of sleeping in, or lazy weekends reading the Sunday Times cover to cover, or nights out at the bar with friends.

Ok.

Maybe I’d give them up for a million of those. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve read the Sunday Times? But surely not for a hundred thousand.

cream cheese mustache

His luxurious cream cheese mustache is rather fetching.

New Hat

New hat on this delightful creature.

Bedtime

T and I were still in the bathroom when I heard Z ask C to pick out three books at bedtime last night. That has always been my job. Bedtime with C has been a special routine for C and me ending with me nursing him every night. I was putting lotion on T as I listened to Z and C. I broke down crying. T stretched his arms out wide and collapse into me. “It’s ok! I’m sorry you’re sad!”

Of course I cried harder.

Z and I let ourselves be sad in front of the boys. We want them to think sadness is ok, that it is normal. We hope they are sad much less than they are happy, but we don’t want them to hide their sadness or be ashamed of it.

A couple of minutes later in T’s room I was getting ready to read his story. He hopped down from the bed and grabbed his blue baby and a small scrap of cloth laying on the nightstand. “I almost forgot to wash you!” he said to the baby. He gently swabbed baby’s face with the cloth. “There! Now you are clean. I love you!” And he kissed the baby’s mouth once, twice, three times and set him down.

My heart melted. I was sitting in a puddle of love and sentimentality. My big boy can be loving and gentle and kind.

He reached for the stuffed batman doll that was lounging next to blue baby. T grabbed batman’s arm and pointed it at me, “Pew pew pew pew!”

He was shooting at me.

I burst into laughter. Keeping up with the mood swings of a four year old is impossible. Yes, he is compassionate and tender and loving and happy…and frustrated and disappointed and aggressive and he tests limits. Often all at the same time. He cracks me up. I think I’m going to quite enjoy being a part of his bedtime routine. I’ve missed it.

Both boys went down for bed just fine last night. I was a much bigger wreck than C was. The real challenge will be putting him down for nap time today. This is going to be gut wrenching for a few days. And then it won’t be. Just like the pacifier situation. He don’t look for pacifiers any more, he don’t ask for them. He is a resilient kid who rolls with the punches.

Not to change the subject, but I’ve got a bit of a problem. I currently own one non-nursing bra. One. Last spring Z and I went through our clothes and did a salvation army run. I tried on my bras and only one fit, so I got rid of the others, not that there were many of them to begin with. I don’t have any tanks with the built-in bra other than nursing tanks. Wearing the nursing stuff is just going to make me sad. Also the tanks are falling apart. We are really broke right now, but I need to address this situation. That said I am rocking the real bra today. The proper support feels pretty darn nice I must say. So I guess there is an upside to this weaning business…

c good morning

C was dressed and eating a cereal bar by 6:01am this morning. Between 6 and when he went to school at 9 we kept him busy enough so he only asked to nurse twice. We even gave him his first haircut.

T rough morning

At 6:05am this guy was much less excited about facing the day.

first and second batch

First and second batch of kombucha! My gifted scoby is growing a lovely new scoby. Yesterday I drank a serving. Holy shit. It is amazing, if I do say so myself! Fizzy and vinegary goodness!