allParenting, Mommy guilt, parenting, personal

The most wonderful time of the year

Does anyone remember the “Most Wonderful Time of the Year” Staples commercials from the mid 90’s? You know, the ones with the Christmas song playing in the background as the ridiculously happy parent gallivanted throughout the store buying school supplies?  Here, let me refresh your memory:

I remember watching these commercials as a young, 20-something woman thinking “Who does that? What kind of parent looks forward to spending less time with their children? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?”

Fast-forward to 2014 and here I am, sheepishly raising my hand. I am “that parent,” one of “those people,” counting down the days until summer is over and the little sanity I hold onto during the school year returns. 

This is the first summer I’ve felt this way. I remember last summer being hard — what with my husband deployed and all — but I don’t remember looking forward to the school year. In fact, I remember having a lovely summer with my boys.  I was a little sad Daddy wasn’t here to enjoy the fun times with us, and I was looking forward to heading to Europe to see him for two weeks in September, but I don’t recall desperately wishing to jump to August like I do now.

As if my guilt levels weren’t already sky-high, this is Jameson’s last summer before he starts school. Next month my littlest little will have his first day of his educational career, and for the first time since 2008 I will have time of my own.

Maybe that’s the difference.

Last year, the school year starting didn’t herald the beginning of a whole new chapter for us. It was just Benji returning to school while Mommy and Jameson went back to doing our thang. This year, everything changes.

In April, 2013, I started writing for allParenting. I still write for them; I’ve been writing a whole lot lately. And with it being summer — with both of my active boys home and needing to be entertained — finding the time to write has been hard. It has involved juggling a laptop over the head of a sleeping baby on my lap. Or staying up way past midnight and sacrificing sleep to meet deadlines. Or seeking out kid-friendly places with free wifi, and spending three hours on something that should take 45 minutes because of the non-stop flood of interruptions.

Please don’t think I’m complaining.

I’m thankful for my active, healthy kids and my work-from-home job and circumstances which allow me to be home all day. But I am looking forward to having the time to focus daily on the things I’ve been doing half-way for so long. I’m looking forward to organizing photos and cleaning (really cleaning) my home and returning to regular gym time. And I’m looking forward to writing during daylight hours, without feeling as though my children suffer when I do.

More than anything, I’m looking forward to missing my babies. I’m looking forward to looking forward to seeing them. To having the time to really appreciate these precious little miracles God entrusted me with.

I now retract my prior judgement of people just like me. I understand why those old Staples ads struck such a chord with parents. It isn’t that parents want to spend less time with their children, it’s that they want to have the mental clarity to enjoy every moment they are able to spend together.

(For good measure, here’s one more of those awesome commercials.)

 

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parenting, personal, religion

Marijuana grow houses and divine providence

I talk a lot in life about how His ways aren’t always our ways. How just because something doesn’t turn out the way you want doesn’t mean it isn’t turning out the way it should. That applies not only to the big things in life, but sometimes to the small things too…

This past weekend we took the boys skating at a roller rink. I am 38 years old and truthfully hadn’t been on roller skates in over 25 years prior to Sunday. I was doing fine until I decided to take a lap around the rink without the kids slowing me down… and promptly fell flat on my arse 1/5 of a lap later. It hurt. Bad. Thankfully my iPhone was in my back pocket to break the fall (sort of). Thanks for saving my phone, Lifeproof (::waves::).

I hopped up, brushed myself off and kept on skating. I was a little sore, but I had to put on a good show for my boys. We fall, we get right back up and we keep on going. About four hours later I could barely move. I’m talking immense, sharp, shooting pain anytime I even breathed deep. I iced my back all night and went to the chiropractor the next morning. My hip was out of alignment (related: I am getting old).

Two days later I was still hurting so I made an appointment for a massage. The massage ran late (very late) and consequently I was forty minutes behind picking up my oldest from school. Now before you start calling Child Protection Services on me, the school has a fantastic after-care program that he went directly to. In fact the after-care is so much fun, Benji often asks (begs) for me to let him stay late. So don’t you judge me.

As I turned onto the school’s street I passed one of the teachers leaving. I parked and looked over at the building across from the school. My son’s school is on a dead-end, across from a large open field. In the middle of the field is a two-story building with no windows and a large bay door. It’s surrounded by a locked fence, numerous “Keep Out” signs, and until recently a large dog. And the building was on fire.

Not fully engulfed with cool orange flames, no. No where near that exciting. In fact at first I was trying to figure out what exactly would cause steam to rise from a roof like that. Then my former-cop brain must have kicked in because I thought “Gee, that’s not steam it’s smoke. Holy Guacamole that building is on fire!”

I called 911. Six fire engines, three fire trucks, the district chief, a police lieutenant and two patrol deputies later and the fire was out. Come to find out the building was being used as a marijuana grown house. It is right across the street from where my son goes to school.

So, how does all of this tie into divine providence? Easy. I was at Benji’s school for about an hour between calling 911, waiting for the fire department, watching the rescue personnel work and waiting for them to take my information for their report. No other parents came for their children in that time – in fact no cars drove down that road at all. The teacher who left as I pulled up noticed nothing unusual.

Had I not fallen, I would not have been hurt. Had I not been hurt, I would not have needed a massage. Had I not needed a massage, I would have been on-time to pick up my son. Had I been on-time, I would not have seen the smoke. Realistically, no one would of for at least an extra hour. Who knows how massive the fire would have been by then? Who knows what dangerous equipment was in there that could have exploded. Who knows how high the neighbors would have been? Did I mention I live two blocks away? MY GOD, THE MUNCHIES!

Everything in life has purpose. All things happen according to a plan. Every little detail — even the annoying ones you think are inconsequential — are not meaningless to HIM. Our ways are not His ways, and His ways are always so much better. So really, me being a crappy skater and falling, and a derelict mom who was getting a massage while I was supposed to be picking my kid up from school was divine providence. Like how I spun that?

——————

On an aside, how ironic is it that the retired narcotics detective discovered a grow house on fire? Four years gone and I’m still making cases!

Here is a not-very-impressive, crappy iPhone photo of the fire.

Here is a not-very-impressive iPhone photo of the fire.

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allParenting, parenting, religion

Church cry room = parent time out

With summer ending, families will be getting back into their school-year schedule. For many, that means the return to weekly church. For some, especially those with small children, it can mean a weekly, hour-long sentence in the parent purgatory known as the Cry Room. I hate the Cry Room and refuse to take my kids in there — regardless of how many evil looks I may get when they are less than silent.

 

Read more here in my AllParenting.com article “Why I reject the church cry room”

 

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deployment, military, parenting, personal

The yellow shirt

They say the sense of smell is the most powerful of all senses when it comes to inducing memories. There’s science behind this belief. The olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, which is associated with memory and feeling. That’s why a smell can almost instantaneously “bring you back”.

It smelled like him.

The first time I did laundry after Jason left I was putting the clothes into the washer and was hit with a wave of emotion. It was the very first time I missed him so much it physically hurt. I’d caught a big whiff of him as the laundry went in and it almost brought me to my knees it was that powerful. I had already washed all of his clothes but one yellow shirt, so I pulled out that dirty, stinky shirt and put it in my bedroom. Since then that shirt has been my rock. On really bad days, days when I haven’t communicated with him in a while and I’m lonely and sad, I bury my head in that shirt and breathe. And just like that he’s with me, even for a moment. I went for comfort the other day and the scent was gone. Nothing. It just smells like shirt now. Any trace of him having ever worn it is gone.

It doesn’t smell like him anymore.

I literally cannot fathom the concept of never smelling him again. It would mean never seeing him again, never holding him again, and my brain can’t comprehend that. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder and I’m here to tell you it’s absolutely true.

It will smell like him again.

I’m seeing him in less than six weeks for nine days. I’m considering making him wear the same shirt the entire time, then bringing it home with me in a ziplock baggie, unwashed. Considering it. I probably won’t. But I will bring that yellow shirt with me and make him wear it at least twice. I need my rock for the second half.

Yellow Shirt

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parenting, Uncategorized

We welcome not only a Prince, but a mother as well

By now you’ve all seen the photos of Kate, Prince William, and HRH Yet-to-be-Named. You know, these:

Prince William and Kate Middleton

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For the love of God, she’s wearing wedges. She gave birth less then 24-hours ago and she’s wearing wedges. I will let that marinade for a bit.

News reports called her “radiant”, “glowing” and “stunning” — and rightfully so. I mean, look at her. I realize she probably had someone do her hair and put on her makeup, but still. Twenty-four hours after the birth of a child is no time to be considering how you look through a HD lens. Especially 24-hours after the birth of a first child. Forget the hormones and exhaustion and residual-pain-party-favors any birth gives you, what about the life-altering realization that you are now responsible for another human? I know my first day after my first son was way more of a mental mind-eff then my second. But I digress…

Hair? Obviously washed.
Make-up? Fresh and Flawless.
Outfit? Stylish. Flattering.
Oh, and did I mention wedges?

If I sound jealous, I am. Here is me, one day after the birth of my first son:

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I KID.

There are no pictures of me one day after his birth. I burned them all.

So let’s all take a moment to welcome the new little Prince, and to welcome the new Royal Mom as well. After all, two new beings entered our world yesterday — the childless Kate Middleton is gone for good and in her place is a new woman, a mother. One who, from the looks of things, is quite suited to motherhood.

And, here is your obligatory Royal Baby pic. He’s awfully cute.

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parenting

Nightly ritual

The following is (sadly) our current usual bedtime routine…

6:30pm – I’m gonna get these kids to sleep and get some s**t accomplished tonight!

7:00pm – Yes! One down, one to go.

7:30pm – Go to sleep Jameson, Mommy needs to get some stuff done tonight.

8:00pm – Go to sleep Jameson, Mommy really has a lot to do.

8:30pm – Go to effing sleep Jameson. Seriously.

9:30pm – FOR THE LOVE OF GOD CHILD, WHY WON’T YOU GO TO SLEEP?!? I’m going to go insane if you aren’t asleep soon.

9:45pm – I think he’s asleep, but now my motivation is completely gone.

10:00pm – Eff it. Ice cream and a movie it is.

Every. Single. Night.

How do you handle bedtime at your house?

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parenting

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Sometimes I get lost in the routine of being a full-time stay-home mom. Days tend to blur together when every day, while different, is the same. Get woken up by the kids. Feed the kids. Clean up after the kids. Entertain the kids. Run errands with the kids. Feed them again. Nap the kids. Feed them again. Clean up after the kids. Bathe the kids. Put the kids to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

How did this happen? How did I get to be so boring? Prior to having children I had some amazing adventures. Don’t believe me? Well, I once got chased into a bathroom by a 300 pound pig named Sony. That pig hated me, and once she had me cornered she spitefully laid down in the hall in front of the door so I couldn’t get out. This was before cell phones were surgically attached to people’s hips, so I just had to wait there for about two hours until my friend, Sony’s owner, came home. At least I was trapped in the bathroom, right?

Or, there was the time when I played a dead hooker on cable. TLC decided to film “Threads and Treads”, an episode of Forensic Files featuring convicted murderer James Randall. The Randall case had been investigated by members of my former employer, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Key physical evidence had been located by members of the (then) Forensic Science Section, where I was working at the time. I had the opportunity to play one of Randall’s victims, Wendy Evans. Now before you start thinking I’m some actor, I didn’t have any speaking roles. I actually played her as she was found at the crime scene. So, while it sounds glamourous, I basically laid face-down on the ground for several hours baking in the Florida heat. I was apparently a very  convincing dead prostitute though, as local news came out thinking I was part of a fresh crime scene.

Or, there was the time when I travelled to Russia with my cousin Michele. She was pursing her second international adoption, and was heading over to meet the baby who would soon become her daughter. On the way over my luggage was lost, so I spent my first three days in the country with essentially nothing until the bag was located (in India, somehow). I got altitude sickness and my lower extremities swelled so horribly I couldn’t even wear my shoes. It got so bad that I had to see a Russian doctor, who prescribed me Russian medicine, which apparently was a diuretic.  While there our schedule changed and we ended up taking a different flight home then initially scheduled. The flight I was supposed to be on was hijacked by Chechnyan Rebels, causing my friends back home to fear I was dead. And, during a two-day layover in Moscow I was stopped by Russian military as I jogged around the Kremlin. Apparently there isn’t a direct-translation word for “exercise” in Russian, which caused a bit of a delay…

I’ve gotten lost in Madrid with my friend Sandra and her son. I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane at 18,000 feet, strapped to the crotch of a man I’d just met. I’ve run a marathon over the hills of San Francisco.  And, twice in my life, I birthed two perfect little creatures without medication or medical intervention. I nourished them with my body alone each for eight solid months, providing them with every bit of nutrition they needed to thrive. And now, every day I help these little miracles learn about the world around them and grow into the amazing potential God has designed them for.

This mundane routine, this day-to-day living, is actually the greatest of all my adventures. It is the most important. It is the one upon which I will forever look back with pride.

Lather, rinse, repeat? Gladly.

What is your most memorable pre-parenting adventure?
Will you someday share it with your kids?

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