Epic Mom Fail

I get a kick (and take a weird pride) in the diversity of Elle’s closet. She’s a little girl, she’s well-supported (a nice way of saying spoiled) and she’s got lots and lots of clothes.

As you know, she also attends ‘school’ three days each week. I haven’t yet had to send her in a repeat outfit…which is sort of sick and wrong, but…lots of cute girl clothes out in the world, what can I say?!

Anyway, at school you take extra diapers, extra wipes, binkies and extra sets of clothes. Two to three sets of outfits for the I-just-shit-my-pants-at-school moment.

I try really hard to make sure that they are always well-stocked. As evidence, I’ll tell you about this morning… I dropped Elle off at school and I proactively ask the teacher, Miss Crystal, “Is Elle running low on diapers here?” and Miss Crystal says “Actually, I have a note that I was going to send home that we’re going to need more diapers soon.”

Ah ha! I’m on top of my game. I make a mental note (which got lost, for what it’s worth) to take a package of diapers with me when I pick Elle up. I’m ahead of the teacher’s note – I’m SO on my Mom game!

I sent Elle to school in a long-sleeve white t-shirt, blue polka dot “Daddy’s Sweetie” short sleeve onesie (featuring a cupcake) and pink pants (which actually doesn’t sound cute, but trust me).

I walk in to pick her up (without that package of diapers I was going to remember) and she’s in the bouncer (her favorite!). She is not, however, wearing the same outfit she was sent to school in.

And I realize, in horror, that I have not re-stocked the clothes options at school in, well, two months. Since Elle grew out of 0-3 and into 3-6 and is now on the verge of 6-12 month sizes.

Horror of horrors – my kid is wearing the only option that must have fit. Except I use the word ‘fit’ EXTREMELY loosely (or tightly, maybe?).

I took a picture to catalog this event.

Here’s Elle several months ago in the same outfit she came home from school in this afternoon:

Not the best angle, but you get that the general idea. Here’s what she looked like today in that SAME outfit, three months later…

You see how the pants have become shorts, the long sleeves have become short? Yes? Ok. Today we chalk up to Mom Fail. But at least I laughed at myself!!

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Sometimes, There are No Words

Seriously, there really are no words sometimes.

Andrea – my bestie whose Dad passed away two months ago – lost her 24-year old brother on Sunday.

Her same-age-as-my-brother brother.

Her grew-up-on-the-same-lake and -same-hometown as my brother brother.

Jeremy had stumbled into his own dark places and battled himself in a forest of drugs and alcohol and depression. And it caught up with him quickly. And it makes me so, so sad and so, so mad.

I don’t really want to write about it. So, I’m just going to write about all the things I’ve thought about and haven’t written about lately…just to get it all out of my head.

~~~~~~~~~

I spent the last two days in the Chicago-area for work and last night was the first night that Elle spent overnight without either Jon or I. She stayed with my Mom and Dad. I wasn’t worried or concerned in any way — but the preparation to get her ready to go was taxing.

I had to pack her bag with an outfit for school yesterday, an outfit for today, two extra outfits, two sets of pjs, enough diapers for two days, enough formula for two days, enough clean bottles to start with, 10 bibs, wipes, some creams for the ridiculous itching caused from the constant drool on her shirt. The stroller, the car seat base, the car seat. The medicine. Not to mention the itinerary for the week that I made and emailed to Jon, my Mom and Dad and his Mom. And the two day ‘overview’ that I typed up for my parents so they had a general idea of what to expect from Elle.

Before I could hop in the car and leave on Tuesday morning, I also had to make sure the garbage was emptied throughout the house (was only moderately successful – too time-strapped to check ALL of the bins) and out to the side of the road. I asked my brother to make sure that he brought the garbage can in from the roadside yesterday. Only, I arrived home to it in the ditch.

Sweet.

And due to the timing of it all, I wanted to get the memorial slideshow/video for Andrea’s brother done before I hit the road, which required my attention and I wanted it to be – well, right – because it’s the small thing I could do.

Anyway – in the meantime, there are dirty dishes EVERYWHERE in this house, I swear. There are bottles that need washing, the floor needs swept, there are random piles of dirty clothes in strategic locations in the house where I believe I will walk by and pick them up again and it will be less work. Unfortunately, this just creates multiple piles of dirty clothes throughout my house.

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Being a Mom all on your own is NOT easy friends. I mean, my parents and Jon’s parents are just down the road from us. I’ve got TONS of help. But there’s something different to it when you’re doing it solo. Turns out I don’t give Jon enough credit (do NOT tell him that) for being that extra set of hands. Granted, I now have the baby in bed, I have the car semi-unloaded from the trip and Elle’s overnight. But, I didn’t give her a bath tonight (and she’s got school tomorrow – what if her ears are dirty!!?) and I didn’t do up the entire routine. I was simply too tired. Maybe a different night.

~~~~~~~~~

I think I’m going to seek out someone to clean my house. Well, at least the floors and the bathrooms. I like having a clean house, I am having a hard time keeping up with ALL of the cleaning it requires and the laundry, and the yardening that I am trying to do. And Jon’s out of town and hopefully on the cusp of working LOTS of hours! So, I just know I can’t keep it up all on my own; so I’m going out in search of someone to clean my house. My intention is to find someone who will come once every few weeks and do the floors and bathrooms and then we’ll see if I need to increase the frequency or the amount of help I’m asking for. Not sure. But, I’m really REALLY glad that I’ve just made this executive decision.

~~~~~~~~~

I hate filing. I hate all the bills that you need to keep (why, again?) in files in some semblance of order. I seriously have a stack approximately two feet high right now, that needs filing. I keep putting ‘filing’ on my list of things to do. It’s the easiest one to procrastinate and in doing so, the pile just grows in size. I actually PAID a student worker at my first ‘real’ job out of college to file all my work stuff for me. Just show up, make that pile there go away, into the files in this cabinet, in the way I have it organized. I seriously would pay the cleaning person to do that, too, I think.

~~~~~~~~~

Tomorrow is the funeral. I was struck by the fact that I’m not inspired to say something, anything. Typically, I always have something in mind that, given the chance, I would say about the deceased. But this time, despite the fact I’ve known Jeremy forever, despite the fact that he was so incredibly young, I’ve got nothing. I’m just so sad and actually speechless about the whole thing.

~~~~~~~~~

Well, I have to stop sitting her complaining about my dirty filthy house and DO something about it and I’m going to try to take a shower, too. Wild and crazy Wednesday night!

 

 

I Think I Was A Bully

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to even write about this topic, to even put it out here, in my blogging space. But, from back in my sports media days — you talk when it’s good; you talk when it’s bad. So, here it is.

I think I was a bully.

Not in the overt way that one thinks of bullies, but in the more subtle, texturized, intentional way of a teenaged girl.

There was this girl in school. She was sort of weird, but not in any harmful sort of way. She was always one laugh behind, one snort too many when the rest of us at the ‘cool kids’ table thought something was funny. It wasn’t JUST me — we all thought this way about her. In our silent, nose-turned-up kind of way, we ganged up on her.

She’d grown up in our circle of friends, she ought to have moved around it effortlessly. But it seemed as though fitting in took tons of effort for her. It was never natural. Never easy.

It’s like those girls who sometimes grow too fast, they hunch their shoulders in, and suddenly, one day, they realize they are confident and fearless and capable, beautiful and they stand tall.

Except, this girl wasn’t like that. Her shoulders hunched in, as though she were insecure about every step, and she never stood tall, never seemed confident in who or what she was or was about to become. And in high school, that was all that was needed for ostracization.

We graduated from high school 14 years ago this June. We have all gone on to become adults — in one way or another. I knew that the girl had moved out of state, away from the hometown I’d returned to live in. I knew that she was a teacher. That was all I knew.

We weren’t the sort of friends who kept in touch, and she wasn’t on facebook, or at least our paths hadn’t crossed out in cyber space.

Maybe if they had…

I’m telling you folks, this girl got shaving creamed at every sleepover. And yet, she was at every sleepover. We gave her an awful, making-fun-of-her-behind-her-back nickname and she had the exact same hair style for as long as I’d ever known her (how that matters I’m not even sure). But, it was all part of the leaving her out, of keeping her at arms length, of ‘allowing’ her to hover around our circle of friends while never totally, unequivocally letting her in.

If you never had someone like this in your social circles, I applaud you and the rest of your circle of friends. You are better than me and mine. We were not the friends we ought to have been.

Wait, stop.

I was not the friend I ought to have been.

Leave the rest out of it. Perhaps I’ve included others in my memory to ease my own burden of guilt.

And why do I bear the burden so heavy right now?

Because just over a week ago, that girl-turned-woman took her own life, apparently after a bad run of luck and timing in the life she had built for herself.

So maybe if I’d been just a bit nicer…just a bit less judgmental. Maybe if I’d been less inclined to laugh when someone else made fun of her; less inclined to lead the charge or remind everyone else why it was (again) that we were making fun of her.

Do I think that I – or any of us – were the reason she made the choice to take her own life?

Absolutely not.

Do I believe that there was a way for me to have made her journey a bit smoother, a little less rough for the going?

Absolutely.

It haunts me, that the strongest stand she seemingly ever took for herself was at the end of her life. It haunts me that I couldn’t find common ground with someone who I KNEW needed a friend; with someone who I understood to be less comfortable in every social situation than I was.

I think I was a bully. By today’s definition, I very well may have been.

I’ve spoken with several of the women who moved in the same social circle back in high school, and while we have all navigated our way through losses, this one, of a mutual high school friend, of a girl who grew up across the street/down the road/in the same class is haunting us all. Mainly, we’ve seemingly agreed, because we all feel overwhelmingly like we could have done better by her and maybe – just MAYBE – things would be different today.

We knew that she was more fragile. We knew she needed us more than we probably needed her.

And yet, now that she’s gone; now that there’s no way to include her at the Christmas reunion or the 15 year class reunion or the girls weekend, there’s guilt. And a need for absolution.

Every word I have read or spoken of this woman since finding out about her death references a single common word: ‘kind’.

She was overwhelmingly, unfailingly kind.

She was – and will remain in my memory – smiling, kind and caring.

Someone I came across wanted to refer to her suicide as ‘such a waste’ and I loudly refused to allow that. I will not allow her to be bullied anymore, even though I never stood up for her before.

Not a waste.

Perhaps a crying, sorrowful shame.

But not a waste.

Never a waste.

I am better for having known her, for having had her in my life.

And I will attempt to teach and lead my own daughter — and the social circles she chooses to move within — how to be better than I was, than I still am.

 

And Out of Town It Is

Jon has to go out of town for work. After being laid off for the better part of five months (nearly six), Jon’s headed back to work this week. Friday, to be exact. Let’s not get me started on who starts a job on a Friday, but I’m so glad that he’s headed back.

But I’m so curious about what that means now.

Jon’s been laid off since Elle was born. They’ve gotten as much – maybe more – bonding time than she and I have. It’s been awesome to have that much help – for both of us – for the last five+ months. And now it’s all coming to an end.

It’s already begun, the ways its different. I mean, we have to be more detailed in how we’re planning our days, about when I’ll be home, about when he’ll be home. Up until now, day care has been an affordable luxury that exposes our girl to other people, kids and germs. Next week, it’s going to be the way we ensure she’s cared for since neither of us can do it.

I just love the way we’ve all gotten to hang out together, do nothing together. I like our routines. And now — well, who knows.

Jon’s going out of town – to South Haven, to work for a month at the nuclear plant there. Ugh. Not my idea of a good time, but the paycheck sure is! 🙂

I think we’re both a little bit intimidated about what this will mean for us. But, I’m certain we’ll be just fine. And I’m honestly a little bit glad that Jon might gain a bit of appreciation for how hard it is to leave her at home and go to work, because it’s what has to be done.

We’re both on the hunt for jobs that allow us to be home more consistently, but barring something falling into our laps, we’re both happy with what we’ve got going on for the time being.

But, that doesn’t mean I can’t be apprehensive (there’s the word I’ve been looking for!) about what that means for me, for Elle, for Jon, for all of us as a family.

Anyway, I’m not very motivated to write tonight, but I wanted to get this out.

Dear Elle: You’re Five Months Old

Can you believe it girly?! You’re five months old!

Once again, this evening letter is written to you from the relative uncomfortableness of a hotel bed but I’m in a better place when it comes to my work/life balance these days. I am so excited to write to you – I’ve been thinking about it for days, so I hope it turns out good.

I want to capture these moments, snapshotting them into my mind. The way that your fingers still curl around mine as you fall asleep — because you just like having something in your hands to fall asleep with (this means we’re headed toward an Elle-blankie relationship I think). The way that your smile – which is so INCREDIBLY awesome – falls open when I walk in the door from a night on the road, 30 minutes at the store, or picking you up from ‘school’. I thought of that smile this morning, driving to work, and how stinking cute it is. You’ve seriously got the best smile and I am trying to envision it with teeth filling in the gummy gaps — but not trying too hard. I don’t want to wish this time away. I just want more of your smile, your open-mouthed, drooly kisses.

You’re still in the 95th percentile for height and the 75th for weight — which I guess makes you big, but you’re still so small (even relatively compared to friends your same age). You are right on track with all the things that books say you should be doing – sitting up on your own (you fall over and think it’s pretty darn funny), flailing wildly on your belly, rolling over (from your back to your belly but not yet the other way around). You are starting to find interest in toys you weren’t interested in before, which is always entertaining. You still love Sophie, the ball with the huge holes in it and have a sudden and new-found appreciation for cheap plastic rattles. Ok.

You LOVE, L-O-V-E jumping. You jump at school, you jump at home, and today, for your five month birthday, your Grandma and Grandpa Mason got you the best jumpy that you evidently jumped in for an hour and a half at their house. Your Dad sent me a video of you jumping. And screaming. And jumping and screaming. That’s another thing you’ve picked up in recent days — screaming. That’s a learned-it-at-school trick, for sure.

The weather is unseasonably warm, and we’ve been spending quite a bit of time outside. We took your stroller (with you in it) for a walk over to Uncle Rick and Aunt Jen’s the other day and your Grandpa Scott came down and took you on his morning walk last week, too. You and I sat outside and you had some of your bottle while we sat on the patio watching your Dad do some yard work. I’m so looking forward to playing outside!

Now that it’s warmed up a bit, we’ve returned to spending time downstairs. In our house, the downstairs gets quite cold in the winter, so we spent most of our time upstairs after Thanksgiving. But now, we’ve returned to those old familiar spots and it is just so neat. It’s like a lifetime ago that I rocked you in that rocking chair downstairs, that we laid on the black leather couch cuddling you and getting to know you. And to think it was only five months ago! It really was weird returning to our downstairs living room, it made me reminisce about the memories we have already made that we grew away from just because the weather turned cold. It makes me glad I keep this blog, write these notes and take all the pictures that I do. They’re all clips of our lives together and I just can’t quite tell you how cool it is, knowing that I’m your Mom at the beginning and end of every day.

You’re not sleeping through the night these days – you were for awhile, but now you’ve stopped. I’m not entirely certain what’s changed. You still sleep pretty good, so I’m not complaining, but I have to say that when you sleep all through the night, it makes a difference.

Your Dad is heading back to work after a long stretch of being laid off this winter. I’m scared of the ways it may change our little family dynamic and of the ways it might impact the time I get with you and the time I spend at work. But I’m looking forward to him working, too. He’s pretty much been off work since the time you were born, so I think of him as incredibly lucky. The toughest part about going back to work, is that he will have to go out of town to work and we’re not yet sure what that means. That he will be gone for 5-6 nights straight is a certainty – it’s just a matter of how we’ll manage that all the way around. I asked him last night if he was at all worried about how he would handle being away from you like that and his man-answer was ‘No’ and when I asked him to look at me and say it, look in my eyes, he couldn’t do it. You’ve got him madly and hopelessly in love with you — and I LOVE watching the way you guys play and interact. Watching him as your Dad is almost the best gift you will ever give me, I think.

You still really enjoy laying on the floor and watching your ceiling fan. It’s going to totally rock your world when it’s warm enough that it’s on and spinning all the time.

You’re an awesome cuddler and prefer being cuddled to sleep rather than zonking out on your own. You still can’t fight the power of a swing, rocking, or the gentle humming I do against your cheek to put you to sleep. One of my favorite things is when you start humming on your own to soothe yourself, and I know it’s a trick I gave you.

You are digging eating – peas and green beans and carrots and squash and bananas and rice cereal and oatmeal cereal and Baby Mum Mums and frozen mango (in one of those netty snack things). You like doing things yourself, for sure, and I savor the time we sit at the kitchen table navigating our way through the fruits and veggie purees. And from there, it’s on to our cherished bath time. You still love it and we’ve got swimming classes just a few weeks on the horizon. And then, summer at the pool, at the lake, and sunglasses and swimsuits and bonnets and hats. Totally can’t wait.

You are the most intriguing person in my life, you hold so much mystery and you change and expose more and more of who you are each day. You are my girly and I love you. I just plain old love you. Simply and beautifully and in all the complicated ways, too. And the beautiful simplicity of this complicated love — it fills me up. You fill me up.

Love,

Mom

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

…did any of you learn that song back in Brownies?

I think it’s a good way to approach one’s life, don’t you?

Friendships come and go, I have learned this in my 31 years. Sometimes it’s because I wasn’t the kind of friend I ought to have been. Sometimes it’s because the friend I thought I’d found was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Sometimes, you lose a phone number and one of you isn’t on Facebook.

But old friends, they keep you strong. They toughen your resilience. They help you to remember that, no matter how far you may go or grow, who you were is and was important – whether to remember how far you’ve come or to reminisce and recall the corners of memory together.

My Mom and her friends – as I’ve written before – are really the model for being and maintaining friends. They are the reason that I make it important and make the effort to find my high school girlfriends each year – in the same time zone and at the same address for at least a 24 hour stretch. It’s why I call and leave phone messages for friends I’ve met along the way who, otherwise, I’d have to know about through their Facebook posts. It’s why I answer the phone when I may be rushing out the door – when it’s the number of an old friend who I miss.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to write about this for awhile now, but, well, life keeps creeping into the way.

My Mom and her bestie, Terri, became Grandma’s within four months of each other and Terri’s grandson, Holden, was born on my Mom’s birthday! I knew that they were excited to be Grandma’s together, but I didn’t know how excited.

This picture may explain it all:

Terri and my Mom, with Elle and Holden, giggling at one another saying over and over again ‘can you believe we’re Grandma’s together?!’. It was quite a remarkable sight, I must tell you.

Terri and my Mom got us together for a baby tea party Saturday at Terri’s house. It included chicken salad croissants and orange-blueberry bread of some sort, along with tea and water, of course.

My Mom’s friends Karen and Kathy round out the group that has known each other for – seemingly – forever. Karen became a Grandma in February, too!

Remember this photo, back when Elle was four days old and Drew was four months and Nolan was three weeks?

Welcome to the reality where Elle is the big one! Elle nearly 22 weeks old and Holden at four weeks and Emmie at five weeks!

The coolest part, for me, was to get together with Holden and Emmie’s MOM’S too. Not my best look ever, but at least we captured the moment, I suppose…

Anyway, I think it’s important to keep old friendships healthy but create new ones — for ourselves as women and mothers, and for our children so that they, too, have old friends one day.