Our Fairy Tale

There are some bedtime stories that never go out of style. We tend to favor Pete the Cat and Green Eggs and Ham in our house. But unlike some other families, there is another fairy tale that I like to tell my boys sometimes. And it’s the story of how they came into our lives. It goes a little something like this:

Once upon a time, not too terribly long ago, a boy fell in love with a girl. They got married by the ocean, with their feet in the sand and a dream in their hearts. Because you see, not only did they want to spend their lives together, this boy and girl also wanted very much to become a Mommy and a Daddy.

But life had other plans for them (at first.) And so they dried their tears and wished on the biggest star in the sky every night for ten long years.

The time went by slowly, but they never stopped wishing for their perfect child.

Then, one hot summer day, the girl’s phone rang. And on the other end was another mommy, from a land not so far away. This Mommy knew she was going to have a perfect child, and she wanted that child to have the perfect parents who would love him, care for him, and provide for him a perfect life she so wanted him to have. And with a star whispering in her ear, she had chosen them!

So the boy and girl rejoiced, and they planned and they celebrated and soon, they packed their bags. And in the heat of a late July afternoon, they drove and drove and drove, anxious to meet their perfect child.

When they arrived at the hospital, with their hearts in their hands, they found him sleeping under a warming light, all pink and tiny and new, a blue cap on his head. The boy beamed with pride; the girl wept with gratitude. They swept the baby up into their arms, showered him with kisses, and whispered words of love into the tiny cup of his ear. Because finally, finally, their wishes had come true.

And they all lived happily ever after, never knowing their family wasn’t complete…yet.

Fast forward just 20 short months, four days before Christmas. Mommy and Baby played happily, waiting for Daddy to come home from work, when suddenly, her phone rang. Another baby was coming, another star granting its wish, and Baby was going to be a Big Brother! Oh, how they danced and cried and laughed! This new little one was their favorite Christmas surprise.

Three months later, Mommy and Daddy kissed Big Brother goodbye, packed their bags again, and drove and drove and drove, anxious to meet their second perfect child.

In the dead of night, with frost on the windows, their second wish came true. He was round of cheek, with eyes wide and dark, and he came into the world with a mighty yell. And once the chaos subsided, Mommy and Daddy and Baby were whisked away into a private room. They held him close, and kissed his head, and whispered words of love into the tiny cup of his ear. Because finally, finally, their family was complete.

The moral of this story, sweet boys, is threefold. One: never, ever give up on your dreams, because there is always a hidden star just waiting to make them to come true. Two: never, ever forget that you were loved, wished, and dreamed into existence. And three: never, ever lose faith in the generosity and kindness of other people, because it is there, even if you can’t see it, always.

And as tales usually go, they are living happily ever after, a Family of Four.

The End

Butterbean

We’ve had a bit of a rocky start, haven’t we, Baby Boy?

Sometimes it was my rigidity, my inability to stretch myself enough to include you in our “pre-baby” lives. We had a hard time finding a rhythm because of that inflexibility, and I’m sorry for that. I was robotic: make the bottle, change the diaper, wipe the spit-up, just trying to stay afloat.

Sometimes it was my anxieties that kept us adrift from each other, stomping down on my throat, making it impossible to breathe. That’s no fault of yours, Butterbean, but it’s crippled me, nonetheless. The sleepless nights, the constant worry, the uncontrollable emotions have all affected how I’ve been parenting, and I’m sorry for that. But I’ve been trying, everyday, to be better.

Sometimes it was the three-month battle with your severe reflux and colic that drove the wedge. No matter how much I rocked, and walked, and patted, and soothed, I could not make you happy, sweet boy. And in every waking moment, I felt like I was failing you.

But here’s the awesome part, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but at some point, I fell head over heels in love with you. Maybe it was the first time you genuinely smiled at me…

Or maybe it was watching your big brother taking the time out of his busy life (practicing his Acrobat-Baseball Star-Pop Singer-Hair Stylist), to dote on you…

Or maybe it was watching you react to the world around you for the first time: reveling in the texture of your fingernails against my skin, blinking into the bright sunlight, singing along with my lullabies…

…but somehow, you wriggled your way deep into my heart. You are a treasure, Butterbean. You make me laugh every single day. And even though we sometimes still have our bad days, I keep reminding myself that everyone does. I can finally see what our future looks like, the four of us, together. I can see your personality beginning to peek through: all giggles paired with seriousness. You’ll be my quiet child, my contemplative child, the one who thinks long and hard before he leaps. But leap, you will, with your big brother in the lead. (I see the way you look at him. I get it, Butterbean, I adore him, too.)

I know we’re getting started a little late. I know the last three months have been hard, for all of us. But let me say to you, sweet boy, that I can’t wait to get to know you, now that we can clearly see each other without the fog of post-adoption depression in our way. Mommy loves you, Butterbean. Always.

Sons Of My Heart

My sons. My life. My heartbeat.

Where there was one, now there are two. One of you is all sunshine and light, silliness and laughter. The other is all seriousness, storms raging just beneath the surface, ready to erupt with a moment’s notice. So different. Night and day. But brothers, nonetheless.

Your similarities are visible: button nose, sweetest smiles, golden-haired and eyes of blue. There is no denying you are related.

My Gorgeous Boy and my Little Butterbean. You own my heart.

Life has been a bit chaotic since bringing Butterbean home. His start in life wasn’t the easiest, and we’ve struggled with a gamot of health issues. But finally, finally, we seem to be finding balance.

Sweet boy. Your cries peal through an otherwise quiet afternoon, and as I bounce and rock and pat your back, bringing you no relief from this thing they call “colic,” I wonder if you know how hard we try. To soothe, to calm. To love you through it. We hear you, baby boy. We hear your pain and discomfort. Your Daddy and I feel it in our own souls each time you cry.

Even your Big Brother does his part, by bringing me dropped pacifiers, or a swaddle blanket left forgotten on the floor. He pats your back and strokes your head and asks for a “fist bump,” all to make you smile.

And oh, when you smile…

… it’s as if the clouds part and the most vibrant rainbow pours through. 

You love the feel of sunshine and the breeze on your face. You love to bounce and walk, to take in the world around you (even though you only see in colors and shapes and shadows, just now.) You hold your head up like a champ, dark blue eyes soaking it all in, a look of deep concentration on your face. You’ll be a great scholar, one day. All that deep thought will be put to good use, to better this world we all live in.

You require constant reassurance — and honestly, Butterbean, so do I — that your world is ok, that you are safe and warm and loved, that you haven’t been forgotten. You like to be tucked just under my chin, your arms folded beneath you as a pillow, and when you finally nestle in and relax, you get your best rest there, laying next to my heart.

It’s where you’ve always been, even before I knew you existed. 

My family. My boys.

“Clann mo chroì.”

Sons of my heart.

Goodbye 2016, Hello Brand New World of Awesome!

I vaguely remember the days when New Years Eve meant getting dressed up, going to some fantastic party, drinking cheap champagne, and toasting in a shiny new year, all of it pinned on the hopes of that all-important kiss at midnight. It wasn’t a right of passage, or a possible plan for the night, it was a MUST ACCOMPLISH THIS TASK BECAUSE IF I DON’T HOW LAME AM I AND IF SOMEONE DOESN’T KISS ME MY NEW YEAR WILL SUCK HUGELY sort of thing.

Oh, how the times have changed.

Tonight, instead of sparkly dresses and two hours worth of hair-and-make-up, I’m sporting my favorite piggy pajama pants and Brian’s socks.

Tonight, instead of drinking cheap champagne out of plastic toasting glasses and watching people I don’t care about making nice, I’m drinking a perfectly chilled hard cider and watching college football, because that’s how THIS mama rolls.

Tonight, instead of attending a fantastic party, I’m doing twelve loads of laundry, while a homemade delicious dinner bubbles away in the oven.

The Pioneer Woman’s Scalloped Potatoes and Ham. It’s what’s for dinner, y’all.

And the best news of all? That midnight kiss is guaranteed. (I just might have to wake him up first.) (Because we have a toddler.) (And sleep is a precious commodity around here that we trade like black market LuLaRoe.)

A lot of people would tell you that 2016 was the worst year in recent memory. With political disappointments, deaths of too many beloved celebrities to count, along with personal hardships and catastrophe, most of the people I hold near and dear are not sorry to see 2016 go.

Me? Well, I’ll probably cry every time I see Alan Rickman’s face from here until I die, and I still haven’t ruled out the possibility of becoming Canadian. But all in all, 2016 was pretty amazing to me and mine. I finally realized a dream and quit my job to become a stay-at-home Mom. I’ve spent my days raising an adorable and outgoing toddler. And we are living in a little house that makes me squee every time I pull into the driveway.

And if all those things aren’t amazing enough, four days before Christmas we got news that we didn’t even know we were waiting for. The sort of news that, when you hear it, steals your breath, makes your heart skip a beat, and changes your life in a nanosecond.

When you find out unexpectedly, wonderfully, terrifyingly, amazingly, miraculously, that your family is going to be growing by another heartbeat….well, it makes 2017 even more exciting.

So, Happy New Year, friends! And bring on the crazy!!

What’s Crackin’, Friends?

Here I am, That Gabbiest of Abbys, back on the interwebs again, just in time for Christmas. (Santa tipped me off that you guys were begging for new blogs from me. So, here ya go, nine days early. You’re welcome.)

As in years past, any time I’ve taken a sabbatical from my blog, there’s been a good reason. And this time is no different. Since last we met, I went and quit my job, packed our stuff, and moved clear across town! Oh Happy Day!

It’s kind of a long story. The gist of it is this: toddlers require a lot of attention. And because I was working from home before, my attention was divided. And Mama didn’t like that. So after much debate, we decided it was time to make a change. And here we are, in our very own home, with a fenced in yard and a fireplace and a happy little neighborhood.

Seriously. If you look up “Happy” in the dictionary, this is what you’ll find:

Being a stay-at-home mom wasn’t something I thought would be in the cards for me. As a child, I always envisioned myself as a working mom, home in the afternoons dressed in my pantsuit with a smart briefcase, being welcomed by my children at the door. (In these MASH-inspired dreams, I drove Mazda Miata and lived in a 2-story Colonial and was married to Zach Morris.) (MASH the game, not MASH the television show.)

As it turns out, it fits me to a tee, this full-time Mommy thing. I love being wholly available to our son, with no work distractions. I love living with the freedom being at home offers, and all the moments I get to share with him. Is it challenging sometimes? Sure. But it’s 100% rewarding.

I also love house-living. This is my first time in an honest-to-goodness house since pre-college. I hadn’t realized how weary I was of apartment living until I had so much space, and a yard. The responsibility isn’t lost on me…there’s more housework and, since we have a yard, yard work that we’ve never dealt with before. But I’m taking leaves, dusting baseboards, and vacuuming 7 rooms like :

via GIPHY
There might even be whistling involved.

It’s a wonderful life for us in these past couple of months, and as we settle in to celebrate the holiday in our new home, I can’t help but be grateful for the journey that brought us here. A lot of that journey was shared on the pages of this blog, and I felt compelled to share with my readers (however few of you there are left) a little slice of our happiness. My Christmas wish for all of us this year is that we can find peace, happiness, and calm in 2017.

And if you’re a parent to a toddler, may I suiggest a play-yard to keep your holiday peaceful, happy, and calm? It’s working over here.

Merry All-The-Things to one and all!

365 Days (Sixth Anniversary)

I kept looking at the date on my calendar today. October 25. Is it someone’s birthday? I thought to myself. I knew our son’s month-a-versary was the 9th, his adoption anniversary on the 16th, but it was the 25th that was nagging at me. Had I forgotten a birthday? An anniversary?

That’s when it hit me. It’s not just another Tuesday. It’s the sixth anniversary of Brian’s life-saving surgery. The surgery that removed the Nerf-football-sized tumor out of his belly, and the “C” word out of our lives. The anniversary of the day a team of surgeons saved my husband’s life.

I can’t believe I forgot.

I immediately sit on his lap, showering his stubbly cheek in kisses, whispering in his ear how grateful I am that he’s here. My son giggles at our sudden show of affection, and signs “Up,” wanting to join the snuggles. We wrap our arms around him and he lays his head on Brian’s chest, smiling.

If it weren’t for that day six years ago, we wouldn’t have had that moment today.

So even though most of my readers have seen this post multiple times, and even though you probably won’t want to read it again, I’m sticking with tradition and posting it anyway. Because I never want to forget where we could have been, if this story had gone another way.

It was October 25, 2010………
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The alarm clock blares into the darkness. It is 4:15 a.m. We wake in the same position in which we fell asleep: flat on our backs, staring at the ceiling, our hands still clutched together between us. It brought enough comfort in the night to allow us to sleep, even for a few short hours.

My husband gets up without a word. The shower and the antimicrobial surgical soap are waiting.

I make the bed, wake his Aunt Tina, and start the coffee maker. I debate for 5 solid minutes over whether I should lay out his clothes for him. I decide to do it. This isn’t a normal day, so why should I act like it is?

Dressed and completely awake, we decide to get an early start to the hospital. The interstate is deserted. I’m unused to driving in the dark, and the empty highway startles me. Our headlights slice through the pitch black, and only road signs greet us along our asphalt path. For twenty minutes, we are silent. The radio plays quietly in the background. Tina asks me a question, I answer it. Brian sits in the seat next to me, hands folded in his lap. He tries to appear calm, but I can see the nerves dancing under his skin.

As we pull into the parking lot the sky just begins to turn pink. Morning has officially arrived. We gather our belongings–bags and afghans and books and sweaters. Changes of clothing. Warm socks. We trek to the sliding glass doors, a small caravan of modern day nomads.

The fluorescent lights are much too bright. I feel like I want sunglasses. Tina takes our stuff and makes a beeline for the waiting room “to get us comfy seats near the coffee maker.” I smile. Brian and I head the other direction. I stare at the dark blue veins under the skin of his hand as he signs his name and hands over his driver’s license. I rub my fingers down his back, feeling every bone in his spine. He smiles weakly.

We sit. We wait. It feels like days, but it’s only minutes. He plays Angry Birds. Tina and I make small talk. I want to stand up, pace, fidget. Finally, they call his name, and we walk back to finish the paperwork. I could let him go alone, but I can’t abide it. So I squeeze in to the little cubicle with him. I listen as he answers the same 25 questions he’s been asked so frequently these last few weeks. He jokes with the nurse who taps away on the keys of her computer. We sign where we’re told to sign.

They send us to another office. Here we go over how the surgery will happen. What the doctors will do. What we can expect. This nurse has less information for us than she likes. She keeps looking as his file, glancing at her computer monitor, swishing her mouse in search of more facts.

“Did the surgeons tell you what recovery was going to be like?” she asks gently.

No. We don’t know what to expect because they won’t know how bad it is, and they won’t until they open up my husband’s abdomen.

She nods once, plasters a smile on her face, and continues to walk us through the surgery plans she’s aware of.

At this point we are separated. They take him back to prep him. I can’t go. It’s the first time we’ve been separated since the cytoscopy. I feel the panic start to creep up and I stamp it down quickly. No time for that now. He kisses me, squeezes my hand, and disappears through the thick wooden doors.

Thirty five minutes later my parents arrive. Dad hugs me, Mom squeezes my arm. I tell them all that has happened. They ask if they will get to see him before the surgeons take him to the OR. I say yes, we should get to go back any minute. Moments later they come for me. We pick up our bags and afghans and books and sweaters and head to his room.

Brian lays on the gurney in his blue cotton gown. It looks so thin, I immediately want to ask for a blanket. He has a shower cap on his head, and blue booties on his feet. He’s already got an IV in each arm. His skin looks grey in the too-bright lights.

Mom goes over to him immediately and smooths back his hair. “How ya feelin’, kiddo?” she asks. She’s been so strong throughout this whole ordeal. My heart swells. Dad and Tina talk about everything but why we’re here. The C-word hasn’t been used once today. We’re denying its existence even as we are trying to eradicate it from my husband’s body.

One of Brian’s surgeons knocks and comes into the room. He is young and handsome and calm and kind. Brian and I share a secret smile–he’s known in our house as Dr. Superman. I can feel Brian’s nerves begin to settle as Dr. Superman walks us once again through the procedure. He reaches out a hand to me when he mentions how unsure they are of the outcome. “We won’t know how much the tumor has spread until we’re able to get a good look at it. It could be attached to his colon. It could be on his bladder. If it has infiltrated the wall of his bladder we will have to remove it. I don’t think that will happen, but you need to be prepared for that.” He gives my hand a squeeze. My heart is in my throat.

The activity in the room increases. There’s no room for us in there anymore as nurses and doctors hover over my husband. We’re allowed to kiss him goodbye. I lean over him and we lock eyes. A tear escapes even as I swallow a sob. “I love you to the moon and back,” we say. And we’re ushered back to the waiting room.

I can’t stand it. I can’t sit there and wait. So I leave Tina and my parents and I head to the financial aid office. I spend an hour asking questions, filling out paperwork, discussing our options with a social worker. I get a sense of calm knowing I’ve accomplished something. When there’s nothing left to do I go back to the waiting room.

I keep waiting for the phone at the nurse’s station to ring. It doesn’t. Why aren’t they calling? Shouldn’t they call for an update? It’s been nearly 2 hours and I’m beginning to worry. I’m contemplating getting up and asking the volunteer about it as Dr. Superman rounds the corner in his scrubs. He looks grim. My heart begins pounding so loudly I can’t hear anything else. He asks to speak to us in a private room. Episodes of ER and Grey’s Anatomy flash into my mind. The private rooms are bad. They only take you to the private rooms for bad news. My knees buckle. Someone steers me by the arm.

Dr. Superman turns the knob on the private room’s door and it is locked. “Well, I don’t have a key,” he says. “And I don’t want to keep you in the dark anymore. The surgery was a success. We got the entire tumor.”

I don’t realize I’m holding my breath until it all comes out at once. The tears that have been living behind my eyes for 3 weeks come out in a flood. My Dad is smiling, my Mom is crying, and Tina has a look of relief on her face I didn’t anticipate. She never looked worried for a second before this moment. Now I realize she’s been holding me up for days.

I hear only bits of everything else Dr. Superman says. The tumor was larger than they expected. His surgical scar will be about 10 inches long. The tumor was the size of a Nerf football and was only attached by a fiber to his colon.  Brian is going to be fine. He won’t even have to endure chemotherapy. Dr. Superman gathers me into a hug and his reputation as a superhero is solidified.

We flutter back into the waiting room like so many birds. We are light on our feet, there’s a song in our hearts. We each grab for a cell phone and begin the process of spreading the good news. I call Brian’s Dad first. Then my brother. Then Brian’s boss. I email and Facebook and text message. I could literally dance a jig in the middle of the hospital.

We’re told Brian is on his way from recovery to his room on the top floor. We grab our bags and afghans and books and sweaters and head for the elevator. We beat him up there. We stand in the hallway, afraid to occupy a room this isn’t rightfully ours yet. The nurses see our posse and begin rounding up chairs. It’s a private room, and we’re all impressed that Brian will be treated like a VIP while in house.

I hear the elevator doors open and a gurney coming down the hall. There is my husband, back in his blue cotton gown. The booties and shower cap are gone. They maneuver the bed into the room, plug in all his equipment, and retreat. I dash to his bedside, lean over him and say his name. I’m desperate to touch him, to connect with him, but there are so many wires.

Groggily, his eyelids open and I all see is ocean blue. He takes a moment to focus on me, and smiles weakly. “How’d I do?” he asks.

I run my fingers carefully through his hair, down his face, and smile at him, wanting him to see nothing but joy and excitement and exhilaration in my face. “They got it, baby. They got it all. You’re gonna be just fine.”

“That’s good,” he says, and drifts back to sleep.

My family talks quietly in the background. I watch my husband sleeping, and I allow myself to take in everything I see. I wrap my fingers around his bony wrist, stare at his chest as it rises and falls, wait for the pulse I can see in the vein of his neck. I’m no fool. I know recovery is going to be long and difficult. I know he’s going to wake up when the drugs wear off and he’s going to be in tremendous pain. I know we’re going to be living at this hospital for a week, maybe more.

But nothing could tramp down the feeling of good fortune in my heart. Brian was going to live.

It’s October 25, 2010.

Brian and his balloon

I Miss Sleep

I’ve been awake since 4:45 a.m.

Not because I set my alarm to witness some fantastic cosmic phenomenon. Or because I was so excited about Tuesday that I sprang from my bed like a six-year-old on Christmas morning. Or even because I was so well-rested that my body decided that 4:45 seemed like a great time to wake up for the day.

Nay, friends. I’ve been awake since 4:45 because the Adorable Toddler thought it was time to drink precisely 2.7 ounces of milk and watch strange people open toys on YouTube. (Seriously, you guys. He watches this video on LOOP.)

I am what they call a “mombie.”

Forget about brains. I need a pumpkin spice latte, stat.

See, here’s the problem. We co-sleep. Now, before you go throwing your “How To Raise Your Child The Right Way” books at my face, I will staunchly stand up for my right to co-sleep with my child. At least, I will do so as long as it is safe and working for our family. And I’m starting to think it isn’t. You see, when he was teeny tiny, all he wanted was a snuggle buddy. A hand in my hair, the warmth of my body, and he would sleep happily through the night. However, lately, we’ve been experiencing 3 specific occurrences with our once-snuggly kid. Let me break it down for you like this:

#1: The Triple Lutz

This is when the Adorable Toddler, who is sleeping soundly, decides to corkscrew himself from one side of the bed to the other, taking covers, Mommy’s hair, and whatever else he can manage with him.

#2: The “Slap You Silly”

Bear in mind that this occurs while he is in a full, deep sleep. An errant elbow while he’s turning over, a hand in the face when he’s reaching for a handful of my hair, a swift kick to the throat when he begins to execute #1. I’m happy to report that there hasn’t been bloodshed….yet.

And finally, my favorite:

#3: The “Pull Your Hair, Pinch Your Nose, Pluck Your Ear” Phenomenon

Again, this happens completely in his sleep. He has no idea that his finger is up my nose or that his foot is on my forehead until I gently move him back to a more comfortable space for me. At this point, he wakes up with a wounded look on his face because I deigned to interrupt his slumber.

 

And so, with co-sleeping no longer being the most restful method in our home any more, methinks it may be time to transfer the Adorable Toddler to his own very comfortable, very expensive bed. I no longer sleep as much as I defend myself from the oncoming onslaught of limbs. In fact, I’m nursing a pulled hamstring. From co-sleeping. That’s, like, a serious athletic injury. However, no matter how long it takes me to limp through my day, something tells me that Moms don’t get to go on the IR list. Looks like I’ll have to do my stretches, fill my own water bottle with electrolytes, and figure out how to better protect myself from injury.

Maybe I should invest in a mouth guard.

Mombie, out.

The Irrational Mourning of Saying Goodbye to Baby Things

There comes a time in every mother’s life when the time finally comes to let go of all the baby things. Those things that you shopped for and coveted; the pretty baby patterns and fabrics, the equipment you knew you’d need to have for your little peanut. The swings and playpens and carriers and bottle steamers.  The tiny shoes and baby rattles and feetie pajamas that can never be worn again.

Usually, when it comes to purging our tiny home of things we no longer need, I’m a boss. Haven’t worn it in three months? Donate. Has more dust on it than a dust bunny? Donate. Holey underwear, mismatched socks, shirt that hasn’t fit since college? Toss, toss, toss.


But this? Boxing up to donate or sell baby stuff? Quite frankly, friends, it sucks.

Let me give you a for instance. When we brought our little superhero home, I knew it would become important for me to carry him, especially since I work from home. I shopped baby carriers online till my fingers bled, and the one I coveted the most? A Tula, in a print that was so nerdy, it was delicious. I spent nights looking at the glossy pictures online, whispering sweet nothings to its image until I could finally convince my husband that it was worth it to spend $150 on something we could have gotten for much cheaper elsewhere.

But it had to be that Tula. That perfect, nerdy, comic-booky Tula. It was that one, or nothing. I wanted it. I needed it. I had to have it. My precious.

Reusing past graphics from my blog, and quickly updating them in Photoshop to be relevant to new posts, should be considered a superpower (in my humble opinion.)

Reusing past graphics from my blog, and quickly updating them in Photoshop to be relevant to new posts, should be considered a superpower (in my humble opinion.)

And finally, I got that which I had longed for. It was perfect. I loaded my little squish into his carrier and we would while away the mornings, folding laundry, answering phone calls, drinking coffee, and snuggling. It. Was. Perfection. It was great for shopping, it was great for calming him down before naptime, it was great for outdoor excursions….

Photo credit to my gorgeous and talented best friend, Jenna, for capturing this moment forever on film and making me weep every time I see it.

Photo credit to my gorgeous and talented best friend, Jenna, for capturing this moment forever on film and making me weep every time I see it.

It was so great.

As time has passed, The Tula (as it is known in our house) was brought out less and less. Occasional naps, infrequent trips through Target, once or twice to get through a particularly busy morning. But his desire to be held close eventually became replaced with his innate need to be in constant motion. Running. Playing. Exploring. As it should be.

And so, the time has come. Today is the day that I must part with my Tula, and all the snuggly memories that go along with it. It makes sense to part ways with it now—it’s been sitting on a shelf in his nursery for about 4 months. Logically I realize that trying to get him to go up in the carrier is kinda like trying to put an octopus into a bathing suit—not easy, super-frustrating, and likely to cause black eyes (mine, not his.)

Resigned, I take it down from its place of reverence, run my finger along the fabric, and tell myself it’s time for another Mommy to feel that same satisfaction of carrying her baby close to her heart. Time to share the wealth, to pass it down to a new little one, to move on. I lift The Tula to my nose, in a moment of weakness, hoping to catch a lingering scent of newborn there in the folds of fabric…and the realization hits me. My baby isn’t such a baby anymore.

Screw it. Who needs extra space, anyway?

Date Night…Again

Yesterday, after a previous engagement I was looking forward to was canceled, my husband asked me on a date. He even went so far as to line up a baby sitter for the evening first, to make sure we would be able to go.

(This is where we cue a chorus of “Awwww” and this face:)

Awwww, shucks, ain’t he sweet??

Date night is always something to look forward to; am I right, ladies? But when you’re parents, and your daily schedules revolve around things like picking Cheerio dust out of the carpet and changing dirty diapers that smell like rotten cauliflower, the idea of a night out sounds like a straight-up vacation. And if there’s some kind of chocolate dessert involved, that vacation just got promoted from a weekend at a bed and breakfast to a week in Maui.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, my mood went from blue to “woo hoo” in the ten seconds it took me to say yes! Then I asked him the ultimate pre-date night question.

“Got anything special planned?”

And as usual, got the same response that I’ve gotten on every date night in the last 13 months. “Dinner and a movie?”

Insert pouty face here.

See, here’s the thing. We are creatures of habit. We frequent the same handful of restaurants. We frequent the same number of stores. And when it comes to fun time out, especially in the Deep South in the middle of the most miserable summer in recent history, the movies is it. Dinner and movie is great….but can you blame a girl for wanting a little romance? Candlelit dinners in some perfectly quiet restaurant with linen tablecloths and snooty waiters? A romantic stroll on the beach, holdings hands and strolling down memory lane? Maybe even an unexpected adventure, exploring this place we call home, but that has so much more to offer than we’ve ever really bothered to experience?

So I whined a little. “We always go the same places…we always do the same things…wah wah woe is me.”

And Brian, being the knight in shining armor that he is, suggested a NEW restaurant that we’ve never been to before! Placated, I agreed to the dinner and a movie date as planned, with the shiny new restaurant in my pocket as a consolation prize to not being whisked away in a private jet to Italy for dinner and drinks. (So sue me, I read too many romance novels.)

As I headed to bed last night, though, I really started to think about the way things had transpired between us. Here is this man—–this hard-working, generous, thoughtful man who went out of his way to make me happy. He secured a babysitter, looked into movie times, even asked his co-workers about restaurants, so he could take me on a date. This guy—the one I’ve been married to for almost 12 years, the one who still makes my heart skip a beat, the one who always knows how to make me laugh…

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…that hunk of mine wants to take me out on the town. He wants to share a special meal with me, just us, where we don’t have to race through our meals as fast as we can because a certain little squirtlet is tired of his high chair. He wants to take me to a movie, where we can hold hands in the dark. He wants to spent time with me…just me. Just the two of us.

And that’s what date night should be about. Not about what fancy restaurant we try, or what others (read, wives who read too many romance novels) perceive as being “grand romantic gestures.”

So I don’t need the flowers and the ambiance and the “someplace new.” I don’t need the fanfare or the box of chocolates. But what I do need is a few hours every now and then to spend with the great love of my life, to remind ourselves that even though we aren’t as young and thin as we once were, we are still those two crazy kids who fell madly in love one summer in the mountains of North Carolina.

Blog 7

Besides, movie theater popcorn rocks.

Musings of a Tired Mom

We’ve been watching a lot of Sesame Street lately. (And when I say a lot, I mean enough that Brian and I are walking around singing songs about sharing, the alphabet, and the wheels on the bus on the regular.)

Now, if you’re not familiar with the Sesame Street family, this post isn’t going to mean anything to you. We thank you for stopping by, and wish you a very happy Tuesday.

But if you ARE familiar with the Sesame Street family, you’re totally going to get this post. Especially if you’re a stay-at-home-Mom with a pile of laundry up to your nose and an ever-overflowing trashcan.

I know Prairie Dawn is kind of a stick in the mud, but there are a lot of cool cats on the Street. You know, the kind of folks you might like to be friends with. Super Grover would be handy to have around as a pal since he’s generally adorable (even if he sucks at fixing stuff.) Elmo is a delight, once you get around the nasally voice and penchant for singing constantly. The Count is always helpful—especially if, like me, you stink at math.

But I’ve decided, of all the kids that live on Sesame Street, I’d like to be best friends with Abby Cadabby.

Abby and Abby

She has the coolest name on the planet. She’s pink and fluffy and adorable. And she has a penchant for making her own rules. But while those are all valid reasons to befriend a … puppet … that’s not the main reason why I’d woo her and make her my very own shiny BFF. (Just go with me here.)

I’d choose Abby Cadabby to be my best friend because she’s a magical fairy. And surely, in her large repertoire of spells, she MUST have a “clean the kitchen, vacuum the living room, wash all the laundry (and fold it too), write a grocery list, pick up all the stray Cheerios, steam clean all the bottles, and take out the trash, all while keeping the teething, clingy toddler happy” spell.

That’s not too complicated for a 4-year old imaginary puppet fairy, is it?

So move over, Elmo. Us Abby’s have to stick together.

This post is brought to you by the letter “P,” for Poorly Photoshopped Pictures.