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.

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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.

Sentences I Never Thought I Would Say

Motherhood changes a lot of things: your daily schedule goes from “All About Me” to “All About Baby;” the amount of sleep needed to function changes from 10 hours per night to two; how much time you spend watching Sesame Street increases exponentially; and the sheer volumes of coffee required for daily activities makes you consider buying stock in Folgers. But the one thing that has changed the most, for me, (other than the lack of free time I now have to stalk Zachary Levi on Twitter) is the stuff I hear myself saying on a daily basis.

Seriously, guys. At least three times a day, I have this moment:

source: GIFSoup

So, for your reading pleasure, here’s a quick list of just a few of the things that have come out of my mouth and made me question my sanity.

Pooping in the tub is rude. And gross. Mostly just gross.”

“If it hurts when you hit yourself in the head, then don’t do it!”

“If you pee on me, you’re grounded.”

“So that’s what a Cheerios-and-green bean burp smells like…”

“Oh, honey! It’s toilet paper, not confetti!”

“Poop is not for playing with!!!”

“The cat is not a chew toy, dear.”

“I know they smell nice, but bananas are NOT shampoo.”

“Don’t eat ___________!” (Insert items at your own will, and don’t be afraid to be creative here. Answers might include, but aren’t limited to: Daddy’s shoes, carpet fuzz, the remote, your foot.)

“Where did you find that _______?” (Insert items at your own will, and don’t be afraid to be creative here. Answers might include, but aren’t limited to: that old BandAid, pair of Mommy’s underwear, three-week old petrified noodle, phone book from 2003.)

“I know the Desitin looks creamy and delicious, but trust me when I say it’s not.”

And finally, the coup de grace…

Your butt is not a set of bongos. Especially when covered in poop.”

Shaping Future Memories, One Day At A Time

​When my son looks back on his childhood, I want him to remember snuggly Sunday mornings filled with homemade cinnamon rolls and movie marathons. I want him to remember autumn afternoons spent with family in the backyard, swinging so high it’s as if his toes might touch the clouds, the smell of hotdogs on the grill. I want him to reminisce fondly about this football game, or that trip to the zoo, or the evening we caught fireflies by moonlight. My hope is for him to look back and know he was loved, beyond measure, and be happy for it all.

Some days it is harder than others, to be the perfect parent he deserves. My nerves may be frazzled from constant demands and lack of sleep. My patience wanes after the two-hundredth time of explaining, guiding, teaching. We may struggle learning the concepts of “please” and “no.” There have been tears shed — his and mine — as we test boundaries and try new things.

I am in awe of his courage, his intelligence, his eagerness to learn. I strive, every single day, to quench that thirst for knowledge. And I worry everyday that I am failing. We sing, we recite the alphabet, we count everything in sight and still — he wants more. I fall into bed every night and replay those teaching moments on repeat. Did I do enough today? Could I have been better? Should I do that differently? How can I be the best Mom I can be?

In the end, my goal as a Mom is that one day, in the not so distant future, he will remember mud pies and long games of tag and splashing in the surf. That he will remember the Board Game Olympics and Mario Kart matches and epic pretend Stormtrooper battles with his Dad. He will remember how much we laughed. And that he won’t dwell too much on the days I lost my temper and shouted, or the minutes spent in timeout for biting the cat, or the restricted screen time he doesn’t know yet is for his own good. I can only hope that these lessons of kindness and respect and manners will, in the end, be appreciated by the man he becomes. And that the silly knock-knock jokes, and the required family dinners, and the ticklefests will enrich the fabric of his childhood.

In the meantime, I will have an extra cup of coffee to stave off the sleepies. I will take a deep breathe and explain, again, that yelling to get what he wants is much less effective than asking. And I will make sure my face lights up every time he sees me, so he knows how glad I am to see him (even though it’s 5 a.m. on a Sunday.) Because he deserves the best mother in the entire world, and even on days when I feel less than, it’s my job to give him everything I have and more.

365 Days Ago…

….”we” became “three.” And we’ve loved every single minute of it. In celebration of our son’s first birthday, I’ve created a little video compilation of all our favorite moments. It’s been, without a doubt, the best year of our lives.

I’d walk you by it step by step, but I’ve got a shiny new toddler to spoil today. Happy viewing!

I Blinked

And in that instant, you grew. Every part of you—from fingernails to feet—is changing. That baby face, those tiny feet, your chubby little legs….in a moment, it seems, you have morphed into a perfect little man child. Gone are the baby peach fuzz, the tiny fingers, the little squeaks you used to make to let me know you were happy. Now you enter the room each morning with a hearty YAWP of happiness, and I marvel in you every single day.

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I blinked.

And in that fraction of a second, you became a toddler. No more long, lazy days spent napping in the swing. Oh, no! For there are great adventures to be had, new foods to try, new life lessons to experience. You are learning so much and so quickly. And watching your eyes light up with every single skill learned (Bongos! Clapping! Speaking! WALKING!) brings a joy into my life that I’ve never know before.

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I blinked.

And in that infinitesimal fraction of time, you have morphed into your Daddy’s best friend. You laugh together, and play together, and nap together; you are two peas in a pod. I see you now, sitting in his lap, watching him play video games and it is incredibly simple to picture you playing along in a few years time. You light up at the sight of him, you laugh at his silly antics, and you already emulate him, even if he doesn’t see it yet. The two of you own every square inch of my heart.

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I blinked.

And in that half a second, you have become my entire world. I know what you’re thinking, what you want, what you need, in the seconds before you do. Your smile is as familiar as my own, your laughter is the soundtrack of my day. You are my constant companion, my  pal, my heart. Sometimes, looking at you, I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders: to make sure you feel absolutely safe and loved, to send you into the world with kindness and gratitude, to teach you how to navigate this scary world with bravery and smarts.  But I know we will be ok, little one. Because you are miraculous, and I’m convinced you can do anything.

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I blinked.

And suddenly, we are three. It all happened so seamlessly, so effortlessly. It’s like you were always with us, even during the “before,” when we wished for you while simultaneously thinking you might only be a dream. Your Daddy and I  speak your name more times in a day than we think our own, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. You truly complete us. Our son.

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As I watch you climb, and swim, and talk, and laugh, and walk; as we continue hitting every milestone and surpassing everyone’s expectations; as we approach (all too quickly) your first birthday, I can’t help but marvel at you. You are so smart. You are so much more than you can possibly imagine. And you continue to amaze me, every single day.

Something tells me as time continues to pass, as the days morph into weeks and months, that I’m going to wish for these moments back. If only I had the ability to freeze time, my little one, I would do it almost every day: in the moments you are sleeping most peacefully, when you are laughing so hard your little belly shakes, when you curl your hand onto my face and say “Mama.” But since I can’t, and those moments will continue to pass us by, I’ll keep living in these moments with you. Because even though it feels like I simply blinked and suddenly, you’re eleven months old, there’s not a single moment of those months that I don’t remember, cherish, and adore.

A Letter to My Husband, on Mother’s Day

Dear Brian,

It’s here. That day I’ve dreamed of for much of my adult life–my first Mother’s Day. When you stop to compare this May with last, it seems almost impossible. Look at where we are now! Look how far we’ve come! We are blissful (if somewhat sleep-deprived) parents! We’ve become those people with a trunk full of baby supplies and toys, the ones who wallpaper Facebook with pictures and videos of our son, the ones who plan our lives around the happiness and well being of one, very small, very important person. I love being a Mom, so, SO much. I hope that’s as apparent to you as your happiness at being a Dad is to me.

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I know you’ve watched me in years past, struggling with the emotions of this day. Trying to find a balance between celebrating the moms in my life and the grief of not being one myself–I never quite managed it with the grace such a situation warranted. You stood beside me, reminded me that it was ok to cry, held me when I fell apart. I know you felt helpless, knowing I was so sad and there was nothing you could do to fix it. There are no words adequate enough to thank you for that support, throughout our many years of infertility struggles. So let me just put in black and white—I know how hard it was for you, too. I acknowledge with a full heart that I never felt alone on my path to motherhood. You were always there for me, holding my hand, swimming in that same sorrow, but somehow always managing to buoy me up when I needed it most.

I have so many things to thank you for. Thank you for going on this journey of parenthood with me. Thank you for being brave enough and strong enough for the both of us when it seemed we were destined to fail. Thank you for celebrating with me in our moments of triumph, but more importantly, in HIS moments of triumph. Thank you for telling our son how awesome his Mommy is, especially when you think I can’t hear you. Thank you for all the nights you’ve let me sleep just a little bit longer, specifically those when ten hours of sleep was the exact thing I needed most. Thank you for being wonderful, deliciously nerdy you: I get more joy out of watching you teach our son about everything superhero, and seeing how excited you are for what his nerdy little future holds. Thank you for being patient with me as I navigate this new path, for understanding why sometimes my brain is fried and my temper is short. Thank you for all the things you do that I never have to ask for: the poopy diapers, the long days at work, the longer commutes, the unwavering support, the unconditional love, the perfect way you parent. Thank you for being such an amazing Dad.

This new, seamless little routine we have going right now is so much more wonderful to me than I think anyone can understand. I look forward every single day to you coming through the door, to our dinner around the table as a family, to Jeopardy and bath time and evening giggles and games. We are most complete in those moments between dusk and dawn. We are one. We are family.

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In short, I wouldn’t be “Mom,” if you weren’t “Dad.” We are in this together, as ever. And I love you more today than in the almost 17 years I’ve known you. Today may be Mother’s Day, but in my heart, I’m celebrating us, and our family. Our gorgeous, perfect, awesome family.

I love you to the moon and back,
Abby

Because He Loves Me

It’s early. The rest of the house sleeps soundly as I drag myself into the bathroom to prepare for the day. The lights are harsh when I flick them on, and I close my eyes to the intrusion, giving myself a moment to adjust to the idea of being awake.

Coffee would be nice. So would two (or six) more hours of sleep.

But the day will continue on without me, so I yawn, scrub my hands over my face, and turn on the shower. Ten minutes later, I swipe my hand over the mirror, erasing what’s left of the steam. It’s the first time I’ve noticed my own reflection today, and I immediately begin the silent, inner criticisms that have become so ingrained, they’re involuntary. It’s a daily thing, this taking stock of my own flaws.

Hair, frizzled from constant tiny hands, and greying at the temples. Eyebrows in desperate need of plucking. Dark circles like caverns under my eyes. Skin splotchy, with ruddy cheeks from lack of nutrition and sunlight. The extra twenty pounds I’ve packed on, heavy at my chin, my middle, my backside; a constant reminder that I need to stop living on Poptarts and coffee and start getting back to the gym regularly. Chipped nail polish on my toes. So many things I need to fix about my appearance.

I sigh, knowing there isn’t time to deal with most of these issues right now. I pull my hair up in a haphazard “mom bun,” brush my teeth, and add a little lip gloss and some mascara as a confidence booster.

At that moment, I hear my son begin to stir from his crib. I tug on some jeans and a loose-fitting tee, slide my feet quickly into my trusty ballet flats, and make it into the nursery just as he comes fully awake.

“Well, good morning, my gorgeous boy,” I coo at him, a giant smile plastered on my tired, puffy face.

The baby sees me for the first time, as I lean over the bars of his crib to greet him, and that’s when it happens.

His eyes light up, and a giant smile spreads across his face. With sleep still in his eyes, he begins waving his chubby little arms at me, wiggling in anticipation of the hug that he knows is coming. I scoop him up and he wraps his arms around me, burying his face into my neck.

“I’m so glad to see you, too,” I murmur, and he pulls back to look at me. Still smiling, he pats my cheek with his hand, his crystal blue eyes twinkling with happiness.

And in those moments, I forget about the dark circles, and the extra pounds, and the fact that I haven’t had a haircut since last year. In those moments, it doesn’t matter that my front teeth are a little crooked or that I need to repaint my toenails.

In those moments, I’m the most beautiful woman in the world, because he loves me.

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Photo credit to Erin Rose Photography.

Happy Birthday, Abby Gabs!!

Five years ago today, I launched my brand new, shiny blog, filled with all the possibilities that an aspiring writer can hope for. I had a million ideas. And for nearly 3 years, I blogged practically every single day.

Seriously. Between February of 2011 and December of 2013, I’d published almost 450 blogs.

(I was pretty impressed with myself, especially since I had to bust out my calculator to do math.)

I’ve become a little less prolific since the heyday of Abby Gabs, but I’m still determined to keep this little site going. It’s not just given me a place to put down my thoughts, or to stretch my creative muscles, but it’s brought me so much joy. The Gabs isn’t just a blog for me. With it, I’m a creator, a writer, an artist, a comedian. I am clever, and funny, and relevant. Abby Gabs makes me a better me.

And so, in celebration of my fifth birthday as a blogger, I’d like to present to you my favorite blog from each of the years I’ve been writing for Abby Gabs. (This is my version of a clip show—you know, the one where they inundate you with scenes from episodes past? Slightly annoying, super-endearing, but always worth the watch.)

An Announcement of Epic Proportions (Published October 16, 2015)

I don’t think it will surprise anyone that my absolute favorite post from last year is the one where I announce to the world that we are finally, FINALLY parents. While it may not be my best piece of writing ever, the beautiful comments we received will forever remain in my heart. Bringing Kal home was the best day of my life, and I was thrilled to finally get to share it with my readers.

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Enthusiastically Eating My Veggies Today (Published December 11, 2014)

A dream blog involving salad, Justin Timberlake, and back-up dancers. There’s really not much else I can say. This post is quintessentially Abby Gabs.

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The Infertility List Blog (Published September 24, 2013)

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This one may be a bit of a controversial pick. Here’s why it’s my favorite from 2013: it is INCREDIBLY difficult to find humor in life’s hardest moments, and I feel like I really managed to do it with the topic of infertility here. Sure, it may be uncomfortable for some people to read, but I dove into the depths of my comedic soul to find a way to write about something very important and very personal. To me, that equals epic blog fodder. And it’s why this post isn’t just one of my favorites from 2013, but one of my top 5 favorite Abby Gabs, ever.

How a Weekend Sale At the Mall Made Me Feel Like a Granny (Published Dec. 29, 2012)

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By this time in my blogging career, I’d become much more comfortable publishing my cartoonish illustrations. Why? Because they make the funny story even funnier. This is one of those moments when my story-telling skills merged happily with my artistic-skills, creating the perfect blog of funny, which is why it made the list.

 

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I Finally Know I’m Not Alone (Published April 4, 2011)

This blog introduced the world to my arachnophobia. It also introduced the world to my ability to pull my face like a Muppet for the sake of comedy. It also introduced to the world the fact that I have no shame, and will do anything for a laugh. In short, it gave me permission to be as silly as I wanted to be on a public forum…and I never looked back.

(The only bad part about this blog is that it gave the world permission to tease me regarding my fear, because I’d teased myself. That resulted in endless spider posts to my Facebook page, in hopes that they would receive an animated and Oscar-worthy response. So…it sort of back-fired. But it was worth it.) (Mostly.)

Do you have a favorite Abby Gabs moment that wasn’t included in this list? I’d love to know which ones you love best, because it was incredibly hard to make these choices.

Except for the J.T. blog. That one makes me laugh every. Single. Time.