Always & Forever My Baby You Will Be

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Last night I was lying in bed with my youngest reading him a bed time story and saying our prayers.  My oldest used to come in the room and listen to the stories and say prayers with us but about two months ago he stopped.  He now brushes his teeth, calls out good night, and goes in his room and shuts the door.  I follow him in to grab a quick hug before he shuts off the light, but the hug is more for me than for him.  He doesn’t need a hug and a kiss from his mommy anymore to go to sleep.

But Casey is still young and refuses to go to bed without his night time ritual followed to perfection, and I am happy for that.  Last night after we were done he kneeled on his bed, gave me a bug hug and said, “I love you mommy.  I’m giving you an extra hug because I know you like hugs.”  My heart just melted.  I do love hugs, and kisses, and cuddles, the feel of holding my little boy close, the unconditional love of a mother and child.

I stared at his little face, his blue eyes, rosy cheeks, and a thought hit me so strong.  In two weeks my baby is turning six-years old.  In a week he will start 1st grade.  My baby hasn’t been a baby for a very long time, but he is still small, and sweet and cuddly, but time refuses to stand still.  He is growing, and soon he will choose friends over me.  Soon, kisses in public will be embarrassing.  Soon he will tell me he doesn’t need to hold my hand in a store.

“Casey, promise me you will stop growing,” I asked.  “I want you to stay this size forever.”

“Okay, mommy,” he replied sweetly.  Then he thought for a moment about what I had asked him to do and he said, “But I don’t know how to stop growing.”

“I know.  Mommy is just being silly.  I am so glad you are my little boy.” I said.

“Me too,” he replied and gave me another kiss good night.

“Do you know how much I love you?” I asked.

“All the way to the moon and back,” he answered immediately, “and I love you all the way to Pluto.”

Then he rolled over, tucked his tiger under his chin, and grabbed a handful of his wobi before closing his eyes.  I turned off the light and shut the door.

I can’t freeze time, but I can take a minute to write down these brief but wonderful moments before they slip through my fingers.  Children will grow, become independent, and leave us one day, but the memories we make we will carry for a lifetime.

I Will Not Raise a Self Entitled Spoiled Kid

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My oldest is a really good kid.  Yes, he has days when he drives me crazy and I threaten to mail him to Abu Dhabi, but he is also very loving.  He likes to give hugs, still likes bedtime stories, and cries easily over sad movies.

In the past year I had noticed that as those teen hormones and mood shifts started to kick in, though, he was becoming self centered.  Everything was me, me, me, and on several occasions I listened as he whined about how tough he had it.

Oh the poor put upon little lad.  As payment for three meals a day, a private bedroom, and laundry service he was expected to change the litter box, cut the grass, and load the dirty dinner dishes.  Quick, someone call the child abuse hotline!  I had sentenced my son to a life of white slavery and needed to be arrested and taken away in hand cuffs.

I have worked with children long enough to know that my son was not unique and that all kids go though this.  Yet, I also work with enough kids to know that I also wanted to limit how far I let my son wallow in the “oh poor me” mentality.

The last thing in the world I want to do is raise an entitled and spoiled young man.  It was important to me that he stayed the sweet and kind hearted kid that he usually was.

So the day after school finished for the summer we went to Hospitality House and I signed him up to volunteer once a week for four hours.  Hospitality House is our local food pantry and helps many wonderful families get the food they need.

My son was not happy with me.  It was his summer vacation.  He didn’t want to work especially when he wouldn’t even get paid for it!  I stood my ground.  He would be volunteering there, the end.

Once a week he stocks the food pantry shelves, bags raw chicken into six pound portions, unloads trucks, and helps people who genuinely have it tough.  He sees moms come in with their hungry kids and watches how grateful they are to receive food so they can take care of their children.

For the first three weeks he went because I told him to get in the car and I drove him there, but by week four I saw my little boy start to grow up.  Now he enjoys going even though it is hard work in a building void of air conditioning.  The adults who operate the food pantry absolutely love him and their praise has helped my son realize that sometimes the best thing in life is giving instead of getting, even if all you have to give is your time.

teach them An unexpected bonus I have seen is a new respect for money, and the realization that resources are limited.

Before, if we went to the stores to run a few errands he would have asked for this and that and been upset when I told him no, or not today.  Now when we are out and he see something he wants we talk about ways he can earn the money and how it may take him a month before he has enough to get it.  In a world filled with instant gratification, I love that he can now wait weeks to obtain something he wants.

As parents we work so hard to cultivate our children’s growing minds, but this summer I learn it is just as important to cultivate my sons growing heart.  Even with school starting soon my son will still volunteer and I hope the volunteer spirit will stay with him always.

 

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I’ll Love You Forever…Even When You Are Driving Me Crazy

Love you Forever

I remember the days before I was pregnant with my first child the time spent longing for a baby.  I remember buying pregnancy tests in three packs because I was too impatient to wait the recommended number of days after sex to see if I had conceived.  I remember the joy I felt one January day when I tested positive for a baby…only to cry my eyes out when I started my period the very next day.  You wouldn’t think it would hurt that much.  I had only been knowingly “pregnant” for 24 hours, but after two years of trying it was like a knife through the heart all the same.

That day was the day I said out loud, “I give up!”  I was done trying to get pregnant.  It was just too painful to fail month after month, year after year.  Who knew the secret to getting pregnant was to stop trying to get pregnant?  Seriously!  I conceived my son the very next month.  No counting days, no plotting of ovulation times, not even the routine purchasing of a pregnancy test.  Before I knew it, January was mid March and it dawned on me one day that I couldn’t remember having a period in February.  I doubled checked the calendar and saw the date circled for January, but no circle for February, and now it was March.

A quick trip to Rite Aid and one bathroom use later and there it was.  Two blue lines.  Not one, but two.  I was scared to be excited.  After all, I had two blue lines in January and that ended in the blink of an eye.  I kept the knowledge of my condition to myself for a couple of days.  I was afraid to jinx it.  It was like if I actually spoke the words, “I’m pregnant,” out loud then it would suddenly go away.  After a week of it not going away I finally told my husband.

baby ajEvery mom-to-be hears over and over that the first three months are the most risky.  Most miscarriages will happen during the first trimester.  What I didn’t know, though, was that during the first trimester your uterus is building up lining and preparing to grow a baby, so you feel a lot of cramping.  For a woman scared to death of a miscarriage cramping and that “feeling of starting” a period makes for a living hell.

It is no exaggeration to say that every day for the entire first trimester I would go to the bathroom constantly to check my undies for any signs of blood.  I tried not to focus on it.  I really did.  I knew the fear and stress and I was putting on myself was no good for me, and probably not for my baby, but trying to tell yourself to not to be afraid of your worst fear when you body constantly feels like your worst fear is in process of happening is like telling a fish not to breathe water.  It can’t be done.

baby aj 2Finally the days passed on the calendar and I entered that oh so much safer second trimester.  Yes, women could still lose a baby even at this point, but somehow the pregnancy felt so much more real to me now.  I was in my fourth month and I had heard the heart beat at the doctor’s office.  There was a heart beating inside my belly and it was magical and my own heart was filled with joy.

Everyone would always ask, do you want a girl or a boy, and my answer was always the same.  “I’m pregnant!  Finally!  I don’t care what it is!  It’s a baby and its mine.  As long as it’s healthy I am the happiest mom in the world.”

As much as I would have loved for this to be a magical time to go with the miracle happening in my belly, it wasn’t.  My marriage was falling apart.  My husband had agreed to a baby, but I am fairly certain now that when he made that agreement he was under the impression that I would never succeed in getting pregnant.  Now suddenly I was, and he was not happy about it, and he let me know just how unhappy he was about the situation every chance he got.

Further, my Rheumatoid Arthritis was out of control.  By the end of the pregnancy I was no longer worrying about the baby coming out of it alive, his daily kicks let me know he was just fine, but I was seriously worrying about whether or not I would get to the end still alive.

Miraculously, and being induced three weeks early, my sweet little baby boy was born, and my life was for ever changed.  I had a new purpose.  I was a mommy and this little tiny person needed me.

AJ 5 indy

Today my “baby” is soon to turn 13, and this morning he said some very harsh words to me that left me speechless.  The angry thoughts rolling through my head were very different than the ones that came out of my typing fingers today.  What started out as a snarky and angry blog somehow became a stroll down memory lane, and the realization that the mouthy teenager insulting me this morning is still my baby boy, still needs me, and hopefully will always need me just a little when he is grown up and living on his own.

my babyChildren can bring us to the brink of madness at times, but once the anger passes, only the love remains, always and forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Just Because I Have It All Doesn’t Mean I Want It All

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Want it AllI am woman.  I am invincible.  I am tired.  It is more than just a cute catch phrase on my Facebook page.  It is the truth.  Day in and day out I do it all.  Cook, clean, grocery shop, and laundry?  Done, done, done, and done.  Take care of two boys and keep them mentally and creatively stimulated?  Done!  Piano lessons for the oldest, T-ball for the youngest, volunteering at the local food pantry and with the coming school year religious education gets tossed into the mix.

Work a full time job under incredibly stressful circumstances in an impoverished inner city environment that is often violent and do my very best to be a force of good in my students lives.  You bet your ass!

Write a blog offering my words of wisdom, experiences, and tips, hoping someone out there finds all this useful and perhaps a little funny.  Yes, that too, while also maintaining a Facebook page and a Pinterest page trying to find the most useful of information to share with my followers.

full time job

We live in a modest home in a lovely little sub surrounded by woods.  We have two cars, two kids, and a fat cat.  I am living the American dream…right?  Right?!?  So why is it most days I don’t feel quite so dreamy?

My life consists of two parts.  The September to June career woman part, and the Mid-June to end of August stay at home part.  I can honestly say that I know what it is to be on both sides of the fence, and believe me when I say I know exactly which side of the fence is greener, and not because it is covered in bullshit.

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I know there are women out there who will want to tell me off, cuss me out, and bitch that I am undermining womanhood as we now know it today, but I will take being a stay at home mom over the working mom gig any day.  What ever I do, I will always do it to the best of my ability, no matter how many jobs are on my plate.

So when summer comes and I am home with my boys it is wonderful to just be a mom, a wife, and a homemaker.  It is nice to slow down and plan out our meals.  It is nice to have the time needed to wash, and dry, and fold, and put away all the laundry.  It is nice to have the time to take the boys to the park, even if it isn’t my favorite thing to do.  It is nice not to make sure every minute of the day is scheduled to the exact minute for fear of not getting it all done.

ask meIt is especially nice to have time to focus on my blog and my “internet job” which at least fills my soul if not my wallet.  Writing has always been a passion of mine, one I had to give up for several years because I had too much to do, but now that my youngest is a little older, and writing a blog is faster than writing Fan Fiction, I am able to do it once more.  Maybe some day I will be able to make a living off my writing but I’m not counting on it.

Sometimes I dream of quitting my job, no longer commuting sixty miles a day round trip, and waking up at 4:45 in the morning.  I think about how wonderful it would be to join my children’s school PTA’s, be a room mom, and all that good stuff, but I can’t.  First, it wouldn’t be fair to my dear husband who works longer days than I do.  Plus, both boys are now in all day school.  Let’s face it, once the kids are in all day school and you are still a stay at home mom, most people would just label you as being too lazy to work.  People stupid enough to think that need to be slapped in the face with a frying pan.

two jobsEven with my boys in school my home would run a heck of a lot more smoothly if I were here to manage everything.  As it is, we pay for a.m. child care, rely on grandparents to pick the boys up from school when one suddenly gets sick, and have to scramble to make arrangements whenever the boys have no school but I do.  My weekends are spent doing all the housework I was unable to do Monday-Friday, when I would rather be free to relax or play with the kids.

So yes, I have it all…but I would seriously like to give some of it back.

Are there any other working moms out there who would love to chuck their full time job?

Children…My Life…My Passion…and the Reason I Take Zoloft

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was 23 when I became a teacher. Fresh from college and eager to change the world by helping one child at a time. I was 29 when I became a mom and took a year off to raise my little boy. After that year was over I returned to teaching. I was 35 when I had baby number 2. This time I took two years off to be a stay at home mom, and would have taken a third if it had been possible. What shocked me was how much harder it was being a mom to two instead of one.

Perhaps it was because I was older, perhaps it was because suddenly the mommy stuff was never ending, or perhaps it was because I was newly married, newly relocated, and just had one to many changes in a short amount of time.Kisses

As hard as I worked the two years I was a stay at home mom though were nothing compared to when I finally returned to teaching. Just because I returned to the classroom didn’t mean that all that mommy stuff went away. Laundry still needed to be done, cleaning taken care of, dinner cooked, quality time given to my boys, quality time given to my husband, making time to visit a sick parent. I was at my wits end. I remember standing in front of the stove cooking dinner as tears rolled down my face because I was so tired.

Part of it is me. I want things to be perfect always, whether it is at home or at work. Part of it really is my situation. I basically do the kid thing 24 hours a day 7 days a week 365 days a year. My job and my home life are just too much alike sometimes.

But I had to acknowledge one more factor that I really didn’t want to face. I am not a spring chicken anymore. I am now forty and like it or not, my hormones were starting to get a little wonky. Can we say “premenopausal?” Yep, it was definitely a factor.

When you teach first grade patience is literally the #1 job requirement and I used to have it in spades. The past two years, however, I noticed that I was becoming more and more stressed out. At first I thought that I had just taken on too many responsibilities. I was on the fund-raising committee, the reading committee, and the carnival committee, as well as that full time teaching gig and motherhood thing. So of course I had a full blown hyperventilation panic attack one March morning just as the children were entering the building. I was burned out, over worked, and NOT medicated. Although a trip to the doctor’s office that March day fixed that problem. One bottle of Xanax with two refills coming right up.

The following September I decided I needed to take better care of myself. So I quit all the committees and just focused on the job and home. Things would get better, right? Wrong. I was still stressed, and now, I was easily angered by little things. My heart would race all day and I constantly felt like I was in “Fight or Flight” mode. I left work completely exhausted, and then when I got home I had no energy left for my own kids. All I wanted my boys to do was go away and leave me alone. I started to realize that the problem I had wasn’t a job problem. The problem was me. I was broken and didn’t even recognize the person I had become anymore. I finally realized that I needed help.

I scheduled a visit to see my OB/GYN. After a very long office visit where I talked about everything that was going on with me she confirmed what I was already suspecting. I was indeed in the early stages of menopause and my hormones were steadily driving me crazy.

She started me on a low dose of Zoloft which ended up getting increased just once. After a while I started to notice a difference. I still felt angry at times, but the anger didn’t control me. I was able to take a deep breathe and respond in an appropriate way. The same was true at home. I could now give my boys the quality time they needed and not feel resentful.

I don’t feel ashamed to admit that I needed a prescription. I know a lot of people would just say to suck it up and deal, but that strategy had stopped working for me and I was seriously going to have a heart attack if I didn’t find a way to calm down and get control of my emotions. If taking a little blue pill helps me to cope and be a better mom then I will do it.

I would love to hear from other moms, especially older moms who are also dealing with this situation. How are you battling your menopause?

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