Quicker Than We Know It

For the past few days, it’s been agony in our house.   We’re back home from our two week vacation to Rochester and trying to get back into the swing of things.  I’m not sure what our problem has been, and by “our” I really mean my children, but to say they’re not getting along is an understatement.   The past few days I’ve found myself contemplating Baileys in my morning coffee, job searching, and even just running away from the house, leaving the boys to fend for themselves.

Yesterday I counted the days (including weekends) until school starts back for my children.  It was 46 days, so 45 today.   I’ve played around with the idea of creating a countdown board, one to help me through the days, but I thought it might depress the boys.  Apparently I don’t know my children as well as I thought.   When I told both of them how much longer they had until school started, I was met with cries of “that’s way far off” and “I don’t know if I can wait that long.”  Huh?  My kids are actually looking forward to school.  Imagine that!  Perhaps I will create that countdown board after all.

It’s as if the school seemed to know that I was desperate for the summer to be over as I received packets for both boys in the mail yesterday.  It’s your standard “welcome” packet complete with photography waiver, PTA dues, calendars, and volunteer opportunities.  Excitedly, I tore into the packets and perused through the calendar.   So much will be going on this year and I can’t wait for the adventures in learning to start.

This afternoon, I decided to begin work on the packets, first thing being to take the calendar and log in all essential days onto my personal calendar.   For the things I felt my husband needed to be a part of, I emailed a calendar invite to him so he could add it to his schedule.   I was feeling accomplished and for the first time all week, I’ve felt normal again, and able to breathe, but then things started to unravel as I continued adding events.

In September, there are two separate Donuts with Dad days that my husband will need to attend with BOTH boys.   As I entered those events and hit “ENTER” the next event popped up on my screen…Davey’s 5th Birthday.  My first born will be 5 this year.   5!!!!   Thanks, Google!   Way to give my heart a true smack for being so ungrateful.

I continued on into December, with another shouting from my calendar of “Henry’s 3rd Birthday”.  How is this possible?   How are my children going to be 5 &3?  How are these days going by so quickly and yet so painfully slow as well?

Fast forward a few months on my calendar and we’re into April when Davey begins testing for kindergarten readiness.   TESTING!!!!!  Gah!  I don’t know whether to be excited, happy, nervous, scared crapless, or worried.  Actually, I know what I am…I’m sad.   My first baby is growing up and will no longer be in preschool.  He’ll be in school, all day, every day.   He’ll have lunch without me.   He’ll spend six hours of every day without me.   He’ll have a life away from me, and as much as I’m exhausted with the two of them this summer, I’m saddened by how quickly life is moving for my little family.   Even when I’m so overwhelmed with the two of them and all I can think about is how quickly the day will be over, deep down I’m hurting.

Lately Facebook has been inundating me with memories of Davey.  There have been pictures of his first steps, the first days we were together as I became a stay at home mom.   There are memories of his silly faces, his dances, his “no pants Tuesday”, imitating daddy, cuddling with Dixie, eating breakfast on the back porch, learning to write, Facetime with Daddy for breakfast, dinner and bedtime (since daddy used to travel so much) and “reading” silently in his room.    It’s as if Facebook is insync with my moods and knows that I need these reminders even when I’m desperate for some peace, for some time away from my children.

People tell me I’ll miss these days all the time.   They’ve been telling me that for years, but I’ve chosen not to listen, to tune out their “all knowing” voices.   I’ve put my head down and found a way to plow through each day with my boys and just hope for the end of the day.   I tell these people they’re nuts, that I’ll “never miss these days,” but I will.  We all know I will.   Heck, I’m already missing the days when Davey had his little baby voice as he was learning to speak.   I already miss the days when I could pick him up and cuddle up with him.   I already miss the days of his chubby little munchkin legs (he’s begun to take after me and is getting tall and skinny).   There is so much my heart already hurts over, things that have long since gone.

It’s a shame it takes things like Facebook memories and school welcome packets to zap me out of my summer blues with the boys.

 

What I Leave Them With

I read this post today on Facebook.   It was titled 2 Rules About Children.

  1.  Do not ask them to deal with adult issues.
  2. Do not burden them with situations they cannot control.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I worried about miscarriages.  Once I was past that stage, I worried about any health issues with my child.  I worried about whether I would really be capable of raising a child.   I’ve never been a totally selfless person, so I worried about whether my child would steal my thunder.  Yes!  I did selfishly worry about that and I know I’m not the only one.   I worried that I would take a backseat to my child and his well being and could I do that?   Could I totally forgo my dreams, aspirations, and physical well being, for my child?

After Davey was born, I worried about if I would remember to clean his where he was circumcised correctly.   Would I bathe him appropriately?  Then of course, there was the worry that I wasn’t providing enough breast milk when he wasn’t immediately gaining weight.  I cried.  I sobbed uncontrollably in the doctor’s office, whined about being a failure to my child.   I was terrified, truly terrified that perhaps I didn’t have what it took to raise a child.

Some nights I would get up and sneak into his room just to make sure he was still breathing.  Other nights, when exhaustion seemed to have my body immovably shackled, I let him cry it out at night.   I would wake up the next morning, log onto my social media account and read about the pros and cons to letting your child cry it out.   I would then be wounded with more emotional guilt for not being the caring parent that people claimed I should be.   “How heartless can you be,” some would say when I would comment that I’d let Davey cry it out.  Some days that criticism would sting, other days I would reply back “suck it!”

As a parent we worry about so much, it comes with the territory.  Your child is your heart, he is a part of you.   My life revolves around my role as a mom to my two boys, to protect and nurture them, but to also teach them and let them grow.   All of the things I used to worry about, though seem really small when I look at what’s going on in the world today and what type of world my children will grow up in, and their children, and so on.

We limit the amount of news the boys see and my husband and I try to hold off on our discussions of current events and politics until after the boys have gone to bed.   Our discussions can get heated even though we’re both on the same side and I worry (there’s that word again) that the boys will feed off of those discussions in a negative way.  The world they are growing up in is drastically different from the one in which I grew up.

Over the past week, we’ve been inundated with so much anger and hatred, so much hurt and violence, so much pain and agony.   It hurts my heart while also hardening it and adds a whole new spectrum of worry that I never thought would enter my stratosphere.   I find myself asking these questions over and over, “what kind of world am I leaving my boys with ?  What sort of legacy will I leave them with?  What levels of pain and suffering will they be forced to endure?”

Then I’m faced with another issue…how do I talk to my children about what’s going on in our country?   How do I talk to them about the importance of civil disobedience in a democratic society while also enforcing the importance of respect?   How do I talk to them about the fact that 5 police officers were murdered for just protecting a peaceful protest?  They’re 2 & 4, so we keep them insulated, they’re kids and shouldn’t be forced to deal with the burdens of the world so soon, but should something happen to me or even when I get old and die, how my children deal with the complexities of society worries me.   Have I taught them enough?  Surely I’m not the only parent with this thought.

So now my worry has gone from small things like, did he remember to brush his teeth, to a much larger scale of what sort of life will they have in a world becoming so full of hate.   I’ve done my best to instill in my boys the importance of Christ in their lives, respect for people in general, empathy and understanding for people less fortunate than them.   We tackled one hurdle this year when one of our police officers lost his life at the hands of a youth whom he’d tried to mentor.  The thought that crosses my mind is the same that crosses that of a 4 year old, “well if he was trying to a friend and help the boy, mom, then why did the boy shoot him?  He was a police officer.  That’s wrong.”  Those were the words from my child’s mouth.  How do you explain the evil in this world to a 4 year old without scaring him senseless?   My husband and I did that, we believe, to the best of our abilities, but still it’s a constant field of landmines with each piece of news that comes out.   We pick and choose what to tell them.   “Yes, baby, there are bad people in this world and they do win sometimes.”   Then there are the days when you find yourself sitting in the bathroom crying because your children were unknowingly playing with the children of the slain officer while at the neighborhood pool.   Your heart breaks with uncontrollable levels of sadness because you know these boys will have to grow up without their father.   Then your crying becomes that of guilt because you and your boys give to live so freely, and then to a cry of happiness that you don’t have to go through that grief.   I hide this from my boys.  I’d love to hide it from them forever, stuff all of this insensitivity, killing, and ignorance in a lock box (to quote the words of Al Gore in a debate with George W. Bush), but I can’t.   All I can do is love my babies, teach them the word of God, and hold them.

This world becomes scarier and scarier every day and thanks to social media, everything gets magnified.   People seem to enjoy seeing the bad and shun the good.   Media outlets fight each other for the most spectacular stories.   Evil sells faster than good.   It’s a fact of the world we live in and it’s my job to make sure that my children still have a childhood, still have the ability to accomplish their dreams, and to be a PARENT.   None of this can stop because of the worry and paranoia of today’s world, but the worry and paranoia still creep in.

As a parent, I want my children to have more than I ever did.   I want them to accomplish more.  I want them to be happy, to have every opportunity, and to have a life.

When I say my prayers, I first ask the Lord to forgive me of my sins, those I know I committed and those I unknowingly commit.  I thank Him for my family, everything I’m not entitled to because I am a sinner,  and then I pray that he helps the world to find Him again.   I suppose that’s the best I can do as a parent.

Butterflies, Snakes, and A Few Other Things

It’s hot down South.   Nope.   It’s not just hot, it’s “I just sweated off my deodorant, walking ten feet to my car” hot.   It’s so hot that I can’t even bring myself to take my kiddos to our neighborhood pool because there is no shade.   They may be able to get in the pool and cool off, but I’m exhausting myself keeping sunscreen on them, making sure their little feet don’t get blistered on the hot concrete (they REFUSE their water shoes), and trying to keep myself from burning to a crisp.

butterfly adventure davey

Fortunately, for the past two weeks, we’ve been in Rochester, NY where for the most part days there have felt like college football weather down here.   The mornings were crisp, light, and refreshing, with the occasional breeze wisping over your skin.   The nights were cool enough to sleep with a fan and window open, reminding me of the cooler summers of my youth when we would spend the night with my grandma who had NO air conditioning.   So, my boys and I have been spoiled for two weeks.   They’ve been outside a lot, minimal television and iPad usage, and exploring what’s around.  Now that we’re back home, well, it’s just too hot to be outside.

butterfly adventure henry

Today, I thought we could remedy that by going to the Roper Mountain Science Center for the last day of their Butterfly Adventure.  I knew a big portion of the exhibit was inside, so we would be cool (when not in the simulated rainforest perfect for the living conditions of the butterflies), and the opportunities to explore and learn would be immeasurable.

butterfly adventure 4

I’d head a lot about the exhibit before we left for NY.   Between packing and Vacation Bible School at our church, I didn’t have the opportunity to take the boys.   I decided that once we got back in town, I would take them before it ended.

butterfly adventure 3

We go to the Roper Mountain Science Center at Christmas for the lights and easily the best Santa around, but outside of that I haven’t been to the center since my college days when I was in their planetarium for an astronomy class.   I’ve considered going on numerous occasions, but truthfully Henry is just exhausting and he seems to make things unenjoyable for Davey (and well me at times, too).

Butterfly adventure 1

I’m an early riser, so we left as soon as we were ready and made it just after the gates opened at 9 am.   The lines were not that long, perhaps a 15 minute wait, and the boys were able to pass their time cooling off in the water misters and drawing their own butterflies on the sidewalk with the chalk provided.   Davey continually asked questions since he had developed a fascination with butterflies thanks to this past school year where they watched a caterpillar become a butterfly.  Henry?   He didn’t care.  He was just along for the ride and eager to terrorize.

Butterfly adventure

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but what we experienced wasn’t it.   We didn’t get to just see butterflies, but we also got to touch them, and even entice them over to us with our nectar wands, easily the greatest thing for Davey.   The butterfly adventure, was short, sweet, and to the point, but since you’re paying good money to get in, the center encourages you to check out the rest of what’s available which included a marine lab, an ecology lab, and a wildlife lab, which just happened to have  a corn snake ready to be petted.   Davey took one look at the snake and said, “no way”, while Henry wanted to hug, and squeeze it and take it home.   Henry couldn’t possibly get this from my side, this must come from his father’s side of the family (wink wink), snakes are not my thing.

butterfly adventure 5

We spent the remainder of our morning “milking” a cow, which I found to be humorous for today’s kids who are completely clueless with the appropriate way to milk a cow.  Thank God for this country girl to show ’em a thing or two.   We toured backwoods homes, school houses that mirrored the one from Little House on the Prairie, and a farm.   We petted sheep, goats, chickens, and cows.   The boys washed their clothing the way my grandmother used to…an old washing board.   They thought they were to take the rags and clean the board, not that the board was to clean the rags.   Kids these days.

DSC_0414

While I’m sure we could have seen and experienced more, this oppressive heat just seems to be taking it out of us.  It’s difficult during the dog days of summer to find things to keep the kiddos busy, but today was definitely an adventure for the books.

Flying the Friendly Skies

Travel day comes along much too early.   Regardless of how early you may get in the bed, eager to rest your weary bones before a day of travel, the time to arise and begin the excursion comes much too early.   For me, travel day is the most exhausting day in the world, beating out the days when my children were born.   I typically set 3 alarms; my ancient clock radio, my cell phone, and either a battery operated clock or one that you wind up.   I have this immense fear of missing a flight, so I always have a back up and a back up for my back up, but even then I don’t sleep well.   I’m still too nervous that all of my alarms will fail.

So, needless to say, Wednesday, June 22nd, I was wide awake at 3 am, 45 minutes prior to my alarm clocks going off.   My children and I had a 6 am flight to make our annual two week summer vacation in Rochester with my in-laws.   Instead of dilly dallying, I got up, made an extra strong cup of coffee, and began getting dressed.   Our plan was to leave at 4:30 so as to get to the airport by 5 am, we actually ended up leaving at 4:15, with the bright moonlight illuminating the road ahead and a 5 Hour Energy in my system.

This is my second time flying solo with my boys.   This year also marks the first time in which we have to pay for Henry to fly, meaning he gets his own seat.   It’s also the first time we haven’t flown Southwest (since they’ve decided to cancel their flights from Greenville to Rochester).  United won out on the bidding wars of flying.  So, we were navigating new territories, or perhaps some just a bit unfamiliar.

I’d quizzed all my Facebook friends (my measly 300) and inquired about the wait times for TSA which I’d seen on the news over the past couple of months.   People were missing flights, lines were atrocious.   While I’ve never had a problem with security in Greenville/Spartanburg, I still asked if anyone else had experienced long delays.   With a 6 am flight on Wednesday, on a non-holiday, I was told by everyone it should be pretty easy.   So, we arrive at the airport to check in at 5 and I’m told we had just made the cut off.  What?  Surely this woman was jesting.  Nope! The boys and I stood in an almost 45 minute line at TSA security and we were one of the last ones to board our flight.   This should have been an omen.   I should have heeded the signs that this was not going to be as I had hoped it would be.

Flight 1
All prepared for take off.

We were not the last ones to  get on the plane, about 8 more people followed, and as I’m getting the boys seated and ready to go, iPads queued up with movies, coloring books and crayons at the ready, my darling oldest, the one who made me a mother, the apple of my eye, sees a rather well endowed woman in the physical weight arena and shouts out, “Mom, have you ever seen a lady so BIG?”

My mouth dropped open.  I could feel the stares of all of my fellow passengers, some I know were chuckling, others were mentally scolding me for not enforcing that age old rule from my parent’s generation, “children are to be seen and not heard.”   As the lady got closer, I felt the sharp knives of her contempt stabbing my body.   I did my best to diffuse the situation by explaining to my son that everyone seems large to him because he’s a little guy.  You know, the whole relativity/perception thing.   That didn’t work.   “Everyone’s not THAT big, mom.”  I smiled at the faces around me and buckled in for what I was sure was to be a torturous ride.   There would be no escape, but if this were the least of my problems, then I would survive.  Problem was, it wasn’t the least of my problems.

flight 2

As we taxied down the runway to take flight, I caught a distinct whiff of poop, and since I was pretty certain that no one would have crapped themselves, I knew it had to be my sweet little Henry who had chosen NOW as the time to have a movement.   At least it was in his diaper and once we were in the air, I could go to the bathroom and change him, or so I thought.

The engines on the plane opened up to full throttle and we began speeding down the runway as Henry decided to reach his hand in his pants, and pull it back out, covered in pooped!   I frantically looked around me, eager to find something to wipe his hand with, but the only thing I could find was a vomit bag and before I could use it, my sweet little angel, decided to wipe his hand on the seat back in front of him!

flight 3

The seconds ticked by slowly as I kept trying to bide my time for when I could unbuckle and haul my child into the bathroom to change him.  After what felt like an eternity, we were at a safe cruising altitude and the seat belt sign went off.  In one swoop, I grabbed the diaper bag and my child, tried to divert my eyes from the offended large lady as she humpfed at me, and went to the lavatory that is smaller than the size of our coat closet (which can hold about 10 coats).   Imagine being inside a Pringles can and attempting to change the diaper of a 35 pound 2 year old.   And what’s worse, the poop had leaked out onto his shorts.   So, from that point forward, for the rest of our travel experience, my son would be walking around in his diaper.

So, three things had happened…the long delay at TSA, my vocally observant 4 year old, and my pooping 2 year old.   They say everything happens in threes.   Surely, I was out of the woods, right?   One would think!

flight 4

After arriving in Newark, and just as we were attempting to board the last leg of our journey, I was stopped by the ticketing agent at the gate who inquired as to if Henry was a lap child.  I pointed out the ticket she was holding in his name and at that point she asked if he didn’t have any pants because United requires ALL passengers with a seat to wear pants.   Excuse me?   No! He didn’t have pants, he had soiled them.   To this she asked, “well, aren’t you prepared for instances like this?”  No I was not prepared because the last time Henry had done something to this magnitude, he was 6 months old!   She held the tickets for a minute, looked down at my boys, smiled at them, then looked back at me and frowned as if to shame me for being unprepared, and finally let me on board.

I see people flying with children all the time.  It seems to be flawless, but it never is with me.   Why is that?   The only good side to our flight was that we made it into Rochester a half an hour early.   That’s 30 minutes less of being inside a tin tube with my children and no escape.

Next week, we fly the friendly skies back home.   This time daddy will be along for the journey, whose patience is quite a few levels lower than mine.

It’s Just a Phase, Or Is It?

“It’s just a phase.  He’ll grow out of it,” my mother says to me for the one millionth time as I’ve called her pleading for advice, help, a drink, anything.   She then goes into stories about my brother, how strong willed he was and determined to carve his own path regardless of who was standing in his way.   Sounds about like my Henry.

I don’t remember Davey being this terrible.   I don’t recall that every other word muttered under my breath was a swear word, as I found some sort of outlet for myself while travelling along the not so dusty road of a two year old.   I was actually pregnant with Henry when Davey was going through his terrible twos, and no way was my patience, or lack thereof, this bad.   No way!   And no way was Davey this demonic.  I’ve even snuck into Henry’s room some nights just to see if his eyes glow, or if he’s chanting in his sleep.   At least that will confirm what’s going on with him.

It’s gotten to the point where I wonder if it’s too early to start researching military academies for Henry.   Is it?   I mean, if I tell them my child is a juvenile delinquent and that I’m unable to whip him into shape the way my parents did (spankings and what not), then will they do it for me?   Seriously, I’m considering it.

I tell people about Henry and I hear the same. old. thing.   “Not my sweet Henry.   Not that cute little boy.  Maybe you should let me have him for day.”  Yes!  I will give him to the least highest bidder for the day.  Heck, I’ll even pay you and I can guarantee that if he doesn’t turn you into a knee walking drunk, who wants to drown her sorrows in a bathtub full of whiskey every night, nothing will!   I would stake my life on the fact that my boy would turn even the driest person in the world into a raging alcoholic.   And I’m not really sure if they’ll thank me for it or forever curse me later.

I’ve been told it’s the second child syndrome.  Perhaps!  Perhaps that is the case.  He’s eager to do what his big brother does, but to do it in his own way, AND to do it better, no less.   He is strong willed and honestly there are some days when I’m almost tempted to rip off my shirt and just get the verbal, toddler flogging over with!  It’s a daily regime.   There’s rolling of eyes (mostly his), gnashing of teeth (both of us), and roars that could wake the greatest of hibernating bears (and I think he has me beat with the roars).

He’s bossy, domineering, whiney, dramatic, and I swear if he didn’t have his man parts, I would think I’ve been given a daughter!   I wake up daily, praying to make it at least through my coffee (I’ve given up trying to make it through breakfast) before having a melt down to rival that of Chernobyl.  I actually get up EARLY just so that I can have some peace and quiet!  I sacrifice my sleep! By 10 am, I’m wondering if I could sneak in a beer.   By noon, I’m thinking my husband better not be late getting home.  By 3, I’m telling myself it’s 5 o’clock somewhere and then considering how it would look to go into the local liquor store with my two kids in tow.   I think the owner and everyone else would understand and once they met Henry, I bet my first bottle would be free.

The one perk to this kid’s attitude…I NEVER regret my decision to have a tubaligation.   Smartest decision I’ve ever made. EVER!

 

So Long! Farewell!

first day of school
First Day of School for the 2015/2016 School Year.

“Tomorrow is the last day of school,” I said quietly to my husband last night as we sat on the couch reading books.   We’d just put both boys to bed and were relaxing.   I had attempted to get my mind focused on my book, to get lost in a fictional world, but my mind kept evading the words on the pages.   I kept thinking about the last day of school.

“It makes me sad,” I continued when my husband didn’t say anything to me.

“Why?  Because you’ll have to have them the entire time?” he asked me.  I was shocked and angered by his pointedness.   It hurt, I can’t lie, but I brushed it off as the tears started to roll down my cheeks.

“No.  I’m sad because it’s another chapter that is written and closing.   I’m sad because for some reason it is just hitting me that Davey will be 5 in just 4 short months.”

And there it was.   My oldest, the one who made me a mother, is quickly becoming a big boy, a child no more, someone who won’t need or want mom’s hugs and kisses.   Then there’s Henry, my demon child who’s an angel for everyone else.   Well, he’s officially going into K2 AND on top of that is getting a big boy room!   It’s just too much!

There are times, especially on days like the last few I’ve had, when I wish I had a time machine like Orson Welles wrote about.   I’d want this time machine to take me back to the moments in my children’s lives.   I want to get out and experience it all over again, not just relive it all through videos and pictures.   My husband asked me if this meant I wanted to start over, to have another child?   No.  I don’t want that.   I just want my babies to still be my babies.

As I picked the boys up from school today, I found myself choking back tears and trying to beat down that lump slowly rising in my throat.   Henry’s teacher actually cried when he hugged her.   As a matter of fact, he hugged every teacher and even a few of the kids.   When I spoke to him this morning about it being his last day and not getting to see Levi, Tommy, and Rob again, he asked, “why?” and his little lip quivered.   Shame on me for stirring up that emotion especially since it broke my heart a little and even more so when I saw the sweetness that is my Henry hug all of his friends good bye and exclaim, “have a good summer.”

Davey hugged his teachers, he hugged his classmates, and even managed to squeeze in a hug for another parent.   As he was being placed in the car, one of the teachers asked if he was enrolled to come back next year, because as she said, “I just can’t imagine my school year without this happy face.”

I have my trying days with my boys, days when I want to throw in the towel, days when my patience gets the better of me.  I have days when I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and then shout from the rafters, “I can’t wait for you two to grow up!”   Am I really ready for them to grow up?   Probably not, but I don’t have a say in the matter.

So, as we say, “so long and farewell” to this school year, I want to give a huge thank you to every teacher who has worked with my both of my boys, who have loved them, taught them, and treasured them as much as I do.   I’m excited for K4 & K2 next year, but right now I desperately want to cling to their memories and adventures from this past year.   I’m afraid that the winds of change may rip the balloon string from my fingers, their innocence and childhood floating away.

last day of school
Last day of school for the 2015/2016 school year.

No Regrets

“You want to be a pilot?  Well, are you training to be a pilot?   Are you studying to be one?   Are you doing anything that is helping you to accomplish that dream?  No?  Well, then you’re just living a fantasy.”

Those were the words spoken at a high school graduation I attended on Friday night.   I call myself a writer, but I was just asked by a friend over the weekend how my writing was going.   We don’t see each other that often, since she lives out of town, but we both share a love of writing and a love of books.  Apparently, she is, or I should say was, a reader of my blogs and she noticed I hadn’t written in a while, a month to be exact.   “Well, you do have two boys.  You’re hands are full,” she said eager to make me feel not guilty for not writing.   She’s right, but being a mom is no excuse for not still finding some time for me.

Thursday I listened to a news report on Morley Safer.   The veteran reporter, an original of CBS’ 60 Minutes had passed away.   Being the dork that I am, and always have been, I love news programs and 60 Minutes is one of my favorites.   I had recorded the special from the previous Sunday, which was a story on basically the life of Morley Safer.   I listened to his news reports from Vietnam, how he had once occupied the same desk as Edward R. Murrow (whose reporting from WWII I would love to hear), and got a glimpse of his office at 60 Minutes.   He still used an old typewriter and wrote stories in a manner of Hemingway.   His words were melodic and could put you right into the scene.   You could smell the surroundings just from the words he used.

Years and years ago, my dream was to be a journalist.   I didn’t want to be on television.   No offense to any of my former colleagues, but television reporting is too froo froo.   The story seems to be lost in all of the graphics and commercialization of television.   No, I wanted to be a newspaper reporter.   My idols were Woodward and Bernstein.  I wanted to be a writer, but for various reasons in my life (mostly immaturity and a lack of discipline)I never followed through with that dream, and now it is a regret.

Over the weekend, my husband and I also attended a memorial service for a former friend and teammate.   We were told stories of our friend and how he followed his dreams, at times perhaps with the occasional regret, but he was doing what he loved.   All of this has weighed heavily upon me and while I try to not have regrets, I worry about whether my boys may encounter this.

I go out of my way, sacrificing of myself, to make sure my boys experience everything.   I want them to be able to do everything they want to do, so that one day they don’t wake up and say, “I regret not taking the time.”

For me, I regret not writing for my college newspaper.   I regret not being more involved with the political parties at my school.  I regret not taking the opportunity of a research assistant for a book (which has been published and without me) more seriously.   I regret taking all of these opportunities for granted and thinking to myself, “no worries, Amy, another opportunity will come along.”

My boys are 4 & 2.   Perhaps they are too young for me to worry about taking things for granted.   Perhaps they won’t be like me and just assume that everything will be there tomorrow.   I don’t regret being their mother.   My life may not have been the way I had originally imagined it to be, but it is an exceptional life and not a fantasy.

I may have missed my chance to be the next great journalist or writer.   I may have forfeited an opportunity to write briefs for the State Department, but I have new opportunities presenting themselves daily.

We all have regrets.   Morley Safer said he felt guilty for being gone months on end on assignment while his daughter grew up.   He stopped short of saying he regretted what he had done.   I’m thankful to have the opportunity to be at home with my children as they grow.   I now just need to find a way to still carve out time for me and not beating myself up for what I perceive to be my shortcomings and failures.   They’re all superficial and callous, but they are what make me who I am and there is still a strong sense of determination to at least make my children not experience their regrets to the level I still do

Goodbye, Little Room

For nearly five years, the room has been a home to our boys.  It’s been their room, their nursery.  It’s been the place where they rolled over for the first time, learned to sit on their own, and the bane of my existence on many a sleepless night as my little ones cried out in their first few months in this world.

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Starting the nursery.

Five years ago, my husband and I began the process of turning one of our guest rooms into a nursery.   When we set out to create the room, neither one of us were looking for the high end glamour found between the glossy pages of the hundreds of magazines that cater to parents.  No.  We didn’t want something sophisticated or snobbish.   We wanted fun.   We wanted a children’s room, not a miniature version of our room.  We wanted something that screamed, “a child lives in here,” and full of bright colors and shapes.   So, without knowing the sex of our first child, we started on one of our first adventures down parenthood lane.

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The finished wall.

We chose a white bed just so we could match it with a dresser and nightstand that we already had.   And then going with the most gender neutral of themes, as well as something I knew my husband would like, we decided to turn the room into a nautical adventure.

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One wall became a sea and sky, with various sea life decals along with the sun, clouds, and a few sea gulls.   From that point forward, we just accessorized and within a few weeks, not only did we know we were having a little boy, but also Captain Davey’s cabin was complete aboard the S.S. Doser.

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The nursery is slowing becoming no more. 

 

From the start, I sat in the floor of the room, breathing in the tranquility and imagining what our lives would be like.   I read to Davey as he kicked in my belly, told him stories about his room, what it was like and how much I knew he would love it.   I would lie on the floor and romanticize about my happy little home and family, my little baby toddling around.   I planned out his first 18 years of life lying on that floor.   It was the greatest room in the house and I never wanted to leave.

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Davey, and my husband and I, enjoyed nearly two years in that room.   Two years of sleepless nights, of stories, of rocks in the rocking chair, of sleeping on the floor while Davey held to my hand just so he would feel safe.  We had two years of more memories than I ever thought possible.  Then Henry came along, and the cabin became the quarters of Captain Henry.  Another round of sleepless nights followed, along with afternoons of his big brother watching over him while he napped.   Dixie even managed to sleep in front of the crib some days, ever the Henry’s protector.   Now, nearly 2 & 1/2 years later, this little square room of bliss and memories, is soon graduating up as we turn the nursery into Henry’s big boy room.

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This afternoon, I began the painstaking process of taking down decorations, removing books, and taking down curtains.   I’ve started patching holes where nails and screws once resided.   With each piece of decoration that came out of the room, my heart hurt just a little.   As I began repairing holes, a tear travelled down my cheek, and then I had to stop.   I had to just take this room in again, a room that has served as nothing more than a place for my boys to sleep, and look at it again.   I had to look at each little corner, each little area of the carpet and just as if they were holograms coming forth from my memories, I could see my boys as babies in this room, and I began to cry.

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Davey the protector.

I never thought it would hit me this hard.   I never thought that removing baby items would hurt the way it has.   Truthfully, I’m a bit nervous as to how I’ll be on Saturday when the crib comes completely down and a new queen size bed sits in its place.  This is a chapter that is quickly closing in our lives.   It saddens me and yet excites me at the same time.   What new adventures will await us?   What sort of mischief will be caused by Henry once he has his big boy room in place?   And just like five years ago, I find myself sitting on the floor of the nursery, it’s pitiful, naked, saddened state, and wondering what will our lives be like next year?

While the walls of the room may still stand tall and strong, I feel as if we are saying, “goodbye, little room.  Just like your inhabitants, it’s time for you to grow.”

The Pleasure Principle

There are times in your life when you regret certain financial decisions.  Perhaps you shouldn’t have purchased that luxury car, or maybe that flat panel 60″ tv wasn’t such a good idea.   Of course, there’s those $500 Manolo Blahniks you convince you’re husband you’ll wear everyday and with every outfit, only to find out that they hurt your feet so much, that you’re spending the same amount of money on daily foot massages.   And then there are days like today, when you realize that perhaps you jumped the gun just a bit when you decided that it was ok to finally have your hair colored, obliterating that mocking gray hair that has begun showing it’s nasty claws.

Last month, I thought it was high time I should color this gray hair.   I felt the gray had worn out its welcome, as if I’d ever willingly hold open the door and allow it into my life.  I thought it was a wonderful time for a fresh start.   Henry’s two years old, I’m fixed, so there won’t be anymore little Dosers to grace this world, and I’ve begun triathlon training again, which means I’m FINALLY getting my pre-baby (more like pre-Henry, since I lost all of it I gained with Davey) weight back.     Why not get a whole new look?   Why not spend that money to get the good salon job, not the $10 “wash that gray right outta my hair” drugstore purchase?   Why not?   Let me tell you “why not”.  One word, or should I say “one name”…HENRY!

This afternoon, my darling second child decided that I needed more excitement in my life.   Apparently, he felt that either a.) he wasn’t getting his fair share of attention, b.) that I had become much too relaxed in my parenting, or c.) his pleasure principle was in overload and was taking over any and all ration thought.

This afternoon, while walking into my office, I came through our 20 foot foyer, our staircase climbing along the right side of the wall.  My idea???  I hadn’t written a blog in a while, and although I had no clue what I wanted to write it on, I knew I needed to write, if not for my followers (thank you to all of you), then at least for me.   I continued to contemplate, “what will I write about, have there been any firsts with the kids or with me?” And that, my friends, is when my darling, sweet little Henry seemed to call out to me with my latest blog post.   Yes, yes, as I walked into the foyer I heard, “Hey, Mom,” calling out from right above my head.  Was I imagining this?   He seemed so close and right above my head, surely I was wrong.  Or was I?

As I turned around and began looking upward, I saw my two year old, his feet along the outer parts of the staircase railing, his one hand grasped tightly on the spindles, and his other hand extended out waving to me.   I nearly crapped myself!  My stomach dropped, my voice rain away deep within the confines of my throat, and my mind completely went blank.   With no thoughts of what was happening, no screams of fear or worry, I jumped the gate, which was strategically placed at the bottom of the staircase, and bounded up the stairs, 5 at a time (thank God I have long legs!).   12 feet in the air was my baby, my second born, my flesh and blood, precariously climbing up the outer parts of the staircase by holding onto the railing.   There was nothing to protect him should he lose his grip.  The only thing to break his fall?   A plant and wooden table.   And God help me if he were to accidentally hit the mirror hanging on the wall above the plant.   If the fall alone didn’t break his neck and kill him, then the cut from the mirror may well do it.

It took a split second for me to reach him, a huge smile upon his face, and pull him back over to the “safe” side of the staircase.   He was smiling the entire time, until he looked into my eyes and seemed to register the fear he had forced into my life.

“Henry, what were you thinking?” I asked as I tried to prevent myself from going hysterical, the continuous thoughts of him falling playing over and over in my brain.

“I wanna go upstairs, mom,” he said so nonchalantly.

“But, you can’t climb like that.  You could get hurt,” I said as I carried him down the stairs.   He just looked at me, as if not registering what I was saying.

My boys are so different.   I try not to compare, but it’s hard when you’ve raised one who is cautious, thoughtful, and a thinker.   Davey is a “look before you leap” sort of kid.   Henry?   His pleasure principle seems to be in overload and he’s not grasping the consequences.  Not only did he stop my heart, turn all of my hair white, and age me another 40 years, but he also reminded me of how grateful I am that he is my last, otherwise I may not be alive to see my oldest graduate from kindergarten much less college.

 

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Picture my 2 year old, holding on directly above the mirror. Picture it for a moment and let it settle.

 

Today, We Swim With Fishes

The morning was gray.  Thick clouds snuffed out the sunlight.   It was early, much too early for a Friday morning, for us to be awake and tackling a day.

The secret had remained safe, tucked within the confines of mine and my husband’s brain.  Once, just the night before, my husband had nearly opened the gates of Castle Secret and allowed the family adventure to escape prematurely.   Fortunately, the wheels remained locked and the chains never allowed the bridge to unfurl.   We’d planned the day for weeks, discussing in depth what we would do, and clinging to the mercy of Mother Nature before we could truly decide.   The mists of rain, saddening fog, and all around dullness of the morning gave us our answer.   We needed bright colors, non stop entertainment, and adventures galore.

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At 7:00 a.m., The Doser Family Friday of Fun trekked out into the dismal morning.   My husband and I had only moments before decided to share with our boys where we were going…The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

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Davey seems to have an obsession with whale sharks and stingrays.   He talks of them profusely, reading and re-reading the book of sea creatures given to him by his Aunt Dee Dee.   He can tell the difference between the various species of sharks and whales, determining which is which and what each one’s purpose is.   Once we told him of our adventure, made even more special by the fact that Daddy was taking an entire day off from work, his chatter never ceased.   Would we pet stingrays?  Would we see whale sharks?  What about crabs?

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Two years ago, while Henry was a mere six months old, we made our first trip to the Georgia Aquarium.   We touched stingrays, met a real live Nemo, watched a dolphin show, and rode along a conveyor belt through a tunnel of water full of fish.   Obviously, Henry couldn’t recall it, but Davey still did.

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He was at full speed as we walked into the aquarium, eager to go from one exhibit to the next.   My husband and I took a deep breath, as Henry struggled to break free from our grasp and chase after his brother.   We were in for an exhausting day, a long day, and a day we were sure would test our true levels of patience.

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As we made our way through, I saw the aquarium through a different set of eyes.   I saw a true inquisitive nature, one of wonder and excitement.   For me, an aquarium has always been nothing more than ho-hum.   I see the fish and various sea creatures with not much curiosity.   My boys?   Their wonderment never ceases to amaze me.

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I watched as their eyes grew narrow when truly studying a fish.   Their heads would tilt from one side to the next.   Henry would slowly take his finger and push on the glass while asking what kind of fish we were looking at.   When the glass wall emerged, with three beluga whales swimming towards them, my boys jumped with excitement, their eyes growing wider.   Davey tried to run along the glass wall eager to keep pace with the whales, while Henry just stood in amazement, his mouth agape.

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We watched the dolphin show.  Henry tilted his head back and laughed hysterically with each somersault performed by the dolphins.   “That’s silly,” he would exclaim before another belly laugh would overtake him.

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We watched a 4D version of Happy Feet in the theatre and when the whale crashed down into the water, we felt sprays of water as well.   Davey laughed, while Henry shook his head and pursed his lips looking as if he were sucking on a lemon.   My husband and I, alone, would have had an enjoyable time, but we wouldn’t have had an adventure and the time of our lives.   We wouldn’t have laughed as hard as we did, smiled as much, or even run as much.

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As the day closed out, the rain began coming down.   We quickly, but sluggishly, walked back to the car.   Once in the car, and after surviving a power outage in Atlanta, our boys were fast asleep.   While watching them nap, I thought of how my husband and I use to be able to go places at the drop of the hat.   We would vacation in Jamaica, cruise the Caribbean, spend a last minute weekend in the mountains.   We used to do all of this, but I can’t recall having the same level of fun as we had when with our boys on Friday.