The Holiday Cliche & Parenting

Written on 11/30/13:
The kitchen smells like pumpkin pie (Marie Callendar’s on sale after Thanksgiving, bitches!), holiday classics are streaming through the speakers, and there are boxes of Christmas decorations in our living room just waiting to be busted into. Oh man, and Nat King Cole’s Christmas Song has just started to play; that’s my jam. I’m in full holiday mode. There isn’t a flake of snow on the ground, but Connor and I have already watched Frosty the Snowman and The Little Drummer Boy today. Love for this time of the year is in his DNA. I have some pointless regrets about Little Pea’s birthday coming at such a packed time of year, but he will be born when people are full of holiday warmth, hot cider, and festive cookies. Doesn’t seem like such a bad time of year to be born after all.

Z and I have debated the commercialization of the holiday, but no matter where you stand on the subject I believe that if you hold onto any shred of the meaning of the season you can enjoy giving even if you’re standing at a long checkout line or waiting to click the “Submit” button on your online order or as you pull your umpteenth batch of cookies from the oven way too late at night. Hopefully, though, the real joy comes from reconnecting with yourself and others, because taking time to appreciate yourself is just as important – if not more so – as giving someone else a hug, kiss, or pat on the back. I hope I say “I love you” and “Thank you” as much all year as I do in November and December. It doesn’t matter, though. Saying it at all and meaning it at any time is makes living worthwhile.

Written on 12/4/13:
It’s hard to make many plans for Christmas and New Year’s because we don’t know when Little Pea will make his arrival. I’ve heard people say that if you carry your baby a certain way it’s likely to be a boy or a girl. Even though we know Little Pea is a boy, I think I’m carrying him in my booty. Whenever I get up from a reclining position my butt cheeks ache when the most strenuous thing I’ve done all day was try to put my socks on, which can be hella difficult with basically a watermelon under your shirt. Heck, getting up from a reclining position is a workout in and of itself at this point.

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I’m comforted by the thought of Little Pea’s infancy; what I will be concerned with after he’s born is purely his survival. It’s so primitively simple – he needs to eat, sleep, and be cleaned. Done. On the other end of the spectrum is ‘Rado. Eating, sleeping, and staying acceptably clean are givens – what concerns me now is his social development and how to deal with his toddler ‘tude and anger. When my nephew was younger he would “hulk out,” meaning he would clench his fists and jaw and just shake for a few seconds. Connor does that. He will also clench his teeth and say, “You listen to me, mom/dad,” he will throw things on the floor to observe our reactions, and he will say “No!” with the voice of a possessed elf. Standard toddler fare, right? I just don’t know how to handle it or if it’s even worth handling right now. Can I use the “I’m pregnant” excuse for everything I want to run away from?

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Then again, it’s ridiculous to think that we won’t make mistakes as parents. If to err is human, what is to be expected when an older, tainted, uncertain human is completely in charge of an innocent, utterly trusting, new one? It’s great, the variety in the world because of crazy, good, honest, loving, parenting parents.

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Moments

The past few days have been filled with Connor moments that I’ve been eating up like petit fours – sweet, indulgent little moments that I can’t get enough of.  Like last Saturday when we went to the wedding reception of a family friend’s and Connor kept grabbing my dad by the hand and pulling him out onto the dance floor so he could watch ‘Rad shake his tush.  And that same night, when my little man was getting down with his bad self on the dance floor, although maybe at inappropriate times (I’m sure the newlyweds didn’t mind sharing their first dance with Connor or sharing the floor with him during the cake cutting ceremony and their parents didn’t mind that there was a little bow-tied lad shaking his rump on the dance floor while they were doing their father-daughter, mother-son dances.  Nah).  Or like last night when he wanted to sit on my lap and held on to my finger with one hand while his blue metal car ran over my homework with the other.  And tonight, when he rushed up to my parents’ legs to give them their good night hugs after dinner.  Right now he’s the perfect balance of sweetness, independence, awe, and awesomeness.  Plus, he still lets me dress him in adorable little outfits and tiny shoes, so we’re rocking the ‘Rado and Mom relationship pretty all right.  

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I’m still working on being the mother and person I want ‘Rado to remember and learn from.  Today was a bad mini-crisis day – every event of the day felt like a mini-crisis in itself.  But I’m ready to start over.  That’s one of the many magical qualities of sleep; I always feel like I have a clean slate when I wake up.  A clean slate means another chance to do better and to do good.  Funny thing is, the more I think about trying to do good or do better, the more likely I am to mess up or make mistakes.  All roads go back to intuition and the inner voice.  Still trying to make mine heard.

Mini-Life Crisis

I think I’m hitting a mini-life crisis.  Maybe this is just a warm up for the mythical mid-life one, but my mind has been in a whirl the past few days and I don’t think anything can settle it except for a lot of thinking, reading, quiet time, sleeping (that one might be a pipe dream), and talking.  Currently, the only one of those that I do a lot of is thinking, and it’s typically of the what-am-I-going-to-eat-next-what-do-I-have-to-do-next-I’m-so-overworked variety.  So yeah, I have some work to do.

What brought it on?  Well, I’m still trying to fully transition to life back in our hometown.  Maybe that’s my first problem.  How can I expect to fully transition back to a life that I’ve never had before?  Sure, my hometown and I have a long history, and of course Z, ‘Rad, and I have grown to know and become pretty fond of each other, but those two things never spent much time together before the end of last August.  Yet here I am, expecting one day to wake up with a life like the one I used to have, aspects of which are one of the reasons that we moved back home in the first place.  I am a poster child for hindsight being 20/20.  I don’t regret out move back to Michigan, but I was so farsighted in our Madison life.  I don’t think yearly check-ups are enough for my distorted vision.  Bottom line: I need to stop looking for a life that is parked in time back in a state full of Green Bay Packer fans.  The latter should be enough for me to let go of that life willingly.

This book has also made me think.  A lot.  I have never been an “instincts” or “listen to your heart” type of person.  I wasn’t raised that way.  A heart was important as part of the human anatomy, but as far as organs to play Simon Says with, the brain was it.  The brain has been in for over 30 years.  Education and doing well in school were and still are two of the most important things to me.  In the few times that I’ve tried to “go with my gut,” I’ve felt uncertain and skeptical, like any advice offered from that romanticized viscera was as trustworthy and arbitrary as that found in a cootie catcher.  Up until this point, I knew my heart beated but highly questioned it’s directional capabilities.  I’m starting to think I’m wrong.  I want Connor to use his mind to the best of his abilities, sure, but I don’t want his heart to be neglected.  I don’t doubt that I’m loved, but my heart has been suffocating for years under my own misdirection.  His needs to breath – take big, full breaths that will feed his mind and soul for his whole life.  No part of him should hide or suffocate.  Every part of him is beautiful and needs to be nourished and honored.  How can I expect to nourish his heart and soul when my myopic heart has been sitting on the steps, mourning the loss of its crushed bifocals for so long?

This will not be an easy transition.  I’m not even sure where to start.  I’m pretty sure my brain has a voice modulator on my heart to disguise it as something untrustworthy or something to listen to skeptically at best.  I guess I’ll just try to listen closely.  I’ll start with the quiet time.