Letter to my unborn son

Standard

As I sit here, I can barely reach the keyboard for this growing 34-week belly.  Inside is my precious son.  My second son, who will make his arrival within the next few weeks.  I have known that I was pregnant with him since July 3rd, which put me at about 3.5 weeks, and I will not hesitate to tell you that July 3rd feels like a lifetime ago (no pun intended).  I am at the crossroads of “I’m going to enjoy this last pregnancy not wish it away” and “Dear Lord, I’ll be glad when I can see my feet again.”  Anyway, time is almost up, and I wish so much that I could enlighten my sweet baby on what awaits him in this world.  If I could, here is what I would say.

Dear Son,

We’ve been together, just the two of us, for quite some time now.  I have experienced every little type of kick and nudge from you.  I’ve heard your heart beat no fewer than ten times, and each time it was a brand new beautiful song to my ears.  I am so excited and nervous about meeting you.  In case you somehow haven’t heard yet, you will not be my only child.  No, you will be my younger child.  There is, I feel the need to warn you (yes, warn) that you have an older brother.

I am sure in the last few months, you have probably heard him.  He is the one that calls me “Mom”.  He is pretty loud. His name is James.  He is almost four, and he’s amazing.  He talks about you all of the time.  He told me that you will have yellow hair like him and brown eyes like me 🙂  I don’t care how you look, but of course he’s very curious by now.  I think he’s probably already awakened you a few times, and I hate to say it, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.  James is very charismatic.  He loves to talk and share his ideas.  He is very loving when he’s happy and very… clear about his emotions when he’s anything other than happy.  Whatever he feels, he lets it loose. There is never a moment where you will have to wonder what James is feeling or thinking.  He is already very protective of you.  He will not let me carry him for fear of “hurting Kody”.  He hugs you and tells you good night.  He talks to you, and sometimes he will even answer for you (once again, probably something you’ll get used to).  Last night, he patted my belly and said, “Chill out, Kody.” Simply because that’s his newest catch-phrase, and then he laughed until he fell in the floor.  He will take good care of you, I think.  Let me alleviate some anxiety by telling you that despite his intense suggestions, I will not allow him to put you in the back of his green John Deere truck and drive you around until you are well over a year old.  🙂

I also want to tell you that someday, when you are older, you will probably see a home video of me, your dad, and James at the beach.  I was pregnant with you at the time, and you’ll probably hear your dad say something along the lines of how this “next baby will be a girl… let’s hope.”  Sorry about that.  I will admit that your dad was, in a way, hoping for a girl for one reason only: in hopes that she would be calmer and more gentle than your brother.  See, James is pretty rough on Dad.  Wrestling with him is his favorite activity in the world, and he’s pretty strong, so Dad was hoping for a baby that might not want to wrestle so very much or so very intensely.  When I realized you would be my second son, I did have a moment of sadness at the thought of all the things I would never do with a daughter, but it was not a moment of sadness about you… just a moment when I had to let go of some things.  When your dad realized you were a boy, I think he might have fainted if there hadn’t been an entire basketball team watching him take the call.  It took us a while to settle into the idea of two boys simply because James is SO MUCH BOY.  You will see what I mean when you get here.  But know this: you and James are all we have ever wanted.  There has never been one ounce of disappointment since we saw those two little pink lines back in July.

Well, I suppose we will meet soon. I will try to be patient.  Your room is all set.  My arms are ready to hold you, and I still know the words to “You Are My Sunshine”, so whenever you’re ready just come on out.  Oh, and just ignore your dad when he talks about waiting until his 6th grade basketball tournament is over.  That is something only a non-pregnant person would say.  I love you already more than anyone else can love you.  Until then, kick James’s hand next time he touches my belly.  He would be over the moon if you did that.  Until we meet…

Love,

Mom

Advertisements

The Ugly Side of Marriage

Standard

The idea for this post came upon me as Kenny and I sat in a restaurant the other day, just the two of us, which is rare. Anyway, the booth to our left was occupied by a couple (middle-aged, I guess).  When we took our seats, we both exchanged a knowing smile because this couple was very much… lovey dovey, as Kenny calls it.  They were so lovey dovey that they were seated on the same side of the booth, which we always snicker about when we see.

I guess after 12 years of being a couple, we have moved past that stage, which really got my mind spinning about how differently we show our affection now, how differently we express our love to one another, and how to those on the outside, our marriage probably doesn’t even look very… pretty.  In fact, I know it doesn’t.  Others probably wonder how we are still even together after they have been around us for a while.  Between our ongoing commentary of witty insults and playful banter, we come across as pretty mean to each other, but there is much more there than what meets the eyes and ears.  We have over a decade of history.  We have almost half of our lives invested in one another and 100% of our adult lives committed to us and our family.  We have a marriage.

Does marriage have to be pretty?  I don’t think so.  In fact, I think a solid marriage probably isn’t that pretty.  Marriage is not what the media presents it to be.  It isn’t really that romantic in the traditional sense.  It isn’t full of grand gestures worthy of being scrapbooked.  Marriage is messy.  It’s learning to have a fight, more importantly learning to say you’re sorry.  It’s lying down in the same bed at night so exhausted that you can only lie in the dark and embrace before falling asleep.  It’s a text after work, “Did you make it home ok?”  It’s tears of happiness when you find out your family will grow by one and then waves of nervous nausea when you realize that your family is going to grow by one.  It’s getting up a little early when all you want to do is sleep so that you can make sure the other one isn’t stuck feeding the animals, warming the cars, packing lunches, etc. all alone.  It’s cleaning up the remains of a dirty diaper together while trying not to vomit.  It’s the excitement of putting presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, even if none of them are for you or him because all of the money was spent on the kids.  It’s getting out in eight degree weather with negative degree wind chills to check the air in her tires, so you know she and the kids will be safe.  It’s spending your anniversary at home watching Toy Story for the 675th time.  It’s staying up late to wash, dry, and iron a shirt, so he has it ready for his ball game the next day.  It’s sacrifice and more sacrifice.  It’s remembering the reason you fell in love and holding on to that desperately on the hard days, when all you really want to do is strangle him.  It’s years of fussing, laughing, hugging, having and holding from this day forward… It’s so much more than a bouquet of roses or a golden wedding band.

I know people who say that after a few years and a couple of kids, their marriage just didn’t have that spark anymore.  I understand.  We went through a time when there was more sad between us than happy, but I’m thankful for that time.  I’m proud of us for fighting through it and fighting for us.  I don’t need him to make a show of my birthday. I don’t need a candlelit dinner or new jewelry. I do, however, need the tires on my car checked. I need the witty remarks and insulting commentary because that’s comfortable for us.  It’s who we are as an “us”.  I guess in the end, my view from the other side of the booth may be flawed and may be known for leaving its socks anywhere but the hamper, but it’s mine and it’s perfect for me. Wedding Pictures #3 129

The Ways of Man

Standard

With all of this Christmas break on my hands, I’ve had a lot of time to consider all that I’ve learned from these wonderful men that I live with and clean up after no less than three times a day. Because I am a girl, grew up with a sister, and the majority of my cousins were girls, I, apparently, was clueless about males until I became a wife and mother. Here are some of the enlightening things I’ve learned from these men in my life.

1. A penis is a magical thing. Seriously. It has a magical power that makes its owner want to touch it a lot. Girls don’t understand this, because our women areas don’t have this magical power. Also, as a male ages, the more often he is encompassed by the penis’s magic. That is why men of all ages often have their hands down their pants.

2. When a man pees, it is important that he pee as quickly as possible. This means that sometimes it gets messy, but the important thing is that it’s done fast, not that it’s done without a mess.  Honestly, how messy can it be?

3. Also, peeing outside is a wonderful gift not to be overlooked (peeing, as you can tell, is really important to males). If you can go outside to pee without the pee freezing before it hits the ground, then it’s not too cold to pee outside. This is also the only time men feel the need to pee together. If it’s a trip to the bathroom, then forget it. That’s boring. And when you do pee outside, you should always aim for the same spot, that way you can watch your progress take shape in dead grass. With time, maybe that dead grass can even spell your own name, or your wife’s (a truly romantic notion).

4. When a man gets dressed, it is not what clothing he wears that is important. It is all about the accessories. You have to have the right hat: ball cap, cowboy hat, winter hat, etc. You need some boots: hunting, work, rain, cowboy, whatever… You also need a belt. This is not to hold your pants up but rather to store your weapons in (like your ninja turtle sword) or to hold your flashlight. You also need some gloves. Tough, heavy duty work gloves, preferably some that are really dirty and serve as proof that you are indeed wearing work gloves in order to work.

5. If it is hot weather, then you won’t need as many accessories, and you certainly don’t need any clothes.

6. Only women wear pants when they are home without company. Boys don’t need pants. They hinder the magic of the penis.

7. Anything with wheels is cool. Period.

8. You can make a gun out of anything. Your finger (which is frowned upon in most educational facilities), a straw from your sippy cup, your toothbrush, a pop-tart… you get the point.

9. Shooting guns or playing swords is a great way to spend time. It is important however, that when you play these games that you do not cheat. If you get “shot” or “stabbed”, you should acknowledge it on your own and act the part. Don’t make the shooter or stabber tell you that you’re dead. It’s rude and takes the fun right out of it.

10. There is no humor that is funnier than farting humor. This is not limited to just farting and laughing. No, it includes laughing when others fart. Laughing when others recognize the fart. Laughing when someone on TV farts; laughing when something sounds like a fart, even if it is not a fart, at all. Anything to do with a fart is really golden in the world of humor.

11. Getting dirty is fun. If it’s muddy, sticky, slimy, etc., it’s cool. The bigger the mess, the more fun it was.

12. Building fires is also a great way to spend time. Fire is neat-o. Watching sticks burn is cool, but watching other stuff burn is way cooler, especially when things pop as they burn or put out black smoke.

13. A man needs a truck. This is similar to the way a woman needs a purse. They need to have a place to carry their stuff. When you get a truck, you should immediately carry a few things in it, including but not limited to rope, some shotgun shells, an empty bottle, a ball cap, and some nails.

14. When a man gets his truck, it is important to take it through the mud. You need to test it out to see if it’ll get stuck or not. It’s okay if it gets stuck, because being stuck in the stinky mud is great. It’s messy, which goes with #11, and you get to pull it out. That means you’re dealing with stuff with wheels, which deals with #7.

15. Boys don’t cry a lot. If they do need to cry, it is because something very sad has happened or they’ve been hurt really badly or they just lost a huge Cars balloon in the middle of Walmart when it floated to the ceiling.  It’s not like when girls cry over sad songs. That’s silly. Also, boys don’t cry happy tears, unless they just discovered a new truck complete with a new gun and gun rack and have some cool new boots to wear while they drive it through stinky mud.  That’s okay to have happy tears for.

16. Men don’t wear panties. This is a hard habit for me, because I still wear panties, and I’m corrected daily on this. Men wear underwear. Don’t forget it.

17. When a man takes off his underwear, it is important that he do a trick with them. For example, Kenny flips his into the hamper (or near it) with his toes. James, however, likes to do the two-footed jump out of his underwear. Whatever trick is done, it needs to be witnessed by a female… witnessed and applauded.

18. It is acceptable to call another person into the restroom to see your poop. Not only it is acceptable, but it is encouraged. Once again, women don’t do this. I’m new to this one totally. And disgusted… very disgusted.

19. Men like to do manly things, and they like for women to notice these things. This can include anything from arm wrestling a bear to shaving his face to getting his truck stuck in the mud.

20. Males are genuinely well-meaning, even if they are gross and stinky and bewildering.

I know that I have two (almost three) men who teach me daily the wonderful ways of man. I look forward to (mostly) all of the future lessons they have to teach me.

Aside

IMG_0249When Kenny and I got married, we were immediately hounded with the question, “So when are you going to have a baby?” Hounded, as in, while we were cutting the cake, I think.  Ha!  We answered that question the same say for five years, “When we can keep a dog alive for several years, we will have a baby.”  Then, suddenly, Harry our shihtzu was four years old and we found ourselves pregnant.  This, of course, abated the question of procreation for a few months, technically nine.  Once, however, James lost his belly button, though, the questioning started again.  This time, it was, “So when are you going to have another one?”  Kenny and I, sighing deeply, would always respond, “When we forget how awful James has been… hahaha”  sort of hahaha.  It was true, though.  James was a… challenge.  Anyone who has ever spent more than ten minutes in his presence would agree with this statement, even his grandmothers, who swear he is an angel.

Well, back in the spring, we noticed that James was considerably less… annoying, and in a moment of euphoria (James must have been asleep), we decided that we were ready to try again.  What seemed like four seconds later, we were seeing six pink lines from three different tests and feeling a little shocked that it was happening so soon.  Yet, we knew it was time.  Of course once everyone settled into the idea of baby #2, they immediately began prodding us about a #3.  I suppose once or twice we got some strange looks when we would laugh out loud at this suggestion.  Whoa, people!  Let’s be glad for #2!  James almost made himself an only child.  He was the best birth control ever!  I videoed him as a baby and toddler when he was at his worst, so that one day I could have a talk with him about safe sex, armed with proof as to why it was important that he wait… motivation by fear is a very effective method 🙂  Now here we are being pressured about having more than two, and all Kenny and I can do is pray that #2 isn’t just like his big brother.
The truth is, we have already made a decision on future babies.  There won’t be any.  Yes, we are sure.  Yes, we have thought about it.  Yes, we know that this next one might be the most docile and laid-back child that ever was.  But you don’t get it… especially those of you who had good babies.  There are lots of reasons why this decision was relatively easy for us.  The first is obvious.  James was a difficult baby, was a trying toddler, and is a precocious preschooler.  He has kept us busy, tired, and uncomfortable since the day he arrived (and also full of happiness and love).  We are in love with that sweet boy more than we can even understand.  But, before him, Kenny and I had it all figured out.  We were so in sync with one another that we weren’t just “on the same page”.  We were on the same word of the same sentence of the same paragraph… so on.  But when James entered our lives, we were no longer even in the same library.  James sent us on a tailspin, our marriage on a tailspin.  It has taken us three years to get back to what we were, to get back to us.  We are eager to enjoy our children and then spend time with one another again.  Kenny and I are best friends; we have been since I was sixteen and he was seventeen.  Our life as a married couple includes having children; it isn’t just about having children.  We enjoy one another’s company, but when you have kids, that time together is nearly nonexistent.  Since we only have a precious few years raising babies, we know that someday it’ll be just us here again.  While we aren’t eager for our kids to grow up and move away, we do know that when that happens, we will have each other to ourselves again, and that’s a nice thought.

You know, I admire those couples who make parenting look so easy.  I don’t think we really do that.  I think when we have family outings that it probably prevents a lot of babies… lol.  But really, parenting is hard.  I once heard that having a child is like having your heart to walk around outside of your body.  That is impeccably true.  Kenny and I both worry incessantly, about his healthy, his safety, his happiness.  I don’t think I could do that for several children.  I don’t think I could take the anxiety that something might happen.  I’m not strong enough.  We aren’t strong enough.  I can’t even read the news now that I’m a mom.  It hurts me to think of the possibilities.

So, yeah, we are “done”.  No, I don’t want to try for a girl.  I am 100% happy with my two boys.  I know how precious a little girl would be.  Trust me, when the ultrasound tech pointed out that little penis back in November, my heart did drop a little.  I did shed a tear for all of the things I would never be able to do: braid my daughter’s hair, buy her dresses, help her plan her wedding, watch her carry her own child for nine months.  But God has given me boys for a reason.  I need these boys.  They have so much to teach me, about them, about males in general, about life, about me.  I know all about girls.  I guess God knew I needed a challenge. LOL… good one, God.  But seriously, two children are enough for us.  We are fulfilled.  In fact, our cup doesn’t just runneth over, it floodeth over.  When the time comes to give birth to this sweet little boy, I will know that this will be the last time that I will bring a child into this world, and I’m okay with that.

You answered that a little too quickly…

Teacher? Mother? What’s the difference?

Standard

As most of you know, I am not one of those people who is highly tolerant of stupid people. Now, I’m not talking about someone who simply doesn’t know any better. I’m talking about that person who absolutely knows that what they’re doing is not a good idea but does it anyway. For example, the grown man who lit a firecracker up his rear. Google it… you’d be amazed.

Yes, in fact, I’m quite tolerant with those who don’t know better, especially kids.  I don’t mind kids because to a certain extent, we expect kids to mess up and in order to learn, they need to make mistakes (obviously not the kind of mistakes that leave major burns and scars on one’s bum but normal mistakes like accidentally burning one’s eyebrows off while grilling). That’s why I love teaching. Kids are great. It’s much easier for me to be surrounded by teenagers than adults. Is that weird? Probably, but most teachers agree that you have to be a little weird in order to be a teacher.  Here is my point.  There really isn’t much difference in being a teacher and a mother.

I didn’t always believe this, but now that I’m examining it more closely, my views have changed.  Here we go: Every day (including the weekends) I’m in the presence of someone’s kid, whether it be mine or 70 who belong to various members of the community.  Granted, there is a major difference in 1 preschooler and 70 teens, but if you’ve met my kid, you’d probably take the 70 teens 🙂  Also, when I’m with these kids, I have to take care of them.  What that entails varies from ensuring they make it to the potty, to teaching them new skills, to making sure they feel loved.  If you aren’t a teacher or never had a teacher who loved his or her job, then you probably scoff at the idea that teachers love their kids.  But it’s true.  I do love my kids.  I call them “my kids” because that’s how it feels.  I spend a great deal of time with them.  I learn when their birthdays are, what they like and dislike (usually writing essays and school food), major events in their lives, what their parents are like, where they went on vacation or what they got for Christmas, etc.  By the time May rolls around, we are well-informed about one another.  I am like their “school mommy”.  When they cry, they go to me or another “school mommy”.  When they get hurt, they tell me.  When they need help of any kind, I know about it.  “Mrs. Martin” is not that different from “mom”.  In fact, I’ve even been called “mom” a couple of times when they weren’t paying attention.  LOL Boy is that embarrassing for a teen… calling your teacher mom… Anyway, how I treat my kids isn’t all that different from how I treat my own kid, minus the hugs and kisses.

I expect James and my teens to behave. I expect them to learn.  I expect them to pay attention when I’m talking and learn from their mistakes.  I expect them to do well in life, and because I expect so much out of them, then hopefully someday they’ll expect that much out of themselves and others, as well.  I believe in tough love.  If you don’t meet my expectations, you will be corrected.  Granted, I can’t put 70 teens into time out, but I can hold a mean study hall during break.  I treat my teens the way I want James’s teachers to treat him.

Teaching is messy.  It’s almost as messy as motherhood.  I’ve wiped tears, given hugs, shared words of encouragement and advice, taught countless skills, discussed topics of life and death, watched them grow, corrected their mistakes, avoided splattering vomit, set goals with and for them, and been reminded every day why kids are cooler than adults, even if they are raging hormones with legs and iPhones.  Mom… teacher… so much of it overlaps.  I am thankful to wear these two hats.  Because I am one, I am better at the other.  Now go hug your own mom and buy your kid’s teacher a nice fat gift card… JK… sort of 😉

All in good time…

Standard

Hello readers!  I come to you to share a proud mommy moment.  My three-year-old big boy is finding great success with his potty training.  This is a big deal as many of you know.  James was pretty resistant and downright wishy-washy about using any shape or form of a potty for a long time.  I had worried about this a lot the past few months.  Several people had balked when I told them that “Actually, no, he is still in diapers.”  I even had someone remind me that they don’t make anything bigger than a size 6 in baby diapers.  Oh, really?  I didn’t know that…. I just thought they kept on going for the school kids, too 🙂  How nice of you to clue little ol’ dumb me in 🙂  Ha!  Then there were those who suggested using pull-ups, as if I hadn’t thought of that or even tried it 10,000 times.  Of course everyone was well-meaning.  It just gets a little tiresome to be reminded that your child has not yet reached one of the most important milestones of his life.

Anyway, I had decided, after several (too many in his opinion) discussions with my husband, that James would potty train himself when he was ready.  I had also decided that if all else failed, we would go cold turkey this summer and force him to use the potty.  I won’t lie to you… forcing James to do something that he doesn’t want to do is something that sends my blood pressure through the roof.  I dread it.  James is extremely strong-willed (that Martin stubbornness 😉  So I knew that if we did the cold turkey thing it would be a nightmare.  I didn’t want to force it because I felt like only he would know when he was ready.

Then, the good Lord above must have stepped in.  He probably took pity on me and gave him a little push.  Because just about six weeks ago, James decided that it was time.  One afternoon he took off his diaper, sat on his little potty, filled it full, and blew his parents’ minds.  Kenny and I jumped around, sang, did a happy dance, and pretty much lost all composure for about half an hour.  James followed suit and joined in.  Even the dog howled.  We haven’t looked back since then.

Of course, there have been a couple of accidents, and there was one day where he apparently forgot to pee in his potty FOUR times.  Other than that, James wears diapers only at night and occasionally during nap time.  He stays dry when we go out.  He will use the big potty, his little potty, even the potty at Piggly Wiggly, which even I avoid.  I am still in shock.  Actually, I’m just unbelievably proud.  I’m proud of him for being so successful so quickly, and to be honest I’m proud of myself for not being pushy.

I want to say that there really is something right about the theory of letting them wait until they’re ready instead of when you’re ready.  Yes, it’s difficult to wait.  Yes, I was so sick of changing diapers after THREE years with the same kid.  Yes, it was disappointing to be judged and to have my little boy judged.  But it was worth all of that to see him be successful so quickly.  James, Mommy and Daddy are so proud of you. Thank you for the lesson on patience, even if was a smelly three year lesson 🙂

Quote

Wow! It’s been over a year since I last wrote on this blog, and I’ve missed it.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of things I wanted to write about while waiting for sweet boy James to finally fall asleep and then forgotten to do it once he did.  I’m glad I finally remembered.  To start, I guess I could tell you that things have sure changed around here.  I am no longer mother to a two-year-old toddler but now a three-year-old preschooler 🙂  Now that I have some time to reflect upon things, I have to say that my once ignorant self (pre-motherhood) didn’t see much of a difference between a two and three year old.  BOY WAS I WRONG (about everything besides this, as well).  James is nearly a whole different kid than he was last year at this time.  It’s astounding to see the progress.  Let me tell you all about it 🙂

THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN 2 YEAR OLD JAMES AND 3 YEAR OLD JAMES:

1. 2 would say “mom” “bite” “moo”, etc. BUT now 3 says “Mom, want bite! phease!!” or “Mom, yucky bites! Gross!” or “No bites, Mom! Movie!! Now!!”  Oh my at the vocabulary.

2. We have graduated from constant diapers and the occasional mess due to running naked to no diapers and almost constant nakedness…. at least it’s a cute little bum.

3. 2 would wear whatever I put on him.  3 wear whatever he wants, when he wants it, and how he wants it.  Then, in five minutes, he changes to something new and preferably backwards or inside-out.

4. 2 would get excited over a cup of water and then drink every drop or pour it on the dog.  3 insists on getting his OWN water and CAN DO IT BY HIMSELF!! Or at least tries really hard to do it by himself.

5. 2 is no longer distracted by a good Disney Junior show but instead will now take the remote away and give it to Dad if you dare try to divert his attention from wanting to do whatever hair-brained idea he has gotten now.

6. 2 was known far and wide by all dogs and cats as the animal torture artistIMG_0237.  3 is quite nice to his animals now, unless they have the nerve to eat his food, chew on his toys, or lick him on the bare naked tush. In those cases, his reputation proceeds him and they know to run and hide.

7. 2 would do anything for a movie.  3 will tell you what movie he wants and then INSIST that you let him put the movie in all by himself!!

8. 2 still insisted that Mommy sleep with him part of the night… 3 sleeps all night by himself about 40% of the time.

9. 2 hated the car seat. 3 loves his booster (because he knows how to unbuckle himself and will do so very quietly and inconspicuously despite numerous spankings)

10. 2 would yell “no” at you if you caught him misbehaving.  3 will say “shh, mom” and then wink at me… as if his cuteness trumps the bad behavior

11. 2 would cry and throw fits if put in time-out.  3 still cries and throw fits but then if he catches YOU misbehaving he puts you in time-out, too.

12. What was once just a blue blanket has turned into a blue blanked, a horse blanket, and a little stuffed dinosaur known as “DO”

Well, these are just a few ways my sweet boy is changing, not to mention he’s much bigger and more coordinated than ever before.  His language is developing more each day, and I want to slow the time so that he stays small a bit longer.  He is really becoming much easier to deal with, and he’s becoming quite sympathetic to people.  He is capable of reasoning and understanding cause and effect, and I must say his dad and I are quite thankful for it.  I would say it’s all smooth sailing from here, but I work with teenagers, and I know our window of relaxation will close only too soon in about a decade 🙂

Big Changes in My Little Man