Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Exit from Babyland.

I admit that I dragged my feet a bit. We probably could have started the process at least a few months ago, but I hesitated. I wanted to hold on to babyland for just a little bit longer.

Julian is my last baby. And while I know there are many parents high-fiving and breaking out champagne glasses when they leave behind diapers, forever, I feel a twinge of sadness as I say goodbye to an entire department of Target. No more  jars of pureed peas, no more bibs, "my first Christmas" pajamas, and no more diapers.

Yes, we will save money on diapers, but really, all of those costs are replaced with big boy stuff. Little League, real bikes, video games and some day... an Iphone? Turns out diapers weren't that expensive after all.

But at over 2.5 we felt it was time to potty train our growing toddler. Let me rephrase that, one day our 24- year old nanny came home from the library with an armful of potty books and a look in her eye which told us that even though Julian was our third, clearly we didn't recognize that it was time.

So last week we stripped away the diapers and let Julian wander around sans pants, a tiny potty within eye shot at all times. Part of me wondered (hoped) that perhaps we were jumping the gun a bit and that Julian was still too young to be successful. Turns out the combination of his 2.5 years of development and the lure of  m&m's proved to be the perfect cocktail for potty training. One week later and the kid is walking around in the Hello Kitty underwear (that he picked himself!) and for the most part dry!  When we venture out of the house and at bed time we reach for the pull ups, but the 40 diapers we still have sitting on the changing table have gone untouched.

We still have accidents. The unfortunate moment you see a look cross that toddler face and realize you are a few seconds too late, the inconvenience of having to plan everything around immediate potty access but the reality is we are crossing the threshold. No longer are we  citizens of babyland. We don't fit in with the nursing mamas, the dads sporting baby slings, or the the chat rooms discussing sleep training and spit up. No. We had our stop int babyland, and now we are officially moving on, to what is next, leaving this magical time behind us, left to photographs and memories.

Goodbye Babyland.... Thank you.

Thank you.

Friday, January 24, 2014

With Grace

Elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action
A pleasing or attractive quality or endowment
Favor of goodwill

I have a new motto. I cannot take full credit for it, as it came from a recent conversation I had with my shrink. Yes, I have a therapist! Did you really believe I was this well-adjusted all on my own? Puh-lease

So what is my new mantra? 

"Respond with grace" 

Why? Because I'm working on being a better person. A better mother. A better friend. A better wife. A better employee. A better human being.  

For those of you who know me, it is clear I am a sensitive chick. In other words, my feelings are quiet easily hurt. I take everything personally. I mean everything. And when my feelings are hurt, I get....defensive. When I get defensive, I get sarcastic and nasty. So do the math folks and you will  come to realize that I spend a lot of my life being down-right....BITCHY. 

Bitchy isn't good. No. People don't like to be friends with bitches. People don't sit around thinking... you know who we should invite to our party? That BITCH! Nope. The world doesn't work that way. 

I don't want to be a bitter sarcastic woman. And while I am still learning how I can be a little less sensitive, and I am still trying to figure out how to deal with the stress of raising three moody little boys, one thing I can do with some relative ease is choose how I respond to these perceived slights, or negative situations. And I can choose to respond with grace.

What does that mean? When I looked up the word I found a few definitions, many of them religious. But the bottom line is, it means beauty and goodwill. And that folks is who I want to be. I want to be someone who is fair, good and can take other's feelings into account.. I want to be able to stand behind my words and demonstrate patience and thoughtfulness. 

So I have spent the last few days trying this on for size. I won't lie, I hasn't been easy every time, and I have had some knee-jerk reaction backslides, but for the most part I have been pleased with my actions.

Take for example a recent epic-eight-year-old-meltdown. A meltdown that had dad red faced and sentencing one little boy to basically a lifetime of time outs. That boy can be infuriating. He can leave me wanting to stamp my feet, slam the door and revert back to my own childhood. My gut wanted to scream "Shut up Zachary! You are behaving like a baby!" 

But I took a step back and nearly said the words out-loud  "Respond with grace"

How could I respond in a caring way? A way that I would be proud of? A way that I could stand by? 

Deep breath, and I sat down  on my son's bed as he stood there furious and crying. Calling names and being generally awful. In my calmest voice I started to talk to him about his feelings, and how he could use his thoughts to calm down his angry feelings. I was kind and firm, and damn it was rather graceful

I showed by example. 
I acted in a way I was proud of. 
I was respectful.
I was kind. worked. It freaking worked! The kid calmed down. The kid reflected what I was showing him. 
It was a a miracle!! 

In all seriousness, I know that I cannot control the actions of others. I know that even if I am Mother-Effing-Theresa, I still may not get the response from  that I desire. But what I can control, are my own actions and responses. These are a reflection of me, and I want to like what I see in the mirror. 

So when that sales clerk is rude, when my kid wishes I was dead, when my client belittles me, or when a friend offends me, I will try to remember my motto and respond with grace and show the world who I really am.

Monday, January 20, 2014

In his eyes: Capturing the moment

Me & my Evan
I gaze at him across the crowed room. It took me a good forty-five seconds to locate him among the chaos. A mess of young children jacked up on orange soda and birthday cake, jumping on trampolines and hurling themselves into the ball-pit-of-e-coli. I'm watching from the sidelines, unable to bounce due to a  recent running injury. I have been alternating small talk with fellow parents and feverishly reviewing my friend's Facebook statuses. But he catches my eye, my sweet five year old middle child. My Evan. The way he moves so effortlessly on the trampoline flapping his skinny arms around with a giant goofy grin. He has sheer happiness spread across his tiny face.

I stare at him, taking in his joy. I wonder where the baby fat went. When did the round little tummy that was so very kissable melt away? When did I stop carrying him on my hip and pushing him in the grocery cart? The demands of my eldest son, and the arrival of his little brother makes that time blurry. I don't remember when Evan left his babyhood behind and became a kid.

But now I see him bouncing about solo. He isn't playing with the other children at this moment, but skipping across the trampoline simply enjoying the effortless way his body moves. Smiling at the lightness of his feet and the air he catches when he leaps up. It hits me. My son is happy. He is secure and happy. We think about childhood as carefree, and while I don't believe children escape feelings of anxiety, fear and worry, I do marvel at the pleasure they find in the simple moments of
life. Evan wasn't noticing the dingy carpeting, the chipped paint or the faint smell of diapers, he was focused on the way it felt to be light on his feet, the way his limbs moved with ease.

I want to run up and hug him tight, perhaps soak up some of his innocence. I want to beg time to stand still so he can remain this happy forever. I think about trying to capture the moment with a photograph but I know that no picture will do it justice. And time will march on relentlessly. He will continue to grow, from my small five year old, to an awkward adolescent and someday a man towering over me. Perhaps Evan  will have children of his own someday and if so I hope they can bring him back to his childhood, this time I gave him, this time that was just for him. And I hope as he watches his own babies that he is reminded of the joy I see in his eyes today.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Liar, Liar: Victoria's Secret

I probably get at least three to four Victoria's Secret's catalogs in the mail each week. Even though I am fully aware that for every two minutes I spend perusing through pages of airbrushed 22 year old models  I add another ten hours of therapy to address my body image issues, I can't seem to turn away. I can't shake myself of the desire to punch those Victoria's Secret marketing executives in the face.

It must be working. The company seems to sell plenty of bras. I shop there myself. But I don't get it. As I page through the catalog taking in picture after picture of a tight, tanned pretty young thing with her breasts busting  out of her "Very Sexy" bra, and her hip bone jutting out just beneath her cheeky, barely there panties I feel more and more inadequate. The thought crosses my mind that since I'm going to look nothing like the hottie with the bedroom eyes and the boob job I might as well save my money and buy my undies at Target.

I never used to pay much attention to their athletic wear.  Recently I came to terms with the fact that I needed an upgrade to my gym wardrobe, thus when my Vicky's catalog arrived for the fourth time that week, I flipped to the workout section. To my delight and amazement,  I discovered that Victoria's Secret models work out in brightly color coordinated sport bras and tight yoga pants. Somehow their hair either stays perfectly shiny and styled, or is tousled in their eyes, slightly damp from the exertion of a hard work out. The models are bent over their exercise bikes showing a "hint" of cleavage, their lips parted in a sexy pout, their eyes slightly closed and beckoning. Wow. I need one of those sport bras STAT! So I purchased two, but could not afford the matching skin-tight "yoga" pants and would have to make due with my faded Old Navy wear.

Last weekend I put on one of my pretty new bras and got ready to head to the gym. It's true, unlike the VS models, I always cover up with a t-shirt, no matter how hot that gym gets. But just for fun I decided to check myself out in the mirror before throwing on my not so stylish shirt to see if I had been magically transformed  into something resembling a page from the catalog. At first glance, it wasn't all that bad. No. I didn't look quiet as voluptuous, but I passed. Then I hit the floor in a plank to see what gravity did to my mid-section and I was less than pleased. So I covered up and hit the gym wondering if while using the elliptical with the private knowledge that I was wearing a Victoria's Secret's sports bra I would be inspired to smolder as I moved up and down on the machine. I wondered if my ponytail might have a bit more bounce and if I would develop a new sexy work-out pout.

None of the above.

God damn it Victoria's Secret! This is no different than the glittery red teddy I purchased in December! I was supposed to look like a sexy Christmas surprise. I ended up looking like I belonged in the cast of Disney on Ice. What gives? Why aren't your underwear working for me? Is it because I purchased the bras on clearance? Would they have been more effective had I paid full price? Please tell me, because I'll pay four times as much for a sports bra that makes me look like your cover model. Hell. I'll give you a kidney. Or my dog*.

Or perhaps I'll realize that you are bunch of liars. Perhaps I'll watch a video on Buzzfeed that illustrates the power of Photoshop. I'll remember  that your models were digitally corrected to make them flawless, their lines, folds, and inches magically erased. I'll tell my self that I am more than a skeleton in panties, figure out that when I exercise  it is for me, not for a camera, or anyone's approval.

Screw you Victoria's Secret. Screw you for making so many of us feel inadequate , undesirable and imperfect.  And shame on me for buying into it.

*My dog is old. I don't really like her. It doesn't really count.

Looking good right?

And then you see her. Tell me they didn't "erase" a few inches from her waste...