Being Everything

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everything
I remember my first son lighting up as a baby when he saw me, but nothing like this. I guess I just forgot, but my seven month old son looks at me like I paint the sky. Like I am the answer to every question and the period on every sentence. In the night when he cries, I slide into his room and there he is, and in the moonlight he looks at me. His eyes are saying, “You’re here.” Every time he sees me, it’s like he can’t believe it, even though he expected it. As he falls back asleep, he holds onto my finger. Just as he is about to become lost in a dream, he startles and gives me the look. “You’re here,” he still can’t believe it’s true. Just to have someone look at me like that, even just once, assures me that devotion truly needs no words. Just a look. It says everything.

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I walk downstairs and turn the corner. My four year old gives me a look, “You’re here,” his eyes say. Not so much in excitement, but more of a puzzled amusement. As if he had found all of his Christmas presents and unwrapped them. Like he ate an entire cake and just realized he forgot to clean the icing off his face. “Did she see what I was up to?” And with my eyes, I tell him that yes, I saw, and I’m not so happy about it. He is full of mischief, always trying to get one by me. I hear the bathroom door; he is at the sink with the water running. He does this thing where he puts one arm under the water and gets the sleeve of his shirt soaking wet, then comes out whining that he needs me to take his shirt off because he accidentally got it wet. I caught him putting his arm under water and in the mirror our eyes meet. “You’re here,” and the corners of our mouths almost instantaneously fight back a smile. To have someone look at me like that, even just once, assures me that wonderment truly needs no words. Just a look. It says everything.

As I walk through the door after coming back home, I turn the corner and lock eyes with my husband. He is holding a screaming baby and the four year old is on the loose. He looks at me as though he’s been standing at a locked door for hours and I have arrived with the key. Like I just gave rain to a barren desert. “You’re here,” he says with his eyes. “Thank God you are here.” My husband loves nighttime with our boys. It’s his special time. He wrestles in our bed with the four year old, and tosses the little guy around too, before reading books. He blasts them off like a rocket out of the bathtub. The daytime is harder. The time when there is so much to do, there are so many things to take care of to make things work. When I am gone during the day for whatever reason, he is always happy to see me come home. He says the boys miss their mom. I know it’s really him that misses me. The kids and I have our routine. And because he is always working, he doesn’t know all the secrets of the house, the tricks that make it easier, and the organized chaos that gets us through. To have someone look at me like that, even just once, assures me that appreciation truly needs no words. Just a look. It says everything.

We all look at one another everyday and try to figure each other out. Just like the moon, our interactions go through many phases, each one beautiful in its own unique way. I’m fascinated by the way we show each other how we feel in preparation of spending our lives together as a family. It starts as disbelief. In the beginning, we are the center of each other’s universe and so essential like the air that fills each other’s lungs. It’s empowering and unexplainable. As we grow, we test each other. Sometimes even pushing each other away just to make the other prove there is no limit to their love.

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As for my boys, I don’t imagine when they are teenagers their eyes will say quite the same thing. I can only guess it will be more like, “Oh great, you’re here! Can I get a ride?” In fact, I believe a transition will actually take place where they will look forward to the days I’m not there so they can have the house to themselves for whatever mischief is planned. But that’s ok because as much as it hurts, I don’t want to be the mother of little boys for the rest of my life. I want to raise good men, and enjoy the time I will one day have without them under my roof. And I’ll look forward to every time I see them, when my eyes meet theirs and without saying a word I tell them, “You’re here. Thank God you’re here.” Because being able to look at someone like that, even just once, will assure me that I have truly loved. And in just a look, I can say what would take a lifetime to express in words – that they are everything.

Related post: From A Lot To A Little

21 Invoices I’m Sending to Other Families

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Remember that family who sent a bill to the kid who was a no-show to their birthday party? Well I, for one, am a little relieved that the whole thing has been brought up, because this entertaining other kids stuff is expensive.

Now that it seems possible to recoup some funds, I’ve made a list of expenses I’ll be invoicing other families for, starting with these…

1. 87 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I’ve made your kid that he takes one bite of and pushes away.

2. 800 kilowatt hours of electricity used to power the Wii U.

3. The three “must-have” Wii U games that my children learned about from your children.

4. Carpool expenses including mileage, gas and vehicle depreciation. (This Siena isn’t getting any younger!)

5. My billable hours for the playdate you decided to “stay for a while” at.

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6. Plumber (at holiday rate, Happy Labor Day!) for backed up toilet.

7. Six rolls of toilet paper that your child tried to stuff down said toilet.

8. A variety of art supplies that were not actually used to create anything but were somehow destroyed beyond repair.

9. 18 rolls of paper towels used in trying to teach your kid how to use a regular glass.

10. Goldfish, goldfish, goldfish.

11. The case of ZBars that mysteriously disappeared.

12. The living room rug that according to your kid “wasn’t that nice anyway”.

13. The wine I had to drink to recover from your visit.

14. 367 Magic Erasers.

15. New balls (all have been sent over the fence or mysteriously lost).

16. One gallon of ice cream that had “too much chocolate” and ended up in a melted puddle on our kitchen table.

17. Two cups of hot chocolate that also had “too much chocolate” and were left to cool on the coffee table.

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18. One bag of microwave popcorn that I had been hiding for my Bravo binge that your kid managed to find. And burn.

19. 300 gallons of water from July 2014 when the hose was left on for five hours.

20. Six boxes of Band aids, three tubes of Neosporin (I told your kid at least four times not to eat it.)

21. Three days at a all-inclusive resort in Jamaica.

We take credit, but of course cash is preferred. Because of the PTA wrapping paper fiasco of 2012 we’ve determined we can not take personal checks. Please remit your payment before you send your kid/s to my house again.

Related post: 10 Ways Having Children Saves You Money

The 10 Most Annoying Things About Kids

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Thinking about maybe having a baby?  Awesome!  Just know that having a pet is NOTHING like having a kid, so if you’re one of those people who thought getting a puppy would prepare you for the demands of raising a child, you couldn’t have been further off.  There are some things about kids no other creature on Earth can prepare you for.  Things like how freakishly annoying they can be, for one.

Seriously.  I’m sonotevenkiddingrightnow.

Unsure whether you’re ready for the real deal?  Check out these 10 annoying things about kids to help you decide.  If you can imagine living through all this DAY IN AND DAY OUT (Because it never stops.  Ever.), I’d say it’s go time.

1. They’re always there.  When you’re taking a shower.  When you’re paying the bills.  When you need to take a crap.  They’re there, 2 inches from your face, staring at and creeping you out in the middle of the night, and they’re there, 2 inches from your face, staring at you and destroying your ability to sleep at the crack of dawn.  They accompany you when you’re doing laundry, feeding the dogs, washing the dishes, and vacuuming the carpet, clutching your clothing and dangling from every appendage.  Privacy simply is not a thing when you have kids. Essentially, they want to wear your skin round the clock.

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2. They never stop asking questions.  They ask how old you are and then want to know why.  When you explain it’s because you were born in 1980, they want to know why.  When you explain it’s because that’s when your parents had you, they want to know why.  They want to know why the sun is yellow, why the moon is not yellow, why the TV is on, why the TV is not on, why the outside of their bodies have skin, why the inside of their bodies don’t have skin, and why they’re always asking why.  They’re never satisfied with your answers.  Ever.  So there’s no stopping it.  Ever.

3. They’re sticky.  All the time.  They’re practically never not sticky, including immediately following a bath or shower.  Somehow they’re still sticky, even then.

4. They never listen.  They don’t listen when you tell them to pick up their toys.  They don’t listen when you tell them to get ready for bed.  They don’t listen even when they do listen.  Listening and kids don’t mix.

5. They’re loud.  They screech, scream, shriek, wail, and shout — all the time and for no good reason.  And when you tell them to stop, they don’t listen.  See #4.

6. They’re always whining.  They whine that they want to do something, that they don’t want to do something, that their sibling is doing something, that their sibling is not doing something.  Always with the whining.  It’s as if their little voices are incapable of saying anything without saying it in a whiny tone.

7. They’re perpetually covered in snot.  I don’t know if they simply can’t feel it running down their mugs or if they not-so-secretly relish the feeling that boogery goo plastered across the face provides, but sweet Jesus, it’s everywhere.  They single-handedly keep the tissue industry in business.

8. They’re filthy.  It doesn’t matter if it’s dirt, grass, food, or body fluid, it’s all over them, which means it’s also all over you, your walls, your carpet, and your furniture, and no amount of Spray ‘n Wash or Magic Eraser can make that shit go away.

9. They’re the kings and queens of inconsistency.  One day they like spaghetti, the next they don’t.  They say they want to wear the red pajamas, but the second you get them out, they scream for the green ones.  They like veggies, they hate veggies.  They like fruit, they hate fruit.  They like to ride their bikes, they hate to ride their bikes.  Rest assured, no matter what you think you know and no matter what you do, it’s wrong.  Today anyway.  Tomorrow is a whole different story.

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10. They’re like drunk fraternity members.  They stumble around, spill shit, slur their words, and knock everything down.  They take their pants off in the middle of the living room and fall asleep in the bathtub.  They’re obsessed with their private parts and take every opportunity to tell company the intimate details of your most embarrassing moments.  They hit the bottle hard and keep you up at all hours of the night, and worst of all, they’re up and ready to do it all over again the next day.

Sound like your cup of tea?  Even if it doesn’t, there’s one more thing you should know.  Despite all their annoying tendencies, we parents wouldn’t change a thing.  I’ll happily sit on my food-and-dirt-covered couch whilst my kids shriek and ignore my demands not to moon the neighbors through the picture window any day if it means I get to smother their sweet, snot-covered faces with kisses another time.

Because the truth is, annoying or not, kids are the best.  And that’s really one of the only things you need to consider before having one.

Related post: 50 Ways Other People’s Kids Suck

The Weight of a Mother’s Love

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Hi there, Mama.

You may not know me, but I know you. I’ve walked in your shoes (slowly of course, so my toddler’s little legs could keep up). I’ve worn your baby carrier, feeling the weight of my growing child cutting into my hips and shoulders. I’ve driven your car, loaded with clunky car seats, strollers, toys, diaper bags, sippy cups and strewn Cheerios. I’ve slept in your bed, waking up multiple times a night to nurse, to soothe, to chase away bad dreams, or to simply confirm my motherly presence in the world.

I’ve been there in the heaven and hell of your love.

That love—Oh Lord, that love. Sometimes it’s too much, isn’t it? The love and the worry it drags along with it. The love and the frustration it drags along with it. The love and the exhaustion it drags along with it. Love is loaded, Mama. It’s heavy and all-consuming and awesome and frightening. It’s delightful and life-affirming and blessed and holy. A mother’s love is not easy, not in the beginning, not in the middle, not ever. It’s a huge treasure chest, loaded with riches and gems, valuable beyond measure. But it’s not light, and it’s not easy. You can’t have that love without the weight. The two are inseparable.

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But these early years, Mama—they will make you so strong. And the strength you gain now will help you carry that love across landscapes you can’t possibly anticipate. That love is big and heavy, but trust me when I tell you you will hoist it over your shoulders and carry it over mountains. You will swim through turbulent seas with it chained to your heart. It will pull and push you places you didn’t even know existed. Breathtaking places, magical places, terrifying places. These years are preparing you, conditioning you, building your strength and endurance to carry that love through anything, always.

I know it’s hard sometimes. Maybe a lot of the time. I also know it’s indescribably beautiful a lot of the time. I may not know everything, but I can promise you that all of motherhood will be that way. Up and down. Light and dark. Joy and despair. Smooth sailing and raging storms. And always—always—carrying that love. That heavy, exquisite vessel filled with beauty and joy and hope and trembling. It doesn’t get lighter, but you’ll get stronger, I promise.

I know it’s hard now, but don’t wish for another time, don’t yearn for another season, don’t imagine that there will be a time when this love doesn’t challenge you. I won’t tell you to enjoy these days because they go by quickly, but I want you to know that when these moments, days, or weeks feel heavy—that’s love conditioning you to keep carrying it. It’s hard. So very hard. But your strength and capacity are so much greater than you know. Motherhood will show you that eventually, if it hasn’t already. The hard is a blessing.

And the joy—thank God for the joy. Joy is the best parenting tool if you use it right. Grab onto each joyful moment as it happens and hold it until it soaks into your soul. You won’t find it in every moment of motherhood, but focus fully on the moments that you do. Joyful moments are straps and pulleys and levers and wheels that will make carrying that love so much easier.

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And each other—Oh, Mama, please find other mothers who know about carrying that love, too. Talk with one another about the way it feels, about the beautiful things inside it, about the burden of carrying it. It’s okay to acknowledge the beauty and the difficulty in equal measure. It’s not supposed to be easy. But we can help one another by sharing our joys, reminding one another of our strength, and by saying, “Yes, Sister. I know. It’s hard.” On days when our own love is sliding effortlessly down a slope, we can offer some of our strength to a mom who is struggling to push hers up a mountainside. We need each other, Mama. All of us.

I have so many big feelings when I think about my early days of motherhood. Those little ones are so pure, their future so unlimited, that love for them so full of wonder and worry. I remember feeling sometimes like it was too heavy for me to handle, that love. I still feel it sometimes, despite years and years of conditioning. But that love and I have been through a lot together. It has made me strong. It’s still making me stronger, every day.

And it will keep making you stronger, too. I promise.

Carry on, Mama.

Related post: 14 Truths Every New Mom Should Know