An Apology To My Second Child

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second-baby Image via Shutterstock

My Dearest Second Child,

As your arrival into this world got closer, I began making my rounds. I got together with aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and anyone else I could think of to reminisce about all the fun times. I had convinced myself that once you came, being the mother of two children would drive me to boarding up the windows and becoming a recluse. We would be a very happy family, just pale and sensitive to the light.

But as it turns out, adding another child was more difficult, but it became the norm very quickly, and we did eventually leave the house – mostly for nipple cream and Motrin, but we made it out nonetheless. But it hasn’t been without a few hiccups.

You are only 11 months old, and I have already raised you nothing like how I raised your brother to that age. This is why I decided to go ahead with the apology letter now so that perhaps later on in life you will know that, if nothing else, at least I’m aware. So, please read the following, and remember that mommy loves you.

I’m sorry I dropped you – I did. Honest to God, I dropped you, and this one was a toughie to get over. You were sleeping on my chest in my bed and just rolled off. Splat. I think I was more damaged than you though. You cried for a few minutes and then started smiling. I was convinced at that point serious damage had been done.

In my defense, it was a crowded bed. There was your dad, and then your brother crawled in and pushed me to the edge. And remember, I was exhausted from staying up all night nursing you and holding you. Don’t forget that part. I thought about having a specialty cliff diving suit made for you. You know, the one that makes you look like a flying squirrel. But instead we just decided to invest in a bigger bed.

I’m sorry I don’t know any facts about you – Your brother’s baby book contains so much information about his first year, he could look back to discover every time he farted. I was on him like a crazy woman. “Oh, did you see that. His lip went up like Elvis. Oh my God, so cute. What’s today’s date? What time is it?” “Oh my God! All his toes wiggled at the same time. What’s today’s date?”

And just today, I turned the corner after your brother calls me to, “help wipe the poop off his butt,” and there you are. You’re standing up, holding the Swiffer, which is somehow helping you to balance. Wow. You are already a tightrope walker and I had no idea.

When you open your baby book to reminisce when you’re older, it will read, “Place photo here”, and you will know that mommy didn’t have time to write down silly stats. I was too busy loving on you. And wiping your brother’s butt.

I’m sorry I let your brother pee near you – I’m lying. He did pee on you in the bathtub. Specifically on your arm. Perhaps some remnants of spray may have landed on your face, but mostly your arm.

In fact, I’m sorry your brother does bad things to you daily. It’s not so much he’s mean, but he literally acts like you don’t exist. If you’re crawling in his path, he will run right into you until you topple over. If you have something in your hands, he walks by without hesitation and takes if from you.

But…you laugh at everything he does and you follow him everywhere he goes despite his abuse. I correct him every time, and I make him give you hugs and kisses but right now it’s just not in the cards. One day, you will be great friends. But right now, I just have to help you get back at him because you haven’t grown into your deviant side yet. When we get your brother an icy pop, you lick all over it first before I hand it to him. It would make him crazy if he knew that. Also, when he’s at school, I let you play in his room. And when he asks why his train tracks are messed up, I blame it on an earthquake. It’s our little secret, buddy.

I’m sorry you look like a candidate for “What Not To Wear,” baby edition – Your brother had all brand new super cute clothes, and you wear mostly his hand-me-downs, so that’s why it’s hard for me to figure out why you are always so disheveled. Getting two children ready to go somewhere is like participating in a 5k-scavenger hunt. But we reach our destination, sometimes a little late, and then your brother runs off to cause chaos, and I look down at you as I take a breath only to discover in shock that you are wearing a very interesting get up, and you have what appears to be a 5 o’clock shadow on your face from the food I forgot to wipe off at lunch. If “hobo baby” becomes a trend, you will definitely qualify as the setter.

But I think this is a good lesson for you. You may look back and wonder why every outfit you were wearing is covered in dried up food. But it’s not the clothes that make the boy. It’s all about the attitude, and you seem very happy.

I’m sorry I don’t love you less – I know as you get older, mean people will try to tell you that the second child is loved less. That there is no way you can love another one as much as the first. Well, I’m sorry to say that’s a lie. And as you continue to grow, you will hear more and more of them. They say, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.”

From the second the doctor placed you on my chest, I have never been more sure of anything in my life.
It is possible to love so much it hurts, over and over and over again. I would give my life for you and your brother without hesitation. I will love you just as much as I love him for eternity. Don’t you ever believe anything other than that.

I may have accidentally dropped you a few times, forgotten to document your first fart, let a little pee fly, and dressed you like an idiot, but I have also loved you with every piece of me, and you will never hear an apology for that.

With all the love in my heart,

Mom

Related post: A Letter of Apology To My Middle Child

My Old Boobs

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Once upon a time, my boobs were loyal. They were obedient. They stayed where I put them. They stood at attention. They required very little supervision. They always faced the same direction. They were, in a word, trustworthy.

After nursing five children, I noticed some dissension in the ranks. Little bits of anarchy began to arise. They started to sag, well beyond what I deem acceptable. They can literally be rolled up like a burrito and each morning’s dressing process requires what looks like the stuffing of a thanksgiving turkey. They are never “at attention.” I can’t even describe them as “at ease.” They are so lazy that, when they are stuffed into place, they can be pointed any which way known to man. My final check in the mirror before leaving the house now includes checking for a lazy boob eye. Sometimes you look at my chest and you don’t know where to look as they are pointing in completely different directions. It’s hard for me to focus. I can’t imagine what is going through the mind of a poor unassuming passerby. Still, all of these bits of rebellion do not hold a candle to my boobs’ ultimate act of treason.

I love to buy Groupons. I buy them, forget about them, and then scramble to use them at the last possible moment before they expire. I’m incredibly reliable in my Groupon disorganization. As luck would have it, I purchased a Groupon for a massage for my birthday and forgot to book an appointment until the week before it expired. The only available massage therapist was a masseur, or as i like to call him, my mansuesse. Before I had five kids, I used to love booking a mansuesse. They have big, strong hands, they apply enough pressure, and, frankly, they shut up for an entire hour. I used to imagine in my never-had-a-baby-body days that I was probably the highlight of the mansuesse’s massage giving days. Now I feel like I owe the poor man an explanation for what he is about to encounter. “Five kids….the old grey mare she ain’t what she used to be.” Still, I bravely booked my last minute appointment with my strange new mansuesse and hoped for the best.

All was well at the beginning. Before my massage, my mansuesse asked me what I wanted, the massage started and I literally did not hear another word out of the man’s mouth. Silence for an entire hour. I was in heaven. I was finally at a relaxed point in my hour long endeavor and had been rolled over onto my back as I was massaged on my neck and shoulders. That’s when the boobtrayal occurred. As the mansuesse lifted my arm above my head while massaging my shoulders, my boob that had been discretely tucked underneath the covers, decided to do a “Hail Mary” and jumped right out into the open. Now, the old boobs would have never moved from their assigned location. This day, however, all bets were off. I could simultaneously hear George Michael singing, “Freedom, freedom…” in the background while my boobs were screaming for their Mardi Gras beads.

I laid perfectly still for what felt like an eternity but in reality was probably one second while I contemplated what to do next. I decided complete and utter denial was the best option. I figured the whole question about the tree falling in the forest applied to this situation as well. “If I keep my eyes closed and never actually see the protruding breast, I can never confirm or deny that it actually happened.” As I laid unnaturally still and forced my breath in and out, I did my best impression of a sleeping client. I’m pretty sure my mansuesse did not buy it for a minute but, again, if I just pretended it never happened, possibly he would not notice it either. The ridiculousness of that statement is made more clear when you understand these are not little ‘A’ cups we are talking here but post-5-babies ‘DD’ cups. I liken it to a giant cereal bowl full of Jello Jigglers falling onto the kitchen counter. One is the size of a human head. It would be impossible not to notice. Still, I played the stupid card and told myself to “Just keep breathing.” Meanwhile, I cursed my stupid, independent boobs repeatedly and vowed never to get a massage again.

It only took a second for my tactful mansuesse to lower my arm and discretely pull the blanket up. This time he didn’t stop until the blanket nearly reached my neck. I could hear the collective sighs of my boobs as they were put back in captivity. I’m fairly certain the anarchist boobs’ appearance scarred the poor mansuesse for life. He may never recover. Yet, when my hour was up and I’d put the offending appendages back into their secure locations, I emerged from the massage room with eyes now wide open. I searched his face for the look of horror I expected to find there and, instead, was greeted with a glass of water and the last question I was ever expecting, “Would you like to book your next appointment?” I’m fairly certain I could not wipe the look of shock off of my face. I quickly cursed my boobs once again, told myself to “man-up”, and booked my next massage…right after I left a ridiculously large sympathy tip.

If this day in history has taught me anything, it is to be prepared for the unexpected where my boobs are concerned. There is no telling where they could pop out next. In the meantime, I will continue to get massages from the same man. I figure there’s nothing left to lose. Still, i can’t help but stifle a giggle each time he pulls my sheets up a little bit higher.

Well played, defiant boobs. Well played, indeed.

Related post: 10 Unrecognizable Post Baby Body Parts

The Newfound Joy of Quiet

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zen-little-girl

I remember vividly how, as a freshman in high school, I was overcome with awe the first time I walked into a school pep rally. It was so… raucous—but, you know—in a good way. An entire high school shouting chants and fight-songs in unison. An entire high school stomping the bleachers until the stone building rocked. It stirred me.

I was similarly moved the first time I went to a dance club, one of those “teen night” deals (I can’t believe my mom let me go! My dad called it a “meat market”). I approached the line in front of the building and felt the bass pulsing from inside. I was one of those idiotic girls dancing in line outside. I couldn’t even wait to get to the dance floor.

In college, I was a regular at house-parties and night-clubs. The more people the better. …The louder the better.

In the car, I played my music loud.

The deafening roar of a roller-coaster? Give it to me. Mardi Gras? Beads to my ears. Crowds, chaos, mayhem, they fed my fledgling soul.

For me, noise was synonymous with life, movement, action. It meant something exciting was happening.

And then, in my mid-twenties, I got married and had a baby.

Suddenly, silence was so infrequent an occurrence that it became a commodity, like gold. There were days when the supply of it was so limited that the price stretched far beyond what I could possibly afford to pay. Like a hobo on the street who dreams of gold bars, I paced the halls with my screeching baby and prayed for a few moments of calm.

Back then, we lived on a busy road (first-time home-buyer’s mistake—don’t do it!) and as luck would have it, right around the time I gave birth to my son Lucas, the county decided to widen the already-busy road. For our newborn’s entire first year, we lived with ground-shaking digging and hammering right outside our front door. They even took part of our front yard, and there was not a damn thing we could do but stew in our impotent frustration.

On top of that, we had a high-anxiety dog who barked at specks of dust floating through the air or a leaf landing on someone’s deck three houses down. And our neighbors, the ones who lived on the side of the house where my infant son’s bedroom window was located, decided that us having a baby was a perfect excuse to add a garage onto their house. They began hammering and sawing every morning at 8:00 a.m. sharp. Yes, even on the weekends.

And of course, Lucas himself was loud. (Lord knows he still is.) He cried soooo freaking much. I can remember lying down on the bed next to him as he cried, my own body wracked with hiccupping sobs.

I so desperately wanted a little…silence.

Now I have two kids, plus a bevy of neighborhood children who streak back and forth through our yard wailing shrieks of glee. It’s always at least a little bit loud around here.

Strangely, my husband’s tolerance for noise doesn’t seem to have been affected by the arrival of children into our lives, though, that might be because he’s out of the house most of the day. When he’s home on the weekends, the first thing he does in the morning is turn on the news at full volume. Later in the day, he blares music to accompany whatever it is that we’re doing. In the car, he blasts the radio.

He likes UB40, okay?

I am over the noise. I hate it. I don’t like how when the TV or music is blaring, if you want to be heard, you have to shout. And if you want to hear anyone, you have to do that head-tilty thingy and point your ear-hole at the person’s mouth and shout “WHAT?” and the person has to repeat themselves five times while practically screaming at you. And then everyone’s bitchy from all the screaming and not-hearing.

It doesn’t help that my husband’s partially deaf in one ear and can’t hear anything I say anyway. If there’s background noise, I might as well not be there at all.

And really, the kids, our daily lives, the general running of a household… things are noisy enough without adding anything extra. So…yeah. I’m kinda over it.

So when my husband cranks up the noise, I try to calmly explain to him how much it bothers me. I’m sure he thinks I’m being controlling or bitchy or something, which I guess is sort of the case, but honestly, the feeling I get when the noise level is past a certain decibel is akin to rage, and I can’t just deep-cleansing-breath it away. The kids can be playing innocently, not hurting a thing, but just loud, oh so incredibly LOUD, and I want to scream at them to “SHUT THE HELL UP ALREADY!!!” Sometimes I escape to my bathroom on pretense of pooping just to detach from the roaring den of my household.

When I was twenty, if you had told me that one day I would be annoyed by loud music, I would’ve rolled my eyes and said “whateverrrrr.” How was I supposed to know that one day I would have zero control over the noise in my life?

When something taken for granted becomes a precious commodity, it has a way of shifting one’s perceptions. It seems that, after I had a baby, my infatuation with noise died ride alongside my love of hooker-shoes, false eyelashes, and glitter.

Actually, come to think of it, maybe having kids has less to do with my new aversion to noise than I thought.

Maybe I just grew up.

An Unaccompanied Minor

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As summer rolls forward, it seems everyone’s talking about family vacation plans, including plans to send young offspring off to theme parks, famous campgrounds, and animated wonderlands with grandparents, giving moms and dads much-needed breaks to be adult couples instead of parents for two blissful weeks out of the year.

When my son Jake was six, we were living on Maui and my parents lived in Oregon. They called that summer and announced that they wanted to take Jake to Disneyland in California. After much discussion on the best way to get Jake to them, my mother informed me that she’d already called the airline, and they said Jake could fly without either parent, as an “unaccompanied minor.”

He’s six, Mom. SIX. As in “years old.” Not only that, he was small.

So I’m looking across the room at my small child, with his Hawaiian-style shaved head and little round glasses, looking like an adorable tiny Harry Potter, and she’s going on about him getting on a 747 by himself and flying to Portland.

“It’ll be fine,” she insisted. “They assign a flight attendant to him, and he’s never left alone. She’s responsible for him the entire way. Besides, it’s a direct flight. We’ll pick him up in Portland.”

After another several minutes of debate, with Jake jumping up and down, repeatedly and happily yelling “I’m going to Disneyland!! I’m going to Disneyland!!” I put down the paper bag I was wheezing into and agreed to hand over my child to some unknown flight attendant, trusting she wouldn’t inadvertently send him to Botswana, resulting in a massive, worldwide child-hunt, followed by a made-for-TV movie called “I Gave My Child to a Stranger and They Lost Him. Bad Mommy.”

Jake and I went to the airport, where I filled out the eight page, triplicate forms, attached to copies of his birth certificate, my driver’s license, and a list of emergency contact names of every single person in three states and two countries that he was related to in any way. Jake was beside himself with excitement about traveling “all by himself,” and I was a teary mess. “Don’t worry,” the flight attendant smiled, “We haven’t lost one yet.” Yet?? OMG. Several minutes later, I put my only child on the plane and cried all the way home.

He had the time of his life.

Two weeks later, as I was anxiously waiting for my baby to get off the plane, armed with the 30 pieces of ID required to take a child out of the airport, I finally saw his smiling face, and the thought briefly crossed my mind that he looked older. More confident. More young boy than small child. But as I was trying to process the changes in my son (could this trip have actually been good for him??), I instinctively burst into relieved tears that he made it and was safely home where I could see him.

Completely oblivious to the commands of the attendants to “Stay behind the yellow line, ma’am. BEHIND THE YELLOW LINE,” I rushed forward, bent down and grabbed my child in a full-body mom-hug, crying uncontrollably, while assuring him he was missed every single day. (Yeah. It was every 6-year-old’s worst nightmare. Being mauled by your sobbing mother. In public. That would no doubt come up in his therapy years later, but I couldn’t stop myself. My baby was home.)

Usually, when you pick up an “unattended minor” at the airport, the ID requirements are intense. No simple driver’s license will do. The legal ramifications of letting someone walk out of the airport with the wrong child are the stuff zillion dollar settlements are made of, and the airlines are determined to avoid this mistake at all costs. So at the time of the ticket purchase, you’re given a list of paperwork they’ll need to see before any child is handed over to your custody.

As I reached into my purse for the required documents, the flight attendant just smiled and said, dryly, “And you must be the mother.” “Yes,” I sniffed, still clinging to my boy like a life raft. “Jake,” she asked, just to make sure, “Is this your mom?” Jake, sharing a glimpse of what was to become his trademark one-liner wit, looked up at her and said, “Well, she wouldn’t be my first choice, but yeah, she’s my mom.”

14 years later, Jake would be flying to Iraq, and we would relive this experience on a different level. We dropped him off, and I cried all the way home. When he arrived home a year later, safe and sound where I could see him, I cried again and mauled him in public. This time, he grinned and replied, “It’s okay, Mom. Go crazy.”

And so I’ve decided that children (no matter their age) should never be further away than you can drive to see them. It’s just too damn hard on their mamas. And when he gets redeployed, I’m going with him. But I’m not telling him just yet. I just might end up flying as an “unaccompanied mother.”

15 Things Moms Say… And What We Really Mean

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mother-and-little-boy Image via Shutterstock

1. “Don’t make me come over there.” I really don’t want to get up or stop what I am doing to come over there.

2. “Because I said so.” And I can’t think of another reason.

3. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” I am hoping that you won’t come up with anything to say at all for at least 30 seconds.

4. “Stop that this instant!” If you stop now, before I have to get up and come over there, we can forget this ever happened.

5. “Don’t make me turn this car around!” I am totally bluffing, if we turn around now we will be going home without any groceries, diapers or wine. We need to keep this car in route to it’s destination, so please just fall for my bluff and I’ll give you a cookie at the grocery store.

6. “Don’t forget to say please and thank you.” I’m not really sure what I’m going to do if you don’t say these things, so please just say them. You will look polite, I’ll look like a good Mom and we will all win.

7. “Eat your veggies and you’ll grow up to be big and strong!” I really don’t want to have to admit to your pediatrician that I can’t get you to eat healthy foods, but I also don’t want to have to lie, so please eat just a couple bites. I’m begging you. I’ll give you a cookie.

8. “You are just fine.” You are okay, right? Go run around and play, jump off the couch or refuse to eat your veggies, so I know that you are acting normal.

9. “Do you want a little cheese with that whine?” I wonder if I could teach you to go pour me a glass of wine?

10. “I am the parent and you are the kid.” I am aware that this is super condescending and that you already know who’s who around here, but I’m actually just giving myself a pep talk out loud, I’m not really even talking to you.

11. “Let’s try to not eat off the floor.” I don’t really care if you eat off of the floor, just don’t tell anyone that I let you.

12. “I would never have gotten away with that when I was your age.” I don’t actually remember ever being your age, but it sounds legit anyway.

13. “I am going to count to three and then you better be in your bed.” I literally have no energy left, it’s the end of the day and I just want us all to go to bed. I’m going to count to three very slowly and hope it works, because after that, I’ve got nothing.

14. “Goodnight, stay in bed.” Please, please, please stay in bed. I’m so tired tonight that I may actually pretend to think you’re in bed if you get up to play with toys, but please just close your eyes and go to sleep. Please?

15. “I love you.” I love you more than you can know. And I really hope I’m doing okay at this Mom thing.

Related post: 10 Things I Said My Children Would Never Do

10 Reasons Water Parks Are Just Like Bars

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kid-at-waterpark Image via Shutterstock

Summer is in full swing, and with that comes the task of finding ways to entertain the kids while simultaneously wearing them out. If you can manage to get a tan in the process, it’s just a bonus.

Enter water parks.

Amidst the fun and foot fungus, water parks are a great way to get the kids out of the house while allowing you to lie down and read a book…for about three minutes.

When I was a kid I loved going to the water park. The slides and snack bar are enough to make any kid happy. They’re also enough to break the bank, but it’s a good sacrifice if you can get rid of that farmer’s tan, right?

As an adult, I now view water parks a little differently. Instead of seeing wave pools and water slides, I see potentially drowning scenarios and urine in the pool. Seriously. Sometimes I swear I can actually see the pee in the pool.

Recently I took a stroll down memory lane, and realized that going to water parks when I was a kid was a lot like going to bars in my 20s. Granted, they don’t seem to be similar, but hear me out on this. I was an expert in each arena during the appropriate times in my life. I also frequent each locale occasionally as an adult and am reminded that things are a lot more enjoyable when you’re young.

I’ve got 10 solid reasons why water parks are just like bars:

1. You don’t want to go to the bathroom barefoot. The restroom floors are covered in various bodily excrements and there’s always at least 3 used and abandoned Band-Aids on the floor.

2. Someone is wearing something inappropriate. From ill-fitting string bikinis to crop tops, one thing is certain; either way, you’re going to see someone’s boobs.

3. There are guys scoping out chicks. Perhaps this is just the way of the world, but either location has men staring at skin and hoping someone’s boob will fall out. Fortunately for them, it’s a strong possibility. See #2 above.

4. You get toasted—either by the sun or by the drinks. Spending a day at the pool may cause you to get a little more sun than you wanted to, sending you home in pain with a headache from dehydration. The same is true with a bar, only the pain is from the high heels and the dehydration is from Lemon Drop shots.

5. Food and drinks are overpriced. Both places are going to charge you at least 3 times what you would pay anywhere else…and you’ll pay it.

6. You get a wristband upon entrance. They’re almost like a badge of honor, showing you passed the test (and paid the fee) to get in. They’re also both crappy paper bracelets whose color bleeds as soon as you spill that first overpriced drink on it.

7. The music is horrible. From cover bands of accountants and engineers pretending they’re rock stars to the obnoxious teeny-bopper radio station blaring at the water park, either place comes with a guarantee that the only feet tapping you’ll be doing is when you’re trying to keep them from kicking someone.

8. Someone ends up in tears. Whether it’s a dispute about whose turn it is to use the water gun or whose turn it is to buy shots, someone always ends up crying and throwing a fit.

9. Your hair looks horrible when you leave. Most of the time, it’s because it’s hot and you’ve sweated out your leave-in-conditioner. Other times it’s because someone spilled something on you in the midst of an argument. See #8.

10. It’s best to attend with a girlfriend. Neither location was designed for you to go solo. You need the support of a girlfriend to remind you of all these rules, and to entertain you when the obnoxious people around you start screaming.

Convinced? I thought so. Now go pack your bag and get ready for a day at the park (or a night on the town.)

Or, you could just stay in and watch Netflix. At least if you do that no one cares if your boob falls out.

20 Times Toddlers Should Be Supervised

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I have two children. One happens to be rocking out her toddler-hood like a boss. And since she is our second child, I might have gotten a little lazier with supervising her every activity like I did with my first. You know, I gotta shower sometimes. But… from my own experience, there are some situations where your toddler should most definitely have a rational-minded person present guiding them away from acting on their every curious whim:

1. When there is a source of butter close by.

2. When they find a pen. But no paper. And then an artistic inspiration strikes them.

3. While next to a dog’s butt during their button-pushing phase.

4. While eating chocolate.

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5. When they have food in front of them that they don’t like. And they want to hide it.

6. While gardening. Because sometimes they like to see what flowers look like when they get smooshed in the mud.

7. When they have had an accident. In their pants. And you had to run out of the room for one second to get some wipes. And you specifically said, “Please don’t put your hands in your pants.”

8. While painting. Obviously. I mean who would give their toddler paints and then not properly supervise them. Only a crazy person.

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9. When pouring crackers from a box into something much smaller than a box.

10. When they decide to wash clothes while you are taking a shower. And then you open up your washing machine to find one pair of underpants and a very clean Archie comic book.

11. When they are watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on Netflix. On your computer. While eating yogurt.

12. While making certain fashion choices.

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13. When they are learning how to blow their nose.

14. When they have a toothpick.

15. When they are running down a hill in flip-flops.

16. While playing with stickers.

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17. The moment after they learn about spitting.

18. The moment after they learn about peeing outside.

19. The moment after they figure out they are finally tall enough for the water dispenser on the refrigerator.

And…

20. When they are bored. And they know where you keep the syrup.

Related post: 5 Perfectly Understandable Reasons For Toddler Tantrums