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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pretty Magical Parenting Moment

Tonight after dinner, as we do most nights, Karl, Bruce and I went for an after dinner walk.  We recently got Karl a canopied wagon and he LOVES riding in it, so we've been taking him for tours around our neighborhood little-red-wagon style.  It is wonderful and hilarious to watch him get toted around this way because he looks regal.  Our little dinosaur sits perched on his seat, under his canopy and I swear I hear fanfare in the background.  Sometimes, as if he knows he looks like royalty, he even blows kisses to neighbors, bestowing upon them (his public) his love for them. 

After planning on taking a modified route that specifically omitted a pass by our neighborhood park- for we learned the hard way that to walk a 15month old past his park and not go in to play is a lot like driving a 3year old up to the gates of Disney World and then turning the car around without going in- we made it to the end of the street beyond ours before a surprise torrential downpour changed our plans.  We rushed home in  big, fat, soaking rain and I couldn't help but laugh the whole way because Karl was squealing and giggling at the "Wain! Wain!" in pure delight.  He was clapping his chubby little hands together, a big gooey grin over his face and his plump, long legs stomping on the floor of the wagon. To him, this downpour did not mean a ruined evening walk but it meant a hysterical surprise.  

We rushed Karl in the house and dried him off and plopped ourselves down in the chairs we keep in our front window.  Karl pulled the blinds of the window aside and began to giggle at the "Wet! Wet wain!" and a childish, devious and totally "un-mom like"thought  popped into my head.  Watching my son watch the big sloppy rain, I remembered how freeing it felt as a kid to play in the pouring rain.  This wasn't a thunderstorm, there was no lightning...just a good soaking rain.  I looked at Bruce and said "Do you remember playing in this kind of rain as a kid?  How much fun it was? We should let him go play in it."  Bruce looked at me and with a knee-jerk dad-style reaction he said "Nooo...we can't take him out there in this...he'll get too cold."  I know though, that immediately after he said those words, the same devious little childish thought that crossed my mind visited his.  He smiled and then looked at Karl, then at me and said "Well, okay... but go run a nice warm bath for him so we can warm him up as soon as he comes in."  With that, I darted to the bathroom and turned on the faucet and then grabbed my camera. 

Bruce took Karl to the front yard and let him go.  What we witnessed was truly magical.  This was little kid heaven.  It brought me right back to being a little wild-haired girl who loved to romp in  rain puddles. I don't think, until the very end when he was being carried back inside, that Karl stopped laughing for a single moment.  Splashing barefoot through the wet green grass, his mouth agape, clapping his hands together he was having a blast.  He was thrilled.  Bruce ran in the grass with him, and Karl continually looked up at his daddy, unbelieving in how much fun he was having.  My heart melted. I couldn't believe I was getting to vicariously live my childhood through my son already.  The magnificent joy on his face was undeniable and palpable in my heart.  Childhood is truly magical- even at its youngest and most tender stages.  

Bruce and Karl moved into the depression of our driveway, where a Lake Okeechobee sized puddle had formed and he and Karl stomped and splashed and played in it.  It was amazing to see Bruce, too, reliving his childhood in the rain with our son.  Here he was, my 6'4'' husband, splishing and splashing in a puddle, something he hadn't done since he was a little boy himself.  I have to say if I didn't have  my camera in my hands to capture the moment, I would have joined them.  I'm so glad I had the camera in my hands, though- despite the daggomme condensation that kept collecting on my lens- I got a few really sweet shots of a moment I won't ever forget.  

I'm just left to wonder how motherhood can get any better- despite the fact that it does get better every single day.  Of course, everyday has its own set of challenges, but honestly, everyday has these little shimmering-gem moments that make me wonder how I was ever really "alive" before I had my son.  Fun  isn't fun like it is when you've got a kid. As a parent, fun is getting to enjoy the actual moment yourself, but also getting to enjoy the moment through your kids' eyes, too.  Fun is doubled for a parent.  It's selfish, really, because I can't get enough of it- I can't wait to do the next fun thing with my son to see his reaction.  It's selfish and blissful.  I'm so lucky I get to be a mommy...

Until next time, folks, have fun like a kid- and if you're a parent- enjoy the fact that you get to have fun like one!!!  I hope you get a pretty magical parenting moment soon, too!


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Answering that Confounded Question

When I was pregnant with Karl, I had quite a few people ask me what I was most looking forward to when I became a mother.  I always felt like I gave a Homer Simpson type answer that included "Doh" "Uhhh" and "Hmmm."  Truth is- I didn't know what I was looking forward to the most about being a mom.  I'd never been a mom. What do mom's enjoy?  I pretty much answered these queries with "holding my baby in my arms" because honestly, at the time, that is what I was looking most forward to doing.  For one, I had this image of a sweet, cuddly, sleeping and angelic babe swaddled tight and snuggled in my adoring arms- you know, all Hollywood like with magical harp music playing softly in the background every time I looked at my little piece of perfection.  I also just wanted him the heck OUT of my abdomen and in my arms for my comfort's sake- I was pretty miserable the last few months of my pregnancy with Karl, what with the aching crotch and all over "itching powder" feeling pregnancy rash I had.  Really- to hold Karl in my arms was what I wanted most and I didn't know any better.

Reality set in, and when he was finally here I discovered that those cotton-candy and unicorn fantasies I had about gazing into my newborn son's eyes while holding him in my arms weren't all they were cracked up to be.  Sure, I had my "moments" when I felt all gooey inside while watching him sleep in my arms, but mostly I wanted to be sleeping when he was, and when I was holding him, he did a lot of screaming, or a lot of latching and after about 3 weeks my arms got tired, my boobs throbbed and I just wanted to lie down and SLEEP.  I hadn't looked forward to all of that per se.

Fast forward about 12 months. Karl doesn't like me to hold him a whole bunch- he squirms and wiggles and proclaims "I WALK I WALK" when I carry him.  He weighs 31lbs and  I'm 6 months pregnant (AGAIN!) and really, I'm thankful he wants down and can walk on his own because holding him in my arms isn't all that feasible anymore.  I do miss the times when I could sit with him and rock him and cradle him with my arms but I can say from experience that holding him is not what I like most about being a mom and it certainly isn't what I look forward to the most when my daughter arrives, either.

I look forward to holding my little girl, for sure.  I also look forward to seeing her smile those big soggy,gummy and drool-shining smiles.  I look forward to her sleeping through the night.  I look forward to hearing her contagious and infectious and downright delicious belly laugh. I look forward to seeing her play with her brother and I look forward to watching her listening to her daddy sing.  But, speaking now from experience, there is one thing I just can not wait to see her do because it is the one thing I LOVE the most about being Karl's mommy.

What I like most- no no scratch that- what I adore most, what I'm most grateful for, what I weep about with happiness and what I thank God for each night- is the simple joy of watching my son learn.  There is NOTHING, not a single thing, more priceless or downright magical in this world than watching Karl discover his world and understand new things. I am moved to tears, almost daily, by the sheer power of watching Karl learn to do things he wasn't able to do before.  Every "first" is more exciting than the last and I have indulged in seeing his first smile, when he was first able to grab things, the first time he rolled over, the first time he crawled, the first time he walked.

Now that Karl has nearly mastered all of his "physical firsts" (all the moving he can do with his body which is astounding considering that, in the span of a single year he went from not being able to coordinate his hand to his mouth or lift his head, to agile walking and even running now) I am astounded by the leaps and bounds he's making with his "mental firsts."  This little person, who used to scream for the better part of a day, is talking.  He forms 2 and 3 word sentences.  I used to struggle helplessly to figure out what the heck was wrong with him when he'd cry.  It was frustrating and felt humiliating at times, to not be able to help him or at least understand WHY he was so upset.  Now, he says things like "Mama, teef (teeth) boo boo, meds." It can't be more clear- his teeth hurt, he wants medicine. Holy cow.  My son TALKS.  He TELLS me things.  Glory hallelujah I UNDERSTAND him! "Mow (More)!  Mow wawa!"  More water?!? I GET IT! "Mama, mow!  Eat eat!"  I understand, you're still hungry!  I can't believe he is able to communicate with me- it blows my friggin' mind.  It astounds me. I looooovvvvvveeee it.

Just tonight, Karl made me cry (sob really, after he went to bed so he wouldn't be confused seeing me do so,  since they were tears of joy).  For a while, Bruce and I have been counting things when we hand them to him. "One book, two books!  See?  Now you have 2 books!"  After his bath tonight, Karl went into his room and picked up a toy and said "WAAAN" then picked up a 2nd toy and said "TUUUUU."  I thought, and so did Bruce for a moment, that it was a fluke thing, until he did it again.  Picking up another toy he declared "WAAAN"  and then another "TUUUU!"  Clearly, he was counting... one, two.  It's really like, in the short span of a bath, his little ultra-mighty brain was able to place a missing piece where it should go and voila- he was suddenly able to count to 2.

I imagine Karl's brain like a mega Rubic's cube sometimes.  It's in his beautiful head (under that mane of luscious hair he has) clicking and turning away.  When colors line up it's like SNAP, BOOM he's able to do something new.  It seems like he has those SNAP,BOOM moments daily now.  Bruce really said it best when he said "It's like he's learning in hyper speed."  He has got a Bugatti Veyron speed brain.  It doesn't stop.  It is relentless.  It learns EVERYTHING.  My son is astounding. There is nothing cooler than seeing him learn new stuff.  I feel like I want to show it off, too- like a puppy who knows how to do a new trick- only it's my kid and he's not doing tricks, he's mastering life.

It's just funny to me that I didn't know I'd love watching my son learn the most as a mom because I'm a teacher. I've always said that it definitely ain't the pay that keeps me in teaching, but that it's watching the kids learn that I enjoy most about my job.  Seeing a child have an "Uh Huh!" light bulb moment is really a great thing when it happens in the classroom.  As a teacher, you feel as if you've done your job when a student "gets it."  It's really and truly rewarding.  As a parent watching your own child learn?  That is mind blowing.  Seriously, I feel like having a Wayne and Garth "Woah, dude" moment every time Karl does something new.  I would have never understood the magnitude or the profoundness of what a parent feels when they watch their child succeed before I was a parent, even though I was a teacher before I was a parent.  It's another thing you just don't "get" until you've "got" a kid of your own.

When I think about what I'm looking forward to most when it comes to my daughter, it's not the brutal, sleep deprived, ragged and sanity testing first 3 months (my eyes are beginning to twitch just thinking about it) but it's seeing her experience her world for the first time, too.  It's seeing her discover all the new things she has to learn.  It is truly magnificent watching my son do it and the thought of getting to observe both of my children learn, for their entire lifetimes, is just mind boggling.  I can not wait to see it happen.

Preg-A-Saurus Rex

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stuff I Never Knew I Didn't Know ('til I became a mom)

Hello Again!

The old saying goes "you never know until you try."  This is true- you don't know that a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich is "da bomb" or that black jelly beans really aren't that bad, until you try them (trust me on the peanut butter pickle sandwich- that's not just a pregnancy craving concoction!).  But you know what you really don't know 'til you try it?  Parenthood.  Period.  End of sentence.  

Sure, your parents are parents.  You have friends who are parents.  You work with folks who are parents.  They ALL have something to say about being a parent, too.  It started when I was pregnant with Karl- the first thing I never knew I didn't know about being a mom- that everyone, everywhere who has ever had a kid (and heck, some who've never had kids themselves, too) thinks they're an expert at parenthood.  I don't necessarily mean this in a derogatory way, either, because some of the advice I've received has been downright great advice and I'm super thankful for it.  Some of the advice I've heard though, drones on and on in my ears when it's being dolled out because I've either heard it a million times before or because I know the person giving it is speaking out of their rear end.  I never knew so many people thought they are the authority on raising kids until I had one.  Here I am, even, writing a blog about my experiences as a mom so far and hoping somewhere, someone can take a little piece of what I've written and use it to their advantage....

All that being said- it does not matter how many times you hear it, who says it, how loud they say it or for how long you hear it- until you HAVE a child of your own, who lives with you, full time, who is completely dependent on you for its survival, you just DON'T know.  THAT being said, since I've become a mommy, there's a whole WORLD of stuff I never knew I didn't know.

Here's an example:  I never knew I didn't know that poop can shoot out of a newborn's teeny-tiny little bum at breakneck speed and splatter paint a wall, the baseboards, and the floor in one ill-fated  early morning diaper changing session.  Nope- didn't know I needed to know it,either, until it happened.  Who thinks of poop-shooting babies when they imagine a precious, sweet little newborn? I mean, come on.  You may think of sweet sleeping babies, or wailing, screaming babies, but the thought of poop spraying from the rear orifice of said newborn just doesn't wander into your thought-scape because you never knew it should.  Now, what did I learn from my surprise 2am poop onslaught attack?  NEVER, never, never change a grunting baby's diaper.  Just don't do it unless you have a real burning desire to scrub poop off of your baseboards at 2am.

I never knew I didn't know that a toddler considers every food item, from butter and syrup, to corn on the cob, to guacamole, to be suitable hair cream.  Now, I knew that kids get messy when they eat- duh.  I never expected, though, to have to lather, rinse and repeat my son's hair 3 times to get the dried up banana out of it or the uber-greasy breakfast butter slick out of it, either.  Other things that toddlers consider suitable hair balms include (but are not limited to) peanut butter, spaghetti sauce, orange juice and sour cream.  Never knew I didn't know!

I never knew I didn't know that ravioli, to a toddler, is perfectly acceptable to eat after it has somehow been shoved down said toddler's diaper. Come to think of it, I never knew SO much food could actually end up in a diaper and that all of it, actually, is acceptable to eat by the toddler who was stashing it, at a later time.  The thought just never crossed my mind...

I never knew I didn't know that the "shhhhhh" sound doesn't originate with crabby old librarians, but rather, from  desperate, Medusa-haired, sleep deprived and 4 day bath-less mothers.  I used to think "shhh-shhh-shhh" noise was instinctive for a mom to make to quiet her crying baby- and we've all heard mom's do it...but I never knew that the "shh shhh shhh" noise is in reality a mom's desperate last ditch attempt to calm her own nerves before she has a total, sloppy and nuclear sized mental breakdown. Even though I don't necessarily have a "cry-y baby" at this stage, sometimes I catch myself "shh shh shh-ing" to myself when I'm stressed out at work or in heavy traffic when I'm trying to get home as fast as I can because I'm about to pee my pants.  "Shhhhhhh-ing"- it's a built in safe-guard designed to protect the mental state of a mom, who'd 'uh thunk it?

I never knew I didn't know that I wouldn't care, really wouldn't be bothered by, being covered in my child's snot, poop, urine, barf, blood, drool and any other slime which his body creates and emits.  Whoa your horses- I'm not saying I ENJOY being covered in these fluids- I'm simply saying I never knew it wouldn't totally freak me out/make me gag/ cause mass panic on my part.  I'm not a squeamish person but the thought of someone else's snot on or around my body really grosses me out.  That's the thing about being a mom,though, you just have this immunity to it when it comes to your own kid.  When Karl kissed me on the lips and inadvertently left a big, gloppy booger behind on them (for me to discover when I LICKED my lips) I didn't have the knee-jerk "I'm gonna barf my guts up" reaction I would have had if any other person left a booger on my lips.  I did a little "eeeewwww  grooooosssssss" dance, wiped it off and spat and then my "heebie jeebie" dance.  Then I cracked up laughing because it was one the funniest things Karl had ever done to me.  He laughed back at me and said "BOOGAH!"  And the whole mucous-y moment became a warm and fuzzy one for me and I look back on it fondly.  

I never knew I didn't know that a baby's arms may only be 8 inches long, however, he is perfectly capable of reaching items 12inches away from his body.  I say that Karl has "Go Go Gadget" arms because they seem to super-extend to magical lengths in order to juuuussssstttt barely reach the most deadly or hazardous item around. Case in point- I put the handle to the hot frying pan on my stove top as far back as I could, turned completely away from the edge.  I step 1 foot away from the frying pan to get a spatula and BAM!  Go-Go-Gadget arms are engaged and make contact with the hot frying pan- pulling it dangerously close to the precipice of the stove and therefore, deathly close to the top of my son's head.  Knives can be reached almost no matter how far away they are laid from the edge of counter tops and the cord to pull the horizontal  blinds up is NEVER out of reach, even if I loop it around the valence rod at the top of the window a few times.  Karl will, the determined little rascal that he is, find a way to get to danger.  Babies have super-powers and I never knew it!!!

I learn something new from Karl every single day...something I never knew I didn't know.  Being a mom is the ultimate survival course in "on the job training."  Kids will teach you more than any school teacher, college professor, parent or mentor ever had and you will NEVER know it for yourself until you TRY it for yourself!

Preg-A-Saurus Rex