Monday, July 19, 2010

Baby Shoes

I was cleaning out the boys' closets the other day, and I found their stash of baby shoes.

Scuffed toes, shredded shoe laces, and worn out heels-- shoes that helped them learn to walk, to run, to play.

I carefully held each pair and was flooded with memories of chubby little baby boy legs and feet, and I looked over at the boys and wondered where all of that has gone. 

So quickly, they have grown into elementary school boys, with knobby knees and ankles and thin faces.

So quickly, they don't quite need me like they used to.  I think that is the hardest change to acknowledge.

I am glad to see them growing, thriving, but I feel the loss of their babyhood, their chubby cheeks, the garbled chatter, the need for just mommy.  I miss the wonder I had at them, a new parent, taking in all of their first moments.

For a while, I felt as if that wonder was gone, but each day I am learning to see the joy and wonder that comes with this age.

The way they learn to have friends or to not have friends, to get their feelings hurt, to see who really cares.

The way they learn to be a part of fads (silly bands, anyone?).  

The way they experiment with their sense of humor and sarcasm.

The way they pretend to be grown up but still fret over missing blankets until we find them.

The way they curl up at night with their stuffed animals.

The way they blow me kisses and hugs when I tell them goodbye.

The way they cuddle with me on the couch when we watch movies.

I sighed and packed their baby shoes away again, wistful for the past, thinking that sometimes these ages seem like a new way of life for us all.  

Then I saw Pacey's blanket that he left beside me when he was looking at his baby shoes.  

Maybe it really isn't that different after all.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Me, in a six-word nutshell

Hanging out with Making Things Up and Six Word Fridays!

Me? Well, I'm just a girl.
A mom, a wife, a friend.
Usually waiting for life to begin.
Trying to remember to jump in.
Embrace, register the moment and live.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not Mom of the Year

Head over to the Mommyologist or Life Without Pink to see the details of this one.  What a great contest to participate in and topic to blog about!

I'm not mom of the year.
I cannot hide my humanness from my boys.

My anger, my sadness, my frustration--
I wear openly and publicly.
Raw and unbridled.
They see me.
Cry when I've had enough.
Yell when my short limit is reached.

Sometimes what they have to say invades my very core, my naturally quiet being.
I tune out stories of Pokemon and Bakugan.
I hold my tongue so I don't bitingly say,
"I really don't care, buddy!"

I'm selfish.
I crave quiet.
Often their daddy weekends are a beacon of light.
That seemingly endless stretch of 48 hours.
Belonging to me alone.
And then.
Then I feel guilty for that honest, raw desire.
The intrinsic need we all have for center and selves.

I used to be on a quest to be the perfect mother, mom of the year.
But I forgot that mothers are human too.
Not June Cleaver with a pressed dress, shiny pearls, a plastic smile.
The TV ideal that has skewed women's vision of motherhood.
The ideal that has made us afraid to own our emotions, so instead we guiltily sequester them away.
We rage. We cry. We feel.
To the very depths of ourselves.
And these little parts of us watch.
And learn from our humanness.

I don't always have fresh baked cookies waiting.
I've been known to skip baths here and there.
And sometimes I let DS time stretch a little too long.
But I love my boys.
In the most human, not mom of the year way I can.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How Kids Survive

I'm playing along with Supah Mommy today with my first Post It Note Tuesday post!

Somehow I'm curious how kids survive to adulthood when parents are involved.  And I'm simply talking about the regular, loving, but sometimes very stupid parents, like myself. One day, I will look back at all of this, get past the guilt, and laugh.  Wait.  I think I already am...  Anyways, to the boy-os--  Hopefully, when you talk about all this in therapy one day, you will remember these heartfelt apologies.

And yet Pacey seems to have a great appetite and enjoys food.  Except for carrots... I'm sure there's no connection.

Even so, Gage's hearing appears to be fine.  Except when he doesn't want to listen.

Oops. I think this is probably the most embarrassing mommy moment; however, Gage's manual dexterity doesn't seem to have suffered.  His DS playing is still up to par.

I blame the nurse who distracted me.  And it only required one band-aid, which made our location synchronistically fortunate.

Totally a result of too little sleep.  And most of the time they had a hat on anyways.  So it's all good.

I'm not sure why the empathy didn't kick in automatically here.  It was pretty funny.  And he has a hard head. (All of the carrier head-banging training apparently has paid off ...)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

One Pizza, One Pool, One Family

Alternatively titled-- Blending Families for Dummies (a book that we obviously need)

Last week I blogged about the challenges that a blended family faces, and one of the issues that we have come up against in the past is spending time together-- just the five of us-- doing something that we can all enjoy.  It may sound simple, but really it isn't.  Trust me.  Here's why:
  1.  The age gap between the boy-os and the princess is just enough so that they have absolutely nothing in common.  Unavoidable.
  2. I share joint custody of the boy-os with their father, so they are only here roughly half the time.  Unavoidable.
  3. The princess is a teenager.  That equals friends, a boyfriend, a job, a team sport, and lots of time in her bedroom.  Understandable.
  4. The princess periodically spends time at her mom's house.  Unavoidable.
  5. Asian husband and I can sometimes be selfish with our time together-- being newly married and all.  Understandable, but can probably be adjusted.
That is not a recipe for easy family bonding.  It is actually the exact recipe for an authentic surface family feel.  Co-existing in the same house, but not really bonding.  We didn't have the luxury of years of baby and toddlerhood to spend together and work through the kinks of children.  We have been thrown into the mix late in the game, after each of us had spent several years of raising our kids on our own.  We are a bit rusty with the kind of work it takes to be a family.  And by that I mean a for-real family, not just a group of people living under one roof.  I used to scoff at the number of failed second marriages that involved two sets of children, but now that I've experienced the reality, I understand it and have a great respect for it.  Because it is a crap ton of work.  A. Crap. Ton. Of. Work. And if you don't pay attention, it can easily crumble right before your eyes.

Luckily, Asian husband and I instituted a plan of action to assist us in this family bonding endeavor.  I call it the "do whatever we can whenever we can" plan or DWWCWWC.  It can be pronounced dee-wick-wick, which makes it fun to say and by extension fun to execute.  This very intricate and detailed plan requires a lot of forethought and careful organizing to ensure everything goes well.  You should take notes.
  1. Target a time when all of the family has intentions of being home and available.
  2. Make plans.
You can see why it has taken us about two years to come up with it. I will pause while you recover from great awe.

This weekend we had ice cream at the local fro-yo place (which I guess would be frozen yogurt, not ice cream, but whatever), had lunch at the local pizzeria, and crashed a relative's community pool with an extra pool pass.  (I was convinced that the Russian lifeguards were on to the fact that we were impostors, but for the sake of the dee-wick-wick plan, I was willing to take the chance.)

They all smiled. At the same time. And no one had a finger up his nose (Gage) or in his mouth (Pacey). 

Friday, July 09, 2010


Another fun writing assignment from a great blog, Making Things Up!  This week's assignment is about how you are feeling, and you have to answer in six words or a series of six words. So much fun-- at least for an English major!

Make me laugh, make me smile.
He shouts, he asks, he laughs:
I don't want to grow up!
Can grown-up girls lay eighteen babies?
My elbow can touch my nose!
I want birthdays but stay "wittle."

I crave more of these moments.
Chances to laugh, chances to smile.
Asian husband says I baby them.
But what's a mom to do...
When time is fleeting and flying?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Pumpkin Patch Procrastination

Writer's Workshop time! From a great blog, Mama's Losin' It!: Photographs can turn a house into a home. Share a photograph that is not on your wall, but should be…if you weren’t so lazy about actually putting it there.

Procrastination. I had a meltdown last week in Denver with the husband about being lazy and procrastinating too much. "Where's my drive?!" I Cried  "Where's the initiative?!" I wailed and then hid under the covers. (Okay, maybe I wasn't quite so dramatic, but I'm sure most of us out there have had moments like this. Right? Or maybe I really am the crazy woman that Asian husband proclaims... But I digress.)

So this picture of little Gagey Goo Goo (I swear I will stop calling him this when he goes to first grade. When he goes to middle school. High school. College. At his wedding.  Maybe...) is Evidence A of my mastery of the art of procrastination. This perfect pumpkin patch picture (alliteration of the day) is about three years old. I remember thinking I was almost a professional with my little digital shot here. Let me pause for a moment to allow you to admire the composition, the lighting, the blending of subject and environment... (pretend for a moment I do know the first thing about photography.)

Since then I have often thought that I should print this out (on my printer that is about 10 feet away), frame it, and hang it up. What a great way to show off that cute little face immortalized, I mused. And yet the picture is still safe and sound on my computer's hard hard drive.

Which brings me back to my original rambling. Procrastination. I have often wondered what keeps me from taking the next steps with different goals I have, small and large. Is printing out a picture and putting it in a frame really so taxing? Is blogging more than once a month unconquerable?  Neither of these are at all, and what I have realized is it comes down to is fear. Fear of putting myself out there. To be judged. Observed. I have spent most of my life trying to be fairly invisible, and these kinds of things go against my grain.  I have a text reminder sent to myself each day that simply states 'Confidence and Independence,' but despite the reminder, I am only doing minor things to boost that part of myself that would much rather hide, so in addition to actually printing out this picture and finding the absolute perfect spot for it (baby steps), I am working on confidence in my writing, my thinking, and my blogging (big steps), which I hope contributes to confidence in my being (even bigger steps).

Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Natural Consequences

Just when I think that the past is really behind me, that I've moved on, grown, made strides, and learned something (any other cliches?), I realize that rather than growth and healing being a straight-lined journey, it is more cyclical, revisited periodically.  Coming on the heels of Father's Day, this current bout of understanding and reflection concerning the past has been fairly poignant.  I'm realizing that the process of blending a family is more complicated, more difficult, and frankly more work than I had been prepared for.  Given a variety of personalities, cultures, and family backgrounds, I liken it to throwing three different jigsaw puzzles on the ground and trying to come up with one coherent picture.  Not impossible, but also not easy.  We continue to work at it, diligently, but now with the knowledge that this work is true work, and it needs to be tackled each day with an awareness of the importance it holds.

It just so happened that for the past week, I have been converting old home videos to a digital format, which means that I have spent quite a bit of time immersed in my and the boys' pasts.  From the birth of Pacey to the time Gage was 3, their dad and I separated three times and finally divorced.  I went through several hairstyles (some good, some very, very bad).  I lived in four different homes.  Much of this was invisible to the camera's eye, but as I watched, I relived the backchannel story.  The anger and grief, the hopelessness and despair.  But I also saw our love for the boys despite the situation.  We laughed at them and with them, and it rejuvenated my soul to experience our relationships as a third party.  It made me glad that one day, when the boys are older and see the videos, they will see many happy moments that included all four of us.

In the midst of my personal reflection (and despite the fact that the boys didn't know I was watching the videos), Pacey intuitively told me that he wished that all four of us could still live together, so that way he could see me and his dad all the time.  In that moment, I realized that I owe so much to my little boy-os.  When making the choice to leave (time after time), I struggled with the impact it would have on them, and I finally found peace with the notion that if I had stayed, I would have continued to be unhappy and that would have impacted them in a much more detrimental way.  What struck me was that though I have moved on, and we have a new life with a new family, we will always be impacted by that choice.  The boys have ultimately lost something and will experience that loss daily-- when they wish to be with both parents all the time, despite the fact that they were so little that they don't remember us all living together.  I looked down at his head in my lap and saw a strength in him that I hadn't noticed before, and I realized the irony of divorce.  That in some way, in order for me (and by extension them) to be happy, I had to make a choice that would always make them sad.  And me too, a little, if I am being completely honest with myself.

I have no regrets for the choices I made that brought us here.  I know that I am much happier, much more fulfilled and much more myself in this marriage to an incredible man.  And that all translates to me being a better mom, which brings me back to the blending family issue.  Through all of this reflection and revisiting of the past, I have realized that I need to create a new definition of family for myself.  I have naively believed that simply by the merit of us all living under the same roof, we would immediately feel and function like a single, biological family.  I have wished that all of the kids would just be ours, and that it would feel like what I had only glimpses of in my previous life.  But through that wishing, I have ignored the reality of what blending a family and step-parenting means-- we are not a biological unit, and it is completely natural to feel that loss, but it is also equally important to know that the boys and I and the husband and the princess are a part of so much more as long as we are open to finding it.  We are a blended family, and though the journey that comes with creating and maintaining this kind of family is more intentional, less haphazard, and littered with remnants of our pasts that require careful navigation, I know we will be up for the trip.