Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gender Neutrality: The Importance of Undistiguishing the Distinguished

It’s almost ridiculous really that this is something that comes up so often in our everyday life. The division, the separation of what is acceptable for each gender is really baffling to me. It seems to include everything from what is appropriate for little girls and little boys to what is appropriate for grown moms and dads. And I’m just going to put this out there as well, skipping my usual overly thought out soliloquy to just state hopefully the obvious, if we cannot teach our children to see and accept everything as a possibility, then how can we get to a place of peace in this world. 

When I found out I was having a girl, my heart sank just a little bit. I thought about how she would have to face certain obstacles in this world. I was also concerned because simply put, I don’t do girly. I mean ok I did have Barbies growing up and I do still paint my nails and get my hair done on occasion but really, I’m not a girlie girl, if that is even really a thing. I pretty much loath dresses and shoes and make-up and pink. How was I going to relate to someone who did? I guess I should have known better really. Emma is a very well rounded person. She loves cars, dinosaurs, and yes, even princesses. I pretty much fell to the floor the other day when she said not once, but TWICE, “I’m a princess!” And there I found myself spiraling down the sparkly pink rabbit hole of jewels and fluffy dresses, collapsing into society's definition of what women "should" be. But I'm realizing that we don't all think that way and that's a good thing.

When we were visiting Emma’s cousin for a “sleepover,” Emma was relctant to put on a princess dress. I’m not sure if she was blinded by the glitter or what but she didn’t seem to be too into it (which was FINE by me!) To jump ahead to last weekend, we were at the baby store in anticipation of Emma’s cousin arriving any day and low and behold I look over my shoulder to see Emma jumping into the RACE CAR bed! Not the Hello Kitty bed, not the Minnie Mouse bed, the RACE CAR bed! She thought it was the best thing EVER! And, as we were exiting the store, I was so excited to see a little boy, around Emma’s age, carrying a Frozen purse! Shizah there is progress!
So if we cannot bring our children to turn a blind eye to being judged and accepting and loving themselves for who they are, then how can they accept and love others. It’s that simple. I truly believe that by teaching Emma to love what she loves and respect what other people love that it will create a place in her heart for tolerance and understanding of others. 

I will most certainly let my kid hang out in the car bed at the store and I am happy to see a little boy with a Frozen purse (a fellow fan!) I will be glad when someone else shares their culture with us and lets us share ours with them.What I am trying to say is that we have a wonderful opportunity to shape the next generation, to teach them to smash gender boundaries and tolerate nothing less than acceptance for any race/religion/ ethnicity! And I am excited for the possibilities!

 Emma excitedly checking out the large excavator while walking her baby.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mom Guilt: An Update

It seems like not too long ago, I was trapped in the evil throngs of mom guilt. I could barely step away from my child without freaking out and feeling like a total failure, an abandoner if you will. Mommy’s not here, she left you in the big bad world! Now to be fair to myself, when Emma was little and more needy, it was perfectly natural to want to be with her and feel guilty for leaving her every now and then, but even in those early moments, me time was desperately needed. A shower, an occasional uninterrupted meal, an afternoon of shopping…yeah that all happened. I barely let it happen but, it did. 

Fast forward to this past weekend, I finally felt a little pang of guilt for the first time in forever. I spent almost an entire Sunday away from Emma. There was movement on the baby front (yippie for new mommies!) so I was at the hospital proudly working auntie duty and I missed a fun activity with my family. I was only away from them for a few hours but still…I missed them. I try to spend as much weekend time as I can with them because as a working mom, that’s all that I have. Except, lately, the hubs has been getting off work earlier and I have been enjoying our summer afternoons together! I know it is a rare and precious thing when all of us are home together by 4:30pm every day. I know it won’t be like that forever but I’m thinking this extra time together coupled with Emma’s growing independence has me feeling less guilty about leaving to do other things.  Leaving the house at nap time to enjoy two hours of blissful, quiet shopping is a regular thing now. Dropping Emma off at Nana’s while I hobble around a concert venue for hours is no big deal.

I’m evolving as she evolves and I think we are doing a good job of working out our own needs. Sometimes she holds onto me at daycare drop off, and sometimes I reach for her as she runs at full speed away from me toward the bin of trucks. Either way, I love our new, relaxed, easy going relationship. No one deserves the mom guilt! And even though I feel like I have nearly conquered the beast, I find myself some days during lunch time at work, staring out the window, looking at the playground, wishing I could be out there with her as she laughs and plays. I guess no matter what, all moms always want to be there with their kids.We don't want to miss a moment. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Recap

It might be a bit early to do a summer recap but, like I said before, we have not been all gloom and doom around here. This summer flew by and it has been a lot different than last summer. Rather than planning a lot of epic events, we had a few big, exciting adventures and kept it close to home the rest of the time. Looking back, I wish I had written about each experience on its own, but situations were what they were and so I present to you our summer photo montage:

We did a quick trip to the zoo...

We hung around….

We selfied….

We played in water…yes that's two grown men lounging in a baby pool...

We looked at water…

Someone turned 2...

Someone turned 32…

Emma rode on a plane for the first time (not too much fun. do not be fooled this was taken pre-take off)…

We played at the beach….

We hung out with Great Grandma…

We slid…

We jumped…

Stanley smiled…

We beached again…

We ate ice cream…

My Mother's Day plant grew...

We explored...

We have been going outside everyday and I love it! I am dreading winter's evil arrival. We still have a few more weeks of summer left and I am super excited to partake in joyous activities whenever we possibly can.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sciatica and Dave Mathews

Looking back on my last few posts my mommy blog seems to have turned into a woe is me blog, which isn't very fun or even the point of this space. I was going to just pop up with a post on our summer vacation which was weeks ago but I figured that would feel a little manic so I decided to give an account of what's been going on and then get back to more feel good writing because we are not all doom and gloom around here anymore, at least we are moving out of that arena.

So 4th of July weekend I made a decision. It was not huge, not momentous in anyway, in fact it was one of those decisions that you probably make everyday and then forget about. Like what should I drink or what color shirt should I wear? Simple, mundane if you will. So insignificant that you don't even remember doing it days later, days later say when your back starts hurting. My simple decision; sliding down a water slide with Emma. Days later came the pain. Weeks later came a bunch of doctor's trips, anti-inflammatory medication (the kind you see in commercials for seniors), and a full physical therapy schedule. Today I finally made it through the entire day with only dull pain. I have sciatica, google it if you would like I'll still be here, what with my limited mobility and all. If you would now allow me to pull out the violins for a moment, this has been some of the most frustrating pain ever. Days would go by where I would wonder if I would be able to fully functional again, if I would be able to resume rigorous workouts or even just perform everyday tasks. I haven't slept through the night for over a week. I leaned on my husband a lot and he has been very supportive, but as an independent person I just found it hard allowing someone else to do everything. The worst part has been my interactions with Emma. She wants to be picked up and held and I used to stand up and rock her to sleep by her crib every night and right now those things are gone and it is very upsetting. But fingers crossed things are looking up. I'm even fantasizing about sleeping through the night tonight! 

And here in the grand scheme of things, in the vast day to day moments that make up life, this will (hopefully) be just a blip on the radar, barely recognizable in the rear-view mirror. But right now it fills up every bit of my life space. Not being able to perform routine tasks as a mom or even as a human being has been mentally traumatizing. Tomorrow it will be old news but for now, not being able to pick up my kid or make dinner without being hunched over is depressing.

So in the middle of all of this was a planed concert. We bought tickets to see Dave Mathews months ago and splurged on pavilion seats, not cheap. I rarely go to big concerts but this was a bucket list thing for my husband and I. Yes, I know I should have seen DMB eleventy-billion years ago but I am so glad I finally did. I fit right in too with my condition. My husband had to hold me up to walk the long distance around the venue so I looked like a regular old concert drunk. Little did anyone know I was really a crippled, aging bag of bones raging on, for all intents and purposes, arthritis medication. Overall, it was an amazing show that once again reminded me of how live music fills a void and reignites passion in me. So here I am writing, hoping to continue to share my stories with you.

No matter what I write about on here, the good and the bad, I want to capture it all so that my kid(s?) can see how I coped with certain situations and that not everything is sunshine and rainbows but when it is, remember to hold on tight because nothing is guaranteed so cherish any moment of happiness, from the smallest laugh to the greatest success and everything in between. And always make sure to see the live show.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Last Night

I wrote this the night before last.

Last night was clear, not a cloud in sight to disrupt the evening sky. It was one of those clear nights when airplanes look like fireflies blinking brightly from 35,000 feet up. 

"So this is what it feels like to walk pain free," I thought. I breathed in the night air, cool from an unseasonably mild summer day. My back has been in severe pain for weeks now and finally, by some miracle, I am feeling relief. Thank goodness for my heating pad, which has literally been attached at my hip, allowing me to have moments like this, where I get a small glimpse back into the magical world of walking upright. 

Last night was one of those lazy summer nights where I battled to keep the warmth from my heating pad from pulling my body into a deep sleep while trying to finish paging through my latest book of choice. In the middle of it all, a sudden movement jerked me back to reality. I looked down to see my phone vibrating, "Dad" showed up on the screen. I don't talk much about my relationship with my parents on here for various reasons, most of all because this is a public space, but I can say that it is somewhat rare for my father to be calling me at 9:30 on a Wednesday night. 


"Katie, Odie is acting strange. He is lethargic and just not himself. Can you give me the information for the emergency vet?"

"Sure, of course," I said rolling off the couch cautiously but quickly, as fast as my current condition would allow. I hobbled over to the fridge where our most frequently used magnet hung, waiting to be useful again. I heard some back and forth on the phone, something about no pencils in the house and I told him I would text him the information. He thanked me and the next thing I knew, I was waking up to two emails. 

I don't even know why I checked my email right when I woke up of all things. If anything I will scroll through Instagram or read a few Facebook posts, but most days I don't have time for any of that. But this morning it seemed as if by some force, I was drawn to my email. I opened them in chronological order, the first one explained that Odie was in surgery and he had a 50-50 chance. The second one simply said that he had severe liver cancer and did not make it. He was only 7 years old. I found out later that the vet said it was genetic, he was doomed to this fate since the day he was born. I hate typing those words out for a million different reasons, most of all because Odie was my father and my brother's dog. He was the glue to that part of the family, a source of comfort and unconditional love as all dogs are. It was shocking and tragic. No warning, nothing. I remember back in 2007 when our first family dog passed. It was inevitable. He was old and we all knew it was coming. But this, this was one of life's mysteries that I will never figure out. Tragedy so swift and upsetting should not have any place in this world, along with about a million other awful things.

These past few weeks (months really) have been very difficult. I keep surfacing from all of these terrible, crippling events, moving from the negative to embrace the positive, but with each event it gets harder and harder. I am ready to move on from the negative. So for now, I am using this time to remember my father and my brother's best friend who left us on a clear July night. 

We will love you always Odie.

The First Sort of Slumber Party

If I had to think back, it was years and years ago that I remember my first slumber party. It was at my next door neighbor’s house when my mom went to the hospital to have my sister. I was 7 years old. I do recall a time before that, sleeping over at someone’s house and watching the movie “The Labyrinth” of all crazy things, but I’m not sure if that would be considered a true sleep over since at least one, if not both of my parents were there. Still, I think I was more like 4 or 5 when that happened. I guess being a child of the 80s, whenever I think of slumber parties, I think of kids being 6-7 at the youngest, more like 9-10 really since that’s when I feel like the big slumber party boom happened in my neck of childhood. So imagine my confusion when I got a text message last Friday morning inviting Emma to a sleep over at her cousin’s house the very next night. 

A million questions ran through my head all at once and when the noise from my befuddled brain finally quieted down I was only left thinking one sad thought, I have never slept apart from Emma before. We’ve never been apart and I’m not sure that either one of us are ready to let go of that yet. I knew even before that revelation manifested, that a not quite potty trained 2 year old wouldn’t make it through the night in an unfamiliar setting. In fact, there have only been three times ever that she has not slept in her own bed (two different week long vacations and one weekend trip.) And let me tell you, actually getting her to sleep away from home is a nightmare that will haunt my parenting dreams forever. Don’t get me wrong, it was a ridiculously generous offer for this mother, my sister-in-law, to be taking on 5 girls under 5 but I just could not bring myself to leave Emma there between the lack of potty training and knowing how she reacts to an unfamiliar bed. So instead, I went with her for the earlier festivities. 

Of course my anxiety ridden mind played out ever negative scenario that could have happened but instead of her rolling around on the ground screaming because she didn’t get to color purse she wanted or throwing toys all over the place, she actually followed along with the older girls and engaged in the activities. She really enjoyed herself! She shared while playing with bubbles, she sat on the floor and colored her mask (yes later she did break it after being told not to wave it around). She sat and ate pizza and popcorn and watched a movie. She laughed and jumped and giggled and genuinely had a good time. She even almost played dress up but as soon as I got the fluffy tutu on her she informed me that she had pooped her pants (great). She also lost interest during the purse decorating but still, all in all, she had a great time. I was really surprised how well she went with the flow. 

So I don’t leave you in suspense, even though she was doing well, we did not sleep over. We did leave at the VERY big girl time of 10pm which is later than any of us have been out for a looooong time. Looking back, she might have gotten upset if I left her alone there but for the next sleepover, I might actually leave for a bit and see how it goes. I know 2 is still way too young but who knows, with the girls of the new Millennium, 3 might just be the right sleepover age. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Plant

I've wanted to write about this since Mother's Day but you can see how that turned out. First of all, I didn't get a before picture of my beloved plant, so you will have to use your fantastic imaginations again. Second of all, if you make it to the end of this post the reason behind my sporadic posting will be (partially) revealed. And so you shall have it, the story of the plant.

As with most of my stories, to understand the story if the plant, you will have to understand a bit about my past. I never had a green thumb, or rather, I have never tried to have a green thumb I should say. Every time I ended up with a plant of some sort (which was rare) it never made it. No plants ever had a chance of surviving with me, except the tumble weed I picked up somewhere in Texas or Arizona on my cross country trip, that managed to stay in my car for almost two years. Ok, so technically it was dead to begin with, but it had personality nonetheless. Anyways, I digress. Maybe I just want to distract you from the fact that I was a truly terrible plant owner of which I feel ashamed. They are living things after all. I think plants for me can be lumped into a category of things I never cared to care about in my past (that I put a lot of time and effort into now), like drinking water regularly, eating vegetables ever, or spending time with children in preparation for parenthood. Looking back, I am sad that I neglected to allow such a small, simple thing to bring me joy.

Flash forward to Mother's Day '14, Emma ran over to me like she always does when I walk through her classroom door to pick her up at the end of the day, Her eyes lit up, her cheeks reached the maximum capacity of chunky cuteness from grinning, and her little legs moved fast in a blurred fury in my direction. However, on this particular day there was something else I noticed. As if it could even be possible, my child seeded to be exuding even more excited radiance than usual while running toward me clutching a tiny pot. I was then informed that she planted some seeds for me for Mother's Day. Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? And that's when the chamber of my heart that stores my ability to care for plants (which like the Grinch was waaay too many sizes too small) grew to the point of exploding with love for this living thing my child had so sweetly nurtured up until this point. Up until this point where it left her hands and entered mine. I'm not going to lie, at first I thought "oh well, that's that" and I set it down on the table at home thinking it would not grow. But low and behold, they very next day there was a tiny little spec of green poking out from the soil.

I know now that my motherly instincts are intact from frequent use so I guess it's no surprise that I suddenly found myself with a sixth child (four dogs + one toddler + one plant). Every day I checked on my plant. I made sure it was sitting where it could get good sun and that the soil was moist Then the unthinkable happened, it grew to the point of needing a bigger pot. It was then that we made the decision to move it outside (yes my husband and I have had several deep conversations about this plant, carefully weighing our options on how to care for it. I told you, sixth child). I should have done more research because I think the plant was meant to be an indoor plant but my husband and I felt it was best to leave it in the direct sunlight outside, thunderstorms and all. Finally, after a dramatic turn of events, I thought the plant had died right before we left for vacation. It had withered and dried out. I was very upset we moved it out into the elements and it was with a heavy hear that I got on a plane to leave my failed child sitting on the back deck.

Then something crazy happened, when we got back from vacation, after the jet lag fog lifted, I noticed that the plant was still alive! I could hardly believe it! And little did I know I would really need that plant. It would become my inspiration when certain unfortunate circumstances happened to our family. Luckily we are still healthy and we have each other but we are going through some of life's rough patches at the moment. It has not been easy on me emotionally. But then I look over at the plant, something so small, something a few years ago I would not have taken the time to even give a second thought, and there it was, still growing. After being left outside to navigate a new world full of challenges and hardships, it made it. It's still alive and standing tall and that's what I need to do now. Take the crap life throws at me and do my best to stand tall, to flourish though all of my challenges and hardships. It's not an easy road, I'm not going to lie, it is so very difficult, but I'm in it for the long run and I'm taking my inspiration from the plant.