Category: The joy of motherhood

Why I have gray hair – reason no. 30

I heard it before I saw it and knew at that moment I’d made a mistake letting my 4-year old jump from the couch to the metal barstool we’d never actually used at a bar since we didn’t have one. I saw her hanging over the bottom rungs of the chair, now on its’ side, like a limp rag doll, and yelled for my son to help because I figured that in his youth he could move faster. He wasn’t there, though, and by the time I got to her she had lifted herself up and was standing with her hair in her face and her mouth open while she tried to scream, but no sound would come out.

A bright red river of blood was streaming a path from her nose to her mouth and I wasn’t sure if she had ripped her nose or her lip open.

Always cool under pressure, I started to scream “Help me! Help me!” over and over, yelling for my son to call his dad at work. He, having been upstairs for what he’d hoped to be a relaxing visit to the bathroom, was a frazzled mess and stumbled to find one of our phones.

“Grace. Face bleeding.” He shouted into the phone and hung up.

Somehow I had mentally slapped myself out of my hysteria and asked for a box of tissues, snatched one and held it against my daughter’s nose, noting I had smeared blood above her eyebrow as I’d pulled her close for a hug and examination.

knew that in order for her to calm down that I had to calm down and suddenly I went into robot mode. Wipe face. Hold nose, ask what hurt and what she had hit. She said her nose and her ear so I examined both appendages and saw blood caked along the edge of the nose and the tip of it swelled some, but otherwise it seemed fine. The ear didn’t have the gash I worried I would see. 

My husband burst through the door a few minutes later and we checked her out together while she cried. A popsicle and a cartoon helped her calm down.

A half an hour later she was in the kitchen twirling in circles next to the counter, an inch from smashing her face in again.

“Excuse me. We’ve already had one bloody nose. Are you trying to get another one?” I asked.

And that’s when I felt it – another gray hair pop up on top of my head.

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Because sometimes it’s okay to not be happy your kids are growing up so fast

You know what’s really annoying?

Having to say what a blessing it is to watch our children grow up.

I see it all the time in the photography world. A mom-tog (not a bad term in my mind though it is to some) posts a photo of her oldest on instagram and writes a beautiful piece of prose about how much they miss when this growing child was young and innocent and liked to cuddle. Inevitably some other mom writes “but it’s such a blessing to see them grow, isn’t it?”

I have this suspicion that the other mom writes this because she herself knows the dark, ugly truth of parenting: yes, watching them grow is a blessing but yes, it also sucks raw, rotten eggs.

You know what?

I’m tired of us moms thinking we are horrible human beings if we admit there are days we can’t stand that our children are growing older and aren’t as sweet and cuddly as they once were.

We need to embrace our feelings even if it doesn’t fit our Pinterest list of perfect motherisms (yes, I know it isn’t a word,  but you can pretend it is).

Does it mean we love our children less as they grow out of our arms and into independence? Of course not, but we need to stop feeling less than because sometimes we cry when we see how much they’ve changed over the years.

We all know what’s behind our tears.

Nostalgia.

Joy. 

Sweet memories.

Selfishness.

Yes, selfishness.

We don’t want them to grow up and move on. Why? Because moms, deep down, feel very strongly that once their children grow up and move out they will no longer need them and worse yet? That we moms will no longer have worth, purpose, a reason to live.

Don’t get me wrong – our lives don’t completely revolve around our children’s to the point they are our only identity but then again – maybe it does for some of us.

And when we have to think about what our lives will be when they grow up and move on?

It’s hard.

It’s gut wrenching.

It’s scary.

It’s time for introspection we don’t want to face.

Yes, it’s necessary to accept our children are growing, not live in the past.

But it’s also hard and it’s ok to say that.

It is not only ok but it is healthy to honor how we feel in the moment let those emotions roll around and over and through us so we can deal with them in the open and not deep down in the dark caverns of our suppressed sensibilities

 Too often we let the opinions of others, those who tell us how we should feel, should act and react, rule us and guide us and drag us through life.

We’re not bad mothers if we cry in the darkness of the night, aching for the younger days. We’re not even bad mothers if we live there for a little while – but only for a little while.

It’s not wrong to weep about the days gone by but if we do it for too long we’ll miss out on the now.

We will miss out on who our children are now and who they are becoming.

 

There is no rule that says a mom, or a father, can’t say they are dreading their children growing older while also enjoying watching them grow.

The alternative to not seeing them grow up? It’s unthinkable and is a million times worse than watching them go from cuddly toddler to stand offish teen.

But, yes, mama, you are allowed to say “I miss my baby.”

“I miss my little boy.”

“I miss my little girl.”

“This is hard. “

There are a lot of other moms and dads who are right where you are, even if they don’t say it.

They have those hard moments.

You have those hard moments.

But, yes, they, you and I know it is a blessing and a gift to watch them grow, develop, and bloom even as we lament how fast it’s all going.

The days are long

Lightstock photo by Lisa R. Howeler Lightstock photo by Lisa R. Howeler

It’s the end of a very long day and all I can think is:

Did I pay attention to them enough today?

Did I listen to them?

Do they know I love them?

Was I too distracted?

Too strict?

Too overwhelmed with other things that were not important?

The answer to some of those questions are ‘no’ and some are ‘yes’ and my heart aches as I scroll in my mind back through the day, recalling moments of failure, playing it all back like an old movie reel.

It’s summer and bedtime seems to be later and later each night. It also makes days longer and breaks of quit time for me non-existent. No stolen moments to recharge leaves me mentally depleted, drained, overwhelmed.

I want to try to embrace these long days as a gift – more time with them – instead of resenting the loss of free time. Some days I do but often I fail.

She’s laying next to me in a diaper, finally asleep after begging to hold a flashlight at bedtime that she kept shining in me eyes, asking to turn a light on, lay on one side of the bed instead of the other, anything to not have to actually lay down. There is red and green and blue streaks of marker on her legs and belly from when she drew on herself earlier in the day.

I mentally chide myself for not giving her a bath to scrub off all the mess but then I smile as I look at it with the light of the phone and think about her wild spirit, her determination, her laughter when she found me to ask “how do I look?” after she’d drawn on her skin.

Her stubbornness often has my emotions knotted up in frustration. She insists she no longer needs naps but without one she bristles like a bear at the smallest provoking.

Today she refused a nap, yet I knew if we left the house to do something she’d cry and cling and it would be clear she had needed the nap.

“I just can’t do this anymore!” I told her, finally at the end of my rope.

“Yes you can!” She declared, leaning in close. “Be brave.”

The irony was not lost on me that I’ve been listening to a series of sermons imploring us to “be brave.”

Be brave when we are anxious.

Be brave when we doubt.

Be brave when we don’t understand.

Be brave when nothing seems to be going right.

Be brave when dreams are lost.

Be brave when inadequacy rules your feelings.

Be brave and embrace the moments that don’t fit where you thought they should.

Embrace the unexpected, the changes, the winding trails through motherhood and life.

The saying is true – the days are long but the years are short.

It wasn’t long ago he was two instead of ten. He was stubborn and tough and full of energy.

He and I survived those long days when I embraced our time together, accepting some days would be long, some days too short.

Maybe instead of seeing a day as long I need to see it as full.

Full is good.

Full is positive.

Full is life.

Even long is good.

Long is more.

Long is more time for hugs.

Long is more time for learning.

Long is more laughter.

Long is more moments, more smiles, more touches, more life lived fully alive.

Snow addiction | Athens, PA photographer

She’s addicted to the snow. Last year we hardly had any snow and the temperatures were in the 70s and 80s. This year the snow has fallen much more and when my toddler sees it’s on the ground she  immediately says “Snow! Snow! Outtide!” and grabs her coat and gloves. I’m not a fan of the cold and snow but I oblige and take her out and stand and shiver while she plays. Luckily she realizes the cold is only fun for so long and we’re able to go inside for “hot toto” which she blows bubbles in and I end up finishing.

Whose kid is that?! | Sayre, Pennsylvania Child Photographer

I just couldn’t believe the sight of that tiny toddler body laying flat on her face at the end of the checkout line in silent protest of her unwillingness to move where her mother wanted her to go. Wow. What drama. Whose child was this?  That mother must be so embarrassed.

Oh wait.

That was my child laying motionless and whimpering on the floor at Walmart and I wasn’t embarrassed. In fact I laughed when I peeled her off the floor and gently placed her against my shoulder, only to have her squirm away and back to the floor so she could push the cart by herself, sqwakingin protest if her brother and I tried to help.

I don’t laugh every time Little Miss shows her sassy, temperamental side, which is more and more these days, but I’ve been starting to accept that this is the new normal for a bit as we careen toward birthday number two. The acceptance is coming only through a lot of prayers, many uttered through gritted teeth and beginning with my mom’s favorite phrase “Lord, give me strength.” So far I’ve been able to mostly avoid dragging my hand across my forehead or through my hair like Mom does when she says those words but if you see me one day and my hair in the front is frizzed and sticking up you’ll know it was one of those days I lost sight of some of my resolve and God-given peace. .

Summer is here | Athens PA Child Photography

The Boy still has a day and a half of school, but it already feels like summer has arrived. We pulled out the sprinkler and then he became fascinated with the mud it left in our front yard and decided he should paint himself with it. I don’t remember him playing in mud like that before so this was a new one.

I treasure our summer days, especially now that my son is moving toward his tenth birthday this fall. These 9 years with him have flown by and I love watching him simply being a child, even if the mud he played in did clog our bath tub drain and possibly ruined a pair of his shorts.

In the modern days of technology and video games it’s a welcome sight for me when I see a child jumping in puddles or running through sprinklers or doing anything outside.

I hope this summer is much like last year and is filled with more outside than inside time.

This post is part of Melissa Firman’s 99 days of blogging.

 

The week in focus | Elmira NY Child Photographer

Last week we had a mix of nice and rainy days but Little Miss didn’t care what the weather was because she rain outside to slide on her new slide no matter what the sky was spitting.

It’s a inexpensive slide meant for toddlers but even her brother found a way to have fun with it, by leaping off it and attempting 360 turns in mid-air.

It doesn’t matter the height of the slide, Little Miss, who isn’t even 2 loves them and finds a way to get to the top and slide straight down to the bottom.

We visited a playground last week that had three different size slides. She was in toddler heaven, running back and forth to each one. She has no fear, climbing up a ladder to the top of the one playground set that had even me a little nervous to climb.

If she’s this much of a daredevil at 19 months, I have no ideawhat the age of 2 will hold!

 

Toddlers, books and motherhood

My house was a mess and my photos were remaining unedited, which was driving me crazy. Little Miss wanted to sit in my lap and have me read to her, the first time ever. I sat in the middle of that mess and read to her after feeling frustrated and annoyed only 15 minutes before,

For most of the night she was clinging to me and whining and crying and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong but I knew I wanted to fold the laundry and clean the upstairs sink and she wasn’t letting me. My oldest had forgot a book at school that he needed for an important project and a long weekend was ahead of us, cutting down the time to get his project done. I was getting mad and frustrated and flat out ticked. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate as a mom and a housekeeper and I threw toys out of my way as I tried to clean up the potato chips Little Miss had stomped into the floor. 

It seems like each time I try to accomplish a project a toddler cries or falls off something, a child needs a drink, or an animal throws up. Hours later my husband comes home from work and finds none of the projects I claimed I could complete done. 

More and more I am realizing I need to stop expecting myself to be super mom. I am never going to be the mom I expect myself to be. I’m most likely never going to be like Donna Reed, cooking a perfect meal, helping the children with their homework, kidding my husband and cleaning the kitchen floor at the same time. I’m never going to be that mom who sweetly smiles at her child even when he forgets an important book after he was specially told the book was needed and then says “oh well! Let’s go make some lemonade out of these lemons!” I’m most likely always going to be the mom who swallows her annoyance and says tightly “we will figure this out …. Somehow.” 

But maybe I will be the mom who sits in the middle of the upstairs hallway, in the middle of her mess, and lets the toddler crawl on her lap and lift her first library book up to be read again and again because that matters more than clean upstairs sinks.

His boyness is still there | Sayre, PA Photography

He’s changing so fast and I’m not ready for it. He’s not dressing up like superheroes as much as he used to. He’s not asking if he can wear a ninja costume to the store.

He’s not jumping off the couch quite as much. He’s too into TV and the digital world. I’m already hearing a heavy teenage-like sigh when I tell him it’s time for a computer break. 

He doesn’t play as hard or do the wild things he used to quite as often.

But it’s there. . .  Somewhere under his sly grin and smirk, his crazy boyness, if that were a word. At a moments notice he’s jumping on a board and striking a pose as Iron Man or Spider-Man. Suddenly he’s tugging off the polo shirt he wears to school and making it into a cape.

There is my little boy. 

I haven’t lost him yet.