Sunday, January 26, 2014

YOLO {you're only little once}

It seems like in our house the changing of the calendar means birthdays.  Bub's birthday is in February, Reagan's is at the tail end of March, and Anna's falls right in the middle of May.  My birthday is in there too, but I'm at the point, I've really stopped aging anyway, so it's not too important.  That is, as long as David is sure to buy me a sappy card and cake. It is still my birthday after all.

In these days of super mommies, Pinterest, internet shopping, nailing the perfect party seems to come with a bit of pressure.  We've had Mario, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Minnie Mouse, and monkey themed parties.  Now, that my little biggest princess is nearly 3, she is very demanding.  I had pinned super cute cowgirl themed parties.  She got a really cute cowgirl costume for Christmas, I just knew that would be her theme this year....  Until, she demanded she was going to have a "Peter Pan birthday."  Wait, my girlie princess, wants a Peter Pan birthday?  This is not going to work with the pink cowgirl, land lover, over the top feminine party I had envisioned. And you know what, that's okay.  You're only little once.

I'm much too mature to be wearing trendy clothes and captioning my Instagram selfies with YOLO, but when I saw the catch phrase in my latest Parents magazine interpreted to fit my littles, I sighed a bit.  It already does go by fast.  Sometimes that's not always a bad thing.  It seems like once a month I'm cleaning up vomit.  One day they'll be able to hit the toilet.  That will be awesome.  When empty nesters tell you "you're gonna miss this," they were not talking about vomit, sleeping on the couch, being pooped on, kids screaming in the backseat of your car the entire hour long trip, or cleaning food up off the floor constantly.  

However, the endearing sweet moments truly outweigh the bad.  Anna still lets me rock her to sleep, she's my last baby, I'm going to keep on rocking that sweet pea.  Reagan declares "Mommy, I like you, I really do!!!" at the top of her lungs at least 10 times a day.  How cute is that?!  She also likes wearing "a neighborHOOD" (hoodie), loves "kandas" (pandas), and helps teach sign language to her sister (we did it with her, I've been slack with Anna, Reagan picked up my slack).  The girls are constantly giving checkups with their doctor kits, after we thank them by singing "So Much Better" Doc McStuffens style, they both will say, "it was no biggie."  Brent will pick up the girls, carry them, give them sloppy kisses, and secretly delights in Anna calling him "bubba" even though he would never admit it in public. My heart has never been so mushy.  

I keep the girls in line, in fact I laugh when Anna is doing something she shouldn't, Reagan will firmly say, "No ma'am!" in her best mommy tone. But when it comes to the everyday little things, I really try to remember they are just toddlers.  So, it snowed tiny tidbits of tissues in my living room today.  We played in it for a while.  We threw it in the air, danced around, sang like Elsa and Anna in Frozen, and then we all three got our vacuum cleaners and cleaned it up.  Poor Anna's vacuum is actually a Fisher Price bubble lawn mower, but it works.  They are helpers. They have great imaginations.  They are little.  In the midst of wanting to pull my hair out, I remind myself this time is too short.  They will only be this little once.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Hate That Girl!

If you had asked me ten years ago how I anticipated my future, it would be absolutely nothing like it is at the present.  I was a bit self centered at 18, used to being the center of attention, the brightest (or pretty darn near it) crayon in the box, and I had everything figured out.  I was done with one semester of college and only part of that bubble had burst.  Maybe college level calculus wasn't for me, but in my circle of friends that managed to stay tight (perhaps because I dated one of them, and the rest were our mutual pals) despite the distance our separate universities put between us, I still got most of the limelight.  I was going to graduate, marry my high school sweetheart, wait a few years, adopt some Asian babies (babies get out how!?) and be a stay at home mom.  My kids would drink formula (because breastfeeding is weird, my mom bottle fed me, and I'm awesome), be potty trained by 18 months, go to church preschool a few days a week so I could train for and run half marathons.

Oh my gosh! I hate that girl! If you do those things, that is totally awesome, it was MY attitude I hate.  It was still all about me.  My first year teaching totally changed everything.  My high school sweetheart moved away to pursue his "over" graduate degree (he kept referring to his undergrad work as easy peasy, it ticked me off), we grew apart fast.  I threw myself into my work, and it really consumed me anyways.  I had a really tough group of third graders.  Nothing like the country club kids I student taught with. Nothing like the small K-8 school I attended and my mom taught at.  It was scary some days.  I had one student that I'm pretty sure was certifiably crazy and another that had such a bad home life, I didn't stand a chance at school.  By Christmas, I was convinced I had chosen the wrong profession and I really needed to go back to school and become a physical therapist.  I begged my parents to let me use the money I was saving by staying at home to help fund my new career, they insisted I had to teach the next four years thanks to my hefty "loan" of a Teaching Fellows Scholarship.

The biggest blessing I had was a really great group of gals to work with (my 'seur ladies, you will always hold a dear place in my heart).  We'd plan lessons, go out, share stories, couches, and good times.  It's thanks to one of them insisting I go out with her one Saturday night that I now know my husband.  But really, you need a support system when you have kids throwing desks at you (not an exaggeration).  So, I muddled through the year, survived EOGs, was informed I was moving up to fourth grade via mass email, and at this point would have settled for a new school instead of a new degree.  I couldn't imagine teaching the little monsters I had had this year again, luckily the principal  agreed with me, and made sure I had a little say in my class list the next year.  That year was better, and I loved fourth grade, ended up engaged, and had found confidence in my field.  I wasn't the best or perfect, but by making really close friends in my colleagues who had been in the profession for longer, I realized in teaching, there's probably no best or perfect.

I got married before the next school year, hated the commute from our home to my school and ended up taking a job nearby at an "easy school."  My life changed drastically in a short time.  I was adjusting to being in a new place as home, to suburban life, to a new school, new grade level, new life as a wife and a stepmomma.  Part of the reason I chose to leave my school  (other than travel time), was I knew we wanted to try to have a baby.  One night as I was working on lesson plans, my stepson slammed my computer shut.  With big, teary eyes he told me I could work on that when he was at his moms.  My attitude toward work was changing, and I knew the more we added to our family, the more I would have to balance.  After I accepted the job, we decided we'd let life happen, and 7 months later, I was taking pictures of digital pregnancy tests and sending them to David at work.  I thought life had changed a lot, I had no idea what the next three years would bring.

So, two babies later, that are mine biologically (they don't look Asian one bit), I'm not the girl I was 10 years all.  I actually like working, and sometimes need to work (okay, I always need to work for benefits and fiscal responsibilities) for my sanity. There's no training while the kids are at preschool, there's just staff development while they're catching who knows what at daycare.  I nursed Reagan until being pregnant totally wiped out my supply.  We are working on weaning now, but at 20 months, my toddler still nurses to sleep. My 18 year old self is appalled, but as I'm quickly approaching 29, I realize it's not really about me anymore.  Potty training is harder than college calculus! I still like buying new shoes, getting a hair cut (even if it's like once a year now), and a mani/pedi, but now, I love snuggles (even if they involve lots of drool), family mornings in bed just the five of us, and the occasional slow jog with the double stroller.  My Saturdays are consumed with gymnastics and Upward sports, my full night of sleep on my tummy is interrupted by teething, bad dreams, and cries for a binkie.  It's unlike anything I had planned.  It is so much better.  I wish I hadn't been so self centered when I was younger.  There are some really unkind things it caused me to do and say. I've had my share of dark days recently, especially when I found out I was pregnant when my baby was just six months old, and my husband, who is several years my senior, was ready to be done after our one.  But, if anything, we've both learned to put our little ones as a priority, trust God's plan and timing, and work together for the sake of our family.  The girl I was would have been too consumed with herself to ever be the wife, mommy, teacher, friend I am today.  She wasn't all bad, but I sure am glad she grew up, even if her side and big toe had to catch a desk along the way.