What the Crap?

I was at soccer practice for one of my sons and had my two youngest with me as well. They played at the playground while I watched practice. About half way through my youngest comes up to me and tells me he needs to go to the bathroom. So I grab the kids and walk across the park to this little shelter with a bathroom. These bathrooms aren’t great there isn’t even a light that turns on. Still, they do have a toilet which is all we really needed. The ladies toilet was being used so we just sucked it up and went to the men’s toilet. My son decided after a couple minutes that he would pee only. He didn’t feel comfortable enough to poop in this dark shelter toilet.

We made it back to the playground and the kids went back to playing on the playground while I watched their older brother. At the end of practice I was scanning the playground when I noticed this small child with his pants off squatting under the playground set. I knew right away. I knew that was my child. I wondered if I could pretend it didn’t happen. I wondered if maybe I could claim he wasn’t mine. If you don’t look at it then it isn’t really happening-right? He took a step out with his underwear and shorts in one hand and his other hand holding up his shirt. He looked at me and said,” I need a bath.” Yup. He really did. I mean yeah. I had to take him home in my car too. There was poop up and down his legs. Both sides. His hands had poop. His butt had poop. He was covered. I nervously glanced under the playground set and saw a big log. At least it was solid. At least it was just one. At least his shorts were already covered in poop so I could just crawl under the playground set and grab it. When your child poops on the playground you try to look for the positives. We left that playground when all the other kids and their parents and siblings were leaving that playground. My son walked across the playground no underwear, no shorts, shirt being held above his belly, and the lower half of his body covered in poop smear. After a quick stop to the garbage to dispose of the evidence we went to the car.

I took my older son’s water bottle, found a tissue box, and cleaned him off the best I could in the parking lot. I put those shorts back on cuz the underwear were not very usable, and buckled him in the carseat. It is a sure sign that he is my youngest by the fact that I wasn’t angry, I didn’t yell, and I wasn’t even that embarrassed walking him out of the park. After I got him in the car I just asked him why. Why when we had gone to the bathroom did he decide to go under the playground set? His answer was very simple. He wanted to go at home where he was comfortable going, but he got to a point he just couldn’t hold it anymore. He didn’t want anyone to see him so he hid under the playground set.

I mean- “What the crap?” Really. In every way. At least he is honest. A little disgusting but honest.IMG_0150

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Gotta Send My Baby Away

What is it with the baby of the family? Why do we (or maybe just me) treat him like a baby even when he is clearly not anymore? I am so done with having children. I have had my fair share, and seeing babies no longer elicits any sort of pull from my uterus, but I am having a hard time letting the youngest grow up. I basically kicked all my other children out the door the moment they entered preschool age. By two no more being held constantly and once you could walk any real distance the stroller was put away. Not saying that I forced it. I mean I am a baby wearer and a constant holder of babies (when they are babies), but I had too many kids to keep it up past 2 years old. You’ve gotta get dressed, wipe your own butt, and help take care of you otherwise it might not happen. This last kid is different though. I put his clothes on him still and he is 4. I still call him a baby. I will grab him sporadically throughout the day and tell him he needs to sit on my lap or cuddle. I tell the other kids to stop picking on him  even though this child is a devil at times. I lay down with him at nap time and bed time. He still sleeps in my bed.

I still do my fair share of ignoring him. Don’t worry the tv is still a second parent to him. He plays blocks and cars and bad guys alone in the play room. I find myself saying not now or I am too busy or later just like I do with the other children. I actually play less with him than I did with my oldest. However, it is hard to stop thinking of him as a baby.

While he is here I have a purpose. I am a stay at home mom with a kid at home. When he leaves, what then? Do I suddenly go out and find a job just because my kid is at school? Do I stop prioritizing my kids and start prioritizing me? The older kids need me just as much, and the afternoons and evenings are crazy here, so maybe I stay at home to rest up for the evening shift of parenting. I run the errands and do the chores during the day so I can be chaperone and chauffeur during the night. I don’t know. I keep putting off thinking about it. Just like I am putting off signing my baby up for preschool. I have had it on my to-do list for two months. Ever since registration opened up. I have all the papers for it in my purse ready to go. I just haven’t. I have lots of excuses. We had to go to the store and then it was nap time. It was raining too hard to get out. It was nice outside and it hasn’t been nice in months so we stayed home. I have to do it. He can’t hang out with just me, the tv, and himself next year. He needs to break away and find his own legs in the world. Even if it is just the world of preschool. It is just, well, he is my baby.

Once he is gone, everyone is gone, and it starts a different chapter in my parenting world. It is sad and lonely and scary. I have been a mom with a kid or kids at home since 2007. That is a long time. Almost my whole adult life has been about babies-being pregnant, nursing, and then repeat. I was a pro. Now, I am about to see what days are like with no one here. Just me. What if I don’t like me? Maybe my crazy dog will become my baby? Do you think 80 lb. dogs like being pushed around in a stroller? I would definitely get some strong arm muscles trying to carry him around all day.

It is hard to let go of different parts of motherhood. You spend so much time and energy cultivating certain aspects of motherhood that when it is time to open your arms and let go, sometimes you just can’t, at least not all the way. So we nag about the coat, pry into the friendships, and get on your case about the homework. Maybe we even cut your meat when you can do it yourself just because we need to be needed. I will sign my baby up for preschool, maybe not today because it is raining, but I will. IMG_0035

May Madness

I have displayed a picture of my 12-year-old’s shoe. It is a symbol of the current state of affairs in this house. It is May. Thank goodness because in April it snowed twice. Though May isn’t really starting off well, we haven’t seen the sun in a week and there are flash floods. Woot- Go Spring! While there is a hope of seeing the sun soon, there isn’t much of a hope that the chaos in this house will subside anytime soon.

My kitchen counters and table were recently covered with end of the year projects. Big things that took more than a day to complete. Things that just sat on the counter. The dog ate part of one and we had to fix it. Thank goodness they are at school now. I don’t have to worry about them at all. Except that my 12-year-old came home devastated because his was too top heavy and fell off the display table at school and broke into pieces before the open house. We decided to just skip open house after that. No need to see the broken project in a school when I had seen the whole project on my kitchen counter.

I don’t mind packing lunches, but at the same time my lunches are never amazing. I keep it at a steady level of dull all year. This way there are no expectations and there is no tapering off at the end of the year. Though sometimes I get tired of the monotony so I tell them they get to play a game called- pack your own damn lunch. I don’t supervise or watch. I have no idea what goes in their lunches on those days—I don’t care.

I am a bit tired of checking folders and signing things. So sometimes I don’t. I liked to mix things up. My 9-year-old is a bit concerned about my slacking. He came up to me with a handful of papers and said, “Mom, why aren’t you checking my folder anymore?” I guess since there are end of the year field trip papers I need to sign. I should probably be a little more dutiful in that area.

Spring brings spring sports. That means practices and games and driving. Always driving. I love soccer. I love that my kids play soccer. I am glad that they are able to practice so much. I love that it means less time on electronics and less time with me having to directly parent them and play referee. I don’t love dinner and sports. I might start off with grandiose plans of meal planning or crockpot using. Instead, we get hot dogs, cereal, chicken nuggets, and maybe one good meal that I keep bringing up as a leftover option. My 4-year-old just carries around a jumbo container of cheese balls as his dinner. Whatever.

In this monsoon season we are currently experiencing I am thrown though. The spring sports are all cancelled. They can’t go outside because it is disgusting. So we just sit sit sit. Video games, youtube videos, movies, tv shows, a few board games scattered here and there. Fighting. Name calling. Teasing. Punching. Tattling. Crying. Lots of crying. It is really fun. It makes me eager for summer.

My 12-year-old came home with blue tape on his shoe. I guess the sole isn’t attached to the shoe anymore, so the teacher gave hime some tape. I like how I didn’t notice. I like how he didn’t tell me. I also like that I didn’t run out and buy new shoes. I was like I am gonna order you some and you will get them in like a week.

So the end of this school year around here means that shit gets done just haphazardly and on our own time. We sort of piecemeal it together and hope for the best. IMG_9890

It Was A Matter Of Survival

For a little while now there has been a tugging at the back of my mind. It goes something like this, “I don’t think they understand. It was a choice between surviving and not.” I grew up in what basically amounts to a dysfunctional home. There wasn’t much healthy about. Even before my mother got sick and died there was anger and hate and fear. The only love I felt was from my mom, and she was broken too, but she made sure to hug us and say I love you.

I have siblings, but we aren’t the call each other on the phone everyday and text all night kind of siblings. Life in a house like that does different things to different people. We broke and built ourselves back up in different ways. Our strengths and weaknesses were magnified, it was a pressure pot, and there was no way we were going to leave unscathed. However, you don’t experience life and loss together without knowing when shit hits the fan you will be there for each other, no questions asked.

I remember being 4 and telling my dad that I knew he hated us and then running to hide from him in my mother’s arms. I remember watching Oprah after school with my mom one day and someone on the show said, “Marry someone like your dad.” My mom turned to me and said, “Don’t marry anyone like your dad.” I remember being in 5th grade and realizing that I could leave and not come back. I clung to that the rest of my youth. My remembrances could go on and on. They flicker in and out of my head. I try to turn them off, but randomly they break through.

My mom died when I was a senior in high school. Everyone made sure I went to college. I believe there must have been some group meeting. They didn’t want me to stay near my dad. They didn’t want me to become the mother to my younger siblings. They wanted to me to leave. I was moved into my aunt’s house for the summer. Maybe it started then. Maybe it was a choice and maybe it was just survival. I didn’t go back. My house was only 20 minutes away. My siblings still lived at home. I think about all the should haves, could haves, and it makes me sad. It makes me regret that I didn’t. I was older, I was the one who should have comforted them, held them, stepped in and started saying I love you and hugging them because I bet they never got another hug from a parent after my mom died. I didn’t though. I was selfish.

I went to college. When it was time for summer break my heart was racing because what would I do? I didn’t want to go home. I didn’t want to go back. Not ever. I had already been kicked out at Thanksgiving for daring to tell my dad he was a horrible father. I had avoided as many reasons to go home as possible. Again, I felt like I was abandoning my siblings but years of pain and sadness and even hatred don’t just disappear. The day before I was to leave I was asked to stay on as a summer residence assistant. I volunteered to work every summer and break that was allowed to work after that.

Slowly and over time my hatred began to slip away. It was more just apathy. Time changes us all. Distance helps make it easier. The relationship I had with my husband when we first started dating and even into the first year of marriage wasn’t healthy. There wasn’t much of a chance that it would be. Through all the crazy and loss of a baby at 22 weeks gestation we made it out on the other side stronger. I realized I didn’t have room in my life for anger, it had been weighing me down for too long. Once I started having children we went back to visit more often than before. Once we crossed the bridge into my hometown I would always and still always feel my breath catch. I get knots in my stomach and a tightness in my manner that doesn’t leave until we do. I wonder if my siblings know that I can be silly. I can be goofy. I can be more than uptight. I can laugh.

A couple siblings stayed. A couple moved away. To the ones who stayed I wonder if they see that I had to leave in order to grow up, in order to be functional, in order have a chance at smiling. I suppose it was selfish, and I could have done it in a better way. I could have been a better big sister. I was just a kid too though, one who had been broken before my wings were even given a chance to grow.

Recently, my dad got sick. Quite sick and we all thought he would die. I went home. My feelings on this were all over the place. I understand that my father’s life wasn’t great growing up either. Adulthood wasn’t how he had planned, and we are all broken in different ways. So on one hand I feel sorry for him. On the other, we all have a chance to make a change. It can be hard, but even the slightest effort and improvement goes a long way. The concern was with him because no one should have to live in a shell of a body. The concern was mostly directed towards the siblings who stayed. The ones who would continue to stay. The ones who felt it differently. He got better. I left.

I admit that I am selfish. I also admit it probably won’t change. The scars of childhood run deep. I don’t text to check in with him. I don’t call on the phone. I don’t ask for updates. I can justify it by saying my whole life he never called me to check on me. All through college I heard from him maybe 3 times. When I got engaged I called to tell him and he asked,” Do I know him?” The list could go on. The fact that I knew at the age of 10 I needed to leave just amplifies how deep that truth runs in me. My anger has subsided, my outbursts minimized, and my self destructive thoughts lessened (with the help of medicine they are gone). My self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence will never be optimal, but I can finally walk in a room and not look at the floor, I can (usually) talk to others and not feel as though they are all better than me, and I don’t use a loud insecure voice to cover up my weaknesses. I am not strong enough to go back for long. I am not brave enough to tempt fate by stepping into the role of dutiful daughter. I worry that the apathy I have cultivated over the years will slip back into anger. There are too many people who depend on me now for me to go backwards. I have to keep looking forward. I’m sorry, but it’s a matter of survival. IMG_9804

Childhood Lives Here

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Life Gone Crazy

childhood lives here.

runny noses
sticky fingers
wet kisses
childhood lives here

I’m bigger than you
better than you
faster than you
childhood lives here

holding hands
wiping tears
fixing fears
childhood lives here

sleepless nights
early mornings
coffee by the pot
childhood lives here

legos
barbies
matchbox cars
childhood lives here

santa claus
easter bunny
tooth fairy
childhood lives here

did you know
why is it so
are we there yet
childhood lives here

moving too fast
moving too slow
never just right
childhood lives here

I’ll love you
I’ll hold you
I’ll let you go
childhood lives here

Saturday Selfie

 

I woke up at 6:30am. The alarm didn’t go off, it wasn’t set, it was a Saturday. I didn’t get to hit snooze or roll back over and pull up the covers, I had to get up. I had to make sure the puppy got out before he peed all over the floor. I had to feed the youngest kids who are now on this school time schedule of waking at 6:30am. I had to make sure that by 7am everyone else was awake because we started travel soccer today, and we had to travel for an early morning game. Once the kids were all fed I walked the puppy. He was going to be in his crate, so I needed to make sure we got some of his crazy intense puppy energy out. I am not really sure the walk helped, but at least I felt better. Then it was time for yelling. You know basic mom stuff— Brush your teeth!!!! Find your shoes!! Where is your water bottle? I don’t care what you want you have to come to the game! Get in the car now!!! Where are your shoes? Why didn’t you look for them earlier when I first mentioned it?!

We managed to get loaded into the car. We got to the game. It was cold, windy, overcast, and not very exciting honestly. It wasn’t our only game and it isn’t our only kid in travel soccer, so we drove to another game for much of the same. I don’t hate it. I enjoy it. I like watching them play. I get antsy about how they will do, I get upset when they aren’t playing well, I get nervous when they are losing, and I love cheering them on and supporting their passion. I am your basic soccer mom. I should probably get a sweatshirt or something that says-Soccer Mom.

By the time we get home the youngest is asleep in the car, everyone else is itching for electronics, and I figure 2pm is decent beer drinking time. It dawns on me that I haven’t really showered in a couple days, so I decide this is a good time to wash my hair. Once out of the shower I just put on some comfy clothes and throw the hair in a messy bun thing. We aren’t going anywhere. I don’t need to be fancy. A little bit later my husband walks into our living room and says,”Boys come here! I need you to look at your mother.” I am just sitting on the couch. I have no makeup on, no bra on, my messy bun is full of wet hair, and I just have on a baggy t-shirt. He continues with, “ You know how you are handsome? Well, thank your mother for that because you get all of your good looks from her.” The kids just look at me and walk away. They are not even remotely interested.

I can’t help but be wide variety of embarrassed, joyful, and skeptical. I promise you I have not been taking care of myself like I used to in the exercise and diet arena. I don’t have on my eyeliner or concealer. My hair is wet and piled on top of my head. What was it in that moment that caught my husband’s eye? What was I doing, besides sitting on the couch, that made him share these feelings to our kids?

We have been a couple for 15 years. We have been pregnant 6 times and have 5 kids. We have gone through highs and lows. We have had moments of intense passion and desire and moments where it was icy and I wasn’t sure anything would melt that ice. We’ve been poor, like raising a large family on a graduate assistant’s salary poor, and not so poor. We’ve laughed, cried, yelled, smiled, and experienced life and death together. Basically, we have lived life together. We took those vows and made them our reality. Who knew part of that reality would involve my husband looking at me on the couch, no filter, no make-up, and think of me as gorgeous? I don’t see myself that way. I see the flaws, the wrinkles, the lines, the fat, the plain, and the list goes on, but he sees all of me, he sees my beauty, he sees my soul, and he loves me. I love him for it.

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Drowning in the Middle

I am tired. Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever just get, tired? I have had these ideas these thoughts about what I could write about, what I should write about.There have been things I have written about, at home, in a notebook, but then I have stopped, I haven’t shared. Life got in the way. It does that. Sometimes you get busy.You don’t have time to hit publish because before you do, something else happens. Some of it is super fun like a vacation where after months and months of not having your husband home that often you get to go to the beach and just chill. The kids were so good that they even received a $1 a piece from an elderly couple at a restaurant who delighted in watching the kids enjoy the food and each other. I promise this is not normal. Normally I think that people just stand up and cheer when we leave.

Then we got a puppy. An adventure. My husband and I had a puppy when we were engaged. Before kids. Now we have a puppy with 5 kids. This is insane. I have to feed everyone. Exercise everyone. Pay attention to everyone. Schedule my day around everyone. Try to save my furniture from being destroyed by everyone. Stop everyone from tackling everyone. By everyone I mean 5 kids and a puppy. It is tiring.

My dad got sick. It was unexpected. I am not close to my dad. I never was. How should I feel? What is expected of me? What should I do? He stayed when he could have left, is that enough? Does it matter now? Does this erase it all? He is my dad no matter what. My mom died when I was a teenager. He is the only parent I have left. I have headaches everyday now.

My kids are into sports. I totally support sports in their life. I love that they can get out their energy. They can learn to work with different types of people. They aren’t just staring at a screen. I don’t have to be the one coming up with ways to entertain them. Sports teach all sorts of lessons. I forgot I have to drive them everywhere. All of them. I have to drive here and there and everywhere. I forgot that even though they wanted to do the sport that doesn’t mean they are super excited to go to practices every single time. There are tears, whining, arguing, and fighting. It is exhausting.

Tonight, at midnight, I took my puppy outside to use the bathroom. He peed rather quickly, but I knew he needed to go number 2, so in the darkness and silence the pup and I paced the backyard. It took awhile, especially for being midnight, but in the end he did his deed and ran over to me. I leaned over and ruffled his ears, put my nose to his, and knew that this wild puppy would one day be my comfort when I am sick, sad, lonely, or just want someone to watch tv with me on the couch without saying anything. His crazy now will pay off in loyalty later.

Going on vacation with my family was great. It was really amazing to see the almost constant smile on the face of my oldest. Sure there were moments, but this kid who is not known for his smiles, was definitely in his happy place. I loved it.

I drove home to see my dad. I went alone because I wasn’t sure what I would see. I saw my sisters and brother worried, all of us with our own stories, and all of us represented in some way. I texted my childhood best friend. We don’t talk all the time. We ended up at different colleges and we live in different states, but I knew she would be there. She was. She drove a few hours to sit with me. We caught up. She brought snacks. The fact my childhood best friend is still willing to drop stuff to be there is an amazing blessing, and I don’t take it for granted.

4 of the kids had sports stuff today. Back to back. Getting them all out the door, finding all the equipment, and trying to do it on time was a mess. Afterwards though they didn’t stop talking about what they did, what they tried, and what they accomplished. My daughter was all tears at her first t-ball game. She didn’t even play. Today, after she hit the ball and ran the bases, she ran over to me with a huge smile and gave me the biggest hug.

I am so tired. I hope this headache goes away. I am living this middle part. This hard part. The part that is so full of life that there is no way it can always be smooth sailing. I can either live the middle and resent it, hate it, and wish it away, or I can accept that there will be days, weeks, and months where I am just barely holding on, but that doesn’t mean beautiful things can’t happen in the chaos. Walking on the beach during our family vacation I saw many shells, and some were perfect without blemish, others you could tell had been tossed about, they had weathered the storm, and those were the ones that caught my eye. Here they were in front of me so much more beautiful because they made it to the shore after being discarded.

I am weary, but that doesn’t mean I will let the weariness consume me. I am pulled in many directions and feel the need to be in so many different places at the same time, but I will not let it weigh me down. I will reach out my hand and ask for help and be so grateful when it comes in the form of family and friends. I will live this middle, I will weather these storms, and will find beauty in chaos. Life will not leave me unblemished, but oh, the stories.

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