playing our song

My relationship with my husband didn’t begin in the most conventional way. We met in what was basically a religious cult, and grew to be good friends over time. Around five years later, he began to show some interest romantically, but I wasn’t feeling it yet. Another couple of years later, I finally came to my senses and we were married a year later. I definitely love my husband dearly, but I’m not what one would consider an overly touchy-feely soft and gooey person. I’m practical. I’m not all that into PDA and I’m definitely not a lovey romantic. I feel bad for him, because he is definitely a romantic in his way, but our relationship has always been one of best friends at the foundation with some romance sprinkled on top every now and again.

Way, way back in the beginning he began singing “our song” to me. Actually, he sang three lines of our song to me and then it would always trail off into humming. I’d never heard the song, and hand to god, I’ve always thought he just made it up. He’s always insisted it was a real song, but I had never heard anything that sounded remotely like it, and I just thought he was mixing up something he’d heard once upon a time and put his own spin to it- which was equally great to me. It’s a sweet little tune and early in our marriage he’d sing or hum it to me all the time. Now, it’s usually when he grabs me in the kitchen and slow dances me around or if he knows I need a little chuckle. Do you SEE what a loving romantic I’m married to and how it’s so sad that I’m such a cold fish?! Poor sap.

I’ve been noticing that as we’re getting older and the kids are growing up and life is settling down more, I definitely have become more sentimental and maybe even a little gooey – if only every great once in a while. This week; however, I fear I may have fallen head over heels totally, madly in love with this man. Smitten. Sixteen and a half years later, and he finally got to me.

A few weeks ago we were driving and all of a sudden I heard a very familiar tune. It was the song. I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock! He just kept laughing at me and telling me he knew it was real. I was in such disbelief that I didn’t even listen to all the words, we just kept laughing and it was honestly just so surreal. Earlier this week, I flippantly mentioned that I wish I could hear the song again because I wanted to hear the actual words (still thinking he’d made up his own version, haha!)

Yesterday I was in the shower, and I hear him come in and start setting up his music. He always listens to music when he’s in the shower, and I never do. For a split second I was giving an eye roll that he was messing up my quiet time with his music. Then, I heard the tune. I opened the curtain to see him give me a little twinkle-eyed grin, and we both chuckled.  I stood in my shower listening to that song with tears streaming down my face.  It’s like that song was written for us. He’s been carrying around this song in his heart for seventeen years, and I’m just hearing it for the first time. I can’t explain why, but it’s exactly what I needed right now.

Our marriage has always been rock solid. We had to fight for it, and we’ve certainly had our share of battles to overcome over the years. They’ve always brought us closer, and we have always been best friends but sometimes the lovey romance gets lost in the shuffle. Hearing that song, and knowing that this is what he’s been singing to me in his heart all these years has left me in a puddle. It’s nothing short of a gift to my soul right now. Even after seventeen years, our love can be renewed and deepened by one simple act- one simple song. That’s probably the best gift I’ve ever been given. I didn’t even know I needed it, but it’s like a cold drink of water on the hottest day- just the fresh start that I needed for this season of our life.

Thanks to some guy named Sammy Kershaw for singing our song.

(I know that this is just a mush-fest display of affection that is super out of character for me, but I just needed to get it out there.)

should i make a pencil bouquet or a xanax cocktail?

This time next week, I will have just tucked my kids into bed in preparation for their first day of school.  This time next week, I will be an emotional wreck.

As internet friends all over the country have been sending their babes off to school this week, I have been watching closely.  I’ve been reading their posts and emails about feelings on loosening the cord and saying goodbye for seven hours a day.  I’ve also been reading article after article about easing the transition and offering the right kinds of support to the people we are sending off.  Some might say I’m working myself up over nothing.  I say, I’m arming myself for the battle.  “What the hell is so stinking bad about sending your kid to school?” you ask.  Nothing, I guess.  For most moms.

I; however, am not most moms.  Among a myriad of personal issues too neurotic to name, I’m also a mom of a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder.  You may be wondering what SPD is.  You may be rolling your eyes and guffawing that another mom is buying into another “disorder” to make excuses for their bad parenting.  I know there’s plenty of people in my life happy to have that same response.

For those of you eager to pass judgement, save it.  Just save it and keep moving on.  For those of you wondering what SPD is, it’s a neurological condition that makes it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, thereby creating challenges in performing countless everyday tasks.  To the average person, the child may look like an incredibly shy introvert that hides under her mom’s skirt and refuses to play at recess, or he may look like a wild maniac that bounces off the walls, runs over the other children and refuses to settle down and obey even the most basic classroom rules.  (Some children that look like this, simply are those things, and some children aren’t.  It’s up to parents to investigate and decide what category their children are in, and I’d happily support all parents in their decisions.)

Just like thousands of other parents in my position, I’m anxious about many things as the beginning of the school year approaches.  Have I been too lax this summer and created a monster for his teacher?  Will he be able to grasp a new routine, new rules, new environment that is different from last year’s?  Will the support the school has promised in order to help him succeed truly be there?  Will he come home every day with sad faces on a report regarding his classroom behavior?  Will his report cards hold all ones and twos or will he be on “grade level” threes and fours?  How the hell am I going to do this?  Am I a failure as a mom?  And a thousand more questions just like these.  On a loop.  In my head.

More than anything right now, I hear these words: “Do not let that school put a label on your son. It’s not worth it.  You know he’s a good kid.  He’s just a little boy.  Don’t you dare let them label him.”  As much as I have struggled with the decision, I have let them label him.  Do you know why?  Because I’m not too proud to let my son get the help he will desperately need to succeed throughout school.  Do you know what the label means for my son?  The label means the difference between him growing up to be a tow truck driver or an engineer if he wants to.  (Not that I would have a problem if he wanted to grow up to be a tow-truck driver.  God bless the tow-truck drivers.  But if he wants to be an engineer, then he should have that opportunity.)  As much as I know in my gut that I have made the right decision, because I know my son, the people in my ear that don’t agree with it, wear me down and make me question myself.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

And then I remind myself: that label, those extra classes and the special seat he gets in the classroom?  Those are the difference between success and failure.  The therapy he receives?  That’s the difference between learning to read fluently by the end of the year, and it taking until fifth grade to read at a first grade level.  That file? The one that they keep in the office that says my son has special needs?  That file doesn’t mean shit to me, except that my son, the one that I am responsible for, he gets to have his best shot at life.

I cannot wrap my mind around stubbornly refusing my son his best shot at life just because I am too proud to let someone evaluate him and put a label on him.  If every time he ran around the track in PE he turned blue and couldn’t breathe, would I refuse to let a doctor check him for asthma?  If they found he had asthma and I refused to let him have medication to treat it, would I be a good mom because I wasn’t letting someone label my son as an asthmatic?  Would I be teaching him a special kind of discipline that would turn him into an Olympic sprinter later in life or would I be hamstringing him for the sake of my own pride?  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

This year, I will be entering new waters.  In the four earlier years I’ve had children in school, I’ve never been the mom that had to attend IEP meetings or therapy sessions.  I’ve just been the mom with the smart kid and the cute kindergartener.  Now I’m the mom that decided not to take that great job so I could be the mom that goes to school and helps with the hard days.  I’m the mom that packs the special bag and does the extra work to make sure things go smoothly.  I’m the mom that makes sure the label doesn’t mean he gets stuck in the seat in the corner, but gets all the special help he needs to be the brilliant kid that proves you wrong.  I’m that mom.  And I’m bad ass.

*I feel badly that I didn’t add this earlier, but I also want to make clear that my husband is also that dad.  He supports every decision and makes every hard sacrifice right along side me.  When one of us has lost our focus and determination to give Jordan his best shot, the other is there to remind us why we’re doing this.  He lovingly watches me devour books and articles and try crazy-brained ideas to help ease life around here.  He sacrifices for all of us.  And he is most definitely bad. ass. :)*

mean girls

Being a mom is my biggest challenge in life.  I’m decent at being a wife.  I’m decent at cooking and cleaning and making sure things run smoothly around here. I’m also a good mom.  It’s the one thing I work really hard at.  When I say it’s my biggest challenge I don’t mean it’s the hardest thing, although it might be.  I mean it’s the thing I work at the most.  I have to- it’s constantly right in front of me, staring me in the face and asking for a cookie.

Just when I think things are running smoothly, something else comes up that we have to maneuver and find our way through.  And damn it if this child raising stuff didn’t come with a map of any kind.  Having one girl and one boy is it’s own set of problems.  What works on one definitely doesn’t work on the other and none of it makes any real sense whatsoever anyway.  Having a boy is physically exhausting, but having a girl is emotionally and mentally the most life-sucking task in the history of forever.  God made girls last because he knew it was going to take it out of him for a while.  That’s why.

So the little diva is eight.  Mostly, I don’t care for this age, but I think I get off pretty lucky because my kid is pretty awesome no matter what her age.  BUT, girls in general… not easy! (We covered that already.)  If it were just us in a bubble I think it’d be cake, but add in all the outside influences and crap and it’s just not.  Our most recent struggle and one that I fear will be a long-term pain in our collective butts: the mean girl.  How in the holy hell does The Mean Girl rear her ugly head this early on?  You just try dealing with pint size mean girls. It’s the worst!  And try raising a girl that can overcome the mean girl without actually becoming the mean girl.  GAH!

This started for Sis last year and even though we’re in a new school and it’s SO much better, there are still days.  Oh man are there days.  Yesterday we had one.  I can’t even say it was a Mean Girl episode because I don’t even know.  I do know that my girl ran from the bus and into my arms crying and wanting to crawl into her jacket and hide (her words.)  I know I still don’t know what all happened because she starts sobbing when she talks about it.  I know I almost didn’t get her to school this morning and then as soon as her spelling test was over she called and said her stomach is hurting so bad she’s going to throw up and I need to come now.  (She’s already on meds for acid reflux and basically an ulcer because she’s an internalizer like her mother.)  So I went and got her.  Who needs this crap?  We’re going to cozy up on the couch and watch girl shows and enjoy the fact that she’s a good kid.  Tomorrow we’ll talk again about being strong in the face of the mean girl.  Today I will do the mom version of taking a hurting friend out for drinks and a night of dancing to forget the crap.  That’s ice cream and making glittery crafts in front of a marathon of Victorious followed by reading “The Hunger Games” together.  Dude, I told you I’m Mother of the Year.  Don’t try to take my title.  The only reason I’m here right now is because she’s eating lunch and told me she wants some time alone before we start our date.

And in case you think I don’t give meaningful advice, last night I wrote her a long email about friendship and reminding her that she is a good person and so on and so on.  This is basically what we talk about every time this situation comes up.  I just decided to write it all out so she can refer back to it in her “Emails from Mom” (where I give all my best nuggets of motherly advice and she usually loves them.)  This time she responded back with “This email is to long, to long, to long, TO LONG.”  To which I responded, “we need to talk about the difference between to/too/and two again.”

If you have any great motherly advice for traversing the shark infested waters of raising little divas, I’d be ALL for it!  Okay, better run… she’s finished with lunch and ready for some ice cream.  (Yes, I realize it’s only 11:30 am. Shut up.)

 

 

boy: a noise with dirt on it.

I’m going to warn you now that as I write this I am weepy.  I know I am more than a tad hormonal.  And stressed.  Those two things basically equal disaster for me in the sanity department.  So, I weep.  Today, I weep the sappy mommy weep.  It’s okay. 🙂

I was just chatting with Jordan’s (6) very first (and most favoritest) daycare teacher about him as a 2-3 year old.  And suddenly it hit me, I miss my baby.  Now, I know, I have these moments a lot lately.  A friend was just teasing me about how I really should not have stopped having babies.  (Trust me, if time and money were in unlimited supply, I’d be adopting those little suckers like there was a shortage.)  But, truth be told, I don’t want more babies.  I just want to relive some of the years with my babies, especially Jordan.  (Well, today it’s Jordan.  A couple of weeks ago it was Elle.  So don’t listen to me.)

I missed out on a lot of little moments with Jordan.  I was there for every one, but due to the nature of life at that time, there was so much that I wasn’t there for.  I was depressed, then I was psycho, then I was working, then I was caring for other people’s kids.  Now that I’m focused on my family, I miss the parts I missed.  I can’t help it.

Sometimes it’s more of a challenge for me to think of the amazing qualities my son has, because he is also… a boy.  It’s more obvious for me to think about the shenanigans he is up to and the numerous bonks and scratches and bruises and broken bones.  It’s easy for me to concentrate on the fact that it takes him twice as long to learn things than it did his sister: talking, writing his name (and various other “school” related things) and let’s just be real here, wiping his own butt (although, CONQUERED! Thank God!)  There is but one simple fact about Jordan that stands out more than anything in the world to me: He Is A Boy to the very core of himself and then back again.  He is a boy times ten.  And I love him for every single quality that is boy.  Even though it’s easier to worry and focus on the things that I just can’t even keep up with, it’s so gratifying to stop and realize all that those things mean.

He is constantly dirty.  He cares way more about discovering what is in the bottom of that mud puddle and how far he can splash it than he does about whether or not his shoes… or pants, shirt and hair for that matter… are clean for school. He devours bagels and toast and eggs without regard to how much of it is smeared across his face.  He enjoys the meal to it’s fullest and forgets the rest, even if that means he’ll be displaying his breakfast for all the bus stop to see.  You see, Mommy would wipe it off but she’s too busy chasing behind him with dropped shoes and a backpack and her hair standing on end to even notice.

He is always making noise.  He loves the sound of his own voice.  He loves the sound of his feet tapping out a beat to music only he can hear.  He loves the sound of chewing as loudly as possible for everyone else to enjoy the delicious meal he’s consuming.  He loves the sound of talking as loudly as he can so no one misses one single important thing he has to say.

He loves running and walking backward and sideways and jumping over things rather than walking around them.  He loves bouncing balls and shooting guns and flying kites.  He loves jumping in the deep end without a life jacket even though he doesn’t even know how to swim.  He loves riding fast and jumping curbs and giving me heart attacks when bones are broken and multiple surgeries are required to repair said bones.  He loves defying odds and growth charts and statistics.

He loves socializing.  He loves playing after school with friends.  He will play with a child that treats him like crap and bosses him around if that means he has someone to share his joy for life with.  He loves children that are smaller than he is (let’s face it, most of them are.) and caring for them.  He loves babies and toddlers and kids that are two years older than he is.  He doesn’t care.  As long as someone treats him with a tiny bit of kindness, he will overlook the rest of it and spend every waking minute devising a plan of how they can meet for a playdate every minute of every day.

If he knocks someone down in the middle of the basketball court, he will stop the game and go back to make sure they are okay.  He loves people.  He truly, deeply cares about them.

And he loves his Mom.  I have never felt more love from one single person or a group of people as I do my son.  I know my Elle loves me and we have such a special mother/daughter bond.  I know Jimmie adores me and would do absolutely anything within his power to show me that.  But the love from that boy is unmatched by anyone on this earth.  It just is.  I can’t explain it, I can’t rationalize it, and I can’t measure it.

When my mom found out I was having a boy, she asked me to make sure I didn’t spoil him rotten as most mothers do with their sons.  “Don’t baby him and treat him like he’s special just because he’s a boy.”  Well, oops.  I guess I’m failing because he is special.  He is my boy and I cherish him.  He drives me batty and I have to punish him twice as much as his sister to make sure he doesn’t turn out to be a criminal, but he is absolutely 100% special and I will treat him that way every single day of his life.

Elle often tells me, “I’m Daddy’s Princess and Jordan is your special boy.”  She doesn’t mind.  She will openly admit Daddy is her favorite and I’m second fiddle.  And I love every single moment of it.  Because I know she’s secure in our relationship and that she knows her daddy cherishes her.

Jordan will wrestle with his dad for hours every single day if he can.  He will annoy his sister and get into trouble six ways till Sunday.  But when I walk into a room, he melts.  And so therefore, I must melt too.  It’s simply impossible not to.

january second

On Monday Jimmie and I slept in while the kids generally run amok around the house for a few hours.  It was glorious.

I never really dream (or remember my dreams) because I sleep too hard.  But Monday morning I had all sorts of dreams.  I don’t remember the bulk of what happened, I forget as soon as I open my eyes, but I do remember they were all about the place where I was born and where many family members still live.  I haven’t been in ages, but my dreams were full of memories of the tiny town I spent the first eight years of my life in.

Once I awoke, I lay there trying to recreate the town in my mind.  Jim and I talk on and off about taking the kids there and showing them where I was born.  So as I lay there thinking what it would be like to visit this strange land called Arkansas and the family the kids would meet, etc. it dawned on me , as it regularly does, that the one person I would love to see isn’t there anymore.

You’ve heard many a funny story of my Arkansas Grammy, her funny anecdotes and her priceless advice about washing out “weeny bags” to use as zip-locks.  But I’ve never talked about what a sweetheart she was.  She was as simple as gardening dirt and as everyday as an ice cold Budweiser.  Her laugh was a tinkling cross between a giggle and a chuckle and she was beautiful in her own unique way.  She was a feisty and rambunctious redhead (once upon a time) and had a flair for drama.  She was, on all accounts in my book, a perfect grandma.  And she made me feel so, so special.  She adored Elle once she was born.  Elle was two when cancer finally beat her.  My Grammy was 73.

I didn’t appreciate her nearly enough when she was alive.  I didn’t call as much as I should have.  I never visited.  I was wrapped up in me and early adulthood and she fell by the wayside.  I can’t think of anything I regret more now.

Monday morning, when I dreamed of her home and times I spent with her chasing me in the back yard with a “switch” threatening to “tan my hide” but never following through, I had no idea what that day was.  When I lay in bed thinking of visiting and then realizing she wouldn’t be there to spend time with, it completely escaped me that it was that time of year again.

And then, when I got up and was moving through my morning rituals, it hit me.  I called to Jim and said, “I think this is the day my Grammy died.”  I couldn’t believe it, it left me breathless for a moment.  I’m not one for keeping track of the sentimental.  I couldn’t tell you most people in our family’s birthdays, much less the day anyone died.  I always think of her at Christmas because it was her absolute favorite time of year, and I remember going to my mom’s Christmas day to say my last goodbyes.  But I never recorded the day of her passing to memory.  I hate dwelling on those things.  I couldn’t even go to her funeral.

It’s taken me a couple of days to be ready to confirm my suspicions, but I decided to look up her obituary to face what I already knew.  Monday morning, January 2nd, was the seven your mark of the last time I spoke to her.  As she lay in my mother’s guest room, in a hospital bed they brought in to keep her comfortable, my heart was so broken I couldn’t even say goodbye.  The woman with such a zeal and love for the most simple things in life was laying there lifeless and in pain.  It was heartbreaking.  I wrote her a letter, which I don’t think my mom was even able to read to her, and said goodbye in the only way I could.

Elle and I flew home that morning, and I believe she passed that night.  I could be wrong about the days, but I think that’s about it.  My mom said she told her Elle and I were home safely and everyone was where they were supposed to be, and if she wanted to just let go now, she could.  My mom left the room to get her something, and when she came back she was gone.  She left as simply as she lived.  She was beautiful.

So, Monday morning, I believe my Grammy sent me a dream and some wonderful memories.  I think it was her way of saying, “Don’t you forget me Missy.  I’m keeping my eye on you.”    It was my best Christmas Gift ever.