Halloween Fun With A Three-Ager

It was supposed to be fun. Simple. My three-year old daughter talked about being Marshall from Paw Patrol all summer. Her big brother wanted to be Chase. How cute is that? I was giddy imagining my Paw Patrol crew sitting in a pumpkin patch. Maybe they would even sit still for a picture? And both smile at the same time with their eyes open?  Would this finally be the year that I have a Halloween picture worthy of a Facebook post?

Pffffft. Rookie mistake. This is my second time around with a three-ager. I should have known better.

When the costumes hit the stores one month ago, we were the first to arrive. I’ve never shopped for Halloween costumes in September before. After years of scavenging for scraps in sad piles of picked-over costumes at the last minute, it was amazing to go to the rack and see exactly what we wanted in exactly the right size.

The Chase costume was front and center, so I threw it in the cart. When I spotted the Marshall costume IN THE RIGHT SIZE immediately behind it, I gleefully pointed it out to my three-year old daughter. Instead of showering me with gratitude like she should have, this child crossed her arms and scowled at me.

“I DON’T WANNA BE MARSHALL. YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.”

Um, what? I stared at her. She couldn’t be serious. This kid’s been chattering about being Marshall ALL SUMMER LONG. Not a day went by without her asking, “Mommy, can I be Marshall for Halloween? Can I be Marshall? CAN I BE MARSHALL?  I WANNA BE MARSHALL!!! MOMMY, I WANNA BE MARSHALL FOR HALLOWEEN!!!”

Message received. Here’s your freaking Marshall costume, because your Mommy is awesome. So, where’s my thank you? Where’s my “I love you” and “You’re the best Mommy in the world????”

Nothing. There was nothing but an accusing stare. Like I screwed up. I couldn’t help feeling defensive. “But you’ve been talking about being Marshall all summer?”

She shook her head and frowned at me.  “No, I haven’t.”

WHAT? Her certainty made me question my sanity.  Had I imagined all those painful conversations about being Marshall?

Okay. Time to be practical. We’re at the store with all these choices. Just get her something else. “Then who do you want to be for Halloween?”

She pointed to the Mickey Mouse hat on her head. “I want to wear this.”

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? “You want to be Mickey Mouse?”

“No Mommy. I just want to be me.”

Okay, that’s cute and all, but Marshall was going into the cart in case she changed her mind. Unfortunately, she didn’t agree with my contingency plan. Her face turned red as her high-pitched shrieks hit the ceiling.

“I DON’T WANNA BE MARSHALL!! YOU. CAN’T. MAKE. ME!!!”

Then she burst into tears. People in the aisle gawked at the scene. I wilted under the gaze of a judgmental baby and put the Marshall costume back on the rack. I was obviously a shit parent for wanting to buy my child a costume that she wanted ALL SUMMER LONG.  We walked out of the store with one Chase costume and a pile of my shattered pumpkin patch dreams.

Two weeks later, my daughter spotted something else in the costume aisle at the store. “Mommy, look! A MINION! I wanna be a minion!  I WANNA BE A MINION! Can I be a minion??? PLEASE???”

It was the first time since Marshall that she expressed interest in something other than “just being me.” I pictured a Minion next to Chase in the pumpkin patch. That would still be cute. There was only one Minion costume left on the rack.  It was 3T-4T. Her size. This was obviously meant to be.

I bought it, but she refused to try it on until that weekend. The hat didn’t fit. And what should have been a 3T-4T costume looked like it was two sizes smaller. When I returned it, the store was out of Minion costumes.

Gritting my teeth, I accepted that my daughter would “just be her” for Halloween. Until she shrieked with delight and pointed. “Mommy, I want to be a pumpkin!”

There it was. Once again, at the front of the rack. A big, fluffy, orange pumpkin costume in just the right size.

This child HUGGED the pumpkin costume. She HUGGED it and SQUEEZED it and PETTED the orange fur all the way home like it was her long-lost kitten. And she chattered about being a pumpkin like she was excited about it.

Until today. It’s ten days before Halloween. I asked the kids to try on their costumes. The Chase costume fits my son perfectly. And he’s happy with it.

My three-ager took one look at the pumpkin costume and wrinkled her nose.  “Mommy, I don’t want to be a pumpkin. You can’t make me.” She crossed her arms and looked me in the eye.  “I WANNA BE MARSHALL. CAN I BE MARSHALL? PLEASE?????”

#SendVodka

Back To Journaling (I’m Not Ready)

I miss writing for fun.  Earlier this year, after reading a social media marketing book, I started an “official” author’s blog under my real name.  I moved a bunch of content around and made it look more polished than this site does.  It still isn’t where I want it to be, but I’m not ready to actually pay money for a site that I’ll just ignore.  As for writing any NEW content?

I have NOTHING.  Absolutely nothing.

Every time I start writing something to post on the “official” site, I don’t think it’s good enough and then I freak out and stop writing.  Kind of defeats the purpose of being a writer if you stop writing, doesn’t it?

And so, I’m back here.  Just writing off the cuff.  Whatever pops into my head is going on the screen now.

So, what’s going on in my head right now?  This feels like writing in my journal.  Very casual.  Very easy.  I think that’s what I’ll use this site for.  Just my random, frequent musings about life and writing.

If you read this, that’s great.  If you don’t, I’m okay with that too.  I just want to write for the sake of writing in the immediate term.

So, what’s going on in my head right now?  A lot of life changes.  My 5-year old is going to finish his time at the preschool that has been our sanctuary for the past three years.  This fall, he starts Kindergarten.

I’m not ready for this.

It’s bad enough that he doesn’t fit into toddler clothing anymore.  I came to that realization earlier this year, when he couldn’t fit into a bunch of relatively new shirts anymore.  I think the kid literally grew overnight.  Like, one week, the 5T shirts slipped easily over his head and the next day, they didn’t.  I spent a few days trying to convince myself that the dryer must have caused the shrinkage.  Until I actually went to the store and held up a brand new 5T shirt.

Nope.  This kid has grown.

When you’re a stay at home parent to two small children, you live in a swirl of activity that leaves you feeling as if you stepped off of a high speed hamster wheel at the end of the night.  There’s a lot of activity, but no visible progress.  There are some weeks when you have no idea what day it is, or even the time.  All you have in your sight is the next time your kids go to sleep.  Sometimes, if you’re fortunate, it’s nap time.  Other not-so-great days, it isn’t until bedtime.  Those days are LONG.

And then, something like a trip to the store shocks you with the reality of how much time has passed.  And you regret not paying more attention, in the midst of the chaos.  How could I have missed it?  I was there and I still feel like I missed it.

My little guy isn’t so little anymore, and it’s breaking my heart.  Because if I can barely remember where the past five years have gone, how will I remember the upcoming years if they fly as fast or faster?

That’s where my mind and heart are right now.  I’m not ready for my son to go to Kindergarten this fall.  I’m not ready for him to leave toddlerhood behind.  I’m not ready to turn my back on the Toddler section and walk across the aisle towards the Boys section. I’m not ready to leave the pastel colors and sleepy farm animals behind for graphic t-shirts and superheroes.

I’m not ready to leave the preschool that has been our safe sanctuary for the past three years.  I’m not ready for my son to step onto the faster elementary school track and begin Kindergarten in the fall.  I’m not ready for him to be a member of the “Class of 2029.”

I’m not ready for his feet to be bigger than mine are.  I’m not ready for him to stop holding my hand when we cross the street.  I’m not ready to have to tilt my head up to look into his eyes.

I’m not ready, not ready, not ready.  But I don’t have a choice.

So, I’ll continue to struggle and come to terms with this.  But I’m not ready.

 

 

 

 

 

A “Sancti-Mommy” Visits The Mall

Earlier this week, I took my little one to the mall for our daily morning stroll.  As we passed the playground, my gaze fell upon a small girl child.  She was wandering around like an aimless urchin.  Maybe she was an aimless urchin.  I don’t know.  I didn’t have time to dwell on that possibility.  One of her feet was bare and there was a vending machine only ten feet away her.  Before chilled air could wrap flu tentacles around the little tyke’s foot, I rushed towards the playground.

The only adult in the play area was a woman sitting on a bench.  Her eyes were on a book instead of her child.  She looked up as I approached.  “You’re doing it wrong,” I told her kindly when I spotted the missing sock next to her.  I grabbed it and quickly placed it on the small child’s foot.  There was a large diaper bag beside the woman.  I took the initiative to rifle through it and pull out a hat.  I gently placed it on the little girl’s head.  My chest swelled with pride as I walked away.  I could hear the woman’s expletives of gratitude echo across the playground.  After all, a covered child is a happy child.

Buoyed by my random act of kindness, I searched for more opportunities to help strangers with children.  Fortunately, the mall was crawling with unfit parents.  I spotted a pair of them pushing a wailing baby in a neglect buggy.  Happy children do not cry in public places.  Mine never do, so this couple clearly needed my help.  I tightened my arms around my precious guppy, before marching in their direction.

They stopped talking when they saw me.  I knelt down beside the baby and buggy.  “You poor little hugless child,” I murmured in a soothing voice, gently stroking his hair.  “I’m sure someone loves you.” Neither person moved when I unbuckled the little boy and picked him up.  The infant stopped crying and looked at me.  “Perhaps your child would cry less if you carry him,” I suggested, before handing him to his mother.  The couple stared at me.  The woman’s cheeks flushed crimson with embarrassment.  “It’s okay,” I assured her in a confident voice.  It masked how uneasy I felt leaving the hapless mite in their care.  “Now that you know better, you’ll do better.”  The man sputtered something unintelligible as I continued to patrol the mall.

My mind whirled as I scanned my surroundings.  So many people needed my help.  But who would reap the greatest benefit from my intervention?  Suddenly, the stench of cinnamon hit me like a brick wall.  Of course.  The food court.  What weak-willed parent can resist the lure of the nugget?  I pulled my scarf over my nose and headed in that direction.

I wasn’t surprised by what I saw.  Rows of tables littered with trays of garbage.  My stomach sank.  So many parents were shoveling GMO’s into the open mouths of their unsuspecting children.  I walked past a few gluten peddlers before spotting a dire situation.  A helpless adult male sitting beside a shrieking child.  I looked around, but there wasn’t a mother in sight.

My pace quickened.  The man obviously needed help to defuse the tantrum.  The little girl stood next to the table, red-faced, fists clenched, howling at the top of her lungs.  I couldn’t blame her.  She was probably protesting the nuggets.

“Hi Sweetheart,” I said softly, kneeling beside the little girl.  The man looked startled, but then visibly relaxed when I winked at him.  He know that I was there help.  “Why are you sad?”

“No eat,” the little girl stamped her foot and shrieked.  “Me no eat.”

“You’re such a smart little girl,” I cooed, as I tousled her curls.  “You know that your daddy is trying to poison you.”

“What?” The man sputtered, while the little girl stuck one unclean thumb in her mouth.  Her eyes lit up with interest.

“Well, I’m going to help you, sweetheart,” I smiled at her and picked up their trays.  “Let’s put this where it belongs.”  I walked over to the trash can and threw both plates in.  I pulled out my hand sanitizer and squirted some into my palms.  “Garbage belongs in garbage.”

The man gaped at me, while the little girl smiled and clapped her hands.  I grinned back at her.  Sometimes, children know better than their parents do.

Parenting is hard for some people.  It takes a village for these people to raise a child and I am a part of that village.  Because when you know better, you do better.

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  This is satire.  It is fiction.  Please do not verbally torpedo me for the actions of a fictional character.  Thank you.

 

 

A Letter To My Firstborn Son

To My Little Guy,

Almost two years ago, your father and I bid you farewell as we left you alone with your grandparents.  Even though I would see you again in a few days, I cried as I kissed you and walked out the door.  I understood the significance of that moment.  Your world was about to change.

Three days later, we returned home with a tiny interloper.  Suddenly, you weren’t the sole focus of our universe.  You had to share your place in the sun with someone else.  Your baby sister.

It has been a rough journey for you, my fierce firstborn child.  You don’t get all of my attention anymore.  Sometimes, you have to wait.  And sometimes, when I’m taking care of your sister, you feel as if I don’t notice you.  But I want you to know something.

I see you.  As you stand beside your little sister.  She’s not yet two years old.  At nearly five years old, you tower over her.  But your head still tilts up when you talk to me.  I know that one day, our gazes will be level and eventually, you’ll tilt your head down to speak with me.  I’m not ready for that day.

I hear you.  As you watch your favorite shows.  Your childish lisp makes me smile when you belt out the “Hot Dog” song from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  Your sweet voice embodies childhood innocence when you sing the theme song from Winnie the Pooh.  I know that one day, your voice will be deeper than mine is, and you will enjoy mind-numbing, eardrum-shattering music that I don’t understand.  I’m not ready for that day.

I smell you.  Your boyish scent lingers in the car as we drive to school.  No matter how often your face is washed, you always smell like the strawberries and cinnamon bread you love to eat for breakfast each morning.  I know that someday, I will walk into your bedroom, and wonder if something died.  I’m not ready for that day.

I taste you.  Your salty tears wet my face as you wrap your small arms around my neck and sob out your Pre-K woes on my shoulder.  Right now, my embrace is enough to solve your problems.  I know that someday, the world will break your heart again.  And my hugs and kisses won’t be enough to soothe your pain.  I’m not ready for that day.

I feel you.  When we cuddle before I kiss you good night.  The warmth of your body and the rapid beating of your heart before bedtime elicit my primal maternal vow to protect you with my life.  I know that someday, you will push me away when I try to hug you.  You won’t want my cuddles, or my kisses.  I’m not ready for that day.

I love you.  I love hearing you laugh and seeing you run outside on the playground with your friends.  I love the way your dimples pop out when you see me outside the window of your classroom at the end of the school day.  I love how your face lights up when your father walks into the house at the end of his work day.  I love how gentle you are after you grudgingly accept your little sister’s hand in yours and walk with her through the mall.

And so, my dear little son, I know that life is hectic.  I know that your sister gets half of my attention now.  It seems as if I don’t notice you, but I do.  There are so many wonderful moments with you that are permanently etched in my heart.  Nothing and no one can take them away.  Because you will always be my one and only firstborn son.  And no one can ever take your place in my heart.

Being A Mom Without A Mom

Earlier this summer, I fed my daughter in the picnic area of the park. After watching my husband push my son on the swings for a few moments, I noticed a young mother sitting at picnic table next to me. She was feeding a baby close to my daughter’s age. An older woman, who I assumed was the young woman’s mother, fussed over a little boy close to my son’s age.

I quietly watched them as my daughter drank her milk. When the baby started to fuss, the young woman asked with exasperation, “What do I do?” Her mother immediately picked up the baby and gestured to her daughter. “Go take Jake to the playground.” The young woman’s weary face lit up.  “Are you sure?”

“Absolutely,” the older woman said, as she rubbed the wailing infant’s back. “I have this.” The young woman and her son smiled at each other and rushed off to the playground, while the older woman walked around the picnic area, trying to soothe the baby.

I felt a pang of envy as I looked at my own infant daughter. I don’t have anyone to do that for me. My mother passed away several years ago. And while I don’t begrudge any woman for having her mother, I wish my mother was still around for so many things.

I wish my mother knew that she had a grandson. After a year in hospice care, she died when my son was six weeks old. My mother had two daughters. She doted on all of her nephews. It would have thrilled her to have a grandson. Although I brought my son to visit her one time, near the end of her illness, I don’t know if she remembered that visit.

I wish my mother knew that she had a granddaughter. My little girl already comports herself like a lady. She is very much like her grandmother. Just as beautiful and feisty. Each smile is sweet and each gesture is graceful. My mother once told me that she “bossed people around with a smile.” She would have adored her tiny doppelgänger.

I wish my mother had brought me food when I first delivered the babies. She was the most amazing cook I’ve ever met. My mother could just taste something at a party and recreate it at home without at recipe. It would have brought her so much joy to whip something up in the kitchen and bring it over to my house when she visited her new grandchild.

I wish I could have called my mother when I was freaking out about the babies.  She would have known exactly how to calm my fears and assure me that everything would be okay.  Instead, I relied on Google, friends and any parenting book I could purchase.

I wish I could have cried on my mother’s shoulder when I felt like I was a failure as a parent. Or on those days when I felt so lost and alone. She would have listened to me and more importantly, really UNDERSTOOD me. No one understands you like your mother does.

I wish my children had one more person in their lives who thinks that they’re perfect. Someone who finds their temper tantrums adorable and plays Candy Land twenty times without appearing bored. My mother was an artist, who taught me how to draw flowers. She would have been so proud of her grandson’s blossoming artistic abilities. In my dreams, I see the two of them hunched over a table, as my mother guides my son’s hand along the paper.

But most of all, I wish I could tell my mother how much I admire and respect her. I never realized what an amazing woman she was until I had children. My mother juggled raising two small children, managing a household, and putting herself through school to obtain a master’s degree in clinical psychology. She devoted her life’s work towards helping the most challenging people in society:  prisoners and the mentally ill.

Each day I look into the faces of my children and feel my mother’s presence. I see her sweetness in my daughter’s smile and her fire in my son’s eyes. I hope that wherever her spirit lies, she knows that I am proud to be her daughter.

Five Ways Karma Changed Me Since Becoming A Mom

A Writing Mama's Journal

Karma has it in for me.  You may not believe me, but it’s true. Since becoming a mother, I’m doing all sorts of things that I swore I would never do. Here are just a few examples of how Karma smacked me back to humble reality:

I never thought I could forget my purchases at the store.    

Last week, I officially lost my mind. I arrived at this conclusion when I nearly pulled out of the grocery store parking lot without my groceries. The teenager behind the customer service counter looked at me with pity when I rushed back inside the store and explained what happened. “Well, it could be worse,” the girl tried to console me, as she handed me my groceries. “At least you didn’t forget your baby in the store.”

Is this my future? Forgetting my children in public places? As I walked out of the…

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