There are a ton of things I adore about raising tweens/teens. I’m happy to go on and on about how awesome older kids are – but I realized very quickly this weekend that the fact that I cannot physically move my children to force them to do something is one of the biggest drawbacks.
This past Friday, the kids and I were driving 45 minutes south to hang at my parents for the day. We had to be there by 8:45 am so I could start my work day – we were already running a tad behind because we had to drop the kitten off at the vet. So, we’re hustling, just about to get on the highway, when the Bean let’s out a shriek from the backseat that can be heard for miles.
There is a spider on the arm rest next to her and she’s losing her mind. The Bean hates spiders – somethings I wrote about here – and she was going into panic mode.
I pulled over as quickly as I could and Beaner jumps out of the car, freaking out. I quickly took care of the spider and told her to get back in the car. She flat out refused. Nope. Not happening- she’s not getting in the back of the van again. Ever. For her whole life.
I’m quickly looking at my watch, looking the Bean and looking at Scorch, who is laughing his fool head off from the front seat, trying to figure out the best way to manage this nonsense so I can get to work on time. We’ve got two choices: keep going to my parents and go back home. Either way, we have got to get back in the car to get to where ever we’re going.
I take stock and hope that if I can get the Bean to ride shotgun, Scorch will ride in the backseat and we can just go somewhere. Yes, the Bean is too small to ride shotgun usually but desperate times and all that.* I tell the kids the plan and Scorch, between snorts of laughter, refuses to move. Flat out refuses to move. I calmly tell him to move his hiney so we can get going and he’s just like – Nope. And the Bean is like Nope when I tell her to get in the back seat. So, we have a stand off.
After a quick few minutes of negotiations and some not-so-quietly shared threats, I finally get the Bean back in the backseat and we’re on our way. But I’m ticked- like, really, really, really angry that Scorch wouldn’t move his seat and that the Bean is scared of spiders and that we’re running behind and that I have so much to do. Basically, I was in a tizzy over everything.
And Scorch, bless his complete inability to read the room, pipes up next to me as we’re pulling out of the parking lot where all this has gone down, “Mom, do you see….”
And because I’m so freaking ticked off at this point, I cut him off quickly and without much thought to what’s coming out of my mouth, yelling:
“YOU are not allowed to talk. I don’t SEE ANYTHING – and I don’t care what you see. You could see Mickey Mouse shitting rainbows right now and I don’t want to hear a word about it!”
“Mickey Mouse shitting rainbows” is not a phrase I thought I’d ever utter in my life. Yet, here I am, earning my Parent of the Year award in a Wendy’s parking lot on a summer morning.
If you need a babysitter or any parenting tips, y’all know where to find me.
(stop judging me, JT, I can hear you from here).
A friend on Facebook posted this yesterday and it resonated with me…
….especially because we just returned from a trip from Florida and I had posted a quick recap in pictures. OF COURSE I picked the best pictures – the ones where the kids were smiling, you couldn’t see my double chin and the sun was shining. Essentially, all I showed were the highlights, so in the interest of full disclosure let me tell you a bit more about what a 2400+ mile road trip looks like with my family.
First, we drove from our home in NY to Virginia to St. Augustine to Orlando to Tampa and then home again. We are not a family who can drive overnight – we *need* to be in a hotel by 9:30 because no one can sleep in a car and we all start to get a little bitchy if we don’t get our sleep. So, the Hubs had it all planned out- we’d leave our house by 1, run a few errands, get the kids from school by 1:40 and be where he wanted to be in VA by 8 pm to spend the night. He insisted I make reservations at his hotel of choice because he KNEW we’d make it there without any issues. And I refused because this isn’t my first rodeo and I KNOW how a family road trip goes.
As we always do, we left late, forgot to run one of our errands, panicked that we didn’t leave the key for our house sitter, realized the Hubs forgot to put his car charger in my car (which was my fault, some how) and finally grabbed the kids at 2:30. Honestly, not so bad as far as our road trips go. We finally did make it to the hotel the Hubs wanted to that night – a blessed Country Inn and Suites so the kids could sleep* while the Hubs and I relaxed in the living room. (*they didn’t sleep, they wrestled, yelled, had a pillow fight, used the beds as trampolines and generally were loud pains in the asses and we didn’t care because we were tired and it was only Day 1. Parenting: killing it since 2006!).
The next day was uneventful (well, as uneventful as 12 hours of driving can be: no blood was shed, no one puked and the car didn’t break down) and we made it to St. Augustine for our overnight. We had a 45 minutes wait at our favorite restaurant so we played on the beach across the street. Pure bliss after 12 hours in the car!
The next day, it was on to Disney! We are very, very lucky that the Hubs has family that works there and are kind enough to get us in the parks for free, otherwise there is no way this could be an annual destination because Disney is expensive and I’m cheap. We stayed at the beautiful Coronado Resort and managed to find that great mix between busy and relaxed (read: we spent a lot time at the pool).
We’ve learned over the years that while Disney can be the most magical place on earth, it’s crowded, noisy, overstimulating and overwhelming no matter how many times you go there. I never wanted to be that mom that dragged her sobbing kids through the parks (I *may* still have some issues around Disney as I was the sobbing kid <at age 14> being dragged around the park. Not one of my finest moments) but that doesn’t mean meltdowns don’t happen:
We survived Disney and headed over to my parent’s place on the Gulf side of the state for a few days of pure relaxation before heading back home. Honestly, despite some glitches, the trip had really been fantastic.
But, sadly, all good things must come to an end and Friday we packed the car back up and got on the road to head home. All was well until we hit South Carolina and, within miles of crossing the boarder, we ran over debris over the road. The Hubs and I exchanged a look, hoped what we ran over was soft plastic and crossed our fingers. That worked great until the tire pressure light went off about 20 miles later – at 4:15. On a Friday. Did I mention my snow tires were still on my car? Do you think tire shops in South Carolina even stocks snow tires? Yeah, me either.
Blessed be southern hospitality though because, after a panicked phone call, we were able to limp into a tire shop at 4:40 (with an audibly hissing tire) and have our car looked at immediately by Buddy. Buddy, my new BFF, was able to patch our tire – otherwise we would have been stranded until MONDAY afternoon – and we were back on the road within an hour. Buddy, a man who I will name my next pet after <because I’m NOT having more kids> stayed an hour late to get us rolling, charged us $23 and bid us a safe trip.
Clearly we didn’t make it as far as we wanted that night, something that infuriated my type-A husband, but we did manage to book another suite in a hotel so the kids could go to bed while the Hubs and I decompressed. Only, when we checked in, there weren’t any suites left – something they told me AFTER I paid, despite telling me that was what I was booking over the phone.
Again, no big deal- talk about a first world problem right? We’ll just all turn in and get an early start in the morning. Only- the other thing we weren’t told was that there was a biker convention in town. *sigh* I have no issues with bikers, but what I do have issues with is bikers pulling in and out all night in front of our hotel, revving their engines keeping us all awake. To add insult to injury, all the beds were all sagging in the middle, the kids refused to sleep in the same bed and the ice machine was right outside our door.
The only upside was that we got on the road super early the next morning. The drive home went swimmingly until about 2 hours in when the Bean got sick.
Because, of course she did.
Thankfully she was just car sick and not sick-sick and I’ve learned my lesson to never travel without Dramamine and a bucket – so all was well(ish) pretty quickly. We got home safely after 12 hours on the road and my newly fixed tire didn’t decide to start leaking again until this morning. And the Bean? Well, she decided to puke an hour after getting to school today.
All in all, the trip was amazing – but honestly, if you looked at the pictures, you’d think it was amazing 24/7. But it wasn’t. Life isn’t and to expect it to be is unreasonable. I’m very thankful that I’m blessed with two amazing kids, a husband who drives the whole time so I can read, the means to travel and jobs that give us this flexibility. We’ve had some amazing trips and some truly terrible trips (I’m looking at you, camping trip of 2018). We’ve had trips where 3 out of the 4 of us have gotten the stomach bug (Disney, 2017), trips where 3 out of 4 of us have ended up crying on vacation, trips where the Hubs got both the flu AND mono (FL 2016) and trips where just everything sucked and we really didn’t like each other.
That’s just how life goes. But we keep going, keep making memories (good and bad) and use Facebook or Instagram to highlight the very best parts. When we share stories of our trips with friends and family a few years from now – are we going to remember the short wait time in Epcot? The killer dinner in St. Augustine? Most likely not. But we’re never going to forget the the kindness of Buddy and the absolute fit Scorch threw when Bean started puking!
One of my friends on Facebook has a one year old- the most darling, beautiful little boy. She posts about how she can’t believe how fast he’s growing, how quickly the time goes by and how much she’ll miss his wrist folds, chubby cheeks and open mouth kisses. She posted a beautiful video the other day about the last time…not knowing when it will be the last time your rock your baby to sleep, the last time you pick them up, the last time they ask you to read to them because the next day, they’ll be too old to need that again. It was gorgeous and I admit to getting choked up for a minute…
…and then I thought how much I don’t miss that.
I look back on the kid’s younger years with so much joy and love in my heart. I loved the squishy newborn years and the sweet/crazy making toddler years. I loved the excitement of preschool and the earnestness of the start of elementary school – but I don’t miss it. I wouldn’t go back there.
So then, of course, I start wondering if I’m a horrible person. Am I wishing my kid’s childhoods away? Am I not present enough? Am I rushing them to grow up? Am I heartless that I don’t wail over every new milestone? Do my kids know how much I adore them at every age? Am I wrong to much prefer my kids old enough to tell me when they are sick, read books with me and laugh at inappropriate humor? Because while I have adored every age with these kids these are the best years.
After all that- I know I’m not completely heartless because occasionally I’ll come across an old picture that makes me gasp. These were taken 8 years ago today.
That’s 3 year old Scorch a month before he started his first year of t-ball. This year, he’s in his last year of Little League. He still love to catch and the Hubs is still his biggest fan and constant coach. There will be rose ceremony on Opening Day marking this crazy baseball milestone and *poof* next year he’ll start 7th grade and modified sports. I don’t know how that’s possible.
While the boys played, this 20 month old wanted to climb. She wanted to climb and escape and do the opposite of what you wanted her to do. She never wanted to ride quietly in her stroller, didn’t want to be confined and she spit nails if you tried to make her. This year she’s in 4th grade…and she hasn’t changed. Her cheeks are less chubby and she’s got a hell of a lot more hair- but that fire still burns.
I may not miss those itty bitty kids, but I do marvel at how fast they grew.
Last month, you turned 11. Eleven. E-lev-en.
How, sweet child of mine, is that possible? Weren’t you just born? Tiny? Toddling? Learning to talk? Starting pre-school? Kindergarten? Playing t-ball? Sitting in a 5-pt harness? Sleeping in a toddler bed? Wearing adorable white onesies?
Physically, you’re not a big kid compared to many. But because you’re mine- my first child, my first baby– some days, you seem gigantic. Your toes have dark hairs on them. Your feet seem too big for your body. You want to style your hair and look good. You want to read books and see movies that boggle my mind because I’m convinced they are too mature for you…but they aren’t. My brain just hasn’t caught up to your age.
10 started out rough as you began to spread your wings and test your limits, but it ended on such a high note. Over 5th grade you’ve evolved into a kid who I love spending time with- good natured, funny, sweet and smart.
At the start of May, you and I traveled to NJ for a baseball tournament. We never get to do 1:1 things like that and it was the best. I got to watch you not only do your favorite thing- play baseball- but also see your whole world open up as you made new friends, played in the biggest sports complex you’ve ever seen and see how far baseball can take you. I came home glowing because you were so.damn.happy.
I started this post last month. You know- around your actual birthday, not almost 2 months late. But life- life just took off at warp speed and dragged all of us along with it. And that’s not a bad thing- it’s NEVER a bad thing when you’re so busy living your life, you forget to document it.
Since I started this post, 5th grade ended. On the very last day of school, your whole building has an awards ceremony and 3 kids from each class are recognized. One for academic achievement, one for Catholic identity and one for their character. This year, you won the award for Character. Your teacher gave a speech that makes me tear up every time I hear it because she captured all the reasons I’m so very, very proud to be your mom.
We talk a lot about baseball in relation to you. It’s hard not to when you are rarely not talking about or playing the sport. It dominates our lives 9 months out of the year and we’re all better people for it. But you, my sweet, smart, amazing child, are so much more than a sport and I want you to know it.
….a friend to everyone you meet. You have never met a stranger and you’re always quick with a smile, a nod and a friendly word.
…kind. Your heart is huge and you’d pretty much do anything for anyone. Kind is such a small word- it doesn’t sound like much. But it is the one thing I wish for you and your sister to always be. When in doubt, be kind. Always.
…smart. You love to read (sometimes), enjoy math (most of the time) and really dig science. I hope you always want to learn and discover and expand that amazing brain of yours.
…funny. You always love a good joke and funny story. There is nothing that makes me happier than watching you laugh so hard that it looks like your dimple is going to drill right down to your teeth.
…self confident. You can laugh at yourself- and your frequently do. But you seem pretty darn comfortable in your own skin and that’s amazing. I hope you cling to that innate sense that you are, and always will be, good enough for what ever life throws your way.
And now, you are 11. You’re starting 6th grade and full of so much life and laughter that, at times, it brims over. You’re also occasionally moody, more than a little dramatic and sometimes a giant pain in my butt. But you’re one of my favorite people on this earth and I thank God every single day that you are ours.
So here’s to an amazing year- may 11 be your most magical one yet.
All my love,
The good news is this winter is going by crazy fast! The bad? It’s been almost a month since I’ve wrote anything here.
Normally winter drags here in the frozen north. I can handle November and December because of the holidays, but mid-January through mid-March are the longest months. The days are short, cold and snowy and my motivation to do anything is at a low—all of which doesn’t help pass the time. But this year I decided to change things up a bit and became a skier.
The first time I skied was middle school when all the kids joined ski club. We’d hop on a bus after school, drive for 35 minutes and then have 3 hours to ski before heading home. It was the most freedom we had had pretty much had ever and I was so excited. But then I realized I hated the snow, was lazy and that enjoying hot chocolate and french fries was much more fun than falling down a mountain, so the total time actually spent skiing that year was probably under an hour.
8 years ago, my brother was running his own ski club at the school he taught at. He needed an other adult to chaperone the kids, so I volunteered. The Bean was 6 months old at the time and I was dying to get out of the house. I was so desperate that spending hours out in the cold, hurling my body down a mountain seemed like a better alternative than putting a 2 year old and a 6 month old to bed. Shocking no one, I didn’t like skiing any better this time around- especially after I had an epic wipe out that resulted in one of my skis going down the hill without me while people chanted “Go Lady!” at me from the ski lift as I walked down after it.
So, why, you’re wondering, would things be any different this time around? This time, I was actually doing it with my kids. And there isn’t much I wouldn’t do for them. So, for the past 6 Thursdays I’ve been starting all over again and learning how to ski properly. Scorch has been snow boarding for 3 years now, so he’d go off with his ski club buddies while the Bean, having never skied before, took lessons. Since she was not going anywhere without me, I took lessons as well. And- AMAZINGLY- skiing isn’t so scary when you learn how to do it right! (Shocking, I know).
By the start of week 2, Bean and I graduated off the Bunny Hill. That meant for 4 weeks in a row, I got to bomb down the slopes with two of my favorite people. And by bomb, I mean, they bombed with zero fear. Me? Well, I made really, really, really big s-turns while repeating calming phrases to myself out loud- things like “you’re not going to fall” and “you won’t die” and “if Beyonce can carry twins, you can ski!”.
Thursdays very quickly became all of our favorite night of the week. The Hubs is normally the one who does all the physical activities with the kids, so it’s been great to have something that is just ours, where I get to be a participant instead of the cheerleader from the sidelines. The Hubs has had 5 major knee surgeries in in the past 25 years, so you couldn’t pay him enough to try to ski.
So here we are in March. Ski season is over and I learned that you’re never too old to try something new. Again. (And when you wipe out—because you will, even invoking Beyonce can’t help that—helmets are a wonderful, wonderful thing.)
A year ago at this time, we took the kids to see Peter Pan. It was the first professional play they had seen and it hit all the marks. It was mesmerizing and engaging, with sets that surpassed all expectations and acting that blew us all away! A few months later we took the kids to see the traveling broadway show of Annie annnnnndddd that didn’t wow my kids nearly as much which was a huge disappointment. I want my kids to love live theater. I want them to seek it out and make it a priority, so today we went back to the theater where we saw Peter Pan and saw Mary Poppins.
I admit to knowing nothing about the play- I just knew we liked the movie very much so it was a no-brainer to get tickets. I did not know this was a full on musical (although, in hindsight, the tag line on the poster should have given that away), all sung in a British accent. About 5 minutes in, the Bean looks at me in disbelief- “Are they going to sing, everything?!”
Well, welcome to musical theater, my loves!
Thankfully the kids adjusted and very quickly got sucked into the show. Like Peter Pan, it helped that the story line was familiar, so the kiddos weren’t asking us what was going on every 2.3 minutes. This show was just as good at the one we saw last year and we all left completely in awe of the talent found around our community. And now, on to find our next show…
Sometimes Christmas is picture perfect. From start to finish, the whole holiday and the time off around it is magical. The kids act and look like angels, the time with family is meaningful and special and everyone glows with happiness.
Annnnddd sometimes your kid wakes up with the stomach bug on Christmas morning and is so pitiful she doesn’t even unwrap half her gifts. That’s just the way life goes, unfortunately.
The good news is some of our family still braved coming over for dinner yesterday, no one else in our immediate family got sick (sorry extended family, you got screwed) and all this time stuck at home has given me plenty of time to put things away. Now, I need my kid to get better, the rest of us to stay healthy and the rest of this week to go according to plan. #fingerscrossed
So here we sit, on Christmas Eve, Eve, Eve, Eve (I think) and I’m surprisingly zen over the small number of presents that have actually been wrapped. Who ever said life slows down around the holidays lied, y’all. Not when your job needs to hit year end quotas and your kids play sports, and in orchestra and sing in concerts. And I’m not complaining because most of the things that make it super hard to find time to wrap are what makes our life full in some of the best ways. I am, however, wondering when my panic will set in. Check in in 24 hours.
The Hub’s solution to my lack of wrapping is to tell me to take everything to the mall and leave it at one of those places that wrap for charity. Honestly, I think that’s a great idea if I could get past my worry over mislabeled gifts or non-matching wrapping paper. I have a systems- half-assed and last minute as it is- and I shudder when I think of some one breaking it.
My kids got their video from Santa last night, letting them know if they are on the naughty or nice list for the year. A few years back, the Bean was on the “Could Go Either Way” list, so these videos are met with equal part delight and terror. I don’t know how much longer they’ll love these videos, but for right now they are one of our favorite traditions. I never knew kids could literally vibrate with nerves and excitement until we started getting these.
That damn wrapping fairy hasn’t showed yet, so it’s time to start binge watching something (suggestions?!) and wrapping. Say a prayer for me.
So, today was a day, huh? I had a coworker leave the office in tears because she was so upset over the results of the election, as she wondered how Trump and his ideologies will impact her family. I have friends who are thrilled that the old establishment is out and someone new is in power. I had to reassure my kids that Trump won’t kick their Indian friends out of the country.
Tonight I found out that two young people from my hometown died tragically this past weekend. I did some digging around on Facebook and news sites to find out more about these children and their families. I found GoFundMe sites. I found meal trains. I found people – strangers- reaching out to give comfort and help. None of that can replace these gorgeous children who were lost, but it helped prove to me that most people are good. Most people are kind and generous and loving.
That is what I’m thankful for today. I know a lot of people won’t agree with me on that point, but believing that most people are good is what I’m clinging to right now. For my sanity. For my children’s future.
It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric and to lose all hope, but don’t. Please, don’t. Regardless of who won and who you voted for, we can all agree there is a lot of work to be done so that both sides feel heard and represented. So remember that core of goodness, and work towards that.