It’s About Time

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I just came across this on a lovely friend’s Facebook page and man, it hit me right in the feels.

Go ahead, read it. Then read it again, take it in.

Ugh, right?

Time. The only truly constant aspect of all of our lives. It’s the one thing we all share. No matter who we are or what we are doing, time is always, always passing us by.

Some of us are wishing for more time.

Hell, I want at least six or seven more hours in the day. I want to stop running late for every appointment, party, play date, and errand on my calendar. I want to tack on an extra hour between my first alarm and second snooze in the morning. I want to add an extra hour before it’s time to get the kids from school. Girls’ night out needs to be at least two hours longer to make up for how rarely I actually attend one.

Some of us want to freeze time.

I’m watching my kids grow so quickly it breaks my heart. My oldest turns nine this year. NINE. Almost into the double digits. He’s getting smarter and more mature every day, and I swear he grows at least six inches in his sleep every night. But he still gives me a huge hug every day when I pick him up from school, despite his friends being fully able to see, and it’s a reminder that he’ll be my baby boy forever (even when he towers over mommy like most boys eventually do).

My youngest said goodbye to toddlerhood a few years ago, along with her chubby cheeks and baby curls. But when she laughs really hard, the giggles still come straight from her belly like they did when she could barely talk, and the sound makes me weak with love for her.

I know her belly laughs are as numbered as his afterschool hugs; I just don’t know how many I have left. I never know when the last one is coming, so I cherish each one as though there will be no more.  In my own, way I freeze time.

Some of us are wishing time away.

I remember waiting impatiently for my husband to come home from Iraq and meet our newborn son, and I admit I wished away the first three months of his tiny life. Who could blame me?

I wished away two pregnancies like any normal bloated, exhausted, aching woman carrying the equivalent of a small watermelon in her uterus would. But that was still 18 months of my life I watched swirl down the one-way drain of time.

When I was a stay-at-home-mom, I spent half the day staring at the clock, wishing away hour after hour until my husband came home to save me from the endless pit of loneliness and boredom. I measured time in TV shows: 8am Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, 11am Dino Dan, 1pm Day of Our Lives. By the time Dr. Phil came on I knew I was almost there. Tick tock, tick tock.

Time connects us all. It’s as though the earth is nothing more than a giant hourglass and we’re all just one single grain of sand making our way from the top to the bottom, birth to death. You can love or hate the people around you, but they’re merely sand like you, passing time all the same.

Some of us are running out of time. My parents are always telling me they are “in the September of their lives.” It sounds so depressing, right? But I get it. We are all getting older, we know our time is limited. We’re all just one cancer diagnosis or terrifying car crash or sudden heart attack away from the bottom of the hourglass.

Some of us are even wasting time, which is perhaps the biggest tragedy of all. In the wrong profession. The wrong location. The wrong marriage. The wrong state of mind. We waste time for a thousand different reasons, but none of them are really justified.

Because if there’s one thing being a slave to time has made me realize, it’s that time doesn’t really matter at all—hell, it doesn’t even exist. Whether you’re running out of time, hoping for more time, freezing time, wasting time, wishing time away – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is what you do with the time you have. The places you go, the people you meet, the friends you make, the love you share, the family you have.

It’s not about the time you have. It’s about the times you make.

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You’re Stronger Than You Think

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“Mommy I’m scared. I can’t breathe.”

You never want to hear your child say that to you. And when my four-year-old daughter recently said it to me one night around 2am when her cough went from 0-60 out of nowhere, I didn’t waste a second getting her to the emergency room.

This isn’t going to be the kind of thing where I pat myself on the back for getting my kid the medical attention she needed one scary night just in the nick of time. It’s a fairly basic requirement to keep your kid alive and I did what any normal parent would do in the situation. In fact, I spent the following seven hours pacing nervously around her hospital room, mentally berating myself for all the things I may have done wrong that, in my frazzled state, I thought may have landed her in that room in the first place.

You see, I’m THAT mom. The one who thinks the worst, all the time. The one who worries, who panics, who overthinks and overreacts. I know, I know. We’re parents, we all do that. But when the shit hits the fan, I retreat back into my shell like a terrified turtle — frozen, shaking, crying, feeling sick to my stomach and envisioning every worst-case scenario on earth.

Maybe this is you too. Maybe you’re a worrier, a crier, a freaker-outer like me. Maybe not by nature, but when it comes to your kids at least. Maybe you also often wonder how quickly your legs would turn to jello and your lunch would come back up if your world were to suddenly fall apart at the seams. If so, maybe now I can offer you some hope.

I drove as fast as the gas pedal would allow, flying past red light after red light, one eye glued to the road and the other to my daughter strapped into her car seat behind me. Finally at the ER, we sat for a minute and waited for a nurse while my baby cried and clung to my shoulders, calling out for me in between her tiny gasps for air. I could feel my body trembling from the inside, felt the desperate sobs gathering at back of my throat and the tears welling forcefully under my eyelids. I felt myself breaking down.

This is the moment you are not prepared for as a parent, should you ever find yourself in this situation. This is something you will not learn to handle in a parenting class or a self-help book. This is that make-or-break moment when you are faced with a choice. You can choose to fall apart in this moment, let your anxiety win, let the terror wash over you and just lose your mind completely. 

Or this is the moment you quickly realize there is no choice to be made, and that there never really was. And I promise you, you won’t fall apart. No, instead you will be hypnotized by the adrenaline. Your mommy autopilot will kick in. You’ll push that terror so far back inside that you may never see it again. You’ll put on the bravest face you can muster for your child and you WILL power through it. You got this, mama. 

So in perhaps the strongest moment of my entire life, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and shook it all off. I held my little girl in my arms as tightly as I could and I swore to her that she was going to be absolutely, positively fine. Inwardly, I made the same promise to myself.

If you’re the type who is normally good under pressure, this probably isn’t as big of a deal to you as it seems to me. But in that moment, I will never forget the way I looked fear dead in the face and told it to fuck off. For just a little while, for my sweet, scared baby girl, I was her superhero. I didn’t recognize myself, overcome by this sudden strength I never knew I was capable of. I’m grateful for it, and I sleep a little better now knowing I had that cape all along, tucked away and waiting for the day I’d need to put it on. I really hope I never need it again, but if I do at least I know it’s there.

In case you’re wondering, my daughter is perfectly fine now. I may have kept her calm, but her amazing nurses and doctors kept her alive. I can’t thank them enough.

A Letter to My Daughter on the Week of Her Fourth Birthday

lala bdayTo my sweet little girl,

It is with a bittersweet heart that I am writing this letter to you tonight. In just a few short days you will be four years old, and I have to admit it’s crushing me. For some parents, the fourth birthday is probably just another in a string of character-themed pizza parties laden with decorations and gifts and too much cake. But to me it’s so much more than that. (Well of course, it’s that too!)

This week, my sweet baby girl, marks the end of an era—one through which you toddled quite innocently, seemingly unaware you were clutching us all in the palm of your tiny little hand. It’s been that way since your very first breath and likely won’t change anytime soon. But you will change, baby girl. Now as you teeter on the brink of girlhood, it’s become painfully evident that your toddler years will soon be as distant a memory as your chubby cheeks and baby giggles.

Already your days are spent in school, learning the ABC’s and 123’s you’ll find familiar from the countless books we read together and the Mickey Mouse cartoons you watched every morning. Now in the morning, instead of our usual breakfast and cuddles, I leave you with someone else for a whole entire day to make friends I never met and eat snacks I didn’t fix and create projects I won’t see until the last day of school. My faithful and silly sidekick is no longer glued to my hip, tagging along on our daily errands or following behind as I clean the house and cook meals, asking hundreds of questions about every little thing (funny questions, ridiculous questions, and at times surprisingly profound questions).

While I know I still have a few years until the dolls and stuffed animals and tea parties are replaced by makeup and crushes and cell phones, I’m sure I’ll barely blink an eye before those years arrive. If there is anything being a parent has taught me, it’s how quickly our precious time flies by. You have to hang onto every moment.

I look back on these past four years and can’t help but wonder if I’ve done an adequate job preparing you for what lies ahead. They say the brain is still developing in these early stages, and I question whether I’ve helped the process along as much as I could have. I wonder if we read enough books, sang enough songs, played enough games.  If we danced around in our pajamas to pop songs on the radio enough. If we went out for ice cream enough. If I answered all your questions enough. Did I spend too much time working? Did you spend too much time watching the Disney Channel? What else am I doing wrong? How will I ever know? I don’t get a redo, there are no second chances here.

Sometimes I see the way you look at me, your eyes wide with the most unconditional love in the world, and it breaks my heart because I know that look won’t last forever. Someday you’ll learn that I’m nowhere near as perfect as you think. And someday you’ll learn that not every problem is quickly erased with a kiss and a hug from Mommy.

I have my own memories of being four years old, bits and pieces of moments forever etched in my mind, and I hope the ones you begin to collect will be better than mine. My happiest memories were often overshadowed by my anxiety, even at such a young age. I pray, oh how I pray, you aren’t plagued by those same anxieties that inexplicably tainted my childhood. I will do absolutely anything in my power to keep you from feeling that pain. Please don’t ever forget that. I am always here for you, my girl. Always.

You’re just four years old and already one of the most beautiful little girls I have ever seen. And not just outside but inside as well. That is such a cliché, I know. But with you it’s an undeniable truth. Yes, I am your mother so of course I am biased. But I see the way others react to you, my sweet girl. You’re positively mesmerizing. I hope you know what a wonderful person you are and will surely grow up to be. I hope you have the confidence I never had, and I hope you’ll use it to do great things. I look at you and your older brother, my world and absolute everything, and I know you’re both destined for unbelieveable things. All you have to do is stay on the right track and I’ll guide you there as best as I can. I may be getting ahead of myself, you’re both still so young. But this stuff is important and you need to know now.

Maybe you’ll understand someday when your own youngest child emerges from toddlerhood.

In a few days I will kiss you goodnight as you drift off to sleep as a three-year-old for the last time. I will hold back my tears and welcome the next phase of your life, our life, with open arms. You’ll blow out your candles and rip open your presents, and you’ll experience the unparalleled joy of a child on her birthday, and again I’ll hold back my tears because I will experience a joy similarly unparalleled. Seeing you happy, seeing you healthy, and watching you grow into this amazing little person, well, it’s a feeling like no other. I can’t thank you enough for giving me that joy.

Happy Birthday, my sweet girl. I love you to the end of the galaxy and back.

Love Always,
Mommy

I Can’t Tell You If You’ve Found “The One”, But Neither Can Anyone Else

I don’t know about you, but I am getting very sick of these obnoxious articles popping up all over the internet which list a thousand bullshit ways to know if you’re with the “right” one. They’re all “communication” this and “respect” that, with their condescending listicles that make newlyweds feel all smug and amazing but leave the rest of us wondering where the hell we went wrong.

It drives me crazy. I’m no relationship expert, (seriously, not at all), but I do know that if your husband of fifteen years doesn’t declare you the most beautiful lady in all the land every single time he looks at you, it’s not exactly a reason to go filing for divorce.

I think that people need to understand that marriage is hard. There is no foolproof checklist or “list of fifteen things” that will quickly determine whether or not you married “the one.” There are over seven billion fish in the sea (actual world population), so who the hell knows if the right one swam up to you and put a ring on your FINger (haha, get it?).

Your husband probably won’t support every decision you make, even the big ones. He isn’t likely to make you feel sexy when you’re bumming around in stained sweatpants and fuzzy slippers. He surely won’t always be honest with you about everything. He might not help around the house enough (or at all). Perhaps he rarely shows his appreciation for all you do, not even with a simple “thank you” once in a while. He probably doesn’t plan date night very often (or ever) and maybe his definition of romance is never leaving the toilet seat up. He’ll sometimes get you really shitty gifts on birthdays and holidays, or none at all. It’s very possible that he’d rather be watching football or playing video games or taking a nap on the couch than partaking in family outings on his days off.

You’re not always going to finish each other’s sentences, or constantly be making each other laugh, or having deep conversations over glasses of wine every night. Hell, you may not even see each other for more than a few minutes a day.

There will be times when you’re madly in love with each other, and times when you’re literally miserable being in the same room together. Times when you look at him and somehow simultaneously love and hate his stupid face at the same time. He probably has similarly mixed emotions about  your stupid face.

But you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. I really think it’s normal, this imperfect, undefined version of marriage. So this isn’t the part where I list all the crap he does do or should be doing to make up for all the shitty stuff. In real life, every relationship is different. What doesn’t work for you might might be working just fine  for someone else, and vice versa. Nothing is ever set in stone, so stop pretending that it should be. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can breathe a nice big sigh of relief that you and your darling aren’t headed straight for Splitsville simply because the fucking internet told you so.

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Cuteness Overload

Do you ever look at your kid and think “holy shit, this kid is so fucking cute I wanna bite her freaking arm off?”

I do.  Often.

Okay, I’m not going to bite her arm off.  But I might nibble on it a little.

I mean, a lot of kids are cute.  There are cutiepies everywhere you go, just walking around, going about their business and stuff, looking all kinds of adorable like they don’t even know it.

But there is just SOMETHING about your own kid.  Something besides the obvious fact that you made him and so therefore he’s just as awesome as you are.  Something about his mushy little face, and tiny little feet, and squishy little nose, and soft little skin, and rosy little cheeks, and sweet little smile.  Something so insanely endearing that it kind of makes your head want to explode.

99% of you without children are probably gagging right now, and that’s totally cool.  I would be, too.  Before I popped out a few of these cute little fuckers myself, I wasn’t exactly a kid person.  Hell, I’m still not what you would call a “kid person” (hence my use of the word “fuckers”).  I’m actually more of a “MY kid person,” if you know what I mean.

These. Kids.

These. Kids.

It seems like there’s a switch that flips into the “on” position after you give birth for the first time, one that turns you into this big softy and reduces you to a pile of mush every time you look at your own kid.  Like there’s this giant ray of sunlight beaming down upon your child wherever she goes, emitting hypnotic waves of yummy adorableness and sweet perfection at all times, and you can’t help but be drawn in by it.  I bet you didn’t even know you could have such delicious feelings of pride and love and warmth toward another human being before you had a kid.  And now it’s basically out of control.

What about when your kid says something funny?  It isn’t just funny, or cute, or even just clever.  It’s HILARIOUS!  Your child is a comedic GENIUS!  Watch out, Jimmy Fallon.  Your Tonight Show replacement has been born, and is ready to step in at any time.

For example, yesterday my son gets home from school and my daughter runs up to give him a huge hug like she does every day (which, by the way, is fucking cuteness OVERLOAD times two,  all by itself).  My son stops her in her tracks and goes, “Wait! Just let me take off my shoes and my coat and STAY A WHILE first!”

I died laughing.  Then I told my husband, who also cracked up quite a bit.

Not exactly hilarious, right?  I mean, cute.   Sweet, smile-worthy.  But I was over there acting like my kid just won Last Comic Standing.

I guess that’s just how it is once you’re a parent.  It’s scientific, actually – like a Darwinian thing. It’s NATURE. You are just naturally meant to find your children so charming and wonderful that you will have to resist the urge to choke them every time you trip over a rogue matchbox car or find permanent marker stains on your couch cushions.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  There are times when my kids’ cuteness is the furthest thing from my mind. Times when I’m literally banging my head against the wall in frustration.   I mean, there’s NOTHING cute about my daughter when she’s mid-tantrum, her face all mangled up in an angry scowl, tears and snot pouring out everywhere, and she’s sobbing and throwing food and smacking the living crap out of me because I wouldn’t let her watch Team Umizoomi during dinnertime.  And I’m over there fumbling with the cap to the Xanax when she suddenly stops crying, giggles, and starts singing her favorite song “I don’t care, I love it!” in her tiny voice… And we all just lose it, erupting into fits of hysterical laughter.

True, I laugh partially out of relief that she finally shut the hell up, but also because her little squeaky voice is so cute that I can’t even take it.

I swear, these kids make me bipolar.

And how about when they’re sleeping?  There is no selective amnesia like a mother gazing adoringly upon her soundly sleeping child.  Your kid could have just thrown your brand new iPhone in the toilet, spilled fingerpaint on the rug, and fed a chocolate bar to the dog all in the same night– but once the little darling is peacefully slumbering away, it’s like the gates of heaven have opened up and God himself has appeared to absolve the child of any wrongdoing.

Because all sleeping children are perfect angels.  Everyone knows that.

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Jackpot.

But your kid doesn’t have to be asleep to be your little angel.  Everyone knows that too.  They are ALWAYS your little angels.  Sure they might drive you to drink, or occasionally sob uncontrollably, and maybe even contemplate a bridge-jump every now and then.

But none of that matters when you are really looking at them.  Because there’s something so very beautiful that happens every time you take in your child’s sweet, innocent face.  Something that takes all the difficulties of being a parent away for a moment.  Something that inevitably makes every exasperating minute totally….. worth it.

I think they call it love. 2e