Give Me Shelter

Goose, my 6-year-old daughter, was recently discussing her plans for when she grows up.  “I want to be a mommy when I get bigger, but I don’t want to grow a baby in my belly.  I’m going to get one from the shelter.”

For those who don’t know, I work in a veterinary hospital (12 years and counting), and before that, I was a volunteer for a greyhound rescue.  All of our dogs and cats have been rescues of one sort or another.  Discussions about homeless animals and responsible pet ownership are common in this household.

Me:  You’re going to get a baby from the shelter?

Goose:  Yes, I want to be mommy to a baby that doesn’t have a mommy.  Maybe one that’s zero years old, but maybe one that’s bigger because it’s harder for older kids to get families.

Me: That’s true, Goose.  And I think that’s a wonderful idea.  But children who need homes live in a place called an orphanage or a foster home.  The shelter is where dogs and other pets go. When you add a child to your family that way, that’s called adoption.

Goose:  Just like when we adopted Frances (the dog)?

Me:  Something like that.

Goose:  How will I find the orphanage or foster home, mom?

Me:  You’ll find the way.  Your heart will lead you.

Goose: Yeah, I have a big heart.

Yes, you do.

 

 

January Registration- This Cannot Be Happening

January RegistrationA few days ago, I received an envelope in the mail… the one I’ve dreaded.  It was an envelope from the Registrar; the one that says “January Registration.”

I remember the first time I received this envelope.  It was January of 2012 when the registration forms for Buddy and Goose arrived.  I met that envelope with a mixture of excitement and worry.

Kindergarten will be so great for them!  They will learn so much! I hope they’re ready.  Of course they are! I hope they can make friends.  They’ll be fine! And so on until the day came that they climbed the steps of the bus for the very first time.

But this envelope is for Bear… and the emotions that go with it are more complex.  This is my youngest.  My baby.  The last.  I took the mail from the mailbox, saw the envelope, sat in my car and cried.  He is my baby, but he is also my partner in crime, my best friend.

When the Buddy and Goose started school, it was me and Bear.  For the first time, I have regular periods of time with one child… alone.  My attention is not divided by 3.  We have adventures.  We go to cafes that I wouldn’t dare bring 3 kids into.  I joke that he’s the best boyfriend that I’ve ever had, and it’s true. When we go to the diner and he’s impatient waiting for food, I tell him that while we wait we should talk because that’s what grown ups do.  When I ask what he’d like to talk about, he grins and says, “You, momma.  Let’s talk about you.”

When I’m shopping and manage to pick out a few things for myself, he insists that I try them on before we leave. “We have to go to the dressing room, momma.  I’ll hold the hangers.”  And he does.  And he doesn’t complain.  Ever.

On Christmas, the kids were all given Kindle Fires.  When I was setting them up the night before, I noticed that one didn’t seem quite right, but I wasn’t sure.  Confession:  I made a conscious choice to give the wonky one to Bear, because I knew that if it was defective, he’d be able to handle it without a meltdown.  It was broken.  I told him a replacement would come on Saturday.  He didn’t bat an eyelash.  When Saturday came and I was notified that the package wouldn’t arrive until Monday, again, no problem.  When UPS arrived Monday with his Kindle, he was SO EXCITED, but by a cruel twist of fate… it was also broken.  Disappointed but not a tear, he asked if I could order him a new one.  I said I would.  He moved on.  If it had been Buddy’s Kindle that needed  replacing twice, you might have heard him screaming clear across the globe.  If it had been Goose’s, there might have been weeping, or at minimum sulking. Bear accepts change and disappointment with an ease I wish I had.  He teaches me daily that an unexpected change of plans is an opportunity and not a crisis.

I’m going to need to channel his inner-calm come September, and I will because I have to, but it will still feel like a breakup.

Peace and Love

Peace on EarthThe day after Christmas, I took the kids to a local diner for breakfast.  As we were wrapping up, I told them that I wanted to go to Target to pick up a few things for myself.

Mommy wants to get herself a couple of things for Christmas.

Buddy:  But mom, you got what you wanted most already!

I did?

Buddy: Yes, you got yourself some pieces.

Some what?

Buddy: Some peace? Peace.  You got yourself some peace.

Oh! Peace?

Buddy: Yes! And love, too!

I did?

Buddy: Yes! We are very peaceful when we play with our Kindles and we sure do love that you got them for us. That’s peace and love.

So it is, Buddy.  So it is.

And the Nerds Shall Inherit the Earth

These are cool specs.It is winter break.  My kids are enjoying their time off by brawling and screaming a lot.  Much of the day, I can barely hear myself think.  But in the quieter moments (It’s all relative), when I have the time and presence of mind to listen, these are the conversations that find the space to grow.

Buddy (6yo): Mom, (pause) why do people call kids with glasses “nerds”?

Me (Rehearsing an answer in my head, while recounting all the times he’s refused to wear his glasses recently): Because you’re smarter than they are and it’s intimidating, or more probably, their parents find smart people intimidating and taught their children to do the same.

No, no, no…. Don’t be part of the problem.  Try again.

Me (out loud): Because people poke fun at what they don’t understand, and it seems they don’t understand that your eyes are a little different and need glasses to help them see better. Did someone call you a nerd?

Buddy: Yeah… one of my best friends, and a couple other people.

Me (annoyed): “Nerd” is what people sometimes call smart people with or without glasses.

He nods, looking pensive, and there’s a pause… the pause that suggests this momma is stewing… I take a deep breath and begin…

Me (highly animated, picture enthusiastic hand gestures and a slight head waggle):  You know who’s a nerd, Buddy?  Do you?  Your momma is a nerd.  And you know what else? Your daddy is a nerd, too.

Buddy: Really? (pause, slow grin starting to form on his face)

Me: It’s true, you come from a nerd family.  And I’ll tell you something else… Nerds run the world.

Buddy: I didn’t know that. (more relaxed but still not sure he believes me)

The conversation turns to other random topics.  I don’t remember what they were.  Then, at the next lull in conversation, Buddy, who is completely obsessed with Minecraft, asks if people can really build islands “in real life.”

I immediately think of the Palm Islands in Dubai, and I answer, “Yes, they sure can.”

Buddy: Really?  How do they do that?

Me: Some nerds got together and figured out how to do it. So the next time someone calls you a “nerd”, you look that person straight in the eye and say, “Thank you!”

Buddy: And they won’t know what that really means… But I do!

And that’s when the biggest dimpled grin spread across his beautiful bespectacled face.

The Sir Axelrod Revelation

Have you ever watched a movie so many times that you could recite it almost word for word?  Have your kids ever watched a movie so many times that you know every word even though you don’t remember specifically ever sitting down to properly watch it?  It’s absorbed by some sort of osmosis as you come in and out of the room doing various chores and tasks. (Don’t start with the “I never use the TV as a babysitter” nonsense… I call bullsh*t.  Sometimes it’s the only way dinner gets on the table.)

Certainly, if the kids have watched it that many times, they must know all the words and every detail of the plot, too, right?  I would think so.  But it seems that all of this time, I’ve given my children’s observational skills too much credit.

(Spoilers follow, so if you’re one if the 15 people who haven’t yet seen Cars 2, you may wish to avert your gaze.)

It was on the way home from a recent trip, during the 150th viewing of Cars 2 that Buddy screamed from the back of the Swagger Wagon:

Wait! Sir Axelrod put the bomb on Mater?!?! That’s crazy!!

In case of booger emergency…

A box of Scotties tissues

A box of Scotties tissues (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goose and Bear suffer from seasonal allergies, as so many people do.  They are non-stop itching their noses and sneezing.  We go through a ludicrous amount of tissues.  I am equal parts “Cover that sneeze! With your elbow not your hand!” and “Bless you.”

You would think that this mother of 3, who has survived cold season many times and has 2 kids with allergies, would be prepared for spontaneous mucus expulsion.  You would think that, because she always has a complete change of clothes or two for each child in the Swagger Wagon, and an emergency potty, and enough snacks on board to keep the family fed for a week if we were ever to become stranded.  You would think that something as simple as a pocket full of tissues would be a piece of cake.

Then why, oh why, do I find myself digging through my giant 40 pound purse for a tissue, napkin or anything that passes as a tissue in the face of a child sporting a snot web from nose to chin (or worse- nose to chest- ick.)  Why can’t I bring myself to use a sleeve?  Why can’t I just remember to keep tissues handy?  Why have I resorted (on more than one occasion, sadly) to using a panty-liner as a tissue?

And what must passers-by think??

Just kidding… I don’t care.

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day evokes images of mom being served breakfast in bed, surrounded by flowers and homemade gifts from her children.  And that is fantastic, but that is not the reality for most moms.  The reality (based on my informal poll of moms that I know) is more of a mixed bag: gifts (homemade or store-bought), meals (breakfast in bed, at a diner, dinner out), some other family activity, and hopefully a respite from laundry and all the other mundane things that occupy so much of our time.

Personally, and I know that I’m in the minority, but I enjoy spending part of the day by myself (this year, I’m kicking it off with a 5k run).  I feel like this is where I’m supposed to write wistfully about how I spend my alone time reflecting on the virtues of motherhood and how very fortunate I am to have my beautiful family.  Except that isn’t what happens.  I do love my family.  I feel extremely fortunate and grateful to have them, but I don’t spend that time counting my blessings.  Moments of solitude are so precious and few, that I spend whatever time I have that day soaking it up.  I usually go to a movie.  No, not some blockbuster that I’ve been waiting for weeks to see.  I go and see whatever happens to be starting at the time I arrive.  It doesn’t matter what it is.  In fact, if it’s an unpopular movie that will yield a nearly empty theater, that’s even better.  Then I spend that hour and a half letting my brain shut down.  I don’t have to talk.  I don’t have to listen (unless I want to).  I don’t have to wipe anyone’s bottom.  I decompress as fully as is possible.

Then, when whatever window of time has passed, I take a deep breath and go home.  I hug my kids, kiss their round faces, and smell their sweet heads (or if they are more funky than sweet, perhaps throw them in the tub).  I set about the business of loving them, and feeding them, and caring for them, only with a little more patience and a lot more gratitude.