He’s so tender and I’m so tired
Childhood only lasts so long
He’s so little and I’m so big
But soon he’ll be big, too
I’ll regret these days
Every single moment that I didn’t hold him
He’s so tender
He cries if we don’t get to watch Full House together
One day he won’t want to be with me
What will I do then?
Am I good enough, did I do enough
Did I not screw it up enough?
Does he know, really know, that he’s loved?
Could I have done more, said less, held longer, tried harder?
Will he look back and say he had a good childhood? A good mother?
My seven year old is in love. He thinks she’s pretty and she says she wants to marry him. They held hands all the way to the library yesterday, so it’s pretty much the real deal. And he said he almost cried on the bus ride home because he missed her so much.
My first grader is in love, and I found myself explaining all the ups and downs of love last night – the person you think is special might not always think you are special, make sure they aren’t playing a game with you where they like you one day and not the next but do like you again the day after, if you don’t think they are special anymore please tell them nicely…
And then I wondered if I was doing something wrong.
Am I cynical? It sounds like I’m cynical. In my mind I’m just trying to prepare him – and that’s where I have to stop myself. I’m basically trying to prepare him for heartbreak.
I do remember the last time I thought love was wonderful and fun and was a good thing to go find and express and announce, even if you were the one to say it first. It was eight years ago. After that I was beaten down so badly in the name of love that I didn’t dare believe in it again for seven years. And then I fought it and wrestled with it and kept it contained because I just knew I would get burned again – which I did. But “being prepared” didn’t make it hurt any less. So why even bother preparing?
If I could, I’d go back to the way my son is now – carefree, willing to love, no worries. An open heart. Great expectations. Blind?
Maybe there’s a happy medium here somewhere. Maybe we each have something to learn. Or maybe one way is the right way.
Aha, little boy. I am awake before you. The echoes of your words are still bounding through my head, “thank you for waking up for me.”
I can’t chose when my body will shut down on me, and it hurts me to see you so thrilled that “mommy woke up.” The only comforts I have are knowing that it only happens once in a while, that I am determined to do all I can to not let it happen when you are home, and that even on my worst days I STILL get us out for a bike ride and walk.
Two of the biggest forces in my life – my love and dedication to you, my child, and the symptoms of fibromyalgia – are constantly at war. I find peace, though, that, at even the end of my good days, I always wonder if I did all I could for you, if I gave you all I had, if I did my best for you.
That brings me peace because I know that as long as I continue to reflect and learn I will continue to be the best mother to you – even on my worst days. If my standards are the moon on good days, then on bad days we’ll still land among the stars.
Some days I wonder why you had to have a mother with fibro, but then I figure better to have a dedicated mother with fibro than a complete idiot with no excuse. Right?
I guess what I’m really trying to say (to myself) is a day full of cartoons, movies, a bike ride, and a first time lightbrite experience really isn’t that bad… even if I fell asleep during the movie. And the cartoons.
Oh little boy… I am fighting the urge to pounce on YOU for a change so early in the morning, but you are angelic and peaceful and I’m not as evil as you tend to be in the morning.
I knew school was on the horizon; I had been researching schools in our area and making plans with my boss a full year in advance. I knew it was coming, and I was actively helping it to arrive. I was prepared. I really was.
:::rocks in corner repeating “but I was prepared… I really was… I was prepared”:::
Two months before school, no paperwork in the mail. One month before school, no paperwork in the mail. Two weeks bfore school, still no muthafugging paperwork in the mail so i freaked out and called central office.
One address correction later (they were off by ONE digit) and a stop by the actual school’s now open office, because it was now ONE WEEK before school, and all I got were two pieces of paper with very little information.
“I’ve been planning for A YEAR, and I’m just supposed to hand my baby over to these ill-prepared freaks???”
Yep, my mind went there. Having worked in several schools in the past I was absolutely appalled. But mostly, really, I was scared. What if I missed something? What if I didn’t know what to do or where to go? I was suddenly feeling not-so-prepared, and it was all their fault.
In the mean time, excitement for school waxed and waned in the head and heart of my little one. It was a rough summer with many changes that were out of my control, and starting scool was one more thing on his little plate. He decided it had to go.
School orientation night was a disaster – he locked himself in my car. Once in the classroom, everyone fawned over him as his natural outgoing personality hid behind defiance and a bit of sadness.
“Oh, is he shy?” they cooed.
“No, he’s the world’s first K4 drop out.”
My plans had been ruined. But then we worked through it and managed to leave on a happy note…
Over the next few days, my little guy’s anxiety and sadness about school rose and fell like tidal waves. One minute he was excited, the next he was willing to sacrifice his 5th birthday in order to not go to school. I just wanted off this boat we somehow got on. We started on a cruise ship, and somehow we ended up in a ratty life boat with both of us fighting for the only paddle.
The first day of school wasn’t waiting for either boat, though, and we had to just get in there and get it done. My son’s grandparents and auntie showed up on the playground with a brand new build-a-bear, cameras and photo ops galore, and a delicious fruit roll-up for him to devour while waiting for the bell. The pictures are so deceiving!! It looks like everything is going so well!! Ha!
The bell finally rang and, strangely, all the parents lined up with their kids. What. The. Fugg? There I was trying to leave my little guy in line, but all he could see were the backs of the adults in front of him. The backs of the adults who had received that same one of two pieces of paper that I had received that specifically stated you were not supposed to follow your child into school.
This was not in the plan.
So there my child stood… until he no longer was. Suddenly, as his class was walking into the building, he was attached to my leg, crying and pleading “I WANT TO GO HOME WITH YOU!!!!!!!!”
My heart just broke! This wasn’t how it was supposed to be!!! I didn’t sign up for the terror and trauma plan!! I WAS PREPARED!!!!!!!!!
So, I did what any other loving, devoted, and concerned parent would do – I pushed him through the school doors and ran like hell.
All day long I worried he would totally hate my guts, but in the back of my mind I knew that I had dutifully peeked into the hallway about 15 seconds after I shoved him in and there were absolutely NO screaming, crying, and spasming children on the floor. None. He had made it!
The child I picked up that afternoon was initially very happy to see me and proud of his day, but he quickly, before we got out of the school doors, turned into a blubbering puddle.
“THEY BROKE MY BABY!!” I screamed inside… but… upon further investigation… I discovered he was just thirsty, hungry, and very tired.
Each following day the tidal waves got smaller and smaller, and each day I got smarter and smarter. I learned to bring a drink and a snack to pick-up, and that seemed to solve the after school puddle. We did the whole Kissing Hand thing before he got in line. We were on a roll, slowly figuring things out! Hooray! I could see the cruise ship returning in the now not-so-foggy distance.
And then this morning, the Monday of the second week of school, someone crept into my bed 15 minutes before we were to wake up and asked “Am I going to school today?”
I panicked as I slowly answered “Yes…”
“Hooray! I am so excited!!”
Wait, what?? OMG, yes! Score! Score! Wooooooo hooooo we are back baby!!!!!!!!!!!
Everything went so well. We got to the playground and he spent some time playing but then wanted to get in line well before the bell rang. Once the bell rang, he stood up so straight, so proud. My heart swelled and I thought, “This is it!” And then he caught my eye and mouthed four little words with a matching hand gesture:
“You. Can. Leave. Now.”
Seriously?? I just… but… WHAT??!!!!!!!
Yep. He kicked me out. He was so ready and things were going so well that he just didn’t need me anymore.
“He doesn’t need me anymore!!”
Now I know that this isn’t entirely true, and I also specifically remember my mother lamenting about my first day of school and how I just ran off and threw her the dueces, but still. I thought it would be different. I thought… wait… what the hell did I think?
Cruise ship has sunk. Life boat is in the garage. I think we are now on a pontoon, and I think I’m ok with that. I mean I knew he would be in someone else’s care for 7 hours a day, and I was ok with that, and I wanted him to be ok with that… but maybe I wasn’t ready for him to be SO ok with that, nor for me to be so uncertain or unprepared regardless of how much I tried to prepare.
I had always known that some things just aren’t in our control, but I always thought kid stuff was the exception. Everything around him, on him, in him, and about him has been in my control for over 4 years and now I am handing him off to other people and experiences.
So I’m learning to let go of way more than I had prepared to let go of. In return I’m seeing him use all the tools I have knowingly and unknowingly given him over the years, and I can honestly say it feels great to know he really is prepared for anything, even if I feel like I’m not.
Maybe the best plan is to just prepare for what we can and deal with what needs to be dealt with as it comes? Ha! For me, that is an ok motto. For my child? Not so much.
I will work on it, though. I really will.
At least no one can ever change the fact that he is mine…
Our summer has been very interesting so far… if you consider being the only adult in a house full of at least three children, sometimes four, “interesting”. I call it insanity, but a happy insanity – like a big padded cell with lots of pills happy insanity. :::hysterical laughtet:::
My only child is almost 5, about to head to kindergarten, and I couldn’t bear a whole summer with me as his only playmate (nor could he, I’m sure) considering there are no kids his age in the neighborhood. So, we invited my niece and nephew over during the working weekdays so my son would have friends and my brother could go to work without being arrested for leaving his kids at home. 😉
Curious as to what this arrangement sounds like? You sick, sick puppies. Well, I guarantee you that it doesn’t sound anything like your parents’ house (no “get over here, missy” in my world)! Here are *my* most used phrases, in no particular order:
Child! Why is your voice is stuck on “sonic boom”?
If you mess with it and it bites you, I will not feel sorry for you.
Popsicles in the pool does not mean popsicles underwater!
Put your damn bikini bottom on the right way or you are banned from bikinis.
Don’t eat that, it’s gross.
Don’t drink that, it’s gross.
Don’t touch that, it’s gross.
Don’t lick that! Jeebus!
“Pool water tastes like bug blood! ” Then dont taste it.
“My water bottle tastes like pool water!” Then don’t drink it.
“She won’t share!” Then don’t play with her.
“I’m hungry!” I’m Mom/Auntie Stacy. Nice to meet you.
Find something better to do.
Not in *this* house!
Put clothes on that barbie now, or you’re not playing with them anymore!
I assure you, no one wants to see your butt or your weiner.
No more boyfriends and girlfriends! You all have invisible ones from now on!
LEAVE THE CAT ALONE!
Do you need to get your hearing checked?!
Leave him alone!
Leave her alone!
Leave them alone!
Leave me alone!
Eat your vegetables or you’ll get scurvy.
Eat your vegetables, they have the antidote to the zombie virus I put in your juice.
THIS. IS. SPARTA!
Turn The Lady Gaga off now.
It’s Lady Gaga, not Baby Gaga.
My most used phrase is, without a doubt, You guys are weird, but I like weird kids. I know this because I overheard my niece say “I’m a weirdo, but Auntie Stacy likes weird kids!”
Hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as we are! (:
In all fairness, this story should really be about Creampuff, the cat my sister couldn’t bear to part with and who came into our lives with a perfectly sounding “Hello, Matt!” (I swear he said it, and I have witnesses!) It should be, it really should. But you know how a puzzle is still a puzzle until the last piece is placed, finally making it a picture? That final piece is Max, the cat that came to stay.
Again, in all fairness, I should first tell you a bit about Puff. He’s huge, white, and fluffy with a petite little kitten face framed by a splotch of orangey-tan that is reflected on his bottom half, making him look like his namesake – a creampuff. (There was a hilariously awful moment when my son overheard my father say he couldn’t wait for the State Fair so that he could eat a creampuff. Trauma!!) His personality is what we like to call “kitty putty”, as you can do with him whatever you please as long as you are touching him. And paying him attention. And petting him. And touching him. And touching him. And petting him.
He is the sweetest cat ever, but a bit overwhelming for me as I have sensory and nerve pain issues; not only is he a heavy cat and a slow walker, but he is a licker! And my body absolutely cannot STAND it.
I love him, though. I really, really do. And my son adores him.
I had thought for years that maybe C-Puff’s overly needy and irritating behavior was attributed to him being lonely, having come from a home with two other cats. We were holding out for a dog, though, so another cat was out of the question. To be perfectly honest, another cat never really ever even crossed my mind regardless of my son’s many announcements that he would basically like to turn our house into a cat haven and have me be the queen of all crazy cat ladies. Regardless, I just kept hoping another pet would lead P-Diddy to be less… aggravating. And I was certain it would be a dog.
And then there we were, playing in the front yard, when along came Max. He didn’t know he was Max yet, but my son did. My son called to him, he came. The end. They were in love with each other, but that little green flea collar around Max’s neck told me to proceed with caution while Max’s cuteness and instand bond with my son caused my son to proceed to open our front door and let Max right in!
Puffy-C was PISSED! My son began bawling as the cats hissed and growled it out, upset that his idea of Catopia hadn’t worked out as planned. I found myself walking my son through the ins and outs of cat behavior and etiquette all the while wondering what the hell I was doing and why the hell would I want a second cat when I never really even wanted a first cat?? My head exploded on the inside.
But then everything settled down and then everyone settled in. Days passed and Creampuff became less needy – more like a cat and less like an emo boyfriend that you’re stuck living with until the lease is over: “Oh, where were YOU all last night?”
Things started changing, and I liked it.
Still, every day, I would have to repeat my warnings to my son. “Max’s family might be looking for him.” And still, every day, they were inseparable. I even found myself falling for Max, too, which somehow caused me to appreciate and truly bond with The Puff all the more.
We would let Max out during the day so I could watch where he went, half hoping his family would spot him and half hoping there was no family. He finally wiggled his way out in the middle of the night which brought my son to a puddle of tears. “I wost my best friend! And now I hafta tell Creampuff I wost *his* best friend!!!”
With my heart in my throat, I became the crazy cat lady with a flashlight in the middle of the night stalking and crawling about my own yard making kitty-cat calls. No Max. I went in and got ready for bed, not knowing how I would mend my son’s broken heart… but just before I gave up for good I took one last peek outside. There, camped out on our patio, was the elusive and beloved Max! My heart swelled as I opened the door and he came rushing in. “He chose us. We are his family now! ”
Or so I hoped.
Creampuff had changed for the better and our relationship had improved. My son had become the most responsible 4 year old cat owner ever. Max had kept us on our toes and provided much entertainment. And I, a sufferer of chronic pain who guards her energy and output very closely, discovered that giving more actually didn’t hurt or drain me – it gave me more in return. I was astonished.
Well, every good story must end and this story ends with Max’s family finally spotting him in our front yard. Thankfully it happened while we were all outside so that we knew exactly what was his fate, we didn’t have to worry, and we could properly say goodbye.
My son was very brave and began telling the family “Be really really nice to him, ok? And call him Max because he really really likes it,” but as they left with Max in their arms the moment I had been fearing ever since Max arrived played out right in front of my eyes.
I call it The Sadness, much like when people say someone has The Cancer. The Sadness is big and blubbery, with giant spewing tears and gutteral cries that start at your core and refuse to be stifled no matter how hard you purse and tighten your lips. And I had a front row seat with every tear directly connected to my own heart.
Eventually, slowly, we had a good talk. I was genuinely surprised at my son’s kindness and insight, especially when he admitted the best place for Max was with his real family, even though he really wanted us to be his real family, and when he finished my statement about how when you really love something, “You have to let it go, right, Momma?” I nearly passed out from an overflow of proud.
Together we decided that Grandmaster Puff needed a friend and that my son needed a friend, and that friend should probably not already belong to someone else… So, yes, I agreed to a new kitten/cat. The woman who didn’t want one or even two cats is now on the hunt for the perfect second cat for our first perfect cat. Can you believe it?
My son still mentions Max. Everytime he says something about his parting in a positive way (“I’m glad Max is with his family but I miss him,” or “I’m glad we got to meet Max” ) he gets a candy – my little idea to try to damage control. He is always allowed to cry but he hasn’t done much of it since we spend so much time saying how thankful we are for the time we got with him. It works for us and, even though I was initially afraid of the inevitable pain that letting something uncertain into our lives would surely bring, I now find myself thankful for the entire experience because I now know that, yes, we both can handle anything that comes our way.
And we owe it all to Max, the cat that came to stay.
Here’s looking forward to the next uncertain thing that will wiggle itself into our lives!