Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Dear Buddy,

It's been quite an incredible few days!

When we woke up Monday morning and reminded you it was the first day of school, I expected you to freak out. Instead, you helped me pack your lunch.

When we dropped Buster at Aunt S's house to play while I drove you to school, I expected you to demand to play too. Instead, you cheerily told Buster to have a great day.

When we arrived at school and found out they had switched your teacher at the last minute, I expected you to burst into tears. Instead, you shyly said hi to the new one.

When the teacher invited you to say good-bye and start your day, I expected you to cling to me and beg me to stay. Instead, you whispered good-bye and slipped away.

When I picked you up at the end of the day, I expected you to be angry and scared. Instead, you greeted me with a smile and told me how much fun you had.

When we went back today and you realized this place was permanent, I expected the long-awaited tears to finally come. Instead, you reminded me where to put your lunch bag.

When the teacher pulled me aside to talk, I expected her to report you were withdrawn and overwhelmed. Instead, she told me that although you had been very quiet, you'd used your words for the important stuff...she wanted to be sure to let me know the one and only time she heard you talk to another student, it was to walk over to a boy crying in the corner and tell him "Are you sad? Don't worry, its okay to miss your mama, but she'll always come back".

Your dad and I couldn't care less if you ever win a spelling bee. Or make the winning basket. Or take advanced math. Or become student body president. What we want is for you to be kind. And brave. And compassionate. The last few days, just 6 weeks shy of your 4th birthday, you've proven you're already all of those things.

I knew being your mom would mean teaching you thousands of things. I never anticipated how much you'd also be teaching me.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

High Hopes

Last night was parent orientation at Buddy's new school. Given his emotional issues, preschool was really challenging for him last year and we've spent a lot of time trying to find the right environment for him going forward.

Before last year, I thought all preschools were basically the same, just places where kids run around, fingerpaint and have storytime. I've learned this is not the case. The school we chose last year was recommended to us by Buddy's therapist b/c it regularly works with children with minor special needs and also didn't require students to be potty trained. Overall, it was a great school and the teachers were very accommodating of Buddy's issues. However, it was a play-based preschool, which for those of you who don't know, means learning happens through playing rather than structured lessons. This is great for many kids, including Buster, who will be going there this fall. For Buddy, the classroom was too noisy and active and he often was too overwhelmed to participate or even talk while there.

After visiting several schools in the area, we decided the best place for Buddy (and eventually Buster once he's old enough) would be a Montessori school in our area that serves children age 3 to 14. I hadn't been back to visit the school since we enrolled Buddy last spring and as the end of summer nears, I've been feeling nervous about our decision to move him to a new school rather than just sticking w/the one he already knows. Last night's event reminded me why Chris & I both loved the school so much.

For starters, one of the guiding principles of the school is to create a calm, focused learning environment, which Buddy really needs in order not to become overwhelmed. At the same time, each student is responsible for deciding what activities he or she wants to complete that day and can work on something that interests them as long as they'd like. Every student has an IEP (individual education plan) and the goal is to help every child gain confidence and discover their own unique talents and interests. If it takes Buddy longer than other kids to master fine motor skills like cutting and tracing, his teacher will work with him as long as necessary. At the same time, he can move faster than other kids at pre-reading activities if he wants.

The learning environment is definitely wonderful, but my favorite thing about the school is the sense of community it has. All the students, even the 3 year olds, help maintain the garden and facilities. The classes are mixed age groups (3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-14) and the older students in the class are responsible for helping the younger ones learn the classroom procedures and also tutor the younger children. There are many weekend and evening events that parents, siblings and extended family are encouraged to attend. All parents (not just stay at home moms) have lots of opportunities to help out with various events and to attend parent-only education and community nights. Its a place where parents actually know each other's names (not just "Jack's mom, Ben's mom") and where everyone contributes to make the school a great place and I love that.

I'm so excited to become part of such a wonderful school. I think that it's a place where Buddy can develop both self-confidence and a love of learning. I'm sure we are in for some rough weeks as Buddy adjusts to a whole new set of surroundings and I'm sure there will be more than a few tears shed from both of us. I think once we get past all though, this could really be the place that allows Buddy to overcome the crippling anxiety that up until this point has kept him from enjoying life outside our home.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Sometimes I can't believe how much influence I have over the boys.

How the right words, at the right time, in the right voice can calm their fears or stop a tantrum. How excited they get when I stop what I'm doing to join in one of their games. How much they need me when they are hurting or scared. How happy they are just to see me every morning.

Its really amazing...and also a little terrifying. I have so much control over who they are, what they do and ultimately who they will become, but half the time I have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to parenting them.

So it was very reassuring to me today when this conversation took place:

Buddy (home from a trip to the dentist): Buster, I got two really cool stickers!
Buster: Oh wowie, wow!
Buddy: Which one do you like?
Buster: Yellow one!
Buddy: that's my best one too.
Buddy: Mom?
Me: Yes?
Buddy: Can you tear my best yellow sticker in half so Buster can share it too?

Sure, they have tantrums and talk about butts and have trouble staying seated at dinner. But when I see how kind they can be, how thoughtful they are to each other, I think that while we may let them watch too much tv, at least we're getting the important stuff right.

Of course, it could have nothing to do with me. It could be that Wonder Pets episode about sharing we keep letting them watch over and over again.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Versatile Blogger

I'm so excited to be tagged with the Versatile Blogger award!

I was tagged by Pixie, author of the blog Cheese Curds and Kimchi. In addition to being an awesome blogger, Pixie is in the process of adopting her first child from Korea. She writes lovely, thoughtful posts about adoption and becoming a mom. She also does cool things like Friday Roundups (lists of her favorite posts) and Word Wednesdays (mini-Korean language lessons). If you haven't visited her blog yet, you should definitely check it out.

Here's the award rules:
1. Thank and talk about whoever gave you the award (Thanks Pixie!).
2. Share 7 facts about yourself.
3. Give the award to 7 other bloggers who rock.

Seven Facts About Me:
1. I have never gotten used to changing diapers and am very suspicious of mothers who claim they have.

2. I clean the house before my babysitter comes over. The babysitter I pay to watch the kids so I can clean my house. Also, she's 13 years old, shows up looking like she just rolled out of bed and I'm sure has more important things, like boys and Miley Cyrus, to think about than if there's crumbs on my counter. Yet I still find myself running around like a crazy person before she gets here because...I don't know...I don't want her texting other 8th graders that my house is a mess? I know, its a little nuts.

3. I'm the only woman in America who didn't love Eat, Pray, Love. I wanted to like it, I tried really hard to stick with it, but never made it past the eating. I think reading about another person's entire year of self-indulgence while huddled in a sliver of moonlight waiting for my toddler to fall asleep made me entirely too jealous to enjoy the story.

4. Grey's Anatomy and Law & Order: SVU used to be my favorite shows, but since becoming a mom I can't watch them anymore. I can't stand the reminder of how fragile life can be. Instead, I've become a reality tv junkie. I'm far too invested in Kourtney & Scott's relationship and Snookie's latest antics.

5. The celebrity I'd most like to meet is Ina Garten from Barefoot Contessa. I love her casual, cozy approach to food and life.

6. When I was in 4th grade a grasshopper got stuck in my hair during recess and no one could get it out. Finally, the teacher had to mush it in my hair and then pull it out bit by bit. Not surprisingly, bugs still freak me out just a little bit.

7. Chris & I recently went out with another couple to celebrate his birthday. My friend & I had too much to drink and spent 2 hours excitedly discussing her new rice steamer. I woke up with a massive headache and an inability to decide whether it had been totally lame or the best night ever.

I'm supposed to tag 7 other bloggers I love, but I always get stressed out about hurting someone's feelings. Plus, many of my favorite bloggers have already been tagged. I appreciate everyone whose nice enough to read my blog and comment, so if you're a reader and love making lists about yourself like I do, consider yourself tagged....and leave a comment here so I can make sure to check out your post.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


I'm not above bribing, I mean rewarding, my children. Yesterday I armed myself with a bag of M&Ms and prepared to address some of the issues we've been having.

The last 2 weeks, Buster has started crying every time I leave him at summer camp. It's totally for show, he stops the minute I walk out the door, but it upsets the other kids. This morning I told him if he didn't cry, he could have 2 M&Ms at lunch time. He cried anyway.

Buddy, potty trained for nearly 8 months, now refuses to use the potty following a bladder infection (an ongoing situation that requires its own post). Unfortunately, he absolutely must be potty trained to attend the new preschool he's starting in 10 days. I told him every time he goes on the potty, he can have an M&M. So far, this has only been marginally effective.

I've still been putting off buying my plane ticket. I looked at the M&Ms, clicked "Confirm Purchase" and popped two in my mouth.

So I solved one of our three lingering issues...I think I'll reward myself with an M&M.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...

I'm going to buy a plane ticket today.

Actually, I was going to buy it a month ago. And then again last Monday. And then pretty much every day since.

Today I'm going to do it though.

I'm going to stop freaking out about leaving the kids home alone with Chris for two days and I'm going to stop feeling guilty about spending 48 hours with my college roommates and their babies...even though it makes me feel a little bit nauseous. Actually a lot nauseous.

I'm going to do it because I'm not going to allow myself to continue under the delusion that I need to be with my kids every.single.second in order for them to survive. They will be here, in their home, with their father, for two days and they will be okay. They will miss me, but they will still play and laugh and eat and sleep and beg to watch "just one more" Diego like they always do.

I'm going to do it because as much as I love my kids, I need a break and I'm going to stop lugging around the guilt that comes with admitting that. Maybe my mom - with her patience and practical-ness and soothing words - didn't need a break, but I am not my mom. Just because I'm not my mom doesn't mean I'm a bad one.

I'm going to do it because I love my friends and being with them makes me happy. I can't wait to hold their babies, to reminisce about our crazy college days and to stay up late talking about what it's like being a mom.

Today I'm going to do it.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Waving the White Flag

Gisele's whole "breastfeeding should be a law" thing has been bothering me the last few days and other than providing an excuse to criticize a supermodel, I couldn't understand why. It's not as if breastfeeding has anything to do with me. My knowledge on the subject is limited to my friends' experiences, some of whom feel it was a cherished bonding ritual and others who describe it as a horrific, stressful trauma.

It occurred to me today the reason her comments got under my skin is that I'm tired of mothers judging each other.

breastfeeding v. bottle feeding

cloth diapers v. disposables

stay-at-home moms v. working moms

co-sleeping v. cry-it-out

spankings v. timeouts

private school v. public school

I could go on, but you get my point. From the moment you start your day, every choice you make as a mom seems to be up for debate. It's ridiculous...and believe me, I'm not trying to sound preachy b/c I'm guilty of it too.

I'm not sure why we do it. Being a mom is such a huge responsibility and even though we all want to do what's best, half the time we aren't really sure what we are doing (at least I'm not anyway). I think it's that insecurity, that nagging voice in the back of our minds wondering "Am I screwing this up?", that makes us feel the need to justify our choices by pointing out all the reasons other people's are wrong. We're missing the fact that someone else's choice doesn't have to be wrong in order for ours to be right.

In our rush to prove what amazing mothers we are, so many of us have forgotten that kids do not come with a set of "one size fits all" instructions. Every family, every child, is different. If breastfeeding and co-sleeping work for you, that's great. If they don't, that's okay too. It would be so great if we could all really, truly accept that.

Ridiculing each other's choices isolates us. It draws a line in the sand and forces us to choose sides. It creates opponents rather than allies. It would be so much better if we could reach a place where we could share our experiences without all the judgement and support each other's choices - even when they are different from our own. The bottom line is we're all trying to be the best mom we can be and it sure would be a lot easier to do that with the help of other moms.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Stop Growing!

I cried in Target today.

I mean, its bad enough I went there with out-of-control frizzy hair wearing "I'm planning to scrub the shower" yoga pants (an occurrence that's increasing w/alarming frequency). But to stand in the back-to-school aisle looking that way with a cart full of single-serving mac & cheese containers frantically blinking back tears...well, I'm surprised no one ran to the customer service counter yelling "Quick, there's a disheveled looking mom planning to feed her family lots of processed food having a breakdown next to the pencils"!

Its just that I saw the lunch boxes and I can't believe I need to buy one. Buddy is going to be in a half-day program in the fall and eating lunch at school 3 days a week. Plus, Buster is going to be in the 2 year old program Buddy was in last year. The thought of Buddy walking into school, lunch box in hand and Buster bringing home messy artwork to hang on the fridge alongside his brother's...seriously, how did we reach this point already? How did the part with the bottles and the cribs and the rocking to sleep and the being the center of their universe - how did that part go by so fast?

Its crazy, this parenting thing. One day a baby comes into your life and instantly becomes the most important person in your whole world. Yet from that moment on, your job is to prepare them to go out into the world, to let them go a tiny bit each day. Every "first" and milestone leaves you bursting with pride, but it also breaks your heart a little too.

It's awesome, watching the boys grow up. I can't wait to see what kind of people they become, but I often find myself thinking "Wait, slow down. Don't change so fast. I'm not ready to let you go".

It's surprising to me that of all the challenges of parenting, I'm finding letting go to be the hardest part.