Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Awkward Mom and Super Baby

My Beautiful Boy-

Your birthday is tomorrow. I am writing this today because I am afraid I won't have time tomorrow. Tomorrow is pretty busy; Dad's got a ton of work, Super 1st has school, Super Preschooler has a morning playdate, Super Toddler has an afternoon playdate, it's supposed to snow and be ridiculously cold, and it's Ash Wednesday so I guess we have to figure out church and fasting and stuff. Better off just squeezing in your birthday celebration tonight. Yeah......squeeze it in.

Squeeze in your first birthday.

You get squeezed a lot, and I am not just talking about when Super T. wants to play "Mommy." Your baby book isn't finished. Someone else has worn all of your clothes before you. Played with all of your toys. Chewed up the corners of all your books. More often that I want to admit, I get your name wrong when calling you. You learned to feed yourself out of sheer need, and, let me tell you, the decision to just follow Super Toddler around and eat stuff she drops was pretty genius, You do a lot of things yourself; calmly, sedately, like it's no big thing to climb stairs and color and drink from a cup and do puzzles and get out your own shoes. Things we took a million pictures of Super 1st doing, I now notice you doing out of the corner of my eye. There are a lot of pictures of you, my darling, but there is usually someone else in there too. Trying to steal your thunder.

"Have you guys met my sister?"

"Seriously,
She's kinda a big deal."


You are so tolerant of the chaos that surrounds you at all times. And it's no surprise, my love; you're a fourth. You know that being siblings is all a numbers game. There are your powerhouse firsts. Your daydreamy seconds. Your utterly outrageous thirds. And then, there's you. A fourth. A strong, steady, easy-going fourth. I don't need to tell you this; you're an unflappable fourth. You were born wise and patient.

Those eyes may be new, but they know it all.

I'll never forget it. You were one day old, and we were staring at each other in that hospital room. You were exploring my face with your wise eyes and I was delighting in getting to focus just on you. You outside of me, that is, with no feet in my ribs. It was blissful, and then I heard them. I heard them before I saw them; it was like a herd of elephants coming down the hallway. It seems that your sister had set off the alarm in the elevator and they were fleeing the scene of the crime. They burst into the room like a hurricane; flinging coats and hats and jumping everywhere all at once.  They located the controls to the bed and began hitting things at random. The television blared on and the head of the bed flew up, taking us with it. I looked down at you, to make sure you were safe, and you were sound asleep. 

Nothing keeps you from your beauty rest. 

Seriously. 
Nothing.

I don't forget you, because you can't forget your heartbeat, but sometimes I forget you aren't three like your whirlwind of a sister or five like your creative big brother or seven like your bossy biggest brother. I leave you all to romp and head off to put a load of laundry in. I am usually halfway through switching the clothes when I remember you aren't yet one. So, I go flying up the stairs and burst into the living room to find you happily sitting in a pile of Legos, three in your mouth and one up your nose. I scoop you up, flicking Legos off you and cooing my apologies, and you snuggle perfectly into that space between my neck and my shoulder, all forgiveness and joy. You never hold your fourthness against us anyway. You surf it like a blissed-out Matthew McConaughey (only slightly more articulate). You own your place in the family and smile all wise at us when we freak out around you. Because you are calm. You are even-keeled. You are completely in control. You are totally at peace with yourself and your surroundings. You are last in line, and you know full well that the plate will get to you eventually.

You even take down intergalactic gangsters like it's no big thing.


You are number four. You are the miracle of a square. You are the beauty of total balance. You are the magic of a four leaf clover. You are the final tire that makes the car run. You are the key member of the fantastic four, the Beatles, the A-team. You are the one to bring balance to the force. 

And you deserve far more than being squeezed in. 

Therefore, tomorrow is going to be all about you, my beautiful boy. There are many more days of work and school. There will be other playdates. It is cold and snowy every winter, and Ash Wednesday will come every year like clockwork. But you turn one just this once, so the world can just hang on for a second and everyone else can wait their turn, Tomorrow is yours. All yours. You get to go first. You are an outstanding fourth, my precious, but tomorrow, you are going to be number one. 

I love you,
Awkward Mom


P.S. I am glad that I squeezed in writing this today, because tomorrow, all I want to do is get lost in the wise eyes of yours. 



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Just Thursday

Dearest Daring Darlings-

So, it's just Thursday. It's isn't anyone's birthday and it isn't a holiday. It's not even an exciting day, like Saturday. It's just a day. A day in February; so deep in winter that we've started to long for spring but know it's still a long way off. Nothing unusual happened today, nothing particularly noteworthy. Nothing to report to Daddy when he gets home. Just boring old life in the middle of February 2015.


You built this amazing Lego house to welcome your friend who was coming over, the one you were deeply sensitive to and allowed to lead the play, even though you had about 899 ideas about how things should go. I was so proud of you and your gentle leadership today.


You had school today and celebrated Valentine's Day, so you came home with a sack full of candy. A sack that you proceeded to divide 4 ways, so all your siblings could enjoy your bounty. I was so proud of you and your seamless generosity today. (Thanks also for being flexible and understanding that Nerds might not be the best choice of treat for the baby.)


You ran errands with me today and rode the grocery store horse, like you have done every day since you noticed her existence. You climb up there like the seasoned horsewoman you are, settle in, and gallop off on imagined journeys across the plains. Journeys that you shout to any passerby; causing numerous smiles and chuckles, especially in the grandparents that you randomly blow kisses at. I was so proud of you and your fearless friendliness today.


You climbed the stairs today. You tried to eat several toys, you tirelessly trailed your siblings through the house, and you were stepped on 4 times. And you said "mama" just once, but it was enough to melt me into a puddle of love. I was so proud of you and your endless composure in the face of a world that is too tall and not built for your comfort or ease.


There will be more exciting days. There will be warmer days. There will be more noteworthy days, with a flurry of things to report to Daddy when he gets home. And yet, when I am old and gray, walking through the store by myself, with no one to chase, and I see a young mom with her children, I'll think of you. And I probably won't think about your weddings or your graduations or the day you lost your first teeth. I won't remember some important day in June or October when the weather was perfect. I'll remember this quiet day in cold mid-February when nothing much happened. I'll think of how beautiful it was to take for granted that you would fill my day, my life, and my heart to bursting. How beautiful it is to be your mother and to get to watch the unfolding of your souls. And, while it happens everyday, sometimes it takes a just Thursday to finally notice it. Notice it and burst into tears at the sheer beauty of getting so many just Thursdays with you.

I love you, on the important Saturdays and the just Thursdays.
Always,
Awkward Mom

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Doctor-wifing

We were on the interview trail this past weekend. And I say we, but, of course, Awkward Dad is the only one who has to interview for reals. The rest of us just tag along like a travelling sideshow; loud, garish, and kinda horrifying. I am pretty sure the people interviewing Awkward Dad were expecting a one man show because they put us in the most expensive, nicest hotel in town. We walked through the lobby and all I heard was my own panicked breathing and Awkward Dad repeating "Don't touch anything. Don't touch anything." over and over like a mantra. The mantra of parents everywhere. The mantra that doesn't really work. Super Toddler touched everything.

So, our trip was eventful for many reasons, not the least of which were numerous illnesses for yours truly, a snow storm, early birthday celebrations for Super 1st and Super Baby with my mother, and a lot of Slim Jims. That last one is only ever eventful for whoever has to clean Super Toddler afterward. Or sit downwind of her. However, the most eventful part of the trip was probably the interview itself. Of which I know nothing, since I wasn't there and was instead ailing in a hotel room and watching endless Love it or List it. (I'm a lover, myself.) But I was present, and not yet ailing, for the Saturday night dinner with the potential coworkers, so I'll tell you about that instead.

Now, I get pretty nervous anytime I have to doctor-wife and, as a result, avoid most occasions of doctor-wifery. When we first moved to Ann Arbor, I tried to join a playgroup that was for spouses of medical residents. (There was like 1 father. Like at 1 meeting. Like once.) So, I called it the Doctor Wives, mostly to myself but sometimes out loud. To Awkward Dad. While throwing things. At our first park playdate, this happened:

Me: Hi!
Doctor Wife 1: Hello. So, what's your husbands year?
Me: Oh, umm, we just moved here.
Doctor Wife 1: Oh, an intern. (She managed to make this sound like a disease and then she walked away.)

Doctor Wife 2: Hello!
Me: Hi!
Doctor Wife 2: So, what's your husband's speciality?
Me: He's a psychiatrist.
Doctor Wife 2: He's a fellow?
Me: No, he's an intern. (I was all proud to have just learned this term, thought I'd use it.)
Doctor Wife 2: Oh no, Sweetie. He's an intern right now, so he's studying psychiatry. He isn't one yet.
Me: Oh. OK. Well, he's studying psychiatry then.
Doctor Wife 2: (waves at someone over my head and then leaves.)

Doctor Wife 3: Hi!
Me: Hello there.
Doctor Wife 3: So, what's your husband's speciality?
Me: He's an intern. What's your husband's speciality? (I finally learned the script at this point.)
Doctor Wife 3: He's ENT.
Me: Oh, an EMT. That's nice.
Doctor Wife 3: (clearly insulted) No, he's ENT.
Me: Oh. Ummm. What's ENT?
Doctor Wife 3: (Shocked) Ear, nose, and throat.
Me: Of course, so sorry. You know, I think Super Toddler is tired. We should go.

Super Toddler was not tired. I was.

No one once asked me my name. My children's names. My interests. My thoughts. My passions. My opinion on the weather. If I had the time or a spare kleenex.

I was asked my husband's speciality and at some point I might have been asked the ages of my children because moms like to ask that, regardless of situation, status, or sense. I was so confused. I felt like I had wandered into a meeting of the Women's League. In 1954. I was all alone in this new place and terrified that this park encounter was going to be my reality for the next 5 years.

Spoiler alert: it wasn't.

I have grown as a person since then, and I have grown in my motherhood. I am no longer a new mom, but a seasoned mom of four. I no longer attend doctor wife playdates because the time of their meetings didn't work for me. Why are you laughing over there? Oh, OK, yeah, you got me. I just didn't want to go. I developed my own groups of friends and it has been fabulous!

Once in awhile, I get dressed up and attend some thing for Awkward Dad. I don't love it, but I do it and attempt to look halfway adult while trying not to drip wine on myself and wondering why they can't serve real food at these things. Mini-this and baby-that and bite-sized whathaveyous. How about a "many-bites" chocolate cake? That would interest me way more than all this doctor talk.

And I don't think it is really the actual doctor talk that bores me. No, it is the status-jockeying that annoys me. I mean, come on, don't we moms get enough of this at the park? You know we all do it. You know what I mean, and if you don't, check this out. It explains it pretty well. I'll wait.

Good, right? I mean, not good, but they hit it on the head there. And I deal with that stuff all day long. I don't want to try to be the best doctor-wife on top of it. Because, the thing is, I am going to lose. I suck at doctor-wifery. I love my husband and I love that he is a doctor because it makes him happy, but most of the time, I totally forget that is what he is. He is so much more than his job. And I am so much more than his job.

So, it is with more than a little trepidation that I walk into this dinner. Trip into the dinner. (Haven't worn heels in awhile, Friends.) This utterly beautiful women steadies me and then pulls me into a huge hug.

Utterly beautiful woman: Are you Erin? I've been looking forward to meeting you! And your husband, of course.

Me: Really? OK, hi.

UBW: Hi! Sit down! Want a drink? Do you like your hotel?

Me: Yes, and yes. It's wonderful, but a little fancy. I'm terrified the children are going to break something.

UBW: I am sure they won't, but even if they do, it's just stuff. Tell me about the kids. What are they like? Got a picture? Here are pictures of my children. And my grandchildren. By the way, they have an amazing apple pie here.

Me: Is it bite-sized?

UBW: No, it's full sized, full fat, and it's fully fabulous!


And so, it went. And more utterly beautiful women showed up. And some men. And some were doctors themselves and some were wives and I can't really tell you who was who because we talked about everything in the world except doctoring. And doctor-wifing.

I could get to like it here........


Might be bad at doctor-wifing,
but I am a champion cat-cuddler.



Thursday, January 29, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. The Potential Move

So, yeah, where have I been? Haven't been around here, that's for sure. Where have I been? Good question. Not really sure. Been busier than normal and normal is pretty busy. Super Preschooler had a birthday. We celebrated it on the road, visiting Awkward Grandma and Grandpa and going to the first of Awkward Dad's many upcoming job interviews. Oh yes, that's where I've been! Physically and mentally and in-the-middle-of-the-nightally.

Awkward Dad finishes his current fellowship in June and we may be on the move. We may be staying in Ann Arbor; her alliterative allure is hard to abstain from. We'll know by March, most likely, but of course, this potential uprooting is occupying pretty much all of my available brain space. The tiny room left over, after we account for the worries about college funds, the measles outbreak, stock piling enough sausage for Super Toddler AND Super Baby (who is taking after his sister in appetite), icy roads, that weird smell the basement is producing, my Oscar picks, potty training stuff, and wondering if the school moms really like me or if they just like Super 1st and tolerate me as a result. That last one is hands-down the latter; guess it can come off the worry list. Great! More room to worry about the potential move.

I'll keep you updated, Readers. Stay tuned; same awkward channel. Flexible on the time......


Here's some pictures of us being awkward:

We hosted Super 1st class "pet" last weekend.
We also forgot to take any pictures until Sunday night.
So, we staged this one and Super 1st wanted retakes
and I refused and it was a whole thing.......


I had a birthday.
I think 37 looks good on me.
Adorable babies are the best lighting.


We visited Awkward Grandma,
but more importantly, 
Awkward Grandma's horse.


Super Preschooler's birthday cat food fundraiser is going like gangbusters!
We are taking the food to the Humane Society next week,
mostly because I am starting to worry 
that the weight of all of it might break the floor.
But feel free to give us some until next week,
the floor could probably stand another ton or two. 

Thanks for you generous cat-lovers out there!
And the generous cat-toleraters and cat-dislikers,
who just really love Super Preschooler! 


Oh, and Super 1st's class won their school's door decorating contest:

Because, of course they did.
Genius! 
(Super 1st worked on the Service Olaf;
some of his best work, if you ask me.) 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Awkward Mom and Super Preschooler

My Dear Super Preschooler-

You have a new imaginary friend. Yesterday, we were cuddling on the couch, just hanging out, when your fingers tickle-walked up my arm and you said, "Porgee says hi." So, naturally, I asked you who Porgee is. Apparently, Porgee is a huge spider, but he is "very sweet and fuzzy and tired of people always trying to smash him." He likes hugs and ceiling fans and wants to drive a motorcycle one day. And that one day will "probably be tomorrow."

Porgee is less scary than some of your imaginary friends.


Your birthday is in a few days; 5 years. How is it 5 years? Weren't you born last week? Haven't you always been here? I am ashamed of this, but when you were born, I thought I had you all figured out. I mean, we already had Super 1st and his uniqueness knows no bounds. So, I figured that you would be like him. Or maybe the exact opposite. But the idea that you would bloom and grow into your own boundless uniqueness? Well, I am afraid that my imagination is not like yours, my Love. That; I simply couldn't conceive of.

Should have known better. 
Those eyes hold mega mysteries. 

You add so much to this house. And I mean that literally. You bring home sticks, rocks, pine cones, random scraps of paper, abandoned toys, insects. All with names and personalities and stories to tell. Your powers of observation are highly tuned, and they sense things only known to fairies. To see the world as you see the world is a gift given to the very few. You and Wes Anderson are the only two I know about so far.

Just your above-average flying ace. 

Your sense of adventure is total and you are comfortable to have it totally in your head if it's raining or there's nothing going on with your siblings. Your inner world is amazing and fantastical and probably rainbow flavored, and your self-contentment is so completely total. You need nothing and I am pretty sure that includes food. (What do you eat?! Because it is nothing I am currently making.) But the true source of your magic is your delightful confidence. You are so utterly and completely you. And you know it. You just drift about, being you, and people are drawn to you. You do little to encourage friends but they fall out of trees just to be near you. Because who wouldn't want to be friends with you? Anyone who doesn't is immune to magic and very few people are totally immune to magic.

Here, little elephant. 
Let me love you. 

You are the definition of love. You are totally benign and clearly wish all you meet goodness and cheer and candy of some type. Especially those of the animal persuasion. Them; you love with a fierce and deep love that has zero limits, not even those of reality. This year, for your birthday, you eschewed all gifts in favor of a cat tree for the Super Cats and cat food for the local Human Society. That's not saying you don't want the entire catalog of Star Wars toys, vintage and modern, but those can show up whenever, through the year.

But it's really all about your eyes.

We have similar eyes, Super Preschooler. You, me, Grandpa, and Invisible Grandpa. (I am assuming that about Invisible Grandpa, having never seen him for reals.) And our eyes are pretty, I have to admit it. Blue/gray with facets all over the place. Facets that twinkle and catch the light like diamonds. But your facets, my Sweet. Yours I could look at for hours and hours and still not be bored. Yours look like letters; magical elvish letters that hold the secrets to the universe. And I don't think there is doubt in anyone's mind that you do indeed hold the secrets to the universe. (Well, you and Porgee.) Keep them, my beautiful, creative, utterly amazing son. God gave them to you to guard and decorate with your boundless imagination. If anyone is up to decorating the universe, it's you.

I love you,
Awkward Mom

Super Baby looks at you like we all look at you.
Like we never want to look away. 

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. Production

It's easy to get down on myself, especially in the cold dark of January. I mean, my birthday's coming up and I am faced, yet again, with the knowledge that I haven't done anything particularly impressive with my life. I don't produce anything. I'm just a stay at home mom, dorking around after these children, trying to get them to adulthood with as few broken bones and damaged psyches as possible. Sure, it's a full-time job, but it's not exactly rocket science. It's not exactly commerce. It's not exactly other impressive sounding sector of society that I can't think of right now because I just stay at home with my children. Basically, it's not exactly anything that majorly benefits the earth or those who inhabit it. I don't produce anything; I just take from the world.

And, therefore, I get down on myself. Which doesn't feel good. So, I look for a way to distract myself from these not good feelings by focusing on the play that is going on in front of me. Well, behind me. Now, to the right. No wait, the left. They move really fast, these kids....... Anywho, this is what is going on, all around:

Super 1st: Alright, so we are gonna pretend to fly the Millennium Falcon, and since Super Preschooler is Han, I think he should drive first.

Super Preschooler: Thanks! But you can drive first, Super 1st. Luke can fly ships too.

Super 1st: Thanks!

Super Toddler: I fly first. You guys wait.

Super 1st: Alright, I suppose girls can go first.

Super Preschooler: Fine, but Super Baby has to be Chewbacca because he is the hairiest one of us.

Super 1st: Yeah, that's fair.

Super Toddler: Sure. But I fly.

Super Baby: *Blinding smile at just being included."


Apparently, the Millennium Falcon parks in the bedroom, so they all left and I lost the thread of play at that point. But I heard enough.

No, I don't study rockets or make tons of money or really any money at all, and no, I'm not exactly setting the world on fire with my genius or passion. No, I don't produce anything.

Except I did play a major role in producing the four children currently liberating the galaxy from the forces of evil. And I have a feeling that has to count for something in the long run.


Here at Awkward Manor we only produce one model; 
astonishingly brilliant, 
blindingly adorable, 
Star Wars loving 
badasses with hearts of gold. 

It's a limited edition. 

But their value is only going to increase. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Awkward Mom vs. the Cat Tree

My mom asked for a horse and a cat every birthday until her parents finally gave in and got her one. (A cat, that is. She would have to wait 40 some birthdays before she got that horse.) Her father named the cat Calendar because "his days were numbered." Not quite the feline fancier was my grandfather, but he did love his daughter. Parental love makes you do lots of crazy things, but you know this.

My story is actually about passions. (Sorta lovey, so it follows. Sorta. Just roll with it.) I hold with the theory that some passions are so strong that they simply cross the uterine wall or become absorbed into the blood stream somehow via kisses. I don't know the particulars; science isn't really my bag, but it happens. My mother's cat-love passed right on to me and has been there as long as I can remember. Her horse-love merrily skipped a generation:

Horse-love needs a strong host. 

I have always had cats, so the children have grown up with cats. They simply view them as members of our family that speak a different language and are super cuddly, and our cats tolerate the children on a rather scary level. 

video
Basically, if there is a fire, 
the cats are saving the kids first, 
themselves second,
 and they assume Awkward Dad and I can figure things out.

Point is.....OK, kinda lost track after that video. It's super cute and a little mesmerizing. I think my point is that we love animals. All kinds. Awkward Dad likes dogs, Super Toddler likes horses, Super 1st wants a dragon, and I am pretty sure Super Baby still thinks all of us are strange fascinating animals that he wants to pet, furred and non-furred alike. But Super Preschooler. Super Preschooler got the full force of my cat-love somehow (again, science), and he may have it stronger than the rest of us combined. 

He's not terribly picky on breed.
Or ability to breathe. 

Super Preschooler's birthday is in a few weeks. When asked what he would like, he said "a cat tree." I, naturally, said, "Whatever do you want with a cat tree?" And he replied, "the cats would love it and I love the cats." Fair enough. Super Preschooler is also not asking for gifts this year, but asking all his friends to donated cat food so that he can feed our cats. When I pointed out that our cats have plenty of food, and perhaps too much if Super Cats' vet is to be believed, he said, "OK, well, there are lots of cats in the world, we'll give the food to them." 

Super Preschooler's middle name is Francis and I, for one, totally see the resemblance: 

OK, no, you're right. 
Super Preschooler has more hair. 

All of this leads to today's outing. Super 1st is at school. Super Toddler has morning preschool. Super Baby is napping next to Awkward Dad, who is working from home. So, it's a Mom and Super Preschooler's field trip to Petsmart. Super Preschooler is more excited than he was a Disney World. (I am totally not kidding either; Super Preschooler hates heights, rides, and crowds. He is way happier at Petsmart.) It's a difficult battle, but Super Preschooler is mighty and not too indecisive. In the end, cat-love wins the day. 

But let's look at too many pictures anyway, because Super Preschooler is adorable and it's actually warm here by the computer. 

We thought we had an early win here,
but there was still so much cat tree action to see. 

Getting distracted by a beautiful orange tabby.

Could this be the one?

Yes, this is definitely the one.


Hold on......

 I think.....perhaps.....yes!

The one on the right came home with us.
On sale.
Not that anyone can put a price on cat-love.
Or that priceless Super Preschooler smile. 


We are still looking for the perfect placement for the cat tree in the house, when Awkward Dad walks in and.....

Awkward Dad: Oh, you actually bought it.

Me: Yeah. That was kinda the point. 

Awkward Dad: I know. It's just rather tame for Super Preschooler, given his usual interests. I guess I always figured that Super Preschooler was really talking about a magical tree that grew cats. 

Me: Shush!!

Super Preschooler: Daddy! 

Me: Too late.

Awkward Dad: Oops.

Super Preschooler: That's a great idea! Mommy, we have to go back to Petsmart. I didn't see any. But they might sell seeds. We could put it in the back yard. Finder-stick would guard it and Invisible Grandpa would water it. No, he's not good at stuff like that. Bebe could water it. Wonder what color they'll be.....


Yeah, so I have to go convince Super Preschooler to hold off planting until spring or we actually own a place of our own. That, and that magic cat-trees produce invisible cats. Or something. I don't know; magic isn't really my bag.