Monday, December 22, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Good Enough

Every Advent, I reach a point when I just accept that I am going to have yet another good enough Christmas. It is usually into the 20s of the month. I am alternatively staring at everyone else's perfectly poised Christmas cards that I have hanging all over the place and the giant pile of ours that has yet to be stamped, signed, and addressed. I glance into the living room to see the aftermath of a massive toy explosion or, if I am lucky, the actual explosion, in process, complete with projectiles that give Super Toddler yet another bruise. I turn to look in the kitchen and am met with a sink overflowing with dirty dishes, no clean counter space, and cookie bits strewn all over the floor, sprinkle-side down. I look up to be confronted with cobwebs or I look down to be confronted with crumbs and smears of unknown origin. Then I run out of directions to look, so I look inward but it's scary and messy in there too. The Chipmunks Christmas album is playing for the 14 time that day and it's already dark at only 4 in the afternoon. It is at this point that I declare Game Over, accept that it's gonna be another good enough Christmas, and drink a large glass of wine. The years I am pregnant during the good enough declaration, I eat an entire box of store bought cookies because someone dropped all the homemade ones on the floor.

The good enough Christmas is fine. It works. Someone's present isn't quite right. The Christmas cards arrive on January 2nd. The tree leans. Some of the cookies are burnt. We never did make it to the Nutcracker that year. There is too much glitter and not enough egg nog and someone needs a diaper during the dance floor becoming a pool scene and I miss my favorite part of It's a Wonderful Life, yet again. But, the children are happy. The presents are wrapped. Some contingent of us makes it to church. We eat a lot of delicious things, feel warm fuzzies off and on, and generally make it through the season intact and still loving each other.

But I really wanted a good Christmas this year. Not good enough, GOOD. Now, I am not fool enough to ever think that my Christmas is going to be perfect. Or even orbiting perfect, but I hope, year after year, for that magical, mythical Christmas that they write songs about. Warm and festive. Stress-less and easy. Calm and complete. It has yet to happen in my world, but I seek it, year after year. Much like the pictures I take, year after year, that fail to be those perfectly poised ones that arrive at my house from all our far flung friends.

Our pictures do not turn out perfectly poised. Our pictures are messy. Our pictures are fuzzy. Our pictures are downright crazy. Our pictures are awkward. And year after year, I take them. And year after year, I sigh. And year after year, I use them to send out funny and hilarious Christmas cards that people tell me they love. They might be lying, but they say it, nonetheless.

But this year, well, this year, I can't even do that. There is no pile of unaddressed Christmas cards. There is no card. Not one. I just didn't get it done. The good enough Christmas got declared and that was the thing to go. I don't know if this is good or bad, but I suspect it just is. This is just me this year. Late and sorry and disorganized and feeling like George Bailey when he comes home after finding out that Uncle Billy has lost all the money and Tommy just sits on him and piles tinsel on his head. I am gonna just sit here and cry and let someone pile tinsel on my head, and that's alright.

Because here's the thing. After the tinsel piling, everyone comes over and gives George all their money and Clarence gets wings and bells and singing and Harry is home and it's great. OK, yeah, well, I may be glossing over the whole George-not-existing-Mary-being-an-old-maid-Pottersville-part, but I don't have all day here, People.

There is a reason Christmas is celebrated for a whole season. No one can sustain a magical, perfect, jolly time for a whole month or even 12 days or, let's face it, even a solid day. Like anything else, it ebbs and flows, and I happen to be in an ebb. A tinsel-head ebb. But I will shake it off and flow again soon, maybe even later tonight. Who knows; weirder things have happened. And that's good enough. Maybe good enough is good. After all, happiness wouldn't be happiness if that was all you felt, right? You would just kinda plateau-out and be content all the time. I guess that sounds okay. No. That doesn't sounds okay. That sounds incredibly boring.

And I don't want boring. I want messy, fuzzy, downright crazy, and awkward. 
I guess what I want is the good enough Christmas. 

We wish you all good enough Christmases 
with a few tinsel-headed ebbs 
and way more Zuzu-petal flows! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. No Jeans

So, last night is Super 1st Christmas concert and the email notices where very clear that this is a dressy occasion and there were to be no jeans. It took me 3 emails and Awkward Dad asking "you're wearing that?" to realize that meant me as well. Oh crap.

I live in jeans. They are really all I wear. They're comfortable, durable, and dry spit-up comes right off them with a little water. They hide all manners of sins, even hips that have lived through 4 children. Jeans hold stuff in, and I have stuff to hold in. Jeans are great! You can dress 'em up with a cute top and some heels. You can dress 'em down with Awkward Dad's college sweatshirt and where the hell are my shoes anyway..... You mostly dress 'em down. But you don't dress them at all for the school Christmas program. You wear a dress and hold a baby in front of you at all times in case anyone happens to look at you too closely. Dresses don't hold stuff in. Spanx holds stuff in and I forgot to buy any because I thought I could wear jeans to the Christmas concert.

Anyway, the point is, I am wearing this dress and feeling all self-conscious and ugly and fat and whatever else, so my goal is to hide in this pew, behind Super Baby, occasionally peeking at Super 1st around this pillar and then escape at the intermission. Awkward Dad decides to foil my plan by taking the baby and saying "Can you take Super 1st to meet his class? I want to talk to the Wandering Glutton." (Blog is amazing! Check it, I'll wait.)

So, I am walking down the school hallway with Super 1st, trying to look invisible and not make eye contact with all the beautiful moms, catwalking about like they wear dresses for a living. Two middle school band members slip into the hallway behind me and this happens:

Middle School Girl: Everyone looks amazing! I wish I could wear a beautiful dress and heels.

Middle School Boy: Heels are dumb. You look fine.

Middle School Girl: But they are so pretty and they would make me super tall.

Middle School Boy: Heels are oppressive and make women walk funny because they are all pointed forward and off-balance.

Middle School Girl: You don't understand.

Middle School Boy: I understand fine. You don't need heels.

Middle School Girl: I guess. But still....

Middle School Boy: Stop it. You are pretty the way you are.

I sidestep to let them walk past me, but before I turn completely away, I manage to catch the Middle School Girl's eye. Her bandmate is right; she is totally pretty the way she is. She smiles at me and mouths "Your shoes are so amazing," while Band Guy isn't looking. I touch her arm, point at his retreating back, and whisper "Well, you should listen to your friend." Her eyes sparkle at me and her smile slips into a lopsided grin that makes her even more beautiful, before she winks at me and chases after him down the hallway.

I watch them for a minute, lost in some crystal-ball and navel gazing that makes me happy like I haven't been all night. Super 1st tugs me back to reality and we race over to his classroom, where I drop him off amid squeals and hugs and gushes about everyone's finery. I compliment several outfits myself and manage not to compliment-ninja away ones that I receive. It's all warm and festive and charming, and by the time I am walking back to the church to join my family, I stop pretending to be invisible and catwalk a little myself. Until I trip on the stairs.

Band Guy is right; heels are dumb. But Band Girl is right too; mine look amazing. As do I.

Well, they didn't specifically say "no overalls,"
now did they? 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Crazy

I have been parenting for almost 7 years now, and I am pretty into it. However, even with all that intense study, I have only discovered 5 parenting truths:

1. No one else knows what they are doing either.

2. You are never going to use that wipe-warmer.

3. The heart capacity on a fully functioning parent numbers in the infinities.

4. Buy the good wall paint.

5. Don't step out of your crazy.

We all have different crazy, but it's all crazy. Maybe yours involves getting up at 5am just to take a shower, doing the daycare/school road rally while you pump in the car, and trying to assure clients that the spit-up on your blazer is nothing to worry about but their fourth quarter earnings are.  Maybe your crazy is walking through the Lego minefield like a ninja, dodging half the toy missiles and catching the rest, only to hurl them into the toy box across the room for a string of 3-pointers not seen since the '92 Bulls. Maybe your crazy is playdate crazy, when you calmly assess the craft table and remind the visiting child that "No, Sweetie, confetti is not food." Maybe your crazy is making dinner with a 2-year-old on your leg and your mother in your ear and 899 thoughts in your head. Maybe your crazy is shopping with 4 children crazy or running the church nursery crazy or feeding the baby, answering emails, talking to your spouse, and encouraging your 4-year-old to not pick knives for his first juggling item crazy.

Whatever your crazy is, you are rocking the stuffing out of it. You are bobbing and weaving and reacting like a World War II flying ace. You are creative. You are quick. You are utterly fabulous at what you do. You are surfing this tsunami of crazy and you are amazing; Super Mom even. So, whatever you do: Don't step out of your crazy.

Let me repeat that: Do NOT step out of your crazy.

If you, for whatever reason, take a step back and actually look at the amount of crazy things you are required to do in a given day or actually count the toys on the floor or try to figure out how you do what you do every single day, all bets are suddenly off. Because you will then actually see the crazy. Crazy is like a forest; while you are in it, you are not remotely aware of the enormity of it. But if you see your crazy forest with someone else's eyes, it will suddenly be all vast and enormous, like on some topographical map,  and you will set off a very powerful energy vacuum that will sweep through the entirety of your body and render you completely exhausted and good for nothing except your bed and about 4 of your favorite movies.

Now, I think you should take to your bed with 4 of your favorite movies on occasion, just as a preventative measure, but you and I both know that you can't be doing that every day. There is crazy to deal with. Therefore, keep your head in the game, Dear Reader, and don't step out of your crazy. Stay right in there and rock it out. You can do it!

Christmas Crazy is a whole other level; 
Don't step out of it unless you are ready to take to your bed 
with enough cookies to get you through 6 movies.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Super 1st. vs. Church

Yes, yes, I have a Disney post for you guys. Somewhere. It was right here, mixed in with all these slightly sticky mouseketeer ears and pirate eye-patches and Rapunzel wigs. Where is it? Oh well, it can keep. Much like the laundry that I still have to finish. I'm here to tell you about Super 1st's battle of the day.

OK, so here is the back-story: Super 1st's class was in charge of the school mass today. Not alone, mind you, although a mass completely planned by 6-year-olds would be pretty interesting. No, they were paired with their 8th grade buddies and all given parts of the mass to participate in. Super 1st's job was to read one of the petitions. The first petition to be exact. Now, we have only been home from Disney 3 days and aware of this for 2. Someone forgot to check the homework folder until Wednesday morning, and no, I will not tell you who. Therefore, he has been practicing like a mad hatter (mad petitioner?) for those 2 days. And this is no easy petition, folks. It has big words in it; words like community and intensify. Words that become common, commodity, and communion or industry, itunes, and tension when he gets nervous. But he got it down and done and was super ready to petition when he left the house this morning.

OK, even further back back-story: Before Thanksgiving, Super 1st's class decided to have a fundraiser so they could purchase some of the items off the giving tree. They collected cans and bottles, which, if you live here in Michigan with us, you know carry with them a .10 deposit fee. They collected these recyclables for weeks and took them all to Meijer on Wednesday to turn them in. We sent in 2 bags of cans, but better mothers than I helped load them all into the machines, helped the children buy their giving tree items, and generally taught 30+ children about the true meaning of Christmas. They raised over $700 dollars toward their gifts and a real Christmas tree for a family in need. Today, at mass, they were going to bring up their wrapped gifts and put them under the giving tree.

OK, so, here is where these back-stories collide: I'm not there. Super Toddler attempts to re-baptise herself every time we take her to adult church, so Awkward Dad took some time off to attend and listen to Super 1st petition. Oh wait, I mean, the word of God manifest in the sacredness of the Catholic mass. I am lazing at home, not listening to the word of God, but Bo on the Go with the little Supers when I get this picture texted to me from one of the sweetest moms in the class:

And I think, oh, that's cute, he's so tiny that the principal has to help him up to the mic. And then, this one arrives:

And I think, wait, why is the principal up there with him? She isn't supposed to be. Did he get too scared to say it? Did he get nervous and ask for commodities and tension? Then, this shows up:

And I happen to look at the time and I think, unless the priest gave the longest homily in history, they should be way past the petitions. This is 12 years of Catholic school and 4 years of Jesuit college talking here, Readers. What is going on? Then, the phone rings and it is Awkward Dad. This happens:

Awkward Dad: Hey.

Me: What happened?! Why is he up there with the principal? Did he get scared?

Awkward Dad: Are you here? Where are you?

Me: I'm at home. How's Super 1st?

Awkward Dad: Slow down. How do you know what happened like 5 minutes ago? You are freaking me out.

Me: Sweet Mom just sent me 3 pictures of Super 1st. 5 minutes ago? Are you calling me from the middle of mass?!

Awkward Dad: No! It's over. I'm in the car. Here's what happened: the whole class brought up the gifts for the giving tree right before the petitions but then they all marched back to the rear of the church, so when the petitions started, he wasn't up there. His was first, so his 8th grade buddy kinda panicked and read it himself. The other buddies waited for the kids to come up and read theirs. Super 1st went up but his was already read so he started to cry. He pretty much cried all through communion, so the teacher and the principal arranged it so that he could read his at the end of mass. Of course, she basically had to hold him up because he is so short, but he was happy to be reading it. He was as loud as could be and I can promise you God hear every part of that petition. As did most of Ann Arbor.

Me: Is he OK now?

Awkward Dad: Sure. And he got every word right, even intensify.

Me: Well, I suppose it is to be expected.

Awkward Dad: What is?

Me: You know us. We always bring the...

Me and Awkward Dad: awkwardness.

Awkward Dad: Jinx!

Me: Go to work.

Awkward Dad: You're just mad you didn't jinx first.

Me: I did. In my head.

Awkward Dad: Love you!

It's true. That poor little boy is jinxed with shortness and awkwardness and a host of other nesses via me and his wonderful father. But his sensitive sweetness and ability to make it happen, no matter what, well, that's all him.

All his super little intense self. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Disney World

Yes, it's true. Better get to packing the big guns. 

Thanksgiving is always awkward, even for you nice normal people out there. There is just too much food, family, and flag football for someone not to trip; it's inevitable. So, imagine trying to pull off a nice normal Thanksgiving when you are awkward. Yeah, doesn't happen. I mean, this is how things look around here on a good day.

Now, picture that at Disney World. 
With thousands and thousands of people. 
And me. Probably lost. And hungry. 
And deeply deeply awkward.

OK. Stop laughing. Got it? Come on, stop laughing. Alright, keep laughing. By the time you have stopped laughing, in a week and a half, I'll be back with tales of epic awkwardness. Probably from the spinning teacups.

P.S. Advice is very welcome, Readers, so bring it on. And yes, we do have one of those backpack leashes for Super Toddler.

I am sure she'll get out of it 2 minutes after we arrive, 
but it's existance is helping me sleeping at night. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Super Toddler

Dear Super Toddler-

I love November. November has always been special; solidly set in the school year, yet bordering the wild abandon of December. The fall isn't brand new anymore, the colors a little brownish, and yet, the energy in the air feels like the first day of school. I met your father in a November; that exciting fall my first year out of college when I sat poised on the edge of my future, all ready for things to start. And start they did, as we sat in my first car and talked and talked and watched the sunrise through the fogged-up windows. (Wow, I am really glad you are not old enough to read this, and the innuendo I inadvertently layered that sentence with. Time for that soon enough.) I also married your father in November; it was a busy fall, full of weddings and change, when the first snow of the season flurried down as we scrambled into the church, giddy and slightly crazy. But I think the best November to date was that one 3 years ago, when you entered our lives with the doctor's shout that we had a "girl" and an even louder shout from you that you were far more than your gender.

Who are you calling a girl?
I prefer Wonder Woman, thank you.

I struggle to find words to describe you. The words that work are larger than life and hard to believe. You are exuberant. You are transcendent. You are effervescent. You are tremendous. You are wondrous and astounding and magnificent and outrageous and surprising and dazzling and bewitching and resplendent. People doubt your greatness until they meet you. Then, they just stare because there is really nothing else to do when faced with your amazing self.

You are so very breath-taking. 

You are the one they write songs about. You are the one they dedicate plays to. You are the one they name buildings after. You are the one that gets fleets of ships launched. No, wait, I stand corrected; you are the one sailing fleets of ships.

Although, you really prefer to ride into battle. 

My point is, you are one to change things. You are one that will be remembered. When I look at the great characters in the books I so love, I admire them deeply, but I don't join them. I am solidly a witness, a fan. Perhaps a chronicler or a friend. I know me; I'm a Watson. Meg March, Diana Berry. I'm Jane Bennet on my good days and Mary Bennet on my bad days. I'm Horatio, Sancho, Samwise, and some unnamed kid-wizard hanging out in the background somewhere at Hogwarts. That's totally fine, please don't pity me, my darling. Not all of us were meant to be in the front.

Or ruling the galaxy, as the case may be.

But you, my precious, precious one; you are Sherlock Holmes. Harry Potter. Jo. Elizabeth. Anne. You were born to rule. You were born to stand out. You were born to total and unadulterated autonomy. 

 Basically, you were born to stand on tables.

I often wonder what it was like to be Eleanor Roosevelt's mother. Or Susan B. Anthony's. Or Marie Curie's. Cleopatra's. Ella Baker's. Aphra Behn's. Can you imagine? "Eleanor, another ripped dress?" "Marie, don't touch that!" "Quiet, Susan!" "Hush, Ella.""Quit stealing my pens, Aphra!"  "Cleo, can't you find a nice normal guy? And what are you doing with that rug?" It couldn't have been easy to parent women who were born to stand on tables, but I have a feeling that it is even harder to be a little girl when you know you are really a woman born to stand on a table. 

Yes, this one goes to 11. Why?

I want you to stand. And stand tall. I want you to be the woman of strength, intelligence, and beauty that you are meant to be, but sometimes getting you there feels like trying to tame a tornado. Your little body is an uncomfortable fit for all that power and you seem to only have one speed; record-breaking. I think that is why you eat so much sausage; the energy you house in there is astronomical. So, keep eating that sausage. Keep running. Keep challenging the rules and walls around you. I am gonna hang on and try to keep you from rocketing into the street. That's really all you can do with rockets in the end; hang on and have the ride of your life. 

Happy November, my breath-taking daughter. A birthday wouldn't do for you; you require an entire month. 

I love you,
Awkward Mom

 P.S. I know you asked for a pony again this year, but Grandma (who is the expert in these matters) says that a little girl should ask for a horse for at least 10 years before she gets one. 8 more to go! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Out Being Awkward!

We're out being Awkward! 
Or in, binge-watching Arrow. 
Either way, enjoy these photos of the Supers 
and check back soon. 

Or check us out on Facebook.
We might be too busy 
(OK, lazy) 
To write a whole blog post right now, 
but we are never too busy for pithy little jokes on Facebook! 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Seatbelts

Super 1st. never got out of his seat-belt while we were driving. In fact, he used to never unbuckle himself at all. I had to teach him how when he was 5 years old because I was hugely pregnant with Super Baby and didn't want to climb into the back of the van anymore.

Super Preschooler got out of his seat-belt exactly once. It was epic, but it was only once.

Super Toddler gets out of her car-seat, and has been getting out of her car-seat for the past 6 months, while the car is moving, at least once a car trip. Every. Single. Time. Below is a partial list of the reasons Super Toddler has given for getting out of her car-seat while the car is moving:

1. It's fun.
2. I was too happy.
3. There was a bee.
4. I wanted the toy the boys had.
5. I was hungry and thought I saw a sausage under your seat.
6. I was bored.
7. I was tired.
8. I feels funny when you are standing.
9. I was hungry (this one comes up a lot).
10. I wanted to see the moon from Super Baby's side of the van.
11. I couldn't hear Frozen.
12. I needed a hug.
13. My feet wanted to run.
14. I needed that book.
15. I can.

I have gotten really good at staying calm, pulling over, and making sure we have lots and lots of books, toys, and sausages to occupy her, but the terror of realizing that she is not buckled into her seat never stops being as intense as it was the first time. Much like the constant terror of realizing that I need to get this fireball to adulthood in one piece. Which happens to be exactly as intense as the eternal joy of realizing that get to know this relentless, fearless, joyous, fabulous force of nature for the rest of my life.

I assume it will all even out in the end, but that period when she starts to drive herself is going to test the limits of terror like nothing ever has before. If someone could phase out cars and invent teleporters by then, I would be forever grateful!

Baby Girl, if it means you will stay in your car-seat, 
you can twirl your hair into a mass of knots
and I won't say a word. I promise! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Judging

Dear Fellow Mom-

You have to admit it; that is one spectacular fit. When she did that spinning kicking move while totally on the ground, it looked just like a tiny toddler Curly shuffle. And her boneless move; well, that move is going to win awards, my Friend. Flawless. In the world arena of checkout lane fits, this one is definitely in the top ten; a true 10, out of the park homerun, touchdown, blaze of glory, and completely amazing to behold. And I don't blame her, M&Ms are my favorite too. But it is 9:25, so I don't blame you either. I wouldn't even blame you if you wanted to lay down next to her and throw a fit yourself; it is looking to be one of those days. And I know you think we are all staring at you and judging you. We're not.

OK, I might be staring, but it's with love, fellow Mom. The others? Well, the teens are texting, so you could be on Naboo for all they'll notice. That checker's seen it all and just wants her break and for the store to not already be playing Christmas music. That other mom, the perfect looking one in the skinny jeans and the Gucci purse? No judging there, her son pulled the same stunt earlier in the candy aisle so you missed it, just like you are missing the love she is shooting you between your daughter's screams. Those grandmas are judging nothing except maybe the cruel swiftness of time, as they restrain themselves from gathering the both of you up in their soft steely arms. I want to hug you too. Hug you tight and long, while I tell you the truth: You are doing a magnificent job, my dear fellow mom. Magnificent. Keep it up, we are all pulling for you. We love you. Even the teens; because if they bothered to look up, they would love you too. Who wouldn't love you? You're magnificent! We are not judging you. We are NOT judging you. We. Are. Not. Judging. You. We are loving you. You're pretty easy to love because you are magnificent. Remember: We Love You.

Love ya,
Awkward Mom

P.S. Still no judging if you buy those M&Ms and eat them all in the driver's seat after you strap her in and close all the car doors. Do what you gotta do.

No judging.
Just love. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Pasta

Hint: She isn't winning this battle. 

So, I miss seeing my friends and I don't have money to pay for babysitting, so I have decided to host weekly dinner parties, a la this. Who doesn't want to change her life with pasta? No one, that's who. Well, maybe the gluten intolerant, but the point is that Weekly Pasta Nights start here this coming Sunday. Now, the smart lady in the article capped her weekly guest list at 10, but that sounds like too much work so I am throwing mine open-house-style. Whoever shows up shows up. This means I could have 40-50 people in my house 4 days from now. And then 7 days from then. And 7 days from then. And so forth.....

Which is why I am painting my hallway this week. And just went shopping for tablecloths. And need to make about 100 meat balls sometime soon. But I also have a raging headache, which might be from painting in an enclosed space and forgetting to eat today. So, I am going to go lie down now, but if you want to head on over this coming Sunday, I should be up and serving up some delicious pasta. See you there!

Wrong Italian food there, Super Preschooler. 
But I like the enthusiasm. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Change

Dearest Daring Darlings-

Don't change.

Seriously, don't change a thing.

I don't think you are listening. I am speaking literally. Stop growing. I can't afford any more clothes and I like you this size. So, I don't know, start drinking coffee. Build a time machine. Learn to alter the time/space continuum. Whatever it takes, just get on it, OK?

No, not OK. I know you have to grow. I don't always like it, but I accept it. I didn't have you to cocoon you in this house with me, to delight me with your antics and genius for all time. I get you for a little second and the world gets you for the rest. I get that.

And with that in mind, I repeat; DON'T CHANGE.

Dear Super 1st, this is your 6-year-old self holding a stuffed turtle that we rescued from the bargain bin at the Reptile Zoo gift shop. His leg was "broken," so you insisted that he come home with us to rest. How was I going to say no; your charm and style could take a planet to fill. I am powerless before your guilelessness. Smart and borderline brilliant, you are just starting to navigate the wily world of school with grace and a demon-like quickness. You fly through your studies with ease, but more impressive is the swiftness of your kindness and your inclusiveness. You are boldly you in all things and you are confident enough to shift over a little to make room for one more. 

Don't change. The world needs your brave sweetness and your bold acceptance.

My lovely Super Preschooler, this is you at four. Your hair heralds your wild dreaminess. It is untameable and impossible to control. It is also impossible to resist. You aren't sitting on a slide. I mean, it looks like a slide to me, but you have just informed me that it is a magic beanstalk that you grew with some beans Invisible Grandpa gave you. I should have known. You have eyes with diamond facets in them and sometimes they look like letters. I think the secrets of the universe are written there. 

Don't change. The world needs your eternal hopefulness and your fierce creativity.

My wonderful Super Toddler, you got on this horse by yourself. Put the penny in yourself, held the reins yourself, leaned back yourself, and allowed me to take your picture. I think you wold have done that yourself but you wanted to make sure the horse was in the frame. You also picked out that outfit yourself, down to the red Darth Vader shirt underneath it. You plowed through the store like a princess on strike, smiling at and simultaneously shoving everything in your path. Your 2 and a half years are not enough to house you, but I think we would need a new universe for that. You are a mostly good natured force of nature that does not have time for any interruptions in your steady and sure conquering of the entire planet. 

Don't change. The world needs your casual fearlessness and your unapologetic hunger. 

My precious Super Baby, you are 7 months old and you crawled for the first time today. Under the couch. You got stuck because I was dealing with your siblings and their enormous needs. That was fine with you; you rooted around down there for lord knows how long before I found you, or rather the back half of you, and pulled you free. You had discovered a forgotten graham cracker and made short work of it, despite no real knowledge of solids and no actual teeth. You are resourceful and patient. You are gentle and understanding. You are surprised by nothing and your ageless eyes have seen it all. And the all you see is good. 

Never change. The world needs your kind resistance and your messy optimism. 

By all means, grow. Grow strong and grow tall. OK, well, as tall as my genes are gonna let you. But grow. And grow those gorgeous natural qualities of yours right on with you. There is no need to change them, they are prefect as they are. They just need to grow and go with you when you forge forth into the world. So grow too big for my arms if you must, but never change. You'll never be too big for my heart anyway. That grows as well, as big as you need it to be. 

Never change, my loves. Never change. 

I love you,
Awkward Mom 

P.S. If you wanna give that time machine a go, that's cool. You can use the garage. Just say the word. 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. School Sick

There's regular sick and then there is stay-home-from-school sick. Moms are supposed to know the difference. Supposed to.

So, I am watching Super 1st closely this morning. He is trying to put his left shoe on his right foot. Over his right shoe.

The thing is he has the cold that half his class has and he didn't sleep well. He never sleeps well, if truth be told, so this shoe issue isn't quite as alarming as it could be. But he is coughing. No fever. Coughing. Sleepy. He's sick. But is he stay-home-from-school sick? Not sure.

My queries to him are no help. My "do you want to stay home from school?" is met with the dreaded "I don't know. What do you think?" Ugh. I don't know what I think! I'm barely keeping stuff going over here. I am thinking "can you be stay-home-from-school sick this early in the school year?" "Maybe he is mostly tired." "What if it is that virus thingie they say is sweeping the Midwest?" "How would him staying home affect the others today? We have preschool for one, a playdate for the other, and I really wanted to get some writing done." "What would my mother do?"

Well, my mother would have kept him home and that is what I should have done. If I was gonna do it; fast and quick, like ripping off a bandaid. But that wasn't what I did. No, I settled for something much more awkward.

I take him to school. I line him up in his line with all his coughing classmates. And when his teacher comes out, I embarrass the heck out of him because that's good, right? Embarrass a cold, starve a fever, I tell her that he has been feeling sick, not fever-gross-bathroom-plague-stuff that they want you to keep them home for, just cold-sick. I am hugging and kissing his head during all of this. She crouches down and asks him how he feels. All eyes in the line, parents and kids, turn to him. He turns bright red, tears up, and whispers that he is fine; this makes him look anything but fine. Now he looks full-on stay-home-from-school sick. I ask him if he wants to go, he looks around at all those eyes, and says, "I don't know." Should have pull him right there, but I didn't. I look at the teacher. She looks at me. Then, she says, "Hey, why don't you stop by during snack? That's around when you drop Super Preschooler off anyway. See how he is doing then." I grab this delay with glee; I am nothing if not a true procrastinator. Super 1st can feel the eyes leaving him, so he relaxes and heads into school.

Now, I am thinking that I'll just pop over to the school office after dropping Super Preschooler off (Super Preschooler's class is near but in a different building), they'll let me go to his class, I'll peek in and catch his teacher's eye, she'll wink that he is fine, and I'll slip away. Perfect. Because suddenly I am Perfect Mom. Right......

Nope. I show up and buzz the door and they want to know what I want. I don't want to explain the whole long thing to a buzzing box, so I just say "Umm. I have a 1st grader here." They buzz me in. I walk in the office and the secretary (who is more than a little intimidating on a good day) glares at me and looks behind me.

Intimidating Secretary: Where is your 1st grader?

Me: his class.

Intimidating Secretary: Well, then why did you say you had one?

Me: Well, I do have one. I just don't have him with me.

Intimidating Secretary: I see. (She doesn't see.) Well, what do you need?

I explain the whole saga and she questions me intently,

I.S.: Does he have a fever?

Me: No.

I.S.: Did he throw up?

Me: No.

I.S.: Diarrhea?

Me: No.

I.S.: Just a cold.

Me: Yes, but he was acting funny.

I.S.: Funny?

Me:  Not himself.

I.S.: Oh, I see. (She doesn't see.) Well, I will call the classroom and have him sent here.

Me: Oh, is that necessary? I could just pop down there.....

I.S.: I will call his teacher. (End of discussion.)

So, it's horrid. She has some sort of intercom that blasts into Super 1st's classroom that Super 1st Grader (actually his entire alias is spoken) is to come to the office at once. He shows up, clearly terrified that he is in trouble and I can see that he has spilled some of his fruit cup snack down his shirt, probably in alarm of being called to the office. He slips in, trying to be invisible, but to no avail. Both secretaries, the principal, and I stare at him. Then, everyone stares at me. Guess I am the cause of this, so I start.

Me: Hey, baby, how do you feel?

Super 1st.: Fine.

I.S.: *Glare at me.*

Me: Think you are well enough to stay at school?

Super 1st.: I guess.

Principal: It's OK if you want to go home, Super 1st. Do you feel sick?

Super 1st.: A little.

Me: Wanna go home?

Super 1st.: I don't know. (only it's not an I-don't-know, it's an angry why-are-we-still-talking-about-this.)

I.S.: I see.

Yeah, me too. I see. Finally. I'm the mom. I have to make this decision. All these I don't knows are just Super 1st. saying what I should have known in the first place. "You're the mom, keep me safe. You're the mom; stop being indecisive. Stop over-thinking. Stop worrying about anything but the needs of me, your child. Stop. You're the mom; trust that you are the mom." So, I do. I look one more time in his eyes and see that steely resolve that makes him captain of the Supers. I kiss him once on the forehead, mostly to check one more time for the dreaded fever, but also because who is going resist being able to love on their 6-year-old in the middle of a school day? No fever. He'll be fine and he was always going to be fine. So, I send him back to class and turn to smile my thanks to the secretaries and principal. I get 2 smiles back.

That's OK. I'm the mom, I can handle it.

When I am stay-home-from-school sick, you are gonna know it.
No, I don't knows from this camp. 
Fair warning. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Little Things

Dearest Pearls-

You're probably gonna do big things. I can see it in your eyes and the way that gravity has trouble holding you. That's cool. They're your lives and I want you to do whatever you want with them. But could you maybe consider doing the little things too? Could you please:

Be polite to your friends as well as their parents.

Smile at strangers. (not the candy-wielding alley-dwelling ones with creepy vans; those you can kick in the shins)

Remember birthdays.

Forget stupid stuff people say when they are angry or hungry.

Grow some plants.

Be kind to all the animals you have the pleasure to share the earth with.

Learn to spell.

Listen to different types of music with an open mind.

Read all of the books. Even the big boring ones with no dust jackets; gems are everywhere.

Try it at least once. (It being anything, except hanging with the aforementioned alley candy givers)

Get the big box of popcorn.

Always celebrate Halloween, Christmas, and an occasional unbirthday.

Call Grandma.

Take up yoga.

Keep a journal.

And make your bed; it just makes the room look put together.

You are all so unique. And not that lameo everyone-is-special-so-no-one-is-really-special unique. And not Elsa-on-a-mountaintop-angry-singing-all-alone-because-no-one-understands unique either. You are full of gifts and you are surrounded by people who understand; you are loved and cherished. Be unique in the middle of all of it and share your specialness with everyone around you. Your mere presence makes the world a better place to live in, so make sure that you stay in it as long as possible. You can do big things and little things because you are everything. You're my everything but you're also just plain old everything too. Go be everything.

I adore you,
Awkward Mom

Monday, September 8, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Music Choice

Today I dropped off my baby girl at preschool for the first time ever. The feisty one, the daring darling, the firecracker who is most likely to break a bone before all the rest. It was traumatic; for me. She half-waved at me with a look that radiated "why haven't you left yet? I have trouble to cause." I'll blog more about it later, if I am feeling strong.

Point is, at 9:32 this morning, I had groceries to buy, an hour and a half to kill, and only 2 kids. I tucked those 2 into their car seats, got in my own seat, and turned the engine on. The Frozen soundtrack, that is on repeat in our van at all times, sprang to life and Elsa continued to bellow for me to let it go. I did and promptly burst into tears. And then this happened:

Super Preschooler: Hey Mom!
Me: Sniff, sniff. Yes?
Super P.: Since Super 1st and Super T. aren't with us this morning, do you think we could change this to something else?
Me: Sure, Honey.
Super P.: Don't tell them, but I really don't like Frozen.
Me: OK, that's cool. I don't really love it all the time either. What would you like?
Super P.: (whispered conversation with Super Baby)
Me: You guys decided?
Super P.: We would like something with a beat.
Me: A beat?
Super P.: Yes, we have some drumming to do.
Me: OK. (I turn on the radio and hear that Johnny would be working on the dock but the union's been on strike.)
Super P.: Yes, this will do, what is this?
Me: This, my love, is Bon Jovi.
Super P.: So much better than Frozen, Mom! So much better.

So much better.

Well, well. It looks like our Monday and Wednesday morning are gonna be rockin' from now on!
That should get me through missing Super Toddler just fine!
That face in the rearview isn't hurting things either.....

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. 1st Grade

I thought I had this. I mean, after all, 1st grade is totally misnamed; Kindergarten is really the first year of school, right? And then, there is preschool, which, depending on how many days and hours you opt for, can really be just as intense. Right? Right? Back me up here, Readers. Right?

No. It's all just words. I don't care what year we are on because in my mind he was born yesterday and why am I sending my little baby boy off in this line of children? I was fine at home. All business and healthy breakfast. Backpacks and bopping around like we do this everyday. I even merrily took a picture:

That's a legit smile. Mine was too. 

But then, we got here. Here in the parking lot in front of the school. Here with all the neat chalk numbers showing the children exactly where to line up. Here with the swooping parents and humming mini-vans. Here with the early morning mist being burned away by sunlight that only hints at its future intensity. It's going to be a hot day. I feel flushed and uncomfortable already.

None of the other children are holding their parents' hands, so Super K. drops mine and goes to stand in line. He slips his hand out of mine so easily, so naturally, but the absence feels anything but natural. I don't know what to do with my hand, so I do what all these other parents are doing. I pull out my iPhone and I take his picture.

What's he thinking about? He looks so serious. 
He looks so grown up and yet he looks so tiny! 

I can't take this. Why can't I touch him? Why do all these other parents have to have such great restraint? Come on. Come on. Someone lose it and bear-hug your child so hard that everyone stares at you and won't notice me sneak in another quick kiss and hair tousle! 

But no one cracks. So I call him, softly. I don't want to mess up his reputation by being the clinging mom. Plus, I'm maybe 3 feet away, so yelling would be kinda overkill. He turns and gives me this:

That is NOT a legit smile. 

Then it hits me. He feels just like I do! He's nervous and excited and scared and happy and feeling tiny and big all at the same time. He wants to leave me and he doesn't want to leave me and probably wishes I would just go away so he could get on with the band-aid ripping already. But I don't leave because none of the other parents are leaving and plus I can't really move. I seem rooted to this little square of blacktop by a force far greater than the logical one that is telling me this would all feel a lot easier if I just went back to the van. Plus, no one would see me cry in there. But I stay. And I stay. And he avoids looking directly at me. And I stay. And he avoids me. And we hang like this forever. (It's about 2 minutes.)

Finally, the teacher starts to corral the kids and talk about going inside. Super K. turns and gives me this:

This seems a little more legit.

They shuffle a bunch, and then head off into the school. A swell of parents on iPhones moves and whirls around me but I stay rooted on my little square of blacktop and watch his blond head get smaller and smaller as they walk away. He does not look back once. They turn a corner and then he is gone.

I can feel the crash of tears coming, so I turn. And nearly collide with a fellow 1st grade mom. "Erin! How are you doing? Oh, why am I even asking? You look great and you have 3 more at home anyway!"

She leaves me and I continue to stand there for a minute. Wait. What? I have to do this 3 more times?!?!?!

We aren't doing a whole lot of shuffling around this year, Readers. Most of us are keeping our names. Super Baby, Super Toddler, and Super Preschooler are all still remaining the same. Super K. is going to become Super 1st grader, which we are shortening to Super 1st. As the oldest, we think he will appreciate this title greatly. I would just appreciate pick-up time coming quickly today. Tomorrow it can come when it likes, but today it needs to come fast.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Seasonal Good-byes

Awkward Grandma, who celebrated her hated August birthday with us this past weekend, also hates good-byes. So, she has developed a nifty little trick to avoid them. When we are standing around the car, awkwardly, hands-in pockets, kicking at the curb, not looking at each other directly lest we start to cry, she starts to loudly talk about the next planned visit. If there isn't one planned, she'll just make one up, right then. Everyone focuses on their calendars or just starts to plan the menu (food matters greatly to the Awkwards), and we all leave in cheer, with many waves and shouts about not forgetting the clam dip. Awkward Grandma is a genius.

Summer is over. It wasn't the greatest summer ever; it was kinda cool and rather too busy, but it was fun and now it is leaving. It's hard to say goodbye, but we must.

Good-bye Summer!
Shuffle, shuffle, sniffle, sniffle.
What is that over there on the horizon?
Could it be? I think it might be.
It is!


Stay tuned, lovely Readers! Super Kindergartner started 1st grade today, and that means we have name changes in the works!! Name changes and Awkward Mom freak-outs........always entertaining.