Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. the Swim Suit

Because shopping for a swim suit with 3 kids under 4 is a great idea.....

But I have no choice, you see. The pool is open, it's 80 degrees in the shade, and if I don't take them this afternoon, I am going to have a larger than normal Lord of the Flies scenario on my hands. It's just too hot for that. My maternity swim suit finally gave up the ghost; there really is no safety pin in existence to bridge the holes it's sporting and being known as "Flasher Mom" all summer doesn't sound appealing. It is starting to sound more appealing that staying in this tiny depressing room one more minute, however.

I am on suit 6. It's the best contender so far, only because it's one of those dress swim suits that was last fashionable around 1918. I squint at my reflection in triplicate and sigh. Really? Really? Why 3 mirrors? One isn't enough? Believe me, it's enough. And what is going on with these lights? My skin can't really be that color. It's nearly florescent!  Pretty sure my breasts are in the wrong part of the suit if these little cup things are anything to go on. They are like Napoleon, roaming all over the place, taking over areas that don't belong to them. Do my legs really have that many bumps? Don't usually see them from this angle. It's very revealing. But not as revealing as suit #3; how dare they try to say that's a size 10! Maybe in space or something. I have freckles there?! Wow; who knew. And did I dream the delivery? Because my stomach is telling a different story.

I glance into the stroller just to make sure that Super Baby did indeed make it out of my body. He did. He smiles up at me with that full-faced smile that always makes me a little dizzy. He flails all his limbs, just to show me how excited he is to see me. The now familiar love-flood pours through me and I smile. This just sends him over the edge and he starts to giggle and wave his hands back and forth in utter glee. His gross motor skills are only 3 months old, so he hits himself in the face. He doesn't seem to care, shaking it off and peering back up at me in total bliss. A bliss caused by nothing more than my face near his.

I tear my eyes away from Super Baby to check on Super Preschooler and Super Toddler. They are engaged in some imaginative game that involves all the rejected swim-suits. Super Toddler has one streaming from her head like a veil and one draped across her torso like a gunslinger's bandoleer. She has collected all the hangers and is wearing them up and down her arms. In the course of watching her, she claims that her "purses" contain, in no particular order, money, kittens, cheese crackers, a guitar, and fireflies. Super Preschooler has 2 swim suits fluttering from his shoulders in a makeshift cape; he is racing circles around the tiny dressing room, speaking alternatively to his left and his right sides, where Invisible Grandpa and Bebe fly along next to him. It appears that some ne'er-do-wells are lurking underneath the bench and must be stopped at all costs, even if that means flinging rejected swim-suits at them and losing a stunning, if ill-fitting, cape.

As I survey my children in this tiny little room, my body no longer seems so hideous. I look down at my lumpy, bumpy, too short, too full, too pale, freckled in weird places frame and I feel slightly kinder to me. We made them, Body. (The fact that I refer to my body as if it were another being and not merged with my consciousness should speak volumes to you about my self-image. But bear with me. Rome wasn't built in a day.) You and me, Body. We made room where there wasn't any. We shifted and morphed in untold ways. We continue to stretch and arch and fold in ways that would break steel. We have been softened for better hugs. We have been toughened for more strength. We have been twisted for more patience. And we have expanded to better shelter these marvelous children. We actually made life, Body. Life. We are powerful and unstoppable and beautiful. We are beautiful.

I am beautiful.

I am basking in my new found self-esteem when a sharp tug on my bathing-suit skirt alerts me to Super Preschooler's little face staring up at me. I turn a beatific smile towards him; "yes, Angel?"

He just grins and wordlessly points at the toddler-sized space under the door and the briefest flash of a little girl's sandal. Her escaping giggles seem to echo off the walls of the tiny dressing room but only for a minute before they recede into the wilds of Meijer's women's section.

Well, the suit's a keeper. Any suit that can withstand chasing a toddler through Meijer, with no major indecency, can work just fine for the pool. Guess shopping for a swim suit with 3 kids under 4 is a great idea. 

You weren't honestly expecting a picture of Awkward Mom in a swim suit,
were you?
Sorry. Not sorry. 
Stay cool, Readers! 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. The Book

Don't go hunting at your local library just yet, Readers. Awkward Mom has to write the silly thing first. 

I suppose it was always building to this. Ever since I was 12 and scribbling bad poetry about the "wind of longing" in my My Little Pony notebook, I was dreaming of being a "real" writer. An actual author. Legit and official, with a book deal to prove it. Well, I still don't have a book deal, but the dream continues and has entered the next stage of semi-officialness.

I am writing a book. An actual Awkward Mom book. At least, I am sorta writing it. I may be writing it a word at a time somedays, but words are getting put down. Ever so slowly. The problem is that I seem to be so busy living my awkward-mom life that I am left with little time to write about my awkward-mom life. Which is a lovely problem to have.

A problem that I don't have right now. Right now. Here. At Awkward Manor.

Right now, Super Kindergartner is at school and Awkward Dad will be picking him up. So, no responsibility there.

Super Preschooler is doing this:

And has been for the past hour. 
I think Invisible Grandpa is pushing him around when I am not looking.

The youngest members of our team are doing this:

And they seem keen to continue for a good while yet.

This would be the perfect time to work on my book, and yet, I'm not. Well, of course not, I am writing to you guys. But after that, I am not sure I will rush to the computer full of purpose and drive. I kinda want to watch my babies sleep. And goof around with Super Preschooler in his "magical motorcycle that can fly." And hang out with Super K. when he gets home all gleeful and happy to see me.

I'm torn. I want to capture their amazingness right now. Copy down everything they do and share it with the world. Follow them around with a notebook like some amateur anthropologist. Write my book in a flurry of inspiration and fire. I could; the Supers are very good at inspiration.

But, they are so little. And they won't be forever. They are so happy to see me. And they won't be forever. They are so willing to envelop me in their swirling imaginations. And they won't be forever. They won't even be much longer. I suppose I could watch them sleep any time, but someday soon that will involve breaking in their homes and freaking out in-laws.

So, you see the villain. Write the book that I have waited 36 years to write. Or just enjoy the children who are inspiring me to actually write that book. I suppose it isn't really a villain at all. Or if it is, it's just a B-grade villain with no major firepower.

I'm off to watch some babies sleep; that book deal can just wait for me.

Does the world even want an Awkward Mom book? Please weigh in, Readers. If not, Awkward Mom can finally go back to writing those charming poems about the wind. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Halfs

Yes, thank you, Grammar police. I know it is halves......just using a little creative license over here.....OK, well, trying to be creative.....

Dearest Super Toddler-

Yesterday you turned 2 and a half. That little half a year is the only thing half about you; everything else is all the way, all the time. You have a boldness that I think has been seen last when Genghis Khan invaded Eurasia. While this sometimes causes your brothers to riot and requires a peacekeeping ability that rivals the U.N., I wouldn't want you any other way. I hope you keep your loud power long into your adulthood. Experience will soften it slightly, but I hope it never fades entirely.

I want to tell you that the world is no different for men and women and that you can forge forth in any direction you chose. I want to tell you that the college-attending of your great-grandma, the bra-burning of your grandma, and the brave efforts of all your female ancestors to be given equal rights with men have provided you with a world that is your oyster. (I am using bra-burning as a colorful example, please don't ask your Grandma if she wears undergarments or not.) I want to tell you that you will always be viewed as a complete and total person when you leave this house and not as a representative of your gender or as an object to be ogled and used. I want to, but, sadly, my darling, I can not.

The world has made incredible progress, and it will make more, even during your short childhood. But the truth remains that men and women are treated differently in this world. So are people of other races, socio-economic statuses, and sexual orientations, but you will learn (and change) all that with time. These are huge issues that even your mother will fail at explaining to you. (I know, crazy, right?!) Once free and out in the world, you will have to discover most of this injustice for yourself. And, as I hope I have raised you right, you will hate it, rail against it, and work to change it for the rest of your life. Or maybe it will all be fixed by then; miracles do happen. You will discover this in time, but not today. Today, I have smaller goals in mind.

Today, I want to talk to you about your girlness. Because your girlness isn't bad. It isn't anything to be ashamed off, wished away, hidden, or fought. (Nor is your brothers' boyness, but I am writing them a different letter. Maybe they'll let you read it, but you have to stop ripping up their books if you want them to trust you with their things....)

Your girlness is not now, and never will be, half of anything. YOU ARE NOT HALF OF ANYONE.

People are going to tell you, probably very soon, that girls are this way and girls are that way. People will tell you that you have to learn how to cook. People will tell you that you have to wear makeup. People will tell you that you have to be good at math. People will tell you that you can't be good at math. People will tell you that you can't play guitar. People will tell you that you have to play soccer. People will tell you tons of things. Some of it will be super crazy, like "girls have to like princesses and dresses and pretty things." And some of it will be subtly crazy, like "Girls are better than boys and should be able to hit them whenever they want." And some of it will just be flat-out crazy, like "You have to be this way or you aren't a girl" or "you are half of a man." It's all crazy.

Your girlness is deep in the heart of you and it is totally and completely unique. It looks like no one else's girlness. It is solely yours; yours forever. It will grow and morph and change in unimaginable ways; taking you from Pippi Longstocking all the way to Miss Marple. It isn't anyone else's to dictate. It has little to do with anyone else, but what it does do is connect you to a wondrous lineage of women that goes back millenia and travels a road so varied and magical I could never truly describe it to you. The invisible threads that tie you to your world sisters are unbreakable, and while there are some you will want to cut, someday you will be thrilled to have such a sisterhood at your back. And by your side.

For I am here, behind you. Ready to catch you. Ready to push you. Ready to hand you a sandwich, anytime you need. But I am not alone. Grandma is here with me. So is Babcia. And Great-Grandma. And all your aunts and great-aunts. And the Greats that you never met. And the Greats that I never met. And Maya Angelou. And Charlotte Bronte. And Jane Addams. And Elizabeth Blackwell. And Sonia Sotomayor. And Julia Child. And Margaret Mead. And the first mother who ever cradled her daughter to her chest, singing softly as she gazed at her adoringly. And the first daughter that took off running across the fields to her own destiny, but paused just for a minute to gaze back and wave. We are all here for you. Anytime you need us. Anytime you want a reassuring smile or supportive hug. Anytime you want some advice. Anytime you don't want some advice but need it anyway. Anytime. Sometimes finding your girlness can be scary and lonely, and you might want to check in. Or you might be hungry. Believe me, we will want to feed you.

But you won't always have to look backwards. Right now, Phenomenal Toddler stands next to you and she will soon be joined by a sisterhood of your own choosing. Legions of girls as different as the rocks you have been collecting on our walks. Each one special. Each one tied to you with an invisible thread of sisterhood. An army of girls who aren't marching to war, but off to make a world that doesn't need war. I trust you. You will pick good sisters. It's easy in this world of wonders.

You aren't half of anyone or anything, my beautiful daughter. But a total and complete person who gets to decide who that total and complete person is and will become. You are already there, my bold flower, but if you fall and forget for any reason, we are here to catch you. And we all love you.

But I love you the most-
Awkward Mom

Your beauty is extreme and total, 
and it is the least of your many gifts. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. the Farm Field Trip

There are moments in life that just shine a spotlight on the differences between one's children. How one opens gifts on Christmas morning. How one handles one's Halloween candy. The first day of school's social jostling. Any occasion where there are food samples. And field trips.  

Super Preschooler's field trip to a local farm was today. Super Toddler and Super Baby tagged along. Super Baby slept in the Baby Bjorn the whole time, so his farm personality is still a mystery to us. However, Super Preschooler's and Super Toddler's were on full display. Here are where the Supers differ:

1. While comparing chicken and goose eggs.
-Super Preschooler approached the eggs (which the tour guide held over their heads and through a fence) three different times, only to be cut off by bolder children each time. The tears started then, so a bolder mother, who wasn't wearing an infant strapped to her chest, lifted Super P. up to have his turn.
-Super Toddler was the reason for the over their heads and through a fence rule.

2. While admiring goats.
-Super Preschooler smiled and waved at the goats from my side.
-Super Toddler pet the goats, tried to kiss the goats, and delighted when one of the goats tried to eat her coat, taking it off to make it easier on him.

3. While dealing with the unseasonably cold day.
-Super Preschooler shivered and hugged my side the entire outdoor part of the tour.
-Super Toddler did not:

This was after we got her coat back from the goats. 

4. While dealing with the fact that the horses were unavailable and in the back pasture.
-Super Preschooler: "Oh well."
-Super Toddler: [Screaming that I think was audible in space]

5. While experiencing puddles.
-Super Preschooler sedately splashed around before returning to my side.
-Super Toddler sat down, had to be physically removed from the puddle, kicked her way free, and gleefully sat down in a pile of mud instead.

6. While meeting a pregnant sow.*
-Super Preschooler: "She's going to have lots of baby pigs , Mom."
-Super Toddler: "Fat pig! Fat piggy! Oink Oink!"
*This difference might be merely age related. I hope.

7. While seeing a tractor that the tour guide asked us to stay off of.
-Super Preschooler: "Pretty tractor. I wish I could ride it."
-Super Toddler: "Keys! Keys!" (She was on it at the time. Girl is quite fast.....)

8. While being asked to pose for pictures.
-Super Preschooler:
Can I see the picture now, Mommy?
-Super Toddler: 
This one hungry too, Mommy! 

9. While petting baby animals.
-Super Preschooler stood on the yellow line like he was supposed to, touched the baby sheep with 1 finger, giggled, and ran back to me. 
-Super Toddler baaed into the lamb's face. Repeatedly. 

10. While stealing my heart with their adorable differences.
-Super Preschooler: Being his wonderfully steadfast self.
-Super Toddler: Being her wonderfully steadfast self. 

Sometimes genetics just win the day.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Sanitation

Dearest Readers, there are just a million ways we could go with this one. Does she mean the state of her house? Is she talking about hand sanitizer and the fact that Super Toddler drank some last week? Does she mean her ongoing battle with the trash collectors and their insistence that she not put the can under the tree branches? The tree branches that cover the entire front of the house, rendering no space in front of the house not under said branches? Turns out that she doesn't mean any of those things.  

So, I often sanitize my tales. I don't add things, but I sometimes leave things out. I think we all do this from time to time; tell the fact that out child blew out a diaper, but fail to mention that we forgot to check said diaper for 5 hours, pre-explosion. Admit to Netflix, but leave out that the baby starts operating it himself around hour 3. Giggle about one's lack of meal prowess and gloss over the complete and total lack of a meal; unless a bag of grapes that Super Toddler got herself counts. It is natural to want to be seen in the most flattering light possible. Heck, movie stars used to have clauses in their contracts about what side of their faces you could film. I'm not that picky; I'll show you my awkward, just not my ugly.

Well, today you get to see it all.....get your mind out of the gutter! And if your mind wasn't in the gutter, no, I won't explain it to you! Stay with me, people. I had an experience today and then shared it with my church small group. I shared it totally unfiltered; it was like a photo taken in full-sun. And did these moral and upright women judge me, as they very easily could have and maybe should have? No. They laughed. As I hope you laugh......

OK, here's what happened. We hosted our annual Star Wars party yesterday; it was awesome, but that isn't my story. Because we were getting ready for our party, we didn't go to church. That is a horrible reason to not go to church. It really isn't a reason. I am sure we could have still gone, but we didn't. We were buying beer in order to celebrate Wookies. Literally everyone else who was at our party went to church. And not just like any ol' church. They all go to our church. So, they all come over here after church and tell us that Super Kindergartener's picture is hanging in the back of the church. It is Catholic school's week or maybe not, it's something about the school week, which I would know for sure if I had actually gone to church, but whatever it is, it results in Super K's picture being in the back of the church.

So, today, on my way into the usher's room to pick up the keys for our small group, I decide to check out this picture of Super K. This is a terrible idea. I have to go into the back of the church to get to the usher's room and that is bad enough, given that the children scatter into church the moment we walk in, their squeaking shoes sounding like a tribe of giants that sends every prayerful head spinning our direction. Well, there was no one in there today, so I thought, what the heck, I can risk it. "No, Awkward Mom, never risk it;" I can hear you shouting from here. You are correct.

So, I get the keys and start wandering around; turns out there are several bulletin boards with many pictures, so I have to hunt. Super Toddler picks this moment to reach into the baptismal font like she is spear fishing. Super Preschooler is talking to Invisible Grandpa about some stained glass; are imaginary friends allowed in church? I suppose you can't really stop that anyway, but how is Super Preschooler gonna tell the difference if he turns out to be a saint and has a vision? Oh well, that's a worry for another time. And probably another child. Super Kindergartener is checking out pictures of all his friends. He knows where all the pictures are because he actually went to church this week.

OK, then everything happens at once. Super Kindergartener starts running toward me, at the exact moment that Super Preschooler decides to show Invisible Grandpa the stained glass on the other side of the church, which is right when Super Toddler spins away from the baptismal font into the path of both of them. They collide, and, probably because she is slippery from her "dive," Super Toddler falls and skipping-stones it about the length of a whole pew, coming to a rest right in front of the doors. She starts screaming, but it isn't her "in-pain" screaming. It's her "I-hate-my-brothers-they-suck" screaming, so I make the decision to keep looking for the picture. My goal was to hurry up, see it, and get out. This was why I was half way across the church when the priest opened the door and walked over my daughter's prone, screaming form, as he gave some other priest a tour of the church.

My sons quickly read the situation and escaped downstairs. I hurried over, which is no mean feat when you are carrying a portable car seat, diaper bag, a bulletin, and some keys. I leaned over and pulled Super Toddler to standing. She looked up, read the situation, and went the way of her brothers, leaving me to explain that "see; she's OK. We're all fine." I am not quite sure if their skeptical looks were more about my mental health being at all "fine" or the possibility of demon possession in one so young. I blushed and started to feel really hot, so I fanned myself with the bulletin. The bulletin in my hand that was screaming to them my failure to attend church yesterday and get one then. It was at that point that I finally read the situation and escaped downstairs.

Never did get to see that picture of Super Kindergartener......

"Don't worry, Super Baby. Awkwardness is like a recessive gene. 
You are way more likely to be chic and suave, just like me."

P.S. Awesome Dad isn't awkward. And he actually goes to church (you know, when you are supposed to, not on random Mondays). He got this shot of the Super Kindergartener picture for us all to enjoy! Thanks Awesome Dad!

Happy Catholic School's week!  
Or whatever is going on at our church.....

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Awkward Mom vs. Flowers

"Every gift which is given, even though it be small, is in reality great, if it is given with affection." 

Tomorrow the children at Super Kindergartener's school are going to church to bring flowers to the Blessed Mother. Everyone has been asked to bring a flower. This is how that went down with Super K.:

Will: I want to bring my favorite flower.

Me: OK, cool. Which one? (Super K.'s favorites always match his age; meaning he has 6 favorite flowers at the moment.)

Will: My number 1 favorite is dandelions.

Awkward Dad: Awesome. There are lots of those out front.

Will: Well.....maybe I shouldn't.

Me: Why not?

Will: Well....maybe she won't like it.

Me: Why not?

Will: She's an adult.

Me: So?

Will: A lot of adults think that dandelions are weeds.

Awkward Dad: But you know what? The wise adults know that dandelions are really very beautiful flowers and I think Mary is pretty wise.

Will: Yeah?

Awkward Dad: Yeah.

Will: OK. You think she'll like 'em?

Awkward Dad: If they come from you, I am sure of it.

He is so much like a dandelion; small, sunny, and strangely stunning. 
Think about the magic it takes to bloom in eye-searing cheerfulness,
only to morph, oh so quietly and secretly, into pure whimsy,
which you then sacrifice for the wishes of others,
 to make more sunny joy for the world. 
A world that often scoffs at your tiny beauty. 
A world that too often wants fields of roses instead.

But Mary has enough roses,
I think she is gonna love having a dandelion visit her.