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?"

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. 


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.
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.