I’m Worried that I will Forget the Baby Years

I understand why people have 10 kids. There is comfort in always having a baby on your hip. If you always have a baby, you can never forget the baby years.

It was only when N was born that I became acutely aware that X was no longer a baby. Having a legit baby in my arms (my new baby, N) shattered the continum of my first baby, X. Until N’s birth, I still thought that X was a baby. I didn’t infantalize him, and yet, in the hurried pace with which the years pass, nothing had convinced me that he was no longer a baby. N was the proof that jolted me to see the truth: they don’t stay babies long. God willing, they grow. God willing, babyhood is a temporary state.

I want nothing more than to see my babies grow and flourish, but my damn mind worries me. I know that I will forget their babyhoods. I know that I already am. The other night, I made myself truly watch, trying to soak up memories. I watched N:

  • applaud himself after taking his antibiotics; look to S. & me and smile glowingly at our praise
  • play with the microwave for 10 minutes: opening the door, putting a bowl inside, closing the door, delighted, laughing!
  • run to the bath, chasing his brother; attempt to climb into the bath, fully clothed
  • and all the times he says, “no, no, no,” with a smile on his face
  • or how he diligently says “bye bye” and waves to everyone before leaving a locale: he did it at the pharmacy the other day, waving to all the patrons and saying, “bye bye, outside” > superstar baby + polite!
  • mostly, the smiles on his face, his squinty-eye expressions, and how he even looks cute with a red, blotchy allergic reaction

I worry that in the future, when I replay these memories in my mind, I will not be able to see that baby. I will not be able to see the whole & total person that he is today. I will only see the vague outline of a babyhood.

With X, I had every confidence that babyhood would last forever, so why worry? With N, I know better, and that’s why I worry about his baby years slipping away. Since N is not my first baby, let me find solace in my own knowledge. Here is my wisdom:

  1. God willing, babyhood will fade, and I might not be able to conjure every gesture or habit of my baby, nor every memory, but I will know that I loved him. I will know that I loved my babies fiercely, and they were perfect to me.
  2. Let me trust my mind enough that one or two stories will stick. It is good that time moves forward, and it is okay to not remember everything.
  3. God willing, I will be distracted by the person N has become in the present moment. I don’t actually mourn X’s babyhood: I am too focused on who he is now.
  4. I should take more pictures ;)

What about you? Do you worry that you will forget the baby years? xoxo

There’s a Waffle in My Purse, and Other Situations of Motherhood

There’s a waffle in my purse. I’m saving it for one of my sons, “for later.”

Sometimes I yell, CALM DOWN. Yes, yell.

I think a lot about how I am a bad mom. I tell myself that there is no perfect mothering, but still, I always feel I could do better. I could be more patient, could be more CALM.

In spite of this, I think my kids are awesome. I wouldn’t think a shitty mom could raise such awesome kids, but they amaze and delight me daily. I would do anything for them.

Although, I’m kind of sick of playing superheroes, and X made me super mad last week when he sprayed me with the garden hose.

That’s one of the things that surprises me about motherhood: I get mad.

Also surprising: it is hard. It is the hardest role I’ve ever played. It doesn’t just take love; it takes skills.

I’m proud of the euphemisms and slogans that I’ve developed as a mother. Some favorites include:

  • Don’t panic.
  • I’ll think about it.
  • I’m having a situation > this is code for my husband to come help.

I wouldn’t have so many life slogans if I hadn’t become a mother. Being a mother stretches me; it makes me think about who I want to be. Basically, I want to do good and be proud of myself. Another slogan: do your best.

Many days, my mothering is short of what I thought it would be. Even my best is short. I wonder if I hug enough, love enough, am patient and kind enough.

Today when I was picking up X from daycare, he dropped his new toy in the toilet. Yes, IN the toilet. In an alternate segment of my life, this would have been disgusting, but today, I reached into the toilet and retrieved the toy. Maybe it was gross, but I didn’t care. In spite of self-doubt, sometimes you just know what to do.

To truly see the root

The other day, I asked X to pick some basil leaves from the plant on our balcony. With kindergarten approaching, I am trying to provide opportunities for him to follow instructions and complete tasks by himself.

“How many?” he called through the patio door.

“Five,” I said.

X returned with a handful of basil leaves and dirty fingers. I helped him wash his hands.

I cooked dinner.

I did the dishes.

Later, playing outside for a few minutes before bed, I saw that the basil plant was uprooted, fully uprooted like someone had tugged hard on its stem.

I was annoyed. I wanted to scold X for being so careless with the plant, but I am trying to be less on him all the time, so I got the kids ready for bed, instead.

Later still, when the kids were asleep, I wandered onto the balcony and saw the plant again. Now, in the lull of night, the basil plant looked different. It was still uprooted, but the roots told a story that I had missed during the hectic day. The roots told me that X is still little, X is still learning. It is easy for me to forget that he is little, for two reasons. One, he is much bigger than his baby brother, and two, his energy is big. His energy is confident and knowing, but he is still little. He didn’t uproot the plant from carelessness but from not knowing any better. I should have shown him how to pick the leaves.

The next day, I showed him, and I said a prayer to myself: when looking at my child, when looking at anything, may I truly see the root.

The One Thing I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

Yesterday was my 10-year wedding anniversary, and today, the Supreme Court monumentally declared marriage equality in the US. This post was supposed to be called, “10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Marriage.” In my head, I’ve been writing this post for a while. The lessons spring to mind easily, but when I sit to write the lessons, nothing sticks to the page.

Like, how I’ve learned that I am ornery, and reverse psychology works on me. I have learned this as a direct result of my marriage, but when I try to add this lesson to the list, it doesn’t seem to matter. At the end of each day, there is still that all encompassing hug of everything being okay, there is still that marriage-saving reset.

Even in hard times, there is a reset: everything is okay. Oh yes, hard times. I’ve learned that there is better, and there is worse. It’s the nature of life, the yin and yang. I’ve learned that life is a work in progress, and it’s best that way. If life were perfect, there’d be nothing to achieve. This was something I needed to learn.

When I got married, a few people thought I was too young and all that. I lost a close friendship. In the face of skepticism, I said to myself that I didn’t know how my life would unfold, but I knew I wanted my husband to be there. Wherever life went, I wanted him there.

In 10 years of marriage, I’ve learned one thing: I was right to look at marriage, at its core, as a pairing. I will never be perfect, and life will never be perfect. Marriage is not a guarantee of life unfolding a certain way, but it is a promise of partnership. I knew when I had found my partner, and 10 years later, I feel thankful that God put him on my path. Today, my heart is joyful that same-sex couples have marriage equality in the US. There is much turmoil and tragedy in the world. There is much we cannot control. Limiting marriage rights is not only intrusive but mean. If someone finds a partner, let them be paired.

Heartbreak June 2015

My baby smells like fever and everything feels
hopeless
as I worry of perfunctory tasks: like
doing the laundry
taking a shower
making money,
Like these thoughts keep my body afloat,
But somewhere,

9 people in a church were praying.
9 people in a church were good and joyfully right.
9 people in a church split mind from body to cry the hopeful song,
to lift against sadness,
beseech.

And there he was,
the splitter,
the splitter pure hate.
he was not the message,
he was not the prayer.
he was
a racist
a killer
a lost.
He was the type to pray for,
and probably,
they did,
with praying hearts full to scoop,
like two hands forming a cup,
to scoop the pitiful lost souls.

A million prayers
whisper a million prayers
whisper a million prayers of, “why?”

Broken, this earthly world,
when the hopeless smite the hopeful.
Heartbreaking, this earthly world,
when a racist sends good ones to the gates,
like messengers of a dire SOS.

Still My Baby: Graco Argos 65 Multi-Stage Car Seat {Review}

As soon as X saw his baby brother’s awesome Graco car seat, he wanted a new car seat too.

“X,” I said, “you already have a car seat,” but just to be sure, I looked in the manual of his car seat (not a Graco). I was shocked to see that he had outgrown the 5-point harness! I had assumed the car seat (which transitions to a booster) would last for the rest of his car seat days, but I was wrong. At 5 years old, we’re not ready to remove X’s 5-point harness, but he already weighs 50 lbs. The harness on his non-Graco car seat was only good up to 45 lbs.

Luckily, we discovered the Graco Argos 65 car seat, which transitions to a high-back and backless booster, but (more importantly!) accommodates a child up to 65 lbs in a 5-point harness.

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Favorite Feature #1: the Argos allows me to keep X harnessed up to 65 lbs.

 

X weighs 50 lbs, but he is not ready for a booster. Here’s why X is not ready for a booster:

argos1

X is a big boy in many ways, but he still falls asleep in the car on a regular basis; that’s why we keep him harnessed. In a deep sleep, his head flops around, but I feel confident that the 5-point harness would hold him tight in the event of a collision: a seat belt, designed to protect someone sitting straight up, would not do the same.

Note: our Argos is installed using the seatbelt (not UAS / LATCH), since there is a weight limit for UAS / LATCH. I would recommend finding a certified car seat technician in your area to ensure the best install for your child and your vehicle.


Favorite Feature #2: the harness is super easy to adjust, no re-threading necessary!

 

So, there is something pretty wild about the Argos (wild in a good way). You know how your child grows? And you realize that his harness straps are no longer at the proper spot? And you’re like, darn, I have to remove his car seat from the car, undo the straps, and reposition them in the higher slot?

With the Argos, you don’t have to do that.

I’m serious. There is a button on the Argos, and when you press it, the headrest AND the straps go up and down. How wild is that? This is the button:

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It’s called the Simply Safe Adjust Harness System. It’s a “no re-thread harness that automatically adjusts.” Seriously! It’s awesome.

Tip: the Argos is perfect for grandparents or anyone who transports multiple children at different times. Adjusting the Argos for different sized children is a breeze.


Favorite Feature #3: X loves the kid-friendly features.

 

As I mentioned, X was excited to get a new car seat just like his brother. Once he noticed the kid-friendly details, he was extra excited. There’s a cup holder:

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and a cubby for various do-dads:

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I find these features handy, since they help X to be autonomous. If he has a drink in the car, he never needs to pass it to me: he simply puts it in his cup holder.

One icky thing about the Argos is that the tops of the armrests tend to get greasy fingerprints on them. This will bug you if you’re a neat freak. Then again, maybe neat freaks don’t let their kids eat in the car ;)


Here’s a recap of my favorite features of the Graco Argos:

  1. The Argos allows me to keep my child harnessed up to 65 lbs.
  2. The harness on the Argos is super easy to adjust, no re-threading necessary!
  3. My child loves the kid-friendly features on the Argos.

And of course, I love that the Argos will grow with my child, since it converts into a high-back and backless booster to accommodate a child up to 120 lbs and 57″. Unlike X’s previous seat that I thought would last for the rest of his car seat years, the Argos really will last us!

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Ever since Baby N arrived, I’m super aware of how big X has become. When I hug him, I can’t believe his weight in my arms. But when I see him nod off as we drive, see his little sleeping face, I know that he is still my baby (always). I feel safe knowing that both my babies ride in Graco.

Where to Buy

The Graco Argos 65 Multi-Stage Car Seat is available at Babies “R” Us Canada. Be sure to visit Graco Baby Canada on Facebook, too, where there are tons of fun contests, info, and more!

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Disclaimer: I work for the Canadian distributor of Graco (currently on mat leave) and received a product sample to facilitate this review; all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Why I Threw Away My Day Planners

I’m on a minimalist kick. I’m opening the closets to read their contents and ridding my counters of knick knacks. There is one pile of stuff that irks me. I scoop up the pile and want to heave it into the recycling bin, but I stop myself and return the pile to the floor. For some reason, I can’t part with the past ten years of day planners.

In my quest for minimalism, why can’t I purge my day planners?

At first, I thought it was because I’m sentimental. That was the answer: I’m a sentimental minimalist. I feel emotionally attached to my day planners (sentimental), even though they clutter my bedroom floor (minimalist). That’s why I can’t toss them.

I opened one of these sentimental books. At best, reading the day planner felt mundane. Checks written on certain dates. Reminders of minutiae. Were such trivialities the jigsaw pieces of my past? At worst, the day planner made me sad. To do lists from stressful times. Seeing some raw, unedited version of my self, focused on scheduling. There was nothing of my spiritual self or my writing self. There was little of my mothering self or myself as a friend. My day planners were not sentimental; they were depressing. They represented a compartmentalized, small version of me.

I concluded that my day planners were not souvenirs, yet I still hesitated to dispose of them. Why?

I have a dirty secret: sometimes I think I am not alive. For instance, I forget that I have a face. I ignore acquaintances on the street, thinking, there’s no way they will recognize me, I don’t have a face that is consistent and viewable. Once when a neighbor greeted me, I introduced myself, because surely he didn’t recognize me. I know who you are, he said, and an awkward moment ensued. I think he was drunk, and I was 16 with my hair braided in pigtails. None of these factors made the moment less awkward.

If you know the name of my condition, please let me know. I would gladly unpack my neurosis, just to arrive where I can have a face. It might have started with a book I read as a kid, “The Man Who Lost His Head,” or maybe I am more soul than body in this level of life. Sometimes I feel far on my karmic journey (but sometimes I feel very close to the beginning; we have good and bad days, I guess).

All this relates to my day planners, and why they sit in a pile on my floor: I need an objective correlative to remind me that I am on this journey of life. Without tangible proof, I might forget that I’m alive. My pile of day planners tells me that I am physically here. Without them, my mind might float away from my body to a place that cares not for checking accounts or to do lists and only wants to be a soul.

But perhaps that’s not a bad thing. Perhaps we must each learn to balance the body, the mind, and all the parts of ourselves. For me, I’m a person who writes lists in day planners, but in hindsight, I want to be so much more. That’s why I decided to toss my day planners. I need an objective correlative for being alive, but my day planners are not that object. They are too mundane and sad; they don’t inspire or excite me, they are just proof. If some object is to represent my journey through life, let it be a text that lifts me or a song I can’t stop singing. Let it even be these words. Let it be art.