Santa Baby?

I love Christmas tunes in all their many forms. Still, I think they are occasionally missing perspective – mainly, the mom perspective. To kick off this jolly holiday season here is Santa Baby — the motherhood edition! (I’m not cool enough to sing and make a video so use your imagination 😉 )

 

Santa baby slip some wine under the tree, for me
Been an awful good mom
Santa Baby, and don’t track on the carpet tonight

Santa baby a chance to use the bathroom alone, at home
I’ll wait up for you dear
Santa baby so don’t track on the carpet tonight

Think of all the fun I’ve missed
Think of all the car seats that I’ve had to clip
Next year I won’t yell at all
If you’ll check off my Christmas list

Santa honey I want a trip to the spa and that’s not a lot
Been changing diapers all year
Santa baby, and don’t track on the carpet tonight

Santa cutie, there’s one thing I really do need, some sleep
For eight hours or more
Santa cutie, please wake up with the baby tonight

Santa baby and fill my stocking with maid service and chef
Have them bill the North Pole
Santa baby and don’t track on the carpet tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations made by my kids and me
I really do believe in you
Let’s see if you believe in me too

Santa baby forgot to mention one little thing, my kids
The really are my whole world
Santa baby and please wrap all their gifts tonight
Don’t track on the carpet tonight
Hurry, tonight

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I wasn’t Invited and I didn’t Follow The Rules..

On social media there is a “challenge” going around where you are told to share one black and white photo of your life for 7 days. No people. No explanations. Then you challenge someone else and they do it. I decided to do it without being invited. Here in one day and not seven. Also..there are people in mine – to not include people would be to pretend I have alone time. I haven’t had alone time since 10:47 pm February 13, 2011. Probably nine months before that even to be honest.

I proudly present my photos..8 of them for my rebellious purposes!

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The Circus Hour

I like to think I’m pretty laid back in my parenting approach. I don’t have many things that are “required” on my parenting journey outside of staying out of jail, paying the bills, and trying to shower every day. I am not cool enough to go multiple days without a shower unless we are camping at which point I get close with my inner cave-woman. Yet there is one thing that I knew I wanted from the moment I knew that my family of two was becoming a family of something more. Family Dinner.

Everyone has that one bogus parenting fantasy when they are pregnant with their first. Perhaps the family dinner was mine. I pictured conversations, catching up on our day, the baby doing whatever it is that babies do in their high chair (turns out that is the main problem with family dinner…the baby does a lot of things other than eat dinner), and everyone having one time a day where they gather as family. Beautiful and sweet right?

Three kids later I’m still pressing the family dinner issue but my bar of expectation is ..well…different. For starters family dinner is often mom and three kids dinner because their dad works late. Still, he knows that on his days off he better have his body in that chair or his wife is taking a dive straight into the deep end. I mean, his wife is going to kindly ring the dinner bell and wait patiently for him to arrive at the table. Right.

In the movies the family comes to the table and eats, smiles, has amusing conversation, and feels fantastically connected. Let me adjust that image for you in a few “simple” steps to a real family dinner with 3 kids age 6 and under.

  1. Try to make the dinner. Have 30 requests for a snack during this process. Have 3 year old beg to “help” but really just sneeze into the food and leave you wondering if “heat from the cooking process” will kill whatever contaminates may have now been injected into dinner.
  2. Put dinner in the oven and ask kids to help set the table. Have 20 debates about who gets what plate color, cup color, fork color, spoon color…don’t even think about a knife. Curse yourself for buying the unbreakable but mixed colored kid place settings. Take that alarmingly sharp knife out of 1 year old’s hand. Turn on the TV in the kitchen so that silence will fall for the last ten minutes of dinner prep. Realize that you either forgot to turn on the oven or that you were supposed to take food out of oven 5 minutes ago. Improvise.
  3. Serve dinner onto small human plates. If husband is available ask him to pour drinks. If not..just forget the drinks. Who needs drinks? Not us. Also don’t worry about making yourself a plate of food. Way too soon for that.
  4. Turn off TV. Direct small people to their plates. Have the toddler begin feeding it to the dog. The preschooler will declare a hate for whatever you made and announce a bathroom break. The elementary student will scarf the food in the 30 seconds it takes for you to make a plate for yourself and ask for seconds or better yet ask for a Jelly sandwich or Bologna or something else completely not on the menu.
  5. Help preschooler wipe and wash. Turn to see dog on table eating preschooler’s food. Listen to preschooler scream in agony about the dog eating the dinner she “hated” three minutes ago. Find seconds for the elementary kid and firsts (again) for the preschooler. Ignore the baby with the plate on her head.
  6. Sit down at table and take a bite of cold dinner. Ask elementary student about her day and feel slightly pleased when you get a real answer until they start to tell you a story about kissing boys on the playground. Abort conversation. Turn to preschooler who wants to know when snack is, even though she hasn’t had a bite of her dinner. Look to thebaby who is now ready to frisbee throw her plate across the room. WHY DID YOU GIVE THE BABY PASTA SAUCE? She looks like she has a traumatic head injury!
  7. At this point the preschooler will tip over her chair. You should sneak another bite of dinner. The elementary student now wants Bologna again. The baby is standing on the table and heading quickly toward her preschool sister’s plate of food with feet of death.
  8. Declare dinner over. Be thankful you HAVE trained your kids to put their own plates in the sink. Yell at dog for eating the leftovers out of the trash can. Clean up bloody murder scene – aka marinara- off baby’s entire body. Lose track of where elementary kid went. Have preschooler ask when you are making dinner (try not to scream that they refused it).
  9. Repeat the next day.

Yet I do it. Every day. The kids will get bigger. They will get busier. They will get annoyed with the mom who forces them to come home for dinner at least 5 nights a week. They will get tired of squeezing around the table between sports practices and time with friends. They may never learn to actually eat but we do it every day.

It’s chaos. Pure Chaos – and yet – I believe one day I will look back and be so glad we did it. I hope they will too.

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On Going Home and What I Call The Phoenix Year

What happened to your blog?

I have been asked that multiple times. Every time I failed to give much of an answer. Still, I don’t feel this blog can move forward without some sort of explanation because a year away from something in terms of the internet is a long time away.

So what happened?

I went home.

But Jess, what do you mean you went home? Weren’t you home all the time? Feeding babies and writing things?

Yes. Physically I was home, but as it turns out, I wasn’t home emotionally, spiritually, even really mentally. I was checked out, burned out, done. I kept a cool surface out in public all day just to be an anxious mess at home.  I could sit here and list a million different things that led me to be that way but at the end of the day those little things don’t matter so much. What matters is I woke up and saw my friendships strained, my kids suffering due to my absence of heart and mind – because physical presence isn’t enough – and my marriage certainly was as well. My faith was weak and so was I. I had convinced myself I could keep everything together when sometimes a person just can’t. That’s a hard truth to find out about. It’s also hard to write about..but yet that’s where I was.

I had to push stop. On everything. I had to admit to imperfections. I had to quit working a bit. I had to talk to people – REAL conversations – some that were lovely and soul finding and some that were hard – with friends, family, and yep I even talked to a counselor. Turns out they know a thing or two about a thing or two.

I needed what I have come to think of as my phoenix year.

That’s where I’ve been. Rising from the ashes of a self set fire. Assessing. Learning. Loving. BEING LOVED (wow have I been loved). Letting go (Who knew how much a person could hold on to?!). Finding Grace. Finding Forgiveness. Building relationships. Exploring. Praying. Crying. Laughing. Fighting. Winning.

That phoenix year is what allows me to come back here and write from the heart again. To hope there are still people who will want to read the things that spill from my brain and off my chest. So here I am and I’m glad you are here too.

But where I really am now…

Is home.

Who Your Daddy Is..

Dear Daughters,

This one’s for you.

Your daddy is a lot of things. He is a Frozen watching couch cuddler. He is a delicious breakfast maker. He is a guitar playing, wood work making, lawn mowing, trampoline jumping kind of guy. All day he is your daddy. It is as evening sets in and we finish our dinner that his other task begins. The one where he straps on a bullet proof vest, laces his boots, and puts on a badge that in some ways seems more like a target these days than anything else.

In recent months, and especially this last week, I have woken one too many times to news that men who do what your daddy does didn’t get to come home anymore. Not only that but I have seen videos and read many things that reflect opinions from all sorts of people on who  your daddy and the men and women he works with are, what their morals are or are not, and what exactly it is they do when out on the streets while many sleep, while many celebrate holidays with their families, and while many call on them for help in times of need. All too soon I know you will be of an age to see these same stories and read the opinions of others. You will openly and occasionally harshly learn that to some your daddy may be a hero and to others he will always be seen as the villain.

It would be a lie to tell you that every single man or woman who places a badge on their chest and a hat on their head and calls themselves a police officer hits the streets for all the right reasons. It would be even more of a lie to let you believe that the few who disrespect the honor of wearing that badge, even start to represent the majority. I have decided that before the world tries to tell you who they think your father is – based on the profession he so loyally serves, I wanted to clear a few things up for you on who I know him to be.

Your father cares for the sick and injured. When I came home from the hospital with Anniston the whole house was falling ill. Even your Nana (a retired police officer herself) who had so diligently watched over you while I was in the hospital, was ill. Your dad didn’t blink an eye as he flew into action. Washing bedding, cleaning up things I’m glad I didn’t even have to see, preparing meals, and when the illness struck me staying up to care for the baby and meeting my every demand. It’s the same thing he does at work when he gets calls to medical emergencies – from heart attacks to overdoses. He provides care, he stabilizes, he arranges help for people he has often never met before and may likely never see again.

Your father is fair and just. He knows how to settle an argument between you three girls faster than I ever could. He never takes more than his due from anything. He shares everything he has with anyone who asks and never expects a thing in return. It’s what allows him to help calm a domestic disturbance, a fight at the local school, and talk down a situation headed towards dangerous escalation.

Your father is dedicated. Your dad is the kind of guy who can come off of a 12 hour night shift and go straight to a soccer game, a doctor’s appointment, or whatever other thing you need. It is this dedication that makes him go into work on Holidays and Birthdays and times where we know he would love to be home, but he also knows that his community needs someone on the ready to serve. You won’t hear him complain when his phone rings at 3 am on his one night off to come in and help out at work and you won’t see anything but a smile from him when he gets off work at 2 am and has to drive us straight to the hospital to have a baby and at some point realizes he hasn’t slept in well over 24 hours or as he watches you blow out your birthday candles instead of sleeping. He is dedicated to our family and his community in a way few could ever be.

Your father is a provider of comfort. There is a reason you run to your dad when you get a scrape on your knee or your favorite toy gets broken. It’s because you know his arms will open wide and pull you into a warm embrace and somehow convince you that everything will be just fine. I know because he has done that for me more than once. That’s why your father has put himself in a position to be the one to deliver news after tragic accidents and other less than ideal situations. He tries to comfort even strangers in their time of greatest need because that’s what his job calls for and it’s what he knows how to do.

Your father is a police officer. It means that each night he walks out the door not knowing what his future holds. It means that he is ready and willing to run into a harmful situation and try to bring about peace. It means that he will put others’ lives before his own if the need should arise. It means that he will make enemies, because sometimes the right thing to do isn’t always the popular one. It means he will see things that would break our heart, that do break his, and he will some how piece it back together for us. It means he will worry about the child he had to drive to the homeless shelter and admit he wished he could just bring them home to us where love abounds. It will mean he spends time thinking of ways to encourage the habitual alcoholic or drug abuser to get help and find resources to break the cycle they feel stuck in because the joy in his job doesn’t come in arresting a human when crimes are committed, it comes in seeing someone go from destructive decisions to a bountiful life. It means that there is always a chance he could be targeted for doing a job that many aren’t willing to do themselves. It means one day he could walk out the door and not get to walk back in. Still, if I know one thing about your father it is that his heart and soul couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

If you only remember one thing from this letter I want you to remember that your father, regardless of what anyone else may say or assume, is one of the good ones, the best ones. He protects and he serves, he is a police officer but more than anything else he is your Daddy and the reason he puts on that badge every day is so that the four of us and other families just like ours can sleep in peace each night knowing help is just a phone call away.

Love,

Your Mommy

(I was blessed to be raised by a police woman who exemplifies the same qualities listed here and then some. I am honored by and often challenged by my role as a police wife and mother to three little LEO kids. My heart goes out to those who have paid the ultimate price in this calling, this career, this way of life and those who have had to make tough decisions in their course of work and live with daily back lash as a result. Bless you!)

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That Can Kill You!

Recently I’ve realized that raising  a baby in the 6-10 month age range is really only about doing one thing. Making it realize that a lot of things it finds “fun” can also be deadly. I think as humans we never really out grow this stage – take sky diving and bull riding for example. Extreme examples maybe, but still .. “I’m going to plummet toward the ground as fast as gravity will let me and hope a giant umbrella on strings attached to my back is going to slow me down,”  is one of those things that you either have a really fun time doing or you die. There isn’t’ really much in between. Here is a list of ways I’ve been a “fun hater” (according to my baby) and also a life saver this week.

  1. I’ve prevented choking at least 60 times. No I won’t let you eat barbie shoes, gravel rocks, toy rocks, dice, paper clips, or still plugged in electrical cords. I know these things are all well and fascinating but choking is no laughing matter and food is dangerous enough without all these other things making trips through your body!
  2. I didn’t let you bang on the glass window with a drum stick repeatedly. My mom brain sees glass shattering and my ears just can’t handle one more sound.
  3. I prevented your sister from carrying you up the stairs by your neck because she is two and thinks that’s how you should be carried. You can thank me later.
  4. Speaking of the stairs, now that you can climb them I’m proud of you. However the method in which you choose to come down them (rolling and tumbling head first) isn’t quite so savvy. Now I’ve had to remove you crying and screaming from the stairs at least 13 times.
  5. I made you be buckled into your car seat. That task alone is enough to count as one full visit to the gym.
  6. I didn’t let you topple the piano bench on top of yourself in your attempts to climb it.
  7. I didn’t let you vault yourself out of the crib because when you’re one foot tall and the drop is closer to three and your head carries a large chunk of your body weight..well bad things happen

So congratulations..I’ve saved your life regularly. Later when you’re two and I leave you at a stranger’s house very briefly on Halloween while Trick-or-Treating (this may or may not have happened this year) – you can remember that at least a few times in your life I kept you from perishing.

 

I’m a Mom in The Middle

When you have kids people ask a lot of questions. “How old are they?” “Boy or Girl?” “Do they sleep all night?” the list goes on and on. Honestly, I don’t mind them. All that is, except one question that has left me with a purely personal – and often simply perceived – struggle time and time again. It’s a common and simple question. “What do you do?” When someone asks this question to a mother they generally expect one of two potential answers.

1.) A brief description of my career/full time employment.

2.) For me to smile and inform them I stay home and raise these babies.

I’ve tried both. I’ve gone insane attempting both. I’ve struggled with what that means for me as a parent.

I was never the girl who fantasized and dreamed of being a mother. I knew I liked kids and wanted them “some day” but it wasn’t some big end goal for me. Funny how meeting the right man can start a chain reaction of change. I love being a mother. I’m just not cut out to sit at home day in and day out as one. Before anyone goes off on me about the MANY things a stay at home mother does let me tell you I know. I tried it – briefly. It was exhausting. It was fun. It was messy when it was supposed to be clean. My  kids are probably a bit better off for my attempt.

I needed more. I struggled with that fact. My kids weren’t enough. I needed to have a space outside the home to direct my energy. In order to feel like I was doing my part, I needed to contribute finances directly into our bank account. Clearly I needed a full time job. Right?

A career sounded wonderful. A place for me to see my worth on paper and stay busy, while coming home to love on my kids at night. My mom made it look easy – even though I’m sure a lot of times it wasn’t. So out I went and found a full time job that I loved. It was amazing and refreshing and I worked hard. When I came home at night I was exhausted. The to-do list had piled up. My husband is a police officer working 12 hour shifts so we often pass each other like ships in the night. We moved, my job changed, he got switched back to nights at a new job, we added a third child..I was sinking. Sinking in all the things I wanted to do for my kids  – cuddle them on sick days, attend class field trips, cook dinner at least twice a week that wasn’t previously frozen, be home for them at night when their dad had to work. Sinking in all the things I wanted to do for myself – feel like I was giving something back in the community, be part of the “adult” world, be able to contribute to my family’s financial security.

That’s how I ended up a mom in the middle. I work part-time.  As a life-guard at the Y and also as a substitute teacher. Still when you are a nearly 30 year old woman and you tell people your job is a life guard at the Y they look at you a little..odd..for a moment. In this I often feel like a mom without a tribe – a mom in the middle. I don’t have a “career” that is leading me towards some beautiful retirement and I don’t spend each day cuddling these minions and taking them to story time at the library. Some days I have to work all day, some days I don’t. Some days I make decent money, other days my pay checks are well..minimal. It’s been hard for me to come to terms with the fact that while not always glamorous, this is the balance I need. That our family needs, especially with a parent who is gone many evenings and nights and sleeping during the day on a regular basis. So I’ve taken some time to figure out what it is “I do.”

I protect lives – my children’s lives and maybe yours if you come for a swim.

I go  to those school events and kids activities I want to be at – because I have that flexibility.

I give us the financial flexibility to go on dinner dates – because sometimes an extra $30 is all you need.

I love – my family, my odd jobs, writing because I have the time.

I live a life as a mom, a sometimes worker, a wife, a happy person, a friend, an obsessive Diet Coke drinker.

I am a mom in the middle and as it turns out, that is exactly where I need to be.

(Any amazing photos you see on this website are from the wonderful and talented Nuzum Photo who you will hear more about soon)

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