Removing the Noise

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The husband and I just returned from 7 days in Aruba at an all-inclusive resort.  Some shake their heads at me for all-inclusive but to me it means I don’t pick up a damn thing in my room, I don’t worry about money, I don’t pay for anything, I can fall asleep in the middle of my rum punch and don’t care, I can eat all I want without making it or cleaning up dishes.  Basically I can shed the mom clothing for a while and just be.

I think we can all learn from any vacation if we really want to.  This vacation I would say I learned that I need to start getting better about removing the noise in my life. As we flew further away from our home and closer to a few days of paradise, I could feel my body relax, my stress go away and my brain empty of all the chaos it had been holding.  I’ve had a lot of friends use me as a sounding board lately, which I’m cool with but sometimes it can make yourself feel heavy.  Work was to a breaking point.  The winter blues were becoming suffocating and I felt like the I couldn’t get my brain to stop.

Once we landed there was nothing I could do about any of it.  I had to let it all go.  Power down.  Restart.  Whatever you want to call it.  I had to find my way back to a better place and that we did.

I was no longer the Mom in yoga pants, the supportive friend, the co-worker, the chef worried about what to make for dinner, the maid worried about the laundry and beds being made, the late person to yoga class, or the one balancing everyone’s schedules.  I was just a wife with my husband.  I had no worries for 7 days except to make sure I put on more sunscreen.  I could feel sexy again, I could eat my meal all at once, I could ignore my phone, I could sleep or not sleep, we could have sex every day,  drink more or not, and I could just sit next to my husband and watch the sunset at night with no place else to be.

I emptied the noise from my head.

I emptied the chaos.

I lifted the weights from my shoulders.

I fell more in love with my husband.

I came back feeling more whole.

We do all these things, every year, when we take a trip.  Unfortunately life gears back up and the months float by and the noise fills my brain again.  Which is actually okay because that means we are living.  We are doing the roller coaster ride of life and this is all part of it. I can find myself going back to that place when I need to though.  Finding a few minutes of bliss in memories and that makes it all worth it.

A start to my day

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My work day starts with a 4:30am alarm. Pending the hubs alarm, it could be as early as 3:30am.  I stare at the alarm clock and will myself out of bed, always wondering why the hell the coffee can’t come to me. I return to bed with said coffee and stare at the morning news.  I am not one that can just jump out of bed and start functioning.  Then it is shower, getting dressed, making my breakfast, picking up things as I go, packing Cora for daycare, me for work, wake said child, and fight her to do basically anything because I think she also needs coffee.  Because it is the god damn North Pole outside so we start the truck, did I feed the dog yet? Load the truck, bundle ourselves, load up, and head to daycare.  After drop off I can sometimes make a coffee stop before my 30-45 minute commute, depending on traffic. At my desk to start my day at 8am.

I only do this three days a week.  Much easier than most people and the same routine happening across the country.  A fourth day is similar but it is to get the dog to daycare and Cora to swim lessons in the city.  Not near as stressful.

The world has finally frozen over here and my husband gets a chance to take some days off, today being the first.  I did my routine around him as he watched and got in the way more than anything, then I headed out the door.

He called me, at work, at 8:03am to tell me this:

Did you make it to work? You know, I’m out the door before you 98% of the time and I had no idea how much work it takes to get you and Cora out the door.  All that before your work day has truly started.  I wake up, put my pants on and walk out the door.  No wonder you are tired by the time you hit work.  Thanks for kicking ass at that. I’m sorry I take that for granted.

I sat back in my desk chair and about started crying. That man helps, he helps a ton, he does his fair share in the parenting and household department that I know most women would kill for.  However, the truth is, he isn’t home much to be able to do it.  He thanks me, I know he appreciates what I do and he does often acknowledge me but for some reason, this acknowledgement blew me away.

This was the first time he truly observed, recognized and it all sunk in.  He can say, thanks for making dinner but he didn’t see the true task it took to make dinner. He knows I get up and get out the door in the morning but he doesn’t know how much effort it takes some mornings.  This morning was fairly smooth too.

You, as a mother, are reading this, nodding your head, right there with me.  Power to the mammas…

BUT

Hey, two-way street, I have no idea how labor intensive and crazy his job is.  I mean, I know, but I don’t stand there and witness every move all day.  I can imagine, just as he can but that is really all we can do most of the time.  He is also the one normally getting out of bed an hour before me, going out in the crazy heat or freezing temps and working 15 hour days.  I thank him often for how hard he works for us but unless I walk a mile in his shoes…..

Here’s the thing, it is easy to stand in your own corners and try to one up your partner on who does more, or better, or harder or what the hell else there is to bitch about but isn’t that exhausting after we are already exhausted? I think if a lot of spouses quit competing with one another they would get a lot more done as a team, as parents.  So I urge you today to go home and thank your significant other.  Truly tell them that your are grateful and work towards THAT each day instead of a tally list.  See how far you get.

 

 

 

These are the best days

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I remember when we were building our house, the day the carpet went in.  I was so excited to have carpet again as the place I had been living in was wall to wall wood floor, which gets old.  That night we went into the empty house, laid on the carpet, and watched Rebecca turn cartwheels, literally.  I was so excited to have a house, with soft carpet and the hubby and I talked about where we would put our first Christmas tree.  A random memory but one that stuck with me.

Fast forward to this past Friday night, laying on that same living room floor that was now layered with blankets.  Cora had the flu and our make shift floor bed seemed to be the best idea to handle all the puke.  She laid in between us, restlessly sleeping, so out of it, my husband snoring, the dog at our feet.  I was in and out of sleep waiting for the next round, staring at the lights on the Christmas tree, exactly where we said we would put it 4 1/2 years ago.  The house and world seemed perfectly dark and calm.

So much has happened, so much life in this house already.

Raising kids, I have had so many older people look at me, with nostalgia in their eyes, and say You are living the best days of your life.  Often my sleep deprived, busy, crazed self wonders how but for some reason, the other night, smelling of puke, I agreed.  These are the days we miss a family Christmas and watch movies on the couch with a toddler who normally never slows down.  These are the days that we pile next to the Christmas tree to sleep as a family.  These are the days that we determine who bathes the puke covered toddler and who scrubs down the puke covered crib while we laugh so we don’t cry.  All made even better when you finally sneak out as a couple, at the end of the long weekend, and catch those reservations for a nice dinner.  You sit down, take that first sip of wine, order a nice steak and your husband dashes to the bathroom because one of us had to be next for the flu.  It was all of these moments that forced me to pause a little bit and suddenly, I finally found a little bit of the holiday cheer I felt I had been missing this year. Can you imagine that is what it took?

These are all the moments that we will look back on and laugh.  The moments where you feel like you won’t make it to the end. The moments that keep you on the end of your rope.  But all these moments bring us closer together and continue our story as a family, as crazy as it may be.

I hope you are all finding your little moments and your holiday cheer, even if during the strangest times.

Cora’s Second Birthday

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Cora-

It has been two months since we have celebrated your second birthday but I knew I would get to your second birthday letter eventually.

We celebrated with a puppy themed birthday party, at our home, with 50 of your closest friends and family for 10 hours.  I say that jokingly because our house was stuffed to the brim with bodies, presents, children and most importantly a lot of fun and laughter, while it poured down rain outside.  Luckily, we could shove all of you kids in the bounce house, in the basement, to burn off some serious excitement.  You had a blast.

Look at us, we made it, two years.

You are no longer a babbling baby.  You are a little person with your own opinions, thoughts and ideas about life.  You talk full sentences which helps us know all those lovely opinions.  It also helps you sing along with the radio, which weirds me out how you know all the words.  You are so good at conveying your emotions though, either through signing or actual words.  Currently, if we ask why you are crying, you will say I just don’t know right now!  Cracks us up enough to make you laugh as well.

You still sleep with a binky and I really don’t care because I see that baby still tucked in her crib at night and soak it up.  You have been potty training on your own for several months now but lately decided to kick it up a notch and take it more seriously.  I’ve been letting you take the lead on that which has been nice. I don’t foresee too many more diapers in our future.

You absolutely love puppies and animals in general, which is why we spend a lot of time at the zoo.  You have also been obsessed with jumping.  We recently had to take down your trampoline for the winter but thankfully you have a bounce house to help feed your jumping habit.  The kids gym is another favorite place to go because not only can you jump there but you can swing off the rings into the pit.  I see bungee jumping in your future. The day you turned two, you moved out of your baby swim class and into your own toddler class where mamma no longer needs to get into the pool.  While I was thrilled about this, you were not, but you are such a fish.  You can get a few feet under water by yourself and can hold your back float, alone, for 5 seconds.  It is so impressive.

When you hit 18 months you finally let you grandparents hold you, without screaming.  In the past few months we have been able to leave you, at home, with a legit babysitter.  What I’m saying is, you are finally handling some people a bit better which eases mammas stress a little bit.  You are still quite picky about which people but I will take it.  In the long run I just think you are a really good judge of character!

One of the longest running issues with you has been that horrible car seat.  The day we turned you forward facing was life changing for us.  I don’t want to pull my hair out taking you somewhere now and you love that you can point out all the big trucks on the road.  You still really love your trucks, especially the ones on daddy’s job sites.

You officially have friends now and ask about them when you haven’t seen them in a while.  I’m going on record to say that Wade will one day take you to a high school dance and no one will be shocked.  You two love one another so much and your little mind exploded the day he came to our house to play.  It helps his Mom likes wine too:)

You are definitely my little side kick and are always up for an adventure.  You think your daddy hung the moon and will still fall asleep with him, in your rocker, which makes me a bit jealous.  You love your aunt and love when she gives you baths the most because she fills the tub way too high.  You are well-behaved but you do have an irish temper in there. Sometimes you put yourself in time-out because you know you need a second to sort your emotions out.

I said it when you turned 18 months but again, you are getting easier the older you get.  Some days we totally have our shit together and other days we are a hot mess and can’t get out the door.  At the end of every day though, Daddy and I are so very grateful for you.

Happy second birthday toot-toot.  We love you.

 

Second baby conversations

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I’ve made it pretty clear, here and in my real life, I have really not been up to the idea of a second baby.  I have never said never but I have certainly not been in the camp of wanting to go for a second.  I haven’t had that pull and I have certainly had my reasons.  However, my husband and I have kept the conversation open.  Sometimes it comes up more often than others but it is a rolling topic that evolves every time.

My husband has always wanted a second and not for the desire to just have a son, as so many assume.  He really does want a second child in general.  I’ve never closed the conversation off because I believe he has a say in our child total just as much as I do.  I don’t think it is a one-sided thing.  Sure, I am the primary parent, I have to carry/labor the baby, etc. but at the end of the day this is our marriage and family.  We believe that until both of us are happy with the solution we shouldn’t stop the conversation.

Recently we sat down and really dug into the possibility of a second child and it was me who started that conversation. I have realized that the repeated shelving of the conversation was giving me anxiety…the what if, the when, the undecided.  As a type A person I was ready to make a plan and my husband was open to options.

First and most importantly, I’m finally to the point with Cora that I can breathe a bit.  She might have been a difficult infant due to sleep and eating issues but I’m just going to go ahead and throw out she is a damn easy toddler.  We DO have our moments/days but life is so much easier now.  Go ahead and tell me that will bite me in the ass, I don’t care.  She is still well ahead of the game for her age, she listens, she sleeps, she naps, she is potty training, she no longer screams non-stop in the truck and she is so helpful around the house, in a fun way. So why would I want to ruin that, you ask? It is more about how I can finally picture fitting a baby in our life now.  I never could before because I felt like I was drowning in all of the no fucking sleep and screaming during every car ride because car seat!

I’ve also never wanted to rush Cora into growing up.  I just wanted to soak up as much of this time as possible and not ruin it with TTC issues. I wanted her, in a way, to be apart of the decision.  Some of you now think I have lost my mind but seriously. I wanted her to be old enough to understand what was going and you could say she does.  I can tell you I would be fine to tell her no fucking way if that was the decision but it really does help us out.  She has literally asked for me to have a baby, she makes me hold the new baby at daycare, she is totally fine with babies coming to our house, using her baby stuff, and her own mommy and daddy giving said baby attention. The kid has baby fever and so does her Daddy.  I don’t feel like I’m going to completely ruin her world if we had another child is what I’m saying.

Facts:  I’m 35 years old, I have known fertility issues, I have heart complications, and I am a high risk case.  I don’t want to say the clock is ticking but it is.  Does that mean I want to pull the goalie yet? No.  However, we decided to set a time, in the future, to pull said goalie.  We have allotted how much time we will be without a goalie before going into our fertility specialist.  We have also, again, discussed how far we will take the TTC road until we say no more, if we don’t get pregnant.  If that time in the future comes and I am not 100% ready then we will regroup.

I can’t explain to you how making this decision has helped ease my anxiety. Talking through these things with my husband, for literally two years now, has helped so much.  It doesn’t mean I still won’t be all over the board about this but it is all becoming a bit clearer for us.  I’m grateful to have a wonderful marriage and a great man by my side to work through this with.  At the end of the day our family is happy and healthy, which is the most important thing.

 

When your final day has come

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My Dad died two days after Cora turned 2 and two days before our 5 year wedding anniversary, on a Sunday, at the age of 57.  He squeezed himself right in there just so we wouldn’t forget.

We packed up the truck with everything but the kitchen sink, prepared to stay at my Mom’s for a week and headed out.  This is the part where I could tell you how the week went.  I can tell you how many home cooked meals were dropped off, bottles of wine handed to us, and how many farmers just pulled their combines right over next to my Mom’s house to stop in and pay their condolences on the way to the next field.  I could tell you how he looked, how we planned the funeral, the family drama and the off-handed comments that people made.  The thing is, I have talked about that over and over.  It is what I talked about in passing with only my sister and husband that brings me here.

The thing is I spent a week in that small town, the same place I grew up, the place of country songs.  I saw people I haven’t seen in years, friends, family, old neighbors, and the like.  A huge line streamed through for visitation and then the next day for the funeral and luncheon.  We all stood, hugged people, shook hands, accepted their words of sympathy, and listened politely as they told stories and memories of my father.  All those people, hundreds of them, that knew my Dad for one reason or another.  They all said something yet not one of them said the most important things.  Not one person looked any of us in the eyes and said You know, your Father loved you kids. He lived for his kids.  You know, your Dad loved your Mom more than anything.  Your Dad was such a family man.  Not one person that whole weekend said anything in regards to my Dad and his own family.

What did they talk about?  His love for hunting, fishing, and all the times they shared a good beer with him.  The beer stories were normally followed up with a story about how they all got into trouble over something.

I hope at my funeral someone says how much I loved my child, how much my husband meant to me, followed up by how I was a good friend.  Isn’t that the end goal? Isn’t that the basics?  Because isn’t that we walk away with?

To make matters worse for all of us, my mother suddenly turned my father into the picture of perfection.  Not a man who never helped her, not a man she almost divorced several times, not a man who drank too much but instead, a man who just loved hunting, fishing and America.  She, also, forgot to mention herself and the three kids but I didn’t point that out.  She was riding some sort of weird death train.

I walked away, not having shed one tear, even as some stood and sobbed in front of me.  It isn’t that he was a horrible man, he just was there and then he wasn’t for me. People don’t have to understand that.

I will say, this new normal my family has, the one that doesn’t have an Alzheimer’s cloud over it, is refreshing.  Years of this weight holding us down is gone.  Someone at the funeral, who understands this disease, said there are worse things than death.  This is so true and we have known it all so well.  We can now move freely without guilt and stress.  I would say, together, we are all starting a new chapter as a family.

Finally.

 

 

As the end nears

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Tomorrow my little girl turns two.  Next Tuesday we celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary.  Somewhere between today and next week my Dad will die and we will have to bury him.  To piss me off I’m sure he will die on her birthday and we will bury him on our anniversary.  His one last “fuck you” to me.

We are on a roller coaster right now.  We have been on this roller coaster, with my Dad, for over 5 years now and the speed is quickly picking up. Alzheimer’s has slowly taken him over the years to the point that we grieved the loss of him a long time ago.  His physical self has been here, on earth, tormenting us for years.  You may find that a horrible statement, some do, but my Dad is 57 years old and Alzheimer’s has robbed him of everything.  We were back home, with my Mom and Dad, last weekend when things really started going down hill.  We moved him into a hospice house on Sunday evening and then our waiting game of “any moment now” started.

“Any moment now” is an exhausting place to be in.  My mother likens it to the end of a pregnancy when you think you will never have that baby.

My mom has worked as a hospice nurse since we were little and now she is having her own turn, with her own spouse.  Perhaps that is where we get our comfort level with death.  I remember as a child mom throwing us in the car, showing up at someone’s house and we would sit in the kitchen, quietly coloring, while someone took their last breathes in the living room.  You know, circle of life stuff.  Then we would have to go home and finish up homework.  Life just moved on.

Level-headed as can be, our family has been ready for this for 5 years while clearly those around us have not wanted to accept it.  If you have ever been in a place like this with your family members, you get it.  You get that there really is a better place.  You get that they are gone already.  You get that it is time to move on.  You get that a mourning time has happened already.  If you have never been in this place, then you judge us for not being emotional enough, for laughing when you think there shouldn’t be laughter.  The fun part is, we give no fucks any longer about what people are saying behind our backs as the end nears.

So we continue to plan for a 2 years olds party this Saturday.  We field phone calls, we take visitors, we finalize funeral plans, we go through old pictures, we debate if some of these moments call for a Rose or Merlot.  We send funny memes to Mom, to read to Dad, because some of this shit he would laugh over, probably already is and Mom could use some humor right now.

The next week is going to be long.  It will be full of a lot of things but I’m really looking forward to how much love it will be filled with.  It will actually end with good memories, believe it or not.  These moments are truly what you make of them and we are choosing to keep it positive. After all, I still find October to be one of the most magical months.

 

 

Nearing the second birthday

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We are nearing in on Cora’s second birthday and I am making my way down the checklist of things to do for the big day.  Once again, this year, we are not only celebrating her second birthday but we are celebrating everyone who helped get us to this point!

As my husband and I worked on the guest list, we got real.  I want people to be there that are a part of Cora’s life.  Not the people who she sees once a year at Christmas.  I want to raise a glass to the people who she has slowly, ever so fucking slowly, let in her life because she hates people. I want to have the people there that actually want to be there. The people who are normally lounging around our house on wine night or come to crash at our place for a long weekend, the people that are raising their kids next to mine, the people that know to use my bathroom after Cora goes to bed because the guest bathroom flushing will wake her, the people who know how to get their own drink out of the fridge without asking me first.

The real people.

The people who turned last years party into a 12 hour event.

We didn’t include certain people, mainly my husband’s sister, brother and their significant others.  Trust me, my MIL gave us a look until we explained that no shits are given on our end.  I don’t believe that just because they are blood, they are family.  Cora has no clue who they are.  They come to town and don’t stop by. They know nothing about her, don’t ask about her and generally they are strangers to her.  Honestly, I’m totally cool with it.  I don’t understand people who get so worked up about family and keeping in touch.  You really can’t force it and I know my girl has so many other wonderful people who are there for her, backing her, watching her grow up, and people who really do give a damn.

The first birthday was a way to celebrate keeping our infant alive and our brains somewhat intact.  The second birthday is a way to celebrate the tribe we have surrounded ourselves with.  It is a way for her to celebrate with a few of her friends while the rest of us kick back, enjoy some good laughs and for us to personally thank everyone for helping us and supporting us as parents.  We are so grateful.