A Letter to my Son’s Kindergarten Teacher
I know that this year is going to be amazing for Noah. And I know that you are going to be an amazing teacher. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not scared to death of all the changes coming our way.
So this year I have a few special requests of you.
Please foster his empathetic nature. He is so kind and sensitive to other people’s emotions. This can be seen as being too emotional or struggling to pay attention if you don’t take a minute to acknowledge the sensitivity. Please take that extra minute.
Please hold him accountable for his actions and his decisions. Like most 5 year olds, he can be impulsive and self absorbed. Call him out on it. Don’t let him get away with not following the rules. He will test every boundary so consistency is key. Please be consistent.
Please keep an eye out for peer pressure. He wants to be liked so badly. He thrives on friendship and attention. This is a dangerous combination if he chooses the wrong friends. Please help him choose kids that like him for him.
Please be patient with me. While I will try my very best to not be a helicopter mom (as my husband makes hovering, helicopter noises behind me), he’s my first baby in school and this is really hard. I’m going to ask a lot of questions. I’m also going to do my best to let my son use his own voice. Please listen to his voice so that I can do a better job at not hovering. And just know that I’m going to cry. Probably a lot.
Noah is sweet and silly. He goofs off and gets frustrated. He gets really excited when he does well and throws a mean tantrum when he fails. Please guide him in the right direction. You’re in charge of setting the stage for the rest of his academic career. Please help him and me to get off to the right start. I’m scared and excited. I can only assume you are too.
Taking a Shower after Having a Baby
I never thought that taking a shower would be such an ordeal. I never imagined that along the way I would forget taking care of myself used to come so easily. But having a baby changes things.
Since I got home from the hospital with my perfect, healthy newborn, I have remembered that life with a newborn is always a new adventure to be navigated.
The shower, for example:
1. My boobs hurt! You would think that when the warm water hits my boobs that it would feel good. Lies! All lies. It hurts! In fact, when anything hits my boobs it hurts. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm water, cold water, or anything else, it hurts. Even when I dry off after the shower, the towel itself feels like sandpaper on my incredibly sensitive breastfeeding nipples.
2. My boobs leak. I forgot along the way, over the past five years, that any and everything makes my boobs leak. Just thinking about my boobs leaking makes my boobs leak. After the shower, if you wonder what that wetness is dripping down on your feet, it’s your boobs leaking.
3. I feel like I need to get permission to take a shower. I know that this is not the case. But in order for me to take 15 to 20 minutes off in order to take a shower, I have to check in with all parties to make sure that they can watch the baby while I take a shower. Then while in the shower, I hear the baby cry and I feel like I need to rush my shower in order to take care of the baby. My husband suggested, after I told him I felt guilty, that I wait until after I put the baby to bed for the night to take my shower but, that means I could sleep even less than I’m already sleeping. No thank you.
4. I just feel so gross. Between not being able to shower on a daily basis, wearing the same clothes day after day after day, and having another human being attached to me non-stop, I feel gross. There is no rhyme or reason to this, I just feel gross. Being pregnant sucks for a lot of different reasons, but at least I was able to shower on a regular basis. I might not have been able to see my feet or my downtown region but I was able to shower daily. Taking care of a newborn eliminates that possibility.
You never really think about the importance of a shower until you don’t have one. It doesn’t really feel like one of those first world problems until the ability to take a shower is a luxury. And then comes the mommy guilt because at the end of the day, I’m complaining about a shower when I’m responsible for another human being’s existence. I feel like a terrible person because I want to put the baby down and take a frickin shower. But then the baby screams and cries and wants to be on the boob and now I’m a terrible person who selfishly just wants to be clean.
Maternity leave should be called dirty mommy leave. Or something else similar because… I’m tired and dirty. What was I talking about?
A Sweet Goodbye
Last week, we sold our house. After 10 years, we sold the first home we ever bought together, the home where we started our marriage and our family. While it was a sad and happy time for me, it was only a happy moment for Matt as he was never the biggest fan of the house in the first place.
However, it was the only house that Noah has ever known. We have spent the last 2 and half months looking for houses and keeping the house clean for showings but, after all of that, it was clear to me that Noah was not fully aware of what moving actually meant. We talked a lot about how we would be living in a new house and a new family would be living in our house. That didn’t seem to help clear up the picture.
It still didn’t quite sink in even after Noah met the new family that would be living in our house. He said, “So they’ll be living in the guest room right next to me!?” So I knew we still had some work to do.
And we didn’t even try to broach the subject of how we would be moving away from his best friend next door. I just wasn’t at a place where I could handle the repercussions of that conversation.
However, when moving day finally came, the house was empty, and we were pulling out of the driveway for the last time, Noah did one of the sweetest things I could have ever imagined.
Me: “Okay buddy. We are leaving the house for the last time. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Noah: “Yes. But can I get out of the car to say goodbye?”
Me: “Of course you can.”
So I got him out of his car seat, he walked up to the house, and placed his hand on the siding. Then it happened.
Noah: “Goodbye house. Thank you for letting me live in you. Thank you for keeping my family safe. Thank you for letting my dogs play in your yard. Thank you for watching my toys while I was at school. Thank you for loving me just as much as I love you. I love you so much and I will miss coming home to you every day. I hope your new family is good to you. I love you.”
Me: [Sobbing like a giant, pregnant baby.] “That is so sweet buddy. Are you okay?”
Noah: “Yeah. I’m fine mommy. I’m ready to go now.”
It’s these moments when I remember how sweet and innocent they are. When the most important things in life are family, dogs, and toys. And when coming home is the most comforting thing to happen to you all day. On to new adventures.
Matt and I work very hard to make sure that Noah is growing up in a body-positive environment. We don’t talk negatively about our bodies, his body, or any other people’s bodies in hopes that he won’t develop any body image issues as he begins to develop. Or at least give him a strong foundation to build strong self-esteem.
Along with positive self-talk, we also have a “no shame” rule about nudity in our house. We don’t wander around naked but, we also don’t go out of our way to hide ourselves or cover up when getting out of the shower. We’ve had all of the talks about privacy, private parts, and about how rules are different in our home than they are in public. You know, all the standard stuff.
However, as body positive as we are, I was not quite prepared for the conversation Noah and I had this morning.
He woke up extra early so we stuck him in our bed so he could watch cartoons while Matt and I got ready for work. I had just gotten out of the shower and was walking around our bedroom getting dressed. [Reminder- I am 7 months pregnant and my body has changed quite a bit over the past few months.]
It went a little something like this-
Noah: “Mommy!! Look at your boobs!!!”
I give him a rather dumb-struck look and I say: “Yes. What about my boobs?”
Noah: “They are just RIDICULOUS!!”
I am now staring at Noah with a little bit of disbelief and a little bit of confusion trying to figure out exactly where this is coming from when, Matt, from the bathroom yells: “Yeah buddy! They are ridiculous!” in a rather macho tone.
At this point, Noah gives me a sheepish grin so I know he knows what he said was inappropriate yet incredibly funny. I have to now deal with my incredibly immature husband and try not to laugh so as to not encourage such behavior.
And, if I do say so myself, my boobs are rather fabulous. Thank you.
As you know, Mother’s Day was this past weekend. Noah’s school had a special Muffins with Mom event and all of the moms were invited. Well, his teacher had mentioned it to me a week before but, because we have about 90 things going on at once, I forgot. Thankfully, I noticed a sign-up sheet on the door on my way out which prompted me to ask what time I needed to be there. 3pm. Got it.
Well, 2:45pm rolled around, I had already arranged with my boss that I needed to leave early to go to Noah’s school for Muffins with Mom. It takes 15 minutes to get there, I’ve been really busy at work lately so every minute counts.
Well, as luck would have it, I hit every single red light on the way and got behind some very slow and pokey individuals. I get to the school and had to park a very long way away down a hill on the side of the road because there were so many other mothers who were there on time. It was 3:05pm.
As I walk in the door, the director of the preschool was, at that very moment, walking out of Noah’s classroom. She had Noah in her arms, his face was beet red, and he was fighting back tears with every bit of energy that he had. When she saw me, she said, “See Noah. I told you your mommy was coming.” (Dagger to the heart.) He runs as fast as he can and gives me the biggest hug.
I squeezed him and said, “I told you I was coming today.” Just those words were apparently the release he needed to let all of those tears he had been holding in go pouring out of his face. In the saddest, most tearful voice ever, he says, “I-I-I didn’t think you were coming.” (Another Dagger to the heart.)
Well, now I feel like the biggest asshole mom on the planet.
I finally get him all calmed down, face wiped, all smiles. We walk in the room and at least 5 different moms proceeded to tell me how sad and pitiful he was the entire time that he waited for me to get there. “His face was so red.” “He was so strong fighting back all those tears.” “You wouldn’t believe how upset he was.” (Dagger, dagger, dagger.)
Damn. I was only 5 minutes late. I’m here now people.
Then, another little boy in the class who had built some kind of solidarity with Noah because they both had deadbeat moms who were late, totally lost it when he saw me enter the room. He was okay when he and Noah were both mom-less. But now that I was there, the tears came on like waterworks. Well, seconds after this, his mom came in and all the other moms started the same comments. “He was so sad.” “He has been crying like crazy.” Seriously people. Leave her alone!
Well, all the mommy guilt aside, Muffins with Mom was really sweet. Noah got to introduce me and was so proud of his Mother’s Day card that he made me. We ate muffins, drank pink lemonade, and had a nice time. I even took him to the park afterwards so that I could make up for being 5 minutes late.
The other day, as a treat, I took Noah to Dairy Queen for some ice cream. He always chooses vanilla ice cream in a cone. I always get a hot fudge sundae. We are predictable like that.
The Dairy Queen is within walking distance so, to get out of the house and get a little exercise, we walked to get our frozen treats. Getting a 4 year old to walk any further than 12 steps when it isn’t his idea is quite a chore but, I persevered. And, even though he complained the entire time we walked there, he was happy licking his ice cream cone the entire walk back.
When we walked into the house, my sundae was already almost gone but his ice cream cone was still just barely licked and was dripping down his chubby little hands and wrists.
Naturally, all of this dripping ice cream was rather interesting to our dog, Poplar, who immediately began following Noah around waiting to clean up any drips (she’s a great cleaner that way).
Well, all of the following and licking made Noah a little flustered and, before I knew it, he was screaming to me from the living room that Poplar was eating his ice cream.
I walk out to find Noah standing with an empty cone, pile of vanilla ice cream splattered on the floor, and our black lab, Poplar, helping herself to the splatter. So, I do what any good mother would do.
I got a bowl and a spoon, scooped up the remaining ice cream, checked for any random hairs or dirt, and handed it right back to Noah. He immediately stopped crying and all was right with the world.
Celebrating Small Successes
I’ve written several posts over the past few weeks that I haven’t published because I have been trying to make an announcement. Most of them were too corny, too negative, or too blah to be worthy of my news. So, in my brutally honest fashion…
We are over-the-moon excited about our new family and can’t wait to meet Noah’s new little brother or sister. However, this news has thrown some curve balls my way.
For starters, right at the 6 week mark, the nausea and vomiting started. Everyone said that it would pass. Everyone said that it’s just part of the first trimester. Well, everyone was wrong and I hate them.
I have thrown up every day, multiple times a day, for the past 11 weeks. And just when I thought I had it all figured out (which is code for “I was living on saltine crackers, rice, and Gatorade”), my body would decide that saltine crackers and rice made me vomit.
Let’s just say that I have been really fun to live with and work with.
Now, after rearranging my diet and eating schedule about 6 different times, I am finally on a 3 day streak with no vomiting. I’m gonna count this as a win.
Then, as if the universe was not satisfied with my attempts to thwart its plan to make me miserable, last week, I came down with the noro virus. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had the noro virus but, please take my advice, avoid it at all costs! Screw you, universe!
However, I managed to beat the noro virus without having to go to the hospital, without getting too dehydrated, and without sending myself into premature labor. I’m gonna count this as a win also.
So now, at 17 weeks pregnant, I’ve got a decent-sized belly, I am absolutely in love with maternity pants, Matt and I are selling our house because we need more room, and Noah is beyond excited to be a big brother.
New baby due late this summer… Success!
Fruit Snacks are the Devil
A few short months ago, if you had the opportunity to rummage through my purse, you would have always been able to find at least 4 packs of fruit snacks at any given time. Why? Because my kid was obsessed with them. He insisted on having at least 2 when you picked him up from school every day; they kept him occupied while I got my grocery shopping done; and they held him over if dinner was running behind. We eventually had to set a limit of no more than 2 packs per day.
Then, after a routine cleaning at the dentist, we got a referral to a pediatric specialist for a few too many cavities showing up on his dental x-ray.
My first reaction, I’m not gonna lie, was to ask if we could just pull all of those teeth. They’re going to fall out anyway, why not take care of that now and get a big cash-in from the Tooth Fairy early? After a very judgmental look from the pediatric dentist, I was told that the cavities would have to be filled and that one of the cavities was so bad that Noah would need a crown.
A CROWN!!!! ON A 4 YEAR OLD!! Seriously.
She then told me to cut back on the juice and soda. I informed her (trying to recover some sense of dignity) that the child doesn’t drink juice and he has never even had a soda. I then mumbled under my breath while simultaneously coughing, “But he does eat a lot of fruit snacks.”
She exclaimed, “Oh no! That’s one of the worst things you can give a child!”
Cue the mommy-guilt. You might as well call child protective services now. I’m an unfit mother.
This onslaught of mommy-shaming turned me into a drill sergeant about dental hygiene and sugar. Needless to say, he is no longer allowed to have fruit snacks. And he is no longer allowed to brush his own teeth. In fact, his tooth brushing regimen might include me putting him in a headlock. Whatever, it works.
Well, yesterday was the day for him to get his cavities filled and get the crown. He was pumped about going because it meant he got to miss a full day of school and the pediatric dentist has awesome toys and prizes.
I, however, having read the numerous pages of paperwork and anesthesia warnings, was a nervous wreck. I’m not going to confirm this but I may have done a good bit of vomiting the night before.
Once we get there, bright and early, Noah plays with the toys and I get to, once again, go over all of the warnings and health history questions (not to mention handing over a small fortune). I’m doing pretty a pretty good job at concealing the anxiety. My husband calls it “Get shit done” mode.
They give him a very small cup of Versed (medication used in children before a procedure or anesthesia to cause drowsiness, decrease anxiety, and cause forgetfulness of the procedure) and we go to a small room to read a book and wait for the medicine to kick in. In less than 10 minutes, Noah gets this sheepish grin on his face, leans forward, and topples, head-first out of the recliner. I manage to catch him before he hits the ground, thank goodness.
He proceeds to yell at me like a drunk person about a My Little Pony sticker. He says over and over again (and imagine this in a drunk college-kid slur), “Where’s my Pinkie Pie sticker? Mommy, mommy, mommy, where did you put my Pinkie Pie sticker?” He then sat there, all smiley, just saying “mommy” and giggling.
I began to wonder if they gave him medication or straight whiskey.
Well, I was sent back to the waiting room where I could just stew in my own anxiety. Turns out, I was nervous for nothing because he was an excellent patient. Everything went great and now he has a shiny, silver tooth to show off to all of his friends.
I also got an early glimpse of what he will look like as a drunk college student. Overall, I’ll consider it a win.
The Pumpkin Patch
I have a thing with milestones. I allow myself to get all jacked up around Noah’s “firsts.” Like every other parent, I celebrated and documented the first steps, the first words, and the first tooth. But, because (as I mentioned before) I have a thing with milestones and to be honest, because I am probably a little bit crazy, I tend to take it to the next level.
This being said, last week, Noah’s preschool class went on a field trip to a local pumpkin patch. I paid the $9 admission. And we signed the permission slip. It was then that I noticed a weird feeling in my throat and a tiny hint of a lip quiver like I was about to cry.
As a counselor, I constantly remind my clients to listen to their bodies and take note when something triggers a somatic response. I do my best to practice what I preach and I could tell this might be one of those moments that I would need to do some serious self-assessment.
The field trip was on a Tuesday. The Thursday before, I started asking about logisitics (trying to appear calm and inquisitive and not crazy and stalker-like). I fixated on the fact that Noah didn’t have a class t-shirt.
For the summer field trips that they went on (this was before Noah moved up to the preschool class), all of the kids wore matching neon green t-shirts. This made sense to me, seemed safe, great policy. Well, Noah didn’t have a shirt. Obviously this means that the field trip shouldn’t happen, no one is prepared for my kid, the world is over (cue the dramatic music).
After asking several times (again, trying not to seem crazy), everyone determined that the matching t-shirts would not be worn because the kids would have their jackets on the whole time. Fine.
The night before the field trip, I took a minute to reassess how I was feeling about tomorrow’s adventure. My determination: I was not okay. That night, I think I did about 4 loads of laundry, cleaned every surface of the house, and organized 3 or 4 different rooms.
I posted on Facebook that I was having a “helicopter mom moment” about all of my anxiety about Noah’s first field trip (I also may have included the hashtags #iwillnotgetonthebuswithhim and #iwillnotcallhisteacher). The comments poured in and included the following encouraging and supportive thoughts:
- “He will be fine. And cared for.”
- “He’ll be great! Our son has gone on several field trips with their class and the kids always have a good time. It’ll be OK!”
- “He will be safe.”
- “I promise you, he will be fine! Trust me! I’ve done a few of these field trips. He is going to show mama that he’s a big boy.”
While all of the support and encouragement is so appreciated and I am blessed to know that so many people care about me and my kid, none of this helped. Sorry.
The reason none of this helped was because I knew all of these things. My anxiety had absolutely nothing to do with worries about his safety or whether or not he would have fun. My kid will have fun no matter what. He gets excited about everything and soaks up life like a sponge. Plus, I love Noah’s preschool and his teacher. I have no concerns about his safety or his care.
The problem is me.
It is no secret that I am a control freak. I have rules for days. I make lists, I color code, and I know that if I need something done correctly, I do it myself.
The problem is me.
Noah’s first field trip was a formal notice that I am not in control. I had to recognize and accept that someone other than me is going to put him on a bus and take him to have an experience that I have absolutely nothing to do with. I will not be there to take pictures. I will not be there to tell him to be careful. And I will not be a part of this memory for him.
The only thing I can control is me.
So, I controlled the things that I could control.
I talked to him about listening to his teachers and following directions. I dressed him in a brightly colored shirt and made sure he had his jacket and hat. And I took a picture of him to document the morning of his first field trip. (I also may have checked Facebook close to 37 times that day to see when his school posted pictures from the trip, but that doesn’t count as crazy.)
He had a blast. He came home that day exploding with excitement and he was beyond eager to tell me all about the pumpkin patch. I took a minute to reassess my emotions.
I was not sad that I was not there. I was not anxious that I was not in control. I was happy.
I have a confession to make. I am obsessed (and possibly slightly addicted) to Legos. I know. I’m a grown woman, responsible for the care of another human being. And the other night, I spent more than an hour searching Amazon for that perfect set of Legos to satisfy the addiction. I ended up buying the “Lego Elves Nadia’s Epic Adventure Ship.” Why is this perfect? It is a nice balance between a complicated adventure building activity, feminist liberation, and an awesome ship that Noah loves to play with so I can pass it off as a toy for him. Parenting Win!
I am blaming this entire thing on my mother (Yeah, mom. You heard me.) As a kid, I was not allowed to have Legos. I think her reasoning (or so she claims) is that she didn’t trust me not to leave them on the floor and she didn’t want to step on them. While yes, I probably would have left them all over the floor. That is no excuse.
So, fast forward almost 30 years. Noah recently turned 4 and our friends gave him a set of Legos for his birthday. He and I sat down together and built the little construction rig and car. It even had a working wrecking ball!
Something lit up inside me. And, I guess it was cool that Noah enjoyed playing with them too. I was actually excited to take him to Target to pick out more. I was a little bummed to discover that, even when you just buy the box of “plain” Legos, they give you instructions on what you can make.
But, obviously, I went ahead and made the prescribed plane or lighthouse, handed it over to Noah so he could play with it, wait for him to eventually break it, and then make something new. Legos are like a puzzle that you can do over and over but never the same way. I’m getting excited just thinking about it!
I do have to deal with Noah wanting to use the exact piece that I need to finish my tower. Last night, I actually said, “Sorry buddy, but you’re going to have to stop playing with that piece because I need it for the tower I’m building.” Not my proudest moment.
I did discover that Lego people are not exactly what I expected them to be. For all of the sets that I had and the ones that I purchased (and it was quite a few), there were only 3 Lego construction people. As I began building castles, Noah quickly claimed them as the King (the one with the beard), the Guard (the other one with the beard), and the Queen (the one without the beard).
So, being the addict that I am, I got on Amazon and ordered directly from China, a whole bag of 20 Lego people. It took forever for them to come and, when they finally arrived, I opened all 20 of these tiny little bags only to find 20 male Lego people. All kinds of male Lego people, but all men. We have pirates and soldiers, musketeers and chefs, artists and Robin Hood. But no females.
Obviously, my next goal was to find female Lego people. But I was disappointed to discover that female Lego people are now part of this new “Lego Friends” world where that have giant heads and don’t look at all like the Lego men. And the Lego Friends sets are hair salons and pool parties. Seriously??
That’s when I went back to Amazon (thank goodness for Prime) and I found these Elves. They are a little androgynous and go on awesome adventures. They still don’t look like Lego men but, to be honest, Lego men are a little creepy anyways. And, I already ordered Lego superheroes from China. I can’t wait for them to arrive! I’ll be Wonder Woman!