Sleep Deprivation is real

The dazed look of a new mother is expected by, pretty much, all of society. Because you have a newborn, no one cares if you send unintelligible emails, flip out for no reason, or fall asleep during conversations. But, as your child gets older, people just assume that your kid sleeps more like a normal human being and you gradually get your life back together.

These people have apparently never interacted with a 3 year old boy. Or maybe, I am the crazy one that has a child that just never needs any sleep. Maybe, my kid is the anomaly that has somehow evolved to a level where unlimited energy actually gets stronger and more potent the less sleep he gets. It certainly feels possible.

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I just don’t understand how a 40 pound child can run (and, when I say run, I mean “Watch how fast I can run!” and “Look mom! I’m the Flash!” and “Hey! Let’s race all of the time but you better let me win or I’ll throw a tantrum” kind of running) all the time. Always. And yet, he rarely sleeps. Matt and I have to bribe and beg to get him into the bed by 9pm. We have set up schedules, routines, story time, relaxing bath soaps, night-lights, and more “incentives” than I care to admit. (I bought a Glow Worm the other day, in the infant section, seriously.) And he still won’t fall asleep until 10pm, wakes up 2 to 3 times throughout the night, and still refuses to nap during the day.

So, I challenge the notion that parents of newborns are more tired than parents of toddlers. And I would argue that I now have the bodily evidence to support this assertion.

About a month ago, after multiple nights in a row of getting up 4 or more times for bad dreams, to be covered up, to take him to the potty, or because “Mommy, I just want you,” it was Sunday night. I had read (what felt like) 16 books and I sang “You Are My Sunshine” so many times the tune kind of sounded like “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “Farmer in the Dell” mixed together. My eyes were so puffy and strained that the glow of the night light gave me an instant headache.

I finally decided he was completely asleep so I stood up to tiptoe out of his bedroom.  On my way out, I noticed a bunch of extra cups and snack bowls laying on the floor so I picked those up too.  I crept as quietly as possible out of the room, eased the door shut as gently and slowly as possible, winced every time the floor creaked ever so slightly under my feet, and turned around to go downstairs and drink a much needed glass of wine.

Apparently, however, I didn’t realize how close to the top of the stairs I was (how could I realize anything since I hadn’t slept in 6 months!?).  I felt my right foot desperately grasp for the top stair only to find empty air beneath it.  My left foot followed suit and went flying as well.  My entire body is falling fast and yet it totally felt like everything was moving in slow motion.  Next, my ass made a giant thud on the edge of the middle stair and sent throbbing pains up my back.  Then, the back of my head cracked against the top stair, my glasses shot off of my face and ended up on the landing 7 steps down.  When my head hit, I saw a flash of light that hurt way worse than the glow of the nightlight.

When I finished falling, I laid in a crumpled ball on the landing.  Matt came rushing to me with a look of straight fear in his eyes.  I laid there in silence for a good minute or two.  And my first words to Matt were not about my throbbing ass, my fear that I had a concussion, or the state of my glasses.  All I could think was whether or not I woke up the baby.

The next morning- this was the bruise on my ass.

The next morning- this was the bruise on my ass.

My ass about 5 days after the fall.

My ass about 5 days after the fall.  The bruise was about the size of my entire hand (we’re talking whole ass cheek bruise.)

The power of the unicorn

For those of you who haven’t seen the giant bags under my eyes and the giant yawns that happen throughout the day, you might not know how insanely tired I am.  You might not be aware that, since August 2014, Matt and I have alternated nights putting Noah to bed which consists of multiple elaborate steps involving anywhere from 5 to 10 readings of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, a wide variety of requests for different (and very specific) toys located throughout the house, different beverages and snacks, and numerous trips to the bathroom where he may or may not need to pee.

Early on in this “adventure,” Matt and I both were able to outlast the kid and tip-toe out of his room some time before midnight (only to be beckoned back at 2:30am on the nose every time because he woke up in a panic because we weren’t there).  We would end up going back in there and, instead of trying to figure out how to get him back to sleep and sneak out again, it just became easier to curl up and try to get at least a few more hours of sleep.  As the months went by and nothing we tried worked, eventually the lack of sleep prevailed and we didn’t even try to get him to sleep in his room alone.  We even moved a second mattress in so that we didn’t have to share a single twin bed with a twisty and wiggly 3 year old.

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For the past 7 months, Matt and I have pretty much been working on auto-pilot because we have been so sleep-deprived.  We snap at people and at each other over silly issues.  Instead of talking to each other when we do have a moment alone (which is rare) we totally zone out and use as little energy as possible.  And on the random nights when we could have probably convinced Noah to sleep in his room by himself, we were just too tired to even try to figure out how to go about doing something different so we just figured out whose turn it was and said goodnight.

Then one day, I got a call from a friend saying that she was getting rid of a really nice twin bed frame and she wanted to know if I wanted it for Noah.  [We tried the whole twin bed frame thing in September but it was my bed frame from childhood- which was metal.  Noah spent all night getting up and rummaging for toys to bang against it to see what kind of noise it made.  That bed frame went back into storage with a quickness and we just put the box spring and mattress on the floor.]

We brought the bed frame home from my friend’s house and showed it to Noah.

Noah: “Mommy, I love it!!”

Me: “Do you know what this is?”

Noah: “Yeah, it’s a big boy bed!”

Me: “And, did you know that big boys who sleep in big boy beds sleep in their room by themselves?”

Noah: “Well, let’s just leave it in the garage then.  I’m still little.”

So, all of the wind was knocked out of my sails until one day that same week, Noah started asking for a unicorn.  Out of nowhere, he began asking us to get him a toy unicorn 3 or 4 times a day.  I don’t know where this request came from but he wouldn’t give it up.  So, because (as noted earlier) I am exhausted, I went out to the fancy toy store and bought a really cool unicorn figurine.  I brought it home and, instead of giving it to him, I tucked it away with a plan.

The next morning:

Noah: “Hey mommy.  Can I have a unicorn?”

Me: “You know, big boys who sleep in their rooms by themselves get unicorns.”

Matt: “Oh yeah!  I heard that too.  Don’t you have a big boy bed in the garage?”

Noah: [In a very whiney voice.]  “Yeah. But I think regular boys get unicorns too.”

Well, we kept this conversation going for several days until Saturday rolled around.  We put the bed together and let Noah use the allen wrench to tighten the screws.  We didn’t let him take a nap so that he would be extra sleepy at bedtime.  And, when bedtime approached, we made our way up to the big boy bed.  We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, had a few snacks and some milk, and, before I knew it, he was asleep.

I snuck out of the room more slowly than I have ever snuck before.  I dared not to even tell Matt that Noah was asleep because I didn’t want to jinx it.  We looked at each other with all of the passion and excitement of newlyweds.  And then we immediately curled up in bed and got the best night sleep EVER!

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The next morning, the first words that Noah said when he woke up were, “Can I have my unicorn now?”  I have never been so excited to give someone a toy in all my life.  The next night, it took a little more convincing but, eventually, he was sound asleep in his big boy bed and I was able to sneak out.  This morning, Matt looked at me and said, “Do you realize this is the first time we have slept in the same bed for 2 consecutive nights?”  In a really sad and desperate way, that is the sexiest thing he has said to me in 7 months.  Cross your fingers for us.

Sense of Style

My mother used to tell me that she started fighting with me when I was 2 years old about what I was going to wear that day.  I started very early making sure that I was in control of the appearance that I put forth into the world.  (She also says, in contrast, that my sister would probably still to this day allow someone to lay out her clothes for each morning because that would be one less thing to worry about- to each her own.)

Before I became a mom, and I would hear these stories and think, “She is clearly exaggerating.  There is no way a 2 year old would ever be that difficult.  I mean, you’re the adult.  Just force the kid to wear the clothes.”

I have now discovered, having quite the strong-willed child of my own, that the universe is cruel, has a vindictive and annoying sense of humor, and likes to punish fabulously amazing adults who used to be snotty little assholes.

Fast forward to present day and I would like to outwardly warn the world that Noah is exactly the same way about choosing his own sense of style as I was at the very same age.  It started early when he discovered that he could be a superhero any day of the week… all he needed was a cape.  He received his first shirt with a cape as a present from our neighbors for his 2nd birthday.  From this day forward, Noah was Batman. wpid-img_20140614_111648228.jpg

I then spent the next year searching and looking for more shirts with capes because he suddenly had to wear a cape every day, all the time, even when he slept.  We ventured out to Superman when the Batman shirts were dirty.

Then, the sad, sad day came when his teacher pulled me aside (and this is always terrible news- it is never good news when the teacher pulls you aside) and asked that I no longer send Noah to school in a cape because “he cannot seem to wear his listening ears and a cape at the same time.”

Damn!  She just put it out there like that.  No sugar coating it… No more capes.

He has been okay with it for the most part.  Often times, we have to change into a cape as soon as we get home from school and he is somewhat obliged with a regular, capeless Batman shirt (but deep down, he knows it is not the same).

[I always do feel really sad when I put a regular shirt on him and his sweet little voice asks, “Does this shirt have a cape on it?” I do not like reminding him about the listening ears comment.]

However, remember when I mentioned the cruel and vindictive universe thing??  There is apparently also this crazy phenomenon with southern boys in which they refuse to wear long pants in the winter time.  I remember talking to moms about it when Noah was a baby and thinking, “Even if this does happen, it obviously won’t happen to Noah until he is at least 8 or 9 years old, right?”  When will I learn to shut the hell up?wpid-img_20131018_204918.jpg

Last winter, when he had just turned 2 years old, and North Carolina had the most snow-filled winter in recent history, Noah decided that he no longer wanted to wear pants and developed a very strategic kicking movement that made it absolutely impossible to force him in to a pair of 2T pants.  In fact, he has perfected this move and even added a bit of a pelvic thrust to it that has been known to force his feet into the air with such speed that it may have bloodied my lip a time or two. wpid-img_20150121_074402.jpg

I eventually was able to make myself feel better about the whole process by making him wear really tall socks with his shorts so that only his knees were exposed.  His teachers said they thought it was funny but I could feel their judgment.

I was hoping that the hatred of pants was just a phase and, surely this winter, he would embrace the long pants and admit that 29 degrees outside is way too cold for shorts (oh, and we have regular fights about putting on a jacket too, but that story can wait for another day).  Early in the fall, he actually put on a pair of jeans because we were able to convince him that jeans have pockets and that means he can take toy cars to school (he later informed us that it also meant that he could hide them from his teachers too).  It worked for a little while.wpid-img_20150131_103604994.jpg

Once it really turned to winter and it got really cold outside, the struggle began.  I’m not really sure how it happened but, one day, when I was already going to be late to work and Noah was running around in his underwear because he had managed to defeat me in the battle of “you must wear pants,” Matt suggested that he wear his pajamas pants under his shorts.

“Okay!” Noah says with the most excitement ever and I am just shaking my head and already thinking about what I was going to say when I drop him off at preschool.  [It’s all right… he is clothed, safe, and not showing bare white legs.]

Obviously, this became a thing and he began wearing pajama pants under his shorts every day.  I still had to find shorts that had pockets so he could keep his toy cars hidden from sight.  (Except for the one say that his Ninja Turtles shorts did not have pockets so he kept his shark hat on all day and stuck his toy car under his hat.  Creative, huh.)wpid-img_20150204_074143199.jpg

I even spent last weekend searching the children’s stores trying to find leggings or tights that would fit him and were not covered in ruffles or hearts.  I eventually found striped leggings (that were actually displayed in the boy section at Osh Kosh so I bought them).  I told him they were boy-leggings and he was happy.

And, the teachers have stopped giving him “that look” when I drop him off and the other parents always say things like, “We always love to see what Noah is going to wear today!”

He marches to the beat of his own drum and no one can say that he doesn’t have style.

The motherhood instinct

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Noah at 2 months old.

This weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to a wonderful friend’s house who just had a baby 2 months ago (and when I say “invited,” I may possibly mean emailed, texted, and messaged until she finally let me come over).  Her baby girl is the most precious little nugget imaginable and, I am sure this is no coincidence to how fabulous she is but, we share the same birthday and middle name!  She is destined for greatness, obviously.

But in holding this precious little nugget who has the biggest eyes and the cutest pouty little mouth, I realized something pretty amazing…

Becoming a mother changes you.  It creates something deep inside you that remembers all of the little tricks that work to help soothe a fussy baby (who picked today to refuse to take a nap).  You remember the right positions to place her on your shoulder so that she can rest and look outside at the trees as the wind blows the leaves around.  And you don’t even blink as she drools all over your dry clean only sweater.

Instinctually, I knew exactly what to do.  The anxiety went away and the situation was transformed from holding my dear friend’s gorgeous baby to holding Noah when he was 2 months old.  He smelled the same, had the same soft, weird hairline head, and made the same erratic and adorable faces.  And then, just as nature took over, the little nugget fell asleep.  And I stood, for over an hour, just standing and swaying just as I did for countless hours as I walked around my house 3 years ago when Noah was that age (although, I don’t remember my arms being so sore afterwards with Noah- I clearly need to get to the gym if a 10 pound baby has that kind of effect on my biceps).  The same bounce and sway combination put this precious nugget to sleep that worked on Noah years ago.  And I realized, it’s a mom thing.

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Noah at 1 month old

 

No matter how many years span between now and the potential baby number two, I am forever a mom.  The instinct has been ingrained in me.  I will forever be a light sleeper and the tiniest of sounds will wake me (this will hopefully come in handy as Noah decides that his teenage years are perfect for sneaking out of the house.  Or, possibly worse, sneaking someone in!).  I will always check my gut feeling first to make the most important decisions.  And I will panic with the slightest sense of uncertainty as he ventures out on his own or stumbles into new adventures.  This is the destiny of motherhood.

For now, I can bask in the marvel that is someone else’s new baby.  And I can relish the amazing sensation that comes from basking in someone else’s infant glory and then handing her back to her mother…

Grief sucks

A month ago today, I said goodbye to my sweet Kenan.  The amount of support and kind words I received in response to my farewell to him, Doggie Heaven, has been so meaningful and compassionate and I am truly thankful to all of those that kept Kenan and my family in your thoughts.

It’s been a long time since I lost someone close to me and, while I always knew that I sucked at grief, I had no idea it would be so incredibly hard.  As a counselor, I have all of the tools I need to get through this.  I have helped numerous people deal with grief at many different levels.  I am not afraid to admit that, when I do have a client who is struggling with the loss of someone close to them, I have been known to cry right along with them.  They have always said that it helps them to know that their struggle is real and legit and not easy.

But, without Kenan, I feel so alone and empty and lost in such unfamiliar territory.  It has been a ridiculously horrible month.  Let me first say that, with Kenan’s disease being of a degenerative nature, we knew that we would eventually have to make the decision that we did.  The one thing that I said to Matt (who, for what it’s worth, has lost pets in the past) was that we wait until after Christmas to make the decision.  He agreed and I was left in a weird mix of happiness and denial.  The big problem was that, when I looked at Kenan, I still saw a healthy and energetic puppy who could run for miles without stopping.  My mind ignored his back legs dragging behind him.  I chose not to think about the rubber mats that we had to line the house with so that his feet didn’t slip all over the place when he tried to go to the kitchen.  And I justified his crying and moaning at night as loneliness and aggravation that he couldn’t do the things he used to.

On a Tuesday night, I got up with him around 2:30 in the morning.  I had to lure him outside with jerky treats and I had to carry the back half of him most of the way.  He made it all the way outside to the grass, turned around, and looked at me with eyes that finally admitted, “Mommy, I just can’t do this anymore.”

I sat down with him, outside on our back deck, only in my pajama shirt and bedroom shoes, and I held him while I cried.  It was the first time that I was able to see how much pain he was in.  It was the first moment that I didn’t think of him as a puppy anymore.  And, in that moment, I realized that it never occurred to me that he would die.  I never thought about a time in my life when he wouldn’t be there.

The truth is, I don’t have any regrets about the time that Kenan let me be his mommy.  In fact, he taught me how to be a mother.  His stubborn nature and lack of consideration taught me how to be patient, even when tired and frustrated.  His dislike for the slightest movement or disturbance taught me how to move slowly but surely as I tried to slip out of the room or escape from under the covers.  And his ridiculous antics taught me how to laugh at an impossible situation rather than get angry or upset.

During our last night with Kenan, we brought all of the mattresses down from upstairs and made a giant floor-bed so that we could all sleep as a family one more time.  We spent the night telling funny stories about Kenan.  Matt reminded me of the time that, on his way to Asheville from Chapel Hill, after he and I had a huge fight, he was less than five minutes from his parents’ house when Kenan stood up in the passenger seat and vomited and vomited all between the console and the seat and then tried to lick him in his face. 232323232-fp64=ot-232-=3;-=436=XROQDF-23238683;-663ot1lsi

Then, there was the time that I had to hold Kenan down when he was just a few months old, so that Matt could try and clip Kenan’s toenails.  He wriggled and writhed until, obviously, Matt clipped a toenail too deep and Kenan’s toe began to bleed.  He immediately began howling and crying at a pitch that sounded as though we were beating a cow into submission.  He ran, full speed, up and down the stairs of our rented apartment, leaving a stream of blood everywhere he went.  He never let us cut his toenails again.  We tried taking him to the groomers a few times but, after the 2nd groomer called us and told us never to bring him back again (while we can hear him crying and moaning in the background), we decided that he would just have long toenails.  And then, in the first moments after we said goodbye to Kenan, while sitting on the floor at the veterinarian’s office, I wiped my tears away, blew my nose, and said to Matt, “Do you want to cut his toenails?”  We laughed for a minute and then cried together.

The hardest thing I have ever done is to walk out of the veterinarian’s office and leave Kenan’s body behind.  I could have sat in there for days, just holding him and rocking him.  Matt asked me if I was ready to leave and I just shook my head, “No.”  He sat back down and held the two of us while I cried.

What’s crazy is that, before Kenan finally faded away, I looked down and noticed a large wet spot on the leg of my jeans.  When I looked further, I realized that the wet spot was from Kenan’s tears.  He was crying.  But I don’t think it was sad tears.  I think it was a sign of him letting go.  I think he was trying to tell me that he was ready.  And I think he was excited about being able to run again.  He wanted to go to the dog park and chase the birds in the yard.  He wanted to run to the door and bark at the UPS man.  And he wanted to jump up on the bed and snuggle up beside me on Saturday mornings.

Our house is so much quieter now.  The hardest part is when I walk in the back door after work and no one barks at me to make sure that I am not a burglar.  Poplar, our black lab who just happens to be the sweetest and quietest dog in the world, doesn’t make any noise (unless she stands too close to the wall and her tail bangs against it).  The silence is deafening and it breaks my heart every time.  I spent the first 2 weeks avoiding our house as much as possible.  Matt finally asked me to “try and come back to him” so I worked really hard at spending more time at home.

The truth is, I really do suck at grief.  The empty hole in my chest is still empty and I spend every day “grief-shopping” just trying to fill it.  I realized that as long as I stayed busy or bought “stuff,” I didn’t hurt so much.  But the house is still quiet.  Matt, because he is so wonderful, texted me one day that he was home and we got a package delivered.  He texted, “The UPS man just rang the doorbell and Poplar barked for almost 3 minutes.  It felt safe again.”  I sobbed like a baby.

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Kenan, I desperately miss you.  I’m not sure when this pain will pass but I want you to know that your presence in our lives left such an impact.  I still hear you sometimes.  When I am up by myself or when it gets really quiet, I hear you howling.  I have even turned a looked a few times to make sure that all of this grief has not just been a bad dream.  I hope that you are running faster than all of the other dogs and that you have found a comfortable spot on the couch next to a really warm and still angel.  And I hope that everyone up there has a ton of patience because you really are so amazing if people give you a chance.  I am working every day to get by and to move forward.  But I think about you all the time.  And, even though I know you’re not coming back, I feel you here with me.  I just wish it wasn’t so quiet.

New Year’s Eve- Mom Style

We have never really been huge celebrators of the New Year.  Pre-parenthood, there was the occasional party or night out with friends (or there was that time that we double-dated in Chapel Hill and couldn’t get a cab so, in a drunken and silly decision, my best friend and I took off walking in our fancy clothes and stilettos and got about 3 miles before our soon-to-be hubbies drove up in a cab).  But, overall, most New Year’s Eves have been spent in our house with a couple bottles of champagne and Ryan Seacrest watching the ball drop.

After Noah was born, nothing really changed except we had to be extra quiet, or there was that first year, when Noah was only 4 months old and I think my first minutes of 2012 were spent breastfeeding.  What can I say?  Being a mom is exciting.

Well, this year, I was hoping that maybe, just maybe, we could pull ourselves together enough so that Noah could actually be awake with us to watch the ball drop (after all, I haven’t been able to get him to bed lately until 10pm so what was a couple more hours).  We have been trying to gear him up to be excited about New Year’s for over a week.  We have worked hard on getting him to be ready for 2015 and I think he knows what a New Year’s resolution is (although he does not seem very sold on the idea).

I bought a few extra bottles of wine and champagne so Matt and I would be in the right mindset to handle a few extra hours of the possible tired and grumpy tantrums that we were assuming were in our near future.  I made my traditional giant pot of chili and homemade cornbread so we would have lots of leftovers to eat on New Year’s Day while we watch football (but I did fancy it up with a 3-meat chili: steak, Italian sausage, and beef).

Things were going well.  We ate chili, drank wine, had to stop every now and then to participate in a Paw Patrol rescue mission, it was good.  Then, I made a pretty huge and ill-advised mistake.  I looked at Matt and asked, with all confidence, “Is it cool if I just lay down and close my eyes for a minute?”

Because he loves me, he said yes.  And, before I knew it, Noah had already had a bath, was in his PJs, and was using my leg as an adventure scene for his Paw Patrol pups.  I swear I was only asleep for about 10 minutes but, in super-tired mom-fashion, I think it was more like an hour and a half. wpid-img_20150101_091949461_hdr.jpg

Unfortunately, there was no coming back from my unrealistic power-nap and I took Noah up to his room to get him in bed.  The next thing I knew, it was 2:45am and I had fallen asleep in Noah’s room.  The ball had dropped, Taylor Swift had sung “Shake It Off” and I missed it, and Matt had poured my full wine glass back into the bottle (champagne never opened).

Looking back at 2014, this was actually a rather apropos way to end the year.  Having a willful and freakishly energetic toddler has been exciting and exhausting.  I have never been more tired in my life.  When I was a brand new mom and Noah was nursing every 45 minutes, I only thought I was tired.  Working a full-time job, seeing clients at night part-time, and coming home to play superheroes and pirates is grueling, but worth it.  In addition, the grief that Matt and I are still struggling with after losing our precious dog, Kenan, less than 3 weeks ago is still very fresh.  The stress of Christmas is usually pretty significant but, the stress of Christmas without Kenan was almost more painful than either of us could bare.

I don’t think I will be any less exhausted in 2015.  If I know my son, he will only get faster and stronger and become even more willful as he gets older.  But, as we hang the new calendar with all of Noah’s activities, client schedules, and Matt begins a new career (super excited about having him work closer to home), I am excited about 2015.

New goal for the year: stop falling asleep in Noah’s room.  My back is killing me!

Doggy Heaven

Dear God,

When Kenan meets you tomorrow, I need you to make me a few promises.

Be kind.  He is a very special dog, full of quirks and bad habits.  He is mixed with grizzly bear and teddy bear.  He moves with the speed of lightning and the stubbornness of a thousand mules.  It is easy to shout and push.  But Kenan deserves so much more than forcefulness.  He deserves hugs and snuggles, loving words and mountains of praise.  And, when you feel like you have given all the love and encouragement that you can give, he will surprise you with the nuzzle of his nose, the soft touch of his ears, and the most grateful look in his eyes.

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Be patient.  I’ve always said that Kenan is the kind of dog that only his mother can love.  While some people might describe him as annoying, I would describe him as interesting.  He talks and he cries.  He will never let you watch your favorite show.  And he makes sure that everyone in the house knows what he wants and when he wants it.  But he is loyal and sweet.  He can sense when you are upset or hurting.  And he knows just when to lay his head, ever so gently, right in your lap so you might be distracted, just for a few minutes, from whatever is causing you pain.  You just have to be patient enough to give him the chance.

Be a protector.  Kenan is so used to guarding us that he often forgets to watch out for himself.  He wore a dirt path in our yard along the fence line, and yet, he never once asked for protection in return.  He barked every time someone rang the doorbell or pulled in to the driveway.  And on the random nights that I was home alone and Matt was away, Kenan stood guard by my bedside, without sleeping, just to make sure that I was safe.  Yet, as I watched so vigilantly over him, he still developed this terrible disease.  I watched as his toes began to curl under as he walked.  I looked away as he began to get up more slowly every morning.  And I denied that this was more than just arthritis in an old and tired dog.  And now, as I sit, cuddled up beside him on the night before we take him to the vet to take his final breaths, I blame myself for not protecting him.

Be fun.  He loves to run and chase.  He loves to be mischievous and impish. I can’t count the hours that we played outside, playing a one-sided version of fetch.  I would throw the ball, he would run and get it, bring it back, and then refuse to give it to me so I could throw it again.  Instead, he wanted to play tug, and jump, and wrestle.  We had to put blockades under the deck because of the number of times he crawled under there to hide and couldn’t get out.  And then there’s the time he caught the ground hog…

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Be still.  He doesn’t really like it when you move, or when you’re too loud, or when you disrupt him in any way.  In fact, when he used to sleep under the bed, he would growl if you happened to turn over while on top of the bed.  And, if he snuggles up next to you, don’t move, or shift, or itch your leg.  That also bothers him.

And, as I am not positive if dogs go to doggy heaven or people heaven, please, whichever heaven Kenan manages to smuggle his way into, please help him to find friends.  Help him to discover again how amazing he is.  Help him to be able to come and go back into our lives as we need him.  Help him to remind us that we are not infallible human beings and that we must be grateful for what we have.  Help us to be able to sense him when he visits and be able to love and support him, even in spirit.

I have this ridiculous fear that he won’t fit in when he gets to heaven.  No matter what dog park we went to here on Earth, he was always the outcast.  He was always louder and more vocal than any other dog.  He always ran faster without looking than any other dog.  And he could never quite take the social cues that the other dogs put off.  I hope heaven would be different.  I hope in heaven, there are other dogs with curly tails, loud, boisterous voices, and wildly rambunctious crazy runs.  I need him to know that he is the king of dogs, in heaven, and in our lives.

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I’m desperately afraid that we have made the wrong decision.  And I am even more afraid that we have made the right one.  Kenan, I love you… More than you could ever know.  Thank you for being the best dog, the worst dog, and the most amazing friend I could ask for.  I only hope that you can say the same for me.

The hell that is the hyphen

I have always been the person that does things my own way.  I usually try to think of all of the consequences of my decisions before I dive right in but, obviously, that is not always the case.  However, major life decisions get significant review and consideration before I bite the bullet.

So, when Matt and I got married five years ago, we discussed (at length) my desire to keep my last name.  [I suggested the idea that we both change our names to something new and exciting.  Matt was not amused.] 506b3086d9127e30da001765._w.225_h.225_s.fit_

I never liked the idea that I was expected to change my name.  Plus, I have always loved my name.  It fits me.  Matt, forever avoiding the uncomfortable and confrontational, never really said much else about it.  It was never really an issue.  After all, we had already been together for 10 years, owned a house together, and had shared bank accounts.  The only time I ever really even remembered that we had different last names was when someone got it wrong.

However, when it came time to decide what last name our baby would have, sh*t got real.  My amazingly sweet, funny, and laid back husband put up one hell of a fight.  Since that doesn’t happen often, I really did entertain all of the possible options (my last name, his last name, combo last name, and hyphenated last name).  We talked about it from top to bottom, inside and out.

Finally, when I was about 8 months pregnant, I waddled into my mentor’s office and sobbed.  I had never had so much trouble making a decision before, I was giant and full of hormones, and I needed to make sure that I made the right choice.

I finally figured out the right choice when I thought about 10 years down the road, having to pick him up from school, and some random secretary thinking that I was his dad’s girlfriend or the step-mom.  Decision made.  Noah’s last name was getting hyphenated.

Matt assured me that he understood (although I knew he was lying) and, the day after Noah was born, we signed the paperwork with a hyphenated last name.  Decision made; problem solved.  [Boy, was I naïve.]

In the past three years, I cannot even begin to count the number of times people have screwed up his name, alphabetized him incorrectly, argued with me about what his name really should be, and/or looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.  I have had issues picking up his medicine at the pharmacy, registering him for activities, and getting the right information when I need to call the doctor about something for him.  The first couple of years, it got on my nerves.  In the last few months, as he is getting more involved in different things throughout the community, it is just down right driving me crazy.

So, as Matt is preparing to start a new job and Noah and I will need to rearrange our health insurance options, I decided that, enough is enough.  It is time to change Noah’s last name (which also means changing my last name- the fear about the school secretary is burned into my brain).

Changing my name was, quite possibly, the easiest thing I have ever done.  I walked in to the social security office, waited for less than 10 minutes (and there was a very nice police officer who really loved his job and was very helpful and pleasant).  I met with one of the employees there, gave him my marriage license and, boom, name changed.  I don’t even think I had to sign anything.  It was just done.

[Side note: in talking with other women and friends, everyone seemed to be very nonchalant about changing a major piece of their identity.  When it was so easy at the social security office, I had a moment where I wanted to yell at someone, “Seriously!?  This is my name.  This is a big deal to me!  Why is this so easy?”wpid-img_20141120_073838678.jpg

Well, I am glad I didn’t shout that because, as the universe loves to do so often, changing Noah’s name has been one of the hardest and most complicated things I have ever tried to do.  After getting a different answer from each person I spoke with at the social security office, the vital records office, and the licensing office, I got a hold of someone at the clerk of courts.  She informed me that I needed to hire an attorney and have them draft a petition to change my son’s name because my county doesn’t have any forms that I can fill out.

My first thought, “That’s just silly.  I’m sure she’s wrong.”  My second thought, “Dammit!  She’s right.  I need to find an attorney.”  My last thought, “That’s stupid!  I have the internet.  I can write the petition my self.”  So I did.  And I thought it was pretty awesome.  I found statutes and examples.  Matt and I had the petition notarized and, off to the courthouse I went.  I was so proud of myself.

Then, the lady at the clerk of courts office handed my petition back to me, and smirked.

“Ma’am.  You’re missing a sworn statement that the applicant does not owe any back taxes or past due child support.  You’ll have to resubmit.”

“Seriously?!  He’s three!”

“I understand ma’am.  But the legislative representatives did not take minors into account when they wrote the statute.”

“Seriously!?  [expletive, expletive] Okay.  I will do it again.”

So, I rewrote the petition, Matt and I had it re-notarized, I went back downtown to the courthouse, I paid the $120 it costs to change a birth certificate, and she sent me on my way and told me to wait for her call me.

In the meantime, I went to the DMV to get my new driver’s license.  This shouldn’t be a big deal, right?  People do this all of the time.  Every woman that worked there had some little comment to say about why it took me so long to change my name.

For the first couple of comments, in typical “Callie” fashion, I made a joke about divorce rates and making sure he didn’t snore.  But, after a little while, I started to get angry.  I actually snapped at the lady who said, “I can’t believe your husband actually let you keep your name.”  What the hell, lady?!?

I get back to work, all bitter and fired-up, pull out the temporary license they give you while you wait on the real one to be mailed.  And, par for the course, they spelled my name wrong.  [expletive, expletive] I call the DMV, they tell me I have to come back tomorrow so they can redo the data entry and retake my picture.  He told me I would just get 2 IDs in the mail.

Finally, I get a call from the clerk of courts.  Noah’s paperwork is ready.  Now, I thought I would be able to take the paperwork to the vital records office, get a new birth certificate, and head over to the social security office.  Obviously, it turns out to not be so simple.  Now, I am waiting for the state capitol to legally recognize the name change and inform the vital records office.

Meanwhile, to make matters so much better, just guess how many times Matt has said, “I told you so.”

Best present ever…

Last week was my birthday.  Now, as you grow older and you have kids, obviously, your birthdays are not quite the celebrations that they used to be but, people still send you awesome texts and facebook messages and you feel good.  Awesome, right?

Well, this year, Noah decided to give me the greatest gift a mother could ever ask for.

The morning of my birthday, I got ready, took Noah to school (in which he told his teacher it was his mommy’s birthday and it was really cute), and went to work.  Around 9:30am, one of my coworkers said, “Hey, why is your eye so red?”  I told her that I had just been messing with it and it was probably just irritated.  By noon, my eye was a bit watery so I ran home at lunch and took my contacts out.  No biggie.  By 2pm, my right eye was almost swollen shut, goopy, and runny.  And, to make the day even better, my left eye was now bright red too.

You guessed it!  The best present in the world that a 3 year old boy can give to his mommy on her birthday is… wait for it… PINK EYE!!  To make matters worse, 2 days later, we discovered that he had given the pink eye to daddy too!  Who doesn’t love a gift you can share with family?!

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I was able to get to the eye doctor right away, get some drops for me and Matt, and start the healing process.  Against everyone’s advice, I took the time away from work and parenting to go shopping and spend my birthday money.  And I actually spent it on myself!!  (Although I did buy a few things for Noah.)  I worked really hard to only touch stuff I was planning to buy and I rubbed hand sanitizer on probably every five minutes.  But, when I actually went up to purchase my items, I made sure to look down at my feet to avoid any possible recognition of the gnarly mess that I call eyes.

After a few days, Matt finally says, “I have a confession to make.”  I immediately start thinking about all of the horrible things that he could have done.  But, Matt’s kind of perfect so it couldn’t be that bad.

He says, “You remember a week ago when we kept Noah home from school because his eyes were so goopy with allergies?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, that day, I let him take a nap on your pillow and he may have rubbed all of that eye-goo all over your pillow case.  And I didn’t tell you… or wash the sheets.  Sorry.”

Seriously!?!?!  Well, we then were able to figure out that Matt shares a pillow with me when we take turns helping Noah fall asleep in his room at night.  Serves him right!

By Monday of this week, my eyes were back to normal.  I still had drops to put in daily so I have been wearing my glasses.  When I get to work on Monday morning, my fabulous coworkers thought it would be so funny to put “No Cooties Beyond this Point” all over the office.  And, in my office, they plastered the walls with gross pictures of giant red, goopy eye balls.  Happy Birthday, Callie!

Hey, Noah.  Next year, please just get me a card.  And maybe a hug.  (After you wash your hands.)

This is my life

So apparently, parents don’t need sleep.  No one tells you this.  It’s not in books.  It is not common knowledge and, the other parents that could tell you about it, are too damn tired to bring it up in casual conversation.

With that said, three year olds don’t sleep either.  At least, not when you want them to.  And especially with no kind of consistent pattern.  They also, all of a sudden, have all of these new rules about sleeping.  For example, a certain three year old in my home (who, let me say, previously went to bed on a very standard schedule, needed a dark room, and always slept a minimum of 10 hours at a time) has suddenly decided that he needs 2 night-lights, the hall light on, the bedroom door open, and one of his parents on the floor next to his bed in order to even consider going to sleep.  And, even then, might just flat-out refuse.

Now, (and I want to make this perfectly clear) when I am on the floor, I do NOT sleep.  I also have a very strict rule about putting Noah in the bed with us.  [Mommy and daddy’s bed is not for kids.]  So Matt, being the amazing and selfless individual that he is, has been sleeping on the floor with Noah for the past month since Noah has decided that he is afraid of everything in his room. I keep trying to think of an alternative option and Matt says, “No big deal.  I can sleep where ever.”

This horrible situation has been working for us for the past few weeks.  However, I can’t sleep on the floor and Matt can’t keep sleeping on the floor forever.

Well, last week, Matt had to go out of town for work and I was left to be a single parent of a toddler for 4 days.  This meant, of course, that I would take over “sleeping on the floor” duties while he was away.  The thought of this made me cringe so, without any hesitation, I headed directly to the mattress store, dropped $300 on a very nice twin mattress set, and made a “Mommy bed” in Noah’s room.  I bet you can probably guess what happened next…

Night 1:

Me- “Okay, Noah.  It’s time for you to get in your bed and mommy will get in the bigger bed.”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the new, big bed!!!”

Me- “No.  You can sleep in your bed and I can sleep in the big bed.  Or you can sleep in the big bed and I can sleep in my room.  You choose.”

Noah- “But, I’m scared. [Insert super sad Noah face here.]

Me- “If we put your mattress directly on the floor next to my mattress, will that help?”

Noah- “I think so.”

Both of us got a full night’s sleep.

Nights 2 & 3:

Me- “Okay, Noah.  It’s time for you to get in your bed and mommy will get in the bigger bed.”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the big bed!!!”

Me- “No.  You can sleep in your bed and I can sleep in the big bed.  Or you can sleep in the big bed and I can sleep in my room.  You choose.”

Noah then runs around his room, playing with toys, pulling the covers off of me, asking for milk, asking to go to the bathroom, and then finally settling down in his bed.

Night 4:

After learning from his teachers that he had several tantrums throughout the day at school, thrown a toy truck at a kid in his class, stolen a prize out of the surprise box, drenched me in gallons and gallons of water during his bath, refused to eat any of his supper, and kicked me more times than I could count, it was finally time for bed.

Me- “Get in your damn bed!”

Noah- “NOOOO!  I want the big bed!!!”

Me- “Fine.”

And now, this is my life.

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