Cruise (Part 6)

Mad Dog and me enjoying our time together.

Mad Dog and me

When you are a stay-at-home parent it is hard to put into words what it feels like to be away from your kids for four whole nights.  Our annual cruise without kids is something I look forward to all year-long.  Having to only worry about myself is liberating.  Being able to walk into art-filled stores and not worry about someone breaking something is a revelation.  Sitting at a leisurely meal enjoying a glass of wine (or several) and not having to cajole table manners out of my boys is amazing.  It’s nice to be at a table of adults who realize knives are for butter or meat, not for stabbing your brother in the face.  This time away helps me remember that I am more than somebody’s Mom.  It reminds me that I was a whole and interesting person before kids and it’s comforting to know I can be that again.

Our kids are not ours to hold onto forever.  The second they are given to us is the same instant we must begin to let them go.  It’s up to us to keep hold of ourselves and be who we are throughout this process.  Time away from them is a great way to do this.  It’s also great because when you return, you realize you were missed.  You realize that even boys who seem to need so little except their determination to make it in the world, do in fact still need their Mom.  Even T.Puzzle, my recently turned affection-resistant kid, easily gave up a hug or two upon my return.  Those hugs were some of the best hugs I’ve had in a long time.

It’s good to be home!

Moving Day

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“Hurry up and get your shoes on. I have something I want to show you and the boys,” Mad Dog declared as he walked in the front door. The boys and I grabbed some shoes and zipped outside. I thought maybe the car was newly washed and shining, or there was a cute, tiny bird that he thought we would want to see.

Nope.

It was a snake.

My life flashed before my eyes, I saw stars and my spirit left my body, hovered over me and watched as I attempted to hold my crumbling emotional exterior together. The boys held their breath as they watched and waited to see how Mom was going to respond. Mind you, they both had beared witness to Dead Lizard-Gate 2012 and could sense things were about to go south.

The snake was slithered up against our garage door. All I could think was, ‘it’s going in my house, it’s going in my house…’. I couldn’t verbalize it because I had lost my ability to speak. In a flash the snake vanished out of sight. Not only did he vanish, but he vanished in the direction of my garage.

At this point, I lost hope. I got very quiet and very sad because I knew the only logical course of action was to pack up and move. Oh, how I am going to miss my house! T.Puzzle, who normally is compassionate towards other forms of life, started marching to the front door shouting,’Kill the snake! Kill the snake!” So much for raising a level-headed, life-cherishing leader for our future. Sorry, America!

What was most difficult for my adrenaline-addled brain to comprehend was why on earth would Mad Dog think I would want to see a snake. To be clear I am terrified of snakes, dead lizards, fire ants, heights, massive crowds, sudden noises like balloons popping or fireworks, and realistically scary movies (I’m talking to you Contagion). Please spare me the knowledge if one or more of these things manifest in our driveway ever again.

Mad Dog I love you. I’m sorry we have to move. We had a good run. I’d write more but I’m pretty sure there’s a snake right behind me. Even if there isn’t, I have a feeling there will always be the memory of that snake watching me and waiting for our moment to get reaquainted. Save yourselves!

The Year in Review (Happy New Year!)

T.Puzzle transitioned from Pre-K to the big dance this year.  While he flourished in kindergarten in many ways, his attitude towards me has shifted dramatically.  I went from being his ‘best friend forever’ to… not. Trust me, my ego was ill-prepared for the loss of my little ‘Mommy’s boy’.  It helps when I think about what growing up is like for him.  He must get awfully tired of being told what to do every second of the day and he lets me know it, too.  It’s okay.  I’m a tough cookie.  I can take it.  No matter what he tells you, he’s always going to be my ‘baby’.

Full Speed continues to fulfill is pre-ordained destiny of being Mad Dog’s clone.  His mannerisms, his physical attributes as well as his attitudes about life and sports are all a spot-on mimicry of Mad Dog.  Thankfully, Full Speed couldn’t have a better role model.  Well, it might be nice to tone down that competitive streak but let’s be real, that isn’t going to happen.  All I can do is sit back and watch history repeat itself.

Mad Dog is painstakingly building a soccer empire right here in our cul-de-sac.  His intense coaching sessions even pushed me to win most improved at this year’s family soccer classic.  Trust me, after playing against Mad Dog, I know how to bring the hurt.  Even on the days when he scores a million goals on me, and those days do happen, Mad Dog remains my biggest supporter.  He trusts me to always give my best no matter what I do (soccer and otherwise).  This helps me to trust in myself.

As for me, first I want to share a blog secret with you my dear, faithful readers.  You may think that I have the most photogenic children on the planet.  This is simply untrue.  The key to my photographic success is that I average about a thousand pictures for every one, hidden gem that I post.

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See what I mean?

The other part I want to share with you is this year I pushed myself to face my fear of horses and have taken some riding lessons.  The first time my horse cantered, I about passed out from fright.  I held onto the saddle horn as if my life depended on it (I guess technically it did).

I’m slowly learning that fear cannot stop us.  We are the ones who stop ourselves. I hope by facing my own fears, I can help my boys be fearless.  I have a feeling these guys are well on their way.

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For me riding horses is a lot like motherhood.  It’s unpredictable, frightening, joyful, exhilarating and absolutely the ride of a lifetime.

Look out 2013! We are coming for you!

Happy Anniversary/Birthday/Christmas to You!

I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing our December wedding anniversaries.  We both realized that at the time of our weddings, December seemed like an awesome to wed.  There were holiday decorations everywhere and it made us feel as if the whole world was celebrating with us.  However, subsequent wedding anniversaries smack-dab in the middle of the demands of the holiday season (which grow exponentially with children), are not always easy to make special.  Never one to keep things simple, throw in T.Puzzle’s sixth birthday the day after this year’s anniversary, and let’s just say, romance may very well have left the building.

T.Puzzle gets ready to make a birthday wish.

T.Puzzle gets ready to make a birthday wish.

In the midst of all this, Mad Dog and I were lucky enough to have an evening to ourselves (thank you, Grandma!).  We reminisced about our fateful third anniversary where instead of going out to dinner, we opted for the maternity ward of our nearby hospital.  I gave birth to T.Puzzle in the wee hours of the morning.  To be honest, I would take anniversary jewelry over labor any day.  Of course, hands down, once I was through the labor stuff, T.Puzzle has been my favorite anniversary present of all time. 

Mad Dog and I marveled at the speed of these past nine years and how thankful we are that we are still standing.  I believe the secret to our marriage is simple.  I talk and he listens.  He doesn’t always agree, he may even zone out to football scores/standings in his head, but he appears to listen.   At least that is what I plan to tell Mad Dog.  Whether or not he actually listens to me is hard to know.

No and Yes

One of the goals of parenthood is to teach your children to be independent.  In theory, the more they are able to do on their own, the more freedom it will give you.  However, sometimes in the process of teaching your two boys who don’t pay attention to details the art of loading the dishwasher, it can turn slightly calamitous.  Somehow water ends up everywhere but the sink and they will attempt to start a load for only two plates when I’m not looking.  This load is done without detergent of course.  In their defense, those two, lonely plates really did shine.

I try to be patient, I try to let some things slide…especially my feet in the watery abyss surrounding my dishwasher, and yet there are still daily tasks for the boys I haven’t allowed them to do.  

Over the weekend I went for a morning run leaving Mad Dog in charge.  When I came home, I asked if he had followed up on the parentally supervised tasks of the boys’ morning.

Did they get their vitamins?

No.

Did they get their glasses cleaned?

No.

Is their hair combed?

No.

Did T.Puzzle get his nasal spray?

No.

Finally in exasperation Full Speed declared, “Everything you are going to ask Daddy the answer is going to be no!”

Mad Dog didn’t miss a beat.  “That’s not true.  You have to ask the right questions.”  Then he went on to list all the questions he would easily be able to reply yes to.

Are the boys protected?

Do they have a roof over their head?

and, this one’s my favorite…

Do they have love?

Yes, yes and yes.

So, let’s ponder this for a moment.  To quote Full Speed (he gleaned this little gem from a movie), “Happy wife, happy life.  Unhappy wife, stone-cold misery.”