good grief, loss of parent

The Color of Love

Today we are officially celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. All of my in-laws have safely arrived and we will have our big meal this afternoon. The boys are having the time of their lives with all their cousins (all boys, the wine will be flowing which goes without saying).

I’m not going to lie. I have been struggling with the holiday season as I’m sure you all might have guessed. It’s approaching nine months since my Mom passed and I have managed a good amount of healing but the major holidays bring my grief back into acute focus. This is because of her glaring absence and also the collected memories of holidays past shared with her.

I need to acknowledge Mad Dog’s patience with me during all of this. My intense (and often unpredictable) emotional state has been less than pleasant. I have to come to appreciate that glimmer of fear in his eyes anytime that he interacts with me. He knows even a simple question like, “What are you doing today?” could potentially set me off. Oh, grief, what a strange and complicated process! Thank you for putting up with me.

To honor my Mom today I am doing something out of character (no, I am not taking up pole dancing, sorry Mad Dog). I am painting my lips a bold red. My Mom was not a person to fuss with her outward appearance (regardless, she was extremely beautiful). She didn’t care to shop, dress-up or wear make-up. She was more concerned about college football scores or spending time outside. However, on the rare occasion we could get her to dress-up, she would apply her single tube of stately red lipstick. I hope that the lipsticked kiss I am sending towards the heavens reaches her today and that I find the one she’s sending me with at least some of the color and all of the love intact.

good grief, loss of parent, self-discovery

The Force

Last night was date night. It was rather exceptional. Of course any time a stay-at-home Mom showers and puts on make-up makes an evening exceptional. This was exceptional for other reasons. Mad Dog took me to see Star Wars in Concert. I loved it.

The whole outing made me feel loved and special. Only someone who knows me well (like my husband) would know to take me to something like this. Even if the show was lame (which it was not) I felt the night was a success because he recognized my love of all things Star Wars. Thank you Mad Dog. Han Solo’s got nothing on you (except maybe the Millennium Falcon)!

I had a moment as the opening and highly recognizable crescendo of Star Wars theme music kicked off the show and my heart welled up and broke a little. I have these moments in my life that I off-handedly think, ‘can’t wait to tell my Mom about this’. The thought leaves my brain before my heart has a chance to remind it that she’s not here anymore. When it happens it knocks the wind out of my lungs and I miss her so much everything hurts.

A Mom knows you almost better than you know yourself (that is if you are lucky enough to have a kind and compassionate variety such as myself). She would have gotten a huge kick out of hearing about my Star Wars experience. She was there as I grew up and my sister and I watched Star Wars dozens of times. She respected the fact that Han Solo was my first love. She knew the force was strong in me and loved me anyway.

Star WarsI know on some level she sees my life and is part of it everyday. She knows I had a great time on my date and that the music of the trilogy I love so much moved me. Although she is no longer physically tangible to me, I can feel her with me in the deep pause between life’s moments. I haven’t totally accepted that she is gone. I have totally accepted that she knew me and loved me like only a mother could. And that is a force all unto its own.

life in pictures, mommyhood, self-discovery

Wait for It

Patient Full Speed is home for the week. It’s not as an intimidating prospect as it used to be because he is much easier to manage. When I was pregnant with him years ago, I had these deluded fantasies that he would accompany me on all my errands throughout the week and we would laugh and giggle and have a grand ol’ time. That was before I understood the subtleties of childhood temperament and the level of movement needed to maintain an active baby’s contentment. In other words, I didn’t know a darn thing about raising a stubborn, hyperactive boy who was constantly in motion.

Almost from the moment I brought him home it was like an assault of shock and awe. He wasn’t fond of sleep, needed constant stimulation and he was a non-believer in staying in one place. My dreams of having pleasant company as I made my way through the mundane tasks of existence quickly evaporated in a hyperactive cloud of smoke. I soon learned to do more in less time and to always be moving when doing so. For example, I could make it through a run for groceries if I did just that. Run. I would literally have to move through the store at a slow and steady jog. If I paused for a moment, Full Speed would freak. Constant movement was the key to keeping him seated and quiet. I would get to the check-out and all hell would break loose because we would be at a standstill. Oh, the fond, fond memories.

Since his little brother has taken over the reigning crown of difficult small person in our home, I am now often surprised to find how much I enjoy my time with Full Speed these days. We have very similar senses of humor and can crack each other up just by a look or a word. He’s comical. He must have gotten the funny gene from my Mom. She was hilarious.

He has been accompanying me to my allergy shots and he loves it. Surprisingly, so do I (the company, not the shots). He is calm (mostly) and respectful (mostly). He can actually entertain himself so even if it takes a long time, there is not a meltdown in sight.

We did run in to a small catch today. An elderly woman came through the door of the allergy office with a walker and Full Speed loudly says, “What in the world is that thing?” He said it rather rudely, too.

Oh, you Moms out there know the feeling of awkward embarrassment a child’s curiosity and their inability to filter their thoughts can cause. Every Mom has a similar story (that is if your child can speak). The kind of story where your child states the obvious and the recipient of this obvious observation is less than pleased.

How did I handle it? I faced it head on. “Full Speed, it is called a walker that helps her to keep steady. It isn’t rude to wonder what it is, but the way you asked about it was disrespectful. I would like you to say, ‘sorry ma’am’.” He did and I’m not sure he totally understood what he was apologizing for but it seemed like the right thing. The woman seemed grateful that I openly acknowledged his comment and let it go after that. A situation concerning a walker or the like (glasses, a cane, etc.) is a little easier to handle than if your child comments on an actual physical, unchangeable characteristic of someone else. I am hoping I don’t have to blog about that anytime soon (fingers crossed!). Other than that (and it was relatively minor in the grand scheme), we had a fine time.

It took five, long years to get to the point with Full Speed that more often than not he is well-behaved and even pleasant on outings. If I do the math, and believe me math is not my strong suit, I have two years and some change for Frick to reach this behavioral/emotional milestone. I don’t know if I have what it takes to wait it out. I guess I have to. My only other alternative is to wait for my meds to kick in.

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humor, mommyhood, parenting, terrible twos

Members of the Academy…

It’s the morning and Mad Dog and I have already done the intricate dance of ‘who will rise with the children’. It’s sort of like pulling straws and the short straw must get out of bed and get them breakfast. I lost.

I got the boys dressed and gathered a load of laundry in a basket to take downstairs with us. As we reach the top of the stairs, T.Puzzle insists on holding my hand. He has this demand daily. Normally, I can easily accommodate him and we all head peacefully downstairs to start our day. Well, since I had both hands occupied with a basket of laundry, I had no hand available. T.Puzzle could not believe that his Mommy could be so cruel. He kept crying out, “Mommy! Hand! Hand!” Now mind you, this kid is perfectly capable of walking up and downstairs unassisted. He is almost three years old. He needs to get over himself.

I give him two choices (you know I am a Mommy who believes in choices). First, stay at the top of the stairs and cry or second, be a big boy and walk down the stairs with out a ‘hand’. This sets him off to about a level seven. I ignore him and Full Speed and I leave him where he is. I suppose it doesn’t help that Full Speed keeps shouting, “I have no hands to give you, T.Puzzle. None. None what-so-ever (or something like that).” T.Puzzle continues his dramatic plea for ‘hands’ and throws himself to the floor.

I proceed with the morning routine unphased. I can hear him clearly and I hope that eventually the call of breakfast sausage will shake him from his theatrics.

I hear a door open upstairs. It’s gets quiet. Too quiet. You know that quiet before all hell breaks loose? That’s what it was like.

It lasts a couple of eerie moments and then I hear him stumble back to his perch at the top of the stairs and start all over with his wailing and crying. It is only the completed preparation of his sausage that breaks his spell and he becomes a reasonable human again. He walks quickly down the stairs (may I point out unassisted) and jumps up in his chair. He is chatty and happy and ready for some grub.
I'd like to thank the academy
Poor Mad Dog comes down shortly thereafter. My intent, although it was a little begrudgingly, was to let Mad Dog get some extra sleep. I realize that T.Puzzle’s outburst made that impossible. This is where it became humorous. Mad Dog’s first person account of what happened in those quiet moments upstairs were something along the lines of crazy cuteness. Mad Dog did not realize why T.Puzzle was causing such a ruckus. So when T.Puzzle let himself in our room and climbed up into bed with Dad, all he knew was that he had been hysterical. Then, in an instant, T.Puzzle is calm and happy proceeds to say things like, “Hi, Daddy. I a’wake. I get up. Hi.” He then tackles/snuggles Mad Dog, has a fantastic time and then leaves. No sooner did his foot hit outside the door he starts screaming again. “Hand, Mommy! Hand! I come downstairs! Hand!” And the tears turn on again in full force.

It’s apparent to me that we have a future actor on our hands. He can turn a mood in the blink of an eye. When the time comes, I just hope he remembers to thank his Mom in his Academy Award acceptance speech.

humor, mommyhood, parenting

Train Stop

Lunch was mostly pleasant. We have a weekly ritual of going out for pizza. It is the one place nearby that has outdoor seating. Out of doors is always the better option when dining with the boys. Full Speed and I engaged in a lengthy discussion about who had the more refreshing beverage. We tested both of ours and his fruit punch won hands down beating Mommy’s water (of course!).

To lengthen our outing which is always the objective, we headed for a lovely drive in the convertible over the great bridge to the bookstore. Mad Dog wanted to get a book he had recently read about and then T.Puzzle and Full Speed could play at the infamous train table.

Things went wrong at the get-go. There was only one engine available to play with and it got ugly between the two boys fast. Neither boy was interested in the other crummy cargo cars. In fact T.Puzzle was so angry at the prospect of sharing an engine with Full Speed, he let out some high-voltage screams. He was so loud that Mad Dog heard him from the other side of the store. Mad Dog came back to restore order.  His attempt was futile.

I eventually convinced Full Speed to use a car from the diaper bag. Of course I had to frame it like this, “Oh, there is no way you are going to like this race car Full Speed. You aren’t going to want to use this at all.” Since it seemed mildly defiant to him, he agreed to play with it. I thought we were making progress.

Since Full Speed was harboring some resentment towards T.Puzzle for having ownership of the lone engine, he began to obnoxiously lap T.Puzzle around the table. Every time he would barrel upon him, he would yell and make sure to ‘tap’ his brother on his head with his race car. He would then leap over T.Puzzle in such a dramatic fashion that it drove little T.Puzzle nuts. He kept shouting, “No front of me, Full Speed! No front of me!” Then he would crumble to the floor in a pile of tears.

At one point, I was perusing the young adult section hoping to find something of interest for me and Full Speed. I am more than ready to start reading him fun, chapter novels but am unsure if his comprehension and attention level are up to that. I am ready to move on from Transformers books and other kiddie-type fare.

I had managed to move around a corner where I could clearly see the entrance to the kids’ section and could unmistakably hear both of them (as could the entire store and surrounding counties). Full Speed panicked a little when he lost sight of me.

“MOM, where are you?” he asked.

“I’m right here,” I replied.

“Oh, I thought you had left.” He was clearly relieved.

Granted, leaving seemed like a lovely option at that point but I stuck it out. They couldn’t be T.Puzzle and Full Speed without me.