Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it. -Swedish Proverb
image via Gary White
My five-year-old son wears Spider-Man shoes that light up when he runs.
He also wears Angry Bird socks pulled up to his knees.
He hides a Peyton Manning jersey two sizes too small in the corner of his closet every night so that I don’t wash it and he can wear it again the next day. I’ve tried buying him other jerseys but he prefers that tight-fitting, stained and smelly one to anything else. He says it helps him run fast.
He has three different varieties of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pajamas in orange, blue and red as to represent Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael. Sorry Donatello, but purple is a girl color.
He has a Spidey hooded sweatshirt and the hood hangs down over his eyes like a Spidey mask. He stays warm while also preventing his identity from being revealed. Genius.
Years ago I met a woman who told me she never let her boys wear clothes with characters or words on them.
I think of her every time I fold the laundry.
When my son started Kindergarten this year, we had almost daily wardrobe wrangles. I’d choose a plaid button-down shirt. He’d want a Superman t-shirt with holes in it because it has a cape. I’d pick skinny jeans. He’d choose soccer shorts. I’d suggest a striped Izod shirt. He’d beg for a shirt depicting various kinds of poop at the zoo. (I’m not kidding, it’s literally a shirt with pictures of poop at the zoo.)
Some days we compromise, which generally results in a “business up top, party down below” (or vice versa) ensemble. And some days it’s just a cute little hot mess. In very bright colors.
For all of you amazing moms who somehow manage to get your boys in cardigans, berets and bow ties, I truly tip my hat to you.
Your kids look adorable. Your kids are what my MiniBoden and Crewcuts dreams are made of. Your kids are the kids in the posters in the windows at the mall.
My kids are the kids in capes running around in those windows.
Sometimes I look at my darling little ragamuffin at the bus stop and I can’t help but cringe.
And then I pray that it’s not picture day or assembly day or a day in which the national news just might be spotlighting our school.
But then I smile.
And remind myself that he’s five years old.
There’s only so long in a life that you can get away with wearing a mask or a cape or shoes that light up when you run. And there’s only so long that in a life that you want to wear a mask or a cape or shoes that light up when you run.
So I say, let him be five.
Let him be a superhero every day. Let him think he looks like the coolest kid on the block. Let him make some little choices about his life, the kind of choices that really don’t matter at the end of the day.
Because soon enough he won’t want to look like a superhero anymore. Soon enough he’ll exchange his role models for ones that aren’t so super and aren’t so heroic. Soon enough he’ll just want to fit in and wear what everyone else wears and do what everyone else does. And soon enough he’ll have to make some big choices about his life, the kind of choices that do matter at the end of the day. So he better start getting some practice.
Of all the battles with my kids, this is one in which I sometimes just have to wave the white flag. Honestly, I’d rather he eat the carrots than wear the button-down.
So if you ever wonder what kind of mother would let her kid out of the house in soccer shorts and a dirty jersey, with shoes that light up, a cape flying behind him and a mask over his eyes, I’ll tell you.
It’s a superhero’s mom.
I only wish I were brave enough to wear the shoes.
I wanna make you smile,
Whenever you’re sad.
Carry you around when your arthritis is bad.
All I wanna do,
Is grow old with you.
I’ll get you medicine,
When your tummy aches.
Build you a fire if the furnace breaks.
Oh it could be so nice,
Growin’ old with you.
I’ll miss you, kiss you,
Give you my coat when you are cold.
Need you, feed you.
Even let you hold the remote control.
So let me do the dishes in our kitchen sink.
Put you to bed when you’ve had too much to drink.
Oh I could be the man,
Who grows old with you.
I wanna grow old with you.
(Reading from our wedding on October 6th, 2007)
Happy Anniversary, Ted. Love you. And still want to grow old with you.
Yesterday was one of those icky days. The kind when you wake up and right off the bat you’re wishing for a redo. Nothing even close to catastrophic happened, just a bunch of little things in a row that had me on a warpath by noon.
I woke up early and picked up the family room, took greater than usual care to vacuum, fluff and arrange the pillows on the sofa, fold and lay the afghans and pick up and put away the toys, books and thousands of itty bitty pieces of plastic.
I left the room for no more than two minutes (to go to the bathroom; of course it always happens when I go to the bathroom), and my hooligans had destroyed every single last bit of my handiwork. They pulled every cushion, pillow and blanket off the couch to make a huge pile in the middle of the floor and were standing on the couch frame hurling the aforementioned itty bitty pieces of plastic at each other…and then at me.
After dropping one of the three monkeys at the bus stop, I headed to the gym with the other two. I was rejected at the door of the Kids’ Club for “alleged” (aka “We don’t want to deal with your kids”) reasons.
Trying to salvage the morning, we headed to the park.
Have you ever tried to use a porta-potty with 2x two-year-olds? I’ll just leave it at that.
Next we drove to the pharmacy drive-thru to pick up a prescription. When told I had to wait for an hour, I said this: “Why are you being so rude to me? Do you know I have two screaming children in here?” Then I followed it up with a dramatic entrance into the store and onto a soapbox (twins in tow, yet still able to make spirited hand gestures) and an “I. Would. Like. To. Speak. To. A. Manager. I. Will. Be. Taking. My. Prescriptions. Elsewhere.” Wow. Someone call Broadway.
I came home, fed the kids the $15 worth of food I bought in the Starbucks drive thru (thank God for drive thrus) because I was so exasperated from this no good day and the thought of swiping peanut butter seemed like way too much. Although, truth be told, that Starbucks grilled cheese is pretty out of this world.
Three poop diapers, two water fights atop our kitchen island and one thankfully unsuccessful attempt to actually SWING from a light fixture, I put the ruffians down for a nap and went about trying to recreate the picturesque family room, sighing and wah wah-ing along the way.
And then my mom sent me this photo of herself:
My brave and fierce mama began her fifth round of chemo last week. She was already losing her hair and decided to take the bull by the horns, shave her head and meet the inevitable with courage and dignity.
She was bald, she was smiling and she was beautiful.
God bless my sweet mama. She feels so bad but then has the grace to apologize for complaining about it. She’s the one person who truly knows what a truly bad day is because she’s had more than her fair share. She stares it right in the face and says: “Is this all you got?” Then she shaves her head and goes out for Italian food to celebrate.
And just like that, my day didn’t seem so bad after all. Just like that, all of my silly problems seemed extra silly.
Isn’t it crazy how a little perspective can come at the exact moment when we need it most?
Of course, this is not to say that we aren’t due our fair share of bad days. Or that our problems aren’t problems or that our mini tragedies aren’t tragic. Because they are. We can’t always compare and minimize our lot because there’s always someone with a trump card. And sometimes we just need to give ourselves a little room for a little self-pity and have ourselves a little wah wah.
But every once in a while, it helps to get a little gut check. Sometimes we need a little “in the grand scheme of things” reminder that a messy house, a missed workout and a little extra wait time aren’t really the fixings of a bad day.
And maybe a little poop isn’t so bad when we think about someone else who might have a whole lot more crap on her hands.
Thanks, Mom. Again.
I want to take an opportunity to thank you for sticking with this blog for the past two years.
When I started this journey I really didn’t know where it would go. I knew I wanted to document some memories and communicate with family and friends about our adventure as a fivesome. But this blog has evolved into something much more. It has become a haven for me, a great perspective check and a source of authentic joy in some less than joyful days.
I know my statements and stories run the gamut, but I’ve discovered that I find the most meaning and inspiration in the little things and often the littlest of people. Those little nuggets remind me about what is important and what is so very good in life. And I wanted my blog design to better reflect this chorus and umbrella these themes.
So here you have it.
I hope you will continue to support me in this endeavor. There are few greater compliments to me than if you tell me that my words affect you in some way. Please add your comments on the site or reach out to me directly. I welcome all feedback, as this evolution business has no end date.
I want to personally recognize Ted Danielson (my bouncing wall), Lindsay Lumpkin (who knows all things commas AND conjunctions) and Nancy Intagliata (for her unconditional love of my writing and everything else). And a heartfelt thanks to my three little nuggets for all of the inspiration and material they provide.
Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end. –Pico Iyer
image of Cadenabbia, Italy, taken on September 11, 2014
Last week I sent my eldest baby off to Kindergarten.
And I cried. I did. I cried.
In the months leading up to this big day, I told myself I wasn’t going to be sad. I said he was ready and I was ready. He was excited and I was excited.
But in the days leading up to this big day, I found myself welling up all over the place just thinking about it. I cried real tears at the thought of him getting on the bus and walking into school. I browsed through old pictures and tried to squeeze in good quality time. I found myself hugging him more, being more tender and spending a few extra moments putting him to bed. I sighed about missed opportunities and wished I’d taken more trips to the museum, made more pancake breakfasts and packed more picnics. And I just kept choking up left and right.
I couldn’t really figure out where the tears were coming from because my heart was filled with hope and happiness for him and for me. I was excited and I was proud that we had made it.
So why was I so sad?
Was I sad because I was supposed to be sad?
Was I sad because everyone around me was sad?
Was I sad because I secretly wished he could stay a baby forever?
And the sadness was a visceral, deep down kind of emotion. It was one of those true and real and heavy tugs on my heartstrings.
Where were the tears coming from when I knew, I really knew, that there should be nothing but joy for him, for us, for this day?
So I sat on it. I thought on it. I cried on it.
And I finally realized that my tears were happy tears. My sadness was a happy kind of sad. A sad kind of happy.
I was wholeheartedly and undeniably…sappy.
Because I watched him take a step.
It was a little step in the scheme of all steps, but it was a big step in the scheme of all steps so far.
It was a step for him into a bigger and broader universe that extends beyond me, beyond his family and beyond his home. It marked the beginning of a lifetime of opportunities to make choices and to make mistakes. It was his very first step on his very own journey to find his very own way.
But it was a step for me too. In loosening the reigns and relinquishing control. In both letting out a little slack and letting someone else pick up the slack for a change. It was a step in embracing the unknown and placing a little trust into blind trust.
Though it was a little step, it was kind of a big deal.
And those sappy tears were well earned and justified. If I had to do it all over again, I’d cry all over again. And when the next little big step comes, I will cry some more.
Because he is kind of a big deal to me.
And all of those little big steps, they are a part of my journey too. We’re both finding our own ways. One little big step at a time.