A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: new experiences

Schooled

Little Man began “preschool” roughly a month ago. It isn’t quite a regular preschool program, but the differences between the two aren’t worth the effort to differentiate. It is a private program, not our original intention. I hoped we would enroll him in our town’s preschool, but considering we drew 109 out of a possible 113 lottery slots, it is more likely pigs will fly and I will lose my taste for chocolate before we will be called from the waitlist.

Image result for grim reaper

(Church of Halloween processed our paperwork.)

In general I prefer public education. Certainly, there are quality private ones, but there isn’t necessarily the same level of accountability and oversight in the private sector as there is in the public. The ease of terrible, weird shit occurring is a topic absent from discussions about charters and privatizing our nation’s education. There is also the issue that our town’s public preschool is a fraction of private school tuition. It’s easy to see the seeds of socioeconomic disparity and academic achievement even at this early stage. Quite crudely, our children will benefit greatly from our means…This shit is expensive.

The school we chose for Little Man is middle of the road in terms of cost. It is also the one a friend in a neighboring town sends her two older children, and probably the younger one when the time comes. An added bonus is that her middle child, a close friend of Mr. Man’s, may very well be in the same class come fall. My friend raved about this school. I also know of another woman in my town who sends her older child. He was somewhat recently diagnosed with a brand of Autism that makes him a challenge to manage behaviorally. Paired with his large frame, it’s been a struggle for the family. I’m not friends with her, only interacting with her a MPOTUS sized handful of times. The last occasion I ran into her was by chance. I’m not sure how the discussion occurred, but she also raved about the school. Our tour was a good experience, but there aren’t so many options for me to be choosey. If we want him enrolled in preschool, this is it. I’m lucky this is the positive option it is.

One day a week Little Man is carted to school for a three-and-a-half hour morning. Hopefully, we can add a second day before school is out for the summer. It’s a play-based program, which was most important to me…A budding preschooler needs play above all else for his education.

I’ve been told my son has strong attachment. He’s never exhibited any type of social anxiety, even a normal level of it. I’m not sure what gives, but Warrior Queen is almost a year-old, and while she is quite feisty, she appears to be chill like her brother in this same regard…We’ll see if she continues on a similar path as her big brother. I knew dropping Little Man to school wouldn’t be an issue. The peanut gallery was noisily fretting because it is quite a long morning for such a small person, but I knew he would be fine. My son struggles with transitions, so we spent a week or so discussing school. He was with us for the tour a few weeks prior. By the time the big day rolled around, he was ready and couldn’t have cared less that I left. He trotted off, and Warrior Queen and I went home. It was a weird feeling stepping into our house…I felt like I was forgetting something important.

I arrived on time to retrieve my big man to the chorus of, “We had a scheduled fire drill this morning.” Yikes, poor kid has trouble with certain, random loud noises. I was told by multiple adults that he was trying to “keep it together” through the process. He managed just fine otherwise. His teachers went to great lengths to tell me how exceptionally well he did for his age on a first day. I heard many comments to the tune of, “Talk about go with the flow…” Sigh, that’s my sweet little man. But, the look of excitement on his face upon seeing me makes all right with the world. For as little as he cares that I leave, he is dichotomously excited I’ve arrived to retrieve him.

Little Man has been attending school for a bit over a month now. In that time I’ve heard him detail exciting play events…a puppet show…sandbox…painting…some kid named James. But, as much as the activities thrill him, most weeks have included some type of horrible loud noise that chipped away at my brave soul’s stubborn grit. The second week was uneventful…the third the fire alarm was mistakenly awakened by workmen…the subsequent week an electric drill frayed my son’s resolve.

In general I try to make a point of not promising things to my children that are out of my control. I never told my son the next school day would be without a fire drill. I would say it probably won’t occur, but it might. So, conversation would focus around discussion of said drill, and what transpires as a result. He seemed okay with the fire drill, but the tool was something else. I hadn’t realized the extent to which he was bothered by this specific noise…or maybe it was a culmination. He chatted about the “regular drill” the entirety of the weekend, but he often focuses on random things…telling stories of specific interest to him. Another item on the top of the list was his excitement to tell one of his teachers he dressed himself in his quiet time pants all by his lonesome.

But, during our morning wake-up routine my son chatted with increasing distress about a random thing. It didn’t take long to realize he was quite freaked about going to school in the event of another rendition of “Workman Drill in Loud Vibrating Sharp.” My poor sweet boy began crying, repeating the phrase, “It was a regular drill, not a fire drill.” The school is in the throws of a never ending construction project; I certainly can’t insist his day will be drill or bothersome noise free, but he was so terribly upset. My little man so cheery and optimistic about adventures was trying his best to persevere, but in the process reluctance and fear oozed from his small stature. Clothed, I pulled my sobbing son on my lap, and we made a plan. I would speak to his teacher about him traveling out of the area in the event he encounters another drill during the day. That was enough. Residual tears continued to leak, but he prattled on about some of the more interesting possibilities he might encounter…interchanged with what we discussed for his drill plan.

We pulled into the parking lot; my son repeating his special plan on a liquid courage loop, becoming increasingly distressed as we wound our way to his classroom. Interesting, he never refused or tantrumed…always the one to confront his fears. I admire that about him. We arrived a bit early, running into one of his teachers as she exited the room…I told her of his distress as my son stood there trying to keep his cool. But, as I relayed the weekend and morning, and about to launch into my proposed plan; the lead teacher spied us. She probably overheard something, because she announced there would be no drilling…They spoke to the workmen and arranged for such pursuits to remain on hiatus while my little man was in attendance.

My son calmed in progressive intervals before I left the area, but I called an hour into his day just to be sure. Even as I felt confident he was having a grand ol’ time, I needed the reassurance…I received it, and planned a normal pick-up time for a boisterous and excited toddler.

It’s the weekend again, and he still mentions the drill periodically, even if there isn’t the same edge as last weekend. I’m not promising him a wonderful repeat of last Monday. I’ll speak with the teachers in the morning, and hope. But, my son and I resurrected our plan…just in case. He’ll be okay…so will I.

But, here is a pondering concern that nags at my peripheral mind. While I am so very proud of my son’s risk taking…his inclination to be strong in the face of adversity even as such a small child; I worry I am communicating to him that it is a flaw to feel vulnerable…to cry or break down in fear. Certainly, I want both children to be fighters, but I don’t want either to shirk or judge themselves harshly for moments of frailty. I don’t want them to treat themselves they way I treat myself…Perhaps I’m over thinking it. For now my son enjoys school…sans drill. So, in a couple days time I look forward to another drive home filled with tales of a puppet show…sandbox…painting…some kid named James, mingled with broken toddler statements that there was no drill of any kind.

The Smiles that Launched a 1,000…Diaper Changes

I remember that very early morning when my son first smiled socially.  It was just summer, or maybe technically still spring.  The sky was beginning to lighten, casting its glowing hue throughout the room.  I’ve always loved that time of day…if only I weren’t so sleep deprived at the time…  I was holding my new little man who was kissing the unconscious from his feeding.  He suddenly awakened briefly, spied me, smiled, and drifted back to sleep for seconds before the process cycled several more times.  My heart melted, and I fell in love again.  Mr. Man was about six-weeks-old.

The Warrior Queen was six-weeks-old a week ago, and celebrated with her own social smile.  She is my daughter, so it was entering a feeding.  I give her a bottle, and she smiled around it, wide and wonderful.  My heart melted, and I fell in love again.  I tear up now thinking of it…maybe it’s still the hormones.  It was the late afternoon.  I’ve never liked that time of day, sleep deprived or not.  But, it was the start of so, so many smiles in a meager week.  My fierce girl continues to make her dynamic expressions, especially when she asserts her displeasure, but she routinely smiles to balance her edged communication.  For all those moments when she must wait to have her needs met, she is still so happy, and it gives me hope I haven’t scarred her because I couldn’t clone into two Mommies when my children synchronize their intense needs any given moment.

My favorite smile thus far wins its award for existing as so tragically silly.  In a week my husband has yet to see this new developmental milestone even though countless minutes elapse with him cuddling our Warrior Queen.  But, in this moment it was the awkward baby handoff.  As soon as my girl was in my arms, a smile erupts on her face with wide eyes looking at me.

There will be a rush of milestones accomplished in the next several months, all intended to amaze me with her sudden growth and maturing into a homunculus soon to be equally capable of destroying my house like her brother, but I want to burn every smile in my mind above all else.

The Buddy System

My husband and I were talking last night about how we became accustomed to the fairly profound change of having a young child; well, I was speaking of the transformation.  My husband was partially lamenting about not having time for himself any longer once he enters our homestead.  A part of me shares that lament, but I’ve been at home with my soon-to-be two-year-old so long that much of the independence I gave up is a very distant memory.  I also have the benefit of the end of my second pregnancy to haze any productive use of my nostalgia.

It isn’t so much that my husband was complaining; most of the facets of our son’s loud plod through his life are things he loves and embraces, giving purpose and unique happiness to his existence.  But, there is the constancy of care and attention that can drain as much as it bolsters.

As I mentioned, I’m used to it.  There are very few moments that are solely my own.  Sure, I have the daily nap time…assuming my kid doesn’t decide to take Mommy’s bad day and increase it ten-fold by forfeiting this one meager break that cascades into an avalanche of awesomeness until it is late enough to bid him goodnight.  But, when all goes as “planned,” I amaze myself with how much my life’s changed, and how little I think back to the way it was.  This was not the case during the first year.  Maybe I’ve finally found myself along the way, or at least enough of myself to feel comfortable with uncertainty.

While I most definitely appreciate my Saturday free time, it occurred to me during the conversation that my Saturdays don’t hold the same desperation they did in the beginning.  I find myself not having the dramatic personality transformation after that single extended break.

The Warrior Queen may be born in as little as three weeks, and I wonder what it will be like, aside from the predictable sleep deprivation and all the spousal and life hatred that brings.  Little Man was my first for so many things, but my daughter will be my first with me as a person as well as Mommy.

The Versatility of Beige

Another holiday season approaches, and with that a new experience.  A friend and I who have spent the last year-and-a-half avoiding the ebbs and flows of homicidal tendencies by meeting with our children at a local mall for a few social hours gathered just the two of us…that’s right, no kids.  The entirety of the preceding evening spent on text exchanges expressing our giddiness at the occasion.  My husband responded to my elations with a subdued, “O-okay,” marking the very reasonable response that my standards for a good time are pathetically low.

What was the focus for our afternoon plans you might ask?  Perhaps a tattoo or a crazy hair style with a bar of Belgium chocolate in one hand and a bottle of Jim Beam in the other?  Nope, exuberant plans of an uninterrupted, leisurely meal with, perhaps, an appetizer.  Yup, we are a couple of wild crazies with proclivities toward reckless abandon.  And, how did we follow-up our meal that actually did not finish with a healthy dose of heartburn?  We grabbed a tea and meandered at our own pace through the mall’s open areas…It was everything I could have ever dreamed of, and I want it immortalized in the same memories as the birth of my son…It was that good…

Now for the interesting or unsettling part, depending on the perspective.  When I was pregnant with my son I experienced many bouts of anxiety about just this type of situation.  Reeling that I’d be unemployed with a life like so many other mothers I’d met whose life became jubilations with these social banalities because life offered little or nothing else.  So, now I am here and one of these very women I feared for so long, and, my, how perspectives change.  Reframing the experience that used to cause such panic not all that long ago, I don’t see these opportunities as desperation, clinging to the only pleasantness presenting itself to me.  Rather, I see my capacity to value and enjoy more; enjoy others just because, enjoy small moments because I can, value what I have when I have it for as long as I am able.  It isn’t a state of mind that I consciously find myself, but things change so quickly, and not usually all that dramatically.  In a blink things are different and everything moves on without any purposeful drive in a specific direction.

I find I have the capacity to simply be and enjoy more.  I’m more aware of opportunities that have no specific benefit or end; merely, this moment is something to savor and enjoy for no other reason than it having value onto itself.  I don’t see an evening looking forward to conversations with strangers who work in my husband’s office as a pathetic need to engage with a world I’ve lost touch with.  Talking to anyone is a way to connect and learn from humanity; to enjoy the company of others and the limited festivities in the consuming hustle and bustle of life.

I’m not sure when I learned this, but it was certainly once I started sleeping again and began the long process of adjusting to a new life, and new me, frankly.  I’ve had to let go of so much and embrace so much more.  But, here I sit two years later through my perpetually evolving process with new offerings before me.  It helps that I can envision an open path leading to any direction that has the potential to be new and exciting in some way.  It also helps that I have a son that sees everything wonderful in the world because the only disappointment he really faces is that he cannot sit on his Mommy’s lap for another story until his soiled diaper is changed.  He is still a being of love and possibilities.  He is a sponge newly out of the wrapper before mildew and damage sets in, and for that I can sit back and listen for what he has to teach me.

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