Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Eighteen. (Wait, really?? How did that happen?)

I just had a good cry.  It was an ugly cry.  A gulping, gasping for air, blotchy red face, leaving you with a headache cry. The kind where you don’t even bother to grab the Kleenex – you just let your nose run until you’re faced with the choice of wiping snot on your sleeve or letting it run into your mouth.  No matter, the shirt I’m wearing needs to be changed eventually, right?

Hollywood turns 18 today.  I’m not sure why I cried so much about this milestone.  Perhaps I was mourning the loss of my first baby who screamed her pretty little head off for the first six months of her life. She taught me so much during her first months: how to do things one-handed, so I could hold her all the time, how to know when to step away and let her cry, even if it killed me to do so. And then when she got older and pushed every limit we set, I learned the art of patience.  I wasn’t a quick study, I’ll admit, but I did eventually learn how to take a deep breath and count to ten before flying off the handle.  And when she went to school and greedily devoured every lesson, she taught me about learning, and how there is so much in this world to explore. As she grew into a teenager I watched her be confident without being cocky, shower generosity on her friends and family, and rely on faith to get through hard times. As my firstborn, she paved the way for me as a mom and gave me my sea legs so that I could feel more confident parenting her brother and sisters. She has filled me with so much.  So am I sad because she is no longer a child? That seems silly since the only alternative to growing up isn’t a good one.

Maybe I’m sad because I know she’ll be leaving soon. This coming summer, we’ll pack her things and move her into a dorm room in Wisconsin. She’ll live five hours away from us.  I can’t even stand to think of her being so far away, not being here for silly family dinners where we sit around the table laughing until we cry, Packers games, and impromptu shopping trips. This house won’t be the same without her.  It’ll be a little dimmer, a little quieter. But I know she’ll be making her own traditions; finding herself and making a life of her own. I am so excited for her to take those steps – to build her own life. College is an amazing experience and I look forward to seeing her soar into adulthood like I know she will. I feel like she was loaned to me, never really mine at all.  She’s never really been mine, she’s been her own all along.

I guess there are a lot of reasons that her turning 18 could make me sad.  But I’m happy and proud (oh, so proud) as well.  She’s such a great kid. Woman? Yeah, I’m not quite ready for that yet.  I’ll stick with ‘kid’.    

Here is a slide show that I put together to celebrate her 18 years.  Happy Birthday, Hollywood.  I hope you know how precious you are to your dad and me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

I need to change the blog's masthead...

My blog header states the following:

"The random and often rambling thoughts of a working mom with three kids and a husband who travels."

So I have to update it since I now have four kids.  (That still amazes me. I am responsible for FOUR kids. Eek!)

But... guess what?  I also have to change it because (dun-dun-dun) I now have a husband who no longer travels all the time!!!!! (yes, I used my allotment of exclamation points, but this is huge, y'all!)

The Husband started a new job this morning that will significantly reduce his travel time.  He'll still have some out of town work to do, but nothing close to his old job.  I am so excited to have him home more often, you can't even imagine... This new job is an amazing blessing and could not have come at a better time for our family.

He'll be doing the same type of work, but the company he's with now has contracts with some of the large local businesses, so there will be more service/maintenance work and less on the road installations.  Yippee!

There's only one downside to TH being home so much.  I expect that he won't appreciate cereal for dinner as much as the rest of us do.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Ack. Be still my heart...

Friday was another day like all of the rest around here.  I woke in a haze after getting far too little sleep and moved the milk machine operation from the bedroom rocking chair into the living room so that I could supervise the older kids as they got ready for school.

The Boy had to go in early to turn in his pads and football equipment, so Hollywood dropped him off.  The school is only a mile away, and so she came back home to finish getting ready for school.  Bumblebee had gone off to the bus stop during this time (the bus stop is just a couple of houses down the street).  I don't know why - there must have been some subconscious thought process going on, but when Hollywood came back inside, I asked her if she saw Bumblebee at the bus stop. She said that she was there, safe and sound.  I had a thought, but again, it was fuzzy, and not fully formed.  "She's not the only kid there, is she?" I asked.

Well, she was.  And then I remembered.  It was Friday. November 4th.  And we had BREAKFAST WITH PARENTS on our schedule.

Shit. Shit. SHIT.

I asked Hollywood to call Bumblebee in from the bus stop.  I didn't want her to be the only kid on the bus, when all of the GOOD parents remembered to go into school early to have coffee and donuts with their kids.  Hollywood did as I asked, but I was in such a frenzy that I ran outside (in my pajamas) and hollered at her myself.  "Get in the car!" I yelled.  "It's breakfast with parents!"

So... I sprinted to the bedroom, changed out my pajama bottoms for a pair of jeans, and threw on a sweater.  I tossed the baby into her car seat and headed for the car.  I didn't comb my hair, brush my teeth, or put on makeup.  I looked scary.  I only hoped that the sweater covered up any breast milk stains that might still be on my shirt.  I'm glamourous these days, y'all.

But it didn't matter what I looked like - I had to get to the school with Bumblebee.  As I was getting into the car, Hollywood said, "You're a good mom."  I looked at her, about ready to cry.  I'm three weeks postpartum, people.  Hormones! I raised an eyebrow and she quickly added, "No - I mean it! I know you forgot the breakfast, but you're doing everything you can to get there. You're a good mom."

Ack. Very high praise from a teenager. I couldn't speak, so I hugged her and ran to the car.

I was pretty sure we didn't make the breakfast, but my goal was to at least drive Bumblebee to school so that she didn't have to ride the bus by herself.  In the car, I apologized fifteen times for forgetting Breakfast with Parents.  Bumblebee, ever the sweetie, said, "It's ok if we missed it, Mommy.  I don't really like donuts that much anyway."

Again with the Ack. Can she be any sweeter?

Turns out that we got there in time and as a bonus, they served breakfast pizza instead of donuts, so Bumblebee was stoked.

Later that night Hollywood apologized to me for how she acted when she was 13 and, in her words: "I was cranky and fought with you and hated on you all the time."  I asked her what prompted that and she said they were talking about it in her English class and she thought back to those oh so fun times.  It made me smile.  I reassured her that I only got what I deserved, since I did the same thing to my own mother at age 13.

I'll leave you with one last 'Ack' moment.  The Husband found this sticky note stuck to his laptop the other day:

*photo of a sticky that has a heart with me + Dad written inside:

When you turn it over, this is what it said:
*photo of the sticky that says "P.S. Me is Vali"

It's these tender moments that make me cherish being a mom.  Even if I am a scatterbrained, forgetful one these days.