Thursday, November 4, 2010

For the child of my heart.


Eleven years ago, I was transformed from a mere woman, to a mother. The object of that transformation was a 35 week, 5lb 8oz little boy who captured my heart long before I ever laid eyes on him. I vividly remember wanting so badly to be pregnant. Trying desperately month after month to conceive a child only to be disappointed time after time again. In February 1999, my dreams were answered! Only weeks later, at 9w 2days, to have a horrible bleed and thinking I lost that dream. It does no good at that point, to know that 7 out of 10 women miscarry their first pregnancy. I wanted THIS child. I know the fear of calling an OB/GYN and being told that there is nothing they can do. To wait and see. I bleed and pass clots all the while thinking you are losing your child. Luckily, for us, we had access to u/s machines and quickly knew that our little one was still alive and kicking. That I seem to grow polyps outside of my cervix that grow and pop. And bleed a lot. But comfortably growing inside was a small gift from God. I never took a day for granted. At that point, I knew we were having a son. In my gut, I knew that this baby was a child for me, a child of my heart. I would name him Kadin. It is arabic and means companion, friend. For that is how I felt. It was he and I. At 17 weeks Dave and I went to the maternal fetal medicine doctor to check him out and make sure things looked healthy. Just as I predicted, our baby was a boy! In the car, I handed Dave a small outfit that was green. On the front it had snips and snails, on the back, puppy dog tails. How I loved that outfit! :) As time went by and I got huger than life, the miracle of growing a small life was never far away. Even for the neighbor man who quiety stood by the ladder I climbed when I painted the outside of our house at 5 months pregnant, to the neighbors across the street who checked on me during the eyes of hurricanes. I was surrounded by people who felt invested in this small life, even though my family was so far away, and my husband worked long hours. A few days before Halloween, I was in Kmart and felt like I needed to go to the bathroom. I had on white shorts and a red top. It felt like the bathroom grew further and further away the faster I walked towards it. With what I thought was urine leaking from me, I made it, only to realize the horror show that awaited me. My white shorts were now red. Blood ran down my legs. The child I had felt blissfully tossing inside me, not felt like dead weight. I quickly cleaned up, and waddled out of the store. I did not have a cell phone so the drive to the hospital felt like 100 years long. Luckily, my OB was coming into the hospital the same time I was and took me straight to labor and delivery where my husband was working. Again, God showed his mercy and even though I was dilated and contracting, my baby was alive!! For the next week I walked around at 5 cm, 80% effaced and 34 weeks. I worked every day and rested every night. Life was a blur. Then one day at work, I got a call from Dave. He asked me to leave work and come to the hospital. It was time. An attending doctor had gotten ahold of my u/s of Kadin. He saw something that others did not. He acted like he was presenting a case to Dave. He gave my stats. He gave the details of what happened with the bleed. He asked Dave what he would do. Dave said without hesitation that there had been an abruption and to get the woman in and deliver her baby. The doctor firmly looked at Dave and told him. "Then call your wife!" As I drove to the hospital, I had no idea. I got hooked up, my water was broken. Port red wine fluid. I had abrupted partially. The next day, I pushed out at 5 am, the sweetest little guy ever! With his dark hair and his small body, the NICU team was on call in case he needed to be sent off. But at first gasp, my little man screamed! A healthy little boy born too early with a calcified placenta and an umbilical cord the size of angel hair pasta. There are all kinds of medical reasons on why this child should not have made it. But he did. And he came home the next day. From the moment of conception and before, he has been a dream of mine. That remains the same today. Kadin was always a watchful child. We learned cues from him on what people to trust, which to stay away from. He intuitively knew others feelings and could calm a sad heart with a touch. When we volunteered at the Nursing Home in the Alzeihmer's unit, this small child could warm the hardest of hearts. Never did any one of the residents become combative with him. Those that seemed lost would gather his small body close, listen to his jabber, and tell him stories of long ago as he stroked their faces. This is a child who not only eased my soul, but he does others. He has always been older than his years, an old soul. A child who reacts to my emotions before I even know what I am feeling. A child who sees what needs to be done to help, and does it without question. A companion. A friend.

On this day, November 4th, I once again thank God for the safe delivery of one of his angels. A child given to me for a short time. Every day that I watch this miracle grow, I am reminded that life is not in my hands. And that there is a greater purpose for Kadin in this world. I can't wait to continue to watch the story unfold.

Happy Birthday to the child of my heart. I adore you more than you can ever know. You are more than I deserve.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Liam


Tomorrow, my baby will be four years old. These are the days I usually reflect upon the desires I had before we conceived a child, the dreams I held during my pregnancy, the pregnancy itself, and then the quickness of the births of my sweet boys. Liam is no exception. That desire for a third child when socially, two children is the norm. How my whole life I said I would NEVER have three children. I was the middle child of three. So is Dave. Why would I do that to a child? But yet, at the ripe old age of 36, I ached for another baby. Ten days after I turned 36, we conceived our third son. Week after week I bled horribly, always thinking this was the last that my body would cradle. My friends that read this that walked that walk with me, time after time, as my older boys learned by the look I gave, or the tone of voice I used that they needed to get their shoes on quickly as we drove to the doctors office to see if I had lost the baby. I spent months in fear. Fear of losing a child I loved dearly before he was brought into my womb. A child that at 14 weeks we knew was a boy. A child that completes our family.
Tonight, as I stare at my baby on his last day of being three, I remember those days. Not the sadness of never having a daughter, but the fear of losing a child I adored, even though I didn't realize it. The gift I was given just for asking. How unworthy I felt. Tonight, as I kiss the last three year old from my womb, I will thank God. I will thank Him for giving me the opportunity to parent such amazing children. I will thank him for people who have come into my life before Liam was born; mothers of all sons, mothers wishing for a daughter, and for a woman who unselfishly gave pumpkin pillows from a far away Cracker Barrel just because a friend asked. To a sister who was present for the birth of a nephew. Who loved this child when I wasn't sure I could. For a family who supported me. For children who already existed who showed me that love is all I needed. For friends who offered their ears, their arms, and their daughters. And finally, to a little boy who is the answer to prayers I didn't know I prayed, but am so thankful I did.

Liam is not what I expected in my life, but he is the child my heart called for. Liam is not what I prayed for in the physical sense, but he is the child that fits all of the requests I asked for in personality, health and temperment. Liam is not what I thought I needed, but he proves every day how wrong I was to think I knew best.

So tomorrow, October 15, I wish a Happy Fourth Birthday to one of the best gifts ever unfolded before my eyes. From a hard pregnancy, to a scary delivery, to a reflux filled little boy that has shown me every step of the way what love means. Proving once again that unanswered prayers are the best gifts. I thank God for my Liam Fisher. For the joy he brings, for the laughter he supplies, for the smiles he gives out as freely as his hugs and kisses, but most of all, for a little boy that taught me that dreams come in all shapes, sizes, and genders.

Happy Birthday, Liam. My dream come true.
Love, Mommy

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11..........


When I think back to this day, nine years ago, I remember bits and pieces of strong emotions. Being in a huge plane headed back to the states from a trip to Paris. Dave was looking forward to a new job, and we were both anxious to get to my parents house to see Kadin who was getting close to turning two. Suddenly we were told there were terrorist attacks against the US and the plane had to turn around. The airspace was closed. Closed? The airspace? How does that happen??? We were re-routed to Amsterdam. I remember getting off the plane, walking into the airport and seeing televisions with clusters of people surrounding them. We watched the second tower get hit and I began to run to the luggage pick up. I remember Dave telling me to slow down, that the bags were not going anywhere but I had this overwhelming need to have my bags in hand. And thankfully I did. Only a handful of us got our luggage. All the rest was confiscated. People were stranded with small children and no change of clothes. No extra diapers. Nothing but the clothes on their back and things in the carry on bags. It was surreal. This doesn't happen in the 21st century. It was like taking a step back in time. We tried to find a hotel room to stay in. All the hotels close to the airport were jacking up the prices. People were walking up to us and offering their condolences. We were like fish out of water. We were lucky to find a room in a close by hotel. The Von Der Valk hotel. It was a short bus ride away. We had not eaten in about 12 hrs. The baggets I was bringing home from Paris were so hard they would have been considered lethal weapons but we ate them anyway. When we checked into the hotel, we were put in the "Jungle Room." Seriously, the room had fake plants everywhere with birds in them. A waterbed with leapord skin covers and a mirror on the ceiling. I remember Dave and I laying on it...holding hands and staring upward wondering what had just happened in our world. The next night we were moved to a different room. The next night, another one. But we were just thankful that we had our clothes. We had a place to stay. We were safe. Our child was safe.

Every day we travelled to the airport. Where we waited in lines. For hours. I think it is much like someone who goes to a hospital. Trying to get in to see a loved one, but they can't. The door is locked, they are too sick, there are no visitors allowed. They reluctantly turn away, yet they cannot make themselves leave the premisis. How do you go on? How do you describe the fear as you perch on the edge of a hotel bed and watch people jump to their death. To feel the desire to hold your child that is an ocean away. To know things will never be the same again.

And yet they are. Life goes on. We were able, by the grace of God, to get on a plane. Once loaded, a muslim walked on and then threw a fit to get off. Everyone was in an uproar. Was this plane condemned to hell? People were rushing to get off. They checked the plane and all was safe. I can only imagine that poor soul felt the anger in people's eyes. For a crime he was not guilty of, yet was being punished by association. How we are so eager to place blame, yet so slow to forgive and find middle ground.

On our flight home, we met two missionary men. This flight was going to Cleveland, Ohio. Our car was in Columbus, Ohio. There were no rental cars available. I did not care. I would walk from Cleveland to Ironton, Ohio if I had to to see my child. To hold my family. To be in the same continent. The same state. The same space. Dave and I ended up driving all night with these two men who were able to get a car. Driving with two people we did not know, but trusted to do us no harm. Two men who were like angels sent from God to help guide us home.

I remember wandering Amsterdam. Looking at things, talking, seeing people who's lives just continued. How do we move on? I missed my son so much. I could relate to mothers who had to leave their children behind. For whatever reason. To not be able to reach out when you want, and hold your baby is the most horrible feeling of all. We tried to be touristy, but it wasn't in us, and we eventually found ourselves back at the airport..waiting.

Thankfully, I have family close by in Amsterdam. We set up times for tea. They would take the train to see us. We were not alone. But we did not keep the date, we flew home instead. I was so thankful.

I remember pulling into my parents driveway. Jumping out of the car and dashing up the stairs onto the back deck. Where Dave and I stood at the door, looking in at our small son who had no idea his world had just been changed. Sitting in a booster seat, safe at Grandma and Grandpa's. Loved beyond measure. Life goes on. Tearfully, my father threw open the door and grasped us so hard, I didn't think he would ever let go. Nor did I want him to. We were home. Safe. Our family was intact. It would be a long time before I would get into another plane that Dave wasn't flying. It would be a long time before I took a trip and left my child.

Yes, life goes on. The world keeps turning after horrible events. The sun comes back up in spite of us feeling as if it should stay dark forever. And God's grace surrounds us. Beconing us into the light of His way. Teaching us the fundamental rules of life. To love your neighbor. To be kind. To be helpful. To exist in peace together. Through those days in Amsterdam, I hugged more strangers, held more babies, touched hands, said a prayer, or just sat next to people I did not know and felt the overwhelming emotions of loss. That one day impacted my life in ways I can never tell. That day changed the very core of my being. Why do things like this happen in our lives? I will never pretend to know. But I'll just do what my mom always says to do. Sit back and look for the reason. For God knows why these things happen. And in His time, He will tell us.

Until then, I will never forget 9/11. Not the people who lost their lives. Not the brave souls on a plane that went down in a small field. Not the friend who worked at the Pentagon but was not where he usually was on that day. Not the men and women who worked, dilligently to find trapped people to give families closure. Or the bravest of all who gave their lives to help save others. My world was impacted by this event. And although my son does not remember it, I will remember it for him.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Once again........

Another all boy mom I know just gave birth to her 6th child. A girl. Finally. Now she can be done, she says. Why don't you have another one, it could be a girl, she professes, high on the fact that her body has finally given her a girl child after five boys. Seriously? I should just keep having kids until I have a daughter? Does that disregard the other three children I still have to parent, mostly alone, I might add. She told me several boys ago that she would have as many children as it took to have a daughter. And now she has her. And even though that child is only a few months old, she is thinking she should have another one, so people don't think she kept having kids until she had a girl. And mabye she would get a bonus girl at that. Am I missing something? I have dear friends who wanted large families. I get that. They wanted 6 plus kids. I can see that. You have as many kids as you want to have, everyone has a limit or a thought in their mind of what their family will be comprised of. But to have children just to have a specific gender? I don't know about that.

To me, gender disappointment has taught me more about life. About believing in God's word that my time will come. Either a daughter, a daughter in law, a grand daughter, a great grand daughter, or a girl not even related who will come into our lives and become as a daughter to us. There are many ways to influence a young woman. There are many ways to mother.

Could I have another child? Yes. Physically, all of that is working. Emotionally I could adore another child as I adore my sons. But at almost 40, do I want to do that again? I can't answer that and I find I am jealous of my friend who is older than I am, but still can say she wants more. Even as she parents her now six children. If I look honestly at it, her husband works from 9-5 or less every day. He is off each weekend. She gets the emotional support and the physical support of him taking the kids to school each day, going to every sporting event, helping out on weekends. His parents live close by and take her children a few times a month in shifts so they can spend time with some of their children, or even alone. She stays home each day, every day. She doesn't care if she exercises, she does not volunteer in her kids classes, or in the community. She raises her babies. And they are good kids, really. She can do it. She has the support. I do not. Face it. That's how my life is.

Am I jealous? Probably. As I hold her sweet girl and stare at the beautiful dresses and bows. But what am I willing to do about it? Nothing. I'm leaving it to God, and hoping that, like Abraham, he will bless me in the end. The wimps way out?? Maybe so.

What do you think? Would you keep having kids until you got your desired gender, or would you stop and thank God for the blessing that have come and move on with the other stages in life???

Saturday, August 21, 2010

How do you feel now???


I was asked this question today during an interview with a freelance writer for Parent's Magazine. Now, over 4 years from the day of finding I would never have a daughter in my life. How DO I feel? Fine. A little tired, annoyed by Kadin's attempt to play his new Native American flute, waiting for the next wailing session to occur with one of the younger kids, and hoping the dog quits peeing on my kitchen floor some time soon. OH, about gender disappointment....how do I feel about THAT! I feel less in the moment of that actual moment. Life has taken over. I see from having friends lose children, have family members diagnosed with horrible cancers, and seeing families driven apart from strife and stress that there are other things that need my focus. I still trust God's words to me. Not in YOUR time, but in MY time. I know that He will see this tiny part of me that is unfullfilled, filled. I know that my pain is still important to him, even as I go through life. But really, I am so proud of my boys. I am so exceptionally thankful to be their mother. From the other side, I see where my family is different, better even, because I did not get my dream of a daughter. I have been able to totally emerse myself in my CHILDREN. Not my sons, or my daughter. But my kids. My walking hearts.

I found it funny that when she asked me about swaying methods, diet changes, ect., I could barely recall them. From someone who could spout them off in a moment's notice, they are no longer front line items for me. And I felt relieved as I laughed and told her so. I remember the pain of the loss of that dream from so long ago. And it can bring tears biting the back of my throat. But then I see Liam jump from the bottom two steps in an I LOVE DAD shirt, a cape, and alligator boots and I think...I was disappointed? WHY?

So, how do I feel now? Luckier than ever. Thankful to be an all boy mom. Excited to meet each day to hear what I never knew I wanted to know (did you know that if you put a lighter to one's butt as they fart, they could suck the fire back in?? Who exactly really WANTS to know that?? But there it is!). I realize now, more than ever, that I only hold these hands for a brief time. That life is wasted on the What If's and Should Have, Could Haves. I life for today. For right now. I feel blessed beyond measure. For my life, my friends, my family, a conversation with a neice, a laugh with my mother, a shared glance with my husband, and the craziness of raising three children. Yes, it's been awhile since I have visited these feelings. And now I will put them back on the shelf. For there are battles to be won as a Jedi and I don't want to miss any of them! Love the Life You Live!!!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Adding a son........


Eight years ago I gave birth to my second son. I remember the gamet of feelings I went through before his birth. Would I love him as much as I did my first son? Would we bond like I did with Kadin? How would I handle two small children? Would breastfeeding go easier this time around? I remember being petrified of ever going to the grocery store again. Where would I put my groceries? With Kadin in the front seat and the baby seat in the back, where would things go? A neurotic mess I was. When my water broke early on a Sunday morning, three weeks before my due date, I had no idea what to do. I thought I had wet my pants. I changed and went back to bed. Only to have it happen again a few hours later. After changing clothes again and leaking through them too, finally my husband told me to put on a pad. Why hadn't I thought of that?? I guess because I did not expect to stand around leaking on myself! Thankfully my mom was already at our house since I had been on modified bedrest since 29 weeks, we knew this little guy would come early like his big brother. Around 10 or so we headed to the hospital. By noon I had tried to get an epidural which did not take and the contractions were getting hard to breathe through. I had a good friend, my yoga instructor, Gloria, there with me helping me go through each contraction. It was amazing what the mind can control in times of horrible pain. Cullen's birth is a blur. Mostly because I was so relaxed from the subliminal messages of my birth coach that I could barely push. My doctor was sweating bullets when Cullen's head was delivered, but his body was stuck. Um, not good. You can't just shove the head back in and try again. I only remember Dr. Thornberry shouting at me that if I wanted to deliver this baby I had to pay attention to HIM NOW. And so I did. With Dave laying across my belly pushing downward, me pushing, and Dr. Thornberry pulling, Cullen was born on Sunday, June 23, 2002 at 4:03 pm. Weighing in at 7lbs 3oz. He was blue in the face but pink in body. The nurses were frantically massaging him and shoving oxygen in his face until Dave made them stop. Poor kid looked totally beat up. His face was grey and swollen and yet his body was pink. We don't have any birth pictures of him because my camera was on the fritz and the old 35 millimeter film wouldn't advance. Dave opened it up in the delivery room, exposing the film. Yes, I cried. I also broke every blood vessel in my eyes trying to push him out and looked like a cheap horror film actress for weeks. UGH.

From the start, Cullen has been not much like Kadin at all. He was a good eater, a great sleeper, quick to smile, slow to cry. He loved other people and would let anyone hold him. He was an active baby with a curious mind and the ability to make friends in an instant. He gave his older brother wings to do things he didn't know he could. He is quick witted and sensitive hearted. His golden eyes make me smile and his impish grin melts my heart. He has added so much to our family just by existing.

Today I celebrate Cullen McKee. And I thank God for our second son. The one who pushes the limits, reaches for the sky, and lives life to the fullest. He is our joy.

Happy Eighth Birthday, Cullen. We adore you!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Resolve to Finish


Today I was fortunate enough to stare tenacity in the face. Today I was priviledged to witness a woman do something that she never believed possible of herself. Today, I was in the front row of seeing a dream come true and it was amazing. From walking that road myself, to seeing it happen once again to someone in my life, I will never cease to be amazed at what one can do if someone just believes they can. How far one person will push themselves just because someone told them they could. When I crossed the finish line of my first marathon, it wasn't because I was the fastest. Or the best runner. It was because I had the tenacity to endure. The resolve to finish. When I watched, in December, my friend Amy Jones cross the finish line at the Jingle Bell run, it wasn't because she was the fastest on the course either. It was because she has it in her to finish what she started. And she did. Today, I had the highest honor of running a 5k with a novice. A fifty four year old novice. A woman who never saw herself as a runner, yet she is. A woman who had a stroke when she was my age, ran with wild abandon. A woman who has set goals for herself, not waiting for next year, next month or even next week; but NOW. A woman I am so proud to call my friend. I first met Sharon Martin a few months ago when she asked if I could help her run. How humbling! Me? Could I help her? And what exactly did I KNOW about running? Enough to help? Enough to answer her questions? To encourage her? When I had my own struggles I was dealing with. But I tried. She is a natural, I tell ya. ;) I didn't need to help Sharon learn to run. I needed to help Sharon see she could ALREADY run. What an easy task. Never say never. Try it before you say you can't. And then watch yourself do it. And she did. She did so well.

It reminds me of my father. How he would encourage me to try new things. To run the 400 meter dash right after the 300 meter hurdles. To high jump (I was bad) and to long jump (I was worse..). To throw the javelin (I rocked!). To see you don't have to be the best. The fastest. The most notable person on the court, the field, or the track. You just have to have the heart to do it, the audacity to stick to it, and the resolve to finish it. After all of these years, Dad, I finally get it.

It doesn't matter how you finish the race. It matters that you started. That you took that first step. And then the second. That on that day, you did the best you could. That you encourage others, celebrate their highs, and walk with them through their lows. And most of all, that you always have the resolve to finish what you start. With grace, with pride, and with knowledge that whatever you thought you could not do, with God and good friends, there is no limit.

Thank you, Sharon, for reminding me that life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. I'm proud to have run a bit of it by your side. Carry on, Sole Sister, carry on.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reminded

Tonight as I sit on the couch, holding a little one who is sick, I am reminded of friends who have lost children. When Kadin was born, colicky, and nursing every hour and a half, I thought I would surely lose my mind. On some nights, rocking him with tears streaming down my face, I simply told myself that my friend Suzie would give anything to be sitting in her baby's nursery, rocking her baby. Suzie and I were pregnant at the same time. She was ahead of me. Her sweet baby had hydrops and did not make it. I went on and had Kadin. So on those nights, I remembered baby Molly and the thoughts of empty arms kept me going. Today some friends of ours lost their son, Hogan. He was born with Trisomy 18 and defied doctors by living for two weeks. Tonight, although his parents get to go home to two other children, I'm sure a part of their arms, as well as their hearts, feels empty.

It may be morbid to think this way. To remember friends who have lost children in order to keep my own sanity, but I don't think being reminded of how fragile life is is a bad thing. How we should be thankful for every day we have been given.

Tonight, as I hold my sweet Liam, I will remember. The Molly's, the Jay's, the Hogan's, and all other babies that are not of this world. And ask them to watch over my baby. Because one can never have enough angels either.

And tomorrow, when I am exhausted, short tempered, and wishing for a nap, I will remember to be reminded of my blessings.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Defining the Lines


Do you ever wonder where your kids stop and you begin? Or where your husband's needs become separate from your own? Sometimes I feel like that line is blurred. What everyone else needs or wants in the family becomes my top priority and the things that I want or need become second, third, or they never exist at all. On some days, I find it so difficult to maintain the status quo. Keeping the house, the kids, the schedules, the school work, the focus on God and family, incorporating the needs of others into our lives, all before breakfast! Today, Cullen was sick. A high fever pushed him from his bed in the wee hours of the morning and into my arms. After getting him meds, and settled on the couch with ice chips, all I could think of is that his getting sick messed with MY plans for the day.

I guess that is what running has done for me. While training for a race, I have a specific schedule. Time reserved for me and my girl friends. Time to do something for me. With me. And bonding time with some girls that have become my closest friends in a long time. We share it all. No subject is sacred or off limits. We have bared our souls to each other and found true friends in the process. I am eternally grateful. But I also feel selfish for the time I take away from my family to take my runs. Long runs can take up to five hours. FIVE HOURS away from my family. For me. It's crazy.

Yet, I have realized, I need to have those lines. The lines of mother, wife, sister, friend, individual. I need to remember what it is like to be me. In my own skin. With my own likes and dislikes and wants and needs. Doing so makes me a better person. For myself and others. To decide how I feel and what I think on different topics instead of just parroting what others around me say. And to be honest, I like the time with just me. To just exist in the quiet, or in the chatter of others. But doing something for me. Just because I enjoy it.

Do you do things you enjoy in life? Reading the Bible, gardening, photography, running, crafts. Whatever it is you enjoy, go for it. Redefine yourself. Make sure you are ok with you in your own skin. That there is a place where others stop, and you shine. It's hard, but it's a necessity. Carry on!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Getting Away


This year for spring break, Dave and I decided to get back to the basics. We looked for a destination that was secluded. Nature filled. A time to only focus on the family. Where we would literally be with each other 24/7 for a solid week. To regroup. To reconnect. To breathe together before the chaos of Dave starting his own private practice truly began. We found a home on Don Pedro Island in Florida. As a barrier reef island, most of the small island is reserved as a national park. You get there by a ferry that cost 170 bucks for 5 trips off the island. Or you could pay 55 dollars for one trip. There is a small resort on the island of Palm Island connected to Don Pedro that also has a small store. Small. As in one 6 ft isle with necessities on it. The restaurant was amazing though. A small three bedroom house on stilts. Painted yellow. With the beach in the back yard. We made ourselves at home for a week. Waking early to small giggles, long runs, walks on the secluded beach, watching dolphins, drinking coffee on the front stoop, and basically, just living life at leisure. It was healing. To search the beach for sharks teeth and beautifully colored shells. To sit and read in the accompaniment of God's masterpiece. To watch three little boys we love so much dig in the sand, jump waves, and just know what it is like to be off somewhere, together. Heaven with sand in the bed. Getting away makes me realize how little we truly need in life. Food, water, shelter, loved ones. How much we get sucked into the "I wants" in life that quickly become the "I needs." The rush around so that our children can experience life's opportunities. Really, the best opportunities my boys have had are on a boat my husband has rented where we see nature in it's natural state. Dolphins swimming in the bay. Manatee in the intercoastal. White pelicans on a small deserted island in the gulf. And each other to lean on. Now that we are back into the hustle of things, I look back to the calmness of the sea. The joy in my parents eyes as they see my children excitedly share beach finds. The lazy smile of my husband as we look over little tow heads at each other. And the ocean breeze blowing in a house where the sound of the waves lull you to sleep. Every once in awhile, I encourage you to just, get away.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leaving Behind


Some days I cannot wait to get away from my children. To escape the monotony of always reprimanding, fixing, tying, teaching, doing......to just exist in my own body without someone hanging on it or demanding things from me. Last week, Dave and I went to NYC to attend a conference in order to launch our new Center for Medical Weight Loss, that will be an adjunct to Dave's practice. Four days of being little one less. And what can I think of? Nothing but them! How Cullen bounced into school on Wed. morning and I didn't kiss him good bye that one last time. How I missed Liam's tiny voice and never ending chatter. How I wondered how Kadin did on his science test. I missed their ball practices and then ball games. I missed hearing about their days while they weren't with me. I missed them. I couldn't wait to get back to them. And almost tangible feeling of want. It reminded me of when Dave and I were in Holland over 9/11. Before Cullen was even dreamed of. And we just had Kadin. How my heart and my arms ached to touch him. To see him. To hear him. To just exist in the same airspace where he was. How much my children and my husband mean to me. How I would not be the same person without them. How I never want to live a day without them in my life.

And I think of the sacrifices other parents have to make. To say goodbye to a child much to soon. Either through that child's death, or their own. To feel like you haven't said enough. Done enough. Been enough. To want one more last day, last moment, last memory, last laugh.

I want to live each day as if it were my last. Because I don't know. Either way. How long I will be here, or a friend will be here, or my sons. As I run, I listen to a song on my ipod. Talking about how you should always be stronger than you think you are. Get up when you fall down. Trust in God. Unleash your burdens into His capable hands, and to NEVER say something you can't take back.

I wonder. Do I live like that now? Do I encourage enough? Do I love enough? Do I do enough to let my sons know that without them, I would never be the same. Because it is due to them that I am different. Fuller. Complete. Compassionate. Forgiving. It is because of the three of them that I have a more open mind into what life is, can be, should be.

So many times I sat in a room, with a parent or two, and a child or four, and gave parenting advice. Long before I was a parent myself. And I wonder, would I say the same things now? Would I be more of what I am now? Maybe that will be my next book. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Cullen Funny!


Today the boys are all home from school for Pulaski Day. While we were eating lunch, one of Kadin's friends called. Kadin said he couldn't talk, we were eating and he would call him back. Five minutes later, the kid calls back. We don't answer. Two minutes later, he calls again. We don't answer. Finally after the child had called four times in a row in less than 10 minutes, Cullen lets out this huge sigh and says...

"Man, that kids parents need to give him a brother!"

Friday, February 26, 2010

Getting Bigger


Oh how they love to say this. "Look Mom! I'm getting bigger!" They do at times, seem to grow over night. How does this happen?? I can vividly remember bringing home Kadin at less than 5 lbs. Funny how you could have hefted my child easier than a pack of sugar. He fit right into the nook of my arm. I could nurse him and do things with both hands. His tininess astounded others, but to me, he was perfect. But as the days went by and he turned into a chunky monkey, I would hear the normal comments: "What do you feed that kid? Geeze? He's chunky!" Yep, I'd say proudly! He eats at Mom's and it's the best food around. At 10 lbs at 10 wks, I was so proud of him for 'getting bigger.' Now I feel the emotional ramifications of that. That tiny little preemie is now a strapping 10.5 yr old. His brothers every day are showing signs of new skills. The extra skin showing at the bottom of their pants are telling me that they are growing taller. It is more evident in Liam's face. Losing the toddler baby fat and growing into a little boy body. As I watch him walk up the stairs alternating steps, drinking from a cup with no lid, and going to the potty unassisted. I know he is 'getting bigger' but do I need to hear it from his own mouth every day??

I am so thankful every day that they are growing. That they are healthy and thriving in this world of ours that can be so harsh. I'm thankful for past milestones, and those not reached yet. For I remember every day that I do not know how long I will hold these hands that God has blessed me with. I want to live each moment of their getting bigger with my eyes wide open and my heart full.

I know life gets us down. There are stresses that we don't share. There are hardships that each of us endure in our hearts. But take a moment to look at the children around you and revel in their ability to find joy in getting bigger. They are the ones that will lead us one day. Teach them well. And love them more. For there is nothing better than to see the joy in a child's eyes as you clap and exclaim, "My!! How you are getting so big!"

Thursday, February 25, 2010

School Battles


So many times I am reminded of the stereotypes against boys. Especially in the school system. Boys are slower at this...boys can't sit still through that...boys are inferior in this...boys don't learn that....whatever. Sometimes, in the quiet, I think maybe I was given all boys so that I can champion them. So I can throw in people's faces the reality that kids are just kids. They all develop, learn, mature, in their own time. It is not gender related. How I hate those boundaries.

Maybe it comes from my own childhood. There was not a cross country team where I went to high school. But I ran summer track, junior olympics, and basically competed in running events year round. I was encouraged to run cross country to keep my mileage and training up. I was refused. My parents did not accept that answer and kept at the school and the school board until I was able to run with the boys. Running is all I ever wanted to do. And when I was young, I was good at it. But the battle did not stop there. I was harrassed by adults. Threatening phone calls and hurdles too high to climb over were placed in my way until I finally had to drop out of cross country. Much to the disappointment of my coach and male teammates. Several years later, our school had a cross country girls team. But I had already graduated so it was too late for me.

What I learned is that if you don't stand up for what you want, you won't get it. And what I want is equality for my boys in the classroom. My oldest, Kadin, is a model student. He does what he is supposed to. When he is supposed to. How he is supposed to do it. He never questions. He also will not give you more than you ask unless he is pushed. He 'yes ma'ms' everyone and is the model child. Oh, and he is a boy. He potty trained in a day and a half at 27 months. He read before he was 3. He can sit silently. He is the child who you would put in time out and forget where he was because he just sat there. His brother was more active, but very similar. Cullen potty trained in a day. Before he was 2. He read shortly after he turned 3. He is one of the youngest in his class due to his birthdate, but he excells. But he questions. He wants to know why. Why do this? Why do it that way? Why take this test? Why are things this way for girls and not for boys? Why do people think he is one way because he is a boy? Why? Why? Why? I love that about him. We never child proofed our homes until our third son came. He is also active, but quite sweet. He does things in his own time though. He didn't potty train until after he was 3 and it took months. He has no interest in learning to read on his own. He wants to have fun. To laugh and giggle. But he also asks why. Why are you doing that? Where are we going? Why are we doing it? What? When? Where? Who? He is just a million questions in one tiny body.

When I send my sons to school, I expect them to be seen as individuals. For their gifts to be assessed. I do not expect them to be labeled as a BOY and therefore not able to do thing. I do not agree with the whole concept of letting girls go first and then the boys. If my sons do something wrong, I want to know about it so it can be fixed. I don't want it to be considered "boy behavior" and therefore they get picked on more by teachers who are looking for them to fail or to act out. I will not put up with it. My boys know how to behave. The know the rules. They are good kids.

I will continue to make school visits to do the unpopular. To call people on the rug for their treatment of my boys, or boys in general. I will continue to tell people that their views are not indicative of all boys. I have three of them. I think I can say how all kids are different no matter what is between their legs. I have met awesome children of both genders. Just as I have encountered not so great kids of both genders. I encourage you, other moms of boys, to do the same. To stop seeing things in your home as "girl" or "boy" and start seeing them as "kid" behaviors. To stop allowing those gender lines to be smudged further. To champion your boys. Not to allow others to keep them down in today's world just because they are boys. Children will be children. No matter what. I expect nothing else. But do not tell me my boys are less. I will not accept that.

I am a boy mom. Hear me roar. And complain, and gripe, and well, you know...all that stuff "girls" do so well............whatever! ;)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Barbershop

I can remember many years ago when I first started going to the barber shop in Dublin, Ga. I felt like a fish out of water in the dark panneled room with stuffed animal heads and fish on the walls. The floor had never seen anything stronger than a broom and the magazines were all Hunting and Fishing. What secrets of the man's world would be revealed to me? What actually happened in a barber shop? Well, I'll tell ya. NOTHING. It was boring! The kids swiftly got their hair cut, a piece of gum, and were shooed out the door. :) But here in Mt. Vernon, the barber shop is a visiting area. I am more comfortable now, in this area of my life. I walk in, sit down, pick up a car magazine and go on. The barbers chit chat about fishing on Guntersville Lake. A subject near and dear to my heart. Not the fishing, but the lake. Guntersville lake is right by Albertville, AL where my second son was born. I can chit chat with the best of them. They talk about people in town. The good, the bad, the ugly. They crack me up! They talk about their grandkids, their youth, the way things used to be, and how things are ok now too. It is like being transformed into another world. The chairs are the same. Old, stiff, manly. But the people are so open, friendly, encouraging, and they love my boys. After suckers and gum are given to all, they all stop what they are doing while we march out and shout out: "See you next time! Have a great day, boys!" And for once, I look forward to the barber shop. :)

Friday, February 12, 2010

contentment


Does anyone really feel this in their lives? Content. Feeling ok with how things are and the direction they are going? So many times, I have wanted more. Worried about catching up with the Jones's per say. Feeling that I have less than. Not only with my home, cars, clothes, jewelry, but also with my boys. I am a parent of one gender. I do not experience both sides of the fence. While I have watched many of my friends shop from both sides of the store, I have been left, half heartedly, on one side. Made to feel less than. Inadequate. A failure. All because my loins produced healthy boy children only.

As my boys grow, the less I allow myself to feel this way. The less I allow others to "make" me feel this way. Like I am missing out. That something in my life is intricately wrong because I have only one gender in my family. Seriously....I am less?? How so?

I have many friends who are raising only boys and others that are raising only girls. I love those moms. Those moms who know what I think and how I feel before I can even put it into words. Not that my both gender moms don't get it. But really, they don't "get it" like my single gender moms do.

I am content. My life is good. My boys are well adjusted and happy. My life is full. My husband is happy. For the most part, I don't think about parenting a daughter, much. And not for the bows, the clothes, the girly things that one would think of. But for the long term relationship with her. The one I see my friend Nina have with her engaged daughter. The planning for life. For adult relationships. But then I see the struggles I have, my friends have, their daughters have, and I know that I am right where I should be. Parenting boys and influencing girls. Just because I did not bear a girl child does not mean I cannot be important in the life of one. It does not mean that my old babysitters do not remember me and my life with my boys and see that as a positive thing. I am a role model no matter what. To mothers, to daughters, to other people as they walk through life.

And I best be aware of that with my words. With my actions. With my living in the moment and enjoying life. Not everyone we make eye contact with sees us. We are influetial to people beyond our scope. Remember that. Make your actions softer. Your words purer. Your love for God stronger. Make sure that others see you as you want to be seen.

I want others to see me as content. With my life. With living with my soul mate, and raising our boys. That my life is good. Maybe not as I envisioned it in my human mind's eye, but as God saw it for me. And I am growing into the role. This role I have as the mother of boys.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Little Liam


Oh how I adore this third child of mine. My "do over" baby. The child my mind's eye never knew I wanted and yet can't live without. He is so challenging, but also such joy. We are still trying to complete potty training. He does awesome with tee-tee, and has for awhile. It's been #2 that has escaped us. We are now proud owners of tiny bubble gum balls. The kid will try to poo for one bubble gum ball and actually go for two pieces. Cracks me up. He sits there on his tiny potty seat, straining like a man, and then will clap his hands with glee when he is successful. I love the little sayings that only come with potty training. He hits his thighs and says.."Come on out poopy! I want some gum!" or he will say.."Wow! I pooped TTTHHHHIIISSS (while spreading his arms out wide) big!" Things I will one day forget.

Thankfully, one day I will also forget the frustration in trying to train him. I am constantly hearing how boys are so much harder to potty train that girls. WHAT? I especially love mothers of one child (you guessed it, girls) who tell me this. And their basis is on what? They have trained so many children. Well, Liam is my third. I have only trained boys (or is it that they have trained me??). Kadin potty trained at 27 months in a day and a half. Yeah, that was so hard that I decided Cullen would be five before he trained. Nope, before he was 2, he trained in ONE DAY! So of course, Liam has been forever. Still within the "normal limits" of potty training, but way behind his brothers.

I have many theories on this. I'm not home constantly with him to take him to the pot whenever it crosses my mind. We are constantly out the door to one activity or another. He mostly has accidents in the evening when he is playing with his brothers and forgets to go. They are in the basement a lot, and not underfoot like when we lived in one story homes. But mostly, it's because he's my baby. My last one. So frankly, I don't really care to dedicate the time to potty train him. I know it will happen. Eventually. As much as I hate poopy underwear, this is the last time I will have to deal with it and that leaves me feeling a bit verclempt. Sick, isn't it?? Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now, where are those gumballs??? :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Yearly Dance Competition


I just got back from Emma's Dance Master's competition this weekend. A weekend full of girls, make up, dresses, and....well....hurried chaos. I love it. I dive in and only on my drive home remember to breathe. From the moment I load my suitcase into the car and say good bye to the boys, I am in Dance Aunt mode. Believe me, I know NOTHING about dance. I was horrid at it as a girl. Until my neices started doing it and actually got bearable to watch, I had no interest. What does a mom with boys know about dance?? Unless her boys are involved in it. And I admit, watching some of those guys dancing up there, I sigh. So strong and beautiful to watch.

But I digress! Each year, the dance competition has a theme. Each year, we have our own theme. There was the "first year" that I didn't go to. The second year was the "snow year." Last year was the "Aunt Kathy sick" year. This year it was the "forgotten shoes" year. Each year brings its own set of challenges, yet, it's own glee as well.

I love being with my sister and my oldest neice, Emma. They are so much fun. Lisa lets me help with make up and hair. We anxiously wait for Emma to dance her solos. Every time she does, I cry with pride. Then we dash around getting her ready or unready for the next dance. Hurry up and wait. Look at booty shorts and dance shoes. Talk about glitter make up and leotards. Make the girls eat. Shop at the candy store. Wish we had more time to go to the mall.

But through it all, there are those drama girls you can't escape. Oh My! Many times through the weekend, I say prayers to God. Thanking Him that He gave me boys. That all of this dance stuff is for my neice....not for me. Every time a daughter smarts off to her mother, has a meltdown, screams or hurts a friends feelings, I am reminded of how much I love raising boys. Sure, I get attitude. Sure my days are loud and busy. Sure my boys have frienship tiffs. But it is not the same. The stress and the drama are trifold. It makes me smile. And so very thankful.

As I get in the car to head home. I finally breathe. Another year down and yet, I have the dates reserved for next year already. I wouldn't miss this time for the world. But I am always eager to get home.......to my boys.

Starting Over


Since I lost my last blog on AuthorHouse, I thought it was time to begin a new adventure on blogspot. Stay tuned for some awesome stories about Raising Boys!