Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Village

I now understand Hillary Clinton like I never have before. She's right, it really does take a village. At the risk of boring you with more mommy drivel, I take the time tonight to remember some things lest I ever think I did all of this (any of this?) alone.

BK - "Before Kids" I was Miss I Will Do it Myself. I went away to a college my family never dreamed I would go to, thought seriously about getting a tattoo (whoa), paid rent to slumlords who are lucky OSHA never came a knockin', and rode a Harley. Okay, it was a vespa and I rode on the back of it but still...the point is I was a young girl who worked tons of odd jobs most of my young life while forcing myself to eat Egg Drop soup for weeks because I couldn't and wouldn't ask for help. This is not to say I didn't have slews of family and friends who pitched in despite my obstinance. I'd be fooling myself if I thought I was in fact supporting myself. Yet that's exactly what I thought.

Then came Abby. I would start with Grayson but honestly when I had him and only him I still wore my Proud Mary badge daily and didn't relinquish his chubby body often for fear some bystander would for one second assume I wasn't capable of dealing. But again, then came Abby. Talk about dealing. What you women do with more than two children to cope with the demands of every day living I haven't the foggiest. All I can say is that you have more strands of iron and vinegar in your DNA than I ever will. Abby is wee but the stress added when she entered the scene was anything but. She humbled me like no other. Ironically, Abby is a pretty easy baby (once we figured out how to calm the screaming meanies inside her). The things that come with having more than one dependent are not. Instead of doubling, somehow things in this house and in our lives absolutely tripled with bringing home baby. We used to have housework. We now have boats of laundry listing over their baskets, dust bunnies we should start taking the vet, dishes that beg to be hand washed instead of flung into the scalding dishwasher again. We no longer have grocery lists. We now have holy crap we just went to the store yesterday and I can't believe we already need milk, juice, and cheese again lists. Seriously, who is eating one lb of Cooper's Sharp in a day? Even Sadie is mystified.

So learning how to deal with two children has been my new job. I'm not going to lie to you. I completely suck at my new job. I try like hell to be a better time manager but somehow I still end up brushing my own teeth close to 1:00 in the afternoon- that is about 8 hours too late people (and for those of you who know me this is a very huge problem). I also try to do all of the things a mom is supposed to do but I sometimes forget. Like dinner. You may think I'm joking but there have quite literally been a few days when 6:30pm rolls around and I'm so very busy being proud of myself for not letting Grayson watch eleven straight hours of Max & Ruby (only 10) that it comes as a complete surprise to me when a funny grumbling moan sounds off from deep inside my toddler's belly. OH MY GOD! I didn't make dinner! I didn't even THINK about making dinner until now! I don't even have one edible protein thawing in the sink! Who does this? What kind of mother doesn't make their children dinner? What about my poor long commuting husband who is going to come walking through that door any minute to discover the devastation that is an empty oven? Not good.

The last pride-crushing straw? When my long commuting husband had to recently go on travel. This is a typical occurrence around here only this is the first time since Abby that he has been away for an entire week and I haven't had family visiting. I was here to care for the house, the baby, the Grayson, the canine, the fish, and the mailbox all by myself. Not an unusual assignment for a wife and a mother one would think. One would also think said wife and mother would be able to tend to her tribe alone for one piddly week. One would be wrong. Day 2 and I was muttering obscenities to the hairdryer like a crazy loon and her crazier half-sister. That's when I realized I could not do this alone. I repeat: I could not do this alone. What's "this?" That would be caring for my own children (et. al) by myself. I believe the kindest, sweetest, loveliest thing I did for Grayson and Abby on Tuesday night was call in for backup. They deserved more than what I alone could give them. They deserve backup. They deserve their village. Who am I to rob them of their village just because Miss Independent was hanging on for dear life? Last Tuesday, she needed an ego defibrillator and it was time I let her go into That Good Night...she won't be missed. We need more of the new Erin- Miss IndiePendent I like to say. The new cool indie mom who actually makes phone calls asking for assistance before things get terribly ugly and hostile in her own head. The wife who hired not one but TWO new babysitters to help her get some needed rest so she can carry on with dancing suburban salsa in the kitchen with her baby in a Moby sling and her little boy standing on her feet. Olay!

An aside: I haven't mentioned my extended family and friends much in this blog. This is no oversight. I started this blog as a memory for my children and my future self. Therefore, I chose to respect the privacy of my family and friends. It's my decision to blurb out to the world at large and it's my responsibility to keep it close without mentioning names or posting pictures of those people who may not want to be that public. However, tonight I have to let the world at large know there is huge undertaking going on behind these curtains. I have to thank my village out loud for being there for me, for us, through so much. Starting from Andy's first deployment, to our monsoon of a wedding, our non-cratable and extremely destructive Labrador, our many moves within Maryland and then to PA, the prom setup and breakdown, my hyperemesis, our firstborn and then our second love bundle - you have all been here either physically or in spirit- to help my family. Here's to you: Nonie & T, Pop-Pop & MiMi, Nammy & Pop, Uncles Eric, Donnie, Alex, Matt, Pete, Jason, Aunties Jen, Christie, Dawna, Libby. My own Uncle Jimmy & Aunt Mary, Marni &Vinny, our other fabulous friends and neighbors on N.Gorski :), my nurses and Wendy at Home Solutions, my fellow Mommy friends (Kathleen, Monica, Lisa, Sarah, Kim, Blythe, Cara, Tracy G), my baby-free friends both near and far (April, Marni, Tracy D) , my lovelies (babysitters), and all of you who have not been named but have also not been forgotten. We would not have made it without you. I would not have made it without you. You are my village and that Hillary Clinton is one smart cookie.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Two Point Five

Yesterday Grayson and I were hanging outside and enjoying some quality sunshine with each other. Inside, Nonie was cooing over baby Abby who she now affectionately calls, Sassy. Let's just say our once colic-ridden girl has found her "well" voice and doesn't mind who hears it. So while the girls were chatting indoors, Grayson and I bundled up and went out to the backyard to play. I had a cup of my home brew and he had his shovel. After really working hard at digging up a sacrificial landscaped pile of mulch for about five minutes he looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, "Mommy, Daddy is not at home. He is at work and not looking for spiders or poop." With that perfectly out there, the absolute ONLY thing that could come as a response from me was, "No honey, Daddy is not at home. He is at work and not looking for spiders or poop. Poor unlucky him." Oh how I love the two year old mind: one part magic to two parts grody.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Nursing babies is a weird thing. You see someone else doing it and you feel shy and all "avert the eyes-ish." You engage in the act yourself and pretty soon reaching down your shirt to release your double D (active A? bountiful B?) is as commonplace as reaching into your pocket for a tissue. Now, I'll admit that I never pictured myself a breastfeeding type of girl but as it turns out I am. In fact, Grayson was nursed so long that I received a certificate of achievement from my bras & La Leche League. I'm only kidding but wouldn't that be a great recruiting tactic? What I DID receive were a few sideways glances from close friends who knew damn well he could pretty much walk himself to the fridge for a Capri Sun and be done with it (all truth be told, he was a little over 12 months). Was I one of those freak moms who wanted to keep her baby at the boob long after the child could practically call in for a curbside Bloomin' Onion? Was I afraid his auto-immune system would spontaneously shut down upon the cessation of me lactating? Maybe I was addicted to the alone time we shared together in a quiet place where nobody wanted or felt comfortable to interrupt. Whatever the case, I don't regret our time at the till and the many stretchy tank tops I 'outgrew.'

Sadly, I hardly remember Grayson as a newborn because little "Lillabeth" has taken up every working neuron worth a shit in my brain as of late but when I conjure up those really good moments with him, I remember him peacefully drifting off to sleep while nursing when sleep simply did not come naturally for at least a year. I also remember his wide grins after taking in a long swig of his daily drink and remember how satisfying it was for me to know he got a nice warm meal full of antibodies and other good stuff I can't pronounce from me, the mom. Sure, the downsides were awful. Who wants to send their pediatrician 15 separate jpegs of their babies' mouth b/c you can't believe all the white dots inside there are "just milk spots?" (They weren't, it was thrush) Who enjoys those bonus flu-like symptoms that come with the prize of a mastitis infection otherwise known as hellfire in your tatas?? I can happily report that a healthy and super chunko baby outweighed any negatives the first time around and in retrospect I feel proud we made it as long as we did.

I feel the same way now that I'm nursing Miss Abby Cakes. As to be expected, she is a different eater altogether. She is enthusiastic and passionate whereas Grayson was loud and voracious, she is merry and chatty where Grayson was private and introspective. Abby kneads my chest like a kitten while Grayson drummed down rhythmically with his tiny baby fists. Abby enjoys her time at the 24 hour milk diner just as much as her brother did and I will admit that I stare at her face and contemplate her hair color more than anything else in my day. This could make me one of those crazy moms who has lost herself completely in motherhood but I don't consider myself lost (crazy? yes.). I am in love neutral, learning who she from the moment she calls out (she goes from sound asleep to a three alarm fire drill in seconds) for food to those sweet long sighs and slow blinks once she has had her fill. Breastfeeding is weird but it's also wonderful for some women and besides, when else will you have 6-8 possible 15 minute clusters to deliberate over your newborn's hair color? In case you were wondering, Abby's is that see-thru baby strawberry brown. In my opinion, a noncommittal red.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Not every day in this house is a Norman Rockwell painting for certain. There are days when I walk around the house looking and acting like someone I don't recongnize and would've probably thrown spears at when I was younger and knew everything. Some days there are Goldfish crackers and raisins smashed into the couch, diapers forgotten in mid-fold b/c Grayson pulled poor Sadie's tail again, millions of banged up toys and their derelict pieces scattered throughout the place like a trail of tears. When things are this way and I'm up to my boiling point with time-outs and "how many times do I have to tell yous..." I take a moment to breathe in, zoom out, and freeze. To get over myself this is what I picture:

...and this.....

and then I remember that today is my last day to hold on to these particular expressions, these sweetly honest, incredulously mischievous, and always candid faces my children make while they bound away from their babyhoods and into a life independent of their nannycam of a mom and worry-Nelson of a dad. While Grayson is just 2 and a half, he is learning the concrete and the abstact. He mixes Ranch dressing and hot sauce together and declairs it glue. He puts the vacuum extension to his right eye and announces, "Yo Ho Ho!" These real and imagined properties are part of his expanding world and he is so quickly discovering more every day. He knows how to make (not so hot) tea with honey and sugar and does not spill a drop in the process. Little "Lillabeth" (what I call Abby b/c I still cannot remember my own daughter's name to save my life on a typical day) is in her own stage of developing and growing and becoming her own little person. Her "fourth trimester" out of my belly is ending and she is of lovely temperament and has a funny bone with an airy giggle to match. The lamp next to our couch is her boyfriend. She coos sweetly and flirts shamelessly at Lamp until she fatigues of her unrequited advances and cries for the comfort and solace of her rocking chair (little does she know her mother did the exact same thing right up until college!). These little people I call my babies are fascinating to me and I'm realizing, to many other family members and close friends too. It's amazing to watch babies become toddlers and toddlers become children. Though I've lived 34 very full years fat with experiences and memories, I have to admit that I am eager to start the days now in a way that's never been true before. Before I was excited about the possibilities a day could hold for me. Today I am excited about the possibilities the day holds for these little emoticons who happen to be sharing their own space, boundless energy, and precious time with me and I'm not about to let on that it breaks my heart and fills it with joy at the same time to watch them grow up.