3 days ago
To have or not to have kids. That is the question. For many people, it's never a question. They don't have a moment's pause over whether or not to have kids. They've known since the moment of their own birth that being a mother was their life's goal. Or maybe not their LIFE's goal, but definitely a "to do" on the life list. To them, college is an excuse to get their MRS degree, to meet the daddy of the children in their minds and to start living the dream.
For others, they may start out like other little girls, playing with dolls and pretending to be a mommy and probably thinking that someday, that play would become reality. But not dwelling on it. And perhaps, life events change their mind. There are others who know that children are something they absolutely don't want. Or can't foresee wanting. And I will allow here that our foresight for desire is extremely limited, especially when it comes to the desire to have kids. It can be absent one day and present the next. Or it can stalk you for years until it jumps on your back one day.
I use to scorn the first type - scoffing at their lack of ambition, their willingness to settle for a way of life that seemed prosaic to me. I would probably say I fell in the second category. I played dolls, Barbie, etc. and thought I'd have kids, but then life's events changed my mind. I became one who had no desire to have kids. Why is that, you ask?
Well, I am the oldest of 7 kids. I don't remember a time in my life when there weren't kids, babies and siblings afoot. I never minded it growing up, in fact, I LOVED being part of a large family. At the TOP of the large family. But I noticed that as I grew older and observed my girlfriends longing for boyfriends to become fiances to become husbands to give them babies....I did not at all share that desire. I won't say I wasn't hoping to find that certain guy, but not for the babies. Don't get me wrong, I love babies and loved them then. I just had no desire to have my own. I felt like I had already had that, being the oldest of so many kids. I had changed more diapers than most people would in a lifetime. I knew what babies were, and toddlers, and pre-schoolers...and I was over it.
Also, I was born ambitious. I had goals - I wanted to be a doctor. From an extremely early age, my sights were set on an MD, not an MRS. I single-mindedly pursued that course all through college and upon graduation, was set to pursue medical school. On that course, God used several different things to change my mind - I ended up working in business with my dad, instead! Go figure!
But I had no intention or desire to be a stay-at-home mom. I had a brain and wanted to use it! Not that those who did desire to stay at home with kids didn't have a brain...they certainly did. I know many super smart girls who chose motherhood over a career. But the desire just wasn't there for me. And I did find the guy, fell in love, got my MRS, but set my sights further on an MBA, not MOM.
And I was astounded that immediately after getting married, the question began to be posed to me: When do you guys plan to start a family? How many kids do you want? When are you going to get pregnant?
It infuriated me. As though my sole purpose as a woman was just to serve as a baby machine. I detested that question and before I knew it, the pouring on of that question served to kill any lingering desires I might have had. Like an anti-fertilizer.
I fought off that question for 5 years, all while being happily married to the man of my dreams and enjoying every second of our life together. Never feeling like anything was missing or empty...just happy. I went back to school and got my MBA and kept working, loving my job and my life.
It so happened that I did have some friends in my life who had a little girl who made parenthood look seamless. They were still passionate about each other and did not step out of life in order to be a parent. I was heartened by their attitude and lifestyle. And it also happened that God started working on my heart, and I literally woke up one day thinking kids might not be a horrible idea now after all.
Long story short, we got pregnant quickly, had a miscarriage, got pregnant again, had Brooklyn, 2.5 years later, had August. And we'd like more.
So have we changed? Have I changed? I would say no to both of those questions. And yes to both questions. Fundamentally, no, we have not changed. Kyle and I still are who we were. Same interests, same great friendship, love life, passion for each other, we still go to the gym every day like we did before. We have not switched tracks. We have, obviously, changed with the entry of kids in our lives. We are less selfish. Not begrudgingly, but because we find ourselves enamored with these little creatures of ours and happy to give up some selfishness.
My biggest fear is boxes. I am metaphorically claustrophobic. The very idea of fitting me into a box of "stay at home mom" or any other box terrifies me and leaves me scrabbling for air. I most feared becoming a stereotype after having kids. I saw friends of mine and just knew I couldn't do things that way. It wasn't me. And I have been liberated to discover that I can still be exactly who I am AND be a wonderful, loving mother to my kids and loving wife to my husband. And fit no boxes. I can be unconventional, let my kids stay up later and sleep later if I want to. I can do things my way. I can choose to not be a "play date" mom and still keep my girlfriends who have kids. I can not pretend to sing silly songs at birthday parties. I can not wear mom-jeans. I can participate in a weekly Bible study and not fit a template. I can still be me. And that is CRITICAL TO MY SANITY!
And the other thing that was completely unexpected, but I found to be THE best thing about having children: your kids are not other people's kids. They are you and your husband all balled up, plus some other magical factor of themness. They can be your quirky, eccentric little mini-me's. Which makes being with them enough. They think you're funny. You can be yourself in all your selfness that makes other people cock their head and squint at you, but your kids find awesome!
You can take them with you flea marketing or to estate sales, to the gym, to the bookstore. You can do Ab Ripper X and your kids will do it with you. Your kids will learn to love yoga and the foods you like to cook. You don't have to start serving chicken nuggets! You can parent in your own way. You can make your own mistakes. You can choose not to let your kids get all sucked up in the "in vogue" characters (Dora, Cinderella, Tinkerbell, Blues Clues, who knows what else) because it is possible to avoid mainstream marketing and have happy kids. You don't have to have your house taken over by toys and kid paraphernalia.
When it's all said and done, what makes it work is that you find you love them with a love unlike any other and that loving them and spending time with them makes you happy. And you change in ways that are good, but don't necessarily turn you into a stereotype. That part is up to you. And I will never ever pressure anyone else to make that leap. It's a personal choice. And it's not a small one. But, it can be the best choice you make.
This day has definitely not played out the way I had in mind. It started out well, but right around 12:00, as I was driving out to my insurance agent's office, something went amiss.
I started feeling like there were blind spots in my vision. Which freaked me out, but not nearly as much as when a few minutes later the blind spots turned into shimmery bits on the periphery of my vision. Here I am driving, with my two kids in the back, wondering if I am experiencing a detached retina or something.
I call my eye doctor to come in immediately, but turns out they're on vacation until next week. Ok, so that's not an option! The receptionist suggested I go see my primary care physician. Which actually wasn't crazy because August woke up this morning with what I then suspected to be an ear infection, and I had made an appointment for him at our doc for 2:30. But right now, 2:30 was a long way off and here I am feeling extremely bizarre with my vision going wacky on me.
I make it safely to my insurance agent's office and, leaving the kids in the car (within my sight - such as it was at this point!), stumble into the front office. I manage to somehow focus enough to tell them what I was there for and then, just because I was at this time, utterly freaking out, interject their discussion to tell them, "Guys, there is something wrong with my eyes!" They immediately expressed concern, especially since I had driven there. I didn't know what to say! I managed to sort of focus on writing the check I came to write, then stumble back out to the car.
Kyle was on a photo shoot all day and I couldn't get him. I couldn't get my mom, either. I was really starting to panic! Should I go to the ER? What in the world would I do with Brooklyn and August?? Finally, driving back, things seemed to "un-shimmer" and the fractionality of my sight diminished. And Kyle called me. I explained to him, with no small degree of panic in my voice, what was going on. He didn't know whether he should come home or not.
And then, suddenly, as quickly as it had started, my vision cleared up. Kyle commented that it sounded like a migraine, but I don't get those. Or, I have gotten one in my life. Ten years ago. It was ghastly, an experience I hoped never to repeat.
So I get home, and within minutes, have googled retinal detachment, brain tumors and shimmery vision...and then I get a pinprick of pain deep in my brain, centered like an ice pick drilling into my forehead above my right eyebrow. It is, in fact, a migraine.
I quickly called Kyle and had him call my mom, while, in a matter of minutes, I begin to get nauseous, wobbly, sick to my stomach, literally incapacitated with pain.
I somehow manage to put on Mary Poppins for Brooklyn to watch. August had mercifully fallen asleep in the car and was asleep now on my bed. I stumbled upstairs, threw up and fell onto the bed with August. During the next half hour, Kyle managed to talk to a friend of his who experiences cortical migraines and identify my current situation as exactly what this other guy experiences. My mom brings me some Excedrin Migraine and takes the kids to the doctor for me and then to her house. I throw up some more...find an eye patch to block out the killer sunlight streaming in my 5 windows in the bedroom. I burrow under the covers like a mole and try to find relief from the pain.
And wouldn't you know it...of all days, my neighbor across the street is getting a new roof today. Every pound of the hammer was like nails into my skull. I just whimpered and prayed. And finally slept. And woke up about 3 hours later feeling SO much better.
The pinprick is there, but it's in the background. I'm praying it doesn't return. But I have to tell you, if I never get another one of these things, it will be too soon. For anyone out there who gets migraines, my heart goes out to you. They are horrendous.
Oh, and turns out August did have a horrible ear infection on one side and the beginnings of one on the other. And my retina is still attached. And I'm not dead despite my having wished it all to just be over!
Brooklyn shares a birthday with the son of some of our good friends, Charla and Toby, and we can always count on them to celebrate birthdays in style! This year, for Colson's 2nd birthday party, we took over the Gymboree play place, to which we had never been. And it was great! The kids, all of them, not just mine, had a BLAST! Here are some pictures of our bebes.
Now that August is gaining confidence in his vocabulary, it's starting to get fun.
He can really communicate, if not with the general public, then certainly with me, Kyle and Brooklyn. Some common phrases:
I yu you! (I love you)
I yu you, too!
Hungy (oh yes, for those familiar with Brooklyn's terminology...hungy is the same thing. Hint: nursing)
the list goes on. Needless to say, he's beginning to string words together to make some sense. Such as "Mommy, cacker peese!!!"
In the ongoing, never-ending quest for perfection that is interior design, another find has been joyously made. And rather than having to go hunting myself, I was able to pluck this lovely piece from a house just down the street from mine: Zach & Anna's! In their own rearranging, Anna had no place for this antique mantel and sold it to me and Kyle. SCORE!
I can't tell you the thrill I get from seeing it elegantly frame our hearth. It adds to the modern/eclectic vibe going in my living room and seems to complete the fireplace. Haven't yet decided whether to leave it the existing color with built in age marks. I kind of like it. Just not sure yet.
I believe our little family has reached the stage or phase at which various "suggested" assignments become opportunities for the competitive nature of Mommy and Daddy to emerge.
Case in point: Brooklyn's Mother's Day Out had a Valentine's party last week and encouraged the children (ok, we all know they mean PARENTS) to prepare and bring a Valentine's box in which to deposit the various and sundry paper squares to which are affixed small bits of candy and suckers, etc. I know this is done by mommies (and let's abandon all pretexts that the kids at this age even KNOW what Valentine's are...) and for mommies. Plus, when we got home from the party, all B was interested in was the candy - she can't read, so the culling through paper cards fell to me. And I can also verify for those wondering that the big players in this year's Valentine's Day lineup are Tinkerbell, GI Joe, and Dr. Seuss. We went the Dr. Seuss route ourselves. Literature over floufy every time.
Back to the box. There was mention of a competition in the box department, which set the combined creative/competitive antennas of Kyle and I twitching in anticipation. There were no guidelines or rules set forth. The playing field was wide open.
We brainstormed seriously for several days. And ultimately chose the medium: an empty Huggies box. I remember when I used to have extra boxes of shoes....sigh...
We tossed and discarded ideas like confetti. And settled on this:
The idea was that B's Love Shack would be a happening place to which all her favorite characters (Annie and Sandy, Madeline, Fancy Nancy, Clifford, Alexander, August, Curious George, Bob & Larry, etc) would be arriving to celebrate the Big Day. We decorated it with colored pipe cleaners, Mardi Gras beads, wrapping paper, fancy little shiny things and pictures. The cards would be cleverly dropped in an opening between the two roof panels. We were proud of ourselves. And sure we would emerge victorious in the competition!!!!
Let me tell you that Kyle and Ashley had a rude awakening coming. We are seriously new to this game and clearly underestimated the boredom level in certain households during the week which happened to include a snowstorm. These people were crazy.
The winning box was - and I kid you not - a cardboard constructed TORNADO with little candy hearts spinning up into the box which was perched on the top of the tornado. I have to hand it to them. It was unique and awesome. There were several impressive feats of flower-beds (gag) and some wizardry involving rhinestones and a clutch....I still think we deserved SOMETHING!!!!! Maybe the grooviness level was just too out of their reach. Hard to say.
Lesson learned. These people have experience. It's on.
Oh and Happy Valentine's Day.
I am a day late in posting this because things have been so busy around here, but I am delighted to say that Brooklyn celebrated her 4th birthday yesterday, February 18th!
She loves to tell people when her birthday is and she was so excited that the big day was finally HERE!
I am absolutely bumfuzzled that 4 years have passed since I gave birth to my precious little girl. She informs me that she is no longer my baby, but a little GIRL, mommy! And so she is. The sentences that are structured in her mind are certainly not those of a baby. Often not those of a little girl, rather a little PERSON! She is so smart, so incredible...I marvel that she's mine.
She's absolutely a delight to me and all who know her. She is passionate about the things she's passionate about (like her momma!) which include the following (in no particular order):
Wearing tights or leggings
Telling on August when he doesn't share well
Oatmeal Squares cereal
Dressing up her baby dolls (and various stuffed animals)
Waking up in bed next to mommy
Preening in front of the mirror!!!!!
Changing clothes 5 times a day
Mother's Day Out
Her many friends
Her new cousins
Going to the gym
Praying that the "power will stay on"
Such are the interests of a 4 year old. And the world is a rosier place because she's here. Take it from me.
So, Happy Birthday, my little one. I thank God for her every single day!