Friday, July 12, 2013

Big Girl Britches, Check

They're on.  And they happen to be a bright yellow skinny jean, which can only make a girl happy, right?

Chin up and that sort of thing is what's going on in my world now.  I had my youngest-child-that's-not-fair moment, and now it's over.  Nothing else in my house has really changed except my attitude, and sometimes that's all that needs to change.  No more cussing, no more screaming, and no more feeling sorry for myself.  This too shall pass . . . it still doesn't help to hear it, but I don't doubt it's truth.

Mack is still boycotting sleep.  I started drugging him with melatonin a couple of nights ago (the tiniest dose so no judging, please), and it has helped him sleep a bit longer.  Last night it was about 10:30-5:00 AM, and I'm cool with that as long as he stops waking up at 2:00 AM and wandering around the house.  And he woke me up all happy and cute this morning, and we had a good snuggle.  He smells like lavender lotion in the morning and loves to nuzzle up under my neck and rub his fuzzy head in my face.  He won't stay still long, but the few seconds I get are enough to make me not be concerned about skipping my early morning alone time coffee.

We thought that maybe he hated his crib since he's a bit too big for it, so I finally set up the fancy Ikea toddler bed.  He and Mimi snuggled in it and watched Peter Pan on the iPad for a while last night.  Why I didn't take a picture of all the cuteness is beyond me, but I'm hoping there are more of those moments to come.  I left the crib up in case he needed to crawl into last night, but I don't think that happened.


On to other news.  I'm waving the white flag and saying uncle to this city lifestyle.  Living in the city the past three years has been sooooo cool.  Like I'm pretty sure I'm cooler than I've ever been in my whole life being in this big, busy city.  We walk to the dentist, my daughter rides her pink scooter to school, I know enough to give tourists directions, and I can plan a vacay for your family better than a travel agent.  So proud of the way we adjusted to Chicago coming from small towns in Mississippi.  The South is unlike any other place in America, and everyone looks shocked when I tell them how much we've loved the big city life.

But the car horns and bikers who don't obey traffic laws and over-priced everything is wearing on this momma.  It's nice to be able to walk places, but when the car is necessary in all this traffic I'm ready to call it quits.  I feel so much tension in this city.  Everyone is in a hurry.  Everyone needs others to get out of their way.  So much noise and lights and impatience.  I have many friends who do it beautifully, but this family is throwing in the towel.

In a couple of weeks we'll head north to a sleepy little village.  I'm excited and nervous but ready once again for change.  Clint will be able to easily hit a few golf balls after work nearby.  Mimi will still be able to ride her scooter to school but without almost every car running every stop sign.  Mack will be able to run free in a yard and not be overwhelmed at crowded parks and restaurants.  And I will be able to sit on my screened in porch and at times hear absolutely nothing but the birds and the wind blowing off Lake Michigan . . . ahhhhhh . . .

Not that we'll live on the lake.  That's saved for retired movie stars and owners of sports teams, but I know the lake is still nearby and that's why I pushed for this area.  It feels like a beach town with families on bikes and little girls in Lilly Pulitzer.  I once turned my nose up at parents who wanted to raise their children in a bubble, but now I'm all for that bubble.  It's about what we expose them to with traveling and reading and volunteering, so I don't mind sheltering them and letting them have a secure childhood for a bit.  Because I'm able to control all of this . . . um, yeah, right . . .  

We're only a few miles away from the city, so coming back won't be too difficult.  Especially for restaurants.  I still only have about 1,000 restaurants I need to try!  We've made some of the best friends of our lives, and moving to Chicago has been such a blessing.  It was divine intervention that we happily moved my 34 weeks pregnant self from all that we've ever know into a big ole city I'd only visited once.  It made sense to no one, not really even us, but my gut felt it was the right thing.

So we'll be rocking out with our blocks out in the burbs, and I'll try to post pics and not whine for the next few posts.  Mimi is already signed up for a safety camp and tennis -- you know, the suburban things to do.  Safety camp sounds kind of nerdy, but she'll get to meet all the village cops and firemen and beach lifeguards along with learning the proper protocol in emergency situations.  Not a bad idea for a sometimes too brave little girl.

Mack is signed up for a fantastic little preschool that knows all about little monkeys like him.  He's not big on change, but I know the slower, simpler life can only help him be happier.

Now on to packing and renovating and drinking coffee on a porch . . .

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Just Be Regular

Disclaimer:  I have had a margarita and I will use profanity.

Do you see this guy?  Cute as a button, right?  Probably one of the most beautiful little boys I've ever seen.  

Well, today I looked him square in the eye and told him to stop being such an asshole.  Stop screaming, stop hitting, stop freaking out.  Just be regular for 60 seconds.  Don't fight me to get your shoes on or get in the car or take your shirt off or sit down at a restaurant.  Eat your food without being picky about the way it's presented and sit in your cute little blue car and be pushed to Starbuck's for as much chocolate milk as you want.  Stop running away from me and stop screaming at me for not turning on the TV.  And stop screaming at me for not turning the TV to the exact cartoon you want.  Just stop screaming.  And stop being such an asshole.

This sensory processing crap is really wearing on me.  In fact, I'm really pissed off about it all.  Mack is almost three and he is barely talking, doesn't like to play with many other kids, and is so far from being potty-trained that I just need to invest in Pampers.  He stays overwhelmed and overstimulated and unregulated, and I find myself walking on eggshells most of my day.  I beg the therapists for answers on how to prevent tantrums and how to end tantrums.  Some of it is normal 2-year-old assholeishness, and a lot of it is just Mack not being regulated.

I've looked at myself and tried to figure out what I've done.  I ate healthy during his pregnancy.  I didn't get too many ultrasounds.  I stayed very calm and rarely raised my voice while carrying him.  The delivery was uneventful.  I nursed him the first year.  I fed him healthy food.  He was a happy baby.  He was a good sleeper.  I thought I did everything right.  And, I honestly still think I did.

The truth is that this is Mack.  I can read all those dumb-ass "The 17 things parents should really be concerned about" and "Why moms in other countries don't have these problems" and yadayadayada, but Mack is the way he is.  I can no longer beat myself up.  He is wired a certain way, and I need to come to terms with that and guide him the best way that I can.  I've researched his diet and immunizations and family history, and the facts are there that he has been this way since the day he was born.

But I have this almost five-year-old daughter who developed completely normally -- even early in many ways -- and I HATE to see a video of her at his age.  She was playing with others and singing entire songs and reciting her alphabet and pee peeing in the potty like a champ.  Any tiny little thing that upset me about her not being able to identify all her numbers or count past 20 just seems so freaking silly now.  I would love for Mack to count past three and to actually include the number one when he does it.  I would love if he even pretended he wanted to play with another child.  And if he even hummed along to a familiar tune I swear I would take him to the place I LOATHE name Disney World.

If you're wondering whether I'm jealous or not of your almost three-year-old who is smart, then you're damn straight that I am.  I've tried to talk myself out of not comparing many, many times, but I can't help it.  When I hear your child having a convo with you, I'm jealous.  When you tell me about your simple difficulties with potty-training, I'm jealous.  I am happy for you, but I want to be in that normal place too.  I want to have regular toddler tantrums.  I don't want to have sensory processing disorder tantrums.

There is this one mom who I've chatted with some in one of Mack's classes.  When Mimi was his age and was taking little classes, I was able to chat with lots of moms because she was too busy doing her own thing.  Now I must stay on top of him all the time to make sure that he isn't freaking out, and I also want to avoid the other looks from some moms and nannies who don't quite get him.  Like the one who stared deep into my eyes and sternly spit out, "He's gonna hurt someone."  No shit, lady.  That's why I spend every second on top of him.  Thanks for pointing out how difficult it is for me to take him in public.

But I digress.  So anyway, there's this one mom I chatted with some in a class.  Her daughter was cute and smart and talking a crazy amount, but she always seemed willing to let her daughter play around Mack in class.  We talked about our older daughters and their independence, and I even let her know about Mack's diagnosis a few months ago.  I have no idea what her name is, and I have no idea why I felt comfortable talking with her about this.  But I did, and she always listened without judgement.  I enjoyed her conversation and her cute little daughter, but secretly I was so jealous of how easy her life seemed to be with her daughters.

I ran into her tonight while at dinner.  We said hi and I asked Mack if he remembered the little girl, and he just closed his eyes and stuck his head in the sand like always.  We did a quick catch-up and then sat down to eat.  I noticed two six-year-old girls at the end of the mom's table being silly, and of course Mimi was immediately attracted to their singing and dancing.  I told her it was okay for her to talk with them until her food arrived, and as soon as she walked over to them, she and I noticed something different at exactly the same time . . .

"Hey, I'm Mimi.  Can I play with you until my food comes?  Oh, wait . . . you don't have any hair . . . "

No hair.  No eyebrows either.  Holy shit.  Who's the asshole now . . .

The sweet little girl just looked at her friend, and they shrugged their shoulders and then moved on to a song.  I know I've said it before . . . at least he doesn't have cancer . . . but I wanted to vomit at that very moment.  And I think I have it rough . . .

He beautiful and exactly the way he's supposed to be.  The truth is I'm not really so mad at him.  I'm mad at myself.  I should be able to handle this.  To guide him.  To make mistakes and learn and grow and give him the resources to become amazing.  But I'm in a rut right now and I'm being a brat.  He fights me all the time, and my back is breaking and so is my heart.  I want him to experience life to the fullest, and I'm afraid I can't give him that right now.

"This too shall pass."  Have I said before that I hate to hear that?  It may pass but not anytime soon.  Clint and I have a long road ahead with this little guy, so it doesn't help to hear that it will pass.  We know that it eventually will, but there's a lot of work to be done in the meantime.

 Mack is this way for a reason -- I'm a believer in that sort of thing.  God gave him to Clint and me because . . . I don't know . . . maybe because I'm patient?  Because Clint loves to play rough-house?  Because Mimi knows how to make everyone laugh?  I'm not sure I'll ever know, but we have the responsibility of making life awesome for him.  Time for me to put my big girl britches on, I suppose.

I do know that Mack has done something to Mimi.  She loves to push his buttons because she's a regular big sister, but I've noticed some new things come out of her in the past year because of Mack.  Patience.  Empathy.  Understanding.  She wants to make him laugh.  She is upset when he's not happy.  She wants him to want to play with her, and she knows exactly how to do it.  She is more loving with him than I am at times.  She will stop her fabulous world when he arrives . . .

For example at her last karate class . . .

Mack escaped from my grasp . . .

Mimi thought she could help . . .

So she just tackled him.  In front of everybody and their mommas and cameras.  She wasn't embarrassed or angry.  She just wanted him to feel like a part of it all.

This little girl is something else.  I'm so proud of who she is becoming I can't stand it. 

And this guy.  He's happiest when he's near the water.  

Which is one reason why I'm excited we're moving to the North Shore.  Oh, that's right.  I haven't told you that we're moving yet.  Just a few miles north of the city so not a HUGE move, but I guess it's still pretty significant.  New schools, new neighborhood, and a completely different feel.  I just went to a 4th of July parade with my ONE, count it, ONE friend in the area, and I felt like I was in a different world.  In a strange way it felt like a Midwestern version but Oxford, Mississippi.  So completely different from the big city, so it will take some getting used to.  More to come about that later.

 These pics are from the lake in Michigan.  Unbelievable how gorgeous the lake is.  Forget Florida for now.  I have no problem driving an hour and half to see this.

Our little beach cottage was down a road that looked this.  Amazing, right?

And on to playing catch-up.  Mimi is no longer a preschooler.  I can't even type that without crying.  She will start kindergarten in the fall, and I am just so stinking happy with her preschool experience this year.  I regret the silly post from last fall I had about not being sure about our neighborhood public school.  It was absolutely the best year she could have had as a four-year-old.  This is her with her sweet, sweet, sweet teacher, Miss Jami.  Hands-down the most fabulous PreK teacher for Mimi.  Patient and fun and just plain amazing.  And her classmates were also soooo adorable.

Official last day of PreK photo in the rain.  I'm so glad it was raining because that way I didn't have to say any real goodbyes.  And no one could see all of my tears.

On to the first day of summer camp!!  At least we get one last summer in this awesome city before we're rocking the suburbs.

Spending our days at the neighborhood park.

And at the other neighborhood park steps from our building.  We really did choose an awesome building.

 Sorry to the little buddy for losing my patience today.  As one of my therapists told me, "He is so good-looking for a reason.  There's no way to stay mad at this face for too long."

She doesn't know how right she is . . .