Not Ready

28809_1470325484751_4630848_nI remember the day like it was yesterday. It was just yesterday, right?

We tell new parents all of the time that they shouldn’t blink, that it will all go way too fast. Evan started middle school a couple of weeks ago. That hit me hard. Not as hard as the day I found myself sobbing in the school gym as he turned and looked at me as he was walking away from me and toward his kindergarten teacher. I remember the clothes he wore: khaki shorts with a brown leather/ orange grosgrain belt coordinated perfectly with his orange polo from Baby Gap. He was small. He was my baby. He still is.

But then we had another one. I wrote countless times how I didn’t think I could ever love another like I love Ev. And I remember kvetching that I couldn’t possibly be pregnant again, that it was a cruel joke with the worst possible timing. I had no idea that the child would completely consume me. That he would become very much a part of my very being. I could tell you I love him, but those words seem so paltry and inadequate. If you cut me, I would hemorrhage Zachary.

So today happened. It’s a day I’ve done before, many years ago. Except Evan was starting kindergarten, not preschool. But somehow, this is worse. This is so much worse. He’s only a year younger than Evan was when he started kindergarten, but still. He really is my baby. And I just watched him. I saw the spark of excitement in his eyes, the amazement that that big yellow school bus was stopping for him this time. I watched his chubby baby fist grasp the rail and climb onto the first step of that bus, guided by his father while I tried to hold it together. That first step, incidentally, was almost waist height on him. The bus driver motioned me onto the bus, smiling in understanding and reminding John that moms just do this while the assistant helped Zach to his seat. And he turned and looked back at me as I blew him a kiss, all smiles and happiness at his new milestone reached. At independence and new days filled with macaroni art and learning to sing new songs. At things that would no longer involve me.

I turned and got off the bus and they pulled away. I turned back to watch him go as my heart splintered. Because I worry that these strangers entrusted with his well-being won’t understand how amazing he is. They don’t know how he almost wasn’t here, that he is a connoisseur of chocolate milk, that “bobberries” are really strawberries and are his favorite fruit,  that he simply must have an Eskimo kiss before his nap. But also because, having done this about 8 years ago, I know. I know that Tomorrow, he will be starting middle school. He’ll have earbuds in his ears and not want to cuddle. He will be too cool for me. I will become Mom, no longer Mommy.A Mom is, after all, different from a Mommy. Moms ensure you do your homework and take care of you when you are sick. Mommies kiss boo-boos to make them better, read bedtime stories, are given the gift of crayon scribbles that may as well be fine art. It will be Tomorrow.I know it from experience.

I’m not ready for Tomorrow. And I know that is where Today leads.

I’m just not ready.

The Smallest One

393096_10201215393853547_1875360026_nZachary is three whole years old. This happened last month. Remember how he wouldn’t talk? Well, now he doesn’t stop. And it amazes me to hear what he has to say. All of that time he was silent, he was absorbing so much so that now that he is completely verbal, he can show us that he was learning all along. He was listening.

Yesterday, while going to eat at a local restaurant, we were occupying him with some coloring while we waited on our food to come to the table. He asked for a crayon I was holding. I reached out to hand him the one in my hand. “Not that one, Mommy. The blue one!” He was pointing to the blue crayon laying on the table, but John and I had the same reaction: to stare, mouths agape, at this kid. As if to say, “When did he learn his colors???” Well, of course he learned colors because, from the time he was about 3 or 4 months old, I have included the color of everything in my sentences. “Here’s your cup, Zachy. The cup is red!”, or “Look at that tree’s green  leaves!”

And he learned empathy and how to be concerned for others. You could try this one for yourself. All you have to do is act like you have hurt yourself–stub a toe, get a papercut–and he drops what he is doing, stops in his tracks, to come to you and look at you with with those big green eyes and ask if you are okay. It is so cute that, I must admit, I have said “Ouch!” on more than one occasion just to see him in action.

I’m trying to convey how much he has grown and I am struggling here. He is just his own little person. I could spend all day just watching him. He has his own tastes and preferences, sense of humor, ways of doing things. The wobble of toddlerhood has been replaced with confident running, jumping, climbing, playing. For his third birthday, his little green tricycle was replaced with a green bicycle.

The shadows of dimples that were once there on his little cheeks have been replaced with real dimples. We knew they were there. 253495_10201210419249185_1369711929_nWhere Evan was always temperamental and a little introverted, Zach is the opposite. He is rambunctious. A true boys’s boy. He says “Hi” and “Bye” to everyone he sees, which can make leaving a grocery store or any other outing quite the experience. (Oh, there’s a bag boy 5 checkout lanes to whom we didn’t say goodbye! Let’s take care of that now!) When he hear’s a song on the radio he likes, he has complete confidence to just belt it out. Our current favorite is this:

*Note that the radio plays the edited version and since Zach associates all bridges with crossing the Ohio River, his version involves crashing a car into the river, not a bridge. But it is still hilarious to hear him sing it.

And yes, he’s starting preschool in August. And it breaks my heart because it has gone so quickly.

Using His Words

Ferguson-2Zach speaks.

Not gibberish. Not “word approximations” where he makes up random syllables to represent things he frequently encounters in his world.

He uses his words.

“Give Mommy hugs.” “Go night-night.” “Turn lights off.” Not long phrases. He will probably, according to his speech therapist, continue to have a speech delay, but she expects it to be completely resolved by kindergarten. He will qualify for preschool, because my state stops early intervention services at 3 years of age. This is also the age they stop adjusting his developmental age for his prematurity. In January, we will meet to discuss his preschool options.

Preschool. Zachy. Completely unreal.

But he uses his words. And well enough that I feel comfortable starting other things with him, like potty-training, though I completely forget how to do that. I did it once. I’ll figure it out again.

And his voice is such a gift. Each word he says the sweetest sound I have ever heard. He is showing us, once again, the wonder that is the world. My favorite word of all, “Look!”, shows us that he sees something new, something interesting, that he is learning. Everyday, learning more and more.

He still mixes up some sounds. If you ask him his name, he says, “Yack”. His age? “Doo”. I can live with this. He is two. He is not going to be a keynote speaker right now. He may never be. But when you have a child with apraxia, you appreciate each word that is understood, that does not need to be translated. Gone are the days where he could not tell us what he wants or needs, where he would point or grunt, or rattle off indecipherable gibberish that we could not understand, leading to frustration and tears from all involved.

For right now, we are thrilled. He is growing. He is strong and healthy. He is making progress. He is overcoming. He is using his words.

Time Flies (Still)

So the boys had some more photos taken with a coworker of mine who is working on honing her photog skills. She has taken their photos before, and this time she got some great candid images of my babies. We met her at a gorgeous park in Cincinnati, which is a prime spot for photography, it would seem. Well, at least there were a bunch of others there that day for the same purpose. We saw baby bump photos, wedding and engagement photos, and family photos being taken. I just wanted some playful, casual shots of the boys, as they are growing up before my eyes. And as always, I see the photos and I still see the newborns they once were. Time goes so quickly, and with grad school now, I am always hustling and bustling to and from one destination or another. And I miss them so much. While I wasn’t looking, Evan turned eleven years old. Two more years with him until he is a teenager. I want to clutch them to me and beg them to slow down. In the mean time, I remind myself daily that I am doing all of this for them. At some point, so help me, I will be able to honestly say that I can give them anything they want. Anything. The best home, the best education. Opportunities that they may not have had if I had not pushed myself to get these higher degrees. But in the meantime, I keep my nose to the grindstone, cherish every tiny moment I am given with them, and count the days until I am finished.

Toddler Challenges

Oh sweet merciful crap.

I never have enough time to blog about my Mommy Misadventures. My life is chaos, though right now, I am even off of work for a couple more weeks following the shoulder issues. We’ve had some big changes.

John got a job.

Zach started daycare (and abruptly stopped when I got put off of a work for a short while.)

I am wrapping up my undergrad business degree and preparing for grad school in a couple of short months.

But the biggest change is the challenges we are facing with Zach. Not that Zach is having trouble, but that we are a little bit. I forgot what the life was like of a mother of a toddler. I forget some of the simple stuff every day that one takes for granted. Like how it is no longer cool to have anything important within reach. Books will be pulled off of shelves. It will not matter if those books are expensive text books or cheap paperbacks–they all have equal right to destruction here. We do not discriminate in this house.

I forget how keys must be kept hidden from a toddler who loves them. It took a couple of occassions where we were frantically trying to find said keys while the alarm was going off on the car. Apparently that red panic button on the keyless entry is just to powerful to resist, but then you have to find the keys to turn it off.

Yes, you really can crawl around on the floor, picking up toy cars and blocks and puzzle pieces a million times a day.

The dial on the dishwasher has a gravitational pull that begs for little hands to mess with it.

The refrigerator is a fascinating place. And there is no appliance lock that can withstand the Power of Zachary. We have resorted to locking the fridge and sealing it with clear packing tape or we will end up restocking cans of soda, bags of cheese, gallons of milk, and a gajillion cups of Greek yogurt as often as we pick up toy cars/ blocks/ puzzle pieces.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, has power like a couple of plain M&Ms. Yeah, I know. Junk. Zach usually doesn’t get junk, but in a quest to find something to motivate him to use his words, his speech therapist recommended it. It worked. We try to limit its use to when the situation calls for the Big Guns.

DJ Lance What’s-His-Name on “Yo Gabba Gabba” looks strikingly like JJ from “Good Times”. And nothing will make a toddler giggle like these four words: I. Like. To. Dance!!!!! We can end any horrific mood with that one.

Words, coming from the mouth of a toddler who has a speech delay, are very interesting. Truck is Cuck. Except when he sees one and gets excited, shouting out the name, it doesn’t sound like CUCK. It sounds like a very vulgar term for male parts, and we get lots of looks. Similarly, when one has a southern husband who refers to pants as “britches”, and that same toddler gets a hold on that word…well, you can imagine what that sounds like. I remember the first time Zach came up to me, putting his little hand on the leg of my denim capris, saying, “Mama Bitch.” Gasp! Pause! ” Yes, Zach, those are Mama’s BRITCHES!”

The sliding window in the living room, which has a sliding screen, is a veritable Vortex. If it is opened the wrong way, one side is completely opened, no screen or anything. If it isn’t attached, isn’t too heavy, and isn’t too big, it’s going out that window. Yesterday, at various times through the day, I rescued my cell phone, the remote control, a binky, the beloved Lightening McQueen car, a ball, my planner, and the phone book. This morning, I cannot find the cell phone charger and must remind myself to check the shrubs under that window.

I’m reminded that, if you cannot say the word, it is perfectly acceptable to make up your own, so long as you are consistent. Lightening McQueen is loved in this house. But he isn’t Lightening. He’s Ahhhhhhh-Baba. I do not know. No idea. Not a clue. But that is his name. It is also the name for anything with the Cars logo on it. At all. And when these crazy “word approximations” (the term his speech therapist uses) come out, it is our job to know what he is saying, to speak his language so we can not only know what he wants, but repeaat the word back to him in correct form so he can learn.

Play-Doh balls aren’t for squishing and molding and playing. They are most obviously for throwing around the room.

Mashed ‘Tatoes are delicious. Until you have your fill. Then they are for finger-painting. On a similar note, it is perfectly normal to simply get tired of a spoon or fork mid-meal and just give up. And cutesy plates with cartoon characters don’t really encourage a child to eat like a human. They encourage the dumping of the food anywhere and everywhere just so you can see Mickey/ Elmo/ Lightening McQueen without all of that pesky food in the way.

Toys ‘R’Us has got to be the most identifiable store on the planet to a toddler who is in a car with a Mom who really just has to get somewhere NOW without stopping at Toys ‘R’ Us first.

It does not matter what it is. I you see it and want it, it should be yours and come home with you. The cart at Wally World. The ginormous aquarium at an orthopedic surgeon’s office. Every damned toy within a fifty-mile radius.

Toddlers create a challenge that, once we can say we have survived the toddler years, we often forget. I don’t remember having to do any of this stuff with Evan when he was Zach’s age. It isn’t that the kids are that different or that Evan was an angel and Zach is not. I just forgot. I let my mind slip because, while all of these seem like a massive pain, they are wha you do. This is a mom’s job, to teach a child to navigate the world around him. To tap into herself to see how keys really could be fascinating, how Toys ‘R’ Us really is a cool place, and finger-painting with mashed potatoes can be interesting. We see them do it, we try to prevent them from infringing on the rights of others in the process, and so long as it doesn’t hurt them, we let them carry on. They have their whole lives to learn lessons. Now is for them to learn of all of the little things in the world that can be so awesome. And I think we forget the challenges over time because, well, those challenges get completelyy overshadowed. You don’t see the mess, you see the smiles and hear the giggles and squeals of delight. You hear new words. You see the child you once nursed feed himself.

And you count every challenge of toddlerhood as a blessing. Because, lucky you, you get to witness every bit of it.

Big Blubbery Sobs

So I always have some music playing, and I was actually listening to someone else’s playlist on Spotify and heard this song.

And I had to stop and catch my breath between the big blubbery sobbing I was doing.

Zach is going to be two. Evan will be elevenin September. In a couple years from that, he will be a teenager. God, it has gone so fast. Neck-breakingly, heart-breakingly fast.

My babies. oh, my babies.

We Do Not Beat Our Children, Schedules are Meant for Rearranging, and More Discoveries

We’re all about discoveries here in the Bitchypants household. Here are a few new ones.

We are finding the need to defend ourselves as parents. Not that anyone has accused me of anything. But still. Zach is into, well, EVERYFUCKINGTHING. He climbs up, crawls over and under, dives off of any surface he can find. And more and more, he is getting the little bumps and bruises of toddlerhood. And when you go out in public and your baby has a big bruise, you feel like you have to tell the story of how to everyone. He climbed up on a rolling toy…..he dove off of the arm of the sofa….he slipped and fell. This last one was a little harder to expalin. John was getting him out of bed in the morning and Zach was doing his usual game of “Catch me, Bitch” when John reached for him and Zachy head-butted John’s hand. Only John’s finger made contact with a little toddler eye. Yeah. Zachy go his first black eye. Insert big frowny face here. The evidence:

See! Even in the photo, he is climbing on a toy, reaching onto my desk. Seriously, kid!

Schedules are meant to be rearranged. Fo’ reals, yo! But here is the most awesome picture of the past week:

See that? No conditions there. Just my admission packet. For my MBA program. I am officially in. No ” You should be fine.” No “conditional admission”. Just……in. IN. IN!!!

So I made an appointment to schedule my classes for October and the shit got tricky. I only have three courses left to take of my first-year MBA program. What they call the foundation courses. And those are offered in intensive half-semesters. I finish the BSBA in September, so I could start the second half of the MBA session in October. Except none of my classes are offered then. They’re all offerred in August. They were going to make an exception and let me start while simultaneously finishing my last month of my BSBA, but ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME???? I have a job. And kids. And I do not have a death wish. Especially considering that my first semester of the MBA will be full of financial accounting, macroecon, microecon, and one of the 700-level courses. No. So the solution? This summer, while John is off of his classes, I am going to triple my BSBA courses so I will finish August 15th and can start the MBA the following week. So I learned that where there is a will, there truly is a way.

Evan is a Con Artist. Seriously.

All of this time, we have been fighting him over homework. He made a confession to his therapist. Since he gets perfect test scores, he can pass without completing his homework, so in his mind, why should he do it? So on the nights when he fights and has meltdowns, we try and try before finally giving up and sending a note to his teacher. The next day, she keeps him in at recess to do what he didn’t do the night before. But it got to be too much. And so she changed it up. Now, he gets a zero like everybody else. And the result? He’s doing his homework. And scoring even higher on tests.

The proof is in his science test from this past week. My kid has been conning us all. Little booger.

Zachy started speech and is making strides every day. And he is getting it. Proof? Yesterday in the car, John missed his exit on the interstate, and responded with a “DAMN!!!” And from the backseat, crystal clear, we hear this baby voice say, “Damn!” The other day Zachy was playing outside and he was getting close to the infamous snake sighting of 2010. And I exclaimed, “Zachy, no, SNAKES!” To which he exclaimed, “SAKES!!!!” N left out intentionally. We say “Bus”, “WalMart”, “Evan” or “Bubby”, “Eat”, “SpongeBob”. He signs for “more”, “please”, “help”, “all done”, “eat”, and “drink”.  And e has the  cutest, throaty baby voice that melts my heart. I realized this is the first time I am really hearing it.

I was thinking about the next month or so when I realized that I never requested off for Zach’s second birthday. I was assuming it would fall on Saturday this year since it was  Friday last year. But it is Sunday. It’s Mother’s Day. His second birthday. The 13th. Mom’s birthday used to fall on Mother’s Day sometimes, too. And I hate Mother’s Day. And this year, we really can celebrate. Npw more than ever, I think Mom sent Zach to me. And P.S.–how in the hell is he already going to be turning TWO????

I think that about sums it up. For now. I’m sure there will be more as drama unfolds. We always have some of that.