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William: Year 3

Will-

Today you are three years old! I will not pretend for one second like I can’t believe it because honestly it feels like you’ve been two for much longer than a year (not because of behavior, just, this has been the longest year ever) and you are so perfectly 3.

This year has been a big one. You started preschool at Elijah’s school, we moved to a new house and a few days ago you became a big brother after months of anticipation. You have changed so much from last year that when a video popped up I was sure they had mislabeled it 1 year ago when it was really two. But nope. You’ve grown almost an unbelievable amount.

You are smart. Like super clever, tricky and difficult smart. The other day I was helping you into a pull up and you were intentionally lifting the wrong leg for the leg hole I had open for you. After 10 times or giving me the wrong leg and laughing maniacally, I turned the pull up around, you flashed a grin and lifted the other leg. This is classic William. We laugh with you every single day.

You are the sweetest little boy when it comes to small things. You adore small stuffed animals and care for them so tenderly. When you met your baby brother in the hospital you just wanted to pet him and immediately told me that you loved him and that he was SO cute. It’s one of my favorite things about you- for as strong willed as you can be, you’re also extremely kind hearted.

You do continue the streak of strong willed behavior. We potty trained you in May, which was not great. You were acing pee and doing okay at school and then one day you were just done. You decided you would not be peeing at school with any teacher no matter what and so far you’ve been true to your word. We tried to tell you that all your friends are moving to a new class and you can’t move until you pee in the potty at school and you shrugged and said, “I don’t want friends.” I mean, how am I supposed to respond to that?

Your likes right now include: puzzles, PB&J, dinosaur chicken nuggets, Wild Kratts, The Lion King (especially Hakuna Matata, which you sing allllll the time), Aladdin, Elijah, baby brother, mom, dad, Ritz crackers, yelling “no! never!” whenever I ask you to do things.

Your dislikes include: pretty much any food other than PB&J, Dino chicken and ritz crackers, napping, rear facing in the car, when Elijah very intentionally does things to make you mad, stopping what you’re doing to pee, anything you don’t explicitly choose for yourself.

This year has had its ups and downs and there have been points where I have felt totally out of my parenting league when it comes to raising you. But we made it and we’re both better for it. Your passions continue to run deep and it’s not a thing I want to change. I love that you have strong emotions. I love that you know what you want. I don’t think these are bad things and with a lot of effort on your part and ours, I think we’ve been able to encourage and harness your passions.

I want, above all else, for you to be whoever and whatever you dream of being. I want you to use the passion you have to take you somewhere great in this life, to do something that matters. I can see a spark in you that burns brightly and I know it will lead to amazing things down the road. We’ve only begun to learn about what you have planned and I am so glad to be along for the ride.

It would be impossible to tell you how much I love you because words cannot describe such a tremendous thing, but know that I could not be who I am without you and that every day is better for having you in it. No one is as fortunate as me, because I get to be your mom and there’s just absolutely nothing better.

Happiest of birthdays, son. I love you so very much and cannot wait to see what next year brings.

Love,
Mom

2016 In Review

I’m laying in bed next to William, who is beyond overtired, so seems like as good a time as any to do a review of this year.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
I took on a managerial role at work and I think I’m doing a fairly decent job at it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolution for this year was to be more organized, which I was in a few small ways, but mostly that was a big fail. My resolution for 2017 is just to survive it without losing my mind. I am feeling mostly optimistic about meeting this one.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! My sweet nephew Asher was born. My step-sister also gave birth to an adorable baby boy this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
A good friend’s husband died after a long battle with brain cancer.

5. What countries did you visit?
Just the US, but within the country I went to Louisiana, Nevada and Idaho (twice!) this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
Will power. Sleep.

7. What moments from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
There were hundreds of small moments this year. Watching Elijah at Mardi Gras and both boys at the beach. Seeing them hold hands or play together. There weren’t many big huge moments, but there were so many good, small ones.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Coming off my PTSD meds and doing well after. My mental health has been generally good this year. I suppose this isn’t an accomplishment as I didn’t really do anything, but it’s something that happened that I’m pleased about.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Never having enough patience for my kids.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nope. My husband almost died (at my hand) from a man cold, Will had HFM and had tubes put in his ears, but this was generally a decent year health wise.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Tickets to NOLA. That trip was magic.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Probably Elijah’s more than anyone else. He continues to be an incredibly compassionate kid.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Donald Trump’s. People who voted for Donald Trump. The alt-right. Nor-Nazis. Racists. Terrorists.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Student loans. Credit card bills. Our debt would blow your mind.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Our trips. We got to do some very fun things with our kids all over the country. New Orleans, Vegas, Boise, Ventura.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
Alllllll the Hamilton.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? Happier
b) thinner or fatter? Pretty close to the same. Maybe like a half pound thinner.
c) richer or poorer? Ehhhh, sameish. We are budgeting better but our student loans more than doubled in 2016, so it didn’t make a great difference.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Active playing with my kids. It’s not where I excel as a parent.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Eating.

20. How did you spend the holidays?
We did Chanukah at home except for two nights at my parents’ houses and tonight at my in laws. Christmas was at my parents’
Houses.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
Nope, but there was no lack of love.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
The Great British Baking Show and even though I kind of hate it, This Is Us.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? A few former coworkers are definitely not on my list of favorite people anymore.

24. What was the best book you read?
The new kind of Harry Potter book/play.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Hamilton!

26. What did you want and get?
To sleep through the night occasionally.

27. What did you want and not get?
Hillary. Sigh.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Finding Dory.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 33 at a continuing education course in New Mexico.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Lost more weight.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
Mostly clothes that don’t fit well. This is copied from last year and still very true.

32. What kept you sane?
Family, friends and the internet. Same as last year.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Meh, none. Same as last year.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The entire goddamn election and the fact that 60 million people think that a sexual predator should run the country. I cannot.

35. Who did you miss?
Is it wrong to say no one?

36. Who was the best new person you met?
Probably Asher, as trite as that sounds. He’s delightful.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016.
You cannot fully understand how hard something is for a person until you experience it. And that we could all stand to be way more compassionate.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“You want a revolution? I want a revelation. So listen to my declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.” And when I meet Thomas Jefferson, I’m ‘a compel him to include women in the sequel!”

It’s not Easy, Being Three

I keep rounding up and thinking Eli is basically four years old and then I spend a full day with him and then I realize so very clearly that he is 3.5. So so 3.5. And I want to lay down in traffic and let cars run over me.

I mean look, I love him. I love him so much I cannot even believe it sometimes. He is one of the three best things in my life (I’m counting my husband. There is no third baby). But oh my God. Three and a half might kill us all.

I spoke to his teacher last week about his behavior and I was sad (okay mad) to find out that his crappy listening and aggression and general being a butthead is happening at school too. I had hoped that is all being on the same page might help but if today is any indication, that’s a no.

After a horrendous music class where we almost left early for the second week in a row, Eli told me today that he didn’t want to invite his cousin Addie to his birthday party. I was kind of taken aback for two reasons: first, he loves Addie. Second, how does he know that he has that power? So I prodded and he couldn’t give me any reason why he wanted to exclude her, but he did say that other kids had been saying it to him. I continued to question and he said all his school friends have said he can’t come to their birthdays and it made him feel sad.

And oh hey. There’s my heart smashed into a million pieces.

His teacher warned me this was happening- Eli has learned that he can speak up for himself and he has been doing so, usually unnecessarily and excessively, while playing with his friends. He pushes them until they get mad at him and then they go play with someone else. Or in one case, they uh, bite him. Frankly, if he treats his school friends like he treats his brother, he probably deserved that bite.

We are trying so hard to help him learn to play well with other kids, but it breaks my heart to think that he’s driving other kids away. I don’t want my baby to be the lonely kid on the playground.

I have spoken with his teacher and we are hatching a plan and I don’t really know what I’m going to get out of writing this, but parenting has gotten a lot more difficult than I realized it would be and I’m just crossing my fingers that we figure our way through this new and awful obstacle soon. At least before he gets bitten again.

The Thing About (Not) Sleeping

I’m writing this on my phone while lying flat and still on my bed. Because my baby does not sleep anymore and he’s in his pack n play next to my bed not sleeping. But I want him to be sleeping. You can see where the problem is.

I want him to be sleeping for several reasons. One of which is the caramel apple in my refrigerator. The other is that I don’t want to repeat this whole process in an hour. I’m already going to have to repeat it at least once, probably twice tonight. Once upon a time, William was a model sleeper and now he is not.

Now Will hates sleeping.

I cannot understand this because I would give my left foot for a full night of sleep, but not Will. Oh no. He’s perfectly great on broken sleep. He’s cheerful the mornings after being awake for over an hour in the middle of the night. He is pleased as punch to start the day at 5:45.

I am tired.

I’m not really looking for advice because we’re just in a really tough spot with not having a room for him. I have feelings about sleep training in general but I cannot and will not attempt sleep training when my boobs and me are like 12 inches from his face. That’s just not cool. Not to mention that we live in an apartment with thin walls and lots of neighbors.

And so I hide in the dark. I wait for him to either fall asleep or cry. I reinsert his pacifier 839295 times and I cross my fingers that tonight will be the night. Tonight we’ll only get up once. Or tonight he’ll go quickly back to sleep after eating. Tonight I won’t have to sleep with him on the couch or kick my husband out of bed.

I mean. One of these days that’s all going to happen right? RIGHT? You can lie to me. I’m desperate.

(The third revision of this post occurred after a second nursing, a brief two minute nap and then giving up and eating the caramel apple over Will’s head. Tonight seems unlikely to be the night.)

2013 in Review

For the 3rd year running, it’s time for a recap quiz of 2013. The quiz originated at All & Sundry and is an easy and nice way to finish out the year somewhat concisely and to compare it to the previous years. I’m actually sort of surprised at how many of my answers didn’t change this year because this was kind of a big year, but I think there’s something nice to be said about consistency. So, let’s do it.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
I started working consistently, in my chosen field, at a job I love. I also got my kid to sleep through the night, which is arguably even better than my job.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My resolution for 2013 was to stop using the word should and to stop trying to live up to other people’s expectations. And in a lot of ways, I think I really did make some incredible progress towards that. It wasn’t always a linear progression, but I feel like I am more self-assured now than I was in 2012, more confident in my personal and parenting decisions and care a whole lot less about what other people think. And it’s pretty great.

I have no resolutions planned for 2014. Just to do the best that I can for myself and my family and enjoy life.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

A big bunch of my friends did. Too many to name without excluding anyone, but they all have just unbelievably adorable kids.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. My great-aunt, who was well over 90, died on Christmas Eve, but we were not close. And she lived an incredible life, so there’s just no sadness to be found there. I continue to be incredibly fortunate to have a large happy and healthy family.

5. What countries did you visit?
The United States. We made several visits to San Diego this year and last month went to Washington D.C. with Eli and my family. And we had a great time. I have absolutely zero travel plans for 2014 because I intend to never take my toddler on an airplane again.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
For the third year running, I’d definitely have to say financial security. We continue to be fine financially, but the stress of going into repayment on my husband’s loans and moving in July and putting Eli in a new preschool/daycare that will almost definitely cost quite a bit more is pretty significant. In another year we’ll finally reach a point where we should not have to worry about making ends meet and that will be lovely, though we will probably always be budget people.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 23rd, the day that Eli fell off the bed and spent several days in the hospital with a brain bleed. The trauma of that has finally begun to fade, but it changed us, especially me, in a profound way, forever. May 11th, Eli’s first birthday. July 11th, Eli’s first steps. Also, December 4, but that’s another story for another time.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Recognizing the need for and accepting help. This was a tough year for a lot of reasons and for the first time in my life, I was able to see that I needed help and while somewhat begrudgingly, accept it. I am better for it and learned several good lessons from it.

9. What was your biggest failure?
If you’d asked me this question 3 or 4 months ago, I’d have said keeping my child safe. But I’ve realized that while there have been crappy parts this year, I didn’t fail. I didn’t fail as a mother, wife or person. I made mistakes, but did my best to make them right and learn from them.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
My mental health sucked pretty hard, but physically, I had a wonderful year health-wise. It’s a pretty great thing.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Counseling, clothes that fit my body, a panning video monitor for Eli’s room.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Diapers, wipes, rent, utilities, student loans, credit card payments and a trip to D.C.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Watching Eli change and grow and learn every single day. My husband getting a fellowship that allowed us to stay in Southern California.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? I think I’m about the same. I’ve been both at points this year, but currently, I am very happy.
– thinner or fatter? Thinner. About 3 whole pounds thanks to a stomach virus in November.
– richer or poorer? Richer, but by the thinnest of margins.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Relaxing, enjoying life, breathing.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying and blaming.

18. How did you spend Chanukah/Christmas?
Chanukah we celebrated at home, at my parent’s house and we celebrated a belated Chanukah at with my in-laws. Christmas was spent back and forth between each of my parents and both holidays were lovely. Eli was incredibly interested in presents, but alternately wanted and did not want to unwrap presents.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Scandal, Orange is the New Black, New Girl, Bones.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Hunger Games series, as well as a Jodi Picoult novel and several James Patterson books. Not sure what’s next on the list.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

Eh, mostly old stuff with a few new songs mixed in. We’re enjoying the Frozen soundtrack right now.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
I think I can count on one hand the movies I saw this year, so Iron Man 3, the newest Thor movie, Frozen and that might actually be it.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I hit 30 this year and spent the day with my family at a great restaurant and with an incredible cake. My mom also made me a scrapbook (2 actually) comprised of pictures of me from birth to 18 and including a ridiculous number of things she saved. It’s one of the most incredible gifts I’ve ever received.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Preventing my child from falling head first off a bed.

25. What kept you sane?
Therapy, medication, my husband, my child, my sister.

26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
That admitting you need help is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.

Happy New Year!

What a Difference 17 Months Make

This month shall be known as the month of hair growth. My once bald baby now has a full head of (darker every day) hair.

1 day old!
lion1

1 month and 1 day old!
lion2

6 months and 1 day old!
lion 6mo

1 year and 1 day old!
lion12mo

1 year, 1 month and 1 day old
lion13mo2

1 year, 2 months and 1 day old!
lion14mo9

1 year, 3 months and 1 day old!
lion 15mo5

1 year, 4 months and 1 day old!
16mo5

1 year, 5 months and 1 day old!
17mo5

(For the full list of pictures from the first year, see here)

The Thing About Guilt

The past few nights I have had a lot of trouble sleeping. It seems to be a combination of very vivid and intense dreams, a baby who has been whining in his sleep (teething, I think/hope) and anxiety. At first I couldn’t pin down what I was anxious about. Things have been going incredibly well lately. The baby is happy and healthy. My husband and I are happy and healthy. Life is good. Which is probably why I had to do some serious digging, at 2am, to figure out why I was unable to sleep. Why I was so panicked.

My husband is leaving for two trips out of state in the next 10 days and that in and of itself is stressful. But that’s not the problem. The last time I spent a night alone with Eli was just before his injury. And while I know that the two don’t have anything in common, some part of my brain made that connection. And I’m feeling increasingly scared to be alone with the baby. I feel like…I don’t trust myself.

And I know it’s silly. I stay home alone with him all the time. I am a good mother, I love him tremendously. But I also still carry a tremendous amount of guilt with me for what happened. It’s the thing that I’m learning about guilt- I’m not really in control over it. Because even when I wash my hands of it and say I’m done living in that moment and done blaming myself, I wake up at 2am unable to sleep until I piece together why I feel like puking and why my heart is racing and why I can’t sleep anymore.

I am afraid for my husband to leave, not because I can’t care for my child alone, but because I’m afraid something bad will happen again. That my judgment will slip and I won’t have anyone there to act as a voice of reason.

I feel scared. I feel unprepared, like a teenager watching someone else’s baby overnight. And the fact that there are 2 separate trips, filled with 2 separate separations is causing twice the anxiety.

I just want to be past all of this. I want to no longer have such vivid images of my child falling off a bed. Of him pale and sweaty, minimally responsive on a hotel bed while I yell at a 911 operator to tell the ambulance to hurry. I want to forget all the times I apologized to my child while we waited for the ambulance, while we drove to the hospital. I want to forget holding an inconsolable child, one in so much pain, one who couldn’t stop vomiting, even with prescription anti-emitics. I want to erase all the moments, all the tears, all the terror. And no matter how hard I try, how resolute I am to move past this and enjoy all that’s before me, I still can’t.

I think about it less and less each day, but the memories are crisp as ever. The sounds, the images, they’re all there, waiting in the back of my mind for something to trigger them. A trip out of town was all it took for 3 nights of insomnia to swallow me whole.

I think the most difficult part is knowing that I never really get to forget it. The neurosurgeon told us that there’s no way to know if there will be any long term issues related to the injury. Eli is so young now that we really can’t assess it. So now, as we watch Eli try to master standing and walking, we’re all wondering how much of his slowness in this milestone is from the injury (as the neurosurgeon suggested) or just his development/temperament. And if in 5 or 10 years he has trouble in school or trouble with memory, we’re going to wonder if it’s from the injury (also as the neurosurgeon suggested). Or if he has balance or coordination issues, or ADHD or any other thing, we will always wonder. We can’t ever leave it behind because there’s a huge question mark lingering over the future and no way to know what will happen or why.

I remember the scariest part of that day was wondering if I had damaged my child. If I had forever harmed him and changed his future. And the most frustrating and scary part is that I still don’t know the answer. And so even though I want to forgive myself and promise to try, I know that these memories and these fears will always be there. Will always be haunting me. Will follow my son his whole life. And that is, by far, the most terrifying.