saying goodbye to your baby

So the t-shirts weren’t pink but hey, I’ll take this over gray or navy blue any day…

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I made it home Friday evening and had the weekend to recoup from hours and hours of traveling over a 2 day period. Summer was dropped off back home to me last night, and it was the first time I had seen her since taking her to daycare last Tuesday morning. That’s about 5.5 days; it’s a long time to be away from my little one. And early this morning on my last post, one of you lovely people left me a comment – but rather than trying to fit 500 words into a little reply box, I decided that the answer deserved it’s own post. So here goes….


Q:

“I’m a loooong time follower and I must ask you something – my husband and I are going away for a week in February and I’m crapping my pants thinking about leaving my little girl (who is just a couple months younger than Summer) – please please please tell me how you deal with this!” – M


A:

First, go burn your pants, put on some clean underoos and come back….I’ll wait.

Next, locate a paper bag and breathe in and out of it slowly until the tingling in your face and fingers stops. Xanax works even better. I’ve been there….I know the fear.

Finally, read on…

So the very first time I went somewhere without Summer, she was three weeks old. My teeny tiny little peanut who had been attached to me whether sleeping on my chest, sucking on mah boob, or being carried around in the bjorn, had never left my side since being served her eviction notice from my uterus. Granted, during this first outing without her, she was with my mom, she was just down the street and actually, it was only for a couple of hours, BUT she was on my mind the. entire. time. I had gone fishing with Michelle and Ryan and I’m not kidding when I say this algae probably reminded me of her somehow. Baby poop perhaps.

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But I allowed myself to have fun. I never actually caught a fish but I tried and I laughed and I had a blast with my sister and brother-in-law. And when I got back to my lovey a few hours later, I gave her the biggest hug I could squeeze out of a 3 week old without making her eyeballs pop out and roll onto the floor. And it felt really good. And honestly somewhere in the deepest recesses of my mind, I actually liked the fact that I had gotten a little sun on my shoulders and felt slightly more human.

A few months later when I went back to work, that was really tough on me. My maternity leave days of baby=24/7 were replaced with 30 type-A personalities and milking myself in a back room with a breast pump while wishing for nothing more than to be home with a baby on my boob rather than a plastic Medela breast shield. Glamorous. I know. But then every night on my drive home I’d have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about scooping her up and loving her within an inch of her life. That excitement. It was like crack for this momma’s soul. I actually still get that feeling now, 3.5 years later on my drive to daycare for pickup.

My first actual trip without her was my annual work trip in 2012 when I was gone from Wednesday morning until Friday night. That was also very tough. But a lot of work distractions, a lot of alcohol flowing with my work peeps, and daily FaceTime chats with this little face helped a bunch.

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And when I got home I was welcomed back with “WELCOME HOME MOMMY!” written in chalk on the driveway and a bear hug from a toddling 1.5 year old face that melted my heart into a puddle of goo. I remember big ploppy tears dripping onto my shoes. They were my tears.

Next up was my 5 days in San Francisco for my sister’s bridal shower, the longest I had been away from Summer. The anxiety leading up to being away for the better part of a week was the worst part, because once I left there was so much to do. Flights to catch, hotel to check into, rental car that I desperately tried not to crash with my sisters and mom as my passengers, a bridal shower to attend, bars to visit, soon to be in-laws to meet, more flights to catch, it was over in a blink. But in between the festivities, we made it a point to have lots of moments like this…

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And this…

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…to make it better. And when I returned home, she tried to strangle me with full wrap-around-the-neck-hugs and squeals of happiness. Pure heaven.

This last trip I believe was the longest I have gone without seeing her. It was a whirlwind of a week traveling to and from the other side of the country, losing major sleep due to a lumberjack swallowing her uvula every five minutes as she snored in the bed next to me, fitting in 2 days worth of work stuff and lunches and dinners and flights to catch, and then coming home to an empty apartment for 2 days to catch up on sleep and outstanding errands I needed to get taken care of. And when Summer showed up at my patio door yesterday? Best hug we’ve ever given each other. Promise. It was awesome.

So….to M…this time, right now, from now until February while you have way too much unfortunate time to worry about how hard it’s going to be when you leave that little girly, is the worst of it. I promise you. Of course when the day comes, it will be hard to say goodbye. You may find yourself the night before secretly hoping that your flight gets cancelled, or that your husband gets a bad cold and doesn’t want to travel with clogged ears, or that you won’t fit into a plane seat because you’ll accidentally break some major bone that puts you in an awkward standing-positioned full body cast because quite frankly the thought of that is better to you in that moment than the thought of leaving your girl for a week.

I TOTALLY get it.

But, once you step over your own puddle of tears and poop and get on a plane to somewhere, make sure you carve out plenty of time to FaceTime with the little one, to go through your camera roll and smile at pictures of her beautiful face, and to daydream about her and miss her a little, but also enjoy yourself and your hubby and soak in the trip as much as you can. Know that when you get home, you will probably be strangled by a short little strong person trying to hug you to death and it’ll be amazing. Remember that worrying doesn’t change anything or make anything better.

You’ll be fine.

She’ll be fine.

The person taking care of her will be fine.

Try not to think about it too much now, worry serves no good purpose in life.

Just breathe and know it’ll all be ok.

Promise.

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Filed under Kids, life, Love, Parenting, Travel

leaving on a jet plane

I’m heading out to California today for our IT Department’s annual Team Building event and I can’t get that freaking Peter, Paul and Mary song out of my head. It happens every year. Last year we stayed at the company house in Palm Springs, sitting pretty on a golf course complete with pool and hot tub and the cushiest bed I’ve ever slept in. This year we are in Calabasas staying at a hotel near our corporate office. Last year for fun they sent us in a tram up a mountain. This year, I’m not sure what they have planned for us but it will be good, I’m sure! Looking forward to getting out of the cold for a few days.

Last year:

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I’m hoping for pink shirts this year. Maybe with a little bling on them. Ah, a girl can dream.

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life in color

Photos from the camera roll….

I still see the baby in her while she’s dreaming….

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Baby love…

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First chopsticks….

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Daily daycare pickup serenade…

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My goof…

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I would hang these in my living room if I could steal them without anyone noticing….

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The most beautiful flowers arrived at my doorstep for my 37th birthday…

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1 week before going home…

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My smile….

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Holding the babies for the first time…

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I want to snuggle my sister, I’m so proud of her…

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Hazy didn’t stand a chance….

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Mahjong, her Saturday morning staple…

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All work and no play makes Summer a something something….

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Puzzle prodigy…

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Cousin lovin’…

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‘Twas a very good month.

 

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what’s your motive…

People have a natural curiosity about other people’s lives. Over the last 2 years or so, I’ve learned that that curiosity can be fueled by a number of different motives.

There are those with bad motives, the life suckers, the gossip girls, the people who want to make themselves feel better by hearing about other people’s misery…

A few months ago I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in 2 decades. One of the first things she said to me was, “Wow, I can’t believe you’ve been divorced twice now and you’re only in your 30’s! What happened? OH MY GOD, DID HE CHEAT ON YOU?” And the answer is no, no he didn’t. There was no cheating involved but thanks for asking, you dipshit.

There are those whose intentions are personal, they want to know how bright the light is at the end of the tunnel because they are in a similar situation to where I was a few years ago…

I have had, I kid you not, 4 people tell me that they are jealous of me because I got divorced, that they just can’t seem to “take the leap”, that they are jealous of all my free time and that I can go out bar hopping and drinking again….and it makes me cringe every time. I want to shake them and tell them that yes, my life is peaceful now, but it took digging through endless piles of soul sucking, heart wrenching shit to find that peace. If your life is that bad, change it. But don’t look to me as a role model, my God.

Then there are those with good motives, the people who genuinely care about me, those who have an emotional investment in my well-being, or those who want to learn from me…

Earlier this week, I had a developer fly here into Chicago for a few days to put a project into place for work. He was in his late 20’s, started his own business last year that is just now starting to do very well, smart guy. In between tasks, we started talking about life and family. He mentioned his wife, and I naturally asked if they had any kids. And he told me a story that I’m all too familiar with as I watched it through the eyes of my sisters – his wife has been struggling with fertility issues and they were looking into in-vitro. We talked about insurance and time frames and how he’s thought about this baby that hasn’t come to be yet, though he said he feels like at this point he should have a 2 year old since he’s been talking about his future child for that long.

Sadness.

Later we went out for lunch and I guess he felt comfortable enough to confide in me; he told me he was scared. He said his wife wants a baby so badly yet deep down he is terrified that a baby is going to change his relationship with his wife and completely ruin things. He said he remembers his now-divorced father once making the comment, “Your mother would have stepped over my dead body to get to you,” and it scared the shit out of him thinking about that from his own perspective.

He then asked me straight out, “do you think that having a baby had anything to do with why you got divorced?”

It was a very personal question coming from a practical stranger.

But I know he was asking because he was terrified for his future, not because he was an insensitive dipshit whore digging for gossip.

And my answer to his question – a full on, 100%, no-hesitation no.

The circumstances behind every divorce are unique. Somewhere between standing at city hall applying for your marriage license full of hope and then standing in a court room with tears in your eyes watching a judge stamp your divorce decree, a whole lot of hell has to happen.

Obviously life changed when Summer was born, there’s no way it couldn’t have. But change isn’t always bad. My baby’s birthday was the number one greatest moment of my life; it was when I was given the ultimate gift of becoming this amazing little person’s mommy. That statement right there would be the first thing written on the inside book flap of my life story in hardcover. And life also changed when we got married, when we became proud homeowners, when we moved out of the city, when I got a new job and started working from home, when his unemployment hit and losing the house became a real possibility, when schedules changed, when my sister couldn’t nanny for us anymore, when we chose surgery for our sick baby, when when when… behind every big life change, priorities also changed, responsibilities changed, roles changed. But those changes were not the cause of the breakdown, it was how we mishandled them and each other.

So no, having a baby did not cause my divorce. If anything, she is the reason Scott and I get along so well now. We were horrible at “married couple” but we are fantastic at “co-parents”, the best case scenario to come out of a divorce I suppose.

I think developer guy was a bit relieved.

So yes, I’ve found that people’s motives for asking about my divorce vary significantly, and those with good intentions tend to get much more detail out of me. But if anything I will say that the greatest realization to have come out of all of this for me without giving the dirty details behind the life lesson is: it’s not the changes themselves that matter, because change is inevitable. It’s how you handle them together that matters most.

Good luck, developer guy…make me proud. I want a baby picture :)

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Filed under divorce, life

my mom

This is my mom….

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She’s a fabulous little thing, no?

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After having 4 kids and managing to stay sane, she is my hero…

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Though sanity is relative.

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In high school she met this goofball…

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a few years later she married him (nice pants, Uncle Robbie)….

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and they went on to have the 4 most spectacular children in the entire world…

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…of course her second child was the greatest (cough…2 hours of labor…cough…you’re welcome)

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When I was growing up, mom had an unfortunate obsession with Phil Collins…

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taught us how to dress for success…

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logged 23,500 miles power walking all over the northshore…

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made approximately 14,400 bagged lunches for us over a span of 20 years…

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and happily drove the 4 of us around all day everyday in a big brown van with a HUGE smile on her face the whole time….

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Yeah. Smile. We’ll go with that.

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When she retired a few years ago, she got us a hairy little brother named Charlie who sounds like Chewbacca…

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He tried to steal the title of favorite child…

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and with a face like this, the force was strong…

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But the sibling rivalry grew, and those of us who she actually, you know, birthed out of her nether-regions fought our way back up to the top by making baby…

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after baby….

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after baby…

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after baby.

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Yeah, she totally caved.

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Sorry, Charlie, babies are Nanna’s kryptonite. Muahahah.

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picture day

Every morning I let Summer choose her outfits because I’ve learned a very valuable life lesson – picking out clothes for a 3-year-old with strong opinions is not a battle worth fighting. Most of her clothes mix and match pretty well, though there are the occasional outfit choices that include seizure-inducing polka dot shirts with floral patterned pants. There are days she wants to wear one light pink sock and one dark pink sock. Other days it’s a flower girl dress to the grocery store. Fine. Have at it kiddo.

But today is pre-school picture day.

Her very first school pictures.

Pictures that I’ll probably carry around in my purse for the next 40 years.

I think back to the clothes I wore in some of my school pictures and knowing that I can vividly recall what I was wearing 30 years ago thanks to photographic reminders now tucked neatly away in my parents’ basement, I figured she should have some small amount of put-togethered-ness. So this morning while whole-heartedly honoring my self-declared role as mother of the year, I bribed my 3-year-old with chocolate to wear a cute blue owl shirt over the white leggings with silver polka dots she chose. Chocolate definitely helps win battles. They should try that in wars.

We talked about how there was going to be a picture lady at school. She asked me what the picture lady’s name is. I told her Picture Lady Petunia. And I told her the picture lady was going to put a pretty backdrop behind her and have her sit nicely in a chair and make her say “cheeeeeeeeeese!” And I told her that she should smile the bestest smile she could because her bestest smile is the greatest thing in the whole wide world and makes my heart melt into a puddle of soggy momma love.

She looked at me and said, “Don’t worry momma, I’m gonna smile like THIS…”

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Nailed. It.

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roadtrip 2014

This past Friday, I was getting ready to leave for the airport. With it being homecoming weekend at my college, the plan was to hop on a plane to Detroit, have my sister, Julie pick me up at the airport, then we would drive to Cleveland for the weekend.

Well….plans change.

About 30 minutes before I was going to leave my place, I got a phone call to turn on the news. Apparently some asshole decided that burning down the air traffic control tower and trying to kill himself was a better plan than being transferred to Hawaii (oh the humanity) or, I dunno, LOOKING FOR ANOTHER JOB PERHAPS? So of course, on the one day in over a year I actually had a flight to catch, and of course in Chicago of all places, all flights were grounded and my flight had been cancelled.

I couldn’t get a hold of my sister and I sat there twiddling my thumbs with a debate going on in my head…..scrap the plans and stay home with the doggies doing what I do every other weekend, or hop in the car and start driving? I figured it was either a sign from the universe saying that I shouldn’t go, or else it was the universe’s way of testing me to see how much I really wanted to go.

Yeah…if they listened hard enough my neighbors would have heard a faint, “smell ya later suckerssssssssssss!!” in the wind as I drove away…

The good news is that I didn’t get to Detroit much later than I would have if a-hole hadn’t screwed up my flights. The bad news is that on a 5.5 hour roadtrip by myself, it tends to go something like this:

Hour 1: Anxiety, white knuckling the steering wheel as I pass the highway signs that read “642 traffic deaths this year”, wondering if I accidentally drive off a cliff, how will they know where to find me? Damn, I’m gonna die…

Hour 2: Ok, out of the city, this isn’t so bad…how many more miles till I hit the halfway point? Nevermind, too much math.

Hour 3: Open road, smooth sailing, belting out the words to my favorite songs on Pandora, windows down, feeling free, damn I have to pee

Hour 4: Ok this is getting kind of old

Hour 5: Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet? Am I there yet?

Hour 5.5: Eyes are bugging, pits are schweaty, ass is hurty, must. lay. down.

But I made it. And I got to see these little guys that I wouldn’t have gotten to had I flown.

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I’m really not orange, my sister just bathes her babies in SPF 5,287 because she wants to see if she can make them see-through

And after a half hour rest, we hit the road again. I made her drive of course.

It was the first time she and I actually hung out without our kids in 3 years and I have to say, it was glorious. And on top of just the fun to be had roadtripping it with her, my delirium from the first leg of the trip lead itself to laughing fits with tears streaming down our faces – those moments in life that don’t happen often enough but when they do, you wish you could just bottle them up, stick them in a corner and save them for a rainy day.

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That’s my 10-hours-on-the-road-delirium-and-I-forgot-how-to-smile smile.

We made it to Cleveland.

The weekend was absolutely amazing. Fun, memorable, unexpected; I got to walk around campus and relive some good memories, eat pizza with amazing company at an old haunt while laughing at the best human rendition of a crazy squirrel the world has ever known, do some people watching at the homecoming tailgate party and revel at the most amazing pair of jorts known to man, have a magical time and a crazy deja vu moment at Mentor on the Lake, count thousands of stars that I don’t ever get to see in Chicago, and have a great talk about life with my sister on the way back to Detroit Sunday morning. And then of course I got to see these sweet little boogers one more time which was awesome.

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The trip from Detroit back home was uneventful and quick (I highly recommend the iPhone app Waze, it got me home 30 minutes faster and told me where every single sneaky cop was along the way), and when I saw this, I was happy to be back but sad my weekend couldn’t have lasted just a little bit longer (Mom, don’t worry, I was sitting in stopped city traffic when I took it. Ok, no I wasn’t.).

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The weekend didn’t originally go as planned. Quite honestly, I don’t normally make plans for that exact reason. And I’m convinced this was the universe’s way of reminding me why.

Life lesson #475: Make life happen and roll with the punches, don’t burn down air traffic control towers and then tell the paramedics to leave you alone as you lie on the floor trying to unsuccessfully kill yourself ultimately earning a 20 year prison sentence and a lot of travelers who really REALLY dislike you, and you never know what surprises and fun you might discover along the way.

I think they should put that in a Hallmark card.

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