Tag Archives: parenting

“mommy”

Last night, I had the wind knocked out of me with one little word.

“Mommy”.

Summer was missing her daddy as he is out of town this week so I set up facetime for them. And as soon as the call connected, Scott and his girlfriend’s faces appeared on the screen of my phone. All three of their faces lit up at the same time seeing each other and they asked all the usual “how was your day?” questions and the “are you having so much fun with mommy?” questions that usually start out a facetime talk. I walked away and started cleaning the kitchen, leaving them alone to chat because while I have no ill feelings towards his girlfriend, let’s be honest – I don’t need to see her face in my living room chatting away with my child. It was their conversation to have, not mine.

A few minutes later I walked back into the living room to see Summer twirling the phone in circles and being goofy, so I sat down with her and held the phone so they could actually see Summer and not the rotating ceiling.

And that’s when it happened.

Summer grabbed the phone, and yelled, “daddy!” and kissed him on the screen.

Then she yelled, “mommy!” and kissed the other face on the screen.

Heart.

Stabbed.

The two of them quickly responded with, “Summer, we talked about this…” And they changed the subject.

Cough, um, so it’s happened before. My child referred to this 27-year-old woman dating my 41-year-old ex-husband who Summer has known all of 6 months as “mommy”.

Tingly prickles washed up the front of my neck and into my cheeks. And they all carried on chatting away about nothing and everything while I sat frozen in my little “did that just really fucking happen?” bubble.

I didn’t say a word about it while they were on the phone.

I’m not mad at anyone for it – Summer is too little to understand the hurt that it caused, and the 2 faces on the screen didn’t encourage it, though I could have maybe, just maybe been given a heads up about it when it first started happening so I wouldn’t have been blindsided by the knife yesterday.

Obviously them just telling her not to call the girlfriend mommy wasn’t enough. That would never be enough. Not for Summer, not for me. So at bedtime we snuggled up close and had a little chat – I told her that it made momma sad to hear my baby call someone else mommy. I told her that I was the one who made her, who grew her, who had her in my tummy, whose heart is half hers, and who has taken care of her and loved her with my whole self since the very first day she was alive. And that is what makes me her mommy and no one else.

In her sweet little 4-year-old voice she said, “mommy, I’m sorry. I feel really bad and I promise I won’t ever call anyone else mommy again but you.” She got it. And my heart filled right back up as I listened to her breathing get heavy while she drifted off to dreamland.

Once I knew she was asleep, I went out to the living room and I cried. Oh, I cried good. A puffy-eyed in the morning type cry. Because, although I kept trying to remind myself that it actually tells me that this girl is doing something right with Summer if Summer equates her with things that “mommy” means to her – love, fun, safety, security – it still broke my heart for a moment.

A moment I never thought I would have to live.

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Filed under divorce, Family, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, sadness

Easter in photos

It’s official, Easter trumps Christmas as favorite holiday in my book. As much as I love Christmas decorations, putting them up and taking them down is a lot of work. As much as I love the act of giving Christmas gifts, it usually requires boatloads of money and I have unfortunately forgotten the combination to my vault full of gold and riches. And as much as I love Santa….

Nevermind.

There’s nothing bad I can say about Santa.

But really, Easter? All a good Easter requires is a dress that twirls really really well…

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 Bunny ears for dogs…

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And kiddos….

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And Dabba Doo (my dad’s grandpa name)…

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Maybe some bobby pins to hold them in place…

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A couple dozen eggs…

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Bunny-eared selfies…

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Maybe some donuts…

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Mini pretty colored chairs…

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Pretty babies in pretty bows….

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Pretty babies in pretty bows…ok, I may have already mentioned that but, come on, these babies are too cute to not mention again…

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And again…

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And again…

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Cousin lovin’…

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An auntie who will let you tackle her and gouge her eyes out…

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And a backyard squirt bottle chase (or is that just my family?)…

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‘Twas a very fun Easter this year.

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Happy Friday… if you need me, I’ll be over here in my best twirly dress spinning happy Friday spins.

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to be almost 3

Almost a year ago I wrote about the funny little things a 2 year old does. And almost a year later….well, I’m still learning the mind of an almost 3-year-old…

Still the funny little beings they were at 2, now they’re a little wiser and braver and funnier:

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They’ll hide in the same spot every single time they play hide and seek.

When you give them an option on which shirt they want, they’ll give you the dreaded blank stare. And when you finally just pick one for them, they’ll always want the other.

They’ll take an hour and a half to eat a meal yet they can eat 3 bags of fruit snacks in 30 seconds.

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They’ll beg to watch the one show you don’t have DVR’d.

And once you do record it, they’ll never ask for it again.

They’ll find this thing at the grocery store and beg you to go on it until you finally fish a quarter out of the bottom of your purse, turn it on and then pull them off the giant scary horsey 2 seconds later as they bawl their giant doe eyes out at the terror, you bad bad mommy:

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They’ll listen to the same song over and over and over and over and over.

They’ll take all of your jewelry out of your jewelry box, toys out of the toy box, nail polish out of your nail polish bag, spoons out of the silverware drawer, throw them on the floor, and then walk away.

They’ll fill a cup in the bathtub, try to pour it into another cup but end up pouring it all over your socks.

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They’ll cry when you won’t let them wear pajamas out of the house, and then they’ll cry when you try to take them out of their day clothes before bed.

They’ll insist on sleeping with their baby, blankey, monkey, shovel, chap stick, guitar, football, a marker, and their shoes on.

They’ll want to try on every pair of sandals in the shoe store. In the middle of winter.

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They’ll spot the bouncy ball tower display thingy in every store and insist they neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed another ball that you know they’ll forget about tomorrow. And it’s always the ball on the bottom.

They’ll impress you every time you teach them a new life lesson, like how to open a door by turning the doorknob, how to open the refrigerator, and how to put water in their mouths and spit after brushing their teeth.

They’ll tell cashiers and neighbors and their teachers stories like, “I had different ones! Uh huh! Yesterday I had a pink one and a purple one and they didn’t match!” And only you know they’re talking about their sock choice from a week ago.

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They’ll make up their own language that changes daily. Take yesterday…mamba apparently meant mommy and bahstock! meant open the door. This morning I was cah-coh, and there was no word for open the door. I’m trying, I really am.

But at the end of the day…

when you’ve made your second full dinner because the first one “wasn’t good”…

and they want you to watch Frozen with them on the couch for the 4th time…

and they want to snuggle with you because, “they like you,”….

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…having an almost 3 year old will make you a little wiser, braver and funnier, too.

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Filed under Family, home, Kids, life, Love, Parenting

on the road again

I’m packing up the little one, a few hundred unnecessary items, and hitting the road for Michigan for the long weekend. The last time we took this trip, she was 15 months old and was an angel the entire way there and back. This time with her being a little older plus with my anxiety of driving, I considered all of our travel options:

Train

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Pros: Possibly the same price as gas if not cheaper, no anxiety over driving off a cliff, and it could be a lot of fun to see the little one marvel at her first train ride.

Cons: One 45 min train ride to Union Station, 1.5 hour wait, then a 5.5 train to Detroit? That’s 8 hours of travel for a 5.5 hour trip. Getting someone to drive us to Union Station would be a pain for that unlucky soul, plus thinking about navigating through a train station I haven’t been to since I was 15 with a toddler, a ton of bags and a stroller? No thanks. And toddlers are unpredictable little beings, I couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t be terrified of getting on the train and start screaming bloody murder while wriggling her little body out of my arms causing me to drop all of our stuff onto the tracks to their ultimate demise. I don’t think I could function without my flatiron and underwear.

Plane

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Pros: Quick, cheap flights to and from Detroit, good practice for our long flight to San Fran in August.

Cons: Airport security lines, sitting on a plane by myself with a toddler (see above re:unpredictable), and I don’t know if you’ve ever changed a kid on an airplane bathroom changing table but I’d rather not, thank you.

Automobile

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Pros: I’m in control of when and where we stop, I can stuff my car full of every last thing I can think of that I could possibly need for the little one, I’ll have my car when we are out there, and I can change diapers in the backseat. Summer sleeps pretty well in the car and if she gets all crazy and screamy, it’s relatively easy to throw a handful of puffs at her and sing The Wheels on the Bus at the top of my lungs to distract her. Or to drown out the screams. Whichever.

Cons: Pandora will only let me skip so many songs in a certain amount of time, so when I run out of chances on the toddler station after Summer says “I don’t liiiiiiiiiiike,” (her new favorite phrase) for the 12th time in 5 minutes, I’m stuck with the radio while she screams “ABC’S!” at the back of my head over and over. Plus 5.5 hours of horrendous images of us driving off a cliff going through my head as I curse all those stupid highway signs that say “732 traffic deaths in Illinois this year”, wondering if we’re about to add 2 to that total while pasting a smile on my face as I make up names of animals that Old MacDonald has on his farm like shmicken and blurttle and flubben because I’ve actually run out of real animals.

Somehow, someway, car wins. This shall be fun.

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Filed under Kids, life, Memorial Day, Parenting, Travel

back to my tens

“I wish I liked anything as much as my kids like bubbles.” –  Knocked Up

In my tens (not sure if that’s the best way to describe ages 0-10 but ’tis what it is), I hated playing with Barbies yet my friend would come over every freaking day with a suitcase full of mini clothes and mini plastic shoes and a corvette and weird pegs that were supposed to be rings that you had to stick through Barbie’s hand hole and she’d look at me all crazy-barbie-eyed and say with way too much enthusiasm, “wanna play BARBIES?!?” No, no I didn’t. It just didn’t make any sense to me to sit and dress them in clothes and put the same plastic shoe on the same plastic foot 10 times before it would stay on, and then pretend these little dolls were talking to each other when instead I could be roller skating in circles for hours in the basement with the radio blaring 80’s music. Give me a pile of Lincoln Logs, do cartwheels with me in the front yard, or give me a bucket of crayons and I was happy.

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In my teens, fun turned from finger painting to riding my bike all the way to the pool to meet up with friends and giggle about boys. And a few years later we could be found driving around town smoking with all the windows down so our parents wouldn’t smell the funk later, or sitting at Baker’s Square or Denny’s for hours clam-baking with all the other smokers crammed in the little booths drinking ridiculous amounts of coffee that no sane teenager should ever consume in one day.

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In my 20’s, I gave up my Baker’s Square coffee for dancing on bars with my sisters and friends, singing at the top of my lungs to live bands with my head swimming from too much beer until 3am. I was happy, I was carefree, I had far too much energy for my own good. Those were some great times.

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And in my 30’s, I’ve found that having a little one in her tens has actually brought me back full-circle. Although I’ve discovered toddlers are the epitome of ADD – “color? play doh? outside? color? snack? book? keys? rocking horse? Wiggles? COLOR? COLOR? COOKIE!” – it’s fun. Like really really fun. With her, I get to color little hearts and stars all over construction paper again. I get to draw on my driveway with chalk and no one drives by with stink eye wondering who the grown up is drawing people and dogs and balloons and coloring them in with the focus that should be reserved for an intense game of beer pong. (I miss you, beer pong. I love you. Call me.) I get to eat goldfish and Cheerios by the handful.

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I get to take walks down the street and notice every pine cone, leaf, bird, squirrel, tree, stop sign, airplane, house, person, rock and truck because I have someone walking next to me yelling BIG TRUUUUUUCK!! every time one goes by…you know…just in case I didn’t see the really big truck.

I had forgotten how awesome it was to be a kid, and luckily now I have a short little person doing a really good job of reminding me. Now if only I could figure out how to work a little of this into my days…

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Filed under Kids, life, nostalgia, Parenting

if my baby was the mayor

If my baby was the mayor, it would be a pretty cool place to live.

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The best paying jobs would be the star-gazer, the dreamers, treasure hunters and nursery rhyme singers.

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Everyone would own a puppy, an endless supply of crayons, and the finest pair of glittery shoes money could buy.

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There would be stores that sold nothing but string cheese,

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and on every street corner there would be a designated bubble blower.

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People would greet each other with Eskimo kisses and a good toss over the head.

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There would be goldfish cracker stands on every block.

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Every hill covered in wildflowers would sit next to a hill covered in pinwheels.

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The Wiggles would have their own tv station,

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everyday would be your birthday,

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and family would never be further than a skip away.

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The anthem would be Old MacDonald had a Farm, and on that farm he’d only ever have cows.

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There would be no need for radios because the Pandora Toddler Station would play over the town hall speakers.

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And the rules would be made up of five laws…

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1. Giggle a lot.

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2. Eat cheese at every meal.

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3. Collect stickers.

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4. Put your arms behind you and pretend you’re flying when you run.

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5. Kiss your momma. Ok, now go kiss her again.

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Yes, I’d live there.

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Filed under Easter, Family, home, Kids, life, Love, Parenting, Summer

Repost: Dear Maya,

I originally wrote this last year and, given the decisions being made in our country right now, it seemed a good time to share again… (Original post and comments found here https://rabitstew.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/dear-maya/ )

Dear Maya,

I believe God puts us in tough, uncomfortable, or extraordinary situations because when we have to react in a split second with no time to plan, we show our true character. It’s those moments that keep you honest with yourself, those moments when you find yourself either speaking up or keeping quiet, either running away to save yourself or jumping in front of a bus to save someone else, either catching something in mid-air or finding yourself frozen while watching it shatter on the floor. And afterwards you are left either proud of yourself or sad that you didn’t react the way you assumed you would in a situation like that, and all that is left palpable is your heartbeat pounding in your face.

I want you to know that while you have no idea who I am and we shared nothing more than a smile yesterday as you walked out of your interview, you passed me at the reception desk on your way out the door and your presence was felt long after our building was nothing but a tiny speck in your rear view mirror. You don’t know the exact details of what happened after you left, although it’s a horrible shame that you could probably assume, but after you left your interview and got on the elevator, I had one of those moments I described above. My character, my own words, were tested.

I had literally just finished writing these words in a post the night before:

I like to think I’m one of the good guys, though I’ll admit I have some bad habits like leaving things in places they don’t belong. For example, this morning I was looking for my coffee cup that I had just put down somewhere, I spotted it on top of the entertainment center in the living room, took a big gulp, and found out the hard way that today’s coffee cup was actually in the kitchen. Yum.

I find when I do things these days, a certain little person is always in the back of mind. Am I teaching her the right lesson? Is she going to pick up this habit from me? Is that a good thing? The girl is like a sponge – watching, absorbing, mimicking – and I want to teach her well. I want to show Summer how nice it is to live in a somewhat organized house, but I also want her to know that if the clean laundry sits in the laundry basket for a week, it’s not the end of the world. And if, instead of folding clean clothes, you were off somewhere digging in the dirt, enjoying life and smiling with your entire body while the fabric softener scent was slowly fading from your towels in a heap on the laundry room floor, well then, even better.

But above teaching my little one life lessons like how to put things back where they belong, how to make a mean German pancake, how to drive stick and how to pet the doggies gently, there are the things that are the most important life lessons of all, like loving people with your whole heart. Respecting people. Embracing others’ differences. Nurturing and supporting and encouraging others and surrounding yourself with people who do the same for you. The hard part about those lessons is not teaching them to her though, it’s how to counteract the influences on her from all the people out there who choose instead to tease and belittle and name call and stereotype and judge and take advantage of people with good hearts.

There was more to the post, a story about an encounter with someone in the Target parking lot and something or other about ratty yoga pants, but those first 3 paragraphs, I had no idea how those first 3 paragraphs were about to be put to the test.

Maya, when your interview was over, you came through, you shook his hand and said thank you to him, and you walked out the door. And your interviewer looked at me and he snickered. Now, I may be a great many things, but stupid is certainly not one of them. I knew what he meant with that gesture. I knew it came from a place of non-acceptance, from ignorance and fear of the unknown, from mean-spirited judgement. And it seemed so childish to me. That one little gesture of his stirred things in me. Anger. Heartache. Sadness. Anger that there are laws out there to protect you from close-minded people but those laws can’t protect you when you don’t have physical proof of what happens after you walk out that door. Heartache that you are someone’s baby and this man treated someone’s baby like they were not worthy of a part-time assistant job with crappy pay because they were different from him. Sadness because while I hope my acceptance is the norm, I fear I’m the exception.

Since becoming someone’s momma, I think about certain situations and how I would feel if it was Summer in them. What if someone thought my precious baby was qualified for a job on paper but met her, said no thank you, and made fun of her face or her clothes or her voice or her body like an ignorant coward behind her back as she walked out the door….well, now I have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I wonder how the situation would have been different if one of his grown children had ever been in your shoes. Or his brother. Or his sister. Or his granddaughter.

He expected me to snicker back like he was saying, “can you believe that person?” and me saying, “totally.” Instead I looked him directly in the eye and I asked him what he was laughing at. Perhaps in his 69 years of living this life, he knew something I didn’t. And if he thought there was a valid reason to laugh at someone who was different from himself, I was going to make him explain to me what that reason was. My lack of reciprocity made him uncomfortable and he gave me a look of, “come on, you know…..” In that moment, to me his ignorance was so ugly and I didn’t understand how he could possibly think he was better than this person he just met, how to him, ignorant and ugly could ever be better than different.

He thought I wasn’t laughing with him because I didn’t see you. Oh, but I saw you. I thought you were beautiful. But he thought that I hadn’t seen you and so he said in a whisper, “She’s…transgendered.”

“And?” I said, because he had yet to tell me something that was funny.

He said some things, things that the universe does not need said twice, but he finally started to understand that my lack of response meant I didn’t feel the same things he did about you, and he asked me if I thought he was being too harsh. I told him I was afraid I’d end up saying something to him that I might regret. The regret would come not in the form of telling him how I felt, but out of fear of losing my job for letting my sadness run my mouth and insulting him. I don’t insult people. He told me he was a big boy and he could take it. So I took a breath, I treaded lightly, I looked him in the eye and I simply said to him, “I believe in respecting all people. I believe we are all equal. I don’t judge people for their differences, I embrace people for their differences.”

And his response was weak, something about him being old-fashioned, and then he walked away.

And I’m sad.

I’m sad that he may have just passed up the best assistant he’s ever had because you identify more with one gender over the other. Guess what? So do I. So does he. He is no different from you but he chose not to see past your clothes. I’m sad that when God put him in a tough, uncomfortable, or extraordinary situation, in that split decision he chose to push you down and out of the way to protect himself from his own fear of the unknown.

But I’m also happy.

I’m happy you didn’t have to work with him. I’m happy when tested by God that my split decision was to stand up for you. I’m happy that he avoided me for the rest of the day because it makes me hope that even if only for one half of one second, he doubted his own actions. I know your 20 minute meeting yesterday will probably have no effect on his way of thinking in the long run, but what happened after that 1 second I saw you as you walked out the door answered my original question. You taught me that the best way to protect Summer from the influence of closed-minded people is by teaching her that conviction through an open mind, empathy and love is stronger than words and actions founded on fear and ignorance will ever be. I’m not afraid of the influence of ignorant people on her anymore, I’m hopeful for her influence on them. And for that, from the bottom of my momma heart, thank you.

-Jaime

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