Perfection

Channel 4 predicted today would be “almost perfect”. They were talking about the weather, but somehow they foretold the overall tone of our day. Not a cloud in the sky, warm enough to be playing outside, cool enough not to get overheated. My girls and I were in great moods. It’s like the “perfect storm” had passed.
If only all days could be like today. If only we didn’t have adversities to overcome or health concerns to address and we could all just have fun basking in a beautiful day all the time. My two year old had a great day at school, used the potty at home, put her sunscreen on (I bribed her with m&m’s, hooray for a new solution to that problem!), she was polite, she shared so well on the playground and actually listened to me too. To top it off, she ate her whole dinner and then went to sleep 20 minutes before usual. It was a banner day here. I’m almost moved to tears when I think about pushing her on the swings while the baby, strapped to me in her carrier, giggled at her sister. I hope everyone had a day as awesome as ours was. We all deserve a break in the clouds. A day to enjoy the blessings in our lives shining on us like rays of sunlight. Channel 4 was wrong about one thing: “almost”.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

My daughter is a mimic. I have to watch my language all the time, you wouldn’t believe the tirade of expletives that are coursing through my mind at any given time. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, maybe you can. It’s hard for me to stop myself from swearing knowing that she is a little sponge who picks up on the tiniest droplet of linguistic nuance. When she first started talking in sentences, she would pause every few words and say, “but…ummm…”. It was pretty adorable. I kept wondering where that was coming from until I was talking one day and caught myself saying those same two words every time I needed a pause in my speech. So it shouldn’t surprise me that she is copying whatever her friends are doing.
My concern is, of course, that she is not stopping to think for herself about whether her actions are right or wrong. For example, at a playdate today, her friend picked up a decorative object. My little one did the same, they both walked to the edge of the stairs and raised their objects up over their heads. The friend smashed hers to smithereens on the staircase while I gasped. I could see the wheels turning in my little copycat’s head as I said, “do NOT throw that, don’t even think about it (insert name with middle and last for maximum effect)”! Obviously, I had no effect on her and the desire to be like her peer far outweighed her desire to obey me. Smash!
Red flag! Is this a preview of adolescence? God, I hope not. How do I get her to think for herself? To have the confidence to do her own thing, the right thing? To use her own creativity to do things differently?
I’ve been thinking about these new implants for my reconstruction that use gel instead of silicone or scalene. They are supposed to feel and look more natural and although they’ve been on the market for many many years, they aren’t FDA approved. Of course that worries me, but is it enough for me not to explore the option? I need to do my own research, form my own independent thought to really decide what I want. I don’t want to let anyone choose what’s right for me.
This is what I want my toddler to learn in life. She doesn’t have to follow what her peers do. She doesn’t have to throw and smash something to have fun with her friends. It can still be fun playing on your own terms until you poop in your pants and step in shit. Yeah, that’s how that awesome playdate ended today.

Great Expectations

I’ve had a short fuse lately. My patience is meager, at best. I’m not sure if it’s just the compilation of circumstances or the pressure I put on myself or PMS. Whatever it is, it’s keeping me from being the mom I want to be; the mom I think I was before I had #2. I had so much more patience with my older one then. Maybe because she was my sole focus or because she wasn’t testing me as much or because I felt guilty about bringing someone else into the world who would force her to share me (and everything else). But most of all, I think it’s that now I have greater expectations.
My husband used to marvel at my patience for our older one and ask me why I couldn’t exhibit the same with him. My response was, “I don’t expect from her what I do from you and my expectations grow with age”. I never get annoyed at the baby from whom I expect nothing. And I expect a lot now of our almost 3 year old while she’s barely out of the toddler stage. Why do I expect her to act like such a big girl? Why do I think she should snap to and stand at attention like a good little soldier? (ok, paying attention to me sometimes would be nice). I don’t want her to think of me like a drill sergeant, I want her to think of me as her greatest supporter and closest friend. Shouldn’t that start now? Obviously, this is easier said than done and I’m going to have to keep working at strategies to be this wonderful mom creature. I’m not there yet, but with this new mindset, today was better.
I saw myself start to snap today when I heard her water bottle slam to the ground in a parking garage. I was about to say “why’d you do that?” in my stern voice when I realized I already know why. Just to see what would happen. She needs to do these things. She needs to see what consequences will come of her actions. Is a dropped bottle really the worst thing? “No use crying over spilled milk”. I think that saying is really directed towards the moms.
Extrapolating this further and examining why I get upset about lots of things in life really comes back to my expectations. If I have something in my head and it doesn’t work out that exact way, I get disappointed. Going into my surgery and reconstruction, I’m going to have to come up with a way not to envision unrealistic results. As my dad has said, “Expect the worst, hope for the best. That way you’re never disappointed”.

Silent Auction

We went to an event for our daughter’s new preschool over the weekend. It’s an annual fundraiser and as incoming parents we didn’t know anyone there. Everyone else appeared to have already been lifelong best friends. So we had a few drinks, checked out the venue, and the silent auction items. There must have been at least 60 different things. We figured we should put our names down here and there to show our support but pray to God we didn’t win anything and have to pony up (there might have been an actual pony for sale). A few more drinks later, we (and by we, I mean me, because I can’t handle my liquor) were playing fast and loose. Not that I wanted to win, but I also thought, “ok, we haven’t actually bid up to the actual value of the prize, so we would still get our money’s worth and chances are, someone will outbid us”. After we were sufficiently bored, we decided to leave. It was before the auction ended.
We have both been a ball of nerves ever since. We haven’t yet received a call saying we won something, but I’m hoping we don’t. I don’t really want to play a day of golf followed by a dinner with wine-pairing. The only things I find entertaining about golf are the ridiculous outfits, golf carts stuck in sand traps, and people who golf clap. I also don’t really want to schlep to the Brazil vs. Argentina soccer game (but honestly, that might be a little cool since my grandfather played for Argentina back in the day). And the last ridiculous thing we bid WAY too much money for… Wait for it… Santa coming to our house on the back of a firetruck. What the fuck were we thinking?
First of all, our kid is obsessed with Santa. She talked about him today – its friggin’ May! How could we ever top that again (if it doesn’t scare the crap out of her in the first place)? And let’s just talk about why Santa is on a firetruck. Who came up with that tradition? Couldn’t anyone find a horse drawn carriage around here? Is this like a Smokey the bear thing? Are they trying to send a fire safety message with a Christmas flair? “Ho Ho Ho! Put out the fire if you want a toy or a maze. So you don’t set Santa’s big ass ablaze!”. Got it, thanks Santa. Safety first!
So you see why we are on pins and needles waiting to see if we lost… I mean, won anything. I should have put our name down for the plastic surgery stuff. Now that would have actually come in handy.

Mother’s Day

When you have two kids under the age of three, you don’t really get a day off for rest and relaxation. Mother’s Day doesn’t entail much more than wishing you a happy day and giving a homemade card (which is, of course, a keepsake I will cherish forever). I still had bottles to give, laundry to do, and tooshies to wipe. I did, however, get a very beautiful bouquet of flowers from my husband and the girls.
We had a busy day and while the little ones napped in the car as we hopped from visits with grandparents and errands around town, my husband and I talked about something my mother had taught me when I was young. I mark it as the most important lesson she’s ever given me and something that I want my girls to learn as well. Here it goes: There are only three things you have to be in life: kind, kind, kind.
Yes, it is that simple. It’s not always as easy as it sounds though. I read a blurb in a magazine the other day asking readers to write in about what was the biggest regret they have. I honestly can’t think of many and in fact the only one that comes to mind is something that I have only ever told my husband, just today actually. When I was young and in dance camp, a few of us girls choreographed a dance together. One of the other girls who was a year older than I, told me I had to go tell another girl she couldn’t do the dance with us. I did it. It felt awful to purposely exclude her and intentionally hurt her feelings. So horrible was the feeling that those two minutes have plagued me for more than 20 years. Both of these other girls probably don’t even remember this happening, but I do, and I never want my girls to experience any side of a situation like that. I don’t want them to be the alpha dog who barks the order. I don’t want them to be the hurt girl who gets excluded. And I don’t want them to be the one who succumbs to peer pressure and doesn’t act with kindness.
I’m sure most of us can think of a time when we were in one of each of those roles. I recently had a conversation with someone who had a horrible experience with a doctor who she said was “heartless” and she spoke so poorly of this doctor and the office she runs. I had had an experience so the opposite at the same practice, but I started thinking twice about whether or not I should go back there or recommend the practice to others. But perhaps that doctor had just had a bad day and hadn’t been able to act kindly towards this lady. We can’t all be who we want to be all the time. But I feel that as long as we stick to our morals and values as much as humanly possible, we can still live without regret knowing we have been true to ourselves and be proud of who we are. Thank you, Mom, for teaching me that valuable lesson. I will be passing it down to my girls so they can also be the people they want to be thanks to you. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunscreen Scuffles

What a beautiful day!! This morning we went to the beach for a birthday party for my daughter’s best friend. It was warm, sunny, laid back. Kids and adults alike had a great time. We put sunscreen on the babes before we left. It is always a battle of epic proportion to slather the goo on the two year old. I usually do it very thoroughly because I never want her to burn as we are a very fair skinned people. My husband actually used to call me his albino princess. I’ve put SPF 15 on my face everyday since I was 15. I literally cannot get color on my face now, seriously, not ever. Well, my little girl isn’t so lucky and now has a red V shaped burn on her chest from where her polo shirt buttons were open. Even the baby who had a little sweater, light pants, a hat, and a face full of sunscreen still had rosy cheeks by noon. Ugh, it breaks my heart and drives the Mom guilt into full gear.
My two year old wasn’t even complaining that it hurt and by tomorrow it probably won’t even be that bad. However, knowing that I carry a higher risk of skin cancer because I’m BRCA + makes me worried that she does too. I have to remind myself that even if she screams and carries on, it is sooo important for her to have sunscreen all over her. We both have to suck it up and just do it. It’s going to be a long summer of sunscreen scuffles.

Facing Fears

My two year old goes to preschool two days a week.  She told me she didn’t want to go both days this week.  She’s not sick anymore, but the first day I thought maybe it’s just because she wasn’t there for a day last week and she’s out of her routine.  Today though, she was dressed and ready and still didn’t want to go.  I felt like a bad mom for essentially forcing her to go.  It’s not like she was kicking and screaming and at least today there was no silent weeping of baby alligator tears to make me feel like the devil.  And today, once I got her jacket off in the entrance, she walked off towards her teachers by herself.  Improvement, but I still felt horrible as I bolted out the door.  I stood next to (not in front of) the window to listen if there was crying, but I didn’t hear any.  As always, when I picked her up later, it was smiles and giggles and “Mommy, look at this…” showing me her new trick on the playset and the artwork she made.  When asked how her day was, she replied “Great!” 
Mom guilt is an evil emotion.  In so many scenarios, we know we are doing the right thing for our children but still suffering these same conflicting feelings.  I know I have to help her face her fears and get over them.  I know that I can’t keep her home from school every time she says she doesn’t want to go.  Look at all of the fun from today that she would have missed out on, the developmental milestones she achieves by being there, the friendships she makes and strengthens each time.  And damnit, I wanted that Happy Mother’s Day thing she made me (and the free time, which I used to clean the office while the baby napped – argh!).
She’s totally forgotten about this morning’s request to stay at home, but I tried to remind her when I put her in the car that she had a great day and next week when it’s time for school she should remember all the fun she had today and be excited to go again.  I don’t know what is prompting this sudden desire to be a homebody on school days.  Maybe she’s missing Daddy and thinks if she stays home he’ll appear?  Maybe there’s a kid at school she’s not fond of?  Maybe she’s just two and wants to be in her jammies all day?  Whatever it is, I know it’s the right thing to do to say “Ok little Cowgirl, back on that horse and giddy up to school.”  (maybe next time, I’ll actually say that, she likes horses).
After I got my breast test results, for a moment I thought, “Hey, I don’t have to do these surgeries yet, I’ve got time now.”  That was fear talking.  I quickly realized how that frame of mind is going to get me nowhere, or worse, somewhere awful.  So I didn’t let myself linger in that mythical place of a no mastectomy future.  I know my plans are right on target with what I have to do to ensure my best chances of not having breast cancer.  I’m not going to let fear dictate what I know is best for me or my family (except when it comes to snakes… you will not find me frolicking in a meadow… EVER!  pavement please).