Friday Music

Since I was in high school, and Friday afternoons were spent getting ready to go to football games, basketball games, and dances, there’s been a certain kind of music playlist. I always just called it Friday Music….you know what I’m talking about, right? Don’t Friday afternoons have a different feeling than all the other afternoons in the week? School has ended for the week, work is out for the weekend. It’s kind of a celebration of surviving yet another week.

My sister and I shared an apartment my junior year of college. We’d come home from our classes and turn on our Friday music. It would blast while we got ready for whatever party, game, or dance we were going to that night. There was quite a bit of dance music – think late-80’s stuff. We’d listen to the Cure, Janet Jackson, Beastie Boys, and U2, as well as whatever else was striking our fancy as pre-party music. We never questioned turning the Friday Music on. It was expected.

When the kids were little, I stopped listening to my Friday music. I’m not really sure why. Fridays didn’t mean going out anymore. Spouse and I were typically exhausted by Friday evening each week – date nights and parties were left to Saturday nights, when we’d had a day to recover from a week of work and taking care of toddlers. But now my kids are older. I spend Friday afternoons watching my cheerleader get ready for games with her fellow cheerleaders. Spouse and I might go out afterwards. That freedom, that feeling of celebration has returned. Friday afternoons once again require a certain kind of music, a special playlist all its own.  My Friday Music playlist still has a lot of Janet Jackson and Beastie Boys, but also Tupac, Dr. Dre, Eminem, early-90’s hip hop and rap, and a bunch of current stuff. Friday Music is whatever makes you dance.

Do you have a Friday Music playlist? Who’s on it?

Bombarded

I have been feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted lately. Anyone else? I couldn’t figure out why for awhile, but then realized how frequently the news, posts on Facebook, tweets, and other television shows had me feeling I was on high alert all the time, constantly  reactionary. More than one friend informed me she’d stopped watching tv, listening to the news, and had gone on a Facebook hiatus for the very reason  we are being continually bombarded with news and stories we MUST react to, positively or negatively, and that is draining us.

I refuse to step away. I feel a responsibility to be fully informed, no matter how draining it might be. I’m wary of those stories and sites that are “fake news”, relying strictly on reputable, respectable resources, and always double-checking their value. If we bury our heads in the sand because we are feeling bombarded isn’t going to make it go away, or make it better. But we all must handle it as best we see fit.

I have learned I need to schedule my social media time, and not look at it last thing at night nor first thing in the morning. If I wake to the real world slowly, and walk away from it before going to sleep at night, I feel much more capable of an appropriate response, of not becoming overwhelmed or exhausted. I have enough going on in this household, managing two teens in  high school who are want to drive me around the bend as it is. I have to learn to deal with all the outside stuff at a level that doesn’t interfere with my ability to parent, to wife, to work. I have re-learned the capacity to compartmentalize to a certain extent. It’s made things much easier. I’m also running a lot more, have returned to yoga and Pilates, and make a point of taking care of myself. My kids are wondering why I’m in “real clothes” and heels (boots) instead of being in yoga pants all the time. Being dressed, make-up on, and with hair done makes me feel better, gives me more confidence, somehow makes me feel more capable of handling whatever life is going to throw at me that day.

The other thing I’ve forced myself to remember is that I don’t HAVE to react to every little thing. I’ve set the bar pretty high, and I don’t engage in debate, most of the time. I love my friends and family, and want to maintain those relationships. A lot of people have yet to learn the skill of scrolling right by a post with an opinion that doesn’t match theirs. Not every article, every post, every personal opinion requires a response. It saves a TON of angst to just keep moving along to those posts of your friend’s kids saying funny things, or what your mom is eating for dinner, or that sunset on the beach in your favorite town in the world. If we focused on how we are the same, instead of how our opinions are different, maybe we’d all be a lot less stressed out. Just my two cents, for whatever their worth.

I’m feeling less bombarded the last few days. I’ve retaken control. It’s refreshing and a relief.

 

Suddenly

We have spent years dealing with a child crawling into our bed at all hours of the night, nearly every night. I’ve become so used to having a foot in my face, getting punched or kicked randomly, hearing the grinding of teeth, or him yelling out that sleep disruption is just a natural state. He learned last year to not ask if he could climb in, but rather to sneak in from the foot of the bed. Sneaky little man.

I’ve had awful insomnia the last few nights, awake from 3:30am – 5am, and I mean wide awake, brain spiraling. One of the things that hit me as I struggled to find sleep again was that Little Man wasn’t in our bed. Not only was he not in our bed, he  hasn’t been in our bed for awhile now. Suddenly, he is staying in his own room, all night. Suddenly, he is sleeping through the entire night. Suddenly, he isn’t waking us at 3am, yelling, hitting or kicking his wall, crying, or crawling over us to sleep between us. And it happened just like that.

He will be thirteen next month. I forget that sometimes, as emotionally and socially  he seems SO much younger. But his body is that of a near-thirteen-year-old, so hormones are changing. He sleeps longer. He sleeps more deeply. Oh my gosh – he’s doing something “normal”.

We knew the day would come we didn’t have a child crawling into our bed, or attempting to crawl into our bed. That’s probably why I didn’t really fight it much for too long. He’s our youngest, and I think I wanted to hang onto those precious moments, in spite of the fact it was a serious disruption of my sleep. They grow up too quickly, that time is so very fleeting. At the same time, I’m relieved he’s sleeping – getting what his body desperately needs. I’m relieved he’s sleeping the night through, in his own bed. Suddenly, he sleeps.

No, I don’t always have their backs

My oldest two are at a stage they’re really figuring out who they are, what they are, how they want to go about life. It’s an interesting, frustrating, gut-wrenching, beautiful time. Some days are amazing. Some days completely suck.  I’ve said it a lot lately – I equate the difficulty level of parenting teens to that of parenting three toddlers at the same time. Yes, I’m still wearing that dazed/glazed look of a mother overwhelmed and disoriented.

Here’s the deal – because they are figuring out who they are, because much of their days are outside our realm of control, because we want them to learn about life and how to do life as much as they can while still under our roof and under our guidance/protection, we let them make as many decisions and choices as possible. There are times we make decisions for them – when we have to, when the choice has more long-lasting repercussions, or when it’s a safety issue. They aren’t always popular decisions. We just hope and pray they appreciate our intervention somewhere down the road.

But yes, we do allow them a bit of leeway. But no, I don’t always have their backs. I think that’s an important distinction. I don’t think we do our kids any favors if we calmly turn our heads the other direction when we don’t agree with their choices. My children are not perfect. I know their faults as well as I know their strengths. I feel a responsibility to offer my opinion when I don’t agree, and make them come up with arguments to support their choices. I don’t always have to agree with their decisions. I don’t always have to have their backs, particularly when decisions might hurt them, hurt someone else, or have results they aren’t considering. I let them know I love them no matter what, and support them always, but that I don’t have to roll with their flow at all times. I’ve gotten some backlash for that, which I totally don’t get.

We do our kids a disservice when we blindly back them in all things, at all times. I am their safety net. It’s my responsibility to help them learn to be compassionate, caring, productive, happy adults. That’s a fraught journey. If we don’t help them understand other perspectives, if we never make them think deep enough to be able to defend their decisions, if we always tell them they’re right but not telling them when they’re wrong, we are failing them. We have to allow them to make choices that matter, because they need to learn how to win gracefully, and how to recover from mistakes and missteps. I need them to learn how to fail, and how to get back up from failing while I’m close by to keep an eye on the process.

I don’t presume to be a perfect mom. I don’t always know the best, right answer. Lord knows I’ve made plenty of parental mistakes in the last 16.5 years. But I come at life with quite a few spins around the sun. My perspective is broader, I can see the bigger picture as opposed to just the decision at hand. I can see the gray, where they tend to see black and white. I realize one of the last things teens want to do is listen to their dumb parents, but hey, we kinda know what we’re doing most of the time.

I happen to love my precious children – I love them enough to not always agree with them, and still come out the other side with an intact familial relationship. I don’t just show them approval. I don’t just show them disapproval. I show them love, constantly. I show them the pride I have in them. I encourage and support, but no, I don’t always have their backs. Hopefully in the end that results in well-rounded, thoughtful, successful adults.

Sleeping Beauty or That Girl Can Fall Asleep Anywhere

I wrote this post nearly two years ago. But “girl sleeping” seems to be a frequent search term, because it pops up in my stats as “viewed” at least twice a week. Even two years later, she still falls asleep anywhere and everywhere. She is a super busy girl, and goes and goes until she drops, and/or we have meltdown. This is her, this is part of her story…..I thought I’d re-share since it gets hits pretty frequently.  Happy Weekend!

So, the Princess has been a wee bit ignored lately what with March for Babies focusing our thoughts on Big Man’s prematurity,  and it being Autism Awareness Month turning our minds towards Little Man and his stuff. I’m here to remedy that this afternoon.

This girl can fall asleep anywhere, and she usually does. She hated napping and going to bed when she was an infant and toddler. She would fight it tooth and nail. She didn’t want to be held to fall asleep. She preferred her bouncy seat, exersaucer, crib, pack-n-play…anywhere but in someone’s arms. She just didn’t particularly like to sleep where or when you expected her to sleep. This made for some interesting discoveries, especially after she learned how to climb out of her crib (at a ridiculously young age for my liking, mind you). She would go and go and go, until she dropped wherever she was, and I mean that literally. We have video of her sound asleep, and snoring, laying up the stairs. We have photos of her hanging half off her bed, on her back. I have pictures of her sleeping pretty much everywhere. Some samples: IMG_0074 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

across her pillow across recliner after beach after slumber party after soccer arms across e in the car booster sleeping on the stairs

I’ll give her this…in almost all of the above photos, we were either at the beach, at soccer, skiing, or at dance before she passed out and photos were taken.

Nowadays, if you put her in the car for more than five minutes, she’s out. You would think that with all the time she and I spend in the car together, we would get some good mother/daughter, one-on-one time. Not so much. She falls asleep on the way to the studio and on the way home from the studio. It is rather entertaining to watch her head start to bob, and then we hit the curvy road and she falls over. She doesn’t even try to fight it anymore. Airplane to DC? She was out before we were over Arizona.  On the way home, I don’t even think she made it to takeoff. It’s kind of her thing now, part of her story.  Seems almost appropriate – I call her Princess, and she could qualify as Sleeping Beauty. That girl can sleep anywhere.

Why Baseball?

I may  have mentioned in the past I’m a huge baseball fan.  Less than a week until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training!!! We’re *this* close to my favorite time of year.But why baseball, you ask? The easy answer is I just love being at the ball field on a warm summer day, listening to the sounds of the ball being caught and hit. The long answer goes much deeper than that.

My brother, K, is almost four years older. When I was little, I worshipped him. I was too much a priss to want to do the same sports he did, but  I loved watching him play. And he played baseball. More than that, he was pretty darn good. I was so proud of him.  Most of the younger siblings would play on the playground during the games, and pester their parents into multiple trips to the snack bar. Not me….I sat in my little chair, watching my big brother play.  I learned how to keep score when I was maybe seven years old. Some of my best childhood memories are from those Little League ball fields.

Add to this, I’m a Daddy’s girl, in addition to being close to my brother. Spending time with them meant watching sports. One of those sports was baseball. They were Oakland A’s fans, so I became an Oakland A’s fan. The fact they won three World Series in a row when I was little-little didn’t hurt. So baseball is also wrapped up in memories of spending time with Daddy and K.

When I was in college, a bunch of my friends were on the baseball team. We spent Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (when I wasn’t working) at the field watching them play. I learned so much more about the game those three years. I learned the mental side of the game, the strategies of plays and players, the dance that happens between pitcher and hitter. I learned the game, and I learned respect for the game.

A couple of years out of college, my brother and I got season tickets for our beloved Athletics team. Now baseball meant Saturday and Sunday afternoons at the park. Sun-drenched memories created with the brother who introduced me to baseball. We had our favorite players, few of whom ever lasted more than a few years with the  A’s before they were traded away. But it was baseball, and it was time together, and it was our favorite team.

Every year as Spring Training approaches, I start watching baseball movies. I have my favorites…Bull Durham, Major League, For Love of the Game, A League of Their Own, The Natural, Eight Men Out, Moneyball. They remind me baseball is close. They remind me all the things I’m anxiously awaiting. They remind me why and how much I love the game. When the season actually starts, our television will be tuned to games nearly every day, from the time the first pitch is thrown of whatever early game there is, until the last out of the last night game that day. The sounds of the game bring calm to my day.

Baseball is a game….it’s a game of throw the ball, catch the ball, hit the ball. But it’s so much more than that. It’s little boys taking the t-ball field for the very first time. It’s little sisters watching big brothers play on an all-star team. It’s daddies and daughters spending treasured time together. It’s siblings sharing a passion for a certain team. It’s competition. It’s one man vs another, one team vs another. It’s beer, brats, cotton candy, and peanuts. It’s fly balls and home runs. It’s winning, and losing. That’s why baseball.

 

Weight For It

When you have a micro-preemie, how much he weighs is an obsession from day one. Every ounce, or part of a ounce gained, is a huge win, a step in the right direction on a very long journey. We waited, so very anxiously, to see his weight on his chart each morning he was in the NICU. It seemed to take forever for him to get back up to his birth weight of a whole two pounds. We had a mini-party when he reached three pounds. When he came home at 6 lbs 7 ozs, he seemed huge compared to the day  he was born, that is until I took him to the pediatrician for a weight check and initial visit a few days after he came home from the NICU. Surrounded by “normal” full-term babies, he diminished.

Weight checks have just been part of his life, his entire life. He received synagis shots October through April the first two years of his life to fight him getting RSV. That meant we were in the pediatrician’s office much more than other infants and toddlers. And he was weighed every single time. I always had anxiety on doctor-visit days, and would hold my breath until his weight came up on the scale. His growth chart didn’t look like any other I’d seen. He had his own way of doing this, his own growth curve.

When he was diagnosed with ADHD, and we began medicating him, regular weight-checks were re-introduced. Blessedly, the medication didn’t seem to affect his appetite. But then he fell off his own growth curve a few years back. Bloodwork, visits with specialists, bone-age scans, and even more frequent weight-checks ensued. We pushed calories, good calories, as best we could. I could still wrap my hand around his upper arm. I found myself back in that place, the one I’d been in while in the NICU…breath-holding every time he had to get on the scale or be measured. Failure to thrive, malnourishment (oh yeah, that one really pissed me off at the same time it nearly broke me), constitutional delay….all those words were thrown at him. Few asked what dad had weighed at the same age. And every time, I felt like a failure. I hated to see the look on his face when there were no gains, or the gain was too little, when he hadn’t grown since the last visit three months previous.

He has a weight-check appointment today.  I know he’s grown, thank God. But has he gained any weight? We’ll find out in a few hours. I’ll be holding my breath, and my heart will get that little hitch. Even knowing how much and what he eats every day, I wonder if it’s enough to make a difference, to make it so I don’t have to hear those words from the doctor, see that same number on the scale.

Send some heavy thoughts this way. And weight for it.