Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My little boy is not so little anymore

I sat across from Nolan this evening in the dark bathroom, on his second trip to the potty since attempting bedtime an hour previously. I sat on the edge of the tub while he chattered about random things and did nothing resembling actual potty business.

They tell you that time flies, but there is just no way to understand that until you are sitting there, on a cold and somewhat damp tub ledge, watching your firstborn discuss the finer points of playtime etiquette, on the eve of his third birthday.

It could be because so much has happened in the three years since he was born that it seemed to go by incredibly fast, but I know that's not it. It's just the way it goes, for all moms. You blink, and that tiny baby you held in your arms, so new and fascinating, so small and sweet, is a kid. And I know I will blink again and he will be a teenager. And then another blink, and he will be gone. Moved out, moved on, and not needing mommy anymore.

Being a mommy has been more challenging, more frustrating, more of a struggle and more exhausting than I could ever have imagined. Back when I was struggling to conceive a child and wanted the title of mommy more than anything in the world, I would never have believed the day would come when I would just want to not hear the word mommy for a little while. I could not have guessed how downright draining it would be.

I also could not have guessed that I would be sitting on the tub, feeling a strange awe that this little person I made, gave birth to, and went through so much with has actually been here for three whole years. And in that time, has morphed into a little boy with thoughts, opinions and the ability to express them. A little boy who gets up repeatedly and rather annoyingly to pretend to go potty after he is supposed to be sleeping, and thinks it's quite funny.

Time flies. Babies grow. People change.

My son is three tomorrow. Three. Behind him, Aaron is sneaking up on two. I won't have any more babies. This is it. Babies are behind me. How can something I dreamed of and fought for so long and hard be in my past now? And when I think of what is in my future, I feel overwhelmed by the knowledge that I have only a few short years to turn boys into men.

And only a few short years to be mommy before I am mom.

I sat on the edge of that tub, and then I tucked him back into his bed. And I gave him every extra hug and kiss, every "one more song" and sat with him for a while longer than usual before I left his room. I closed the door with the odd feeling that I would re-open it in the morning to find a big kid on the other side, and no longer my sweet little Nolan. I am just not ready for that.

Happy Birthday to my Nolan, my first baby, and the first to grow up before my eyes. You drive me nuts. You completely exhaust me. You make me wonder if I am cut out for this mommy gig. And I am so grateful for all of it.

I love you little boy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It isn't easy, folks.

There seems to be a general belief that working from home is easy. When people hear what I do from home, I get the impression they somehow think it's a great gig. I get to work at home, be with my kids, and save on childcare costs all at the same time. I admit, I once thought working from home part time sounded easy as pie too.

Here's a little reality check. It is HARD. I have deadlines. I have clients who expect quick replies, I have work that has to be done, just like everyone who goes to an office. It's not optional. I can't just put it off because the kids are sick or I am tired or I just don't feel like it. It's my job. Only I do it WHILE doing my other, full time job, which is raising two boys full time.

I work 24/7. That is the case with all working moms, whether at home or at the office. But because I am taking care of my kids all day, I can really only get my work done when they sleep. Which means a day looks like this:

6-6:30 am, kids wake me up
7-8 am, provide breakfast, check client emails while kids eat
8-12, take care of kids, entertain kids, feed kids snacks and lunch, attempt to fit in what little work I can while they are playing
12-2:30, kids nap. Shove food down throat while working the entire space of the nap.
2:30-7, amuse kids, prepare a meal, feed kids, bathe kids, put kids to bed
7-8, continue to put kids to bed, clean house
8-11, work
2-2:30am, convince Nolan that it is not morning, and no he can not go in the living room
2:30-6am, sleep

Start over. Oh, and attempt to spend some time with my husband too, somewhere in there.

I am never off duty. I do not sit down at the end of my day and relax. There is no lunch break, no coffee break, no break. Yes, some days are better than others, depending on my work load and deadlines. No, I would not trade the time with my kids for anything in the world. It is my choice, it is my life, and it is damn hard some days. It's worth it, in the end. But is it easy? No.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Cutest Baby

I am not going to vote for your baby in the cutest baby contest. I don't care what you could win. It's not that I don't think your baby is cute. It's not that I don't want you to win fabulous prizes. It's not that I have a problem with you thinking your kid is the cutest on the planet.

It's that I am the mother of a child who was born with a serious facial deformity; a complete bilateral cleft lip and palate, and cutest baby contests make me cringe.

If you have never walked through a store and seen people trying not to stare at your baby, whispering as you walk away, or even flat out asking what is wrong with him, then you can't imagine how painful the concept of a cutest baby contest can be. You can't imagine knowing that even if you did enter, no one would vote for your baby, except maybe your friends and family out of pity, or to prove they think your baby is cute.

Everyone loves to tell me how they always thought Nolan was cute, but I am not stupid. I am a realist. I know he had a deformity that wasn't cute in anyway. I know that even though it is repaired he will never look 100% normal. I know that it will follow him for the rest of his life.

I appreciate you all saying how cute you thought he was as a baby. I know that you all saw him through the eyes of love, just as I did, and that his cleft never mattered to any of you. It's not that I don't believe you, it's that I know your opinion was tempered by the fact that you care about me and my son.

Now, I have a second son. He is as cute as they come. Aaron has huge blue eyes, full lips, round little cheeks with a dimple in one when he smiles. He is adorable. I have been told he could be on the cover of a baby magazine. Recently, I saw the ads in Parents for their cover model search, and thought, I bet my Aaron would have a chance. But I won't enter him, just as I will never enter him in any contest that is all about looks.

You see, I believe both of my sons are beautiful, adorable, and worthy of the cover of a magazine. But I know that the rest of the world wouldn't see it that way. And to consider that one child is more important or special than the other because of his looks is abhorrent to me. The idea of babies competing based on looks is saddening to me. The very reminder that my sons' looks will affect the way the world treats them and thus their happiness in life is heartbreaking to me.

I know we live in a world where looks matter. There is no point in pretending it isn't so. I know that every time I put on make up or clothes to improve how I look I am a part of it as much as everyone else. And I am not pretending for a second that I have never judged anyone for how they look. We all do it, and anyone who says they don't is flat out lying.

But babies. Children. Their beauty isn't in their big eyes or their kissable cheeks or their soft as silk hair. Their beauty is in their spirit. And maybe we could wait just a little longer before we start beating that spirit down with the realities of our harshly judgmental society where appearance is everything, and what is within falls second.

Maybe we could wait a little longer to teach them that how they look is so important, we need to have a competition over it.

Do as you will with your own children. I wish you luck, and I hope you win something - prizes, bragging rights, whatever. But I am sorry, I am just not going to vote. Because my vote is for every baby, and my heart is with every mother who has cried for her child's pain, suffering, and the differences that will never be accepted by society, no matter how much we pretend we're better than that. We're not.