Kentucky Mom to Twins and More

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mine to Protect: How I didn't let a coach bully my son

It took 27 years but it finally happened. All the anger, the rage, the sadness and hurt I had repressed from a time long ago came flooding back after an incident at my son's basketball game the other night. In a matter of moments, I had truly lost it.
A boy I'll always protect.
....I lost it because I thought my son was being bullied. My innocent, sweet, unbroken boy was the target of unwarranted meanness - by an adult no less - and there was no way I was going to let that slide. 
I realized the other night there is no age limit on who can be a "bully."

Saturday, February 18, 2017

To the boy who taught me true love and heartache...

"I close my eyes and can envision your baby pictures disappearing from the bookshelves, that copy of "On the Night You Were Born" will no doubt be shoved in a closet or box never to be read again."

Please read the rest of my post published here at Cincinnati Moms Blog

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Seven years of twins

Girls freak me out. They scare me. They make me nervous. I've never been really comfortable around girls even though I grew up with three sisters. Let's be honest - they are drama. They are whiny. They are sensitive (a quality I feel I was born without). That's why I was scared as hell seven years ago, when I was staring at the OR ceiling of the hospital, open legged and about to give birth to TWO girls.
I was the mother of a 2-year-old boy then and all I wanted was another boy. I wanted my son to have a playmate.
God thought he needed more. That, or he thought I needed more stretch marks.

I remember my heart racing as I pushed Mia out first, at 1:03 p.m. She screamed hard and her scrinchy face reminded me of someone I knew. She was the spitting image of her brother. I was in love.
Quicker than 13 minutes should feel, I was pushing out a second little 5-lb baby, another amazing little face that made me wonder how I ever lived without her.
I could tell that day would change us, and it did. From that day on, we were hooked. Especially their daddy. Those girls could ask their daddy for anything and he would cave. I am anticipating matching ferraris for their 16th birthdays - I'm telling you he won't be able to say no.

Mia was grouchier those first few weeks and months and Tèa was a dream baby who never fussed. Mia cried like a teenager with heartbreak. Tèa laughed and giggled with bananas stuck to her face 90 percent of the day.
Mia learned to walk first, ripping ornaments off the Christmas tree at 10 months and running like hell. Tèa was happy to crawl after the dog and have staring contests with her brother. Mia spent the first year of her life trying to bite her sister's arm off. Tèa would poop at every inopportune time or place, usually when I was out somewhere without a diaper or wipes. We had to warn anyone attempting to give her a bath -- she'd drop one in there every time.
Love at first sight

With each birthday, I look at their baby books and wonder where the time is going. The hours lag, it seems but the years fly. They are two completely different personalities, not one thing is the same except for their brown eyes.
Every year they grow to like each other more and I hear them tell each other they are "BFFs."
People always say, "I bet having twins is so fun."
Yes, I suppose constant noise, a saggy belly and tired boobs could be fun...
It's more work, mess and exhaustion.
They say if you can get through the first year with twins you'll be ok. Well we made it to seven today. Those little faces I was so scared of seven years ago are the same beautiful faces that scare the hell out of me today.
They are drama, they are whiny and somedays they drive me and each other nuts -- but they are the best two girls that have ever walked into my life. Happy Birthday sweet girls!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A tragedy we should never forget

Every year for the past four years on Dec. 14, I have said a prayer for the parents of 20 children I don't know and have never met. I vowed for the rest of my life on Dec. 14, that I will always pray for them on that day.

Four years ago today mothers just like me - fathers just like my husband - sent their kids off to school without a second thought, maybe even without a kiss or a hug. Those parents never realized what terror awaited them that day and how their children would be taken from them in such a monstrous, horrific way. The parents of children shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary never saw it coming.

Sandy Hook victim, via People Magazine
Four years ago my oldest son was the same age as the children they lost that day. My twins are 6 now, the same age as those children lost that day. My husband and I sent our son off to kindergarten that day and went Christmas shopping for our kids. We had their little homemade Christmas wishlists to Santa in hand, imagining the happiness on their faces come Christmas morning, when they unwrapped new bikes, dolls and Spiderman toys. Those parents had that happiness ripped out from under them and their Christmas memories would forever be nightmares of this tragedy instead.

Seeing the news of that day and what evil existed in the world to enable a massacre of 20 innocent children and several teachers made me so sick to my stomach and caused a pain in my heart that was indescribable. The scary part was the realization that if it could happen at all, it could have happened here, to my children, in my corner of the world. I kept thinking how they had to explain, probably to other children or siblings, about what happened. I couldn't imagine the gut wrenching task of telling my children about the horrors that took place inside that school. I couldn't wrap my head around the pain of losing a child that young, and actually having to live with that pain every day after. Every year I wonder how they can carry on and get through another Dec. 14.

Tragedies come and go. Life goes on and people tend to forget. We sometimes forget about horrific events we read about in the paper or online. We live with our blinders on. We do the stuff that gets us through another day. Sometimes I forget or am too hurried to give my children hugs and kisses in the shuffle and chaos of our morning routine. I don't laugh when they laugh, because I'm too "busy" folding laundry. I don't giggle when they put bubbles on their face in the bathtub because I'm preoccupied with wiping bathwater from the floor. I get aggravated and annoyed at some of the things my kids do. I spank and yell at them too much.

But every Dec. 14, I think of those parents whose children aren't there for them to kiss and hug, to laugh with, and even to aggravate or annoy them. Every Dec. 14 I look at my son and realize those parents never got to see their child at this age. I feel so much sadness in that thought. I pray not just for peace and comfort for them and their families, but for all parents, that we don't lose sight of our own miracles - the simple gift of being able to have, to see, to hug and love our children every day.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The quest to spread f*ing Christmas Cheer

I got a gold star today.
The thing is, I'm miserable about it because I absolutely didn't deserve it.

Today was not a banner day for this mom. I made the 'Mommy Dearest' lady look like Florence Henderson. I scolded. I swore. I spanked. I time-outed. I told my kids they were terrible and that they didn't appreciate anything and didn't deserve anything. Ouch, I know.

The kids had off school today, and we know that every normal mother just takes their kids ice skating or does a fun holiday craft, right? Well, I'm not a normal mother, sadly. Nope, I had promised myself I was going to take my kids out into the world to do good today. We were going to spread some Christmas Cheer to somebody whether or not it killed us. I was determined to make people happy today. Ha! I'm one of those great moms teaching my kids about what the holidays are all about!

Yeah, no, I'm not.

The tension began in the morning when my 4-year-old didn't want to wear a coat... and it's 25 degrees out. I spanked her for not getting her coat and shoes on and not getting in the car when she was told. Meantime, the other kids were whining about having to get in a cold car, mumbling about why they have to go anywhere and why they can't just stay in jammies and play iPads. The yelling continued down the driveway as I told them we were going to surprise some unsuspecting people today with Christmas Cheer, so put on a happy face! I didn't really have a plan, but I couldn't tell that to four cranky kids at 9 a.m. on their day off from school.

My good intentions led me to Dunkin Donuts, where of course, munchkins are born -- and what poor stranger could refuse delicious, free munchkins from a cheery mother and her ever-so-chipper children? Well, I guess ALL the strangers, because the f-ing registers were down, so I left Dunkin (for the first time in my life mind you) empty handed. But hey, no computer glitch can squash my Christmas spirit! I headed to Panera on my quest to do good, all the while yelling at the children to behave, don't move, stay here, don't touch, get out of people's way!
We left with as many hot coffees as I could hold and a dozen bagels... and a mocha latte for me that fell on my lap two seconds after I got the kids, bagels and myself into the car. Now I'm cursing at myself, and this pea coat I have to wash, and I don't know how to wash shit so that's going to suck. Do pea coats even go in the wash? I don't know, I'll worry later because I have Christmas Cheer to spread.

My plan was to drive to a place where they take donations for less fortunate because I see old men with all their belongings sitting on those street benches. Maybe they'd like to have a hot coffee? But I get lost navigating one-way streets and couldn't find it. I get frustrated when one of the twins says she thinks we're driving in circles. The other one asks if they can be done yet with Christmas Cheer. I find myself back on the interstate going the wrong way, yelling at the kids in the rear view mirror that they need to shut up while I'm driving or we're going to end up in Columbus if I can't turn around.

Ok, yep, now we're downtown. The kids are unbuckled and tattling about who is touching who and one of the twins is laying across the back trying to kick her brother in the face. I scream for them to shut up and just look for somebody with a cardboard sign. Please, for the love of God, homeless people, show yourselves! I try to tell the kids, 'look how cold it is outside!' and 'aren't you glad you have a house, and heat and clothes and food to eat?' I tell them how terrible it would be to not have a family or a job to keep you busy all day. Brayden tells me he likes the sound of that. At this point, at least four of the Christmas Cheer bagels have been eaten. I couldn't find a homeless person right now if my life depended on it -- and it does because if anyone has driven with a distracted me, they know that a seatbelt and a prayer are their only bets for living right now.

We spend what feels like a Minnesota winter driving around downtown. Payton has no coat, socks or shoes on and is crying I think because Brayden breathed on her. I see a homeless person, I think, because he's wearing a puffy, navy coat and has a backpack. Please, God don't just be a Proctor & Gamble associate out here on a coffee break. No, he's clearly peeing on a concrete barrier - yes! He's homeless! I circle the block (for the fifth time) so he can zip up. The kids want to know if they can get out too, and give our guy some Christmas Cheer. Hell no, I tell them, 'are you crazy, it's freezing and dangerous in the city!' I park near the corner, grab my bag of bagels and a coffee and lock the kids in the car. I approach him like I've just arrived with a Publishers Clearing House check and this shit's going to change his world. After I gave him a couple bagels and a coffee, he mumbled a thank you and went on his way.

This cheer crap is hard, I think. The kids feel the same. They have now officially lost it in the backseat and everyone wants out. As if the last 25 minutes in the Sienna has been like Shawshank Redemption for them. I can't get anyone to listen to me or stop whining or complaining and so I start telling them about how happy I would've been to go on a ride when I was little, how excited I was to NOT be in school, on this 'adventure!' They better be good, or I'm taking away Christmas presents, I yell at them. I've taken away their dessert tonight, too. I decide to leave the rest of the bagels and Christmas Cheer at a Covington park where three men are smoking. They may as well have been city workers on their break, but they were happy to get a few cold bagels and a tired smile.

After more yelling and breaking up sibling fights by noon, I have become a volcano on the verge of erupting. I am screaming about how they should be good and loving to each other and if it were up to me, they wouldn't get any presents for Christmas! And I was thinking of getting you all a puppy! Ha! Take that ungrateful children!

It wasn't until after the kids were in bed tonight that I emerged from the exercise bike in the basement (ok yet another fail, as I was just SITTING on the bike watching Tootsie on TMC --sue me!) that I found the note. It was a small, gold paper near my toothbrush, on which Mia had drawn a star, 'to Mom.'
The tears came at my realization of how badly I failed today. Lord, I failed my kids, I failed Christmas Cheer, I failed at everything this season is supposed to be about. That love, the giving, the patience and goodwill - all that starts with ME, in my heart, in my home. I spent the day trying to cram it down everyone's throat but didn't realize I was the one who needed it! Who the hell am I to try and spread that crap when I can't even hand it to my own children? I wished right then that she was awake so I could tell her, tell all of them, that mommy was so sorry. I'm sorry I failed you today - and that yes, I should have just taken you all ice skating.

But Mia got it. She was so right -- it's about the star. Our love, our purpose and redemption here is in the hope of a star, the shining star and light of Christmas! It can only be shared and spread when we realize it in us. Without a light within us, how can we have life? Thank you Mia, my sweet girl, for showing your momma at the end of a miserable day that it's all about that star. THE star. He will bring us goodness and light!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Anniversary reflections: It was never about the dress

Well, we've hit mile marker 14. It's been a hell of a trip, I'm not going to lie.
Matthew and I said "I do" on a cold South Bend Saturday in October, 2002. We had known each other five years, which seemed like forever. But thinking back, we really, truly didn't KNOW each other quite yet. All the real KNOWING came in those years following.
All I knew that day was this: I was marrying a handsome, smart guy that I was head over heels for  and I had on a killer dress.
I had the 'something old, new, borrowed and blue...' but nobody hit me with the real TRUTHS of marriage.
Ok, 14 years is nothing spectacular but it's enough time to have realized someone should have told me it's not about the poofy dress, it's not about that botched bouquet that came from the florist that made me want to cry. It wasn't about the songs they played at the reception or the pictures that had to be taken at every angle, and it certainly wasn't about that obnoxious four-tier, Italian wedding cake we served that cost almost as much as a Catholic school tuition for a year.

It was never about the dress
Nope, I know now more than ever, that a marriage means infinitely more  that true tears and love would come well after that day.

Marriage means staying when it seems there is no hope for reconciliation – when leaving would be the 'easier' option. It means forgiveness in the face of dishonesty and heartbreak.
It means having the dignity to show respect when the other has disrespected you.
It means empathy where there were devastating losses and words of love where your partner is disheartened and doubtful of the future.
It means several different marriage counselors over the course of 14 years trying to get that communication thing right.
It means apologizing when you are wrong (luckily my husband knows I'm never wrong).
It means laughter when you are completely out of other emotions  like when you're a new mother so engorged with breastmilk and your baby won't latch and the pump won't work and you beg husband to intervene (don't ask).
It's believing in your partner when he/she doesn't.
The cake was good but didn't last
It means having love for your partner in the face of weight gain or weight loss (ok, we all know the latter wasn't on my end).
It's about mustering up enough energy to love and care for four children, getting through one more page of impossible homework, or wiping one more poopy butt and still having enough in you to get through bathtime and teethbrushing. It's about having patience with each other during middle-of-the-night feedings with cranky newborns or months-long 2 a.m. nightmares when someone has seen too many Scooby Doos.

It's about resisting the urge to pretend you don't know your partner when she cheers at the soccer games.

It's about coping with and encouraging an anxious child, who you believe is the epitome of brilliance, but he doubts his abilities.
It's about sharing complete devastation and being a comfort when that cancer phone call comes.
It means caretaking and kindness  characteristics that you may think you lack – when dealing with your partner's sickness and despair.
It's about holding it together when feeding tubes and medicines make you want to cry. It's about knowing that the same healthy, beautiful and funloving person you fell in love with all those years ago is still inside of the person who stands in front of you today. It's feeling a love much stronger now than the butterflies you felt on your first date and deeper than the passion you felt on your wedding night (or maybe not because you might have drank too much to realize it, but who's counting amaretto sours here anyway?)
It's the joy in knowing you can't love anybody or anything more  until you look into the eyes of a child you created together.
It's knowing that those vows you took are truly what you are living today  despite all the bumps and detours and minor crashes along the way  that you both are in this trip together, in sickness and in health, good times and bad, all the days of your life.
That is what I know about marriage, and it is the only thing that matters.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The night before fourth grade

You're going to fourth grade in the morning.

I'm trying to hold back some serious emotion because it's going too fast. I know things are going to change this year and I'm freaking out. I remember fourth grade and it's when I started going boy crazy. It's when I got into mischief with teachers (is stealing donuts from the teachers' lounge really mischief though? Seriously, who can resist sprinkled donuts?). Fourth grade was quite possibly the year I did something so stupid that the principal suspended me for a day (or was that fifth grade?)

Tonight I gave you hugs before bed and you smiled. Your big, brown eyes so telling of your beautiful innocence. My heart aches thinking of the time someday soon when you'll be big and those smiles will be replaced by teenage angst or grumbles of, "mom, get out of my room."
There is still a stuffed penguin next to your pillow. Mac and cheese is your favorite meal. You just figured out how to do the Rubix cube and you think that it's the coolest thing in the world.
You still believe in Santa.

videoYou told me tonight you wanted to be an athlete when you grow up. I love that it's a possibility too, because you are good at all the sports you play. I knew it the minute you scored every goal in your first soccer game at age 4. I knew it when you could freakishly make baskets at age 3 in the driveway on the Fisher Price hoop. I know you see me cheer hard at your games (ok let's just admit, I'm downright inappropriate and loud) and it can be embarrassing for you, but I hope you know it's because I'm so incredibly proud to be your mom. I can't believe such a talented, smart, sweet and good looking kid is mine.

I know you'll be great. You seem sweeter than me, smarter than me for sure (I used to just peel the stickers off a Rubix). Your teachers rave about you -- whereas my fourth grade teacher held my report card for my mom to pick up (thanks Mrs. B!)

So my dear firstborn, I pray tonight you stay sweet, that you keep being the same goofy boy that makes people laugh, but that you'll know when to use manners and behave. I pray that you keep working hard to be as smart and continue to challenge yourself and that you do your best in whatever sport you try. Be good and loving and accepting to people, more so than me or your daddy - we didn't have it nearly as complicated back in 1985.

I can't wait to see what you'll be someday. I can hardly wait, but then again, seeing your sweet face tonight makes me wish for it to take a lifetime.
videoEnjoy fourth grade son -- steer clear of the donuts though, got it?