Lost

I thought we lost Ethan once. When he was almost two. He was there and then he wasn’t. And as horrible, as heart wrenching, as sick as that feeling makes me feel, I still feel it every single time I think about it.

We were at a family get together at a restaurant. My brother had been working in Hawaii for months – almost a year I think – and he it was for his homecoming. I was 7 months pregnant with the twins, and Ethan was 19 months.

My sister Angie, 8 months pregnant. And me, 7 months pregnant with the twins.

My sister Angie, 8 months pregnant. And me, 7 months pregnant with the twins.

All four of my siblings were there with their children, as well as my parents and a scattering of friends. It was a big group. Since the weather was nice, we chose to sit outside on the patio.

We ate. We laughed. We had fun. The kids ran around. We took lots of pictures. It was a really nice evening.

lost

Ethan, 19 months. Before he disappeared.

And one second, Ethan’s over against the railing playing with his cousin. The next second, he is gone.

Totally and completely gone. Disappeared.

I asked Jason if he’d seen him. No but he was just here, he said. WHERE IS ETHAN?, I shouted to everybody. Nobody had seen him.

Jason and my brothers and brothers-in-law all scattered, running through the restaurant and into the bar. Asking people having dinner and the waiters and waitresses if they’d seen a little boy in a blue shirt walk by. None of them had.

At the time, I was 7 months pregnant with the twins and supposed to be on bed rest. Doctor’s orders said no strenuous activity, and to stay off my feet as much as possible. It didn’t matter – I didn’t even think about it. I ran directly into the parking lot.

I remember how the parking lot seemed to endlessly stretch into the horizon in all directions. How empty it seemed, though it must have been packed. No cars driving in or out of it. I remember raising up my face to the sun and thinking, “So this is what it feels like to have a child disappear” as the sun warmed my skin and my tears. I remember running to our car, wondering if he had wandered to it looking for us. Had someone opened the gate between the patio and the parking lot and unknowingly had a toddler follow them out?

I remember my belly feeling so heavy, and how I almost just sunk to my knees. I could hear people yelling “Ethan!” still.

And I remember wondering how I could go on to bring home two new babies when Ethan was gone.

I remember.

Then I heard Jason yell “Babe, he’s here!”

This all happened within just a few minutes, maybe five at the most, but I remember it feeling like a lifetime. And I had never felt so empty or guilty.

Turns out my dad got up to use the restroom, and Ethan had followed him into the restaurant, so my dad took him into the restroom with him.

I never, EVER want to know that feeling again. EVER. It is an indescribable feeling that makes me nauseous to remember.

Have you ever lost your child? Isn’t it a horrible feeling that no words can describe?

Mama’s Losin’ It I wrote this post for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop for Prompt #2: Write a post inspired by the word: lost.

Real Moms: You Can’t Be Perfect Everyday, But You ARE A Good Mom

Last year while I was writing at Chiquita Moms, I wrote about how some days I feel like a bad mom. It came about after I wrote here titled I AM SO TIRED OF YELLING, which of course led to my post about how to stop yelling at your kids. It resonated with a lot of moms out there, and I was glad to have shared it because clearly their are other moms out there that are in the same boat and feeling the same things. I was embarrassed to admit that I yell too much and that I feel like a bad mom a lot of days. But real moms also like to share with other moms about how they are feeling…it makes us feel a little better to know that sometimes those bad feelings about motherhood are actually normal feelings.

Real moms can admit that they feel like bad moms sometimes. This will help you remember that you are NOT a bad mom - you are a good mom having a bad day.

Photo Source: martinak15 via flickr

I know there are some other real moms out there that are having a crappy parenting day or week or month. Maybe something is happening in their life outside of being a mom that is making them feel like a bad mom. Well, I’m here to tell you this because you need to hear it: You are NOT a bad mom.

In my own heart and head, I know I’m not really a “bad mom”, but sometimes I feel like I am. I yell too much. I’m tired and my already short fuse is made even shorter. I don’t pay attention 24/7. My focus isn’t all.about.my.kids.all.the.time. Sometimes I give in and let them do whatever so that I can have a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Don’t freak out, but I’m going to admit what every mom has felt at least one time (I’ll also admit I’ve felt this way more than once): some days I don’t like being a mom. And just about every day they cry and I wonder: What am I doing wrong? Why can’t they just be good? Those feelings really have nothing to do with my kids or how much I love them. It’s just the stress and tiredness catching up with me; the daydreams about sitting on a beach enjoying the sun while sipping on a cocktail and reading a book. It’s about feeling like a failure because the kids don’t do what I tell them to do.

Real moms can admit that they feel like bad moms sometimes. This will help you remember that you are NOT a bad mom - you are a good mom having a bad day.

Being a mom is not an easy job – and we learn something about it and about ourselves every day. Some days we like the mom we see when we look in the mirror, other days we do not. That’s normal, too.

So To All of You Real Moms Out There…

What I’m trying to say is this: if you are a mom who happens to be having a bad day, or feeling lately like you are the worst mom in the world, give yourself some credit for what a fantastic you are doing overall. This mom gig is a hard job, and you are doing a great job. The bad things you are feeling or thinking today are totally normal…and if you read those posts I linked to on my own blog, you’ll see 50+ other moms who are all saying “I can relate” and “I feel the same way”. Feeling or thinking negatively sometimes doesn’t make you a bad mom…nobody likes their job all of the time. Some days it’s harder than others. This is all totally normal. You have beautiful children who think you are the best mom in the world – who wouldn’t trade you for anything because you are their everything (even if they say different!). When you start to feel like you’re a bad mom, it’s time to take 5 minutes just for you…have a cup of tea or sneak a treat just for yourself. Watch some junk television or read for a bit. Because YOU DESERVE IT. And also because you NEED it. Do you ever feel like a bad mom?

How do you pick yourself up when you feel this way?

Mia’s Sixteen Cents: The Parenting Lesson My Daughter Taught Me

parenting-lesson

Over the weekend, I had to do the family grocery shopping for the upcoming week. Since Jason was home, I was looking forward to leaving the kids with him and grocery shopping by myself. But at the last minute, Mia decided she wanted to go with me. Flustered – although admittedly I could have said no – I told her to hurry up and put on her shoes and that I wasn’t going to buy her anything. What I didn’t know this weekend was that Mia was going to give me a parenting lesson I won’t soon forget.

When we got to the store I got ready to get out of the car, but Mia was going through my console looking for some change that she had put in there earlier. Angry, I told her to hurry up; that I didn’t have time for her to be looking for a couple of pennies.

She showed me the change – sixteen cents to be exact – and I told her that she could take it in but it wasn’t enough money to buy anything AND I reminded her again I wasn’t buying her anything anyways. She said okay. I told her that if she dropped any of it, that I wouldn’t pick it up because she should just be leaving it in the car since she wasn’t getting anything.

In short, I was being a total bitch.

parenting-lesson

We did our shopping, and she must have been holding on to that sixteen cents very tightly. She didn’t drop it. When we got to the check out counter, I busied myself getting everything out of the cart, making small talk with the checker, and fumbling to find my debit card to pay. I hear Mia saying “Mommy! Move the cart there” but I ignored her, too busy to see what she wanted.

I paid, they finished loading up the cart, and I started to push the cart away from the checkout stand when Mia said “Wait Mommy! I want to put my money in there!” I had forgotten about her change, and irritatingly asked where she wanted to put it.

“Right there!” she said, pointing to the clear plastic donation box that was sitting on the checkout stand.

Every time we go through the line at the grocery store, the kids ask what the box is for. I tell them it’s for little kids whose parents don’t have enough money to buy them food. If they find change left in the little change dispenser that sits next to it, they always put it in there.

The Parenting Lesson Mia Taught Me

parenting-lesson

My sweet Mia, who had to deal with me being such a jerk about her sixteen cents, had planned to put her money in that box before we even got out of the car. She wanted to give, to help someone who needed the money more than she did. She wanted to do exactly what I’ve been teaching my children to do…to do what we can to help others.

I backed up the cart so that she could lean over and put her sixteen cents in the donation box. The smile on her face brought tears to my eyes..tears like the ones I have in my eyes as I write this.

Mia reminded me to slow down, to be more present and enjoy the little things. She taught me to pay more attention, to see her as a young person instead of just as a child. She taught me that she does hear and hold on to what I tell her and what she sees me doing…the good (and I’m sure the bad).

She taught me that we can and will learn from each other. I guess parenting lessons can be learned from our kids too! She also showed me what an amazing person she is becoming.

The mommy guilt hit hard this weekend, but my heart also burst with pride for her. Hug your kids today – you might not always know it or get to see it, but they are doing amazing things everyday. Things that they are learning from you.

I Don’t Do Blood

As a mom, there are a lot of things that you normally wouldn’t touch, but do so without thought. I’ve picked boogers picked out of tiny nose holes. I’ve gotten poop on my hands while changing diapers or wiping butts and washed it off without a second thought. Vomit in the middle of the night is a nightmare to deal with, but I do it…and with sick season coming, I’m sure it won’t be too long before I have to do it again.

And when the kids fall and skin knees or cut open fingers, I wipe away blood and quickly put a band-aid on it. This is something I would prefer never to have to do. Because I don’t do blood.

no-blood

I remember one time my brother fell off his bike and busted open his chin. He was just a kid, I must have been in ninth or tenth grade. Anyways, the neighbor ran out to help, and gave him a big old wad of cotton to stop the bleeding. I called my mom, who came home from work, and together we took him to the doctor.

When the doctor came in the room, he pulled the cotton away from my brother’s chin and I saw this big, gaping wound (okay, probably wasn’t that bad) and I stood up, said “I have to go”, opened the door and promptly passed out. That was when my hate/hate relationship with blood began.

Funny Side Note: I passed out, and was mortified to come to with the doctor holding my legs straight up…my unshaven legs. I was more embarrassed that he was touching my unshaven legs than I was that I had passed out. High school girls, right?

Since then, I get woozy at the thought of blood. If I cut myself shaving, I’m lucky if I can get rid of the blood before I start feeling hot and clammy and hear ringing in my ears.

When Mia was jumping on the bed and hit her head on the headboard, requiring a trip to the emergency room, Jason was home and took care of the blood.

But on Sunday, Jason was at work. I was upstairs and the kids were running around downstairs. Right about the time I was getting ready to yell at them to take it outside, I heard a thump and a scream. I thought the girls slammed Ethan’s finger in a door. He ran upstairs, and was covered in blood.

Downstairs he had been running, and turned around to see how far behind his sisters were. When he turned back around, he slammed his forehead straight into a light switch, and gouged his head open.

It looked bad. Really bad.

first-stitches 10.27.13

I went into mom mode, cleaned off all the blood, and got him into the car to head to urgent care. I was feeling a bit queasy, but was more worried about him at the time.

Once we arrived at urgent care, the doctor looked at it and said he needed stitches. I’m still doing ok – more concerned about how scared Ethan is. But once the doctor started in on the stitches? I had come to the end of my rope.

I got hot, but clammy at the same time. I started hearing a weird sound in my ears. If I didn’t sit down, I was going to pass out. I whispered to the nurse I had to sit down. I must have looked pale because she agreed with me. I kept talking to Ethan, with my head between my knees.

5 stitches later, and he is excited now to have a cool addition to add to his Army Ranger Halloween look. A battle wound.

first-stitches 2 10.27.13

Anybody else hate blood like I do?

I Can’t Find The Words…

Words to memorize, words hypnotize
Words make my mouth exercise
-the Violent Femmes

I love words. I love to read them and to write them. Jason will also tell you I like to speak them (I’m a talker!) I’m constantly starting stories in my head; some stay there, while others become a blog post or maybe a piece of fiction. Words are important to me, and putting words down on paper has become not just a hobby for me, but a lifeline.

The girls’ preschool is doing a really cool thing this year. Once a month, they send home a piece of paper that you are to fill out to express how you feel about your child. For example, last month, the paper was in the shape of an apple and the prompt was: Lila is the apple of my eye because… So at the end of the year, they will each have a book full of special love notes.

Now as someone who loves to write, this should be easy for me. I should be able to tell my girls – with words – how much they mean to me. What I love about them. What I want them to know about how I love them.

And yet, the words fail me.

I sat, looking at those two apples (one for Lila and one for Mia) for about 15 minutes before I attempted to write. This is after I had thought about what I wanted to say for (literally) days.

I was afraid the words would sound generic. I love Lila because she is such a sweetheart. That doesn’t explain why I love her – it sounds like something any mom in anywhere USA could write about any kid they know. It made me sad to think that I can’t even pen to my children how much they mean to me.

Is it because I simply can’t express it because it’s so deep and so special? Is it because I don’t know how to express it?

I told my mom I was also worried that in the years to come the girls would compare what I wrote, and think “Well, mom loved Lila (or vice versa) more because she wrote more words (or they were more thoughtful or more well written.)” Silly, I know, but it is what it is.

Why is it that I can’t find the words to express how much I love them? Do any of you writers out there have the same problem?