Candy Land

 

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Lately my five year old daughter has not been very nice. She’s been demanding and bossy and outright mean. Mean to the cat she usually adores. Mean to the mommy she usually adores. Her sentences begin with shouted phrases like “I TOLD YOU etc” and “DIDN”T I JUST SAY etc…”

Yelling back at her made it worse and a time-out without her really understanding ‘why’ made no sense to me. So I sat down next to her today while she was in mid-yell and took her hands (her clenched fists, actually) and started to talk.

“What’s going on?! Why are you acting like this? What are you so angry about?”

All the answers were a version of “I don’t know” but the fists began to unclench and the eyes actually closed for a little while as she sat in my lap. I had no idea what I was doing. Whether my method was right or wrong. But it felt right for me and her at that moment.

A few hours later she brought me her new Candyland game. We hadn’t played it yet because, honestly, I’ve just been too tired. And a little afraid of being yelled at like she’s been doing lately. She stood in front of me with the still shrink-wrapped box and just looked at me.

“Do you want to play?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“I have to teach you the rules. Will you be a good listener?

“Yes, I will Mommy.”

So we clear off the kitchen table and begin. And it went extremely well. We gave our gingerbread men game pieces voices and made very dramatic faces as we drew the face down cards from the pile. We laughed until a few happy tears squeaked out of our eyes. And then she said this:

“It’s okay to cry when you’re laughing!”

And there you go. She did it again. She summed it all up in one simple sentence.

It’s okay to cry when you’re laughing. It’s okay to be angry and sad when everything is really okay. It’s okay. It’s okay for me to have no idea what I’m doing while doing it just fine. It’s okay for me to not like her for a few minutes. This child I screamed to God for. It’s okay for me to wonder if Noah would’ve have been much different. Or easier. Or harder. Or the same. It’s okay.

She won the first round of Candyland. It’s a quick game as you know. I high-fived her and said, “Let’s play again!” She was doing so well. As we approached the end of the second round, she was about to win again. She was few colored squares away. And then she moved her piece backwards.

“Miriam, you’re going backwards! You just won again. Go forward to that green square”

“No Mommy. I want you to win this time. Go ahead. You go.”

And I won the second game, not so fair and square. She high-fived me. We played some more, changing the rules a little with every round.

But today I think I’ve already won every round I’ll ever play.

My Mug Runneth Over…

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I’ve written about this mug before. It was the mug at work that I’d never drink from. I’d never choose it from mix ‘n matched mugs in the break room at work. I wouldn’t drink from this mug until I was able to get pregnant and Miriam was born. Until she was real. And here. And healthy. And safe. I had “mug goals” and nothing was stopping me.

Well, today the handle on this mug got broken. Not by me and not by my boss who was drinking his tea from it. It just got knocked over in the course of the day. It just happened. No big deal. But this broken mug was exactly how I was feeling today when I punched the timeclock, 10 minutes late as usual.

“My Mom is the Best” written in a child’s handwriting. I’m pretty sure Miriam thinks I’m the best. I definetly think she’s amazing. She makes me smile these pensive, teary smiles. She amazes me with her memory and negotiating skills. She cracks me up with her imitation of me that may involve some cursing. She smiles with her eyes as well as those cheeks and little pearly teeth.

When the mug broke today, I felt validated. I felt simpatico. I felt like I was in good company with this broken vessel. It was now my mascot. My talisman. My logo.

Miriam didn’t want to go into her classroom this morning at drop-off. She was a little clingy and uncharacteristically unsure of herself. We were really late for school. And I was later than usual for work.

I wanted to just give her “a pass” today. A day to cling to Mommy, just because she wanted to. I wanted to give myself “a pass” too. A pass on knowing exactly what was bothering her. A pass on knowing how to handle it, aside from how the childcare experts say. I just wanted to start over.

Just because the day started out like this…just because the mug got broken…just because we were all late and hesitant and clingy…I’m still the best mom that I can be right now. Broken handle and all.

And you are too.

 

Hanging Lights

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I want to make it magical for her. I want to hang twinkling lights. Because the lights will do us good, too. Playing “movie theater” in our tiny living room,  the lights will hang unevenly from the tippy top of the wall. The highest point I could reach with our step stool. We’ll eat microwave popcorn. We’ll each get our own bowl.

I’ll surprise her with this white birch twig tree I saw at Target. It’s small and wintery. I’ve always loved twigs. We’ll hang glittery snowflakes and action figures wrapped in yarn off its branches. She loves tying up action figures with yarn. That’s perfectly normal, right?

I’ll hang her school art projects from the all-purpose wreath we have on the door. It changes with every season. Eventually. We’ll dress up our Halloween witch outside with a Santa hat. Because witches are cool all year round. I hope the downstairs neighbors feel the same way.

I want to make these darker days magical for her. Shorter hours of sunlight but longer days of work. Emotions high and stress higher. I want to make it lighter for her. Different. Because magic is everywhere when you’re a kid. And I could really use some magic, too.

Because she deserves the best we can do. Plus a little more. And that will be just enough for her.

 

 

*WWMICD? *What Would My Inner Child Do?

Reposting this story for Halloween. Please think about your own inner child as you read about mine. Maybe we can all get together for a playdate sometime soon ♡

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We have a Halloween costume contest at work every year. Thousands of monochromatic, uniformed employees suddenly come to life for a few days. We also get a $25 bonus for every day we dress up. We toss around extremely clever, mostly implausible, and very inappropriate ideas all year round. The brainstorming is brilliant. I enjoy that part the most.

My first Halloween was four months after Noah died. The difficulty of Halloween after losing Noah snuck up on me. Skeletons, gravestones, and those horrible Victorian looking zombie babies. In the early days it was a sucker punch. My mind would go places I didn’t want it to go. I’d wonder what Noah looked like now.

I shoved all of those thoughts to the side and went all out for my first costume at work. I dressed as a drunken 1950’s housewife. I brought in my retro styled Cuisinart blender, my mother’s vintage Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks…

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The Rant

Posted On Facebook
2 hours ago…
“Just a quick PSA- THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK! I was having a conversation with a woman, while playing with her daughter. After her comment ‘You are amazing with her,’ she questioned if I had children, which I replied ‘No’, which then started her rant. ‘No offense, but I think it is so selfish when people choose not to have kids, especially people like you who seem to like them so much.’ I just blinked it off. People like me. People like me? People like ME? Clearly, she mustn’t mean people like me, who are suffering from infertility. In JUST the last 12 months alone, I have had 3 surgeries, 4 lost pregnancies, 5 surgical procedures. Had blood work and ultra sound appointments 3-5 times a week. Yes, a WEEK! I have a permanently bruised ass and stomach from having to get hundreds of injections, plus the crazy side effects that come with them. I have a forever broken heart, and an unbearable amount of guilt. Not to mention watching over $200k of medical bills roll in, which insurance DOES NOT completely cover. So, people like me? We do not choose not to have kids. My husband and I have physically, emotionally, and even partially financially drained ourselves just trying to have a child and start a family. I know you meant well lady- but you didn’t. You really, really didn’t. End rant.”

This Facebook status was posted by my friend, Lindsay. I read it while casually scrolling through Facebook and felt Lindsay’s pain coming through my phone. Pain, as she called it, “like being punched in the stomach. Or vagina. I’m not sure which.” I will add “uterus” and “heart” to that list of body parts. Screw it, who are we kidding…infertility hurts the core of your very being.

f0559-kintsugi2bheartI met Lindsay through my husband. They worked a few stores down from each other in a mall. He would tell me how much I’d love her and how I should come visit and pop into her store and introduce myself. And of course, he was right. I visited with my rambunctious, then two-year-old daughter, Miriam. I was exhausted and not as talkative as I usually am. But I could tell Lindsay was awesome.

Lindsay played and ran and giggled with Miriam as they dove onto the couches for sale in the furniture store she managed. She was “one of those people” like the lady in Lindsay’s rant had said. “One of those people” who just soaks up all the goodness and love that oozes out of kids and reflects it right back onto the world.

I didn’t know about her fertility struggles just yet. She knew a little about mine. I had lost my toddler son in a swimming pool accident about five years prior to meeting her. Noah had been easily conceived. It was unheard of to conceive so easily at thirty-nine! When I entered the fertility world at forty-two years old, it was heartbreak all over again. And needles. And blood. And waiting. The waiting really is the hardest part.

I’ve met my version of the lady that Lindsay encountered. Women who didn’t realize they were talking to a very fragile woman. How could they? The most fragile often appear the strongest. Women who didn’t realize how blissfully ignorant they were to not know about infertility to the extreme that Lindsay and I knew about it.

Women who didn’t realize that telling me “You should have another baby! It’s better when they’re close in age!” made me sad. And how not dropping the topic after I’d politely agree “that would be nice” made me want to run to a dark closet until they were gone.

Women who said “You can always adopt. There’s so many kids in the world!” If only adoption were that easy. It is wonderful. But it is not easy.

My husband and I were fortunate. Even after suffering the loss of our son, Noah, I realize every day how fortunate we were to get to the finish line. To have a child again. No matter how we made that happen, the sensitivity and shaming is what I’m talking about here. The use of the word “selfish” is what really jumped out at me when I read Lindsay’s Facebook rant. The judgement. The “I know better than you” mentality.

Lindsay and her husband are not giving up. They are halfway through the fostering process to get approved and have just started looking into international adoption. A perfect world for them would be to adopt overseas, foster with intent to adopt and have a biological child as well. To a woman in the infertility world, this is the stuff that dreams are made of.

I’m begging you to step off your soapboxes, well-meaning or not. Or at least try to keep them closer to the ground. You truly never do know what people are going through. So be kind. Always.

Or if you can’t be kind, just be quiet.