Where Have All the Spoons Gone?

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Once upon time, shortly after we were married and all those gifts came pouring in, we had 10 sets of flatware. That is: 10 dessert spoons, 10 soup spoons, 10 salad forks, 10 dinner forks, 10 knives. In the time since, tragedies have occurred and things have been reallocated, leaving us with less than 10 full sets, but such is life. I haven’t taken an official count or anything. But last week I noticed after emptying the dishwasher that the dessert spoon (my personal fave piece of flatware) pile was looking noticeably short.

I knew that one of these brave souls had gone to the trash bin in the school cafeteria one day when I packed spoon yogurt and had no plastic ones left. Aside from that, what had happened? I took count and there were 6. SIX!!! So that means that 3 freaking spoons are unaccounted for. How exactly does that happen? This becomes a problem because the kids and I eat cereal or oatmeal every morning and all use those spoons–3 down. Then I always have yogurt–4. If I forget and stir my coffee with one we are down to 1. One little spoon!

Yes, I am aware that I can hand wash one and use it again or ‘gag’ use a soup spoon instead. But come on, who wants to spend time washing spoons when there are supposed to be 9 in the drawer? I can’t spend $70 per set getting more, matching flatware. Can I buy just the dessert spoons? Maybe on Ebay? Does it even matter?

My parents never had matching flatware. Or maybe they did before we came along and did things like lose pieces in the school trash bins or use them as trebuchets for Lego knights or whatever it is that my children have done with our spoons. Looking at our cabinets, our kitchenware is beginning to resemble that of my parents. We don’t have stacks of white matching Pottery Barn bowls anymore. We have some chipped Pottery Barn bowls and some Spider Man bowls and some plastic Taken N’ Toss multicolored bowls. We no longer have 8 juice glasses and 8 water glasses. We now have 1 juice glass and some pint glasses and maybe a water glass or two thrown in there with a stack of rainbow-hued cups from Ikea.

But when I think back to dinner with my family as a child, I barely remember the dishes we ate on anyway. I remember the food, I remember the way my father laughed at his own jokes as he ate bread with mayonnaise spread on it. I remember exactly where each member of my family sat. If I think hard I can remember my “special fork”–the one with a pointed end and a rose imprinted on it. If my parents had matching flatware would I have even had a special fork?

So maybe I’ll head to Target and pick up a few spoons or even grab some at the Goodwill. Maybe Declan will have a “special spoon” one day to remember when he thinks of how he sat between his father and I at our dinner table with his brother at the head. The mystery of the missing spoons may haunt me till the end of my days or I may find them all waiting for me the next time I get around to vacuuming under the couch. Maybe the universe took my spoons off to another dimension. Or maybe families are just meant to be built on mismatched spoons and chipped bowls and rainbow stacks of plastic cups.

Scars

On Friday afternoon I was enjoying some freedom. Both kids were in school and I was waiting on my next batch of work. I was out in the neighborhood. A nanny I’m friendly with and hadn’t seen in awhile stopped me to chat and we were catching up when my phone rang. The number was familiar. “Oh no,” I said to her as I hit answer, “I think this is school.”

On the phone was the school nurse. She told me that Brady had collided with another student in gym class and had “a fairly large laceration.” I heard “stitches” and “do you want me to call an ambulance?” and then said “I’ll be right there!” and started running toward school. Of course, this was the worst time for this to happen because Declan’s school day was about to end. I called his school and they brought him down to me as I passed by on my way to get Brady.

When I arrived at the office he was there waiting for me…with a HUGE bandage wrapped around his head and over his left eye. I hugged him and signed him out and spoke quickly to his teacher and the nurse, both of whom thanked me for being so calm. I’m glad I looked calm, because I didn’t really feel calm. I felt like I needed to do whatever needed to be done, but I did NOT feel calm. So off I went with Brady and Declan to the Urgent Care which is, thankfully, two blocks from school and right across the street from our building.

Somewhere in there I had called the husband and he arrived from work just as we got into the exam room. It was a good thing because when the doctor unravelled that bandage I was wholly unprepared for the wound hiding underneath. I’ll spare you the gory details, but it was basically a 1 inch by 1 inch hole in his forehead above his left eyebrow. I took in the sight of it and leaned back against the wall, keeping one hand firmly on Brady’s the whole time. I am not good with blood. Actually that is an understatement. I am HORRIBLE with blood. It is a good thing I never attempted to enter into the health profession. This kind of mangled flesh on my own child was just…wow. It was gross and painful and shocking and just pure awful. The doctor looked it over and called the husband into the hallway to tell him that we needed to call in a plastic surgeon for this one.

We had to wait for the surgeon. A friend came and got Declan for us, for which I am so very grateful. Brady was in good spirits in the waiting room, chatting and playing games on my phone. But once we were back in the room with the surgeon, he sort of freaked. The surgeon probed the cut, moving it from side-to-side as I tried to look Brady in the eye with a calm demeanor without looking at all at the blood. The worst part was to come…lidocaine. I, personally, HATE lidocaine with the fire of a thousand suns, which is approximately what it feels like when it’s injected into my body. I braced myself, but I wasn’t ready. When the doctor began injecting the wound, Brady flipped…the eff…out!

The husband and I laid over his body to keep him still as he screamed and tried to escape. I knew it hurt. I tried to look at him and be reassuring. He howled in pain and the needle slipped and we covered him. I felt nauseous and light headed. I knew my face was white. I kept my place until the injections were done and he was numb. Then I kept my arm across his legs and sat in the chair behind me before I lost it and found myself lying on the floor next to the table.

I was transported to a day at the beginning of my second grade year. To an exam room in a hospital where a doctor was putting x-ray films up on a lighted wall. I was amazed by the jutting bone I saw in the knee up there on the wall. I turned to my mother who was ghostly white and grasping for the chair behind her. In that second I knew exactly how she felt that day. That horrible realization that your child is injured. Like, really hurt, not a scrape or a cut or bump or bruise. That sick horrific feeling of not being able to do a single thing to make it go away and knowing you have to go through the painful process that will make it heal. It is a feeling one thousand times more awful than the sick you might feel when you yourself are injured.

I healed. I had two surgeries and have one heck of a scar on my knee to show for them. I spent 5 days in the hospital, missed 6 weeks of school, went to physical therapy. Brady’s healing process will be significantly less traumatic. He got several layers of stitches, for the several layers of flesh that were split open. He can’t participate in any sports or other physical stuff this week for fear of reopening the wound. He’ll have the non-dissolvable stitches out on Friday. He will have a scar, but it will be light and fine. We assure him it will be rock-star cool.

While he won’t have the complicated healing process I did when I was in second grade, I’m not sure the scar on my heart will be much lighter than the one my mother carries. I know she must see that x-ray each time she sees the line running down the side of my right knee as I’m sure I’ll see that needle when I look at the line on Brady’s forehead. Both my mother and I are lucky that these were injuries that heal. Some parents get a much tougher lot. But seeing your child’s body broken in any way is, just, traumatic. Kids get stitches. They break bones. They play and they fall and they break and then they heal. It is life. They accumulate scars just as we all do; reminders of falling off a bike, or running into someone in gym, or a door slammed shut at the wrong moment. Parents carry the scars as well; the scars of seeing open flesh and crooked wrists, of stemming the blood with a t-shirt and of rushing to the doctor. Sometimes, it feels as if my children are drifting away from me. That each day they take one more step from needing me. But as far as they walk on their own, they will always be a part of me. They left their scars on my body with their birth and scars on my heart with their lives. And I cherish them all.

On My Youngest Son’s First Day of Preschool

It is 10:45 on a Friday morning and I’m in the kitchen cutting a peach into slices. Tears slip down my cheeks and I take a deep breath. A few minutes earlier I heard a play conversation from the other room where my newly 3-year-old is playing with Lego guys.

“I really love you. I do!”

“Thanks! You’re the best!”

“You’re the best too!”

This mimics an exchange that we have countless times each day and I can’t help but feel smiley and gooey as he plays it out in his Lego family, which is comprised of several ninja. As I head to the kitchen I hear him make one of his guys ask “What are we doing today?” To which another replies, “We’re going to school!” followed by an excited gasp.

And so, as I cut the peach’s white and rosey flesh into an orange plastic bowl, tears well up in my eyes and brim over. They are tears of sadness and happiness; of confusion and uncertainty; of excitement and regret. In an hour and a half I will take my very last baby to his first day of preschool. He will stay for one hour and fifteen minutes, if he even lets me leave the room. It is barely a dent in our day, but it is an enormous event. While he will always, always be my baby, he is NOT a baby any longer. He has a place to go where I don’t belong. I am torn between anticipation for this next part of life and mourning for the life that will no longer exist.

Today I take my son to his first day of school and a bridge will be crossed that we can never go back over. Today we embark on an adventure that will have us each taking solo steps. It will be hard and it will be fun and it will change us. I worry that he is not ready, but more than that, as I tear up again, I’m trying to tell myself that I’m ready.

Finding the Good in the Morning Grind

Now that school is back in session my mornings have gone from sleeping until 8 and then waking up to drink my coffee and peruse Facebook to rushing around like a freaking lunatic starting at 6:45 in an attempt to make sure that everyone, including myself, is fed, clean, dressed, and has everything needed for the day in time for the walk to school. This rush usually leads to arguments, which lead to a frustrated mommy, which leads to yelling–all of which do NOT make for a wonderful start to the day.

Given my description it’s not difficult to see that I hate pretty much everything about morning. From opening my eyes to shoving shoes onto little feet and pushing them out the door, morning just seems awful. But morning also holds one of my favorite parts of the day–one of my favorite parts of parenting to be honest–waking my kids.

Yep, I LOVE waking my kids up and , no, not in an “I love to torture them” kind of way. In general, on school mornings, I have to wake both boys up. I’m up earlier than they have to be to get lunches ready and breakfast prepped. Then, about five minutes before Brady needs to be up, I climb up to the top bunk and gently shake him awake. Then I tell him he has five minutes and ask if he wants to snuggle. He usually responds by rolling over and pulling my arm around him. It’s warm and cozy and since I really don’t want to have gotten out of bed yet anyway, I close my eyes and pretend I haven’t. We lie there like that for 3 or 4 minutes and then I tell him it’s time to get out of bed and we climb down.

I then give him breakfast and set him up with whatever he wants to do (we allow TV in the morning). Then it’s back for round two. I lie down next to Declan and whisper in his ear, “Morning. Do you want to snuggle.” This is usually met by a stretch and some sort of groan or lip smack and we snuggle together in his bed for a few minutes before I have to force him to get up by offering to let him watch Peppa Pig in my room.

From there on out, all bets are off. I feel like I go from shoving food down their throats to forcibly brushing their teeth to struggling to pull socks onto their unwilling feet. Well, Brady does most of that on his own, so instead I’m following him around telling him 15 times to do each thing before he actually does it. But at least I get my peaceful moment of lovey warmth each morning. Because, like so many things about raising children, morning is all about finding that good thing that makes it all worth it.

Changes

As you can see, there’s a new look around here. I’m still playing with it, so there may be more tweaks to come. What prompted this change? The stroller, the green Bugaboo that carried my babies for 7 years and had the place of honor in my blog header, is no longer with us. Yesterday we cleaned it out and chucked it out.

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We hadn’t used it in months. Clearly the cat got a lot of enjoyment out of it during that time, as evidenced by the two-inch thick layer of cat hair on the seat. With Declan walking more often, it got to be unwieldy bringing such a big stroller everywhere. We’re not yet stroller-free–we’ve just switched to the lighter, smaller, MacLaren Triumph. But honestly, that will probably only last another year, if that. So the kids said goodbye to their trusty ride, I held back tears, and we gained a whole heck of a lot of closet space.

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In memorium, here are some adorable shots of my babes in the trusty green monster.

From serving as Brady’s first bed to bringing entire birthday parties to the park to hauling two kids at once, this sucker served us well and will be missed. It lived a wonderful, long stroller life. Brady is now in second grade and Declan starts preschool this week. The baby part of our lives is behind us and we’ve got to enjoy the kid part that is unfolding before us.

 

Back To School Blues

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Tomorrow is the last day of summer. Brady is back to school the next day. My baby Declan starts preschool next Friday. Soon I will take a new freelance job and be back to work myself. It is the end of sleeping late and sipping coffee as the kids watch TV. While moms the Internet over rejoice in their children getting back to the books, I find myself sad. We spent a lot of time traveling this summer and it was nice and it was fun and it was also stressful. But the last two weeks the boys and I have been having a easy time on our own. We can do what we want when we want to. I’ve been very, um, liberal with screen time and so I’ve had some time to read and keep the apartment neat and not feel like I’m the perpetual hamster wheel.

As a mom, the school year feels much more difficult than the summer. Life becomes so much more complicated. There’s school dropoff and pickup and after-school activities and then getting dinner onto the table while helping with homework and hopefully still having time for a bath before bed sometimes. This year, in an attempt to make things easier, I’ve shifted a lot of the extras to the weekend, which means we can’t just take off as family on a Saturday afternoon.

The beginning of the school year makes me itchy with anxiety, picturing the coming days filled with obligations. The change in routine throws me. Plus, my kids will be away from me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them all day everyday. They need to learn and explore on their own and be a part of things away from me. But while Declan is home with me, I’m his sole source of outside entertainment a lot of the time. With him used to having a constant playmate that role becomes difficult to fill. Plus he’ll be in school three half-days a week. I’m so excited for him and for me. But it’s also a reminder that my baby is no longer my baby. When Brady went to preschool I was trying to get pregnant. I soon knew I’d have a new baby. This time there will be no more babies.

I’m trying to psych myself up for leaves and sweaters and football, but when it’s 93 degrees and unbearably humid, it’s kind of hard to picture. Tomorrow we’ll try to seize the last day of freedom. I’m hoping Brady’s excitement for school and for change will rub off on me. But tonight I’m mourning the end of lazy days.

How do you feel when the kids head back to school? Do you love fall? Remind me why.

 

Beach Time

Our last trip of the summer was last week. We went on our annual trip to Cape May and this time my sister and her husband and daughter, my mom, and my sister’s father-in-law joined us. We all stayed in a big house and spent a lot of time at the beach. Brady is a wave junkie and Declan prefers the sand. They both had so much fun with their cousin – and so did I. Overall, we all had a wonderful time. I’m going to do my usual photo mural to sum up the trip.