Happy Birthday to… me?


Thomas was born a year ago today, but I think the REAL celebration should be for ME. Think about it… he leads a blissful, ignorant life, pooping in his pants whenever he feels the urge, crying to get what he wants, sleeping 16 hours a day, having his meals spoon fed to him, etc. He’s essentially been celebrating his life ALL YEAR LONG.

Me, on the other hand, I’ve suffered hormonal insanity, weight gain, and sleepless nights.

I was thinking about this last night as Bryan and I drove home from downtown Seattle where we had dinner. It was about 10:30, which was shortly after we had checked into the hospital a year ago. I had started labor around dinner time and spent several hours shuffling in a figure eight around my dining table and through the hall like a choo-choo train with Ruthie shuffling along behind me as the caboose. Whenever I stopped to breathe through a contraction she’d exclaim, “GO, MAMA!” The Counting Crows played on the CD player all evening, and at one point when Bryan asked if he could change the music because he was tired of it, I declined his request. I had already entered The Zone, hypnotized by melody and song. Changing the music at that point would have broken my hypnotic state and tripped up my rhythm.

This morning I woke up at 6:30, remembering again that it was Thomas’ birthday. I had labored all night long, last year, which was a big difference from Ruthie’s labor that went all day. I was tired, Bryan and Alecia were tired, the staff was tired, and there was an eerie stillness in the room all night despite the soothing music and the whirring of the tub jets.

Thomas was born around 5 or 6am. He literally shot out of my body when I changed positions, and was caught by the labor nurse and my friend, Alecia. My doctor was called in after.

I remember shouting, “DID THAT JUST REALLY HAPPEN?”

He was beautiful and perfect, with blonde peach fuzz on his head and loooong narrow feet that curled like a tree frog.

He is still beautiful and perfect.

And he is a boy. He likes to punch his fist into the air above his head and voice a very Braveheart-like Yahw! And as he crawls, the volume and intensity of his Braveheart-like Yahw! increases as his speed of crawling increases.

It’s a mystery to me how I can love someone so intensely, even when he has caused me so much personal pain and discomfort. But I do. And I suppose that’s the Gospel. Love through, despite, and because of pain.


As Thomas attempts to get around he can’t quite get in touch with his knees. He just pulls himself around on his belly with his elbows as if he’s looking for the nearest fox hole to dive into. I try to direct him in a methodical pattern so as to reduce my need for sweeping, and I find that small, choke-able objects are what best motivates him in a particular direction.

This week he started attempting a textbook crawl, but all he’s managed so far is a sideways crab-like awkwardness on his hands and feet, which only serves to humiliate and frustrate him as you can see by these pictures.

I think what prompted this sudden burst of developmental attempt is his increased caloric intake. At his nine month well-child checkup last week he had dropped below the charts in weight for his age category, so I started feeding him more in hopes of kick starting a growth spurt.

Now, if I could just inject his weight-shedding metabolism into my body….

Where’s My Yellow Brick Road?

It seems my son has inherited the Early Morning gene from Bryan. He wakes up at 6am, perky and ready for the day, which really puts a cramp in my creative process. I write my best stuff in the virgin dark of morning when my mind is refreshed and clear, free from the business, stresses, and failures of the day.

Without this time to do my free-writing I end up posting quip-y things like this conversation that I overheard the other day:

“…and when I realized I had eaten HALF the package of doughnuts as I drove down the road, I started tossing them out the window, one by one.”

“WHY was I not driving behind you???”

Funny? Yes. But not the kind of writing I’ve always dreamed of doing.

I have so many thoughts swirling in my brain, so many stories to tell, but O how to set them free? I used to stay up until the wee hours of the morning, wrapping up my thoughts as Conan filled my screen with his huge, square head and pointy chin.

But Thomas’ Early Morning gene was clashing with my Late Night With Conan O’Brien gene so I redirected myself to fall asleep earlier.

I feel my life balancing out more.

I feel myself moving away from the Bitter About My Circumstances end of the spectrum toward the Accept the Things I Cannot Change end of the spectrum.

Knowledge is power – if I learn I play The Victim when it is difficult to take responsibility, yet I choose to continue blaming Bryan or Ruthie or some uncontrolled circumstances for the unfairness of my life, I move from ignorance to rebellion.

I’ve done rebellion. It did nothing for me but create guilt, stress, and loss of credibility.

Seven months ago I was complaining about the very circumstance I find myself in this morning – Ruthie waking me from my slumber before I’ve had my cup of coffee. I’ve grown up a little since then, and I’ve had my ass kicked a few times.

I’m learning that life is a series of choices I make.

I choose to lose my temper when Ruthie wakes up in the night, or I choose to be patient and soothing. I choose to shoot fiery darts of wrath at Bryan, or I choose to lay low and guard him from the hormonal surge. I choose to attend a women’s retreat, or I choose to attend an equally important tech conference on the same weekend.

I’m learning to make my choices and move on. If it’s good choice, I build on that. If it’s a bad choice I learn from it. If I have to choose between two Best Things, I leave regret behind and enjoy the choice I made.

None of this is easy for me. The women in my family are bad at making choices. I come from a culture of buyer’s remorse and second guessing, of being in one place wishing for another, of wanting things to be different than they are. I waste a lot of energy wishing, wanting, and regretting.

This is not the culture I want to raise my own daughter in.

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this. I’m trying to spill out a few thoughts as Thomas crawls around on the couch, rolling on a bed of Cherios like Mena Suvari in her roses.

Perhaps I should wrap this up and simply say, I have been writing less because my circumstances have not provided enough opportunity for me to write. And I’m learning to be Okay with that.

I’m Never Leaving This House Again. Ever.

We’re finally back from ‘vacation,’ which I put in quotations because Ruthie woke up between 5:00 and 6:00 am every morning and I did about 25 loads of laundry due to all the puking on me, on couches, on blankets, in beds, and on rugs.

While spending time with family we haven’t seen in two years was fun, I have to say this was probably the most stressful trip I’ve ever taken.

And I’ve spent three months in the jungle before, so that’s saying a lot.

I thought about writing a list of all the horrific things that happened while we were gone, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work and not sound like I was complaining. We really did have a good time despite the stress, and the weather was sunny and in the 80’s.

The only reason I would describe the litany of events is simply so you will take me seriously when I say IT WAS A REALLY STRESSFUL TRIP, and not just write me off as a whiney mom. But even if I did describe everything to you, I really don’t think you would believe me. I think you would probably assume I was exaggerating for drama, but I assure you that last week needed no extra drama inserted.

I will say this, though: the trip ended in style as Thomas barfed all over me on the airplane, and as his puke oozed down my neck and into the cleavage of my womanhood, and soaked into the hair on the nape of my neck, Bryan and I had nothing left in us but laughter for the absurdity of such an act.

God bless flight attendants, every last one of you.

The Post About Poop

Sadly, when you raise a child from the time he or she is a baby, the subject matter of your conversations often revolve around poop.

I wish I could say I was NOT one of those parents, but that I was a cool and hip mom with manicured nails and a regular bridge game where we talked about politics. But alas, I have fallen into the UNcool mom category where I discuss my children’s poop regularly with others.

It starts at the hospital, really. We wait on pins and needles for the icky black tar-like substance to turn creamy and yellowish green. Then when solid foods come we laugh at the whole, undigested raisins that come out and we run into the other room to show the dad how funny the poop looks.

Moms compare notes on pooping schedules. As in, Mine poops every afternoon following her nap, or Mine poops every morning after breakfast. Ruthie usually poops after her coffee kicks in.

Then there’s the toddler phase. Last week Ruthie swallowed a penny, and when it came out the other end we all celebrated and Ruthie told everyone she met that she found a penny in her poop.

Now that I have a boy coming through the ranks of poopdome, I find myself quite tired of poop. Thomas wakes up almost every morning with poop oozing from his diaper and down his leg and up his back. His poop is nasty. I recognize that poop, by definition, is nasty, but Thomas’ poop is DOUBLE DUTCH nasty.

I just want a vacation from poop. That’s all.

Rage Interrupted

I sit here at my computer this morning, talking myself down from wanting to shake my son until he shuts up.

For those of you who know Thomas, you know he is one of those babies every mother dreams of, who sleeps hours at a time and cries only when he needs something. Beyond that he is a smiling bundle of easy-going joy.

This morning Thomas is not cooperating with my pre-set agenda, and I am feeling the rage well up within me.

I got up at the ass-crack of dawn this morning so I could get some research done on the internet – research I’m getting paid to do and have a responsibility to follow through on. I get up at the ass-crack of dawn so I can do this in the quiet of my living room without interruption.

This morning Thomas woke up at half past the ass-crack of dawn, which I thought would be okay. I thought he would nurse, then play quietly on the floor next to me while I did my research. But that didn’t happen. He has been fussy and whiney and only wants to be held or nursed – which by the way has been extremely painful this week due to [WARNING: you may consider the following to be ‘too much information’] a yeast infection on my nipples.

I am frustrated, and for the first time since he was born I am feeling rage toward my docile son.

I thought he would be exempt from my rage. I thought my rage was directed at Ruthie because she is so much like me. But I am once again reminded that my rage is an issue of my own selfishness, not of anyone else’s provocation.

I am frustrated with Thomas because he is interfering with my agenda, with my set plan for the morning, and it pisses me off. CAN I PLEASE HAVE ONE HOUR TO MYSELF TO DO WHAT I WANT??? I can feel the anger seething in my chest. I have a right to do what I want, and he is stealing my time away from me. The morning is MY time, just as the late night is MY time.

These are the thoughts running through my head as I sit here in the living room, listening to Thomas scream in the playpen in the basement recreation room. The poor little guy needs his mommy, and instead of providing comfort she has abandoned him for the sake of her own selfishness.

[I pause to breathe deeply and pray for peace of mind.]

I hit a milestone this morning. As I felt the rage welling up in me I chose to head it off. So often I satiate my need to rage because, like sex, there is much comfort in the post orgasm release of pent-up tension. False comfort. I feel relief for a fleeting moment until the guilt sets in.

Today I left room for hope and sanity. I drew my fists back to smash the stereo, but I did not deliver the blow. I allowed the spirit of God a foothold in my heart, just enough for me to walk away and accept that I cannot control my son.

I am not perfect, this was not a perfect exchange, and the likelihood that I will blow past this small victory to rage again in the future is high. But for today, for this moment, I feel empowered by the Holy Spirit that God really does have the power to change my wicked heart.