Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Halloween Moment

Tonight as the last of the trick or treaters left the neighborhood and the moon poured into the guest bedroom and the ocean sounds from your sound machine surrounded us, I studied you. You clasped onto my hand and made little mouse sounds like you've done since birth when you're nuzzled into me taking your night bottle. I studied your cheeks and how round they were. I studied your face and how much it has changed in 7 months since the day I first met you. I studied your eyes shut so tightly.  

For a moment I pictured you at five-years-old tucked in my arm begging me to read you your favorite story one more time. I saw you at seven telling me about what happened at school that day. I pictured you at 11 asking me to leave the light on because you were still a little afraid of the monsters in the closet. I pictured you at 15 tired from soccer practice or band practice or choir practice or video game practice (whatever you choose as your passion). I saw you at 18 and I even pictured you walking down the aisle on your wedding day. 

I saw all these things in that moment. I realize years separate us from those moments, but if years fly like this first one has flown, then it truly is just moments separating us from those moments. 

I began to put you down in your crib and you collapsed on my chest like you were asking me to hold you just a little longer. And I sat there holding you for just a few more moments because some day you may not let me hold you. Some day the opportunity for these moments may not exist like they existed tonight on your very first Halloween. 

Your First Halloween

Unfortunately your first Halloween was hijacked by four new teeth and a small cold. I tried to put you in a costume, but you were crying so hard. I picked you up and held you so tight as you sobbed into my shoulder.

You're sick. Things didn't go as planned. Life happened and we rolled with the punches.

Luckily I did get a few pictures in the three costumes I bought for you.

First there's the Jack-O-Lantern. Look how cute you are among the pumpkins and christmas trees.
 And then there's the tiger. I got it because you growl all the time and it was only fitting.

And finally the monkey. Two sizes too small even though it said 6-9 months. Thanks a lot, Target.
Tomorrow I'll take advantage of the half off deals and stock up on costumes for the next 3 years (until you can decide what you want to be). I am not ready for that day. 

Love you, sweet pea. I hope you get back to yourself soon. It breaks my heart when you're hurting and I can't help you. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Baking a Cake

Raising a baby is all about transition.

From womb to world. From breast to bottle. From terrified new parent to calm, cool, sort of collected semi-experienced parent.

As I sit here letting Jack "cry it out", I think about how far I've come and how far I have yet to go.

Last weekend I watched a very proud mother and father give away their daughter on her wedding day. Watching them watch her was my favorite part of the day. I had a new perspective on this right of passage for her. And for them.

I was instantly homesick for Jack. I wanted to be with him. That's the thing about parenthood. You change, but the world around you stays the same. You seek out understanding in mothers new and old, in anyone. Understanding that you want to lead a balanced life, but you also just want to be with your baby. You want to be with your friends, but half of you is constantly questioning if he needs you, if he wants you. There's a transitional period that rocks you, challenges you, makes you a better version of you.

I'm in transition. I'm trying to find the right measurements to bake the perfectly moist cake. The one that makes you say, wow, the artist behind this knows what he or she is doing. The artist behind this is wise beyond her years. I'm constantly pouring and throwing old batters away. And I'm not sure I'm ever going to get it right, but I know one thing to be true.

Every day, I get up and I tell myself, I'm going to do the very best I can do and I'm going to make this day count with Jack, at work, with Kyle.

I'm gonna make it count.

We Bought a House

I have this ongoing nightmare that something is wrong with you and I can't fix it. I am so lost and confused and helpless in my dream. I keep running toward you, but I can't reach you. I can't reach you. I wake up and walk into your room where I find you sleeping peacefully.

It is a Sunday afternoon. You are sleeping peacefully. I haven't written in a while because my mind has been on overdrive and I can't seem to piece the words together like I can when my head is clear.

We bought a house.

It's exciting and overwhelming and amazing to literally move to this next phase in life, but there are some things I'm afraid of.

I'm afraid I won't find you the right child care. I love where we are now. It's comfortable and easy and I'm secure you are in good care when I can't be with you. I'm scared I won't find the right fit for you like you have now.

I'm afraid we won't have amazing neighbors like we have now. Right now I can walk next door and know that if I needed a cup of milk or $100, the neighbors would have our back. They look out for us. They are good neighbors. They are good people.

I'm afraid you won't get into the magnet school. The new house is a block away from the best magnet school in the country and I'm scared you won't get in.

I'm afraid you won't remember this house, the house we brought you home to, the house that I once considered my greatest accomplishment (before you arrived of course).

I'm afraid of being afraid of all these things and at the same time I'm so excited. I'm excited to put you in the stroller and walk to the grocery store. I'm excited to meet new people, to make friends with the new neighbors.

I'm excited to ride my bike to the movies on a Sunday afternoon.

I'm excited to be 5.7 miles from work. I'm excited to design a new house from the inside out. I'm excited to sit on the back patio of the tudor style home that looks like it belongs in London and pretend I'm in London.

I'm excited to have a sun room to write in that overlooks a street. I'm excited to have a walk-in closet with stained glass that also overlooks the street. I'm excited to be in the heart of the city where things happen and people want to be.

I'm really excited and I'm afraid and I trust that it's going to be extraordinary. You're cooing and waking up from your nap. I'm excited to be with you for the rest of the day.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I hate you, Jillian Michaels.

I started working out again today and it went a little something like this.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

My body has changed. I can no longer bounce back like I used to. It hurts. In a good way. I have always believed our minds are at our best when our bodies are in shape. Today I stopped making excuses. I put my sports bra (it's been a while) and my tennis shoes and my too tight pants and I did it. I worked out with my arch nemesis Jillian Michaels.

It felts good. I feel good. Jack napped the entire time. Lucky me.

If I want to raise a healthy baby, I have to be an example. Not through words, through actions. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I've been avoiding this post

I've been avoiding this post. I've been dancing around it, procrastinating it, ignoring the need at all cost. The wound is still slightly open. The cut is still pretty fresh, but when Jack came I made a commitment to myself that if I didn't have time to run, I would write.

This blog is about the day we found out my mom had MS (or so we thought). It's about the day I was sitting at my desk diligently weaving through my to do list and my phone rang.

"The doctor called with the test results. He thinks it may be MS," she said with a steady voice.

My world stopped.

"Ok," I said swallowing the golf ball sized lump back into my throat. "I'll call you in a little bit."

I hung up the phone, grabbed my purse and dashed for the back door without even shutting my computer down. My breath sped up. I threw the car door open, sat down and cried the kind of cry you never want anyone else to witness. The kind of cry you didn't know was inside you. The kind of cry that's loud and snot-filled. I cried an ugly cry. Looking back I am thankful for that first cry. I'm glad that cry happened because I could move forward from it. I could move past it.

When I pulled myself together, I picked up the phone and called Kyle.

"Hello?" he said.

I couldn't speak.

"Erin?" he asked.

"Yes," I finally said. "It's MS. My mom has MS."

He paused.

"I'm so sorry," he said.

I nodded my head. Kyle knows me. He knows me well. He didn't ask more questions. He let the silence fill the space. He didn't say cheap comforting words just to say them. He let our conversation breathe.

"I'll see you tonight," he said.

I nodded again and started my engine of my 2-door honda accord. Ironically my mom was at my house visiting us after a conference. I drove 20 miles over the speed limit to get to her and when I walked in the door I promised myself I wouldn't show emotion. I would be strong for her.

"So, what does this mean?" I asked.

"They aren't sure it's MS so I have to get more tests next week," she replied.

"Ok," I said searching for any ounce of logic.

"So we'll wait for those tests and we'll beat it," I said.

"Yes," she said. "I don't want you to worry, honey."

I know she was being strong for me just like I was being strong for her.

The minute Kyle walked in the door there was a light that entered the room. He had a movie for us. He made dinner for us. He even made us laugh a few times. As I stared across the room at the woman I loved more than any woman on earth, I saw a peace fall over her. An understanding that the journey ahead may not be easy, but she was up for the challenge. In that moment I saw a side of my mom I hadn't seen before.

To be continued...

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Night Your Dad Proposed

The night your dad proposed, he was pacing. We were getting ready for our first annual New Year's Eve party and your dad was nervous. I blamed his odd behavior on the fact we were packing an 1900 square foot house with 25 of friends who intended to stay the night. I had no idea, not a clue, not an ounce of a feeling of what that night would become, one of my happiest out of body mind blowing moments. I had no idea he was going to propose.

Just before the ball dropped he delivered a speech (also out of character) and he dropped to one knee and asked me to marry him. And what I remember more than the words or the beautiful ring or the room gasping and shouting and cheering was the look in his eyes. I stared deep into those eyes because I wanted to know he wanted this as much as I did. I wanted to know he was doing this for us not for me. As I floated outside of my body staring down at us what did I see in those eyes?

I saw the sweetest most sincere most kind man asking me to be his best friend for life. And I have no idea what happened next, but I knew by those eyes that it was me and him for life. I knew by those eyes just like I knew he meant it the first time he told me he loved me.

Tonight we were saying how incredibly cute you are when you look up at us during bath time and smile so big seeking our approval for splashing. We were talking about how amazing you are and I saw that look in his eyes, Jack. I saw the sweetest most sincere most kind man talking about his son, the second love of his life.

You have his eyes.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

There's a Debate?

There is a presidential debate going on, but I'm distracted.

My friend texted me a picture of her ultrasound tonight. My heart instantly started racing because I remember sitting at my desk staring at Jack's ultrasound admiring the shape of his little nose and head and little hand. I remember feeling like I knew him even though I never held him. I remember holding that ultrasound picture with one hand on my stomach and thinking nothing was going to hurt him or me. I remember being protective of him before I even met him,  before we knew he was a he. I remember that feeling.

And as I stare down at that little face and smell that sweet baby breath and touch those tiny ears, I remember when Jack was "Baby P" or "Freedom Appleseed." There are some things I wish I could tell my pregnant self as I reflect on those moments, but no point in having a hypothetical conversation with my past pregnant self.

There is a presidential debate tonight, but I'm more consumed with the fact that Jack moved from point A to point B on his own. Jack is crawling. He is sitting up and he is crawling and although I still want to freeze these moments with him, I'm enjoying the changes. Tonight he snuggled into my chest after he took his last bottle. He flipped his head from side to side and letting out small mouse squeaks like when he was a tiny baby.

I held him tight and nuzzled my nose into his tiny neck and told him I loved him and I was proud of him and I was so happy to be his mom and that I loved him. I told him I didn't really care about the blue tie and the red tie in front of me, but I had to pay attention so I could make an educated decision for him.  

There is a presidential debate going on, but I'm more concerned with the tiny cheeks and the tiny nose and the tiny hands and feet. The world could be falling apart around me, but with this boy in my arms the pieces have fallen together quite nicely.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Lovely

I have a lovely friend who took some lovely pictures of us on a lovely fall day at a lovely pumpkin patch. Ok, I'm over the word lovely. But, truly, I love these pictures. Thank you Shala Applegate at Vintage Flower Farm.

This may be my favorite photo of all time: 

 That is her little peanut at our feet. How sweet is that?

Your Grandma Peckinpaugh

They say death is hardest on the living. Four years ago this month an angel got her wings. Someday I will explain what this term means, but for now I'd like to tell you about a person you will never meet, but I want you to know. It's a person who loved your father like I love you. It's about your Grandma Peckinpaugh. She had to leave us before you arrived and someday I'll explain the reason why she had to go, but here is what you need to know...

Your Grandma Peckinpaugh had the heart of a teacher. She was a teacher. When I talk to people who had her as a teacher, they smile and tell stories about how much they loved her as a teacher. She made an impact on these young minds. She changed lives. She was a good teacher. Your Grandma Peckinpaugh loved children. When your cousins came over to visit she couldn't stop smiling. She was meant to care for children. It was her calling. Her passion.

When your Dad walked into a room, her face lit up and she would stand on her tippy toes and wrap her arms around him. Your Dad was very special to her. I know that because she told me. I sat in a car and she told me how much your Dad meant to her. She told me how smart he was and how caring he was and how much she loved him. As your dad walked back to the car she smiled at him with a smile that came from deep inside. She smiled the way a mother smiles at her son, from the inside.

I made a promise to your Grandma Peckinpaugh that day. I told her I would take care of your Dad, that I loved him and I would care for him. And she nodded her head the way a mother nods her head when meeting her son's future wife with happiness sprinkled with an ounce of doubt. With the understanding that no one could possibly love him the way she loved him, her son.

And now I understand the depth of her love for your Dad because I love you that way. When I see you, my smile comes from the inside.

Every Christmas your Grandma would call us all in the living room and we would pass DVDs around a  circle while she sang. When she stopped singing we were stuck with whatever DVD was in our hands. She loved that game because all the people she loved sat in a circle. All the people she loved were in the same room, under the same roof, in her home.

Your Grandma Peckinpaugh had a kind heart, a compassionate heart. She was thoughtful and went out of her way to make sure people knew she was thinking of them. She sent two cards to your Grandma White. She was thoughtful.

Your Grandma Peckinpaugh could cook. Oh, could she cook. There wasn't a time I visited where she wasn't in the kitchen creating a masterpiece. And her children never went home empty handed. She always made extra to make sure they had food on the table even if it wasn't in her home.

Some days I can feel her presence. The sun shines in a certain way or the rain lightens up and I know she is watching you. She is getting to know you. Although she wasn't physically present when I married your father or when we brought you into this world, her presence was known. She was there. She is here.

Your Grandma Peckinpaugh loves you. I know it's hard to understand how someone could love you when they haven't even met you, but she loved your father and she loved your mother and there isn't a doubt in my mind she loves you too. Someday, we can sit down and we can talk about your Grandma Peckinpaugh, but for now just know that she loves you, Jack.

She loves you in a way only a Mom can love her son. She loves you in a way only a Grandma can love her Grandson.