The Mirror

“What should we get mom for her birthday?” Jeff asked as he drove, Hayden and I to the restaurant to celebrate Hayden’s 9th birthday.

“I don’t know?” Hayden said from the back seat.

“Well, what does mom like?” Jeff asked

I looked up in the rear facing mirror at Hayden and waited for the answer. This was going to be good.

“A new phone,” Hayden said with a smile. “Mom really likes her phone, we should get her a new one.”

Jeff snickered and Hayden beamed for making Jeff laugh but those words hit me right in the heart. They stung deep. I tried to smile and brush them off as Jeff asked Hayden what else I liked.

“Maybe some coffee or new sunglasses, mom is always wearing her sunglasses even when it’s not sunny…” Hayden rambled on. I couldn’t focus on the conversation because in my head, I was beating myself up.

I know he didn’t mean to hurt me. I know he was just being honest and it’s true. I do love my phone and it’s usually always in my hand. But I suddenly wondered, is that all he sees of me? Does he think I want to be on my phone more than with him?

My kids are excellent mirrors.

They seem to have no problem finding my flaws and reflecting them back at me. Every little ugly thing about myself, they magnify. I see it and it stings. It’s like a constant reminder that I had no idea what I am doing as a mom. They don’t do this on purpose, it’s just a fact.

I am a yeller.

I feel like I’m struggling to be heard. The noise of life is all around and to cut the chaos, I yell. It’s also my stress release. I’m like a pressure cooker ready to burst and to release that pressure so that I can focus, I yell. I yell at my kids and during some conversations my throat is raw afterwards.

“I just don’t know how to parent without yelling,” I lamented to my mom as we sat and ate lunch. “And that means I’m raising children who yell at each other, yell at me.”

She looked thoughtfully at me and then because she is my mother and still after 30 plus years of being a mother is at times insecure, she asked, “Was I a yeller? Did you get that from me?”

I didn’t mean to be her mirror and reflect her flaw but because I am her child, I did.

A smile spread across my face, “I don’t remember you yelling.”

We got quiet and both took bites of food, kind of both seemingly pondering motherhood.

She was the first to break the silence, “Say, you didn’t tell me that you made a crafty tail-mix snack for Hayden to take to school as his birthday treat.”

“Well, I didn’t think it was that big of deal,” I said as I took another bite.

“When Hayden was at my house, he went on and on about how the two of you worked together, pouring all sorts of treats into a big bowl, stirring it up and then putting it in little bags that he decorated with Halloween stickers. He was so proud that he got to make this treat with his mom and then give it to his friends,” she said. “From what he told me,  you made like 30 little bags. Wow.”

I looked at her as a single tear rolled down my cheek and I released the breath I didn’t know I was holdinhg.

“H-h-he said all that?” I asked, my voice getting caught in my throat.

“Yes,” she nodded.

I couldn’t help the second tear that rolled down my face.

“That was a bad day,” I began. “We had gymnastics that night. And homework to get done before going and then I added this project…. all I remember was yelling at them to stop stealing pieces of candy and to stop sneezing on the bowl.”

“Well, all he remembers is that you took the time to make an extra special treat and that you did it together,” my mom said.

I wiped the tears from my cheeks.

“It really wasn’t that big of deal,” I shrugged, trying to lessen the situation.

My mom reached over the table, took my hand and looked me right in the eyes, “Yes, sweetie. It was… to Hayden.”

And that’s when I realized, he didn’t remember the yelling either.

 

Let’s Get You Home

I woke up that morning with a big smile on my face. I didn’t toss and turn and avoid getting up and I only hit snooze button once instead of the usual five times.

Today was gonna be a good day, today my baby was coming home.

It didn’t really hit me that he was gone until we had returned home from dropping him off. As we walked in the house and the triplets scattered, I instantly felt a pain in my heart. Someone was missing.

And that’s when gates opened and I crumbled into a mess of sobs.

My oldest son away from home at camp for one week.

He was so excited to go, couldn’t wait for the day when he could go to overnight camp. I was so proud of him. Seven days away from home, not knowing a soul at camp and not even blinking an eye when we all said good bye.

But as the week progressed, my need for him increased. I couldn’t help but worry… Was he eating enough? Was he sleeping? Was he wearing sunscreen? Was he drinking enough water? Were the kids being nice to him? Was he changing his underwear? Was he having fun? Was he missing me?

I can’t tell you how many times I wished that I could just call and check on him. Every day, I would excitedly check the mail for a letter, a quick note, a random art project of feathers, something that would connect me to him but nothing came.

I told myself that this was a good thing. He was too busy to miss home, miss the family, miss… me. That’s how it should be after all.

But that still stings.

When we arrived at camp, I was giddy. I couldn’t help but smile. We had about 20 minutes to wait until the end of camp program started and it took all my self control to not run through camp like a lunatic yelling and shouting his name. Being in the same location as him but not being near him was killing me.

I just wanted him.

We decided to walk to the seating area and suddenly there he was. He popped up in the window of the dining hall. He was surrounded by friends and all smiles.

boy at summer camp

The triplets ran to him and he acted cool. He nodded at me and his dad, said something about needing to eat his toast and then was gone from sight.

I sighed.

There he was. I had laid eyes on him. He was wearing pajamas and a straw sombrero, his face was smudged with jelly and dirty but he was in one piece. He looked happy.

It was then I released the breath I didn’t know I was holding.

As the campers walked into the seating area and took the stage, I was flooded with memories of my time at summer camp. The freedom to be a kid. No parents nagging, no real rules to follow, just good times. I felt goose bumps prickle my arms as the kids sang some of their camp songs and I knew this would be a time he would never forget.

I watched my son pick at his hat, toss his shoe in the air and do anything but sing the songs. I smiled to myself, being away for a week really didn’t change him. He was still the same kid.

The ache in my arms grew stronger. I wanted him. I needed him. It was long past time.

All the campers filed out and were supposed to head back to their cabins and that’s where families would be reunited but I couldn’t wait.

The sombrero made him easy to find and from the way he was trying to play is cool but also wondering around looking, I knew he wanted me too.

“Hayden!” I called.

He didn’t hear me.

“HAYDEN!” I called again, louder but still he didn’t hear me.

“Hey,” I said this time close enough to touch his arm.

He turned to face me and literally fell into my arms and that’s when the tears began to fall as he tried to press his little but big body into mine trying to erase all the distance between us.

At first I was worried he was hurt but then I knew… he just missed me.

I held him. I held him as we stood together in the middle of a crowd of people. I held him as tight as I could.

And he held me back.

Finally, I pulled him off of me to get a good look at him.

Before me was my oldest son who, even though was only gone a week, looked older… more mature, more independent. He was also dirty. Probably the dirtiest kid I had ever seen.

He wiped the tears from his face making the dirt smudges worse, he said to me, “Mom, I ran out of underwear so my weenie is just dangling in my shorts.”

A spry smile spread across his face and I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Come on,” I said pulling him close and kissing his forehead, “let’s get you home.”

mom and summer camp boy

Letting Go

He walked up beside me and slipped in hand in mine.

I can still wrap my whole hand around it but it’s getting bigger, soon he will be the one holding my hand instead of me holding his.

I give it a squeeze and bring it to my lips. The kiss makes him smile and giggle.

We walk like this, hand in hand, for a while.

The side walk is crowded, there are bikers and walkers and strollers. People have come out for the night’s festivities.

I used to not really like fireworks. I didn’t ever really want to stay up that late. I’ve reach that point in my life where more sleep is the thing that I cave. Also, I lack the right equipment (aka I don’t have a penis) to get really excited about fireworks.

But this year was different. This year, I was excited.

I think it was because the kids are finally old enough for it to be an enjoyable experience. They remember the fireworks from last year and can’t wait to watch them again.

fireworks and a lantern

As we walked back to the grassy lawn where we would watch the show from getting a treat of slushies from the gas station, I watched people.

I watched a young family struggle with a stroller and a overly tired baby in a back pack.

I watched an older couple walk hand in hand, one with a limp from the passing of time.

I watched a group of teen boys flirt with some girls, trying to score a phone number.

I watched two tweens zoom by us on scooters.

“You know,” I said look down and the scruffy head of blond hair next to me, “Some day you are going to want to come to these fireworks without me and dad.”

He didn’t say anything and just kept walking.

“You are going to think it will be so lame to be seen with your parents. We will become so uncool.” I continued giving him a playful little nudge.

He looked at me, with almost tears in his eyes.

“No, mommy. No” he said. “I am always going to want to be with you.”

He grabbed onto my side and then began to hug me like he was trying to climb back into my uterus. It was like he was trying to stop all distance between us, stop time from moving on.

I held him and tousled his blond mop of hair.

“It’s ok, buddy.” I said with a little giggle at his over reaction which he totally comes by naturally, “That is what you are supposed to do.”

“No. I don’t want too.” he said holding on a bit more, not ever wanting to let go.

“Parents are supposed to become uncool,” Jeff said joining the conversation, “You will have friends that you will want to be with more than us.”

“It’s not going to happen tonight or even tomorrow,” I said loosening his grip so that we could begin walking again, “but it will happen. It’s suppose to happen.”

We walked in silence for a moment. Both of us making peace with letting go.

“But I will always come back,” he said taking my hand in his again, “always.”

I squeezed his little but big hand and said, “Promise?”

Before he could answer, he spotted a friend of his, waved feverishly and his hand slipped from mine.

I didn’t try to hold on even though there is a part of me that wanted too. Truth be told, I want him to have friends, I want him to go after them. I want him to learn to stand on his own two feet. I want him to have fun.

So I did the only thing I could, I opened my hand and let go.

My Son Did My Makeup

doing makeup

I like being a girl.

I like all the pretty things girls get to wear, I like the sexy panties and bras, I like the shoes but most of all I like the makeup.

Wearing makeup makes me happy, in fact I usually reapply my mascara before I go to be so that I will be pretty when I sleep.

But sometimes a little change in the makeup routine is good so I thought, “why not let my son do it for me?” Maybe together we could start the newest makeup tread.

So I sat back with a glass of wine and let him make me pretty.

He had full use of all my makeup, my face was his canvas and I promised not to look until he was done.

And when he was done, boy was I surprised.

*watch the video*

MamaKatMomPulse1

my son did my makeup

I’m pretty.

Quiet at the Dinner Table

A lot of times when we sit down to eat dinner, I am just quiet.

There is no real reason. I just don’t feel like talking. I think it’s because sitting down to dinner is my signal that we are in the home stretch. The witching hour is drawing to a close and bedtime is around the corner. It’s time for c0-parenting and mostly importantly, it’s probably the first time that I sat down in hours.

I just want to be quiet, be still, eat. And by doing this, I am open to listen.

I hear things like, “Yuck. I am not going to eat this.”

“This is gross. It can’t be food.”

“Is there any bessert?”

But every now and again I hear,  “Thanks for making the food, mom.”

My heart just melts. It doesn’t matter that the one who said it said it because the others were complaining about the food and he is trying to stay on my good side. He said it and I’ll take it.

I look around the table and the people sitting there, the people most important to me in the world and sometimes I get overwhelmed. There is this feeling that washes over me that I can’t explain. It steals my breath so that I couldn’t talk if I wanted too.

I study each person, really looking at them. I remember who they were when they were small and see who they are now.

I don’t feel worthy.

I yell. I scream. I cuss.

I focus on my own needs sometimes more then theirs.

I don’t want to read a bedtime story.

I don’t want to look at this one quick thing.

I fail.

And I do it over and over again.

I constantly question, ‘am I enough?”

But then one of them will catch my eye and smile at me or come over and put their arms around me in a  hug. They don’t know it but it’s in those moments that they save me. They reaffirm that I am enough, that I am what they need most.

children around the dinner table

I can’t help but smile at them. Their chatter makes me laugh. Especially the conversations from the littlest ones while they discuss the drama that is kindergarten.

“I like it when Ava kisses me,” Quinn says with a sheepish grin.

“Ew. Gross. How can you like that” Jake answers with a disgusted tone. “Girls are yucky.”

“No they are not,” Quinn defends himself, “Girls are pretty and I like it when they kiss me. Like when Ava does and Olivia and Kelly.”

I want to say something, tell them there is plenty of time for kissing girls, tell them that 5 is not the age to be worried about kissing but I stay quiet. I just listen.

“My teacher says that kissing is just for your family,” Claire announces, proud to tell of her classroom.

“But I can’t help it if the girls are always kissing me. I want them too. I don’t want to tell them no,” Quinn says exasperated.

“You could run away,” Jake adds.

“No. No. Don’t do that,” Claire adds, “Girls don’t like it when you run away from them. Just marry them instead.”

I can’t hold it in anymore and I laugh. I laugh until my sides ache and I’m gasping for breath. On one hand they are so young and have no idea but on the other hand, they know exactly how it works.

“You all should eat now,” I say when I can breathe again. “We can discuss who you are going to marry another time.”

There is a silence that falls around the table, only the sounds of chewing with the occasional burp and giggle.

“I don’t want to kiss any girls,” Jake says, breaking the stillness of the room.

“You don’t have too,” Hayden says speaking up for the first time. “because maybe you will can kiss a boy. You can’t help who you love or want to kiss.”

I can’t help but smile and my sweet insightful son. He’s right. He has no idea why, to him is just that simple. Love is love.

And that is why I listen. They are so young but so wise. They see the world as pure and beautiful.

I’m supposed to be their teacher but each day, if I can forget how the ride my last nerve and sometimes cause me to wish for a padded cell in the loony bin, they teach me something.

And that is why I’m quiet at the dinner table.

French Kiss me, Mom!

don't french kids the mother

“What is french kissing?’ Hayden asked one evening when he was supposed to be writing his spelling words.

I stopped doing the dishes and turned to face him, “Um… um…” I stumbled.

I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer that question and there was part of me that was screaming “NO! My baby can’t be asking questions like that, he is just a baby.” My brain was trying to come up with answer but all I could think about was “Why?” Why did he want to know this?”

We have entered that stage where the children are curious about other people’s bodies and things two people can do together with their bodies.

Don’t get me wrong, they have always been curious about their own bodies, especially the boys. That hasn’t changed. I think I even have an ultrasound picture of one of the boys touching his junk in utero.

No, I am talking about the kids being curious about the bodies of the opposite sex. Since Hayden is almost 9 and the triplets are almost 6, I thought it time to enforce privacy. Everyone must go to their rooms to change clothes, we try to close doors when we pee or bathe and I no longer run through the house naked.

We need to respect each other’s privacy, especially mine, meaning I should get to change my clothes in peace. But this lesson has been a hard one to learn since when I announce that I am going to get dressed, the kids appear all wide eyed and ready for the show. They crawl up on the bed waiting anxiously with popcorn.

Um… yeah, no. Out they go.

I know this is only a natural part of growing up and it’s alright to be curious and want to see naked bodies but that is what encyclopedias, the Internet and National Geographic are for.  Not your mother. Which reminds me, I need to show Claire some pictures of naked girls because one morning while she was sitting at the table, she reached out and grabbed my crotch and announced,

“I just touched mommy’s penis!”

“Claire, I am a girl just like you. I don’t have a penis. And you don’t have a penis.” I clarified but since I said penis one too many times she just ended up in a fit of giggles. I don’t think the lesson stuck.

But I guess when she is the only girl in a house full of brothers, what does one expect? I’m sure there will be plenty of time to set her straight.

Hayden, on the other hand, has taken to these new rules of privacy. While the triplets would like nothing more than to run naked through the woods, Hayden wants to be covered up at all times. He has even asked if he could wear a bathing suit in the bathtub.

I think that is why his question about french kissing surprised me so. I didn’t think that ‘Mr Modesty’ even thought about those kind of things.

Seeing my hesitation, Jeff stepped in to answer.

“French kissing is a type of kissing that two people do. It’s not just a kiss on the lips, it’s when the two people open their mouths and touch their tongues and rub them together.” Jeff explained.

“Ew!” Hayden cringed. To be honest, I kinda did too. The way Jeff explained it, he made it sound so mechanical.

“Why would someone what to do that?” Hayden asked. “Rubbing tongues, gross.”

“When two people love each other, it is a nice way to kiss,” I tried to explain so that someday in about ten years he would want to try it so that he wouldn’t be one of those guys is who is almost 30, still living in his parent’s basement and never kissed a girl.

“Mommy and I kiss like that all the time just before we go to sleep,” Jeff add and then winked at me. “Someday it might be something you will want to try with a girl.”

Hayden shuddered again, shook his head and returned to his homework.

Soon the chaos of bath time and getting ready for bed filled the house and the french kissing conversation seemed to be long forgotten. I tucked Jake, Quinn and Claire into bed and then walked down the stairs to do the same with Hayden.

“Good night, my love,” I said as I leaned in to kiss Hayden on the forehead.

Hayden looked up at me then grabbed my face in his hands. He opened his mouth, stuck out his tongue out and went in for a kiss. I pulled away just in time not to have my mouth violated by an 8 year old’s tongue.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I love you and I was going to give you a french kiss.” he said.

I looked at him and said,

“Hayden, I love you too but… you do not french kiss your mother.”

Loves Pokemon, Loves Girls

The giggling on the play ground made me look up. I scanned the area and noticed that Hayden had befriended a little girl.

I smiled. No matter where we are, that boy always befriends the girls. They are his number one choice when it comes to a playmate. Mainly because, girls play like he does.

Hayden is not so much into the rough and tough play of boys. He doesn’t have a competitive bone in his body so sports don’t interest him, don’t get me wrong he loves a good wrestling match with his dad and brothers, but he’s just more into the imaginative play that little girls tend to do.

I love to watch my kids play. The stories they come up with are so involved and interesting. I remember playing the same way when I was their age. My neighbor friends and I used to come up with stories based on the soap operas our mom’s watched when we were supposed to ‘resting’ but really we snuck in and watched to.

But we always added princesses and princes to our stories. people fell in love with the wrong prince, stole each other’s prince, had babies and died. Then we’d all share Popsicles under the shade of the backyard tree. Oh, childhood… how I miss it.

“You know that little girl knows about Pokemon, right?” I said to Jeff as I walked up next to him.

“She doesn’t just know about Pokemon, she knows Pokemon like what they evolve into, their class and every thing,” Jeff explained, proving that he too have been watching them play.

Pokemon08- (1)

“Oh Hayden is in love!” I said. “Totally met the girl of his dreams.”

Jeff nodded and we both walked over to a near by bench to sit. We both took out our phones as the kids continued to play. Every now and again, I’d look up and do a head count. I spied Hayden, Quinn and this little girl were laying on the ground under the slide.

“Did you hear what Hayden just said?” Jeff asked

“No,” I said, looking to Jeff.

“I didn’t quite here the little girl but Hayden said, ‘You can take my pants off but my underwear is just going to far.'”

“Oh  my!” I said with a half giggle because it was kind of funny and thank God the boy had standards. “Sounds like we are going to need to have a talk with him and girls and how pants stay on.”

Jeff nodded and returned to studying his phone. He was completely unphased by this. I, on the other hand watched Hayden and this girl more. Thankfully, the talk returned once again to Pokemon and which one they were going to try and catch. They got up from under the slide and began running around.

The wind whipped around me sending a chill up my spine. I looked at my phone clock and because we had already been playing for almost 3 hours, I gave the kids a 5 minute warning that it was time to go.

“Ok guys,” I called after 3 and a half minutes. “It’s time to go.” I was cold and wanted to go. Someday they will figure me and be able to tell time and know when 5 minutes is really up but for now, I’m safe in my ending it early.

Jeff stood and ran after the Claire and Jake. Quinn bounced to my side and Hayden was still running after the little girl.

“Hayden, come on. It’s time to go!” I called.

“Aw, mom!” He yelled back.

“Sorry buddy, it’s getting cold and I need to figure out what to make for dinner. Say ‘good bye’ to your friend.” I said.

“Good bye, Ava! Good bye. And call me. Call me sometime, ok!” Hayden called after his little friend and then shouted our phone number at her.

“Oh for pete’s sake,” I thought to myself, this boy is totally smitten.

With that, Hayden ran up to my side and took my hand in his. His smile was infectious.

“Mom, when we get home, I am going to call Ava and put a white sock on my door knob so that I can dirty talk to her for a long long time,” he said with a giggle. “Mom, she was just so cool. She knows Pokemon. I really, really like her.”

In that moment, I had two thoughts. Please let ‘dirty talk’ mean talking about mud and it’s time to have a serious conversation about girls.