Thursday, August 29, 2013


Dearest Ryan,

This blog has kind of been hijacked by your brother lately, huh? I mean, sure, you had the blog to yourself for three glorious years; No one to compete with. All the cute stories were about you. And then BAM! As of January nearly all the posts have been primarily focused on Zachary. Sorry about that, Buddy! But, I am very conscious of not wanting Zach to look back and say, "You posted all. the. time. when Ryan was little. How come you never blogged about me?" So, I am trying to give him equal time. But yes, as a result, you've been left in the dust a bit. And even worse, in my last post, I dared to  talk about how you've made mommy lose her patience a bit lately. And well, that's not really fair. Because overall, you're a pretty darn awesome kid!

So, I want to tell you how very, very proud Daddy and I are of you. You're a pretty typical three year-old in a lot of ways. You're fun and silly and crazy. Sometimes you don't listen so well because you're trying to figure out what parts of this complex world you can control and which parts are non-negotiable. You're figuring out such complexities pretty quickly.  But, you are also pretty exceptional too, and I want to tell you about that.

First of all, you're an amazing big brother. You look out for Zachary, and care about him in very special ways. For example, just tonight, Zach was sitting in his stroller, and you went to put your (filled with water) cup in his cup holder. You quickly realized he was about to grab it and spill it, so you pulled it away. But you also realized that all he wanted to do was play with it and that taking it away was going to upset him. So, as quickly as you could, you went and got an empty cup for him to play with and this made Zach as happy as a clam. No one told you to do this. You just did it on your own. You're thoughtful, and considerate, and moments like that just make me so darn proud of you!

You're also kind to people you don't even know. Recently we were at a birthday party for a friend. They had a HUGE bounce house set up in the backyard. Inside the bounce house was a basketball hoop and kids were playing with a variety of different balls. There was a little girl (maybe 2 years old) who had a ball. An older boy took her ball and she started to cry. You went up to her and immediately offered her yours. You did it on your own, simply because you saw that she was sad, and you knew you could do something that might help make it better. Never, ever stop caring about other people in this way.

You also are fiercely loyal and thoughtful towards the people in your life who you know and love. Recently we were eating some of the grape tomatoes that you've grown and picked with Pop-Pop. I was explaining to you that the tomatoes we are currently growing are going to be BIG tomatoes. You were excited about this and said, "The big red ones like we buy at the produce stand?!" And I said, "Yes, just like those!" You then said, "When they grow, we can bring some to Nee-Nee and Pop-Pop's. They like those kind!"

Don't get me wrong, you're a three year old, and you're appropriately selfish at times too. Like when you are playing trains and you just don't want Zach to mess them up. But overall, you are a thoughtful, generous, kind little boy, who more often than not makes an extra effort to show you care about other people. You offer bites of your ice cream or a lick of a delicious lollipop to Daddy or me. You give Zach a turn with toys you know he can't break. You draw pictures and almost always say, "This is for Zach/Daddy/Mama/Neenee/Poppop/Caitlin/Julia/etc."

You are also a very well behaved little boy. Whenever I take you out somewhere, I don't have to worry that you're going to do something you shouldn't. You always stay right with me when we're in parking lots. You follow directions knowing that when we're out and about, and its just Mommy, you, and Zach that my job is to keep you safe, and your job is to listen. I don't ever worry that you're going to throw a fit or embarrass us when we're out and about. (That's not to say that when we're home that you don't get bored and act out sometimes. Or, if we have a friend over that you're always willing to share. But most of the time you do!).

You give fierce hugs, and the sweetest little kisses. You don't snuggle as much as you used to when you were younger, but I sure cherish those moments now when you do. You love to read books and you wiggle yourself into the crook of my arm just so when we sit on the couch to read. You love to "help" with anything I am doing: cooking, cleaning, making the bed, feeding Zach, etc. You name it, you want to help. You're happy, joyful, easily excited, and a generally fun kid to be around. Your enthusiasm for life is contagious, and because of you, I find more joy in the simple things: excavators working, the moon out during the day, butterflies, bugs, "rockets," (aka: Airplanes that leave streaks in the sky), and cute baby animals.

Ryan James, you're not perfect. I would never expect you to be. I would never want you to be. But you're the perfect boy for our little family and I love you so, so much. Don't ever, ever, ever forget that!

Love always,


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mommy Doubt

Its rare that I bare my soul on this blog. Sure, I bare my political views, and my joys of Mommy-hood. I've shared the struggles we endured to get pregnant with Zachary, and I often brag about my wonderful husband and family. But, today, I bare more than that. I bare the doubt, questions, and insecurity that I think all mothers (at least those who are being honest with themselves) feel on some level nearly every day.

Most days I am pretty content in my role as a mostly stay at home Mom (SAHM). I work one full day a week and then as needed on occasional evenings or weekends. I find great fulfillment in my work as a Social Worker to some very special sick kids and their families. And most of the time I truly enjoy being a SAHM. I have the typical struggles of how to fill each of our days and make them interesting; how to get out of the house and do fun things without always having to spend money to do so. But most days, I love the easy-going, unscheduled, cozy, happy nature of our days. Though, of course there are those days when my patience is short; When I feel like I am failing as a mother because I am not being as patient with Ryan as I know that I should be. There are those evenings when the fact that Zachary will only settle down at night for me makes me wants to scream in frustration. (For the record, I know we created that monster. We got into a pattern where Matt did most of Ryan's bedtime routine and I did Zach's. Now, Zach won't settle for anyone but me.) And it is on those days that I wonder, "would I be a better mom if I worked more?"

This is a jarring, and scary thought. I have lived my life from the time I was in high school, with the dream and goal that when I had children, I would mostly stay home. I feel blessed and fortunate that due to Matt's job, my part-time work (including a stint as a Nanny for my nieces), and the very generous free babysitting that my parents provide when I am working, that this dream has been a reality. Its what I always wanted, and thus, something I shouldn't be questioning. Right??

But then, it feels like its only normal to grapple with what is the right thing to do in regards to parenting. And on most days, I can put aside the doubt that I feel on my worst SAHM days. I mean, all moms and dads lose their patience on occasion, right? I'm not the only Mom in the world to regret snapping a little too quickly or loudly at her three year old, who for the third time this week, for the love of god, came bounding into the baby's room while I'm trying to put him  to sleep saying, "I'm just letting you know I'm going to go poop and I'll need you to wipe soon!!"  Its only natural that spending every waking moment with your children 6 out of 7 days would result in a few more moments of impatience than if I was only with them from 5:30 till bedtime 5 days a week, right? Right?

Don't get me wrong. I think I am a fairly patient mom. I would say I am very patient 95% of the time. But its that 5% of the time on which I perseverate. Its that 5% that makes me wonder if I would be more patient if I weren't with my kids all. the. time.

Do you hear the doubt? Sense the insecurity?

I used to have this wonderful friend who lived up the street. When I was feeling like an inferior mom I could always count on one of our chats during the kids' "play dates" (which is really code for "oh good! The kids can entertain each other while we chat!") that our conversation would meander in such a way that we would touch on these every day frustrations, these doubts and insecurities, and I would leave feeling less doubtful and less alone. I still have that friend. But she moved to Indiana, and those meandering conversations don't happen any more.

Then, I was talking on-line to a friend from college, who I haven't seen since I graduated, but who has been a wonderful support via Facebook. We chat often and share frequent comments on Facebook. She's a mostly SAHM mom too, and we seem to share similar perspectives on life and parenting. Oh, yeah, except for the little detail I learned last night, which is that she's not a SAHM mom anymore. Nope, after three years as a mostly SAHM she went back to work full-time (though, she is lucky, she gets to work from home, and her kids are in daycare only 5 minutes away) and she is thrilled with the decision. Sure, she feels guilty at times. But, in her words, she's "not cut out to be a SAHM" and everyone's happier now that she's not.

So, then the questions creep back in. Former SAHM Facebook friend's new situation makes me doubt my mostly SAHM mom role and good friend who used to live up the street doesn't live there anymore and can't offer reassurance that my questioning is normal. So, all day today I've been wondering, "Would I be a better mother if I worked more?" Certainly, I wouldn't be around my kids as much. But when I was, would I be more patient? Would I cherish each of those moments more?

I don't know the answer. I don't know that I ever will, unless I decide to go back to work full time, which honestly, I don't see happening. Many more days than not I am happy with the balance Matt and I have found. I feel blessed that I can work a little (without having to pay for daycare, Thanks Mom and Dad!) while still being home with my kids the majority of the time. I look at Ryan--and though I will never forget the look of hurt on his face when I snap too quickly at him--and I know that he's a pretty awesome kid. He's almost always happy. He's not perfect. He's three. He's not the greatest listener. But he's mine, and he's amazing, and silly, and sensitive, and loving. Oh, he's so loving. And I know that is all because of me and Matt (and of course our extended family who loves him so, but yes, mostly me and Matt.). I see Zach, and the fun, out-going, determined, little personality he seems to be developing. I see the way Zach and Ryan interact and already love each other so much. And I know that Matt and I have made all that. All the love, the craziness, the frustration, the joy, and yes, the love. Its ours. We don't wonder where it came from. Where they learned it. We know. And that, most days, is enough.

There aren't a lot of things I know for certain about parenting. Perhaps the only thing I know for certain is that it is by far the most important thing I will ever do in my life. And yet, it is perhaps the first thing I have ever put myself into so fully, with very little clear feedback in regards to how I am doing. In school, I studied hard, and I aced  the test. In grad school, I worked hard, applied, and was accepted into a prestigious fellowship. In my work, I got glowing evaluations and the compliments of the amazing families I work with. But, with parenting, you never really know if you're doing it well. Well, at least not until your kid is maybe in their mid-twenties. And then, if they haven't spent the majority of their young-adult-hood on some therapists couch lamenting how you screwed them up, well, then you can probably be pretty certain you did a decent job. But, until then, you just don't know. There is no A+ to be given. No fellowship to be accepted into. There is just you, your toddler, your infant, a lot of love, some impatience, and the hope and prayer every day that you're doing it well.

So, here's hoping, that whether I am a mostly SAHM, or one day a full-time working mom, or anywhere in between, that Ryan doesn't end up on a therapists couch saying, "I just had to poop! And I just wanted her to know!"

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Zachary: 7 Months

Dearest Zachary,

You turned 7 months old today and what a happy little 7 month old you are. There isn't much to report on the "milestones" front this month. We're beginning to think you may skip crawling all together and go right to walking. You are more interested in trying to pull up on things than you are in figuring out how to crawl. You can almost pull yourself up from a sitting position onto furniture by yourself. But of course, since you can't crawl, someone has to put you in front of said piece of furniture. I have to admit, I'm kind of glad you aren't crawling yet. Given your brothers love tiny toys (namely, Legos!) its nice to know that when I put you down somewhere, you're not going to find your way to a choking hazard. I'm a little panicked about the day that is no longer true!

The one milestone you did hit this month was you got your first and second teeth! You gnaw on pretty much anything but generally are still a very happy baby despite teething. You wake a little more at night these days, but, other than that, we really wouldn't know you were teething.

You continue to be a very vocal little guy. You are very adept at communicating your displeasure with any situation. You have a cute little grunt that you make anytime something makes you unhappy. Such as, someone takes something from you, I try to feed you something you don't want, Ryan gets a little too generous with his hugs, etc. But more often than not, you can be found squealing, quite loudly, in delight. Sometimes it sounds like a yell, but its always very clear that it is a happy noise, mostly from the huge smile on your face.

You love your Mommy and Daddy so much. You give HUGE smiles to Daddy when he comes home from work. And the same for Mommy anytime you see her when she has been out of sight for more than 5 seconds. But, Ryan still earns your biggest smiles. You laugh at almost anything he does. He of course finds this FANTASTIC and takes your laughter as permission to do more of whatever made you laugh. He has yet to fully understand that you will laugh at most anything he does, even something he isn't supposed to do. You clearly know who Ryan is, and anytime I say, "Where's Ryan!?" You frantically look around for him, and smile broadly as soon as you find him. It is so much fun to watch your relationship developing already.

You're a happy, joyful, determined, playful, and seemingly out-going little guy. We can't wait to watch you grow more and more. I am so proud to be your Mommy!
You were tired in this picture...apparently not pleased we were taking your picture! :) 

Happy 7-month day!

Love always,


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