Thursday, January 19, 2012

Letting Go of The Crib

This post was first published on my profile at BlogHer.

I was making my usual Mickey Mouse pancakes on a Sunday morning when it happened. I guess I was too distracted by the breakfast commotion to realize what was taking place upstairs. While I was busy attending to the specific requests of each child (milk in a pink princess cup to go with the pink plate for Sophia and orange juice in a Lightening McQueen cup to go with the blue plate for Tallen), Trey was already disassembling the crib in Tallen’s room.

For more than five years, this crib has held my babies. It started out as Sophia’s crib in the smallest bedroom in our house. The first time I got pregnant, I decided to keep the gender a surprise but once my little girl was born we added the girly pink princess bumper and sheets. I was in awe at how tiny Sophia looked curled up in the middle of the crib but she grew so fast. By the time she was two, she filled her crib with so many stuffed animals at night that there was barely any room for her to sleep.

Around that time, I found out I was pregnant again. A big white daybed replaced the black crib in Sophia’s room and we started painting the walls of the spare bedroom blue for our little boy.  Tallen was spoiled as a baby and preferred to sleep next to his mommy but by the time he was 7 months old, he was sleeping in his crib through the night. Instead of a crib full of stuffed animals like his sister, he only needed his "bubby" and blanket.  Now he can only fall asleep when he is lying in the far left corner of the crib and only after I have sang "Jesus Loves Me" to him (sometimes twice).

Tallen is tall for his age and we noticed that he does not have much room when he sleeps crammed into the corner of his crib.  I resisted the obvious solution for months but one Friday night, Trey and I spent the first half of date night trapped in the never-ending maze that is called Ikea.  We emerged about an hour later with several boxes that contained (we hoped) all the pieces of a twin bed and a twin mattress for Tallen.  Since Trey wasn't feeling well on Saturday, the boxes stayed in the car (fine with me).

As I was finishing my breakfast waitress duties on that Sunday morning, Trey came downstairs and asked me where I wanted to store the crib. 

"You already took his crib down?" I asked. "Why didn't you tell me you were getting ready to take it down?  I didn't get to say goodbye!" 

Trey just stood there for a moment, shocked at the panicked look on my face. 

"I didn't know it was such a big deal," he answered.

When it comes to major life changes, even happy ones, I become very emotional.  I cried at both my high school and college graduations.  While I was saying my vows at our wedding, I had to whisper them through my tears.  The night before Sophia's scheduled induction, I wept at the thought of losing the physical connection I had with the baby I carried in my belly for 9 months.

About a year ago, I wiped away tears as I wrote about saying goodbye to my journey to motherhood as I know our family is complete.  That crib was my last connection I had to my babies as babies... and now it was gone.  

A little while later when Trey was busy assembling the "big boy bed" we had bought for Tallen, I stood in the hallway running my hands across the rails of the pieces of the disassembled crib.  I touched the spots of bare wood where Tallen had chewed while teething.  I closed my eyes and remembered the hundreds of times I had leaned over the edge of that crib to place a sleeping baby inside.  Then I said my goodbye and with my eyes filled with tears, I let go... of my babies and the crib.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

Getting Over the Guilt - I Forgot to Bring Snack to School

Note: This post was written for and posted on my profile at Working Mother

Just this week, my daughter brought home a piece of paper from preschool. It was a note written to the parents, asking to bring a snack to share with the class on Thursday morning. The snack should be something from our culture and we were asked to write down the name of the snack and what was in it so the kids could discuss it in class. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I got the note Tuesday evening right after I got home from the grocery store.

Immediately, I felt pressure to come up with a healthy, wholesome snack that my daughter could share with her class. One that represented our culture (um, ok) and would be served in a classroom were re-heating was probably not an option.

How do I even define our family's culture? I'm from WV and, if pressed, could guess that my descendants were French-Canadian. My husband is from Louisiana, which is Cajun country, but my children have never lived in that state so Cajun cooking is not something they experience often.

On Wednesday evening, I asked my daughter what she wanted me to make for snack the next day. Her request was strawberry cupcakes with "red on the bottom and strawberries on top." I vetoed her suggestion, However I liked the idea of a mini cupcake sized snack so I started to brainstorm. Mini bread puddings, bite size mac-n-cheese, tiny egg frittatas... Unfortunately, I could not figure out how any of these represented our culture.

When I checked out the activity calendar that the school sends home each month, I saw that the next day was labeled "Foods from Around the World." Ok, since I could not come up with anything to represent my WV culture maybe I could expose these kids to some food from around the world. I quickly justified that the mini egg frittatas could be considered Spanish and vowed to make them once the kids were in bed.

Since my husband had a prior commitment, I was single parenting that night. After cooking dinner, feeding the kids, attempting to potty train my two year old and trying to keep the dog from eating play-doh off the kitchen table, I finally got the kids in bed about half an hour later than their usual bedtime. I pulled a muscle in my back earlier that week, and the pain not going away so I decided to sit down and rest. Knowing that mini-frittatas would not take long to make, I decided to bake them the next morning before school so they would still be warm.

Then for the first time in almost three years, I overslept for work. The sound of my son singing from his crib work me at 7:15 AM the next morning and I leaped out of bed to get dressed and out the door. By the time I sat down at my desk about an hour later, I suddenly realized that my daughter did not have a snack to take to preschool. Guilt, disappointment and dread settled in.

I immediately texted my husband and asked him to please apologize to her teachers and explain why we did not bring a snack. He assured me it was not big deal and not to worry. My response to him?

"You don't understand, I am a Working Mommy. That means there is more pressure on me to participate in her at-home projects, because I am not able to volunteer or attend most of her school activities! I feel so bad!"

My husband gently replied that I was the only one putting pressure on myself. He reminded me that its only pre-school and our daughter did not even notice that she didn't have a snack to share. He also said that the teachers understood and not everyone participates in classroom activities and we usually ALWAYS do.

By the end of the morning, I had let go of my guilt and disappointment and when I got home that evening, my daughter ran up to me and gave me a big hug. Then she ran right back to her dolls and started playing again but I felt forgiven.

Do you put unnecessary pressure or guilt on yourself because you are a Working Mother? Have you ever forgot about a project or snack for your child's school? Do your kids even notice?