Toddler Vs. Teenager

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
December 9, 2016

Jackson: DA!

Layla: Jackson Stop!

Jackson: DA! DA! DA!

Layla: Oh my God. You are so annoying

Jackson and Cece fight pretty often. I am used to their fights. They usually start with food or toys. Jackson has it, she wants it, and he won’t share. She, now quick and agile, manages to outsmart him and get it. He screams. I grab it and hand it back. She throws herself on the ground in defeat. I split the food or find another toy and they calm down only to repeat this scenario five minutes later. My day is filled with meltdowns. Trying to be one of those moms that limit their kids’ TV time to a responsible eight hours, I have had enough of fire fighting dogs and high-pitched mice, and I turn it off. Meltdown. Jackson yells “NOOO my Paw Patrol. My TV.” “NO! Paw-po-tay!” Cece echoes as they turn the meltdown toward me.

Layla and Liv fight pretty often. I am used to their fights. It usually starts with “she is hurting my feelings” or “she won’t talk to me.” It turns into hushed hissing at each other and sometimes full out wrestling. I am often a character in their bickering. “Look you hurt Mom’s feelings” like I am some delicate little flower that can’t handle their little spats. (Some days I am). Honestly, all I really want is for them to unload the dishwasher. When they aren’t fighting they are really weird and giggly. Like they have a million inside jokes that I just don’t get. They are sitting on the couch, laughing, and watching some YouTube video. They are talking back and forth so much and so fast I can barely understand a word they are saying. Are they talking about people at school? Or a show they watch. “She has had like four ex boyfriends since the beginning of the year. But he is a pure child. I was starting to like them, and ship them but…” gibberish to me. Jackson and CeCe are playing on the floor. They have a little game of looking at each other and yelling “DA” followed by hysterical laughter. I sit in my recliner, the perch of motherhood, smiling at the chaotic life that I created.

Continue reading Toddler Vs. Teenager

The Running Dead

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
December 5, 2016

So I run now- it is four days official as I continue this path to some sort of self-discovery. Or I am on my first of many a midlife crisis. I keep trying to come up with these organic opportunities to release all the stress, negativity and toxicity that tend to creep up. After failed attempts to join a gym, get to a yoga class, find an at home workout program or diet that I can actually stick to, I decided to give this approach a try. If anything, I get a toddler free half hour out of it. I shut the front door to my house tucking my phone into the front of my sweatshirt ready to start this new challenge in the misty chill the beginning of December brings,

The air is preparing for snow as I start my warm up walk through my neighborhood. The last reminisce of fall still cling as dead leaves are piled on the curb and crunching under my feet. A few pumpkins remain on front porches finally starting to rot (mine included). The loud hum of the main road becomes more and more distant as I near the cemetery at the end of the street. Yes, my neighborhood backs into a cemetery. A literal “dead end” we like to say. (never gets old). I was a skeptic about moving right next to the dead but as Josh pointed out “at least they are quiet”.

“Begin Running” the Ap instructs. I pick up the pace entering the cemetery. There is a brisk and damp mist in the air that press against my face. It wasn’t quite cold enough to hurt yet. I wait for my body to reject running and make up excuses to start walking before the ap advised. Oddly, it welcomed it like an old friend, one I haven’t seen in years. It had been at least four years since I last attempted to be a runner again. It started with a decision (over alcohol) to run a half marathon. With just over four months to learn the craft, I was able to run for ten miles without feeling like I would explode. Then I ran thirteen miles, which ended my serious running phase. Running and I broke up after that only to have the occasional flame rekindling over the years.

“Begin Walking” she says again as I slow my pace and take the path that boarders the woods. A squirrel is sitting on one of the gravestones fumbling with opening a nut not knowing a life is buried under it. The old stones paint pictures of the lives they represent. Abigail: wife of Jonathan, mother of Peter and Elizabeth. Aged thirty-six years, two months and three days: February 3, 1892. I love to read and pronounce the names out loud. As saying it somehow brings them back to life if just for a second. So many stones, with one-line phrases that represent an entire life. Grimes: I told you I was sick.

“Begin Running” I welcome back the old friend. This time I am a gazelle; light on my feet gliding along the path. The rustling of the trees reveals a little smirk. Abigail is rolling her decomposed eyes in amusement. Ok, I admit. Probably more like a T-Rex; my elbows firmly tucked as I stomp along the path, trying not to put all the weight on the back of my feet.

“Begin Walking” My arms still swing like wide scissors darting out of my shoulders. I am getting the stride as I rhythmically walk to the music -Band of Horses (as always). The melancholy tone of the music mixes with the melancholy grey fall day reminding me of why the typical “workout” mix wasn’t motivating me. I start to sing along.

“To the outside; the dead leaves lay on the lawn. For they don’t have trees to hang upon. At every occasion I’ll be ready for the funeral. At every occasion once more its called the funeral”

I sing with the comfort and confidence that no one is around to hear and pause to smile at the obvious irony between the lyrics and my surroundings. If I can awkwardly run then I can awkwardly sing. I convince myself satisfied with the stretch I gave my voice.

“Begin Running” I position my inner gazelle again, tightening my posture. With twenty pounds of baby weight left to lose, it is impossible not to feel like a bloated version of my former self. I am trying to love my new squishier body but the closet of clothes I can’t wear is not cooperating. There is a fight between my leggings and my jeans. My leggings are telling me to accept and love my new size while my jeans are telling me to work harder and lose the weight. I am running, and appreciating the stress and anxiety release I was so desperately craving. I decide I need variety in my wardrobe, jeans and leggings working together not against each other. I don’t care about the weight. I am so tired of the years of self-body shaming. It started when I started “developing” in the fifth grade and has been the enemy of my self confidence ever since. I am not a T-Rex! I tell the dead.

I continue through the series of running and walking and start to feel the calming. This too shall pass. I ritualistically remind myself. I am surrounded by reminders of death: decaying trees, crumbling tombstones and the community of people buried beneath me. I am also surrounded by life: birds flying overhead, squirrels scampering about and an obese mushroom growing on the side of a tree. There is a newer headstone decorated for the season. I small Christmas tree with bright bulbs and garland sits in front of a giant wreath. “Dad” one of the many words used to describe the person under the decorations; and an Ohio State logo to further paint the image of the life that some family valued so much.

So I run now: through the cemetery a few times a week. It is for a lot of health benefits: physically, mentally and spiritually. Maybe I will stick with it this time. Maybe I will lose weight. Maybe I will finally just accept whatever size I am. I pass a group of women as I exit the cemetery. “Looking good!” one of them yells out. “You too! All of you.” I say smiling.

Shoes and Socks

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
November 30, 2016

I have to get something off my chest. I hate shoes and socks. I really wish someone had told me that half my parenting life was spent worrying about shoes and socks. From finding matching socks to putting shoes on wiggling little feet to the smell of shoes after a day of tween feet in the summer- everything about shoes is one giant parenting nightmare; and there is always a stranger around to remind me of the unspoken foot law.

Socks:

Where in the history of mankind does it actually say that socks have to match? Perhaps there was a time when they all matched. Then dryers were invented: the anti-sock. Every time a dryer is run, a sock loses its twin. I have one athletic Puma sock from my college days. It lingers at the bottom of the missing sock basket, longing for the return of its mate-the same way I long for the return of my size 4 pant size. If foot law is ever studied, the day I became a parent has to go down as the pinnacle turning point for any established matching principle.

Why do socks always need to match? I answered that question about five years ago: they don’t. It starts with the pairing of similar socks. Two socks: pink at the bottom but different designs around the ankle: match. A black and really dark brown trouser sock: match. Two white socks, one adult and one child sized: match. It was a nice relief, just grab two socks and out the door. Not the endless pursuit for sock twins-which was to blame for most of my tardiness; most of it. If we are wearing boots and the socks don’t match who actually cares? About five years ago the Justice phenomenon happened. EVERYTHING Liv owned had to come from “Justice for Girls”. She would beg for those sparkly pull over shirts with bedazzled peace signs and a logo in bold sequins. Going to Justice with Liv was always stressful. She had a specific idea of what she wanted (banana earrings, monster high dolls, best friend necklaces, knee high “converse” looking boots with a blue leopard print and even more sequins). One day, she picked out a pack of socks. Unmatching socks. “Wait, you want to spend ten dollars for a pack of socks that don’t match? I have a whole basket at home. You can be the trendiest person in the second grade.” This was met with giant sad eyes so we bought them. I may have overpaid for that pack of socks, but as soon as that trend hit, they never wore matching socks again. Zebra on one foot? Watermelon on the other? So trendy and cool. How can we ever go back?

Shoes:

We are approaching winter, shoes season. The babies hardly wore shoes all summer. There was no point since they were always taking them off. I was perfectly fine with my loss on that battle. They were probably well known at the playground: the Barefoot Taylors. Don’t let your kids see; they will start to get crazy ideas about a barefoot utopia. Jackson was climbing the slide ladder monkeying his toes around the bars for better stability. An intently watching little boy began to take his off as well. “No No!.” his mom scolded. “We don’t take our shoes off. See. Mommy has shoes on. And daddy has shoes on. Sister has shoes on and brother has shoes on.” She condescended. The kid shrugged and ran off to the tire swing.

Just when I think I am starting to get this whole stay at home mom thing down; I get a little too confident. My plan: two stores and a drive through to the bank. First fail: getting them out of the door. I found at least four single shoes for Cece. In a rage of annoyance, I walked through each room. Looking in corners, and bookshelves and toy bins. Where is another shoe?! I put her socks on. She immediately took them off. Where is the other shoe? Jackson started taking off his pants. “No!” I yell. “Go bye-bye” I put his pants back on just as Cece follows his lead and takes hers off. Are you serious? I line up all her unmatched shoes. Hoping I was missing one possible mate. No luck. Jackson is running circles in the middle of the living room and crashing into the Christmas tree. Bulbs are rolling and I am still hunched under the couch praying a shoe will suddenly appear in the same place I have searched twenty times before. Finally, I find a pair of Jackson’s old shoes that are slightly too small on him and way too big on her. I tie them as tight as I can and load them in the car. Store 1: grocery store. Thanks to some free turkey at the deli, we somehow make it to the checkout with no meltdowns or sudden urges to climb out of the cart. Next stop: the bank to deposit cash. Fancy. I think as I slide my cash into the machine. “Error.” The screen reads, and only half of it comes back out. “Temporarily out of service” was the only explanation it had. I panic staring at the other half of my cash. I debate on whether it is enough to take Jackson and Cece into the bank. They are both sleeping and I am not prepared – I have no books, no toys, no candy and my phone screen is cracked. Cece remained sleeping and Jackson woke up and ran around the bank; pressing his face against the glass while people were meeting with bankers, trying to type on the computer in an empty cube, drawing pictures on the pamphlets. We had to wait to fill out some report. Luckily an extremely patient stranger let us go ahead of him. Last stop: Target – where toddlers turn into nightmares. Cece had one shoe off. I ignored any urge to put the other one back on. The good thing is that we only needed one item: the last of Josh’s birthday present. The bad thing is that electronics are located right next to toys. “Paw Patrol!!” Jackson kept yelling. “Get Skye! Get Rocky! Need pups!” We make it to the checkout since I caved and bought him a pup. He had the packaging open and the bar code was destroyed. While two cashiers were assisting on the pup crisis, the woman behind us entertained Cece. “Where is your shoe? She kept asking.

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The photo that perfectly sums up parenting

 

Thanksgiving Hangover

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
November 27, 2016

We pulled into our driveway. Back to our familiar little house, back to our familiar little life. The comfort was quickly replaced by screaming: toddler screaming. Jackson started yelling. “Kimmy house! Kimmy house!” He fell asleep in mid tantrum when we left my sister’s house, three hours earlier, and resumed as soon as we got home. He stomp-cried his way up the front steps as my hands shoved gently guided him through front door. This was met with more crying; as if he was in desperate despair and “Kimmy house” were the only words he knew. “He is hungry” I translated walking into the familiarity of my house. A house that nailed the mannequin challenge: everything still in a state of disarray created by trying to usher four children in the car. A reminder of that Wednesday morning was frozen in time, the drawers were half open in failed attempts to match socks and the dishes were stacked in a failed attempt to load the dishwasher. I sifted through our refrigerator and pantry for a quick snack and realized the reality of being out of town – no grocery shopping. After contemplating serving him Ketchup, I looked around for traces of his three approved meal options, mac and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or cereal. His fierce loyalty to keeping his coat off made me hesitant to try anything else, but the only real food option we had was leftover thanksgiving dinner. I tried some mashed potatoes. “No! Peanut butter jelly!” He demanded, jamming his hood over his head as a cold reminder that he was in charge. “We don’t have any bread.” I reasoned. “How about turkey?” As if that was some secretly approved menu item no one told me about. “Go Kimmy house!” His back stiffened and he was slinking out of the chair. Shit is getting real – he is taking this tantrum to the floor.  I opened the pantry in my own quest to find Dory – the Dory themed box of mac and cheese. I see cereal, Chocolate Cheerios, and do a quick victory twirl. “Coco Cereal?” I suggest. The crying stops like a glimpse of sunshine over the gray clouds. “Jackson want coco cereal.” (Yes I am raising Tarzan). I empty the last of the cereal into his bowl and topped it with the remaining milk. He begins to devour the cereal and looks up at me. “Jackson want coco milk” he requests. I point out the newly formed chocolate milk in his bowl. He sips for a second. “Jackson want coco milk” he says again. “How about apple juice?” I fill one of his cups with juice and try to find a straw lid. He is partial to the straws lately over the sippy lids, one more step toward cup independence. I can’t find the straws. Damn, probably buried in the pile of dishes I have yet to load or attached to stray cups tucked under the couch, or bed, or any other random place I cringe to think milk is hiding. “No lid!” He yells as I had him the juice. He is kicking his feet against the table. I see a cereal spill in the near future and sit on the chair next to him, finally removing my coat and shoes – ready to reason.

Me: No Straw, lid. Do you want to sit in time-out?

Toddler: Straw! Straw! Straw!

Me. No straw, lid. Time out!

Toddler: Straw. Jackson want straw!

Me. Time out?!

Jackson: Go to Kimmy house!

 Finally, I removed the lid and he drank the juice.

 I like to refer to this phenomenon as a Thanksgiving hangover. We all had it. The sluggish movements, the desperation not to go back to normal conflicted with the need to be relaxed and settled at home while doing absolutely nothing. Thanksgiving is a time of indulgence. I am thankful for food on the table: so I eat so much food that it drowns my stomach in a gluttonous decadence; so thankful for family that we over indulge in the warmth and the buzz of togetherness. The good parties always result in an emotional hangover. When I have a good time, it is easy to feel a hesitation to jump back into normal routine. I just want to keep the party going. As a parent of a toddler, I know the price of any party and it is a multiple day hangover – the kind that used to come with epic nights of tequilla. In that moment, I realized what I was truly thankful for. In those final defining months of my working life, I couldn’t afford a multiple day hangover. It would have grabbed hold of me, around my neck so I was barely breathing. There were always deadlines, and schedules that weren’t mine. I am thankful for the moment we pulled in the driveway and I was no longer hung over. My home, my life- my little adventure of a life-now on my terms. We will be back to normal, maybe tomorrow, maybe the next day. That night I ate two pieces of pie for dinner. After, I ran to the neighborhood convenience store and did one of my most normal tasks: I grabbed a gallon of milk and a bottle of wine.

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Hanging with Papa, Blue and some friends. No wonder he didn’t want to leave. xoxo

Perfectly imperfect

Cassidy.Marie.Rose
November 21, 2016

There are days when I feel like I am damn near perfect. A day when everything just goes my way. I got the closest spot at the grocery store. My kids were only mildly needy. I am wearing a beautifully accessorized outfit. The toddlers were actually wearing shoes and their socks match. My preteens asked me for advice. I am on top of my game. Life-nailed it. Then there is every other day. The one where a diaper exploded so much that I threw away the pants rather than try to wash them. The day when even my favorite jeans just didn’t fit right. I have been trying to make a lot of positive changes lately. I am eating healthy and working out. My steps are in and I am getting up earlier. Mostly, I am allowing myself to fail and setting myself up for success by eliminating the notion of failure. This aura of perfection I created is not going to happen. I am not going to have the perfect kids, or job or body or house it is just too exhausting. I am perfectly happy with being perfectly imperfect – sounds perfect. (Yes, the over emphasis perfect was intentional) To enforce that, I am sharing a shining moment of imperfection. Since it is such a cold and dreary day, I figured I should share a story from warmer days

I ate the Cake Pop. The day was hot but the Farmers Market remained busy; knowing it is best to get there early, we struggled to get out the door by ten. It was either a morning of needy toddlers or the effects of a few hours of good company, live music and tequilla the night before. Either way, it was hard to put on clothes that morning. Everything that wasn’t my ratty pajama bottoms just hurt, both physically and mentally. With subtle vainness, I put as much stock into what I wear to the market as Josh does trying to find the perfect heirloom tomato. I obsessively get the babies ready while darting into my room to add or change something about my outfit until I get that whole “I really put no thought into this outfit” Saturday morning vibe. (This outfit brought to you by Mickey Mouse Clubhouse). Here’s the thing, the more put together my outfit is that day, the more like myself I feel. Every detail is a reflection and I just don’t feel quite right unless I have some way of putting it all together. These days, my body is showing the effects of the birth of my fourth child in my mid thirties and the three Gs of getting old have taken over: gravity, gluttony and grays. When the hell did my arm skin start to drop? Why is my belly button four times bigger than its original size? Same with my ass? Will I ever lose that last twenty pounds? Point being: I need all the self-esteem boasters I can get. Luckily I usually wear Cece to the farmers market to allow Josh to have full agility. Baby on the front hides all the tummy flab, strange side boob flab and even ass flab (a little stretchy on that one). It doesn’t hurt that she is cute as shit, so she is basically the perfect accessory.

As always, the market is busy,people are everywhere, and it is really humid. We get to the first stand and Josh gets a giddy spring in his step. He is eagerly deciding between springtime and fall honey while feeling up tomatoes and carefully selecting the best cuts of meat. As always, I hang back and people watch while piling more canvas and plastic bags on the stroller. Somewhere between the Kimchi and gluten free cupcakes I inherited the following jobs: stroller pusher, the holder of all bags and the maker of silly faces to keep babies entertained between stands. I am used to it by now, but at that first stand I could feel Olivia beginning to singe with impatience. “I wish I would have brought some water” she said. Translation: I am going to make a sad face until you buy me a drink. “What are we having for lunch?” Translation: You will feel my eyes burn the back of your skull until you feed me. I am becoming more fluent in preteen these days. When I saw her oogle a cupcake at the bakery stand I knew she wasn’t going to make it. Josh shrugs and hands her ten dollars. “Get a treat for your brother too. She quickly chooses a brownie and I grab two cake pops.

We saunter through the crowd and find Josh cradling a basket of peaches. I hand Jackson and Cece their cake pops and continue to weaved around people. Josh was stocking up on garlic and handmade pasta and chattering about what we were going to make this week. Stuffed peppers. Mmm. A bowl with the cilantro pasta and muddle some honey and fresh blackberries with tequilla for a fresh margarita. Damn, I am hungry. I glance back at Cece. Her face is covered in chocolate. She mashed a piece of the cake pop into the strap of the carrier. I have been meaning to wash that carrier anyway. She just moved that task to the already crowded to do list. Sorry scrubbing grout in bathroom..you just got bumped back, again. I really wish I had breakfast. One random tidbit about the early years of parenting: there is no breakfast. Here we are going on lunch and I have yet to eat. I turn my head and take a quick bite of Cece’s cake pop, somehow managing to avoid the spot she has been sucking on. The frosting sticks to my mouth with a slightly fudgy consistency which is what is causing it to linger. It is amazing. Holy shit. And the cake. Yellow cake. So moist. That bite of cake cured a whole week of stress. It was like bakery angels playing the harp. Yeah, I was that fucking good. Or I was just that hungry.

Our bags were full and we were walking toward our car. I was lost in a gaze at all the different treasures offered at the market. Home made soap. Beautiful cut flowers. Breads and cheeses and dips, oh my. It is impossible not to feel hungry. “wait. Wait. Wait” the cross walk signal jolted me out of my trance. Then we were crossing. Not the most attentive, I was the last person to cross. I turned to look at the road and in the very corner of my eye, I saw the cake pop. Cece was shaking it and it came loose and bounced right off the stick and into the crosswalk. I hesitated and looked down. “Oh no, Cece”. I said mainly because anything told to a baby makes you sound ten time less crazy. We wouldn’t want anyone to get that on their shoe. I quickly picked it up and scurried back into the flow of the crowd. Looking around, I could tell that no one was paying attention to me. Just another mom wearing a baby at the farmers market. I hardly stood out. Using this to my advantage, I ate the cake pop. And it was so damn good that I didn’t even feel I twinge of shame. Well maybe not right away.