Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Little Things

60 Weeks

Ren drinks milk from only from sippy cups now and can stand proudly for many seconds at a time. He's even taken a step or two as he moves from couch to arm chair. He loves to push his walker and run around the house. Especially since he's figured out that a dead end only means he needs to back up and turn around. Ren loves putting the dog's food in the dog's water. The dog isn't so thrilled about it, but Ren always finds a way to make it up to him during dinner by dropping choice bites onto the floor. Ren can pull his toy bins out by himself and he even brushes his own teeth each night before bed. He'll bring Mommy or Daddy his favorite book to read, over and over, and sometimes he'll act out or point to the best parts. When Ren goes to sleep at night, he chatters through new words as he drifts off. You can almost hear his thoughts. "Bubboos..." His new favorite experience is watching Daddy blow them during bath time.

Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?

59 Weeks

Dearest Ren,
My mother sent me a copy of The Giving Tree when I was in college. I was mad at her and not calling home very often and she was trying to stay connected. I still cringe when I read it. I've not even shared this classic with you even though we've a couple of copies of it in your kid library. I self publish many of my honest thoughts about being your mom in this blog, even the hard stuff, but I don't consider anything I've done for you or with you a sacrifice. I consider it a privilege. It's an honor to be your mom—to be given the task of explaining the rules of the world and helping you navigate them in your own time. I love you, son, as much as that Silverstein tree loves that little boy. I'd happily give you all of my leaves and branches. Just know it doesn't take anything away from my life that I give to yours. With every leaf I pass on to you, I feel two more grow back in it's place. Sometimes more. You inspire me to be better and stronger for you. For the world. Thank you for that. I'm grateful to you with all of my heart and soul and body as I know it. Even if you are slowly killing your father.
Always and forever,

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


58 Weeks

I got home from work to a disheveled Daddy who was in great need of conversation with an adult. Mommy was in great need of an aspirin. (They don't tell you that weaning feels like the flu.) "I don't know where I lost it and I'm sorry." I wasn't sure what he meant, then he handed me a tiny shoe. "He had a great time though. It's gone—I looked everywhere—but at least he had a great time." Earlier that day Greg packed up the kid, his car-shaped Flinstone-style walker, and headed to our local park. I saw the iPhone videos. Ren had a blast like he usually does with Daddy. I stared down at the evidence and grinned. Ren can't even walk on his own and yet his father has already taken him on countless daytime adventures his only footwear is a worn out left slipper. Here's to great men who spend their days raising great kids.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Dear Prudence

57 Weeks

You never know what amazing things will come your way if you relax your expectations. We just watched the Mets in the 2015 World Series. That happened. Greg was thrilled and our family was shrouded in orange and blue for two weeks.

Now, I thoroughly enjoy Halloween. Greg, does not. (Same with karaoke. We're a fun couple with whom to share date-night. Any takers?) Since Ren can't eat candy and we have no business doing so at this juncture in our junk, we decided we wouldn't put Ren in a David Lynch costume just yet. Besides, Ren's 1-year-old check up was the morning of Halloween and that meant shots. Which could easily have meant a crap day. Instead, Ren actually seemed to be energized after his injections this time. The 'ol "I'll give you something to cry about" syndrome? I took it as a sign and dug through a plastic bag filled with hand-me-downs, recalling a monkey suit inside, then spontaneously had all of us hit the center of a neighboring town to trick-or-treat. (AKA showing off our cute baby dressed as an adorable monkey.) You haven't lived until you've entered a local pizza parlor and introduced your baby-primate to a baby-witch, a baby-Captain America, and a baby-Luke Skywalker. None of us had met before and the adults never spoke to one another. We all just collectively shoved our costumed kids together and giggled. "We made these and then put these clothes on them and now we are putting them all together." Alien life-forms would be utterly confused about its meaning.

Today, Greg is out of town so Ren and I had dinner just the two of us. We were almost finished eating, moving on to singing songs, and playing silly games. (AKA doing anything and everything to make Ren laugh.) I stopped and in all seriousness, looked at Ren and told him I liked him.

"Ren. Mommy likes you very much. I love you. You know that? I really think you're fun to be around."

He soaked this in, paused for a good three seconds, and with a completely straight face, raised his hands up over his head like a referee and said, "tree."

The Beatles were wrong. All you need is tree.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Right to Choose

56 Weeks

We knew Ren was a boy pretty early into our pregnancy. We'd done all the tests, since we could, and wanted to prepare for everything, especially heartache, since we're human and all. Neither of us had a preference of gender for our child, but knowing he was male gave us a foundation. (And I'll admit, a little relief for fear of having to lie about our disdain for light pink and headband bows.)

When I was 11, my mom had my brother. I was old enough to babysit almost immediately. I will never forget the solace of rocking him to sleep at night, or the boredom of watching over him as he tried to feed himself. Since Ren, that was the last time I'd been close to a baby. Thirty years ago. My mother used to ask me if helping raise my baby brother was the reason I hadn't had kids. I told her it wasn't, but who knows? Things were hard for him, for us. His little life was all I really knew from kids, and, of course, I had opinions on the choices my mother made for him. I felt like more than a sister in certain ways. My mother took a hard right when I was 14. Became someone else. I felt like my brother got gypped in the mom department and my first decade was with Betty Crocker. Survival guilt.

As a toddler, my brother was diagnosed with ADD and Identity Disorder. He was nellie. Capital Rupaul, nellie. At two,he called me, "giiirrrl," and flipped invisible hair over his shoulders. Everything about him screamed effeminate. A high-pitched, chain-saw chased shriek. I was embarrassed by him some days, but I was a teenager, I was embarrassed by my own face. Yet even then, I didn't understood the amount of money, stress, blood, sweat, and tears my mother and our entire family went through in order to keep my brother in pants and out of skirts. Sure, we lived in Texas and he went to public school. And yes, his gender preferences weren't the only reason he was called a 'difficult' kid. It's just that even as a young person, I didn't understand why my brother was wrong for liking what he liked or being who he was. He was also a lot of fun and had the personality fitting of the world's littlest day-time talk show host. Things might have been different for him, us, if my family and the doctors and society thought twice about fighting against nature. I know they did what they thought was right by him. Turns out it wasn't.

Thanks to the sexuality soldiers throughout the ages, the world is a very different place. I'm grateful for the advancement of our society's compassions towards, what I guess is called the transgender movement. (I have another disdain, too, for wasting time labeling folks. We all have hearts and livers and kidneys too. We don't have laws and discrimination and movements based on how people use those organs.) Things would have been different for my brother if he'd been born today.

I watch Ren play with his cars and blocks and balls and wonder if he will ever become more attracted to dolls and tutus and make up. Greg and I both agree that we couldn't care less. What is important is that Ren do whatever he likes with his time on this earth as long as he doesn't maliciously hurt himself or his fellow people. We believe that happiness is the most important commodity in this life. Happiness being a thing that doesn't come easily. In some ways this makes our job easier and in many ways, more difficult. How lucky are we? At this point in our son's life I'm typing about the banal subject of his gender identity. Thank you, Universe, for giving us charge over Ren. Maybe you do know what you're doing. If we had real problems, my weekly, personal op-ed would be a series of H. R. Giger emojies.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Re, a drop of golden sun...

55 Weeks

You haven't lived until you've seen a room full of 1-year-olds taking turns strumming an adult's guitar with a pic the size of a plate. ("Taking turns" being relative to 1-year-old manners.) We accompanied Ren to a music class for babies. (I know, a first-world luxury.) There, we learned to keep a beat on a bongo, share by asking with a palm facing up, and that we shouldn't greet a stranger by grabbing her nose. (Explains why I'm awkward at office parties.) Being in the presence of other children in an educational setting gave Ren a chance to see that it's ok to stand without help and not everyone within seven feet of him must give him applause. (Another lesson for Mommy and Daddy.) Are we the only parents who hope our child starts a kindergarten punk band named Julie Andrews?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Fast Forward

54 Weeks

If you happen to read books about babies, you'll note that they all devote extra pages to thwart expectations about a child's first birthday. A kid turning one does not mean a magical switch will flip making him or her officially a functioning aware member of the human toddler race. They don't wake up the morning of their birthday party and say, "Hello Mommy. I'd like a piece of cake now." Time is a mental construct and diapers need to be changed sometimes even while they are being changed.

However, Ren did wake up calling me, "Mama" on the morning of his birthday party and that day, I swear you could see his mind evolving right through the pupils of his eyes. He played with his cousins and new toys with intense curiosity. I think he looked up maybe once to make sure Greg and I were around. There is nothing more satisfying than watching your kid do a thing on his own. Anything on his own.

Of course, I might be impressed by different things he calls me when he becomes a teenager. Poor kid. I'm so fumblingly in love with him I will spend most of his life accidentally embarrassing him and our family. I'm preparing myself now for the barrage of eye rolls that he inherited from me circa 1989. You're welcome, parents.

13 Years

It's All in the Reflexes

52 Weeks

"What is it? Do we just keep giving it to each other over and over? Like caged animals? Like the zoo?"

"Your immune systems are down. You've all probably caught something else."

The week before Ren's simple, little, just-family birthday-turned-production-before-a-live-studio-audience party occurred, we had several challenges to overcome. I had to learn how to use my stove. Our contractor disappeared, leaving our revolutionary new guest bathroom a toilet in a closet with a light bulb. Greg worked out of town for four days and my job became one for four people, especially because I was sent to Urgent Care in the middle of the week and told not to come back. (I'd had a coughing fit from which my boss had to become a birthing coach. Quarantine.) I hit a deer in Greg's new car. And all three of us got sick—again. At one point our amazing nanny and friend asked if she could help prep for the big party by cleaning. I almost french kissed her. I'll never forget the look on the Greg's face, starved and sneezing through the checkout line at Party City, as I grabbed two bags of M&M's, tossed them on top of the piƱata, and asked the cashier to ring them up first since it was our lunch. Mama's got a party to throw. I read somewhere that chocolate covered peanuts are good for pneumonia.