Posts Tagged ‘real life’

Expectations vs Life As We Know It

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Ever since Caroline was born, I have dreamed of the day I get to give her an American Girl doll. If you were a little girl at any point in the 90’s, you probably understand (My husband completely does not understand. “Don’t be disappointed if she doesn’t love these dolls as much as you do,” he said to me. HAHA AS IF.) In those days, they were made by The Pleasant Company and were completely unlike any other toy I had ever seen. They were beautiful. They had the most amazing clothes. They all had tiny tea sets or picnic baskets or ice cream parlors. And everything cost one million dollars. Or at least it felt like it did.

When I was 7 or 8 my parents and grandparents teamed up to make my sister and I American Girl dolls. They bought blonde 18-inch baby dolls, purchased a few tiny accessories that couldn’t be easily replicated, and then hand-made everything else we needed for our own Kirstens. They did the braids. They made beds with tiny mattresses and quilts. And my grandmother sewed me a child-sized version of Kirsten’s pink checked dress because there was nothing in the world I wanted more than to be a Swedish pioneer girl, even if that meant my best friend might die of cholera. I still remember finding our boxes with the dolls under our Christmas tree.

Eventually, I got a “real” Samantha doll and several of her outfits. I treasured her until the day I accidentally pulled her leg off trying to get her into a pair of tights, then I gently put her away and thought “some day I’ll send her to the doll hospital”. I still have all of it, both the Kirsten and the Samantha and the clothes and accessories and the bed and the box. It’s been in Caroline’s closet for years. So I decided THIS year, when she turned 6, would be the year of the American Girl. I would stop hiding the catalogs when they came (because of course I get the catalog) and we would look through and talk about how pretty everything was. I would buy her a doll, then ask for my family to sponsor a gift card so we could go to the store and do some dream shopping. We could get tea and ice cream in the American Girl Cafe where your doll gets a special seat and her own cup and everything would be so pink and so sparkly and she would look back on this birthday as the best birthday of her childhood.

But I had a baby 3 months ago, who I can’t really leave for long enough to do a girl’s trip to Boston. So I needed to bring my baby with me. But I didn’t want a crying baby to disrupt our trip so I talked E into bringing everyone so he could watch the boys while Caroline and I did our special birthday stuff and then Finn would be close enough to nurse if he needed. In my head, it was a great plan.

In reality, it was a terrible plan because there was no plan. We left late. No one ate anything. We ended up with all of us standing in the middle of the American Girl store while Linc threw a tantrum, the hungry baby cried, Evan leaned against things because he was bored and I wondered how I could have even thought this was a good idea. Caroline picked out a couple things and we left. No tea, no magical mother-daughter time, no wandering around for an hour looking at every tiny detail for the dolls.

By the time we got home, I felt like I had genuinely ruined Caroline’s birthday. She would never look back on the day she got her first American Girl doll and think about how magical it was.

But the truth is 6-year-olds don’t internalize everything the way adults do. Caroline was so excited to play with her doll and to dress her up in all her new clothes she barely noticed how grumpy I was. So I pulled myself together and asked her if she wanted to run some errands with me, one-on-one. “Yes! A girl date! I love girl dates!” she said. We went to Target for diapers and toothpaste. We wandered around for an hour with our Starbucks (hot cocoa and a cake pop for her, the hugest peppermint mocha frapp ever for me), looking at Christmas decorations, checking out the stuff in the dollar spot, and picking up small presents she could give her brothers for Christmas. She brought her American Girl doll and they rode in the cart together, singing a made up song and telling every person who smiled at her that it was her birthday.

I have always struggled with keeping my expectations in the realm of reality and adjusting when things didn’t work out exactly as I had imagined. Going with the flow is not my specialty. Enjoying the moment if the moment isn’t the moment I had planned.

I’m working on it.

 

 

 

 

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Photos Of Pretty Things On Yucky Days

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

One of the things I like about photography is that although I try my best to capture real life, I’m able to frame real life as much more attractive than it might actually be. I can bring the better parts into focus and blur out the junk.

But this week has been all junk for me. I’m still recovering from whatever the horrible, straight-from-hell plant bloomed this month that caused my allergies. Today was the first day in weeks I’ve risked wearing real pants in public because I was 90% sure I wouldn’t pee myself when I had a coughing fit. I’m at that point in my second trimester when being pregnant starts to be uncomfortable in minor but annoying ways – my back hurts, my hips hurt, my knees hurt when I go down the stairs. I still have morning sickness in the mornings and sometimes in the evenings. I am trying very, very hard to focus on how much I should treasure this last pregnancy but I’m struggling.

To make things worse, our spring this year has been terribly rainy and cold. Spring in Connecticut is usually our beautiful, flower-filled reward for surviving winter. But this year has been dreary. It’s keeping us inside and depriving me of some much-needed vitamin D. It’s almost making my children COMPLETELY insane. No one can sit still for more than 20 seconds without poking someone else or grabbing someone else or kicking someone else or trying to stand on their heads and falling off the couch onto someone else. My patience – which would be thin from pregnancy and allergies to begin with – is so worn it’s almost nonexistent. Bad weather is so isolating for me as a mom, since most of my friendships involve things like taking long walks or our kids to the park or the aquarium or other outdoor-heavy activities. And once I fall into a pattern of being along more often than not I find it very, very hard to climb back out.

I’m clinging to the thought that we have a vacation planned in 3 weeks, the kind where the weather will DEFINITELY be warmer and my children will wear themselves out every day and sleep like rocks. Friends + sunshine + food + what will definitely feel like herds of children + the ocean = a total attitude reset. And boy do I need one.

I’m also crossing my fingers for a military move for the first time in a long time. Right now it’s just a maybe, possibly, there’s a tiny chance it could happen. But I’m not going to fight it and I’m not going to talk myself out of it by thinking about the logistics. I’m just going to think pleasant, tropical thoughts about what MIGHT be in our future.

And for today, right now, I’m going to edit some more pictures showing my family as fun, pleasant people who sometimes go outside and do things besides scream at each other. Today’s photos were taken on the last evening we had a break in the rain. It was far too cold for Caroline’s outfit but don’t tell her that.

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A Mom’s Real Life Guide To Stain Removal

Monday, July 20th, 2015

stain removal

Item: White t-shirt
Stain: Grass
Treatment: Dab stain with rubbing alcohol. When it’s time to wash, pour some detergent directly onto the stain before throwing it into the laundry.

Item: Pink ballet leotard
Stain: Blood
Treatment: Soak leotard immediately in cold water, then rub with a bar of soap. If it doesn’t all come out, treat with hydrogen peroxide, since a slightly pale spot on the leotard is less likely to get your yelled at by the dance teacher than an obvious blood stain.

Item: Swim trunks
Stain: Sand
Treatment: Wonder how the hell SAND can stain a pair of swim trunks. Leave in the back of your car for 2 days because you forgot them. Throw them in the once a week hot water load of laundry, cross fingers.

Item: Sparkly white tutu
Stain: Green chalk paint
Treatment: Throw it in the laundry with the regular stuff, because it’s just chalk, that should come right out. Realize the stain hasn’t even sort of come out. Spot treat with a stain stick, toss it back in the regular laundry. Realize the stain STILL isn’t out and now it probably never going to. Hide that tutu and hope your daughter never notices it’s gone.

Item: Baby pajamas
Stain: Blueberries
Treatment: Let the naked baby run around the house while you spray all the stains with OxyClean. Baby smears blueberries on everything. Forget pajamas, use a toothbrush and Resolve to scrub blueberries out of the new couch. Vow never to buy blueberries again.

Item: Batman underpants
Stain: Skid marks
Treatment: Throw them away. Kid sized underpants are cheaper than the price of your dignity.

Item: Mom’s favorite shirt
Stain: Salad dressing
Treatment: Curse the fact that you can’t just eat your salad of sadness alone for FIVE MINUTES. Instead, you eat standing in the kitchen where you will always end up with half the salad falling on your cleavage. Try rubbing it with baking soda to draw out the oil, realize it barely even matters because you can’t have nice things.

Item: Brand new Tea Collection dress
Stain: Sharpie WTF WHERE DID YOU GET A SHARPIE
Treatment: Count to 10. Count to 10 again. Count to 10 one more time. Calmly ask daughter to remove dress so you can try to get the stain out. Blot stain with vinegar and pray to every god you can think of that it comes out.

Item: Wool rug
Stain: Pizza sauce
Treatment: Move rug to the other room where the stain is hidden by a couch. Order new rug.

Item: Every pair of shorts/pants your almost 1 year old owns
Stain: Baby poop
Treatment: Give up.

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Several Truths And One Big Lie About Mother’s Day

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

I did not have an excellent Mother’s Day. I’m not saying that to make my family feel bad or shame anyone. I’m saying that because there’s a pretty good chance YOU didn’t have an excellent Mother’s Day either and I want you to know you’re not alone. Those perfect, smiling, happy families on Instagram and Twitter probably didn’t have flawless Mother’s Days either. They might have had a very nice day. A spectacular day. But it was not perfect – perfect is the lie. Kids – even kids big enough to understand the concept of Mother’s Day – don’t stop being kids just because it’s the second Sunday in May. Not once has saying “But it’s Mother’s Day!!” to a tantruming child solved the problem. They do not suddenly stop being tired or hungry or frustrated and pull a bouquet of flowers out from behind their back and say “Oh dear mother, I had simply forgotten! Shall I fetch you a coffee or a glass of wine?” If that is your life, Mother’s Day or not, I hate you.

The problem as I see it is that Mother’s Day is supposed to be Special and things that are supposed to be Special just lead to disappointment. That is why women become bridezillas about their One Special  Wedding Day and freak out that every single second doesn’t go according to plan. The pressure of that ONE DAY is just too much. Mother’s Day is the ONE DAY a year we are supposed to be indulged and pampered and appreciated above ALL the other days. Sleeping in and breakfast in bed and champagne brunch and a family picnic and a manicure and a relaxing nap and a romantic dinner date and a thoughtful gift and a homemade card and flowers and a bottle of wine. If you family really loves you, they will do all of that. Except no, they won’t. And even if you don’t really need them to…even if you try really really hard to keep your expectations super low…even if you say “I will be happy if all I get is a card the kids made at school”…it’s hard to stare into the face of social expectations and be OK with not having a perfect day.

I actually would have had a pretty good Sunday if it had just been a Sunday. I got to lie in bed for an extra hour. My husband picked up lunch for all of us. I got to buy and plant flowers with the kids. And we finished the day by having s’mores for dinner on the newly cleaned patio. But I also did laundry and dishes and changed diapers and made decisions (ugh, DECISIONS) and dealt with tantrums and took the kids with me to run errands and bought paper towels. I really didn’t want to have to buy paper towels on Mother’s Day.

Let me tell you what I really want for Mother’s Day. I want to be a dad on a regular Sunday. I’m making generalizations here for the sake of simplicity, but in my social circle moms are almost always the default parent; the one the kids go to first for everything no matter who is closer/more available at that moment. On Mother’s Day, I want to be the dad. The fun parent. I want to say “Everyone jump in the car, we’re getting ice cream!” and not worry about if it’s too close to dinner or if we need to stop at the grocery store later to pick up stuff for school lunch the next day. The fun parent pees alone. The fun parent has time to read a book or a magazine or the back of a cereal box without being interrupted. The fun parent doesn’t always have one ear open for children’s whines or screams or cries or problems or squabbles 24 hours a day. The fun parent says “We’re out of mustard” into the fridge and, magically, mustard appears 24 hours later.

And then MAYBE on Mother’s Day all of us default parents will get a card and a bouquet and a nap not because it’s our One Special Day but because the fun parent wants to do something to acknowledge being a mom is kind of a tough job.

But since I am not a monster, I did in fact enjoy many parts of my Mother’s Day. The big kids – Caroline especially – remembered it was Mother’s Day and reminded me constantly I was supposed to be having The Best Mother’s Day Ever. There were s’mores. And now whenever we sit on the front steps for the bus we can admire the flowers we planted, together.

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She said the plants needed love to grow.

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Monday, November 17th, 2014

Linc has two bottom teeth. If you’ve ever had a 3 month old with teeth you will know why it has taken me two days to finish this post. And also why my right nipple hurts so bad I wish I could just cut it off.

I have a new game for you, called “count how many times Suzanne wears the babies in this week’s post”. The prize is then you get to judge me for being crazy.

Sunday:

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I wore my wrap instead of a coat for our walk to church

sunday2

FINALLY CONNECTICUT HAS YUENGLING THANK YOU

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Boys in a bounce house = trouble

Monday:

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Twins

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My town is pretty cute sometimes

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Much healthy, so good for me

Tuesday:

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Like a scene from an end of the world movie

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And then a some horses showed up and blew Caroline’s mind

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Me: Caroline, want to be my model so I can test the light for a picture? Caroline: UGH.

Wednesday:

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A Still Life Of The Kitchen Of A Woman Who DGAF: Volume 1,000,000

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All those stupid power lines are ruining my enjoyment of this beautiful sky. WHO NEEDS ELECTRICITY ANYWAYS?

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I put that on his head and then laughed at him.

Thursday:

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Start ’em young!

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That one is called Invisibility Cloak. Linc says “Am I invisible now?”

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That’s Evan, solo back swimming in the deep end. SO BIG.

Friday:

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Caroline likes being worn more than anyone else.

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Being a ballerina is exhausting

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As of right now my red tree is bare, but last week it was gorgeous

Saturday:

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Real life: I bring my baby to photo sessions because he’s exclusively nursing, but sometimes it does not go well. Luckily the photos themselves are still awesome.

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OH THANKS HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON SEQUEL, I WANTED TO CRY MY EYES OUT

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Wraps make good blankies after rough days too.

And now I am going to go grit my teeth and nurse down the miserable baby AGAIN (and then give him some tylenol and gas drops and teething tablets and make sure his amber necklace is on and stand on one leg naked in the moonlight and ANYTHING ELSE that might help him with his sad mouth pain). Poor baby.

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