The Surprise We Kept

Zach’s father just celebrated his 60th birthday. To commemorate the amazingness that is turning 60, Zach’s mother decided we should throw a surprise party.

But not just any surprise party. This would be extra special. Amazingly special. We would get family and friends from all over the country in addition to the family and friends that are close. We would have amazing food, a bartender (!), and lots and lots of fun. It would be hosted at our house, under the guise that Zach would make us all cocktails before a fancy dinner out in order to get Zach’s father, called Big D by Alex (and, let’s be honest, everyone else at this point because kids do that), to our place.

Somehow we managed to keep the secret. Somehow, even though Alex knew for months, no one spilled the beans.

Somehow we managed to get almost all of the many people who love Big D to Pittsburgh, staying in hotels, quietly facebooking so no one knew where they were, eating take-out at our house because we couldn’t go out and risk being spotted! Somehow we managed to absolutely shock Big D.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And, yeah, there were many (happy) tears shed.

D's 60th Birthday Party

At one point Alex asked me why people were crying. “Sometimes, people cry when they are happy. They’re happy tears!” I attempted to explain through tears. He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away, only to show up again when cake was served.

It is a funny thing to cry when happy, but I, along with at least ten other people, shed a lot of tears during this party. It made taking pictures a bit difficult at times because everything was so blurry and made me even happier to be the one behind the camera so I could mostly hide my ugly-cry-face.

All of Big D’s siblings were able to make it: three from New England and one flew all the way up from Florida!

D's 60th Birthday Party

Plus their spouses and kids, and kids’ kids!

D's 60th Birthday Party

The outtakes from the family pictures are, by far, my favorite pictures of the day. People who see each other not nearly enough having way too much fun.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And then there’s Alex making this ridiculous face in nearly all of the pictures:

D's 60th Birthday Party

He’s lucky he’s cute and was surrounded by so many people who love him and even more who love his Big D (and therefore have to be nice to him).

It was an amazing day.

D's 60th Birthday Party

We are all lucky to have someone as wonderful as Big D in our life.

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A Change Will Do Me Good (Again)

Because apparently I don’t like to keep my life simple, things are changing again.

I am leaving my current job. The hours that were so much better than my previous job were still too far away from what I want. Being away for two or three evenings per week is just not something I can handle. I missed Alex. I missed Zach. I was actually away from them for more evenings than when I was working overnight shifts.

So, in a few weeks I’m starting yet another New Thing. A job that will be regular hours; no nights, no weekends, and no holidays. I was told there could potentially be an evening here or there when I have to “stay late”: six pm. If I left work at that time I would be home in time for dinner, baths, homework…you know, life.

This time could be the time that I finally manage to settle down and develop some sort of normalcy. Instead of changing everything about my time away from home once a year, it would be nice to, well, not.

I can’t miss this little guy’s stories every day after school. I can’t miss out on helping him with homework as often as three times per week. I can’t miss the nightly costume changes, the drama, the emotional turmoil over some kid at school who did something to someone and apparently it’s so terrible that breathing has become optional. I can’t not be there so often.

Halloween

We all have priorities, and every single person has different ones. I would like to say that I’m career oriented, but, quite frankly, I’m not. I want to do meaningful work, and I want to make my time away from my family worthwhile. I think this new job will offer me not only the hours that I desire in order to be with my family, but also feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction with making a difference.

It’s going to be yet another steep learning curve. Each time I finally feel comfortable in my role, I move on. I finally was really good at being a student when I got pregnant. I was finally comfortable taking the last few courses I needed to get my degree when I graduated. I was finally figuring out the whole MommyThing when I went back to school. I was finally totally comfortable with being a student and a mother when I graduated again. I was finally feeling (mostly) confident in my first nursing role when I left the position. I finally feel quite confident in my current position, and I’m leaving in just a few more shifts. Moving on. Changing things up yet again.

But I’m optimistic that this will be a good change. Kids are what I love. My love for kids can’t only be love for the kids that I take care of at work; it obviously has to include my son. I can’t go an entire day without seeing him more than once per week.

He’s my little man, and I want to help him become a real man.

Halloween

Bathroom Stuff

This isn’t a post about that kind of bathroom stuff.

The other day, Alex proudly told me that he used the last of the toilet paper in the bathroom. I wasn’t sure why he was so proud, although I had a suspicion it wasn’t going to be something I wanted to hear about, until he went on to explain that he also changed the roll of toilet paper all by himself.

September

This is awesome. I told him that it was awesome! I said it was fantastic that he was willing to do that, and that it made me proud.

September

A little while later, I, too, used the bathroom. And, sure enough, there was a new roll of toilet paper put on just like Alex had said. There was a small problem, though.

The toilet paper was put on the wrong way.

I never did explain the right way to put it on because I was just so happy that he did it.

Plus, I love that he is becoming more and more independent, even if that means that sometimes things won’t be “perfect”.

September

Why I Can’t Complain

I am seriously lucky.

I have an awesome kid. An awesome partner. A beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood in a really good school district.

I have a job. And it pays decently. And I no longer have to work overnights like I was last year at this time.

I am in relatively good health, and so is my family. We have a little too much weight on the adults, and the kid is hopefully in the process of outgrowing asthma. Alex is definitely allergic to dogs, though.

At the end of each day, I have my gripes. As we all know, the grass is greener on the other side of any metaphorical fence.

But this side? This side is pretty awesome.

And sometimes I have to remind myself of that. Some days I momentarily forget all of the good. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to remember.

June 14

Pride Pittsburgh

There are so many reasons why I try to attend Pride Pittsburgh every year. There are countless things I could tell you about why I support equal rights. But at the end of the day, what it all comes down to is selfishness.

I’d like to say it’s selfless, my passion for the cause, but that wouldn’t be true. Sure, I’m not gay. No one in my family is gay. I’ve never been discriminated against based on my sexuality, so, okay: it could seem like I am just looking out for others.

But the reality is I’m just looking out for myself. And I’ve said it before, perhaps more eloquently than now.

Pride Pittsburgh 2012

I don’t ever want to have to feel an ounce of pain if my son turns out to not fall into the “norm”. If he isn’t the typical straight white male that he most likely will be, I don’t want him to worry. I don’t want to feel the pain of having to explain to him why someone was mean to him. I don’t want to cry over the fact that he will be discriminated against based on something that is just who he is.

He’s my everything. My entire world. It’s hard enough explaining to him why there were people that made me very angry at the festival. “Some people are mean to other people, and that makes Mommy angry and sad at the same time. Those people? They are being very mean to many of the people here at the event, and they are being mean simply because they think the people here are different and that different is bad.” He doesn’t know what sexuality is yet, so he didn’t understand the context of it all. He gets the gist, though. He knows that you aren’t mean to people because they are different. My four year old can state why we aren’t mean to people and yet here were grown men attacking nearly everyone at a mostly celebratory event.

Pride Pittsburgh 2012

And then there is us: a man, a woman, and their child. And…I was attacked. Not physically, but verbally. I was told that I am a terrible parent for bringing my son to a place full of such “abominations” and “terrible people”. I was told that a good parent would never be there. That letting my son be around these people would harm him.

My blood pressure rose, I was shaking, I told them that they were the disgusting ones. It took everything in my power to not say more. To not get into it. It wasn’t worth it, and I couldn’t do that to my oblivious child.

Pride Pittsburgh 2012

We watched the parade, but not for very long. Alex was tired, hot, and, honestly, bored. He had no real idea why we were there. He just wanted lemonade and toys.

Pride Pittsburgh 2012

And for that I am thankful. I can only hope that the coming years bring more change. That I never have to explain to Alex why some of his favorite people in the world are not able to marry the people the love. Why some of the closest adults in his life are ridiculed, discriminated against in the workplace, yelled at on the street.

It’s all selfish. I don’t want to deal with the pain anymore.

Pride Pittsburgh 2012

No One Prepared Me

No one prepares you for parenthood.

It’s not their fault. It’s impossible to prepare someone for it.

I was told, countless times, that having a child would change my life. That having a child would be exhausting. That having a child would be unimaginably difficult. That having a child would bring more joy, and devastation, than anything else ever had or would.

I listened. I nodded. I thought to myself, of course it will be difficult! I get that!

No one can prepare you for the sleep deprivation you face when your baby is a newborn. No one can prepare you for the tears you will shed as you attempt to take care of a small, helpless, being on two hours of scattered sleep over the previous four nights.

I listened to advice. I nodded. I smiled. I get it. I know having a baby is hard, I thought.

No one can prepare you for how quickly your baby will learn to crawl. And then walk. No one can prepare you for the fear that will race through your spine as you see your baby take their first nasty fall.

Over and over people warned me that these things would happen. I listened. I understood. Babies fall. They hurt themselves. They crawl, they walk, and then they run.

No one can possibly prepare you for the joy that you will feel with that the first smile, the first giggle, the first “mama” that comes through their little mouth. “It’s the most amazing feeling in the world!” I heard them say. I listened. I knew that it would be.

Everyone told me that two would be worse than one, and that three would be harder than two. I get it! Three is hard, blah blah blah. Three year olds will fight you to to the death, they told me.

No one can prepare you for the guilt you will feel as you attempt to raise that fighter of a three year old. The awful feeling of knowing you are doing the right thing only to have your child exclaim, “I hate you!” through tears.

I was told it would come. I expected it to come. I get it!, I thought, of course he won’t mean it!

Everyone told me that it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, the hardest thing I will ever do. I thought, I get it.

No one prepares you for the laughter. No one can prepare you for how much joy you will take out of the silly things they say. “We weren’t very close,” Alex told me when I asked if he missed one of his daycare friends who had started preschool.

No one can prepare you for how much joy you feel for your child. How what they do is the most amazing thing any child has ever done. How what they say is funnier than another child saying the exact same thing. How when they say they love you it gets stored away forever, and how when they say they hate you it also does.

No one can prepare you for parenthood.

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