Monday, June 25, 2012

In the Trenches

There are always things on the horizon that as a parent, you just know you'll have to experience inevitably. Having difficult conversations with your sweet, innocent child. Maybe about bullying, or lying, or stealing. Breaking the awful, heartbreaking news that someone very important has died. Losing a pet. And watching your child be in pain and not being able to fix it. All of this gross stuff- a part of life's terrain- is absolutely unavoidable.

We got our first experience in that Saturday evening. The lil' dude was in one of her favorite places on earth, at Papa's cabin preparing for a much anticipated overnight stay in the gorgeous, secluded, silent wilderness. We had been there no less than 10 minutes, when she requested Daddy take her on a 4-wheeler ride, and he obliged. 20 minutes later, they drove back up to the cabin, the Dad frowning and waving at me, the lil' dude slightly pale and clutching her cheek. As I got closer, she began to cry and then I saw her sweet little cheek. Out on the bumpy trails to the deer stands, the 4-wheeler had lurched through an uneven spot, and the lil' dude's cheek met the handlebars. When she saw the blood, she cried. For all of 60 seconds.

Mama, on the other hand, cried for much longer. I tried not to panic when I saw the nasty gash, but I did anyways. 20 miles from civilization, and 120 miles from our town, a harried plan was thrown together to abandon our other vehicle, the Beagle, and all our belongings and head for our own hospital. Daddy got behind the wheel, Papa got us ice and washcloths, and Mama settled in next to a mostly unfazed lil' dude in the backseat. The trip that usually takes two hours, 15 minutes took the Dad just under an hour and a half. I kept my girl busy with cellphone games and apps. Technology, we love yah. As we drew nearer to the ER, the lil' dude said, how much longer? I am going to freak out, all monotone-like, and calm. I am going to freak out when we get there, she kept repeating dryly. It made me smile.

The ER was Saturday night busy, but gaping adolescent facial wounds supersede most things and we were through triage and in a room relatively quickly. The young security guard who frisked me and dug through my purse marveled at the lil' dude's face and calm. I kept begging her to keep the washcloth on it because she was scaring the other kids in the waiting room who were there with fevers and sore throats. She couldn't care less about what other people thought ... she is her father's daughter.

The nurses were awesome and fawning. They gifted her with a pink bag bearing stuffed dogs and plastic zoo animals and Disney stickers. It was like that coping bag was designed especially for my baby ... everything she loves! We watched Cars on ABC Family and waited for the topical to numb her face for stitching. The lil' dude kept sadly saying she missed the cabin, her dog, and the fire for smores. She still hadn't cried since before we buckled her in and said goodbye to Papa. Rockstar, she is.

The doctor came in and said, no sweat. 11 years of stitching up kids' faces, she was confident she'd fix it fine, without plastics handling her. We agreed. Together, the Dad and I showed the lil' dude all our own scars- and if you know me well- you'll know that my historical background of injury and ER visits lasted about 30 minutes longer than the Dad's! It really was no small victory it took my child 4.5 years to need urgent medical attention!

They swaddled the lil' dude to contain her limbs, covered her face for sterility, and positioned the Dad by her face, and me, about to lose my shit, at her feet. The nurse began talking about Disneyworld and we held her down and prayed for brevity and she began to WAIL ... I can feel it! You're hurting me! MAMA! I can FEEL IT! Yep, awful, that was. I buried my heaving sobs into her shins as the four adults in the room began saying anything we could to distract her. You can't tell an ER physician to hurry as she's stitching up your daughter's FACE; but at one point, the Dad said, So, are you, you know, almost done there, or ... ? She said she was on suture five, and needed about two more. Three, actually. In all, she needed eight stitches to close her 2cm gash. Well done. I said, "Eight! That is your Fairy Godmother's favorite number!" and we started talking about her dog and then it was blissfully, over.

A grape Popsicle, promises of a free-for-all shopping spree at Target, ugly bandage, (Don't you got Barbie ones?) and discharge papers and we were out the door. The Dad, worrying she'd cry and scream at him on her Prom day as she gets ready, this scar is YOUR FAULT, YOURS! But both of us knowing any scar is going to be highly revered at our house, and celebrated even a little. Survival. Triumph. Memory. Proof of a life lived, no matter the obvious threats, to happiness anyways.

We tucked our baby into bed, exhausted but just fine at 11pm, and settled in with some whiskey on the rocks, just to calm each other's frazzle. To clink glasses, to upload photos and watch our daughter's heroicness go viral, to fully accept that we are in the trenches of parenthood. And there's no turning back, or place we'd rather be.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

I Like This Day

A few weeks ago, I mentioned my desire to have a spontaneous summer after having Saturday morning coffee on a Friday instead. I am making good on my promise.

Father's Day started out gorgeous. Forecast, stunning. We SPF'd up, shimmied into bathing suits, got out towels, toys, magazines, and tried not to cry our faces off when it started to unexpectedly storm. All afternoon. Defeated but not dramatic, the lil' dude decided to nap away the gray skies and lamented only once or twice how bad she really wanted to swim.

Monday's forecast promised more of Sunday's gloom. But by noon, it was hotter than your mom, blue sky after blue sky and the mercury reached 90*. So without much hesitation, I left my office, sprung my baby from daycare and we headed home to redeem Sunday's loss. We managed to spring her Bestie from daycare too, and by 2pm, the fishies were a fishie-ing.

The blondies swam for two hours, until they could no longer paddle to the ladder without help.

As they laid sunning themselves on Princess towels eating snacks post-swim, the lil' dude said, I like this day. This was a GREAT day!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy Man

You give her horseback rides on the linoleum even though your knees are screaming.
You always let her stay up until halftime.
She skipped a trip to Target with me this morning so she could stay home with you.
You hold her more accountable than I do.
Something she'll thank you for someday.
I can be in Texas for 5 straight days without her worrying.
You go golfing across town for 5 hours and she paces and paces, looking out the window for your truck.
Happy Hour with you at the Ultimate is her Holy Grail.
And you let her have your very last Cadbury Egg of this season's stash.

Ever since that cold December day you prepared to welcome a son, our little sprite of a girl has nestled her way perfectly into your heart. She looks like you and acts like me. She's our perfect storm.

Thank you, for her, and for us.
And showing a girl how good guys really are out there.
Right here, actually.

Mama loves.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Hey ladybug. You're officially four-and-a-half today.
I'm officially dry-eyed. Sometimes, I surprise myself.
Like I plan on doing for you, with cupcakes tonight topped with plastic animals.
Two of your favorite things on this planet.
Because baby girl, you deserve all the cupcakes and all the plastic squirrels and turtles.
Hell, life deserves sugary, sparkly cake products and resin menageries.

Each morning, you fight being woken up and become very, very hostile when the sunshine hits your face. Epic hostility, to be exact. Then I distract you with promises and mantras and annoying singing of poppy lyrics and you consider the day's outfit. You always say, I want to wear a beautiful dress, Mama. And I hope your choice is clean. Or semi-clean, anyways. Then you choose your BabyGap too-small 4T cardigan in black or gray (I will tell you this; you find a cardi you love, you buy at least two), some ankle bracelets, a Princess necklace, a plastic headband, and pocket a tube of lipgloss and don your beloved Flippies (sandals) and you're good to go. It's the same routine each morning.

When I pick you up each afternoon, you ask how my day was. How was your day, Mama? It floors me. You're four-and-a-half and one of the world's greatest friend, confidant, conspirator, healer, believer, problem solver, and perspective-giver.

Five years ago right now, you were busy growing and making my ankles swell up. You made me so freaking tired and insanely proud. I never wanted anything more in my life than to be right there, doing just that, and I hadn't even looked you in the eye yet. Pregnancy is a powerful thing and I cannot even fathom today how lucky I was to be there, then. I hope I didn't bemoan my hormone-related acne, stretch marks, or hideous heartburn too much. I hope nothing detracted from how amazingly perfect life was that summer.

Your Bestie's preparing for her baby sister this month. I gave her Mama all my maternity clothes, and I will see her across the street, watering flowers or yanking E.'s Barbie Jeep back into their yard wearing something I wore five years ago. I instantly stop, heart in my throat, hand to my abdomen and I'll remember 2007. All those stretchy capris and shorts that looked like real clothes. What I wore on the 4th of July party, at nearly 20 weeks when all your Aunties said, "Hey! You finally look pregnant!" The Gap and Old Navy shirts your Grandmas sent me in the mail with decaf tea and toenail polish and pregnancy magazines. The way-too-expensive-but-I-gave-up-beer-for-this jeans I had to have just to feel a little normal when shopping for fall clothes. Stories, yours and mine, all woven into each of those garments, the literal fabric of our lives.

Do we ever have a good story, huh, babe?

So, happy half birthday, even though your Daddy rolls his eyes at that.
Happy just six more months until you turn five, until my eyes are officially undry, until your already-chosen Ariel party with mac & cheese and turkey pepperoni and garlic cheesebread unfolds.

Mama loves.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Why Not

Because it's the first day of summer. Because it's Friday. Because the sun is shining. And because we're girls and rebels and because we don't need a reason, the lil' dude and I visited our favorite coffee shop this morning before work and daycare. Imagine her gorgeous, saucer-sized eyes when I told her that at 7am instead of hollering at her to get dressed, brushed, pottied, and into the entryway in 11 minutes. Mama ... can we really? Can I have my star cookie and lemmelade? Absolutely. Why not. Can we sit inside and not eat in the truck? Absolutely. Why not.

And yeah we were late this morning to our respective places to be. And none of that matters. If I am going to love every single poster, painting, Post-It, or paper with notions of Carpe the Hella-Diem out of life, then I sure as Hell am going to live it and parent it too. Why not.

I want her to remember the spontaneity I have always threatened but never offered. That next time, the coffee shop morning might be the zoo 40 miles from here, or the spa where she can get her first pedicure in an offensive purple color. Or the ear piercing kiosk in the mall, for the love of God, even though she's not yet nine years old, like I had to be in order to be punctured. Why not.

Oh, why the Hell not! So, happy first day of June to you all. Happy light a Carpe-the-freaking-Diem fire under each of you, even if it only lasts the summer. Dip it, taste it, free it!