My Three Little Birds

This week’s song, Three Little Birds by Bob Marley and the Wailers (1977), never fails to bring me a renewed sense of determination and a feeling that I can overcome anything as long as I keep my priorities straight. As long as I can remember, what makes me happiest is my family. The combination of this reassuring song and my love for my “three little birds” gives me motivation to keep moving.

“Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true
Saying’, (this is my message to you)
Singing’ don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
Singing’ don’t worry (don’t worry) ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright”
Three Little Birds, Bob Marley and the Wailers

 

This post is working double duty for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Happy and 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past. 

Advertisements

It Never Ends

Near the beginning of this clip from the movie Parenthood, Frank Buckman talks about a time when he and his wife thought their son had polio and the feelings that experience evoked.

Soon I will be celebrating the birthday of my youngest child, my baby, Andrew. He will turn 22 years old. When Andrew was nearly two months old, his doctor was concerned that he might have a narrowed aorta which would be considered a critical congenital heart defect. I will never forget that feeling- I already loved this little guy so much and he might be suffering or at risk for a lifetime of health problems. Oh, my heart. Yes, I understand what Frank meant.

What I felt for Andy all those years ago was just the tiniest fraction of how much I love him (and his siblings) today. I know there are people who do not have more than one or two children because they love them so much, they can’t imagine being able to love more. But love isn’t given to you in a limited quantity to dole out to everyone in your life and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Loving one person doesn’t take any love away from someone else you love. And I’m here to tell you that if you think you have an enormous amount of love for that one child, you don’t have three times that for three kids. It just grows and grows to such an incredible size. And that growing takes place as they grow. That overwhelming feeling of love you might feel for that little guy when he’s two months old is going to expand and fill your life in a way you never thought possible.

It won’t be easy. Their problems will grow with them and sometimes you will have to “be there” but let them handle it on their own and sometimes they will let you help them. No, it won’t be easy but it will definitely be worth it.

And as I tend to do around my children’s birthdays, I’m feeling very nostalgic and very blessed. Oh, and Andrew ended up being the healthiest of all my children- so there you go. Just another reason to be happy.

But a word to those who haven’t reached this realization yet, to quote Frank Buckham- “IT NEVER ENDS!” (And that’s a good thing, right? Right?)

Have a great day!

-Kat

 

 

 

I wish I could freeze time or go back in time and watch my kids grow up all over again because it is just going by too fast.” – Robert Rodriguez

A Boy and a Backhoe

Beej and the backhoe

“If I had influence with the good fairy… I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”

-Rachel Carson

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

Don’t Poke the Bear

fierce mama bearI remember the first time someone pointed out my fierceness as a mama bear. Oddly enough, it was my oldest son, Michael. He was 15 at the time. There was a problem scheduling his classes and he warned the counselor, “You don’t want my mom to come in to get this fixed.” What flashed through my mind was, “Who was this mom and could she give me some pointers?” It was with shock that I realized it was me.

I have always advocated for my children since the day they were born. I didn’t consider myself fierce. I just did what I needed to do to get my children what they needed. It was as natural to me as breathing. Upon hearing that Michael saw me in this way, I was overcome. I feared that I could never live up to his expectations or whatever this image of me was. I scoured my memory for times he might have seen me acting in this way. I needed examples. I felt overwhelmed.

If you know me, you’ll know that I’m quite reserved, quiet, shy, private. I tend to not have a huge presence in a room and that is by choice. I don’t speak up in large groups. In fact, social anxiety tends to grip me by the throat and render me speechless at times, ensuring that I remain silent.

Except when it comes to my kids. But I guess I need to clarify- I’m not one of those vocal, loud, pushy parents. When I’m fighting for my children, I do it the same way I do everything else- quietly but persistently. I won’t make a scene but I will press the issue. I won’t attack but I will come to the battle armed with enough ammunition to take out an army, if needed. And if I need to use force, it will probably be so under the radar you won’t know what happened. It’s not that I’m being sneaky or deceitful- I just function much better one on one. This is one time when being an over-thinker comes in handy. Since I’ve probably thought up every possible outcome, I will come prepared with counter arguments.

The thing about being a fierce mama bear is that when your cubs grow up you need to step back and act in a way that goes against every parenting instinct you have. When they are struggling, any advice you offer has to be done carefully so as not to appear to be implying you think they cannot handle things. And sometimes it can’t appear to even be advice, depending on the level of independence of the child.

Helping our children stand on their own is something we begin doing the day they are born. It’s part of the end goal so it’s not a huge surprise when it happens. BUT it doesn’t lessen the sting…. especially when it’s your cub.

As I found out recently, even though your cubs might be grown, maybe even with little cubs of their own, that doesn’t stifle “fierce mama” mode when your cub is attacked- especially unprovoked….. double especially with whipped cream on top when your cub is attacked while going above and beyond what the average person would do to be there for another person.

I’m finding it difficult to hold back that uncontrollable desire to protect my child. Once again, by friendly fire, one of my own has been attacked- completely unfounded- and all I can do is stand by and let him fight his battle. He knows that I’m standing there, just in the shadows…. waiting. It’s one of those parenting moments when I have to stay still and let him pick himself up, but once he’s standing again, I will be there in a flash to help. And if he flounders and needs a hand up, he knows that I’m within reach at all times.

Thinking back to those days when he was a small child and he fell, I remember that instinct to cry out, rush over and pick him up. After the first few times of doing exactly that, which resulted in him crying (caused by my reaction- not the fall), I quickly realized that he needed to get himself back on his feet and determine if this was worth the tears or not. It might be considered tough love by some but I’ve stood by this belief- always close by if the situation warranted assistance and if all was well, calling out “You’re okay!”

It’s not that simple these days. The tumbles are much bigger with higher stakes at risk. My cub is hurting and this mama bear is on high alert.

“Every mom has a mission to love,, guide and protect her family.

Don’t mess with her while she’s on it.”      -Vicki Reece

 

Two Time

readingDo you want to know what I’ve been up to for the past five days? Just a little summer reading. According to my calculations, I have read over 90 books* in a five day period.

Yes, I’ve been on two year old duty on and off for a good part of the week, including many sleepovers, which explains my absence here on the blog. But if you think we were just sitting around reading books the entire time, you would be mistaken. Little Beej remains the busiest two year old around.

In addition to reading endless books, he played with cars (big and small), trains (Thomas and others), play food, puzzle letters, xylophone, piano, figures, and as you can see from the photos above- he re-distributed the fluff that Ari removed from her stuffed animal after I gathered it into a handful and he assigned the Teletubbies their positions on the fire engine.

We spent a lot of time in the bathroom and we talked about going potty a lot. We made little to no progress in that area but it really does provide some memorable conversations. He knows all the right answers. He informs me when he has pooped. He is holding it when he’s sitting on the potty chair. He has peed next to the potty chair, on his blanket and socks, on the rug in the bathroom…. Yes, it’s been a bonding experience for us- as if we needed any more of that!

“A toddler believes that if you love a person, you stay with that person 100 percent of the time.”          -Lawrence Balter

Although the last week was unusual, at any given moment, I might find myself spending lots of  time with Beej. I don’t mind. I love this little guy more than anything and I think he feels the same. When his Daddy came to pick him up, I explained that he was going home. “To Daddy’s house,” he clarified to himself. I corrected, “To your house where you live with Daddy.” Beej threw his head back and wailed in pure two year fashion, “Noooooooo. It’s not my’se (the two year old word for “my”) house. It’s Daddy’s house. I want to stay here.”  This story has a happy ending. Beej is two (meaning his mood changes on a dime) and loves his Daddy and was happy to go home with him.

I know this time with Beej is precious and a gift and something I will always treasure. I also know it’s necessary and what’s best for Beej and I’m so grateful that I’m able to be here. Although it cuts into my writing time, it also gives me space, perspective and time to think while I’m enjoying this special little person that my son created (reminding me of a special little person I created so many years ago).

“Sometimes you need to talk to a 2 year old just so you can understand life again.”                       -Patricia Love

I’m working on finding a healthy balance. Writing and my blog is calling to me. I hope to get it right soon!

-Kat

*Here is a list of the books B and I read- Ten Apples Up On Top (3 times), ABC Drive (+5 times), Star Wars A to Z (1 time), A You’re Adorable (4 times), The Golden Egg Book (2 times), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (5+ times), Hooper Humperdink? Not Him! (5+ times), Where the Wild Things Are (3 times), Do Princess Wear Hiking Boots? (5 times), Jake Baked the Cake (2 times), Giggle, Giggle, Quack (5 times), Have You Seen My Potty? (3 times), Even Firefighters Go to the Potty (5+ times), Potty Time (2 times), Too Big For Diapers (2 times), I Can Go Potty (3 times), Your Personal Penguin (5+ times), Time For Bed (3 times), The Going to Bed  Book (3 times), Goodnight Moon (3 times), Click Clack, 1-2-3 (5 times), Pajama Time, The Bunny Rabbit Show, and I know I’m forgetting a few more titles.

 

 

 

#AtoZChallenge U is for Unconditional

U

“Whatever they grow up to be, they are still our children, and the one most important of all the things we can give to them is unconditional love. Not a love that depends on anything at all except that they are our children.” -Rosaleen Dickson

There they were- my three when they were brand new. And below, there they are now- all grown up. I want the same things for them now as I did when they were born- that they are happy, healthy, and loved.

bw kids

Take care-

-Kat

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

 

Five Years

Thanks to Facebook I was reminded that it was five years ago since my last family reunion. Nothing about this meant anything to anyone but me.

And for me, this little tidbit was a life changer.

See, five years ago was the last time most of my extended family saw my children (save the ones who I’m friends with on Facebook who pay attention to anything I post- making that number pretty small). Michael was 21, Kris (formerly Kerri) was 18 and Andrew was 15.

Just days following that family reunion, Kris came out to us as transgender- identifying as male, not the female. Since that day- which was a major turning point in all of our lives- we have embarked on an amazing journey.

We experienced name changes, pronoun changes, wardrobe and appearance changes. We saw the effects of testosterone as Kris transitioned. And then we found out what remains when T is no longer taken. We updated a license, social security, insurance and other various documents/cards with a new name and/or gender. Our relationships with each other as well as outsiders was put to the test. While I’m happy to report that our inner group of 5 remains strong, we lost people along the way. It’s unfortunate but we know who the genuine people are in our lives and we know who will be there when the chips are down. That is a gift that is most precious.

And to the casual outside observer, say someone who isn’t really paying close attention, if they look at my Facebook page today, they see Kris (who some might remember as Kerri, some might not even notice that the name changed 3 times) 5 years older than our 2011 Kris/Kerri. If they are unaware, they will have no doubt that Kris is a girl. A woman of 23 now. And they will be wrong.

My relationship with Kris has transitioned as Kris has transitioned. These days it closely resembles what it might have looked like if Kris was still Kerri and was not transgender. Bras and feminine products are on our shopping list. Kris asks if I have red nail polish or for my opinion on their eyebrows. With only a few minor exceptions, Kris’s gender expression is female. Their gender identity is non-binary. Things are calm right now.

As for me? Well, I’m in a different place now. I’ve gotten used to seeing Kris dressed as a girl. I’ve become so accustomed to it that photos of Kris as a boy seem like long ago. I have adjusted to the name change for the most part. (Kris will remain Kris in my blogging- which is how I know that I have accepted their new name. In my head and in my writing the new name is the first to pop out and I have to correct it to Kris.)

My subconscious is another story. Kris’s pronouns are they, them, theirs. My pronouns for Kris are so inconsistent. Hes and shes are interspersed with theys- sometimes all in the same sentence. In my thoughts shes are lurking around every corner. I understand that seeing Kris as a girl is triggering those feminine pronouns. But I also feel the internal struggle with wanting to have a neat little package tied with a bow- and I know that I cannot have that. My head understands that there is not a special word that equates son or daughter in non-binary but my heart yearns for it.

I’ve lost my place in my support groups as well. I’m no longer the parent of a child who transitioned from female to male or identifies as male. While I have the experiences of the last five years. I do not know anyone who has a child who is non-binary with their gender expression matching the sex they were assigned at birth. In some circles Kris isn’t considered transgender. I read the posts and attend the meetings and support anyone I encounter who is struggling with their trans kid, but part of me feels like I no longer fit in. I seem to be surrounded by parents celebrating their children’s transitions, surgeries, name changes…… I’m so happy for them. (And confused for me.) I am sure that these wonderful people will continue to be supportive- even if I feel like I don’t belong here. I know this because these are truly the most amazing people in the world- supportive parents of transgender people.

I’m uneasy right now. In other parts of my life I am facing challenges that might make my experience with Kris look like child’s play.

Everything happens for a reason, right? Well, I know I have at least one friend who doesn’t really believe this. (And she knows who she is- if she reads this… which I hope she will because maybe it will help her to understand part of my silence lately.)

The past five years presented me with the biggest challenge of my life (or so I thought). My world was turned upside down and continued to be so for probably four of the five years. And it might be that this journey is not over yet and this is just an ebb…. waiting for the flow to return. But maybe it is not. And maybe the last five years was preparing me for what lies ahead.

One thing is certain. Wait, maybe two…… three.

  • I learned that I am much stronger than I ever realized.
  • If you truly love your child, it doesn’t matter what their name is or if they wear a dress or not. You just love them.
  • The LGBTQ community is truly AMAZING.

So as I post something to Facebook, there might be friends who look at my latest posts and think, “Hmm, not much going on there. Kids are growing up. Cute little boys. She looks older….” But the ones who know, will know. They will understand the significance of the picture I shared today. They will be familiar with the journey that got me to this place, some coming in part way, some dropping in and out, and the special ones who have been with me every step of the way.

I’m not sure what the next five years will bring and while I continue along Kris’s road, another path has joined our family’s path. I’m anxious, unsure if I’m truly up for what we will be facing, but I felt this way before….five years ago. And I’m still here. We’re all still here.

 

Dear Children of Mine

You are at an age when you can be considered an adult. I remember those ages- 20-25. I remember feeling more like an impostor than anything else. I was working full-time, paying my own bills and on the verge of giving birth to my first child. All of those things could have qualified me for adult status. And yet they just didn’t. I was actually pregnant with my third child and 30 years old before I started feeling like a real grown up and not someone who was playing the part.

It’s not easy being in your 20’s. Especially when you are living with your parents, even temporarily (Michael) or seasonally (Andrew) or intermittently (Kris). You’ve all been out on your own and living your lives as independently as most of you can at this point. Then you come home and it’s like you never left.

It’s only natural for you to feel more like a child than an adult. And it’s only natural for you to blame me for it. That’s what children do. And that’s the sign that you aren’t quite an adult yet.

See, having 3 kids in 5 years meant that every time one of you was at a *certain* phase or age, we would pause……..and then the next one would enter said phase. Potty training. ABC’s. Tying your shoes. Riding a bike.

Your dad and I were new to parenting when we started this journey. I had some experience and what appeared to be some natural ability when it came to mothering. Dad was a newbie from start to finish but he is a quick learner so it was all good.

It wasn’t easy. You all had very distinct temperaments and personalities and required different handling. It was a balancing act to keep everything on an even keel while a few of you were rocking the boat. I lost my temper. A LOT. I feel really bad about the amount of yelling I did. It wasn’t fair to you and in recent years I’ve made a concentrated effort to reach out to you and talk about things, instead of reverting back to old, bad habits. Opening up is not easy for me. I’m a very private person, even with those I love.

I want you to know that I did the best that I could. I love you guys so much. I have always wanted the best for you and for you to be the best you can be. I love you as you are- imperfections and all- because in my eyes you will always be perfect. If I can only get through to you on one level- I would want it to be that I hope you know how much I love you.

Being your mother and raising you was the absolute greatest joy in my life. When asked what I’m most proud of- it’s you. It’s always you.

As you know from experience, that love comes at a price. I have always been fiercely protective of you. I will fight to the death for you. And when someone hurts you, I get crazy scary. My anger (which really can be terrifying, let’s be honest) comes from a place of such deep caring that it physically hurts me to see you in pain. I try to keep that in check, especially as you all are getting older. I truly feel that you are never too old to want your mom. And you are never too old to desperately wish someone would fight like that for you. Like it or not- I will always be that person to you.

As you have reached your 20’s, I’ve tried to back off and give you space to grow up. One day you will look at your own children and realize that it is easier said than done. When you fall these days, the cuts are much deeper and the stakes are much higher. Please know that I feel every scrape as if its my own. Your happiness means the world to me.

I am proud of the people you have become. You are loving, gentle, caring people. You are the best.

And as I come back around to the part where I tell you that I realize that living under my roof again makes you feel like a kid again….. well, in some ways you still are. The immature behavior that sparks up confirms it. I firmly believe that you are not completely an adult until you can act like one in the presence of your parents. 

Having said that, let me tell you that you are so very close. One or two of you might be closer than the other to taking that leap but you are all closer than you think. I’m watching it happen right before my eyes- my babies blossoming into adults and it’s amazing.

I am blessed to have you in my life. You bring me endless joy and happiness.

And I hope someday when you look back at your childhood, you can look past any tears or bruises and remember the love and the laughter and the joy we shared.

Love, Mom

 

 

 

 

Blessings and Lessons

Mother Teresa

I’ve been thinking about parenting and children a lot these days. Having my son and his family living with us and having the college kids home last week, I was really conscious of my children- who they were and who they are. I realized (for the zillionth time) how precious they are to me. But I also realized how much they had taught me. In regard to Mother Teresa’s quote, I feel that children are both a blessing and a lesson all rolled up into an amazing package.

It’s easy to count the blessings. There is a love that is often indescribable. Joy. Pride. Exhilaration. Excitement. Wisdom.

But the lessons- those are the real blessings.

three 5
Rocky Mountains

I put in endless hours, effort, emotion, worry……. into a labor of pure love that might not reap anything. Parenting is a crap shoot at best. You can do everything right and still have unpleasant results. I’ve witnessed it in other families. Putting all this work into these little beings with no guarantee of their outcome taught me faith.

Being taken down by the most stubborn three year old in history taught me humility.

Finding out that the third child can defy every parenting rule you know and challenge every parenting skill you have taught me to be adaptable.

Having a child who moves at a different pace than the rest of us taught me patience.

Sending these precious little guys out into the world to learn lessons on their own taught me vulnerability.

Watching my son mirror my own parenting style with his children taught me that even when it seemed like no one was listening, I did get through.

Enduring over 12 years of parenting teenagers taught me restraint.

Experiencing three wildly unique personalities taught me to celebrate each one’s individuality.

Living through these past 2+ years since all of my children reached the ages of 18 and older taught me that parenting is a job that never ends.

three 3
Airport last month

This post is part of Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge- Wisdom hosted by Ronovan Writes and Silver Threading.

030816_1826_writersquot1

 

Loves of My Life

From the moment I first saw you
The second that you were born
I knew that you were the love of my life
Quite simply the love of my life

My college kids are home for spring break. My oldest kid and his family are temporarily living with us. My house is full, as is my heart. These people are my world.

They are technically all legal adults. I know that we are in a new stage where they are letting go even more. I see and feel the changes each time I see them. It is fascinating and sad all at the same time.

Not that long ago I wrote about a Blindside that shook our family to its core. What I did not write about was what immediately followed, which was a major betrayal that occurred at the hands of same person. I was the target of that second attack.  I can honestly say that I have never felt so completely betrayed by another person in my entire life. What this has done to my family makes it even worse.

Having all of my kids together on the heels of two upsetting incidents makes this visit an important one. Our tribe just got smaller and we are on shaky ground. We need this time to dust ourselves off, take stock and see that we are okay.

Not all siblings of trans kids are supportive but when Kris came out, his brothers showed him a level of solidarity and love that continues to bring tears to my eyes. I did not tell them that they should do this. They just did.

As I’ve talked to my oldest, Michael, on ways to get past this…..as I’ve talked to Kris about an apology he was given and accepted although he questioned the sincerity or intent behind it……as I’ve talked with Andrew, my baby, about how distressed he has been since hearing what happened to Kris…….I’ve been reminded of all that we have been through together- beginning with the long months I carried them, to giving birth to them and raising them, they make up such a substantial part of my heart and my life.

They are my weakness and my strength tied together and attached to my heart. I am fiercely protective of them. Even when they think they don’t need me. Even when they are  parents themselves. Even when I need them myself.

I want to know that they are okay and that we are okay. Weathering the events of this past month has been a trial, at best. I want to cry  which I have  and scream which I probably should have (correction- I did scream and then some) and shake the living @#%& out of someone which I cannot.

My heart is riding on a runaway train.

But more than anything, I want to gather my kids close to me, like I did when they were younger….. and tell them that everything will be okay.