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.

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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.

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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.

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Airport last month

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

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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.

8 Ways I Found 90’s Babies to be Easier

My baby will turn 20 in 4 months. And that tells you how long it has been since I cared for a baby and dealt with all of the accessories and equipment that goes along with the job. With the arrival of our grandbaby last November, I have been learning all about how much things have changed. Being me, and a bit stubborn about these new fangled ideas, I have resisted most of them. It’s okay to pause for a moment and feel sympathy for what my son and daughter-in-law are dealing with. 🙂

7 months into this ‘baby of the 2000’s’ experience and I have encountered some interesting things that I thought I would share with you-

1. Nose sucker thing- Okay, this just takes the cake for me! Remember the blue bulb that you got at the hospital? It was pretty simple- squeeze, insert, release. While wandering Target’s baby department, I was appalled and (more than slightly grossed out by this!!!) Now, I always thought people who siphoned gas were crazy but siphoning snot? Ewwwwwwwww Give me that blue bulb any day! IMG_69212. Food pouches- Baby food is now available for purchase in pouches. You unscrew the lid and it oozes out like toothpaste. This one will end up on my pet peeve list. Really! When I first saw these, I didn’t see the purpose. In order to feed the baby, you either had to squeeze it onto the spoon- spoonful by spoonful- or squeeze the entire tube into a bowl. It certainly made it a bit difficult to feed the baby half of it. Then it happened. The thing that made my head explode and spin into circles while smoke burst out of my ears.

We had a fussy baby at Target and Mommy explained that he was probably hungry. She twisted off the cap of one of these pouches and held it out to baby, who reached for it eagerly- obviously knowing what to do- and he just sucked the food out of the pouch. (So much for learning how to eat with utensils or any personal interaction. And as far as easy goes- boy, it’s so easy….. ) Can you guess how I feel about these handy little pouches? How do you heat it up? (You don’t. They just suck on it at room temp which isn’t really room temp because it’s a liquidy substance so it’s cool- just like you like to eat your mashed up veggies, right?)

Jars (which are slowly being replaced by pouches and plastic little containers) were so easy- you could open it and easily see how much as left and heating it was up was so easy!)

3. Exersaucers/ stationary walkers- When my kids were first getting around there was nothing they liked better than exploring their world in their walker. Sure, there were a few toys in the tray on the front but they loved the freedom to move around and see things from a different perspective.  Nowadays, babies have everything they need right within their reach. No need to look any farther. But if they want to spin around in circles until they puke, they don’t have to worry about their toys every falling off. So, maybe I had to keep an eye on my kids while they were zooming around in their walker but they seemed to stay entertained for longer periods of time with a lot less fanfare.

4. And speaking of their toys not falling off- everything has an attachment! It doesn’t matter what it is- pacifier, toys, bottles, cups….. they are all attached by some means. I have mixed feelings about this one. Sure, when you’re taking a walk there’s nothing worse than finding out that he dropped his favorite toy somewhere back along the mile you just walked. BUT dropping things and learning that they don’t always just magically appear is something he has to learn, too. There’s probably a healthy balance in there somewhere but I’m afraid that these days that gets lost in the convenience of having it all attached.

5. Pacifier wipes. Hmmm, my kids didn’t have pacifiers; they had thumbs. I didn’t use special wipes on their thumbs and I have yet to use one on Beej’s pacifier. It’s easier to swap it out with a clean one or do a quick swipe if the pacifier didn’t actually touch anything. (But that’s just me!)

6. Diapers- They are SO absorbent it’s almost ridiculous. There is one brand that comes with a line down the front that changes color when the baby is wet. The interesting part is that it starts at the bottom and slowly morphs from one color into the other as the baby gets wetter so you can determine how long your baby gets to lay around in his wet diaper. And the scary thing is that these diapers are so absorbent that sometimes you cannot tell they are wet until they are very wet. It took me awhile to figure out which color line I was looking for because I forgot to pay attention when I first put the diaper on the baby.

I prefer the good old days when a simple poke in the front to determine squishiness did the trick. Or a quick sniff, pulling out the back and peeking in….. or gulp, yes, sticking your finger inside the leg hole…

7. Swings have come a long way since 1995. Not only are they battery operated but they come with almost as many options as a new car. They can swing at a vast variety of speeds- from barely moving to whiplash. They can go in different directions. In addition to the boring forward and back traditional swing mode, they can also go side to side and I believe some go in circles. I get queasy just thinking about it. Then there is the music which can get old really quick!! If you’re not into music for soothing your baby, you can switch to nature mode- complete with crickets and frogs…. Then there’s the light show. Yes, there’s a light show. Heaven forbid baby gets bored with looking out at the world around him! He can look up and see something that I’m sure rivals Pink Floyd’s laser light show.

I can’t help but miss the good old days of cranking the baby swing and then when the fussy baby had just fallen asleep, the darn swing would wind down, causing me to have to very carefully- click by click- wind up again praying the entire time that baby wouldn’t wake up. (My husband preferred the ‘rip the band aid’ technique where he just cranked it as fast as he could and left the poor stunned baby whipping back and forth at 80 miles per hour yanked out of a deep sleep unable to catch his breath.)

8. Bumper pads and other dangers. I did not know that cribs were such dangerous places when I had babies. Mine had bumper pads, blankets, and a few stuffed animals. (And just to add to the danger factor, my kids slept in the same crib their father used as a baby in 1965!)

Kris

Back in the 90’s when I was having my kids, I didn’t realize how easy I had it. I didn’t have endless gizmos and gadgets designed to make my life easier. I didn’t know that I was doing everything the hard way. And above all, my kids made it adulthood- unstuffed noses, using utensils, curious, rash free, healthy, and alive- all without these things. And if I can tell you a little secret (but you have to promise not to tell Beej’s parents), I ignore most of this new stuff when dealing with him and he seems to do just fine when he’s with me. (In fact, I swear he might be relieved when he sees me!)

What has your experience been? Is there any new baby contraption that you wish was around a few years ago?