Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Four-Year-Old

Dear Fletcher,

One thing parenthood has taught me is that every age is a tough age. On paper, being four sounds easy. You play with toys, eat lots of macaroni and cheese, still get a nap, and don't need a job. But in truth, I know the emotional being you currently are, because you wear those emotions plainly on your sleeve.

This is how we start as humans: feeling everything, completely throwing ourselves out there when we're excited, complaining loudly when we don't like something, pushing and pulling when we're frustrated, screaming and crying when we're hurt or scared or just so confused. It's the height of vulnerability.

In the years ahead, a lot of that exuberance will probably be tamed. You may continue to feel the exhaustive range of emotion, but you'll learn that acting on these emotions is unfavorable.

Sit still. Be quiet. Don't bite. Clean up your mess. I said no. Don't jump off the furniture. Hold my hand. Go to sleep. Eat your chicken. Get in the car. Wipe your own butt.

So much of what I say to you is a command. And much of the rest of what I say is disappointing. I can't right now. I have to make dinner. I'm feeding your brother. I need to do the laundry. I'll be there in a minute.

Play with me, Mommy.

On your fourth birthday, Fletcher, I want you to know that I feel what you feel and I want what you want, even when it sometimes doesn't feel like it. Sitting with you on the living room floor, forcing myself to ignore all the pressure weighing on me, is the best part of the day. I do want to spend all day hearing what you have to say, watching your stubborn and downright sassy side develop, learning what you're confident about today and what intimidates you, shaking my head at your endless supply of energy, and having a part in your rapid learning and growth.

Every day you change. Every day I love you even more.

The first preference you showed was for dinosaurs and trains. I remember when Thomas the Train and Dinosaur Train would light you up. Now you love superheroes and fighting bad guys, running from imaginary bears and dinosaurs, attacking monsters, jumping on people, staging epic battles, always running running running.

Run, Mommy, run! 

Next, I imagine, will be sports. You love soccer balls, basketballs, footballs, baseballs now mainly because it's an activity outside. But the time is coming when you will outrun and outplay us all. You've been a physical creature since birth, after all.

I'm so lucky that I get to be a part of it, that I have these years ahead of me where I can continue to watch and contribute to the great boy you are and will be.

Life is hard. It's not going to get easier. But experiencing it together is a such a gift. Thank you, Fletcher, for being my four-year-old.


Making his own birthday cake with Grandma Patty.
"Only I can do it."

Friday, April 25, 2014

Things Fletcher says that I can embarrass him with someday

"Don't play with wieners. Only play with games. Playing with wieners is naughty."

"Thor has big nipples!"

I intend to add to this post as quotes come up. Some things are just too good to let them be forgotten.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Leading a Processed Food Life

I'm a bad mother.

Before people who know me start defending me, hear me out.

In addition to letting my offspring view violent superhero movies and use technology that I read causes autism (that's a response post for another day), I do not provide a healthy diet. I know full well that everything from aspartame and salt to flour and fructose is hurting me and my family, and yet I continue to feed it to my family.*

The studies on the terrible effects of processed food are many, and the severe intestinal pain I suffer periodically is proof enough. I'm probably even giving myself cancer (down the road). You know what's even worse than severe physical pain? The anxiety I have about being a bad mother.**

Our current parenting culture is one of intense disapproval, from within as well as without, and it is crushing. God how I wish it were easier to read scientific studies than it is to read headline-grabbing articles about what the latest celebrity says is the best way to parent.

So, if I believe they're (somewhat) correct, why am I not heeding the advice of every know-it-all mom posting in my Facebook newsfeed? Why am I not eating fermented vegetables and gluten-free quinoa in six small meals per day? Because...
  • It's disgusting
  • I'd have to completely change the way I shop
  • I'd have to completely change the way I cook
  • I'd have to fight with my family
  • It would cost more (Don't even try to argue this one. It would.)
  • It would be a huge time investment
  • I don't have any f*#@ing time
But Lindsay, if you have time to write this post and to read about Alicia Silverstone and Jenny McCarthy and dozens of other pseudo-pediatrician celebrities, that's time you could spend cooking delicious vegan tofu for dinner. Right.

This post has been several years in the making, so don't ever talk to me about time management. I work two f%*#ing jobs in addition to caring for my children and not sleeping. Not sleeping. Not sleeping.

So what is the trade off for eating nothing but delicious empty calories that come out of lovely crinkly packages (besides my medically unexplained intestinal pain)? In reverse order of importance...
  • Weight gain (Minimal now. Will probably be much worse when breastfeeding is done.)
  • Lack of energy
  • Fear that I will die young
  • Fear that I'm hurting my children
  • Anxiety Anxiety Anxiety
The fact that nothing is worth more to me than my kids contributes to the anxiety. Am I just a lazy American? Do I need to shake up my entire world, my entire life, my entire family with a big lifestyle change? I can entertain the thought, but I just don't see it happening.

It's too hard. I never thought I was someone to shy away from something that's good for my family based on the fact that it's too hard. But it's too hard.

*In addition to what is traditionally thought of as processed food (Cheetos, McDonald's, M&M's, hotdogs), we also eat meat and the occasional fruit, vegetable, and grain from an average, non-organic, pesticide-filled grocery store.

**There are also several studies that prove that anxiety and stress cause physical pain. Vicious, vicious cycle.