Dear crank and spank

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One day I might not be here when you read this blog.  One day you might stumble upon this as you are researching your thesis on sarcastic mothers and the damage they do to young children.   One day you might ask why do these people know me?  Know my brother?  And keep calling me the terrible.  One day you might wonder which one of you is crank and which one is spank.  (I’m not telling you).  Anyway, how ever you stumble upon this blog, there are some things I need you to know.  I’m writing this close to your third birthday.  In three long short years, you have grown leaps and bounds. 

You are and will always be my greatest accomplishment.   I will always be proud of you.  I will always be in your corner.  I promise to listen when you talk.  To offer advice, to teach you, to love you more everyday.

I promise when you need me, I will be there.  I will run, swim, crawl to you.  I will always answer your phone calls.  Day or night, no matter where I am, no matter what I’m doing, I will answer.

I promise to be your biggest fan.  I will be there cheering you on.  Whether it is baseball or ballet, I’ll be beaming with pride. 

I promise to tell you when you’ve fucked up.  I promise to help you make it right.

I promise not to be your best friend, rather, your mother.  A mother who has loved you since before you were born.  A mother who has rules and structure.   Not so much that you feel smothered, but just enough to make you a functional adult.

I promise to let you be you.  Whatever that may be.  All I ask is that you have tolerance to people not like you.

I have been talking to you since before you were born.  I have loved you since the moment you were conceived. (Don’t think about that for too long).  I have been proud to be your mother since the day you were born.  I love you with every single fiber of my being. 

Happy third birthday crank and spank.  The best three years of my life.

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Adult-like and shit

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I have moments of deep thought.  Granted not often, and it usually is short lived.  Today while sitting in traffic on my way home from work, one of these rare moments hit me.  I’m not sure what provoked it; maybe the song on the radio, maybe the sun, that we haven’t seen here in south Jersey for at least three months, maybe it was just the quiet in my head.  For the first time in a while, I wasn’t thinking about diapers, vomit, house cleaning, or schedules.  I wasn’t worried about time, (rather the lack of), milestones, birthdays, spring cleaning, or money.  It was the first time in many months that I just was.  I was there, driving along, sitting in traffic, with not a thought in my head.  Then I started thinking about my friends, and family.  About how different our lives are now then what we ever dreamed they would be.

Some of us are married, some not.  Some divorced, some just starting their married life journey.  Some of us have babies, some of us have teenagers.  That is beyond scary.  We have real jobs, with real desks and real computers.  (Except me.  I don’t.).  Some of us are deployed in lands that I could never imagine visiting.  With real dangers, and real guns.  Some of us are struggling with our demons, some getting help and some wasting away.  Some of us are in therapy because we are all royally fucked on one level or another.  We have houses, and cars, and plants we haven’t killed yet.  We talk about things like mortgages and Roth IRAs.  We worry about our parents and their aging.  We worry if we will ever have it together.  A good weekend starts on Friday night (not Thursday, day) and ends Sunday evening (not sometime Tuesday). We are perfectly happy to curl up with a glass of wine (not a bottle of Miller Lite) and watch a movie or read a book. 

Is this growing up?  Is this what being adult is?  Because I seem to remember, being eighteen and knowing everything about, well, everything.  I was an adult.  I was grown, damn it.  No one was going to tell me what to do or how to live.  I had that shit.  I was young, smart, and fun.  Looking back, maybe I wasn’t so grown.  Maybe I wasn’t really an adult.  Maybe I needed a lot more life before I could say that. 

I dyed my hair for fun.  Now I dye my hair to cover the ridiculous amount of gray hairs. (I blame this exclusively on the terrible). My boobs are getting dangerously close to my belly button and I think I used to have an ass.  It seems to have flattened out horizontal.  But luckily I still have acne.  Yay for my face!  Please note the sarcasm there.  I wax my lip and chin…What the hell?!?  And I make weird noises after I’ve sat too long. 

This wasn’t a part of the deal.  This wasn’t supposed to be part of the deal.  No one told me about this.  No one told me I would turn into my mother and my mother would turn into my grandmother.  Truthfully, I wouldn’t have believed them anyway. 

So the question I still have is, am I really an adult?  It certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve got this shit.  I still wait for the day that it hits me that I’m a certified adult with my big girl panties on.  In fact, I knew more back then, than I do know.  A whole lot more was black and white, whereas now, all I see is gray.

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Love, life, and the pursuit of our happiness

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Sometimes things happen to put life in a little bit of perspective.  Sometimes life reminds you that this is life.  Try not to kill yourself trying to live it.  With the daily routines of chasing my tail, my kids, and money, I forget to stop and take a breath.  To just stop and look at my surroundings.  To see how truly lucky I am.

Jason collaspsed on Friday.  He dropped on the cold hard ground getting out of my car.  When I realized what was happening, our life together flashed before my eyes.  All the special moments that I cherish so deeply, that are forever etched into my brain, just flashed before me.  He couldn’t move, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t tell me if he was in pain.  I screamed.  I screamed until someone came.  I screamed as if I was being murdered.  People came.  People came running.  From everywhere.  I called 911. I couldn’t tell them where we were, what town we were in, what place of business we were in front of.

Then I looked over my shoulder.  My children.  Oh shit! My boys.  I’m scaring them.  They are crying, there is a lady trying to console them.  Side note: she gave them a permanent marker…thanks.  I pull it together.  I reach in the car.  I tell them everything is ok.  I lied threw my teeth.  Alex asked if daddy was okay.  I lied again, yes sweet pea, he’s okay.  But they can see the fear in my eyes.  They start to cry again.  The ambulance loads Jason up and I’m standing there.  Still.  Just staring at the lights.  I love him too much to lose him now.  I climb into the car, stop shaking and start driving.

The longest car ride of my life was actually only about five miles.  We get there just behind the ambulance.  I can’t find parking.  I’m cursing.  The boys are asking if I’m okay.  I’m okay boys, we valet park.  I run into to e.r. with a boy in each arm.  Their heads bouncing like bobble heads.  Mommy, you okay? Mommy? Yes! Mommy is okay.  They see him before I do.  Daddy!!!! Daddy?  You okay? Jason is begging them to unstrap him.  (He hit his head when he collapsed).  They wheel him into a room and I see him.  He’s alive.  He’s okay.  He really is okay.  Maybe not okay, but he’s talking, moving and laughing.  After hours in the e.r. they can’t decide what happened in the parking lot so they admit him.  I am relieved.  They need to figure this out.

But they don’t figure it out.  Could it have been a seizure, yes.  Could it have been a result of low blood sugar, yes.  Could it have been the result of stress, not eating breakfast, and not getting good sleep, yes. What they do know is it’s not his brain, and it’s not his heart. 

Here’s what I know, I can’t navigate this thing called life without him.  Our children need him.  All those stupid things that pissed me off earlier this month…mean nothing.  They mean nothing in the bigger picture.  There is always going to be shit.  Some kind of shit in our lives.  The key is not to let the shit over shadow the good, the great, and truly amazing that happen everyday. 

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This is one of my favorite pictures of Alex and Jason.

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These are the memories that flashed before my eyes.

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I love you Jason.  Don’t you ever do that again…dick.

Dear Ian

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You came to me last night.  I’m not sure when or why last night but you reminded me of some very important things that I have forgotten.  You showed up in a mundane dream about paperwork. 

You walked into my head so causally, like you’ve never left.  You walked in and sat down.  You sat Indian style on the floor.  I laid down and put my head in your lap, just like I always did when you were alive.  You loosely played with my hair as you always did.  You told me that I was doing great.  You said you knew times haven’t been easy and that it will get better.  You said I love the wife and mother you have become.  You told me I made you proud.  You said I love you.  And I said I love you back.  I was at peace laying there on the floor in my dream.  It felt comfortable, just as it was ten years ago.

I want you to know, I still love you.  I still think about you all the time.  It’s hard to believe it’s been over nine years since you left.  I suppose you only physically left.  I want you to know, I love when you come visit me in my dreams.  A long time ago you told me to stop feeling guilty, I’m happy to report, finally after almost ten years, I almost have no guilt.  Keep coming to me in my dreams.  Keep reminding of the things that matter, reminding me that everything happens for a reason, even if those things hurt like a gunshot through the heart.  Keep playing with my hair and give me gentle kisses on the forehead. 

Watch over my boys.  They are my life, my soul, my laughter and my tears.  They will never know you, and probably never even know that you existed but watch over them.

See you later.

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Still sitting here.  Sure it’s not next to you anymore.  None-the-less still here.  You’re not.  You went into the darkness and I hope you found the light.  I hope you understand that just because you’re not physically here, you are still here.

You are here in my children, and will be here in my children’s children.  I told you I was going to raise my boys in your image.  That’s more than a promise, it’s a fact.

They will be kind, loving, strong, and generous.  They will know that these gifts are from you.  They will remember you, maybe not from their own memories but through mine,  and my mother.  Through my sisters and brother.  Through my uncles.  Your legacy lives on in all of us.

You gave a piece of yourself to each one of us.  Whether it is kindness, a strong spirit, a generous nature or a soft spoken loving attitude; that’s from you.   Your morals weren’t preached.  They were shown.  You showed us how to treat people, to treat each other. 

If you had one fault it was giving too much.  Sometimes you gave more then you had.  Not just in tangible things but trust and time and love.  Even when you got hurt it didn’t change you.  It seemed to make you stronger.  You never harbored resentment or bitterness. 

As I still sit here writing this, I realize you still have so much to teach me.  I will continue to learn.  I already miss you.  I already have a hole in my heart.  But I will make you this promise, I will always do my best to make you proud.  Promise me to watch over Alex and Ben.  I have a feeling they may need a guardian angel by their sides….

James Donald Birks-my hero.

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I sit here.  Helpless.  Lost with tear stained cheeks.  I’m listening to you struggle to breathe.  To the machines pumping oxygen into your swollen body.  Knowing that this is the end.  The end of a long battle.  A hard battle and you’re tired.  Tired of hospitals, tired of getting dialysis, tired of fighting. 
I want you to know that you are and always will be my hero.  My knight in shining armor.  The standard on which I have judged every man I’ve ever met.  I called you the bionic man.  I still believe that.  I believe you are tired that’s all.  And you know what?  You’re allowed to be.  I want you to go into that dark night knowing,  I love you. 

You pulled me up when I was down.  You laughed with and at me.  You made me feel special.   We have a bond.  A bond that goes deeper than love from a grandfather to a granddaughter.  You were always in my corner, even when no one else was.  You taught me to fish, to mow the lawn, to bale hay, to build a birdhouse.  But most importantly, you taught me that I was worthwhile of love and kindness. 

As I sit here watching you fight your last battle, with tear stained cheeks, I know this is what you want and I will be here.  I will be here so your not alone.  I will fight this battle with you.  I will see you into the darkness, because I know, there is beautiful light on the other side.

This isn’t goodbye, rather, see you later.

Poppy, I love you to the moon and back.

Love always

Laura Lou.

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I call her Tonya.

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I call her Tonya.  I’m not sure why.  I guess she just seems like a Tonya.  Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually met a Tonya.  Anyway, she’s with me everyday.  Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.  I grow very tired of looking at her day in and day out.  But I don’t make her leave either.  She reminds me of the terrible.  More specifically, being pregnant with them. 

She reminds me of the c section I had to get them out of me.  The fears before hand and the joys of hearing their giant screams for the first time.  She reminds me of the pain before and after.

Tonya is my twin skin.  My rolls of stretch marks and scars.  A reminder of battle my body went through to bring life to these two, amazing, energetic little boys.  A reminder of what was and what is now.  (I was no super model before).

Sure there are days (more then I’d like to admit), that Tonya and I fight.  I do my best to hide her and cover her up.  Some days I curse her every existence and other days I just say fuck it, what’s up, Tonya.  Most days I don’t even really think about her too much.  (I don’t have time to be overly critical of myself). I really just focus on the basics, brushing my hair, teeth, bathing, shaving my legs.  To worry about what Tonya is doing is a bit of a luxury these days.

So really what I’m saying is ladies, give her a name.  Become one with your twin skin.  Eat healthy, exercise but if she’s not going to go away, embrace her.

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I mean come on!!! She is the result of these two stinking cute tornados.

Motherhood 2.0

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It was a beautiful spring day in south Jersey today. The terrible and I went to the park. They are funny there. They don’t care about the other kids. They are on a mission. A mission to discover as much as humanly possible. With that in mind, I took them on a nature walk. As I was watching them climb the hill ahead of us, I realized that there was nowhere I’d rather be.

Three years ago, I would have been at a happy hour. I would have been kicking back with a beer discussing how we can fix the Phillies. We would be laughing having the time of our lives. Not ever realizing how life could be so different.

I don’t think you can remotely understand how your life changes after you find out you’re pregnant. And then after that baby (babies) is/are born. Once upon a time, I thought we were busy. We weren’t. We were selfish. We had every right to be. Life was about the next adventure, the next party, the next big thing. We didn’t have to worry about sleepless nights or ear infections, baby proofing, toddler beds, stranger danger, or diapers.

To someone without children, those things may seem like a bad nightmare. And sometimes it is, but I wouldn’t, couldn’t change it for the world.

Motherhood is amazing. In the time it takes to pee on a stick and have a positive sign pop up, you have changed. It’s no longer about just you. It’s the both of you, (or three) of you. Fathers have nine months to come to terms with the idea. Mothers don’t. We worry, the instant the plus sign pops up. We become someone else. We become mommy. We may not be ready but we have no choice. We slowly transform into entirely different person. It happens. Our childless friends and family can’t understand they haven’t been through it. They are still selfish. Searching for that next adventure. And that’s good. They should. They should embrace life. Sleep late, go to happy hour, and party like it’s 1999.

As I walked behind the terrible laughing that them now running down the hill, I thought, my life is perfect.

Tears of…

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The terrible turned eighteen months today.  I was thinking back over the last two years and what a strange trip it’s been.

Three Christmas’ ago, I peed on a stick and a little positive sign popped up.  After seven little pee sticks I decided I was pregnant.  I cried.  Tears, big, sloppy, ugly tears of pure fear. I guess a little excitement too.  Mostly fear and anxiety.

Fast forward to saint patty’s day 2011.  Congratulations!  You’re having twins!  What?  More tears.  A lot more tears.  Bigger, wetter, uglier tears.

July 25th, 2011.  They come six weeks earlier than expected.  Yup, you guessed it, more tears.  I cried myself to sleep everyday for the two weeks they spent in the NICU.  Pure sadness.  Pretending everything is great for family and friends is really difficult when your face is so swollen from crying.

Sometime around October of 2011 the terrible developed colic.  Tears of frustration, and exhaustion rolled down my cheeks every single night.  Anyone who has had a colicy baby knows how difficult maintaining sanity is.  Imagine two at once.  Just imagine it.  I’ll give you a moment….

Then one day no more tears.  No more sadness.  Just survival.  Get through the day, get to bed, do it all again tomorrow.  Sometime around their first birthday, it started to get really fun.  They started walking, and playing, and discovering.

So, eighteen months later with a lot more gray hairs;  I still cry.  Only, it’s tears of laughter.  The terrible are hilarious.  Jason and I find the humor in our crazy life.  We have to.  We wouldn’t want it any other way.  We couldn’t imagine it any other way.

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Ben reading while picking his nose

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Alex stuck in a wagon, again.

Spoiled rotten terrible.

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My children received a ridiculous amount of presents from santa this year.  More than any child or in our case children, could possibly play with in a day. Side note: we are extremely blessed with amazing people who spoil our kids rotten.   Thank you all.

I spend upwards of two hours cleaning up toys everynight.  While cleaning up tonight, I started thinking.  How do I teach them (the terrible), that it’s not the stuff that matters?  It’s the moments, the connections, the memories that we make everyday, that’s important in life.

Of course they are always going to want stuff.  The newest, the latest toy.  That’s just being a kid.  I want to raise my boys to be good, giving and kind.  I don’t want them to feel defined by their “stuff”.  I don’t want them to define others by their “stuff”. 

At seventeen months, I don’t really need to worry about these questions right now.  But I will.  And five years will sneak up on me before I realize it.  Then what?

So here’s what I think we are going to do.  Birthdays will always be small.  We will pick a charity each year and donate to it instead of gifts.  Of course, mommy and daddy will buy them birthday gifts.  We did this for their first birthday and it was a huge success.  Then at Christmas time, we will let the spoilers do their spoiling.  (This includes mom and dad).   I can’t help but to love seeing their faces when they open a new toy or book.  It’s pretty amazing. 

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Just look how happy they are to see santa.

Laura….