unexpected

He had just given me my toilet back. Now he was telling me we would be without water for another 24 hours. Or more.

“But……we are going to have a baby…..tomorrow morning.” The plumber already knew that. They had been working long hours to get me working pipes before I popped.

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Later that night there was a drug bust across the street.

The next day four different shifts of women rallied around our older boys to care for them while we birthed their brother.

The omen was clear. Chaos would abound.

Which is exactly why I never planned on having a third child. In my opinion control is preferable to chaos.

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Lucky for me, life does not always go according to my plan.

Because chaos has, indeed, abounded since that day five years ago when our third boy entered this world. But so has endless amounts of love.

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And somehow the fact that he is a whole hand old today is making me pause extra-long and think about the enormity of it all. (That and the fact that we did all of his celebrating this past weekend so there is nothing left for me to do but be sentimental.)

An era is ending. And that era lasted much longer than I thought it would. About five years longer. But what a beautiful era it was. Hard. Gruelingly hard. But simultaneously boundlessly beautiful.

Zachary was my gift to get to do it all over again, one last time. To live in different skin than I did the first two times. More comfortable skin. Completely imperfect and still quite messy skin, but somehow more peaceful skin.

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The one thing I wanted to do more than anything with my life was be a mom. But once I got there all of my “stuff” came to the surface and it was like breathing through mud. Slowly, very slowly, I have been working through all of that stuff. Learning to be loved. Learning to love.

And I have nothing but gratitude. Because somehow, the third time around I was free to enjoy the process. Somehow I was enjoying not only Zachary growing up but all three of my boys at the same time, in this new skin.

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And although my children are not out of the nest yet, the fact that all are now out of the formative years seems significant. And today I have not only been delighting in this child and all of who he is, but also in all he brought to me.

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Happy birthday Little Z. And thank you.

rookie move

I know better. Rookie move on my part. Reverse psychology is a risky strategy to use with a four-year-old. Backfires happen easily and in the blink of an eye. They are highly unpredictable creatures.

And that is in fact what happened to me today. I meant what I said as a threat in hope that it would stop the whining. “Well then, maybe I should just not take you to school today!” I touted.

Preschool, I might add. The school that he loves and couldn’t wait to go to five seconds before we got into the car. Of course that threat would work.

Not so much.

Before I knew it, I was in a power struggle with my youngest son. I wanted him to go to school. Badly. That is one of the few times during the week I actually get to myself. But I had threatened and he took me up on it.

And just like quicksand, the harder I tried to get out the deeper I sank. And the deeper I sank the more committed I was to winning. And the more furious I became that I don’t control other human beings. Or at least the small one I was working with at the moment.

When we got home, I sent him to his room. This was another move in my strategic game. Yes, I was playing emotional chess with my four year old. Not one of my saner moments.

As he cried in his room and I ate some breakfast (never parent on an empty stomach), I reached out for help and called my husband. Sometimes all I need is someone outside my current struggle to bring me back to reality.

After I hung up the phone – now having food in my stomach – I realized…..the best way out of this was to put the game away and just tell the truth.

As a parent, sometimes the hardest thing to do is admit to my children when I have screwed up. The whole idea seems counter-intuitive. Kids need to know their parents are in control and know what they are doing. Admitting I don’t just seems wrong.

But what I have noticed time and time again as I have copped to my shortcomings is that it actually settles them. Not in a disrespectful way, either. In a genuine, the-world-seems-safer-now kind of way.

I totally don’t get it. I just know it to be true.

So I went into my son, scooped him up out of his bed and snuggled in with him on the couch. I told him I made a mistake. I told him I shouldn’t have said I wouldn’t take him to school. School is important and we don’t get to decide we don’t want to go just because. And I said I was sorry.

I told him what his choices would be moving forward. We snuggled some more. And then we headed out. No drama. No tears. No games.

Just us.

naked

Today is not this day. Today I have my makeup on, a bright purple ruffle-y scarf around my neck with a cute pink necklace peeking out underneath, copious amounts of bracelets clanging around my wrist, a fun new pair of knee-highs, and of course the boots I feel so sassy in. And it’s fun.

Most of the time I like putting my best foot forward in the day even if that day involves dropping off and picking up children, doing dishes, folding laundry, and cooking dinner. Because although I graduated from UC Santa Cruz, fashion and makeup are fun for me.

But not yesterday. I didn’t have a best foot to put forward yesterday. All I had was a foot. And I didn’t feel like pretending or working my way out of it either. So although I showered, I left the makeup off.

The freckles that have taken over my face in a way that by this time in my life is probably called aging showed in all their glory.

My eyelashes remained invisible.

The wrinkles that have started to emerge were not minimized by foundation.

And my nose that likes to turn red was one that even Rudolf would have been proud of.

I have these days from time to time. I think everyone does. Days when the fun of getting dressed up isn’t fun. Days when sadness seems to loom over my head and sorting it out to get better and move through it feels overwhelming. Days when the wounds of life catch up and I just need to take a moment and let it be so.

And on days like that I leave the makeup in the medicine cabinet and let the people in my world see that I do not have it all together, that I am not indestructible, that I am not super-human. Because I think the people in my world need to know all of that. Including me.

We often think everyone else has life all-together, knows what they are doing, never has bad days.

We tend to feel alone in our struggles. In our humanity.

And it’s just not true.

And that is why I left my makeup off and took this picture and wrote this post. I needed the honesty of someone standing naked in the middle of the rush hour of life shouting, “I can’t do it all!” Even if it was me. Maybe especially if it was me.