What Should Have Been

The dessert he chose at Dessert Theatre last night.

The dessert he chose at Dessert Theatre last night.

Tonight is Dessert Theatre at E’s school. It’s a fun and casual performance done while eating baked goods and ice cream. I love it – it’s always the funniest show of the year. But this year? It’s tainted a bit for me. Because I shouldn’t be there.

Over the summer, when I found out I was pregnant and they gave me my due date, I remember looking at the calendar and thinking…doubt I’ll feel up for dessert theatre since I’ll have just had a baby. I sat there with Wes last night and felt a bit sad that I wasn’t home with his newborn sibling.

When you have as many miscarriages as I’ve had, every month has some sort of depressing day in it. Maybe it’s the anniversary of a D&C, or of a bathroom-floor miscarriage. Maybe it’s a lost due date. Maybe it’s the day you found out there was no heartbeat. Maybe it’s the day you took the positive pregnancy test that was supposed to lead to a joyful birth.

I don’t fret over them all. I rarely fret over any of them anymore. My heart is cold and bitter about my pregnancy losses. We’re considering giving up, burning the crap out of my innards so I can finally have some relief from endometriosis, but forever deleting our chances of future pregnancies. So, now the sadness is mostly replaced with bitterness. I’m mostly just pissed off now. Pissed off that I have this shitty system that causes me pain. And while – of course – I’m blessed to have the children I have…I also had to recently run into a store with my purse over my rear, buy a pair of sweatpants, and change out of my bloody clothes in the back of my van. All of this was done relatively easily because every month I keep emergency garbage bags and paper towels in the back of my van. I typically keep clothes too but that day I didn’t have any because I had already used my backup clothes the DAY BEFORE.

So…yeah. When you suffer as greatly as I do certain times a month? It’s easy to hate my body more than loving it for the gifts it’s given me.

But this week? I should have a baby this week. And that was probably the last pregnancy I’ll ever “enjoy”. The nurse said to me at my D&C, “You’ll try again, right? I always hate to see people end on a loss.” I understood her point completely, you don’t want to end your reproductive history on a loss if you can avoid it. But I also don’t have a lot of strength left, so chances are I’ll be ending mine in just that way…a loss.

So…I’m sad and a bit bitter right now. Also angry. Angry that I don’t have that last baby in my arms, keeping me from my oldest son’s performance. I envisioned taking that baby to E’s graduation and the pride at holding my newborn child while watching my firstborn get his diploma. That won’t be happening either. I imagined all of the family being able to meet the new baby when they came into town for E’s graduation – and how perfectly that was going to work out. I imagined the pictures I’d take of my child and my brother’s child – and how happy I was that they were going to grow up together.

And all of that is lost, and it’s hitting me a bit harder that most of these painful dates do.

But I’ll be fine. I’m certain it’s the lack of sleep this week (don’t ask) combined with feeling poorly (don’t ask) and sadness over impending graduation of my oldest child which has my heart torn into a million pieces anyway right now. I know my anger and sadness will pass…I just needed to release those feelings into the blogverse in hopes for a bit of the healing power that has always been here for me before.

Constant Vigilance!

He's been taking care of me while I've been under the weather.

He’s been taking care of me while I’ve been under the weather.

Things have gotten better with Wes over the last year, but it’s still a constant effort on my part. With Nikki and E I just had to be there to discipline when things went wrong, but I didn’t do as much pre-emptive work as I do now with Wes. Every morning we discuss behavior, what punishments are we currently still receiving, what behavior caused that punishment, and what behavior will undo that punishment.

For example – I took away everything he owns for hitting his sister a couple weeks ago. The responsive hitting is something we’ve been working on for awhile. His instinct to just hit when he gets frustrated is something I’ve been trying to break. So, now. Every morning we have a variation of this conversation.

Me: Why is your bedroom empty right now?
Wes: Because I hit.
Me: And how are you earning your things back?
Wes: By not hitting.
Me: What should you do if you want to hit someone?
Wes: Take a deep breath…or walk away…or go talk to someone.

I mean – it’s a little less robotic, but you get the point.

And then before every trip to someplace where he’ll be on his own without me (preschool, daycare at the Y, family events) I remind him of what happens when he hits, and lately I remind him of how proud I’ve been recently when he’s gone X amount of time without hitting.

Me: Do you remember the last time Mommy went to BodyPump and you behaved SO WELL? Wasn’t I so proud of you? Can you be that good tonight too?

And of course there’s the basic reminders of things we try to ingrain in him several times a day:

Me: When do we obey?
Wes: First time.
*********************
Me: Is it ever okay to kick or hit?
Wes: Never.
*********************
Me: If you feel like hitting, what do you do?
Wes: Take deep breaths.
*********************
Me: If you get in trouble for bad behavior, what do you do?
Wes: Stop doing it!
(This is because he get’s stuck in tantrums and will progress even as he’s getting in trouble for the tantrum.)
*********************
Me: What do you ask yourself when you’re getting in trouble?
Wes: Am I making it better or worse?
(I also ask, “Are you making this better or worse” while he’s in the middle of a tantrum. Stopping tantrums that would otherwise last hours is a HUGE mission of mine.)
**********************
Me: When do we use potty language?
Wes: Never at school
(This is a new issue. Although I don’t panic too much because – you know – he’s a BOY. I know his teacher doesn’t like it, but I think it comes with the territory.)
**********************
Me: Where do we keep our hands at school?
Wes: TO OURSELVES!
(We yell that one, for some reason.)

So…it’s a constant thing. And I’ll admit, it’s a little exhausting. I miss the days of simply dropping off at the sitter, or preschool, and not holding my breath until I read the behavior report for the day. I don’t know if I even read Nikki’s regularly – but Wes’s? I read every single word and discuss it with him every day.

But it’s working. And that’s the motivation to stick with it. We talk it out all the time now. We discuss our anger and our emotions and how we avoid tantrums and hitting. The other day Wes was super-frustrated and said, “I just really want a tantrum right now!”

Is he perfect? Far from it. He makes bad initial decisions a lot. But hitting is dropping every week and tantrums aren’t an all-night event anymore. I’m not sure if this is just our life forever with Wes, or if we’re coming to the tailend of a rough few years. Either way – I’m thrilled that we’re at least making progress. We are not in the awful place we were at in the Fall. He’s not kicking me while I’m dragging him out of public events anymore. He’s not screaming at me and throwing toys at my head. He’s recognizing bad behavior and trying to adjust. Maybe it’s age, but I’d like to think some of it is our efforts at home.

Now – if only we could work on sleep issues too. He has to have the light on and gets up often with leg cramps/nightmares about bugs/headaches/alien invasions. At this point I just do whatever it takes to get him to sleep, I figure – one issue at a time is about all I can handle.

Multisport…DONE.

As Always - Photo Credit to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville

As Always – Photo Credit to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville

Well…I had another “Outside My Comfort Zone” type moment this weekend. It’s imminent arrival actually caused my blog blackout last week. I was stressing so hard about it that I couldn’t think about anything else, but I didn’t want to do yet another “I’m Doing Something Scary This Weekend” blog entry. So…I wrote nothing.

Several months ago, after Donnie convinced me to to a triathlon class at Fleet Feet, he signed me up for a duathlon (Run/Bike) thinking it would help me prepare for my triathlon. A good introduction to a multisport event before my triathlon. I had been saying for weeks that I wasn’t going to do it. I had two good reasons (E had a college thing, Wes had a t-ball thing) and I was still very scared of cycling, so I honestly never really seriously considered doing the event.

But then a boot camp friend said she was going to do it and she had never done something like that before and she was so nervous she was joking about almost hoping she’d twist an ankle or something to give her an excuse not to do it.

WHAT? Someone ELSE thinks stuff like that?

So…I started trying to find a way to do it too. I mean, if I’m going to have to do this multisport stuff, doing one with someone as terrified as me would make it MUCH EASIER. And that’s exactly what I did.

Saturday morning? I participated in my first multisport event in the form of a duathlon. It was a 3-mile run, a 13.5-mile bike, and another 3-mile run.

I’ve spectated several triathlons with Donnie so there were silly things I was actually a little excited about:

  • Getting markings put on my body. They always write your race number on you, some races put your age on the back of your leg too. I’ve always looked at Donnie’s markings from those races as proof of his level of BADASS.
  • Being allowed in the transition area. Most races only allow you in the transition area if you’re a racer, so I typically just talk to Donnie over the barrier while he gets set up.
  • The ability to be part of the multisport club. Donnie and his friends are awesome in several ways and I was looking forward to joining their ranks.

These were the things that I was trying to focus on and NOT think about RIDING THE DAMN BICYCLE FOR 13 MILES. Before that race the most I had ever done was about 5. Although I lied about that slightly to other people because it sounds a bit like running a marathon having only ever done a 10K before.

I was terrified. Petrified. Scared. And all of the other fearful words you can think of. And as I ran into the transition area to get my bike after the first 3-mile run? I almost puked. Let’s not even discuss the nervous crying I did before the race. But the almost puking? Not my finest moment.

I got going okay, but I never got my left foot into the toe cage on the pedal. And then I struggled with shifting, kept losing my footing on my pedals, and eventually both feet were riding on the underside of the pedals and I decided to quit trying to get them in the cages. I just nearly wrecked every time. The bad thing though, is that means I missed all of the benefit of the cages. Supposedly part of the point of attaching your foot to the pedal in some way is that you can pull UP on the pedals so that you’re not trying to constantly push, using the same muscles the entire time. If you can pull some it spreads out the distribution a bit, which I was never able to do.

(Result: SEVERE QUAD PAIN.)

And the shifting…I just never seemed to be going the right way. I never quite understood when to shift and what it would feel like after I shifted. I don’t know…I’m still too new to cycling to really get what things are supposed to feel like. So shifting to get it closer to that “sweet spot” is impossible since the only “sweet spot” I’m aware of is the one where I run the 13 miles, not ride it.

Basically? I spent 13-miles stressing out about shifting and pedals. I never relaxed enough to enjoy it on any level. And the last 5 miles my ass was hurting SO BAD that I was basically counting down the minutes until I was done. My bike is heavy and doesn’t fit perfectly so I never got over 12 mph and I never really got shifting properly so I’m certain I was never making efficient decisions. In other words? 13-miles of stress and quad pain. Thank GOD my friend never left me, even though she could have beat me by a good 20-30 minutes EASY. If she hadn’t been there? I might have just gotten off my bike and begged someone to come pick me up. That’s how miserable I was.

(SIDENOTE: The bike course was PERFECT if you are not me. Minimal traffic. Great volunteers making sure I went the right way. Good markings. Good conditions. Please do not judge the race itself by my struggles. I highly recommend this race to anyone wanting to do a multisport event!)

When I got back to the transition area people were leaving. As in, they were already done, and had hung out long enough to be ready to pack up and go home. They were actually taking down parts of the transition area. To make my point of how slow I was compared to the rest of the racers, I finished SECOND TO LAST. So, seeing people leaving to go home while I was just starting my second run? MILDLY DISCOURAGING.

BUT! I was done with the bike! So I didn’t care! I ran the last 3 miles not caring about anything else in the world other than being DONE WITH THAT BIKE.

When we crossed the finish-line, my friend and I were both so VERY HAPPY that it was over with. And my first thought? My triathlon will be SUPER EASY compared to that duathlon. The bike will only be half the distance, so I’ll be FINE. And that – I think – was why Donnie signed me up for it. So…in that sense? I’m so glad I did it.

But it did NOTHING for my confidence. When I finish a long-distance race…even if I’m dead last…just the accomplishment of completing the distance boosts my spirit. But that race? Because it felt so dreadful and I just stressed so much? I really didn’t feel much pride when it was over. I actually felt more embarrassment than anything. I just pushed so hard on the bike and still could not go ANY FASTER. Now – I know that a lot of the problem is the bike. It’s a heavy mountain bike that I’m borrowing so it doesn’t fit. And evidently – the speed and the fit are HUGE issues – so that could explain a lot of my struggles. But STILL! To work SO HARD and to still know that I’m about 3 mph slower on the bike on average than the slower of the participants (and 7-10mph slower than my husband)? It’s just discouraging.

To say the least.

But I did it. I have now participated in a multisport event. I’m one of the cool kids. I’ll do the triathlon in June and that will probably be it for my multisport season.

I do hope to someday get a good bike. Hopefully before next year so I can do the duathlon again on a good bike, with more confidence, and maybe be able to say I had fun after that race. Because this race? Was not as much “fun” as it was “stressful” and “terrifying” and “exhausting”. As I told my friends, give me a choice and I would have run 40 miles again over doing that duathlon again any time soon. IN A HEARTBEAT.

But I will try again. And that is actually more than I thought I’d say after this hurdle had been jumped. So, I’ll consider it a “WIN” in the “Try New Things” category.

Bucket List For Parents

bucketlist

Several times over the last 18 years of being a Mom, moreso in the last 8 years being a blogger, I’ve tried these “Lists Of Things To Do” type parenting challenges. I never complete them. Whether it’s the goals over Spring Break or the goals over the summer…I never actually check everything off the list.

Last weekend I cooked breakfast for E and his friends at midnight, after Prom. I tweeted that I was excited because it had been on my parental bucket list. Then…I thought, Hey! That’s a list I could actually complete! Give me 18 years and I can conquer any list. So, I put together my Parenting Bucket List – things I hope to do with each of my kids before they graduate from high school. Things that don’t take a lot of money or time. 18 years to do them. I can do that, right?

Parental Bucket List

  • Go to the park and play on the playground equipment with your child. Might I suggest swinging “spider style” where you put them on your lap facing you and their legs go behind you. It’s a tight squeeze but you can get going REALLY HIGH that way.
  • Get your face painted alongside your child. Hold out for a high-end face painter, though. The high school kids volunteering at your fair are good, but you want to make sure you look AWESOME if you’re only going to do it once.
  • Stand in line to get your picture made with some goofy character. Santa is an easy choice, but characters at theme parks create pictures you can keep hung up year-round.
  • Roller skating. Bonus points if you’re really bad at it. Every kid enjoys watching their parent fall on their ass.
  • Ice skating. Bonus points if you’re really bad at it. Every kid enjoys watching their parent fall on their ass.
  • Bowling. (I think I bowled with E once a million years ago, I need to do it again before he leaves for college.)
  • Miniature Golf. (Another thing I did with E a million years ago and hope to do again with the whole family this summer.)
  • Do a Drive-In movie. We did one in Tennessee a few years ago and the kids thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
  • Go to a midnight movie of your child’s choice. Bonus points if you stay awake through the whole thing.
  • Go to a fan event of some extreme magnitude. Maybe it’s a game of your child’s favorite professional sporting team. Maybe it’s a convention for their favorite comic book. Maybe it’s a traveling production of their favorite musical. Maybe it’s a big-arena concert. It needs to be something that your kid might cry about getting to attend – they’ll be that excited. Bonus points if you dress the part.
  • Host a meal for a dance. Or at least help host. The kids will enjoy saving the money and you’ll enjoy being a part of their special night. Use the fancy dishes.
  • Go hiking. Pro Tip: Let your kids determine the pace. They have more fun that way. Also, bring a backpack to collect the 14 thousand treasures they’ll find alone the way. I’d suggest camping too, except that’s a pricey set of gear for one outing.
  • Cook breakfast after prom. It gives the kids a safe place to hang out after the big dance and no one can say “No” to bacon.

Having done Prom Breakfast I’m pretty complete with E, but I have several to do with the others before they leave home. Can you think of anything else I should add? Anything that would be on your list?

  • They Brought Me Donuts.

    finishline

    Various finish line photos from the last few months…compliments of Gregg Gelmis.

    When we witness these national tragedies, the human tendency is to find a way to connect to the story. Animals don’t do this. The other gazelles don’t try to put themselves in the shoes of the one who had just gotten eaten. Nope. They just run like hell and look for their next meal.

    But we humans…we need to empathize. We need to try to feel what other people are feelings so that we process the sorrow in some way. After the movie theater shooting in Aurora, I couldn’t help thinking about all of the midnight movies I went to with E over the years, and imagining us crouched down, hiding from a shooter. After Newtown I saw the face of my daughter and her classmates being ushered to safety by their teachers. And then yesterday…yesterday it just seemed too real.

    I’ve been running for two years now and my family has been waiting for me at dozens of finish lines. But I’ve been thinking about my December marathon the most. That day, Donnie was running as well and he had crossed the finish line over an hour before I had. So…my kids…they were at the finish line…alone. The three loves of my life sitting there in one place, cheering for me as I finished my race.

    There’s a couple of videos from yesterday that were shot from the point of view of the finish line. Several “official” videos that they do for big races to make sure they capture everyone’s finish. You see the runners approach the line, some of them dragging, some sprinting – a phenomena every racer has experienced. You’re either one or the other. You either left it all out on the course, or you saved some for the end. Many of them are checking their watches for their official time (because a race that large, few actually start when the clock starts) and several are scanning the crowds for their loved ones. I have been every single one of those runners. I have done all of those things as I approach the finish line.

    And then you see the explosion, and the confusion, and the fear. And I see the face of my three kids, standing by the finishing chute in December, screaming “GOOOOOO MOMMMMM!” as I drug myself to the smiling faces who were giving me my medals. And then I remember searching the crowds for them, and I wonder how many of those families yesterday struggled to find each other in the chaos, and imagined the worse.

    I remember finding them…and seeing that they had brought me donuts. E had stopped by Krispy Kreme on the way to the finish line, had gotten a 6-pack of donuts, some for them, but most for me. I remember how amazingly awesome that was, the perfect finish line gift for me, the woman who made her wedding cake out of Krispy Kreme donuts. They hugged me and they followed me inside while I rested, ate donuts, and waited to find Donnie.

    And every moment from that day is now etched in my memory. Before yesterday it was just a nice memory of a good day that would probably fade with time. But now? I can’t help but look at every second of that day as a blessing. I now wish I could see their faces more clearly as they cheered for me to finish. I wish I had hugged them more to give them thanks for being there. I wish I had congratulated more of my friends. I hope I never forget the pride of having them there to see me accomplish this challenge.

    I guess that’s where we always find ourselves after these tragedies. Grateful for the time we have with our loved ones. Vowing to appreciate them more. Pledging to spread more kindness in case those around us suffer things we are not aware of.

    And this is where I find myself again. Just like after Aurora. After Newtown. I’m feeling very grateful and blessed for my running community, my happy and healthy life, my happy and healthy husband, and for my children…who brought me cheers, smiles, and donuts at the finish line of my marathon in December.