Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Let's Talk About It

“Just Say No” do you remember that famous Nancy Reagan campaign? I do.  In fact it feels like yesterday that every other car on the highway had a bumper sticker that read “Just Say No.”  There were entire school assemblies all about just saying no. There were pencils, notebooks, stickers, and television commercials that told us to just say no.  I’m not naive. I know that there were plenty of kids who didn’t in fact say no, but I also know that we talked about it. If there was one thing Nancy Reagan did with her campaign it was to open up a discussion about drugs amongst families.  Somewhere between then and now we’ve stopped talking about it.
Kids have stopped saying no and it’s become an epidemic. Heroin is killing our kids daily and while I’m not an expert when it comes to the actual statistics I know that I can’t turn on the news, pick up the newspaper or go onto the Internet without reading something about heroin being our nation’s new epidemic. As a mom this scares the crap out of me. My boys are still young and while we are not yet at the point of needing to worry about this directly it’s always there. It’s in the back of my mind every single time I read something like this:* Heroin Epidemic: A Mother's Plea*
I look at my boys and how innocent they are. I look at them playing and laughing and think that there are plenty of moms who enjoyed these simple joys with their kids too. I’m not sure how we fix the problem but I do know how I will attempt to beat it in our house. 
My dear boys,
I’m not your friend. I’m your mom. I’m well aware that there are going to be days, weeks, months and possibly years when you tell me you don’t like me or worse yet that you hate me.  I need you both to know I don’t need you to like me. I just need you to know how very much I love you. 
I know you’re both frustrated that your cell phones are not allowed anywhere near the dinner table, but dinner is our time. Your dad and I want to know all about your day. We want to know the good and the bad and all the in between.  I know you think we suck even more for not allowing them at family gatherings. Sorry boys but whatever your friends have to tell you can wait until after Pop Pop’s birthday. One day you will realize that being present is so much more important than you could possibly realize now.
I know that you are annoyed that everyone else gets to stay out later than you and I want you to know it’s not about not trusting you…really it’s not. It’s about loving you and worrying about you and knowing from experience that nothing good happens after midnight.
I want you to know that in this house you are held accountable for your actions. 
I want you to know that real friends don’t pressure you into doing things that make you uncomfortable. Real friends encourage you to be just who you are.
I want you to know that we will know all of your friends. We will also know your friends parents and please don’t think that we will hesitate to pick up the phone to call your friends parents to make sure you are where you say you are.
In our house we will talk about drugs. We will openly discuss what drugs can do to you and your dreams. We will talk about how drugs can impact not only your lives but the lives of those around you. We know most of these discussions will be met with eye rolls and we’re fine with that.  They are going to happen anyway.
I know there may come a time when the thought of doing drugs doesn’t scare you at all but I want you to remember that the thought of either of you doing drugs scares me to death. Drugs can take you away from me. Drugs can take you away from yourself. Remember that. Just say no and come home.  It will be a decision you never regret. 
I want you both to know that there isn't anything you can’t talk about with us. There is nothing you can tell us that will make us love you any less.  From the moment we held each of you in our arms we promised to love you…unconditionally. 
I want you to know that your dad and I aren’t perfect and we don’t always have all the answers. We are doing the best we can to raise you both with love. We want you to reach for your dreams and we will support your dreams, the big and the small.  We will also pick you up when you fall and tell you to carry on.
I promise to always be honest and loving with you both and I expect the same in return.  They say home is where your story begins and your stories have captured me from the moment we brought you home. I’m excited to follow your stories even after you leave home. I’m excited to see where your stories will lead you. I promise you that I will cheer you on and support you and no matter what I will love you.  Always know that I am here and when it feels like everyone else has left… I am always here.
All my love,
If we don’t encourage our children to share the little things when they are young they may never share the big things when they are older.
*Read the above article. Share it with your kids. Share it with those you love. Let's beat this epidemic*
*Write a letter to your children. Let them read it. Let's get talking*

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Welcome Chaos

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the everyday chaos.  It’s so easy to focus on the little things. I find myself stressing about the morning routine, my lack of sleep from the night before, the mess that is my house, and the list of things that I know the day ahead of me holds.  I stress about the homework that will arrive home that day and getting dinner onto the table in enough time to give the kids baths and get them to bed so that they get just the right amount of sleep for the next day.

I stress about spending enough time with each of the boys while also finding time to write, grocery shop, get the car inspected, run an event at preschool, clean the house and be a wife.  I stress about it all. I find myself at the end of the day often thinking, “I need a break.” Tonight as I sat with the boys for story time and the five year old read to us I couldn’t help but think about how I got here, how we all got here.

There was a time when it was just me and my husband. We slept in on the weekends. We went out for late dinners. We hung out with friends. We traveled on a whim. We slept (I may have already mentioned that.)  Two years into our marriage we decided it was time to start a family.  From the moment we made that decision I envisioned what our life would one day be. I envisioned us just the way we were, but surrounded by children. I knew our lives would change, but I don’t think you can ever really know how much they will change until they actually do. That being said I monitored my cycles, I knew when I was ovulating and I was so eager to become a mom.

I will never forget the day that the little stick showed a plus sign. The overwhelming feelings of both joy and fear came over me. This was it. We were going to be parents. I would love to say that I told my husband in some really cute way but to be honest the moment he walked in the door I just screamed WE’RE PREGNANT! And so we began our journey.  Our first ultrasound was scheduled and I was so excited to begin the journey we had been waiting for. As I got myself up on the table I smiled from ear to ear. The technician told me to relax and that the gel would be cold.  She began. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t look at me. I knew. She excused herself and as I sat there feeling beyond vulnerable a million things began to run through my head. I started to think about the future I had imagined. I saw myself standing in the kitchen watching my husband play with the kids outside. I saw the bedrooms that were currently empty becoming the home to our children who I would check on every night before bed. I started to cry and the Doctor walked in. She took my hand and said I am so sorry but the baby has no heartbeat and I cried. I cried from disbelief. I cried from sorrow. I cried from fear.

I felt fear that we might never experience the chaos of everyday life with children, that our house might never be filled with laughter other than our own.  I cried thinking I may never trip over a toy on my way to bed or have a teddy bear to pick up and put away before I brushed my teeth. I cried thinking I might never have a child who needed help with homework or that our dinner table would never contain more than two people. I cried because it was in that moment of loss that I knew just how much I wanted a family.

Tonight as I sat with my two, beautiful boys and I listened to my five year old read us a story I couldn’t help but flash back to the moment I feared none of this would ever come true.  Our lives are chaotic and our house is never quiet but I never liked the quiet anyway. The silence that filled the room the day of that ultrasound was louder than any noise I have ever heard. The sound of my boy’s heartbeats was the best sound I have ever heard. Sure the sound of each of their heartbeats has been followed with the sounds of crying, laughter, fighting, screaming, running, and playing and there are times when I think I would love some peace and quiet, but this is what I wanted and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I realized tonight that we are here and there is no place I would rather be. As I walked the boys to bed I stepped on three cars and a train and I couldn’t help but laugh. This is exactly what I wanted. The chaos isn’t something to stress about, it’s something to celebrate.
and this seems fitting...