I Have a 42″ Little Man Who Has Mastered the Poker Face

So my 4-year old has taken on the role of an impressive little liar.

I was discussing this newfound behavior with a friend who has a 4-year old daughter.  He said that he can always tell when she is lying to him because her eyes dart around and she can’t look at him.

Not my little guy.  When I ask him if he is lying, or if he is being honest he plays the game well.  He gives full on eye contact accompanied by the most incredulous look as if he is thinking “I can’t believe you would even question me”

We were at my parents the other day.  They were going out to dinner with friends, and it’s tradition that they rotate hosting after dinner drinks and dessert.  This time up my parents were the hosts.

On the counter lay a very delicious looking pineapple upside down cake.  Fresh from the oven yet to be topped with cool whip.

I was upstairs and came down to the kitchen to see Noah standing in the middle of the room.  His eyes dart from the “cake” on the counter back to me.  “Mommy can I have a piece of that cake?” he asks in a voice as sweet as I bet that cake tasted.

Something about the look on his face, or perhaps the way he asked prompted me to ask “Noah did you put your finger in the cake?”  Mind you, I hadn’t even looked at the cake yet.

His eyebrows shoot up, immediate eye contact.  “No mommy, no, no, no.  I did not put my finger in the cake.”  All the while his arms moving emphatically as if to be backing his statement.  Now if he wasn’t my son, and I didn’t know that my son LOVES anything sweet, I think i would have believed him.

But as I have told him many, many times.  Mommies know EVERYTHING.

And yes we do.

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Dear Mother-I am trying to forgive you

I rarely call you “mom” when I am referring to you, and even though you don’t even know it, it’s my way of secretly punishing you.

I am 31-years old, and the memories of you are carved into my mind like a river.  The river was smooth and relatively normal until I was 7, and after that became a twisty, unpredictable, rocky current.

Remember when I was 7 and I got really sick? Of course you do, the doctors thought I was going to die.  I sometimes wonder if you distanced yourself from me because you were preparing yourself for the worst, but then I realized that was a bullshit excuse I made up in my head to make myself feel better.

Those crazy fucking steroids.  The “miracle” pill they called it.  Saved my life, but turned me into a monster. Gone was your blonde haired, brown-eyed, tan, tiny little daughter.  She morphed into a child that looked like a freak.  If you thought it was hard to look at me with all that excess weight, the moon face, and overall blimp look I took on, you have NO idea how hard it was for me.

The looks, the stares, the sympathy nods from people who had seen me only a month before who were flabbergasted at what I had turned into.  Do you remember that time at the library?  We ran into our neighbor, and he said “My God, what happened to her?”  Even at seven I knew that was some shit you didn’t say to a kid.  The car ride home was filled with awkward silence.  I think you said “I can’t believe he would say that.” But it wasn’t what you said that I remember, it was what you didn’t say.  Mother how your body language spoke and still speaks volumes. You were EMBARRASSED of me.

Not only did that medicine make me fat, it made me CRAZY.  You would like to think maybe my memory doesn’t go back that far, sometimes I wish it didn’t.  When you put a 7-year old on 75mg of Prednisone, it really fucks her world up.  Remember those terrifying panic attacks?  The first one was in the grade school auditorium.  I thought I was dying.  Do you know how scary it is to be so little and to  know that you are so sick you might die?  Then you start having panic attacks that make you feel like you ARE dying?  It’s fucking terrible.

Remember the psychosis, the obsessive compulsive disorder, the mood swings, the constant hunger?  I thought you were trying to poison me, I thought that aliens were going to abduct me.  If I didn’t flip the light switch “just” the right amount of times, something terrible would happen to you or dad.  I would get out of bed, sometimes 10 times a night to unzip my footy pajamas, the red ones.  I would peel them off and search them for bugs.  I knew, just knew there were bugs on my skin or crawling in my jammies. I never did find those bugs, and I never told you about all those scary thoughts because I knew I sounded crazy.

Do you remember when you started obsessing over my looks?  I am sure you worried about me, and maybe that is where your controlling nature took over.  You couldn’t control the disease but you thought you could control what I looked like.  Mother that prednisone was stronger than ANY diet you could ever put me on.

Remember when I was eight the doctors started trying to taper the Prednisone?  You had a “friend” come over and put me on a “diet.”  I knew you were disgusted with me.  I was disgusted with myself.  Unfortunately you missed that I needed you to love me for who I was, more than you needed me to lose weight.  I was 8-years old and was overly aware that in our family excess weight (medically induced or not) was absolutely NOT acceptable.

You watched me like a hawk.  The doctors said to watch the salt intake for water retention.  God forbid I got any fatter!!  You bought every salt free food the grocery store sold.  Everything that passed my lips you had to approve.  You would give me a “look” that meant NO if I went for a “treat” at a family function.   Now that I am older I know that our extended family noticed your obsession too.  I wish I would have realized they knew then.  I felt so alone.

The rest of my childhood was a lot of that…when I was fourteen  you became even more obsessive about my weight.   A freak looking 7-year old was one thing, a thinned out but still slightly overweight 12-year old was another, but to have a teenager who didn’t fit your mold.   Now that was something that needed FIXING.  NOW.

You constantly talked about my weight.

“Nicole you are really putting it on, you need to watch it.”

“How much weight have you gained?”

“Are you seriously going to eat another helping of that?”

“That will never fit you, you are getting a gut.”

As I got older you got meaner.  You must have thought I needed harsher treatment.  When I was fifteen every single night after dinner I would go upstairs, run a bath (to attempt to hide the noise) and throw up everything I had just consumed in front of you.  It felt so fucking good. Out with the food came the anxiety.  I know you fucking heard me.  You had to.  You never said a word.

I quickly figured out it was easier to not eat.  I went from a 5 6″ 140lb healthy teenager to a 108lb anorexic.  You know whats even crazier mother?  That you never said one fucking thing to me as you saw me wasting away.  It wasn’t until dad (who always adored his little girl, bloated and puffy and all) intervened.

I take that back.  One time. One time.  I was walking out of the house in a sports bra and shorts to complete my daily laps around the neighborhood and you said “I don’t think you should lose anymore weight.”  Really mother?  Have I finally hit the right proportions for you?  Because I am FUCKING miserable.  I crave your attention so badly.  I am a good kid, I get good grades, I don’t get in trouble.  You haven’t seen me eat in three months and NOW I meet your approval.  I will never EVER forget how satisfied I felt when you said that.

Dad took me to his friend who was a psychologist.  I was fucking pissed.  I really had nothing to say to this man.  You ruined every ounce of self esteem I had.  You made me feel like I was the most hideous, disgusting human being that existed.  That I didn’t deserve anything, including love if I wasn’t “beautiful” in your eyes.  I used to blame myself.  Told myself I was overreacting.  Finally I realized mother, I was a child. It wasn’t my fault.

Do you remember when you tried to pay me to lose weight?  $7 per pound. Seven was and is my favorite number.  You almost fucking ruined that.  You reassured me that “I could use the money to buy cute new clothes.”  Who fucking does that.  Never good enough, never worth enough.  All I wanted was for you to love me unconditionally.  Through thick and thin.  Literally.

I remember coming down in a new outfit and making the mistake of asking “does this look okay?” I knew what you would say but fuck maybe this time would be different.  God, I wanted you to tell me I looked great, that I was beautiful.  Your response was a blasé “you know you are really getting a gut.”  Crushed.

Remember my first year of college when I got depressed and gained a bunch of weight?  Oh I am sure you do, you probably tucked any photos of me looking like that deep in the pockets of the photo album.  I missed my boyfriend so much.  He was in boot camp.  When I was home for a visit you said “you know, ___ will be coming home soon, you should really use that as some motivation to lose some weight.”  Mother I probably went and sat in my room with the door locked and stuffing my face with a box of crackers while crying.

One time you were going on and on about my weight.  You screamed “Jesus Christ Nicole you CAN’T lose weight??  You used to be anorexic and you are telling me you can’t CONTROL YOURSELF??!!!”  Those words felt like a thousand wasp stings at once.

There was one memory that stood out the most, I think because I was actually happy with my life when you did what you did.  I had a boyfriend who loved me so much.  He thought I was beautiful.  He knew about you and how you acted.

I saw it immediately when I woke up.  There was a note taped to my mirror.  A brief smile crossed my face.  When I was younger you would sometimes leave us notes on the mirror.  “Have a good day, Love you” in that perfect handwriting of yours.  You could be nice.  That was probably during a time when I was ‘beautiful” in your eyes.

As I unfolded the paper that had been so delicately taped to the mirror, my face fell.  It was typed.  Typed meant serious.  You had typed me notes about my weight before.  But you had never ever said anything this cruel.

Nicole-

I am so upset with you I couldn’t even sleep, I am up at 3 a.m. writing this.  You were doing so well with losing weight.  What happened?  You are gaining it back.  I have a question for you?  How do you expect to ever get a husband let alone keep one if you keep gaining weight at the rate you are?  Think about it, if you gain 10 pounds every year, in 10 years you are going to be over 150 pounds overweight.  You are headed in that direction!  Do you think _______ husband is even attracted to her?  She is so big and that is going to be you if you don’t watch yourself.

The tears fell. They fell hard. I went to my parents room and woke my dad to show him the letter.  His face was crushed like mine.  He looked at me and said “you know Nicole, your mom is the way she is, I think you are going to have to learn that you can’t change her and accept this is how she is.” Crushed.  Dad never backed you on the shit you said to me, but he didn’t stand up for me much either. Ironic, dad wanted me to accept you for who you were, but you couldn’t even accept your own daughter.  Pathetic.

After that letter I finally fucking realized I was so done with this shit.  I waited for you to walk in the door after work.  I fucking snapped.  I never cursed at you.

I asked:

“What the fucking FUCK is wrong with you?”

That definitely threw you off guard.  You tried to stutter something (you weren’t used to me standing up to you), but I wouldn’t even let you talk.

“Do you think this is the 19 fucking 50’s?  Do you think that women are supposed to be cookie cutter wives, and our purpose for existence is to look good for our men?”

“Where in the fuck did you learn to act like this?  Dad has never treated you like this, and I sure as hell know that Grammie never treated you like this!!”

“You are fucking nuts, and there is something fucking wrong with you!  Who treats their daughter like this?”

“Do you think guys only fucking marry women because of their looks?”

When I finally said everything I had ever wanted to say to you I realized exactly how much anger I had toward you and how much I hated you then.

Your response mother? You cried.

You cried out “I am a terrible mom, I don’t know why I did that.” It was almost like you were begging me to feel sorry for you.  You pulled the most passive aggressive bullshit and tried to get me to feel sorry for YOU.

When I got pregnant it wasn’t planned.  I knew you were disappointed.  You kept bringing up that I should REALLY consider an abortion.  I fucking wanted to hit you every time you brought it up.  I was 24-years old and responsible for my own actions.  I had a college degree from a stellar private school, my own house, and a fucking job.  In reality you were embarrassed that your daughter was knocked up and hadn’t done things the “right” way.  You were pissed that you didn’t have control. Mother your mind fuck game ended when I got pregnant.  You became the LEAST of my concerns.  Fuck you for trying to pressure me into having an abortion. I loved that baby from the minute I knew I was pregnant.

I will never forget when I was crowned homecoming queen.  I scanned the crowd for you and dad, and dad was already walking towards me with the biggest smile on his face.  This wasn’t about me being the “prettiest.”  I was chosen because I was liked by my classmates, I was kind, people looked up to me, and THAT was what was important.  You didn’t say one word to me that day.  Dad was so proud of his little girl, who had grown into a kind and beautiful soul inside AND out.  You…who knew what the fuck you thought.  But you certainly weren’t happy.

These rivers run deep, and there are miles and miles of distance to cover, but I don’t think the waters are as rough as they used to be.  I think and hope that my sense of self has calmed those waters mother.

I am a good mother, unconditional, and incredibly proud of my son.  I hope he grows up to be like me.  Kind, loving, considerate, and empathetic.  Mother my son will always know that people are not their shells.  He will know that we are all SO much more than that.

Kids out there: Don’t Mess With Mine

So I have this issue.  At least I think it is an issue.  I am super protective of Noah.  Ever since he was up toddling around I thought “it will be the worst thing to see him get his feelings hurt.”  I remember when he was not even two and we were at Greek Fest.  I watched as he danced with a group of kids his big brown eyes, blond curls, chunky cheeks and a toothy little smile.  He was having such a good time.  I watched him as the lights twinkled around him with a feeling of pure honest to goodness joy in my heart.  It was beautiful.  Then in an instant the other kids were gone.  The music played on and my sweet little boy stood there with a look of confusion.  No,  He hadn’t known those kids, no one “left” him, and no his feelings weren’t hurt…yet.   For momma bear it was my first glimpse into the reality that one day some kid is REALLY going to hurt his feelings, and the thought made me sick.

Why are some of us so scared to see our children hurt?  For me I think part of it is that childhood should be about innocence, goodness, and not having a care in the world.  When kids learn that other children can be mean, and that they can too, it really opens up a whole new dimension in their world.

I have always stuck up for people.  From a young age if someone was being a bully I would call them on it right away.  That isn’t to say I was never the bully, but for the most part I was the anti-bully.  I wasn’t scared of the bullies turning on me, I was protective of the quiet, the different, the kids in my school who had special needs.  Mess with them and  I will make you feel like a total shit head for being such a jerk.

I went to a grade school with a special education program.  Seeing someone in a wheelchair, or someone who had severe developmental difficulties was nothing to me.  I didn’t look twice, make comments or gawk, and it was because it had always been a part of my life.  Come junior high when they integrated the grade schools together it was very apparent that my peers hadn’t been exposed or educated by anyone on others who were different from them..  Just like in grade school I called assholes out on it again in junior high.

One day Noah says to me, “Brady* always stares at me, he stares at me for a long time and I don’t like it.” I asked “well what do you do when he stares at you.”  He replied “I stick my tongue out at him.” I had to stifle a laugh, but gave him a brief talk about ignoring people who are trying to make you mad he seemed to grasp it.

The next day I am walking my sweet little boy into preschool and these two little fellas are sitting at a table.  I hear one of them say “Ughh it’s Noah!” as he turned snickering to his little accomplice.  I felt a rage inside me. My response: I gave those two 3-year-olds the a look that could have knocked them off their kiddie sized chairs.  I might have even hissed something at them like “maybe you stare to much.”  As I walked Noah to hang up his backpack I felt good, I felt MEAN, I felt like a victory had been won against these little shits trying to start my sons day off bad.  When I got in my car I felt like a 3-year-old, and realized I had acted just like one.

My cousin and I have discussed my “protective” nature towards Noah.  She brings up some excellent points like “I don’t think you can always jump in because how will he learn to stick up for himself if you are always there.” or “what is he going to do when he is in a situation and turns to look for you to step in and he can’t find you?”  She really got me thinking.  In my overeagerness to protect Noah from “meanies” I was likely making him an easier target for those type of kids in the future.  I have really tried to back off and let him deal with his own issues since.  Like today at the pool when this kid intentionally flung water in  his face.  He stood up leaned in and yelled “stop that! I don’t like that!”  Here I was watching my son smiling for sticking up for himself. I should throw in the disclaimer that Noah can also be the bully, which I immediately call him out on.

So now when I see a conflict rising between Noah and other kids, I pause and do my best to stand back and let the little minds and little voices work it out together.

What I REALLY, REALLY want is for Noah to grow up to be like me.  I want him to be the anti-bully. I want Noah to not only stand up for himself, but to stand up for the other kids who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves.

BUT I will still yell at the BIG kids playing rough on the little kids playground, and if you are cursing around my son I will tell you to watch your mouth because there are “kids present.”  I mean…right?  For now I will stay in the shadows restraining myself unless necessary.

Disclaimer about this blog and myself

This blog isn’t going to be sugary and sweet and me claiming to have it all together.  Rather, completely the opposite.  I am not supermom and don’t claim to be. In fact if you are a supermom or know one, send her my way to help me get all my shit together.  I won’t be posting a daily craft (although I do love some crafts),  I don’t make my son’s Halloween costumes, I forget to brush his teeth, and sometimes he is late for daycare.  He just missed a field trip because I completely forgot about it.  His daycare was going bowling, and he missed it because of me.  The icing on the cake is that he has never been bowling which I assume most kids his age have at least tried. I added that experience to my collection of “mother of the year awards” I have earned (head down in shame). Until recently, Noah has slept in my bed with me since he was a newborn.  As a single mom it was easier, at least that felt and sounded like a great excuse.  At 3 1/2 I finally got him in his own bed, with the condition that I would lay with him and he could hold my hand and rub my pinky (something he has done since he was born), until he fell asleep.  A week ago I decided to reclaim my hand and sanity.  He needed to find his own pacification system which didn’t involved me being present while my mental laundry list went nuts while I was laying there.  Pickup the house, finish the laundry, load the dishwasher, do some writing, clean, clean, clean.  Or god forbid if I actually watched a TV show or something like that.  Due to the withdrawls of “pinky” the past 5 nights have been pretty stressfull.  He cries, he pleads, he begs.  He yells “momma I don’t got this.”  Which is actually hilarious because when he is hesitant about something I tell him “you got this!”  I do still allow him to crawl in bed with me if he wakes up in the middle of the night.  Admittedly I love my snuggle time with him.  We call each other “snugglebug” for christ’s sake!!  I yell too much, am often impatient, and am very guilty of doing things “for” him because me helping him with his shoes is 10x faster when I am trying to get out of the fucking door.  Therefore this blog will include cursing, me being inappropriate and often obnoxious. After all my son does all of the above minus the cursing, and this blog is “me” time.  Any of the suggestions I offer on here are merely suggestions.  What works for me may not work for you, and I am by no means an “expert” or parenting, nutrition or anything else I discuss on here, as clearly defined by my shortcomings above.  I am a mom who is constantly striving to be the best I person, role model, and nurturer to my son.  My main concern is for Noah to grown up healthy,  and to have a strong sense of empathy for others.  Yep that really is it.  I don’t need an all-star sports player, or a son who is accepted to Harvard.  I want a healthy happy and NICE kid.  That can’t be too hard right? As I say to him “I got this!”