our time

I didn’t take many lone pictures of Eddie while we were at the cottage last week. That wasn’t on purpose, but as I click through the hundreds of shots Cortney and I got of those five days, most are of groups of people doing group things.

There is a pretty legit reason for this: during our waking hours, we were all always together. We were with each other.

Eddie and Charlie always had someone to play with…even if it was each other while the rest of us sat and chatted.

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The days were a relaxed busy…if there is such a thing.

We kept the boys going going going.

But at night…when it was quiet in the cottage, and his little brother had gone to bed, and his aunts and uncles and cousins had gone to play cards…Eddie and I readied him for bed.

The first night he said to me, “mom, I’m scared.”

When I asked why he said, “Because it’s new and that is a little bit scary. Will you lay by me?”

I told him I would be sleeping in that little bed with him all night since daddy would be sleeping in the front room with Bird.

“Can you just stay in bed now? Don’t go read your book?”

The first night I tried to tell him I would just be outside his door. He could lay with his head where his feet should be and stare at me if he wanted to.

He did.

The second night we both sat up reading until bed time.

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He simply would not go to sleep unless I was in the bed with him. So Ok, I went to bed by 10pm every night.

I’m so glad for this.

We would talk about all the fish on the walls (there was a wall paper boarder of fish around the room) and how they  made a pattern.

Each night he asked me to read the same three books, the last one always had to be Love You Forever. He would recite the song with me:

I’ll love you forever
I’ll like you for always
As long as I’m living
My baby you’ll be.

Each night he asked me if I would keep him safe.

Each night he rolled into me and put his arm out to make sure I was there as he fell asleep.

He has always needed someone to be there as he drifted to sleep, but knowing I wasn’t leaving made it different. I wasn’t getting up to go to my own bed after he fell asleep. We would chat some nights until I finally would say, “Ok bud. We need to get some sleep. I love you.”

And of he would say, “I love you more than the wide world, mommy.”

No matter how uncomfortable that dang bed was, or how much Eddie tossed and turned, I sort of loved those four nights.

I didn’t get good sleep and as a result found myself heading down a dark road, but in those moments of falling to sleep, all was Ok.

He would start to cry in the night…scared and not knowing where he was. He would start to call for his Daddy because that is what he does at home.

But I would immediately wake up, turn to him and rub his cheek and tell him I was there. And he would immediately settle back into sleep.

Each morning I would sense his waking at least 30 minutes before he opened his eyes. He would start to toss and turn and move his arms and legs. I did my best to sleep through it, but just as the tossing stopped and my mind slipped back to sleep, I would feel his blue eyes.

“Mom…..Mommy?”

When I opened my eyes he would smile, “Hi, mommy. I want to get up now.”

And up he got, turning on the light, finding his clothes, getting dressed, and heading out to sit by grandpa and grandma.

The day had started and it was time to share my little buddy with everyone else.

As much as I really didn’t like the sleeping arrangements or the quality of the bed, I ended up by being surprised by how much joy that alone time with Eddie brought me.

I realized how much I missed his tiny self, but how proud I am of his big boy self.

I also realized how important it is that Eddie and I have time just the two of us.

A little our time.

 

the penny reminder

Tuesday after dinner I had to go out to our local Mejier (much like Wal-Mart in the whole department store thing, but unlike Wal-Mart in the whole skeeze thing) for some supplies for a baby shower I am giving this weekend.

As Cort cleaned up dinner, Eddie announced he wanted to come with me.

Cort told him, “That’s up to mommy. ”

Normally, I would say, “no. it’s too close to bed time.  I won’t be gone long and you’ll have fun with daddy and Charlie.”

But since it was only just after 6pm, I said, “finish your dinner and you can come with me. But only if you can be a good helper. Can you be a good helper?”

“Yeah, Mom! I can! Let me go wash my hands and face!”

So off we went.

For anyone who has been around for awhile, you know I have a generalized anxiety disorder along with PPD/PPA.  After Eddie was born I was paralyzed with fear to go out with him alone.  Not because I thought he would get hurt, but because I was afraid I couldn’t handle it.

It was easy to avoid going out alone with Eddie.  When he was 4 months old, Cort lost his job and became a stay at home dad for a year and a half.  He did most of the errands during the day and had no problem taking Eddie with him.  In fact, he planned it so they would get out of the house at least once a day.

If I went out for anything, it was to pick something up on my way home from work.  Alone.

When I had Charlie, I had over a year of therapy to work on my anxiety and I had discovered baby-wearing. Charlie and I got out about once a week to do all sorts of things.

It was still rare that I took Eddie out alone though.  Not because I was anxious, but because we didn’t have tons of alone time.

So Tuesday night when he wanted to come along, I figured it would be good for both of us.

When we got to Meijer, Eddie insisted on holding my list.  As we held hands through the parking lot, he peered down at it and said, “yet’s see…hmmm.  what is first?”

I almost melted right there.

Once we were safely inside, I crouched down and asked if we could look at it together.  I pointed to the first thing and I said, “this says we need eggs and strawberry soda.”

“Hmmm,” he replied.  “yup, mom. You’re right! It says it riiiiight here.”

(I should remind readers that Eddie is 3 and cannot read, but we “pretend” to read often as a form of “play learning”.)

So I let him help me pick a cart and off we went.

I let him run a bit ahead of me and didn’t get panicky or yell to him to slow down or wait.  I trusted that he would.  And he did.

He would get a certain length ahead of me and then stop, turn around, and wait for me with a smile on his face.

I let him choose which package of sausage we would buy.  And then I let him “fix” the rest in the display so they were nice and neat.

He put strawberries in the cart and helped me pick the “right” paper plates.

It took longer than if I had zipped through the store on my own, but it was so SO much better this way.

A few people commented on how it was nice that we worked together to do the shopping instead of my just having him be there.  Each time we found something on the list, I would get down on my knees in the aisle so we could look at the next list item together.  He held the list the whole time.

At checkout, I let him unload the entire cart (except the eggs).  The belt was not as neat and organized as when I unload (I have a method of what gets grouped together for bagging purposes), but he did it all on his own.  Luckily for us, the cashier smiled and talked to him and told him what an awesome helper he was.  She said it was nice to see someone using a trip to Meijer as a “learning” tool instead of a battle between mother and child.

On our way out, he wanted to ride the penny pony, but I didn’t have a penny.  I felt sad for him as I watched him hang his head in disappointment because he had been such a great helper and he deserved a spin on the pony.  Just as I was telling him that I promised I would bring TWO pennies next time, a lady in the check out next to us bent down and handed Eddie a penny.

“OH THANKS YOU!” he beamed at her.

“You are very welcome, young man.  I saw you help your mommy.  You are quite the gentleman!”

“You too,” Eddie replied.

To which we both chuckled while I thanked her.

As we approached the pony, we saw that someone had left three pennies next to it.  Eddie asked if he could use one to take a second ride, and I let him.

When we were done, he asked about the other two pennies.

“Are those for other girls and boys?”

“Yup, someone left those there for good boys and girls so they can ride the pony too.”

“If they don’t have pennies they can use them?”

“That’s right.”

Just then a little boy, smaller than Eddie, walked up.

“You has a penny?” Eddie asked him.

“no. I can’t wide it.” The little boy said, “I just looking.”

Eddie reached down to the extra pennies, and handed one to the little boy.

“Der you go. Now you can ride too!” And he patted the horse.

As the little boy ran back to his mom to show her his new treasure, Eddie and I walked to the car.

“That was very kind of you, Eddie.”

“Yup. Dat boy can ride duh pony now too!”

“That’s right.  Thank you for being such a great helper and such a kind boy.”

“I yuv you, mom.”

“Aw. I love you too, Eddie.”

I am beyond stressed out and way overly exhausted.  But these small moments…just 30 minutes out of my day on Tuesday, made me smile.  It made me forget the deadlines and the calendar conflicts and the have-to-do’s for 30 minutes and just focus on my older son.

I was able to spend quality time with him encouraging his fierce independent streak in a positive, healthy way.

I am an overworked working mom.  But I am a good mom.

My son is kind and helpful not because he just knows to be that way, but because we have modeled that for him.

We have taught him to share what he has, even if all he has in that minute is a penny and a helpful nature.

These small moments also remind me that I am not raising boys, but men.

Men who I hope will bring good to this world instead of sadness.

Watching my son share a penny made me hopeful that I am achieving this goal.

a new song

“Sing to me, mommy,” he whispers in the dark.

“Sing me a new song.”

The twin mattress makes him seem so small.

“Ok, Eddie.  This one was your Papa’s favorite.”

He nuzzles his head close to me and I smell his hair.

Gone is the sweet baby smell of lotion and Johnson & Johnson.

It has been replaced with the smell of shampoo and toddler.

Sweat and dirt and spaghetti O’s and sweetness.

I was once told when he was only weeks fresh that his smell would be with him forever.

That he would always smell like Eddie.

It’s true.

Under all those boy smells, I could still find that scent he was born with.

I smiled and I began to softly sing,

Cracklin’ Rosie, get on board
We’re gonna ride til there ain’t no more to go
takin’ it slow.

I paused.

I was thinking about the rest of the lyrics–and the man who loved them–when a small hand touched mine.

“Again, mommy.  Sing my Papa’s song again.”

Three lines were enough.

I sang them again.

This time I could hear him whisper some of the words into his memory.

“Again.”

A third time I sang the lines.

“Again, mommy.”

“You sing to me, Eddie.”

“My Papa’s song?”

“Yes.”

Caklin’ Wosie boad
wide aw night
slow.

“I like your singing, Eddie.”

“Thanks, you, mommy.  You lay by me for a little bit longer?”

In the glow of his nightlight I look around his new room.

Everything is Big Boy sized now: the dresser, the chair, the toy box.

I even bought him his first package of toddler underwear this past week.

Then I look over at the little creature pressed into my side.

Hair standing up like chickens sleep in it.

A hint of chocolate by one of the corners of his mouth.

Scrapes and boo boos from tumbling off his bike or rolling down the grassy hill in our yard.

And the longest lashes I have ever seen framing two bottomless dark pools staring at me.

We look at each other for a long time in the quiet darkness.

Under this new Big Boy uniform he is growing into, I start to see hints of my baby.

Chubby cheeks.

Sleepy, long blinks.

And the soft squeaking sound as he sucks his pipey.

I see my baby wrapped in a Big Boy.

I whisper, “I love you Eddie.”

He smiles behind his pipey and rubs Lamby to his nose and sleepy eyes.

“I love you too, Mommy.”

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