“That Dog”: First Baby -vs- Human Baby

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It was the end of my Junior year in College. I couldn’t pass Spanish because my instructor was a woman who refused to fall prey to my impeccable flirting. I was sad. So, as per the norm when sadness arrived, I took a trip to the pet store at the local mall.

Since I was young and in excellent health I wore pointy toe 4″ stilettos to walk the mall.  I carefully maneuvered past the clothing shops, the cookie cart, the handsome men catcalling me who always tried in vain to get me to purchase a steam iron…until I arrived at the front of the pet shop window.

…and there you were.

Tiny. Blonde. Sitting so still while all the other wild animals barked madly around you.  We locked eyes and it was…love.  An instant, unselfish, pure & unbreakable love.

I thrust the young sales boy my soon to be maxed out credit card that the bank had foolishly given me even though I didn’t have a job and charged the $94.99 that you cost because in 2002 a chihuahua/maltese mix was a mutt, not a designer dog.  In just a few years your breed would sell for upwards of $750.

Marketing.

Life is strange.

Together we took on the world.  The “No Pets Allowed” law didn’t apply to us because I just didn’t care and you were very quiet.  We ate together in the nicest of restaurants, people stared in jealousy at your various designer rhinestone encrusted ensembles, you traveled across America and stayed at numerous hotels illegally. You made television appearances, were almost shot by the police, cheated death at a haunted house, ate 99 cent Jack in the Box tacos for 6 months straight without complaining, fought off alligators & fell in love with Scooby Doo.

You were there for my greatest triumphs.

You were there for my greatest heartbreaks.

You never asked for anything except love and table scraps.

You are 13 and your health is failing.  I can see this.  I know you don’t hear as well.  I see you miss the couch when you jump.   I hear you coughing.

…and I’m awful.  I don’t deserve you. Because instead of showing you love, for the past few months I have shown you what can only be described as hate.

I call you “that dog” and I feel anger when I trip over you.  I resent having to walk you outside 5 times a day because our fence isn’t put in yet.  When you bark I cringe because it means you’ll wake the children.

The human children.

Because once I had those human children I forgot about my first baby.

And I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.

Everyone said it would happen. I didn’t believe them.

I don’t know how it happened.

I don’t remember when it happened.

I just know it happened.

I have been mean to you.  I have not given you the respect and love that you deserve, that you’ve earned.

Juliette yelled at me again today.  Her terrible two attitude is at an all time high and while I know it’ll pass (please, GOD, let it pass) it doesn’t make the bad moments with her any easier. When I finally got her to go down for a nap I sat on the kitchen floor and cried because…I’m a crier. I am who I am. I should buy stock in waterproof mascara.

You sauntered up to me, sniffing the whole time, probably looking for dropped chex mix.  You looked at me with your cataract eyes, listened to me sniffle with your floppy ears, laid your graying head in my lap and sighed in solidarity.

The stench from the breath you exhumed was borderline unbearable.  I just don’t know what to do about your teeth.  But the action set off a flood of memories of all the times I’ve been at the end, feeling unable to go on and you were there to make things better.

I love you, Alexander Marco Bray-Frazier.

You are a good dog, and I promise to be better, to be the owner you deserve.

I’m going to go take you on a walk.  Please don’t poop in front of our new neighbors.

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There Are Those Days

IMG_0921There are days that I cringe when I hear you running toward my room.  I curl up under the covers, pretend to be sleeping and pray that you decide to make TODAY the day that you learn to play by yourself.

On these days I am sulky and mean.  I yell at you for not moving your little legs to the table fast enough. I yell at you: Eat your waffles, I’m not a maid, you must drink milk/water/juice, stop asking so many questions, I can’t stand the dog, you’ll wake your sister, you can’t watch the iPad, you have to wear pants, you peed on the toilet, stop asking so many questions, I told you the answer already, we’re going to be late, I just need coffee, I don’t have chocolate, you can’t have chocolate for breakfast anyway, stop asking so many questions, don’t ask why…

I yell and yell and yell and yell because…

Because sometimes, my darling little child, sometimes when you’re a stay at home parent you feel like nobody ever hears you.  Nobody is listening or understanding. You can manage this feeling for a bit, for days or for weeks but then one day…one dark day when the child who you love more than life itself asks you for the 1000th time if he has to brush his teeth…

…on that day you’ll completely lose your mind.  You’ll wonder if you’ve gone insane, if anyone can actually hear you.  DOES your voice work? You’ll feel useless because if you can’t even teach your child that he has to brush his teeth every morning you MUST BE FAILING and soon his teeth will fall out and the dentist will judge you.  You’ll start looking for a desk job because at least at a desk job you’ll have more control over the results.

You’ll cry.

I cry.

Because parenting is the most rewarding but stressful thing I have ever done in my entire life and the guilt at not being constantly & overwhelmingly grateful is crushing.

Then you, my slow walking, darling little child…you slowly walk up and sit next to me, knowing that I’m overwhelmed.  I feel guilt that my almost 5 year old knows what the word overwhelmed means.  You hold my hand.

You tell me you’re sorry for asking about brushing your teeth again.

I tell you I’m sorry for yelling.

The clock tells us both it has been 10 minutes since all of this began and now it has already ended.

We acknowledge that it was a rough start to the day and vow to get McDonald’s for lunch.

High five.

…and I vow to be a better, kinder, more patient mother tomorrow…

 

 

 

Superheroes & Pirates & That Guy

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Harrison: When I grow up and am finally a REAL superhero…

Me: Wait, when you GROW UP?  I THOUGHT you were a real superhero now.

Harrison: (annoyed) Well…yeah, I mean, I AM but I still want to be one when I get older.  I don’t want to be a pirate or like…(cue about 10 solid seconds of him trying to remember who he doesn’t want to be like)…that guy, you know, THAT guy.  You know. You KNOW. That guy.

Me: …Hm. Yeah. I hear ya.

…really, pal, NOBODY wants to be THAT GUY.

 

 

To My Darling Early Riser

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Dear Darling Early Riser,

This morning when I felt your tiny baby fingers pawing at my face I felt a rush of anger. Opening one eye just enough to see that it was still pitch black outside I grumbled that it wasn’t time to wake up and to go back to your room. I pulled the covers over my head as I heard you scurry out, back through the dark hallway and into your bedroom where you would probably hurt your feet stepping on the millions of toys that litter your floor.

Chastised. Sad. Frustrated. Confused.

Because you didn’t understand why, when YOU were so awake and felt like playing, I was being such a grump.

I didn’t hear you crying because you do it silently, which makes it even sadder. But I just KNEW. Because I’m your mother and totally psychic about these things.

As I always do when something like this happens (when I start feeling overwhelmed/tired/frustrated with you), I start to imagine all the horrifying things that could happen to you. My imagination takes me from a normal scary thing (car accident/bike fall/stairs slip up) to things that I know are insane (a random plate of glass falling off a skyscraper and crushing you/ants getting into your bedroom and eating you alive/poltergeists). I do this and then feel immediately grateful that you are alive, healthy, sweet, loving and kind. It is such a morbid thing to do but it really does help me gain perspective.

I lasted maybe 10 seconds before hauling myself out of bed and coming into your room, where you were (I called it) crying silently in your bed.

So at 6:17 am I started my day with you. We made coffee and chocolate milk. I repeatedly hissed “SHHHHHH! YOU’LL WAKE YOUR SISTER!” because you have absolutely no volume control on your sonic boom of a voice. You watched Iron Man while I paid bills online and when you turned to me at 6:47 am, smiled your sweet smile and said, “This is the BEST DAY EVER” in your crazy loud voice I was filled with such joy.

I know that one day in the not so distant future I’ll be DRAGGING you out of bed at 10 am. You’ll be grumbling about my kisses while I remember how you used to always say “One more hug” at bedtime to slow the process down. I’ll offer you chocolate milk and you’ll smirk because chocolate milk is for babies. Instead of waking me up in the morning you’ll be super quiet because you’ll be sneaking in from a late night party where you’ll have tasted vodka mixed with kool-aid and made out with a girl named Oliva who’s number you didn’t even bother to write down because you were too drunk off the vodka/kool-aid concoction and now she’s going to go and tell all her friends that you’re a jerk because you kissed her and then just left her in the closet.

I know this.

So I will appreciate my short time with you as a sweet child who thinks I’m the most awesome person in the world because soon I’ll just be your old mom who embarrasses you by not dressing age appropriately.

I promise to be more patient. I promise to be more kind. I promise to not yell.

Much.

You kind of inherited your sonic boom voice from me. Nobody is perfect.

Kisses,

Mommy

*originally published @ http://www.ragsrestyled.com but was removed and moved over here to keep things relevant.

Throw Away the Chips & Put on Some Mascara

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While socializing with Anna & Elsa, my daughter makes sure that even Grumpy Cat makes an effort to not look like a total mess.

One cold, drafty Sunday many years ago I was an enchanting 12 year old wearing a lovely deep blue lace dress and waiting for bible study to start when an awful girl named LeeAnn sauntered up and snarkily asked why I was “SOOOOOO” dressed up.

“For Jesus, LeeAnn. Your ripped jeans and NKOTB t-shirt make him cry. Jerk.”

…is what I wanted to say.

But I didn’t, because even at 12 years old I had class.  I also didn’t have much of a quick wit, so I was stunned into silence, appalled that someone could ask something so rude.  My boyfriend at the time (yes, even at 12 I had admirers) came to my defense and told LeeAnn he thought I was beautiful and gave her a look insinuating that she was not.  He then turned back to me and said something that I have parroted to many people throughout my life:

“I think it’s nice that you always look good.  She’s stupid.”

I suppose I don’t quote EXACTLY what he said since I’m no longer 12. My quote is more like:

“Don’t ever be ashamed to be the best dressed person in the room.  It is far better to be overdressed than underdressed.  Nobody ever throws an overdressed person out of a dining establishment and  you can get away with far more minor crimes if you’re wearing a lovely pair of heels.”

I have been off my A-Game with pulling myself together lately.  Sweatpants have made frequent appearances even though I don’t work out. My hair lives in a ponytail. I’ve worn sneakers with mismatched socks.

I consistently blame this on having 2 children but, honestly…

No, I won’t lie, it really is because of the children.  It is ALL their fault.  They are two of the greatest loves of my life, but they exhaust me to the point of wearing tacky clothing on a fairly consistent basis because I’m too tired to put a decent outfit together.

Today I will begin practicing what I preach to my children.

Darling Children,

*Dress for the life you want, not the life you have.

*Dress for great success, not for mediocrity.  

*Dress like you’re going to randomly see your own LeeAnn in Target and she’ll be wearing knock off Juicy Couture terry clothe pants and a coffee stained white turtleneck and when she sees you wearing a black shift dress with your hair in a trendy bun she’ll think back to the day she tried to fashion shame you and feel immediate regret.

*A single strand of pearls or a tie can make an incredible difference in any ensemble, and you can use both items to choke any muggers who think you’re rich and carrying cash simply because you look lovely. 

I promise, you’ll be shocked at how much better you’ll feel about yourself when you throw the chips away, peel off your sweatpants and put on some mascara.

“The thirst for revenge and fear of random social embarrassment is the greatest motivator in the world of fashion.” -Me

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Even at the always enjoyable young age of 2, my darling daughter has a unique and classy style she likes to call, “Anything But What Mommy Picks Out For Me”.