Saturday, January 29, 2011

Space in the Days

It is strange how the lose of one little creature leaves such a hole in your life. For fourteen years I have spent so much of my day tending to Callie. Now I no longer have a need to open the door a dozen times a day to let her in or out. I don't have to stand on the deck freezing in my pjs hissing "Get in here now!" No longer do I have to stumble out of bed every morning to let her out and fix her bowl of stinky dog food. When I lay down for a nap, there is no Frito smelling fur ball curled up beside me. In the middle of the night I miss the sound of soft snoring, sighs, or stretching groans. I keep listen for the jingle of her collar and the click click of her nails on the kitchen floor. I even miss tripping over her because she's sitting right outside the bathroom door waiting for me.

It has been a strange mourning period. We have had three snow days this week and have been stuck at home. In someways it has forced me to deal with life without her, it has given me time to heal. But in other ways, the lack of routine has given me too much time in my head which is never good. There is a reason why I stay so busy. When I think too much I get sad. When I'm busy, I don't think. You do the math.

All of this does not bode well for empty nest syndrome. If the lose of one little (all be it amazing) dog leaves me feeling like this, what will I do without kids someday? I regret all the times I've said if only I have more time, I could do this and this and this. I guess the truth is when I have time, I don't feel like doing any of it. Cherish your busy life, really.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Furry Baby

Most people get their first "practice baby" (read dog) a year before they have the baby. Rob and I got ours the very day we found out we were going to have the human baby. On August 20, 1997, Rob and a very nauseous me went to the pound to "look" at dogs. No leash, no plan, just us. We left with a hyper terrier mix on a 20 foot rope. As we drove down the highway, our new dog leapt over the seat and landed in Rob's lap and proceeded to madly lick his face as he tried to navigate the road. We went home to find a smaller rope so we could take her to the pet store and outfit her with the necessary items. In my excitement to leave, I shut the door and locked us out of our new home. It didn't matter, we were so excited. After breaking into our house, getting the keys, and going to the store, we came home and took a pregnancy test. The rest is history.

Callie was the best little dog, even at her naughtiest. She ran away, stole socks, ate dirty diapers, and loved Caroline's ducky booties. She led us through a cornfield chase, the stalks shaking like something out of a slasher flick, but instead of running away, we were running to a very small, agile, stubborn dog. She got to ride up front and hang out the window. She kept Caroline company after school and chilled with me on the nights that I couldn't sleep. She was a true diva. We joked that if Callie could talk, she speak of herself in the first person. She refused to sit or lay on cold hard floor. She perfected the pose "pretty dog" head cocked, one paw up, waiting for a treat. She learned how to carry her dish to us when she was hungry. She could also bark like a maniac, especially when there was a sleeping baby.

Today, we had to put her to sleep. She developed cancer and internal bleeding very suddenly. We decided to let her go with dignity. Callie will be missed, but never forgotten. She helped us start our family. We love you, Callie Bo Ballie!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

After my glowing post about the evolution of our family, I don't want people to get the impression that we are dancing around here putting flowers in our hair to the dulcimer sounds of acoustic guitar. No it's the same craziness as always with a new wrinkle: teenage girl.

I try to keep Caroline out of my blog to keep her privacy, but I feel it is my duty to warn other mother of young girls what is coming their way. I feel like I should have gone to "mother of a teenager boot camp." I never know from one moment to the next what version of my child I am going to get. Rob and I have always jokingly (to ourselves) referred to Caroline as Sybil. If you don't like this mood/personality, just wait a minute, another will come along. Caroline has tagged me as public enemy number one. Especially when it comes to homework. Getting through it is like WWIII. I see her point, some of it is total BS, but what better training for adulthood? The thing that blows my mind is teachers have made reading the text book optional. Seriously? We are raising such a generation of factoid junkies. Awesome, these kids will be able to win on Jeopardy, but write, make a plan, problem solve, have a conversation? No way.

Being the uber nerd that I am, I want her to read the text book and highlight her notes. That goes over like a lead balloon. The conversation goes something like this: me "Do it." Caroline "I don't wanna." me "Tough." Caroline: "No!" me "Yes!" and the yes-no back and forth goes on for an hour. Finally she caves and does it. She is a tear stained mess, I am soaked in sweat with a killer headache. There is no victory here. I just keep reminding myself that motherhood isn't for wimps.

I really just want to stand on tiptoe and and take my giant baby into my arms. I know she is navigating a minefield right now. There's the social aspect of trying to figure out all the hidden meaning in every teen conversation, there's the worry about making a fool of herself, and there's the fact that everyday her body has a mind of it's own. She is like a gangly giraffe, tripping over thin air. We have tried to give her the tools she needs: self confidence, humor, pop music, Ugg knock offs...

I live for the glimmers into her future. The things that let me know she is going to grow up into a confident young lady. When we aren't arguing, there is this sweet tentative friendship. We watch the same TV shows and movies now. We trade good books. She can give me an honest opinion about my clothes and I can choose to ignore said opinions (what is wrong with my purple fuzzy hat?). This weekend we watched Fantastic Mr. Fox and she loved it. She snickered like a true smart ass and we've been going around saying "What the cus?!" I have raised a kid who can appreciate Wes Anderson! Take that soccer moms! I wonder if she is ready for The Royal Tenenbaums? I really don't want to repeat the "it's too early for Moulin Rouge fiasco" of two years ago.
I am ready to boldly escort her into this brave new world. I might be by her side, I might be behind her prodding, but I will be there all the way (with Excedrin and chocolate).

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Crystal Ball

Tonight I caught a glimpse into the future, and it filled my stomach with dread while at the same time my heart soared. I dropped Caroline off at the high school early before her concert. As I watched her walk into the school, so tall and confident, all the while hiding a stomach full of butterflies, I realized that I really am on borrowed time. I have given her what she needs and she is making it. She might not be following the path the way I would (more on that later), but she is surviving. Watching her on stage, ponytail twitching like a little squirrel, I couldn't be prouder. I am so glad that we have supported her and let her choose her own passions. Keep on going drummer girl.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Things around here are changing, yet staying the same all at once. There is still frequent sickness, never ending mess, and large amounts of "smartassery." At the same time there seems to be this gentle settling. The four of us are at turning points in our lives, slowly turning into whoever we will be next.

Caroline is slowly finding her way to whatever path she will choose in life. She alternates between gleefully leaping there to fighting it for all she is worth. Within a ten minute time frame we encounter Caroline the young woman who quickly reverts back to her toddler self. I get flash backs to the child who made me question if I was even cut out to be a parent, the one I chased and wrestled, and tried so hard not to strangle. At those moments I look at Rob and mouth "WTH?" Yet today, when I was home with her (strep), she started showing signs of self control. She snapped at me and quickly corrected herself, "I didn't realize how that would sound, I'm sorry." Oh sweet joy! That acknowledgement is worth more than gold. It is the sweetest present ever. I know it is short lived and that when I sit down to study science with her tomorrow, I will emerge downstairs shaking and soaked in sweat like a prison torturer after a particularly hard job. But today, I will hold onto that small triumph.

I watched The Lovely Bones with her today. The book is one of the most hauntingly beautiful things that I have ever read. I have heard that the movie had been changed and sweetened losing the true feeling of the book, but was still curious. Everything I'd read about it lead me to believe it would be ok for her. It was and she loved it. If you haven't read it, you must before you see the movie and skip down to the next paragraph, so I don't ruin it. There was always one part of the book that annoyed me. The murdered girls possesses another girl to get her first kiss from the boy she liked before she was killed. Now I know why it was in the book and why it was important. In the movie, as she kissed him, I heard the smallest sigh from Caroline. She understood. The character was on the brink of becoming, just like her. Only instead of moving forward, she was frozen in time. The kiss let her move just a little bit forward.

Now onto Rob. It is no secret how much I adore and am annoyed by my husband. He and I seem to have spent many years orbiting in separate solar systems, joining together to solve family and household tasks. Lately, we seem to have found a common system. It started with running errands together and using that time to joke and chat and remember why we ended up together in the first place. Next week it is my 40th birthday. Rob wanted to do something special for me, so he took me to Berkley Springs, West Virginia to a bed and breakfast. We spent two days walking around poking in art shops and antique stores. We have lovely quiet meals and saw a movie. It was so nice and so comfortable. We swapped memories of our grandparents as we looked at antiques. He seemed truly interested in how different pottery was made and how different artists created their pieces. I told him that I have a vision of how we will be after the children are grown. I used to think that we'd have nothing to talk about after they have moved on. Now I know we can exist on our own together as more than just Mom and Dad.

And Lily? Lily is getting more grown up everyday. She is still willful, although it is usually the result of boredom or curiosity. She is learning so much everyday. She writes everyday in a journal carefully sounding out words. She dances for me and tells me the name of each step. She watches antique shows with Rob and tries to guess how much each thing is worth. She still loves and cares for her babies, showing them love that she never shows her sister. Lily is a frustrating marvel.

I am finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. We are leaving diapers, sleepless nights, and babyhood behind. We are growing up.