Monday, May 12, 2014

Picture Perfect?

Sunday was my sixth official Mother's Day, seventh if you count the gray area of being pregnant on Mother's Day.  All these years later and I'm still not entirely sure what to make of the day.  On one hand it's nice to get cards and handmade crafts, but on the other I'm tough to buy for and (like all other holidays) we travel to Buffalo--for the benefit of our mothers--and it's usually a long, busy day.  Nice, in general, but busy.  So busy I had to stop at the rest area on my way home yesterday, both because I had a crying baby (sick and probably overtired) and I needed a bit of a sugar rush to get me home safely.  Not exactly the stuff great Mother's Days are made of, I suppose, but I am blessed with a great mother myself and two adorable children, so I really can't complain.  I will have to try to post some pictures of this year's crafts, because they're pretty darn cute.  Jacob's "mom profile" project was pretty classic.

Mother's Day is probably one day where social media can drive me a little nuts.  I guess I find myself a little jealous of other people--be it their fancy brunches (which we will never do because they are gluten-filled), their perfect presents, or their blissful joy over the motherhood experience.  Quite frankly, this year it was hard.  Jacob has had a particularly difficult week.  I swear, it's like a hormonal imbalance or something--some weeks he's manageable and pleasant, others he's impossible and disrespectful about everything.  This week was full of arguments and crude comments, personal space invasions and bad school reports.  Carter is so very sweet and happy a lot of the time, but he is such a challenge sometimes now that he wants to be more mobile (but still refuses to walk unless you hold his hand) and he gets into everything.  He will grab everything he can and put most of it in his mouth.  Stones, crayons, remote controls, paper, fuzz, crumbs, you name it.  If it's not his toy, he is far more interested in it than in anything else.  He flips on the changing table constantly, screams for food or attention at the drop of a hat, and is forever trying to invade Jacob's territory, which makes both of them that much more miserable--Jacob gets annoyed and angry, and Carter gets rejected.  Ugh.  Needless to say, it's been a rough week and Mother's Day didn't feel all that warm and fuzzy this year.  At least, I had a hard time mustering up any sort of "My kids are the best" or "Motherhood has made me a better person" or "I wouldn't change a thing" types of social media platitudes this year.  I love my kids, but I am tired and I just wish things could feel easy once in a while.

Maybe part of my slump this year is that last year my Mother's Day was spent finishing off a crazy, exhausting adventure.  I'd spent most of three days away, and while I felt guilty for most of it, the chance to get off and do something crazy was amazing.  On top of seeing new things and being there for another Knighthawks championship, I got to sleep in and go for a run and make a random detour and eat whenever and wherever I wanted.  Those little things don't happen often with kids, and the chance to do them without running through the ongoing list in my head or considering the possible kid-related consequences was so freeing.  A year later I feel like my non-kid, non-work time is extra limited.  I know that will get better when Craig's season is over and he's around on weekends, but it's been six months of really limited time and I'm having a bit of a pity party about it these days.  I hate that the handful of really fun, really important things I want to do (or wanted to do) are all challenged by my ability to find child care because Craig is busy--concerts I'd like to attend, a girls weekend like I haven't had in seven years, the Chase Corporate Challenge, the Stroll for Strong (which is kid-friendly but in the middle of Jacob's baseball schedule) get the idea.  Right now I'm trying to pick a day to take off of work simply to organize all of Jacob's artwork from the last five years.  Seriously.  It is overflowing from a corner of our office and it needs to get kept, photographed, or tossed ASAP.  Because now Carter's is starting to come in, too.  Anyway, I guess the contrast between last year's adventure and my frustration this year probably didn't help my mood.

I don't mean to complain.  I know how blessed we are.  Our kids are relatively healthy, we both have jobs, we have a nice house, and many comforts of life that the vast majority of the world will never know.  I get that and I am thankful.  There are a lot of other people's problems that I would not want.  This is not some sort of pissing match (sorry, I know that's a rough term, but I can't think of a better one) about who's got it worse.  Life is hard, no matter who you are or what you do.  It's all about trying to find a way to muddle through the hard and find the beauty and the good wherever you can.

Fortunately, spring is a great time to go looking for beauty.  And I must say, the past few days have provided some great fodder.  The weather has finally turned a corner.  While there is rain in the forecast every day this week, the temps are mostly sticking in the 60s and 70s, which is heavenly after the winter we had.  All of the trees and flowers are finally popping, and it is lovely to watch.

Every week I go out to lunch with a couple friends from my sports days.  One works in the same building as I do, and the other is down the road.  We all meet up once a week and eat at one place or another.  This past Friday only the guy in my building could make it, so we headed out and over a block to a very popular street meat cart.  We waited in line in the blazing sun, enjoying the weather but a bit surprised at how hot it was!  No complaints, though!  We took our food into a nearby park and grabbed a bench.  It was a lovely view.
In the center is a fountain with these flipping pieces that splash the water out.  In the winter I've seen it iced up nearly to the top!  My building is just visible, the white stripes in the upper right.  I used to look out at the roof of the beige building in front of it.

Similar view, but off to my left from the previous shot.  The building you're seeing is the Bausch & Lomb world headquarters...but it won't be that for long.  I've mostly only ever eaten lunch in that building, as they have one of the few remaining downtown cafeterias.

I love tulips.  They're so happy and cheery.  I just wish they lasted longer.  You can see that fountain in the background of this shot, too.
On Saturday Carter woke up a bit earlier than usual, then proceeded to put himself down to an early nap.  I put him in "baby jail" so I could shower and get ready in preparation for getting on the road to Buffalo as soon as possible once the boys got home from baseball practice.  He always whines for me a bit when I leave him, no matter how many dozen toys are in there with him, but this time, after a while it got suspiciously quiet and sure enough, he'd fallen asleep.  Poor kid.  I did manage to transfer him to his crib, and while I waited for him to wake up, I managed to sneak outside for just a couple minutes (literally) so I could capture a couple things in the yard.
We have this tree in our yard that was not staked properly when it was first planted, and as such, it is very crooked.  I hate it for that reason.  But it does this in the spring, which makes it very hard for me to get rid of it.  I've appreciated it even more in the past couple years, since one year when we had a heat wave early in the spring it bloomed prematurely and a frost immediately turned everything brown.  That was a bummer.

I find it hard to get a good picture of forsythia, but I sort of like this one.
We got to spend time with my parents from Saturday afternoon to just after lunch on Sunday.  Jacob wanted to spend most of that time outside playing sports, and Carter just wanted to be tearing the house apart.  It was exhausting a lot of time for all of us grown-ups, but we survived.  On Sunday I made Jacob dress up in his Easter clothes so Grandma could see him in person, and we stayed dressed up for a bit to take some pictures...of which this one was the best...
Aside from my squinty-ness and the slightly pained look on Jacob's face, anyway...
On our way out of town on Saturday we stopped to pick up some flowers for my mom.  I picked out a hydrangea (I like to pick things that can be replanted, if possible.  Seems a little more useful than flowers that will die in a week), and Jacob picked out some lovely rainbow roses...

As I said, Carter was getting into everything.  Have I mentioned that we call him "Hurricane Carter"?
Peeking in Grandma's cabinets!
After lunch we headed off to meet up with Craig, who was hanging out with his family.  He'd come separately since the Knighthawks were playing in Buffalo Saturday night.  We had a nice BBQ with his parents and his brother's family.  Carter loved his time with his cousins, and Jacob (as usual) just wanted to play baseball with them.  Carter also loved all of the snacks out on the coffee table and picnic table--crackers, chips, cheese, and pretzels--and seemed to fill up on those before dinner.  Oops.  I could not keep him away and it was driving me nuts!  He was loving the carbs.  He's going to put meat on that skinny frame of his eventually.  His thighs are beefing up, but he's still so skinny everywhere else except his cheeks!  Of course, after all of that he refused most of what I offered him for dinner.  Arg. 

I would have loved to spend more time outside, but Carter is not much of a fan yet.  He's not sure he likes grass, and concrete probably isn't the best choice for him right now.  I've been working on getting him to wear a hat since he doesn't have much hair to protect his hair, but he generally hates them.  I did show him his reflection in the mirror wearing a baseball cap and he seemed to like it, so maybe that will help.  He was much more accommodating after that, so fingers crossed.  And I even took a picture of us while he was wearing it...
The hat is still a little big, but not too bad...and you'd laugh if I told you how old Jacob was when he wore it.  Carter's head is huge.  He's also wearing his souvenir shirt from our Disney trip for the first time, and I'm afraid he's going to outgrow it too quickly because his torso is so stinkin' long.  Silly boy.  Gotta love him, though.
We left around 7:30 in our separate cars.  Carter conked out in mine within about two minutes.  But then he woke up about a half hour in and was crying and whining, as he'd been doing in the car all weekend.  I have no idea why.  If it's just that he hates being in the car seat, hopefully the switch to the big boy seat in the next week or so will help with that.  But it could be his teeth or all the congestion he's had lately.  I was exhausted myself, so I felt it wise to stop at the rest area, grab a snack at Tim Hortons, and give Carter some Tylenol that might help him relax and sleep.  All of the above helped us have a quick and uneventful second half of the drive home.  Carter even stayed asleep when we got home and slept through the night.  Jacob, on the other hand, stayed up the whole trip and did not want to go to bed.  One out of two isn't bad, I guess. 

So, it was a day.  Not a bad one, not an outstandingly great one...a mixed bag of good and frustrating, just like most days.  Family time is always good, so that's a plus.  But a little less crazy mommy would be even better.  Someday, I hope.  But the pictures above are lovely, regardless.  I realized a few weeks back while looking at our Disney pictures that the good stuff tends to float to the top.  When looking at our Disney pictures, I saw the good moments, not the bad stuff that happened in between (and trust me, there was lots of it).  In past years it's been the opposite--that even the "good moment" pictures brought back memories of the extreme effort it took to get the picture--but I'm hoping that as time goes along, more and more the good moments will be the ones that stick.  This time is going so fast and I need to enjoy it all while I can.  It won't always be picture perfect, but there is good to be seen somewhere in there.

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