May 28, 2012

Mama Bear

They say that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. While I may have been that proverbial "scorned woman" at one time or another, and made many a man pay at that, there has never been a rage inside me that compares to what I experienced last night--the remnants of which are still burning in me like dying coals in a fire. 

I'm not sure at what point adults become "adults". You always hear things like, "let's have an adult conversation about this", "that's the adult thing to do", or references to "adult behavior". In my short-lived life I have navigated many "adult" situations but none has affected me so much as being a mother. Being a mother wasn't an instantaneous occurrence for me. It didn't start suddenly when my babies were born or when I first held them. No, it was before that. It wasn't when I discovered that I was pregnant, or even when I made the decision to try to conceive. I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment when I became a mother, but can affirm that it has been a gradual, progressive process that has led me to where I am today. And today, I am definitely a mother. 

I was definitely a mother last night too. If there's one thing I hope my children never discover in life its that their mother isn't perfect. I realize this isn't going to happen, but a girl can dream, right? But if there's one thing that I do hope my children know, and I pray that it's not a discovery, but a natural understanding that has always been with them--it's the fact that I love them more than anything else in this world and will do anything to keep them safe. Now that being said, last night was one of my true, pure, unadulterated mother moments. I was so in love with my children that I made mistakes. I make lots of mistakes as a mother, some based on love, and some based on selfishness. Last night was definitely a mistake made out of love (or is it selfish to think so?).

At 9 pm Matt and I had just settled down to watch some TV while we waited for his from-scratch brownies (which turned out AMAZING) to finish baking. There was a knock on the door and when we answered we found our next-door neighbor who moved into the apartment less than 2 weeks ago. She asked Matt, who answered the door, if we had a little baby. When he said that yes, we did, she then asked, "why does it cry all the time?" and before giving us a chance to answer her question, explain to her that we in fact, have two babies, or apologize for being a disruption proceeded to say this:

"Do you beat it or something?".

If you've ever had a surge of adrenaline you'll be familiar with my inability to clearly recall all of the events immediately following her statement. Here's some of what I do remember:

I remember pushing my way passed Matt who had his hand on the door, and his body blocking the doorway, in order to face this woman and let her see me. I remember using some choicely explicit language (part of the imperfection that I hope my children never realize). I remember telling her off for not knowing that babies cry. It is simply a part of their existence. There were some additional fiercely-worded exchanges between the two of us and the next thing I remember is her turning to leave while at the same time threatening to "slap" me. 

Oooo. I'm so scared. 

I'll admit here that if Matt hadn't been physically restraining me, I would have done something that was surely coming to this woman, that would have provided me with immediate satisfaction and that I'm sure I would have regretted almost as instantly. 

One final explicit farewell later and our door was shut and locked. 

Of course I was angry, shocked, hurt, and outraged. It took many many hours after that, nearly an entire brownies, and several conversations with my husband and my mother to get to a point where sleep was even an option. My night was plagued by intensely angry dreams where I relived the situation over and over in my subconscious. And when I had awaken, even after I had hugged my sweet girlies in their initial early-morning cheeriness, I felt the burning of anger still hot inside me. 

I'm sure one day Matt and I will look back at this situation and laugh. We will find it amusing how our neighbor who was an adult, at least in the legal sense as she had to have been old enough to sign her lease, came over and verbally assaulted us and threatened bodily harm upon me. We will find it amusing how aggressive I became almost instantly at the insinuation that I do anything but love my children. We'll look back and laugh about the whole thing.

But right now, I'm not laughing. This isn't a joke to me. And while I firmly believe that her accusation that I beat my children reflects significantly upon her and not at all upon me, her words definitely cut me. She doesn't know me, and she doesn't know my children, and anyone who has ever seen us together would never allow that thought to enter their mind. There's just no place for it in my relationship with my children. Love takes up all of our space, all of our being, all of our existence for each other.  While I am unaware of what her exact circumstances were that provoked such a blatantly vicious attack on strangers, I know that had my neighbor approached this situation "like an adult would have", we would have found ourselves in an entirely different situation. When we first noticed that no one had rented the apartment next to us we knew it would only be a matter of time before we had next-door neighbors sharing a wall with our fussy children at bedtime. We even anticipated an annoyed (albeit, polite) visit from whoever the neighbors would be in order to inform us of the disruption they were experiencing. If she had appeared at our door and had said "I can hear your babies crying through the wall, is there anything you can do about it" we would have had an entirely civil, respectful, and probably apologetic conversation with our neighbors that would have resulted in nothing more than awkwardness. 

I have never lived in an apartment until this point in my life, and yet I knew even before coming into this situation that there is a level of noise that you must put up with while living in such close quarters. It is my feeling that this is something an adult should know. Since living here I have gone out of my way to try and keep peace between myself and my neighbors for the sake of living in a safe, friendly environment. I don't' go pounding on the door of my neighbor's who live above me demanding that their yappy dog be silenced or on the door of the pot-smoking neighbors who stink up the entire hallway and occasionally my own apartment with their illegal activity. I don't post hateful signs in the laundry room for the residents who leave their laundry wet in the washers for hours on end. Instead, I do what normal people do: I passively-agressively complain about these things to my husband and friends, and then go on living my life while letting them live theirs. I certainly do not go around accusing my neighbors of child abuse. 

I made mistakes last night that included flying completely off the handle, using vulgar and unnecessary language within earshot of my toddlers who repeat everything I say to them, wishing harm upon my neighbor, not being inherently loving, and allowing someone I don't know to get so far under my skin. I'm sorry for my mistakes, and I hope that when my girls figure out just how imperfect their mother actually is, they'll be able to forgive my shortcomings and love me just the same....and not just in this case. 

I will not, however, apologize for my protective instincts. I try to be a gentle loving mommy with my girls, but in the face of a threat, I am a mama bear.

And I will rip your face off. 

May 19, 2012

Being Mommy

Last weekend was Mother's day, and it was the 3rd one I've participated in as a mother, according to my count. I was pregnant during what I consider my "first" mother's day, but Sean made sure to make that day special for me, and it was the only one I spent with him that was focused on our babies, so of course it has to count!

For me, being Mommy means picking up the house 10 bajillion times each day as toys slowly (and sometimes not so slowly) take over. And don't even get me started on how many times I bust out the broom and/or vacuum each day.

Being Mommy means lots and lots of saying, "no!" when all I want to do is tell them "yes" and give them everything they want.

Being Mommy means constantly having snot, blood, milk, and/or mud on at least one article of clothing on my body at all times (but never grape juice...we just don't go there).

Being Mommy means never getting to do anything I want to do because the needs of my children and my family come first...and there are a lot of them. 

Being Mommy means waking up to crying babies instead of birds chirping in the morning and being it means falling asleep with a blanket pulled up over my ears hoping it will block out the crying coming from the monitor, but being absolutely sure it won't (because let's face it, I just can't sleep when the girls are crying, and not because it's too noisy). 

Being Mommy means guessing what they want to eat for lunch or dinner and being right with one child while being dead wrong with the other.

Being Mommy also means that as I'm eating my dinner 20 minutes after the girls have finished theirs, I lose half of my plate to those just-fed babes who decide they're hungry again.

Being Mommy means great upper body strength!

Being Mommy means growing eyes on all sides of my head, not just the back, to make sure to be on the lookout for both of my super-mobile toddlers and still having to run suddenly into the bathroom after hearing a thud to pull Sophie out of the bathtub (it was empty) because she's apparently tall enough to do that...

Being Mommy means making choices for my kids that don't make me crazy at the same time--like deciding to stop breastfeeding when they were 5 months old because I detested it. I never felt like I was bonding with my children while it was going on, but instead I felt hollow, used, and like that was the only thing they needed from me, since they could get everything else a child needs from anyone else. Hard decision? Yes. Regret it? Absolutely not...although I do miss burning 1,000 calories each day sitting on my butt.

Being Mommy means reading Goodnight Moon over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over ...and then realizing I'm not even on the right page for the place in the story I'm reciting since I've closed my eyes and am turning pages blindly.

Being Mommy means letting Daddy stay in bed to try to sleep when the girls decide they want a drink every 15 minutes starting at 2:30 am until 5, because he has to go to work in the morning . 

Being Mommy means defending my job to everyone I know who isn't a stay-home-mom. 

Being Mommy means being the official boo-boo kisser, scream stopper, household child-proofer, poo-poo wiper, and outright bad-cop sometimes. 

There are probably about a million other little facets of my journey through motherhood that I could add to this list about what makes me a mommy to my little ones. This is the hardest job I've ever had, it's the most fun I've ever had, and although I often wish for reprieve, I truly want to be the one to do everything for them because I'm the mommy.

I think that all mothers know that loving your child is the best thing you can do for them, and you just have to try your hardest not to make too many mistakes by your kids. So for now and for always, being Mommy means that I will love my children and my family unconditionally. And I'm sure that when my girls are teenagers I'll get a full report of just how much I've ruined their lives. ;)

May 10, 2012

Why I Can't Believe I Have to Support Equality

Equality isn't something that humans should aspire to. It's not something that we as a society should try to achieve. It's not something to be admired or something to celebrate.

Equal. It's how all human beings are born.

Perhaps the recognition of this equality is something to aspire to, celebrate, and is something that all societies should strive to achieve. But as for equality itself, it's not assigned. It's not designated. It's not something to be given. It's instilled in us by the very nature of our existence.

The failure of the American society to understand this shames me as a citizen. I am embarrassed for my fellow countrymen. I am always proud that this country was founded on ideals far ahead of its time, but sometimes I am not proud to be an American. The ideals that serve as the backbone of this country are passed our time now. 236 years ago, when the Declaration of Independence was signed, this nation had so much to look forward to. It became a place where dreamers could go and see their hopes realized. It was a place of refuge for outcasts. It was a place of opportunity.

I feel as though the way the world views us, the way we should view ourselves, has diminished. We are a cold nation, inhospitable to our own citizens, and unyielding to foreigners. Right now, only those who adhere to the System for their life are blessed with the chance to obtain that illustrious "American Dream".  Dreamers are fewer and further between, and who can blame them when what this nation has become so good at is squashing aspirations? Outcasts still cry to us for help, and we look the other way, because how can we be bothered with their woes when we have tax cuts to worry about on this side of the pond?

It was inequality that once sparked the movement of the creation of this country, and it is inequality that has brought it now to a screeching halt. The desire for acceptance was the fan for the flame. And now, here are are in 2012, and we've just come so far, haven't we? Look at all we've accomplished in the past 100 years even. Women can vote! Imagine that! Blacks aren't destined serve white's in their homes anymore, and they're even allowed to use the same public toilets. Go figure. We even trust our government to keep the Communists and suicide-bombers away. I guess this is how so many of us sleep at night. (In case you need help, yes, I'm being sarcastic right here.)

This past week's news headlines have been buzzing with the latest updates on this country's internal battle concerning same-sex marriage. First there was Vice-President Joe Biden affirming his and the rest of the White House's official stance on the matter. Then came North Carolina, an infamous swing-state, with their constitutional ban against the notion. And yesterday, our very own President (a black one at that! oh my stars!) took the time to personally "affirm" that gay couples should be able to marry legally in this country.

While this is probably far from the most pressing issue facing the United States right now, it's certainly one that always gets a lot of attention nationwide. It kills me that this is an issue, that it's an issue of equality, and that it's something people in this country feel the need to choose a side on. Again, human beings are born the same. We are inherently equal. I am very aware of the conservative Christian's reasoning behind the overwhelming stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage on a federal (and state) level. I've read the Bible, I know what it says about homosexuality (which, when you consider other topics that it covers such as love, kindness, and mercy, is very little indeed). But I also know what the Bible says about how humans need to treat each other. I know what it says about how God views our hearts. I know what it says about the importance of love.

Have all of the other Christian's forgotten this? I am angry that I'm in a position where I have to say that I am in favor of the legalization of gay marriage. I've said this before and I'll say it again: When I die and am judged finally, I would much rather be judged for having loved too much, than for not having loved enough. Having to take this "position" angers me because I do not believe issues of equality should exist in the first place. If we're all equal, why is this a problem? Equality doesn't get to pick and choose which parts of the human existence it applies to. Are brunettes more equal to each other than blonde's? Are mother's more equal to each other than women who choose not to have children? Does this sound ridiculous? It should. If it doesn't--and I'm going to be very blunt about this--there is something fundamentally wrong with you. Instead of putting effort into hating people who are your equals, take a minute and figure out what the matter with you is, and spend your effort fixing that.

In an episode of Mad Men (gotta love that show, right?) one of the characters says to Don that "nobody knows what's wrong with themselves. And everyone else can see it right away". Ponder that for a moment and see what you come up with.

This country fails me as a citizen in many ways, but at this moment, I feel disappointed in this nation because of it's hypocrisy. Consistent cries for equality for various groups of people throughout our history, and this is where we are today: in a full fledged political battle over the right to marry. There are those who insist that a "civil union" of sorts would suffice, and let me tell you, while that's a step in the right direction, it's very half-assed. This is how I see it:

In the short time that I was married to Sean, I reaped many (if not all) of the great legal and social benefits that this country provides to "married couples". I took his last name, I filed jointly on my tax return, I had a joint checking account, and both of our names were on the title of our car. This stuff is trivial. When Sean was dying and it was all happening so suddenly, and we hadn't ever sat down and talked about his end-of life wishes let alone signed any legal documents indicating his intent, I, being his legal spouse, became authorized to make those decisions on his behalf. And who was I? A girl he had been married to for a year and a half? Someone he had met in college? The pain in his neck who was always forcing liquids down his throat? And I was called upon to decide whether to shove an enormous tube down his airway to keep him breathing, whether or not to allow the hospital staff to crack his chest in an attempt to restart his heart after his own body had told it to cease, and when the precise moment to "unplug" him would be. I'll tell you, there are a lot of unanswered questions that I have constantly floating around in my mind, but one thing I know for certain. When I was making these decisions for my husband, at the ripe old age of 22, there wasn't even a moment in its slightest when those decisions were made based on our  government-issued title of "marriage". Every single choice I made was based solely, exclusively, on what I knew in my heart Sean would have wanted for himself at that moment. Those decisions that I made had nothing to do with the fact that we were married. It was purely based on our relationship and my understanding of who he was, and what he valued for himself.

Being in a same-sex relationship affords itself the same closeness to each other that Sean and I had. We didn't love each other because we were married. Being married was a legal proceeding we chose to partake in in order to honor our commitment to each other. The people of this country who work so hard at keeping homosexuals from having equal rights as heterosexuals would do well to open their eyes, their minds, their hearts, and realize that marriage isn't so much about what's on the license you sign as it is about the relationship and the commitment that is housed between two human beings. And the same-sex couples out there who might find themselves discouraged at the constant attacks on their equal rights would do well to remember to keep their chins up, because you don't need a piece of paper to know that you're in a committed, loving relationship.

I very much understand why same-sex couples fight so hard and so passionately for the right to have marriage legally recognized for them. And I more than understand the emotions and humanity behind things that they strive to win over--such as the legal right to be recognized as next of kin for the purpose of acting as a medical proxy. What I do not understand is why any of this is an issue at all. Shame. That's the only word I can conceive at this point to describe what I feel towards this country. Shame that a nation that was once so optimistic, forward-thinking, progressive, and accepting has turned into nothing but a country that can only be likened to a 2 year old throwing a tantrum over which color spoon she gets to hold.

It will never sit right with me that this nation even has issues of equality. Issues of economy, sure. Health care, why not? But equality--this shouldn't be something that I have to support to begin with. So shame on America for letting us get this far to begin with. Shame on America for claiming to be founded on Christian principles when we cannot find it in ourselves to display love, or to recognize it. Shame on America for creating its own inequality.

May 1, 2012

Things I Want to Remember

Sometimes people ask what sparked my love of photography, and as much as I'd like to say that it was because God blessed me with adorable babies, or because I found the world beautiful and felt the need to capture it, the honest truth is that I am terrified of forgetting things about my life (not that those other reasons aren't true). The idea of not being able to remember little details about those that I've loved, and about myself, things that I did in my life, and things that made me happy, is one of my worst fears. So, to overcome this fear...or maybe to just give myself some piece of mind, since that fear never actually seems to go away, I take pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Thankfully the good Lord has blessed me with a talent that allows me to provide this service for others, but I make sure to apply it in my own life as well. As a mom, my focus is always on my girls, and they do so many things every day that I never want to forget. I try to keep them as little as possible but I swear, every night that I put my little babies down to sleep I wake up in the morning to big, grown up girls. 

So for now, here's my list (of things happening currently) of things that I want to remember about my silly little girlies:

I'll start off with a two-for-one here and list Olivia's piggies and the way she sits on her ball and bounces.

Olivia's crusty looks (because she gets them from mommy)

Sophie's chubby face when she has too much food in her mouth

The way Olivia leans on everything from the sofa to the coffee table to her sissy (sissy doesn't like that....)

The joy they get from experiencing life's simplest things--watching cookies bake! This was the first time they'd ever seen cookies in the oven as I usually wait until they are asleep to bake A) to keep them from screaming for cookies and B) because it's hard to maneuver your way around a kitchen with two kids hanging off your legs/hips/arms.

The silly pictures I find on my phone after Sophie has gotten ahold of it...

Their smiles that come from playing in the sand at the park--they love it so much, and not even my hatred of dirt and gritty things can deter me from allowing them to do anything that makes them smile so sweetly!

How much they love being in the bath tub! 

(This video: Their faces when they splash in the tub)

Their complete obsession with bubbles (we have to hide the bubbles after they've been distracted so that we can put them away for a while and have some peace!)

Their tippy-toes!

How cute it is when they wipe their mouths (this video is after brushing their teeth but they do this after they have a drink or eat a snack too)

Their first haircut! I did them on separate nights, and it took everything I had in me not to cry when I was done--they're just so grown up already!

How much they love to read their books and how sweet they look when they come rushing out of their room with one in hand, plop down on the floor, throw it open and start jabbering away.

aaaaaaaaaand last but not least: the unbelievably gigantic messes that two people who are so small are capable of making! Featured here: Tonight's disaster of a spilled box of baking soda! It took a broom, vacuum, and  a mop to clean this up!

And just in case I didn't already know who the culprit was, there was a nice little footprint left to erase any doubt. <3