Category Archives: Family

What I Did For Love

IMG_6492Kiss the date goodbye
And point me toward the bathroom
I did what I had to do
But I’m going to regret
What I did for love, what I did foooooor looooooooove!

Those of you who aren’t fans of A Chorus Line are probably scratching your heads. But I’m about to tell you a story about how far a mother’s love can go…and to what depths it can plunge you.

Depths of, say, the seventh level of hell—otherwise known as taking your kid to the public restroom.

Walk with me as I take you through a most terrible journey.

It was Saturday evening in the bougie district of Santana Row in San Jose. It had been a long day for five-year-old Lucas. Having fought off sleep until 11pm the night before (and then waking at 6:30am), he was in rare form. We went grocery shopping. He played outside in his plastic pool for a couple hours. We went to a friend’s house-warming party. By the time dinner rolled around, kid was RIPE.

He had asked Alex to take him to the bathroom to pee two times in 10 minutes. The third request was for poo. Alex turned to me with the “your turn” look. So off we went.

We entered the first level of hell: public restrooms with bathroom attendants. What was already an awkward bathroom experience (taking a borderline too-old child into the ladies room) became exponentially so, since I knew bathroom attendant lady would have no choice but to stand next to me while I waited for my child to drop a deuce. With a painfully cheerful smile, she pointed us to the largest stall. Thank you, bathroom attendant lady. Without you, I never would have found this place.

But I was indeed thankful. Thankful that I could hide out in the stall and not have to make bathroom small-talk with a woman for whom I had no spare cash for a tip.

After wiping the toilet seat down, Lucas sat upon his throne but something wasn’t right. The lighting. Apparently now we need proper lighting for taking a dump. Welcome to my fresh hell, otherwise known as level two. We left the stall and, like Goldilocks, he tried all the other stalls until he found one that was juuuuuust right. Since it was the tiniest stall, I pulled up a spot next to bathroom attendant lady and decided to get chummy. Figured, what the hell, let’s see if I can’t make an awkward situation even more uncomfortable.

“Sooooo….I guess he’s real particular about where he drops a twosie!”

She didn’t respond. But her way-too-happy-for-a-person-who-hangs-out-in-the-bathroom-all-night smile remained firmly in place. Level three.

I started to shut the door to Lucas’ stall when he shouted back at me. “NO, NO, NO! Door stays open!” Negotiations took place to at least move the door to an acute angle. I flashed crazy-eyed bathroom attendant lady the “so sorry you have to witness this” look. She didn’t move a muscle on her face. Level four.

Then the bathroom “front door” opened and two girls in impossibly tiny dresses with stripper heels and Kardashian extensions flounced in. Lucas slammed the door shut and locked it. Good. I waited for five minutes, standing in tight quarters next to bathroom attendant lady, who at this point should have at least offered me a mint.

Finally, Lucas declared he was done. He tugged on the door but it didn’t budge. He couldn’t get it open. Cue a blood-curdling, Satan-is-pulling-my fingernails-off-one-by-one scream. The child was paralyzed with fear because he couldn’t figure out how to unlock the door. I tried talking to him, instructing him on how to pull the latch over to the side or push it down. I did my best to peer underneath the stall door, but it was too low to the ground. Bathroom attendant lady helpfully did absolutely nothing. Level five.

So I did what any mother would do in the name of love. I laid down flat on my belly on the public restroom floor and seal-shimmied my way into the tiny stall. Ladies and gentlemen, this was still only the sixth level of hell. Why?

Because when I got into the stall, Lucas hadn’t gone to the bathroom yet.

To My Classic Italian Mom on Mother’s Day

Dear Mom,

Where to begin? I know you’re not one for doling out the sentimental stuff. I also know that you secretly love it when other people do. That’s the dichotomy of you, and that, at the heart, is what makes you a classic Italian mom. You’re not a one-note dish. That’s also what makes you the most phenomenal mother.

How to explain? How do I describe a person who’s been my everything for 35 years? Who has simultaneously frustrated me and been my lifeline through every difficult and joyful experience? How do I thank the person who’s at the core of every good—and maybe sometimes bad—decision I’ve ever made?

Ma

To start: You, more than anyone in my life, have challenged me. You have pushed me to my highest potential and you’ve never accepted less—from me or anyone else for that matter. When I might settle and get comfortable, you rattle my cage. Every call that I’ve made outside of my comfort zone has ultimately paid off. And each time I made that call, I was able to do it because you gave me the courage.

But here’s where you take that wonderful quality and double-down. Because for every time that you’ve challenged me, you’ve also given me unconditional support. Even when you disagreed with every bone in your body. Even when I came to you with a degree from an expensive college and said, “I want to be a professional dancer.” Even when I called you and declared, “I’m going to move across the country for a man I met in Las Vegas.” You questioned. You made sure I thought it through. And then, when you realized I wasn’t budging, you let go. Why?

Because you lift people up, Mom. That’s what you do.

MeandMa

The most beautiful thing about you is that every single thing you do is with love. The way you care for those around you. The way you cook your (most, most delicious) meals. The way you nudge and poke and prod us to death. You drive us crazy. You do it because you love us. And although Alex might call you T1000 and Dad might say you can be cold, all of us know that your heart is pure, molten gold.

Our relationship is complex, yes. But that’s what makes it so fulfilling. And when I take a step back and think about the kind of mother I want to be, the classic Italian mother, I realize I’m setting the bar for success by what you’ve already achieved. You made me a better person. You let go so that I could grow. And you made me feel so very loved.

I love you, Mom.

Who’s on First? Convos with a Five-Year-Old

IMG_6417Ever get caught in a vortex of a conversation with your child that only ends in more confusion? You mention something in passing and it puzzles your kid, so he inquires further, only to find that each of your answers makes less and less sense. In fact, by the end, you, too, are thoroughly lost.

I call these the “Who’s on First?” convos.

Last night while putting Lucas to bed, he asked about the names of the people I work with. So I explained that Eric is my boss, and I work with Ann and Rob and Kirstie who are designers, and David and Nino are programmers, which means they tell the computer what to do and get the designs and words up on the screen.

You’d think he would have gotten tripped up at design and programming, but my child ponders for a second and launches into a series of questions that basically undoes my entire understanding of the English (and Spanish) language.

Lucas: You work with Nino?

In Spanish, Nino means godfather. Lucas’ Nino is Ozzy, and he calls him, simply, Nino.

Me: No, Lucas, there is a person here who’s NAME is Nino.

Lucas: Nino’s name is Nino?

Me: No, no. Nino’s name is Ozzy. THIS Nino is named Nino. Nino means godfather in Spanish.

Lucas: You work with my godfather?

Me: No, Nino is your godfather. I mean, Nino Ozzy. This Nino is not related to us.

Lucas: So what’s this Nino’s name?

Me: Nino.

Lucas: ???

Me, attempting to distract Lucas from the mess I just made: Hey! You know what? I work with TWO Davids!

As you can imagine, that did not help. At all.

Beautiful Boy

It’s your 5th birthday today. A pretty big deal. Five years ago, you came into this world and you changed everything.

So much can happen in five years. Five years before you came, I hadn’t met your dad. I was living in New York, and the last thing I was thinking about was being a mom.

Now I can tell you that the best thing I’ve done in the last five years is you.

In fact, the best thing I’ve done in my whole life is you. And I assure you, there’s nothing else I can do that will be better.

baby

But I can’t take credit anymore, Lucas. Because in five short years, you’ve done so much on your own. You’ve smiled, discovered your hands and feet, crawled, walked, ran, talked, questioned, yelled, drawn, written, hugged, held hands, made friends, played, created, learned, loved.

When my back was in pain and I laid on the ground, you crawled over to me and put your hand on my face.

When your friend Stephen got hurt at school, you sat with him all day and made sure he was alright.

When I picked you up at daycare, you ran at me full force and nearly knocked me over. Every day.

redsoxlucas

When you were two years old, you discovered you loved lights and things that spin. Now you’re building circuits and amassing a strange and wonderful collection of fans.

You laugh easily, and your laugh makes everyone else laugh. Your smile brightens the room. You power our family like the sun, and you warm all those around you.

That’s the kind of beautiful boy you are, Lucas.

happylucas

These past five years with you have been nothing short of magical. I look at you and can’t believe there was ever a time before you.

This precious, precious time with you. It’s going by quickly. I never wanted to live forever until the day you were born. Then I looked at you and thought: I can never leave you. I know someday, someday before I even know it, you’ll strike out on your own. Thirteen more years in our home is not enough. Fifty more years on this Earth together (God willing) is not enough.

Eternity wouldn’t be enough.

But for now, let me just say, I’m so thankful for these five years, Lucas. Happy birthday.

The Epic Argument That Almost Ended in Divorce

IMG_6072Every once in a while in a marriage, you come to a crossroads. Should we keep slugging away and work through this thing? Or should we just split up?

During a recent, ridiculous argument, I came thisclose to calling the whole thing off. But to understand how I got to that point, I have to take you on a little trip through memory lane.

Once upon a time in a living room in King City, two brothers decided to torture their younger brother, whose only crime was asking to go see the movie 28 Weeks Later with them. The oldest brother, Alex, told his youngest, pre-teen brother, Zamir:

“You’re a giant pussy, and there’s no way you can sit through this movie.”

Zamir, of course, insisted he was junior-manly enough to handle it. So Alex and Ozzy (middle brother) put him to the test. They said that if he could grit his way through 28 Days Later, then they’d bring him to see the sequel. So they popped in the movie, and a pseudo-confident Zamir sat next to them.

Ten minutes later, Zamir said, “Oh snap! I left something in my room!” and disappeared for the rest of the film. Needless to say, the older brothers have never let him live it down. It’s a story that gets told over, and over, and over, and over at Zamora family gatherings.

But you guys, here’s the thing: I SWEAR I was there. And Alex insists I was not.

28 Weeks Later came out on May 11, 2007. That was a mere four months after I had moved to California, and I knew no one else except Alex and his family and friends. If Alex was in King City, so was I.

But apparently…I wasn’t. We argued and argued and argued, and finally Alex called Ozzy for backup. “Nope,” Ozzy said. “She wasn’t there.” I still insisted. I can distinctly remember where Zamir was sitting and his voice as he said, “Oh snap!”

Alex checked with Zamir. “Was Wendy there when that happened?” Nope. Alex explained that they’ve told the story so many times, I must have come to believe I was there in person. I got served. But I remained frustrated, and continued to argue my point. Because if I wasn’t there, then…

Where the hell was I?

And here’s where the epic argument went south. Alex damned himself by saying that I DIDN’T EVEN LIVE IN CALIFORNIA at that time. Apparently, I’m the one with the shitty memory, but he’s the one who has purged entire months of our relationship from his brain.

Just as I stubbornly insisted that I was there when Zamir tucked tail and booked it back into his bedroom, Alex contended that no, I did not live in California at the beginning of 2007. His side of the story was that I spent the summer of 2007 in Massachusetts looking for jobs and THEN moved out west.

Wrong.

Left Dance Spirit magazine in January 2006. Moved to California in February 2007 (lived with Alex’s friends). MOVED IN WITH ALEX in April 2007. Went to Massachusetts for the summer to look for jobs. Failed. Came back in September 2007 for good.

I guess I was such a good roommate that he had no idea I was there!

The argument intensified. I keep pulling up facts and figures and dates and specifics, and Alex dug in his heels. Since I had lost so spectacularly in the Zamir argument, there was no way I could be trusted. My blood was beginning to boil. A miasma of red anger was clouding my eyes. I could feel my skin turning to green when I said, “Don’t you remember? You proposed to me that summer! Why would you propose to someone who had not yet lived in the same state as you?”

Guys…deep breath…He goes:

“Oh, I didn’t remember proposing to you then.”

……

………

…………..

………………….

What the will-you-marry-me fuck?!?!

The natural, level-headed reaction to that from me was, “Fine! I never lived in California in 2007! You never loved me! And we should just get a divorce!”

Thankfully, this was so absurd that Alex just started cracking up, and so did I. But in seven years of marriage, that’s the first time the D-word has escaped my lips.

Problem is, I have opened a can of worms. Because now, in true Zamora fashion, he will lord this over me for the rest of our lives. For example, a recent Twitter conversation:

Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 8.14.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-01-07 at 8.16.28 PM

And I can’t take it. Divorce may be the only way to escape.

Why I’m Not Having a Second Child

I’m ready. I’m putting it in writing. Lucas is 4-and-a-half years old. We have just the right amount of bedrooms. He’s one year away from kindergarten and long out of diapers. It’s time to make the announcement to friends and family:

We’re all done having kids.

Coming in 2016: Mommy + Daddy + Lucas + no one else
Coming in 2016: Mommy + Daddy + Lucas + no one else

Can we start a Facebook movement, like the ALS challenge, but for people who have stepped off the baby-making automatic sidewalk, and for some reason the world doesn’t seem to understand why? It’ll be called “Stop asking me when I’m having another,” or “I’d rather not talk about my multiple miscarriages whilst having small talk” or “I don’t have to explain why I’m not having a second child, but if you need a damn narrative, here goes…”

The thought of retiring the old uterus has been brewing in my mind over the last year, but I stubbornly hung on to baby clothes, swings, breast pumps, bouncy chairs, and bottles on the off chance I might change my mind. Alex asked me if I wanted a more permanent birth control solution, and I initially balked at the idea. We’re only 30-murmur-murmur-something! Isn’t it a little early to be thinking about that?

Then I realized…hey. We’re 30-murmur-murmur-something years old. If we have another kid now, we’ll be 50-murmur-murmur-something years old before he goes off to college, and considering we’re Italian and Mexican, he probably won’t move out until we’re 70.

As I unpack my house and go through the old baby stuff,  I’m not so much struck with nostalgia for the baby years, but with great relief that all this gear is gathering dust and I don’t have to think about it anymore. I’ve slowly started pawning it off on my sister-in-laws, whose kids are still babies. Here! Take this crib mattress! How about all these half-chewed cloth baby books? Take em! You need the swing? I’m not using it!

I send the stuff on its merry way, dust off my hands, and breathe a great, happy sigh. It’s as satisfying as kissing those size 2 jeans that you’ve been hanging onto on the long odds that you return to your high school weight goodbye. Goodbye, size 2 jeans! Goodbye, infant carseat! Mama’s having a reality check.

This is not to say I don’t have moments where I think about having a second child. Sometimes, I’ll spend an hour browsing through baby photos and videos of Lucas and my heart starts to hurt and my uterus starts to glow and I think, well maybe…

Sometimes I take a big whiff of my brand-new nephew’s baby head, and my ovaries start to doing a little “you know you wanna” dance. But then everything else in my body and heart and head kicks in to remind me that I can’t succumb to the baby crack. That’s all smoke and mirrors. The reality is, our family is complete.

What works for my family doesn’t have to work for other families. If you have two kids and you can’t imagine life without a sibling for your child, then I get that. I applaud that.

That doesn’t have to be my life, though.

I have one child because it works for us. We’re happy with the way our family turned out. Nothing is missing.

Is this what we planned? No. No, it’s not. But if life has taught me anything, it’s that hardly anything ever turns out according to plan.

Which is why I’ll probably get pregnant immediately after posting this.

We Finally Moved Into Our New Home

We did it. We actually did it. After months of floundering, of crunching numbers and coming up depressingly short, of selling nightmares, of offers shot down, of deals gone wrong, of temporary living situations…

We finally moved into our new home.

Yes, we got the dream house. Do you believe it? I don’t. I’m in a state of euphoric disbelief. I woke up yesterday morning and sat on my bench seat and drank a cup of coffee while staring wistfully out at my English tea garden of a backyard…just like I dreamt I would.

The joys of moving. Boxes everywhere. TV on changing table.
The joys of moving. Boxes everywhere. TV on changing table.

The first night in our home, back in our king-sized Tempurpedic bed, I slept like a 12-year-old kitty coming down from a catnip high. I had dreams about winning the lottery and being chosen as a dance lead in a new production at the Joyce. I woke up thinking…wow. I had a goal for this year, and I actually achieved it. That hasn’t happened since…ever?

For the first time in my adult life, I finally feel “settled.” I am in the home I plan to stay in for the long haul. My son is set up to go to the school district we plan to keep him in until he graduates from high school (barring any unforeseen events). I am in a great job where I see a wonderful future ahead. I have no gnawing feeling in my gut telling me I’m better than this. We’re better than this. I feel a gentle warmth moving through me like pee spreading out in a cool pond (not that I know what that feels like).

…So now what?

This is unfamiliar territory for me in so many ways. I’ve spent the better part of my adult years trying to “make it,” whether that was going for a dance career or just trying to pay my bills and get out of the ghetto. Now that I’ve accomplished what I set out to accomplish…well…what do I do?

I think I know the answer to that. Be content.  So many kids in their 8th grade yearbooks write, under what they want to do when they grow up, “Be happy.” I was never one of those kids. I was, “Be a dancer on Broadway. Be an author. Be an [insert important-sounding title here].” Now, as I grow older, I realize those kids who seemed directionless to my 14-year-old self actually had it right.

Just be happy.

Turns out, being happy is a little bit of work. I have to train myself to let go of the deeply-ingrained need to claw and scrape and yearn. I will continue to push myself to become smarter, to be a better parent, to excel in my career, to nurture my family and my friendships. But the titles and the milestones, at least the ones I’ve had my eyes set on for the past decade or so—I need to figure out how to let those blend into the background and just be.

Anyone have any pointers? I’m new at this.

Truth Telling, Italian Mama Styles

Pickin’s out there are slim for home buyers. True story. If, by the time we sell our house, we’re able to find a halfway decent abode that isn’t falling apart and that we can afford in the school district we want, I will consider it a goddamned miracle.

In the month since we put our house on the market, we’ve seen exactly two houses that are in our price range in the neighborhood we want. And it’s not because we’re being picky. It’s because they are literally (actual definition of the word literally, not figuratively literally) the only two homes that have come on the market in our price range in the neighborhood we want.

So when we saw a beautiful house pop up as “Active” on mlslistings (and was firmly affordable), we were absolutely overjoyed. In fact, I believe I heard some bells ringing and angels singing.

The first thing I did was email my mom a link and then immediately call her to gush about it.

Me (ecstatic): Mom! Did you see the house I just sent you? Isn’t it nice?

Mom (judgmental tone): It’s only 1,400 square feet—that’s way too small. Plus it’s only three bedrooms. Where are Dad and I going to stay? And those bedrooms look tiny, Wendy. I don’t know.

debbiedowner1

Me (staying positive): Well…as long as it’s laid out efficiently, I bet it could work! Plus I see places where we could expand one day. And it’s right down the street from Monica! [my dear sister-in-law]

Mom (even more judgmental tone): One day? That’s going to take a lot of money and a long time. Where do you expect Dad and I to sleep?

debbie downer2

Me (losing faith): ….well, I don’t know. In Lucas’ room for now? And later on down the line, maybe we can build out over the cathedral ceiling and make you guys a nice big room of your own?

Mom (not budging): No. No. I don’t like it.

debbiedowner3

Me (despondent): Well, I was just…I was just hoping you’d like it. I think maybe it might have potential or something. But whatever…

Mom (catching on that she’s punctured my joy bubble): Oh, but it is pretty, Wendy! I bet it’s really nice. It can’t hurt to go look at it.

All it takes is for your Italian mama to lay a little truth on you to realize how desperate the situation is. After all, you’re never going to please her. Now try telling her she’s going to come spend two months of the year in California with you, your husband, and your 4-year-old in a 1,397 square foot house.

That’s my mom, in a nutshell. She can’t help but be honest, and when she realizes she’s being the kind of honest that hurts feelings (the brutal kind), she backtracks and attempts to point out the positive. She does the ole bait and switch.

Over the course of four days leading up to the open house, my mom called me a total of 43,275 times, each time pointing out something else that could be wrong with the house. Where is the laundry…in the garage?! It may look spacious, but pictures can be deceiving. That kitchen table looks really small. There’s no built-in microwave. The appliances look old, and they’re all white. You’ll have to buy new appliances. But she’d always end the conversation with, “Well, I guess you won’t know for sure until you go see it.”

Mom’s brutal truth was so annoyingly grating, I was ready to put an offer on the house just to piss her off. But guess what?

She was right.

living room
Infinite cosmic powers…itty bitty living space.

The house was clean and bright, but as soon as I walked in the first thing I noticed was the tiny couch that was all the furniture that could fit in the living room and the tiny table that was all that could fit in the dining room. There was no built-in microwave. The laundry was in the garage. The bedrooms (and closets) were pretty small. The downstairs bathroom was microscopic. And when I walked outside, I could hear a good deal of traffic from the main road that ran behind the house.

Dammit.

The thing is, I will never accept my mom’s hole-punching at face value. I will always find holes to punch in her holes. I will always dig my heels in and fight back. Because you know what? I’m an Italian mama too. And I know deep down, she can’t really help it. She does it because she cares, and she doesn’t want me to be disappointed when things don’t go my way.

How do I know this? Because I find myself doing the exact same thing with my own kid. Just know, Lucas, it comes from a good place. We’ll always speak our minds, and we’ll always want to protect our babies—even when they’re all grown up.

We’re Moving

It’s official. As of this Thursday afternoon, my first home will be on the market. A photographer is coming in to take snapshots for the listing, fliers are going out, and the open house is happening this weekend.

If I think about it too hard, I feel like throwing up. But I know this is the right move for our family.

baby play area
bringing up baby on travertine tile

Alex and I didn’t start our lives together in this house, but we did create our family here. When Lucas came home from the hospital, we brought him back to our place in Salinas. This is where he learned to crawl, where he took his first steps, where we spent countless sleepless nights. Where we celebrated a Red Sox World Series win and an Obama re-election. Where we’ve hosted Christmas parties and birthday parties and LAN parties. Where we’ve invested money and time and heart into changing this little house into a home.

We always knew we weren’t going to stay long. This was a lovely starter home in a lovely neighborhood. But it’s in a terrible school district, and all the private schools in Salinas are Catholic, which would make school events pretty awkward for Lucas’ atheist mom. Plus there are far too many nights where I’m falling asleep to the sounds of sirens instead of silence.

At the start of our marriage, Alex and I moved to Gilroy so I could be closer to the Bay Area in order to commute to Stanford. The added bonus was being closer to Alex’s brother Ozzy and his then-girlfriend, now-wife Crystal. We loved living in the garlic capital of the world, and when we were ready to buy our first house, we fully intended on staying there (even though I had finished with my program at Stanford and was working in Monterey).

We searched and searched for months and made offers on at least seven different houses. Each time we were outbid by investors with cash offers or families with bigger budgets. We finally just gave up at one point (which is why we ended up in Salinas). But now, with kindergarten around the corner for Lucas, we’ve got our eye on a couple great school districts in the South Bay.

But the most important thing, the thing that sealed the deal for me, was the thought of being closer to family.

Ozzy and Crystal are beckoning us back—and Alex’s sister Monica, her husband Braulio, and their amazing daughter Alessandra are moving to Gilroy as well. We had been waffling on selling for a while, always finding a reason not to budge. But then we saw this great house in Gilroy and everything fell into place. We fell in love (which is dangerous, because we can’t even make an offer until we sell our own house). I mean…just look at it:

dream house

With family nearby, and a great property as a prospect, moving up to Gilroy or Morgan Hill (15 minutes from Gilroy) just makes sense. Sense that is scaring the bejesus out of me.

Things that petrify me about this move:

1. I hate moving.
2. Trying to keep a house “show ready” with a 4-year-old is going to be the most difficult thing I’ve done since giving birth.
3. Change is scary.
4. What if no one wants to pay what we think this house is worth?
5. What if it takes forever to sell it?
6. What if it takes NO TIME to sell it and then someone else sweeps up the property we want?
7. What if we can’t find another house in time?
8. I’ll have to possible double my commute WITH LUCAS if we move to Morgan Hill. (Temporary…we’ll find him a new school…but still crappy.)
9. What if I totally regret leaving this house?
10. I can’t think of another good one, but 10 is a nice round number.

One of my big goals for 2015 was to move. Once upon a time, I said that New Years Resolutions don’t work unless you actually resolve to do them. (Which is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said on record, by the way, and I will continue to make fun of myself for saying it for years to come.) I’m going to take this one step farther (and possibly make fun of myself in the future for having said this, too): A resolution means nothing until you actually go through with it.

So here we go…

My Toddler Is Now a Kid and My Whole World Has Changed

Do you know how many times I’ve said, “No one told me this was going to happen” in my child’s short life? When breastfeeding didn’t happen naturally, I said, “No one said it was going to be this hard!” (They did.)

When I brought my kid home from the hospital and he made noises like a congested, dying bulldog, I freaked out believing he was surely choking on his own tongue. Why didn’t anyone warn me that newborns DO THAT? (I’m sure I read it somewhere on Baby Center.)

When Lucas projectile pooped onto my husband’s mouth I thought, “Dear God, I knew we were going to have to deal with poop, but no one said it’d be THIS BAD! (They most certainly did.)

And when my primal, biological love turned into being IN love, I noted that people said you loved your new baby more than anyone in your life, but before I had Lucas, I thought that was just bullshit. How could you love someone you didn’t really know? (You can, and you do, and you would gladly give up your life for him within the first few seconds of meeting him.)

All of those doubts and questions came within the first few weeks of my child’s life, but they’ve continued at every transition. Each new behavior, I find myself saying, “No one told me!”even though I’m almost positive they did in some way, but I probably dismissed it. So with that being said…

No one told me there’d be such a difference between the ages of three and four! But my toddler—my sweet, frustrating, funny, precocious toddler—is now a kid. And that small change is just the first domino in a snaking line of transitions that are now piling up before my very eyes.

birthday party inviteOver the last month, we will have attended four birthday parties that are not just a baby cousin’s family party where we hang out, eat some pizza, and let the child dunk his head in some frosting. These were EVENTS, with activities and party favors and food spreads and special cakes and gifts that you open after everyone goes home. This was the first year that we had a friend party for Lucas, and it was beyond stressful. When I saw what a great time he was having, though, I was happy to go through it. But sheesh! This is a whole new ballgame.

Speaking of ballgame, we’ve signed the little tyke up for T-ball. They’ve got practice twice a week (and this is before they even start having games), and we had to buy uniforms, and there are fundraisers to participate in, and team BBQs, and weekly emails with SO MUCH INFORMATION and I’m like, wow…it’s T-ball. I didn’t think it’d be this intense.

Even Lucas looked back at us during his first practice a little bewildered like…what is happening right now? Of course, I don’t blame him. He is on a team with some kids who have to be 12 years old and they’re already launching the ball clear across the field. To go fetch it, they run past wandering, drugged-out homeless people. (Gotta love Salinas.) This makes me kind of glad Lucas can’t toss the ball more than a few feet.

T-ball practice
That’s my little man on the right all…no way you guys are my age.

Somehow these changes in my son’s life seem to be rolling over into changes in my and Alex’s lives as well. We are thinking about kindergarten and school districts, and this means we’re going to sell our house soon and buy a new home in a new area, which is going to be a HUGE transition for everyone. New house, new commute, possibly a new pre-school (which breaks my heart a little). Alex is looking into certifications to up the ante in his career, and I’m doing the same by taking on a ton of consulting and contract work.

All of a sudden, we’re in the circus.

Kia crossverI never saw myself as participating in the suburban parenting hysteria. The schlepping, the over-scheduling, the soccer (T-ball) mom, the mini-van. But I’m getting to work earlier so I can leave earlier so I can get Lucas to practice and then after he goes to bed, I’m hopping on my computer and doing more work. And I’m thinking about signing him up for soccer in the summer, because he loves playing in the park and he’s a natural. And the lease was up on my Kia, and if I’m not mistaken, my new car looks more like a minivan than a crossover, and I was thrilled with the extra space. Old me is giving new me the crazy eyes, but new me gets it now.

These changes, they’re going to come whether I’m ready for them or not. Whether people warned me about them or not. Whether I swore I wouldn’t be like that or not. If my son, my no-longer-toddler, wants to participate, then I’ll do everything in my power to get him to that party and bring him to those practices and get him into the good school district.

What that means is more intensity in every aspect of our lives. We need to step up in our careers to afford these opportunities. We need to sacrifice more time to be there for our son for his games or recitals or art shows or whatever it is he chooses to participate in. (We also need to draw the line when it becomes too much. We are, after all, only human.) But it’s a lot of adjusting in a relatively short period of time.

And no one told me it was going to get harder instead of easier….

(Okay, they totally did, but I just didn’t believe it.)