Third. Tri. Mes. Ter.

You read that right. We’re in the home stretch now! Monday marked the beginning of my 28th week, and the THIRD TRIMESTER!

Current hobbies include: popping Tums non-stop, eating non-stop, sleeeeeeping, but not really sleeping, peeing non-stop, Braxton Hicksing like it’s going out of style, getting all nostalgic when someone asks if it’s my first, waddling, staring wistfully at regular sized clothing and wondering what size I’ll end up being this time.

Also, thanks to pregnancy brain, I enjoy treating stop signs like stoplights, walking around with my phone in my hand wondering where my phone is, never knowing what day it is, trying to put one kids’ shoes on the other kid’s feet, and forgetting to buy stuff even when I remember my shopping list.

It’s been a real humdinger, this pregnancy. Totally unexpected from the start, and leaving me more tired and more sore than I ever remember being with the boys. I feel enormous, I’m measuring a week ahead. The heartburn has always been a pregnancy thing for me, but now I’ve got reflux! A fancy word for puking in your mouth if you lay the wrong way. Or make any sudden movements. Or have just eaten a big meal. (But not really that big because you are full after four bites, and hungry again 10 minutes later, repeat for all of eternity.)

But, I am trying not to complain too much. I’m trying to remember the good parts of pregnancy. Like the fact that there’s a baby coming. That’s fun and exciting. Yeah, I feel like crap and we have no idea where she will sleep when she outgrows her infant bed and both boys are regressing like crazy and I can hardly move but have two kids to take care of….but…it’s going to be over with in three months. And it will all work itself out one way or another.

After my miscarriage, I had a few women in my life that became unexpectedly pregnant (well, it felt like the WHOLE WORLD was pregnant and I wasn’t) and they just whined and complained. I’m not ready for this, pregnancy sucks, blah blah blah. And I hated them. I hated them so much. How could they not be overflowing with joy at the life growing inside them? This gift that was just handed to them?

Well, now I see their side. But I am also trying so hard to be positive about this. Because I know some women out there are wishing it was them. Trying so hard and getting nowhere only to see someone get it without trying at all. I’m so sorry if you’re in that position. And rest assured, I know what a wonderful gift I have been given. And I will be fine, my sons will be fine, my husband will be fine, we will welcome our little girl with open arms.

Three more months. THREE MORE MONTHS.

28 weeks

More Than We Had

My kids are so lucky. They have way more than I did when I was a kid. We are not rich, by any means. We have more than some people, less than others. I suppose I would categorize us as Upper Middle Class.

I grew up pretty well in the Lower Middle Class category. My parents worked hard and provided us with everything we needed. But we went without a lot of the luxuries that my peers took for granted. Especially after my parents’ divorce. Money was tight.

I’ll never forget this one time back to school shopping, we were at Wal-Mart and my mom and I had a knock down drag out fight because I wanted the $18 tennis shoes, and she wanted to get me some cheaper ones. I knew even the $18 ones couldn’t compare with what all the cool kids would be wearing, but I had a fighting chance with them, not so much with the cheaper ones. Eventually she caved, but I always felt guilty about it.

My kids have a lot more luxury items than I did. We can afford to buy them a lot of toys, the “cool” toys, video game systems, cool clothes and shoes, the cool lunchbox goods like Gogurt and Goldfish. Stuff I could never have had at their age.

And I’m proud to be able to provide for them in this way. It makes me feel good that they can completely surpass the keeping up with the cool kids trauma. I mean, my kids are unlikely to actually be the cool kids, but they’re less likely to be made fun of than I was. There will just be less pressure there for them. I’d like to teach them that none of that matters, but we all remember what it was like to want to fit in. And at least if my kids feel like they sort of fit in, then that won’t distract them from doing well in school, making real and lasting friendships and overall just growing up and adjusting.

But, at some point, we have to draw a line. The boys are getting to an age where they could easily fall into the spoiled camp. We don’t always get them the things that they want. And we are still very frugal shoppers. A treat now and then, and expensive Christmas and birthday gifts, but not every day showering them with goodies.

I’ll get them the $18 shoes, because I can. I’ll get them the nice things they want, within reason. And any big, expensive gift usually comes with a long conversation (poor kids) about the reason we’re buying the item, and how we will care for it to ensure that it lasts. Because, even if we were to get them every little thing they want, I still want them to respect their stuff and take care of things and know the value of that. I don’t want them to get caught up in the throwaway culture that I see so much of these days.

We’re also trying to teach them the value of a dollar. And the idea that things must be earned. Too many high school and college aged kids these days are more entitled than they could even understand. It’s not their fault. It’s not even their parents’ fault. It’s just living in a society where parents want their children to have more, do more, and make it further than they did. But too often, this manifests in parents giving and giving and doing without asking for anything in return, and ignoring every teachable moment that comes along.

I want my boys to have more than I had. I’m proud to be able to offer them more than I had. But, I also want them to know the value of things, they way that I learned growing up. I want them to value experiences over possessions. I want them to know the difference between wants and needs. And true needs. I want them to approach consumerism with caution. I want them to be savvy with money, and be smart about their purchases.

Someday, I have to send them off into this world. And I don’t want them to be greedy. Or to be careless shoppers. Or to feel like money is more important than it is. I want them to look back and know they had everything they needed, and more. But, I want them to be well grounded and realistic about money and life. So that they too can provide more for their own children.

Closing Day

It’s closing day on our new house. In TUCSON. For some reason, it makes me think of that 90s song, Closing Time. Which is somewhat appropriate, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

We’re moving. We’re moving far. We’re leaving our beloved San Francisco for the heat and the cheap housing in Tucson. We closed on a great house. It’s all set.

My emotions are so up and down. On the one hand, we’re super excited to go. It’s exciting to be homeowners. It’s exciting to be moving to a new city and opening a new chapter in our lives. But on the other hand, it’s terrifying. We’re leaving San Francisco, which we ADORE, and we’ve lived here for 11 years. So, it’s a bummer. A big, fat bummer. And if only it were even just slightly cheaper to live here, we’d stay.

I moved around a lot when I was a kid, and I kind of wanted to avoid doing that to my own kids. Bowie gets to finish the school year here, but I’m afraid for him when he starts a new school. I remember how confusing and scary that was. I know he’ll be fine and he’ll make friends, but I still worry.

It’s the right move for us right now, it just is. We’ll be able to give the boys so much more by leaving one of the most expensive cities in the country. We will have the security of owning our home. Renting in San Francisco is stressful as hell, not knowing if tomorrow your landlord will boot you out or raise your rent sky high to get you out. And when you have kids, that’s mega stressful.

We will have space. We will have opportunity. We will be happier in the end.

I will certainly leave my proverbial heart in San Francisco. Six months ago, my husband brought up the idea of leaving, and I said, “never!” through tears. But over time I got used to the idea, and was able to see the pros offered to us if we did move. I love it here though. The way everyone should have the opportunity to love where they live. If you’ve ever had the urge to hug a bridge, or wanted to get a cup of coffee with the fog, you might understand what I mean.

I’m excited for Tucson. It’s a great city with great people and lots of fun stuff to do. It will just be different. A good different, but still, different.

Off we go.

Older Generations: 9 Ways Parenting is Way Harder for Me than it Was for You

The world I grew up in was not what it is today. Parents now are charged with raising children in a vastly different world than parents of past generations. Life was simpler, and it showed. It’s not just that parents today need to “calm down.” There’s a reason we’re total basket cases. There’s a reason there are helicopter parents and a need for free-range parenting. This gig is tough! Childhood abductions are down. Childhood mortality, in the First World, is down. But there’s still a lot to contend with. Here are some ways I’ve had to adjust my parenting style from the examples I had as a kid.

  1. Raising my kids in a country where there’s at least one mass shooting per day. Whatever side of the fence you are on when it comes to gun control, you can’t deny that the United States has a problem. Random gun violence is everywhere, and there’s little a parent can do. The odds of being a victim of these random public mass shootings is low, but too high for comfort. And we always have that fear in the back of our heads. My son’s elementary school has lockdown drills. We certainly didn’t have lockdown drills when I was a kid. They make bullet proof blankets for schools to give kids in the event of a shooting. I have to raise my babies in a world where bullet proof blankets are a thing!
  2. Caring for an infant in a sea of unvaccinated children. I try really hard to not judge other parents for their parenting choices. But, when my kids are put in danger as a result, I get miffed. Infants who are too young to receive vaccinations are at a high risk for contracting possibly fatal diseases, and even school aged children who are vaccinated can be put at risk if vaccination levels are too low. So, I do my best to safeguard my child’s health, but in the end it might not matter anyway.
  3. Childhood food allergies have risen 50% in the past 20 years. My kids don’t have food allergies. That I know of. But, many of their peers do. And though I’m careful not to send nuts to our schools, I still wonder sometimes, “Did I forget to wipe the peanut butter off his face before sending him off?” And, allergies have this awesome ability to crop up at any point in our lives. Meaning, just because my sons don’t have life-threatening allergies right now doesn’t mean they won’t develop.
  4. Raising girls is a shit show. People think this isn’t an issue for me because I don’t have daughters. But, parents of sons have to raise them to be respectful of women, and to treat women as equals. And to not be intimidated by empowered women. As a mom, especially a stay at home mom, it’s easy to fall into the role of doormat. But it’s important to stand strong and give your boys a good example of womanhood. I don’t even know how parents raise their daughters to be strong in a world that tells them to play weak. To simultaneously be proud of their sexuality, but also to guard it with their lives. To be open and honest in a world full of victim-blaming. My hat is off to you, parents of girls.
  5. Parental guilt is at an all time high. Hospital birth or home birth. Breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Starting solids too early. Starting solids too late. Vaccinating or not vaccinating. Preschool or no preschool. Circumcised or uncircumcised. Non-organic food. Fast food. Television. Cell phones. No matter what choices you make, someone is going to (verbosely) criticize you for it. We have the Internet to thank for that. And before you even have kids, there are people telling you how to raise them. People who don’t even have their own kids! It’s treacherous. You literally never know if you’re making the right choice or not. You just have to close your eyes and point to make the choice, and then just cross your fingers and hope you won’t fail. And grow a super thick skin for all the mean words coming your way.
  6. Other people will try to parent your children. And I don’t mean making them follow the rules. I mean, the choices you make as a parent could get you in trouble, even if you’re not really putting your kid in any kind of danger. Leave your kid in the car while you run into the store? Send your kid outside to play without you? Put a soda in your kid’s lunchbox? You get fined. Or CPS takes them away. Or you could even go to jail! So much for making your own choices, there’s always someone looking over your shoulder.
  7. Raising my kids to be present and in the moment in the age of technology. Screens are everywhere these days. Admittedly, I spend too much time staring at my phone. And I use the TV as a babysitter more often than I’d like to admit. Silicon Valley is basically our backyard, so technology is pretty prevalent here. And it’s hard to find a balance between taking advantage of all that technology allows us these days, and not using it too much. We have to teach our children when to be present, and when screen time is ok. We have to filter what they watch, because left unsupervised, they can stumble on some pretty scary stuff. But we have to allow them to learn how to use technology because their world demands tech savviness.
  8. The media will have you believe your kid can, and will, be snatched from you. Even though abductions are actually less common than they were when I was a child, the media coverage of kidnappings is rampant. One kidnapping story can be their focus for weeks. And it’s not just the TV news, it’s newspapers, magazines, and social media. You can barely make it through a day without seeing reports of yet another child gone missing. I had to stop watching the news altogether to calm myself. And this is why people turn into such busybodies when they see your kid more than five feet away from you (see #6). The fear has permeated our generation of parents.
  9. College is basically a necessity, but also completely unaffordable. If you don’t start saving your money before you even have kids, it’s unlikely that you will be able to pay their way. And if you don’t pay it for them, you send them off into the world already dragging around the largest debt of their lifetime. And even if they do well and get a good degree, there’s no guarantee that they’ll land a job. As the population grows, the job market doesn’t. Not to mention the ups and downs of our unstable economy. If they don’t go to college, they walk a rough road. If they go to college, they walk a rough road. There’s just no winning. It’s tough to help them decide what to do, because you don’t even know the answer yourself.

The Manual for Motherhood

That’s a misleading title, and I’m sorry if I tricked you into clicking on it. There happens to be NO manual for motherhood. UNENDING shelves of books out there, written by “experts” and books written from one particular mom’s experience, but no full-on manual where you can look up all the crazy situations you’ll find yourself in.

I have an “older” kid (almost 7) and a preschooler. Some of the new moms at preschool will ask me, “How did you handle that with Bowie?”, “Was Bowie like that?”, “Did you ever do xyz with Bowie?”

And based on my replies, sometimes I get very flattering responses. “Wow, you’re so good at that!” “What an amazing idea!” “How do you find the time to do that?” “Wow, I wish I was as patient as you!”

But, I take these responses with a grain of salt. I’m just another mom, doing the best with what she has where she is (to refer to a Teddy Roosevelt quote). And we all are. That’s the thing.

When they hand you that tiny, pink, wiggly-wriggly, screaming and (in Bowie’s case) poop-covered thing, you’re like, what the heck am I supposed to do with this? And if you have a hospital birth, that day they kick you out you’re like, “Seriously?! You’re going to trust me to take this home and actually be responsible for its survival?!?”

But you get it. Somewhere along the line, it clicks. You’re in mom gear now. And you always know what to do. Even when “what to do” means consulting Dr. Spock, calling the pediatrician or handing the baby to your husband and saying “take this.” You still did it, you still figured it out.

You do also make mistakes. It’s completely inevitable. But also survivable. That’s how you learn. Those questions that the newer moms ask me? Most of my answers were not innate, they were learned. It’s a process. Sometimes you just plain improvise. It might work, it might not. But, you had a problem, and you came up with a possible solution.

Also, and this is probably the most important thing, you DO NOT have to be perfect. Not one of us is. None of us. Not even the impeccably dressed mother at the park sipping her Starbucks, brushing her clean, tangle-free hair from her perfectly made-up face, browsing NPR on her expensive smart phone while her children stay near and play amicably with one another, and all the kids. Not even she is perfect. Really.

We all have the mornings where school lunch is pizza and fruit snacks (but they were organic, dammit).

We all get to the public restroom changing table only to realize this session involves poop and we have no wipes. So we use some wet paper towels and move on with it.

We’ve all done a spit shine to the kid’s face on picture day to remove the ketchup stain that’s been on his face for three days.

We’ve all hidden in our bedroom closet to enjoy a Snickers bar, because the same child that doesn’t respond when you yell his name 2 feet from him can hear a cellophane wrapper from 6 miles away.

We’ve all used a baby wipe to mop the sticky spots up off the floor before company comes over.

We’ve all been at Walgreens on February 13 digging through the reject pile of Valentines for the kid’s class.

We’ve all told the landlord the hole in the wall was there when we moved in. (That one rarely works, but we try it anyway.)

We’ve all told the pediatrician about the gallons of water they drink every day, even though it’s mostly milk with a little Capri Sun mixed in.

We’ve all been in an in-depth phone conversation about “what Sally did this time” when our kid falls 5 feet off the slide, and only find out when a very judgy other mom brings him to us.

I say, “we all”, but I guess some of you really haven’t done this stuff. Kudos to you! But the day may come. And I’m sure you’ve got a list of your own.

The point is, sometimes we’re Claire Huxtable. Sometimes we’re more like a clueless hobo that’s been left in charge of feral animals. But, we love our kids, and we figure it out. Every damn time. Pat yourself on the back more. And stop worrying if you’re a “good enough” mom. You’re the best!

Seven Months

Ferris is seven months old today!

Just yesterday, he looked like this

And now, he is this

How and why does this first year all go SO SO fast? And somehow EVEN FASTER the second time around?

Dear Ferris,

No doctor visit this month to get your exact measurements, but judging by the lightning speed at which you grew into and then immediately grew out of all of your six month sized clothes, I’d say you’re still growing pretty quickly.

You are now a MAJOR fan of solid foods, pureed and otherwise. Your favorites include sweet potatoes, bananas, avocado and rice. Mama got an email from one of those baby web sites about your development that said you were ready for a sippy cup, so we went out and got you one, and you played with it for ten minutes and then you were over it. And not once did you lift it to your mouth in any way, which is odd because you put EVERYTHING in your mouth. Just not what’s supposed to go into your mouth. We’ll keep working on it.

You are basically crawling now. Not in a forward direction, but you get up on your knees, and scoot backwards and roll around until you get where you want. The crawling forward thing is going to happen any second, I’m sure. You’re already getting into everything at floor level. I felt like we wouldn’t really have a whole lot of baby-proofing to do, but you’re proving me more and more wrong every day.

You have two teeth! The two front bottom teeth have come in, and you wouldn’t let us forget it! You’ve been pretty grouchy, and hardly sleeping at all. I’m trying all the mama tricks in the book for a sad, teething baby, and really all that gives you relief is when the tooth makes its way all the way through the gum. I’m hoping that as time goes on, you’ll get better and coping with this. Because we’ve got 18 of these suckers left to get through, and I do want to sleep for a few hours in a row again. Just once even. Mama’s starting to get loopy during the day. And so much more absent minded than I have ever been in my life.

Today, on your seven month birthday, mama is making her television debut on Good Morning America. You and your brother were such good boys for me! I was a nervous wreck, but we made it through together. I hope you don’t grow up to resent mama for talking about you so much on the blog!

I love, love, love you to bits and pieces. And I wish I could keep you this age forever! But I know you’re going to grow and change and become a wonderful man someday. And that’s ok too.