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Sunday, December 10, 2017

When the Shiny Moments Aren't Shiny Enough or, Mom's Emergency Sanity Kit

The holidays are my favorite time of year, a bright spot at the beginning of a dark time both literal and figurative.  It’s a time to gather with friends and family and eat too much, for some drink too much, and for still others a chance to bake too much.  Can one ever have too many generous bakers in their lives?  No.  The answer is no.

Last Christmas Benji was about a month and a half old and I don’t remember much except for the cute little gray outfit with the red bowtie I wrestled him into for the family picture.  I don’t think I left the house by myself for anything for another month or so.  We were blessed to have friends stop by with food, because boiling an egg was taxing my coping skills at the time.

Things are better now.  I can even cook a whole meal, once or twice a week.  If all I have to do is put the frozen dish in the oven to cook.  I’ve baked a pie once or twice.  I even made a Canadian Thanksgiving dinner with help from mom.  Things are getting better.  


But that first year, MAN.  It is so hard.  I don’t recommend doing it without able-bodied family around to help.  I mean, everyone is alive and healthy, mostly clean, but for a long time it was just survival.  Getting through the day.  Which is not a fun way to live because, we’ve only got a short few of those days and I don’t want to waste one of them just ‘making it through’ to bedtime.

I’m learning to rest in the moment.  To gather joy from the far corners of my dusty, messy house and hold it close.  

Raising kids is a lot like Christmas.  You only remember the bright spots, the moments that fill your heart with gratitude.  Or laughter.  Like Benji chasing the dog with a gleeful baby giggle.  The look on that poor dogs face when Benji comes barreling after him like a tiny drunken elf, wavering back and forth on his new walking legs, screaming ‘Ba ba ba ba!’. 

Because everything is Ba right now.  He holds up a ball triumphantly.  “Ba!”  Points to the apples on the counter.  “Ba!”  (No Benji those are apples.)  “Ba!”  (No, apples.)  He looks at me, points again.  “BA!  Ba, ba ba!”  (Ok, yes, they’re balls…I give up.)

Unless its mum-mum-mum.  He never says it just once.  It’s always three times.  Mum-mum-mum!  Emphasis on the last mum like the first two are just warm-ups.  It’s mum-mum-mum when he wants something, or more of something, or sometimes, rarely, even when he wants me.

Da-da is reserved for daddy, or something else equally as exciting like a lit Christmas tree or anything blinking or playing music, or trying to run away from him in terror of his tiny squeezing fingers.  

All the other moments, the literal dark moments of midnight feedings and 4am inconsolable crying, get smushed together like a smudged film roll that whips past too quickly to really see the details.

Those shining moments, those every-day-gives-you-a-chuckle-moments eclipse the darkness easily like a single lit candle in a dark room.  Or, it should.  

Because sometimes it doesn’t.  And sometimes it won’t.

And then you have no choice but to bust out your Mom's Emergency Sanity Kit.  

You need a generous baker friend (or HEB) make you a triple layer chocolate-pecan cake.  

You buy a mini-fridge and install it in a bathroom where you can shut the door and lock it.  A dead-bolt is not going too far.  

Then you steal a pint of someone’s homemade ice-cream (if you don’t know anyone who does this you can put out a Craigs list ad for it like every new-mom should).  

Then you leave the kids with hubby, or babysitter, or neighbor, or the nice girl you met at the cupcake store, and you lock that door and you eat that cake until the world feels happy again.

M’kay my lovies?

Ok then.  

Here’s a quote for you, a little word chocolate-cake:

“If you can’t fly than run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.