I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five {Mac turns 5}

I find myself in a land of cliches as my baby turns five today. I want to talk about how time flies and that if you blink you'll miss it. In all honesty it doesn't seem that long ago that I was pregnant with Mackenzie. That the Hubbs and I were still arguing over her name, that I was still sick despite my entrance into the second and then third trimester. The memory of her "birth day" is still so fresh in my mind, and yet so far away. It is as if I've blinked and we have landed here, at five.

Mac's fourth year was so full of wonder and discovery. She is so aware of the world, and so very logical about it. Nothing is missed by my Miss Mac, even when you try to lie or white lie, she will seek you out and cross examine you better than any attorney. We will never pull a fast one on her. This past year she learned her letters and her numbers. She became aware of words and books. She has fallen in love with drawing and storytelling. She loves music and card games. This was the year Mac decided she wanted long hair, the first time she demanded clothes without ruffles, and has on occasion put toys back at Target, so she could buy shoes or clothes. She discovered the magic of secrets at Christmas time. This year she went from my toddling baby to a fun loving, adventure seeking girl.

Still I look at her and see my baby. Her hands are still impossibly small, just grazing the tops of my palms when she sets her hand in mine. I can still pick her up, but just barely. Her little noodle arms still wrap tightly around my neck. She still needs to rub my ear when she falls asleep at night, and I can't deny her that need. I can't stop picking her up or snuggling her neck, because I know all too well that one day she will be too big to lift. To big to fit in that place in my lap that seems carved out just for her. On a recent night, as we laid in her bed, she asked me to sing to her, which is just cruel on all accounts since my voice is horrible. But I indulged her with a song I sang to her as a baby, a Lemonheads cover of Frank Mills, that for some reason I still remember from my freshman year in high school. It's always seemed like a sad song about a lost friend, and at the end she quietly said, "I don't want to grow up Mommy". And I cried a little because she gets what I already know, that this time with her, as this tiny little human, is fleeting. She will always be my baby and there are so many adventures on the horizon, but she will only be this small and this too-insightful-for-an-almost-five-year-old, just once. How does she know that?

Her smile can stop time and her laugh is infectious. She has a sense of humor rarely found in a child her age, and will laugh and repeat jokes if she knows they will make you laugh. Those are things you cannot teach, those are the things that come with you when you are born. I watch her and think, how did I get this lucky? But like with most things in life, right time, right place, right heart.

The best thing about Mac turning five, she understands numbers and values. For a full month she would tell me, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five", and I would say, "I love you a hundred and fifty four seven five times a billion". Then we would just giggle, and try to out number each other. We would come up with crazy combinations, but none could ever hold the value or express the right amount of love because this kind of love is unmeasurable.

This kind of love lives somewhere between here and infinity.

Happy Birthday Mac, Mommy loves you one hundred and fifty four seven five. And many more.

Motherhood is a job {Period}

This is a post you can file under, "I can't believe we are still having this conversation".

Last week I read this blog post, originally from xoJane, now in it's crowing glory on Time.com. It's title, Unpopular Opinion: Being a Stay-at-Home Mother is Not a Job. The title alone boiled my blood, but curiosity got the best of me.I knew it couldn't be as awful as it sounded. The author obviously knew that it wasn't going to be embraced my the masses as the title suggests ("unpopular opinion), still I had to see for myself.

Here is the opener:
"I was able to do nothing but focus on giving my daughter 
the best early years at home that I could provide. 
That was a gift. Not a career."

Oh, boy.

Read the article for yourself. I'm not going to rehash it here. I can't. It would take me a year to make an argument for every piece of the article, which is what I really wanted to do, but that wouldn't solve a thing. If I'm honest I'm still analyzing it daily as I do more and more "motherhood" chores and think, sometimes this job does kind of blow. In case you are wondering I say that about my "outside" job too. Most of that doesn't matter, what does matter is the idea that being a Stay at Home mother isn't a job. Does that mean that being a Work from Home mother isn't a job? What about a working mother who comes home and plays a Stay at Home Mother on the weekend? I'm not rallying for awards or medals of honor, but lets be frank here,

Being A MOTHER, in general,  is a really hard job.

It doesn't matter if you work outside the home or inside the home, being a mother has been the hardest job I've ever had. And yes, I believe it's a job. Because I'm required to be here. I'm required to show up every day, and be kind and polite and graceful. I'm required to cook, clean, taxi, launder, powder, and raise tiny humans to be amazing big humans. Okay, fine, I don't get paid in real money, but I still work my ass off daily. I have two supervisors that I may never please, that I may never impress, that may never promote me. Sure they love me anyway, but my bosses are total hard asses and super demanding. Especially at three in the morning when they want a glass of water.

So yes, my dear friend at xoJane, being a mother is a kick your ass, never get a pay raise, beautiful, covered in sloppy kisses, wonderfully fulfilling JOB.

It's a position I did choose it, though I never had an interview. I chose to be a mother, and I also chose to be a full time Stay at Home mother for six years. It was my choice as a woman and a feminist. Did you all know that I was a feminist? It's not a bad word, hell it's the word that allowed my mother to burn her bra and wear pants to work. It's the word that allowed my Grandma to work her night shift to pay for school clothes and milk. It's the word that will allow my daughters to choose any job they want, including a Stay at Home Mother. Because supporting feminism means having choices, like the one to stay home, the one to work, or the one to become whatever we want. Including mothers.

Being a mother is the most liberating thing I have ever done. I admit that the early years were rough. I had to give up a lot of me time, and for a selfish only child that was tantamount. But in the end, having a choice, choosing to stay home was very liberating. I let go of so many of my hang ups. Staying home allowed me to immerse myself in a world I knew little to nothing about. As if I went to a foreign country and learned the native tongue. Being a mother made me brave, it finally made me see that I was beautiful and flawed, and it allowed me to love an be loved in a way that has changed my entire life. No job I have ever held has done that for me. No career will ever be as fulfilling. Not even writing, because, let's face it, those books will never love me back, not the way my two daughters do.

Maybe being a Stay at Home mother isn't a career, but damn if it ain't the hardest job I've ever had. When I think about it, being a mother doesn't have to be your career of choice. Like the woman in the article states, it's basically just a bunch of odd jobs bunched together. I've held lots of odd jobs that weren't my career, but that doesn't mean they weren't hard and almost broke me. Some of the odd jobs I've held were physically and emotionally demanding. Much like motherhood, which has almost broken me a time or two.

Can we just decide that MOTHERHOOD is a job? Can we allow those around us to consider it their career? Can we just say yes, and shut our traps and nod graciously as we agree to disagree? Because if you say that calling Stay at Home Motherhood a job is doing a disservice to women, you are doing a much greater disservice to all women. One woman's day dream is another woman's nightmare. Have we learned nothing from our friendships and mean girl movies? I love me some real housewives of (insert fancy city here), but I'd cry buckets if I had to hang out with those crazy bitches in high heels and lipstick every day. Forget it. I'll take these two year old leggings and sports bra (even though I don't sport), any day of the week.

Bottom line: Motherhood is a job. A hard, easy, fun, boring, isolating, loving, amazing, life changing, heartbreaking, take up every spare moment of your life that you can't even pee alone JOB. I don't care if you work seven jobs or zero jobs outside/inside/beside the home, if you are a mother, then you have a job, and perhaps a career, that will take you to the ends of the earth and back. Twice. Maybe potty training, wiping snot noses, and singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider will never go down as "my life's work", but raising my daughters will. Raising my daughters will be the highlight of my life's work. Saying otherwise does a disservice to all moms and their little humans running around eating goldfish crackers. Because if I'm on call twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, then I'm calling that a job. And no one, not even Time Magazine will convince me otherwise.

So let's get back to work Mamas, where ever your office happens to be.

PS: Can we just take a moment to talk about Time Magazine? Come on Time Magazine! Did you learn nothing from your cover story a few years ago of that lady breastfeeding her ten year old? Are we MOM ENOUGH? Yes, for the last time, HELL YES. We are all working very hard at our "jobs" to be mom enough so you'll get off our backs! Go home Time Magazine. You're drunk.

We've come a long way baby

During Spring Break I took my oldest on a breakfast date. It was a complete surprise to her, and let me just tell you it was almost impossible for me to keep the secret. I had recently discovered a place in town that made Gluten Free pancakes on request, and just knew I needed to take my little gluten free girl for some. She had been having a hard time adjusting lately to gluten free living and so I thought this would cheer her up. But also, she needed some one on one mama time desperately. It's been a long time since it was just the two of us, and I knew it would do us both some good.

Since Mackenzie had school during spring break, I woke up as I usually would if I had to go to work. The morning before Caitlin and I had stopped at Starbucks after dropping Mac at school, before I had to rush off to work. From the time Caitlin woke up, all she wanted to do was go to Starbucks. She must have asked me a million times, and every time I kept replying with "we'll see". It got to the point where I was getting a little irritated, but I didn't want to ruin the surprise. So we took Mac and on the way to the car, she asked again.

Let's go to breakfast, was my answer.

She now had a million and one more questions. What would she eat? What would I eat? Not many places have breakfast food for gluten free people like us, but when I told her I knew of a place where they made gluten free pancakes, her face lit up! Where mom? Do you know how to get there? How long will it take? Can we listen to Taylor Swift? Yes, yes, and absolutely.

I brought a book from home and we read a few chapters while we waited. She colored her kids menu and read me some of the trivia. We checked the Fresno Grizzlies baseball schedule and talked about Disneyland. She asked me if we could ride It's a Small World first, and Dumbo second. We ordered her a gluten free pancake with strawberries, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce. I said yes to a Dr. Pepper. I said yes to just about everything.

It wasn't until after breakfast that I realized we had found a sweet spot, her and I. She will be eight in June, and I would have never ventured out alone with her when she was an infant or a toddler. I spent her first two years paralyzed with fear, stressing about how many changes of clothes to pack in her diaper bag, how many bottles I would need before we were due home. I would become so overwhelmed with the details, and would cancel trips to play dates and birthday parties last minute, because I was so afraid. As we used the restroom before we left, it struck me that there were no tears on this beautiful morning. She wore her pajamas and flip flops, made up of a leopard print sweater with Aztec print leggings. I didn't re-braid her hair. I didn't even have her wash her face. I realized that these dates, these moments with her are the ones I used to dream about, when she was finally asleep on my chest. The moments that I would day dream about as I drove her across town with her screaming and crying the entire way. This breakfast date was once just a dream I had. Because there was a time when I felt we would never get here. That my journey through motherhood would never have a destination as sublime as this.

We left breakfast that morning smiling and singing along with Taylor. When we stopped for gas she wanted to help and for the first time I said yes. And while the gas pumped I realized that she had outgrown her booster seat. It was time to take off the back, which was just another milestone that we had arrived at on this beautiful morning.

For the first time, since becoming a mother almost eight Junes ago, I felt that ease. I felt that glow. I felt that magical thing all the other moms always talked about. Finally since becoming a mother, all felt right in my tiny Caitlin centric universe. Finally. Thankfully. Amazingly.

Oh, my sweet girl. We've come a long way, baby.

Some bunnies had a fun Easter

Our Easter Weekend was jam packed this year. We were invited to two Easter parties on Friday, three birthday parties on Saturday, and still had to find time to actually celebrate Easter. I swore I was never going to be one of those moms that dragged her kids to every party we were invited to, but I guess you have to when your kids really want to go. So we did. We did all the things. We ate cupcakes for every meal, and washed it all down with punch and soda and Capri Suns.

Here is my little bunny, all dressed up for her school Easter Party. They provided the ears and the face painting. She provided the smile and the sass.

Caitlin lucked out since she was out of school so she got to join in all the fun. She couldn't wait to get her bunny nose and whiskers.

We stayed the night with our in laws on Saturday night so we could color eggs together. It was so much fun, and when I think about it, I'm pretty sure the big kids had more fun than the little kids.

We bought some weird contraption that promised tie-dyed eggs. For six bucks it was okay, but they didn't really look tie-dyed. They looked more like we accidentally splattered some paint on hard boiled eggs. Whatever, my kids were excited.

This girl spent the night experimenting with colors. She even tested an egg without the shell in the dye. We were sure to throw that one out.

Easter was awesome, except for one hiccup. Mommy packed us all up to go to Auntie and Uncle's and remembered the toothbrushes, the gluten free baking mix, and the flat iron. What is the one thing that mommy didn't remember? The damn Easter Baskets. So poor Mr. Bunny had to leave his treasures on the floor. I beat myself up about that all day.

Luckily, Auntie came through with some gift bags and paper shreds for the Easter egg hunt. Still their metal Easter buckets would have been better. And I still made sure to Instagram about that.

After we left Auntie and Uncles, we stopped at my Grandparent's house for more food and another egg hunt. Mac looks unsure, but I promise she was into it.

Easter weekend was so much fun and so exhausting. We took it all in stride. The most important part was that I had the entire weekend off and spent every bit of it with the girls and the Hubbs. We really did try to pack in every single thing into one Saturday afternoon and evening, and it was well worth it. Egg dyes and hunts won't last forever. The magic of chocolate Reese eggs before breakfast will lose some of the magic one year. And bunny pancakes will just seem silly when the girls are fifteen. But I will make them anyway. Because no matter how old they get, they will always be my baby bunnies.

Some fresh air {Spring Break Recap}

To say Spring Break was a breath of much needed fresh air is a serious understatement. After weeks of work and stress and Girl Scout cookie sales, finally we got a break.

Monday morning of Spring Break was awesome. I got up and was free to get ready for work. I didn't have to worry about lunches or snacks or thermoses. No one cried. No one yelled. There were no arguments about hair or shoes or waffles that were burned in the toaster. It was fantastic. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of me.

And that feeling set the tone and the attitude for Spring Break. We were free to get Starbucks before Mom had to go to work. We were free to eat dinner late, not worry about home work, or skip a bath just because. We read chapter books for fun, with no pressure of time or tests. We lounged and watched reruns of Glee and Clarence and Modern Family. And best of all we could breathe.

The last four days of spring break were jam packed. I was lucky that I had those days off. The pressure was on with two Easter parties, then a Saturday packed with four birthday parties. But still, I kept breathing. I tried to keep it light, and tried to let go of all that wasn't urgent. Because is anything really life threatening? Will wearing neon shorts with old stained t shirts really end the world? No, they won't. Will eating cookies for breakfast and frozen yogurt for dinner ruin their chances of a college education? I hope not. But will mom yelling and being stressed all the time take the joy out of the day and all the days she shows her crazy? Yes.

Spring break gave me the fresh air that I needed. The time I needed to focus on what was important, my time, my patience, my love for my girls. It also gave me a chance to try life from the other side, the less controlling side. With a little fresh air I could breathe and really look at what had been holding me back. My fears, my feelings of inadequacy, my desire to control all that is uncontrollable. I needed a little breathing room to see that letting some of that shit go really makes all the difference.

Not every morning is going to be carefree and weightless. We start school today. But I can be a little more carefree and weightless. Maybe we won't have cookies for breakfast and Starbucks stops, but I can and I will breath a little easier. I can make the effort to yell less, look the other way when one kid wears dirty sweats and the other wears shorts in the rain. I can focus on patience, and I can refocus my time. And I can let go of all that isn't life threatening. Because believe me stained t shirts and cookies for breakfast are not the end of the world. If they were, I wouldn't be writing this post.

Isn't it amazing what a little fresh air can do?