Saturday, October 16, 2010

When you wish upon a star...

Now that song is stuck in your head, isn't it? heh, heh...

Last night, as per usual with my husband's insane work schedule, he wasn't going to arrive home until after the boys were already in bed. So, he called to say "goodnight" to the boys. Spence did his usual "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite, see ya in the morning" routine and tossed the phone to Foster. I went into the kitchen to start another endless cycle of cleaning...

A few minutes went by, and Fos still hadn't shown up with the phone. So, I went back to our bedroom to see what was taking so long. It was FREEZING in there and no sign of Foster. I came around the corner and saw the door to the back deck wide open, cold October air blowing in, and I heard Foster's voice.

"Daddy, it's the biggest star EVER! I'm pretty sure it's Jupiter. Yeah. Jupiter. Uh-huh. I'm serious, Dad. Look at it. Can you see it? See it?"

I peeked around the corner, and there's my youngest son, standing in his bare feet, staring up at the sky, with the phone held way out in front of him, pointed at the stars.

"Do you see it, Daddy?"

That's when I piped in. "Sweetie, Daddy can't see through the phone, so why don't you just tell him about it."

"Oh, hi Mom. OK. Hey, Daddy, I made a secret wish on the star. D'you want me to do a wish for you too? You do? OK, whisper your secret wish to me, and I'll do it for you."

I was still standing there, shivering. So, Fos looks up at me and, in an extremely polite, sweet voice says, "Um, Mommy? Can you please give us some privacy and shut the door? This is Daddy's secret wish, so nobody's allowed to hear it but me, 'cuz I'm doing it for him."

How cute is that? Seriously. Does it get any cuter?


Thursday, October 14, 2010

How is it possible to feel so lonely, when you're never, ever, EVER actually alone?

I think that motherhood can be a wonderful "club." Especially when the kids aren't mobile yet, and you can cart them easily to "playdates" that are really nothing more than an excuse for the moms with babies to get together to drink coffee (or wine). And, when the kids are small enough that they aren't in school yet, so there are more opportunities to get together with other moms to share stories and to laugh and to get support from others who are going through it (and to have more wine)...

I also think that motherhood can be lonely. Incredibly lonely. You wouldn't think it would be possible, when most mothers can't even pee or take a shower by themselves, without one kid or the other barging in with a need or a want or a "Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy........Foster broke my invention!" or "Mommmmmyyyyyyyy....Spencer hit me in the neck!"

I mean, if your house is anything like my house, you're never alone for a minute. You leap out of bed, heart pounding every morning, go through the frenzied, frantic, chaotic morning routine that somehow ends up with your kids in their respective schools/daycares and you at work, just in the nick of time. You work all day, then you reverse the situation and, with no time to stand around shooting the breeze with your co-workers, you race out of there to go through the frenzied, frantic,chaotic afternoon routine that somehow ends up with all of you back home, more or less in one piece. You take care of emptying backpacks, reading agendas and notes from the school, listening to the messages on your answering machine, advancing the endless laundry to the next cycle, and then try to squeeze in a few minutes of "fun" time with your kids, before it's time to make dinner. Then it's bath time, story time, songs, and, finally, finally, your kids are in bed, leaving you feeling guilty about being relieved that your children are now unconscious and, therefore, not demanding anything from you. Then, it's go back out to the kitchen to make the lunches for the next day, to set the coffee maker so you'll have that invaluable morning infusion of caffeine, clean up the kitchen, throw enough toys in their respective baskets to clear a path for walking, pet each of your poor, neglected dogs on the head, at least once, just to relieve the guilt you feel for not taking them for a walk AGAIN, push the unpaid bills to the side of the counter, and then collapse. You're alone. The house is quiet. But, by then, you're too exhausted to appreciate this moment of silence and calm, and, as the case usually is in my house, that's right when hubby finally arrives home from work, all full of energy, wanting to talk or watch T.V. or something...After all, the work is already all done. The kids are asleep. He's got nothing to do but talk or watch T.V. or something... And, all you want to do is escape into sleep, because you know you have to start all over again in just a few short hours, and you can't even imagine how you're going to get through another day.

So, you're never really alone. And, yet, there's loneliness. There's the feeling that you're in this all by yourself. That nobody else is feeling as overwhelmed or frustrated or exhausted as you are. That all those women who have partners who are home for dinner every night and home all weekend to help with the parenting, or who have mothers or mothers-in-law who live in town and pop over to take over with the kids once a week or bring over dinner (just because), or who have neighbors with kids the same age and offer reciprocal babysitting services, so you can actually go out on dates with your husband (imagine that!) or get your grocery shopping done, or just have a half-an-hour to yourself, or go to the gym...  just don't get it. And, you want to say "Please, just live my life for a week. Just for a week. Or maybe 48 hours. Then, you'll understand, and I won't feel so alone, anymore."

But, you don't say it out loud. You deal with it. You go on. You tell yourself that there are other moms who have it much, much worse than you, and you count your blessings. And, you try as hard as you can not to feel envious of the moms who have it much, much easier than you (especially if they are friends you love and miss), because envy is a nasty, horrible, destructive feeling that doesn't do anybody any good and just leaves you feeling ungrateful and whiny and unappreciative of the good things you have in your life. So, you search for joy, and you remind yourself that life is fleeting, and you try to hang on to those moments of bliss with all of your might. And, you try to live your life as an upbeat and optimistic person (with only the occasional full-on emotional meltdown in the grocery aisle at Fred Meyer), because the alternative is just too depressing.

And, once-in-a-while, you send your thoughts out into the blogosphere at 4:30 in the morning, because you just have to get it out, and because you're hoping that someone out there will read your words and will understand. Because then you're not really alone, afterall. Right?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

School Bus Trauma #2

Some of you may remember the original school bus trauma from about this time, last year. Thinking about it still makes me shudder. Well, if you can believe it, school bus trauma #2 beats that one, by a mile.

You know, you figure that when your second child heads off to kindergarten, things should go more smoothly than the first time around, when you were just a rookie, right?

Not this time.

Yesterday, I did my usual frantic afternoon routine, which consists of me flying out of my office, papers scattering everywhere, my desk a disaster, countless things left unfinished, the very second the clock reaches 3:30, so that I can make the wild trip all the way across town, cutting in and out of traffic, heart pounding, biting my nails at every red light, cursing the slow drivers in front of me, screeching to a halt at the bus stop, and leaping out of the car to stand by the curb, mere moments before the bus arrives with my little darlings aboard.

So, there I am, all excited to see my little guys. Off jumps Spencer. Big smile. Hugs. Kisses. I straighten up from all the loving, watching the other kids getting off the bus, eagerly anticipating seeing Foster's impish grin (and slightly terrified at what he may have done at school, since there's usually some sort of story involving kicking or pushing a classmate, sticking his tongue out at little girls, or saying "You're not the boss of me!" to the teacher or librarian or paraeducator, or ... wait for it ... the principal. Sigh). All the kids jump off, and I'm still standing there, staring stupidly at the bus driver.

"Are we missing one?" he says, jovially, as if it's the most casual question in the world to ask.

"Um, yeah. Foster. Little guy. Superman backpack."

The driver gets on the radio and makes an announcement:  "Foster, please come to the front of the bus!"


Spencer jumps back on the bus and says, "I'll get him, Mom!" I can see him going all the way to the back of the bus. And coming back. Alone.

"Where is he?" I ask the bus driver in a slightly shaky voice, attempting to remain calm.

"I'll call transportation and see what's going on."

He radios transportation, and I hear him talking to the dispatcher, announcing that we have a missing kindergartner. He gets off the radio and hands me a phone number.

"Go home and call this number. That's dispatch. They're radioing all the buses to see if Foster is on board. Don't worry, we'll find him."

Don't worry? Don't friggin' worry?!!! Are you KIDDING me? Have you not heard about kids disappearing? Have you not heard about the little 2nd grader who was last seen at his science fair and then never came home from school? Have you not heard about the local student whose body was just found floating in the bay? DON'T WORRY???!!!

I grabbed Spencer's hand and half-dragged him the 3 blocks home, drilling him for information the whole time.

"Was Fos in line with you? Did he get sent to the office? Did you see him go somewhere with somebody? Did he get off the bus at the wrong stop? He's your little brother! What happened to him?"

Poor Spence, completely shaken by my obvious panic, just kept saying, "It's not my fault, Mommy. I'm not in charge of him. I don't know where he went. I was with my friends. I don't know."

I called transportation dispatch, immediately, and the lady told me they were still looking into it. She put me on hold. I waited all of 3 minutes then hung up and called back. This time, I got a supervisor.

"My son is 5 years old. He's missing. He didn't get on the bus. Where is he?"

"We're looking for him, ma'am. Don't worry. Kids get on the wrong bus all the time. We'll find him and call you back."

There it was again. "Don't worry." As I envision my little boy either being driven away to Canada by some stranger who dangled candy or a kitten or a brightly wrapped present in front of him OR wandering lost and scared somewhere after getting off at the wrong bus stop OR being flattened by a speeding car as he attempts to find his way home...

Then the phone rang.

"We found him! He's on a bus going south around the lake. We'll drop him at his elementary school in about 45 minutes."

Then the tears started. Up until then, I had somehow been holding it together. Once I knew where he was, I completely lost it. Huddled on the kitchen floor with my arms wrapped around my legs, shaking and sobbing. My little boy was safe. Not kidnapped. Not lost. Not flattened by a speeding car. Safe.

I cried the entire 45 minutes.
I cried when I saw the school bus turning in to the parking lot.
I cried the second I saw him.
I'm crying right now, just writing about it.

Then I heard the story of how his teacher had told him that he'd be riding a different bus home, because transportation had changed buses for the afternoon pick-up. The teacher was just doing his job. But, all my little guy heard was "Different bus home". So, when the buses pulled up, instead of following his brother, my adventurous little Fos just picked a different bus and hopped on, happy as a clam. Then, when dispatch was calling around to all of the buses to find out where he was, Foster wouldn't answer. The driver thought he looked new, so she pulled over, went back to him, and asked him his name. He wouldn't answer. She asked him what grade he was in. He wouldn't answer. She asked him what school he went to. He wouldn't answer. Why, you may ask? Well, as he told me later, "You told me not to talk to strangers, Mommy." Thank goodness I wrote his name all over his backpack. That's how the driver figured out he was the missing child.

Motherhood is going to kill me. Seriously. Kill me.