Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Santa, Could You Fit That Living Room Set in My Stocking?

So, David and I feel that it's our responsibility as parents to try to raise our girls with faith and some solid core values.  We thought we were doing a decent enough job for this stage in the child-rearing game:  taking SK to mass, saying Grace before meals and prayers before bed, discussing some basics of God and Jesus, etc. here and there.  We thought, okay, we're on the right track.  We're raising these girls the way we should.

But if our little foray into holiday preparations is telling me anything, we're failing miserably. 

Two little scenarios have occurred recently to make me think that we need to up the ante on the whole reason-for-the-Christmas-season conversations with our dear Saoirse.  The first clue was when, last week, Saoirse and I were eating lunch while paging through a new holiday catalog that had arrived that day.  At one point, Saoirse gestured at the catalog and asked me if "Santa Claus lives in there."  Whoo, boy, I thought.  Thaaat's not good.  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  And he lives in Pottery Barn Kids.

Strike two occurred a few days later.  We asked Saoirse if she could name baby Jesus' mother.   Now, we've been over this a billion times, so I smiled proudly in anticipation, waiting for Saoirse's answer.  Do you know what she said?  "Gram."  Gram?!  Are you kidding me?  I mean, my mom is definitely a good person and all, but "Gram??"  Maybe she was taking this whole Jesus-is-our-brother thing a little too literally.  I dunno.

So that's going to be our mission this month: to try to redirect the focus from the getting (oh, but it's so much fun to shop!) to the reflecting.  As excited as I am for that magical moment Christmas morning when Saoirse first sees that Santa Claus has, indeed, come all the way from Pottery Barn to visit our house, and as manic as I've been the last few days shopping online for toys and books and all the fun goodies parents get to give their young children, Saoirse's been a good reminder that I need to rein in the buybuybuy impulse and focus on the peace/charity/love aspect of the holiday.  So I'll try to stay away from toysrus.com (and Land of Nod and Pottery Barn and Amazon...oh, this is gonna be hard).  And we made sure to finally get an advent calendar, which is currently winging its way to our house.  Hopefully this will help redirect our focus.  I'm putting the nativity scene front and center in the living room this year, and hopefully, by Christmas Eve, Saoirse will have remembered that, in fact, Mary is the mother of God.  I'll just have to make sure to keep all pictures of Gram on the other side of the room for awhile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How Pumpkin Pie Makes Me Miss My Dad

Today was the third Thanksgiving we've had without my father.  Pancreatic cancer took him from us about two and a half years ago, and even though we've celebrated--celebrated?--a significant number of holidays without him now, they each pass the same exact way.  We go through the motions of greeting relatives we haven't seen in a few months, commenting on how much the kids have grown, trying to grab something to eat while keeping account of one child and feeding another, laughing and drinking and thankful that our daughters have so many cousins who love them.  But the whole time, it feels like I'm choking down a lump in my throat.  Like when I was a kid and about to barf, and I felt like I could keep it down if I just sort of closed my throat.  I ignore the feeling, and it sort of passes, sort of, until I can shove it so far away it's simply hovering over my shoulder like a ghost.  But inevitably, later that evening, on the ride home in the dark car, or in a silent bedroom as I try to sleep, that ghost turns around to face me.  I can't choke back the lump anymore, and I'm hit with the grief that's been following me around all day.

What's funny is that at these family get-togethers, I barely even spoke to my father that much.  He'd sit down in front of a game, or I'd be so busy talking with other people I didn't see as often that we didn't interact that much.  But he was there.  He'd gesture with his plate, advise me to try a particular kind of dessert.  At the end of the day, he'd be beside my mom, ready to go home together.  He was the Ferguson who'd given us all our last name.  It was a family gathering, and he was my family.

But now he's gone.  I realized something strange after my dad died.  When you lose somebody you love this much, you expect to miss that person.  That's obvious.  But what I didn't anticipate was how much I was going to miss how life used to be, if that makes sense.  I wasn't prepared for routines to change.  Traditions to alter.  I don't know why I wasn't prepared for it, but I'm still not quite over the shock of it.  Dad is supposed to be there, beside my mom, eating Thanksgiving family with her mother and siblings.  Dad is supposed to shake David's hand before we leave, give me a big bear hug.  He's supposed to stand next to my brother, shoulder-to-shoulder as we say our greetings or farewells.  And I wonder, confused:  why isn't he here to see how big Saoirse has grown?  He last saw her when she was just two months old.  I want to see that gleam in his eyes when people say how much Quinn looks like him.  On these days, at these functions, I feel like I'm moving around him, around the hole where he should be.  It's like, he's not there, of course, because he's dead.  But his absence is very much present.  And there's no way to avoid stepping into a hole that big.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Organized Chaos

Earlier this afternoon, as that magical silence known as Both Kids Napping at the Same Time fell over the house, I stood shock-still in the middle of my living room, wondering what I should do next.  I thought about my three-foot-long to-do list and took a long look around me at the debris left over from Hurricane Children.  I stood a little while longer, then turned on my heel and made a run for our bed.  I pulled those cool sheets over my head like I was trying to block out the noise of all the responsibilities hollering at me to pay attention to them.  I just didn't want to deal with them.  I couldn't face the laundry baskets full of folded clothes that needed to be put away.  Didn't really want to investigate if that vague smell of pee I noticed in the family room was of child or animal origin.  And I was cowed by the balls of dog hair that were starting to drift across our hardwood floors like tumbleweeds in an old western movie.  If I were a child, I'd have thrown myself on the floor, given it my best tantrum and screamed "I don't wanna!  I don't WWWWAAAANNNAA!"  But I'm not two.  I'm a grown woman.  So I crawled into bed instead.

Anybody in my immediate family would tell you that I'm not exactly an organized person by nature.  Don't get me wrong:  I enjoy a tidy home.  I like to think I live in a clean house (don't worry--the pee smell was because the cat had just used the litter box).  But it ain't easy.  I'm someone who has to make a concerted effort to put her shoes back in the closet at the end of a day.  I'd happily let the mail pile up if I could just so I didn't have to sort the bills from the junk mail.  Earlier this week, I had to give myself a motivational speech just to empty the dishwasher ("C'mon, Leah, you can do it!  Just think how of good you'll feel after it's all finished!").  I can be neat, and usually our house is on the tidy side, but the consistency of staying neat is a daily--hourly--struggle for me.  

I've been doing pretty well with it, though.  I've gotten into a rhythm of routine.  I know to program the washing machine to start a load of clothes the next morning so I can pop them right into the dryer when I wake up.  I see the necessity of washing the dishes after every daytime meal so we're not faced with a sink full of yuck after dinner.  I do a clean-up sweep of the house during afternoon naps and again, with David's help, after the kids are in bed at night to make sure the house stays tidy.  Sounds pretty easy, right?  But the thing is, every single hour of my day has to stay assigned like that in order for me to stay on top of it, and that's working around breastfeeding every two hours, mealtimes, snacktimes, potty breaks for Daughter the Elder and diaper changes for Daughter the Younger.  But I can do it.  If the girls and I stayed inside all day and no one ever pooped her pants, an organized life would be cake.  

But when you throw into the mix shopping trips, playdates, My Gymmusic class, exploding diapers, unexpected bathroom breaks (ever have exactly one hour to get to the grocery store and back before your baby needs nursed and your toddler needs lunch, and as you're walking out the door hear, "Mommy, I have to poop."? Yeah, like that), a sick dog who messed himself and needs a bath, thank-you notes that need to be written for baptism gifts, etc., you miss a step (okay, more like 10) in the routine.  It's gotten so I rarely check my email or make a phone call anymore because I haven't the time to spare.  If I miss one single step in the routine, it seems like I'm instantly surrounded by piles of toys, hampers full of dirty laundry and mail and newspapers piled up on the dining room table.  I feel like one of those meteorologists on The Weather Channel during a tropical storm--you know, the ones who'll walk into the wind to show how strong it is (gotta love the dear fools, don't you?  I've always wondered how much they're paid for stunts like that), but not really get anywhere.  It's like I'm constantly, constantly tidying up the same spot, vacuuming the same carpet, just to do it all over again in the blink of a tired eye.  

Anyone reading this who works full-time while raising a family probably wants to bop me over the head at this point (eh, who am I kidding?  This blog has, like, two readers.  Hi, Mom!).  And it's true:  I will not even begin to assume what the struggles are of a parent who juggles work and family.  For those of us battling it out solely on the homefront, there's a certain bit of shame that comes along with these feelings of being overwhelmed simply because this is all we do.  My friend Molly said to me once that she often wonders, I'm a stay-at-home mom.  So why am I stressed out all the time?  But as another friend, Susannah, put it one time, it's because staying at home pretty much means that you're always doing some form of cleaning up.  David does a ton of stuff around this house when he's home.  He's our chief executive officer of bathroom cleaning, and with yardwork and all the laundry and dishes (we certainly have a lot of both, for some reason), it's not like he's sitting there on his cute rear end while I'm scrubbing the floor around his feet.  But I'm the one "at home," so of course most of the responsibilities fall to me.  And just like how, on some days during my paycheck-earning life, I'd rather surf gofugyourself.com (oh, how I love pop culture and all it's zaniness!) during a break rather than edit a paper, some days when I can catch a 20-minute break I'd rather zone out with a cup of coffee and the latest stupid vampire book (seriously.  I started reading the Sookie Stackhouse series because that's all the depth my literature-deprived brain can handle, and it's sucked me in.  Hahahaha.  Get it?!  Sucked in?) than fold yet another pile of underwear and socks.  Even if that means that I'll be folding it at 9:30 that night instead of finding out with what creature Sookie's flirting this time.

Oh, my.  It's like life is a car in "drive," and I'm hanging onto the door handle from the outside, just trying to keep up and not get run over (that actually happened to me once, when I was 16.  The car ended up hitting the basketball hoop in our driveway.  Left a giant dent in the rear bumper that I avoided telling my dad about for years.)  And right now, as one daughter wakes and another starts to fuss for her boob juice, I'll sign off, full-well knowing that I'm nowhere near closer to getting control of my house, or for that matter, my life.  Besides, I'm starting to get attached to the dog hair tumbleweeds.  I don't think they'd fit into the vacuum cleaner anymore, anyway.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Cranky McWhinesalot Strikes Again (Yep, I'm Talking about Me)

What a day.  I don't get kids--even if they have half my DNA.  I used to joke that there's not much of a difference between toddlers and the teenagers I used to teach:  they're moody.  One minute they need you, and the next they're telling you to go to hell (well, SK hasn't learned to say that exactly, thank goodness, but we definitely get the drift now and then...).  They cry on a dime, and occasionally scream for absolutely no reason.  They slam doors.  And just when you think that you're about to lose your sanity--that tense moment where you honestly wonder who came in and swapped your child out for her evil twin--all of a sudden the tension melts.  Evil twin leaves, and your little doll is back.  She gives you a big kiss on the cheek and a hug around the knee, and the next thing you know you're dancing around the living room together, giggling over a funny move.  So, what is it?  Growing pains?  A struggle to assert their individuality?  Or just lack of sleep and disgust that we're having pb & j again for lunch?

I'm going to keep this short tonight.  I think I'm wiped out.  I told David the other night that the part that upsets me the most when SK acts up is that she's such an amazing, sweet, good-natured little girl.  I mean, to say we're blessed with our daughters is like saying that indoor plumbing was a great invention--isn't it obvious?  But there's the rub.  When she does act up, it's almost like I want her to hurry up and get it out of her system already so she can get back to being the "good" girl and we can continue our happy little life.  Isn't that rotten of me?  That's so unfair to expect of a child, and thank goodness I don't verbalize any of that, 'cause I could really put some pressure on the wee person.   When I really think about it, I wonder that it must be awfully hard to be two and have such little control over your life.  So I guess that she does have a right to pitch a fit now and again, whether she's two or 32 (I'm kind of pitching mine right now, aren't I?).  On the upside, at least this is good prep work for the teenager years.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

10 Reasons Why Raising Small Kids is Good for Your Ego

Most of my mom friends are, like me, just starting their families.  Our oldest children are around 2 1/2 or 3 years old, so we're still in the shock of how quickly we change--physically and otherwise--in these early years of baby-making.  For instance, even if you lose the baby weight and knock yourself back into shape, you won't recognize the body pregnancy and delivery left behind.  You realize one day that your butt's not where it used to be.  All of the clothes you were so anxious to get back into don't fit quite the same anymore.  If you had a c-section, you might have that lovely little "shelf" that sometimes parks itself permanently above your scar.  And if you're breastfeeding, you can pretty much forget about wearing any kind of cute little top or dress until your baby is weaned (and if you totally disagree with this last statement, please tell me where you shop...).  Nursing bras and spaghetti straps aren't exactly an attractive combo.  Alas, even if I could wear something out of this month's Vogue, it'd just end up smeared with baby barf anyway.  

But feeling good about ourselves all the time isn't why we became moms, right?  Well, at least those of us without nannies and personal trainers, anyway.  So before I really start sounding like a Cranky McWhinesalot, I thought I'd share some of the ways this child-raising gig can be a boost for your ego.  Not that that's what one's goal is when she starts a family ("Hey!  Man, these dark circles under my eyes are gonna make me feel so good about myself!"), but sometimes having a little one around is just what you need to make you feel just a wee bit more, well, how you felt about yourself before you had kids in the first place.  So, here goes:

10 Reasons Why Raising Small Kids is Good for Your Ego

1.  Even your tiny baby thinks you're a rock star/zen master.  I'm thinking about the squeal and happy dance Saoirse used to do in the morning that had me and David racing into her room in the morning.  Or the way a fussy Quinn will calm down the instant she's in my arms.  

2.  The arms-wrapped-around-your-leg hug that only someone waist-high can give you.  

3.  Impromptu displays of adoration.  Months ago, Saoirse was looking at a picture of herself that's on our fridge.  She sort of backed up from the photo, paused, tilted her head, and said, "Oh, mom.  I love mom."  Cue melting of heart into a big ol' puddle on the floor.

4.  Unabashed glee over your presence.  I remember doing it myself when my dad came home in the evenings:  when they run to the door to greet you after you've been away, arms outstretched, jumping up for a hug.  Man, if more spouses greeted each other like that there'd probably be fewer divorces in the world.

5.  When they validate your choices for them.  We're pretty big on trying to feed our girls organic food at home (all bets are off, though, when Saoirse spots a Chik-Fil-A.  sigh.).  I made the mistake of grocery shopping one day while massively hungry and picked up these pretzel stick things that looked good at the time.  When I unpacked them at home, I saw that the ingredient list was longer than this posting ("Honey Butter with some natural flavor!"), but gave them to Saoirse anyway because I didn't want to waste the food.  She took one bite of them, screwed up her face at their chemical-y-ness, and said "Yuck.  These have a yucky taste."  Then she asked for a yogurt.  Score 1 for the hippie momma.

6.  They appreciate your "talents."  I've taken to drawing a little picture on Saoirse's chalkboard easel for her to see in the morning.  Today she walked over to it and said, "Oh, this is pretty!"  Granted, she immediately slammed an eraser into it and dissolved my masterpiece into chalk dust, but still.  She called it pretty.
7.  They like the way you smell.  Sometimes so much so they insist on wearing your deodorant.

8.  It's amazing to hear them use a word they only could have learned from you.  Saoirse will say "procrastinating."  Usually it's in the context, "No, I'm not procra-tin-ting!" as she's running out her room to avoid naptime, but at least she knows what it means, right?  

(Even cooler than your kid speaking words you taught her?  How 'bout a toddler who can sing the entire Notre Dame victory march?  Go Irish!)

9.  The first time your child says "please" or "thank you" to a stranger without your prompting, thereby proving that you're actually doing a pretty solid job to raise an upstanding member of society.  A couple of months ago, my mom and I were shopping for a gift and took the girls to a jewelry store.  While I was talking with the salesperson, I heard SK start calling, "Church!  Church!" and we all looked around, wondering if she'd seen a priest, or heard a song, or possibly been possessed.  Then we saw her point to a jewelry case--it was a display of cross necklaces, which she associated, of course, with church.  Hallelujah!  Momma's doing something right!

10.  Finally, their excitement over the little stuff you do for them.  Saoirse walked by me and let out a whoop as I was making lunch today:  "Brown raisins?!  Yay, MOMMY!"  She made my day. 

I'm fully aware that not one item on my list has anything to do with appearance, or clothing, or flat butts.  You know that's the moral of my story, right?  We look fine.  Our stretch marks are battle scars.  Our unwashed hair is just our way of conserving water.  We won't always be wearing sweatpants and stretched-out band t-shirts.  Maybe we should just start seeing ourselves through our children's eyes, because I think these little ones are onto something.  They think we're beautiful and smart and funny, and love us simply for being who we are.  Especially when we give them raisins for lunch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Attention Whiplash

Saoirse decided to spit out a taco onto our dining room floor this evening.  Wait, that's not right.  She didn't so much spit it out as lean over her chair, open her mouth, and let the entire half-chewed black-bean-tortilla-and-cheese contents fall out onto the rug.  Appetizing, right?  Wait, it gets better:  as soon as it happened, I launched into the standard reprimand/discipline routine that was clearly ineffective, because the instant she had my attention, she grabbed a big gulp of milk, looked at me with that defiant look only a child knows how to give, and let it all gush out of her mouth, down her chin and onto her shirt.  And then she asked for a cookie.  It was one of those priceless moments that makes me think that sometimes my life would make an awesome reality show.  Seriously.  I'd call it TrainWreckTV.  But you want to know why she did?  Have you guessed already?  Yep, that's right:  we were paying too much attention to her little sister.  And by paying too much attention, I mean we spent all of 30 seconds (okay, maybe 45) encouraging Quinn to coo to us.  

Before Quinn was born, I spent a solid three months freaking out about introducing another child into the happy little dynamic created by our relationship with Saoirse.  Here was this dear child who was an absolute joy to be around, and I was convinced that we'd be scarring her for life by giving her a little sibling.  I worried that we were hands-down the cruelest parents to have ever existed.  That we were turning her world upside down and would have to pay for years and years of intensive psychotherapy before she could ever come to grips with the change.  My friends said that they felt the same way, too, when they were pregnant with their second children.  My husband, David, told me that I just needed to relax.  And my retired neighbors looked at me like I was some new-agey, wishy-washy, emoting nutjob (which I was, but that's beside the point).  But I was really quite scared.  Saoirse was such an amazing kid, and we had such a solid, bonded mother-and-child relationship working that I didn't want to mess it up.  I didn't want to lose her trust.

Well, enter the Mighty Quinn.  Within six seconds of Saoirse walking into the hospital room after I'd given birth, I knew that trust had gone the way of my waistline.  She was angry with me.  She was confused--that was made obvious when she backed out of the room like a dump truck out of a construction zone, eyes wide, head shaking in denial, the instant she saw me lying in the hospital bed and spotted Quinn in the basinet.  I'd gone ahead and screwed up our happy little family.  I knew it.  My friends, my mom, had all told me that once Quinn was born I'd see that all my months of worrying were silly, hormonal.  That I'd be overcome with emotion seeing the two together and realize we'd given Saoirse the best gift a girl could get.  Well, dear readers, they lied.

Here's the deal.  I am so madly head over heels in momma love with my little Quinn.  She's more talkative than Saoirse was at this age, but also a lot calmer.  She wakes up cooing for attention, giggles at shadows and will crane her neck to watch any of us enter or leave a room.  And Saoirse has proven to be an especially attentive sister.  She's the one who tells me to try burping Quinn if she's fussy.  She'll dab at Quinn's chin to wipe away spit-up, and happily give me a running commentary on the color, content and consistency of baby poop.  She's precious.  But what has been even more difficult than I'd anticipated in the throes of my hormonal worrying is splitting my attention between the two girls.  I know already that Quinn's not getting enough one-on-one attention from me during the day because I'm so worried about the effect it'll have on Saoirse--or the effect on my mental health when Saoirse starts acting out in response (see abovementioned taco-barfing).  I find that if I spend x amount of time cooing at Quinn, I make darned sure that the next instant I'm giving Saoirse a hug, or singing with her or promising to take her outside to play.  It's driving me crazy.  I'm so hyperaware of my actions--and their potential ramifications on my little daughters' psyches that I'm getting what I call attention whiplash:  whipping my head back and forth so quickly between the two of them I look like a cartoon character in a chase that can't decide if he should jump off the cliff or get run over by the tank.

I sound neurotic.  I know I do.  I think I'm just a little grouchy that I can't spend as much quality time with Saoirse as I'd like, and that I can't just sit down with Quinn for a good chunk of time to make all those funny noises and goofy expressions that make her laugh so hard without making someone else jealous.  Does every parent struggle with this with some point, or do I just need to lighten the heck up and get over it already?  And if I freak out this much over just two children, what will happen to my fragile, eggshell-thin composure if we have more?  I guess we should find that therapist now...for me.  

Right now I'm trying to balance it as best I can.  Amid all the laundry and cleaning, errands and mommy-and-me classes, I'm trying to just spend some one-on-one time during the day with Saoirse while Quinn naps, and then goof around with Quinn (I admit, I still tend to keep my voice down lest Saoirse hear me paying such loud attention to her sis.  I can't help it.  We have thin walls.) during Saoirse's afternoon siesta.  Dave tries to do the same when he's home, but at least I'm there to hang out with the other child while he does some daddy-daughter bonding.  It's hard, though.  Especially when you see your children as such individual, special little creatures.  You just kind of want to soak them up as much as you can.  I don't want to miss out on any detail of their growing-up (except maybe those first few days of potty training.  That's just kind of a slapstick nightmare of tears, stinky laundry and upholstery cleaner), because I'm already realizing how quickly these girls are growing up and out of my arms.  I know that what I'm really trying to do is make them feel secure in my love for them.  And I realize that I don't need to break my neck in order for these girls to grow up confident and appreciated.  But as I scrub avocado out of my dining room rug, it's sometimes kind of hard to believe it.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Begin the Begin (thanks, R.E.M.)

I just had a conversation with a friend about her plugged milk duct.  That's right, the one in her boob.  At one point, the conversation veered dangerously close to an actual competition about who'd had more plugged ducts in her breastfeeding experience, who's was more painful and who used the best technique to work them out (feel free to cringe at that thought).  I'm shaking my head as I type this, because I know it's ridiculous.  War veterans compare wounds and battle stories.  Religious missionaries in foreign lands swap their experiences.  But nursing moms going nose-to-nose (or should I say bosom-to-bosom?) in lactating warfare?  Now, that's something I never could have anticipated.

But the thing is, as parents--and as stay-at-home moms, at that--it's what we know.  It's who we are.  What's unexpected is how quickly the change happens--how rapidly our identities became wrapped up in the families we create.  I still feel like I'm only now getting my balance back after being knocked into this whirlwind two and a half years ago.  That's when we had our first daughter, Saoirse (it's pronounced "SEER-sha."  Yes, I know it's different.)  Two months into my maternity leave, I added stay-at-home parent to my resume (I know, I can't actually put that on a resume, but danged if my time management and multitasking skills haven't skyrocketed into awesomeness since I had my girls).  All of a sudden, I was wearing Converse and sweats more than stilettos and skirts.  I put my gym membership on hold:  no more daily kick-boxing classes for me because I spend most of my days weight-lifting car seats and diaper bags.  Instead of in-depth conversations with my 10th grade students--psychoanalyzing the characters' motives in The Lord of the Flies, say--I was listening to friends discuss the latest parenting magazine and recommending online coupon codes.  

The biggest shock of all?  I was wearing yoga pants.  To the mall.  Without having actually done yoga first.  Oh, I am not proud.  

I sometimes feel like I barely remember what that girl (okay, woman.  I'll admit I'm not in my 20s anymore...) was like.  The one who spent so many nights and weekends grading papers and writing lesson plans.  The one who'd stop by happy hour for a Guinness with friends on her way home on Fridays, or grab tickets to a concert with her husband without having to worry if I had enough breastmilk stocked in the freezer.  The girl who never, ever could have anticipated being someone who laughed out loud at a joke told by a two-year-old.  Someone who just happily spent an evening hanging out in the "fort" part of a backyard swingset.  Someone who works like a clown for her three-month-old just to get her to do that lopsided, dimpled smile that melts my heart.  That's why I'm starting this blog.  Because sometimes I feel like I need to reconcile the girl I think I am with the mom I've become.  That even though, even as I wake up every day to two kids yakking away to themselves in their rooms and am fully aware of the blessing of being able to be at home, sometimes I'd rather poke out my eye than empty one more load of dishes, or pre-treat another load of laundry (which is currently sitting in a pile on the couch, waiting to be folded as I type this).  And I worry:  what will our children think of this set-up once they've grown?  Will they be grateful to have had a parent who was home full-time?  Or will they wonder why we bothered trying to raise them to be as strong, as powerful, as ambitious as men when their own mother played a traditional family role?  Socrates should have tackled that one in his spare time.

And since the best way for me to work out my thoughts is to write, I'll write.  Not in crayon.  Not in ColorWonder markers (those things are awesome, by the way.  Right?  I'd hate to see what our family room carpet would look like without them...).  But here.  Because I'm sure there's someone out there who struggles with the same issues I do--all the while wielding a spatula in one hand and baby wipes in the other--while totally realizing how darned lucky she is in the first place.  When I was pregnant with Saoirse (her sister is named Quinlan--we call her Quinn.  Because when you name the first child Saoirse, you can't exactly call the next one Jane.), people were always telling me that old cliche--that I'd never remember what life was like before we had kids.  But those people were so wrong.  You do remember what life was like before you had kids--the thing is, you just don't understand how anything ever mattered.  At least not as much as the  little creatures who call you "Mom" or "Daddy" (or in Quinn's case, "Phbhbhbagoo!").  Just remind me of this the next time I get a plugged duct.