These are the things no one tells you

These are the things no one tells you about getting divorced:

You may find yourself a year later, sitting alone in your living room with the lights turned low, watching a bloody-dirty-messy Game of Thrones marathon, crying.

You won’t be on some amazing date, rock climbing then wine tasting. You won’t be out shaking your ass to the bass, flirting and doing shots and dancing with boys like when you were 25. You won’t be having 50 kinds of dirty sex. At least for this one night, you will be sitting on the couch under a heavy blanket, wiping tears onto your tank top.

Not because you’re sad – because you are in fact incredibly happy.

Not because you’re lonely – because you are in fact surrounded by so much love and laughter and friendship, more than you’ve ever felt before.

Not because you are scared – because you are a warrior and you have embraced all the amazing possibilities of choosing your own life and molding it in your own vision.

But, just, because, you are now only YOU. And you are used to being half of us/them/they/that.

Maybe you have felt a new love, and it has not worked out smoothly, perfectly, like the movies, like your plans. Maybe this love has already torn your heart apart.

Maybe you have not found any love yet, and you fear it will never arrive.

Maybe you are alone in a house that is all yours, with a night and a tomorrow and a next week and a next year that is ALL YOURS, and every decision is all yours – and you aren’t sure what to do with all that powerful YOU.

But I believe, I believe so hard and so strong and with so much force that YOU are enough. You are the most, the best, the goal. You are the very thing that led you here to this place on this night with these tears, and YOU will be the thing that grows wings and soars.

Perhaps no one has ever told you this secret. Perhaps you are just discovering it this very minute, on this very couch, crying these very tears: YOU are the reason.

Isn’t this a relief? You are why.

When Jed was about 4 he started asking about my comparative love of things. “Mom, what do you love more, apples or strawberries? Mom, who do you love more, grandma or grandpa? Mom, who do you love more, me or dad?” One night at bedtime, he asked, “Mom, who do you love more, me or you?” I answered honestly. “I love me first, Jed, then you are right after that.” Tears welled up in his eyes. “Take it back mom! Say it again! You love me first!” I tried to explain that everyone has to love themselves with the first-most-best love, because the love we put into ourselves makes more love to give to everyone else. “Do you understand that, Jed?” “NO!!!!! Say it again the right way!” He was almost sobbing at this point. So I said that yes, indeed, I loved him first and most and kissed him goodnight. He tested me over and over again, “Mom, who do you love more, me or you?” “Do you understand yet?” I’d ask him? “No.” So I’d say, “You Jed, I love you most.” Just recently, two years into our love game, he asked me again. “Hey, mom, who do you love more, me or you?” I looked over, and saw a tiny bit of a smirk forming at his mouth, saw a tiny glimmer of knowledge in his eyes. “Do you understand yet?” I asked. “No, well, a little bit, but say it the way I like you to say it,” he replied. I smiled, happy to know that he will learn this lesson early in life. “I love us both the same,” I replied. “That’s good enough for now,” said Jed.

Brownies for Breakfast

Lindsay Horvath is a 36 year old stay-at-home-mom. She writes, photographs, mothers and drinks her way through each day. If you want to know more, she blogs at horvathhappenings.wordpress.com.

 

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In my life of social media, I tend to stay away from other people’s tragedies, in particularly other people’s tragedies that involve children.  Not because I don’t care, or I’m not interested.  But because I just…can’t.  There is this huge vat of raw fear that lives in every mom’s soul, the fear of something happening to their child or children, and that fear can manifest itself in many ways.  Seeing your child’s life flash before your eyes as a car whizzes by a little too close in a parking lot.  Tripping on the stairs while carrying a newborn and envisioning her toppling over the railing and smashing to smithereens on the tile.  Hearing a news story about a freak accident and–just for a moment–imagining what it must be like to be that child’s mother.
But of course, you push this fear into a neat little box and place it up on a high shelf, always in view but out of the way, because if we did not do this, it would surely eat us alive.  We would lose the thing that makes life so great, the joy we get from every day things, if we were to constantly worry about the endless possibilities of death, accidents, illnesses, predators, anaphalyctic allergic reactions, brain aneurisms, fires, floods, drownings and car accidents.
But once in awhile I allow myself to be pulled in to someone else’s tragedy.  There are a few “sick baby” pages on Facebook that I follow.  One is Prayers for Baby Alex…a little boy who was in the NICU with Nola.  Another is about a baby named Ethan belonging to a friend of a friend who was born with a rare spinal tumor and (ironically, as I’m realizing now) was just released from the hospital today.  And another story is about a little girl named Chloe who was the same age as Gabe.
Chloe, the daughter of a friend from my “mom board” was killed in a car accident on December 22, 2014.  Her mother talked about, after her death, how that morning they had had brownies for breakfast, just because.  Some of her friends suggested that they, too, would give their children brownies for breakfast on February 18, which would have been Chloe’s 7th birthday.  A page was born, Brownies for Breakfast, and it grew from a few friends of friends to a massive 28,000.
28,000 people, kids.  Let that sink in for a moment.
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And the purpose of this exercise in life was so simple, so deep, and so important.  Stop, for just a few minutes.  Stop working, stop worrying, stop correcting, stop chastising, stop cleaning, put down the phone.  Take a minute to enjoy the tiny things that are really the biggest things in the world.
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This kid loves to help in the kitchen, but oh my goodness is she a mess.  Most of the time when she “helps”, there is a lot of parental assistance.  Today, for a change, I decided to let her do it all.  And I do mean everything.  And when we were done, we licked the spoon (okay, bowl), ate our brownies of uneven consistency and let the rest cool for the other half of our family.  I can’t tell you how incredibly happy this made my sassy girl, who always wants to “do it myself!” and who also has a serious weakness for sweets.
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And of course, the flip side.  The moment of remembering Chloe, and thinking of her mom, who I wouldn’t know from Adam but who I know how she feels in her heart, just a smidge.  Just a tiny inkling, because I am a mom too, and her Chloe is my Gabe, and my Stella.  And a minute of gratitude, because while her kid is no longer here, mine are.
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So thank you, Chloe, for the reminder.  For me and the 28,000 other people who took time from our busy, busy worlds to stop and enjoy a moment, remember what we have, and say a little prayer of peace for your family.  To remind us to take that box down and dust it off, for within the fear of what if also lies the great, immense joy that comes in the simplest of forms, things that are so often pushed aside because there just isn’t isn’t time.  Its the epitome of being unable to see the forest for the trees.
And so: Brownies for Breakfast.  Literally and figuratively.  Happy birthday, Chloe.
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#browniesforbreakfast

A couple of weeks ago,  you may have seen an event we shared on our Facebook page called “Brownies for Breakfast.” This beautiful event was created by the mother of a 6-year-old girl named Chloe who was tragically killed in a car accident this past December. On the morning of her untimely death, Chloe asked for brownies for breakfast and her mother obliged, for no other reason than to make her daughter happy.

The event asked that you take some time today, February 18th, on what would have been Chloe’s 7th birthday and really enjoy your time with your kids. Whether you actually have brownies for breakfast, or you enjoy a special outing together, or simply take a moment to really savor your time with your kids, today was supposed to be a day of honoring Chloe’s memory and being grateful. It’s such a heart-wrenching and touching story that the event quickly swelled from the small group of women in the FB mothers’ group where the idea was hatched to well over 28 THOUSAND people from all over the world.

I was really moved by the idea of this event. I couldn’t wait to shower my children with love and affection. To be super patient and thoughtful and engaged. To really, truly reflect on how amazing it is to have these two unique, brilliant people in my life.

But guys… it was a really hard day.

Last night, I dug the box of brownies out of the cabinet and took a deep breath. It’s been a long winter. I’ve blogged about it already and on top of all the snow days, yesterday marked the end of their four-day Presidents’ Day weekend. It’s been tough on all of us.

Lucas had done nothing but give me an incredibly difficult time since the moment he got home from my parents’ house last night (the kids had spent Monday night at my parents’ house). They got home pretty late and he wanted to play Xbox, but it was too late for Xbox, but he didn’t want to hear that. So then, because he was pissed at me, he took it out on his sister and was mean and nasty to her. At bedtime, he bitched and moaned the whole time. Too hot. Too thirsty. Too many blankets. He cried because he wants Jack in bed with him. He cried because Jack jumped out of the bed. He wanted me to snuggle with him and I did, but not enough, or not the right way. He can’t sleep. He cried more. He literally spewed gibberish while crying interspersed with “You hate me! I’m horrible! No one likes me!” (<– This part is a phase. At least that’s what I’m telling myself… because it’s just the worst.) I was up and down the stairs for nearly two hours trying to get him to settle. Nothing was working until finally I just told him to get in my bed, and somehow, miraculously, that worked.

All the while I was mixing and baking those brownies.

I used them as a focus point – kind of like meditation. Tomorrow will be different. I told myself that. I’ll be more engaged. The kids will see that. They’ll respond to it. It’ll be a beautiful day.

It was an auspicious start. Quinn came in to my bed early. Sweet breath on my face. Tiny, soft hand caressing my arm. We whispered and snuggled and giggled.

But then I had to pee. And she WOULD NOT get off of me. I tried being polite. Cajoling. Pleading. Finally, I had to pry her arms off my neck so I could get out of bed to take a piss. She cried.

And when I was done peeing, I had to drag a sleepy, extremely grumpy Lucas out of bed so he could start getting ready for school. He cried.

The brownies were met with a lukewarm reception. I took the picture of them eating (Lucas wouldn’t even look at the camera because he was too grumpy). I posted on FB about savoring the moment.

And I did, but the whole point of Full Blown Bunny is to be honest, and the truth is, that moment was fleeting. We had to rush through breakfast because we were running late, there was yelling about finding shoes and lack of cooperation in getting coats on and backpacks ready, and both kids ended up late anyway.

I spent the bulk of my day cleaning my house. Tidying up my physical space in an attempt to tidy up my mental space. It was really bugging me that I couldn’t seem to make this “savor the moment” thing work. I vowed to make a better attempt once the kids got out of school.

I picked Lucas up first and then Quinn and then we took a trip to the car wash. My red car has looked white as of late due to all the salt and other crap on the roads. I know the kids both love the car wash and I figured it would be a fun start to the afternoon.

But as soon as we got home, Lucas once again seemed bound and determined to test my resolve. Getting him to finish his homework was an absolute nightmare. Without going into too much detail (mostly because I don’t even know if I could tell you) at one point I ended up carrying him upstairs and locking him in his room because his tantrum was so out of control.

Sigh.

I took them out to dinner anyway. I was determined to make it a special day, goddammit.

We went to our favorite restaurant, I left my phone in the car, and I really did my best to just focus on them.

They ordered their favorite meals. Lucas ate everything. Quinn barely touched hers. I decided not to care.

We ordered “make your own s’mores” for dessert. The kids had a blast lighting the marshmallows on fire. Lucas ate four s’mores. Quinn didn’t eat any… just melted half a dozen marshmallows. At one point Lucas grinned at me and said, “I don’t care if I get messy, Mama, cuz that’s just what you do with s’mores, right?” He was right.

We got home after their bedtime. We had a quick Skype date with my sister because today also happens to be my niece’s 8th birthday. We sang.

Then it was bathtime and I didn’t rush them through it even though we were way past bedtime at this point. We sang songs and watched YouTube videos. They brushed their teeth while watching Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” (Lucas’s newest obsession).

They’ve been asleep about 45 minutes now.

I realized it’s less about making the whole day special because with kids as unpredictable as they are, it’s nearly impossible to do without difficulty.

What this day and every should be about is seeing the perfection and being grateful in those little moments, even if they are squeezed into an otherwise exhausting and difficult day.

The little girl curled in my arms this morning. The little boy with marshmallow and chocolate all over his face.  They’re what #browniesforbreakfast is all about.

Snow Big Deal (To YOU Maybe!)

Southerners are crazy when it snows. We know.

We freak out and talk about nothing else for the days preceding, and, almost invariably, the actual “event” is nothing compared to the inches and inches of snow we’d been anticipating. But that’s cool. Cause we’ve stocked our fridges with milk and our pantries with bread. No, we don’t know why we do that, but we do.

We bundle the kids up in whatever ski/snow gear we dig up, or just layers of jeans and sweatshirts, with plastic bags over their cotton mittens and sneakers. Yes, legit, I’ve had it done to me and I’ve done it to my kids.

We take more pictures of snow in 24 hours than people north of the Mason-Dixon take of snow all winter. We take pictures as the first flakes fall, progressive photos of the snow building on the deck, before the kids mess up the pristine yard, while the kids are playing, once they come in with pink cheeks, while they drink hot chocolate…and on and on.

We don’t own ice scrapers so we clear the snow and ice off our cars with spatulas, brooms, our hands. And don’t get me started on what happens once we get those cars on the road. You’d think we’d never driven in snow before!

Well, now that you mention it…there’s a good chance we haven’t more than a few times in our lives at most. It’s not like we get practice. Plus, everything shuts down at the first snowflake, so usually even if it does snow we don’t have need of going out.

And on that topic, I know it seems silly how quickly we close up shop and batten down the hatches, but that is a result of the infrequency of snow too. There are towns near me that don’t even OWN road clearing equipment. It’s just not used enough to make it a wise financial investment.

So, yeah, we got some snow and ice this week. And you’d think we all lost our damn minds. Sorry, not sorry. I LOVE snow. It’s pretty, and the cold air smells so crisp, and snow cream, and snow angels, and hot chocolate…and, of course I probably wouldn’t like it if we got as much as y’all do up north where you can shovel snow in your sleep and drive through a blizzard with one arm tied behind your back…but we don’t, so indulge us while we get all giddy and stock up on groceries we don’t need.

Oh, honey, this must be your first snow storm. Bless your heart. You forgot the wine!

Oh, honey, this must be your first snow storm. Bless your heart. You forgot the wine!

second child syndrome

Today was Quinn’s kindergarten assessment.

One of my first posts on this blog was about Lucas’s assessment a couple of years ago. I wasn’t nervous at all about whether Lucas was going to be ready for school. We’d been doing letter identification flashcards with him since he was 18 months. We watched a ton of Sesame Street and Super Why! and other educational television programs and DVDs. We were constantly pointing out letters and shapes and numbers on street signs and in our house. He was interested in this kind of thing from the time he could make us aware of it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we drilled him on his alphabet and numbers, but it was certainly something we went over a lot. We had the time and energy, and we were lucky enough to have a kid who loved this kind of thing.

Quinn suffered from “second child syndrome” from the moment I got pregnant with her.

When I was pregnant with Lucas, I kept a Bump Book. It was a week-by-week diary of my pregnancy that included a space for a picture of my growing belly each week along with questions about how I was feeling and what was going on in the world. I diligently filled that thing out. I posed for that belly picture each and every week. I kept track of how much weight I gained, and all my appointments, and wrote little love letters to my unborn baby about my life and how things were going. I’m so glad I have it. It’s such a lovely reminder of an exciting time in my life.

When I was pregnant with Quinn,  I bought the same exact book. I filled out the first two pages. Maybe. And I don’t think I even included the pictures.

When Lucas was born, I practiced my own version of attachment parenting. If I was doing chores, he was in the Moby sweetly snuggled against my chest. I breast-fed on demand and pumped for months once I returned to work. He was in a bassinet next to my bed until he simply grew too big for it. I didn’t do CIO… in fact, I didn’t really let him cry all that much at all. If he was fussy, I held him, because I could and because it worked. I have hundreds, if not thousands of pictures of him during his first months starting with the pictures of his birth all covered in vernix and goop.

When Quinn was born, I practiced what one of my dear friends termed “the art of gentle neglect.” I had a 20-month old son running around. I couldn’t hold Quinn in the Moby all the time because that meant I couldn’t run after and grab Lucas if he was getting into something. I still breast-fed on demand, but I didn’t pump at all and forced Quinn to transition to the bottle without any kind of adjustment period once I returned to work (At this point, I’d like to thank and publicly apologize to my best friend for being the one who babysat for me at this time… sorry ’bout that.) If Quinn cried and I was busy changing or feeding or bathing Lucas, I let her cry. I had no choice. I knew crying wasn’t going to kill her so I would let her cry while I finished up whatever it was I was doing and then I’d manage her needs. I have very few pictures of her in her first months… and if I do, they’re pictures of both my kids. In fact, the very first picture I took of her wasn’t until she was a few days old.

When Quinn was old enough to start being interested in things like letters and numbers, I just didn’t have the energy or the time anymore. I had Lucas. I was working full time. I was going to school full time. I was going through my divorce. Plus, she didn’t really show any interest like Lucas did. Where Lucas was dazzled by educational programming, Quinn simply didn’t give a shit. The few times when I did try and do flashcards or point letters out to her, she couldn’t care less. She’s always been an outgoing and vivacious kid, and is clearly very bright, but when it came right down to focusing on school-related stuff, it just wasn’t her thing. And frankly, I wasn’t all that worried.

At Lucas’s assessment, and once he started kindergarten, I realized that our school system doesn’t really expect kids to know all that much going in. If they do, that’s fantastic, but they don’t HAVE to.

I knew walking in today that Quinn knows all of her shapes and colors, a few of her letters, can write her name, and can draw a pretty mean self-portrait. I figured, while she probably wouldn’t rock the assessment like Lucas did, once she actually started school, she’d pick it all up really fast.

You know what my girl did? She completely kicked ass. She knows her letters, guys. ALL of them. Uppercase and lowercase. AND their sounds. And all her numbers, shapes, and colors. Plus, the teacher commented that she has the neatest handwriting she’s ever seen and that her self-portrait was delightful.

Furthermore, where Lucas was shy and needed to be coaxed to cooperate at his assessment, Quinn was bold and brave and confident from the moment we walked in.

Holy. Shit.

I have never been so completely proud of her.

That’s my girl.