Brothers and Sisters OR The Bounce Zone (Gratitude – Day Nine)

Today, I am grateful for brothers and sisters. And the Bounce Zone. Both. Equally. Because "with their powers combined" (Captain Planet? Anyone? Anyone? Alrighty then.) those two things made for a happy and easy Friday morning for this mama. 

I grabbed a large coffee, a couple Groupon passes to the Bounce Zone and prepared for the worst. Why? Because our Bounce Zone experience in the past has included:

  • Weird Smells – Indoor play place for tiny humans. Need I say more?
  • Weird Air – Some of the equipment has previously been in questionable condition, so there are holes, and air from the compressor just pours out. Like weird subway air in the city.
  • Big Kids – I hate kids who are bigger than mine. Their parents don't watch them because they're all "my kids don't need me to supervise." Okay, maybe your kids don't need you, but I could use a little help when your kid is using my kids' heads as stepping stones to the top of the big slide. Yes, you with the iPhone, I am talking to you. Jerk.
  • Power Struggle – My kids rarely, if ever, leave the bounce zone nicely. And it's a loooong way to the parking lot. It is a miracle no one has called social services as I drag my kids out of their by their arms. Well…maybe not. They're too busy with their iPhones.

Also, T and A have been going through this phase where they are the stereotypical brother and sister. "Stop touching me. OW. Moooooommmmmm." Multiplied by a GAGILLION times every day. So today I was dreading the Bounce Zone visit, but I sort of thought about it out loud in front of the tiny humans and then I was stuck. I was prepared for the worst. Instead, it. Was. AWESOME.

It was as if they declared a ceasefire. For one moment in time – or, more accurately, 90 minutes in time – they ran around the bounce zone like BFFs. I think there was even hand holding. It was weird. And awesome. 

And as I sat in the middle of the Bounce Zone floor with my iPhone (don't judge me, there was no one else there so my kids were NOT bullying other kids) I thought to myself, "I am so happy they have each other. Otherwise, they might expect me to climb in that weird smelling slide, like last time."

So tonight I raise a glass to brothers and sisters and the Bounce Zone. We really desperately needed a morning like this morning. Cheers!

Attitude of Gratitude

A few people on my Facebook newsfeed have been posting things they are grateful for – one each day – in anticipation of Thanksgiving. It is a nice change from the constant political updates and seems appropriate in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to focus on the positive. Most of us are so lucky, and have so much, when compared with 90% of the world.

I have decided that instead of posting what I am grateful for on Facebook, I will write it down here. I am secretly hoping that it will help me write more often. But, because I am me, and I am busy, I am already a day behind. So today will be double-gratitude.

November 1: I am grateful for my sister. She and I are 11 months apart, and we have not always gotten along. Beginning in our teen years, we finally did get along. When we were in our early 20's she went through some things that were heartbreaking and sad and ugly and hard. On her. On our family. On all of us. And I thought for a long time I might never have a sister – not the way I wanted, not the way we talked about when we were teenagers.

And then she came back. And we accidentally (her) on purpose (me) had kids at the same time. Very recently, she met someone and it seems like it is going in a good direction. My fingers and my toes and everything in between are crossed hoping for this person to be her person. She deserves it, trust me. (And someday, I think maybe we will write a book about all the people who were not her person and why Internet dating – while often successful in the long run – can be so, so sketchy.)

So yesterday we went to Target with A to update a few necessary wardrobe items (yeah, we're fancy Target shoppers) and wander aimlessly up and down the aisles. It occurred to me afterward, "that was nice. I am glad we are able to do that. Because there was a time, once, when I thought we never would."

November 2: I am grateful for my dad. My dad is thoughtful in little ways that make a big difference. He realized recently that he spends a lot of one-on-one time with my nephew, and he has been spending some time with just A and I while the boys are at school, but he never spends any one-on-one time with T.

Today he took T out to breakfast, then to the fire station*, then to Target to pick out a toy. T had a great time, but I think the gesture meant way more to me than it did to him. It is never easy to balance things when you have multiple children or grandchildren, and because of complicated family dynamics things don't always feel like they are coming out even.

So today, I am grateful to my dad for realizing that and making an effort to get to know my kid better.

* The trip to the fire station, while fun as a standalone, was really to make up for my shortcomings as a mother. A few Fridays ago, a fire truck came to T's school and even though he doesn't go on Fridays I said I would bring him to school to see it. But first we had to run errands, and T and A threw a stage 5 tantrum in the checkout line at Target (seriously, a woman suggested that I go home and drink wine. It was 10:45 am.), and we were four minutes late. And the firemen were ten minutes early. Which meant that we missed the freaking firetruck. Worst. Mama. Ever.

More tomorrow. And the day after that. And so on until Thanksgiving. HOPEFULLY.

That Girl

Our first child was a boy. My husband felt that way all along, and I wasn't really sure. But when he was born, and we knew, it seemed right. "Of course we had a boy first. It's what I always wanted."

When I was pregnant the second time, I knew immediately that it was a girl. Maybe it's because I thought I could will that baby into being a girl or that I really believe in positive thinking and actualizing. Either way, when she was born and we knew, it was the same. "Of course she is a girl. It's what I always wanted."

But she was difficult, our girl. She came out screaming at us and it seemed like she didn't stop until she was nine months old. The only time she took a break was to nurse, or to cat nap in the Moby wrap on my shoulder.

Looking back I wonder if she knew she was a second child and decided she was going to get the same amount of cuddles and adoration that her brother – as an only child – had received before her. Smart girl. I can say confidently that I held her as much as, if not more than, I did her brother.

These days, they have switched it up on us. She is the easy one and he is the tough one. I anticipate this will be the first of several swaps as they grow up but I appreciate that so far they have the decency to balance each other out. I doubt they will be so kind to us in their teenage years.

For now, I am enjoying seeing my baby girl become a little lady. Every time she picks up a Barbie doll or wants to wear a Cinderella dress to the grocery store or demands three wardrobe changes before lunchtime, I think to myself "she is mine. She was meant to be mine."

I have never given much thought to nature vs. nurture, and both my kids had a pretty even balance of "girl", "boy", and "gender neutral" toys until they starting choosing for themselves. Now T's room is wall-to-wall action figures scattered all over the floor and under his covers while A's floor is littered with discarded clothing and accessories – hers and her dolls'.

I think these tiny humans are who they are. It is my job to help them and guide them, but I am loving who they appear to already be on their own. One of the great joys of being a mom thus far has been sitting back and watching them become the people they were meant to be.