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She’s Ready…Me…Not So Much

4 May

I am so overcome with emotion…it’s that kind of emotion that just washes over me and I can’t seem to right myself from it. We are moving Ava to a new preschool. Not because there is anything wrong with her current preschool, it’s just that we want her to go to one closer to home and hopefully with kids she will go on to kindergarten with. The preschool is attached to the elementary school we want her to attend. It all makes perfect sense…it’s all completely logical…I know I’m doing the right thing. She’s so excited about her new school. She’s been talking about it for two weeks straight, counting down the days and trying to figure out how she can bring her current school friends and teachers with her to her new school. Her first idea was to add four driver’s seats to the car for the teachers and then put her friends in the trunk. I love her. And as logical as it all is, it doesn’t remove the emotion from the situation.

She is absolutely ready for this change. But that’s Ava…she embraces change and sees it as an adventure to experience. As adults, change is frightening. We stick to what we know, what’s comfortable and what will cause the least amount of ripples in our lives. We do this because it’s easy. And the minute we decide to make a change, we begin to question it. At least I do. But alas, I know I’m doing the right thing.

The school newsletter arrives and Ms. Jennifer, her current teacher, talks about Ava leaving and how much she and the class will miss her and how everyone needs to come say goodbye. Thus begins my trail of tears.

This morning I showed up to drop Ava off at school and was greeted by one of her teachers, Ms. Mal, and she started talking about how much she is going to miss Ava and I got a little choked up and told her that I couldn’t talk about it or I would start crying. So she leaned down and started giving Ava hugs and kisses…I think having her talk to me would’ve been easier than watching her love on Ava. Because you see, she really does love my child.

After dropping Ava with Ms. Mal, I went to Ava’s classroom to drop off her lunch bag and sign her in and I see this big white envelope in her folder with her name on it. So I grab it thinking it’s artwork and such. I walk to my car feeling a little nostalgic and sad. I open the envelope to find books and stickers and a card from another teacher, Ms. Lupe, and what she wrote on the card just touched me and the waterworks started:

Ava Jane Caruso

A fabulous child, amazingly intelligent, sweet and lovable.

I will miss you. I truly wish the best of the best for you in life and I believe you will be a successful child wherever you go. You have been a child that has touched my heart with your kindness and all the fantastic qualities you have.

 – Ms. Lupe

This was her first school…her first school friends…where she first learned to write her name….and to share (sometimes better than others). These teachers dealt with her sweet ways and her (sometimes very) bad days. They kissed boo-boos and broke up fights. They put her in time out when she misbehaved and rewarded her with praise when she didn’t. They stood by day in and day out to encourage her to learn and to work through her frustration when she couldn’t quite grasp concepts. 

In short, they mothered her…when I was working and couldn’t, they stepped in and they did oh so well. I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

Goodbye to Stinky!

7 Dec

So Sunday marked a big day in our house. We had been preparing Ava for months that when she turned 4 she had to give up her pacifiers, which we call stinkies. The weeks leading up to Sunday Mike and I would both remind her that the day was fast approaching and she would say, “Mom, you don’t have to keep reminding me.” Almost like it hurt to think about it.

Sunday morning arrived and we hear her in her room waking up, so we both climb into bed with her to snuggle and she pops the stinky out of her mouth and hands it to me. I didn’t even have to ask. Now I know how this works…this moment of pride will be crushed at some point when she begs for it back, but at that moment I’m full of pride. She’s trying to be big and brave and do this four-year-old thing. So I take it and I feel the lump in my throat and my eyes sting. We walk around the house, check the cars and collect all the stinkies we can find…her much more enthusiastically than me.  

We had decided that we would send the pacifiers to Santa so he could deliver them to new babies on Christmas. So we made a beautiful envelope to put them in and she bravely put them all inside with a smile on her face. We dropped them in the mail and got ready for her birthday party.

That night at bedtime she was a little upset…she cried a little and said, “I don’t want my stinky mom…I just want something to suck on.” Her solution was maybe a lollipop…I may have given said lollipop to her. What? I felt bad and sad. But she did it…she went to sleep…until about 11pm when she woke up and it all finally came crashing down on her. She was inconsolable for almost an hour. So  much so that Mike came marching into her room with a pacifier and I chased him out saying, “No way dude!” It’s one hard week or waiting for her to decide at 42 she’s ready to give it up.

So last night was night #2…and she did awesome!!!! She didn’t ask for it…she didn’t wake up…all was quiet and this morning she was still so very proud of herself. For me…this was one of my hardest parenting moments. This marks the end of everything that made her a baby. The pacifier was the last link to babyhood. And while I’m really happy and proud of her for giving it up, I think my heart aches a little for my baby girl…I have to finally accept that she’s no longer a baby. Tomorrow she turns 4 and I just can’t believe how quickly it goes…I’m not ready for this.

Real Me…Really Hurt

22 Sep

Why is it that the things that hurt us most are the things that we are least likely to talk about? I hold alot in…well, let’s rephrase…I hold alot of hurt in. There’s this broken part of me that wants to be loved so much that I allow myself to be hurt by people who claim to love me, but leave me scratching my head going, “Really? That’s not love.” I know when I’m being hurt intentionally. And yet, I don’t say a word. I let it go and I pray. I pray alot. I pray for the strength to not let it hurt so much. I pray to be a more understanding and more compassionate. And I pray to one day say, “Enough.”  

I’ve been to therapy. Probably not enough of it. I will never understand the motive behind being hurtful just to be hurtful, so I tell myself that it has nothing to do with me. That this person’s anger and resentment and treatment has more to do with them than with me. A therapist told me the same thing. But it doesn’t make it hurt less. It only makes me feel less worthy. It’s a childs way of thinking when you think, “If only I did this better, you would love me more.” I know this isn’t true, so why can’t I stop myself from performing like a little puppet in a show?

I didn’t mean to get all hum drum tonight. It’s just that I’m hurt and I figure you guys read all about the happy days and I say “real” like four times in my tagline so here it is. Real me…really hurt. And now that I’ve said, “I’m hurt”, I can move on from it. I can go back to focusing on the things that make me happy. I can focus on my gorgeous little girl, my awesome husband and the wonderful people in my life, who when I extend my hand, they reach back and grab hold. To the circle of people that I love, thank you for loving me back with my faults, without question and without me having to perform my puppet show. Although, I put on a damn good puppet show if you’re interested! 🙂

No. You. Didn’t.

25 Jun

I think I’ve mentioned how much I hate watching the news. I may have also mentioned I can’t read any sad stories about kids without it eating away at me. I know I’ve mentioned how much I can’t stand racism. It really gets my blood boiling. Crimes against children are the number one stories that just send me over the edge. Racism is a close second.

Oh dear God…how do I even explain what has gotten me all riled up without calling attention to the person who did it. Because truly, I don’t want to attack her. I don’t know this woman, but she commented on another friend’s post on Facebook. The comment was a racial slur against the president, but more importantly against Muslims as a whole. Her profile picture shows her with a boy, I’m assuming to be her son. And I couldn’t help but be sad. As parents we push our beliefs onto our children…that’s the way it works. Just like I will push my belief on Ava to love a person for their soul. It makes me sad because this little boy will grow up with her beliefs and I know that’s HER right as a parent. But nonetheless, it makes shake my head that humanity is inhumane to fellow humans.

Racism is pure ignorance and arrogance. This is my belief. To judge a group of people based on one person is just plain ignorant. To believe your “group” is better is just plain arrogant. I have and always will associate with people from all walks of life. People of color, people of different religious beliefs, people with no religous beliefs, people who swear, people who don’t, people who spank their children, people who believe in time-outs…you see, they bring diversity and perspective to my world. They bring culture and honestly, damn good food. And we all know, I’m in it for the food. But really, even if they didn’t bring all of these things, I’d still enjoy their company because I’m not ignorant enough to believe that what makes up a person is what “group” they fit into. What makes up a person is their soul. And quite frankly, when you put up a racist comment you give me a glimpse of your soul and it’s not a soul I’d ever want to know.

I’m going to end with this quote:

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” – Haile Selassie

Pictures of You…

2 Jun

We all have them. These fears that creep up on us. For me it’s flying…I can’t explain why it terrifies me but it does. I’ll be fine until the plane actually starts going down the runway and then fear takes over and seizes every part of my body. I’ve actually fainted during takeoff. I wish I could explain why it scares me, but I can’t. Probably loss of control. Those fears I can live with and work through.

Tonight…I actually said my fear out loud. Two years ago I lost a dear friend in a motorcycle accident…a very dear friend. He was much too young to die and I was pissed. I was pissed because of how it happened and who it happened to, but unfortunately, God doesn’t just pick the bad people to die. He picks the good ones too…the ones who have served our country, a police officer and a son.

So tonight I was at his memorial, with friends and family and I was standing there next to his mom. And I don’t even know where it came from but I just blurted out to her, “You’re living my biggest fear. My biggest fear is that something will happen to my daughter and I just don’t know if I could ever come back from that.” You guys…I couldn’t believe I said that…for so many reasons. First of all, that’s not very supportive but sometimes I just don’t say the right thing…I say what I’m thinking…and unfortunately it was probably a reminder of what she’s faced with everyday. A life without her son. I just don’t think I could do it. Secondly, I couldn’t believe I said it out loud…for me…admitting a fear is like damning it to happen…which I know isn’t reality…things will happen whether we wish them away or wish them on…it’s the way of life.

But seriously…standing ther with his mom there were so many things I wish I could’ve said that would’ve let her know how sorry I am it happened….how heartbroken I still am….how much I think of him…that I dream about him and in my dreams we’re always trying to get through a crowd to each other but never quite make it. I always wish I could find the right words when people lose someone they love…but when a parent loses a child, I’m truly at a loss because that’s not the natural order of life. That is not the way it’s supposed to work. And so I never seem to know what to say…so I walked around most of the evening…avoiding the pictures that were sure to make me cry and praying I wouldn’t hear the song that just sends me over the edge…but wouldn’t you know…it came on during my drive home.

So tonight…kiss your babies one more time and tell the people you love, how much you love them because you really never know when it might be the last chance you get.

Mother’s Day

10 May

I really wanted to post this yesterday but I was so busy relaxing I didn’t get around to it. I’m not a big fan of Mother’s Day…not in the traditional sense. I think it’s a commercialized holiday much like Valentine’s Day. I’m not saying that it’s not nice to be appreciated or reminded by your child or your spouse that you’re an awesome mama. That part is really nice. The days leading up to Mother’s Day, Mike kept asking me, “What do you want for Mother’s Day?” My response was always the same, “I don’t want anything.” He grew more and more frustrated because he just wanted to do something nice for me. So I finally tell him, I just want to go to breakfast at my favorite place.

So Mother’s Day morning, I wake up and for the first time in a long time, Ava is not in bed with us. I act like it drives me crazy that she sneaks into our room every night but of all mornings for her not to sneak in, it’s Mother’s Day morning and I was kind of bummed. She FINALLY wakes up and comes in our room and she gives me the cutest little thing she made at school for me and there was a poem that went with it. But really, it’s her face as she’s giving these things to me that gets me. She’s looking at me so expectantly, waiting to see if I like what she did…those big blue eyes and the smile she’s waiting to crack as soon as I say, “Oh Ava, I LOVE IT!” I have the sweetest child in the world. I really do. I have never met a 3-year-old who is so concerned, compassionate, affectionate and kind.

This was my best Mother’s Day so far. It may have had something to do with the fact that my amazing husband took me to breakfast, then went to Costco, Trader Joe’s and Albertsons armed with a list of all the things we needed to cook an amazing dinner. It may have had something to do with the fact that Ava fought Mike to pick out the flowers she wanted to buy for me, even though he knew I liked stargazer lillies best. She was adamant that the bouquet she wanted was the one he had to buy and she won. It may have had something to do with the fact that I got to go to Target all by myself for 2 hours and just roam the store. It may have had something to do with the fact that both Mike and Ava napped and I enjoyed a quiet house. It may have had something to do with the fact that my parents came over and had a wonderful dinner with us. It may have had something to do with the fact that Ava asked me frequently, “Mom, are you having a nice Mother’s Day?”

But the truth is, my other Mother’s Days didn’t quite go so easily. My first Mother’s Day was, and always will be a bittersweet memory. It was the last time I saw my grandmother alive. And so I’m always reminded of that, but I do relish in the fact that my first Mother’s Day was spent with someone I loved so much and someone who saw me being a mommy for the first time and told me what a great mommy I was. And my second Mother’s Day, well, I dropped Ava on her head. Really, it wasn’t my fault directly. But she was in the stroller and was leaning over watching the wheels, because this is very interesting stuff at 2, and she faceplanted onto the sidewalk. Mike yelled, “Janice – What the f*#k were you thinking?” I may have forgot to strap her into the stroller. Ava’s screaming, I’m crying and I yelled at him that he ruined my Mother’s Day. I know that he just reacted and was concerned but it still hurt my feelings.

So yes, this year, was the best Mother’s Day I’ve had yet. I look at my daughter and I see the little person she is becoming and I realize, I’ve had a hand in that. All of the wonderful things I admire about her and love about her, is in part because of something Mike and I are doing right. So I guess for me, Mother’s Day is a reflection. It’s looking at her and knowing, I can’t be doing it wrong if she’s turning out so right. I’m truly blessed and baby, if I haven’t said it yet, thank you. Thank you for making this Mother’s Day uncommercialized. For doing the little things just giving me some time to relax!


28 Apr

Oh how I wish that I still had Ava’s innocence sometimes. The innocence that truly believes a kiss and a bandaid fixes all things that hurt. She hasn’t experienced heartbreak yet or the loss of a loved one. Tonight we are going to funeral viewing for a dear friend’s father, who died unexpectedly. And viewings for me are really hard. It always reminds me of when my grandmother died 3 years ago. It brings back the emotion, the sense of loss that I feel and the memories of how hard that time was for me. It also brings back good memories but thinking of her always lands me in the same thought: She’s no longer here. I don’t get to call her and brag about how smart and beautiful my little girl is. I don’t get to call her and listen to her just talk, as she did SO WELL! I don’t get to call her and ask what the hell kind of plants I won’t kill. I could go on and on about the things I don’t get to talk to her about or all of the things I loved about her or how much I miss her, but that won’t serve any purpose. Instead I choose to see the silver lining…the relationship I’ve built with my grandfather. You see…my grandma did ALL the talking and I do mean ALL the talking.

Apparently when my grandma died, my grandpa had no idea I actually loved him as much as I did. I think he felt like all I ever thought he was good for was fixing the go-cart I’d rammed into a tree or soaping down the driveway so I could get a good slick-kart track going. And I can say, he was definitely good at those things, but he was like this foundation in the background of my life…always there…always level…always strong. And since grandma did all the talking, he just listened. My whole life he just listened. Now…truth be told on the days before her funeral and the day of her funeral I was so sad. Like walking through Wal-Mart lost and crying sad. And now that I think back, I’m pretty sure I was so sad for him. I couldn’t imagine loving someone as much as those two loved each other and then losing them. So while I miss my grandma more than I can find words for, I’m grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to do for my gramps what he always did for me…just listen.

I guess all this viewing stuff got me thinking about her and him and how hard it was and still can be at times. I don’t envy my friend. If losing my grams was this hard, I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose my pops.

P.S. I love you dad!


21 Nov

It’s the time of year to reflect on the things we are thankful for. I wish Thanksgiving happened more than once a year as I believe we need to remember to be thankful all the time. I’m thankful for so many things this year but perhaps what I’m most thankful for was my first Mother’s Day.

I spent my first Mother’s Day in Missouri visiting my grandmother. It was the last time I saw her alive and I think it was the best Mother’s Day any mother could have asked for. I was so proud to show her Ava and to show her what kind of mother I am. I know she was proud of me as well. It will always be a bittersweet memory for me. It was a trip filled with lots of laughs, love and as I said goodbye, tears as I knew it was the last time I’d see her alive. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her but I constantly try to remind myself of how thankful I am to have been blessed with 27 wonderful years with her as my grandmother. There’s a lot of memories there that I will forever be grateful for.

So during this Thanksgiving remember to tell the people you love just how much you love them. As someone recently said to me, “Cherish every minute because you never know when those minutes might change.”

To all of our wonderful friends and family, thank you for being part of our lives! We love you and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!