Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Day, Sick Day

Eli's been longing for a good snowstorm.  We've had a few light snows, but nothing a kid can really do something with.  Like make a snowman, or even a respectable snowball.

Wednesday night and into yesterday, we finally got a not totally lame snowstorm.  Not exactly the big dump we've been hoping for, but enough to get out and play in for a bit.

Eli helped Brad shovel the walk.

And when the walk was shoveled, he began shoveling the grass.  I never knew the snow near the curb belonged on the front lawn, but apparently it does.

It was a great morning for him.

Followed by a not so great afternoon.

Eli woke early yesterday not feeling well.  I took his temperature and it was 99 degrees.  I emailed his teacher to tell her he wouldn't be at school; gave him some children's ibuprofen; tucked him into bed in our room, a huge treat; texted our nanny to tell her she didn't need to come today if she was worried about contracting the plague; then took to the Internet to figure out what to do with our sick kid.

All of this at 5:30 in the morning.

What I learned, friends, is what you probably thought when you read "99 degrees."  Yes, I was totally overreacting.  But in my defense, I have no clue; I'm a rookie here.  I even found an online forum where other moms were totally mocking a mom who posted the question of "should I keep my child home from school if he has a 99 degree temperature?"  Ouch.

Well, our fearless nanny came anyway, undeterred by the plague, the ibuprofen made Eli feel tons better (see photos, above), and he wanted to go to school.  So I emailed the teacher again to tell her he'd be there, and received a very sweet (but somewhat chuckling, I think) email back from her, saying she was happy he'd be at school.

Fast-forward to mid-afternoon, the school calls and he is indeed sick.  And crying.  I was in the middle of a call with a client; I paused to answer my cell and then began furiously texting the nanny to go back and get him.  I was grateful that I was able to get a hold of her, and she quickly went to Eli's school and brought him home, but I hated that our child was sick and it was not me helping him.

The wave of working mommy guilt pulled me under momentarily, but then reality popped me back up to the surface and I returned to the call with my client.  Because that's my life.  I enjoy what I do, but I work because I have to.  A circumstance with which I'm sure many of you can relate.

And to go further into that will have to wait for another day.

Because we again have a sick child today, sacked out on the couch in his PJs.  And as soon as Brad's done with his conference call I need to go to work.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Don't Judge Anything for Six Months

This advice I read a number of times while preparing to bring Eli home, from several sources:  Don't judge anything for six months.  It takes time for everyone to settle in, for attachment to begin to take solid hold.

I nodded my head each time I read that advice, thinking "yes, yes, this makes sense."

And then we came home with Eli and I realized that not judging things is simply not a part of my make-up.  And you know what?  It's not a part of Eli's, either.  We've both been watching and studying each other, drawing conclusions.  Impatiently evaluating each other and our relationship.

He and I have struggled through this attachment dance, stepping on each other's feet, missing our musical cues.  We would've been the first pair voted off DWTS, we were that out of synch with each other.  For sure.

It wasn't for lack of trying, and it's not that either one of us are intrinsically terrible dancers.  From my standpoint, I was trying to dance with an extremely reluctant partner.  From Eli's standpoint, I had cut in when he wasn't yet finished with his original partner.

And not only did I cut in before their song was over in Eli's mind, but I danced weird.  I didn't dance like his original partner, I was unfamiliar with the moves they'd developed together during his first three years of life.  I was just . . . not her.

But now?  We've found our rythm.  We needed time to find the dance that is all our own, one that is uniquely "us."

So I think, at least for me, what I should've been telling myself these past months was "don't despair for at least six months" or "don't concede defeat for at least six months" or "hang in there, it gets better."  Because there were times during the past six months that I thought this child would never even like me, let alone love me.

It's hard to see photos of others newly home, whose kids are smiling brightly with their arms clasped around their mothers--oozing love and togetherness from every pore--and not judge yourself against what you see in those photos. For me, I would elevate "hard" to impossible.

But Eli and I had an epic dance party last night.  (For reals, ditching the metaphor here.)

We danced and danced to his new favorite song (you got ta move it, move it).  When I thought we were done, he came to find me while I was brushing my teeth and said "dagen, mommy" (again, mommy), so we danced some more.  With the song on repeat, we danced until we were both out of breath, laughing hysterically.

And when I caught him and kissed his sweaty head goodnight, he didn't flinch.  Well, not much anyway.

We've been home now for almost six months and things look so different here than in the early days.  When I look back at the photos of Eli from last fall, I see tension in him that's no longer there.  His badass composure has been replaced with softness and joy.  He looks younger now than he did in photos taken six months ago, probably because he's finally free to be a kid.

To any parent struggling with attachment, don't give up.  Hang in there.  Keep dancing, even if you're dancing alone.

I don't think there's anything magical about six months, but that's how long it took us.  Now we're dancing together, and it's a beautiful thing.

And I pray our song lasts forever.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Time to Cowboy Up, Mom and Dad

The National Western Stock Show is a big deal in Denver.  It begins with a parade through downtown, and more than 600,000 people attend over the two-plus week period it's in town.

But ask someone from Denver, particularly someone who's lived here their entire lives, and chances are they didn't go.  I suppose that means the attendance figures represent a lot of-out-town people, bringing their out-of-town money to Denver, and I'm all good with that.

Brad and I planned to take Eli to the Stock Show this year.  We were excited for him to experience it all, see the animals up close, and attend his first rodeo.

And Brad's from a true rodeo family.  His cousin Wayne was a PRCA world bareback champion, and is in the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.

Brad himself is at home among true cowboys.

And I rarely pass an opportunity to wear my cowboy boots.

Then things got busy.

You know how it goes, after a few very full weekends all you want are two blank squares in a row on your calendar.  So we told ourselves "next year" would be better for Eli.  We talked about the crowds and convinced ourselves he wasn't quite ready for the Stock Show chaos.

A few days before the Stock Show ended, Eli came home from school and announced he wanted to go to the rodeo.  Apparently, a friend of his at school had gone and now Eli was all excited about it.

So we went.

Eli wore his cowboy hat and cowboy boots.

Eli always talks about how he wants to drive a pick-up truck when he's older; a purple pick-up truck.  He got behind the wheel of a big one, and realized he's got some years to go before he'll reach the pedals.

This one, as you can see, was white.  No purple pick-ups on display this year.
He got in a little hunting.

No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post.
He "rode" some farm equipment.

And Brad explained to him how each piece of equipment worked and what it was used for.

And, at least for that day, Eli wanted to be a farmer.  Or at least ride farm equipment for real.

Then it was time for the Rodeo.

And a little cotton candy.

At the end of the show, four generations of bareback bronc horses were brought into the arena one by one.

Such beautiful horses.

It was a great day.

And I'm glad our five year old made us realize that our feeling overscheduled was no reason to skip the Stock Show and rodeo.

Sometimes you just gotta cowboy up and go out and make some memories.