Category Archives: motherhood

Hello, My Name Is Dark

Dark was a turning point in our quest to name our first child. Dark as in, Hello my name is Dark. In all fairness to the process, Oscar technically came before Dark, but the look on the grandparents’ faces when we unveiled Oscar forced us back to the drawing board.

When I was a little girl, I wanted to have a daughter named Samantha. Sam for short, like Sam from “Who’s The Boss.” By the time having a baby became a reality, I was into the letter E in a big way. It would be Elliott for a boy or Elsa for a girl, and not that I’m bragging or anything, but I picked Elsa long before the “Frozen” frenzy of 2014.

Alas, that first pregnancy didn’t stick. My Elliott or my Elsa weren’t meant to be.

I did two things after that loss. I got a dog and named him Harry. I also created a new list of baby names that made everyone pray I’d have a boy because who in their right mind would name a girl Agnes, Josephine, or Gertrude when you could name her Emma, Ava, or Sophia.

Worry not. My rainbow baby was a boy. I daydreamed about Henry, Asher, Levi, Booker, Paxton, and (the short-lived) Oscar, but grandparents are an opinionated bunch and spouses get a say, too (sigh), which led us to Dark, which was a dark time, indeed, because I had to reconcile that I married a man who wanted to name a baby Dark.

For obvious reasons, we 86’d Dark (and Oscar), and on an early morning walk with Harry and my cankles, we contemplated Dillon. Or Dillan. Or Dylan.

Dylan.

That was that. Years later, I met a boy named Declan and immediately had baby name regret, but it seemed unfair and potentially confusing to change Dylan’s name, considering how many monogrammed items we owned from Pottery Barn, so I left it alone. But, whenever I needed to speak in code around him—you know, when you want to talk about your young kids in front of them without them knowing you’re talking about them so you either have to spell stuff, which is exhausting, or pretend you’re talking about some other children—I referred to my first-born son as Declan. My second child, when speaking in code was required, was Rebel (never has a name so truly epitomized a child).

Rebel’s birth certificate reads Riley. Not girl Riley, thank you very much. This is a sore subject for my boy Riley. Anyhow, most of his friends call him Nutty. Me? I prefer Riley Pie. My Dylan will always be my Pickle, but tweens embarrass easily. His 10th birthday cake had icing that, per his request, read: “Happy Birthday, Sugar” because Sugar is Life.

So much for all the time and energy we spent picking names.

p.s. I finally got my baby girl (puppy)…

…and her name is Gertrude.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under motherhood, names

Lucky Seven

sevenfinal

I cleaned out the basement because we’re getting ready to remodel the space and finally put all of the kids’ endless piles of crappity-crap underground. I’m really excited about the renovation, and it’s not just because of the below-sea level relocation of said crappity-crap. It’s also because in addition to the extra family room and home office, I’m going to get a proper laundry room and storage area out of the makeover, which, let’s face it, is exactly the kind of improvement project a mom of ten plus years needs and wants.

While sorting through plastic bins filled with Christmas decorations, Halloween costumes, and birthday supplies, I stumbled upon a candle in the shape of the number seven. I bought it for Riley’s birthday party last year, but I ended up using classic, vertical candles instead. Riley’s going to be eight in a few months, which means I missed the chance to use the seven.

It gave me pause. I felt something.

It wasn’t that the seven was a big investment or that I forgot Riley’s 7th birthday (or Dylan’s a few years earlier). Hardly. Despite my pre-parenthood beliefs in small birthday celebrations (and limited screen time among other things), we’d done birthdays (and screen time among other things) big – huge! – year after year. Maybe it was that my kids’ seventh birthdays had come and gone.

I’m not nostalgic by nature. I tend to look ahead instead of back. Of course, I missed my squishy boys when they were little, but I didn’t yearn to go back in time to sleep deprivation, poop explosions, and mommy & me classes. Still, with the kids on the edge of adolescence and me on the brink of middle age, I wasn’t exactly pining for the future either.

I could’ve saved the candle for the kids’ 17th (gulp) birthdays or Gertie’s 7th birthday, Mike’s 47th birthday, my 47th birthday, our 17th wedding anniversary, or my parents’ 70th birthdays, which were mere days and weeks away, but I put it in the donation pile instead.

I didn’t want to accept the future any more than I wanted to acknowledge the past. I didn’t want to dream too big or too small. I wanted to have gratitude when the future brought me the things I hoped for and grace when it didn’t, but I wasn’t ready.

I didn’t want to plan anything beyond the snowy morning I spent in my suburban New Jersey basement in pajamas sorting through holiday paraphernalia, listening to my kids play with (and fight about) Legos, daydreaming about the domestic satisfaction of a front loading washing machine, and reflecting on a candle in the shape of the number seven.

What I felt was…lucky.

10 Comments

Filed under motherhood

How Big is Your Fear?

boxfeara

It was a big day. It was Dylan’s first day of early morning band practice at school, and it was my first day of work.

Did I mention I got a job? After a brief twenty-year hiatus, I’m putting my M.F.A. in Modern Dance and Choreography to good use as a part-time creative movement and beginning ballet teacher at my local YMCA. I’ve kept a low profile about it because I’m so freaking excited and happy to have the opportunity to do what I love (and get paid!), and I don’t want anything to jinx it.

“My stomach hurts.” Dylan’s first words upon waking up were ominous, but they didn’t scare me. When you have a kid with anxiety, unexplained stomachaches are a common occurrence. I know because I get them, too.

My gut told me he was worried about the band. Truth be told, I was a bit on edge, too. After eight years as a stay-at-home mom, it was scary to be accountable to anyone other than my kids. I had deadlines and responsibilities as a writer, but for the most part, I worked when, where, and how I wanted. Now, I’d be clocking in and out on a weekly basis.

I made breakfast and sent Dylan upstairs to get dressed. He slogged through all of it. He barely touched his food. “Are you afraid of going to band practice?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said. “A little bit.”

“I know you’re nervous, but I want you to go because you’re a talented drum player and I’m pretty sure you’re going to have a great time. If you’re tummy still hurts after the practice, go to the nurse and I’ll come get you, but I have a feeling you’ll feel much better once you get there and get settled. Trying new things is scary. I get it. I really do.”

He agreed but continued to trudge.

I went to my bedroom and into my closet to fetch a small, round, hand-painted wooden box that I used to hold hair pins. It was a gift from a choreographer back when I was in college. She gave a different box to each dancer backstage before our first performance. Mine was red with raised streaks and waves of black, white, and gray across the top. My name was painted on the inside of the lid.

It was the first time I performed at a venue that wasn’t on campus. Instead of the audience being filled with teachers, friends, and family, it was filled with teachers, friends, family, and complete strangers who paid actual money to see the show. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at once, and receiving that precious gift eased my nerves.

I told Dylan about the performance and the box and how scared I was to perform that night. Then I asked him, “How big is your fear?”

“Big,” he said.

“Show me with your hands.” He spread his hands wide like he held a beach ball in front of his chest.

“Put it in the box. Squish it so it will fit.” He looked at me like I was nuts, but he followed my directions.

Once his fear was safely in the box, I closed the lid. “It’s mine now. I’ll hold your fear so you can let it go. Go get your socks and shoes on.”

Still, he lumbered. We were going to be late if we didn’t get in the car in the next two minutes. I bent down to help him with his socks and that’s when he projectile vomited all over himself, the kitchen counter, the bar stools, the floor, and me. It even landed on the lenses of my glasses.

He was definitely nervous about band practice…and he also had the dreaded stomach bug. My big fear of vomit and even bigger fear of my kids getting sick on my first day of work came true. It was a good thing I unearthed that special little box. Hopefully there was enough room in it to hold my fear, too.

4 Comments

Filed under anxiety, fear, motherhood, Uncategorized, work