Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It all started out rather lovely.

"They have a butterfly garden," she said, "The girls would like that, wouldn't they?" We agreed that they would, and made the plan; Hubby and I would make the hour drive on Saturday to meet my in-laws at a local botanical garden for an afternoon visit. We hadn't seen them in over a month, and it was time. Kids grow too fast.

A few days later we arrived at the gardens at about 3 PM, hours later than we had planned of course, and quickly unloaded our gear and our girls and headed on our way...first to meet up with the in-laws, then on to the butterfly portion of the gardens. Excitement was abundant.

The butterflies were graceful and beautiful...and mostly various shades of orange...dancing over our heads and landing once on Little...which she didn't much appreciate. Big spent the remaining amount of our time there chasing after the rest of them, trying to convince them that she, also, was a sufficient landing zone. Sadly, they didn't care. The rest of us watched and pointed and oooh'd and aaahhhhh'd with the masses as we walked around the swampy, humid indoor area, discovering that, really, humid does nothing for odors in a room full of people. Lovely. At one point we wandered upon a glass enclosed chest that was filled with various species of butterfly chrysalises, and even a few newly hatched butterflies waiting quite patiently to be released, and hit the jackpot. A volunteer approached at just that moment, allowing us to be there while she unlocked the glass doors and let the hatchlings fly out into the world for the very first time. It was beautiful, and the girls adored it...but 30 minutes of flying bugs was enough for them, and I concurred, so we moved on.

The outdoor area was lovely, and large. I couldn't even tell you how many varieties or even colors of plants there were to gaze upon. Big galloped a few yards in front of us, ever the independent one, while the rest of us hung back and mosied along in a more relaxed kind of way. Little, the luckiest of all, hung out in her stroller and allowed herself to be pushed along the path. No screaming, lots of smiles, pretty all started out rather lovely. At one point, about fifteen minutes into our stroll, we came upon an Asian themed area with a large golden temple-like building. There were stairs leading up to the building, and stairs on the other three sides leading down into various zen-like displays, some with still pools of water, some with flowers and benches, all very much right up Big's alley. So she ran and the rest of us sat and watched and just generally occupied ourselves while she burned off a little energy, you know, the usual. At some point, a few minutes into her routine, I joined her up on the building platform and sat on the steps while she showed me her very impressive physical abilities. I smiled, and then I noticed her pulling at the crotch area of her pants. "Potty," I thought, because I had seen this all before, and I figured that it was time to head back to the entrance, where the bathrooms were located. It was a fifteen minute walk from where we were, remember, and there was nary a port-a-potty to be seen amidst the dahlias and daisies. It was time to go. In what seems now more of a formality than an actual gesture of inquiry, I walked over to Big and, as I ushered her toward the steps of the building to head back to the path, I asked her "Do you need to go potty?" And of course she said no. She always says no, especially if, at the moment, she is entertained. I ushered her anyway...a mere three steps down...when all of a sudden she had a change of heart. "Yes, Mommy! Yes! I need to go potty!" she said, but it was already too late. "I'm going!" she said, as I cringed and quickly grabbed her under the arms and moved her off of the steps onto the grass, waiting for the streams to trickle down the insides of her legs and the puddle to appear beneath her...but there were no streams, and no puddle was forming. I was confused at first, thinking that maybe it was a false alarm and she could, indeed, hold it until we made it to the building, "Don't go!" I gasped, "Hold it! We'll go to the bathroom really quick!" I told her, but again she told me it was too late, she was already going...and suddenly the wind turned and blew in my direction, and it all made sense. Horrible, horrible sense. Dear Lord, it was a number two.

So there we were, at the far end of a public garden, a fifteen minute walk from any bathroom, more than an hour from home and Big had an obviously large, stinky poo hanging out in her underpants. "Hubby!" I yelled in a hushed tone, "Hubby, come here!!" and I think that by the look on my face he knew there was no time to mess around. He quickly ended the conversation with his parents and headed right over to my side, where I let him in on the secret. He cringed, and we began discussing our options. The best option, of course, was to make the trek back to the building, where I could take Big into the bathroom and clean her up...but as we stood there, commiserating, she got tired of watching us whisper and decided she was going to walk away from us, and that put an end to option number one. I wouldn't even call what she was doing "walking", it was more of an open-legged waddle at .01 miles per hour. Obviously uncomfortable, and gross, it was both horrible and hilarious at the same time. Clearly, we weren't going to make it more than ten feet from where we stood, so Hubby grabbed the diaper bag and the three of us headed up a little secluded path, which Hubby would later tell me was called a "serenity path"...oh the irony, to get down to business. A few minutes later it was anything but serene back there.

My portion of the clean-up was to take care of Big...Hubby's was to take care of the rest. At one point I looked up from my cleaning duties to find Hubby standing a few feet away from us, holding as little fabric between his thumb and forefinger as possible, staring at the dangling pair of soiled Littlest Pet Shop underpants with disgust and wonder. "It looks like a sling shot!" he declared, and at that point all composure flew out the window. It did. It looked like a puppy decorated, sparkly, white cotton poo sling shot, just dangling there between his fingers, as we stood out in the middle of a public garden...our little girl's dimpled bare buns exposed for the world to see...with the tour tram's speaker noise growing ever closer, threatening to expose our horrific, secret mission to the unsuspecting elderly who had climbed aboard expecting a G-rated botanical tour...and damn it, it was funny. So we laughed, gut busting laughter, for a good two minutes...and then we went back to work.

About a thousand wipies and a few minutes later, Big was all cleaned up, dressed in new clothes and happy as a clam, as she skipped, tra la la, back down the path to where my in-laws had seated themselves on a bench, with Little, while we went on our alternative adventure. Hubby and I, on the other hand, hung back behind the bushes for a few additional minutes, bathing our digits in copious amounts of anti-bacterial liquids, staring off into the distance in a sort of shell shock over what had just taken place. Only us, we thought, as we gathered our soiled belongings and made our way behind Big back down the path to rejoin our group...and it was then that it occurred to me. Something was missing. "What did you do with the poo?" I quietly asked Hubby, expecting that he would have placed it in the ziploc bag with the undies for us to discard in the nearest trash bin...but alas, I was holding the ziploc bag...and in it there were pants and terribly funky undies...but no poo. "Well," he began, "I needed a place to put the pants...and I didn't really think that we needed to pack up the turd and take it home with us, so..." I cringed, and prepared myself for the rest. "I tried to shake it out, but it wouldn't budge, so I grabbed a stick and impaled it, and it kind of made like, a poopcicle? So I took it and I tossed the whole thing over the rocks as far behind the bushes as I could get it." And I died a little bit inside.

"You left it there?!" I gasped...and he simply nodded. I mean I guess I could see his point...we did only have one ziploc bag...and the thought of packing an actual poo in with our daughter's clothes and taking it home with us was kind of horrible...and we were sort of out in nature, where many species had littered the ground with poo long before us...or so I told myself in order to alleviate some of the guilt I was feeling over the incident. If only we had packed some sort of orange flag, or warning sign in our bag as well, for the unsuspecting gardener who would soon be wondering how on Earth someone had smuggled a dog into the gardens. My sincerest apologies to that gardener...and to everyone who happens to travel that previously serene path in the next few days in general. Leave it to us to take a trip to a beautiful botanical garden and totally shit upon it...umm...literally. That's us...destroying the ecosystem one poopcicle at a time. Heaven help us.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The story of us.

I was married once before, when I was 25, and divorced three years later. It was a really ugly, unhappy period of time for me, nothing I enjoy looking back on. If it weren't for Big, I would say things like "I wish I had never...blah blah." but getting Big out of that relationship makes the fact that I went through all that I did OK, as long as in the end I got her. In fact, it was having her that finally gave me the courage to set out on my own, knowing that she deserved a better life than the one I could give her when I was married to her father. So in a sense, having her saved me too. My little blessing in baby's clothing, I am thankful for her each and every day.

So, on our way we went...Big and I. She was about nine months old and I was a first time as could be. If it weren't for the support of my friends and family I'm pretty certain we wouldn't have made it out on our own. But we did. In the nine months that we were on our own, we managed to grow together...happy and healthy and strong. She was a joy. And at the end of that nine months, I met Hubby.

I had dated before him, after my divorce, but meeting him was different than anything I had ever experienced before. For me, HE was different...good different...and though I didn't know it then, he was my one.

Totally gun-shy from a previous marriage that ended in divorce, he wasn't quite as sure about me as I was about him. I knew he was nervous, distant even, because of what he'd been through...not looking for any kind of anything solid, he put it out there for me from the beginning, and I was unsure...but he continued to pursue seeing me, and I allowed it to go on because I enjoyed my time with him and I figured that, if nothing else, I was having a good time dating. So we dated. For about two months. And then it happened (or I should say, and then she happened). Already falling for him and his brilliant blue eyes and witty wisecracks, I did that thing that mother's tell you never to do as a young woman, you know...that thing I knew better than to do. I gave myself to him. Once. And though I went into it with my eyes wide open, and it seemed as if nothing had really changed in the morning light, from that night on everything changed. A mere two weeks later we discovered that there were now four of us where there had previously been only three, and two lines where I had prayed so hard there would only be one. And I cried. And he panicked. And for a few minutes the world stopped spinning for us, while our heads began spinning with the realization of what we'd done, what we'd created so accidentally one night, and the fear over how our lives, still so separate, were going to change as that "thing we'd made together" grew between us for the next nine months. And then, as if nothing had changed, the world began spinning again and life went on. That was in May. By July we had fallen in love. It was truly the most preposterous thing, but it was the truth. Amid the pressure of an unplanned pregnancy, and the baggage we were each carrying from our previous failed marriages, and the social pressure surrounding us to make a "go" of something we weren't even sure existed...we fell head over heels, ass over tea kettle in love with one another. And that was it for us. From the very first time that he told me he loved me, I was his, and he was mine in an unwavering, absolutely no doubt kind of way. We were married the following New Year's Eve.

As my belly grew over the months, so did Hubby's relationship with Big. From the very minute that he met her, I knew he loved her. Following her around my house with a Dora doll as big as she was, trying everything he could think of to get her to speak to was almost painfully obvious to me that he was instantly smitten. Much to my relief, in no time at all, it was clear that she was equally taken with him, referring to him more often as "her prince" than by his name. She was soon informing me that she was making plans to marry him when she grew up, and I knew that she meant it. It was love in that "you're the best daddy-figure ever" kind of way, and just as it was with me, from that day forward she was his, and he hers in that same unwavering kind of way. As if by magic, there suddenly stood before me a family of three where, until recently, two very separate, broken families had stood. It was a miracle...undeniably God's plan for us..and we were thankful and happy. My heart was full for what seemed like the very first time in my whole life. Things went on that way for a few more months; snoring on the sofa on Sunday afternoons and sausage biscuit hugs on weekday was simple, and simply wonderful. And then along came Little.

Little was born on a very cold, dark January morning. A planned c-section, we arrived at the hospital very early on a Tuesday morning for our "appointment" and in no time at all, with fear in our hearts and tears in our eyes, Hubby and I together embraced our newest little girl. Prepared for surgery and a complicated hospital stay, but having no idea of the terrifying, twisted and yet wonderful path that lay ahead of us in the next year, we held and caressed our soft, beautiful baby girl. Ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes...and one tiny broken heart, Little fought her way into this world with a spirit previously unknown to me...strong and so fragile at the same time. So perfect and so vulnerable, Hubby and I loved her from the very moment we gazed upon her beautiful little face. That cold morning, before anyone else had a chance to lay eyes on our newest tiny member*, so very suddenly, we became a family of four.

And that's how we came to be us; Hubby and Big and Little and I. Aimlessly adrift in the sea of life, we found our way to one another and unexpectedly became one, the four of us together. Our family, my dream come true. That is the story of us.

*Excluding medical personnel, of course.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Definition of Amazing

18 months ago today my Little entered this world. Right from the get-go she came in kicking and screaming, letting everyone know that nothing was going to keep her down and no one was going to hold her back. Isn't that the truth. It's impossible to describe just how much I've learned from this little person who grew inside my body...coming into this world imperfect, fighting for her life from her very first breath, she's never wavered in her strength and determination. She is the definition of amazing.

Happy 18 Months to my strong, silly, smart, amazing Little girl. Mommy loves you and thanks you for just being you.

Moments background