Fall Memories

Today I’ve been hit by wave after wave of muted memories. Scents and feelings and visuals all played a part in bringing forth things I’d long stowed away at the back of my mind.

Memories of a sweater bought by  my dad. It was large and colorful in the rusty hues of fall. It was during our beginning of school shopping that he got me this monstrosity of fall colors to wear on the weekends when the winds were chilly and the skies overcast.

The wind blowing against my face as I took my walk at lunch brought back visions of our yard strewn with leaves and cloudy skies hanging above me. There was a storm, once. I was much too little to remember the big details but I remember standing outside, surveying the damage.

Pumpkins and baking and visits from Grandma and Grandpa for Thanksgiving all played across my mind. Trips out to my great-grandmother’s home where she would can jams and preserves in the warmth of her golden and copper colored kitchen. The tastes of cinnamon and cloves dancing on my tongue as she hugged me goodbye against her cushioned bosom,

So many memories of the years I’ve lived, switching from summer to fall, from shorts to pants, from sandals to tennis shoes and warm socks. To the dying hum of the fans and air conditioners and the crackles and pops of the lit fireplace.

Soon I felt dizzy, my mind and body swirling with the memories coursing through. Some were only partially formed in my mind while my senses took over, reliving that moment, those feelings. I could taste and feel the memories more than I could see them. The crisp winds, the sprinkle of rain on my face, the fresh grass beneath my feet on a soccer field. The slicing of a knife through the thick skin of a pumpkin and the hours spent drawing in our warm living room with the fire burning and my dad playing the guitar.

Then I remembered fall when my son was a baby. The walks we took on chilly mornings, bundled in blankets and hands and gloves. The pumpkin patches we visited and the carvings we made in the tiny kitchen of our first apartment.

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I remember rain puddles and his little boots that looked like frogs with oogly eyes. Cold mornings with his tiny toes tucked under my legs. The way the sunlight changed in fall to more of a golden honey and the way the air smelled so fresh and clean in those foggy mornings when we walked together.

My memories are so wide and varied from my own younger years to my son’s that it’s tough not to stray down that path and relive them. The path lined with changing leaves and hot cocoa. Shorter days and glorious sunsets. Crisp apple cider and hearty stews.

I welcome fall and all the changes and good memories it brings.

Born Angry

Can a human be born angry?

This is the question I’m asking a lot these days.

Our son is having quite a tough transition lately from his private school to his public school. From his single mother household to his newly married mom and step-dad. And issues we’ve dealt with in the past with his anger and tantrums are raising their ugly head.

I remember the doctor’s appointment in which I confided with his pediatrician that his tantrums were more than I could handle. That he had been removed from a daycare due to his rage over taking a nap. And at the time he was only 20 months old.

Through his doctor and a program called Help Me Grow, I gained access to early intervention programs to help me with my son. We did a developmental screening where we found he had a slight delay in his fine motor skills. But in all other areas we were fine. Until we discussed his behavior and the tantrums.

It was in this area that the most red flags began to fly. Jake was an angry little boy. He’d tantrum violently and I often found myself at the mercy of his little fists and kicking feet. And though I had a background in education and child development, I was finding myself flying by the seat of my pants when it came to disciplining him. I had no clue what to do and I was doing most of it on my own.

We went through some therapy and got a little help. A term was tossed around, a possibly key: ODD or oppositional defiance disorder. I laughed at first thinking it was just another multi-lettered acronym for the pharmaceutical companies to push more drugs. But as Jake aged and his temper ebbed and flowed, I wondered if, for him, it may be true.

Now we’re back to square one. He’s defiantly resisting most everything at home and many weekends are spent dealing with his anger and frustration. When good things are planned and outings are scheduled for fun, they often are cancelled due to a time-out or a day long grounding because of his anger issues.

And I find myself a tired, sad mommy again.

It’s hard not to feel helpless when your child seems to butt against anything you say or do, even the positive stuff. When you tell him today will be a good day and he responses with a “No it won’t”, it’s hard to keep your spirits up. When you want to do fun things together as a family but in the back of your mind you prepare to cancel your plans because you never know if something will trigger his anger before you even get to the car.

And I’m balancing a brand new marriage to boot. Not only am I dealing with the frustrations of parenting a particularly explosive child but I’m also trying to find a place for my new husband in all this parenting stuff. The two seemed so fine together and loving before the wedding but now it seems to be a war of wills to vie for my attention. And I’m exhausted.

So exhausted the tears are burning the backs of my eyes just tying these truths.

I want to roll up in bed and never get up. I just want to sleep, read, and sleep again.

That is my selfish side speaking. And apart of that voice is another little tidbit that’s niggling at me. I don’t want to be one of those activists moms speaking up for their child and how to accommodate them better in life. I don’t want to have a child with special emotional needs. I just want…normal. I want to love my son and have him love me back. I want to be a newly wed planning to make a new baby, too.

I want a family that isn’t torn in half by rough nights, big fights, and have me standing in the middle.

I feel very unprepared for this and I’m starting to unravel at the edges. They say the first year of marriage is the toughest and I can’t agree. The marriage is actually going fine. It’s the parenting in the 7th year that’s been toughest. And we have 11 more years of closely parenting a child that fights like a cat caught in a bag, flinging and screaming, when all we want is for him to do a chore. To clean his room. To find his soccer gear.

Can a human be born angry?

I’ll lean towards yes…

You and Me Plus Baby and Him and All The Family Makes…Oh Hell….I Lost Count

Before we said “I Do”, the mister and I talked about kids. We both agreed that having two kids together was a dream we shared and we wanted to start as soon as the wedding was done and paid for. We had a few reasons to want to start right away but the main one was our ages: we aren’t getting any younger and neither is Jake. With one already in elementary school, we knew that we’ll practically be raising two separate families with the large age gap.

Also, our son is overjoyed with the notion of having siblings. We are thrilled he’s excited but we also know this feeling won’t last long for him once he realized how much of our time he’ll have to share and how disruptive babies really can be. Might as well capitalize that he’ll actually enjoy being around the little squirt and have one sooner rather than later when he wants to be in his room all the time.

So, riding on the coat tails of honeymoon bliss and the excitement our little one had to be a big brother, we jumped into the baby making process. We charted and tracked. We noted mood changes and any inkling of physical differences in my body. We logged time together and spent many hours planning and looking over our projected finances. I took pregnancy tests and waited impatiently for those damn two minutes to tick by for the results.

But when that initial month of planning and tracking passed without success, well the tears did flow and I found myself whining that I was broken. My husband, good man that he is, comforted me and reminded me that we’ve only just begun and we have more than enough time. This of course made me cry harder as I complained that my clock was ticking and I would soon find myself beyond the age of fertility.

All silly things really but still very valid concerns of mine.

My lack of conceiving was noticeable with all the family and friends surrounding us and soon we were being asked when we were going to have our next one or when our turn would be. At this we shrugged and I felt less and less confident that it would happen for us naturally. I started to foresee lots of stirrups and doctor’s appointments with poking and prodding galore for me.

While initially I was disappointed and bothered that nature had let us down and that we hadn’t conceived within the first millisecond of being married, soon I found myself not so bothered by it. Soccer started for Jake and school began not long after. We started having some issues with bedtime fears of Jake’s, keeping us awake at all hours and rudely reminding me what it feels like to work on disrupted sleep.

After that first month we stopped trying so hard. No more charting or testing if I had the slightest tummy ache. We let our time together be enjoyable and we finished out the summer as a happy family ready for fall and for school to resume.

It’s funny. I didn’t expect for it to be so easy to suddenly not care as much about becoming pregnant. That first month was intense and tiring. If it happened, then great! But when it didn’t happen and we moved on with our lives so easily, I guess I was not expecting that.

To be honest, I don’t know what I expected. I guess I just thought it would just work, like the teachers at my Catholic high school warned. They put the fear in us that even THINKING about sex would create a child. Plus, in my personal experience, even when you aren’t trying and you do what you can to prevent it from happening, well, it can still happen!

So with all my convoluted thinking and my past experience with conceiving, I guess I figured that when I actually tried, it would just BAM! Happen…And then, it didn’t happen. Damn teachers lied… After the disappointment wore off, we found ourselves peacefully ok with it. We stopped worrying and we’re not even really trying anymore.

And I’m honestly happy to not to be worrying about getting pregnant anymore. It’ll happen when it’s meant to. Plus it took up too much brain space and emotional energy. And pregnancy tests don’t come cheap.

We still want our family and we very much looking forward to adding to our brood. And when that time comes, there will be no limit to the joy we’ll feel.