Last night, for the first time in five years and ten months – one of my children actually puked in the potty. That’s right – not on me, not on the bed, not on some disgusting combination of me and the bed – but actually in the potty. All the way. Not on his clothes, not on the back of the potty, not just in the bathroom – but in the potty. This is HUGE in my world. My little Sam was coughing and coughing and I sensed (with that mama intuition thing) that it was coming and called him over, led him to the toilet and BOOM – it happened. I rubbed his little back and murmured encouragement as he puked his little heart out.

And then Jess stayed dry all night again last night – with underwear. Amazing stuff happening here every day 😉

On a cute side note – sometimes Sam learns things from his sister that I don’t particularly appreciate – he was literally storming around the dining room while I was folding laundry, with his arms crossed in front of him, and muttering to himself “I have nuffin ta do!” in a most aggrieved tone. It was adorable – but somewhat disconcerting – what with the fact that’s he’s not yet two and a half…

I had a conversation with a friend earlier today. He’s a parent, has a fourteen year old son that he hasn’t been much involved with. He pays child support, but for various reasons, his visitation has always been haphazard. He’d like to get more involved, and believes that the best way to do that would be to file for full custody. His son lives in NH, and getting up there is a pain. I advised against that, and in the course of the conversation realized a couple of things that I hadn’t fully articulated to myself before.

1 – I believe that children fare best with two loving, involved parents.

2 – I believe that children fare better with one loving committed parent and one that’s never there than with one loving committed parent and one that is unreliable. In other words, if you aren’t going to do it right, don’t bother. Don’t show up sometimes, take a few months or a year off, dance in and out of your child’s life. Either commit for the long haul, or don’t do it at all. Don’t get me wrong – I believe that if you have a child, you have the obligation to parent. Not negotiable – this is your child, and he/she NEEDS YOU. But having a parent you can’t trust or count on is incredibly damaging to a child’s psyche. Either do it or don’t – but don’t pretend to do it halfway.

3 – Staying together for the sake of the children isn’t enough of a reason to stay in a crappy marriage, but once you have a child, you don’t EVER walk away. You live as close as you can, you get joint legal and physical custody, if not primary physical custody. You make your children the focus of your life, whether you stay with their mother or not. You live in the same town, you know their friends, their friend’s parents, their teachers and their homework. Don’t make a child pay the price of your bad choices.

I grew up as a child of a “broken home.” That’s not a term that’s politically correct now, and thank God for that. I had an actual single mother, no child support, no help, no nothing. My father… well, he just wasn’t cut out to be a parent. Although I guess he tried for several years, he wasn’t ever able to actually do it, and when he disappeared when I was fourteen, I was a little bit relieved. When he called me when I was nineteen, I just wasn’t interested. I had lived for so long without him, and it was much easier to live with just a mother, than to have a mother and a father sometimes.

I married a man with children. I have two stepdaughters – and one consistent thing about my husband, one of his MOST attractive qualities to me, is that he’s a parent. A GOOD parent. We live in Worcester – which is a horrible city. City – with crime and dirt and drugs and I have lived here for five years and still feel like a visitor. I left my hometown, an itty bitty town, where I had roots that stretched back for generations, and would LOVE to have raised my children there. But my step kids live in Worcester, and so this is where I’ll stay for at least another ten years. Because they are my kids too – and they love their dad, they love me, and they love their brother and sister. Because this is where my husband’s ex lives and works, and because it’s crucial that we see them as often as possible. That we attend school functions, and help with homework, and go to birthday parties, and all the other stuff that goes along with having kids.

I told my friend to move to NH.

It’s a beautiful Sunday morning, and all is well in my world. Marc is off playing D&D; with his friends, both my kids are fed and relaxed, watching Disney and munching on some frosted mini-wheats. I’ve found huge sections of my house, and am optimistic about clearing out the rest of it by the time Marc gets home. I’m taking Jess and going out shopping later, I think, while Sam naps and Marc watches the game. It’s the last night of Hanukkah, and I’ve got one more week of vacation before Jess goes back to school.

Christmas went really well, all things considered. It was REALLY hard not having a tree, but now that it’s over, I can look back and say it could have been a lot worse. I’m still reserving the right to put one up next year, but I might feel differently 12 months from now. If nothing else, I’ve learned that there’s no predicting what I’m going to do in the future – who’d have thought I’d have not put one up in the first place? The Christmas Eve party at Becky’s was lovely – nobody showed up, which actually made for a very nice night. Everyone could sit and talk, Christmas Day – I managed to time it perfectly so that Scott and I didn’t see each other at all, my goal was to make it thru the day without screaming at him, and all I ended up having to do was wave as we passed each other on the road. The kids were good, I got to see Eric and Witch, it was perfect.

Friday, Marc and I went out to do more Christmas/Hanukkah shopping – and it was just a really nice date. We’ll be together seven years in February, and it’s so nice to realize that I LIKE him just as much as I did in the beginning. When you’re married to someone (or at least, when I’m married…), there’s lots keeping you together, habit, children, a million little complications – but I legitimately like hanging out with him. He’s still the one person I’d rather be with – and I love that fact.

Had our annual Hanukkah party last night for friends – and it went… not great. We made funnel cakes, which, in retrospect, was not a wise choice, they don’t taste all that good, and ended up ordering out for pizza later on. We had one guest who was slightly buzzed when he arrived, and continued drinking his way thru the night, making for a crappy time for everyone. But all in all, I’m just relieved that it’s all over and done with, and we can move on to January.

Although my primary feeling is one of just relief that it’s almost over. This has been a crappy little Christmas season for me… but at the end of it, I know that skipping it will make it possible for the rabbi to officially convert the kids, which was critical for me. So no regrets – but a nagging suspicion that next year, I’m putting up the tree the day after Thanksgiving and celebrating the hell out it 🙂

It’s been an off sort of month… with no school FOREVER and lots and lots of kids over here, it’s been crazy and hectic and stressful, even before adding on the disappointment from my family over my not getting a tree. Plus I’m worried about Becky and there are issues with one of Marc’s friends… it’s been a not entirely pleasant time.

Kids are both doing well – Jess is still so amazing to me, and I find something new and exciting to love about her all the time. She’s in the middle of so many ‘firsts’ – her first shower all by herself was a momentous occasion, the first time she changed a diaper, the first time she read a book. The reading thing is HUGE for me… I think it’s my favorite milestone of all time, other than talking. I’m so proud of her. We had a ginormous fight the other night, with tears and hysteria resulting in vomit all over her booster seat. There’s almost nobody who can infuriate me as much as my daughter… and when it was all over, and I had cleaned her up, gotten her into jammies and rocked her to sleep in my arms, it was such a sweet, tender time for the two of us. It’s a magical thing, the relationship between Jessica and I. I can’t imagine how I ever existed without her.

And my Sam – now that he’s talking, it’s so MUCH FUN. He was such a miserable baby, with the colic and the reflux, I feel like he’s making up for all of it by being this utterly amazing little creature. He’s such a joy, so happy and calm. As long as I don’t bring him to parties (he literally screamed “Get me out of here” over and over again when we went to the Backiel’s Christmas party – and threw a forty five minute screaming fit at the Hanukkah party), he’s really just always a source of happiness for me. He’s Marc… just exactly like him. Jess is a little mini-me, all emotional intensity and drama, and Sam just clicks along, just like his father, nothing really bothers him, he’s always up for a smile or a little chat. He’s so earnest and funny and sweet. I adore him.

I’m much happier today – yesterday was just awful. Marc and I had a huge screaming fight, which, fortunately, is exceptionally rare for both of us. And we were both wrecked for the rest of the day. I was miserable, the kids were HORRIBLE and Marc was sunk deep in the depths of depression when he came home. But today is ever so much better, and I’m back to being grateful for what I have, and not pissed off and angry about it.

I have a wonderful husband who loves me with all that he has. He truly wants my happiness above all else, thinks I’m beautiful and sexy and wonderful, and tells me so all the time. How many women really have that? Have someone that’s their bestest friend, the one they turn to for solace, cheering up, and is simultaneously the one person they want to be with when the sun is shining? He’s fabulous – brilliant, kind, loving, truly the smartest, NICEST person I’ve ever met, and I’m so incredibly lucky to have him.

Wicked cool questionaire I found on-line…

LAYER 1: (I’m going to be very vague about these, for privacy reasons):Tell us your…*

Name: Melissa

Birthday (month, day): January 25

Birthplace: Concord, Massachusetts

Current location: Worcester, MA

Eye color: brown

Hair color: brown

Height: 5’7

Righty or lefty: Righty

Zodiac sign: Aquarius (with Gemini rising, if you’re interested)

LAYER 2:What’s…*

Your heritage: English/Irish/Scottish

The shoes you wore today: pink and blue slipper socks until I showered, now I’m barefoot

Your weakness: cookie dough and a good book

Your fears: getting really, really sick, dying, someone I love getting really, really sick or dying

Your perfect pizza: mushrooms, hamburger, and onions, deep dish

Goals you’d like to achieve: to raise happy, healthy children who love each other and care about the world around them – to have a marriage that’s as vital and loving fifty years from now as it is today

Your first waking thoughts: Where’s my coffee?

Your best physical feature: I think my eyes or my legs

Your most missed memory: I don’t really miss anything – I pretty much just like where I am 🙂

LAYER 3:Do you…*

Smoke: Nope, never

Cuss: All the time

Sing: loudly and often, frequently to the tune of You are My Sunshine

Do you think you’ve been in love: Yes, definitely. I’m in love with my husband right now. *

Did you go to college: Yes. Although I dropped out after a year

Liked high school: I really did

Want to get/stay married: I did, although never really thought about marriage until I met my husband. I’m staying married forever 🙂

Believe in yourself: depends on the situation

Think you’re attractive: depends on the day

Think you’re a health freak: not even a little bit

Get along with your parent(s): I love and adore my mother. I haven’t seen my father in fifteen years, I’m okay with it.

Like thunderstorms: adore them

Play an instrument: I can play Doe A Deer on a piano, that’s about it

LAYER 4:In the past month have you…*

Drank alcohol: No – I think the last time I drank was at my cousin’s wedding in September

Smoked: No*

Done a drug: Well, if Tylenol counts as a drug, then yes.*

Made out: Yes*

Gone on a date: No*

Gone to the mall: Yes

Eaten an entire box of Oreos: Sadly, no – I love Oreos, just haven’t run into any

Eaten sushi: No.*

Been on stage: No.*

Been dumped: No.*

Gone skating: No.*

Gone skinny dipping: No*

Stolen anything: No

LAYER 5:Have you ever…*

Played a game that required removal of clothing: No*

Been trashed or extremely intoxicated: Yes, but not in years

Been caught “doing something”: yes – the perils of an unlocked door and small cherubs

Been called a tease: No*

Gotten beaten up: No*

Shoplifted: no

LAYER 6:* Age you did
get/hope to be married: 28 – I always planned on 28. Jess was born two weeks after I turned 29. We didn’t get married until I was almost 30 – but in all reality, Marc and I were functionally married when we met 😉

Numbers and names of children (either you have or want): Jessica Mary and Samuel Earl. We’re hoping for #3 next summer – I’m thinking Benjamin or Julianna or Megan

Describe your dream mate: My husband is everything I ever wanted in a man. He is brilliant, loving, sensitive, funny, a phenominal parent, responsible, can rewire a dryer and install a light fixture, and a good provider. He cleans the bathroom and does the trash all the time. He’s also tall, dark, and very handsome ;)*

How do you want to die: I really don’t want to. Ever.

What did you want to be when you grow up: A mom, and also a writer.

What country would you most like to visit: Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Russia… there’s really nowhere I don’t want to go.

LAYER 7: Now tell…*

Name a person you could trust with your life: My husband*

Name a favorite CD that you own: probably the Eagles or Bonnie Raitt

Number of piercings: I actually have three, two in one ear, one in the other. I don’t wear earrings though, I always get infections and they bug me.

Number of tattoos: none

Number of times my name has appeared in the newspaper: I have no idea. *

Name a past experience that you regret: Going to college – in retrospect, it didn’t really change my life course at all, and I really couldn’t afford it. So I ended up dropping out and now am saddled with student loans.

There are moments, fortunately for me, they happen with a reassuring frequency, when I stop and think to myself – this, right here, this is one of the best moments of my life. This morning, baking apple muffins with my little girl and my little boy, was one of them. We peeled, cored and diced two apples, mixed all the ingredients together, and then made muffins. They taste terrible, with chunks of soft apple all mixed up in this gluey sort of mess, but Jessie says they’re wonderful and she’d like to take them to school. If they ever have school again (we’re going on day three of snow days, with Saturday and Sunday in the middle).

I’ve had cherubs here pretty much non-stop since Friday, and today is glorious in that I only have my two. Sam’s playing with firetrucks and animal figurines and Jess is watching Polly Pocket. My house is reasonably clean, my kids are healthy and happy and not fighting, my husband is loving me and safe at work, and my life is pretty much exactly what I always wanted it to be.

It’s been a non-stop play date here since Friday morning, and I’m so unbelievably tired right now. I stayed up too late reading and then the kids took turns waking me up every couple of hours. They alternated, with each one taking only one turn (except for Sam, who volunteered not only do it once on his own, but to piggy back onto everyone else, so that once I’d get a girl back to sleep, I’d then have to get him to sleep again). They all appear well rested and content, meanwhile, I’ve been up for about two hours and am still struggling to open my eyes all the way.

Much, much going on – too much for my little brain to handle this early, and while I’m going to attempt to blog about them all, it’ll probably be all disjointed and incoherent.

Marc was a phenominal husband and father Friday and Saturday. Really – can’t rave enough about it. He was up, he was focused, he was involved, it was so lovely. He did the dishes, he cooked, he cleaned the bathroom, all on his own and with no prompting. FABULOUS. Then on Sunday – it all fell apart – and it was so sad and frustrating, especially after two days of such highlights. He sat and watched football or played on the computer while the hordes of children ran wild in my house and yelled and screamed and stomped. It was terrible – and I’m still mad at him because of it. I’m a firm believer that when we’re both here, we both work. At least with the childcare. I’ll do the vast majority of housework and cooking, it’s my job now – but being cast as Cinderella and the massive evil stepmother just pisses me off… I have to be that much more of a bad guy because he’s chilling and enjoying himself. Makes me crazy…

The vendor fair on Saturday went great – it was LOVELY to step outside of the Mommy role and be a fully functional adult, in charge and responsible. I really, really enjoyed it. I am so very happy with my life right now, being the stay at home mommy, and wouldn’t change it for the world, but it’s very nice to remember that there was a time when I had a whole other life that was complete and whole without kids. I wouldn’t ever want to live there again, but it’s nice to visit every once and a while…

And now… onto the biggest dilemma in my little world… Christmas. I miss it. A lot. And I feel tremendously guilty about not having a tree this year… I do feel as though I’m depriving my kids of an incredible experience for no real reason. Like they deserve to have this tradition, I deserve to be able to give it to my children and I’m not doing it… for no reason that makes any sense at all to me. It doesn’t conflict with converting to Judaism for me at all. I can see where people who have grown up Jewish would think there was a conflict, but for me, it seems like a punishment for a crime that I committed by being born not Jewish, and it’s just so unfair and WRONG. I’m trying hard, but the closer I get to Christmas, the more I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing, and that if this is the price I have to pay, to deny myself and my children of my favorite time of the year, then perhaps that price is too high.

I think my children are as much mine as Marc’s. And that to ignore my traditions is monumentally unfair to me and to them. And I think it’s entirely possible that you’re going to find a very small, very tasteful tree in my living room before too long.

It’s hard not to try and get your kids not to live out your dreams. I always wanted to be a writer, for as long as I remember wanting to be anything. Other than a mom. I wanted that as soon as I figured out that it was an option :-). But all thru junior high and high school, that was my dream. I say dream on purpose, because it wasn’t a goal, I never really tried to do it, but it was always my dream… and I thought today, that perhaps that’s what my Jessica will do.

She creates stories ALL the time. She doesn’t lie, because that’s done usually with malicious intentions, and she’s not making stuff up to get out of trouble – she just likes to create stories and present them as fact. For no apparent reason that I can discern – other than that it’s just fun to make stuff up. The most recent example was when she told me that on Friday, Trevor had said that she pushed him and she hadn’t. She said she had been punished by having to miss out on going to the library. Upon further investigation (I emailed her teacher), not only was Jessie never in trouble, she’s never been in trouble, and there is, in fact, no child named Trevor in the either kindergarten class.

Okay, so I look like an idiot, and my child looks like a lunatic – but I’m proud of her, and impressed at her creativity… and secretly dreaming of having her first book dedicated to me 🙂