Purpose…

I never realized how much my kids need me, I mean really need me when I was working full time.  I still remember those crazy harried days.  Morning madness to get everyone dressed and out to before-care, which was followed by a long day at school, a few hours at after-care, after which most days they would be the last children picked up from their school/ babysitter.  I’d come home and make dinner of chicken nuggets, or just buy them on the way home, bathe them and send them to bed.  While I’d run around washing clothes, or trying my best to do some home cleaning so that my neglected husband wouldn’t feel what he was, neglected. 

When I was laid off, my purpose for existence was gone.  My job being the #1 priority in my life had left me feeling useless and like a loser.  Cause I hadn’t given up, I was going to go the distance at work.  I was like a pitbull there once I sunk my teeth in I wasn’t going to let go. 

But now my purpose for existence is God and my family.  Yeah I know there was a big jump in there… how did all of that happen? Well, little by little really.  God had been calling me for so long.  He missed me.  But I had been too busy with my job to answer his call.  But once I did, the change in me was unbelievable.  I became a devoted wife and mother.  And I actually became good at those things too.

And I love doing those things… being with my husband, being with my children.  And I began to notice that throughout the day, my kids will NEED me. I mean really need me.  Even for something so little (or so big depending on how you look at it) as a hug.  And those little things, those little bits of rejuvenation are so important.  I love being able to be here for them to give them those things now.  Reassurance, words of encouragement, to teach them things… now for the first time in a long time I have no guilt associated with being a mother.  And I’m not saying that full time working mothers should have guilt.  When I worked I always believed, and I still do, that good child care was critical to enabling me to work with an easy mind.  Staying at home is not an option for everyone.  But it just speaks to how much I have grown as an individual that I am happy doing this, being that mom that stays home, because I never thought I could.  But I’m here doing this and I’m so happy.

Love on a Plane

So what would life be like if all parents could put their children on a plane somewhere when they got tired?  An American woman recently took her adopted Russian 7 year old son and did just that.  She had enough of his violence and his threats and I guess his unwillingness to love and be loved.  I don’t know why, but I really can’t understand how someone could take on years of adoption forms, visits, processes, clearances, passports, visas… I mean really how could you do all of that, and then just decide one day that this family that you’ve created through your own blood, sweat and tears — that it’s not a family? 

This society has begun to believe that things that are meant to be forever, no longer are or have to be.  Marriages can now be ended in a few short months with divorces.  And most aren’t even really marrying anymore, just moving in together to make inevitable breakups easier and less complicated.  But now parents can just stop being parents?  They can essentially divorce their children?  Where does it end really?  Where will it all end?  What kind of children will we be raising that won’t even know the security of a family? The one place you are supposed to be able to always feel that unconditional love and security. 

Do you know what it would take for me to put my own child on a plane and just give them away?  I could never do that.  Granted, I gave birth to all of my children, we bonded at birth. But I wouldn’t even send my adopted cat back to the shelter where I got her on a bus.  I couldn’t even treat her like that.  How can you do that an innocent child?  I wonder where the adoption agency was during the whole time that he’s been here.  Did they step in?  Did they offer support?  Did the family get counseling?  It just seems to me that Americans are falling “in like” with adopting foreign children.  It’s the new thing now.  Everyone’s doing it.  Made popular by Angelina Jolie and Madonna and other celebrities.  It looks great in pictures.  But in reality, it’s a child.  Not a purse.  Not an accessory.  Not a prop.  Its a CHILD. 

And children come with issues, with problems, with the unexpected… bad dreams, wet beds, stomach viruses that leave you sopping up vomit at 3am.  But as a parent you have to be willing to LOVE and LOVE and LOVE.  Get a counselor, see a therapist, seek a  professional.  Just don’t give up.  They are our future, this world.  And if you aren’t ready for that committment, that forever committment, then you’re better off going to animal shelter to adopt a pet.

Mami’s secret weapon for sleep!

So a couple of weeks ago I promised to take you all step by step, day by day through our struggles as we moved Carina back into her own bed in her own room and reclaimed our bed as our own.  But there actually hasn’t been much to document.  There hasn’t been much of a struggle at all.

On the first day, I decided to try using Johnson’s Baby Bedtime Bubble Bath & Wash to start off our bedtime routine.  I was hoping that the calming scent would help in relaxing her and making bedtime easier.  And to my surprise it did!  Carina splashed and played in the bubbles.  She was so excited to get into the tub because of the bubble bath.  Now that was definitely a first.  Typically transitioning into the bedtime routine was very difficult for her and she tried her hardest to stay up all night until my husband and I eventually knocked out.  But with the bubble bath, it made it much easier.  The bubbles stayed in the tub for a while, well I haven’t timed it, but long enough for her to play and tire herself out. 

Carina also tends to have sensitive skin.  Her skin will react to any harsh lotions and also switches in diapers brands in the past has caused issues as well.  So this was very much a concern for me before I used the product.  But according to Johnson’s the bubble bath was “hypo-allergenic” and had been dermatologist approved.  So for the past couple of weeks, since we’ve been using it, I’ve watched her skin closely and she’s had no reactions of any kind to the bubble bath. 

After she comes out of the tub, I massage her lotion onto her body to get her a little more relaxed and then we read my favorite bedtime story, Good Night Moon.  I tuck her in, kiss her goodnight, turn off the light and then off she goes to dream world.  And off I go to enjoy a nice quiet night with my husband.  My husband and I have both been a LOT happier since gaining our privacy back at night, and Carina is sleeping a whole lot better too!    

Laughter Bursts like bubbles and feeds my soul

Yesterday Carina came over to me and told me “PeePee Mami! PeePee!”  Exclamations like that cause the drop of EVERYTHING your doing and mad scrambles to get to the bathroom.  So off we took like rockets up the stairs.  She in front and me following closely behind.  For some reason, this sprint caused some glee inside of her and she started to laugh.  Her cute little tiny girl contagious laugh that makes you want to laugh too just because something is making HER laugh.  I began to laugh and felt myself for that instant transported back to the innocence of my own childhood.  When everything was sweeter.  The air.  The swings went higher.  The slides pushed me down faster.  The ice cream truck popsicles were so much more delicious and I never counted their calories… Jokes were funnier and there was always something in the air.  Something not tainted I guess, magical.  Those are the moments I love to be a mom.  No matter what mundane things I was doing (probably folding laundry) we stop and just are in that moment.  And my heart grows and my soul is rejuvenated in some way by the short laughter we shared.   I am Mami.  I am Love. 

Making Love Work…

So, for a while now, as long as I can remember anyhow, Carina has been sleeping in the bed with my husband and I.  It started out when she was sick months ago, we brought her into bed with us in the middle of the night.  The next night the same thing happened, and then the following night she went straight to sleep in our bed.  So for months on end now, Carina has wedged a gap between my husband and I at night.  At times I wake up to find her caressing my hair, or her foot in my face, arms tangled around me and pushing me off of the bed.  Its the mornings that I love the most.  I wake up to see her little face sleeping calmly next to me, deep in a world of dreams.  Sometimes I just lay there and watch her.  She laughs and even talks sometimes.  I love that little girl to pieces, let me tell you! 

But there’s someone else that I love to pieces, my husband Kike.  I love him so much!  Even though there are times, like today, when I feel like I could strangle him.  Coming home late to a dirty kitchen will do that to you though!  But all things considered he is truly the love of my life.  He knows me like the back of his hand!  He’s the only person that knows me, how I think, how my mind works, the things I don’t like, he knows it all.  And I miss him!  He’s been working 2 jobs for over a year now and the time that we have to share together is just not what it once was.  I miss late night cuddles and waking up in his arms.  With him tangled around me, pushing me off of the bed. 

So, I’ve decided that we need to take a step and get Carina back to sleeping in her big girl bed.  The transition will definitely be a hard one as we’re just transitioning her off of the bottle as well.  But we’re both committed to it this time (I think!).  So tomorrow, we’re going to take the plunge of getting her back into her own room.  Trials and tribulations, crying jags, photos all to be posted here.  Comments and advice from those experienced with transitioning toddlers back into their own beds, and everyone else will be truly appreciated!

P.S. to all my twitter friends – gosh it feels great to release some thoughts without 140 character limits! lol

Scrubbing the Tub

As I knelt in the bathroom today, scrubbing the tub, my roots came to mind. I’m one of those Latinas. Not the ones that were born in a Latin country, but one of the ones that were born here. My parents were born in Puerto Rico and raised in 2 worlds, there and here. I, on the other hand, was born here. Only visited the island once in my life. Our familial ties to the island having long been stretched too thin by the hands of time.

My parents were progressive. My father being the first in his family to graduate college, law school and go on to become a lawyer. My mother graduated high school and went on to work full time in Corporate America for 30+ years. My father was the primary nurturer to us and my mother cooked, sometimes when she felt like it anyhow. Other times, it was every person to themselves to find dinner. I am no stranger to cereal and eggs for dinner. That was normal, part of life. My mother washed her own clothing and at some point so long ago that I can’t remember when ceased to wash all of ours. I washed my clothing. My sister washed hers. And my dad washed his and my brother’s.

My husband is one of those Latinos. Not like me, but born on the island. He didn’t come here until he was 19 years old. He still struggles to speak English. His mother doted on him, his father, and the rest of his brothers and sisters. She never worked outside of the home as far as I know. Her days were filled with nurturing their family. Cooking, cleaning, washing, she does it all. When my husband came to the US, he had never lifted a mop, washed a dish, or his own clothing to say the least.

And somehow, my husband and I met, fell in love, and got married. If he had known how un-domestic I was, he would never have married me. He sees me “serving” him as an act of love and devotion. I see “serving” him as being demeaning to me. So we often get mired into the same vicious circle of an argument. Him questioning my love for him because I don’t want to jump up and serve him dinner. I mean for God’s sakes, I’ve been taking care of the kids all by myself all day. Could he serve himself and give me a break? And me questioning whether he appreciates the sacrifice and the commitment that being a Latina wife and mother every minute of every day entails.

I was raised to be independent and now here I am being forced into a mold that I wasn’t built for. How do you just become the quintessential Latina when you were not raised by one? No one else seems to understand how I feel belittled, how I feel less worthy when my husband comes home and I have to jump up to serve him. Then continue to clean, help the kids with homework and so on while he sits in his boxers scratching his balls on the sofa watching ESPN. And I’m supposed to be happy. How do you find happiness in that? I look at my daughter, who is only 2 and being formed now for her future, and wonder what the future holds for her. A life of servitude for her family under the guise of nurturer? A husband who pitches in and cares equally for the children and the house? And my sons, will they do the same that they see my husband doing to their wives one day?

In the mirror, I see the marionette strings tied to my back and wait for the familiar pull of my husband’s hand. For him to guide me in the direction I should be going. For me to jump up, the happy puppet that I am, to cook, to clean, to smile, to laugh, to be reigned over. A lump forms in my throat; I swallow a tear and go back to scrubbing the tub.