For Leigh

So, we’re in the middle of the great re-shuffling of rooms here at our house, which means that our house is a disaster.

And also that instead of cleaning it up, I have spent hours going through shoe boxes of old pictures, matchbooks, trinkets, and receipts that at one time seemed so significant they were worth putting in a box and storing away instead of introducing to the inside of the trash can.

It’s what I do. I save things.

Last week, after spending an entire nap time going through boxes, I found a business card with my friend Leigh‘s phone numbers on the back. Her home number is one of only a few Jacksonville numbers I know by heart, and I’ve used it often in the six years that we have been friends.

When Leigh’s oldest daughter was born, she was a delight to my then childless heart.

When Mary Bullock was born two years later, she was a delight to MB’s heart, too.

When Leigh called a few weeks ago and told me the date her movers were coming to pack up her house and move her to a new city, I felt all the air disappear from my lungs. I knew it was coming, but I had been so busy feeling happy for her that I had forgotten to be sad for myself until I wrote the date down in my calendar and counted her time left here in days instead of the years and years I had always imagined.

I had to hang up and call her back when I had composed myself.

I threw away that business card. I surprised even myself by letting go of it. But I told myself– I don’t need a card to remember this one. Besides, that’s her old number. Soon there will be a new number.

And I will commit it to memory

and use it often.

Blow Drying My Hair, and other Dangerous Adventures

There is are a two reasons that I look like a hot mess most days of the week.

Their names are Buck and Bo.

I don’t know if this happens in your house, but this is what happens in my house when I make the command decision to actually shower when I’m the only person over 4 feet tall in the house:

Me: Mary Bullock, I need you to help me keep Bo safe while I’m taking a shower, ok?

MB: Ok, Mommy. May I please have a Busytown?

In terms of shows, Busytown Mysteries is her new jam. Y’all, I have taught her how to use the remote.

Me: Yes, you may have one Busytown. Make sure Bo doesn’t hurt himself, ok?

MB: Ok, Mommy.

And then I shower with the door open so that I can respond to emergencies in a timely manner. If I make it out of the shower without incident, I think, WOW! Today is going to be the day I actually wear make-up! And clothes I didn’t sleep in! I LOVE BEING A MOTHER! I AM SO AWESOME AT THIS. SEE HOW THEY LISTENED?

And then I get all bold and think I can blow dry my hair. Because there is no reason in this world to go to the trouble of washing my hair if I can’t blow dry it. And what’s the point in showering if I can’t wash my hair?

So I’m all blow drying my hair and looking at all the dark spots on my face that I’m going to get to cover up with make-up because I am AWESOME and my children are AWESOME and also Busytown Mysteries is the GREATEST MOST AWESOME SHOW EVER and then I turn the blow dryer off and

THEY ARE PRACTICING THEIR MURDER SKILLS ON EACH OTHER.

Luckily they are both currently around the blue belt level because I’ve only blown my hair dry about five times since Bo was born, so no one died this morning.

But you wouldn’t know this from the screaming. Bo’s current modus operandi is to sit on MB, pull her hair and also somehow be the one screaming hysterically by the time I run in, wild-eyed and accusatory. He’s sneaky like that.

And I have actually heard the tell-tale thump thump thump on Bo’s chubby belly and come into their room to see MB reading a book all nonchalant on her bed. So don’t feel sorry for her, either.

No, if you’re going to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for me. And my hair, which will seldom know the luxury of hot air and a hairbrush.

At least not for the next five years.

You’re not going to believe me

You won’t believe me, [unless you happened to witness his tantrum by the pool on July 4th– you’re welcome for that little bit of entertainment!] but this child is kind of hard on his mama.

He’s pretty angelic unless he’s not getting his way. On July 4th, his way was having a chocolate chip cookie for lunch.

I will be so glad when agree to disagree becomes a viable option for conflict resolution with him. But we’re not quite there yet.

Until then, I have started taking pictures of his tantrums and sending them to Lee with captions for context. At least then I get a laugh in retrospect. Better than no laughs at all, I think.

I’ve heard tell that boys get easier around 2 and a half?  If you have a difference of opinion, please do not burst my bubble. I’m holding onto this hope, and to the sound of him sighing maamaaa, and to his sweaty sleepy head when he’s tired, and to his fierce hugs around my neck when all is calm.

So if you see us in public and Bosey is stomping and rolling around on the ground in a fit of temper while I smile placidly into the middle distance, please know that I have gone to my happy place, where there are soft words and squishy kisses.

And please, for the love of God, leave me there.

 

Where shall I start?

If my third annual summer road trip were a movie sequel, it could have aptly been subtitled When Disaster Strikes.

To make a long story short, on my first full day home, my dad had some complications while having two stents put in his heart and ended up spending over a week in the ICU an hour away from home.  The kids and I didn’t get to spend as much time with my parents as I had hoped, but the important thing is that he is ok for now, and the time I did spend with them was definitely put into greater perspective.

I was supposed to travel to West Virginia to celebrate with my older brother as he took command of the Coast Guard station in Huntington, but that trip had to be made rather hastily while my dad was still in the hospital, so I changed our plans rather than have the kids in the car for 14 hours in two days.

This turned out to be lucky– probably for everyone– when Bo woke up the morning of my brother’s ceremony with a stomach bug. Only I didn’t realize it had been a stomach bug [it wasn’t that obvious at the time, I promise] until I had changed my plans and taken the kids to visit my sister for several days, and then I got the stomach bug too.

Only this time, let me tell you, it was obvious.

If you’re actually keeping track of my comings and goings, you’re probably thinking to yourself: didn’t you get a stomach bug last time you were at your sister’s?

Yes.

Lee called us the traveling plague.

If I hadn’t been crying, I totally would have laughed. Or maybe it was the other way around. It was funny in its awfulness.

I do have some cute pictures, though, to remind me that it wasn’t all bad.  We actually had a lot of fun when no one was throwing up, pooping, having a tantrum [mostly me] or having a heart attack.

We took our traveling plague/circus back to NC for a few days and then on to Smith Mountain lake with my college friends and all nine of our children.

Rachel had joked beforehand that it was “us against them” and I think I laughed at the time, but OH Y’ALL. I don’t think I’ve seen Mary Bullock ever be so simultaneously thrilled and exhausted. It made for a few tense battles. Still not sure who won there.

But again, the pictures remind me that there was a lot of fun squeezed between mandatory naps and bedtime struggles.

I’ve spent most of the last week trying desperately to catch up on sleep, but so far I don’t think I’ve gotten to bed before 10:30. Tonight isn’t looking so great, either.

It consoles me to know that next year before I set out on my fourth annual insane road trip that I will remember none of the exhaustion, but probably all of the fun. Kind of like having another baby in that way, I guess.  So I would ask you to remind me next year that I wanted to crawl into my bed and cry for a good bit of this trip, but don’t. I won’t believe you anyway. And I’ll pack up the kids again [oh my God there are going to be three of them] and set off insisting that It Will Be Fun! How Bad Could It Be?

And I know I won’t be wrong.

Not totally.