the Baby

She has a persona… in Chicago, in South Carolina, on the internet.

kaity 2008

She is the 4th-born Burton child, a surprise whose existence was made known to us when her next older sister was only 7 months old (&, oddly enough, we were vacationing in Murrells Inlet/Surfside Beach, where we now live).

kk 2009

She is a rule-breaker, an edge-walker, smart as a whip, mean as a snake, sweet as pie, an old soul, a musician, a storyteller, a foodie,  and The Baby, all wrapped up into one.

kk 2010

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We adore her, and quite frankly, everyone who meets her does, too.

kk 2011

There’s just something about her.

kk 2012

Today, she is 5.

kk 2013

And we could not, could not, could not imagine life without her, or love her more.

do you think I’ll ever get there?

This week, I was waxing nostalgic about 2010.me2010

2010 was a banner year. We met people and had experiences that changed us, forever. We traveled more miles than any other year. If I were speaking superficially, I would say that we were at the top of our game.

Oh sure, there were setbacks. There was a particular situation that left me angry and a little violence-leaning a lot of the time (no violence was committed, just fantasized about. Hey, I’m human, and the weapon was just a folding chair…)

And now, when I get defeated or disappointed or mournful, I think about 2010 and wonder if that was when I “peaked.”

You know, at the ripe age of 33. (I did proclaim it my year of perfect, as at age 33, Jesus completed His ministry on Earth).

Rod tells me this is foolish, stupid thinking. He is probably right.

But sometimes I feel like, even though I believe I was “born to fly” (thank you, Sara Evans), my wings have been clipped… or at the very least, I am living in a box that is nailed to the ground.

Is is delusions of grandeur I have? Or am I really called to, meant for, something other than “this”? …understanding that “this,” my life, my family, my job, my home, it is All Good.

Am I just never satisfied? Or is there more? And if there is more, “How do you wait for Heaven? And who has that much time? And how do you keep your feet on the ground when you know you were born to fly?”

nothing big

Right now, we have “nothing big” coming up, and I suppose that is good. Two years in a row of big moves is probably a long enough streak. At some point soon, we will work on booking a trip or two, and in December we’ll have The Wedding, but for now, there are plenty of small things in the works:

Antiquing.

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We’re at a point in life where some of the start-up furniture will need to be replaced, but rather than acquire more mass-produced press board, I want Real Stuff… wooden, aged, classic, full of character. Kirsten brought me to a bunch of cute antique shops this weekend… which happen to be in our town. Who knew? (I did, actually, but hadn’t ventured into this new terrain). Besides finding 101 things I would love to have, I got an amber glass owl to feed Paige’s new obsession and – yay! – rocking chairs for our front porch! I knew They were out there somewhere!

I definitely have sights on replacing Randa & KK’s dressers, my & Rod’s desk, and maybe finding a desk that’s all theirs (since they commandeer ours all the time). These things will take time, but the hunt is fun!

Eating at Home
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Restaurant food has become less and less exciting, save for the few privately-owned places who still prepare fresh and quality dishes. It’s more fun to grocery shop for things you know you’re going to eat (current favorite ingredients: avocados, eggs, Greek yogurt, and meat from an actual butcher shop, which is comparably priced to the grocery store, but looks and tastes MUCH better). It’s fun to plan new recipes or revive old ones (coming up soon: coconut curry… yummmmmmmmm). And it’s victorious to convince my husband that I can make him a better lunch than Wendy’s can!
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(There is a sandwich and some all-natural Pirate’s Booty under that napkin…)

 

Kids.
They are (all) still changing every day. I think I have accepted that there will likely be no more kids for us (I come to this acceptance about every other day, and in the mean time plot ways to convince Rod I was at my best when pregnant, or find my heartbeat accelerating when adoption is mentioned…). Anyway, we’ve come around to the time when our big kids are fun, considerate, and self-sufficient, and our little kids allow us, on occasion, to take naps or hold conversations. Everyone goes to the bathroom on her own and can pick up her own junk (well, except for Paige sometimes :) So, starting over with a baby is not on the agenda, but enjoying these magnificent people always is:
IMG_0629 Randa the retailer

~
What ‘little things’ are you up to right now?

say, say, say

So many of them float around these days…

10 Things Not To Say To A…New Mom, Working Mom, Mom of Multiples, Mom of Child with Special Needs, Stay-At-Home Mom, Homeschooling Mom, Mom of Many Children, Mom of Only Child, Single Mom, Mom Wearing a Surgical Mask, Mom Singing Milli Vanilli in The Grocery Line…

You get what I am saying?

I know many of these categories (and especially a few I have not listed), are sensitive areas. Fact is, unless we have walked in certain shoes, we have no idea what another mom is going through. Does that make it wrong to reach out in an attempt to connect?

Not many of my 20-something friends knew how to relate to me when I was a 26 year old, infertile stepmom of teenagers. And not many of my friends related to my experiences with a household of 2 teens, 2 in diapers, business owner, and frequent travel, on a bus. And hardly any of my friends can keep up with the schooling decisions I make and re-make or my seemingly-constantly-changing jobs or projects.

So sometimes, a well-meaning acquaintance, fellow mom, even close friend, might say something that rubs me the wrong way, annoys me, offends, makes me feel stupid, makes me feel inadequate, makes me feel indignant, or makes me cry. It happens.

I could nit-pick. (Hmm. And I could write a list of Things Not To Say To A Mom Whose Home Has Been Infested With Lice and She is FREAKING Out About It, but that’s another blog). I could say, “You know, since you don’t know anything about blended families, maybe you don’t have the wisdom to make an observation about our custody arrangements” or “Why yes, as a work-at-home mom, I do sometimes need a babysitter because whether I take a call in an office building or my dining room, the person on the other end can’t hear when my two toddlers are shouting the lyrics to ‘Elmo’s World.'” And quite honestly, I could have stared daggers through the years through people who made some sort of comment about my bonus daughter, 13 years older than Randa, being their mommy. But you know…

My concern comes in here: How many of these lists needs to be written, read, applauded, and shared, before we just… stop… saying… anything?

sssshIn a quest to be sensitive, I will only draw from my own experience. Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to walk through as a ‘mom-type-person’ is infertility. My journey was relatively short compared to others, and it inevitably had my fairy tale outcome. But in the mean time… there were 2.5 years of longing, of negative tests, of humiliating procedures, of bad news from a specialist, of 20+ women I knew getting pregnant (some multiple times in that period), and lots and lots and LOTS of unsolicited, well-meaning pep talks.

A random internet search brought me to this list of 10 things not to say to “your infertile friend.” At casual glance, at least 7 of those things were said to me multiple times, some even by my parents or my husband, who I know would not have hurt me for the world. Also, at the time I was walking through infertility, I was finishing my degree and student teaching, so I constantly heard, “It will happen when you are done with school,” as if that had anything to do with my adhesions, hormonal imbalances, and non-functioning ovary. And because I was an involved stepmom, I also heard “At least you have J & P,” as if their lives were my consolation prize. (PS: Their mom was absolutely awesome to me during this time and was one of the few people who usually did know what to say :)

I had people give me baby blankets and scripture verses. I had adoption agency referrals. I had several friends tell me only with fear and trembling that they were preggers with their 2nd or 3rd (those were the worst. It sucks to think your friends think you won’t be happy for them!) If I were going to make a top ten list, I suppose those things would be on it. But honestly… who the heck needs it?

Would I rather my friends and family ignore my pain? NO.
Would I rather those who cared about me not care about my feelings or try to console me? NO.
Did some of those difficult comments eventually help me grow stronger, consider other points of view, or even just get over myself for a few minutes? Did some of them even turn out to be, gasp, true? ABSOLUTELY!

I know that sometimes, well-meaning conversationalists end up saying all the wrong things. I am raising my hand here, folks. I was born to connect with everyone I meet, and so there are countless times I have said something and immediately wished that toothpaste could, in fact, be put back in the tube. I also subscribe to that Steel Magnolia theory that no one cries alone in my presence, so it is my tendency to want to comfort another person, whether she is dealing with a scary diagnosis for her child or a big career-and-childcare decision. I am also a Wordy Girl, but mostly as a writer, and that sometimes means that what I’ve concocted to say sounds way more sensible and helpful in my head than it does Out There.

So if I encounter a woman walking through Walmart, on a Myrtle Beach Saturday (tourists’ arrival. Steer clear!), with 5 kids holding the cart and 2 in it, and she isn’t screaming or shoving unpaid-for Goldfish in their mouths or possibility holding a wiffle bat in a threatening position, and I say, “I don’t know how you do it!,” I’m of course trying to say, “You rock, mama!” I certainly don’t mean to be saying The Wrong Thing.

Because really, what is the right thing? It is to be silent? I mean, even after going through infertility, I am usually at a loss for something helpful to say to someone else going through it. Is it better I ignore it? If it is, then forget this whole thing, because if the new cultural paradigm is to avoid eye contact and any hope of encouraging others, I’m just going to have to be a bigger weirdo than I thought I was. I want to connect, and as I grow older, my accrued wisdom is helping me know how to choose words, and on occasion, to swallow the words and just be there. That one is harder to figure out, because if not done well, it comes off like cold, uncaring nothing.

I know that there are moms in situations in which truly craptastic comments have been made to or around them by strangers. There are always rude, small-minded people to go around, and chances are, they are not going to be reading parenting articles on their best day. I suppose my hope is that when another mom, especially in a friendly tone, comments on our children or our circumstances with any modicum of sympathy or kindness, can’t we just accept it and move on?

I mean, if I had a dollar for every person who calls my KK a tomboy, or remarks that my girls are opposites – one girly, one not, I’d be buying both our dinners… in Greece (an eating fantasy). My daughters cannot be captured in a snapshot of what they happen to be wearing to church or the store or out to dinner. But at least if someone notices Randa’s princess dress or KK’s Buzz Lightyear shirt, they are paying attention to their fellow human beings. At least they are making human contact. Even if they say the wrong thing, at least they are reaching out.

Maybe some of this is pronounced for me because, even after almost 2 years, I often still feel like The New Girl. It is hard to make new friends as an adult in a smallish town, filled with people who have lived here forever and have all the friends they need or others who have just moved in from someplace else and are also unsure of how to do it. Sometimes I have found myself reaching out with no one to reach back (Currently, kids’ birthday parties are my 30-something equivalent of Prom Night With No Date). If I did not happen to have little children, I know it would be a lot harder. Kids are a common ground, a way to connect; that’s why so many of us know the parents of our kids’ friends as “Emmie’s mom” or “Aiden’s dad.”

The conclusion here, or the point that maybe I should have had you skip to at the beginning: Stop with the lists. Carry on the conversation. Presumptions and assumptions can be insensitive and rude, but someone not knowing you is not a crime, and someone trying to know you should be seen as a gift. Because, at least I believe with all my heart, as moms we are in this together, and I would rather be surrounded by caring voices than cold silence any day.

it doesn’t take much

I had a good conversation with a friend today… one of those friends with whom I don’t really get to talk much, but when I do, in a For Real Conversation, there are always profound take-aways. Sometimes it takes us a while to get there (sometimes, it is literally months before the things this friend says to me make sense), but inevitably, the arrival comes.

Today, he referenced a conversation we had last summer. At the time, I accepted it, I mulled it over, and I thought, somewhat begrudgingly, that he was about 65% accurate in his assessment of some things in my life.

Today, I would say he was about 95% right.

What changed? Me. Not what I am made of, but my perspective. Because honestly? When someone you love and respect tells you something not-so-attractive about yourself, it needs to be swallowed in segments. Otherwise, you might just vomit.

So the thing was (ouch. Ouch) that I ‘live in Fantasyland.’ O U C H. And having pondered this on and off for about 8 months, I’m going to say: I don’t always see it. I don’t try to be that way. But, all in all, I get it.

Here is a perfect example. Kaity had a playdate today, one of her first since we moved here. Y’all, we were High Royalty of Playdates back in “The Day” (also known as: When We Lived in Illinois). We had them for hours. We made messes, 3-course meals, long drives, whatever. We loved them.

And then we moved and I started working and blah, blah, blah. We had a few bona fide playdates, but none on a recurring basis. Now that KK is home with me for at least a season, there has been a lack of playtime or any time with other kids. So yesterday, when another mommy at the bus stop  asked us to go to the park today, I was all, “YES!”

(And honestly, KK was all, “I don’t waaaaaaaant to go.” And my whole morning was crazy, and I was thinking, “If I had their phone number, I’d so be cancelling.” And when it was time to leave, I facetiously called, “C’mon Kaity, we need to go get you socialized,” (the S-word of all homeschoolers). But I digress…)

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Our meeting at the park, first quiet, quickly morphed into an elaborate play-pretend-on-the-jungle-gym game. And then turned into the 2 girls coming back to our house, running outside, then settling in with Cheetohs and The Muppets Movie. And my immediate, immediate mental picture turned into one of summertime, a summer filled with bikes piled in our driveway, Popsicles dripping everywhere, kids being called in for dinner and let back out afterwards, the smell of mosquito spray, the sound of swings and squeals and the sight of hop-scotch and jump ropes.

Gee Kelly, your daughter’s 90 minute playdate turned into a highlight reel from the summer of 1983?

Why, yes. Yes it did. It doesn’t take much to get my mind going and going. And while I do believe there will be a version of That Summer for my kids in 2013, I accept that part of that… is a fantasy. I accept that my mind, because I love reading and writing and watching stories so much, and because sometimes my imagination is just a little more fun and exciting than reality, and just because it is the way God made me, does exist, in part, in fantasyland.

But… I don’t think that is all bad, (or, offensive!) as long as I remember to strike a balance between the things I can make closer to ideal and the things I cannot change… (I hear there is serenity in that…) and listen to/learn from what God is saying to me in all of those.

Thanks for the reminder, friend…