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jannica merrit

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jannica merrit

It’s Not Infinite

It was just occurring to me, as my five year old snuggled into my hip with her powerful little body, that as free and easy as the snuggles are, some day will be the last one.

One day, not all that long ago, she wore her last diaper, and she drank from her last milk bottle, and she wanted to nurse on my “boo” for the last time.

There are so many “firsts”, and so many new “big girl” moments…first day of Kindergarten, first time using her own body for momentum on the swing, first cartwheel…

But, there are so many corresponding “lasts” and today I just want to hold her close as she parades around in her Christmas Doc McStuffins outfit, holding her new Lambie stuffy, and try to keep her just as she is for a bit longer.

My youngest love

Coming Back

It’s been a bit over a year since I posted.

What a year.

I arranged for childcare for my first New Year’s Eve “out” at a Masquerade Ball with a friend. When that fell through at the eleventh hour, I desperately scrambled for a back up…miraculously begging and bribing my way to childcare that night.

We rang in 2020 in decorative masks.

Masks.

Who knew 2020 would bring so many more masks?

Masks on the outside and masks on the inside as I tried to fight the immeasurable sadness Durango’s death wrought inside me. Durango, and later another rescue kitten, Sydney, have left me raw and broken, but with my two young children dependent on me during a pandemic.

How do I share amusing anecdotes under these circumstances?

And, now, my little girl has just started kindergarten and seems so much older than a mere two months ago. My son is a confident second grader. And, they are back in person, in a school with so many more (necessary) rules and limitations. Wearing their masks and getting their temperatures checked for half-empty classrooms. School is now limited interactions, and they returned under controversy, judgement, and fear.

“Distance Learning” for us, was both a success and a failure.

We got outside multiple days each week and found some AMAZING local hiking spots. I taught them about local plants and animals. I had them in a Zoom class with a retired astronaut, speaking of space travel and going potty in space. (Okay, I was fascinated, too). I shared my theories and tried to prepare my daughter for Kindergarten. I understand many of their teaching methods so much better now.

And, then there were my long battles to figure out Google Classroom and how to navigate a Chromebook (their homeschool teacher swears a lot when she is frustrated). I am not young enough that these programs are intuitive. My son spent as much time challenging me as his teacher as he did trying to complete assignments. I tried to “quit” a couple times, and his teacher talked us both down.

I worry for what the rest of 2020 has in store for us all, but, for now…we have survived and are coming back.

Continue reading “Coming Back”

My Line in the Sand: A Guest Blogger Post

Hello Jannica Merritt readers, I am Jannica Merritt’s daughter, and this is my first solo blog post.  I hope you will excuse any grammatical errors as I recently turned three.

For over a year now, the adults in my life have been trying to sell me on a completely ridiculous concept. They have employed multiple tactics, including threats and bribery.  I have succumbed to none of them, nor shall I.  To quote a colloquialism, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

They have been attempting to persuade me to give up the ease and comfort of my diapers in exchange for the flimsy inconveniences of “big girl panties” and public bathrooms.  (The same public bathrooms which are so “dirty” Mother doesn’t wish me to even lie upon the floor of).

I know when I have a good thing going, and I will not to succumb to the pressure and overblown hype.  The incentives they try to use to sell me on this are ridiculous and mediocre at best.

For example:

1. Potty Candy.  Marshmallows and M & Ms are nice, but not equal to the value of the time I squander sitting on that boring potty chair. *Yawn*  I fail to understand why there are no wheels for a big girl on the go…but not that go.

2. Big Girl Panties. Yes, so they have cute designs on them. So what? So do my diapers. What difference does it make if I have Trolls next to my skin or Mickey Mouse on the outside of a diaper?  They show the panties to me often and ask, “Don’t you want to be able to wear Big Girl Panties?”  Same answer as before, a resounding “no”.

3. Being a “big girl”.  I already know I am, and I feel no need to prove it to you Judgemental Judies.  I am secure and confident in myself and have no need to prove anything to anyone.

4. “No diaper rash when you are potty trained.”  THAT, my friends, lies squarely on the shoulders of the adults in my life who do not check hourly and change me immediately after I have a poopy.

5.  Offering television, only to have it be yet another screening of “Elmo’s Potty Time”…or, offering to read me a book and it’s “Once Upon A Potty.”  Enough, already!  I have given my answer.

Lastly, there are the sneaky, semi-manipulative way my Mother tries to sneak in Pull Ups instead of normal diapers, and peppers it with silly comparisons of pulling it up my hips “just like you will big girl panties some day soon!”

Think again, grown ups!

Post Script: I even go out of my way to help the adults around me.  I will, if asked, bring a clean diaper and a wipe to them.  Yes, it really is enabling their laziness, but I do just love to help.  Help, but not enable their idiosyncrasies.

Early Parental Deterioration

I prepared carefully for my eldest child’s entrance into kindergarten. I bought his books and everything on his very specific supplies list (two stores and Amazon to get everything “right”).  His uniforms all hung tidily in his closet. His backpack and lunch sack neatly hung on a hook in the laundry room awaiting his first day as a scholar.

Day One.  I couldn’t sleep well that night and was up by 5 a.m.  I lovingly packed his lunch, a slice of his favorite (next to French fries) cheese pizza, a freshly peeled orange, a yogurt smoothie drink, and pretzels.  I filled his water bottle, and added a couple ice cubes in case the insulation didn’t last all day.

I put on some classical music (because it sounded scholarly) and made both children breakfast burritos, and orange juice, and got them up to eat.  They sat at their table to enjoy breakfast and argue while I dressed, combed hair, brushed teeth, and took care of our pets.

I changed my daughter’s diaper (because someone is being quite stubborn about potty training), brushed her hair and teeth, and put her in a girly pink outfit for the day with matching socks.

I oversaw my son brushing hair and teeth. I helped him carefully put on his brand new school uniform (his first time in “business casual” attire).  I put a little gel on the corner of his hair where it was sticking up a bit.

We left home promptly at 7:15 a.m. and drove excitedly to school.

Day Two. Frozen breakfast entrees. Other things a bit compressed, but achieved. Still relaxed and chill, because mornings are “easy”.

Fast forward a bit…

Day Seven. Son sent to his room to find clean uniforms while eating a banana. Lunch scrounged from fridge, consisting of 2 hot dogs, pretzels, and some cottage cheese.  Left house at 7:40, but forgot my bra.  Daughter probably had a clean diaper.  Everyone’s hair and teeth brushed.  Found his water bottle on the backseat as we left and hoped it wasn’t empty.

Tried to walk evenly at Walmart for emergency supplies, and my three year old pointed repeatedly to my breasts and yelled “Mommy” as we walked past the bra section.

Day Nine.  Parent’s Walk of Shame to sign my son into school at 8:01.  Front desk lady quite pleasant, but son speaks of “getting a tardy” at dinner. Glad I had remembered my bra at least, and everyone’s hair was brushed. (We won’t speak of teeth).

Day Eleven. No further Walks of Shame, however this morning my son’s hair was smoothed a bit with spit as I handed him his shoes and half a banana in the car. I am not sure if he brushed it. I have discovered no one checks if my daughter’s hair is brushed and I can brush mine in the car while in line dropping him off.  Also, pants are only optional if you are three.

If I focus on him having teeth and hair brushed, uniform on, and lunch of some kind in his backpack, the rest doesn’t matter.  I just don’t want any more tardies on my his record.

It’s eleven p.m. and soon I will stop writing and put his uniforms for tomorrow in the dryer.  I have Cheetos to put in with his cottage cheese,  so it will be a good day (as long as I don’t fall asleep before those clothes get in the dryer…).

Here’s to being a School Mom!

Goodbye, Locks I Love

This is a First World Problem; I know that.  I will not pretend otherwise.  But, it is my First World Problem.

I was so excited that my rising (*gasping*, because, really, how did this happen so soon?) kindergartener was accepted into an amazing charter school, not only the school system I wanted, but the location less than two miles from our home. The school has a fabulous curriculum and my son will be ready to be either a world class innovator and leader or a cunning super spy by the time he has spent thirteen years there.  The classes make me jealous, and their founding principles are truth and beauty (and, really, who doesn’t love those?).  I love it so much I wish I could go there.  I seriously, truly would love to go there, even as an adult…right now, sign me up, because I want to learn all the fascinating things they are teaching.

I like the campus, it is new and beautiful and the doors are thankfully locked (in the sad state of today’s world).  The playground has slides and things to climb on and shade.

I fought, yelled, screamed,  pulled my hair out–worked early on with my son to get him to their starting level of knowledge.  I stood firm when he challenged my knowledge of which letter was S.

And, I really loved the idea of the uniforms.  Everyone fairly equal, and when my daughter goes there, there will be no battles about what she wears (to school, anyway). And, if uniforms can still bring battles, please leave me in my deluded state; it’s nice here.

But…

I just read the full text of the uniform requirements and gasped aloud in horror–boys must have very short hair!  I am no hippy (although I would have made a great one!).  My son, who was blessed with a head full of beautiful, super thick, naturally wavy dark blonde hair has been sporting Mama’s choice; a slightly long, shaggy do.  It is adorable and shows off his locks to the nth degree.

And, I will have to have it cut! In kindness, will not cut it myself (as my many attempts at bang trims have led to about the same number of disasters),  but I will have to trust my hair care professional to help me through this difficult time.

I have enjoyed these years of living vicariously through his beautiful thick curly hair. His hair genes didn’t come from me and sadly my daughter didn’t inherit them.  So, he has been the sole family member with good hair.  I knew it would come to an end someday, but I really thought I had more time.

It’s rather late to find an identical school which differs only in hair requirements. (Did I hear someone say, “Chasing unicorns?)

Short hair.  Too soon. *sigh*  I will get through this somehow.

Everyplace She Was

I miss her

Every place she was

My grief is spread long and thin

I see her everywhere she used to sleep

Where she would sit

And wait for love

Or canned cat food

From the farthest corners of my eyes and mind

Where her death has not processed yet

Vacuous feelings inside now

I sobbed when I found her

And now tears won’t come

Numbness permeates my soul

Death meets us all

But still acted a thief far too soon

I dream of rainbows, bridges, and reunions

With no way to prove these theories

I miss the purr that never ceased–

Until it did forever

The long, thick fur she needed my help with

Towards the unraveling

She lived in my love, and I in hers

The common language was ours alone

My soul screams

Unfair! Too soon!

My arms were empty

When she left this world

A piece of my heart

Was her escort

And is forever hers

To do with

As she will

Goodbye,  my furry love

 

Earning My Pants

Namaste.

I inhale, deeply breathing in the essence of life, of Mother Earth, of all humanity.  My mind and body become completely still.  I lean into Garland Pose and a small scent of patchouli surrounds my lean, strong body in size small, stain-free yoga pants, the bottom edges sitting just above my perfectly manicured toenails.

(The above was not actually me, just how I pictured myself practicing yoga before my first class).

I am a Type A person, who rarely makes or takes the time to relax.  That caught up with me finally and my doctor recently recommended meditation.

I have a history with meditation, however.  When I meditate, I either mentally redo a room in our house, make an unworkably complicated plan for world peace, or fall asleep.

He suggested I try yoga instead.

So, there I was, in the midst of all the nearly immobilized, calm-seeming folk on their personalized yoga mats with their cool-looking yoga sloganed tank tops and yoga pants (finally, I am official!  I must admit, I have been wearing their pants under false pretences since childbirth…).

I want to share a bit of my internal conversation during my sixty minutes of calm, peaceful time “practicing” my yoga.

This is my brain on yoga:

–Where is there a space in the back?  It is only open up front? Shoot! I have to get here on time next time, whatever the kids pull.

–Downward Dog! Ha! I won’t even make fun of that name, I won’t make a barking noise…and look how good I am at it.  Yoga. I got this!

–I think we are out of almond milk. I better put that on my list. Wait, what is everyone else doing?

–Put my right hand on the mat. Easy! Right elbow to left knee, now do what?  Do people even bend that way?  Oh, look, all those people in the front row do…

–Is that lady looking in the room from the childcare center? I hope it wasn’t one of mine!  If I ignore her, maybe she will leave.

–Why is no one else sweating?  Seriously,  I would love a fan or preferably a Blackberry Mojito right about now!

–I wonder what time it is?  Are we close to an hour yet? I think the clock is on the back wall; I will take a quick peak at it.  Wait!  Where is it?  Oh, no, on the front wall…and, busted! (As the instructor smiles at me).

–How are all these other people not only standing on one leg without jumping around to catch their balance, but some are sticking a leg straight out.  I missed those muscles at birth!

–Oh my goodness! The lady over there just farted loudly! Thank God my sinuses are clogged and, mostly,  THANK GOD it wasn’t me!

–Thanks for giving me the other version of this pose I am already trembling in, and hoping to do a reasonable facsimile of, until we can return to Downward Dog, my new home.

Namaste!

 

My Little Secret*

*Post is geared for the ladies.  Men read at your own risk.

 

 

I am seriously not kidding…female TMI alert!

 

 

 

 

 

I have a little secret.  I don’t share this with very many people, so let’s just keep this between us, okay?

Because before writing this, I think I have shared this with possibly two friends.

Sharing this here is a big deal for me.  But it is important.  And, I suspect, a big deal for a lot of ladies.  So, I am going to risk the judging I worry about and start.

Ever since my lady parts pushed a human out of them, when I sneeze, when I jump, when I cough, when I try to do Zumba, when I twist the wrong way…I pee on myself a little.  Colds are hell.  Trampolines…I can’t get within five feet of them without a little anticipatory trickle.

How many of you ladies have this little secret, too?

It is a shameful feeling, buying Poise pads and not looking the cashier in the eye, as I try to get out of the store as quickly as possible, or make a loud comment about how, “Yes, I think this is Mom’s brand.” *wink, wink* (Sorry, Mom).

My heart aches for the child brides in third world countries, who don’t have access to what we have in developed countries and have to suffer in isolation and shame.

What is so sad is that if this is as common in developed countries as I think it may be, and yet…we are (I am) so embarrassed to talk about it here.  “Not me,” I like to pretend, “must be horrible.”

A recent Facebook  post in one of my “Moms Groups” someone posted about this under, “asking for a friend.”  The post was flooded with an almost unheard of number of responses.

Yes, I have been too embarrassed to talk about it, so I will never judge anyone else for keeping silent.  I worry a bit as I write this about, well,  anyone reading this.

But that is why I am writing this.  Because it needs to be said.  Because it needs to be out of the closet.  Because it isn’t just what happens to women “of a certain age’ or mothers.

There are treatments, and I finally pushed my gynecologist to help me with it.  And she hemmed and hawed, and ordered a test.  It was an embarrassing test, because, what else would we do in this situation?  And the test came back that mine was bad, but not the worst, and she looked at me and shrugged.   And I looked at her and said that I wanted Pelvic Floor Therapy because I am tired of living with my little secret…that, well, isn’t so secret anymore.

And, I had my first therapy session today.  And it was…intrusive but professionally done.  And I was able to speak freely and get some exercises to do at home.

And, it may take some time to strengthen my pelvic floor muscles, but there is hope!  And, I hope the more we talk about it, the less embarrassing and shameful it will become.

Girl Time

My son spent the night at his Godmother’s last night and my youngest and I got some rare “girl time.”

I wonder what it is like for her, as she has never known being my only child, and being an “only” myself, I try to navigate my management if their sibling relationship as best I can, with no direct knowledge of either side of it.

At two and a half, she seems content, doesn’t ask about her brother, and is playing with me and our dogs as usual. She played in the sandbox yesterday afternoon, which she usually does solo these days, and doesn’t seem to miss him.

But I expect when big brother returns, full of “I am so cool after a night of being spoiled and being an only again” swagger, I imagine she will rush to greet him with excitement and joy.

They really seem to love and take pleasure in each other, while still maintaining firm grasps on property ownership (each toy amazingly belongs to both of them).

After a docile babyhood,  where she would smile and gurgle at him while he took away any toy that suited him, she has blossomed into a toddler from whom nothing is grabbed away from without a fight.  (I give her brother partial credit in her motivation to develop extreme bicep strength).

I am going to see if she wants to help me make brunch this morning, a task her older brother is loathe to share! “I am doing the eggs! I am doing the cheese!”  It is fuzzy already what he was doing at her age, and I have to challenge myself to make sure she doesn’t get a “free ride” on things because it is easier to get a five year old to pick up toys.

We cuddled last night, and slept in this morning and she had some coveted time watching YouTube kids videos on my phone without competition.

And, before long, we will return to our normal family dynamics…let the fighting and playing commence!

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