The Best Valentine’s Day (So Far)

Nothing says romance quite like taking a tween boy shopping for new pants because he’s grown 2.5 inches since Christmas Day.

AMIRIGHT?!

We’re not big Valentine’s Day celebrators. That’s true. But taking a tween shopping felt like maybe the antithesis of love. Tween parenting is odd in and of itself. One day we’re the coolest, the next we’re the worst. I remember that, but being on the flip side feels like someone poking at the soft parts of my heart.

But the kid needed pants. Our schedules have been a little bit crazy as of late, so getting out of town and to an actual shopping plaza has been more of a challenge than usual. I couldn’t just order him clothing online either as I legit had no idea what size to order the quickly growing kid. I needed him to try pieces on and provide actual feedback for fit and length.

While I’m on the topic: Clothing boys is the worst. Not only is it all ugly and virtually impossible to find, but the sizing across brands is RI.DIC.U.LOUS. RIDICULOUS. Old Navy XL is too short. Nike L is too tight but long enough. Kohls’ tech brand L fits length wise but falls off his waist. Brands, please get your act together. It would be great if one size matched across all brands. Not only would it be life-changing for parents but it would result in more money in brands’ pockets as I could easily log on and buy, buy, buy.

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Anyway, hanging out in the boys’ department on Valentine’s Day wasn’t all that bad.

I got some really great deals, even though we had to visit a total of three stores. While I felt aggravated at the lack of overall selection, I found some things we all liked. Additionally, I was greeted with a very grateful man-child who thanked me a number of times over the night.

Afterward, we hit up the new IHOP, stopped in at GameStop to let them spend some of their money, and finished it off with evening coffees for the grownups at Starbucks. Maybe someday my husband and I will go out again—alone—on Valentine’s Day like that first date after our youngest son was born. I consumed my first alcoholic drink since prior to getting pregnant and that margarita nearly put me under the table. In the meantime, an evening of laughs and waffles and smiling boys feels like a good deal to me.

Quite honestly, this ranks as the best Valentine’s Day in a long time. Winning.

 

Fitbit Flex Activity + Sleep Wristband

His Heart Carried Our Hearts

His Heart Became Our Hearts

At 2:37 in the morning on Christmas Day, the youngest busted into my bedroom and scared me awake.

“What are you doing?”
“I woke up!”
“What time is it?”
“It’s 2:37!”
“But what are you doing?”
“I need to use the bathroom and you told us we have to use your bathroom instead of the hallway bathroom so we don’t look in the living room!”
“Oh. Okay. Go on.”

I put my head back down on my pillow. I had only been asleep for about an hour. I stayed up late to pull off the normal Christmas magic, wanting to make sure not-so-little boys were really asleep before taking to the task at hand. I rolled into bed sometime after one o’clock and was still awake after 1:30.

Let’s face it: I get excited on Christmas Eve, too. I get excited for their excitement. It’s one of my greatest joys.

I waited in the dark and drifted slightly before LittleBrother came back to my side of the bed.

“Can I trust you to go back to your room?”
“Yes. I love you.”

He bent down and kissed my forehead.

And then that child whispered, “Santa opened the door to the basement,” wonder and awe thick on his voice.

My eyes snapped open. His eyes shone in the dark.

“Well, don’t you peek. Now go get your sleep so we can wake up and have Christmas!”

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I heard his feet run down the hall, followed by the shutting of his door. In the dark, my heart grew eighty sizes.

He was all in on Santa all season long. All. In. He spoke of him with reverent wonder, wide eyes, and a joy I wish I could bottle for darker days yet to come. Honestly, the pure belief that kid has in Santa helped smooth the edges of a really rough season.

As adults, we don’t believe in much the way our youngest son believes in Santa—with all of his being. We worry. We doubt. We try to reason it all away or into being. We talk ourselves in circles. And yes, as we age we require those critical thinking skills that allow us to make informed decisions about the world around us.

But there’s something to be said for magic.

Our Christmas Day was busy and beautiful. We spent the day with family and ate entirely too much food. Our hearts were heavy for various reasons, but we did the best we could to enjoy the day.

We cleaned up some messes after we got home and set up some Christmas presents. After LittleBrother opened one box, he noticed it had some dings. This particular present was delivered by Santa.

“I bet it got beat up on the ride here,” he told his daddy.

His belief was our joy this year. It was a hard year, for so many reasons. I am living through and with loss. My husband and I are working hard to care for his grandparents. The world is literally and figuratively on fire.

But one little boy—our little boy—believes with all of his heart. His joy became our joy; his heart carried our hearts.

His Heart Carried Our Hearts

Halloween Will Always Be Halloween

Halloween 2017

I sent my husband, my mother-in-law, and my sons off down the road last night as I sat on the porch, candy bucket in hand. Last year I walked the boys around our neighborhood, so it was his turn this year. I watched them walk away, squinting into the setting sun, and sighed.

My mom-friends with sixth grade children, specifically boys, lamented this being their sons’ last year trick-or-treating. My husband can’t remember if his last year was in sixth or seventh grade. Anectdotally, the only seventh grade boy in the neighborhood did not trick-or-treat this year.

I filled candy bags and pumpkins and pillow cases with some of my favorite candies as the sun dipped lower and the air got colder. Elsa. Some unicorns. A gum ball machine. Lots of super heroes—and specifically, lots of Wonder Woman. A flower. A very small It clown, which nope. Two gorillas. Two fire puppies. A lumberjack.

I loved them all, big and small, candy-grabbing and thanking. There’s really nothing more purely childhood than Halloween trick-or-treating.

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The boys returned to the house, stole some of the candy from my bowl, and went inside. They asked to watch scary movies (no) and eat candy (yes). I continued handing out candy and a feeling settled over me.

He may not want to dress up and traipse around the neighborhood with his brother next year. He might though. I’m not going to lead his decision either way. It’s his. Just like it was the younger kid’s decision to be Indiana Jones and the older kid’s to be some kind of Skull solider thing. I used to be able to dress them as I wanted for Halloween. Those days are over.

Halloween 2017

And it’s okay. They make good choices that fit them well. I wish them that in all aspects of their lives.