Friday, January 12, 2018

Another Crazy Birthday!

I've had it with my children today. I had high expectations and maybe that was the real issue is that I had expectations at all. Chase Leo is 8 years old today. 8? how can that be? For some reason this birthday just feels like a bigger milestone than the other ones. He has grown a lot in just the past year and suddenly he looks more like a little boy and less like a toddler. I wonder things like.. Am I sad because he is my baby and my baby is no longer a baby? Am I sad because I can no longer ignore the fact that he is growing up? Or am i sad that its the real reality that its been 8 years since Pete has been gone.    My tears have hit hard this evening. It has taken me all day, of shoving down old feelings and memories. I probably get the most frustrated when I can't remember things about Chase Leo's life. I remember his birth and I remember parts of being in the hospital and I know I will never forget bringing him home with out Pete here. 
  I think my high expectations started with school being canceled. Due to the snow and the ice I was glad that I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn and get everyone off to school. However, I was looking forward to having time with Just Chase Leo. I had planned to surprise him and take him out to lunch during his lunch time at school. It seems that I don't get much one on one time with each of them. But knowing that his birthday is always so bitter sweet for me, I was looking forward to Mommy and me time. He had been wanting to see the new Paddington Bear movie. He had been so excited that this movie was coming out on HIS birthday!  So off we went to the movies.  But, it wasn't that easy.  Most of the morning was full of constant bickering and arguing. Chase Leo would get his feelings hurt because the other two would take something that he wanted. Chase Leo would do something to retaliate and then the other two would yell at him. He would yell back and then since he wouldn't want to get into trouble Chase Leo would then cry because he wasn't getting his way. This cycle went round and round.  it seemed that no amount of helping them work it out helped. Eventually I let them sort it out, which ended in everyone yelling over each other. So much for that idea. Finally it was time to go to the movie. But in usual squirrel fashion I didn't plan enough time for starting Ruby. Lately Ruby hates cold weather and is starting to break down.  She isn't going to last much longer, but like Chase Leo and growing up, I'm not going to be able to ignore her "troubles" much longer. We have already looked into buying a new one. I am getting off course. It wasn't so much that starting Ruby was the issue, No it had more to do with scraping off the layers of snow and ice.  Due to the crazy weather, the doors were frozen shut and everyone had to get into the old girl via the drivers side. Nothing like plopping down on the torn seat that has puddles of melted snow on it.  With the defrost set on high and the kids in their seats I began the tedious task of scraping the ice off the cracked windshield.  The problem is that if I spend too much time outside of the car Chase Leo's worry kicks into over drive. Even though he can see me, I am not physically in his presence, he can't reach out and touch my body.  Chase Leo being Chase Leo took matters into his own hands, unbuckled his 5 point harness (since I have micro size children they have to stay in their 5 point car seats longer than say the average child), climbed back into the drivers  seat and opened the door. In doing so the snow that was falling and swirling around blew into the warm car getting himself and the drivers seat all wet.
  "When are we leaving?"  he said.
 I yell over the howling wind through my frozen lips "Shut the door Chase Leo the defrost wont defrost if you let out all the heat!" 
  He shut the door but remained in the driver seat watching me.  I continued to chip away at the ice with the scrapper. Thankfully the defrost on the wind shield started heating up the inside of the windshield and the ice started melting. Within minutes Chase Leo opened the door again with it more snow came funneling into the car on him and the seat.
 "Mommy, we need to go, we are going to miss the movie!"
 "Chase Leo close the door, we aren't going to miss the movie!" He shut the door but not all the way. Continuing my fast pace of scraping and fighting the wind, my hands now numb from the ice melting on my gloves, I moved to the passenger side window, then to the back seat window, and on around to the other side of the car. Chase Leo opened the door again because now he can't actually see me since I am behind him " Mommy!"
 Losing my patience with the whole process and the fact that my face is frozen and so are my hands I shout "Chase Leo! Get back into your seat! Put your buckles on! Do not open the door again, for any reason!"  Chase Leo's worried expression droops as he shuts the door and climbed over the seat.  Enter Mom guilt.  Quickly I move back to the windshield scrape a giant piece of ice that had fallen loose off the windshield, open the door, and sit down on a melted puddle.   Wonderful!
   Finally we arrive at the movie theater. Everyone out and into the cold. The three of them are still bickering. However this time its about who is going to sit where. Th est thing about the movie was that everyone got along. So for an hour an a half everyone was entertained and happy. Then the movie was over and it started all over again.   Normally this might not have irritated me to the extremeness that it did, but today was different. Today was Chase Leo's birthday.  Today the thoughts were hard to talk back to and today I had new thoughts and questions I had't had asked in awhile. How could he already be 8 years old? Where did the time go? had Pete really been gone 8 years?
 How could Chase Leo have never met his dad? Does Chase Leo feel that he is missing out because the term "Daddy" hasn't ever been part of his vocabulary?
  Questions that don't ever have answers, so why are they there? Maybe the real question is why are they there still?
   Once back home everyone seemed fine until it wasn't. It was the same scenario. this person was mad because that one took his seat. This one was mad because that one wouldn't get out of the other persons room. Someone was yelling over a stool. I couldn't take it one more minute. into my room I went and the tears came. Tears for the kids who wouldn't stop fighting. Tears that they day wasn't as fun as I had hoped. Tears that all I wanted to do was go to bed. Tears for feeling bad that the weather had made us cancel his party, tears for feeling helpless when the kids just kept arguing of the most asinine stuff and finally tears that Chase Leo was 8.  Is it rational? No. But at this point I didn't think it mattered.
  If I look back at my day I know I have much to be grateful for. I am sure I am not the only parents whose children constantly bicker.  The correlation between Chase Leo and the car makes sense. Its hard to let go. It was hard to let go of Pete. Its hard to let go of the miraculous but so hard birth of Chase Leo. And maybe that's where the guilt comes in. I can't remember lots of those days. People came to see me, visit me in the hospital, bring me meals after the baby was born and I don' remember it. I ran in to someone that apparently visited me at home after Chase Leo and I had come home from the hospital. No recollection of that at all. Some would say its a gift, but do you have any idea how hard it is to not know your own memories?  Chase Leo was the last of Pete, and like my car, it was the first car without Pete. But in both situations Pete wasn't physically present for either one. That crazy change is a hard one. Each day is a blessing, each birthday is a milestone. Its one more year without Pete, but its also another year to be grateful that Chase Leo was born a strong, chubby, resilient child. Even though the four of us all have trauma from Pete's passing, we also have an unyielding love and courage as well. Change is inevitable as everyone says but its what you do with it that matters.  I will thank Ruby for being a good car and getting us places safely. I will thank God and the Angels for helping to drive Ruby all those times when I couldn't remember how I got from point A to point B. I will thank the family and friends who would sit beside me in silence because I had no words for the grief.  And I will gratefully hold Chase Leo in my lap with his legs dangling way over. Grateful for another year of watching him grow and change. Grateful for the joy in his heart, the smile on his face, and for the way he cares for people. 

 Although this day was full of a multitude of irritations, I know that Pete was close by. We were kept safe while driving on the icy roads, we had money to go and see a movie, we laughed and we celebrated Chase Leo and the gift that he is. 

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