Thursday, May 19, 2016

23 Reasons My Kids Are My Best Friends

Not too long ago, I read an article by a woman explaining why her child isn’t her best friend. While I agree with a lot of the points she made, I was a little taken aback by one particular line:

“See, when I hear mom friends of mine refer to their infants, toddlers or even teens as their best friend, I can’t help but feel sorry for them.”

I have twin boys, and I’ve referred to them as my “best friends” plenty of times.

And I don’t feel like that makes me pitiful.

Don’t get me wrong, I have adult friends, too. In fact, I’ve also referred to my mom as my best friend. She is. So is my husband. And so is one of the women I ran cross-country with in college.

But so are my kids.

Maybe that makes me a Best Friend Whore. Or a Polybestfriendist. Or some other whacked-out term that I’m sure a few of the people reading this article will coin and crucify me with.

But guess what? I don’t care. I believe that you can have more than one best friend as well as different types of best friends. My kids happen to be a couple of mine. Here are 23 reasons why:

1. They never judge me. When they see me shamelessly spraying aerosol whipped cream into my mouth, or eating cream cheese spread with a spoon, their only criticism is that I didn’t offer them any first.

2. They know exactly how to make me laugh. Sometimes it’s a goofy face. Other times it’s a joke that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. And sometimes it’s just the sound of their laughter.

3. We tell each other everything. Me: “Mama is feeling really overwhelmed right now.” Toddler: “I made stinkies.”

4. They help me pick out my clothes. Every time I look down at my feet and see one green sock and one blue one, I think of their enthusiastic faces as they pulled them from my sock drawer. And I smile.

5. They know how to make me feel better. Just the other day I was having some body image issues and was crying while talking to my husband about it. Out of nowhere, my son ran up to me, said, “Mama sad,” and wrapped his little arms my neck. And not in the typical toddler-chokehold way.

6. We w(h)ine together. Toddler: (tugging on my pants) “I’m thiiiirrrrsty.” Me: (uncorking wine bottle) “Me too, honey. Meeeeeee too.”

7. We talk about boys (often while w(h)ining together.) Mickey Mouse, Elmo, Jake, Boots, Daniel Tiger. We’ve analyzed the best and worst qualities of them all.

Toddler: “Dora’s monkey has red shoes. I want red shoes. I want redddddddd!” Me: (popping open a bottle of red) “Me too, honey. Meeeee too.”

8. We can go hours without talking and the silence is never awkward. It’s called nap time. And it is glorious.

9. They think it’s funny when I fart.

10. We often match without planning it. Sweats, t-shirt, and no bra FTW!

11. We binge watch Netflix together. Confession: I kind of like watching Sofia the First. (It’s on Netflix now!) The theme song is catchy and it gives me the warm fuzzies when I see how she’s always got everyone’s backs in the castle. Plus, I find Cedric’s cynicism totally entertaining. Oh, and that high-and-mighty Amber bitch? Hilarious. Seriously, it’s like an allegory for the various parents you might encounter at the playground. If you haven’t streamed it yet, you should.

12. We’ve seen each other naked. I’m kind of responsible for bath time and diaper changes so…yeah. And it’s not uncommon for me to be startled mid-shampoo by an inquisitive little toddler peeking around the shower curtain.

13. And we are honest about what we see. Me: “Oh, bubba, looks like you’ve got a little rash on your booty.” Toddler: “Mama no wee-wee.”

14. Actually, they are honest about pretty much everything. Toddler 1: “Mama’s face…ewwww.” Toddler 2: “Hair! Lot of hair on Mama’s legs!”

15. They’re always there for me. Like…ALWAYS.

16. We dance like Meredith and Cristina in Grey’s Anatomy. And we are each other’s “person.”

17. They keep my secrets. They can’t even pronounce the words “passive aggressive,” so there’s no way they’re going to tell Mrs. ***** that’s what I called her the next time we run into her.

18. I have more selfies of them on my phone than of anyone else.

19. They do my hair for me. Peanut butter and jelly beat even the strongest mousse on a salon shelf. And who needs to pay for a professional haircut when your kid will just yank it out for you?

20. We have inside jokes. For example: “We’re going to sit quietly and look at books now so Mama can get some writing done.” HAHAHAHAHAHA.

21. They make me feel beautiful. Because whenever I look at their vibrant faces and marvel at the incredible things they can do with those amazing, miniature bodies of theirs, I remember that it was my body that made them.

22. They motivate me to be the best version of myself. Because I know that’s what they deserve.

23. I would do anything for them. If you’re reading this, and you’re a parent, I don’t think any further explanation is necessary.

 © 2015 Samantha Wassel, as first published on Sammiches & Pysch Meds

Friday, May 6, 2016

That A Hand So Small Can Hold So Much

Sometimes, my sweet boy, that little hand of yours holds me captive.

A hand so small, with fingers the size of caterpillars and knuckles no bigger than Japanese beetles. (You’re on a bug kick at the moment.) Each finger is tipped with a perfectly-crafted whorl, a physical rendering of your propensity for constant motion.

The skin of your palm is still soft and unweathered, though there is a seemingly permanent layer of dirt beneath your fingernails—a touch of imperfection that accentuates the perfectness of your tiny toddler hand.

A hand so small, and yet it does so much.

It presses dandelions into my palm—staining it yellow, like your fingertips—connecting us with the bright mark of your unadulterated kindness. I smile, happy that you’re still too young to recognize the weeds in this world. You see beauty in everything.

It clutches a popsicle stick on a hot summer day, then tugs at my shorts as you ask for more, leaving its print behind in a shade of purple that my Tide pen is no match for. I look up to see that same purple smeared across your face like war paint, and my irritation melts as quickly as the frozen treat in your hand. You make it so hard to stay angry.

It points to the word “red” when we read Pete the Cat, and gestures excitedly as you tell me that Pete’s red shoes are your favorite, because they look like the ones Daddy wears when he works out. I kiss the top of your head, touched by the love and admiration you have for the man I married. You (and I) have excellent taste.

It digs in the dirt and plucks roly polies out of the grass, pinching them between inquisitive fingers. I cringe when you offer them to me, but can’t help laughing as you flick them across the ground like teeny marbles. You are such a boy. (But Mama's not, so we’ve really got to get over this bug phase.)

It grasps metal Hot Wheels cars, running them up and down the length of my body as though I’m a living racetrack. I laugh as you call out “speed bump” when you reach my nose (until the tiny tire gets caught in my nose ring). You are so creative.

It meticulously picks all the marshmallows out of your Lucky Charms, separating them by color before popping them into your mouth. You offer me one, and I smile when I see the shape in your hand: You are sharing your heart with me.

It reaches for my phone whenever I pull it out in front of you, not because you want to play with it, but because you want to toss it aside. (You hate it when Mama texts.) I allow you to do so, and instead of reading the letters LOL on a screen, I laugh with you as we read your favorite story. You remind me what's most important.

It points to your boo-boo after you take a tumble at the playground, indicating the spot I need to “kiss all better.” I touch my lips to your scraped knee, then watch you jump up and resume playing as though nothing happened. You still believe Mama can fix anything.

It holds your favorite blanket close to you, wrinkling the soft fabric in the tight grip of your minuscule fingers. (I bought you that blanket before I even met you.) I smile, and the skin around my eyes creases, mirroring the folds in your blanket. I cherish those lines: They are love wrinkles.

It helps your brother pick up toys at the end of the day, then gives me a high-five when I tell you how proud you make me. I revel in the slight sting as your itty bitty palm slaps mine. You still think high-fiving Mama is cool.

It wipes at the tears that run down your face when someone hurts you, and closes around my fingers when I, too, try to brush away your pain. At other times, when you see me hurt, you return the favor. Your compassion brings even more tears to my eyes.

It slides into mine when we go for walks around the neighborhood, your grip slipping ever so slightly when we both start to sweat in the sticky summer heat. I pause to dry my hand on my shorts, and you immediately reach for my other one. You’re not ready to let go. I'm okay with that.

This hand so small: It explores and discovers, it expresses and creates, it comforts and shares.

A hand so small—a hand that grew inside me, in that sacred space where you and I first shared the gift of life. A hand that, now fully formed, continues to share that gift with me every day.

A hand that is a literal extension of the perfect person my body created, and a figurative extension of myself.

Sometimes, I marvel at the irony of its smallness, wondering how a hand so small can hold so much.

Because when I see the beautiful things it does, I still feel it there—inside me—holding on to my heart.

© 2015 Samantha Wassel, as first published on Mamalode