Then he bled….

Every few months I settle into my bed a little before exhausted-brain time and write a short “letter” to the boys in a journal for them. I know that I’m not going to remember everything that they do. I know that I will forget so many details of their lives and will regret that. So I try to chronicle some of the “momentous” moments. (Naturally, boy number three keeps getting the short end of the straw….same way that there are fewer professional photos of him!  Why are some clichés so real?!).

Last night I picked up the pen to tell Mr. Ornery how exciting it is that he finished his “season” at the day care center. He has been there almost every single week of his life since the age of three months. There were times that he waved good-bye to me, times that he needed just one more kiss, times that he needed to run and jump into my arms, and times that I thrust him into Miss Kathy’s arms, knowing that her embrace would soothe him and he’d soon be on with his day. But there were many days that I walked out of the door with tears in my eyes, pausing before I could drive on. Being a working mom with my precious children with someone else every day was not something I had dreamed of. And yet, I also knew that they were well-loved, well-cared for and that they were growing and learning and thriving. And so….I would whisper comforting words to other mothers as they walked out with glistening eyes as well.

Last night I also wanted to write to Super Tall Guy to tell him in his own private journal (rather than the Open Letter) about his experience over the past two weeks. Yet as I chronicled the events and glowed about his bravery and how much I had been worried about him, I realized that I just couldn’t put the emotions into words. For almost two weeks, I have been wound so tense. I have lived with a baseline level of worry and stress and anxiety about my boy’s recovery.

How could I describe the panicked look upon his face when he bolted upright in bed at 9:02 pm last Monday? How could I tell him my fear when streaks of blood stained the tissues that he spit into? The shake of his head when I told him we were going to the hospital? The wide-eyed gazes of his younger brothers who had aroused with the sudden change in energy level in the room? The concern in my heart as I chatted with his ENT doctor during my almost red-light-running rush to the hospital? The determination in my voice as I announced to the Emergency Room attendant that he was bleeding after his T&A and we needed to go straight back?

The panic in my stomach as I watched him spit out clots of blood and saliva? The fear as they wheeled him into the operating room even though the on-call attending physician hadn’t made it to the building yet? The beat of my steps pacing an empty surgical waiting room at 11:15 at night? The silence in my response to the cleaning staff’s amicable question, “How are you?” (I had no answer….I had no idea how I was….).

The tears that eventually escaped in staccato bursts as I tried to pull myself together. The texts sent into the air to reach out to family and friends for prayers. Sister and mother who stayed awake throughout the night for electronic updates. The kind response from a friend over an hour away willing to come to the hospital (“You shouldn’t be alone now.”)  The warmth of the hug from a nearby friend who did jump in her car and sat with me for a bit….catching up on family happenings as if we had just met up for a cup of coffee.  Plain joy and gratefulness to once again look down at my son, my boy, my angelpost bleed….sleeping once again in the recovery room.

All of that and more, I just couldn’t write for him. Not last night. Not in his journal.

But maybe….someday…..he might read the writings of his mother who sends out her heart to friends and family across the void. Because it is through connecting that we are real and through loving each other that we carry on.

For now, I hug him every moment I can and whisper “I love you” so much more than I did.

And I rejoice in the cheeseburger that broke his 11 day fast and the smile that skirts his face as he jumps on his bike once more. Every day stronger. Every day more alive.

Every day more lovely and surrounded in love.

 

An Open Letter to my 8-year-old on his 6th day after tonsil surgery

Dear Super Tall Guy,

I’m actually not surprised by your anger this morning. I’m not surprised that you kicked out at me with your 80 pound body (now 7 pounds lighter than it was a week ago). I completely understand when you then curled into my lap and tearfully whispered in my ear, “Why did you let them take my tonsils out?” I felt your pain, the warmth of the tears, the wet of the drool.

You had no idea it would be like this. You had no idea how much pain there would be….that you wouldn’t be able to swallow anything for days….not even your own saliva. You were not fully informed. Oh, just a little day at the hospital while you sleep and then all TV-watching, ice-cream-eating bliss for a couple days is what you were told. You did not sign up for all of this.surgery

You should be angry in the middle of the night when you feel like you are going to choke. You should be angry that your brothers are running around having fun and you don’t have the strength to get up off the couch. You should be mad that even the offer of unrestricted ice-cream, popsicles, jello, or any kind of liquid including soda has no appeal to you at all. It stinks.

I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was going to be like this either. I watched the video sent out by the hospital. I read all the handouts given. “Keep the pain medications going around the clock for the first couple of days.”  “Offer cold liquids and transition to a soft diet as tolerated.” “Head to the emergency room if there’s any bleeding.” It seemed straightforward.  I had no idea the pain would be so bad overnight that you would stop swallowing completely. I had no idea we’d be back in the emergency room two days later for some IV fluids as I watched your lips and tears dry up and you couldn’t even take the pain medications for over 24 hours. I didn’t know you would have absolutely no food of any kind for six days.  Your moaning in the middle of the night breaks my heart. The tears well when you turn to me at 1:00 am and say, “Mommy, say a prayer for me please.”  I see your hurt.

I’m so sorry for yelling at you when you combined apple juice, koolaid, and the melted freezer pop liquid and then spilled it all over the table and floor. I’m sorry for snapping at you when you kicked out at a passing brother who brushed your foot. I’m sorry for being impatient and demanding that you just swallow!! You’re right….I “don’t know how it feels.” I don’t know how much it hurts. I don’t know how it feels to think that you’re constantly about to choke and die. I don’t know what drives the panicked look in your face in the middle of the night.

But I do know that we needed to do this to get you sleeping better and healthier in the long run. I do know that two weeks may seem like forever in your mind, but they are actually such as short window in your wonderful life as it plays out.

And I do know that I love you. I do know that I’m incredibly proud of you for hanging in there. I do know that I’m amazed by your brave face as the nurse tries to get an IV into small dehydrated veins. I do know that you have shown such amazing strength and courage over this past week. You have surprised me. You are no longer my little baby….you are becoming my big man.

But thankfully you still fit in my lap….because I still need to hold you.

I still need to kiss you.

And say, “I’m sorry.”

I love you, my big guy.

Mommy

Why we absolutely Do NOT need a dog for any reason…..maybe….

There’s been a lot of talk in this neck of the woods lately about getting a little dog. Super Tall Guy has been begging for one since the moment he could talk. I have him generally pacified with the excuse of needing to move first so that we’ll have a nice big yard for the dog to run (and theoretically not have to do daily excrement removal!). He did inform me just the other day, though, that the excuse is wearing a bit thin….and “if we don’t move this year, we must get a dog before my next birthday.”  I’m still not quite giving in.

I thought about it briefly last monthly….briefly enough to begin a conversation with the other head-of-household.  But then I let it drop….and now it surfaces again as the next boy approaches the tender age of 8 – apparently the age to consider getting a dog.

But….let me just say this (you know, in a blog, rather than in conversation….) – here are ALL the reasons why we don’t need a dog, actually:

Dogs bite – particularly little puppies. They are always nipping on something…your shoes, your TV remotes, your body. And really, we already have a biter in the house. His name is Mr. Trouble. Come to think of it – he’s never bitten me (wise young man), but he so enjoys shocking his mother with a good nip or causing a ruckus by attacking the back or arm of an unsuspecting brother/cousin. So why add another random pain inducer?

Dogs are constantly underfoot and you are always tripping over them. We have that already – The Little Guy. You turn around and boom – there he is! You trip over him.  You walk into the kitchen and he circles in front of you – boom! Trip over him. Anywhere you turn. Anywhere you walk. It’s uncanny. There is The Little Guy … underfoot! Boom. Trip.  (“uncanny?” …more like “annoying” is what it is!!)

Dogs tend to “piddle” in the house and usually in a most unwelcome place. We already have that – “Mommy, ‘someone’ peed on the floor again!!” – in the toy room, in a bed room, on the hardwood floor….a nice puddle of yellow. Seems Mr. Trouble went through a stage of marking his territory which (knock-on-wood) has subsided, but The Little Guy is still having enough “accidents” in his toileting “stage” that I’m not so eager to bring another creature lacking bowel and bladder control into the house!

Dogs bark a lot and you can’t actually make them be quiet if they don’t want to. And we really already have a whiny, crying little being – The Little Guy. He gets into fits of whine and cry that no amount of threat, cuddles, hugs or admonitions is going to snap him out of it. He’s particularly good about starting into a fit around 5:40 in the morning….just when you need that last bit of sleep cycle to get the body rested. Why would we want another incessant noise-maker???

Dogs shed, and tear up newspapers, and scratch up furniture, and pull things off counters, and carry shoes around the house and leave them in miscellaneous places, and splash water all over the floor while drinking, and…. And, really, the five creatures who ambulate on two feet pretty much do the exact same things – shed scratched tableclothes wherever they happen to be standing, tear up newspapers or books, scratch the dining room table with the tines of forks (despite repeated admonitions), pull candies and treats off the counters, carry one shoe off and leave it wherever they last changed their focus of attention, and can’t possibly direct every drop of water from a cup into their mouth, thus splattering the floor… And this is all in a 20-minute period – now just keep repeating that throughout the day!

in the office

Dogs wander into places you don’t want them to go unless you’ve managed to train them to be in the crate or a room for the day. Children also seem to have the habit of wandering into rooms that you’ve expressively forbidden them numerous times. And when caught red-handed, they hide under your office room chair and pretend they’re not there and that that’s obviously not their mess on your desk!

Okay… in an attempt to be fair and reasonable, there are a couple reasons why we do need a dog…

They clean up the house – at least of anything edible.  I have, in fact, vowed to never feed the boys spaghetti again until we have a dog who will clean the floor. I have to date broken that vow numerous times….but I still say it every time I attempt to get the sticky stringy noodles to stop clinging to the broom bristles and move into the dustpan.

They are generally protective and since we’ve already been robbed….it stands to reason that it might be nice to have a loud boisterous deterrent guarding the door and the little ones inside.

They are adorable and cuddly …. For just a wee bit of time ….just like the cute and cuddly newborns ….who suddenly grew up to be loud and boisterous boys craving independence and “power.”

They are a “man’s best friend” and since we’re in the process of raising a rambunctious handful of men, it might be nice for them to have a friend….and a few lessons in “responsibility” wouldn’t hurt.

We’ll let you know what he/she looks like…. And, of course, we sure would love your advice for “family-friendly”…. “semi-shed-free” …. “lovable, adorable” dogs in the comments below.

….if you wouldn’t mind…

….just sayin’……

(thanks)

The Final Little Guy (at least currently)

(My sister informed me this morning, “Hey, I didn’t receive a Middle of the Madness email yesterday!” I replied, “And do you remember that I had something stuck in my eye last night and couldn’t hold the right one open?” So….I’m a day late…but here.)

Almost exactly at this time, three years ago, on an ordinary Thursday morning, I was presenting to a group of doctors about the concept of a crisis nursery like Jeremiah’s Place. My cell phone vibrated in my pocket and I ignored it through the talk, through the questioning time and as I walked out of the building with my colleague. Reaching my car, I returned the call to my sister. “How busy are you?” she asked. “Well, things are pretty busy,” I thought of all the work to be done on the nonprofit, raising two boys, working 3 part-time jobs.

“Super Tall Guy and Mr. Ornery have a little brother.”

Huh.

I called the caseworker back and she asked, “Are you ready to adopt another boy?” I couldn’t answer. Wow. There was no way I could commit to that in fifteen minutes. Adoption is a big decision. I finally replied, “I can commit to fostering the brother, but I can’t say I’m ready to adopt today.” (Of course, you all know, that the moment I said the first “yes” – I was also saying the “adoption

And so there was The Little Guy! He was ready to be discharged that afternoon, after spending 5 weeks in the hospital for methadone withdrawal. We were leaving for the beach in two days – Saturday morning. So I drove home, picked up a car seat, chose a “cute” take-me-home outfit and headed off to the hospital.

The Little Guy was tucked in the corner of the nursery. He had a little MamaRoo swing that he apparently had loved spending time in. He had a whole lot of nurses who had loved him for the past month. He had a few outfits and apparently a grandmother who had visited a couple times. I met with the resident who was “discharging” him and walked out with a little bundle. We went straight home so I could have a little time with him before the brothers arrived.

Then we went into hyper-drive – packing even more than usual for a beach vacation – diapers, baby clothes, bottles, formula, binkies, pack-n-play, blankets. It was a hectic start but in a way it was nice to go away. We all had time to bond some with this little guy, rather than returning right to work as is typically the case for us in getting newborns.

The Little Guy came to us at the “oldest” age for an adopted boy. Sometimes I’m sad about missing out on those first few sweet weeks (though I guess for him they were difficult fussy weeks of crying and sleeping through medicated stupors). Sometimes, though, I wish the “System” would have called me right after he was born so that I might have visited him during those weeks. After all, with the birth mother in jail, they knew the baby would go to a foster home and they always try to place with siblings first. And yet, the “system” is that the Child Protective Services aren’t even notified until right before hospital discharge. And maybe it would have been hard for me to see The Little Guy struggling to clear drugs from his body. And yes, it would have been hard to squeeze in time to sit by his bedside at the hospital (likely it would have been late into the night). And yet, I would gladly have been there – for everyone needs to feel love and comfort – and a new little guy certainly needs that.

It was a “rockier” time with the adoption process for the Little Guy. I had started blogging by then so have shared several of the stories along the way. Long story, shorter….therenot-the-dad-2 was an identified “father of the baby” who was incarcerated, but who wrote letters to the baby at least 1-2 times a week. I finally became weary of this “relationship” and asked for paternity testing…which revealed that he was “not the dad.” That awkwardness ended but I still had to face the birth mother during a “contact visit” at the county jail before the adoption (yes, I made the commitment) finalized just before he turned two.  (Three years later, I’m hoping that my advice to seek contraception was in fact followed. My hands are a bit full.)

Part of this “rockiness” led me to talk to Super Tall Guy a bit about the situation with The Little Guy and the birth parents. Apparently Super Tall Guy then had some hope that The Little Guy wasn’t going to be staying around and taking up attention and space and toys. Even just last month, as an 8-yr-old, Super Tall Guy lay in bed one night and said, “I wish we didn’t adopt The Little Guy.” It seems life is still rough to be sharing time and attention. I’m sure that all families struggle with how many kids to have, and for us foster-to-adopt families, it’s hard to predict how all of this will play out. Will the foster kids stay and become adopted….or will they tear your heart in two as they leave? As hard as it is on the adult, it also has implications for the kids in the household as well.

Three years later, The Little Guy is still “the little guy” (though he’s finally solidly on the growth chart!!)I used to tell people that The Little Guy got the “memo” that he was Boy # 5 and life would be easier as a calm, mellow little dude. And he sure did get a “memo” – the one that said, You’re Boy # 5 – you better be extraordinarily loud, stubborn, and strong-willed. I know these characteristics are going to be fantastic strengths one day, but in a 26-pound three-year-old, they are an expressive, argumentative, whiny, outspoken little guy!

 

Getting ready for summer!

I haven’t quite figured out when to “change out” the boys’ clothes and finally switch seasons. We had a spell of warmth that demanded the window air conditioners….and then we pulled out the blankets!

But as June arrives, there are just so many wonderful things to do. Check out this list by Pittsburgh Mommy Blogger! Of course, my kids’ favorite is anything that involves water, so I’ve decided it’s time to switch my car over to summer! (And according to the Farmer’s Almanac, it’s going to be a Scorcher this summer!)

My advice after 8 years: This is what you need to have in the trunk this summer:

  1. Swim bag for each kid
    1. swimsuit
    2. beach towel
    3. plastic goggles – the cheap ones because they constantly lose them, bite them to pieces, or otherwise mangle some part of them
    4. sunglasses – which go by the same rule as the goggles
    5. a change of clothes.
  2. Mommy’s swim bag (my favorite bag is a tote by LLBean which they don’t seem to carry any more, but it’s held up!)
    1. Sunscreen
    2. Extra towels
    3. Snacks for rumbly bellies
    4. Cash at all times (replace when used up!!) to buy more snacks for rumbly bellies because they don’t really want the healthy ones that you packed.
    5. Bandaids – you know that they will actually never abide by the “no running” rule around a pool!
    6. Tissues – love when the boys surface from below the water with boogers streaming down into their mouths, completely oblivious, and I try to pretend not to notice ….while motioning dramatically in one of those “get-over-here-and-wipe-your-snot!!” fashions.  Must have tissues….though baby wipes or the towel can be used in a pinch!
  3. Insect repellant – the tick season is upon us and Lyme Disease is hitting epidemic proportions in Southwest PA. Here’s some information from a friend of mine who is THE Lyme Disease expert in the whole world….or at least in Pennsylvania! Dr. Andrew Nowalk’s Lyme disease frequently asked questions
  4. Baby wipes – I can’t say enough about the importance of having these in the car at all times! They clean chocolate off the steering wheel (it happens!), sticky fingers, forgotten-mashed-smelly banana pieces, and so much more. In fact, I love baby wipes so much, I wrote a whole post about them almost 2 years ago!
  5. Bottles of water – this is particularly important for boys who are almost always thirsty, especially after running around under the hot summer sun. But they also come in handy cleaning up messes when you’ve decided to let the younger twoNate mud 5-14wp play by themselves on the other side of the soccer field while Super Tall Guy has practice and you, for the first time ever, spend the session talking with another mother. And then the younger boys return covered head to toe, very literally, in mud and you remember why you never stand and talk to another mother!!  It was particularly humorous, though, to hear another parent find the two boys (as I stood rustling in the trunk for the water) saying, “Um….does anyone know who these kids belong to?” in that unmistakably disapproving tone.  Yes – me… the negligent mother who is happy the boys found dirt, yet slightly distracted by finding ways to keep too much mud from settling inside the car! (Side note – a head full of mud-laden ringlets leads to a very long bath punctuated with clear joy that beckons the other boys to see that the water has become “poop.”  An inspiring conversation about this episode on Facebook has me contemplating the name for a new daycare center or boys’ school – “Boogers, Poop and Bugs.”  Has a fine ring to it, doesn’t it?!)
  6. Rounding out the back of my van, it also helps to have an umbrella (because it suddenly storms), fold-up camp chairs (because I get tired of standing for soccer/flag football), miscellaneous balls to toss around, and $20 cash hidden in the car for the spontaneous pull-over to an ice cream stand moment!

Summer is a joy! Savor every hot sizzling moment and pray there’s an ice cream truck in your neighborhood!

The Arrival of Mr. Trouble….and the house was never the same…

Pudgy, chubby little cheeks. Pink fingers and toes. Soft downy blond hair. We stared at him….he was so fair, so pink, so….white!  We had to keep checking him to make sure he was breathing and alive and he was okay….because he was so white! One day, handswhen he was a couple months old he was crying and crying and his cheeks and skin got all blotchy red. Kathy panicked and called me over to evaluate this problem. I turned to her and said, “He’s white. White kids do that when they cry. You know….if you had birthed a baby, he’d do the same thing” (our family is so freckled and fair).

And, this baby was so quiet when he arrived a week after he was born. He slept, he ate, he slept some more. Nothing – no sound…..for about ten days….and then never again (except once when he had a fever….he actually sat on the couch for more than 10 seconds….and we knew he was sick. It was almost a shame to give him Tylenol and perk him up!).

Almost four years ago, we welcomed Mr. Trouble. I confess that I only vaguely remember the day of his coming – must have been some craziness happening in my life at the time. But I do remember instantly loving his blue eyes and soft hair and falling in love with his endearing smile.

Yet, he comes by his nickname with great vigor. He is a cross somewhere between Dennis the Menace meets Curious George….meets the Tanzmanian Devil. There’s the saying that if a toddler has been quiet for 10 minutes, you better figure out what they are doing. We had to keep Mr. Trouble on a “2-minute leash” – doesn’t matter how exhausted you’re feeling, if you haven’t seem Mr. Trouble in the last 100 seconds, you better stand up and go looking….or you’re just going to be wiped out by the mess you’ll be cleaning!!

It’s pretty clear that he’s going to become a future Nobel Prize winner. His inquisitiveness has no bounds:

  • If I knock over this gallon of milk, how long will it take to travel across the dining room table and splash onto the floor (forming what diameter puddle under the table?)?
  • If I open this box of crackers and toss them delightfully into the air, how far will they scatter?
  • Is there anything in this refrigerator to eat?!?

    kris2

    How about this? Hurt?

  • If I pee on the Legos, how long will it take for the yellow puddle to be discovered?
  • If I bite you on the inner thigh….does that hurt?
  • If I mix and swirl liquid hand soap and Jif peanut butter on the hardwood floor, does it actually clean the floor or just leave a greasy residue?
  • Is there anything in this refrigerator to eat?!?
  • If I knock down the cardboard fort painstakingly created by Super Tall Guy, will he let me join him in play or chase me out of the room in anger?
  • If I be Jake and the Neverland Pirates with my sword and backpack, Little Guy – will you be Cubby?
  • Is there anything in this refrigerator to eat?!?

I am sorry to say it – but this kid is so BUSY all the time, that I am constantly using the “tag, you’re it” policy….ie, “Not my kid!”  My sister….she’s a saint…..and she deserves a HUGE award for keeping him out of the hospital and out of the ER so far. She’s also amazingly patient with him. I’m amazingly hands-off. I know my limits. “Yep, he’s yours.”

But he’s growing up. He’s almost four. We actually let him play for 3 minutes at a time now before getting up to check on him….unless we hear a squeal, then it’s NOW!

Love you, blue-eyed Trouble!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Trophies for Boys under Ten….and their Mom

My boys love awards. They love medals. They love trophies. Our house is full of “awards.” We have the cheap plastic ones that they walk around the house wearing on odd dress-up occasions. We have the “everyone’s a winner” medals from doing the Junior Great Race in Pittsburgh. We have medals won in competition by hard work and 3-times-a-week gymnastics practice. We have trophies for completing a season and for being the best. We have “Student of the Week” awards and “Clean Desk” awards (but I don’t believe that one at all….given the status of said child’s room). In fact, the boys like medals so much that they give them out to each other sometimes.IMG_0165

And many of these recognitions are fine and good, but I would like the boys to actually earn some of them.

So I’ve decided that here are the Top Ten Trophies to be Awarded to Boys under Ten (at least in my house….in this season of life):

10. The “Thank you for saying Thank You” Award.

9. The “Just Try One Bite without a Fuss” prize.

8. The “Getting off the brother you are sitting on the first time I ask you” Medal of Honor.

7. The “You went in to use the bathroom ….and came out ….without leaving a puddle at the base of the toilet!” Most High Praise

6. The “Most Costly Child” Honor (in terms of total cost of two 42-inch plasma TVs, countless light bulbs, numerous chairs including the portable camp chair I just purchased yesterday for soccer! and so much more)

5. The “You gave the toy back after grabbing it out of your brother’s hands” Certificate.

4. The “Stopped when asked to stop before running in the parking lot” Award for Safety.

3. The “You actually washed your hands after using the bathroom….with soap!?” Amazement Award.

2. The “Wow – your little brother just hit you and you DIDN’T punch him back!” Trophy

And finally…

1. Bronze – “You got dressed without being asked.”
Silver – “You got dressed AND brushed your teeth?!”
And the Gold Medal goes for – “You put on underwear!!” – The crowd cheers!!

Some possible future awards….not yet attained:
• Put the toilet seat down award.
• Ate something green on your own initiative certificate.
• Woke up and didn’t whine within the first five minutes winner (oh, that might not ever happen)

These thoughts ran through my head this week as I thought about the “stars” I write on pieces of scrap paper magnetted to the fridge. When the boys earn twenty, they earn a prize. It’s been a good system for a bit of time. But sometimes there doesn’t appear to be anything that alters their behavior.

This was particularly the case in church this morning. “The talk” was provided before we got out of the car. Reminders were sprinkled over the course of the first few minutes. The five year old was removed to the parking lot for a few minutes for a more intense reminder. But by the time the 7-year-old had racked up an hour of time-out for making noise during the service, the 3-year-old entered screaming for communion and the 5-year-old was playing in the baptism fount…..All three were unceremoniously removed to the car.

My head exploded. My blood pressure shot. My face was red as a torrent of admonitions flowed in anger…..a diatribe reviewing the “inappropriate” behavior and noise during church. That was it. Grounded for the day – 5 year old banished to the third floor and 7 year old restricted to the second. I handed them bagels and bananas and left….zombie-like to the door of the back porch where I sat and cried. Embarrassment makes me angry. Anger makes me sad. Parenting makes me exhausted. Emotions make me clean the house for two hours…..and weed the garden… and send boys back upstairs over and over all day……and realize that with all the awards that I dole out and the stars I reward and the praise and the high-fives, the real award goes to me. Me.

The Bounce Back Award goes to me and every other parent who hits the end of their limits. Who let themselves embrace the hardship of parenting. Who sit and cry at how overwhelming the responsibility is sometimes. Who have learned to forgive their children and forgive themselves. Who get up again and brush off the dirt and say – Here I am. I love you and will never give up. Ever.

Congratulations to every single parent who Bounces Back. Here’s your gold star. gold-star-sxcTreasure it…

….just as you treasure those who cause you to earn it.