Memaw sent me a letter for Mother's Day, and in it she included an excerpt from Erma Bombeck. I haven't heard of this author before but I'm glad Memaw introduced me to Erma because she was quite the humorist/columnist and I'm a sucker for any sarcastic and thoughtful words on motherhood. So many quotes of Erma's float around the internet and yet it was difficult for me to find a proper source for this poem. I believe it was originally written by Bombeck in 1971 but there seem to be quite a few variations. Memaw sent this to me because Erma talks about her three children and well, I can definitely relate to much of it. Maybe you can, too.
I’ve Always Loved You Best Because … (By Erma Bombeck)
It is normal for children to want assurance that they are loved. Having all the warmth of the Berlin Wall, I have always admired women who can reach out to pat their children and not have them flinch.
Feeling more comfortable on paper, I wrote the following for each of my children.
To the First-born: I’ve always loved you best because you were our first miracle. You were the genesis of a marriage, the fulfillment of young love, the promise of our infinity.
You sustained us through the hamburger years. The first apartment furnished in Early Poverty...the 7-inch television set we paid on for 36 months.
You wore new, had unused grandparents and more clothes than a Barbie doll. You were the “original model” for unsure parents trying to work the bugs out. You got the strained lamb and three-hour naps.
You were the beginning.
To the Middle Child: I’ve always loved you the best because you drew a dumb spot in the family and it made you stronger.
You cried less, had more patience, wore faded, and never in your life did anything “first,” but it only made you more special. You are the one we relaxed with and realized a dog could kiss you and you wouldn’t get sick. You could cross a street by yourself long before you were old enough to get married, and the world wouldn’t come to an end if you went to bed with dirty feet.
You were the continuance.
To the Baby: I’ve always loved you the best because endings generally are sad and you are such a joy. You readily accepted the mild-stained bibs. The lower bunk. The cracked baseball bat. The baby book, barren but for a recipe for graham cracker pie crust that someone jammed between the pages.
You are the one we held onto so tightly. For you see, you are the link with the past that gives a reason for tomorrow. You darken our hair, quicken our steps, square our shoulders, restore our vision, and give us humor that security and maturity can’t give us.
When your hairline takes on the shape of Lake Erie and your children tower over you, you will still be “the Baby.”
You were the culmination.
That Erma. She really said it best. But I must add that I love these kids so much that it physically hurts my heart sometimes.
Feeling grateful for Truman, Cecelia, and Porter today.
Things I love: girl time, weekends away, Chicago, and my college girlfriends. Therefore, last weekend was pretty much perfection when you throw in 75 degree and sunny weather.
My 'PT school' friends and I all live in different states now, but the four of us have been through so much over the years that distance doesn't matter. Do you have friends like that? Girls that even though you haven't seen each other in years, you can pick up right where you left off without an ounce of awkwardness? I'm lucky that I have this group of PT friends and also my STL friends that will always be 'those' girls to me.
Keri was featured on this blog many times back in 2008 when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. She is 6.5 years out from her diagnosis and is doing awesome, living in Indiana with her husband, and hasn't changed a bit. I haven't seen her since her wedding in 2010.
Allison was one of my roommates in college and a sorority sister, she lives in Maryland with her husband and three kids. Al has as a 10.5 year old daughter plus a nine year old and an eight year old from her husband's previous marriage, so she is just sort of busy;). I haven't seen Al since my baby shower in 2010.
Megan was our host, living in a north/west neighborhood of Chicago. She was also one of my roommates in college, a sorority sister, and she's pregnant with baby #2. Her boy Mitch is one year old so just a few months older than Porter, and she was a fab host to us ladies. I haven't seen Meg since her wedding in 2011.
The four of us aren't constantly emailing or texting and we obviously hadn't seen each other much since we graduated. In fact, the four of us hadn't been reunited all together since my baby shower in St. Louis over five years ago so it was HIGH TIME we finally did a girls weekend. We had this planned for 2013 and then it fell through, which is good because I'm pretty sure that previously scheduled trip was right around the time I got pregnant with Porter. So glad it didn't work out for me to be away then!
This is one of the only pictures I have of us four online anywhere (plenty of actual prints in scrapbooks floating around somewhere, though). This was at my baby shower and that would be our 'cute faces' pose. Definitely an inside joke, we aren't really THAT vain but it was just a college thing. You had to be there...
But this time we vowed to make this happen. Megan offered to host since Chicago is somewhat central for all of us living in Wisconsin, Maryland, and Indiana. I had Tony and Truman drop me off at the Amtrak train station on Friday for the 1:00 train to Chicago. Then the guys picked Cecelia and Porter up from Lori's later that day, and then began Nate's solo weekend with the children. But of course his parents were around for a lot of the time and the kids were on their best behavior for daddy. OF COURSE:)
I took the train to Union Station which is a quick 90 minute ride and a whopping $24 one way. I mean, you really cannot beat this method to the big city because you can bypass traffic! Keri drove to Megan's and Allison flew into Midway, so we decided it was easiest for Allison and I to meet up via the CTA then ride together to a stop near Meg's house. It's always a little 'holy crap, Chicago is freaking huge and so heavily populated and OMG, please don't get lost!' when I go to Chi-town. But I really do love this city so much and Nate and I need to get down there with the kids soon.
Anyway, I took the amtrak to Union Station, walked with my phone in front of my nose as the maps app told me which way to turn, veered into a Starbucks for a quick pick-me-up and a bit of downtime, then found my LaSalle blue line station where Allison was meeting me after she landed. I saw the Willis tower and noted that downtown Chicago is still quite amazing. Took a few pictures, looked like a tooly tourist, you know...the usual.
(Finally reading Gone Girl--like it so far! Also, I wonder why the girls were shocked by the amount of coffee I drink, it's not like I talk about coffee that much...right?)
Once Allison texted to say she was hopping on her Orange Line to meet me, I walked the rest of my way to the blue line station. Allison and I found each other and hopped on the train to the Irving station, where Megan and Keri picked us up via car. I mean, the traffic on the Express Way was incredible. Apparently anything after 3pm on a Friday is just a joke....a small price to pay for a booming city life, but still. Cray.
We got the tour of Megan's adorable house and then chatted our faces off. We had reservations for dinner at 8pm and we sort of had to hustle to get ready because we were so busy catching up from years apart. Megan drove us to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba which was absolutely delicious --- love small plates, love Spanish Tapas, loved the atmosphere. I had a 'Barca Blues' as a drink (vodka, luxardo maraschino, blueberry, basil, mint, lemon, and orange bitters) and it was divine. Also had a peach sangria, then we shared a boat load of small plates--too many to even list. We discussed my lack of a selfie stick but still managed a picture to commemorate our first night together. I hardly took any pictures this trip, was too busy talking!
Saturday morning we woke up and resumed our constant chatter, ate some fruit and toast and had coffee (I had my first cup from a Keurig, so insane!!). Then we got dressed and went to brunch at Frasca in the Roscoe Village area, where we sat outside in the glorious sunshine and consumed tasty food (I had the Lincoln Ave omelette and we shared a slice of heaven with these puffy donut ball things). Then we walked around and shopped (a boutique called Bazar sort of blew my mind), got pedicures, and eventually landed at Mystic Celt for some drinks. Is outdoor dining/day drinking the best thing ever? I think yes. Also discovered 'Summer Brew' which is a Blue Moon/citron Vodka/lemonade cocktail and my new favorite.
Ah, some things never change. Feeling like a GIANT next to these ladies.
Nearly killed ourselves in the middle of a street for this shot with the word 'Chicago' under foot. Worth it?
Oops, also had a Margarita. Was perfect.
We headed home, eventually showered and got ready for dinner, where we had reservations at Pizza East---this place totally rocked my world. We ate inside and the atmosphere was very hip and fun but casual. Basically it was a highlight of the whole trip. The bruschetta with fava beans and radish was phenomenal, the salad with avocado and mustard vinaigrette made me want to hunt for a similar dressing at home, and our pizzas we shared were all great but the veal meatball/proscuitto one was the ultimate fave. Allison and I also split a bottle of Cab/Merlot and it was great but the buttery garlic bread was even better. Really fun evening, not even sure what we talked about at this point but I know I was belly laughing and near crying a lot of the time (from the belly laughs).
Another selfie-pre dinner!
Megan drove us home and I realized that even at nearly 11pm on Saturday night, the expressway is still freaking packed in Chicago. Maybe a lot of the cool kids were just beginning their nights! We all stayed up and Al and I had more wine, watching some Louis CK with Megan's husband, Kurt. I mean, I'm sure the copious amounts of wine made him much funnier than necessary but I was crying-laughing at one of his routines about parenting. He definitely takes things WAY too far but on this night I thought he was hilarious.
We called it a night and went to bed, and in the morning I was fearful of a wine hangover. I did need a little 'rest' session on the couch to rebound but eventually pulled through. Megan made us an awesome egg casserole, coffee, and fruit before we all started packing up. It was sad to say goodbye to these girls and we agreed we cannot let another 5ish years go by without visiting again. Nope. It was too much fun seeing them in person so it must happen again soon.
Megan dropped Allison and I off at Union station, where I got the 10:20 Amtrak back to Milwaukee and Allison took the CTA (The L?? I think this is the correct terminology) to Midway. Keri drove back home to Indiana. And we all resumed our lives spread out in different states but with a little more reminiscing and laughter under our belts. Love these girls so much. Until next time;)
Little known fact: Nate and I were thisclose to moving to Chicago instead of Milwaukee back in 2007. I even had to cancel an interview I had set up at a hospital in Chicago once we officially decided we were headed to Milwaukee. It's such a fun town and there's just so much to DO there. Again, must take the Amtrak down with our kids soon.
My baby is not a baby anymore, people! (How big is Porter? Sooooo big!)
He felt much better today and I think he's headed in the right direction after whatever sickness hit him hard. He was well though for a monthly photoshoot but it didn't last long. Still cute;) Communication/Tricks/He understand what we say: Waves, claps, so big, blows kisses, points and dances all on command. Actually the dancing thing happens when he hears music or sees his siblings running around like fools. Says 'dada' and actively looks for Nate, or will say it when he first sees Nate. If I ask, 'Where is daddy?' he will stop, look towards our back door, and say 'dada' in a perplexed voice. He did this today when Nate was sitting across the table from Porter, so who knows?
Loves Henry's beard.
Attempting the back carry in the Ergo one day. Sort of liked it.
My little nugget baby.
Sometimes Porter mumbles 'mama' but it's usually directed towards any inanimate object, or when generally disgruntled. I know he loves me but MAN, would it kill a baby to recognize and verbalize that I'm his mom like he can do for his dad? Hmpf. Says 'hi' and 'bye-bye' while waving and I'm officially calling 'hi' his first real word. Uses that one appropriately and it's beyond adorable when he will say it to random strangers in a store. Shakes his head 'no' as soon as he throws food on the ground, learning this is not something he should do....yet not caring enough to stop. Signs 'more' by clapping enthusiastically in his high chair but I've forgotten all of the other baby signs that we were so great to use with Truman. (I won't pretend we signed with Cecelia either, sorry kids number two and three). Just starting to cry when Cecelia takes something away from him, really asserting his opinions about what he likes and doesn't like.
Soccer practice fun.
Greatly enjoys watching cartoons with big brother.
One thing Porter doesn't like? Mobility. Porter is SO not mobile, it's sort of starting to worry me. But I also selfishly LOVE the fact that my baby will sit happily in one place, since we all know a mobile baby is 1000x harder than a happily immobile one. Porter will roll and lay on his stomach but he's not barrel rolling everywhere, sometimes gets stuck on his tummy and then gets angry about that. He will not get up on all fours. He will not army crawl. He does not pull to stand. He mostly just sits or lays on his stomach, and he can scoot around while sitting, too. It's interesting because third babies seem to get the reputation to be super mobile early, trying to keep up with their siblings. I think Porter is not motivated and highly content to sit still, knowing his siblings will bring him toys and his mommy likes to carry him and snuggle the baby of the family. He likes to stand if we help him get there and I don't think he's 'low tone', so I'll continue to tell myself that every baby is different and I should enjoy my slow-to-move baby as long as possible. I'll of course talk to my pediatrician at the next appointment, too, but I think he might say that Porter is his own person and not to compare my kids. SO HARD though.
Obsessed with swings.
Immobile baby in the Missouri grass.
Note the crossed ankles and clapping. And why is there always a laundry basket in all of my pictures??
Sleeping is still one of Porter's most prized talents, although he's waking a bit earlier for the day around 6am instead of 7am. But he still clocks about 11 hours at night with bedtime around 7-7:30 so I cannot complain. His morning nap is usually a quick 30 minutes and the afternoon nap rocks my world at 2-3 hours. NICE. I know. I love this category now, even more so after I read about Cecelia at ten months waking anywhere from 2-4 times at night and NOT napping. (shudder).
Oh, hi. I'm trying to crawl but not really.
Eating is another one of P's specialties. Food and formula are his favorites. He's drinking less in bottles and amping up his solid food intake, but still probably drinks about 24 oz in formula plus three meals in real food. He thinks he is an adult and still really prefers to feed himself, but will tolerate Greek yogurt via the spoon and occasionally applesauce or pureed baby food. Lori says that at daycare Porter gets really really angry if the bigger kids are eating something he can't have (like popcorn) and he is highly driven by food. He would seriously be content to sit in his highchair most of the day, shoveling food into his mouth-- a boy after my own heart.
Loves those bottles.
Scary sister smile.
Hmm, bananas are so boring, mom.
Superficial matters: Besides the simple fact that he is the CUTEST? 18 month clothes fit now, and I have a mix of 12 month, 12-18 month, and straight up 18 monthers in the rotation. Kind of boggles my mind because 18 month sleepers always look gigantic compared to 12 months for some reason, but they fit my long boy. He was about 21 pounds a few weeks ago, but apparently he lost at least one pound being sick (probably just fluids, but still sad). So he's not ssuper fat but he's sturdy and plump and...perfect. Size 4 diapers, size large ears, growing more hair, big blue eyes. STUNNER. Little stud muffin. I'm under his spell, I can't help it.
Two teeth. He only has two teeth! The other kids had six each by now, and I swear to you that Porter's top four teeth will all come through in a matter of days. They look painful and swollen are just taking their sweet time up in his grill.
He still doesn't take a nuk, but someone else does in this house.
Comparing sibs: Cecelia's 10 month post: was army crawling, crawling on all fours, pulling to stand, had six teeth, fantastic nurser, horrible sleeper, and loved solids.
Truman's 10 month post: was just starting to army crawl, had six teeth, winding down with nursing, just starting to sleep, and was hit or miss with solids.
Loves to pick his sister's nose.
And wear hats with big brother.
So Porter is officially my slowest motor guy, my best sleeper, my earliest to wean, and has the least amount of teeth. HE HIS OWN MAN, guys. He's probably the smiliest and possibly the sweetest, too, but that might just be my obsession for this baby speaking.
Meh, whatever, ma.
No seriously, I'm madly in love with you, Porter. What a privilege to watch you grow and to be your mom. Ten whole months of this life with you. I'm not sure how this is possible but I'll do my best to embrace the passage of time instead of cursing it. Because you are way too much fun to waste time being sad.