Thursday, March 6, 2014

It started with a party invitation...

A few weeks ago Josie got a birthday party invitation for a little guy who moved to a new school this year. She and little guy were always good little buddies, so she was really excited to be included!  That excitement turned to THRILLED when she read on the card that in lieu of gifts, each party guest should make an alien costume instead! Josie's little mind instantly got to work and she was sketching out ideas within minutes. As luck would have it, we got a big blast of snow that week and a couple extra days off of school, so she knew she'd have some time to get pretty elaborate with it.  Her goal was to not have to buy anything and to only use things we had around the house. And, with the exception of the silver fabric I bought to remedy her problem of trying to get a million pieces of aluminum foil to stick to a box, she succeeded!

Here is how her costume turned out! Pretty awesome, right?!

The costume consists of: pipe cleaner antennae, an old zebra mask covered in foil, egg cartons for extra eyes, silver ribbon decor cut from a gift bag, elastic from my sewing basket for straps, an amazon box covered in silver fabric, and christmas tinsel tentacles--all on top of her Plex pajamas. She was SO proud of how it turned out! Here she is at the party - where they had a giant UFO piƱata that released silver balloons!

The close-up "alien robot face."

But, the story does not stop here. 

There's the trophy from DD who, saw the picture down below on instagram and read an abbreviated version of the story that follows, and had to do something to make sure Josie knew how special she was.

And there's this story about our sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet Josephine. There is a whole back story worth documenting here --the story of what the alien costume actually brings to mind for those of you who follow along. 

See, during the week of the alien costume, Beatrice was really sick. She has this thing (which the doctor says is normal, although rare) that whenever she gets a cough, she vomits. Basically the force of the cough makes her gag. So, whenever she has a cough like she did this particular week, nights are really really rough. As soon as she lays down, she coughs and as soon as she coughs, we have another set of sheets to clean and crying 2 year old to console. So, it was one of those weeks. A week when Josie was super excited and motivated by the challenge of the alien costume and it was a week where pretty much every afternoon I promised her that after Bea was in bed, we'd have a good couple of hours to work on it together. Then, for the third night in a row, "after Bea was in bed" never came.  

And that's when Josie finally cracked. 

It wasn't a "snap." It was definitely a "crack." All at once, after almost 3 years, the absolute first instance of "but what about me?" finally came pouring out of her. If you know Josie, you know she is one of the kindest hearted, most gentle, loving little beings on the planet. She's the kind of sister who, when a frustrated Bea launched Josie's bowl of raisins across the room, silently picked them all up, then brought me the bowl and told me she wasn't mad at Bea because Bea is still learning. She's the big sister who will stop whatever she is doing and go help Bea wash her hands or get a snack. The big sister whose little life as a 3 year old marched on without an active mom while I was on full-time bedrest with in utero Bea. The big sister who has always put Bea's needs first and who, up until this particular night, always let us put Bea's needs first too.   

But, on this night she broke my heart. When her "Please Mommy, tonight?" was met with the sound of a coughing Bea and an "I'm sorry, Josie, we'll try again tomorrow," what started as a little whimper grew to big giant sobs from a deep deep place in a matter of moments. She explained, in words broken up by gasps of air between guttural tears, that she "!" Genuinely, she asked, she pleaded, "Why does what I need always come after what Bea needs?"

The question actually stopped me in my tracks. In fact, this happened a month ago and I haven't written about it before now, because I'm still processing it all and still working to determine how to never let her feel like this again. This "my needs always come second." 

There's a lot to it. The weight of the realization. The shift in perspective. How proud I am of her that she shared her feelings. How much I want more than anything in the world for them both to know just how important they are to be individually, and together. 

And above everything else, how hard it is to be a parent and how every bit of it is worth it.