Fierce. Feisty. Funny. Fearless.
Happy, happy birthday, sweet Vivi, my bunny-bunny girl.
Fierce. Feisty. Funny. Fearless.
Happy, happy birthday, sweet Vivi, my bunny-bunny girl.
I owe Mother Nature a gift basket and a thank you note.
Many folks are lamenting yet another soggy series of days that have us in boots and long pants. “It’s spring,” is the constant refrain. “It’s May!” is another. “Where’s the sun?!” Trust me, it’s coming.
In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy this rain. The rain cleared the pollen and it cleared my schedule. I was planning on doing a number of thing outdoors today and once the sky started leaking, I said, “Yessssssss!” The rare chance to clear my schedule of the “have-to’s” in order work on the “want-to’s” presented itself. I threw my arms and legs around it and held on for dear life.
First things first. With the outdoor stuff tabled for another day, the logical choice would be to move onto the indoor stuff. The laundry, the dishes, the trashes? All of that can wait.
I grabbed my coffee, the mug stained with rings of various levels from the number of times I’ve poured out, refilled, and reheated cup after cup. Next, I collected my tools: notebooks, pencil box, journal, planner, and laptop. That simple act got the creative pilot light lit, sparking my brain into a explosions of thought.
Oh, you should work on that blog post from three months ago.
Remember Black and White Wednesday? That was fun.
Where’s your camera?
Oh, wait! You need to do work on V’s birthday collage.
That’s gotta be done by the 18th.
Then you can tackle the end of year teacher gifts for the preschool for the 25th.
Did you even pick an end of year teacher gift for the preschool?
Well, if you’re going on Pinterest anyway, it would be a waste not to look at 10 ways to create a capsule wardrobe, right?
The temptation to be captain of Team Do the Most was so great. I mean, my mama didn’t raise no quitter. BUT, I had to focus because I did not want to be doing the most only to realize I didn’t really do anything by the time carpool pick up rolled around. So, I reheated my coffee (again) and made a decision. Today, I’m writing.
Puberty is attacking M like a rash that flares up every time you think you’ve got the symptoms under control. Our relationship as of late has seen more ups and downs than Oprah’s weight. Remember when your kids were toddlers and it was like living with a small, foreigner who didn’t know English? The tweenage years are like living a larger foreigner who knows English, but refuses to speak it, preferring to either screech injustices or demand that you read their mind.
There wasn’t a chapter about this in What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Believe me, I’ve looked.
Blessedly, I’ve got wonderful sister-friends who are mothers and are willing to share the tools in their toolbox. Enter the Just Between Us Journal.
This gem of a journal is a way for mothers and daughters to communicate that takes some of the angst and embarrassment out of face to face interactions. The concept is simple: mother and daughter write honestly and openly in the journal using idea prompts or free spaces. They exchange the journal on a mutually agreed upon day or period of time. What goes in the journal stays in the journal, so no, I don’t share with the Hubs whatever it is M has written (unless it’s harmful to her or her family) and she doesn’t share what I’ve written to her (i.e. yes, M, you really are my favorite) with her sisters or friends.
We’ve been exchanging the journal for about two weeks now and while we’re still figuring out the routine, I’m feeling better about our interactions.
Rather than waiting until bedtime when I’m running on fumes to ask me, “What’s a hymen and why do a I have one?” (#truestory) or “Who was your first crush when you were in the sixth grade?” (Eric Hazelcorn), M downloads into the journal on her own time and then leaves it on my bed. I then read her entries, whether it’s a page with prompts about firsts (first time I was home alone with infant M, thoughts on her first day of school) or a free space where she’s written freely, and respond.
When we are in the eye of the storm (after school, dinner, practice, etc.) and she is trying to express herself, it’s hard for me to give her the time and attention she needs right at that moment. Chances are my responses are going to be clipped and
tinged colored with impatience. Okay, not chances are. My responses are clipped and colored with impatience. Okay, not clipped but bitten off and not colored but smeared with impatience.
This journal, though. I have been given the gift of time because I can think, process, re-read what she has written, before responding calmly and thoughtfully. This has been the biggest gift. I’m confident that with continued practice, I will able to transition that skill into real life. In the process, we get to learn more about one another and manage these pubescent flare ups with more grace and patience, together.
And bonus! I get to write.
Soon, I’ll be complaining about the multiple days of rain just like everyone else, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the pattering of droplets on the windows. I’ll reheat my coffee (again). I’ll read what is going on in the mind of my middle schooler. I’ll sharpen my pencils and let her know that it’s rain that makes the flowers grow.
It’s about 7:45 and everyone is in bed. Of course, after I’ve come back downstairs, there is always some settling, a few more trips to the bathroom and an occasional search for a stuffed animal that has little feet skittering across the floors above. The night was no exception. C calls downstairs, to me, “Mom, V is trying to get out of the crib!”
My buns were just about to hit the chair so that I could eat my rapidly cooling dinner. Another jog up 15 stairs to wrangle with V just wasn’t going to happen. “Just go to sleep!” I bellowed back up the stairs at C, hoping that the footsteps I heard would peter out in a few minutes. A few minutes more became 15 minutes and then I heard the closet door in the girls room open. More footsteps and some mysterious bumps followed. I couldn’t ignore it any more. What in the world were they doing up there?
Up the stairs I went. I crossed the threshold to see C face down on the bed, softly snuffling into her pillow. I look to my right, where there crib is, and there’s V.
Beside the crib.
“Hi,” she says, her pacifier wedged in the corner of her mouth like a gangster’s cigar.
“Hi,” I say, my brow furrowing in question as I wonder why C took her sister out of the crib and left her to her own devices. I hoisted her up and dropped her unceremoniously back into the crib. “Go to bed,” I said very firmly, tucking her in with some toys and her lovey.
Back down the stairs I went, hoping to get the remainder of my dinner down my throat before the clock rolled on to half past eight. I sat down, put my napkin in my lap and heard the pitter pattering of feet over my head. Again.
My patience hadn’t dimmed, it’d been snuffed out spectacularly, and I took to the stairs.
Up the stairs I went, two at a time. When I get to the girls’ room, this is what I saw — and I’m including a picture of the scene of the crime so you can put it in perspective.
V is standing in the middle of the room on the rug. She starts at my approach. She is the visual equivalent of the word “Busted!”. With wide eyes and sharp breath of “Oh!” She scrambles forward to the rocking chair foot rest and gains purchase. From the footrest, she catapults herself to the rocking chair itself. Using the arms of the chair for leverage, she hoists herself up and onto the edge of the crib, swings one leg over, then the other, sliding onto the mattress.
She turns to me, pacifier clenched in the corner of her mouth and says, in a this-whole-thing-was-probably-a-bad-idea-but-too-late-now kind of voice, “Ta-da!”
And just like that, it clicks into place that C had no parts of V standing beside the crib. She did that herself; C was just crying out fair warning and I was too focused on chow time to heed her. So V’s spidey senses are kicking in and she’s Cirque Du Soleil-ing in and out of the crib any time she feels like it. Third child and I’ve never considered a crib tent before, but I’m starting to price them out on Amazon.
On the other hand, if I cultivate these gymnastic feats, we could have a future Dominique Dawes or Gabby Douglas in the making. . . .I’m just saying. . . #scholarship
|photos by hgd photography
That suit gets shorter every year and one of these days, it’ll fit you just right. Until then, in my heart, I’ll keep you as little as you were when we first met.
August 23, 2005
7 lbs. 10 oz.
21 inches long
I love you to the moon and back.
I love you batches and batches.
I love you, my gorgeous girl.
Happy, Happy Birthday!
This past week-end, I was fortunate enough to attend an “Eat, Drink and Be Married” celebration for two of my college friends, both of whom had gotten married within months of one another. It was a great time spent with a handful of folks from my college days, their spouses, stories about what we’ve all been doing over the past handful of years and so on.
Despite the abundance of seating throughout the house, we all congregated in the kitchen. It never fails; host a party and the crowd is drawn to the heart of the house buoyed along by laughter and the promise of food and drinks. As I stood around, sipping on a delightful vodka limeade, I watched my friends engaged in conversations, sharing iPhone photos of their little ones and reminiscing about “that one time, at the delis. . .”. Looking at these little pockets of catching up, I realized, that no one’s parents were in attendance. I mean, someone’s parents were in attendance; all of us there were parents, but our parents were conspiciously absent. We’ve become “the parents”; we’ve leveled up.
I had a second drink on which to mull that over.
One of the ladies must have seen the wry smile on my face because she asked me what I was thinking about. I shared with her my observation, to which a look of “buzzkill” flitted across her eyes before she shook her head in acknowledgement of my observation. She hated to admit it, but I was right.
“God, that’s so weird,” she remarked, pressing a hand to her abdomen as if she couldn’t even digest the thought. “I still feel like I’m 17!”
Oh yeah, I get that. I don’t feel like I’ve got 13 years between me and my last day of college. I don’t feel like I’m old enough to have an 8 year old (I don’t know what that’s supposed to feel like, actually). I don’t feel like I’m old enough to be standing around someone’s kitchen a la The Big Chill for the 2013.
After I left the party, I headed home to help The Hubs get ready to entertain some friends of ours who were coming over for dinner. We got the girls fed, scrubbed, and pajamma-ed just as our guest arrived. The girls said their hellos, and beat a hasty retreat to their rooms to play until they were called to go to bed. As The Hubs and I sat around the table with our friends, we were laughing, debating, pouring wine and just enjoying adult conversation. It shouldn’t have surprised me when C materialized at my elbow saying that she was tired and could she just go to bed now, but it did. It was deja vu in several ways.
I can distinctly remember being 7 or 8, having been summarily dismissed by my parents as they nibbled wine and cheese with their friends. After a good 30 minutes or so, I would creep back downstairs to observe them doing whatever it was they were doing (usually eating, playing cards and talking shit), before striding into the room to announce that I could not sleep and could they please keep it down. Somewhere between that announcement and my being escorted back to bed, I filched some chips or nuts or whatever munchies were on hand, maybe a sip of my mom’s drink, or a dollar from the pocket of a generous neighbor.
There were definite perks of being the youngest kid in the house and of my parents’ social circle.
Now, here I was on the other side of that circle, giving C a taste of my dessert before showing her back to her bed. Surreal just touches the tip of how I felt.
When you level up in a video game, there’s usually some booming announcer voice, or some blinking icon dancing across the screen, bleating “Level Completed! Level Completed!” When you notice the change in perspective — instead of peering through the forest of panty hose clad or chino encased legs as you fight back yawns with a teddy tucked securely under your arm, you’re smoothing the panty hose on your leg or brushing a crumb from your husbands chinos, picking up a teddy to place back onto some Hello Kitty or Star Wars Bed comforter — that’s when you know you’ve leveled up.
Chances are, you probably didn’t press right arrow, left arrow, X +Y to get there, either.
The other day, as I was ferrying groceries from the car to the kitchen, from the kitchen to the pantry and from the kitchen to the upstairs, I started thinking about the cycle I’ve found myself in. I don’t get political on my little piece of the blogosphere. I don’t raunchy, get up on a soapbox, beat my chest or tear my clothes. I keep things light and entertaining.
I have, in my possession, more than a little bit of useless information that will serve me well on Family Feud or Jeopardy one day. I put the well-being of myself, my husband and children at the forefront, making sure that everyone is well fed, well-groomed and well mannered before setting them free into the world. I find, though, that there’s a little flame sputtering inside of me, gasping for some air so it can blossom into something more. That little flame is a desire to be fully invested in a cause, a campaign, something that is permanent and worthwhile. Something that has some weight behind it.
I can remember reading various magazines that profiled everyday people and celebs who, after being faced with a serious disease, become champions for awareness and eradication of said disease. Call me a cynic, but if they never fell ill in the first place, would they have come to be such a supporter after all? Through my membership in various organizations, I’ve given money, time, and energy to the March of Dimes, CASA, Heifer International, and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Thankfully, my family — nuclear and extended — has been healthy. The biggest challenge we’ve faced so far is a bout of contact dermatitis and while we’ve worked through it, I’m not called to be the face of prevention and care.
I do want to invest in something, though. I want to roll up my sleeves and become fully immersed in a subject and the ways volunteers can spread the word about it. Maybe because I recently re-wrote my will, I started thinking about my legacy and I want it to mean something.
I saw the above quote while trolling through tumblr one day and felt like the words reached through the screen, wrapped themselves around my heart and squeezed really, really hard. I try to be a role model for my children, for my friends children, for my friend even. I don’t set out to do it every morning, mind you. I just do the best that I can with what I’ve been given. I’m fallible. I make mistakes. I snap at my kids, let my husband make is own dinner, and eat Cookie Butter right out of the jar with my fingers. Yeah, really. But I keep coming back to this flame flickering inside of me, this urge to want to do something, learn something, embrace something that gives me a sense of satisfaction that I’m not getting right now. I know that I’m capable of great things. I do great things every day. I also know that I’m capable of something more. I just have to find out what it is. I am desperate to know, because I truly want someone to look at me and say, “Because of you, I didn’t give up.”
There had been an article in Real Simple (my go-to mag) about how to ensure your charitable contributions are actually received and disseminated to their intended recipients. When you see things about sending five cents for clean water, or 20 cents a day feeding a hungry child, how do you really know where your money goes?
The real question is, what do I feel passionate about (clearly it’s not grammatical correctness)? The usual suspects when it comes to charity and volunteering boil down the these:
2. Arts & Culture
5. Children and Families
6. Grassroots Initiatives (which I had to look up because it was SO not what I thought it was)
9. Water and Sanitation
10. Disaster Relief
They’re all important. I can tie to myself to any and all of them, no matter how thin the thread. Which of them, though, is the one that speaks to me? Which of them is the one that will reach out and squeeze my heart so that I will give, participate, and not give up?
If there is a cause that speaks to you, please share it in the comments.