Thursday, December 18, 2014

TBT

Since it’s Throwback Thursday on Facebook, I thought I’d do a little throwback myself here.

This.



Quite possibly my favorite Christmas photo ever.

Will was 3, Little Meems 17 months.  Every time I got ready to snap the photo, she’d pull her dress over her head.  Every. Stinkin. Time.  All I wanted was to get the perfect photo of my perfect children for my perfect Christmas cards.

I did finally get a good photo, but upon further inspection realized Meems’ nose was running and crusty and Will had a scratch down his cheek.  So I Photoshopped them to perfection and sent the card.  Big sigh of relief.

That was relatively new mom me.  That was the girl who used to stress because she didn’t have all of her good china or any chafing dishes (seriously??!!) and her daughter’s tights got a snag in them right before the photo.  That was the girl who had the perfect family and the perfect house and the perfect job and the perfect life.  Babies napped, no one talked back, happiness was a trip to the playground.  Happy, happy, happy.  Perfection, perfection, perfection.  That's what I wanted to believe (and wanted you to, too).

A third child came along and my attitude completely changed.  Nice and tidy and perfect became "it is what it is" with a healthy dose of humor and humility.  I realized perfection was too stressful.  My children are older now and there is never a shortage of stress, some of it BIG stress.  Perfect Christmas cards can no longer compete.  Nor should they.

I look at this photo and I admonish myself for not just going with the flow and having a sense of humor.  It is what it is.  The way they belly laughed every time she did this – that’s what I remember when I look at this precious photo of my precious babies.  She was so impish when she was little and this photo portrays her personality so precisely.  And she was full to the brim with personality.

I’ve learned, in those many years since then, to let go of that picture perfection.  Or rather, to try.  My years of holiday cards are a testament to that.  I look back and in nearly every one, Meems’ personality is on full display.  Mouth open, smiling with her whole face, her whole body and being.  Kids’ hair needs to be cut, shoes are untied, brothers are making faces, mouths have food in them, someone is throwing a temper tantrum, someone has a neon green cast, Tate is even wearing gogo boots with his jeans in one.  Because Tate.  Because of course.

Better than perfection?  Joy.  Happy, laughing children.  Letting go.  The giggle-laced trips down memory lane.

My life isn't perfect.  My home isn't perfect.  My kids aren't perfect.  What you see on my cards is what it is.  That's life with these munchkins folks.

And, to me, that's perfect.

Friday, December 5, 2014

O Holy Night

I am not by nature a sappy person.

My husband is.  My kids know this and we all giggle about it sometimes.  But he has an open, warm heart, and I love that about him.

That's not to say I am never sappy.  We all have those things that just slay us.  For me, this morning, it was Christmas music.

There are three Christmas carols that get me every time:  Silent Night (especially sung a capella by candlelight after Christmas Eve service), O Holy Night (because the words, have you ever really listened to them and thought about them?), and White Christmas (specifically, the Bing Crosby version because it was my grandmother's favorite and she adored Christmas and it makes me miss/feel her spirit).

This morning, on the way to school, amidst all the holiday cheer on the radio I was blindsided by Josh Groban singing O Holy Night.

O Holy Cow.

Out popped the tears.  That song is so powerful, and coupled with his voice, I find it so, so moving.  Achingly beautiful.

It started with teariness.  Meems noticed I had stopped singing (I was verklempt y'all) and then, upon hearing a sniffle, asked me if I was crying.

"Yes, honey.  Just a little."

Alarmed.  "Why?"

"Because it's such a beautiful song.  It moves me so much."

By this time I'm full-out bawling.  Alarm gives way to shock and horror.  We are pulling up to her school.  I'm trying to pull it together.  She lays her hand on my shoulder, and says, ever so gently, "it's OK Mom."

And just as I'm thinking about what a sweet, caring heart she has and what a gift it truly is to be her mother she adds...

... "you can just let me out here."


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Grace


Today, my Little Meems is trying out for honors chorus at her elementary school.  If you recall, this is the child who puts the “noise” in joyful noise.  But she loves it, and because of that, will go after every singing part ever, but will probably (if she’s lucky) be relegated to the chorus.  Which would make her happy too.  Because she’s singing.

I am worried for her.  I am nervous for her.  I have been praying for her.  She has been practicing.  She thinks she sounds better if she adds some vibralto and sings through her nose.  She is confident.  Unafraid.  Hopeful.  Excited.

I am scared to death.  That’s my little girl and I don’t want to see her fail.  I want to encourage her to go after all her dreams, not just this one, but I’m a realist and have the wisdom of age and experience, and that makes it hard.  She is so innocent.  We all have a story of when we went for something we were totally not cut out for – it’s a rite of passage and provides us a knowing chuckle as we age.  It’s an invaluable life experience, regardless of how painful or wonderful.  I’m hoping for the best outcome to this situation.  Whatever that may be.

I’m proud of her.  She’s one courageous little thing.  What’s more, I admire her. 

Today, this girl with her courageous heart is my hero. 

If you’re reading this, cross your fingers, send up a good thought or give her a high five.  Or pray.  Pray for a clear voice.  Pray for confidence and strength.  Pray for courage.

Most of all, pray for grace.  I think that sums it up best of all.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Secret

I am alone.  I'm here 45 minutes early because the coach said so.  Where is he anyway?  I've been sitting here for 15 minutes because I'm too lazy to leave and, besides, where would I go?  There are a few other players here but no parents.  Where did they go?  It's like they're all in on some secret parental code that I don't have access to.  Or maybe they live closer than I do and they are enjoying a quick bite to eat in their warm kitchen while I freeze my pants off.

Speaking of pants, I wish I'd worn them.  It was 75 today and I went for a run before we left so I'm in my little Lululemon skirt and suddenly it's not Lululemon skirt weather.  The sun went down and I forgot how gosh-awful windy it is out here.

I'm hunched over on myself, trying to capitalize on my own body heat while I type this out on my phone because I'm that crazy.  Shiver.  Curse you iPhone for not having swiping as an option.

Still alone.  8 lacrosse players.  No coach.  It is now 15 minutes pre game.

Maybe the other parents are sitting in their cars.  Smart.  Is that part of the secret code?

This place is right next to the interstate and therefore is windy like you can't believe.  At least that's my theory.  It's either that or it's located at the center of some permanent wind vortex in Chesterfield County.  There is a roll of abandoned turf over there and I'm tempted to cover myself with it.  At this point it wouldn't be any weirder than sitting here freezing by myself.  Plus I'm desperate.

Damn you elementary school dads night.  You and your warm, loud gym, while I sit here freezing. My right forefinger is numb and turning white.

Maybe they went to get coffee.  Those parents.

I think I'm losing brain function and my left thumb is starting to lose its accuracy.

You know, this is love.  My son adores lacrosse and I adore him so here I am.

At the wrong field.


Sent from my iPhone

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

You Blink Your Eyes...

...and suddenly you have a teenager.

And just like that, everything changes.  Or rather, the changes that have been slowly happening for a while now have a label.  

Gone are the pudgy appendages.  Everything is bones and angles.

Gone are the snuggles.  The kid who wanted to be held constantly now won’t let me touch him with a ten foot pole.  I do anyway.

Gone are the ear infections.  11 ear tube surgeries.  No one misses them.

He’s still a kid who finds joy and fun in everything.  

He’s still very much a boy.  A kid.  Peter Pan incarnate.

He’s still the kid who’d rather be outside, moving, moving, moving.

He’s becoming more compassionate.

He’s becoming more responsible.

He’s becoming more aware – of who he is, who he wants to be, who his friends are.

He is funny.  

He is strong.

He is an enigma.  Crazy in the best of ways, he puts it all out there.  Yet he has a sensitive, introverted side I just can’t seem to crack.  

For thirteen years, he’s been brought me joy, exasperated me, made me shake my head, confounded me, amazed me, impressed me, made me laugh.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say the teenage years worry me.  Heck, sometimes they scare the crap out of me.  But they’re also full of anticipation.  Who will he be, and will he make good decisions, and will he have a girlfriend, and how will he do in school and will he be strong?  Will he ever remember to brush his teeth (that there's the true cliffhanger, folks)?  I am crazy about this kid and all he can do and I know I haven’t even experienced a trillionth of what’s in store for him.  I love our conversations, his sense of humor, his easy nature.  I love the kid he is now and the glimpse of who I think I see down the road. 

13 wonderful, crazy years.  In 13 more years he’ll be all grown up and on his own (fingers crossed).  

And 13 years is NOT THAT LONG.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Life Lately

Life lately has been too busy.  Just all the things.  And hubs is traveling.  By the end of the day I feel like I have been dog paddling and treading water all day.  Homework, sports, activities, 2 preteens.  One girl preteen.  Need I say more?

It’s that time of year.  It’s not just me, it’s moms everywhere.  I have been craving some time to myself.  It’s not likely to come any time soon.

And that’s OK.  In the midst of the crazy I sat down and poured myself a glass of wine.  Sat down to write.  I thought I needed to vent.  And everything that came out sounded whiny and complain-y.  Yes it’s busy.  Yes it’s noisy.  Yes it’s a struggle sometimes.  Yes it’s easy to lose yourself in the frenzy of it all.  But the busy-ness is proof of active children who like to “do.”  The noise is proof of children who are healthy and happy.  The struggle is proof that my children are trying.  And a reminder that I should too.

I’m blessed for these things.  Truly.  This is what I signed on for.  I can’t lift my littlest one to carry him around anymore and I don’t know when that happened.  I am almost eye-to-eye with my oldest and I don’t know when that happened.  Girls are starting to notice him and I don’t know when that happened.  My daughter is becoming a lovely young lady and I don’t know when that happened.  It can all be gone in the blink of an eye.  It can all change just like that, and honestly, it does.  We have to savor every crazy moment of it.  Every rainy football game.  Every muddy cross country meet.  Every drum video.  Every off-tune song.  Every cheer.  Every handstand.  Every pillow fort.  Every wrong turn.  Every flunked Latin test.  Every math fact.  Every juice box.  Every award.  Every good grade.  Every concert.  Every joke.  Every idea.  Every prank.  Every dream.  Every everything.

Every day.

Life lately?  Crazy.  Good.  Crazy good.

Turns out, all I needed was a reminder.



Monday, October 13, 2014

There's An Egg in My Soda

My children are always on the hunt for soda.  It is rare that we have anything other than ginger ale, and it is equally rare that they are allowed to have it.  Although I admit I do indulge them occasionally – nothing in the world tastes like an ice cold Coke.

This hunt led my youngest to the garage refrigerator this afternoon.  Inside were three glasses: one with milk, one with ginger ale and one with Coke.

Just sitting there.  In the refrigerator.  In the garage.  All in a row.

"Those are your sister's."

There is an egg in all three glasses.  It is my daughter’s science experiment.  You can see the egg in the ginger ale.  You can’t in the other two glasses; however, all glasses are the same.

One might logically conclude, upon opening the door and seeing such a sight, that something is happening here.  They are there for a purpose.  And one very obviously has an egg in it.

Do you just help yourself to the glass of Coke, sitting so neatly there in that row of beverages?  Should I really answer that? 

“Oh my gosh, there’s an egg in this Coke.  Why is there an EGG in the Coke?"

"Because it is a science experiment."

"Can I have this Ginger ale?”

Because it is eggless?


Lesson: you don't help yourself to something just because you want it.  Because it might not be what you think it is.  Some surprises are worse than others, like the time my brother drank a cup of bleach thinking it was water, because it was there and he was thirsty and he wanted it.  A perfect example of a bad (and very dangerous) surprise.

And also, your sister will FREAK THE SHIT OUT on you.  That, alone, should deter you from ever touching anything ever around here that's not yours.  EVER. 

Never one to miss an opportunity like this, he opens his mouth and, knowing what's coming next I shut it down with a "No, you absolutely cannot drink the egg Coke when the project is over, even if your 8-year-old brain finds it hysterical.  Even if you and your brother record it for prosperity.  And no, you may not post the video to YouTube.  Trust me when I tell you, none of this is a good idea."

I fully expect this isn't the last we've seen of the egg in the soda idea.  I know that kid.  Let me know if you see it on YouTube, will ya?  











Friday, September 19, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...


And sometimes one is enough.

Shh.

Adore.

Irreverant.

Imagination.

Compassion.

Happiness.

Cheeeeese!

Sisters.

Boys.

Brothers.

Joy.

Oh.

No.




Friday, September 12, 2014

10 Things Gleaned from Back to School Night (Elementary School Edition)


  1. Tate hates math.  This I knew.  He loves reading/writing.  This I knew as well.  His favorite color is red.  This I did not know.  
  2. Music is important to his life.  {He recently told me a classmate played Vock music on the violin and it “got him moving.”  “Rock music?  I bet it did.”  “NO, not rock.”  “Oh…Bach?”  “Yes.”  I couldn’t resist -- I asked him if he got up and boogied to Bach.  After rolling and then squinting his eyes at me and my idiocy he told me it got things moving inside of him.  “Oh, it moved you.”  “Yes!”  And then he went upstairs and added Bach to his Spotify playlist.}  
  3. Girls can’t wear tank tops/sleeveless blouses to school unless they cover themselves with a sweater or shawl.  Um.  Shawl?  What is this, 1976?  And, it’s summer in Richmond.  It’s hot as hell outside.  I can understand spaghetti straps, but ALL sleeveless??  Seriously.
  4. Tate likes working alone.  This from a kid who won an award for collaboration.  I’m thinking I don’t know this child as well as I think I do.
  5. When you send your husband to your daughter’s 5th grade class, you worry that he won’t sign you up for the lists you want.  Guess what?  He does.  And also some you don’t.
  6. Meems is excited about this year and a lot has to do with the fact that her teacher is young, pretty and stylish.  And has long hair.  These things score high with that girl.  She always appreciates a well-defined lip and shiny tresses.    
  7. The kids in the classrooms are always split into groups.  Their desks are clustered in to a group of 4 or 5, with the actual desk space touching.  This would drive me crazy.  I don’t want to look at you when you’re thinking and working, namely because I myself stick out my tongue when I’m concentrating and all those things like that that you do distract me.  Not to mention my personal space feels poached.  I can’t imagine how anyone gets anything done.  Everything is very collaborative.  This makes me uncomfortable.  
  8. Maybe Tate is not so much of a mystery after all.  
  9. The PTA is a mighty force.  Think you’re going to make the kids give up recess one day a week to accommodate a computer lab?  Think again, suckas.  
  10. This is Meems' last year of elementary school.  I need to take time to notice and treasure all her "lasts."  


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Third Child

They say the third child is the forgotten child.

The third child gets the hand-me-downs.  The third child has less baby pictures.  The third child takes naps in his carseat on top of the dryer while mom gets his older siblings lunch.  The third child wears hand-me-down soccer cleats for football (because they're CLEATS and why do we need a different CLEAT for every dang sport?).  We blinged them out with day-glo shoelaces and a good spit shine.  The third child never had a new football or a new soccer ball or ANY new sports equipment.  Or pajamas.  He does get new underwear.  And socks. 

Tate is my third.  He could care less about the fact that his clothes, toys and sporting goods are hand-me-downs.  Honestly, he'd even be fine with hand-me-down underwear.  He's the only one who actually poses for pictures when I want to take them, I just forget to do it sometimes.  He's very low-key and go-with-the-flow. 

And so is his brother.  The oldest.  Who, it would appear, has taken over as the third child if this week is any indication.  He is settled into middle school and doing his thang and he's easy.  So easy in fact that I feel like my attentions are turned elsewhere, i.e. his siblings, their schedules and homework, etc.  If he's noticed, he hasn't mentioned it.  Honestly, I think he's probably totally fine with less attention from mom lately as he, quite frankly, thinks I am flat nuts.  And I may or may not try to squeeze him too much.  Mama needs hugs. 

This week, I gave him physical forms that I had filled out incorrectly.  When we realized this and that he would need a new physical, I forgot to send the form with him to be filled out.  On my way to pick him up from his physical, I drove right past the middle school (where he was waiting).  As nothing was coming I backed up the street in front of the middle school and pulled in only to sit in the car for 45 minutes waiting for him when he was waiting inside for me to complete his forms. Today, I got lost twice on the way to his brother's football game, making us late for kickoff, and I kept accidentally sitting on his foot.  Then I got lost again on the way to his lacrosse practice, making him late for that.  Except it turns out we were actually early because practice isn't until tomorrow. 

Sigh.

It's a good thing I didn't just drop him off at practice.  He would have been stuck there and I would have had to endure another conversation about why he needs a phone.  And I'd be that much closer to admitting he might be right. 

The truth is, there's always one that seems to get the short end of the stick.  Sometimes it's Tate, sometimes it's Will and sometimes it's Meems.  Sometimes, kids just need you more than they do at other times.  They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease and it's definitely true in a family of multiple children.  It seems, despite my best efforts to the contrary, there's always an odd man out, or at least I feel that way.  Hopefully, they are blissfully unaware, or at the very least, and I'm sure in Will's case, aware but blissful to be left alone. 

That doesn't mean I can stop trying.  One of these days, he'll really need me and I'll really be there.  In the meantime, rest assured I will continue to squeeze him to reinforce to him that I haven't forgotten about him and that, yes, I will always be flat nuts.  

Goodbye Summer




Hello school bus. Hello homework.  Hello list of 789 mandatory school supplies.

Hello sports.  Hello alarm clock.  Hello lunchboxes (I really hate you).

Hello school friends.

Hello forms.  T, here are 6 for you, Meems there are 12 for you and Will, I think you have these two.
Hello Will calling from the school letting me know I forgot some forms that he needs right this minute.

Hello Will calling from the school letting me know I need to pick him up on my way home from work.

Hello conversation readdressing his case that he needs his own phone so he won’t have to use the office phone because the office closes before his practice ends.  He may actually have a case this time.

Hello lacrosse and football and cheerleading and cross country practices.  Hello games and meets. Hello drum lessons and cheer clinics.  Meems is working hard on her back walkovers.

Hello “me” time.  I’ve missed you.

Hello fundraisers.  Hello PTA memberships (why do I have to rejoin you every year?).  Hello spirit wear.  Hello school stores.  Hello gym uniform.  Hello locker rental, goggle rental, chromebook rental and yearbook fee.  Hello class party fund.

Goodbye money.

Goodbye evenings.  Goodbye weekends.

Goodbye family dinners eaten at a normal hour with all 5 of us.

Goodbye sleeping in.

Goodbye pool.

Goodbye lazy, hazy summer days.

Goodbye babies.  Time marches on, and so they do as well, off to the 7th, 5th and 3rd grades. Another two months and I’ll have a teenager.

Goodbye my loves.  I'll be here when you get home.  Love you.

Goodbye summer.  Until we meet again…

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Eleven

See this little thing?  

courtesy of my friend, Rory




She’s 11 today.

I know, it’s hard to believe.  She’s so tiny.

Last year, she gladly spent her birthday evening at her brothers’ swim meet.  We told the boys they’d have to miss the meet so we could celebrate her birthday.  She insisted we go to the meet.  Happy to cheer on her brothers for hours on her special day – that’s just the kind of kid she is.

She is smart.  She is sweet.  She is determined.  She is kind.  

She is sassy.  She is impulsive.  She is dramatic.

She is strong.  She is brave.



She is compassionate.  She has a nurturing heart.  She may not always know what she wants, but she always knows what she doesn’t want.  She keeps us guessing.  She is full of surprises.  
She is not to be underestimated.

She is who she is.  And I couldn’t love her more for it.  



Happy birthday to my Little Meems.  You are a gift to me every day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Got Gum?

Little Meems has always been a fanatic about gum.  From a young age, she was obsessed and was chewing gum way before a child her age should've been.  Luckily, the parenting police never arrested us.  I am sure they were alerted.

We have since learned that gum is helpful for our little girl.  It helps her organize her thoughts.  Some kids need a "fidget" to utilize while completing tasks that are difficult.  You know, the kids who get called out for fidgeting?  Chances are, the fidgeting helps.  I was a fidgeter.  In church, in school, when I was talking, or getting lectured...I remember, all too often, a hand on my knee or a plea to sit still.  In hindsight, I now know that my fidgeting was a way to slow down my brain.  When my body is left to idle, my brain starts going a mile a minute.  Kicking my leg, tapping my eraser to my mouth, talking with my hands...these things reign it all in, make the speed more manageable.

Little Meems is the same.  In her case, gum is key.  She rubs her blanket against her mouth when she's listening intently to a book.  She does cartwheels and handstands when she's studying.  She actually has "homework gum" which she chews while working to organize her thoughts.

Hey, whatever works.

Her teacher is letting the students chew gum for the SOLs.  This, of course, thrills my Little Meems.

I bought her a pack of SOL gum for her last SOL a week or so ago.  It had to be mint.  Apparently, mint stimulates your brain.  A win/win for my gum girl, as it's her favorite.  This morning, I was informed that she needs gum for her mat SOL.

Today.

"I don't have any gum.  Wait, didn't I just buy you some?"

"I ate it all."

"How do you go through an entire pack of gum in one SOL?  It was just a couple hours!"

"It was hard.  The writing SOLs are just so hard."

Writing is her downfall.  A  whole pack of gum...wow, what must it have been like for that little girl who just said "fine!" when I asked her how the test was?  My heart broke a little.  That's a lot of gum.  You do the math.

Which brings us to math.  "I have two pieces of cinnamon gum you can have."

"It has to be mint."

"Well, let me get my magic wand..."

"Maybe my teacher has mint gum."

"Maybe you can trade her two mint for two cinnamon."

"What if it takes more than two?"

I'm off to work, with a stop at Rite Aid on the way in to get a little girl a whole lotta gum.

Mint, of course.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Brave


Watching your child be brave – it’s gut wrenching, heartbreaking, wondrous and spectacular all at the same time. 

My boys swim.  Will has been swimming for 6 years and Tate has been swimming for 3.   They adore it and it’s so good for them, physically, but also emotionally.  It’s one of the only sports in their young lives where their effort is rewarded based on merit – and not participation.  For one son, that means cheers.  For another, it often means tears.  But both are determined and committed and will give 100% to this endeavor, despite the sometimes disappointing outcome. 

Little Meems has not enjoyed this summertime ritual like her brothers.  After swimming one season and finishing mostly last in most of her races, she decided it wasn’t for her and hasn’t looked back.  Scratch that, she’s looked back…but only momentarily.  For her, the competition evokes fear, a fact I learned after a tearful admission to her dad and me after some pressing.

No problem.  There’s no need to let summertime fun stress you out.

But I worry about her, because you see, she’s an awful lot like me as a kid – a kid who too often let fear prevent her from trying something new.  I don’t want her to have those regrets – some chances only come along once in a lifetime.  Swim team comes around every summer, but she’s getting to the age where it’s harder and harder to compete.  In other words, it’s almost too late.

We didn’t press the issue.  As I registered the boys, I asked her once again.  “Are you sure?”  I encouraged her to think about it, and pointed out that many of her friends would be on her team and how much fun that would be.  I also explained that I don’t care how she does, it’s just about having fun, but it’s not about stress, so the final decision was hers.  To my surprise, she said she’d think about it. 

A couple days later, she said she would do it.

“Mom, I think I’ve decided to do swim team after all.”

“Are you sure honey?  You know you don’t have to.”

“Yes.  As long as I don’t have to do Butterfly.” (Little Meems always has stipulations)

“I think we can arrange that.  What made you change your mind?”

“Well, I’m about to turn 11 and I just think I need to be brave about this.”

“Ok.  I think it will be a lot of fun.  A great way to spend time with your friends all summer.”

“That too.  I think I can do this.  I don’t feel afraid right now.  I might be a little nervous at the meets, but I don’t feel that now.  I really want to do this.”  Nodding her head, convincing herself as much as me.

This is tricky mom/tween territory.  The trick is to be enthusiastic and encouraging, yet play it cool so as not to freak them out. 

We signed her up, she’s started practices, and she’s loving it. 

It’s gut wrenching and heartbreaking and wondrous and spectacular.  I’m so proud of her.  Of course, the true test will come in the shape of her first swim meet.  Hopefully, her confidence and the support of her friends will make it all worthwhile, despite the outcome.  The fear of losing or being embarrassed is a big one.

But not nearly as big as the fear of trying.



Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sick Day

Yesterday, Will stayed home from school with a stomach ache.  Nothing major, but he’s a kid who has his share of stomach issues.  Generally, those issues end with vomiting.  Middle school is not a place to flirt with a vomit scenario, and so, after seeing him get a little stressed about going to school, I let him stay home.

Let's call it a “mercy sick day.”

Mondays are my days to grocery shop, get caught up on laundry and hose down the house after the weekend.  We weren’t even home this weekend and the house STILL got filthy.  As I had some errands to run, I offered him the chance to stay put and watch TV or come with me.  Opting for the latter because he was feeling better (although I suspect it was really because he doesn’t like to be alone) we made a trip to Target and the paint store.  He used his money and a Target gift card to buy a new game he wanted, and spent the afternoon holed up in the playroom (resting Mom!) with his game. I got to baby him a little, and wait on him, feel his forehead and snuggle a little.  These are the things we moms love to do when our babies are sick.  And to my surprise he let me.

Midway through the afternoon, I suggested we go to the batting cage and hit a few balls.  This is a baseball skill that eludes him on a regular basis.  He gets nervous, he doesn’t choke up enough, he overthinks it and tenses his body.  I wanted him to just make consistent contact, to increase his confidence and sharpen his feel for the process (my grandfather played baseball, and he taught me everything I know about it, which isn’t much, but I know how to hit).  A moment of bafflement followed by a few seconds of incredulity, and he was in.

I told him to keep it between us.  The LAST thing I need is his brother and sister finding out.  Some things are better left unspoken around our house.

After 220 balls pitched at various speeds, and some great hits (especially when he listened to me and choked up on the bat and relaxed) we headed home.  We had a great discussion about visualization; he declared it the best sick day ever.

Here’s a kid who really celebrates life.  I wish I could have so many best days ever.

Later, when his brother asked him what he did, he said “nothing” and caught my eye.

And that made me happy.  Because you know what?  I don’t get much one-on-one with him, because of his age, because I am a girl, because there are 2 other children and too often, 2 of them get lumped together due to age, sex or simple geography.  I love it when I can make a connection, or a memory, with just one of them.  I love it when I can have secrets and experiences to share collectively, but also individually.

Later, when I tucked him in, he assured me his stomach was fine, hugged me and said “thanks for today Mom.  It really was the best sick day ever.”

I hope so.  I think it was just what he needed.  

Sick days aren’t just good for your health, you know.

Sometimes, they are just good for the soul.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Letting Go...

I feel like this is a theme of quite a few of my blog entries.  It's my way of making myself accountable, admitting I have a problem.  It's my very own 12-step program for control-freaks anonymous.  Besides, I have found that, sometimes, if you put it out there in the universe, the burden feels lighter.  Is it the lack of gravity?  That weightlessness?  Oh wow, there are so many metaphors right here for just everything in my life lately that honestly, my head spins and I wish I could address them all and I'm a little heartbroken that I can't --  the crazy English major and wannabe writer in me.  Am I the only one who loves it when her children ask her about words?  I got so excited trying to describe abundance to T today that he said "ok, now you're just creeping me out."

What can I say, I'm a word nerd.

Back to letting go.

I long ago made peace with the fact that I'm not perfect and neither is my life.  I try to embrace those imperfections and look to the blessings within:  the toys strewn all over the house that indicate a house full of children; the din of screaming that, upon further examination, reveals itself to be joyful screeches and laughter; the holes in the knees of pants that indicate active, playful children.  My home is full of half-finished or not-quite-completed projects.  My laundry is slightly too wrinkled.  My home isn't perfectly decorated or completely what I envision, but it's cozy and comfortable and welcoming.

But, lately, I've been having trouble letting go.  The irony of it is that "letting go" is the whole purpose.

My Little Meems is almost 11.  After redoing her brother's bedroom, she decided it was time for some changes in her own room.  As we just painted it a couple years ago, I told her that was off the table, but I'd be happy to incorporate her favorite colors into the room more.  She decided to trade up her antique twin beds for a double bed with a sheer canopy draped over the headboard.  OK, I can do that.

And immediately all the possibilities came rushing toward me.  I have about 12 inspiration boards going for her room -- oh it's going to be fabulous.  It will reflect her age, but be something she can grow into.  I'm going crazy over fabric swatches and curtains and wall decor.  Saturday, we stopped in Pottery Barn kids and I started showing her a variety of options -- polka dots! stripes! paisley! geometrics!  I went into a frenzy brainstorming over them.  She pulled out a sham she liked (her duvet is white).  It was solid, quilted, and turquoise blue.  Plain.  I was all, "but Meems, the polka dots!" and she was all "I hate polka dots."  I was all "what if we combine this turquoise and add a pop of purple?" and she was all "I don't like the purple, just turquoise."  I was all "what about..." and she held up her hand, and with a "Mom!" completely shut me down.

Totally defeated, frustrated and confused, I thought "but who wants...plain?"

And it occurred to me, she does.  I have been so hell bent on decorating the room for her my way that I forgot to ask her about her way.  I never got to decorate my own room when I was younger -- my mother did  and it was beautiful...but I couldn't hang my Rob Lowe or Duran Duran posters.  There was no where to put up all my snapshots of friends.  There was no making it mine, and I longed for a space to do just that.  And I swore to myself that, one day, I would let my kids do just that.  And what was I doing?  Making a gag face when she showed me plain old turquoise shams.  Blinking my eyes and making a horrified face when she handed me a red and black bedazzled "Rock Star" sign she got for her birthday that she desperately wants to hang.  Pulling down the photos she has haphazardly taped to the wall because there's no rhyme or reason to the placement.  I do the same thing to her older brother.  I am trying not to get upset when the posters he has tacked up to his wall from Sports Illustrated are crooked and clustered all together rather than artfully arranged.

I like arrangements.  I crave vignettes.  She is not interested in vignettes.  At all.  Or maybe she just doesn't know she needs them??

And there I go again.

It's time to let go.  This is supposed to be fun and nothing is getting done because I can't make up my mind because there are just so many beautiful options.  But that's not my luxury to possess...it's hers.  It's her room, her taste, her decision (within reason - I'm not crazy!) and should reflect her personality.  It should make her comfortable.  And, for the first time since we began this process, a decision has been made, and it was her decision and I have to respect that (even if I feel like she just doesn't understand how many options are out there!).  She knows what she wants (which is unusual -- typically she knows what she doesn't want, and let's just say there has been a lot of this in the process as well).  The room won't fulfill my visions of a spread in Domino, but that's OK.  As she's entering those prepubescent years, she needs a haven she can stomp off to when she just can't TAKE it anymore, or she can't believe how STUPID her brothers are, or when I'm making her life MISERABLE.  She can throw herself on the bed and snuggle her plain turquoise shams and feel that sense of...mine.

If she's like me, we will experience those episodes in abundance.

I'm off to Pottery Barn kids, the tune of "Let it Go" stuck in my head.  Besides, turquoise never bothered me anyway.