Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Victory

Proud of this girl today.




No, she didn’t win.  She didn’t even place high enough to move her to the next level.  In fact, I would say most races, she is solidly near the back of all the runners. 

But so what?

I’m proud of her because she forges ahead.  I’m proud of her because she does her best.  I’m proud of her because she conquers her fears every race.  I’m proud of her because the first thing I see after she crosses the finish line is a smile.  I’m proud of her because, after not making it last year, she tried out again.  She puts in the work (even racing when she was sick), she’s supportive of her friends on the team (this is the kid who, instead of enjoying a particularly good race for her, felt bad about beating a teammate in the home stretch sprint), and did I mention the smiling?

I’m proud of her, period, every day.  So many social media posts are centered around our children’s achievements – grades, honors, ribbons, touchdowns, goals – successes measurable on paper.  Don’t get me wrong, those are all reasons to be proud.  We as parents WANT to see our children succeed and excel, of course we do.  And we want to share that with family and friends, and yes, sometimes our own competitors (haha, the ugly side of social media). 

I’m guilty too.  And although I’m super proud of my kids in those moments, it’s what my children do to get there that makes me even prouder than any hat trick or touchdown or scholastic award or first place finish ever could.  I want my kids to know I think they’re amazing for the times they excel, but I want them to also know that I think they’re amazing even when, or because, they don’t.  That is something I think we as parents sometimes forget.  Basking in the glory of our children’s achievements is awfully seductive sometimes.  Celebrating the times they fall short is much harder to do, but oh so important.  Today, she crossed the finish line in tears.  But it wasn't for lack of trying and it was her most amazing race, and therein lies her victory. 

So here, little Meems.  I am so proud of you today.  You ran with heart and you gave it your all and you went outside your comfort zone to be amazing.  Who cares where you finished?  You did your best and you’ll never regret that.  I think you are amazing.  And I am so very proud to be your mom.  Keep at it girl.  Keep giving your all and you will do amazing things.  I just know it.

Friday, October 7, 2016

That Ikea Commercial

Last weekend I got to spend the day with this guy. 



Anyone else get little heart flutters when you look at your child?  

As we talked, I became distracted by his little baby face and all the freckles, the little button baby nose, the little baby lips and his green eyes.  I decided I needed to capture the moment with this photo. 

Except when I looked at it, I didn't see a baby at all.  It caught me completely off guard. What I saw was every bit a 10 year old.  

How can this be?

I saw a kid who's almost done with elementary school. A kid that wants to be an animal rescuer and legit rapper/music producer when he grows up, a boy who has had a crush on the same girl for 3 years and made a game saving tackle in last week's game. 

I looked back at him. Baby. 

I looked at the photo again. Sure enough, just as I feared, a tween smirked back at me. 

My kids think I'm crazy with how much I love them. But I am. It's true. They're right. 

That night I saw that IKEA commercial - you know, the one with the mom taking her young son shopping for his first apartment?  Except, he's probably in his early 20s and you realize that you just saw him the way she still does. And always will. 

That's me. I am her. That's how I see them. 

And always will. 


Monday, August 29, 2016

Living a Beautiful Life, Vol. 2

My son W is one of those kids who never stops.  Even as a little guy he would go at full speed until he collapsed.

He's always been in search of what's next.  An adrenaline junkie, adventurer, risk taker, try everything, run before you can walk kind of kid.

If he could go to college and major in play, he would.

The kid who will run a 5K, play in a lacrosse tournament, play basketball with his friends and ride bikes for hours, then follow up with a baseball game and declare it "best day ever!"  He has a lot of "best days ever!"  At 14, I don't know, nor have I ever known anyone who can live life more in one day than he can.

Friday, he had an early morning cross country practice.  After running 7 miles, he came home, went to his last gym workout, mowed the neighbor's yard, mowed our yard, took care of the neighbor's dog, went to his friend's house, then rode his bike to the river for the afternoon.  After coming home, took the dog for a walk on the skateboard, threw some lacrosse balls, ate dinner and then played the XBox with a few friends before being forced to read and go to bed.

This is a typical day for this child.

It's exhausting.  For me.  Not for him.  I like to say he squeezes the juice out of every single day.  All the juice.

He doesn't do anything small -- everything he does is full tilt.  And he's not afraid of much, which is both a blessing and a curse.  How many times as a little boy did I hear other moms ask "you're letting him do that?"  Truthfully, for some reason I just knew he could.  Or he would at least try.  As long as it was within reason and he wasn't hurting himself or anyone else, it would be considered.  That's not to say he hasn't hurt himself on occasion along the way.  This is the kid who broke his thumb playing trampoline soccer, and who created the game "big wheel slingshot" and plays basketball on skates.  At 6 months, he figured out he could roll across the room to get where he wanted to go.  He would roll all over the place, and he was fast, and once he reached his destination he always gave me the biggest smile and would kick a little.  He was the Mario Andretti of crawling, and had barely mastered walking before he looked at me, pointed his finger and said "wun."  When I left him alone for 2 minutes at 13 months to retrieve laundry and discovered he had climbed up on the dining room table and was trying to swing from the chandelier, I just knew.  This kid could be the death of me.

Or, he could teach me a few things.  And he has.

Say what you will, he lives life.  I mean, really lives.  And always has.  And he has taught me to let him (within reason).

And isn't that the point?  None of us know how much time we have.  Isn't it a shame NOT to squeeze the juice - every beautiful, delicious ounce of it - out of every single day?

beautiful-quotes-on-life-4.jpg (254×203)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Confessions of a Camp Mom

Sunday, I dropped off my sweet T at sleepaway camp. He's never been, and after 2 years of wanting it, it finally happened.

And it's about to kill me.

He hadn't even been gone 12 hours and already I felt like I might not survive.

This is new to me.  Not because I don't miss my kids when they're away, I do, but it's hitting me hard this time.

I mean, I didn't see my oldest for two weeks last summer because of camp and visits to his cousins' house, and I didn't feel like this.

My daughter went to her grandparents' for a week last year and I didn't miss her at all (but that was because she didn't give me a chance -- girlfriend sent me 176 texts over the course of 5 days, not to mention 2-3 phone calls a day).   

T went to his gradparents' for a week earlier this summer, and I was fine.  So what's up?

I can't talk to him.  And he surprised me when he got homesick at his grandparents' house.  And he hasn't been away really at all since he was tiny and now this is twice in one summer. 

And he hugged me so hard and for so long on Sunday that I thought he might have cracked my phone.  And said "I love you Mom...sooooo much."  And then hugged me some more.

And I don't know what that means.  Was he feeling nervous?  Was it just a love gush?  Was he trying to keep it together?  Did he think I was trying to?  Was he so, so happy?  Was he thanking me for sending him?  Or was he just being a love bug?

To be honest, he's been pulling away from me lately.  Totally normal, he is 10 after all.  But he's my baby and I'm not ready.  Little Meems has always been immensely, securely, in the fold.  Seriously, she may never leave.  She still says that when she grows up she wants to get married, have babies and move back home.  Lord help us.  And W, well, he's been been walking away from me since he could walk at all.  Those two are total opposites.  T is to gray what the other two are to black and white.

He's going to have so much fun.  He told me he was looking forward to a sense of freedom the most.  I want him to experience that too. I'm so excited for him.

Maybe it was I love you and I'll miss you and I'm excited and I'm nervous and I'm feeling a little insecure and also secure right here and goodbye and thank you.  All the feels, all at once.

Maybe it was just a mirror of my own feelings.  All the complex, confusing, overwhelming, make-you-crazy mom feels. 

All at once.

I'm counting down the days until I pick him up, but I am enjoying my time with the other two.  My biggies.  Life with them is so different when there's no little around.

And I have a new crack in my phone to prove it.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

What Does 13 Look Like?

If you saw the number 13 today, would you recognize it?

I would. 

Today, 13 has curls. Giant dimples. Twinkly blue/green eyes.  Today, 13 is small in stature but big in heart. 13 is spunky and will challenge you. It will downright make you want to pull your hair out sometimes. 13 likes to hold hands with the people she loves. Even though she's 13.  13 loves BIG. When 13 loves you it's with everything she's got.  Today, 13 is wearing her favorite glitter Jack Rogers and pearl earrings.  She's excited to wear a little mascara. She's thinking she needs to wear more. She doesn't. 

Today 13 has her whole life ahead of her. 13 is going to do great things. I just know it. 

Today, 13 looks like this. 


Happiest of birthdays to my sweet Little Meems. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Don't Let This End

Today, I officially have a high school freshman, a 7th grader and 5th grader.

Gulp, high school.

I'm still kind of shocked. 

Today, to celebrate the last day of school, the freshman and 3 friends took off on their bikes for a fishing trip they planned. My son and his friends finished packing up their tackle and a bag of snacks, then hit the road and as I watched them ride away I thought, please God, don't let this end.

My daughter is celebrating her 13th birthday with her friends today. It is a sweet group of girls and I sit watching them laugh and play in the pool the way girls do, complimenting each other on their swimsuits and hair and lamenting about braces and just building each other up with love and I see how far we've come from last year - a tough year that shook her confidence - and I think please God, don't let this end. 

In my youngest son's pocket today, I discovered a note entitled "for emergencys [sic]".  Inside is spy information, along with his code name and status.  He told me the other day that when he grows up he wants to be a CIA operative and a music producer/DJ.  Not "or"..."AND."  So the note makes total sense, really.  The rest of it, well, if you know him you know that makes sense too.  He dreams BIG.  His imagination is too vast to see - these little snippets are but a glimpse into his world.  He's so big lately, but this reminds me he's still so little and I think, please God, don't let this end.



Time stand still.  Please??

Pleasepleasepleaseplease, God, I'm begging.

Don't let this end.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Best

I had the best morning last week.

After a vicious slash in his lacrosse game, my oldest son was experiencing a lot of pain and swelling in his hand across his knuckles. Fearing a break, we headed to the Orthopedist’s office. They know us now. Seriously, it's like old home week every time we go in there. We may have single handedly paid one of the doctors' medical school bills.

Let me tell you, it was awesome. And yes, I'm aware that sounds crazy, and it most certainly IS crazy, but let me explain.

Awesomeness #1: Nothing was broken. Some Advil, rest and ice and we are good to go. Although he told the doctor his pain level was a 5 or 6 when he had told me it was a 8 and I could've killed him in that moment.

Awesomeness #2: Time alone with him. Even if he’s not saying anything, as his mother I just love being in his presence. As he won’t let me hug him, proximity is my savior. I'll take what I can get.

Awesomeness #3: He was in a good mood. Probably because he was missing math, but still, I’ll take it. 14 year old boys are tricky and more and more often lately, I find myself dealing with a know-it-all twerp who thinks he’s smarter than everyone. Can I get an amen from other moms of 14 year old boys?!

Awesomeness #4: He TALKED. He actually spoke words that weren’t mostly grunts and I could hear him instead of it being all under his breath. And he talked A LOT. We had actual conversations, serious back-and-forth exchanges that weren’t me just asking him questions and him grunting. Oh, the grunting. Do you know how rare that is? Well it is, and that’s why it’s awesome.

Awesomeness #5: No phone emerged. Not even once.

Awesomeness #6: As I watched him head off with the very cute X-Ray tech (I think I even caught a little sheepish grin) I realized that he was taller than she was. He’s not taller than anyone. Seriously, he’s known among the JV lax parents as “Little 27.” And it took my breath away because for the very first time, I saw a man-child in place of my baby-child.

Awesomeness #7: As he left with her and just as I was getting a little verklempt about my man-child, he did a little jump to touch the top of the door frame, and suddenly things were back to normal.

Awesomeness #8: He asked me questions – about our old house, where he would go to school, if we ever thought about having 4 kids. He told me some of his memories of our old house (we moved when he was 3), he asked me why I worked, he asked if he could get a real job next summer instead of watching his siblings. He asked me if I liked my job and if I could do anything, what would it be? He actually ASKED me questions about ME.

Awesomeness #9: When we ran by our house to get Advil, he decided he wanted to pack lunch and so he did. Of course, it was probably another stall tactic not to have to go to math, but whatever. I didn’t have to do it.

Awesomeness #10: When he exited the car at the school, he said “love you mom” without me having to say it first and him grunting in return. Y'all!!!!  My heart was full. I was a copay cheaper and I had to miss lunch so my stomach and wallet were empty, but my heart was full to bursting.

The.BEST.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living a Beautiful Life

The other day, as we were driving home from my youngest son’s lacrosse practice at 7:45, my daughter remembered she had a social studies project due the next day.


That was a Wednesday.  Wednesdays are hard.  My husband is typically out of town, and the kids have activities that are back to back on opposite sides of town.  Wednesday is one of those days were everyone has to make sacrifices – my sons, because they have to go to my daughter’s track meets, where they stand around for an hour or more to watch her run for 15 seconds (not getting homework done); my daughter, because she gets dragged to lacrosse practice for both brothers.  One has practice from 5-6:30, the other from 6-7:30.  Both practices are at the same sports complex, but it’s a good 20-25 minutes from our house, especially with traffic.  So, our choices are either take one kid to practice, come back, get the other’s stuff and turn right around and head back to drop him off, wait for the first to finish, bring him home, turn around and head back down there and then come back home again – or we stay there and make the best of it. 



We stayed and made the best of it.  On this particular day, she wasn’t running, so she had completed her homework, and it was a beautiful day.  I took my running stuff and I felt like I was winning, for a change.  We hadn’t eaten dinner and were discussing where to stop and pick some up and then she dropped the bombshell.



My initial thought was DAMMMMMMMIIIIIIITTTTTTT.  It was late, I was tired, she was tired.  She had forgotten, and after some back and forth and deep, exasperated sighs (from both of us), she apologized for forgetting. 



She’s human. She’s 12.  She’s imperfect.  I’m human.  I’m 45.  I’m imperfect.



Denying myself the indulgence of my frustration and anger, I assured her we’d figure it out.  That's what she needed from me.  A few deep breaths and a sandwich later, we sat down and got started. 



It took her 3 hours.  I sat with her, I helped her figure out where to find the information she needed, I helped her toss around ideas for how to illustrate things like the Townshend Acts and the first Continental Congress, all while getting two other children fed and one tucked in.  Together, we rolled up our sleeves and she got the project done. 



At one point, she looked at me and squeezed my hand and said, “I think you’re the most beautiful Mom in the world.”



This comment had nothing to do with my overall physical appearance.  I had been running, so my hair was sweaty and my makeup long gone.  Mayonnaise had leaked from my sub and stained my shirt and my ponytail was a frazzled, tangled mess.  My face was still beet red and the little patch of gray baby hair on my forehead was sticking straight up.



For her, it was about my heart and the fact that I hadn’t yelled at her and that she felt safe and supported and connected.  I was kind and patient with her in her hour of need and panic. And to her, that was beautiful -- me on the inside.



And it made me realize, I haven’t been very beautiful lately. 



I yelled about laundry this morning and I nag about chores, and I do a lot of exasperated sighing over the messes they leave everywhere and the fact that she asks for my help with homework then fights me tooth and nail every minute of it.  I am quick to lose my patience.  Too quick.  I have been feeling the burden of being a single parent more than I want to be and trying to do it all and be there for everyone and feeling resentful that I am losing sight of who I am and sacrificing my needs for everyone else’s.  I have a teen and a preteen and, while they’re amazing kids, they’re a teen and a preteen and they are fully entrenched in their oblivion for anyone and everything else besides themselves.  I’m at my wit’s end more than I want to be and in addition to work and being everything to everyone, I’ve coached and volunteered and I am stretched thin.



And I am yelling. And frazzled.  And just getting through.



I don’t want to yell.



I don’t want to be frustrated.  I don’t want to be overwhelmed.  I don’t want to be impatient.  I don’t want to let stress take the fun and beauty out of my life.



It took my daughter, who has the uncanny ability to recognize beauty in the smallest of gestures, in the most unlovable of people, to remind me that I’m doing it all wrong. 



I can either choose to be the happy, patient mom or I can choose to let the frazzle take over.  I can wallow in my exhaustedness and let my mantra be “just get through it” or I can stop, take a deep breath and really experience it.  When I feel frazzled, I turn to my efficient mom-bot mode, which is great for making things happen and making people think you're all together, but overtakes joy.



I choose the former.  I choose to be the beautiful mother my daughter wants to see, that my sons and husband want to see. 



The next night, my son’s practice ended early.  I made dinner and we actually ate at the table, instead of on the fly.  Just me and three kids.  We talked and I asked them questions and we laughed, which is something I feel has been missing lately.  I felt connected to them, and relaxed, and I felt like the mom I wanted to be instead of the mom I fear I have become.



My life is beautiful – so full, so busy, so blessed, so fun. 



Leave it to my Little Meems for reminding me to live it that way.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Stupid Valentine's Day

This year, for the first time in 9 years, I only have to buy valentines for one child.

Can I get a hallelujah?!

I almost bought no valentines, because I almost forgot entirely.  Poor neglected third child.  

After apologizing profusely, I told him that I'd take him after school to pick some out.  OR, I could grab some while I was out running errands.

"You just get some.  I don't care what they look like."

Mmmkay. 

At Target, my choices were weird Pizza valentines, Frozen, Superheroes, Ninja Turtles or Mustaches.  I chose the mustaches.  He's in 4th grade after all.  And although he doesn't care about Valentines, a certain amount of street cred would be sacrificed if I came home with Superheroes or even the weird pizza ones.  Certainly, considering his lack of enthusiasm (which was really more like throwing his head back and groaning "uggggghhhhhhh" when I told him he needed valentines), I was not about to buy anything that said "Be Mine!" or "You're the cheese to my pepperoni!" So mustache tattoos it is.

"You need to do these.  Tonight.  And you need to decorate a box."

"Whaaaaaaaaat?  Why do I need to do them tonight?  Ugh.  This is so STUPID.  And what's the box for?"

I leveled my "are you kidding me" gaze at him and ignored his last question.  Or all the questions. "Because the party is tomorrow."

"Uggggggggggghhhhhh.  This is so STUPID."

"Yep, you said that.  Now get busy."  And I left him to his own devices.  Poor neglected third child.

To his credit, he did what I asked.  The box was decorated with red foil wrapping paper slapped together with some camouflage duct tape.  Sweet.  Apparently, perforated paper is a puzzle, because the mustache tattoos were, well, rustic looking.  The protective film kept falling off and some of the valentines were torn. But hey, they were done and I didn't have to get involved.  #canigetahallelujah

Poor neglected third child.

This morning, I opened the box to inspect the state of his valentines.  They were all signed with his name, but none of them was addressed.

"T, you have to write your classmates' names on them!"

"Why?  This will make the whole process faster.  Just drop it in and not have to sort all the names out."

Although he has a point, I am a mom and I am a girl who remembers valentines and the consideration that went into who got each one.  "But people like to see their names.  They like to feel like you took the time to personalize each and every one."

He leveled his "are you kidding me" look at me and announced that no, he wasn't going to do that.  "Besides, this is all so STUPID."  Yes, you made that clear, son.

4th grade mom friends, if you are reading this, then chances are you have seen the sorry excuse for a valentine your child received from my son.  My apologies.  He is a poor neglected third child and I am a tired mother who chose not to fight this particular battle.  I hope you understand and know that, in the future, should you find this happening to you, I will not judge.  I've got your back.

Happy "ugggggghhhh, this is so STUPID" Valentine's day.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oh Christmas Tree

It's January 3rd.

Tomorrow, my children return to school.  No more sleeping in.  No more lounging around.  No more letting them eat whatever they want for lunch as long as they make it and it's not candy or involves syrup.  No more curling up in the big chair with my laptop and a steaming cup of coffee, taking my time to wake up and get moving.

In other words, back to normal.  Sigh.

It's January 3rd.  It's time to begin dismantling the holidays.  I looked around tonight and my heart sank.  My home always feels so warm during the holidays...I'm not ready to give that up just yet.  I love the greenery and the lights and the festive twinkle everywhere (and I am not afraid of the festive twinkle, my friends).  At Christmas time, I pull out all my favorite things -- my ancient, falling-apart cellulose Santas and their reindeer, my mercury glass collection, fresh greens in every bowl and vase, my Christmas ornament collection cultivated lovingly over my entire life (and that now includes ornaments for each of my children cultivated over their entire lives), my glass icicles and antique five-and-dime store glass balls that have become cloudy with age but were my grandparents', my strange assortment of folk art angels that my mom decided she didn't want any more -- everything has a memory or just makes me happy.  But it can't stay up forever.

Or can it?

I mentioned that I need to start dismantling the tree tonight to Little Meems.

"Oh no, mommy, not just yet!" At the age of 12, if she's calling me mommy she's really in need of me understanding her.  "It makes me so happy to come downstairs and see the tree.  I know Christmas is over, but there's just something about the way it makes me feel when I see it, like hopeful or something."

We have spent the better part of our holiday vacation visiting with family.  She has soaked up every moment of it, for no one loves family more than she does.  It is not unusual for her to cry pulling out of a cousin's driveway, or watching her grandparents drive away.  Nothing makes her happier than being surrounded by the people she loves most in the world and who love her just as much.  As we are coming off of 2 weeks of nonstop family and fun and travel and laughter and holiday magic, I can see that to take the tree down would destroy her right now.

It's a beautiful tree.  It's still fragrant, still green, still very much healthy and going strong.  Which is unusual for us.

So it's staying up, for a little longer anyway.  While she feels all the feels and until the empty hole that family left heals a little bit.  Like a bandaid for her soul.  To take down the tree right now would be to rip off that bad boy off mercilessly.  It's not the tree itself, it's the feeling it evokes.  The feeling all of the sparkle evokes.

It'll be dead within a week, which should be perfect timing.  That'll give me time to do some other dismantling, although as I write this, I've been looking around in a quest for what can stay.  It IS winter after all.

Why not enjoy it, ALL of it, just a wee bit longer?