Friday, January 27, 2017

A Growing List of Lasts

Tuesday my sweet T turned 11.

How is this possible?!?!

Watching your children grow is all at once excruciating and exhilarating.  It's especially excruciating when you are experiencing all your last child's lasts.

I tried to explain this to him the other night, when I was hugging him a little too tightly, explaining it would be the last 10-year-old hug I would ever receive from my children.  I explained to him that while all of his firsts, and his sister's firsts, and his brother's firsts are significant, so are their lasts.  Especially his, because that means they're my lasts too.

The last time I gave him a bath was the last bath I gave anyone.

The last time I kissed a booboo was the last time I kissed a booboo.

The last time I rocked him to sleep was the last time I rocked a baby.

The last time I wiped his nose was the last time I wiped a nose. (not gonna lie, not gonna miss that)

The time I taught him to tie his shoe or ride a bike or how to burp super loud (c'mon, you've got to teach them some fun stuff) is the last time I'll teach anyone to do those things.

The last time he walks out of the elementary school will be the last time I do too.

The last time he asked me to carry him up the stairs was the last time I'll carry him.  Any of them.  Ever.

Ever.

I'm having a hard time letting him grow up.  He's my last baby and MY LAST BABY.

My oldest son came home from a trip recently, bent over to hug me, and spoke to me in a voice I didn't recognize.  Where did this man-child come from?  I have three and a half years left with him before he leaves for college.  Just three.  I don't know where all the years in between his birth and now went.

So, it's especially bittersweet to watch T grow up and grow...away, like his brother and even his sister.  Until he does, I know I will treasure every day with this kid who I love so immensely.  And I will enjoy every little milestone, first or last.

Because sometimes it's hard to know just which is which.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Snow Days

I would love to be one of those moms who gets super excited about snow days.

I don't.

Let me start by saying that we have been back to school for only a week after a full two weeks at Christmas.  Those two weeks were honestly lovely and I enjoyed every minute.  But, now we are facing a week (potentially -- we're in Richmond, after all) of no school AGAIN and my kids seem to think it's some sort of awesome vacation opportunity.  And it's up to me to make the magic happen.  

Um, no.  I don't do snow.  I know my last post was about magic, but I'm only human and I have my limits.  Snow days are not in my repertoire.  Besides, everything can't be magic all the time.  

Go outside and play.  School is cancelled because THE ROADS ARE TERRIBLE, so no, I won't be driving you to a park 10 miles a way so you can sled.  I'm sorry there's no good hill in our neighborhood but we live in Richmond -- there are few good hills anywhere.  Yes, I grew up in the mountains and everything was a hill so I can imagine it's a bummer but I'm not interested in risking life and limb (mostly life) to make sure you have a magical sledding experience at a hill where everyone else in the metropolitan area is also going to be.  That is, if we don't all die first.  

Why don't we have 4-wheel drive?  BECAUSE WE LIVE IN RICHMOND WHERE SNOW IS INFREQUENT AND WE DON'T NEED IT.

When you say, "you know what we should do?" it makes me crazy because did I mention the roads?  Did you happen to see that snow plow trying to scrape up something...anything...and coming up empty because the road is a solid sheet of ice and it's 17 degrees?  If I survive the road trip over ice to the teeming sled hill across town, I don't want to then lose my fingers and toes to frostbite while you have a magical experience and also try to dodge all the toddlers who are also trying to have a magical experience and crying because they're cold and the big kids keep running over them because there are THOUSANDS of people there.    

My kids were promised sledding today in a nearby neighborhood -- one with a hill.  They got out of bed at 9:00 and began asking when we were going.  It was 7 degrees outside.  And also only 9:00.  But they had been told it MIGHT happen and you know how that goes.  So we ventured out with a friend who was nice enough to offer to drive because she has four-wheel drive, only to realize that every road everywhere is a solid sheet of ice.  Guess what?  Four-wheel drive doesn't matter on ice.  We skidded sideways down a hill covered in ice toward a bunch of middle school kids, and I think I may have screamed MOVE OUT OF THE WAY in a panic while frantically gesturing and trying not to panic my friend who was doing the driving and skidding and was, well, panicked.   We didn't even make it to our destination because it was so dangerous.  So we parked and then panicked some more because if we slid down, would the same thing happen when we tried to go back up?  As we stood on the corner contemplating, we had to jump out of the way of a Cadillac Escalade that was skidding down the hill sideways trying to make the turn and headed straight for us.  One kid lasted a total of one run on the ice covered hill before calling it a day and sitting in the car to warm up.  The others slipped and slid up and down the road exclaiming "AWESOME" while we watched car after car also slip and slide and skid around the corner and up the hill.  When we left, we made it up the hill (whew), only to see 4 cars stuck on the hill in the opposite direction of where we were going.  There were people in the street with kitty litter trying to find enough traction on the ice covered hill to just get out.  

Kitty litter. 

Making magic is stressful y'all.  My heart is not cut out for this.  I am not a risk taker.  As my friend was driving up the hill I was praying hard.  I was trying to be optimistic and encouraging to my friend but secretly I was thinking "HOLY POOP WE'RE GONNA DIE." 

We missed our friends who lived in that neighborhood who we were supposed to meet.  We sledded for less than an hour and I hope to goodness it was magical enough.  Because my magic making days of this nonsense are over.  For real.  At least until it thaws out a bit.

I'm working on a thankfulness journal for this year, writing down something good that happens each day.  Tonight, I'm thankful that I have to work tomorrow and it'll be my husband's turn to make the magic.  He's much better at this kind of magic than I am anyway.
  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Living a Beautiful Life, Volume 3

The holiday is over.  It makes me sad.

The tree is dead, the greenery is browning and turning crunchy and the nativity scene sits on a pile of dust because I'm too lazy to move all the figures around.

I mentioned de-Christmasing today and MC gasped "NO!"  Then she added, "Well, you can take some of it down but leave up the mantle and the tree and the garland in the kitchen.  And the manger scene and the glass balls.  Oh, and the little trees and the Christmas pillows.  And that star (pointing to a huge paper star hanging in window)."

So basically all of it.

Later, as we watched the Hallmark channel holiday movie marathon (and our 1,392nd Hallmark movie of the season), a character mentioned how magical her mother always made Christmas feel.

Meems looked over at me and drew a heart in the air around my head and said, "like you."

I felt all the feels.  It was the best Christmas present anyone has ever given to me.

My family has a tendency to make a big production out of every event.  Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, graduations, concerts, plays, games....  It used to drive my husband crazy.  But what's better than making someone feel special?  What's better than creating magic for your family?  What's better than finding every reason to celebrate?  What's wrong with traditions?

My mom made holidays and birthdays magical.  My husband even loves them -- he says they feel like more than just a holiday, they're an event.

I was sick last week and as I lay dying on my bed I panicked that, should I really have to go to the hospital or, God forbid I should die, no one would know where I stashed all the presents and none of them were wrapped!  It was 2 days before Christmas and my kids had been looking forward to the day when all the presents appeared under the tree (per tradition) and how was that going to happen if I was incapacitated?  Or dead?  So I pulled myself out of bed, downed some antacid and several ibuprofen, and set to work.  By the time they got home, the presents were wrapped and under the tree, and each child had a gift of Christmas pjs waiting for them up in their rooms.  And even though I was still uncertain I wasn't dying, I felt pretty fantastic.

Because the looks on their faces when they saw it all -- Christmas magic right there.

And it was the most beautiful thing.  And for a few minutes I forgot I was dying.

I created magic and warmth for the people I love.  And they, apparently feel it too.  Well, at least one of them does.  To me, that's living a beautiful life.