Thursday, April 30, 2015

Is this real?

Sometimes I get hit with a forceful feeling of wonder.  The *knock you off your feet, sit down and gather yourself* kind of forceful. I look at them and I just can't believe that they are mine.  That I made them.  That they call me "Mommy."


It happens in the simplest moments.


Big sister walking past my office window with her preschool class, eyes searching for me, and lighting up as they find mine. She mouths “Hi Mommy!” and I think, that’s MY girl.
                          

Tiptoeing into their rooms on my way to bed to give one last kiss goodnight to angelic sleeping faces, and breathe them in.


            A big sister that can’t get enough of her baby sister, ever.



I wonder, is this real?!  

.....


 I don't always feel my true age (which is on the precipice of 30 somehow, good grief).  I generally think I am younger than my birth certificate claims I am.  Usually that age lands around 25, but at times it's younger.  When I bury my head in my own mama's neck and smell her wonderful smell, I feel much smaller, not like an adult, that's for sure.


When did I become an adult? I'm a MOM. And these two independent, book loving, confident, beautifully perfect little girls, are MINE. How did that happen? When did that happen?


I've been in the mushy brain club for 4 years now.  Time seems to blend together -- the days, months, years, somehow seem endless, immeasurably linked and intertwined.


But then I think-- 4 years, is that all?! I can hardly remember my life without them, it seems like a movie I watched, a story I know... but not my story.  Surely my story begins and ends with them.  When I think back to times of my life when they weren't here yet, I find myself wondering where they were that day, what I did with them.  My mom tells a story of driving to the hospital the night she was in labor with me, and wondering where I was while she was in the hospital... birthing me. And I get it.  I absolutely get it.




These precious little people.  They change it all.  The meaning, the purpose, the desire to achieve and do the best damn job I can for them -- they change it all. 

 


Sometimes it feels so big and unfathomable, I just have to bask in the wonder of it.  




Is this real?! 


Even amidst all the chaos, the frustration, the exhaustion, and the repetition, I have to pinch myself.  And it is real. It's my real.


And it's delightful.



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dear Kind Sir

I had the hellish bad luck privilege of being that mom in the grocery store tonight with a child fitfully rolling about in the middle of the produce section.  Boneless and inconsolable she was. The reason for her tantrum? It appeared that all the grocery carts with the gigantic plastic car attached to the front (you know… the ones that won’t turn a corner to save your life… the cart that forces you to literally plan your next move 5 aisles ahead of time) were all taken.  So we, unfortunately, had to use a regular cart.  Apparently this was not acceptable to her.


I went about picking out a good batch of strawberries, keeping my head strategically bowed so as to avoid eye contact with any onlookers, while she wriggled and cried – I know my girl, let her get it out and we’ll move on.


But then, something very touching happened (touching to a tired mama that is just trying to grab the necessities for dinner and be on her merry way anyway).  A young man walking into the store stopped by my fitful child and said, “Uh oh, someone’s not very happy.” I replied with a smile and a “Not at the moment…” expecting him to just mosey on shaking his head.


But he didn't. He knelt down by her and in the kindest, most understanding voice he asked her, “What’s the matter? Hmm? What’s wrong?”  He wasn’t belittling, he wasn’t mocking-- it was like he genuinely wanted to know what had her so upset.  And so, I’d like to write this—


Dear Kind Sir,

Thank you.

Thank you for your kindness today.  You didn't look at us and give us the old ‘wide-eyed-raised-eyebrows-sucks-to-be-you’ glance.  You didn't walk by as if nothing was happening.  You acknowledged us, you acknowledged my daughter—and kindly.  You knelt down to her level to make sure she was ok. And though she immediately hid behind my leg and was too shy to answer you, she stopped crying.  I don’t know if this was your grand plan, but it was brilliant none the less.  I don’t think this was your plan though.  I truly think you were just being empathetic to her feelings, and to mine. 

“I have a little one too,” you said to me, “she’s almost 2. I know these fits.” 

You related to me.  You related to her. And in the simplest way. 

You never did find out why she was so upset. You went on your way after she stopped crying.  You smiled, I thanked you. But I don’t feel like I thanked you properly – just a quick “Thanks!” with a smile of my own trying to pull it off like I've got it together and I know what I’m doing. 

How easy it is to judge something we see without stopping to relate – we can all relate on some level, but it’s easier to walk on than to stop. 

You stopped.

Thank you for stopping, for not jumping to judgement.  Thank you for being KIND.

Sincerely,

A humbled and appreciative mama

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Don't be in a hurry."

"Mom, don't be in a hurry tonight... ok?" she said to me as we snuggled into her bed to read books.


I was speechless, my guilty heart broke.


I guess I am in a hurry by the end of the night. I'm in a hurry to sink into the couch by myself and have a moment of peace-- a moment of indulgence, whether that be binge watching Scandal on Netflix, or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook and Instagram. I am admittedly in a hurry for my time. But it never occurred to me that she could sense that. That she felt my rush.


The days are long. There is no break. (Allow me to preach to the choir of mothers reading this.) Never do both children nap at the same time, giving me a moment to myself or to catch up on the 4 laundry baskets of clean clothes waiting to be folded (for a week now) or the dishes, or - I'm going to get really fancy here -- clean the BATHROOM.


No. There is no break.


When baby is napping, big sis wants to build puzzles with me, or read books with me, or do an art project with ME. And I willingly oblige. These are precious moments, I know that. I know that the laundry can wait (another week), the dishes will be done eventually, and the bathroom-- well, the bathroom is just that; a bathroom-- the toilet bowl is still white, so I'm winning.


But I know these times of her asking “want to build a puzzle with me mommy?" will quickly fade and blur into me asking "want to do a puzzle with me baby?" as she rolls her eyes and texts her friends about how lame her mom is *insert cringe here*.


So, the day drags on, and somehow flies by at the same time. By the time the dinner battle is over -- generally with a score of exhausted-mom: 0, stalling-picky-eater-3-year-old: 1, teeth brushed, jammies on, books read... Yes, I am feeling a little anxious for MY time.


I LOVE my girls, I LOVE snuggling with them at bedtime. But in order to love my girls properly, I also need to love my own sanity. And without a few precious moments to myself, I quickly lose that. (I've only recently regained it after 11 months of a non-sleeping baby.)


With that said -- "don't be in a hurry tonight" broke me a bit. I had no response other than "I'm not, Honey," and pulled her close.

Disregard my lack of make-up and pinned back bangs here -- I suppose it goes along with the theme of "end of the day exhaustion." 


So where is the balance? When does the knowledge that *these moments are fleeting, soak it up while you can* lose out to *I need a MOMENT for myself*?


Because I know, I KNOW, that when I'm old and looking back on these days, I won't remember the episode of Breaking Bad that I watched, but I will remember the snuggles, the endless books read, the way her breathing steadies and her grasp on my hand lightens as she falls into sleep.



I also know that without my sanity, without a little time to myself, I won't be the best I can be for her or baby sister. So again I ask, where's the balance? What's the answer? For me, I suppose the answer is simply this –


Don't give up my small, precious, allotted ‘me-time,’

but…

Don’t let her feel the hurry.


Embrace the snuggles.

Embrace that she wants me there by her side.

But also, embrace my time-- when it is time.



There's no need to hurry, my alone time will come. And sooner than I'd like to acknowledge, it will come far too often.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Perspective. Part I

Perspective is a funny thing.  We are often blinded by our own opinions and we forget to take into consideration that we may not, in fact, know everything.  Perspective becomes painfully clear when we find ourselves on the other side however … the side we used to judge so easily based on our own naivety and small mindedness.  Whoa. This is getting deep. Backing up.  The reason for this post is that I now find myself on the other side of an old opinion. Many, actually.  When you become a mother, a parent, perspective finds you-- often-- and wakes you right up. 


Tapping in on some deeper reflection with a light example today.


In my short duration as a mother, perspective has made her appearance in many forms.  One being in the form of the backpack “leash.” You know-- the cute little stuffed animal backpack that looks like it’s hugging the child, but with a convenient plush “leash” attached.  I used to see this contraption and think, "Good lord, that is your child! Not your dog!”


Hello perspective.


I now know that yes indeed, this is a child – because I have one (two, actually, but this example pertains currently to the one).  I have a child that is capable enough to walk on her own, to have her own ideas and desires, and is able to make those desires known, whether that be in the form of an attempted word, some sign language, or a shrill, ear shattering scream.  She cannot, however, reason yet. I cannot explain to her that she can't walk unless she holds my hand -- I mean, I can, but it results in a boneless baby girl, screaming at the top of her lungs. I cannot reason that she must walk right by me if she wants out of the stroller.


No. There is no reasoning with a 16 month old.


So the other day, at the zoo, I attached "the leash."  And this controversial contraption allowed my baby girl to discover some independence, to have a taste of freedom, to get out of the stroller and walk with her own two feet. She was able to follow her ideas and curiosities, but safely, with me holding on-- and she was none the wiser. She was quite content actually, and watching her discover and toddle around without worrying about the crowds or her sudden disappearance, was worth the sideways glances we may have received.  The sideways glances I used to be guilty of giving. The glances from those who have yet to be shaken awake by perspective.




It's a funny thing, perspective. The stares I noticed were not from parents with young children, they were from teens, from much older adults. People that have either not reached this phase of life, or have been too far removed to remember this phase, and the beauty that is her need for freedom, and my need for her safety.



Let perspective shake you awake.  It feels a lot better to notice the grey, over the black and white of opinions and judgments.  Stop that judgmental voice in her tracks. She’s not worth it. Perspective feels better.  And until you get there, open mindedness feels pretty good too.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Someday.


The moment, and I mean the very instant, I became a mom, I got it. I finally understood– I understood my mom, my parents; the all-encompassing love, the fear… I just finally got it.  This kind of love, it is impossible to explain, you just have to feel it to know it.

 


So, my dear girls, this is for you. And someday, if you choose to become a mommy (and oh babies, I hope you do) you'll understand too...
 

You'll know why I inhale your smell, like my life depends on it, every time I kiss the top of your head.

 


You'll understand the pit in my stomach when I first hear your cry in the middle of the night, and then, the way that pit completely evaporates the moment I scoop you up and you rest your head on my shoulder.

You'll understand the notes of encouragement I have taped to my mirror that helped get me through 11 months of waking every 2 hours with you. And you'll understand why, even when you (finally!) started sleeping through the night, I still didn't-- and I probably never will again.

You'll understand why remembering your birth will bring me to tears at any moment of any day for the rest of time.


You'll understand why sometimes, just sometimes, I lock the door when I finally get a shower--and then feel guilty about it when I hear you on the other side of the door.


You'll know why, when you take my hand, press your face to my palm and close your eyes, I feel just as comforted as you do.

 
 
 
 



You'll understand why my greatest fear is losing you. 
 
                   And that my second is leaving you too soon.


You'll understand how I dread, to my very bones, the first time you feel you aren't good enough, pretty enough, or smart enough-- and how I'll convince you that you absolutely ARE.





You'll understand why my eyes well with tears as you tell a ridiculously wonderful story that is, at times, nearly impossible to understand through your lisp.


You'll finally understand why it’s so important to me that you eat dinner-- and why occasionally I give in to the feeling of failure that brings on tears after your millionth refusal to take one bite.

Also, why you can't eat chicken nuggets every night. 


You'll understand why I walk around the house like a stealth ninja navigating an active mine field when you and your sister are asleep.



You'll know the exhaustion of the repetition of every day; the dishes, the meals, the laundry, the required patience – lather, rinse, repeat. And sometimes it will get the best of you, but always, you wouldn't change it for the world.


You'll know your baby has a fever simply by kissing her forehead, and your heart will sink. 



You'll understand why, since your birth, my prayers have become more of a silent plea, a sort of hostage negotiation with God, begging Him with all my might to keep you safe, protected, and healthy all your long and happy life.




 
And you'll understand why I often look at you in heart swelling, utter disbelief-- disbelief that you are mine and disbelief that I am lucky enough to be yours.
 

My dear girls, you are my greatest gift. And you’ll understand why someday.