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Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

There are days that I just don’t want to be The Mommy. I’m tired. I don’t want today to be all about the kids. Feeding the kids. Dressing the kids. Hearing the constant whines of discontent. Can’t there be a day when they are not discontented? Can’t they go from full to hungry without whining about it? Can they be bored without whining? Cold without whining? Hot without whining? Considering the tone of this paragraph by their mother, the answer is probably not.

This past week of displacement, poor sleep, missing my regular life and schedule has taken its toll on me. Yesterday we were all so happy to be home. S took an extra long nap in her own crib. T and L busied themselves trying to clear the yard of our fallen trees. Home itself was a novelty, so we all self-entertained. It seems that the novelty has worn off by this morning.

The living room that was tremendously clean yesterday is now covered in couch cushions, books, toys and food debris. The kitchen table has remnants of several breakfasts and snacks. Bags have not been properly unpacked and instead overflow their innards in the entry way and each bedroom. The restless, nervous anxiety of what are we going to do with the rest of the day??? has set in.

On our own, T and I would just do whatever. It was so easy. But with kids, it seems like something has to happen. We have to go somewhere, do something, plan something entertaining, enriching, exhausting. We can’t just hang out around the house, maybe run a couple of errands, take a nap, etc. A Sunday just isn’t what it used to be. Without the entertainment, enrichment and exhaustion, the kids just circle us like hungry hyenas. Each taking a turn at pouncing with a complaint or tantrum. On tired days like today, they’re more like vultures. They know I’m near my end, and they’ll wait. Creeping ever closer, attentive. I cannot shoo them away to play on their own.

I know that there are kids out there who can entertain themselves. Who can play together for more than 3 minutes without blood shed or tears. There are kids who can sit for hours doing crafts. So why didn’t I have a couple of those kids? The only thing that can occupy my kids for any length of time is destruction of my house. Purposeful destruction with the end goal of getting a parent angry and involved.

They’re outside now with T. Soon they’ll be in demanding hot cocoa and T will hand the unwanted parenting baton to me.

Kids, it’s Sunday for goodness sake! A day off. You are my job every other day, so today I get to rest from you. Get your own food. Find your own freaking socks! Figure out a way to put your own underpants back on after peeing, or just skip them altogether. I don’t care! Also, if you are strong enough to get the cushions off the couch, I know you are strong enough to put them back on. Don’t give me that bs. No, you are not hungry, just bored. Go play. You are a child. Outside are a couple of acres of fallen leaves, snow patches, woods, swings, bikes, scooters, balls and so much more! Figure it out already and leave me alone!

OK. I can feel the outdoor activity coming to an end. Someone is crying. My time here is done. Regardless of how much I don’t want to, I will not put on my own coat and boots and join the family out there. Sundays just aren’t Sundays anymore.

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Dear S,

It’s hard for me to write a letter to you because most of my thoughts and feelings about you aren’t really expressible as words, only as sickeningly saccharine pet names, squeezes and snuggles. I can’t figure out how to describe the sentiment behind nuzzling your belly, play-eating your haunches, and tickling your toes. How do I express your giggles as I toss you into the air, flip you upside down and spin you around? Or what it’s like just walking with your tiny hand in mine? It’s impossible. You are not a thing of words; you are a thing of visceral, devastating, hopeless love and attachment. It’s all I can do on a daily basis not to eat you. (I know that sounds weird. When you have a baby of your own, you’ll get it.)

S sitting in a chair 2 days old. I had so much fun in the hospital with her. Best 4 days of my life.

You’ve become such a big girl in so many ways and I’ve been lucky enough to witness you grow. You are easily the most affectionate person I’ve ever known in my life. And for the most part, you are unflappably happy. Unless you’re not. And when you’re not you let us know. For a person so small in stature, your volume is alarming.

Mmmmm, puzzle....

Your vocabulary grows by the day, but it’s still quite limited. You have some of the important words, and several words I wouldn’t have pegged as obvious first words:

Your best words are the 2-year-old trifecta: no, mine and me.

You can’t say L’s name, so you just call him “Unna,” which is the same word you use for “other.” As in, he’s the other one. (Trust me, you’re not saying brother. You can say that too, but it sounds more like “budda.”)

Many of your words are only meaningful to me, like “boo” for “shoe” and “boop” for “milk,” but some other words are said with perfect clarity. These are a surprising bunch like “money,” “elbow,” “hot cocoa,” and “goggles.”

Except when you use that tone of voice which is the exact perfect pitch to reverberate in my head and drive me clinically insane, you are seriously the most adorable thing I’ve ever laid eyes on. (Except L when he was your age, who was also impossibly cute, but harder to see because he was always a blur of motion.) It takes all of my restraint to stop myself from constantly picking you up, squeezing you, and smothering you in kisses, tickles and nuzzles.

I love that you are happy to play by yourself. I love that you are happy to play with me. I love that you are laid back about transitions from one activity to another. I love that you smile and say hello to everyone you see. I love the way you giggle. I love the way you run. I love the way you jump.

I do not love that you still hate the car and spend most of your time in it screaming.

I love that you go to bed so easily. I love that you wake up happy. I love that you eat just about anything I put in front of you. I love how much you love your big brother. You find him hilarious and you try to copy everything he does. Most of the time, I wish you wouldn’t.

Fashionista

S, my sweet 2-year-old, I’ve said a thousand times over the last two years that I want to stop time to freeze you where you are because you are at the height of your cuteness and sweetness. But you just keep getting better. (I am aware that the age of 3 looms ahead of me, but I prefer to live in denial.)

I love love love love love you impossibly much.

Love,

Mommy

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Kate from Kate Takes 5 has a weekly link up where she provides a topic for a top 5 list. I always mean to participate in her listography, but for some reason I don’t seem to make it in time. Last week’s topic was Decisions and I’ve been ruminating on the topic for days, and naturally missed my chance to link up to it before the new topic for this week was posted. But it got me thinking a lot about some of the decisions that have shaped my life.

Like everyone else, I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions, hard decisions and easy decisions. Here are a few of the most  influential decisions I’ve made, the good and the bad.

1. Leaving High School

I don’t actually like to admit this often, but I went to boarding school. It was the norm for kids from my middle school to go away to boarding school for high school. (Did that sentence have “school” in it a lot or what?) Anyway, it was not for me. I hated it vehemently. I hated the culture of my school where the hockey team ruled and even the teachers seemed to be divided into cliques. During my junior year we had a parents’ day and I was in a sour mood. My parents asked what was the matter and I rashly lashed out that I hated my school and was miserable. “So what are you going to do about it?” my dad asked me. Huh?

This was the first time I was handed the reigns of my life. I could do something about this? I decided to apply directly to college as a junior, and skip my 4th year of high school entirely. I did not have enough credits and did not take any kind of equivalency exam. I was like any other high school junior. Several of my top choice schools firmly let me know that I need not apply until I graduated like a normal person, but some were open to my application and I was accepted into a handful. Then I had a difficult choice to make: leave my friends and the comfort of the familiar? Separate myself from everyone else on the planet by not having a senior year of high school? I did it. That decision empowered me and at 17 I learned that I was in charge of myself and could drive my own life.

2. Giving Up

I found myself as a previously sheltered 17-year-old in the bigger than big world of Giant University. My dorm my freshman year had over 1600 students. Believing I was a uniquely talented and bright individual, like I had always been told, I applied to a competitive writing course. I submitted my short stories, full of teen angst and trite drama (this was waaaay before Twilight). I was not accepted. I received a letter explaining that I should work on my writing and reapply as an upperclassman.

Devastated, I concluded that I actually had no talent for writing whatsoever. Too humiliated to sign up for any other kind of writing course, I hung up my pen. I decided that my parents were right, writing is a hobby, and I should take a bunch of science courses so I could be employable some day instead. Easy decision to make. Giving it up was so easy. But what if I hadn’t? I could potentially have some fulfilling career instead of a history of random jobs, a Master’s degree I don’t care about, and no idea what I want to be when I grow up.

3. Studying Abroad

Most people consider taking one semester to study abroad or at another university, for a change of pace and fun opportunity. I did it 3 times. I knew that college provided me the unique chance to do this. That one day when I was a grown up saddled with a grown up life I would not be able to spend 3 months in exotic places like Nepal and Kenya, or living outside in snow caves in the Rocky Mountains. I was so fortunate to have these opportunities at my fingertips and I could not pass them up. Each of these experiences left indelible impressions on me and shaped me into the adult I would eventually become. The only hard thing about these decisions was where to go and what to do. Palau or Kenya? That was a tough one.

In my current life as a SAHM to two little kids, it refreshes me to remember my younger self roaming through the streets of Kathmandu; living with a family in a mud and thatch hut in rural Kenya and speaking Swahili expertly; or how strong and hard my exhausted muscles were after digging out another snow cave to spend the night in. These memories are a world apart from my current reality, but it was me, I did it. It reminds me that life is a series of events and stages, that this one is just another stage, and that one day I’ll be looking back on all of this. I had better try to appreciate all it has to offer.

4. Marrying T

This was maybe the easiest decision ever. I’ve suffered more indecision over shoe purchases than whether or not to marry T. From the moment I met him I felt connected to him. We actually almost got hitched after only knowing each other for several months. We faced some inconvenient visa laws and the fact that he’s an alien from far far away land. We had 3 choices: get married, move out of the US, or break up. We call that day “stress day 2000.” In the end we decided to both up and move to far far away land rather than get married for the wrong reasons. So we did. 3 years later, we were back in the US (legally!) and he proposed. Of course I would marry him! I never had cold feet.

5. Kids

Another easy decision to make despite how huge it was. Suddenly one day I felt ready to have a kid. T and I had been married a few years. Our life was fun. But I felt kind of done with it and ready for something new, the next phase. Luckily T was on board and soon we had our gigantic baby L. (He was 10 lbs 3 oz.)

Nothing in the universe was cuter than L when he was 1.5 years old. This was a lucky thing because he was not easy. At all. But he was a bouncing boy full of exuberance, energy and serious cuteness. So cute that I just had to have another. Again, an easy decision that T agreed with. The time was right and having L be an only child was never really in consideration. It amazes me how easy these huge, life changing decisions were to make.

It’s been a fun exercise to look back and think of the biggest decisions I made which brought me to where I am today – steadfastly ignoring my children while they wreck the house so I can selfishly reflect and blog about it.

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When S turned 1 I wrote her a letter, beginning what I hope to be a long birthday tradition.

Dear L on your 4th birthday,

I can’t believe you are 4 today! That sounds like such a big boy. Where did the time go? When I look at you, you are clearly a big boy now, no trace of the baby you were. Lately you’ve grown long and lean like a kid rather than round and pudged like a toddler. Only a few remaining mispronunciations remind me of the toddler you came from.

I am so proud of the boy you’ve become. I’m especially proud of your kindness and empathy. This is something born in you. You rejoice in the success and good fortune of others. You are so excited when it’s someone else’s birthday, or when someone masters a new skill like riding a bike. You burst with happiness for them, as if their accomplishment or special occasion were your own. I love that you can feel so happy for others. You also naturally sense others’ sad feelings and do your best to help – with a hug, bringing a favorite toy, even sharing your own treasured cookie or sweets. These are things I did not teach you. This is who you are. And I love it about you.

Recently I got to see a side of you that surprised me. You had to get a cast on each of your legs to help you walk on flat feet instead of on your toes. The casts were big, heavy, itchy, uncomfortable, cumbersome and annoying in a million other ways. But you didn’t complain. From the instant you got them, you just figured out how to walk and went on about your life. You still climbed and played and were your happy self. I’m amazed at your resilience.

If you had your way, we would play all day long. You’re like a puppy that way. Unless you’re asleep, you’d like to be jumping, wrestling, tickling, running, dancing, and giggling. I know I sometimes seem annoyed at all of this, but really, your playful nature is delightful. I’m just not always a good match energy-wise. I wish I were! Your energy will serve you well for your whole life and I’m glad you have it. I’m sorry that I get annoyed sometimes and I’ll try to be better about that.

Seeing your relationship with your sister is just about the best thing in my life. You are (mostly) kind and gentle with her. You always look out for her and try to make her happy, protect her, play with her, etc. You also are insatiably curious about her tolerance and threshold for pestering and wrestling. You always manage to find it and pass it. But then when she cries you usually do too because you feel bad for hurting her. You give her a hug and a kiss and apologize and then the two of you are on your merry way again.

You have a clear sense of what you feel is right and you are not afraid to assert yourself. Although this can frustrate the grown-ups around you, it’s actually a trait that will take you far in life. You just have to survive through your childhood first. (We all do.) Which might not be easy for you. All along the way you’ll come up against grown-ups who you will have to listen to, even when you think they’re wrong. I will do my best to support you and help you navigate through these frustrating relationships. Even with me.

Your spirit, exuberance and sense of wonder make me smile every day. I hope you keep them as you grow up. And I hope you keep your wacky sense of humor, which I think you will, since it’s exactly like your Daddy’s wacky sense of humor.

Being your mom is certainly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the most rewarding. Seeing you grow and change, and witnessing the emergence of the wonderful, individual person you are has been amazing. I have the highest hopes for your 5th year. I think you’re going to have a great year making friends, discovering new skills, and bringing joy to everyone who is lucky enough to know you. I love you so much!

Happy birthday!

Love,

Mom

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Thanks Giving

I forget to feel grateful and I take so much for granted. I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I spend my time wrapped up in whatever I’m doing. I complain and joke around and am remiss in my thanks giving.

Despite anything I’ve said here, I really do love my kids. I’m gaga over them and so, so, so thankful to have them. I’m thankful they are here, healthy, growing and safe. And I’m thankful for the wonderful little people they are.

S holds my heart in her tiny little hands. Her affectionate nature, fetching disposition and just plain old adorableness make it impossible not to fall in love with her. Her constant senseless babbling suggests the chatty little girl she’s about to become. I can’t wait to hear what she has to say! For now I’m happy to imagine what she means with her coos, shrieks and giggles. Even without speaking, she can make her will known. She wants to be up on top of the table, dammit! STOP.TAKING.ME.DOWN! But then she’s easily and happily distracted and toddles off in another direction. She is as different a child from L as can be imagined, so none of this is the same old anything. She’s full of surprises for me. I am so lucky to have her as my daughter.

And L, what a child he is! So full of exuberance, humor, energy, and curiosity – he certainly keeps me on my toes. No one can make me laugh like he can. And no one can drive me as crazy either. L pushes against all of my edges, like he’s kneading dough. And slowly, those edges expand, and then he pushes on the new ones. I’m learning some hard-won lessons and am becoming a better mother and person because of him. What’s hard to capture about L in my posts is his kind-heartedness. He is an incredibly loving, affectionate and caring person. This is the part of him that I admire most. I’m amazed that this small boy, who came from me and has been raised by me, can have all this sweetness in ways that I don’t have, that he can teach me a thing or two about empathy. I will certainly be a better person by having known L in my lifetime.

In addition to my wonderful children, I am also thankful for my husband T. He is my best friend and a great partner for me. Where I have snarkiness, he has kindness. Where I have selfishness, he has generosity. And where I have a grumpy, tired mood, he has his wacky and hilarious sense of humor and I can’t help but laugh. And he’s cute. How lucky am I?

As if all this wasn’t enough, I also have family nearby, great and supportive friends, an exceedingly dedicated and helpful mom, a mother-in-law on the other side of the world who is always thinking of us and is game enough to travel here, and on and on and on. I seem to have it all. So, thank you, Universe. I’m very blessed and grateful for all that I have.

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Lullaby

When L was a baby I made up a lullaby that I sang to him every time I put him down to sleep. Somewhere around 2.5 he decided he was too grown up for it. But then when he heard me singing it to S, with her name in the place of his, he wanted it back. So now each night I have a few moments when L and I are at peace, and he’s my baby again, and I get to sing him my lullaby. I’m happy it’s back.

Before you think I’m some kind of creative person, here’s the song itself –

To the tune of Auld Lang Syne (don’t ask me why):

It’s time for L to go to sleep, and sleep, and sleep and sleep. It’s time for L to go to sleep, and sleep and sleep and sleep.

It’s a song of optimism. For what it’s worth, my kids are great sleepers, slept through the night pretty early on. I think they took the song to heart. Feel free to use it.

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Do you ever stop and take stock of yourself? Are you where you expected you’d be? Are you who you expected? Doing what you expected? The answer is a resounding NO! to all of these for me.

I never thought I’d be:

  1. a stay at home mom;
  2. a person who plugs her son into a portable DVD player for long car rides (I soooo thought I wouldn’t do that and I sooooo love that DVD player.);
  3. friendly and chatty with strangers (This I attribute to isolation and having days when L and S are my only company. You better believe I’ll be chatting to you, Check Out Lady!);
  4. a person who hasn’t traveled abroad in almost 4 years;
  5. living in a podunk rural area not far from the podunk rural area I grew up in, and hated.

The fact that I am all of these things that I never expected isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The whole point of life is to live, learn and grow, right? So that means changing along the way. Truthfully, I’d hate the life I fantasized I’d have when I was a little girl. I thought I’d live in some big city, have some glamorous job, constantly attend glamorous events in fantastic gowns, and I think I looked a bit like Barbie and drove a pink convertible in those fantasies also. Well, on that front, I can tell you that Mattel is not banging on my door to design a doll in my likeness any time soon. And I love my Subaru and hate how messy my hair gets in a convertible anyway. (And ball gowns, really? Clearly I had never worn strapless, backless bras and spanx before! Ugh.)

I used to complain mercilessly to my parents about living in the middle of nowhere. It was so boring. Funny how much I love coming home after a weekend in a city now. Home to fresh air, quiet, space. I also used to roll my eyes at my mom who chats with everyone she sees. “They don’t care about your cat (or trip, or kids, or whatever), Mom!” But now I realize that her other choice was to just talk to me! And although I thought I was fascinating, I can now appreciate that talking about how awesome Bon Jovi is, or how unfair my teacher was, or how much I needed more jelly bracelets was not my mom’s idea of sparkling conversation.

Am I turning into my mother? Nope. She’s waaaay more relaxed and happy than I am and manages to get along great with L. But I am turning into someone. Someone else’s mother I guess. Some lady who lives in the boondocks, drives a station wagon (and loves it), talks to strangers in the park and is decidedly unlike Barbie. Funny how it all turns out sometimes.

So is your life like you imagined?

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