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Five

I never thought we’d be here. For so long, the days and months and years stretched before me, in all their glorious infinity. And then today I looked up into my sweet boy’s face, his big, blue, five-year-old eyes, and died just a tiny bit.

Five weeks to kindergarden. It makes my heart lurch every time I say it, think it, pass by school supplies in Target. Five weeks to the end of glorious infinity, endless days of story time and science center and play groups and trips to the zoo. Five weeks until my sweet peanut, with his quick smile and gentle heart, will sit at a desk for six hours a day. Alone. Without me.

Breathe mama, just breathe…

I’ve been fortunate to have a job that has allowed me the flexibility to keep T at home. He’s never gone to pre-school but is well traveled, well spoken, well socialized. He is just as comfortable (at five!) running around in his underwear (he is a boy) or wearing a tie (sometimes simultaneously). And yet I struggle with not just the idea of our flexible lifestyle changing – no more mid-week trips to the beach or spontaneous outings to Philly or NYC- but also with the question of whether our neighborhood school is even a good choice for a boy who sits still exactly zero hours of the day. I want him to love school, to enjoy learning, and my heart hurts just thinking about his natural energy and curiosity being stifled. And of course the pink elephant, my baby is growing up.

Breathe mama, just breathe…

Five more weeks. Five weeks to spend at the pool, watch movies outside, and lunchtime soccer games followed by pie. Just a tiny bit more time to sleep in and go to bed late, take a week or two to visit Grandma, or meet me downtown for lunch on the days I need to go into the office. Only five weeks left to be my baby, before becoming my kindergardener.

Fly, my son. I’ll be here when you land.

 

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Pie for lunch? Thanks, Mom!

 

 

 

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Finding Moments

It’s been a long, crazy weekend here.  Grateful for sun after three days of rain and the coolest spring I can recall since moving here, we kicked off the weekend with strawberry picking at one of my favorite farms.  Saturday morning was a raucous game of soccer, or as close as can be had with a bunch of three-year-olds.  And still drunk on blue sky and warm breezes, we came to realize that nothing would make the weekend more perfect than a night spent under open skies.

Really, there was no “we” in that realization.  I have this idealist vision of camping, memories of my mom cooking a huge breakfast on a griddle while my dad helped me and my brother find worms and nightcrawlers for fishing.  When I was a kid we spent a lot of time in campgrounds and took first our truck camper, and later Winnebago, all over the country.  I’ve either blocked out the bad parts, or it was AWESOME.  I dream of a pop-up camper; so far the furthest I’ve gotten is convincing my husband that sitting around a campfire and sleeping in a tent a few times a year won’t kill him.

Anyway we packed up Big Blue, got the dogs and kid in the car (J, at sixteen, was just way too cool for camping),  and headed outside the city.  Of course by the time we got there, set up camp, scavenged enough wood to start a fire, made dinner and made our way back and forth to the communal bathroom several times, T was so exhausted he was crying to go to bed even before making “fo fo’s” (marshmallows).  As the fire started to burn out and the temperatures dipped, we noticed we didn’t have the tarp for the top of our tent.  We huddled together on the air mattress that managed to spring a leak since the last time we used it, staring up at the stars through our unimpeded view.  And finally, finally, the squirrels, deer, bears, mountain lions, and other guests stopped their partying long enough for me to fall asleep…only to wake and repeat the chaos of toddler-caring, fire-making, food-preparing and the rest of it.

Batshit crazyBy the time we packed up I was more than ready to go.  T had been whining non-stop for nearly two hours, I found myself repeating and REPEATING simple directions such as “stop throwing rocks!” and “stay away from the fire, it’s hot!” and I wanted nothing more than to be home and the sweet solace of T’s naptime.  And I’m sad to say that, while I strive to use kind words and toddler-level reasoning with him every day, by the time we got in the car my frustration and short temper were starting to spread like toxic mold.

We did make it home, an uneventful trip except for the ginormous spider I found crawling on my shirt (seriously, I almost died).  A too-quick nap and T was awake and still acting up, incapable of listening out of shear exhaustion.  But as I tried to get some of the laundry started and dishes washed and camping carnage put away, I kept passing him lying, quite peacefully, on the couch, watching a movie.  And I recalled that it can wait, all of it.  I have not doubt that pile of greasy pans will still be in the sink after he goes to bed, or even tomorrow morning.  But for this moment, of T being three-and-a-few-months and just the two of us lying together, watching Toy Story, still smelling like campfire and sunshine, I have no such guarantee.  So I took it, and he put his hand on my head and smiled, and life was good.

Camping.6.2014

 

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Three!

My sweet son –

Happy birthday! You turned three today…it hurts my heart a tiny bit just to say it. You are tall enough now that I can rest my hand on the back of your head and kind enough to permit me to do so. You are changing so fast, every day brings something new – words I can’t fathom how you know, skills I can’t believe you mastered so quickly, and play I can’t figure how you imagined.

I’d like to tell you every day is perfect, but you are old enough now to realize that’s not true and tell us when you are hurt or scared or mad, and acknowledge when one of us feels the same way. There are moments of incredible frustration, like when Daddy and I took you to the National Air and Space Museum to see “rocketships” but you were having none of it, pitching a fit on the floor while school kids milled around. But those times are balanced by moments of such gentleness and love; one of my favorite times of the day is when you first wake and come in to snuggle with us, smelling like lavender and sleep. We yell and cry, and are by no means a quiet family. But there is love to spare and you are so quick with yours that it sometimes takes my breath.

You’ve accomplished so much in just one year. Within weeks of turning two you Houdini’d your way out of your crib, grinning at us as you monkey-climbed down the other side. You learned to ride bike, made friends at the park, spent hours reading to yourself and us, helped mommy cook, discovered a love of superheroes and baseball. And your language….one day during the summer I found myself staring at you, trying to decipher your baby tongue, only to realize you were speaking in entire sentences. You have such a way with words and I am so proud to see you try them out, it sometimes looks as if you can almost taste them on your lips. You take on each day with bright eyes and infectious spirit, and I find myself inspired.

As I tucked you in the night before your birthday you pulled my hand down and whispered “You make me happy.” You have no idea, my son. No longer a baby, my heart will not yet allow me to call you a big boy. But you are, without a doubt, my Sweet Boy, and I wish you the happiest of birthdays.

Happy birthday Sweet Boy!

Happy birthday Sweet Boy!

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in family, Parenting, Remember

 

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It’s my life and I’ll sleep if I want to!

I fell asleep at 8:30 last night.  On the couch, in front of the TV, with T still fussing himself back to sleep after being woken by a short barking fit from the dogs.  And at 11:30, when DH finally managed to get me awake enough to stand (I know it’s shocking, but I can be quite a bear), I stomped up the stairs, brushed my teeth, put on pjs, and fell back asleep until 7:30 when I heard T reading to himself in his crib.  It.  Was.  AWESOME.

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I know so many moms, parents, people, who berate themselves for being tired.  They have a long list of ailments, maladies, poor nutritional choices, exercise inefficiencies, impotent vitamins, anything and everything that they think they are not doing properly, hence their sheer exhaustion.  Since becoming a mom I’ve spoken with so many others who are apologetic about their yawns and bloodshot eyes.  Their body has let them down, and they are truly sorry. 

WHAT?!?!!!  Sure there are days when I wish I had more energy to do just one more thing, play with T a few more minutes, go a few blocks further with the dogs, finish that last chapter.  That’s my mind saying “You only get one chance, take it!” not “your body is unworthy of this brain!”  It’s like a badge of honor to be tired, and the ultimate reward to be able to sleep well after a busy day.

So I did, for a really long time.  And this morning, when I woke and my headache was gone and my eyes were clear and I spoke with sweet words and hummed through the day with the patience of a saint, my brain – and the world – thanked me.

Do you feel like you get “enough” sleep?  Does it change your outlook on your day when you do?

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Parenting

 

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Thanks Dad!

I love my Dad – love him!  Unfortunately we did not always get along….there was a long, awkward period (i.e., high school) in which we could barely stand to be in the same room together.  Okay, I could not stand to be in the same room.  But lucky for both of us my Dad is super awesome and didn’t give up on me and one day I woke up and realized what a jacknut I’d been.  And so we live happily ever after, except for the fact that Dad likes to remind my of my jack-nuttery by occasionally reciting (usually in front of company) some horrifically embarrassing tale.  In honor of Dad, here are a few things I’ve learned, in no particular order:

1.  Be happy.  (Yes, it’s that simple).

2.  Like what you do.  Refer to No. 1

3.  Friends count, so don’t count friends.  In other words, it’s the quality, not the quantity.

4.  What would Grandma think?  I don’t remember a time when my conscience didn’t have Grandma’s voice!

5.  Family matters.

6.  Laughter can fix anything, so use it early and often.

7.  Pitch your tent on high ground.  And don’t forget the rain-flap.

8.  The car WILL need gas to go.

9.  Nothing tastes better after a hard day than a cold beer.

10.  Just because you have money doesn’t mean you need to spend it.

11.  Just because you don’t have money doesn’t need you can’t help someone less fortunate.

12.  The great outdoors is wonderful and terrifying and awesome.

13.  It doesn’t matter what the Jones’ are doing unless your name is Jones.

14.  If it’s important to you, keep trying.

15.  You don’t have to be perfect to be a great Dad.

Photo credit: do512.com

“When your daughter is in high school you’re the stupidest person alive, in college at least you have half a brain, but it’s not until she gets married that you become the smartest man she’s ever met.”- Dad

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in family, Uncategorized

 

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Contact Sport

For weeks DH and I have been walking around like zombies, griping about some ache, pain or bruise, bags under our eyes, or sheer exhaustion.  Each day we go through a litany of symptoms and attempt to self-diagnose each other with the helpful assistance of that friend of all hypochondriacs, WebMD.  Could it be a late flu?  Mono?  Shingles?  Anemia?  Lupus?  Are we bi-polar, at risk for coronary artery disease or carbon monoxide poisoning?  What about glumerulonephritis or histoplasmosis, which sound painful and terrifying?  Were we attacked by lyme-disease carrying ticks?!!  When I woke this morning with back pain so bad it actually hurt to take a deep breath, I finally decided it was time to make the guinea pig DH a doctor’s appointment.

By chance I saw our curmudgeonly neighbor, Miss Mary, as I was coming home from work.  “Saw you at the park with T yesterday.  He’s really moving since the last time I saw him.”  Crickets.  “Uh, yeah, he gets around pretty good.”  “Good!  He was halfway across the field before your husband even noticed he was gone!”

Photo credit: cutcaster.com

I could have been relieved that we weren’t suffering from some horrific ailment, but instead my first thought was that we’re just too old to be parents of a toddler, to chase him around and play rough and throw balls and swim and bounce and dance and all the things he loves to do.  DH and I were both athletes through college but let’s face it, life with an “active” child (read:  he of non-stop movement and sound, even in sleep, during which he typically creeps his way around the crib three or four times per night) is a lot different from the sports of yoga and beer-drinking to which we were more recently accustomed.  Maybe he’s been done a horrible disservice by the Universe by being born to us instead of some marathon running, long jumping, bicycle riding Olympic-hopefuls.

But who am I to take issue with the decisions of the Universe?  My aching back is from piggy-back rides home from the park; DH’s bruises from playing “Hulk Hogan” and other vintage wrestling heroes.  No one told me parenting would be a contact sport, and I suppose for some families maybe it’s not.  Who’s to say if the marathon running Olympic hopeful even knows how to do a half-Nelson?  For now I guess we’ll consider ourselves to be “in training” and I’m hopeful that, if this is anything like playing college sports, at some point the soreness and exhaustion will wear off.  Until then, we’ll stock up on Tylenol and Icy-Hot, keep one eye on the kid and the other on the goal.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in family, Parenting

 

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Kid Stuff

This week was a blur and as I sat down (!) this evening I realized it’s been a while.  So here I am.

My husband and I have always maintained very active lifestyles.  Whether it was getting up early to head to the farmers’ market, thrift shopping, or road trip, or heading out late to hit a concert or meet up with friends, we were pretty much non-stop.  And we walk – a LOT (one of the benefits of living in the city).  When I was pregnant with T, my dad was constantly asking how I was doing, wondering if I was working too hard or staying up too late or not getting enough rest.  I did my best to reassure him (i.e., white lies about earlier bed times and restful weekends) but I think T got used to all the activity that was actually taking place.  That kid is definitely mine – he’s up at the crack of dawn and wants to be moving every minute he’s awake. 

Photo credit Getty Images

I am reminded this time every year why I love city living and why I’m glad we have the good fortune for our kids to be raised in this City in particular.  One of my favorite things to do in the summer is grab the picnic basket and a bottle of wine and hit the free concerts in the park.  DH hates these musical events (likely because I make him carry the basket) which, unfortunately for him, are a nearly weekly occurrence.  There are outdoor movies on the Pier, festivals for every nationality, bocce tournaments, wine and jazz festivals, baseball, more concerts, block parties, boat races, yoga in the park, free swimming pools, fireworks, corner snowball stands, and celebrations for all sorts of historic events.  And we do all of them – and more – as a family.

Our kids haven’t slowed us down and bit.  Oh sure, there are changes – scheduling around nap times and play groups, more breaks for snacks, missing that last inning when it is well past bedtime.  And we’ve cut out a lot of our bar-hopping (because really, who brings a baby to a bar?).  But other than the time we no longer spend drinking and, er, recovering, it was a pleasant surprise to realize we still do most of the same things.  As a bonus, we get to act like kids along with our boys – my husband can swing to his heart’s content without anyone pegging him as the creepy guy at the playground, and no one thinks twice about a woman singing or dancing like an idiot when her toddler is in tow.  I’m sure the day will come when the boys want nothing to do with us, but for now I just hope they are having as good a time as my husband and I.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in family, Parenting

 

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