Monday, December 4, 2017

The One With The Hair

To my sweet boy,

You are two, TWO, today. You, son, are a bubbling ball of emotion. You are the epitome of happy-go-lucky, or emotional hurricane, depending on the moment. I'd say 87% of the time you're the prior, which makes life with you pretty grand. When I ask you, "Do you know how much I love you?" Your response, always the same, is "big." So big, my son. So big. Bigger than big. Bigger than this world can hold. 

You have the language and conversational skills of someone at least 12 months your senior (sometimes more), which makes the days with you fly by. You are the sweetest one, the fiercest one, the one who loves your brother more than "big", the one who will take every opportunity to hammer something, the one to make up songs about everything and nothing on the fly, the one to take every parental warning of a hazard as an invitation to try it, and the one to never miss a moment of watching and learning. And, oh my, you are the one with the hair. 

My wish for you this coming year is to keep on being you, to keep on singing those songs, hammering those bumps, watching and learning from those moments, and, even though it will mean more gray hairs for me, trying out those hazards. Be free. I sure do love being your Mama.

Happy Birthday.

Love,
~Mama



Monday, April 24, 2017

The Rest of My Days

I'm not sure why 5 feels like such a milestone, but it does. Five years you've been earth-side. I look at you and see, suddenly, not a little child, but a kid. A five-year-old. You are strong of will and spirit, which challenges me daily, but makes me oh so proud of you. You are sweetness and sharpness all mingled together. Your sense of humor and gift for the nuance of language astound me. You, as your Grandmama would say, miss nothing. I am still learning all the wonder that is you. I get tripped up often. I misread your subtleties, misstep while guiding, and mistake your lack of years for lack of understanding (despite my best efforts). But I am grateful to be your Mama. My gratitude begins and ends with you and your brother. And so it will for all the rest of my days. Happy birthday, Sprout.

Love,
~Mama

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Worry

I wanted to get the boys Easter baskets this year that would be ones we'd reuse year after year, like my Mama did for me and my brothers. The past 4 years I've just used whatever I could find: a wooden box, a plain "regular" basket, one year a sand bucket. But this year I was determined to find their "every year" basket for their Easter morning treasures. Then last week I saw online that a shop in-town was selling handmade fabric bins for Easter baskets. Proceeds from the sale would go to support a local mother who was battling non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sold. I packed the boys into the car and we headed out.

As we were driving to buy the bins/baskets, I told BC where we were going.

"I need to go get your Easter baskets."
"Mama, you don't need to, you want to."

(Had he been paying attention, or what?)

"You're right. It is a want, not a need."
"Can't we just use our Halloween buckets?"
"We could. But the baskets I'm buying today have a special purpose."
"What special purpose?"
"Well, the money the shop raises from selling these baskets is going to help a woman, a mom, who is really sick. Because she's so sick, she can't work a job to make money. Also, she has a lot of medical expenses because she has to go to the doctor a lot."
"Oh."
"So I don't need to buy these particular Easter baskets, but doing so will help this mom."
"Mama, is my bank still in the car? Because I want to give my money to help that mom and her medical expenses."

While choking back tears I asked him if he was sure. "Really sure?" He was. He wanted to carry his bank in himself. He told the woman at the counter why he was there (I expanded/clarified). We got our baskets, she got a bowl. He dumped the contents of his bank into the bowl. I looked at him and could see his mixed emotions.

"Are you okay, buddy?"
"Yeah. It's just a a little hard seeing all my hard-earned money going away."

I waited.

"But I've decided. I'm doing it."

And that was that. My not-even-5-year-old donated his "hard-earned" money to a stranger, because he felt empathetically compelled.

So much of parenting is worry. Worrying about how best to bring up these small humans we are helping to shape. Worrying about whether or not someone like me should even be entrusted to shape a dog, let alone a human. Worrying about the thousands of little decisions that must be made on a daily basis. Worrying about the big decisions. Worrying about worrying too much, and worrying about not worrying enough. But in that moment I felt all that worry melt away. I knew that I must be doing something right. Not that the moment was about me. It wasn't. At all. It was about my wonderful, sweet, caring, big-hearted son, who in that moment worried about a woman he'd never even met.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Not While I'm Around

Nothing's gonna harm you
Not while I'm around
Nothing's gonna harm you
No sir, not while I'm around
Demons are prowling everywhere nowadays
I'll send them howling, I don't care, I've got ways
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not to worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for a while
But in time
Nothing can harm you, not while I'm around
Being close and being clever
Ain't like being true
I don't need to, I would never 
Hide a thing from you
Like some
No one's gonna hurt you
No one's gonna dare
Others can desert you
Not a worry, whistle I'll be there
Demons'll charm you with a smile for awhile
But in time
Nothing can harm you
Not while I'm around
-S. Sondheim

It is next to impossible for me to fully understand, let alone explain, the depth of my sadness for this country right now. In what will surely go down as the strangest inauguration day in U.S. history, I am gut-wrenched at the thought of the term that is to follow. And the unsettling juxtaposition of the same week ending with this day that started on the day we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. cannot, for me, be understated. 

My oldest son and I had talked a lot about Dr. King and the importance of the third Monday in January recently. During those conversations I tried, deliberately, to keep the discussion relevant to today, instead of making it a "back in the day" topic. I was not always successful in doing so, however. Once, when I was attempting to explain again why some people don't believe in equality for all, my son asked me, "Mama, do we still have people like that?" I paused. "Yes," I said. "We just elected one of them president." Now, I didn't elect him president. A majority of voters didn't even elect him president. But I thought the electoral college was too off-topic and a bit much for my son at that moment. He is, after all, only four-and-a-half. 

I did not cast my vote for that man. Never. But I do have acquaintances and even family members who did. They cast a vote for a man who is an adversary to anyone who isn't a rich, white, male (I was going to make a list of those to whom he has shown to be an adversary to, but it's a long list). And that is over-stating it, because even if you are rich, white, and male, you still cannot be someone who disagrees with him. Anyone who disagrees with him is wrong, or stupid, or worse. And I know people who voted for him! And, yes, "your vote, your choice" and all of that. Except now I have to explain to my children why, in 2017 in The United States of America, we have a Commander in Chief who has been an outright asshole to, not just the marginalized, but anyone who doesn't agree with him. Like a toddler. Or a spoiled brat. Or a dictator.

I am at a loss. A loss for words, a loss for joy, a loss for hope. I so badly want to be one of those people who is rolling up her metaphorical sleeves to #nevernormalize and to fight like hell for the next two and four years (please, god, let's not even think of eight...). But I am at a loss. The only thing I can do is hold onto my children extra tight and fill them with all the love and security and hope and joy I am struggling to find for myself right now. I need them to know they are safe with me. They are my Reason. They are why I must, once my voice returns, speak of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Stonewall, and the NWSA, and the ADA, and BLM, and on and on. Because one day, when my son asks me if we still have people here in the Land of the Free who do not believe that all people are free, I want to be able to say, "Yes, but not for long." 





Sunday, December 4, 2016

To My Second Son On HIS First Birthday

My Sweet Baby,

You entered this world in a flash, and I knew you immediately. I confess I wasn't sure I would. My connection to your brother was so deep, so visceral, that it was difficult for me to imagine the same with another little human. But there you were, and there we were, and here we all are. You are one year old and an absolute delight. The key to my heart is in your cheeky grin, your sweet snuggles, and your copy-catting of your brother. 

All three of us - me, your Papa, and your Brother - love you fiercely and freely. Although I haven't spent nearly as much time staring at you (and yes, taking your picture as you sleep) as I did your brother in his first year of life, know that I still know you. I'm your Mama and you're my Son. You're my son who loves all things soft of texture, dogs, lights, balls or even remotely ball-shaped objects, hats, being held so you can observe, learning and using new signs and words, being just like your brother, joining in, This Little Piggie, North Pole/South Pole, whole apples, and all food - all of it. You're a walking ball of light. 

One year is gone, and another just beginning. Because of you I am Mama twice over. Thank you for being you. 

Love Always,
~Mama




Saturday, September 24, 2016

Parent-Pro-Tips

"Mama, will you make me a blue light saber?"
"Yes. Yes, of course."

Parent-pro-tip #387: Always save your empty toilet paper tubes.


"Mama, can I get out of the car and be with Papa?"
"Yes. Yes, of course."

Parent-pro-tip #388: Insist on hard hats when your children are around heavy machinery.



"Mama, can AL get in the tube?"
"Yes. Yes, of course. But we need to watch his face and body language so he can let us know whether or not he likes being there."

Parent-pro-tip #389: Babies are people too.

BONUS parent-pro-tip: Babies like shiny.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ballet Shoes

A couple of weeks after we moved here to New England, my husband was working on a Saturday, so I took the boys to a local school to check out their PTA's annual rummage sale. You'd think, having two boys, we'd be all set in the children's clothing department. But, alas, they are April and December kids, thus opposite seasons in clothes. Anyway. I found a couple of things for AL and BC found a pair of pink ballet shoes. After realizing I would buy them for him, and that they would match his pink hat at home, he announced he was going to find a "ballet dress" to go with them. The search began. After about 15 minutes he delightedly settled on a purple skirt (we were later told it was a "Princess Sofia" costume skirt. Still not sure what that means...).  After we paid for our items BC wanted to don his new treasures immediately. You'd never seen a happier boy walking out of that building in his ballet shoes and ballet dress.

Before we went in I had promised BC we could stop at the school playground for a few minutes on our way out. So we did. The playground, by this time, was pretty busy. I have to admit, I felt some trepidation allowing BC to go play with the other kids in all his finery. I wanted to protect him. Of course I did - and always do. I wasn't sure what kind of rude comments would be made about this boy in the skirt. He's a highly sensitive child, and I didn't want him crushed. But what could I do? I had already made the promise. He immediately started running, climbing, and swinging. It took about 3 minutes before a few kids came over to him. They were a bit older and had obviously just come from their soccer game. "Look!" said one girl. "Look what he's wearing!" My heart started racing. I waited to see how I could support my child and mediate, if necessary, for all parties. "Hello," said BC to the girl. "Ummmm. You can't do that," she declared. "Do what?" he asked. "You can't wear ballet shoes outside." I paused.

"Yes I can."
"Nuh uh. Ballet shoes are for inside only. I take ballet and I know."
"Well, I'm doing it. I'm wearing them."

And that was that. No retort, no argument, no comment whatsoever on the skirt. Nobody cared. The only concern was for the rules of dancing shoes being for inside only. I was proud of my son for standing by his conviction to wear what he wanted to wear, even in the face of peer critique. I was also struck by the fact that this exchange would have gone so very differently had we still lived in the midwest. Of course I'm generalizing, and assuming. But I'm 99% certain I'm right. Yeah, I'm right.