August 29, 2014
by Tricia
15 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 29

A few of this week’s lovely little things.swing feet sky

summer’s last bits

When you go back to school after most of the country, you get to live in this limbo for a bit. Fall is right there with it’s backpacks and luncboxes but you can still spend the afternoon at the pool if that’s what you so choose. So we did. We met up with some old friends that we’ll never see as much as we used to or want to and we bounced and splashed and, of course, spend a good amount of time eating goldfish while wrapped in towels. This week I can’t decide if I really, truly, do want Fall or if I want more last bits of summer. And the internal conflict is strangely lovely.

a little bit of everything, sort of balanced

Monday was one of those days. Lots to do, appointments to keep, new ones to make, summer camp to get to, friends to see, and work to do. And it all happened just as I’d planned for it to in a weird little balanced way. When I was working full time, out of the house, I used to argue that no single day would ever be balanced. Something always popped up to throw it all to the wind. Now that I’m a jumble of working and staying and being home, I’ll argue the same just as strongly. And, as I fell into bed Monday night, I’ll even go as far as to argue for my health and sanity, no day should ever be perfectly balanced. Monday came as close as we could possibly get, I think, and it was lovely.

new parks

They sat in the swings and watched the trains, Amtrak, regional, cargo , go chugging by. And they could have stayed there all day, just watching the cars clack along the rails in this otherwise quiet little space. Except that the sun beat down most relentlessly. I’ve lived in this area for ten years, raised kids here for almost five, and feel that I’ve got my finger on the pulse of the park scene. I know where the good ones are, when to go to each one based on time of day, day of week, and strength of the sun. But then we find (or Miss N. introduces us to) a new one and I spend the evening slotting it into the rotation.

favorite words

Life comes in-1

Happy, long, weekend. I hope you’re enjoying this cluster.

August 27, 2014
by Tricia
3 Comments

From the past: End of summer sadness

You know, I like to believe sometimes that each and every year is different. Completely unique, like a little snowflake. That I feel it all differently and that I evolve a little from summer ending to summer ending so that the emotions are more mature or more realized with each passing year.

But as I pull from my archives this year and find this one from almost exactly this same time last year, I see that it’s all the same. Like the seasons, my emotions at the end of August or beginning of September are pretty predictable. Sadness mixed with relief that still comes out in more than a few tears.

These words I wrote last September still ring so very true today.

~~~~~

Tomorrow is a big day.

First full day of school. Baby boy’s first day with our beloved nanny who is so familiar to us, but new to him. The first day of a new schedule and new routines and new rhythms that soon will feel comfortable and worn in but at first will feel tight and a bit stiff.

I’ve been looking forward to this day. I’ve had my eyes locked on September 9 for weeks.

And yet, tonight, I’m feeling a little sad.

The past several weeks have been a mish mash. The worlds that I normally try to keep separate have melded. Home and work. Momming and writing. All of life blended together in one big mixing bowl. And it was chaotic and stressful and busy. I like keeping things separate. Work here. Family there. Not all together.

work here, family here, all together

work here, family here, all together

But through it all, we made it work. And though we rushed from moment to moment, when I look back, I see that we slowed down once in each moment. And I’ll miss those moments. Early mornings at the park. Eating lunch together around the dining table. Getting work done while raising my babies and feeling it all so strongly all the time. For a bit, it was good. For a bit, it felt right.

playing with woodchips

And so, although I’ve longed for this day, and I thought I’d greet it with nothing but relief and excitement and oh-my-goodness-thank-goodness-we’re-back, I feel a little end of summer sorrow. A little bit of the post-summer let down. A bit of longing for another season gone.

The feeling surprised me at first. But now I’m settling into it and even wrapping myself up in it a bit. Because to come out of a time that felt so crazy as it was going on, and still feel this sadness at its passing, well there is hope in that. Hope that even the craziest and most chaotic of times are not without redemption. Not without some lightness. Not without the love and beauty that I strive for when we’re together.

Tomorrow is a big day. I will miss them. I will think about them constantly as each of us go off in our separate directions once again. And I’ll try to distract myself with how nice it feels to type a complete sentence without interruption and how lovely it is to go to the bathroom by myself. I’ll challenge my girl to see how hard she can squeeze at our goodbye hugs and look forward to the end-of-day reunion. I’ll dive deeply back into their worlds once we’re all back home and confidently put all thoughts of work and words out of my mind. I’ll separate again. Work here. Family there. And it will be good.

August 25, 2014
by Tricia
4 Comments

From the past: It’s a family time

This post from the past is why I’m taking a little break right now. Because now is a family time. It’s the only time in our lives when my little girl will be on the cusp of Kindergarten but still in the small, sweet place we specifically chose for her and when my little boy will still be mine, all mine, all day, every day. This time will pass and other times will come in and they will be sweet too. But this is a family time and I intend to live it to its fullest.

~~~~~

A few months ago, I read a book called Left Neglected by Lisa Genova. A brilliant book, pick it up if you haven’t yet read it.

Without giving too much away, Sarah, the main character in the book, deals with an injury that renders the left side of her body mostly useless. She struggles with big tasks and small tasks. Tasks as small as buttoning her shirt. During one particular getting-dressed-related struggle, her physical therapist suggests that maybe this isn’t a button-up shirt time in her life.

I’ve thought about that line so often. I’ve used it to define my own life in so many ways.

This is not a sleeping in time in my life.

It’s not a Sunday-morning-with-the-paper time.

It is not a going to the movies time, or a long-afternoon-spent-watching-bad-TV time, or a finish-a-book-in-a-week time.

It’s not a cocktail party or happy hour time.

It’s not a spontaneous travel time. It’s soon to be not an urban living time.

It’s not a workaholic time.

It’s not a focus-on-only-me time.

But it is a family time.

It’s a Sunday-morning-with-cartoons-and-breakfast time.

It’s a playground time, and a mommy-daughter ballet class time, and a read-five-books-on-the-couch-before-bedtime time.

It’s finger-painting time and a lego time.

It’s a giving-someone-else-a-bath, brushing-someone-else’s-teeth, wiping-someone-else’s-tushy time.

It’s a watching-the-world-through-they-eyes-of-a-little-one time.

It’s a focus-on-them time.

siblings walking

It’s not the easiest time. But for everything it is, I do love this time.

August 22, 2014
by Tricia
11 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 28

birds central park zoo

at the central park zoo. I love how birds sometimes look like people in deep conversation when they sit together.

This week’s lovely little things.

routine

The last few weeks took us on a wild ride. One of those wild rides that is fun at times and makes you want to throw up at others. There was a lot of living in those travels and out of the ordinary days. But not a lot of writing. Or quiet. Or breathing. And, of course, there is living in the writing and the quiet and the breathing too. So we’re back to that this week. And it’s been rougher than I thought it would be, to settle back into the normal rhythm of life. Probably because life right now follows anything but a normal rhythm. But man is it lovely to just stay put for a bit.

friends

My list of close friends has morphed and changed throughout the years. Some of the people I am closest to right now were not at my wedding. They were not invited. I didn’t know them then. I didn’t know them when my daughter was born almost five years ago. Some I didn’t even know when my son was born. And yet, when we travel or they do or for the plain ol’ reason of ‘life gets busy’ we don’t see each other for a few days or a week, I feel it. And when we reunite, I feel that too. I felt reunion this week and, yes, lovely.

The strange thing about making close friends after you’ve married and birthed all of your children is that opportunities to really celebrate the big occasions of life feel rare. Fortunately, one in our group is bravely walking into the world of 3 children this month. She is the first in our group of friends to be pregnant since we’ve all become close and the first (most likely only) of us to grow her family beyond 4. So we took advantage of the opportunity and we celebrated. In a little after-tuck-ins soiree, a surprise that went off with only an almost-hitch, we showered her with cake and sparkling lemonade and gifts for her third little one. Lovely is celebrating whenever possible.

fall music

I know, I’m early here. As in before it’s Fall, before it’s cold, before school has even gone back for us. But with all of the travel I’ve done in the past few weeks, I can’t help it. I want to nest and stay home and organize and be cozy. So this week, we’ve skipped afternoon trips to the park and stayed home instead. And I’ve brought back my Fall music. I said this among a group of friends, sort of as a passing comment as I assumed that everyone categorizes their music according to season. Turns out, I was wrong. But I organize most things (food, drink, music, colors, etc.) by season. So this week, I switched from my Dave Matthews and Rusted Root stations on Pandora for The Lumineers and Carla Bruni. And it sounded lovely like Fall.

sharing super

My belly still flips a little whenever I see my name and headshot on the front page of Huffington Post. My friends still flip a little too! But this week, I felt even more honored to see my words up there because they ran a post I feel so strongly about. They helped me say to every mother within their reach, you are a Supermom. This post sprung from me one afternoon after I felt like quite the supermom, accomplishing a series of tasks in a short amount of time that I was so sure would fall apart spectacularly. It’s rare that we take a moment to recognize how super we are and it’s easier to focus on the spectacular falls. But we are super, all of us. We are.

favorite words

happiness

Happy weekend, all. Wherever you go this weekend, I hope you go wholeheartedly, one-directionally, and without regret or reservation.

August 20, 2014
by Tricia
4 Comments

From the past: The Joy in Errands

While I take a few deep breaths in August, I’m pulling out some old favorites from my archives. Maybe these go back to before you knew me, before you found yourself in my little space here. I hope so.

The funny thing about reading your own archives is that it is part sweet memory lane and part embarrassing at how awful my writing has been and part admiration at how far I’ve come. To keep that admiration in tact, and because this is a break after all, I haven’t edited any of these blasts from the past.

This one is more sweet memory lane but also a reminder that I’m trying to take to heart over the next few weeks. Enjoy!

~~~~~
Whenever a post from Rachel at Hands Free Mama shows up in my reader, I click on it immediately. While I have always made it a priority to put away all of our various devices when spending time with Baby, Rachel and her Hands Free revolution inspire me to be better. She helps me remember that simply going device-less does not a hands free mama make. It takes concentration and commitment.

Yesterday, I came across her post Saturday #286 on Scary Mommy (no, I don’t have the book yet but I’m dying to get my hands on it!). In the post, she talks about an article that I, by odd coincidence, read this morning while catching up on the serious stack of Parents magazines that have been building up for months.

I won’t do nearly as nice a job of summarizing the article as Rachel did so, go read her’s and then come back.

Now, my daughter is two-and-a-half. So we’ve spent just 130 Saturdays so far. I still have 810 left. 810 more Saturdays to hold her hand, live in her world, breathe her in. 810 more Saturdays to make thousands of memories.

baby blowing bubbles

Except it’s really not 810. Because inevitably, I’ll find myself traveling on some of those Saturdays. As she gets older, she’ll take trips of her own or go on sleepovers. I may have to work. She’ll have to do homework. I’ll get sick. She’ll get sick.

And suddenly I am dropping her off at college and dreading my return to an empty home….

Panic!

Ok… deep breath.

As Rachel and the article, authored by Dr. Harley Rotbart (author of No Regrets Parenting) point out, the point is not to panic. The point is to realize that we have the time now. We should savor it, enjoy it.

Splurge on those small moments that you might have otherwise ignored.

Last week, I took Baby on a ‘quick trip’ to the grocery store in search of a key ingredient we were missing for dinner. It was 5:15. Rush hour at the grocery store. I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible to keep dinner on schedule.

It’s all good!’ I assured myself. ‘Ten minutes, fifteen tops, and we’ll be back.

Nearly 45 minutes later, we finally arrived back home. I mused to myself that nobody ever told me having a 2-year old means it will take 2 times longer to do things than it used to. And then I rushed to get dinner ready.

Now I’m looking at that errand differently.

From the very start, it was a memory.

Watching her decide which pair of shoes to wear. Which toy to bring with her. Chatting with her in the car on the way over. Listening as she noticed (and narrated) the world around her. Singing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ in the car because we happened to pass a bus. Listening to her debate which bag of rice we should buy. Watching her proudly carry the bag of rice to the register. Feeling her delight when I let her scan the rice herself. Chatting with her all the way home.

It may have taken me double the time. But in that trip, I made double the memories.

And that’s the point. As Dr. Rotbart noted, memories are certainly made during the big events, the big planned trips to the museum or big Sunday brunches. But they are also made when you simply splurge on an ordinary, everyday, ‘quick’ trip to the grocery store.

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