October 8, 2014
by Tricia
13 Comments

The trick that motherhood plays

He says it now. Mama. It flows freely from his mouth and it’s still so new that my heart still leaps when I hear it. Naturally, I love that of all of the possible first words, the universe of things he loves, trucks and snacks and planes, he chose to form his mouth around ‘Mama.’ I joke that every one of his future girlfriends will know this piece of our history. He says ‘Mama’ and reaches the part of me that wants to be needed and called by name. The part from which all of my mothering blossoms. He says ‘mama’ and my mind and heart finally agree yes, this is it. This is what we wanted. This is life.

pickingleaves

She’s crossed the threshold into five. Big kid with big clothes, big toys, big life. But she’s not quite ready to jump to the next level. Not quite ready for any more independence and growing and pulling away. So she asks to be carried. And she melts before bed. She’s staring into the giant landscape of new and change and bigger things and she’s clinging to what brings her comfort. And when she reaches for me, begs for me to tuck her in, curls up in my lap at the end of a long day, my mind and heart finally agree yes, this is it. This is what we wanted. This is life.

pushingcar

Of course, the needing, it does hurt. That old Skin Horse knew what he was talking about. It does hurt to be loved so much that your hair has been loved off and you look worn and shabby. After a day of a million ‘mamas’ I am painfully Real. I collapse into bed, drained in every which way and wondering if I have enough in me to give it all again, and more, tomorrow.

The days feel like endless rings spinning on an endless loop. Over and over, we run the same race, stumbling in the same places.

In motherhood, so many moments feel endless. Those early, hazy days and sleepless nights, nursing them for hours in the dark, I didn’t believe that time would ever end. Hoisting babies onto my hip, into car seats, shopping carts and strollers. I’m here now and this is life, isn’t it? My life will now be spent carrying small people from one place to the next, keeping them so close, my arms circled around them. I’ll forever wake well before the sun and welcome the day with a party of small feet drumming on the floor. I’ll always end my days by brushing someone else’s teeth and tucking blankets around tiny bodies.

It’s the trick that motherhood plays. She lures us into thinking that this moment, this phase, this time in our lives will last forever. Because otherwise, we’d be so overwhelmed with just how fleeting it is that we’d never put them down. We’d cradle them in our arms all night long and carry them on our hips as long as the sun shined for fear that once we put them down, they’ll never come back up.

family and tree

After a day of a million ‘mamas’ I don’t see the day in my future when I pick her up for the last time. I don’t believe in the moment when he doesn’t sit on my lap and rest a head of curls on my shoulder. When I am running on fumes and just wishing for the day to end, these moments are not real to me.

But sometimes, I see through the trick. I peek behind the curtain and see the illusion for what it is. The weight of his sweet little head on my shoulders brings me solidly into this moment when he is still small enough to sit on my lap and suddenly I can see the future. I see that this time eventually passes. Crib moves out to make space for a bed. Glider is carried out my front door to a new home, a new family beginning their journey into fleeting moments that feel like forever. There are these moments when I see it. I see the real future, the one in which they grow and change and no moment lasts forever.

kids and waterfall

The moment when I see it, the real future, is just as fleeing as every other moment in my life. It evaporates as soon as I catch it. But the memory of it lingers. My mind moves on, focuses on the things to do, the lists and the busyness. But my heart carries the torch. This is it. This is what we wanted. This is life. Don’t miss it.

October 6, 2014
by Tricia
2 Comments

Magic Light (a giveaway!)

I come downstairs in the morning, my little boy on my hip. He still wakes so very early and so we tiptoe around, careful not to wake his big sister. We reach the bottom step and turn the corner and the room glows with soft light from a lamp we have set on a timer. It turns itself off about a half hour after we go to bed each night and comes back on just before we descend the stairs in the morning. We haven’t had the timer for all that long and it still makes me happy. The soft glow of light is a much better welcome to the day than complete darkness.

Such a simple thing, really, light in the morning, to bring me happiness. Or maybe not.

It’s 2014 and if I don’t think too hard about it, I start assuming that everyone in the world could start their mornings just like this if they wanted. Welcomed by a soft glow. It’s 2014 and if I don’t think too hard about it, I forget that there are places that electricity doesn’t reach. There are places that begin and end their days in darkness and people who risk illness and injury to get a little light.

The solar tuki project in Nepal aims to replace kerosene lamps—or tukis—with solar powered ones in Nepalese villages with no access to electricity. And it was the inspiration for Barefoot Books’ recent title: Chandra’s Magic Light.

changrasmagiclight_lantern

As with every Barefoot Books story, there is a message in this one, a window into another culture, something to learn, and a way in for my girl. The story follows two little girls who come across a man selling solar tukis in the market. They decide they must buy one for their home because their baby brother has been suffering from a cough brought on by soot residue from their kerosene lamp.The girls pick and sell flowers and barter with the tuki seller to change the way their family lights up their evenings.The story of a sister helping a brother immediately drew my girl in and we learned about Nepal, the culture and routines, and the solar tuki project along the way.

chandrasmagiclight_tukis

chandrasmagiclight_nepal

I love the way Barefoot Books stories introduce us to something new. I love the way new worlds and images and words are introduced into my children’s spheres as we flip the pages. We aim to teach them about the world. Help them learn that not everyone lives as they do. Expose them to other languages and names that aren’t a part of their everyday lives. We dream about doing this through travel. Hopping on planes to far away lands so that they feel just how big and wild the world really is. But, until then, we read. We read about India, France, and Australia. We read about Diwali and Ramadan. We read about Tehran and Nepal.

My Barefoot Books partner and I are giving away one copy of Chandra’s Magic Light to a Raising Humans reader! If you love to bring other worlds and cultures into your home through books and stories, then enter the giveaway below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

October 3, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 31

salt and pepper

On my work-day this week, I met a friend for lunch. This sounds mundane and silly to mention but, as I have just one full day a week to work, I often feel guilty for not planting myself at my desk for every hour of that day. So I’ve rarely pursued invites to lunch.

The truth, of course, is that even when I’m at my desk, I’m not making the most efficient use of every minute. I’m bouncing around on Facebook or Twitter or checking my email obsessively because I’m always waiting to hear back about something. So, in the grand scheme of things, driving a half hour each way to eat lunch with a friend is a very good use of my work-time. Especially when that drive provides the most stunning views of Fall that I’ve seen all season. Without a daily commute, it’s easy to miss that the season is, in fact, changing, and it’s doing so in the most stunning way. A quiet, solo drive against the background of reds and yellows popping out of trees is just so lovely.

Here are a few more of this week’s lovely little things.

babbles

foot

It’s started. The babbling. I joke that he’s making the sounds you want your six-month old to make, just 18 months too late. But it doesn’t matter. He’s making sounds and we’re working on connecting them to words and that is progress like we haven’t ever seen. We’re also getting to hear his sweet little voice and oh how I’ve waited for that. It’s one of my favorite sounds in the world now, the little bu-bu-bu’s that come out of his mouth. Even at naptime when we should be aiming for silence, I let him go because it’s so delightful to listen to him (add this to the list of things that will come back around to bite me!).

birthdays

I won’t rehash all of the reminiscing and gushing that I’ve already done but my girl was well celebrated this week and it was lovely.

work

After weeks of birthday planning and intense speech research, my work had fallen to the side. It’s the constant push and pull of this freelance life – enjoying the space it provides for me to give more to my family when they need it but wondering how I’ll ever make progress if I don’t find the right balance. This week wasn’t so much about balance as it was swinging the pendulum to the other extreme so that it can rebound back to the center eventually. And, I suppose, that’s what it’s all about. Pendulums rebounding. But getting back to work has been lovely. I’ve missed the quiet of the time I spend with my words.

park

parktime

I don’t know why we loose touch with the park in the summer. But we do every year. And then we reunite right about now when we know our jet-off-to-the-park days are numbered. There were so many lovely things about this trip to the park. The three of us played together nearly the entire time. That’s rare these days and I sort of missed the slides and the swings. The other lovely thing? We managed to remember to bring our ball back home.

favorite words

“Think long and hard about how you spend your precious hours, the only currency in this life that I personally think is actually worth anything.” ~Lindsey Mead of A Design So Vast in her post this week: Time and a map of what matters

 

Happy weekend to you. I hope you spend these precious weekend hours well!

October 1, 2014
by Tricia
10 Comments

Five: A Mermaids and Pirates Party

We had a birthday here last weekend.

partyroom_mermaids and pirates party

Weekend birthdays are a little something special, aren’t they? A birthday that falls on a weekday can feel a bit like a struggle. Pushing against the normalcy and routine that most weekdays require and trying to squeeze out the celebration and specialness that make a birthday shine. It doesn’t always work. But a birthday that falls on a beautiful, early Fall Saturday? Well that’s just a gift all on its own. A gift complete with a room full of ballerinas singing Happy Birthday at the end of class, a chocolate chip pancake lunch with a good friend, and running around your house with a dozen of your closest friends.

A complete surprise to all of us who have listened to Let It Go with her hundreds of times, she wanted a mermaids and pirates party. So last week we transformed our home into a mermaid cove and pirate hideaway.

mermaids this way sign for mermaids and pirates party

lootbags_mermaids and pirates party

treasure_mermaids and pirates party

pinthefin_mermaids and pirates party

Of the dozen four, five, and six year olds, only one had ever pinned a tail on a donkey before. Times have changed, haven’t they? They caught on quick, though. With the spinning and the blindfold and the counting, really what’s not to love?

walktheplank_mermaids and pirates party

She ran and played and laughed and celebrated and for two hours, I barely saw her. A blur of a five-year-old dashing past me surrounded by a crowd of kids.

And that’s it in a nutshell, isn’t it? That’s 5 for ya. A blur and a crowd of kids. There is no denying it now. She is big kid. Such a big kid. You know we can’t shop in the baby and toddler section in Target anymore? I almost cried in the aisle when that realization hit. No more ‘T’ after the number. She is big now. And she’s still growing.

And it pulls me in opposite directions. Joy at watching her grow and grow so well. So happy and smart. So filled with a love of life and every day discovering the new things that her body, mind, and heart can do. And sadness. Wistfulness and longing for that day five years ago when she rested on my chest for the very first time. How I feel it in my heart, how long her legs are and how it feels like the last of the babyfat has melted away.

This is five. And it is sad and beautiful, just as all things have been with my sweet baby girl.

September 29, 2014
by Tricia
13 Comments

Things I learned in September

red

I took this photo on Sunday at the park while my kids ran out any energy they still had left after a double-header birthday party weekend. I love this time of year when there are little pops of color on just about every tree, but no tree has completely turned yet. Only the bravest, most excited little branches turn in September. Clearly they are the toddlers and the preschoolers of the trees, shouting, “Look at me!” “Watch me!” “Look what I can do!”

September was a big month here. Not unlike those trees, I experienced little pops of change, so many twists and turns. So I saw no better month to join Emily at Chatting at the Sky in sharing things I learned in September. A few serious and a few silly mixed in as a reminder that even when things feel heavy, there is always some lightness.

Things I learned inSeptember

1. Friends are everything. Friends that instinctively know when you need them. Friends who can perform the magic of drying your tears across phone lines. Friends who listen to you, support you, and remind you that you’re doing ok. Friends who check in on you the next day to see if you were able to raise your head up a little higher in the hours in between. I survived September on the strength of my friends.

2. My daughter has figured out Pandora. I learned this when I watched her stare at the screen for a moment, as if thinking about something, before reaching out to ‘thumbs up’ a song from The Little Mermaid. I learned that she’ll thumbs up and down whenever she wants, turning the sweet kiddie music station that I play for baby boy at lunchtime into a Disney princess bonanza.

3. Apraxia. Motor Speech Delay. Developmental Pediatrician. Prompts. I learned these terms and I can define them to you like I used to define vocabulary words in high school. I also learned what an ENT does, how toddler hearing is tested, what the easiest consonant sounds are to make, how to model speech for my son, and how to observe, listen, and wait.

4. I also learned that when he smiles, giggles, or wraps his arms around my neck for a squeeze, none of those lessons matter at all.

boyhay

5. To-do lists and weekly plans keep me organized and motivated. I live for drawing a straight line over words.

6. I learned that I am not the only one who yells sometimes. And that sounds strange but it’s true. I’ve never felt more alone than I have when my voice is echoing in the air between me and my kids and all I can think about are all of the other, wonderful, amazing mamas I know and how I am absolutely certain that they would never do such a thing.

7. It it more fun that I thought it’d be to see your own creation on top of a cake.

mermaidcake

I am usually quite against having a photo put on top of a cake. It just feels so odd. But this is what the bakery could do, three days before the party, with a photo I had taken of a mermaid painting I had done. All the girls wanted a piece with the mermaid on it so I consider that a success.

What did you learn in September?

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