August 4, 2014
by Tricia
7 Comments

Goggles

I had been marking the date for weeks. Obsessing over it’s closeness and, then, finally, its arrival. The last day of summer camp.

The lasts are striking me more, and simultaneously less, these days. I see them coming up ahead and I lock on them as the day that marks another end. Another small season complete. And the world changes again. School to summer camp. Summer camp to vacation. Vacation to school. It seems so predictable. And so it seems so safe. As if by looking ahead and seeing it coming and calling it out and moving towards it, we should be undoubtedly prepared for it by the time it arrives and ready to ride on through to the other side.

bike riding and green

But as I drove away from the carpool line on the morning of the last day of summer camp, it hit me. The sadness that another summer had ended. Another season of weeks spent lathering sun screen and watching college students, making a little extra money during their summer break, unbuckle my swim suit clad kid from her carseat and escort her into camp. It hit me and I cozied up in that feeling of sadness as baby boy and I made our way into our final Friday together, at least for a while. I’m getting pretty good at curling up into endings these days.

It hit her much later. At bedtime, naturally. We joke about how a little one’s bedtime is the time when they remember all of the things that they didn’t do or say throughout the day. She’s called us into her room for the most random story and popped back out for the smallest of ailments. But, of course, I get it. On the verge of sleep is the place where the day comes rushing back over me too.

It hit her. The overwhelming feelings of another ending hit her and the emotion came pouring out over a pair of goggles. Somewhere along the road between the end of school and the end of summer camp we had bought her, and she had lost, a pair of white goggles. And on the night of that last day, she sobbed over them. Though I know she knows we couldn’t, I think somewhere in her heart she hoped against hope that we’d all hop into the car and drive right on back to camp and, somehow, retrieve them.

It wasn’t really the goggles. I know that and I think, somewhere deep inside, she knows it too. But for all of the moments throughout the day when she seems so grown up to me, so mature, so capable of handling so many things, it’s in these moments when she reminds me that she is still so small. She doesn’t have the words to describe her emotions or the wisdom of years to reach out and touch the source of her pain. Honestly, I don’t always either.

looking at poolA lot of the times, I falter with her and her emotions. Her emotions are strong and powerful and they swell to a breaking point and I get pulled in by the undertow and lost in the sea. I drown in her sorrows sometimes and I can’t always tell if it happens because I am her mother and, pure and simple, her pains are my pains. Or because I struggle with emotion, my own emotion. I can’t always see my way to the other side of my own sadness. So to see all of that and more reflected back at me but owned by someone else, it’s sometimes too much to push through.

But that night, that last night of summer camp, that night I could handle. That night reminded me that I am her mother and I am her mother for a reason. It reminded me that I know her heart. I walked in and found her tears and heard her ask again and again for her goggles and I knew. I knew she wanted to go back and get them because she believed that if she could go back, it wouldn’t be over, and her friends would be there, and it would be just like it should be. I know she wanted to curl up in the moment and stay there, where it was safe and warm and sunny. Where she still sees her favorite counselors every day and all of her friends still show up every morning at the same school and where this phase of her life could continue. I know that she knows now that most of her friends are moving on this year and not returning to join her in kindergarten. I know she knows that this year will be different and next year even more so.

friends

And I know it came rushing over her as she tried to fall asleep.

So I sat with her. I smoothed her hair, wiped the tears from her face, and I stayed. I waited until her breath deepened and calmed and thoughts of goggles gave way to whatever dreams played behind her eyes and I waited until she slept.

August 1, 2014
by Tricia
11 Comments

Lovely Little Things 26

This week’s lovely little things.

love

In the early days of my motherhood, I read Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. In it she makes frequent reference to the moment when she was vilified for admitting that she loved her husband more than her children. I remember reading that in wonder, realizing that in my short time as mother I hadn’t given thought to who I loved more. I didn’t see any reason to disparage her but the exercise of quantifying and comparing love seemed futile. But I think of that whole thing on weeks like this when the most lovely moment of my week happened between my husband and I, on our date morning, without our kids around. It’s rare for me to sit down on a Friday and find that the first lovely thing that comes to mind has nothing to do with my two small people. But spending a few hours with my love, wandering around and sipping coffee and mimosas is about the loveliest thing.

being present

water and sun

There are times when I falter on my journey to be more present with my kids. There are times when I falter a lot. And then there are times when I get it. When the demand to be present is too much to ignore. Or I’m just in a zone. Or I’m weaker for their smiles and giggles or that look they give me when they ask me to come play and I say yes than I am for the call of my email and my phone. Being present is lovely.

books
Giving is lovely and I am excited this week about my giveaway of a Barefoot Books book with Shari. It’s my first attempt at this kind of giveaway and new things are always exciting.

barefoot books and feet

signs and the universe
We are signing a lot in our house these days, all of us learning this new language and using our hands as we never have before. So when I saw this video, I eagerly clicked and fell in love. If you need a smile today, take a few minutes to watch.

favorite words
4yo: Can I tell you something? It’s good news!
Me: Of course! I always love good news!
4yo: We are going to sing Let It Go at the summer camp talent show!!
Me: That is good news!

Hope a happy weekend with lots of good news lies ahead for you!

July 31, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Growing Together: Grief In The Glory Of The Ordinary

growing togetherThis week’s growing together tale is from another friend I’ve met in person. I may be hooked on meeting online friends in person now and then promptly sharing their stories here.

On her blog, A Cookie Before Dinner (one of my favorite blog names out there), NJ tells lovely stories and shares amazing ideas (her recent post on things you can do now to prepare for Christmas has me thinking!). Her story today about bath time and her long journey of growth with this particular motherhood staple is so lovely. I can’t stop thinking about her phrase, the glory of the ordinary. Something about that sits so nicely in my heart.

Read on and then visit NJ at her place!

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When I was a little girl, I constantly played mommy. I took my babies with me everywhere. I dutifully changed their diapers, fed them bottles, changed their clothes no less than sixteen times an hour, and gave them baths.

I was a little mama who loved giving her babies a bath, it was my favorite part of being a mommy. For my fifth birthday, I was gifted Cabbage Patch Kid doll that was made for the bath. That doll was scrubbed so hard the paint came off of it’s eyes. Getting it made my LIFE and to this day still remains on my top ten gift list.

When my first born came, I thought that I would adore giving him a bath as much as I did my childhood dolls. While I was pregnant I dreamed about watching him learn how to splash in the tub, soaping up his hair, and wrapping him up in a towel.

We gave him his first bath in a sweet fish shaped bath tub on our kitchen table. He hated it. And so did I.

My mother passed away before I got married. It wasn’t a long drawn out death, but rather a 3:00 am phone call police knocking on your door kind of death.

I’ve dealt with my grief over losing my mother as it has come up. But, I wasn’t expecting bathing my child to be a grief trigger for me. It completely blindsided me. Grief often comes randomly and out of what seems like left field.

I couldn’t give Malone a bath without thinking about my own mother who sat there in the glory of the ordinary performing one of the most mundane tasks of motherhood. Every time I tried to give Malone a bath, my mind focused all of the times she sat with me at the tub washing my hair, laughing as I splashed, and wrapping me in a cuddly towel.

Bath time would often end with me as an emotional wreck, sobbing heavily for the loss of my mother and for her loss of getting to be a grandmother to my children. So, baths became my husband’s job. I can count on one hand the number of baths I gave Malone during his first year of life. At I just couldn’t handle the grief that came along with it. Somewhere along the way, I became scared of the grief that I associated with giving Malone a bath.

Thankfully, bath time became a favorite for my husband. I often could hear them playing games together, laughing, and splashing. I was happy that they were happy together. And I was grateful that I could stay away from it all.

It wasn’t until the birth of our second child, Lola that started to feel as though I could handle giving my kids a bath without grieving. She was born in ten minutes and three pushes. I barely made it to the hospital and there wasn’t any time for the doctor to change into scrubs, let alone call for an epidural.

Going through a fast and hard labor taught me that I am capable of much more than I think I can handle sometimes. I made a promise with myself not to miss out on something because I was scared of something that might happen while I’m doing it.

025

I’m now almost a full year into giving baths to my kids and there have been a few times where I have had to call my husband in to finish bath time. But for the most part, they have been really fun and just like I dreamed they’d be when I was a little girl.

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NJ Rongner Headshot
NJ Rongner fell in love with words in middle school and has been writing ever since. She is the mother of Malone and Lola and steals the leftover moments of her day working as a writer and social media account manager. When she is not busy chasing children or tweeting for clients, she can be found working on her blog, A Cookie Before Dinner, where she inspires her readers to chase a sweet life well lived. Beyond the blog, you can also connect with her on TwitterInstagram, Facebook, or Pinterest.

July 30, 2014
by Tricia
3 Comments

Out of the Blue and Wordless (a giveaway!)

When people ask what I do, these days, I say that I’m a writer.

Since it took me quite some time to feel comfortable with that word, writer, as a description of what I do rather than what I dream, I’m sticking with it for now. Wearing it in, so to speak, so that it fits nicely in all the right places and has that comfortably worn-in look that I used to imagine on sweaters worn by writers curling up to pen memoirs by the sea. The kind of sweater fits so perfectly and, even after all that wearing in, doesn’t look so much shabby as it does cozy. You might say I came to writing for the words but I stay for the sweaters.

So I say I’m a writer. But what I really want to say is that I am a storyteller.

Because, after all, I am. I write, sure. But really, I tell stories.

out of the blue pages

I tell stories of my children, my motherhood, our growth. I tell stories about companies and brands. I tell stories to communicate, encourage, inspire, educate.

Naturally, I want my children to tell stories too. Not in a legacy-carrying sort of way. They’ll choose their own sweaters someday and I’ll sit on my hands so as not to influence their choices of threads. But in a way that I simply want to pass on the joy of storytelling. I want them to experience the thrill of spending a perfect summer afternoon, playing in the grass against a bright blue sky, beneath a warm August sun, and then coming home to tell me all about it, every last detail. I want them grow up in the way of words, thinking carefully about word choice and striving for the right one in each moment because, whether in writing or not, it matters. I want them to live in the moment but always capture a bit as they go along, preserved in words inside their hearts.

So we play this game in the car sometimes. I start a story, she has to contribute a line and then toss it back to me and we volley the plot back and forth. Usually there are a few princesses and a birthday party involved, occasionally a baby brother and big sister. It can get tedious but I get it. Usually my stories involve a mother and her children. You write what you know.

But I wanted a way to expand. I’ve been looking to widen my storytelling scope. Perhaps my girl should too.

So last weekend, when a brown paper package arrived on our doorstep, I tore into it immediately.

out of the blue wordless

Thank you, Barefoot Books, for sharing with us your first wordless book.

We ‘read’ it that afternoon. The next day too. Taking turns, passing the pages back and forth and diving into the beautiful scene between our fingers. The main plot line didn’t vary much from day to day but the details did. Each spin through reveals a new little nugget to wrap a story around, a deeper peek into the worlds of the characters, more nooks and crannies to tuck little gems into.

And on each read, my girl caught things that I missed. Directions to take the story right there on the page that had escaped my attention.

It turns out that wordless books are an up and coming genre. A recent School Library Journal Day of Dialog held a panel about it, involving several creators of wordless books. “When you distill a book to pictures, it’s about empowerment,” said Bob Staake, author/illustrator of the wordless Bluebird. “The child becomes “a causal part of the story,” and “it doesn’t get any better.” I couldn’t agree more.

So I’m delighted to announce that Barefoot Books is giving away a copy of Out of the Blue to a Raising Humans reader! If you want to empower your children through storytelling, enter the giveaway below. And good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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disclaimer: I received a free copy of Out of the Blue from Barefoot Books (and now you can too!). All thoughts, ideas, and opinions are my own. Links within this post are affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you purchase a book using those links.

July 28, 2014
by Tricia
12 Comments

Date morning

Sometimes on a Sunday morning when the weather is nice, we’ll head out to an open air market in the city. We’ll stop for coffee and pastries at our favorite of the many coffee shops that line the streets and then walk around in our sugar haze, gazing at the fruits and vegetables, jewelry and small wooden toys. Rarely do we come home with anything. It’s more about the outing.

Often, M and I will look longingly at the cafés, the people sipping coffee with a newspaper, passing their early Sunday hours slowly and quietly, and we’ll remember when such a thing fit nicely into our lives too. A lifetime ago. These days, Sunday mornings more often mean a kitchen covered in flour, dire warnings to small people to keep their small fingers away from the waffle iron, and about a half dozen reads of The Little Blue Truck all before the market even opens. And when we do make it out to the  market, we don’t even think about the newspaper. Instead we swallow gulps of coffee while rescuing the syrup bottle from an untimely death on the floor and laughing with our chocolate covered companions.  These days, Sunday mornings are also lovely but sometimes I miss newsprint on my fingers.

That’s sort of the funny thing about parenthood. You enter into it and immediately take on the belief that you must leave your things at the door. Your love of drinking an entire cup of coffee while it’s still hot, reading the newspaper, hearing yourself think. Never again, until the kids have been dropped off in their college dorms, will we enjoy a slow, easy Sunday morning. We believe that to be true and, thus, make no effort to change it. That’s just the way it is in this life of a parent.

But it’s not true.

champagne

a date night flight

Earlier this year, we made a resolution to have more date nights. As in, once per month. We asked our Miss N to be our babysitter and she not only agreed but also has rather consistently checked in each month and helped make sure that we will make it happen. Two people can’t always make sure a date night happens but three? It definitely increases the odds.

So we scheduled and planned. We didn’t force ourselves to get fancy and go someplace big. More often than not we’d end up at our favorite wine bar, the one that doubles as a hipster coffee joint, which was just our speed. But by 9pm, we’d be yawning and trying to figure out how to stay out a little bit longer, feeling like we had to in order to make the whole thing worth it. Date night is incredibly important and something that we need as a couple, now with small children, more than ever. But it wasn’t working for us.

Knowing us as she does, Miss N pointed out that she is just as often free in the morning as she is at night. And date morning was born.

Yesterday morning we sat and lingered over cappuccinos. We strolled around that same open air market. And we capped it all off with mimosas while lazily gazing out across the river. We stayed out from breakfast until after lunch and we soaked in every minute of our date. We talked and not just about the kids. We talked about the things that normally stream through our heads as we are making our way into the day but rarely have the time to share. I’m not swearing off of date night just yet. But I’m loving date morning.

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