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.

August 18, 2014
by Tricia
7 Comments

August dislike

I never did like August.

see saw

When I was a kid, August felt sorta cruel. The hottest, ickiest part of the summer and the threshold to the return. To school, normalcy. The weeks would fly by and zoom us all closer to the end. No more waking up whenever I felt like waking up. No more walking to the neighbor’s house in the morning, the ones with the pool, nurturing a desperate hope that they’d already be wearing swimsuits and would eagerly usher us back home to get ours and then come back. A return to cold weather and sweaters and shoes, neither of which I loved as much as I loved barefeet and short sleeves.

After I left the age of summer breaks and first days of school, August became just another month, for a while. I lived summer well into it, no artificial mile marker telling me where it should stop, no urgent purchases of magic markers and folders taking away that breezy summer feeling. In fact, if it was still nice enough to sit outside in the evening in late September, we did. Why not? It’s all just life.

But now I’m back in the age of school days. Two weeks, now, till the first few half days. Three weeks until we’re back in the swing of it all.

And I’m disliking August more than I ever have before.

awakening

See, during the rest of the year, I can keep it together. I can hold up this charade that I am organized, that I know what’s going on, that I have it all together. I know when the days off fall, I generally have the field trip and picture days tucked into my brain and at least know they are coming, even if I forget for a bit in the morning. I’ve learned how to artfully skim the weekly emails from the school with the updates on this and that, eyes peeled for the little bits of info I need to plan lunches and wardrobes and pick up times for the following week. During the rest of the year, I will stumble but thanks to the momentum of the routine and the rhythm of October and November or February and March, my stumbles are barely noticeable. I always pull it together.

But not in August.

August dawns and finds me in complete denial. I refuse to admit that we’re here, this close to the end, the summer waning, the time for sparklers and ice pops and long afternoons dipping my feet into the baby pool fading into the sunset that comes earlier and earlier each night. I refuse to admit it until, well right about now, when August starts counting in double digits and I sort of have no choice. But it’s already too late. I’ve missed half of the month in this half-denial, half-keen-awareness haze where everything starts to fray at the edges because I’m trying to move through without paying attention.

little girl in pool

When I finally come to, right about now, I realize that the school forms were due August 1 and have been sitting in my inbox since early July (who thinks about printing and signing forms in July?). I realize that I’ve half set up a few playdates but never quite finalized and, of course, the dates have passed. Birthday season is approaching and though I thought I was all ahead of the game, buying favors and table cloths and making lists 3 weeks ago, now I’m falling behind. School is quite literally right around the corner and if I don’t set up our calendars now, I’ll find myself sitting in the school parking lot on Columbus day having no idea why there are no teachers there to greet us.

August is when emotions start to run high and it takes me a bit to sort through why. Two years ago, she started preschool. School. For the first time ever. And we were nervous and scared and couldn’t believe that we were dropping our little girl off and leaving her with strangers for a full, long day. And we all cried for weeks. Last year was not quite as big but this year? This year she starts Kindergarten. Kindergarten. And I kept telling myself that it wasn’t that big. She’s starting Kindergarten in the same school. She’ll be surrounded by many of the same friends she has grown to love over the past two years. But, of course, it is big. It’s very big. My baby girl starting Kindergarten is big. Of course, next year, she’ll start first grade and my baby boy will start preschool, making next August just possibly the worst August in this history of my hatred of this month.

I never did like August. And I don’t think I’ll start now.

All of this to say, I’m going to cut back here, a bit, for the next 2-3 weeks. I’ll still write and I’ll drag up some old favorites from the archives and I’ll keep Growing Together going a little bit longer. But I’ll also cut back while I sort out another ending and prepare for another beginning and look forward to the cool, rhythmic days of September.

~~~~~

As I was writing this post about disliking August, I came across this by Lindsey and that’s where I got this idea to take a little break for a bit. Maybe it will help you too!

August 15, 2014
by Tricia
9 Comments

Lovely Little Things, 27

This week was awful.

For me personally. For the world. For laughter and spirit. For all of it, this week was low.

The more than five hours I spent in the car with my family, sitting in traffic jam after traffic jam, all of us screaming at each other. The moments that found us all screaming again as we tried to make it through our NYC vacation. The moment that I saw that Robin Williams had died and I deleted that CNN alert email as fast as I read it but it didn’t change the reality. The moment I returned home and learned that while I was all caught up in my head, more people are being killed here and all around the world as a result of horrible, brutal injustices.

This week was just plain awful. For me personally. And for the world.

But even in the awful, there is always gratitude. And so I’m here. Looking for the light and letting it guide me to tomorrow, and next week, and the rainbow that follows the storm.

This week’s lovely little things.

curious

highlinewalking

We’ve read The Curious Gardenover and over and over. Sometimes I think I love it more than she does but she asks for it too and she did become smitten with the little boy and the train tracks and the leaves and flowers that pop up everywhere. So, while in NYC, we had to visit the real curious garden, Brown’s inspiration for the story: The High Line. And it started out rough but before we left, we came together and for at least a half hour, they took turns climbing up and leaping off the benches, making funny faces and allowing me to capture their silhouettes against the NYC skyline.  I’ll save that memory forever. In a place where people came together to take something old and broken and turn it into something new and beautiful, we picked our tired, weary selves back up and made beauty of our own.

girlfeethighline boyfeethighline

homecoming

The instant we set him down inside the house, he climbed up on his favorite chair and began giggling uncontrollably. Still a babe of no words, he still expresses himself in sounds and smiles and laughter and that was all we needed to know that he was happy to be home. Homecoming has always been my favorite part of travel; sometimes I plan a trip with that end in mind. And so Tuesday afternoon, we all settled back in, giggling and giddy to finally be back home.

moving forward

Last week, I checked off a milestone. I attached my book proposal to an email, in it’s awful drafty form, and I sent it. Not to an agent, but to a friend. A friend who I knew would read it carefully and critically and give me honest, fantastically constructive feedback and make me and this dream better. This week, I’m getting it back. And after pouring myself into this work all in my own little vacuum for the better part of this year, just this passing back and forth feels like the most gigantic progress.

the park

Travel meant naps were a little off, running a little long, and so bedtime moved as well. So as just about every other family was packing up and carting off, we returned to our park. It had been almost a week and as our park feels like a close friend during the summer, I missed it. The evening felt like late September rather than mid-August and they pushed each other around on bikes until it was time to go home.

and the winner is

The lucky winner of our Out of the Blue giveaway of Barefoot Books’ first wordless book is… Leslie (aka Rorybore) of Time Out for Mom! Congratulations, Leslie!

We’ll have another giveaway next month so stay tuned!

favorite words

daring life

Happy weekend, all. Here’s hoping things are looking up.

August 11, 2014
by Tricia
7 Comments

Humanity Collides in New York City

We’re in New York City right now.

We’re here because a certain little girl fell in love with an image of a tall, green lady wearing a crown that she saw somewhere in a book or heard about along the way at school. She had to see her and I say it’s never to early to start making the list of things you want to do and see in your life… or to start crossing them off.

statue of liberty

broken phone + toddler + boat = crooked lady

We’re here now because of poor planning. Because we planned this week as our week for a summer vacation and then we didn’t plan another thing until it was too late to snag a spot at the beach.

And of all of our family trips, it’s been a rough one because of bad timing. Because earlier this week I spent one night in a hotel room and one on a plane. And although I like to think that I’m still 20 (or younger) and that I can run around in a brand new city for a day, take the red-eye back, and barrel into my normal life mothering two small children and attacking work with all the vim and vigor with which work needs to be attacked and do it all without breaking a sweat or shedding a tear, the absolute honest truth is that I can’t.

I can’t.

The hardest part of parenting right now, for me, is not that we’re carting two small kids around one of the biggest, most intimidating, hardest cities. It’s not that we’re out of our comfort zone, eating out regularly at places that have neither kids menus nor changing tables in the bathrooms with kids who need to eat and who, well, need new diapers when they need them. It’s not that we’re staying at a hotel so the sleeping arrangements are haphazard at best and often find all of us piled into (aka jumping on) the one bed before 6am.

It’s that I am human. They are too. And sometimes our humanity collides.

Sometimes it’s hard to be a mom purely because I’m human. Because I may be a supermom but I am not super human. I fall victim to fatigue and exhaustion and there are some days I just can’t push on through because I don’t have the strength. And those moments have no chance but to collide with the moments that find them unable to take another step on tiny little feet supported by tiny little legs. And when it comes right down to it, they cause far less of a scene when they break down into exhausted tears in the middle of a New York City street than I do.

feet steps nyc

Sometimes it’s hard to be a mom purely because I’m a mom. Because when I welcomed these two little people into the world, my heart broke wide open. And it’s never closed. You can’t sew up a mama’s heart. It’s wide open and exposed from the moment life stirs within. And that makes everything more beautiful, yes, but also more painful. It makes every decision bigger, every choice heavier, every regret more stifling. It makes it so much more likely that every thought that enters my brain finds itself carried on a stream of emotion right to my heart where it burrows and has every potential to make a real mess of things.

It means that every moment I spend away, taking a break and doing what I need to do as a human, pricks painfully at my soul. And it means that every moment I spend with them, too tired or emotional or distracted to breathe in their wonder of the world, eats me up from within.

girl looking at hudson

And when I’m sitting there, being eaten up from within and feeling the weight of life, our lives, on my heart, and she cries about wearing sneakers instead of flip flops or he cries because I’m committing the truly horrible crime of strapping him into his stroller, our humanity collides.

Over the past few days, in this gigantic city where humanity colliding is a regular occurrence, we’ve just become part of the sea of it all. We’ve fit right in as if we belong here all the time. We’ve bumped into one another, felt the gritty pain of just living life, in a city known for its grit.

This has been a rough trip for our family. We’ve, of course, had our good moments. Jumping off benches in the curious garden (aka the high line), coloring outside the museum of natural history, and the moment she first saw lady liberty. Even the best vacations come with a few tears and so the reverse is true as well. We’ve laughed and smiled and lived in a few moments that we won’t soon forget. But it’s been tougher than I wanted it to be.

And as we pack up and ready ourselves for the very long ride home, I’ve sort of come around to believe it was meant to be this way. That this is where the exhaustion and big decisions and weight of August which tends to be so heavy for us anyway with summer ending and school beginning and big birthdays right around the corner, this is where it was all meant to meet. So that we could do it all here and then just leave it here. So we can go home, unpack, and turn a fresh page.

~~~~~

linking up with Shell.

August 6, 2014
by Tricia
15 Comments

You are a supermom

You are supermom.

Yes, you. Oh yes, you are.

Even if you were late to drop-off this morning. Even if you forgot to make that doctor’s appointment. Even if your laundry is lying in a heap on your bed (and even if it’s not even clean).

You are a supermom.

Even if you’ve yelled today. Even if you dove into your phone while your little one swung lazily in the swing in front of you. Even if you turned on the TV so you could calm the thoughts rattling in your head for just a few minutes.

Even if bath time and bedtime and tuck ins are your least favorite parts of the day. Even if you don’t like the park. Even if your kids don’t listen to kiddie songs because you can’t stand the music.

You are a supermom.

You are a supermom because you love your kids. Because they are yours and whether you believe in God or fate or destiny or none of any of it at all, you can believe that they chose you. Because you are the only one who can love them like they need to be loved.

And you are a supermom.

You are a supermom because your laundry is lying on a heap on your bed. Because the fact that it’s there means that you chose something else. You chose to be someplace else over standing there, folding laundry and I know that something else that you chose was your kids.

You are a supermom because you got up this morning. After getting up last night. And you changed the diapers, made the breakfasts, drove too camp or school and it doesn’t matter what time you got them there because you sent them off with a kiss and a smile.

feet and crib

You are a supermom because you don’t like bath time and bedtime and tuck ins but you do them and you do them in search of a thing to love. Not because you are supposed to but because you love your babies and your time with them.

When you give of yourself for these little people who love you so unconditionally and revolve their world around you, you are a supermom. When you stare into the night, wrapping your heart around the little person in the room next door and worrying about the path that stretches out ahead for her and wishing that you could arrange the world just so, just so that her walk is easy and happy and bliss, you are a supermom. And when you stare into the night, wrapping your heart around your fears and falls and struggles and pain and wondering if you have what it takes to keep walking this journey, you are a supermom.

Because you will keep walking this journey. You will. Not because you have no other choice but because you would have it no other way. And you will make her walk easy and happy and bliss, not because you can change the hearts and minds of the world but because you can nourish and nurture hers. And you will.

You are a supermom not because of anything you do or don’t do, say or don’t say, love or don’t even like. You are a supermom because you love them. And love is the greatest of all super powers.you are a supermom

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