November 12, 2014
by Tricia
7 Comments

Vignettes of 2

halloween_boy

He’s been screaming at me for days now. He screams when I walk near him and when I walk away. He screams when I bring him his lunch and when I take it back. He screams when I pick him up and when I put him down. I fear that this ringing in my right ear may be permanent.

He’s not really screaming at me. I know that. He’s got this tooth that has turned his sweet little mouth into a bloody battlefield. It’s tooth vs. our collective sanity. It refuses to do it’s thing and just break through already. Instead it sits there, just below the surface, almost all the way out but not quite. And the pain, he just can’t bear it. Teething, that little babies must feel each tooth break through perfect little gums, is one of life’s greatest evils. And that, as parents, we must attempt the impossible, bring comfort where it isn’t welcome, well sometimes I wonder how the human race continues.

~~~~~

“Mama!” he calls for me. All the time. All day long. I pick him up, even though I shouldn’t, because he is two now and a big kid. But he wraps his arms tightly around my neck and reinforces my bad behavior. He’s getting to be so heavy. So big. His feet nearly reach my knees as he sits on my hip and I know, we’re getting there. We may even be there. That point in time when the lifting has to end. My hip no longer his mode of transportation. But I ignore it all. I’ll carry him anywhere, as long as he wraps those arms around my neck. These hugs won’t last forever, you know.

walking with boy and monkey

~~~~~

He doesn’t scream words yet. I don’t live in a series of “NO!!!!” yet. But I see it coming. “NO!!!” is headed down the road, straight for us and it’s picking up steam. For now, he just screams. When I help him down the steps and he wanted to do it himself. When he wants to get in the swing but I’m demanding a sound or a speech attempt first. When I’m driving and he’s caught on that something else has my full attention. I tell him the noise hurts my ears. I ask him to use his nice sounds. Use his words. Most of the time, he does.

[Tweet “Each age has it’s sweet and sour.”]

~~~~~

We wander into the kitchen and I mumble something, mostly to myself, about baking something. Instead, I begin to load the dishwasher, clear the breakfast dishes. But he doesn’t miss a thing. He pushes his stool to the spot where we bake and he rushes to the bookshelf. He knows my favorite cookbook and he grabs it and hands it to me. His deep brown eyes as wide as they can get, looking up at me with the innocence of a little boy who loves swirling a wooden spoon inside a mixing bowl almost as much as he loves his mama.

~~~~~

boy and curls

His hair isn’t so much hair as it is a mess of curls. Mess, a total mess. But those curls? Oh those curls. They start conversations everywhere we go. He doesn’t love when you touch them. He gets furious at the wind when it whistles down to tousle them. He’d probably be thrilled if I went and had them all chopped off. But I just can’t. I hear rumors that when I do finally sit him down for that first haircut, the curls will disappear forever. And I’m not ready to let them go yet.

~~~~~

They call two terrible and I’m not naive. I know exactly why. There are moments so terrible that I can’t see us surviving long enough to break through to better days. But there are other moments too. Moments that are so pure and lovely. And I know, now, that those moments don’t last forever. There is something so sweet about two that doesn’t live on. It fades away with the terrible. In the emotional balance that our littles find as they reach three and then four and then beyond, there are definitely fewer tantrums and explosions. But there are fewer fierce and spontaneous hugs. Fewer delights over the smallest things. Less excitement as the world becomes known. I didn’t realize it the first time around. It never occurred to me that the good and the bad are tightly intertwined. Everything changing together. But that’s how it goes. Each age has it’s sweet and sour.

[Tweet “These hugs won’t last forever, you know.”]

November 6, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Life is not a sitcom

She wanted to win.

I could feel it. It was my emotion, my feeling, my yearning, trapped inside her little body. It was as if she had been there all those times when I had spontaneously wanted something, to win something, to get something. As if she were watching me and practicing the moves so that she could, someday, execute them on her own. Watching my own quirks and insecurities played back for me in miniature form will always feel so surreal.

She hadn’t wanted the win for very long. She hadn’t even known a win was possible until we arrived. But then she wanted it and she wanted it bad. She quietly told me she wanted to win. She gazed at the judges. She bounced excitedly towards the group as they prepared to announce the winners.

And, of course, my heart broke for her. There weren’t quite as many Elsa’s as I had expected but, of course, she wasn’t alone in her blue gown and side-spun braid. Her costume, the one she had wanted so badly, the one that made her feel like a queen, was not award-winning material. Not this year, anyway.

But I also saw it coming. A teaching moment. I could do this. I knew what to say. I’ve got experience with loosing and loosing out and not getting thing thing that I want so badly. I’ve got experience in putting myself out there, no matter how far, and not feeling welcoming arms wrap around me in acceptance. Once again, I believed, that with my experience, my journey, my life, I would soar over to her and gently guide her through life’s tough moments. Teach her how to soar through, herself. Make it all better with a smile, a hug, and a bit of wisdom passed down. We’d be skipping home to carry on with our day in no time.

Of course, it didn’t work that way.

My words failed. They didn’t console her. I talked with her about how winning isn’t everything. I reminded her how much she loved her costume. How she so desperately wanted to be Elsa. Wearing blue had been a dream come true. And that’s important. It’s important to do what you want, regardless of accolades and awards. We talked about originality. We described to her how the costume that had won for originality was truly original and we talked about what that meant. We talked about next year.

But she didn’t smile. She nodded through tears. She asked to take her dress off. Change into her normal clothes.

atthedoor

I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong. Why had my words failed? Was it because she is a different person? She may look like me and act like me and react like me but she isn’t me. She needs different things. Was it because I really haven’t learned from my years of trying and failing and, sometimes, yes, succeeding? Was it because I really don’t have all of this wisdom that I like to think I’ve gained?

Or was it because I was far too impatient?

Life, you know, is not a sitcom. People, of course, are not just characters. Lessons don’t sink in during the span of a half hour, choreographed to a laugh track. Conversations about the big life lessons, the tough things we need to learn and adjust to and deal with in our lives, rarely end with a hug and a smile and a single, sweet tear in our eyes. Parenting is a long, long game. It’s setting your sights simultaneously right in front of you and years into the future, trying to manage here so that you land there. It takes pouring your words and wisdom and wishes and love into a tiny, little heart, hoping that you’re filling it up. And it takes years of that. Without much sign or signal that you’re pouring the right things, that most of it isn’t sloshing over the rim. It takes repetition and trying and growing. It takes modelling what you say and narrating what you do. It’s not just a few post-Halloween-party words sprinkled over a little queen as you wipe her tears. It’s an everyday journey and a journey every day. And it takes patience.

[Tweet “Life, you know, is not a sitcom.”]

She did eventually move on. We did carry on with our day and it was a good day. And by the time trick-or-treating came around, she happily put the dress back on and skipped off to collect her candy. Only time will tell whether she did it because she had listened and understood. Remembered how much she loved that ice queen and how badly she wanted to be her. In the meantime, we’ll just have to be patient.

trickortreatwithdaddy

November 4, 2014
by Tricia
3 Comments

Little Man

in the grass

Our former nanny called him Little Man. The nickname slipped through my lips a time or two as well. I tend to collect words and phrases. But it never sat quite right with me. The nanny didn’t either. We eventually parted ways and I abandoned Little Man. He became Buddy to me. Sometimes I call him Bud Bud. He is my Baby Boy.

I’m over at Mamalode today talking about my baby boy and why I’m not quite ready to think of him as a little man just yet. This one sort of poured out of me as soon as I saw Mamalode’s theme this month: Men. I’d love if you’d join me over there today!

 

October 30, 2014
by Tricia
3 Comments

Missing out

“Look! It looks like late Fall now.”

“What does that mean?”

I explained, all the while realizing that the distinction really didn’t matter much to her. For kids, Fall is all leaves, pumpkins, costumes, apples and those things last the whole season through, straight through to fir trees and glitter and snow. I suppose the distinction doesn’t really matter much to most people. I’ve never really paid attention to it much before now. But yesterday with its golden yellow leaves against grey skies, branches that glowed just days ago now stark and bare, even though it was a bit unseasonably warm, I could feel it. Fall is closing.

fall orange

~~~~~

I experienced, and quite strongly, the fear of missing out long before it became an acronym. Or a hashtag. In college, I used to leave my dorm room door wide open, not wanting to miss the action in the hallway. I used to settle myself in the student center or on the quad to do my work, anxious to be part of whatever was happening out there. In my twenties, I could never settle down. I accepted every party invitation, every offer to hang out, every possible opportunity, just so that I wouldn’t miss out on whatever it was life was sending my way.

Marriage settled me. Motherhood even more. Finally, I didn’t feel called to go everywhere, see everyone, do everything. I had my hands full, yes, but it was more than that. I had my heart full, maybe? I became clearer, I thought anyway, on what missing out really meant. There was a peace in my heart. I’d decline invitations and opportunities and feel completely at peace. The decisions weren’t hard. I knew which one to make every time and I never regretted a single night spent at home, cuddled on the couch. I stopped fearing what I was missing. I stopped feeling like I was missing anything at all.

~~~~~

About a month ago, I saw a blog post that was positively all pumpkin. My instagram feed was a collage of golds and yellows and reds. Beautiful amber sunsets, sweaters and tights amidst leaves and apples. And I began to panic. I’d been busy. Focused on other things. And there I was, I was missing it.

fall creeping

Missing Fall. All the autumn glory. I had not yet bought a can of pumpkin, not yet made a single Fall thing. No crafts, no desserts. We hadn’t been to the pumpkin patch or found a place to go apple picking.

[Tweet “I experienced, and quite strongly, the fear of missing out long before it became an acronym.”]

Fall, I was convinced, was passing me right by. Again. Just like it does most years. Distracted by the glow of births and then birthdays, swimming through daily commutes and deadlines and doctors appointments and meetings and all the rest, I’d often end up feeling like I’d slept through Fall, despite how much I wanted to enjoy it. Savor it. And there I was again, mid-September and feeling like it was already over.

~~~~~

I blinked and she started Kindergarten. She was fully into it before I began to really grasp the bigness of the moment. How it was affecting her. And me. I rushed us on through. Other things to do, other places to be, just do this, get dressed, hurry up and into the car, we’ve got to go. But then suddenly, she can touch my shoulder. And she’s writing words, sentences, all on her own, not asking for the spellings. She’s reading and singing and adding and dancing.

kids at the park

The world has begun to expect more of her and she’s keeping up. And when I finally do sit down to watch, it is so beautiful. When I sit to watch her face, her lips moving ever so slightly as she forms letters into words, sorting through the sounds she thinks should be there and stretching them across the page. I’m biased but it is magical. It is magic happening right there in front of me. Except that most days, I miss it.

~~~~~

Of course, my fear of missing out never faded. It’s still here, just as strong as it always was. It’s just shifted. Found new objects of obsession. I don’t fear missing out on the parties or the get togethers or the opportunities. I fear missing out on the seasons. The cycles. The moments. I fear that the entirety of autumn will pass and I won’t have sat with a friend, sipping warm pumpkin spice as the sun sets. I fear that Christmas trees will replace the pumpkins at the farms and we still won’t have picked one. I fear that by the time I finally look up, every last leaf will have fallen and I’ll be missing them so badly until Spring.

[Tweet “I fear missing out on the seasons”]

And I fear that by the time I finally look up, she’ll be asking for the keys to the car so that she can spend her Friday evenings with friends, rather than begging me for dessert and cuddles on the couch with a movie.

~~~~~

So I’ve started to notice. I’ve keyed into Fall this year. I’ve watched every tree that makes up the view of the world I see every day and I’ve noticed just about every phase. The early pops of color. The slow creeping of reds and yellows and oranges. The full blown glory of nature. And, now, the falling. The increasing bareness. The starkness that tells me we are officially in late Fall. It’s closing. I’ve noticed it all and felt it all. And I’ve caught most of her new bigs. Her increasing understanding of numbers, the way she can now count to ten in French. Her burgeoning decision making process that so closely mirrors mine. The way she thinks of her friends and, also, fears missing out. That he is bigger than he was yesterday. I’m actually seeing his growth now, without the aid of old photos to make it so obvious. He asked for more cereal today, using words and not grunts and I’m not missing any of his baby steps and leaps forward in speech.

boy walking baby

My fear of missing out has not subsided. Not at all. I’m just now putting it to good use.

[Tweet “My fear of missing out has not subsided. I’m just now putting it to good use.”]

October 27, 2014
by Tricia
1 Comment

I’m at Scary Mommy today

“Your belly is fat right there.” she said, poking her four-year-old finger gently at my middle.

I looked down and almost defensively blurted out, “No, actually, my belly is not fat right there.” I almost responded as if I’d been attacked. In tone, if not in words, I almost revealed to her that sometimes, I still feel fat right there.

Instead, I said “Oh?” I tried to pass off her comment with an air of nonchalance, as though she may as well have said, “I played in the sandbox at school today.”

Of course, she didn’t say that. She said that I was fat.

Join me at Scary Mommy today where I’m talking about the ways that our own body image and insecurities can leave us fumbling to find the right words for our children.

 

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