July 21, 2014
by Tricia
6 Comments

Looking and seeing

Every day, I look at my babies with the same eyes.

walking over the bridge

Tired eyes. Red and dry from the exposure to the elements. Every day. I look at them every blessed day and I study them in detail. This bump here. That bruise over there. Hair that needs to be washed, fingernails that need a trim. Every day I look closely and study and my tired eyes wash over them, translating to my brain the list of things to attend to. To fix. I see cuts and scrapes and dirt beneath fingernails and remnants of breakfast in the corners of mouths.

Every day I scan, looking for the little.

Missing the big.

In my constant scan over them I miss the minutiae of their growth. I miss that her face has continued to mature. There’s that photo of her. I took it just last month. And there she is, my baby. The chubby cheeks that push up into big brown eyes when she smiles. There they are. I had thought that all of the baby had all but melted away months ago. But the melting happens every day. Every day drops of chubby cheeks and tiny pudgy hands melt away, into smooth lines and fine features. Giving way to the woman she is becoming. Every day I pour over those features and yet, I miss the melting. I always miss the melting.

I miss that his hair has continued to grow. A mess of curls now sprawls atop his head and a new one forms every single day. I always feel that his hair is so long and it’s been so long forever. Until I look back and realize it wasn’t there before. It’s been growing all along. Lengthening and curling and waving around his face. Every day I comb that hair and try to tame it’s wild ways and smile appreciatively when someone notices his gorgeous curls. But I miss the growing. I always miss the growing.

I look at them every day. I scan their bodies for health and cleanliness.

I see the little specs of blueberry and eggs.

And I miss the rest.

feet and flip flops

Family comes into town and there are hugs and squeezes and through the eyes of an aunt and an uncle, so much has changed. She is so much taller and bigger. His curls, just look at them! He’s got new tricks, she has new words, and it’s a marvel a minute the entire weekend through. With their eyes, their fresh eyes, dry only for want of seeing them more and soaking in every waking moment, they study them in detail. Look at that face he makes! See how luxurious her eyelashes are! You can just see how much they love each other.

The delights that meet their eyes awaken all senses and for two days straight, aunt and uncle feast on a sea of giggles and cries and hugs and kisses. Every movement like a little celebration.

As it should be, of course. Because every movement is. A celebration of the growth and the growing, the reaching and the grasping. We really do live in a time of a marvel a minute. That the bumps and missteps and bruises in between overshadow those marvels is my fault. It’s the fault in my eyes.

Family leaves and they take their eyes with them. And I am left feeling blind. Wondering how do I keep seeing my children while looking at them? It’s trickier than it should be, this seeing while looking. When we look, we miss so much.

But when we see, we capture it all.

July 17, 2014
by rhadmin
12 Comments

Growing Together: Growing Pains with Work in Sweats Mama

growing together

After a brief, holiday inspired break, Growing Together is back today!

Nicole is one of those bloggers I had kept running into on other people’s blogs. One day I finally moseyed over to her place and was taken with the way she weaves her story. And then when I realized all that she does – work full time, run, write, mama, I was amazed. And I couldn’t stop reading her stories and breathing in the grace with which she does her thing. Nicole also does some group contributor post and her Spring Cleaning one is one of my favs.

Today, I am so honored that she is here with a beautiful story about growing pains. Enjoy and then head on over to Work in Sweats Mama for more of Nicole!

~~~~~

Startled out of a deep sleep, I wake to the sound of my oldest crying.

Mommy, my legs hurt.

After whispered reassurances and a dose of Children’s Tylenol, I kiss my daughter. I tuck her long limbs back under the covers.

The growing pains no longer surprise me.

After another year of watching my daughters change and grow, the signs are undeniable.

Painted toes flirt with the edge of sandals.

Hems that once kissed knobby knees now skim sun-bronzed thighs.

No longer forced to compete with chubby cheeks, a single dimple stands out.

One strides toward age 5 and kindergarten. The other rushes headfirst into terrible twos.

I kiss invisible boo-boos. I wipe away tears. I tell them the aches and pains, the bumps and bruises, are just a part of life.
Growth_Hill
Yet, more than ever, I feel the sometimes tender, often agonizing, tug on my heart.

My own growing pains.

The moment I welcomed my first into this world, I felt my heart overflow, my existence magnified in ways I never knew possible.

I looked to my husband and knew we would never be the same. A love greater than we’d ever known changed our lives forever.

My heart ached with the joy, beauty, and pain of it all.

Two and a half years later, I marveled at the innate ability of my heart to expand again.

Today, another two and half years later, my heart still grows.

It soars with each success. It suffers with every failure.

My daughters experience aches and pains before rapid growth. Like them, hardships sometimes accompany my own triumphs.

Sometimes our greatest breakthroughs go hand-in-hand with the greatest anguish.
Growth_Penney

Pregnancy stretched, pulled, and gave way to the agony of labor.

I barely remember the pain. I recall newfound appreciation for my body, transformed beautifully to sustain and nurture.

I evoke memories of delicate babies, perfect in wrinkly new skin, placed into my arms for the first time.

Cracked nipples and engorged breasts healed.

Hours spent with a flushed-cheeked child remain an enduring reminder that sacrifice brings the most surprising rewards.

The physical agony of running 26.2 miles vanished when I heard my daughters’ cheers at mile 21.I stopped just long enough to embrace them. Their love bolstered me to finish strong.

Even the deep grief as I held our beloved dog in the last seconds of his life was just another moment of growth.

As my husband and I said goodbye to MacAfee, I wasn’t sure I was strong enough to endure it. Even months later, I can’t think about that day without fresh tears.

My heart still aches, but a love so clear and pure strengthens me in ways I never expected.

As our hearts broke, my husband held me. And I held him.

Despite the pain, we grew together. After ten years of marriage, our hearts opened to each other in a new way.
Growth_Reagan
Now, when I tuck my daughter back into bed and promise the hurt won’t last forever, I believe my words.

I know growing pains will give way to longer legs and a stronger, fuller heart.

I tell myself the same.

Next month, I’ll clutch my daughter’s hand and usher her into a kindergarten classroom. I’ll know the ache in my chest is just a growing pain.

I’ll embrace it.

Beyond the pain, there is growth.


Glacier_NGNicole Goodman is a full-time working mama and the caffeine-driven mind behind Work in Sweats Mama.
After business hours, you’ll find her chasing her fearless two-year-old, verbally sparring with her precocious almost-five-year-old, seeking an endorphin high on long runs, avoiding housework, and slurping down gigantic fountain Cokes.
Nicole’s idea of the perfect vacation involves lots of GORP (Good ‘Ol Raisins and Peanuts) while backpacking in a National Park. Trail running and SUP-ing in Hawaii is a close second.

July 16, 2014
by Tricia
12 Comments

Unrelated questions

“Can I ask an unrelated question?”

“Sure.” She doesn’t sound sure. Her hand is on the doorknob and I’m sure she wants to make a quick exit, order that strep test she recommended for my fever-riden boy and move onto her next appointment for which, I know, she is already quite late. I have no doubt this is why doctors don’t stay on schedule. Unrelated questions.

“He is 20 months old,” I remind her, “and he’s not talking.”

“Not at all?” she asks.

“Well sometimes he says ‘No’ and he’s said ‘Mama’ but not always to me. He’s not consistent.”

“Not all of his language has to be understandable but he should have 20-30 words by now.”

“Yeah, he doesn’t. I called early intervention this morning.”

She nodded, “It’s time for an evaluation.”

I feel instantly validated, as if I have done the right thing, and simultaneously terrified that I’ve waited too long. And frustrated that I was led to a place of inaction, being told not to worry for so many months.

I blink back tears on the way home as my little boy struggles to stay awake and fight off a virus. Completely unrelated.

~~~~~

I have to admit that when I wrote last week about my little boy, I was worried but not alarmingly so. Concerned but comforted by our doctor’s previous assurances at every appointment since words should have begun to appear, that he was ok. He was communicating and understanding and developing in all the right ways, except for this one. I worried the same amount that I worried when neither of my children toddled off on their own two feet when the development checklist said they should. When sitting up for him did not happen on the same date that it did for her. I worried the same amount that I worry whenever we pass a milestone moment without placing a check in any box, development complete.

But I didn’t worry too much because milestones are general and people are individuals. We all do our own thing. Lord knows I’m not as developed as a normal 33 year old should be in all the appropriate areas.

And for a while, I worried, but not alarmingly so, because I didn’t look around. I didn’t want to hear about your child who also wasn’t talking at this age. I didn’t want to talk about your little one who has a delay or a special need. I didn’t want to think about it because I didn’t want to think about it. And for a while I believed that if I didn’t think about it, he would just start talking and I wouldn’t have to think about it. Time would move on and one day I’d look up and realize I never looked around and now it was all over, so I’d move back to eavesdropping on the chatter between my two little humans and continue along our day.

little boy head

Last week, I looked up and I looked around and I’m glad that I did.

Because now, I’m hearing about your child who wasn’t talking at this age. And I’m talking with you about your little one who has a delay or special need. And I’m thinking about it and doing about it.

We’re waiting for early intervention to call us back. We’re taking down names of specialists from anyone who has one to recommend. We’re reading this site daily and looking at this one too, just in case. We’re looking up and around and we’re talking about it.

I may not share a ton about the next steps of all of this here. Or I may share it openly and without apology and you might get tired of hearing about it. I’ve never been through something like this before and I’m not all that much of a sharer of things like this but I’m also a writer now, full time and on my own and that has made me braver about telling you my story.

But, either way, thank you for your support. For consoling me and reaching out to me and comforting me and recommending to me and sharing your story with me. We wouldn’t be here, in this place right now, without you and it’s good that we’re here.

July 14, 2014
by Tricia
20 Comments

I went to the grocery store. Alone.

I went to the grocery store yesterday.

Alone.

I parked far away from the entrance. I walked across the hot black asphalt, weaving my way through parked cars and cart pushers and the less fortunate desperately seeking a spot near the front. I did all of this without a white knuckled grasp on anyone else’s hand.

I picked a small cart. The one that doesn’t have space to seat a small human. No buckle and belt. I wasn’t sure whether all of the things I needed would fit. I also didn’t care.

I did not pause to gaze at myself on the security TV as I moved through the sliding doors.

I moseyed up and down the aisles.

I did not name ‘apples’ and ‘bananas’ and ‘carrots’ as I wound through the produce department.

I did not stop at the lobster tank and stare at those creepy creatures trying to claw their way to the water’s edge.

I hugged corners and walked a toddler’s arm-length away from the shelves, maybe even closer, without fear of needing a clean up in aisle 5.

I spent at least five minutes studying cheese options.

I did not walk on only the white tiles (or is it any color but the white tiles?). Nobody told me, repeatedly, that those tiles (the white ones. or is it the black ones?) are hot lava. Neither I, nor anyone around me, nearly fell even once while leaping and dancing from one block of tiles to another.

I did not sing. Neither along with the song in my own head or to whatever pop tune was being pumped out into the air. I don’t even remember what songs serenaded this freedom trip, as I wandered with my little cart.

I did not rush through the freezer aisles. Yes, it was cold over there. But it’s hot outside.

I put each item I selected into the cart myself. No bruised apples, no broken crackers, no dented boxes of tomatoes were found in my possession.

I didn’t ride the elevator but, if I had, I would have pushed the buttons. All of them. All by myself.

I used the self check out and I scanned every item. I did not pull little people away from the bagging area. And the machine worked just fine. I got my own receipt. I pressed the buttons and signed. All by myself. Nobody asked (or begged, or cried) to help me.

When I was done, I did not take the cart to my car. Even though I had parked far away. I did not say goodbye to the cart either. I did not find myself tethered to it’s black plastic handle until the proper goodbyes had been spoken.

And nobody lost a shoe as I parted with that cart.

I carried my two bags to the car. One in each hand. Rather well balanced. Nothing I was carrying squirmed or tried to break free between the automatic grocery store doors and and my car, several rows away.

I loaded the bags into the trunk and then slid into the driver’s seat. I sat there for a minute. Nobody cried or demanded a snack for the five minute ride.

And then, I drove home. I did not listen to one Disney song the entire way.

It probably took all of about 20 minutes.

And no, it wasn’t the best 20 minutes of my weekend. It wasn’t even the best 20 minutes of my day.

But thinking of it this morning, well it makes me smile.

So much so that, I think, next weekend, I’ll do it again.

Until then…

grocerystore

July 11, 2014
by Tricia
35 Comments

Lovely little things, 24

The lovely little things this week centered mostly around my still broken refrigerator. Sorry, I know you’re tired of hearing about it. Me too. But in the ridiculousness, there was lovely and if I don’t focus on the lovely, then the big evil corporation wins. And we can’t have that.

the power of venting

All day on Monday, I fought. With my heart and my words and I fought all day to drag my stories out of me. I fought to not vent my anger and to write around it. And then, at the end of the day, I got in the car and called a friend on the way to pick up my daughter. And, finally, I vented. I spewed all the anger I felt about how awfully we’re being treated and how there is nothing we can do about it and I let it all out. And then my friend, in turn, vented to me about something in her life and I listened and watched our anger stream out into the air and evaporate together. By the time I left my car to greet my daughter, I felt a thousand times lighter. Venting is powerful.

the power of solutions

After listening to me flip out and after spending hours on the phone trying to get things sorted out, my husband came home, took us all to the grocery store, and then led the entire family in an exercise of organizing and packaging our food safely into several coolers now tucked into corners in our kitchen. He didn’t succumb to the depths of anger and frustration. He worked a solution and brought us along. And standing in our kitchen, cutting cucumbers as my girl separated bunches of grapes into containers and my husband poured ice over cartons of milk and eggs and the baby pushed a still empty cooler around the kitchen, I realized. This is life. This is family. We stick together and we make it through. And it’s the most lovely thing.

walking over the bridge

big day out

I’ve been doing the thing you should not do. The thing that all the more experienced writers and workers-at-home tell you to not do. I’ve been burrowing. I’ve been sitting in my house and curling up in my office. And a lot of that time, most of it in fact, I’ve been writing. But this week, I’ve been flailing. And falling. And not writing. So when a friend asked me out on a writing date, I took her up on it. And then I made a day of it, meeting another friend and then more and writing in between. I actually got up in the morning and dressed and prepared to be out of my house. And the energy I got from that is undeniable. Even an introvert needs people, sometimes.

thank you

This week I wrote about my baby boy. That he is still not talking and we’re not freaking out but we are worried. And the response was so lovely. Friends and strangers, all so eager to help and console and stand by us and share resources and knowledge. Sometimes writing here helps to make things smaller in a way that I need them to be smaller (like that dang fridge). But sometimes it makes them bigger in a way they really need to be bigger. Like the circle of support around us and our worry and our parenting journey and our son. I don’t know what we’re going to do, if anything, just yet with him but I know, better, our options. And for that, I am so so grateful.

favorite words

At the end of a very long Monday, during which I spent entirely too much time fretting over my broken refrigerator and horrible customer service and struggling to write and the progress I just didn’t feel was good enough and it was the Monday after a long, holiday weekend and that was hard too… after all of that, my husband (after, as described above, cheerfully devising solution after solution to our fridge woes) searched for and found this video to show to me. Because he knows well my love of awesomely bad jokes and and nacho jokes and fun animation and he knew it would cheer me up. And it did.

So, today, I share with you: Two Chips. (warning: there is some chip-on-chip violence that I don’t condone, but the rest is pure hilarity)

Have a happy weekend! Come back Monday and let’s taco ’bout it!

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