To My Child

To My Child

I hope you learn that life isn’t fair.  But that that doesn’t mean it is all bad.

I hope you smile at people, even strangers, and look people in the eye.

I hope you chew with your mouth closed.

I hope you learn how to listen – really listen – to others when they need to be heard, and to the quiet beat of your own heart.

Headed down the path together.

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I hope you learn to win and lose with grace.

I hope you love and appreciate the beautiful, intricate, amazing body you’re in.

I hope you can be silly for the joy of it, and can laugh at yourself and with others kindly.

I hope you have good manners and know when to use them (almost always) and when to relax them.

I hope you trust. In others, and in yourself.

I hope you know how to make something with your own brain and hands – a song, food, a painting, a stone wall.

I hope you learn, without too many tough consequences, that attempts to escape problems, hurt, and heartbreak never really work for long.

Flying!

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I hope you pick up after yourself.

I hope you decide that it is wise and healthy to get enough sleep.

I hope you learn how to advocate for yourself without demanding, complaining or whining.

I hope you understand that stuff is just stuff.

I hope you learn you can expect goodness, but not perfection, from other people. Or from yourself.

I hope you learn how to own up to your own misdeeds, mistakes and slights without excuses, blame or deflection.

I hope you keep learning, about the world, about other people, and about yourself.

I hope you work in any small or large way to make your community, corner, city, world, a tiny bit more just and beautiful.

And I hope you know that when in doubt, you should just put stuff in the trash, and not the garbage disposal.

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Things I Love Thursdays

Stick-eez Clothing Labels by Oliver’s Labels

I have 6.5 years of labeling experience now and I can state with confidence that my favorite labels are the Stick-eez Clothing Labels made by Oliver’s Labels.  They are meant for clothing, but I’ve put them on everything.  They are tiny (a feature I prefer) and they survive the washing machine just as well as they survive the dishwasher. The designs are great and totally customizable.  We are currently loving the Eric Carle “Brown Bear” themed labels.  Plum was two before I figured out that if I put only my family’s last name on the labels I could use them for the entire family!  (Duh.)  They aren’t cheap, but they are worth it (says the woman who has recently purchased 3 replacement water bottles because she forgot to label the first two. Ugh.)

labels

 

One-Man Band Toy by Vilac

What a cool toy! I might even travel to France to buy a few of these for my nieces and nephews.  C’mon, what kid wouldn’t love this?!  I do think, however, that the parents of said nieces and nephews are probably glad this toy is so far away and so hard to get.

homme-orchestre-vilac

 

Casco Bay Butter Co.

I’m pretty sure good bread with good butter is one of the world’s most perfect things. Truly. Simple and indulgent. You have to try these amazing butters made in Maine by the Casco Bay Butter Co.  I’m a sucker for the traditional sea salt, but every one I’ve tried is excellent.  Blue cheese butter melted over a steak?  Garlic and herb butter stirred into mashed potatoes? Yes, please!

logo

butter

 

(Links are for your convenience only.  I don’t get any money – or free butter – for recommending this stuff, it is simply stuff I think is great.)

Just a Tiny Bit Magic

He thumps quickly into the bedroom, breathless and scared.

“Mom, I had a scary dream,” he says, voice shaky.

“Oh honey, I’m sorry.  What was your dream about?”

“There was a bad man with white eyes who made me go to jail,” he says, crawling up into my bed and into my arms.

“That sounds very scary.  But you’re safe.  No one is going to take you to jail. You’re safe,” I repeat.

He sighs, his body relaxes, but his heart still pounds.  We snuggle in the pre-dawn light. I can just hear the birds starting to sing.  After a quiet few moments I ask, “Are you ready to go back in your bed?”  He nods.

“Will you carry me?” he asks, voice low.  It is a rare request.

“Of course,” I say as I pick him up and he wraps his thin, strong, spidery limbs around me.

I place him in bed, pull the covers over him, kiss his head and return to my bed.

Three minutes later I hear his footsteps again.

“Mom, I can’t get the pictures out of my head, can you erase them?”

I nod.

He climbs into my bed, and I reach up to rub the back of his head.  I brush his hair from his eyes, and massage his scalp, mumbling as I go, “Yes… got it… right there… this should work.”  This is the nightmare erasing ritual I created a few years ago, based on an improvisational parenting moment (aren’t they all?), based on an idea I had given my little sister post-nightmare, 25 years ago.  It is perhaps a bit dishonest, in the same vein as kissing away the hurt.  But it is a version of the mother/child pact that has probably existed as long as there have been mothers and children.  Moms make things better.

Someday, he will understand that I don’t have the power to erase anything.  That I can’t really fix very much, that I’m not even “just a tiny bit magic” like he thinks I am now.  He will realize that the world can be big, and mean and complicated.  Perhaps he’s started to figure this out already.

But tonight, in the dark, I am his mom, and I have the ability to fix it.  I can heal, I can help, I can calm.  And I can make the bad dreams go away.  I do not take that loving trust lightly.

“That’s better,” he whispers.  And this time, we hold hands as I walk him back to his room and warm bed.

Comparing our eyes.

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Middle Hours

middle

My middle. My girl. Fierce, wide-eyed, brave. With your loud, true laugh and a run that looks like dancing, skipping, rushing. Like your feet can’t keep up.

You’ve never loved hugs. They don’t suit you in the daylight.

But at night, when the house is sleeping, you crawl into my bed, pulling the covers over you and my arms around you. Placing my arms where you would like them. Silently asking to be held and showing me how. Nestled into my chest. Sighing.

And there you stay, for five minutes or forty-five. Quiet. Awake. Close. Until I ask gently if you are ready, ready to go back to your bed. Sometimes you need more time. Sometimes you whisper “yes” and sneak with me back into the room where your brother sleeps so deeply. And I cover you up, whisper “I love you” and watch as you smile and close your eyes.

My middle, my center.

I am yours, you are mine…

“Mama” he yelled out to me at midnight, “I have a wet bum!”

Bleary, I shuffled in and found him sitting on his bed looking sleepy and concerned. In the flurry of the evening’s bedtime routine, his overnight undies (a.k.a. a Pull Up) had been forgotten.

“Oh Pickle, that’s okay,” I whispered, “let’s get you in some dry cozies.”

I lifted him out of bed and onto the floor. He stood quietly while I replaced his squishy comforter with a crisp down one, tossed a thick fleece blanket over the wet sheet (thankfully, not too wet) and pulled some clean, dry pajama bottoms out of the bin. I sunk to sitting on the floor in front of him. We stripped off the wet pants in sleepy quiet, only the sound of the noise machine whirring, and he held my shoulders as I pulled up his overnight undies and cozies. I started to stand to return him, dry and sleepy, to his bed. But he stopped me, crawling quietly into my lap, curled into a little-boy ball of cotton and limbs.

“My mama,” he whispered, more to himself than to me and we sat there for a few breaths to smell the warmth of one another before I put him back in his bed.

“Your mama, “ I said, as I kissed his head and pulled up the cool covers.

Sleepy little boy.

Fa la la la blah.

I have carved out a little cozy place in my house where I can sit and not see the mess.  The mess is overtaking everything, as Christmas and all of the stuff that comes along with it explodes.  And it is only going to get worse before it gets better.

Tonight, I can’t look at it, and I can’t think about it.  Would it make me feel so much better to just take some time and clear the clutter?  Probably.  But I just don’t have it in me tonight, so I’ll sit and write and clear the clutter in my brain instead.

I need to figure out how to enjoy Christmas.  All of it, or at least more of it.  Not just that one magical moment when my children realize that Santa visited, in the twinkly tree light as the sun comes up on Christmas morning.  I need more cuddles, more cozy, more gratitude, more calm.  Come to think of it, I probably need more of those things all year round, but I digress. I also need more hot cocoa – preferably with Baileys in it. Because it’s the most wonderful time of the year, dangitall!

Mad Rudolph

When someone tells you “You will eat your broccoli and you will like it!” it doesn’t actually make you like it.  So telling myself, “You will be cheerful and enjoy the chaos!” doesn’t seem to be working.

Then again, people tell me that the more you exercise, the more you love it.  And while some part of me thinks they’re crazy people trying to sneakily share their exercise-induced misery, I bet on some level that they’re right. So perhaps if I just wrap more, clean more, carol more, decorate more, and bake more, I will love all of those things more.

Probably not.

So instead I’ve developed a plan for bringing back the cheer…

  1. For me, gratitude is is harder when sleep is short.  So that will be step one. Eight hours of sleep. A lofty goal, but Christmas is all about miracles, right?  Mama will settle in for a long winter’s nap, once I find that silly kerchief.* And once I can get the kidlets to bed – a task that is getting more and more difficult by the week.
  2. “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” by Bruce (Springsteen – I figure my regular readers will know who I’m talking about when I refer to him only by his first name).  It isn’t Christmas until I hear it. And I haven’t heard it yet.  Ooh, now that I think about it, perhaps I’ll dig up some “Merry Christmas, Baby”, too.  That one always improves my mood!  Horns make me jolly.
  3. Ask Pickle about all of the people he will get to see in the upcoming week.  Because when I do, he excitedly lists off the names of family members like reindeer. And his pure joy at getting to see aunts, uncles, and cousins is a great reminder of the love and family that we are surrounded by.
  4. Clean up the living room only, and sit with my husband – on the same couch! –  in the quiet of the twinkly tree (with all of the non-toxic, chewable ornaments on the bottom). Maybe we’ll reflect on our year a bit. Maybe we’ll have a glass of wine.  Maybe we won’t do either, and we’ll just be.
  5. Take a few quiet moments during my commute home to send good, loving thoughts to people I know and people I don’t know who are lonely or hurting or sad.  And I’ll try to take an opportunity at some point to do something unexpected and loving for someone I don’t know.  Because I still believe that good will, kindness and love are contagious and more necessary than ever.

I’ll let you know how it all goes.

– Sarky Claus

* I do believe that this is only the second time in my life that I’ve ever typed the word “kerchief.”