First Day and Everyday

Pickle

First grade starts next week.

First grade for my kind, freckled thinker who is finding his voice, and up at night pondering the merits of inboard motors.

He will be fine.  What choice does he have other than to be fine, to navigate his life on his own, at least a little bit, and figure out the way of the world through the small, significant, triumphs and heartbreaks of childhood.

The skinny-legged boy with the too-big backpack (aren’t they all?) will walk into school and I will drive away.  And get a coffee.  And drive to work.  I will not worry.

I am ready for the big moments.

I am ready for first steps, lost teeth, first days.  I am ready to watch them glide away without training wheels, to sound out books on their own, to tie their shoes.

My tender heart catches when I least expect it.

When the biggest helps the littlest with his shoes.

When the middle uses a big word I haven’t heard her use before.

When the wobbly toddler gait all of a sudden becomes smooth and coordinated.

We may mark the time with first steps and first days.  But it is those tiny changes, the ones we almost don’t see, that add up to people, our people, growing a hair’s width every night.  Our little people whose lives slowly and beautifully start to become their own, separate from us.  One millimeter, one second at a time.

In the cool dark, the clock ticks and they sing our bedtime songs with lyrics of their own.  And then a quiet pause as they drift away into dreams that are theirs alone.

 

 

You Get What You Need

I want a cup of tea.

Not herbal. The real stuff. With milk and sugar.

And I want someone to make me popovers.

Which I will eat warm with a little butter and cinnamon sugar.

 

I want someone to wash my duvet cover and then put it back on my comforter. Because if we’re honest with each other, that is a four-person job.

 

I want a week to declutter, shuffle and reshuffle, purge (stuff, not vomit – though both usually make you feel better), think about writing something, nap.

 

I want dinner to be done, meals planned. But really, I want to do that stuff myself.

I want a bedside clock for my husband that isn’t the brightest clock on the planet.

I want the socks paired.

Oh the socks.

 

I want not to worry about the four RSVPs, camps, birthday party to plan.

I want to be grateful that I have parties, camps, birthday parties to worry about.

I want new work shoes that I don’t have to break in.

I want to use the hours between 8:30pm and 10:30pm wisely at least once a week.

I want to figure out how on earth to spend more time being and less time doing.

 

I want to cook every day. Walk every day. Sleep more. Pick up less. Read to my kids more. Explore more. Love more. Give more.  Fight more for the things I think are worth fighting for. And sit on a blanket on the grass in the sun.

 

I want to spend more time doing silly and creative things, and less time wondering what could have possibly spilled on the floor to make it that sticky.  I want more time with my kids. I want more time with my husband. I want more time by myself.

I want more time having grown-up conversations. With wine. I want more music in my house. I want less dust. I want my kids to eat less yogurt.

 

I want more dancing in my life.

 

And I want the thank you notes to write themselves.

 

To Pickle at Five

More than four, less than six

I kiss your tangy sweaty little boy head as you push me away.

There is sand in your hair clinging to your scalp.

Because you were doing somersaults in the dirt.

I should have known.

***

In early evening you sit, tired from a day spent figuring out the workings of the world, inside and out.

Your little brother crawls over you.  And over you again.

You don’t mind. You barely look away from the program on the TV.

***

You have grown so capable.

Limbs lengthening. Now all muscle and bone, and soft tight skin.

New freckles dot your nose. Your teeth used to seem so big.

***

Last week we saw the planets, and marveled at the vastness of the universe.

How this goes around that, and that goes around this.

And I marveled at you, my boy, who entered this world face up, eyes open.

***

Reflection

Happy belated birthday to my dearest Pickle, a kind and generous boy who has only just started being a little too cool for my kisses.

Close up

Admissions of a Tired Mom – Part 6

1. I bought more personalized stationery.  I couldn’t help it.  It has rainbow unicorns on it.  (Yes, I am aware that I am 37 years old.) It also has woodland creatures.  And apparently I have a thing for woodland creatures.
Unicorny.  This is the Animal Tale stationery from Tiny Prints.

Unicorny! Animal Tale stationery from Tiny Prints.

2. Those big crystals of sugar they put on the top of muffins? I HATE THEM. Stop wrecking my muffins!
muffin

 

3. I wrote a list of things that I really should do to make my life feel more comfortable, well-rounded and full.
  • Read – really read – a poem every day (or heck, at least once a week).
  • Have fresh flowers around.
  • Grow something (not just children).
  • Have a nice bed.
  • Eat more fish and more green things.
  • Go to the theatre – and not just musicals.
A pretty good list.  And while my mattress IS of legal drinking age and needs to be put out of its misery, my list also offered me some lovely perspective. It doesn’t contain items like survive, heal, or feel respected and loved so maybe I’m doing alright.

 

4. I’m pretty sure most people drink too much water, or think they need more water than they do. Really.

 

5. My mom was right about a lot of things:
  • As you get older, your hair gets less greasy. Thankfully, true! 
  • You should keep track of the Christmas presents you give, so you can keep things even and avoid giving the same gifts 2 years in a row. Yes. You think you will remember, but you won’t.
  • There is value to comfy undies. Duh. I have no idea why my sister and I fought her on this one.
  • Sometimes you will forget which baby is in the baby picture. I didn’t think it was possible to be unable to recognize your own children in photos, but sometimes I’m baffled even though I birthed them!
A Pickle, a Plum and a Pistachio.  Who is who?!  I have no idea!  (Actually I do, because I assembled the collage, but you get my point...)

A Pickle, a Plum and a Pistachio. Who is who?! I have no idea! (Actually I do, because I assembled the collage, but you get my point…)

Things that would make me feel great…

#1 – Leaving the house feeling at least a LITTLE put-together in the morning.  Usually my hair is wet, my shirt is wrinkled, and I’m sans make-up.  I would guess that most folks think I look fine, but it isn’t how I look that irks me, it’s how I feel.  I feel like a running-behind, I-guess-this-shirt-is-clean mess most days.  Today it was cold, so I used that as an excuse to turn up the heat and the fan in my car.  Please raise your hand if you’ve ever attempted to use your car’s heating system as a blow-dryer.  (Sheepishly raises hand.)  More times than I’d like to admit.  Even in the summer.

#2 – Exercising more.  This is a no-brainer.  In addition to the physical and mental benefits, it would also allow me to catch up on the 175 podcasts that I have not yet listened to.  These poor, unheard podcasts cause me to suffer from psychic guilt.  A little time on the elliptical –> podcast listening –> a minor item checked off my to-do list every day + the feeling like I am not falling completely behind when it comes to popular culture.

#3 – Putting on make-up.  Even typing that makes me cringe.  I’m not the made-up type.  I regularly leave the house un-showered, wearing outfits that make me turn and run from anyone I recognize in the grocery store, lest they see me and wonder what has happened to my sanity.  But a little eyeliner, a little mascara does make me feel a little better – like I made a small effort not to look so tired and frazzled.  Instead, I always feel tired and frazzled, like I’m running behind the put-together train shouting, “Wait for me!”

I have one child.  A woman I know has three children under the age of four.  She always looks perfect.  And I’m pretty sure she exercises and is caught up on her podcasts.  In order to accomplish these things,  I imagine that she either has to (a) ply the kids with caramels, lollipops and TV; (b) lock them all in a small, child-proofed room for 30 minutes every day and allow the sound of the blow dryer to drown out their pleas and screams; or (c) wake up at 4am.  Maybe all three.  Actually, she’s probably already up at 4am sewing their little matching Halloween costumes, ironing her husband’s shirts and baking mini-souffles for her mommy-and-me group.  Me?  I’ll sleep as long as my little one will let me, and attempt to remember mascara tomorrow.  Baby steps, right?

It’s All Wrong!

Ah parenting. And guilt.

I’m not really a guilt-ridden type of broad.  But now that I am a parent, it is a constant choice every day to avoid the guilt.

One thing I learned quickly after Mr. Pickle Pumpkin was born – before he was born actually! –  is that every choice you make for your child can be judged. By someone.  And it usually is.  To have fetal genetic testing or not?  To circumcise or not? To breast-feed exclusively, or not? Cloth diapers, disposable, or some sort of hybrid? Co-sleep or not? Whatever choice you make as a parent someone you know has made a different choice and won’t hesitate to tell you, kindly, with a concerned look on their face, why their choice is just a little bit better.

It can make you crazy.

So I tell all new mothers to give up the guilt.  There are a million different ways to parent, there are a million decisions to make every day.  Do your very best, don’t worry too much, and realize that some kids with all organic toys will grow up to be psychopaths, some will grow up to be world leaders most will grow up somewhere in-between.  Make the choices that work for you.

Guilt be gone!

**********

An upcoming post will deal with the other side of this coin – judging!