Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Quit

Tonight I quit.
I quit bedtimes that last over an hour.
I quit whining.
I quit crying.
I quit "Daddy is my favorite."
I quit the word. "No."
I quit the incessant, "Mom! Mom! Mom!" (Didn't I used to have a name?)
I quit sinks full of dishes and piles of laundry.
I quit negotiating about what healthy food must be eaten before a "sweet treat" may be consumed.
I quit debates over the merits of underwear.
I quit before sunrise awakenings.
I quit reminders about "please" and "thank-you" and "excuse me."
I quit "I'm full!" when "I'm hungry!" is followed minutes later.
I quit stepping on tiny, plastic toys.
I quit feeling like a failure and that I'm never doing enough.
I quit 'Daniel Tiger' and 'Backyardigans.' Don't even mention 'Doc McStuffins.'
I quit the Frozen soundtrack. For the love of humanity, Let. It. Go.
I quit brushing teeth, hair, trimming toenails, washing hands and faces.
I quit nagging.
I quit quiet time that is never quiet.
I quit hyperactive puppies that will chew anything left on the floor.
I quit.
I quit!

Except you've been asleep for 45 minutes now and I kind of miss your dimple, your voice, your 4 year old sass. So...
Tonight I quit.
Just until tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Flashback Friday: Freedom & August Revisited

Emy is staying over at my brother & sister-in-law's house tonight. From the time she was picked up this afternoon until the time Josh and I go get her tomorrow evening I will have spent (GASP!) 30 hours child-free. 30 hours! In. A. Row.

I'm a little excited.
Of course I miss her, but since there aren't people lining up at my door to take the Humongous Puppy off my hands for a day or two, and crate-training isn't an acceptable form of parenthood, I'm going to relish this break from the one creature I'm responsible for who can not be left unattended for any length of time.

Not that I have any majorly fun things planned either. In fact, I didn't even manage to snag a much needed date-night with my husband because he had to work late. It's all good though, I'm getting a chance for some much needed me time.

Having no maternal obligations, and choosing to ignore the laundry obligation, I decided to spend my hours this afternoon doing what I love to do. Playing with books. A dear friend and former colleague recently changed classrooms and surprisingly inherited about 10 boxes of books with her new classroom. Missing the anxiety-ridden thrill and routine of setting up a classroom in August, I readily accepted.

Being back in my old stomping grounds filled me with a variety of emotions. There is so much I miss about teaching. I am also acutely aware of my limitations although there is still a part of me that wishes to deny they exist at all. When I went to write about my feelings, I had a prevalent feeling of deja vu. I'd felt these feelings and perhaps even articulated them before. After a quick glance through the blog, I had indeed.
So here is a link to a post I wrote last August about summer ending and my absence from the classroom. It still rings incredibly true. I hope you enjoy.
New Beginnings

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Not So Little Anymore

Sometime over the past 3 months my daughter became a big kid.
I didn't notice it at first, especially because physically she has remained relatively the same size. Barely tipping the scales at 32 pounds and easily fitting into last summer's 3t clothing she is slight in stature. But size has little to do with this change.

Emy has always been fiercely independent, but quick to ask for help when required. A character trait I relish and adore. I learned very early on in parenting her that unless her safety or overall well-being are at issue, it's just not worth the time and energy to fight her on issues like clothing or hairstyles. She knows her own mind and is quite quick to share it with the world. She's verbal and a problem-solver, and uses her developing leadership skills (okay, bossiness) to easily hold her own with her older cousins and family friends.
But she's still been little, my little snuggle-bug, thumb sucking girl.

Not so much anymore.

I am not sure when this change happened. Perhaps when she began using the term  "best friends" to describe people she loves to be around. The 9 year old granddaughter of our neighbor, and her best little buddy Noah, and her cousins top this list, but she often includes friends from preschool that she hasn't seen since May, and whom I barely know.
Perhaps it began with the "big girl bike" her grandparents gave her for her fourth birthday. The bike that she rides fast and furiously throughout our neighborhood leaving me gasping for breath as I try in vain to keep up.
Perhaps it was the addition of a puppy into our family. Calling Harper her "baby sister" and taking on the role of "big sister," Emy proves daily she is a compassionate and responsible pet owner. Traits that I wouldn't have predicted she'd posses at 4.

I'm sure these all have something to do with her leap into kiddom. But it was on the playground that I could no longer deny this transcendence.

We were at the playground and Emy was happily bouncing from one climbing structure to the next, climbing every ladder, crawling through every tunnel, and whipping down every slide. She was pretending to steer the pirate ship of a play structure when a bigger boy came over and grabbed the steering wheel away from her abruptly. Josh was with me and saw this mild altercation occur and said nothing until Emy grabbed it back, ready to dig those stubborn heels of hers in until he let go. He didn't, instead raised his hand to move her out of the way. Josh called her over and crying tears of anger and frustration she came running over to us. She quickly recovered after a quick talk about sharing and letting other children have a turn. As much as she wants it to be the playground does not belong to her.
She wasn't really in the wrong, but we attempted to teach her that the only person she can control is herself. A hard lesson. One that is forever being relearned by her mother.

 A little while later we ventured over to the other side of the park where there is an even bigger play structure, complete with 2 sets of monkey bars and a climbing wall. Although Emy has been perfecting her climbing skills since she was 8 months old, she has always needed an adult to spot her as she attempted the 6 foot climb. She made a beeline for the rock wall and I followed closely behind, hands ready to provide reassurance and moral support. I was literally 2 steps behind her, yet  I reached the base of the wall in barely enough time to watch her reach the top and pull herself into a beaming stance, relishing her achievement. "Did you see me Mom?!" she boomed from the platform above my head.
I grinned and shook my head in amazement, admitting I hadn't. "Don't worry, I'll do it again!" she proclaimed as she barreled down the slide, arriving at my side before I could reply.

Calling Josh over and hurriedly pulling out my phone so I could capture this momentous occasion, I was beside myself with pride and awe. When had she become so strong? So quick? So confident? So independent?

She continued to play. To climb, run, and jump as I sat there marveling in her strength and quickness. A short while later the same boy joined her at the base of the rock wall, cautiously assessing the situation and before proclaiming that it was too hard, he was too little. Emy was standing beside him, patiently waiting her turn. She encouraged him to try, saying it's not that hard, it just takes practice. He gingerly pulled himself up to the first holds, lost his footing and released his grip. "It's impossible, There is nowhere for my feet. It's too hard." He stated.
"It's not too hard for me." Emy replied. "Watch."
He looked at her much the same way I had, in amazement and disbelief, and uttered only a single "Be careful" as she ascended the wall confidently.

When she came back around, he told her she was good at climbing. To which my precocious daughter replied. "I know. It takes practice."
Then she ran off, hell bent on trying the uneven monkey bars one last time before we headed home, focused on the next challenge she wanted to master, leaving her little girl self (and me) in the dust.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Packed & Ready

From the archives: I found this while going through some unfinished posts and thought I'd share.
July 1, 2014

The night before Emy and I embarked on a road trip with my mother-in-law to visit her family in south-eastern Ohio, Emy was full of questions and excitement:

"Will Dad come?" (No, he has to work. Just me, you, and Grandma Jane.)
"Will Harper miss us? (Probably, but Dad will take good care of her. ) Follow up - "Dad is taking Harper to work?!?" (No, she will stay home, Dad will be home in the evenings and night with her and Luna.)
"Will Luna miss us? (Probably not.)
"Is Grandma Jane's sister in Miami?" Adorably pronounced "Me-am-ee" (No, although there is a Miami in Ohio, it's not the one you're thinking of)
"Is Ohio in Florida?" (No, it's a different state. Like Michigan and Texas)
"I know you mean fly-on-a-plane-trip, not road trip, right Mom?" (No. I mean road trip, because we are driving there in Grandma Jane's car.)
"Will my cousins be there?" (Not the cousins you see all the time in Michigan, but other cousins you may not remember.)
"Can I ride a tractor?" (Probably not, Uncle Donald uses his tractor for working, but I bet we will ride a four-wheeler.)
"A tricycle?" (No a tricycle has 3 wheels, a four wheeler is different. Remember when Joey took you to deliver eggs? You rode on a four-wheeler then.)

So much excitement and anticipation. Woodsfield is a pretty great place.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Flashback Friday - When I Saw Myself as Mom

What's your first memory of motherhood? Was it hours of grueling labor? Was it the moment you first gazed into your newborn's eyes? Was it the first time you held or fed your child? Was the moment you realized you were a MOM when you first took your child home, realizing with increasing panic that you were now responsible for this being?
Was it something else entirely?
For me it was.
I never experienced any of the above scenarios. They weren't part of my journey into motherhood. In fact, my daughter was 3 months old before any of the "momness" clicked in. As many of you know I was too sick after delivery to be a mom in anything but name. I couldn't even take care of myself, spending 9 weeks of my daughter's first 12, in hospitals, relying on nurses, family, friends, and strangers to pick up my motherly duties. I am so thankful for all of those who did what I couldn't. Especially, my husband who, without flinching, became father and mother to Emeline.
The first time I felt like "Mom" was in mid-late August of 2010. I was healthy enough to have stayed out of the hospital for weeks and was slowly regaining my strength. I wasn't quite ready to be left alone with Emy, but Josh and I were slowly establishing a routine.
Each morning, around 7 am, when E would wake, famished (as would become her norm), he would roll out of bed to prep her bottle. As he did this, I would enter her room, get her, and change her diaper. Josh would meet us in the living room, handing me the bottle before going back to bed to catch a few precious moments of sleep. Emy and I would snuggle into the dark green recliner we purchased the night before she made her dramatic arrival, and she would happily begin to eat.
I vividly remember holding her, unsure of whether I should stop her mid-bottle to burp, or take my cues from her. In the end, I left it up to her. At 3 months of age she had far more experience with this whole feeding thing than I did. Most of the time she would drain the very last drop before stopping. I'd prop her upright on my shoulder, her toes barely reaching my belly button, gently pat her back for a few moments before she'd let out a monstrous belch. A sound that made this mama proud.
We'd settle in for a cuddle. One arm would drape around my neck, the other would find her mouth. She has always been a thumb sucker. Our first 3d ultrasound revealed this about her.As well as the fact that she had my nose, and often liked to sleep with her arms stretched above her head. There is no denying that she is my kid. 

We'd drift off to sleep that way. Emy stretched out, her full weight - all 8 + pounds of it, pressed against my chest. It was the first time in months that I felt whole - at peace, able to sleep deeply. For close to 3 hours we'd sleep. We'd sleep through Josh getting ready for work, making coffee, and I'd wake only slightly, when he kissed me goodbye before he left the house. At some point the doorbell would ring and it would rouse us enough that we'd be able to start the day. Usually it was my home care nurse Kathy, quickly followed by whichever dedicated soul had signed up to care for us that day. Their presence, while welcome and very much needed, was enough to break the spell and return me to reality. The reality where I was sick and blind and couldn't care for my daughter in the way she needed.
But that time before. In the early morning hours, with the shades drawn tight, my baby snug against my chest, that is when I became "Mom".