Tag Archives: mama

Slow down

Dear Spoon,

You started Kindergarten today.

You were so very excited, you came running into my room at 6:30 this morning, determined not to be late by even a moment. Overjoyed by the newness of it all — new backpack, new shoes, new school, you floated through the morning.

Once we reached the school, you led the way across the meadow to your classroom, shouting over your shoulder, “Come on, Mom!” You ran up to every kid who was about your size on the way and introduced yourself, asking each of them if they were in your class. A few minutes on the playground before the bell rang, and you already had a pack of new friends.

How did you grow up so much, so fast?

The bell rang, and I asked if I could give you a hug goodbye. “Oh, okay, Mom. If you have to.” Already worried about what the other kids might think. “I have to.” I said, and I gave you a quick hug and kiss, wondering how my baby had suddenly decided to become a preteen overnight as you ran to your classroom.

Once I was back in the car, the silence was so foreign. I thought about you all day, and tried not to feel sad that in your excitement, in your sudden maturity, my status had somehow shifted. I am so happy for the person I see you becoming, and feel so grateful for every opportunity you have which I am fortunate enough to witness.

So this is the difference between parenting a toddler and parenting a kid: watching from the sidelines, and quietly cheering.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t overjoyed when I met you at the end of the day and you flung yourself into my arms, words coming at a tumble: “MAMA! I missed you, Mama! I had the best day ever! We went on a hunt for a raccoon and there were clues! I have a new best friend! School is great! I love you, Mama! My teacher is awesome!”

These are the times when I get to hold tight to your smallness, and bite my tongue a little to keep from whispering, “Slow down. Stay little.”

I love you, little one.

xo,

Mama

 

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I want to remember this when I am very old.

You wander bow-legged up and down the hallway, too nervous to stray from the ledge on the wainscoting, trying all the doors. When you can’t open them, you knock. When you can, you squeal, giggle, and tumble into the next room. Every day in this house is a new exploration for you, and this is your favorite game. You chatter all the time, gathering new words like shiny rocks placed in pockets next to string and a leaf you found. You sing songs and periodically shout, “happy!” You are desperate to know how everything works, and want to be in the middle of it all. Sometime during the last fourteen months, I blinked and you grew from a baby into a child.

Your hair is always a crazy rat’s nest — too long in the front and back, too short on the sides, and I dare not cut it. You are often sporting the latest bruise on your forehead from trying to run before you really felt ready to walk (so like me in that regard), and your face and hands are always grubby. Baby gates and outlet covers have become polite requests to you, rather than barricades, and you say, “no, no” to yourself as you remove them. You are joyful and curious, and mercurial in the way that comes naturally and easily to young children. You sit beside me and empty papers from the recycle bin, examining each one, discussing it in your secret language, and arranging them on the floor around you. When you find one you really like, you stop to giggle. So this is toddlerhood.

You still love me, but your sun rises and sets around your Daddy right now, and the little stuffed dog we can never pry from your hands for a much-needed laundering. I am slowly learning to share the messy baby kisses and gleeful smiles a little more each day. I am filing away in my memory the smell of your hair as you snuggle under my chin and your sing-song cries of “Ma-ma! Ma-ma!”, as I begin to realize that this time exists to teach me that you won’t always be so tiny, and you won’t always be just mine. But this evening, I will tuck you under the covers of my bed, and hold you close, a tiny furnace; and we will stare at the slowly moving blades of the ceiling fan until your eyes droop and your breathing is slow and deep. Blessed be, little one.

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Paint the world in joy

Dear Audrey,

Today you are one. You woke today as you usually do, babbling and laughing in your crib. We carried you into our bed and sang “Happy birthday” to you. You seemed to think that was the best thing ever. Later, presents, macaroni and cheese, the first taste of cake, and the resultant mid-day bath made this a pretty great day for you, I think.

You are boundless joy and determination at this age. You know several words, and are determined to learn more each day. I watch you consistently working through phonemes, and wonder when you really started to work out those first few words: “Mama”, “Dada”, “Cat”, “Hi”… It seems you may have started practicing those on day one. You practice all those things you really want to try; you often whisper a words for days before you say it, and you have spent the last month and a half almost walking. I’m fairly certain that you can walk at any moment, as soon as you realize you can. I also know that you will not be the child to quietly let go of our hands and take a few tentative steps — you will only be happy if you can suddenly stand up and cross the room on your own. So, I continue to offer my hand and wait until you are ready. And you grin and giggle as you stumble alongside of me. My big girl.

You love people; you constantly wave at strangers and you have an uncanny knack for finding those who will not only wave back, but will play with you for several minutes. You also love dogs of all sorts, and I occasionally worry that you will crawl up to one and begin chewing on it and petting it before we can explain to you that it may be less receptive than your dog, whom you call “Day-dee”.

We spend our days exploring the house, playing with your toys, and playing the piano. You are absolutely in love with music, and often sit on our laps while we play the piano so you can play a “duet”. You also sing to us, your silly songs of made up baby sounds, which occasionally echo the lullabies I sing to you and make me do a double take. Not much gets past you these days.

In all, the world is a wonderful place for you, and I am so happy for that. You seem to have fun no matter where you are or what is happening; you always find a way to play and learn, and your laughter and squeals brighten every room you visit. This last year has certainly had its ups and downs for all three of us, but I am so happy that you are here to show me how wonderful and joyful the world really is. You are my light.

Happy birthday, Spoonie. I love you all the way to the moon and back.

xo,
mama.

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Feeding the child.

You carry her, grinning, into the kitchen.
Pull the highchair out with one hand,
Slide her into it, rearrange her feet, help her to sit.
Untangle her fingers from your hair.
Standing, you push her chair closer to
The honey-glaze of the heavy wooden table.
You remember cutting each board.

Next blocks, a rattle, a wooden spoon.
Keep her busy while you locate a bowl.
Every morning is oatmeal. Mixed quickly and microwaved —
Grateful to find a use for the thing.
From across the room she drops the spoon,
Bursting into a cascade of baby chirps and giggles.
Gravity is hilarious this week.

You hand her the spoon, kiss her forehead,
Sit beside her at the table. She smells like sunshine.
Every morning oatmeal. She likes hers with cinnamon —
And with bananas on the side.
She smiles between spoonfuls, and mushes her fingers in
It is paint, it is sculpture, it is joy.
Oatmeal covers her face and hair.

You’ve given up on burp cloths.
Mop her face with a kitchen towel.
Sneak sips of coffee between messy bites,
Gently move her hand away from your cup.
She grabs your hair, pulls your face closer to hers,
Oatmeal kisses.
It is time for a bath.

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morning meditation

And just like that, it is nearly February. Sunlight, the first sunlight in days, it seems, streams through the windows this morning, leaving puddles in which my tiny calico cat dances and rolls. The sky is clear and not quite blue. The light glitters through the cold dewdrops on the maples like some wild icy chandelier. Through the window, the fruit trees, long neglected last fall, are ready to be pruned. I am kneading bread dough. Its yeasty warmth left to rise overnight has filled my kitchen with a fresh sweet smell.

I am learning that things will continue. There will be order beyond the chaos. It slowly seeps in, lying in pools between the laundry and unswept floors, and I roll and dance in its comfort. So this is the “new normal”: appearing in glimpses and flashes between the surreal. In time, like the sunlight, its pools will grow and envelop everything in calm and warmth.

For now, there is bread dough.

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New Year’s Eve

Somewhere, as I was shuttling between sleep and wakefulness, the year came to a close. It is cold tonight; there is frost in the garden and the chickens are huddled against each other in a warm sleeping mass of black and cream feathers at the back of their coop. The kitchen window is covered in steam. My (amazing) husband is gathering the dinner dishes, and my daughter is sleeping quietly.

Periodically, I find myself stopping to realize that this is my life, and wondering how it happened. New Year’s Eve used to be an excuse for sexy new dresses, red lipstick, one too many cocktails, and dancing for hours on end to live bands. These days, New Year’s Eve is an excuse for a nice dinner at home, a fire in the fireplace, a glass of champagne, and dancing in the living room.

Is this my life?

Yes.

Inexplicably, irrevocably, YES.

Exactly one week ago, we brought our daughter home from the hospital. I find it amazing that I can have so much love and pride for this tiny creature. The last seven days have been a frenetic blur of diapers, songs, feeding, laughter, and sobs (from all of us). She is beautiful, strong, calm (mostly) and very, very willful. It is as though she is a mirror of me, in my husband’s skin. I am awestruck every day.

Not only am I amazed by her, but by my husband as well. His strength and gentleness, always present in his quiet, concerned way, is amplified. She and I have been wrapped in his caring and warmth. I never believed that I could love anyone as much as he, but now as I hold my daughter, I realize that love is infinitely divisible. I have heard the saying before that only parents realize you can multiply love by dividing, and I believe that is so. When she came into my world, Spoon not only took a fierce helping of love for herself, she allowed me to love him even more — something I never thought possible. I am so excited for our little family as we have made our way through this first week. I am awash in bliss.

I am looking forward to the next year. Running again, including a race the three of us are planning to run together, Audrey’s first words, harvesting huckleberries with my sister and her family, backpacking trips in the summer, homemade bread, book swaps, a ski trip, perhaps a few afternoons in my kayak, folding myself back into the river and the earth. There will be Thanksgiving, Samhain, and Yule gatherings, a visit to Arizona to introduce the baby to her great-grandfather, sewing projects, donation gardens, and christmas lights at the zoo.

This is my resolution for this year.

Is this really my life?

Yes.

 

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this.

Best. Morning. EVER.

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