Parenting

Where the magic happens

Is It Really Vacation With Kids?

Lighthouse

Ah vacation. Time to relax. No work, school or responsibilities. iPhones are forgotten. The beach beckons. Hear the seagulls. Feel the warm breeze. And…here comes the hurricane. Not a literal hurricane. I’m talking about my three children.

I never appreciated a child free vacation until I couldn’t go on one anymore. There are five of us now and despite the gift of being in the beautiful South, I’m well aware of how much work a vacation with kids can be. The slathering on of sunscreen multiple times a day, the coercing them out of the pool after three hours, the junk food, the rain that traps us indoors for days, trying to keep my fearless three-year old from drowning in the undertow. You get the picture. By bedtime, I’m ready to collapse or scream.

Vacation

On the flip side, I get to spend lots of quality time with my family. We are blessed to be able to go on vacation. We are lucky to have beautiful weather today. The biggest decision of the day is beach or pool. I wake up to chocolate chip waffles and good coffee. I’m reading a really inspiring book. Life is good.

Vacation with kids? Yeah. We’ll do it again.  We are making memories. And those are worth all the work.

Yoga With Kids

The house has been full of the sounds of Namaste lately.  We’ve been doing yoga with the kids, which is pretty much like anything else with children; slow going, two steps forward and one step back, frustrations flair then enlightenment.  Well, almost.

At the end of each session of downward facing dogs and sun salutations, we fold our hands in prayer and say Namaste.  My two-year-old loves yoga. He lasts through a 20 minute session with relative ease.  He likes to be included, so he chimes in with his own version; Mamaste.  We all smile.  Enlightenment for sure.

Do You Still Believe In The Magic Of Childhood?

Every parent knows with the passing of every child-centered holiday that one day their child will come to them with The Question.

“Mommy, is the (Easter Bunny, Santa, Tooth Fairy, etc.) real?”

My oldest daughter B. is eight years old.  I though this might be the year she calls my bluff.  After all, she spotted all the stuffed animals we bought from IKEA last Christmas.  My retort, “Maybe the elves were too busy this year and had to swing by IKEA for backup.”

The Tooth Fairy didn’t even leave a note when B.’s most recent baby tooth fell out.  “She must have been tired from flying around all night carrying a bag full of teeth.”  That child has no idea how tired the tooth fairy is.  Really.

B. found wrappers in the garbage can from the sneaky leprechaun who visited in March.  I was annoyed at my failing by this point, “He’s really sneaky leaving it out in the open like that.”  (My mother would have NEVER let that happen.  She was and still is the master of holiday hiding spots.  I bow to your wise ways Mom.)

I thought maybe the older children she hangs out with would spill the beans, but apparently nobody is talking.  So we carry on our traditions of baskets and candy, letters and presents; traditions my husband and I grew up with sprinkled in with a few of our own.  I dread the day I am confronted with The Question.  But I know what I’ll say.  It’s the same thing my own mother told me.  As long as you believe, it will always be real.

Why should we, as grownups, stop believing in the magic of childhood?  I love seeing my kids’ eyes light up at the sight of a handwritten letter from Santa or hear their squeals of delight upon seeing a big chocolate Easter bunny.  It doesn’t get old, it’s bittersweet and it’s fleeting.  With a two-year old under our roof, I have a few years left of making these memories with my children.  And no, I don’t feel like I’m tricking them or lying to them.  This, to me, is childhood.  Some of my best memories are from holidays gone by.  Becoming a parent myself, I realized how much work, thoughtfulness and planning go into Christmas, birthdays, egg hunts, tooth fairy notes.  I consider myself lucky to be able to do these things for my children.  To be part of the magic making, to see their happiness, their sheer wonder in things that are unexplainable makes it all worth while.

Sometimes Commercials Surprise You in a Good Way

When I first saw this commercial during the Super Bowl I was in tears, for two reasons. The girls in the beginning reflect exactly what society expects; weak, not quite good enough, inferior. The younger girls are still true to themselves; strong, confident, fierce. And I saw in those young girls my own two daughters who are not afraid to run hard, fight hard and believe in themselves. When this same commercial was played in church on Sunday it made me want to hug my girls tight to my chest and whisper into their hair, don’t ever change, stay true to your heart.

Watch this video and tell the girls in your life the same thing. I’m proud to do everything like a girl.

A Tear-Jerker in 10 Sentences

Tonight at bedtime I was pulling out my six-year old daughter’s ponytail holder. It got tangled and pulled her hair. She cried out in pain.

“I’m so sorry M. I didn’t mean to do that!”

“It’s ok Mommy. I still love you. Even when you’re up there (points up to Heaven) and I’m really old, I’ll still love you. I’ll never stop loving you.”

Teary eyed and touched by her thoughtful words, I knew I must be doing something right…

What Do A Black Shirt, Nick Jonas and A Shower Have in Common?

When my friends found out I was having a boy, they all gushed the same sentiment.  “You will LOVE having a boy!  They are so loving and sweet. They just adore their Mommy!”  I have found infinite truth in their words.  Here is my experience with my little adoring bundle of male hormones over the past two days.

1. They don’t care about your wardrobe at all.
My son ran into my bedroom as I was getting dressed to go out. He gave me the biggest hug and proceeded to wipe his snotty nose all over my clean, black shirt sleeve.  It’s hard to be mad when he looks down at the floor and whispers “Sowwy Mommy.”

2. They are full of curious questions when you’re dripping wet.
As I was getting out of the shower, my son swung open the door, unaware of the cold air breezing in behind him and had a serious face.

“Mommy, did you wash your butt?”
Trying to stifle my laugh, “Yes I did.”
“Did you wash your face?”
“Yes.”
“Did you wash your feet?”
“I did.”
“Did you wash your boobies?’
Smiling, “Yep, I did buddy.”
“Oh!” Satisfied he shut the door and ran away.

3. They love Nick Jonas songs.
Driving home from the grocery store, a Nick Jonas song came on the radio. It’s wildly inappropriate for kids, but if I had to listen to Raffi all day I’d go mad.  It’s a cheesy, catchy little tune, so we all sing along. Guess whose voice was heard above all the rest? You guessed it; my two-year old baby boy.

Oh (that’s why)
I still get jealous…

 

These idyllic days won’t last forever. I want to tie up all my memories in a bouquet and keep them forever. Since I can’t possibly remember them all, I’m enjoying each bittersweet moment, knowing someday I’ll have a really great archive for his future wife.

Hidden Message In A Book

I was reading The Courage To Write by Ralph Keyes when I stumbled upon this little gem;

image

I love finding surprises and this little note was odd, yet reassuring. And yes I do feel strange at times.

I’m a mother of three trying to find my way. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, going against the grain of what society expects from me.  I’m a homebirthing, homeschooling mother. My choices make some people uncomfortable. My husband and I have had to answer endless questions, steeled ourselves for ignorant retorts, prayed that the people who really mattered would embrace our decisions. At this wonderful time of year, full of hope and blessings, I can say we are completely happy and at peace with all the decisions we’ve made in our life.

Do people think I’m strange? Maybe. I don’t mind.

I’m a mother of three trying to find some semblance of a writing life, while teaching my children it’s ok to be different. Be strange.  Live your life your way.  Seeing this sweet little note made me smile. I’m not the only strange one out there. I’m glad I’m not alone.

If You Can Laugh At Yourself, I Like You Already

A successful friend of mine, who had self-esteem issues growing up, told me her parents never focused on her outward appearance, instead they reminded her of all the positive things she was good at like dance and art. This is sound advice.  I needed to hear it.

My daughter was 7 years old when her best friend told her she thought she was really fat.  I was there to hear it.  I witnessed the stunned look on my daughter’s face as she absorbed her friend’s stinging words.  I don’t know who was more devastated; my daughter or me.

As a family we talk about the importance of being healthy, no matter what shape or size your body is.  God made us all different for a reason.  If we all looked like Heidi Klum life would be boring.  We stress the importance of being active and having fun, all the while knowing someday she is going to find out we are not telling her the truth.  All of these things sound good in theory, but we all know, especially mothers of daughters, that in our society size does matter.  People will judge you and make you feel less than and it’s going to hurt like hell.

As a mother, I can only hope to teach my children resilience, give them the tools to remain tenacious, not to be beat down by the cruel words of others, to remain steadfast in the knowledge that they are smart and beautiful and important.

In passing one day, my husband casually mentioned a woman who had been rude to him, adding “I don’t think she likes me very much.”  My daughter immediately said, ‘That sounds like her problem.”  Yes!  Maybe it’s sinking in after all.

As for my friend, she said her parents’ advice saved her life.  People were still judgemental, but she was able to laugh at herself.  And if you can laugh at yourself, you’ve already won.

One of These Things is Just Like the Other

My husband and I have our own business.  It’s terrifying, exhilarating and a lot of work.  At the end of a long day’s work our feet hurt, our backs ache and we just want to collapse in bed.  Since we are the boss, we are in charge of making sure everyone is happy, satisfied and well fed.  We make mistakes, we stumble, but we learn from them and move one.  Being an entrepreneur is an organic process, full of discovery about one other and the world around us.  New tax forms to fill out, licenses to buy, social media plugs, inventory, notebooks organized by color and form.  Simply put, there is always much to do.

Owning your own business is very similar to parenting.  It is terrifying, exhilarating and a lot of work.  At the end of a long day’s work my feet hurt, my back aches and I just want to collapse in bed.  Since I am the boss, I am in charge of making sure everyone is happy, satisfied and well fed.  I make mistakes, I stumble, but I learn from them and move one.  Being a parent is an organic process, full of discovery about one other and the world around us.  School forms to fill out, soccer uniforms to buy, pack lunch, plan the day, scraped knees, laundry, dishes, playdates, homework.  Simply put, there is always much to do.

But we wouldn’t have it any other way would we?  It’s tough to run a business.  If it fails, the defeat falls in your lap.  Parenting is tough too.  If we fail, our children suffer the consequences.  But we don’t give up just because things get rough.  We are in this for the long haul.  A client skips out on their bill, the soufflé falls, the children argue, someone gets hit in the eye with a stick.  At the end of these days we are beat down, bloodied to a pulp by responsibilities and obligations, defeats and missteps.  But there is beauty in the hardship.  We get up to begin again, remembering the bright spots, the little victories, an unexpected check in the mail, the toddler running towards your legs with the biggest hug in the world, an I love you so, so much whispered in the dark, the sounds of laughter singing in the windows from the backyard.

We are blessed, flying high, tired but gratified, yet always wondering if we are up to task.  Can we really do this one hard thing?  What if we fail, make a fool of ourselves, do something unique and original despite all the naysayers?  Trust your authentic self.  In the end, even if you fail, you’ve succeeded just by persevering.

Here is a fantastic quote from Jenny Offill’s book Dept. of Speculation (which is fantastic, by the way) to sum up my reasoning for remaining steadfast in my calling.

A thought experiment courtesy of the Stoics.  If you are tired of everything you possess, imagine that you have lost all these things.

If it was all gone tomorrow, I’d never be the same again.  So I say a prayer of thanks for my many gifts and I keep on keeping on.  Tomorrow is a bright new day full of possibilities and those sweet moments of grace that make it all worth living.  Look closely and you’ll see them too.

I Feel Like An Amateur

Do you ever have one of those days, maybe your kids are playing at the park, giddily swinging, legs reaching for the clouds, singing a made-up song, while you watch from the bench? And on this day you look at your sweet little brood and wonder how the heck you got there? I mean, logistically you know, but really who decided you were grown up enough to be in charge of a gang of dependent little people?

I have these days every once in a while, as if I’m watching my own life in a dream. It’s a little hazy around the edges, feels a bit surreal, vibrant colors, it feels perfect and I wonder how I came to be a mother.

I have trouble waking up early, I’m impatient, I like quiet and solitude and time by myself. I can’t sew or fold a fitted sheet or make a homemade Halloween costume. I hate hearing babies cry, I loathe clunky, noisy, brightly hued plastic toys and playing Candy Land. Those qualities don’t make a perfect mother.

But on these dreamy days, every once in a while, I throw all my cares out the window. I take my sweet little clan to the park and watch them swing their legs up to the clouds, trying with all their might to touch the sky. And I look up too, the blue so big and bright, full of hope and possibilities. And I’m thankful. Thankful for being loved so perfectly, despite my imperfections.