Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Mountains

Today I saw a video of a baby bear,
climbing up a snowy mountain, chasing after his mom.
She traversed the white terrain with ease,
her capable paws gripping tight to places that his could not reach.
Over and over, he slipped and slid,
as she stared down that mountain urging him up.
After his biggest fall, I looked away,
afraid he wouldn't make it.
But that mama bear never lost sight of him.
And up, up, up he climbed, until he reached the top.

Today I saw my own baby bear,
walking up the stairs, chasing after your brothers.
They scampered up with ease,
two at a time, laughing the whole way.
Slowly and surely, you climbed up,
as your brothers stared down urging you up.
With your eyes gazing skyward, I climbed up behind you,
poised to catch you if you fell. 
This mama bear never lost sight of you.
And up, up, up you walked, until you reached the top. 

And if you fall, or if you climb,
If you slip, or if you grip,
I will be there, at your back,
poised and ready
to get you up over any mountain.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.

Happy 2 Teddy Bear.
xo
Mom


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Just You

"I want to write you a poem," I said.
...
"Tell me what I should write, what's your favorite thing?"
...
You gave no reply, sitting in my lap like the yolk of an egg
"Do you want a poem about superheroes or bugs?"
"How about rockets or peanut butter sandwiches?"
...
Silently watching Ben 10 fight aliens (or something like that), you said nothing.
I stroked your hair.
Your silence was my inspiration.
Here is your poem,
it's about you
and it's about me
and how at 5, you still fit in my lap.
How you make no demands of me,
how you don't need a poem,
how of all the bright and lovely things I could write of in this world,
Your sandy brown hair nestled close to my heart is all the poem we need.




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cycles of 7

The night before Jack turned 7, Trevor and I sat in a dimly lit living room, the remnants of Jack's birthday party strewn about the room- handmade cards from his friends, noisemakers, Lego boxes. The house was quiet and was very conducive to reflection.

"We have completed a cycle of 7 you know," I said to Trevor. "I'm a big believer in cycles and I have been feeling for awhile now that we're approaching an end to one."

We began to discuss the differences between the 1st cycle and the 2nd.

"I think that first cycle of 7 is physically exhausting. You're physically exhausted every day from the care and feeding of your children. I think the next cycle is going to be more mentally exhausting," said Trevor, pulling the Spider-man blanket up around his lap.

And it was through this discussion that a lot of things began to make sense and click for me. The 1st cycle of 7 is physically exhausting. It is the cycle in which you most likely have the most minuscule social life, your conversations are almost exclusively about your children, and as a million synapses snap into place as you learn the new motions and new steps of being a parent to newborns, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, you barely have anything left over for your spouse, your friends, yes, sometimes your children, and most definitely yourself. So it stands to reason that you drop out of sight for a bit. You relish when plans get canceled, you reply "maybe" to every single event you're included in because your life is one big exhausting question mark. Retreating into your phone and seeing photos of your friends and feeling connected even when it's so hard to be connected was in many ways a life raft for me. I could have people see into my life and I could see into theirs and it was nice... was. nice.

Something clicks at 7. You realize you're getting better at this. Your kids are likely more self sufficient and even if you have young ones like we do, you aren't as stressed out over the little things anymore. Those million synapses have clicked in place and you deftly and coolly go through the motions with a muscle memory that is instinctual. Alas, it's not all smooth sailing though because now the mental exhaustion sets in. Having to now negotiate with your older children. Building in good habits for them, teaching them instead of doing for them. These are emotionally draining tasks. The heavy lifting is all being done internally and not externally and that is when you realize that your social circle, the one you couldn't nurture and grow in that 1st cycle of 7 is precisely what you need now.

And that, my friends, is the exact place I find myself on January 30, 2017. 23 days into my 2nd cycle of 7 and I'm realizing that it's time to reach out, which seems like a funny thing to have to do in an age of social media where the possibility of "connection" seems endless.

Keep reading...

But it doesn't. I have realized that it's an absolutely false sense of connection that has fueled more loneliness, more disconnection among us than ever before. I would dare say that you could be happier doing almost anything than scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Like, seriously, almost anything. So it's time for a break. I'll be honest, I'm not deleting Facebook. It is an incredible time capsule of my life for the past 10 years. It's a treasure trove of photos and messages that makes it hard to get rid of. But in order to limit the amount of time it consumes in my day and to limit the amount of time it robs from my children and husband it's time to reconfigure it.

My Facebook circle needs to be pared down, a ton. It's not because I don't like the people I've connected with here, it's not because I don't care about them, but it's because in this 2nd cycle of 7, real human connection is what's going to get me through, not pretending I'm connected because I "like" your meme. A friend recently commented that she misses me before adding that it's totally unnecessary since we live in the same town. That got me thinking.

So, this is kind of a Dear John letter to both Facebook and the 1st cycle of 7 where Facebook helped bolster me. It now feels like a weight, something to be managed or tended to, and as I've realized, the real things in my life I need to tend to are outside of the internet.

It's a first step toward being intentional about the 2nd cycle. It's time to re-organize my time.

xo

Monday, January 8, 2018

On Janus

In ancient Roman religion and mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions, gates, doors, doorways, endings, and time. He is usually a two-faced god since he looks to the future and the past. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Janus and I dedicate this poem to my own January baby, Jack.

The god Janus sits in solitude.
One eye gazing forward
One eye fixed on the past.
I too stand in a doorway of the heart,
clinging to your childlike wonder
while marveling at the fact that we just spoke about dinosaurs
and you taught me something new.
I adore your sweetness and untarnished heart.
I delight in your maturity, curiosity...and dinosaur facts.
Like Janus, I mark this month with a reflection on duality.
My heart still sees your new baby skin and
still feels your fingers exploring my face.
My eyes see your confident stance and
the way you nimbly navigate this world.
My heart has kept you small.
My eyes have watched you grow.
And like your birthday god, I sit in wonder
at how everything we've been
has made everything we are.
One cycle of 7 complete.
You are my past
You are my present
You are my infinite future.
















Happy birthday Jack xo

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Last First

For 9 months I carried you, with the knowledge that you were my my last.
A comforting thought during the hard times.
The end of morning sickness,
the end of labor,
the final contraction,
the final push.

10/15/16
Holding your warm, wriggling nakedness, my tears splashed your matted hair.
Hold him, yes, but hold this too, this moment, it's your last.
The last first meeting,
the last first embrace,
the last first kiss,
the last first cradle of your head as you nursed.

You shine with all the confidence I'd expect from a boy born into a 4-member fan club.
As we've journeyed 'round the sun together, you've given me
My last first smile,
My last first laugh,
My last first Christmas,
My last first steps.

10/15/17
I watched you gaze out the window with a sense of familiarity.
I've seen this day before, you thought.
My feet have been planted on 365 days of earth.
I've gone around the sun and came back to where I started.
In my cozy home with these wild brothers,
With this cuddly mommy, with this sturdy dad.


Later, when smoke circles billowed above that 1 candle,
the candle that burrowed into two other first cakes,
our wishes for you sailed up into the heavens,
disappearing almost imperceptibly
just like the baby I met one year ago.
And with one last first wish, we send you back around the sun again.













Happy birthday Teddy. We wish you 1,000 new firsts and breathless, joyful discoveries.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Sweet Little Lies

Last year, my sister Mary, her fiance, and his mom were traveling through our town on their way back from vacation. Mary called me to make plans to stop by. Mary and Jack have always had a very special bond.  Knowing how excited he would be to see "Beamie", I asked Jack if he'd want to see her that night. He chirped "Yes!" and so I asked him to close his eyes and make a wish; to wish for Beamie to come that night. He did and then we all went outside to play in the yard. Within a half hour, we saw headlights coming into the cul-de-sac. It was Beamie. Jack's face lit up like a Christmas tree. "It came true! It came true!" he shouted all the way up the garden path as he ran to his beloved aunt. She scooped him up and they embraced like velco monkeys


Two things about this story-

1. It is absoutely true and endearing and heartwarming
2. I am a stone cold, bald faced LIAR. Pants on fire liar. I made my son believe that he could wish something into reality. All lies. 

Does #2 change the story for you?

Oh man, the lies we tell our children!  Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, they're all part of the magical fabric of childhood, all massive lies, but magical nonetheless. Since I don't love considering myself an unabashed liar, I've had to come to terms with these sweet little lies and the reasons we tell them.

I should start by saying that in our house, we greatly downplay Santa and the Easter Bunny. We talk and act as if they're real, but on Christmas, there's not a single gift I give to the boys that's marked from Santa. To my boys, mom, dad, and Santa are all in cahoots and we make Christmas plans together, but my boys know that every single present under the tree is from mom and dad. I know that's a bit odd, but here's my rationale...

Parenting is a rough and thankless business, especially in these early years. Why in the world would we outsource one of the most thrilling moments our children experience to some mythical being? Like, let me get this straight for a second. 

Mom & Dad: chores, forced vegetable eating, homework, bedtimes, order, structure, routine
Santa: heaps and heaps of presents
Easter Bunny: heaps and heaps of candy
Tooth Fairy: cold, hard cash



Whaaaa???? That's crazy! Parents need those other things to balance out their list of demands! Why do we give made up people all of the glory? And yet, we play along, we dabble in magic and make believe in these fleeting years when magic and make believe are essential ingredients for a happy life. 

So if parents dance around the truth, we must forgive ourselves. At 38, it's much easier for me to see the bleakness of the world than it is for me to see the magic. My boys find magic in everything. When they hunker down behind our living room couch with their Justice League and Power Rangers playsets and immerse themselves in a world of their own creation, they're dabbling with magic. I see tiny action figures strewn across the floor. I see the mess. They see heroes, lying in wait for the next great adventure. They see possibility. 

I think we can all take a page from their book. So we are complicit in the lies. We do our best to preserve the years when the world is nothing but possibility and potential. Maybe, just maybe if we try hard enough, we can look out at the landscape that is the world in the year 2017 and see some possibility and potential ourselves. Please remind me of this the next time I step on one of those small action figures so instead of yelling out DAMMIT, I proclaim THIS IS SO MAGICAL instead.

But do try to take some credit for the magic. Don't outsource all of it. You deserve some credit for the joy. You deserve some credit for allowing childhood to be a highly filtered, special and wonderful time.

"It came true!" Jack exclaimed, in awe of how inexplicably wonderful life is. 

His wish came true. Magic.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

But Not You

Some kids creep into their parents room in the dead of night tip-toeing softly so as not to be heard.
They sneak quietly into their parents' bed to hide from their dream zombies and monsters.
But not you.
You race down the hall like a fully grown elephant.
You throw open the door like 100 Kramers, unabashedly making your presence known.
You climb up into our bed and in full voice say "Snuggle me, mama."

Some kids act out at their new baby brothers, immensely irritated by their cute little faces and attention seeking doe eyes.
They sneak in a good pinch or shove when their parents aren't looking.
But not you.
You mesmerize him like a street corner magician.
You tickle his every funny bone like a carnival side show clown, delighting in making him smile.
You get right in his face so he's positively sure of you and say "HI SWEET BABY TED!"

Some kids are blissfully unaware of the sadness of others, too immersed in their own world to care.
They keep all the best toys to themselves and stare blankly at the tears of a friend.
But not you.
You reach out like a beam of light into dark places.
Your kind spirit lifts up an entire room like a shiny elevator we all want to ride, you carry us.
You lean into other people's struggles, giving them the best of you, then asking "Are you happy now?"

Some kids run onto a field to kick a ball, throw a pitch, or run the bases.
They keep their head in the game, they focus and they listen intently.
But not you.
You run out onto the field like a jubilant mascot.
You keep us going and when we want to quit, you rush the field in a ridiculous dance.
You remind us that our family is the greatest in the league when you smile and sigh at the end of a long day and say "We're all together."

Some kids have great lives.
But not you.
You make lives great.