The Moments…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on May 15, 2014 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Each day I start by reviewing my Facebook feed. As shallow as that may sound, there is intention to it. Because in between all of the more mundane updates from colleagues, friends and family (which I thoroughly enjoy) there are nuggets. I find that almost every day I “need” a nugget to help me along with this parenting gig and thanks to the Internet, I can usually get it. This morning I got a big one. It made me tear up as a Mom shared her conflicted feelings about sending her daughter off to college and reminiscing about where all the time has gone. She went on to say what every single other parent says, IT GOES FAST. When you’re in it, it doesn’t always feel that way – in fact, it often doesn’t. The days can be long, exhausting and hard at times. But, when you begin to look back, you wonder where the years have gone, whether it be 3, 6 or the full 18. At some point you’re launching a young adult into the world and you’re just praying that you’ve taught them everything you wanted to and meant to and that they’ll be OK. Somehow you go from having a child attached to you to being grateful when they choose to spend a night home with you instead of being out with their friends. And, then, poof, just like that, your baby is gone.

If you wonder why I consider this a nugget (as opposed to getting myself upset early in the morning), it’s this.

Last evening before bed, Ellie was being a pill. For anyone who doesn’t quite use or remember that expression (I know I heard it a lot in my house growing up), let’s just say she was being a pain in the butt. She’s 7 – it’s going to happen. She’s learning and there’s so much more to learn. She’s also testing boundaries which is her job too. And, as her parents, it’s our job to reaffirm where those lines are so they’re not habitually crossed, to sit down with her and discuss how to be a good friend and asking her what she thinks that looks like as she navigates situations with her best friend. And then there’s just general lack of cooperation and a sassy attitude to boot. So, when the time comes finally for bed and she tells me that she wants me to snuggle with her in her bed, I have to tell her NO. Not only because it’s now past 9:00pm on a school night but also because I fear it sends a wrong message. I explained to her that she’s not being very kind and right now it would feel like snuggling with a porcupine and I didn’t want to get poked. She actually thought this was quite funny.

She went to bed and fell asleep in no time but the situation weighed on me because in that moment, I knew I just lost a chance to snuggle with my girl and you never know when that chance won’t come again. It’s a constant fine line to walk.

This morning I was up way too early thanks to a rare heat wave and a loud upstairs neighbor. I tried to return to slumber to no avail so I just laid there until I heard some creaking on the hardwood floors and turned to see my husband carrying in our 7-year-old half asleep. This has become our routine as of late as I’ve been home recovering from surgery and not having to rush to get up and ready for work. He drops her down next to me in all of her 52 pound 4-foot glory with her “blankie” and carefully selected stuffed animal and I pull her close to me to grab those 10 minutes of snuggle time before the always-rushed school morning routine begins.

Having just read about the Mom who is feeling nostalgic about sending her daughter off to college, I am so grateful for these moments with my first grader. I know they are fleeting. I study the profile of her nose and marvel at how it’s changed, I notice her top two permanent teeth that inch their way in bit by bit each day and look in awe at her long eyelashes that flap like a butterfly’s wings as she blinks away the bright light in the bedroom.  I take in the fragrance of her hair that still smells strong of fruity conditioner from a previous washing.

The frustration of the night before has gone, naturally, because that’s how parenting a kid is. Your love is so big, so unconditional, that even though you HAVE to discipline and teach them right from wrong, and they make you crazy and hurt your feelings, the love supercedes it all. I think about my “morning nugget” and I hold on tightly – so tightly. 

 

 

Saying goodbye to first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags , on May 3, 2014 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can hardly believe Ellie is edging up on the end of her first grade year. I know this is a common parental refrain but there’s a reason for it. Time flies. And, as your kids get older, I swear it goes even faster. It’s amazing to me that when I first wrote in this blog, it was the year 2009 and I had a toddler. And, now I’m almost welcoming a second grader into my life.  HOW CAN THIS BE?!

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It’s been an amazing year. Ellie moved into a new school and had to adjust to new kids and a much more rigorous academic environment. That was really hard for her initially but she never stopped working and trying. Although she still gets stomach aches over math, she never gives up. She can now read like a champ and is like a sponge when it comes to learning new words. It’s truly amazing to see the progress she’s made over the year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

Her after school program has been terrific as well. She gets to swim and dance and be in an environment that is incredibly fun and loving. I feel great EVERY night I pick her up here and feel SO good that we made that really hard decision last summer to move her from one school to another.

When I think back to the first week of first grade and Ellie saying that she just “can’t do it” as she sobbed outside her new classroom door or the many many mornings where she clung a bit tightly to me and looked sad at the prospect of parting, it’s hard to believe and wonderful to watch how confidently she carries herself at her school now — and in general. I love walking to school together in the morning and holding hands. I’m so glad she still lets me do this. But, she’s definitely becoming more independent and snuggles come much more on her terms these days.

Seven is a really terrific age. Of course it comes with its challenges, but, mostly, I’ve really loved it. I guess every stage is terrific in its own way but seven is truly a winner.

I continue to embrace these moments with my beautiful daughter as I know they will continue to fly by and I don’t want to miss a thing.

 

Taking things in stride…

Posted in Ellie, Mommy stuff on September 9, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Parenting is hard. And rewarding. But, so hard. Each day I get up, especially if it’s been a rough night the evening before, I say to myself, “Today I will do better. Today I will…” fill in the blank. It might be, shut down my computer and be more present with my child or not get too frustrated when I’ve asked for the umpteenth time to get dressed, etc., etc.. I sometimes feel guilty when I lose my patience but then I also remind myself that you can’t HELP but lose patience with your kids.

For example, when we got home this evening, I discovered that my six-year-old had once again left her homework at her after care. Last week she brought home her homework but forgot her folder. She can be very absent-minded. I never have to worry that she’s not living in the moment. She’s ALL moment. I got pretty upset with her and explained that it’s VERY important for her to remember her homework at the end of the day. I was clearly not happy and she asked me if I was angry with her. I said that I wasn’t angry but that I was disappointed. She then got upset and threw her lunchbox and homework folder (minus the homework) on the kitchen counter and said she was really angry because I was angry with her and started crying. I felt REALLY bad that I made her cry until I found out that the reason she was crying was because she was worried that I wouldn’t let her play with her friend downstairs now that she forgot her homework.

In the end, I let her play with her friend for 30 minutes (I’m such a sucker.)

As I was writing yet ANOTHER note to her very strict first grade teacher(who I’m certain thinks we’re not on top of things)I began to wonder if I’d been too harsh with her. After all, she’s only six and she’s kept it together all day long and beyond. Perhaps there’s a better way to work WITH her to help her become less absent-minded but it’s hard to know what that is — especially when I’m not with her all day.

In the moments, I feel as if I SHOULD be upset that she keeps forgetting things but then we lay in bed together and look at book picks for her school’s book fair in a catalog and chat, I wonder if I should be taking this all more in stride. I know it’ll serve her well not to be forgetful as she goes through school and ultimately life, and I don’t think I should stop enforcing the importance of this but when I look into her sweet sleepy face and feel her soft skin and see her vulnerability, I think about the fact that before we know it, there won’t be night time snuggles and leaving homework at the after care will be the least of our worries. I know this is not a good reason to stop enforcing rules but it sure makes me want to sometimes.

And then there was first grade…

Posted in Ellie with tags on September 4, 2013 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I can’t believe I’ve let an entire year (and change) lapse since I posted. Last time I wrote I had a graduating preschooler and now we’re jumping into first grade. What a difference the last year has made. I can barely remember what it feels like to have a preschooler. Ellie has grown by leaps and bounds. My first and only born who always tended toward the 25th percentile is off the charts in height. Her little six-year-old dresses look like mini-skirts. She runs at lightning speed and talks about as fast. Her questions are endless which speaks to her intense curiosity of the world around her. It’s becoming quite clear that she’s an extrovert, wanting almost always to be around and engaging with other people. She continues to sing and dance and laugh with abandon. She is a good friend.

Although I never got a chance to write about it, kindergarten was a year of growth for Ellie. It wasn’t a perfect year (as if there is any such thing) and the transition was not an easy one. No tears but a lot of clinging. In the end, it took about 10 months for her to really “move in” to that school mentally and socially. But, she got there — as always, on her own time table.

Now she’s in first grade at a new school and I’ve been amazed that three weeks in, she seems to have the confidence that took her 10 months to develop in kindergarten. Building blocks of growth, indeed. And, perhaps this really is the better fit for her. She comes home every night animated with lots of stories. She writes and takes spelling tests.  She has new friends. She rarely mentions her old school or friends. Six-year-olds are amazing. I was told that this transition to a new school would be infinitely harder for me than it would be for her but you project so much of your own emotions on to your children imagining how they might feel that it’s hard to believe. And, yet, three weeks in and she’s doing great. This morning as she was getting dressed she said to me, “I’m not going to miss you today.”  I never thought I’d feel so relieved to hear those words.

The Graduate!

Posted in Uncategorized on July 1, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

The Graduate!

Pomp and Circumstance…oh how I love her so.

Graduation Day…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

Tomorrow you graduate preschool. Some folks scoff about the significance of this. Graduation from preschool? Really?!  I, however, am so grateful for the pomp and circumstance. I need a ritual to help mark this transition — the one from baby to young girl. Even though I find myself marveling at where the time has gone, it hasn’t really gone that quickly. It’s more feeling the impact that it’s just gone.

Look at you with Mommy on your first day:Image

Full of smiles, carrying your brand new lunch box for the first time. Look at your cute pink leggings bulging from the pull-up you were still wearing underneath. I marvel now at the baby fat sweetly padding your face. Three years later and you’re all legs and arms – much taller than most 5-year-olds. You’re potty-trained and sleep all night in a big girl bed. You run around your preschool as if you own it – because you do. Although you occasionally cling when we say goodbye, there are no more tears. Baby – you’re all grown up.

This morning I dropped you off for the last time. It felt like any other morning but of course it wasn’t. I hope you’ll take a nap, holding your “stuffy” tightly – embracing that ritual for the last time. I hope you’ll take in every bit of the specialness of the day knowing that it is your last. I know you won’t, of course, because you’re 5 and you’re sooo excited for what’s coming. This makes me happy.

But, as your sentimental Mom, I hope you’ll let me take it all in for you. You are my first and my last and my love for you is bigger than you can ever imagine.

And tomorrow, at graduation, know that I will be crying and cheering and feeling so proud of all you’ve accomplished these last three years – and for how you’ve grown into this amazing little girl. And, when it’s all over, we’ll walk out hand and hand just as we’ve done so many times before – only this time will be our last. Forgive me if I don’t walk as fast as you’d like me to as I may need to turn around one last time and take it all in.

And then there was vacation…

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2012 by talesofanunfinishedmom

At some point in everyone’s life is uttered the all too common phrase, “I really need a vacation.” I need to say that phrase more. Do it more. I realize that I just push myself and push myself and push myself until I’m beyond burnt out – until I’m completely fried. This has never been truer than the past few years. Oh, I have plenty of good reasons for not taking vacation, but, really, those reasons are excuses. And, they’re legit, but, they don’t really matter.

A few months back I finally put my foot down and declared that we were going on vacation and going to Disneyland. This, of course, was met with an overwhelmingly positive response by the rest of the family. I’ve been wanting to take Ellie to Disneyland but wanted to wait until I thought she was old enough and wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of people, rides and I also wanted to avoid any potential freak outs from seeing live Disney characters. And, you know this can happen.

Since my husband is the master at vacation planning, I let him run with most of the vacation plans. Once we decided that we were going to drive down and do the coast thing on the way back, we needed to find a couple of good accommodations that would comfortably fit three of us. And, as usual, he totally scored the best accommodations — a darling cottage one block from the ocean in Hermosa Beach and a place called the Fog Catcher Inn in Cambria–also beachfront–which would be our stopover on the way home.

The ride down was pretty easy. The 5 may not be sexy but it is direct. We made really good time and were so happy to have our feet in the sand by dusk. This is one family that just absolutely loves the beach. Fortunately, I have some family that love the beach too and we spent a wonderful first day with my beloved Uncle and Aunt picnicking on the beach all day. Ellie just loves them and they love her too. There was football playing…

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And I managed to get this wonderful picture of Ellie with her Great Uncle and Aunt. God bless my nifty fifty. I took this with the Aperture setting and the lighting was perfect.

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As it worked out, Mother’s Day also fell during our vacation. To celebrate, we had brunch with my oldest and dearest friend, Gloria, her daughter, Fiona, who is exactly Ellie’s age and her Mom, whom I’ve known my entire life. It was pure bliss.

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After brunch it was off to Disneyland! It was a short drive from the beach and before we knew it we were checked in to our hotels and at the park. I have not been to Disneyland in many years and it was every bit as wonderful as I remember. The weather could also not have been more perfect. But, most of all, watching Ellie experience it for the first time made me so deeply happy. She and Fiona walked along together holding hands and chatting – and thanks to Fiona’s Mom, they had matching dresses too!

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Our two days at Disneyland were pretty much perfection. Being with old friends, watching my 5-year-old take on a kiddie and adult rollercoaster, meeting Minnie Mouse, seeing the Fireworks, going on It’s a Small World, meeting princesses…could life be any better?!

It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends and Disneyland but the teary goodbyes were worth all of the memories made in just two short days. And, it also gives us a great reason to return.