These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I want for you what all parents want for their children - to be happy. That is definitely true, but I also want you to be content, satisfied, loved and loving. It’s so important to me – the type of person you grow up to be.
Last night, you were brushing your teeth and you just started talking to me. I don’t remember how the conversation started but soon you were telling me about your classroom and how there is a time out chair and I asked you if you have ever had to sit in the time out chair. You were honest – you said that “yes” you had to sit in the time out chair before but you didn’t want to tell me why.
I told you that it was okay for you to tell me – that we could talk about it – but you weren’t convinced. You told me that you didn’t want to because it was too bad. You stalled by taking lots of drinks of water and finally, you relented and told me that you had been playing a game with a friend of yours when two other children came to join the game and that you had hit them.
I nodded as I listened and was careful not to launch into a lecture. I could tell by your reluctance to talk about it that you were only too aware of how inappropriate this behavior was.
I asked you instead – what did you learn from that experience. You seemed to think about it and then you said to not do that anymore.
You mentioned then about how there is a worse punishment but that you hadn’t had to do it – which is go to see the principal. I said that was good.
There was something very sweet about the timid confession of misbehavior last night. I felt like a confidant and I was so proud of you. I could see regardless of what had happened at that time, that you knew right from wrong in this situation and that next time, I suspected things would come out differently.
We snuggled last night until you fell asleep and the next day, I got the warmest hug from you when I dropped you off for school. A friend came over – you introduced her as Delaney. You asked her if she wanted to play Mr. Fox and I saw her face light up and she said YES! And then you both went to get your backpacks and lined up to walk down the hallway to the playground.
I stood in the hallway and watched as you proceeded down the hall. I found it hard to walk away and I feel drawn to you even now. A special little closeness that I feel because you trusted me to tell me something I wouldn’t have known – you took a chance - and I will not let you down. We will figure out these challenges together as long as you will let me.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This past week marked your rite of passage into Kindergarten. Your first week. It was much anticipated and you weren't nervous at all. I would say the opposite - you were VERY eager for this new phase of life. I could tell you were excited to take on a new challenge. Sunday before your first day of school, I made your lunch and put it all neatly into your lunchbox and packed your AM snack in your backpack. As I went through this routine for the first time - I couldn't believe how choked up I felt. I knew that in your backpack was cash to be loaded onto your lunch account and I know there are days you will eat the lunch I pack and other days when you will buy and that is just amazing to me. It's hard to imagine you getting a lunch tray and walking through a line with all these other kids collecting your own lunch and taking your tray to a table to eat. You are growing up way too fast. My head is spinning. You LOVED your first day of school. It was wonderful - you couldn't WAIT to go back. You made friends, you enjoyed the lunchtime experience and the two recesses. You LOVE your new teacher and everything was new and exciting - the activities, the children, the grown ups! It was a perfect beginning. The first week has passed with flying colors and here we are in week 2. The novelty of the experience is wearing off a little and there are days when you would rather stay home, but you still love Kindergarten and are very glad to be there. Yesterday was a rough day and when I picked you up, your face was red and swollen with tear streaks on your skin. I asked what happened and you talked about how the game that you played in gym was too hard for you and you got upset and then later you fell on the playground and scraped your leg and that it really was the baddest day ever. You were so sad! I hugged you and suggested that we have Spaghetti O's for dinner since you love them. Then we talked on the drive to get Audrey about how we have to have bad days sometimes in order for us to really appreciate the good days. Also, when you are down - there's nowhere to go but UP, so things would be getting better - not worse. The evening was calm and healed all wounds and this AM you were upset about going back, but Daddy had the Midas touch - keeping things light and easy - so that by the time you went to school, you were in a very good place. I anticipate when I pick you up, that it will have been a much better day than yesterday.I love that you are at this point - that you can tell me about how a word sounds and what two numbers equal when you add or subtract them from each other.
You have also reached the milestone of pet owner. You are the very proud owner of your very own hamster named Peanut. He is adorable but you are MORE adorable. You love him more than anything and you bring him everywhere with you. He has come with us to the playground, down the slide, on the swing, and he plays computer with you and plays with your toys with you. He ends up driving cars and scurrying through obstacles from one point to another while you laugh and tell him he is silly and you love him. I just want to grab you up and hug you as I watch you play with this tiny little creature - you are so gentle and kind.
You are growing up to be such a wonderful person, Jack. It's an honor to be your Mom.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
I am such a baby. I'm so proud of the little toddler you are growing into and yet I still want you to stay my sweet little baby.
You are one!
How did that happen?
Was the last year on warp-speed?
Sorry - what a predictable question - every Mom asks herself that question after the first year because you can still remember what it was like to carry you in my belly and those middle of the night feedings and all the ways that made me so necessary to you.
You are so capable already. The doctor said at your one year visit that you didn't need bottles anymore so you are on sippy cups only and doing just fine with it. You are trying and succeeding incredibly well with using utensils at the dinner table and eating like a big girl.
As if feeding yourself wasn't enough of a sign that you aren't my itty bitty baby anymore, you are also feeding your baby dolls with pretend plastic bottles and hugging them to your breast and patting their backs with such care and concern. In the very next breath, you will carelessly toss them over your shoulder as you head off to explore the next thing.
Like your brother Jack before you, you LOVE to climb. You will climb anything and you have absolutely no fear of it. Stairs, pushing boxes or containers over to the sofa and climbing up on them, climbing on the chairs/boxes and standing up and grinning the biggest cheese-eating grin anyone ever saw because you are just so proud of what you can do. It's a very "LOOK AT ME!" pride and I do have to stop and admire you - your determination and the way you beam in your successes. On the reverse side, when you try something and you just can't do it, it absolutely breaks your heart. You either throw yourself backwards in desperate frustration - with no regard to your own safety - or you curl forward in a sobbing ball on the floor, like the collapsing of a dying star.
You love to talk. You are so proud of your developing communication skills. And not surprisingly for a daughter of mine - one of your first words is "Dah-gee" which you generally say to the dogs with your little arms outstretched reaching to pull their hairy faces to your little face and generally with your mouth open to give them a kiss which they always willingly oblige much to your ecstatic joy and to my absolute horror. I dive towards you and the dogs to try to keep them from licking the inside of your mouth and you must think I am a very peculiar mom to be so worried about the transfer of LOVE! Because that's what you are doing - you are loving your "dah-gee"s.
You can also say "bahl" for ball and "aaack" for Jack. You are constantly trying new words and succeeding. Today I was telling you that "Dah-gees" say "RUFF RUFF" and you deliberately tried it out: raaaaaaaaah raaaaaaaaaah to which I squealed and clapped YEEAH, AUDREY! THAT'S RIGHT! DOGGY'S SAY RUFF RUFF!
I'm just enjoying the heck out of you, Little Girl! Mommy loves you!
Monday, May 03, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
No more conduct reports - it seemed to be a two day thing for that - but the "testing of limits" game continues with me. Lately you seem to be a reluctant sweetie pie. As though, if we were acquaintences, you might say - "I think we need a break", but since you can't, you will say "Mommy, you're stupid. (pause for affect, then...) IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII'mmmmmmm Sssssssssssssssooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeeeeee" in a sing-songy voice that tells me you are anything BUT sorry.I've tried time outs, ignoring you, talking to you, getting angry and asking you how you would like it if I did that to you, and taking away toys.
Nothing seems to be working. Instead, it seems like you are curious about what I'll do next. Maybe what I need to do is land on one punishment and repeat it until you are thoroughly bored with the constant sameness of the punishment and simply stop the behavior for fear of the boredom that follows.
Hmmmm - I think that idea might work... :)
Guess what we're going to try?
As for Audrey - she is getting her teeth in and is about as sensitive as she can be.
I can't leave the room and if someone talks to her and she is in anyway overwhelmed by their inflection, Audrey will break into heart wrenching sobs.
I've been seeing a lot of this face lately.
I can't wait till those teeth come in and those moments become moments like this:
Thursday, April 08, 2010
The past two days have been very hard on you.
Both yesterday and today you received conduct reports for bad behavior at school and I can't figure out what is going on. You seem to be angry and bothered - you walk around with a complex and clouded expression on your face and, if this were a cartoon, I would imagine a little black rain cloud following you around and pouring down on you as you went through your day.
I wish I knew what was wrong and how to make it better.
I suspect it has something to do with Daddy being gone and wishing you were with us during the day and not wanting to go to school, etc, but we deal with that at the beginning of each week for the most part, so I can't really figure why it's been so hard for you the past couple of days. I think last week when he was home all week was so nice for you that it made this week especially difficult.
Still, as much as I sympathize with you feeling sad about this, your actions have me racking my brain about that I need to do next. You've been speaking disrespectfully to me and your teachers, you have been acting out with friends - hitting and kicking and even one biting incident - I know that we need to get this under control now.
You have been having a difficult time, too. I don't know why - a growth spurt? Teething? I'm unsure, but you have been clingier and therefore I have less time to give to Jack one-on-one. This difficult time seems to be harder for you in the evenings and when you wake up. Lately you become unconsolable at these times. I don't know if it's brought on by pain from teething, frustration with not being able to communicate, hurt feelings and sadness from being separated when I put you down at night or have to do chores around the house that I need two hands for. Bottom line is that you are precious to me and I feel just awful when you cry. I know it's okay for babies to cry, but I wish you never had to.
I think the hardest thing about being a mother of more than one is that you want to give 100% to both kids. I know that's my biggest challenge - and I try like crazy to accomplish this. To find a way to do two things at once, if that's the case or find a way to involve one child in another child's interest so you can really spend time with both of them.
I'm extremely fortunate that the two of you are so enraptured with each other even now. If Jack runs towards Audrey, Audrey will shriek with excitement so much so that she jumps into my arms and grins so widely at Jack, that it looks like her face can't possibly hold all that happiness. It's really fantastic to see!
So, while I know there are ups and downs and things can't always be sunshine and sugar, I am always on a search for that return to harmony.
Monday, April 05, 2010
I wanted to get a new family picture - I called it a birthday present so that everyone would feel compelled to go along with me. :) Worked like a charm. So, we got our pictures taken - it was fun, minimally stressful and I think it turned out wonderfully - the actual picture taking that is....
Okay, so these are the BEFORE pictures. I don't actually have any AFTER pictures because the fallout which happened approximately 20 minutes after these pictures were taken was so drastic that if I had so much as suggested that we take a picture, I think Daddy would have removed my head with a plastic spoon. :)
Let me start over - so the pictures are taken - all is well. The picture people told us to come back in 15 minutes to view the pictures so we headed to the mall playground. We watched the kids play for 15 minutes and they were having a blast even though there were a couple of moments when my heart stopped because big kids were dashing about with no regard for Audrey, but all was fine.So, I went to view the pictures while Daddy watched you guys on the playground.
I was there making the picture choices for about 5 minutes when Daddy comes around the corner with blood all down the sleeve of his shirt saying "We have to go. NOW."
I'm alarmed and notice that you, Jack, are standing next to Daddy crying with blood caked on your nose and face, and your shirt, pants and shoes covered in splattered blood - making for a very dramatic picture.
I start trying to get checked out as quickly as possible, and trying to calm you down with hugs and dabbing at your face with a wet towel, but there are simply too many people and too much chaos. Daddy is holding napkins sturated in blood and cups with cold water and ice that helpful people brought to him in an effort to try to assist in this situation and which he is now stressfully holding while Audrey tries determinedly to get her hands on and pull from his grasp.
Apparently you were playing on the playground when a little girl who was running ran smack into your nose. You tend towards nose bleeds anyways but when you really get smacked, your nose bleeds like a faucet. You were covered in blood, as was Daddy and Audrey was all wide eyed with everything that was happening. I had a little from the assuring hugs and attempts to calm you.
Jack - you got really pale because you had swallowed blood from holding your head up to stop the bleeding which actually caused the blood to go down the back of your throat and you became nauseous - so we were carrying a box for you to puke into as we all limped back to the van in our bloodstained clothes and our faces stressed and worried from the whole situation. If you could have seen a picture of all of us in our white clothes, stained with blood afterwards, you would have thought we had just gone through a war zone. Amazing how much things can change in just 20 minutes.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Today you turned 5 years old.
Sure - this may not seem as astounding to anyone besides maybe myself, your Dad and immediate family members. I mean... I guess it was bound to happen at some point, right?
Still. You are FIVE!
This morning you emphatically told me that now you could see your whole neck! I won't tell you how long I pondered that statement before I put together that you meant when you looked in the mirror. Lately, my mind isn't what it used to be.
I look upon five as a big milestone - you become school age, you aren't technically a baby anymore - you are now in the little kid zone. You have friends that you hang out with and joke with now and you'll come home and tell me what Max said today and laugh while I nod blankly desperately trying to put the puzzle together in my head to figure out what the joke was. The punchlines always seem to have something to do with the word STINK or POO and they just send you into convulsions of laughter.AHHH, YESSS - I remember that. Five year old humor! So, we had a big birthday bash this year where you could invite all your friends and play in a fun environment. We opted for Monkey Joe's and I'm really very proud of how well the party went. It was a VeggieTales party because that is your absolute favorite thing now. I planned this for weeks - I ordered special favors online because there aren't any local stores that carry VeggieTales items. I found costumes and videos at stores, but that was it.The cake was VeggieTales which I was able to find at a local bakery - put together goody bags and the whole shabbang.I'm sooooooooooooo glad we did it, too, because you had such a blast with your friends! I'll admit - it had the element of Lord Of the Flies to it, but in a good way! :) You were all so cute running around and jumping and you were almost purple in the face from all the activity before you slowed down to eat. Actually, you slowed down because someone - some girl I don't know - pushed you down and that was it. You were crushed. It was a typical "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" moment that we've all had at some point. It was all so exciting and you were basically elevated to cloud level for hours on end. A crash was inevitable, but it wasn't too bad. You simply chilled in the party room while your guests continued to bounce and you were completely recovered by the time everyone joined us in the room to eat and open gifts.Recently, I've been reminiscing with you about how I wished for you before you were born. How I couldn't stop hoping that I would have a baby and that you were the perfect little baby that I dreamed of that came along and made me a Mommy.I let you know that I asked for YOU specifically and I got what I wished for, but it's not really the truth because, Jack - I could never have imagined that anything would be as strong as this - this fierce need to protect, this testing of my strengths and pushing me to be a better person - this all encompassing love. It's better than anything I could ever have hoped for because it's better than I could ever have imagined.You make the day brighter and you show me the way by showing me how to become the person that I want to be each day.
Happy Birthday, Jack!
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
You are growing and changing so much that it’s impossible to keep up.
Seems like just yesterday you were this chubby little smiling cherub that happily watched me and came along for the ride while I did what I needed to do and enjoyed playing with you balanced on my lap or tummy.
Now you are on the move – crawling, pulling up and getting into everything. I swear that whenever I’m in the middle of something that you shouldn’t get into or if I’m changing your diaper, you grow eight arms. It’s impossible to keep you under control. You can be pulling a wipe into your mouth, while your legs are twisting the opposite direction threatening to get poop on my pants, the couch or carpet, your other hand grabbing my hair that is hanging down and you are trapping my head to your chest while you start pushing off with your other back leg trying to scoot up and out from under me and screaming all the while. WOW!
You LOVE to eat paper. I barely have a chance to see Jack’s artwork that he’s showing me when I realize you already had the corner in your mouth, chewed it off and are consuming it while you brother looks on in unspeakable horror. The fiber in your diet must be astronomical. You may be part goat.
You have such an incredible love of life. Many times a day your enthusiasm and excitement for your brother, his antics and life happening around you is so large that it spills over in loud screams and squeals. Sometimes with your arms extended as though the sound itself was not enough – your whole body explodes with your enthusiasm!
Absolutely nothing escapes your attention – you notice everything. At school, you watch your friends and wind up exploring new areas, like the kitchen, etc – and you pull them down to your level so you can interact with them – squealing and screaming as you do so. They shake on the baby gate, so you crawl over and shake it too, just as hard as any of the big ones - enjoying every moment of being a part of something. Sometimes you get overwhelmed by them because you are so little and most of them are toddlers – bigger than you and you will scream to be rescued from the pack of toddlers when they swarm too thick about you.
You love to eat big person food. You will try anything and you are very observant. You look at the food really carefully as you try it and, if you don’t like it, you don’t pick it up again. Also, if you DO like the food, not only do you easily find more of it, but you hummmmm in appreciation of the food. Hmmmmmmm as you eat it. As though this yummy discovery just makes your motor purr.
Feeding your bottle to you has become a bit of a challenge. You are always wanting to turn your head to see what is going on so you can watch it. I certainly wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything! Also, the end to breastfeeding is just around the corner. You have started to bite me, so we are in the weaning process now. You certainly know sometimes what you are doing because you will pause and look at my face before you bite and then when I wince and tell you not to do that, you smile at me - seeming to understand you made that cause/effect happen and you are so happy to make the connection. Yes, definitely weaning... :)
You are always on the move now. You certainly wish your body allowed you to move faster than you already do. Sometimes I play a game with you and Jack where Jack takes off running and your legs start pumping in mid air as I hold you and you start breathing as though you are charging after him. I take the cue and charge after him holding you out in front of me while you just SCREEEEEEAM in excitement that you are chasing down your big brother. When we finally catch him, I will place you sitting on top of him and you usually pin him down with your little arms while you scream and put your mouth on his head in excitement of playing with your big brother whom you idolize more than anything else in this world. It’s so much fun to play and be a witness to this love and devotion.
Jack keeps saying that you are the cutest baby and he loves how chubby you are. I’d have to agree – you are the perfect amount of cute round smiling chubbiness.
You even have gotten to the point where you can play simple games with me – peekaboo with your blanket and we can roll a ball back and forth which is very exciting to you and you will SMILE BIG as I toss the ball to you or after you succeed in pushing it back to me.
We always read The BellyButton book at night and when I sing the Belly Button song on the second to last page, you always turn full around and face me with a smile growing on your face as you listen to my voice singing to you. Every time it happens that way – like you are so surprised to hear me singing – as though you never expected to hear my voice do that and you like it and smile at me afterwards for awhile before you turn back to the end of the story.
I wish I had it together enough to take pictures of all these things – to video tape all these things because I never ever ever want to forget them. They are memories that make my heart feel like it’s going to explode. My mother used to say she wanted to stop my baby sister from growing up. I do wish there was a way to hold onto these moments and relive them throughout life because these moments are so pure and joyful. And that's what you are. A Pure Joy.