Anna


30
Sep 14

Love

I am my own worst critic. I have a hard time loving myself unconditionally. I am constantly judging, worrying, questioning whether I am ok, doing the right things, being the right person.

Do we all struggle with this, or is it just me?

Today I was sitting outside after lunch, watching Lily play with some little toys, and I felt an overwhelming sense of contentment. A feeling so strong of being happy and like the world was just right. All from watching my little flaxen-haired girl flit around like a like a fairy. I thought about the moment she was born, the moment that Anna was born. The strongest feelings of “everything is right” that I have ever experienced. My heart filled my chest, my whole body. It got so big and so full of love that tears escaped. I thought about this and then I thought about loving myself in that way. I thought about my girls, and I hoped with all my heart that they could feel this love, from me, but also from themselves. I want that, for them. I want them to know just how amazing they are. Will they know this?

Loving ourselves is a gift to ourselves but it is also a gift to the ones that love us. Treating our own selves with respect and love sends the message to those that love us–our spouses, friends, and our parents–that we accept their gift of loving us and that we value ourselves the way that they value us.

What do I want my two girls to know? I want them to know love–from their father and I–and I want them to love themselves. I want them to have the self-respect to seek out relationships that give them the love that they deserve.

There have been so many of these life lessons that I haven’t fully grasped until I became a parent. And, as I move through each stage, there is more and more and more to learn. It’s that proverbial onion peel, being shelled open to find layer after layer after layer. It’s that lengthy mystery book, turning page after page as more and more is revealed. “Oh!” we say, “Now I get it!” But there is always more. Revelation upon revelation.

What will I feel as my girls get older? Their pain will be my pain, that much I know. My own mother told me this herself, in just about these words. But I didn’t get it then.

What will I feel if/when my girls get rejected….are disappointed….struggle with negative thoughts about their bodies….get their hearts broken….struggle with mental illness…have to have surgery…become depressed or lonely or fail to see the beauty inside of them…???

Their pain will be my pain.

The best I can do is show them the love and trust for time to reveal for them as it has for me: that they are worthy, that they are unique, that they are beautiful, that they are loved and that they can love. And to trust that when (because it surely will happen) they forget these things, when they are desperate and hungry for something beyond themselves, that they can come back to this, their soul center: just be. Be yourself.


28
Aug 14

Anna, 2nd grader

I have a secret. Please don’t think poorly of me. This is the first year that, as Anna heads off to a new school year, I have not heaved a gigantic sigh of relief. Don’t get me wrong: I love and adore that kid but every other summer has been summer enough. This summer, the summer of absolutely no summer camp and absolutely no big huge long vacation, was over entirely too soon. It was a long, slow summer of lazy days doing nothing more than playing in pajamas and swimming in our pool. Afternoons at the beach and homemade play dough and staying up too late to read “just one more” story. Sleeping in and slacking on housework. It was good. And I kind of didn’t want it to end.

Kindergarten and first grade? I had a newborn baby/little toddler to contend with. It was hard work. Summer just upped the ante because then it felt like I had to take care of TWO little ones’ needs and it just all felt like too much, much of the time. It’s not always easy breezy days around here now, but we did start to fall into more of a rhythm. Life is a tad more predictable. I’m not up all night and stumbling around like a zombie during the day. Lily is old enough now that she and Anna played–like really, really played!–all summer long: dolls and dress up and restaurant and princesses and school and train. They made forts and Anna did Lily’s hair. Sure, they fought. More times than I’d like I had to jump into a biting/hitting/scratching scenario or straighten out whose turn it was for whatever was the favorite and most desirable toy of the day.

But yesterday I came home, relieved that we got to school on time, that the PTA welcome coffee had gone off without a hitch, and realized that I wholeheartedly missed my Anna girl. For the first time, I saw the appeal of having kids home all the time (not planning on starting to homeschool or anything, but I have to say that I just get it for the first time). All day long, Lily asked, “Where Anna?” and “go get Anna now?” So sweet and sad. Our days are both easier and harder, but they are decidedly missing one kid.

This is going to be a great year–Anna came home all smiles yesterday, thrilled with her first day of second grade. She likes her peers, she likes her teacher, she loves her school. All good things.

But I miss her.


20
Jul 13

Singing

Today Anna took the stage for a recital with the Young Singer’s CLub, as the wrap up for a week-long singing/performing camp that she had attended. She sang in two group songs and performed one solo.

She didn’t remember every single word. She didn’t hit every single note. She didn’t do the choreography perfectly. But she stood up there, proud and serious (smiling only a little), and she tried her best, and she says that she had fun doing it (despite the serious face). And while she sang, I could hardly quell my own lips from singing along with her (hey–it’s Disney songs, how can I *not* want to sing?) because my heart was absolutely singing to see my girl up there, doing her best and having fun.

It’s that thing about having kids, that thing where you know, intellectually, at least, that they are their own person, full of their own thoughts and feelings and abilities and all of that and yet…seeing her up on the stage, she was me and I was her and I could see the entirety of her life, the past from babyhood on up to what is yet to come. My beautiful, amazing girl.

My heart sings.


3
Jul 13

Swim meets, Summer 2013

Here are a few pictures from Anna’s first summer swim meet.

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She was nervous the night before. Nervous enough that she dramatically declared, “I WON’T swim tomorrow” but quickly rescinded her statement when she remembered the ribbons….the awesome, super-cool ribbons. She was stoked to have a brand-new Speedo bathing suit in blue (her current favorite color), with new matching goggles and a matching blue towel. She loved seeing friends. She loved being in the water. She shyly smiled after each heat, warming with our high fives and congratulations as she rocked each and every heat she swam in. This girl is a fish and she loves it. We just love watching her enjoy what she does so very well.


5
Jun 13

Bye, Bye, Kinder

I went to Anna’s final sing-along for kindergarten today and had some silent tears slip out when the kids sang this song (“Kindergarten Wall”):

When I was a little kid not so long ago
I had to learn a lot of stuff I didn’t even know
How to dress myself, tie my shoes, how to jump a rope
How to smile for a picture without looking like a dope
But of all the things I learned my favorite of them all
Was a little poem hanging on the kindergarten wall

CHORUS:

Of all you learn here remember this the best:
Don’t hurt each other and clean up your mess
Take a nap everyday, wash before you eat
Hold hands, stick together, look before you cross the street
And remember the seed in the little paper cup:
First the root goes down and then the plant grows up!

**********
I’ve been thinking more about what I want Anna to remember and learn the most during these years, and that chorus says so many important things in such a simple way. Watching her earnest face singing those words with great enthusiasm put such an ache in my heart to capture that moment. And even though I am, in some ways, a real social networking junkie (Facebook addiction, anyone????), I didn’t even think of jumping to get this performance recorded because the real heart of it was sitting there and living that moment, just watching her and letting her know that I am her biggest fan. It’s one of those moments that burns into your heart. I had no clue before I became a mother that love could be like this.


3
Jun 13

When all else fails, pack up everyone and go to the playground

It was one of those scream-y pick-me-up,NO!-put-me-down days (the baby, I mean. I hope that that is obvious?). My arms are tired. This has to count for some kind of exercise, right? Weight lifting? 20 pounds, all day long. Up, down, up, down, up, down. I’m totally counting it.

My floors are disastrous. I would be mortified if anyone walked into my kitchen right now. Muddy paw prints. And am I cleaning it up right now, now that both kids are in bed? No. No, I am not. I am eating a(nother) cookie and blogging and facebooking. And patting myself on the back for all that weight lifting today.

By mid-afternoon I was in that desperate state of having to leave this house RIGHT NOW OR ELSE so after a suggestion from my sis to just do it, even if it seems like more trouble to have to pack everyone up, we went to the playground and, wouldn’t you know it? She was right. It was just what we needed. We went down the slides, we went on the swings, we met new friends. And we came back 45 minutes later feeling that much better for having just packed it up and gone.

School is out for summer in three more (THREE!) days and this fact has given me the opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come along this academic year. I feel guilty that I did not volunteer in Anna’s classroom this year. Really, really guilty. Like, sad faced child guilty (“Why don’t you come help in the classroom like S____’s mommy, Mama?” See? Sad face). This was just not my year. New babies are hard. I was in survival mode. Yes, this is called rationalization but I need to think that this is true. At this point in the school year (9-ish months later) I am much more able to feel sane but in August? September? etcetera? No, not so much. It was so crazy when Adam started traveling again and the machinations that went on in the mornings still kind of make my head spin (nursing a baby while preparing breakfast, or bouncing a baby on the yoga ball to try and get her calmed/asleep while brushing Anna’s hair are two examples that spring to mind). So, really, I think that I need to let go of this guilt. I did my best, I parented the best way that I knew how. I made after school snacks, I hosted playdates, I helped with homework, I cared for a newborn/baby and I did my best to do all of this without losing my sanity (some days, no easy task). Things are so much easier (not easy! easier!) these days. Lily can play by herself (sometimes). She can wait five minutes to eat (sometimes). She takes regular naps (usually. knock on wood).

Anna has done stellar this school year. I am bursting with pride. She is such a great kid: smart and funny and friendly and focused and silly and just wonderful. I cannot believe that she will be a first grader. Time flies.

We have some fun stuff planned for this summer (three different week-long camps, visits from family and friends) but we also have a lot of downtime, time to not have to rush off to here and there, and I am looking forward to it. Remind of this on the days when Anna is telling me she is bored, won’t you? Actually, no, I’m hoping that there won’t be any of that. Lots of swimming, lots of beach days, lots of popsicles and sidewalk chalk and bubbles and bike rides and all that good stuff. Summer. It’s going to be great.


15
May 13

Homework

Anna’s teacher started sending homework home just after spring break. She has two assignments every night: a journal (teacher gives a prompt and students write one sentence and draw a picture if they want to–of course Anna always wants to, my little artist) and reading out loud.

I’ll be honest: I am hating doing homework with Anna. I hate to say that, but it is true. I feel all rage-y when we sit down to work on it together. I am trying to remain neutral/positive because the last thing I want to do is for her to start hating it, too. Right now, sometimes she doesn’t want to do it, sometimes she doesn’t want to do it Right Now (LATER!!!) but usually she is ok about doing it. The problem is that I feel like I am constantly CONSTANTLY having to pull it out of her and then we end up disagreeing about something. I know we are both stubborn but, really, I’m pretty sure I know the difference between a “b” and a “d” and she fights me constantly about stuff like this, or tells me that I’m wrong because her teacher told her it was HER way (umm, no, these things are universal). Part of it is my (and her) perfectionistic tendencies and OHGOD the frustration of seeing her write it sloppy when I know she can write it neatly! Do I just let this part go (instructions from teacher say to encourage proper letter formation and encourage staying within the lines and encourage correct spelling etcetera)? I want to be there to guide and help her because I believe that school education needs to be supported at home. I believe it is parental slacking to trust that the school/teachers can be the one and only, that parents need to roll the sleeves up and do some of the “dirty work,” too, but GAH!

And the reading out loud. LORDAMERCY. I have to sit on my hands and bite my tongue. This sounds terrible. She is just learning to read and at first every single word she read was like unicorns and rainbows and butterflies erupting from her tiny little mouth, I was just so proud. But now I sit there thinking “just get ON with it!” as she re-sounds out the same word that she has just sounded out on the same page, literally the sentence before, over and over again. I don’t want to jump in and rescue her and do it for her–I think she needs to learn how to do it herself, but it is SO hard for me. I realize that this is all about me. I realize that I am the least patient person in the universe. I feel horrible about this. It also makes me realize how very very very very very patient my own mother was (and is). Mom! I never EVER felt rushed or like you were annoyed when helping with school work. Well, except for maybe that one time when I had to memorize the state capitols. I do remember the horror of those study sessions (so sorry). Maybe it is because reading came more naturally to me? Math was hard for me.

I could never be a teacher. I am not patient enough.

For the record, I don’t think that Anna is particularly struggling with reading or that she is behind or any of that. I just think that she is a normal kid who needs a normal amount of support while she learns. I am thrilled that she is learning to read and write. I DO want to help her. I am just struggling with my own feelings about this. I’m nervous about the years to come. I can foresee the homework future and it is daunting. More work. Much, much more work. More frustration, more difficulty, more opportunity for Anna to tell me that I’m wrong and she is right. It’s a continual lesson in humility and patience. I’m working on it. I love my kid, my stubborn and perfectionistic little one. She’s just like me.


14
Mar 13

allergies

I wrote a whole long thing about this but when I re-read it, it made even me bored. And it’s about me and my kids and my life and I wrote it. So I erased it. I’ll sum up.

Anna is allergic (anaphylaxis) to walnuts and pecans. So….she can’t eat those. Eating those is very bad.

Lily started getting a skin rash that, as it turns out, is eczema. We had her tested and she is allergic to peanuts and eggs. So….she can’t eat those. Doc says it isn’t necessarily an anaphylactic allergy but, hey, who wants to test that out on a baby? We are told to avoid these for her and for me (since I’m breastfeeding). We will have her retested in a year and see if anything has changed. It only took a couple of days of her and I avoiding the allergens for her face to completely clear up. Crazy.

It’s kind of a bummer but that’s life. We’re pretty well used to Anna’s allergy, living with the epipen and the benadryl and the asking questions at restaurants and people’s houses and the avoiding of baked goods that we can’t verify.

We’re really interested in this article that Adam found. What would it be like to be able to effectively “cure” our kids’ allergies? Why are there so many more kids diagnosed with them? Is it because I ate too much or not enough of something when pregnant or breastfeeding? Is it because we introduced food too early or too late? It’s such a mystery.

I’m hoping that Lily’s allergies go away. From what I’ve read, we have a good chance that she will outgrow the egg allergy, at least, by the time she is 2 or 3 years old. Peanuts? Well, that’s more of a crapshoot. I can hope that she does, but there is no way of knowing whether it will get better or worse in the next few years. Until then….no PB for my baby girl. And no walnuts or pecans for my big girl. It is what it is.


28
Feb 13

The book of Us

I find these papers all over the house, drawings of herself and her family. She draws what she knows, and I love it.
“Here is Lilith. Here is Anna. Here is Mom. Here is Dad. Here is Porky.”

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5
Dec 12

Give it some time

Once upon a time, two people met, fell in love, got married, had a baby. These two people loved to go on long, long hikes, in dirt and mud and up hills and down. They could happily hike for hours. They still did this when their baby was young (with baby in a backpack) but then…..the baby became not-such-a-baby anymore and, suddenly, was too big to be carried. And that baby-turned-big-kid did NOT like to hike. That baby-turned-big-kid HATED hiking. Would scream and wail and complain and cry big, melodramatic tears. The two people were sad because they still liked to hike. And it was really a bummer when they visited family who lived in the beautiful, gorgeous woods, right by miles and miles of gorgeous hiking trails.

Well, I’m happy to tell you that this Thanksgiving, our Big Kid decided that hiking was ok. As long as it wasn’t too long. And as long as it was called a Walk, not a Hike.

Checking out the map (“Where are we?”)

Mama and Lily came along, too

Pausing for a picture (look! She’s actually smiling! On a hike–ahem–I mean, WALK!)

Silly grins with Daddy

Pausing to survey the land

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Running in circles the rest of the way

Isn’t this life? Just when you are about to give up on something, there is a shift. Something changes. What once was truth is no longer. And maybe this won’t stick–maybe she’ll go back to her hike-hating days or maybe New Baby will hate hikes when she turns a certain age, but, for now, I’m enjoying the hell out of it.