B.U.

My mom gave me a gift.  A gift in the literal sense, not in the form of a physical trait like long legs, stunning sparkling eyes, stick straight luxurious hair or a character trait like the “gift to gab”, a gift for languages or gifted in the arts.

No, a real gift.  One I can hold. For mother’s day.

She told me before she bought it that it was small.  As a matter of fact she called it “Insignificant”.  With that prep, I expected a new ladle. Maybe some dish towels that are better at soaking up water than the ones I already have.

I was wrong.  Even more, SHE was wrong.

She gave me these earrings. Earrings that from a distance DO look small.  Probably insignificant even. But up close, they are more significant, more perfect than any gift I recall receiving.

Small silver discs with a tiny b and a tiny u stamped to the front.

b.u.

Be You.

How beautiful is the simplicity of those two letters?  I so often write about the difficulties I have Being Present. Living in the Moment. Capturing the minutes, days, hours so I don’t regret when they are gone.  But more than struggling with the speed of life and my fear of regret, I struggle with ME.

Who am I and am I happy with Who I Am.  Like many moms, I spend too many hours a day wondering how I’m faring at this mom job I have.  Do I give too many hugs?  Or too few.  Do I yell too much?  Or too little.  Do I praise my kids enough?  Or too much. Am I a good enough friend to them?  Or too much of a friend? The questions, the angst, the worry.  I never quite realized it would be so hard.  Or hurt so much.

But I signed up for it.  I’m in it and I’m not backing out.  The best I can do is ALL I can do and I remind myself of this daily.

But it’s when I drop my kids off, one at the bus stop and one in his cheery preschool classroom, that I really start to think.  Am I who I want to be? Am I who I have set out to be?  Am I proud of ME?  You’ve possibly seen some of my posts on friends.  Why are they so hard to make? Why don’t I have more?  Do I even want more?  I’m at a point where I too often feel lonely.  I don’t have the go to friends that I thought I’d have. And I do try. I smile a lot. I laugh a lot.  I try to ask people questions that show I’m interested and sincere.  I listen. I offer my thoughts but not too often.  And not like I know so much.

But no one really seems that interested. In me.

So I wonder.  Why?  I wonder if I talk too much, ask too much.  I wonder if I’m too wishy washy.  I don’t ever give a strong opinion for fear of turning someone off.  Do I have a look?  Maybe the wrong look?  Do I seem insecure?  Or too confident?

I’m at a loss.  Can you tell?

But then I got these earrings.  B.U.

And I realize I need to listen to those words I say to my daughter almost daily.  When she comes home sad because someone wasn’t “nice”.  Wasn’t her “best friend” that day. Made her cry because they wouldn’t let her see their drawing.  Rolled their eyes at her.  Said, “duh”. I say, just keep “Being You” Hannah.  Because you’re sweet.  And smart. And funny. And friendly. And if someone doesn’t see that then why would you want them as your friend anyway?

Right?

“don’t let them tell you what to wear, don’t let them tell you how to feel, don’t let them tell you how to be.  b.u. be you. (everything else is just imitation).”

Thank you mom.

For reminding me. To be me. I may not love everything about me. But it’s who I am.  And you should pat yourself on your back.  Because you made me this me.

And I love you for it.

 

 

 

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Without Words

Shhhh…Quiet.

Do you hear it?  The quiet?  I’m sitting here in my dimly lit office.  Alone.  The kids are asleep.  Tucked in and peaceful.  Hannah’s Ellie under her arm.  Luke’s blanket corner in his mouth.  Rooms are dark.  The hallway is dark.  It’s silent.

I never would have thought ten years ago I’d enjoy the Nothing so much.  No music.  No TV.  No footsteps under, above or around me. No questions.  No comments.  No chit chat.  Nothing.  Only the tapping of the keys and the buzz of the printer break the silence. It’s so calming.  So refreshing.  So rejuvenating.  So delicious.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not being alone I crave.  My husband is actually sitting beside me.  He pulled a chair in to this small space to sit with me.  To be with me after being apart all day.  But he knows.  I need the quiet time.  After the evening chaos of dinner time and bedtime.  The routine of shouting to do homework, finish dinner, put toys away, get into bed, turn off lights and Go. To. Sleep. I need this.  This time without any words.  Only “being”.   Time for me.

It’s so rare that I feel I can just BE.  It’s one of the biggest changes I’ve found since becoming a mother.   I recall laying in Central Park in the early 2000’s on many lazy Saturdays.  Newly married.  Happy at work.  Satisfied with how life was going and where it was going. I’d lie with my rollerblades on my feet after a long blade around the park.  My legs were itchy from the grass below me but I soaked in the sun, felt the breeze and listened to the buzz of New York City above me.  Surrounding me.  Energizing me.  Yes,  I had worries.  Life wasn’t simple but it was mine.  I could just be.

Now there are words coming at me from all directions.  From my kids learning how to really USE their words.  Sometimes use them as weapons against me.  Sometimes to test me, push me, question me.  And love me.  Words swim in my head.  Constantly.  At all moments I hear my own words, my husband’s words, my parent’s words, friends’ words.  Pulling at me.  Pushing me.  Challenging me.

I like the quiet.  I like Tim’s hand brushing through my hair.  I like the air kiss he just gave me.  But I love the quiet.

Without words.

This post was a part of Momalom’s 5for5 blog extravaganza.  Today’s prompt was “Words”.  I love Momalom. Go visit.  I promise you’ll love them too.

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Small Change


It’s everywhere.  Scattered about.  Left as if meaningless.  Like garbage.  Sometimes I try to pick it all up and other times, I see it and step over it thinking, “Eh, what’s the use”.  Loose change.  Alone it really does mean nothing.  A penny used to be so much more.  A gum ball.  A sticker.  Good luck.  But now, alone, it’s worthless.  More a nuisance than of value.  But really, when I stop and pick all the change up, the pennies along with all their silver colored counterparts, one at a time.  They add up.  To something.

It’s like so many other little things in my life.  Almost meaningless alone.  But when stacked up, one on top of the other, these things become overwhelming.  Enormous monsters or massive joys.  One small arm to the next monkey bar can go unnoticed.  But two, three, nine monkey bars?  The achievement of a lifetime.  A shirt lying on the floor can be kicked to the side.  Seven loads of laundry, clean but unfolded, becomes a hindrance to life.  A moment of sadness from my seven year old daughter is a drop in the hat.  But a full-out tantrum from a girl too old to be flailing on the floor, makes me ponder my abilities as a mother.

I tell myself frequently to live in the moment.  Notice the little things because the joys are there.  In those small moments.  I peaked from behind my camera yesterday at Luke’s fourth birthday party to see his face clearly.  To see that smile I so often see but don’t always notice.  As everyone was singing happy birthday to HIM he relished the moment that was truly all his.  It was not about Hannah. It was about no one else.  Just him.  That moment on top of his smile as each friend walked in with a gift for HIM and the moments when his favorite friends each gave HIM a hug and the moment when he achieved “sit/stand” on the trampoline all piled together to form a most wonderful day. For him.  For me.  Because I noticed each little moment.  And didn’t look away.

At the same time, I often try to ignore little things.  Because so often they come in the form of an unnecessary comment that I put it off to my being too sensitive.  I ignore.  I let things go.  Let feelings pass.  But these days, I’m feeling the weight of all the “coins” piled on top of my shoulders.  The change is jingling in my ears.  It’s dirty.  It’s annoying.  It’s sometimes too much.  I have no use for it.  It just weighs me down.  But I’m not quite sure what to do with it.  I wish I could just brush it off.  But then, it would be under me.  Dangerous to walk around.  Left for someone else to do deal with.  It’s made me realize I need to deal with each little thing.  Say something.  One comment is easier to handle than a pile of them.

This metaphor is wearing thin.  I know.  But it’s a good way to illustrate what I work so hard to do.  Notice the little things.  React to small moments.  Appreciate what others might not.  Deal with what might often seem to small to call attention to.

Because in the end,  small pieces of change, can be worth more than all the millions in the world.

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All I Know

All I really know how to do is love them.

No, let me change that.  All I really know how to do WELL is love them.

Shower them.  Engulf them. Swarm them.  With love.

I know I give in. Give up.

I wrap my arms around them when I “should” turn my back.

And let them cry.

I kiss their tears away.

When maybe those tears were just for show.

I help a girl too old to put her socks on her feet

Even help her get the fork to her mouth

When I see exhaustion overtaking her.

I let a proud boy walk out with his pants on backwards

With a shirt far too small

Because it’s his Favwit

And he put them on himself.

I’m told to be strong.

Show them who is boss.

Don’t get walked on.

I try.

Really.

And I am.

Sometimes.

But it’s not what I do well.

I’m told my “way” is the easy way.

Showing this much love

Having this much patience

is the EASY way.

Maybe.

If spending 30 minutes adjusting the sock line

On her feet so she doesn’t feel the threads on her toes

Is easy…

If rubbing her back each night

Consoling her that her fear of throwing up

Is not reality

Is easy…

If holding her hand

Until she falls asleep

To show she doesn’t need to suck her thumb

Is easy…

If allowing them both to rest their fever hot heads

On my shoulders

For days on end

Because they don’t want to be alone

Is easy…

If not getting sleep for three months straight

Because he’s afraid of monsters

And shadows

And spiders

Is easy…

If making three meals

For four people

Because I prefer they eat

Instead of going to sleep hungry

Is easy…

If cleaning up their mess

So that they can play those extra ten minutes

With each other

Enjoying each other

Is easy…

If making up a song

Each night

About fire trucks

And race cars

To sing at bedtime

Is easy…

Then yes.

My way.  Is the easy way.

But it’s all I know I can do. Well.

Love them.  Give myself to them.

And I can’t apologize for that.

Because in the end

When the end of this mothering thing stares me in the face

I’ll know. I did what I knew how to do.

Right or Wrong.

Easy.

Or Not.

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Is there a Perfect Shoe?

You know that feeling when you haven’t spoken to a friend in so long, you just can’t find the right time to pick up the phone to make “that” phone call?  You can’t call when you only have 5 minutes because it will take five minutes to rattle off the reasons you haven’t called.  And you don’t even know what the reasons are.  And so much has happened that you don’t know if you should rewind and tell them everything that’s happened or just the most recent events.  And you just feel bad.  Guilty. Out of touch.

It’s how I feel. About this blog. My “friend” the blogosphere.  I keep wanting to write.  I have a scroll of blog posts listed in my head waiting to be written.  Dozens of bloggers I want to come visit and read what THEIR lives consist of.  But it’s been so long.  Too long.  I just found out yesterday that FOUR of my BFFBF’s (Best Friend Forever Blog Friends – a term I just this second coined) are pregnant.  Close to their due dates. Some after worries of not getting pregnant.  Friends who I commiserated with on fertility issues.  They were my inner circle.  I think at one point, I was theirs.  One friend had her baby five weeks ago. And I didn’t know.  And to those who don’t “get” the blog world, that might seem unimportant, a non-event. But to me, it was the Same as these life altering events happening to a real friend.

So here I am. About to “call” my “friend”.  Fingers prone to type a blog post.  I’m sick.  My house is empty. It’s quiet. I have that aforementioned scroll of posts in my head.  Months of drama in my house ripe for writing about.  But I’m stuck.  Because it’s been so long and none of it seems Right to write.

Sigh.

Getting caught up on twitter last night with my friends did make me start thinking about friends.  I’ve written a number of times here that I find it so hard to make Real friends at this point in my life.  I’ve lived here for seven years in May.  And have made lots of friends along the way but very few I’d actually put on my “speed dial”.  In January I woke at midnight with what I believed was appendicitis.  I could barely breathe.  Couldn’t walk.  Needed to go to the ER. And I had No One I could call to come over to stay with my kids so Tim could take me to the hospital. I had to wake them and bring them with us because I had No One.  Shouldn’t we all have Some One?  I want to be that Some One to others.  Recently I’ve made three friends.  Three that yesterday, when I lay in bed with 103 fever I actually felt I could call them to help me.  Take my kids for dinner.  Take my kids for a playdate. I didn’t call them, but maybe I could have.  Maybe I’ve made some progress.

Last night as I lay in bed I thought about a new theory I have about friends.  That they’re like shoes. You can’t expect any of your shoes to be perfect, right?  While some are perfect for one occasion, they’re not for others.  My converse low tops are my shoe friend that I call on when I need comfort.  When I need reliability.  They keep me honest. I have friends Just Like my Converse.  But I wouldn’t necessarily throw those khaki sneaks on for a fun night out.  No, some friends (and shoes) I call for when I need a night Out. A night to forget the serious stuff. A night to get my mind Off my drudgery at home.  My peep toe bootie heels perhaps? My shiny red heels?  I don’t expect any deep conversation while wearing them… but they’ll give me a night to remember.  My gym shoes.  Good for just that.  The gym.  I chat with these friends in the locker room, on the weight machine, beside me on the bike.  I don’t even have their phone numbers, or last names.  But I like seeing them at the gym. They make me smile – at the gym.  And My pink flats with the girlie sequin bows.  Six years I’ve had these shoes. They’re me. They know me as well as I know them. They’re right for day.  Right for night. They’re casual.  They’re fancy. They’re consistent.  Never surprising.  But we fight. Because they hurt me.  The first week of every summer.  They hurt. Like some friends… we’re so close, they can hurt.

My shoes are like friends. My friends are like shoes. And this realization has helped.  No friend can be everything.  I shouldn’t expect to be able to call every friend for every need. When I look at potential new friends I need to keep in mind what this friend could be for me.  And what I could be for them.  Similarly I read some blogs I read for a laugh and some I read for a reality check or beautiful writing.  Few blogs can do it all.  And that’s ok.  We don’t need a one shoe fits all shoe (or friend), do we?  As long as my husband encompasses a whole wardrobe of shoes, I’m ok.

Right now I have an ad out for my Ugg Slipper friend.  The one I CAN call in the middle of the night.   To watch my kids so I don’t have to bring them pajama clad, lovey holding and anxious to the ER.  Any takers?

I wish I could say I’m back.  You’ll be seeing me daily.  That I’ll be visiting you daily.  But I can’t promise that.  I don’t know how some of you find time to work, spend time with your kids and write your amazing blogs.  I can’t seem to do it all.  The time I used to have to blog, I now work.  Luckily I sometimes get to blog FOR work when I’m able to convince a client that they need a blog.  Like here.  And here.

Just know I miss you guys!  And truly think of you often.  Like my flip flops.  I think about wearing them All The Time. But never get to wear them because it’s so freakin cold.  They stare lovingly at me when I open my closet.  (Like I stare lovingly at your names as I open my Reader). And when the time is right to slip them on, oh boy do they make me smile.

xx

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Silly Steps

It’s so odd.

Where we as adults are struck by a-ha moments.  I could be driving and see an old couple walking hand in hand, nudging each other flirtatiously and that image will sit with me for days as I realize how sweet and powerful love is.   I’ll realize I can feel it at 40 mph, through a car window and 50 feet away yet sometimes I don’t slow down enough at home to let that love seep in even though it’s right there in front of me.  I could be at a playground with the kids surrounded my moms on their iPhones and Blackberries as their kids are climbing across the monkey bars for the first time, or are sliding down a slide holding hands with a newly made friend. And these moms are missing it.  Missing it all.  Because their eyes are glued on what is going on somewhere Else. And I’ll think wow, I need to Be Here.  Because Here will be gone soon.  Or will be something different, something less special soon.

Today I sat on a low balance beam in Hannah’s gymnastics gym as she had a gymnastics lesson.  She’s having a few private gymnastics lessons to prepare her for the new team she was told today she made.  She has a few skills she needs to master to be fully Ready.  It’s a little intense but she wants it.  Badly. So I’m there to support her.  Her coach is fabulous in that she lets Hannah be 6 and silly while still being serious with her about what she needs to learn.  Today when she was told that she made the team Amy told Hannah that it was going to be different. Serious.  No joke.  She’d need to be ready to work.  Hannah said she was ready.  Wants to learn to do all the flips and fun stuff she knows those girls can do and realizes that would take work.  So in the middle of the lesson when Hannah started running from one “event” to another in such a way that looked like a cross between Phoebe running and Elaine dancing I sucked in my breath and thought, “Oh no.  She’s not ready.”  I waited for Amy to say something similar to what I was thinking to get Hannah to calm down and be serious.  But instead she said, “Cute Hannah.  I don’t care how silly you run to get there.  As long as you get there.”

A-ha moment.

The rest of the lesson I sat thinking about this statement.  Realizing how many times during the day I get incredibly annoyed with HOW my kids get things done.  How it grates on me when I’m trying to get Hannah to the car for school and she’s hopping from one stone to the next on the most round about path she can find.  She’s not getting there the WAY I want her to get there… but she does get there.  How Luke puts his pajama shirt over his head leaving the arms dangling over his shoulders, then puts his pajama pants on and THEN puts his arms in the arm holes.  Takes forever because every time he bends over to pull his pants up he can’t see with his half -on shirt dangling in front of his face.  He falls three or four times each night trying to accomplish this seemingly simple Getting Dressed task.  But he eventually does get dressed.  He gets There.

I thought about the Direct and Serious route I take with most things I do throughout the day.  I leave little time for Sillies.  As I rush around the kitchen cooking dinner (or three dinners as it normally is), Tim often grabs me to give me a kiss.  Or have a little dance and a dip and I push him aside grumbling, “Can’t you see I’m busy?  I don’t have TIME!”.  Why can’t I realize that dinner Will get cooked.  I will get There. Even with the few extra silly steps he’d like me to take while getting there.

It’s hard not to smile when you’re being silly.  I mean no matter how grumpy you are right now, stand up and flail your arms over your head, while wiggling your butt and spinning around in a circle.  Did you do it?  So, you’re smiling now aren’t you?  (Come on mom/dad, did you do it?)  I live with a guy who does things like this throughout the day.  On top of singing his thoughts, making up new lyrics to songs according to his mood, and choreographing dances for the kids to do for me when I’ve returned from grocery shopping.  He does all of this in the midst of going through a thoroughly horrendous work situation.  A situation that would make most of us crawl through the steps of our days, not dance through them.  And I swear it’s what keeps him happy.  Does it drive me nuts sometimes?  Um, hell yeah.  Because being silly is not My Norm.  It takes work.

But I do lots of things to make myself feel good that take work.  Like showering (yes, I do classify it as work with both kids noses pressed against the shower glass asking questions about my anatomy that I didn’t realize I’d be answering to two and six year old children), going to the gym, cooking healthy dinners and writing in this blog.  And all of these things are WAY harder than taking a few silly steps to get me from point A to point B.

So there it is.  My A-Ha moment of the day.  And another 2011 resolution.  More Silly Steps.  Because it doesn’t matter how I get there.  Or how those little kids of mine get there.  As long as they Get There.

Perfect Example – no matter how many times I told Hannah to give a Real Smile for the camera so we could get a Good picture, she insisted on sticking out her tongue.  The result?  A pretty awesome picture – Because Of the sillies.

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Six Years

She lay with her legs wrapped around my waist.  Her belly pressed against mine.  Head resting on my chest.  Arms dangling around my neck.  I wiped tired tears from her eyes.  We sat on the floor in my basement as I held her.  As I held her the way “only you know how to hold me mommy”.  It’s the way I’ve been holding her for six years.  When she’s fallen and bumped her knee.  Or her ego.  When she’s had her feelings hurt by a friend.  When she’s drained and doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  When everyone else seems preoccupied with life not concerning her.  She comes to me.  Wraps her body around me as if she has 12 arms and legs.

Six years.

Today as I held her in this special way I choked down tears realizing it really has been six years since that day.  The day I went to work 9 months pregnant thinking I’d just finish out the week and then have my new first baby.  But surprisingly went to bed that night in the hospital with this new little girl resting on my chest.  A girl.  A dream.  A miracle.

Six years.  So much time.  That feels like so little.  She flew into my life and captured me, engulfed me, so quickly and with such force.  And the years are now flying by.  I try to live the moments with her.  Enjoy the minutes. “Be Present”.  But some days I want to scream that I’m losing my grip.  It’s going to fast.  As if I’m holding onto a rope with a mighty grip but it’s burning the palms of my hands as it pulls me through the days.  The years.

Six years.  My baby.  My big girl.

I was grateful that she still climbed onto me in her tired state tonight.  For a hug.  A place to rest her head. A comfortable spot to (still) suck her thumb.  I told her in that moment that she’ll always be my baby.  Even with her baby brother trailing behind.

Six years.  I hope I have a few more years of those spider hugs ahead of me.  A few more years of her groping for my hand amidst chaos.  Because it’s getting harder.  To handle her growing older.   To realize I need to be a stronger mom.  Not so much a friend. I’m better at the friend thing.

I sit here as I type crying.  Because I realize as I write this that so many of you were right in comments from past posts where I complained of the hardships I had with Hannah as a four year old.  A five year old.  You said, “Enjoy these years.  It only gets harder.”   I didn’t want to believe you.

But.

You were right.  It is getting harder.  I DO miss four year old Hannah already. Her innocence. Her needing only me.  Wanting only me.  Never lashing out at me.  Just appreciating me.

So, yet another resolution.  To ENJOY the minutes this year.  Seek out the special moments of Six.

Six years.  Here’s to it being the best year yet.

And Happy Birthday to my Girl.  My cartwheeling, constantly drawing, book reading, purple loving, Taylor Swift singing, newly skating, fearless sledding, crazy ticklish, amazingly doting, friend seeking, soynut butter and jelly eating, fancy, thoughtful, loving, dramatic, convincing, hand holding, best hugging, Beautiful Big Girl.

 

 

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