Monthly Archives: September 2010

That Red Ball

Something so simple, so unimpressive, so Nothing washed a sea of memories over me today.  I was walking with Luke.  Our daily walk from Hannah’s bus stop back home.  We often meander to the end of a long, tree lined access road near our house to visit a lonely, empty, yellow digger truck often parked there.  As we walked today, with Luke holding onto my pointer finger feeling too proud to hold my entire hand, a splash of red in my peripheral vision caught my eye.  I turned and spotted one of those textured red rubber balls that we all became familiar with at some point in our lives.  It had rolled under a bush and left abandoned there.  I stuck my foot under the bush and pulled the ball out from its cover.

It was wet and dirty from the rain it had endured last night and this morning.  But it still brought a smile to my face.  I kicked it over to Luke. Who let it bounce it off his calves and then dribbled it toward the truck, losing interest in it as the truck overtook his attention.

I picked the ball up in my hands. The feel of it reminded me of the dozens (hundreds?) of days spent in the school gyms playing dodge ball with these balls.  Whipping them at the opposing team trying to knock them out of play.  Catching them as they were hurled at me, proud to be one of the girls who could actually catch.

I bounced the ball on the cement.  The ease and height of the rebound brought me to my little girl days on the playground lifting my leg in a circle over the ball as it bounced reciting, “A my name is Alice and my boyfriend’s name is Al.  I come from Arizona and I like to sell Apples!  B my name is Betty…” and on and on through the alphabet.

I even was overwhelmed with the familiarity of the SOUND of the bounce.  Free time at sleep away camp playing Four Square (the ORIGINAL four square, with the 4 squares and a ball.  Not the ridiculous “Everyone must care where I am at all moments in my day” social networking site) with my bunk mates.  Hours in those squares with that ball.  Laughter. Easy fun. Winning.  Losing. Exhaustion.

I rolled the ball towards Luke. Hoping he’d get excited to play some more.  As it left my hand on the ground, I was brought back to elementary school. Kickball. Hoping to get picked for a team earlier rather than later. Excitement to be the one up to “bat”. Nerves shaking as the ball rolled toward me. Hoping to kick it into the outfield. Over Timmy Lambert’s head to impress him with my mad skills.

That red ball. Not made for any sport in particular.  Designed for all of them. Created for fun.  To throw, catch, kick, bounce, hurl, jump over and roll.  I left that red ball where I found it.  Hoping that whoever lost it, would make as many memories with it as I did. Hoping it wasn’t ditched for a Gameboy, Wii or cellphone but instead forgotten about as they were called in for dinner.  Hoping it would be retrieved with relief that it was still there.

I need to get me one of those red balls.

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What a Hoot

The other night was the first PTA meeting at Hannah’s school.  Seeing as she is in Kindergarten and I will be walking this school’s halls presumably for the next 8 years, I decided it would be a good idea to become involved early.  I looked forward to meeting a few other moms, and learning how the school operates.  I was excited when I walked into the school library and saw Hannah’s teacher standing there.

You see, I had this special relationship with Hannah’s preschool teachers.  She was there since 7 months old and I had no problem laughing with them about the silly and crazy things she did during the day.  I trusted them to tell me if she displayed horrendous behavior.  I was comfortable venting to them about the hard days.  And crying to them when I was in complete despair, unable to cope with the stage she may have been in at that moment.  I saw them Every Day.  I understood how and what she was doing Every Day.

And now, at Kindergarten, there’s none of that.  This was the first chance I was going to have to see how Hannah was doing.  What the teacher’s very first impressions were of my girl.

Honestly, I was terrified.  Was I going to hear she cries every day?  That she visits the nurse each morning for some ailment?  That she bosses other kids around? That she doesn’t say a word all day?  Or worse, would Mrs. G tell me, “Oh, she’s doing Fine.”  (I have this love/hate relationship with the word fine.)

I hesitantly approached the teacher and reintroduced myself to her. “Hi, Mrs. G.” I started, unsure whether I was supposed to address her with the same name Hannah does or call her by her first name.  I decided to err on the side of caution.  Luckily the teacher is close to my mother’s age so calling her Mrs. wasn’t too uncomfortable as it may have been if she was ten years younger than me.

“I’m Hannah’s mom, Becca.” I continued.

“Oh, right, HI!” she responded.  Phew, at least she knew which one Hannah WAS.

“I just wanted to find out how Hannah is doing?  Is she doing ok?”  Usually I would have added something sarcastic here, like, “she hasn’t punched anyone in the face yet, has she?”, but I (surprisingly) was smart and decided to keep it safe (and normal).  I didn’t want to be that “weird mom”.

“Oh yes, she’s doing just fine!” Ugh,  Just Fine.

“She’s a HOOT!” A Hoot?

“She actually correctly informed me today that I was wearing a Cowl Neck shirt.” That’s. My. Girl.

I beamed with pride.  At first.  I mean, really, Mrs G. must now know how BRILLIANT Hannah is for knowing this.  What Kindergartner knows what a Cowl Neck is?  Huh?

But my pride quickly faded as I realized the teacher wasn’t quite beaming along with me.  Because maybe that’s just ODD that a Kindergartner knows what a cowl neck is.  Maybe the teacher was actually Judging me as a mom, thinking that I find it necessary to tell my little girl all of the different types of shirt styles.  Little did she know that Hannah as a matter of face WOULD be able to identify a “halter”, “strapless”, “spaghetti strap”, “3/4 length sleeve”, “mock turtleneck”, “boat neck”, “one shoulder”, “off the shoulder”, and empire waist”. Maybe she was thinking how materialistic that is of me to talk about such drivel in my home.

Or maybe I was overthinking.  (Who me?)

But that’s all I got that night.  That Hannah is doing just fine, is a hoot and is up on the latest fashions.

Did I want to hear that Mrs G was impressed by Hannah’s reading skills, large vocabulary and ability to count by 10’s?  Yes.  Did I hope she’d tell me how sweet Hannah is and that everyone loves her and wants to be her friend?  Of course. Did I dream of her pulling me aside and whispering to me out of earshot of all the other moms, “Hannah is actually my favorite. I’ve never had a student as wonderful as her.”  Um, well, yeah.

But she might not know any of that. Yet.

So for now, I’ll be proud that Hannah HAS made an impression.  Any impression.  Is making her personality known.  Isn’t shy to speak up about what interests her.  And gave the teacher the opportunity to use the word, “Hoot”.

I’m doubting she says that to all the moms.

*You may be wondering why I have Olivia pictured about.  Olivia the Pig marches to the beat of her own drum.  She frustrates her mom and dad to know end, makes up crazy stories and torments her younger siblings.  But she’s HER.  And if she were my little Piggie? I’d be damn proud.

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New Life in my Living Room

I can’t stop walking into my living room.  My breath gets taken away and my heart flutters when I walk in and see what was added to the room yesterday.

My grandmother’s piano.  My grandmother who recently passed away.  Leaving me sad that i didn’t give her more of me. That I didn’t make more of an effort.  Has now left me this gift. This extraordinary gift.

A fixture that for my entire life sat in my grandmother’s living room.  And before her living room, (and before my life) sat in HER mother’s living room.  A piano that my dad learned to play as a little boy.

A very old piece of furniture, that is now breathing new life into my room.  It will give me the chance to add new warmth and beauty to my house by filling it with the music that I learned so many years ago. It will give my children the chance to have the same passion I had as a child, learning to play those black and white keys.

I imagine (once the piano is in tune again) sitting with my cup of coffee in the morning playing quietly as the snow falls softly outside the window.  I hope to relearn the ragtime music I once loved to let my fingers dance to.  I believe it will be another outlet for me.  An outlet I can use when I am unable to find words to write here, I instead can lose myself there.  When my mind is too full (as it usually is), I can release it through the music.

Yesterday I watched Hannah sit on the old bench in front of the piano.  Tapping at the out of tune keys.  She looked like me. Just like me. The age I was when I first learned to play scales and first songs.  Her legs unable to reach the pedals. Who knows if she’ll ever learn to play more than chopsticks.  I hope she does. So she can feel proud of starting a new song and making it through to the end.  So she can see my smile as she plays a song I once played.  So she can play her favorite show tunes and sing at the top of her lungs along with the notes.

My parents brought over a box of piano music books yesterday when the piano was delivered.  It was stacked with music I played over the 13 years on that bench. Books with my teacher’s notes dated 1977.  Stickers showing I had done a great job and could move on to the next song. Notes telling me to slow down, not rush, play quieter or with more gusto. Songs I can’t believe I actually learned to play with so many notes covering the page.  Songs that I’m sure would be impossible for me to learn again. The pages of the books have yellowed. A reminder that once again, I’m “old” and time sure does fly. But how cool it is that no matter how old the pages are, the music written on the pages, could once again sound new.  Played by my old fingers.  Or Hannah’s new ones.

I love my new old piano.  And the newness it will bring back to my life.

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Where I am

I’ve been missing this place.  Missing this quiet spot where I let my thoughts just Be.  Missing you.  Your responses and your friendship.

Somehow I’ve lost my groove.  As my kids are settling into their new routines and I’m left with a bit more time to myself, I seem to be choosing other ways to fill the voids.

I’m not filling the spaces in my days with Better things though.  Just different.  One of my new years resolutions in 2010 was to start consulting.  And with 3 months left in the year, I can check it off my list.  I’m finally putting my years of marketing experience to good use by helping some small businesses find their footing and creating some buzz around their name to help them survive.  It’s challenging.  It’s exciting.  It’s rewarding.  But it’s taking me away.  From here.

Because also, my resolution for the Jewish New Year (which gives me an extra chance to make some changes at the end of the calendar year), is to put my iPhone (ie: my lifeline to the outside world) AWAY when my kids are around.  I don’t want them watching me look at my phone for hours on end.  I don’t want them to feel I’m bored with their company or have better things to be doing when they’re around.  They deserve my attention.  They NEED my attention.  So I’ve promised to give it to them.

This work I’ve started doing is making me remember that I’m not good at doing things half assed.  When I agree to help a client, it means their world overtakes my thoughts.  I’m constantly thinking, creating, and obsessing.  For them.  I’m crazed now with watching their twitter numbers go up and frustrated when their FB friends seem to plateau.

So where I used to be fanatical about blogging every day, I’m now filling that void with work.  And yes, it’s satisfying.  Because it’s MY work.  But I’m also a little sad.  Because writing a blog post for them, is not the same as writing it for me.  And tweeting about a new legging/sweater set that came into the store, doesn’t satisfy me as much as telling you that I found Luke standing in the toilet.

So again, I find myself pulled.  Now not between my kids and my laptop but between two different passions.  Two passions that reward me differently.  But still reward me.  Can I do both?  Yes, yes, I am going to figure out how.  Because without you, my new and old friends out there that I wish I could spend time with in person every day, I’m sad.

So here’s to doing it all.  Even if my friendship might be a little half assed.  I’m still here.  Reading your words.  Smiling for your joys.  Sending hugs on the hard days. And I hope you’ll still come by.  Even if my posts are a bit shorter.  And there are more days between them.

xo

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Through her eyes. And a lens.

My parents had a few hours alone with Hannah yesterday while I was at a doctor’s appointment.  She had spent the morning on the couch reading, coloring and watching TV as I had little energy to have her do much else.  So I was thrilled when they walked into my house with a plan for her.

My dad had brought his camera and thought that the three of them could go somewhere for her to take pictures.   My dad suggested maybe going to a farm to take pictures of animals.  A playground to take pictures of kids. The mall to take pictures of the buzz of shoppers.  Or a nursery to take pictures of flowers. She seemed less than thrilled with the ideas.  Perfectly happy under a blanket on the couch.  Feeling unmotivated to do much more than play a board game on the floor.

I left for the doctor, sure that I’d return to find her seated in the exact same position, possibly even asleep in my mom’s lap.

Two hours later I returned to an empty house.  They returned shortly after having had a fantastic time together taking pictures.  I didn’t hear much about it other than what fun they had at a horse farm.  And then today, I opened these that my dad sent from his camera.  And I added  Hannah’s comments as we flipped through the images.

“Aren’t these so bright pink and happy looking?”

“Isn’t it neat how the horses go on and on… one after another.”

“I like the red barn.  And I didn’t even notice those dark clouds.”

“Nanny told me to take this but isn’t it so neat how you can see the horsie through the door?”

“I liked taking pictures of the cars zooming by.  And they look still in the pictures!”

“It was neat to take a picture looking straight up.”

“Isn’t this the prettiest bright pink mommy?  And looks like it will have a friend soon.”

“Doesn’t Grampy look funny upside down?”

There were more pictures too.  More horses.  More upside down pictures.  More cars zooming by.  She loved reviewing them with me. Sharing the moments with me.  Seeing how she was able to stop life (the cars) and change life (grampy upside down) just through the push of a button.

And I was actually in awe.  In awe of what her little eyes spotted and what was interesting to her through the lens.  And in the pictures that my parent’s helped direct her to take, how she had a sense of what should be centered.  How the beauty should be prominent.

Thank you Nanny and Grampy for getting her off the couch.  Oustside to enjoy a gorgeous end of summer day.  And showing my five year old Life through this different lens.

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The skinny

“Hannah, You’re so skinny!”

Gasp. I put my glass of wine down in front of me. Looked at my little girl.

This sentence slammed me in the gut.  From one new Kindergartner to another.  An innocent enough comment, no?  Hannah giggled at the comment.  Not sure how to react.  Confused actually whether it was a compliment or an insult.  She looked to me for guidance as to the correct response.  “Thank you”?  “No I’m not”? “Why”?

And 38 year old mom also was at a loss for words.  “So are you”?  “No she’s not”? “You’re both perfect”?  Nothings seemed right.  Because to me, a five year old shouldn’t be noticing the body of another five year old.  Or maybe just not commenting on it.

Or, maybe I’m just overthinking.  (Surprise, surprise).

And maybe I’m overthinking because from the moment I heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl”, this was what I have spent the most time thinking about.  How to be sure she never lives one day with the body image struggles that I dealt with for so much of my life.

I’ve done “all” I can on my part.  I never make comments about my own body in front of her.  She’ll never hear me call myself ugly or fat. She won’t know if I’m having a bad hair day or “tight jeans” day.  I only spend seconds in front of a mirror in her presence.  (Although somehow when she looks in the mirror she still turns and looks over her shoulder at her butt… do I do that?).  I laugh when she calls me pudgy and tell her that people come in all shapes and sizes and no one is more beautiful than the next.  I stress that her smile is what makes her most magnetic and that the more she smiles, the more people will like her.

I’m doing my part.

But now it starts.  The messages will be coming from her peers.  The schools do a fantastic job educating the kids on diversity.  My children are growing up “color blind” with a wonderful mix of race and skin color in the classrooms.  I partly chose this town for that very reason.  But schools fall short educating on the diversity of body types.  Helping kids love themselves and to be blind to the size of the girls next to them.

I don’t want her to start believing skinny is good.  Skinny is better.  Because it’s not.  The Wanting to be skinny instead makes you unhappy.  It makes you never be satisified.  Always want to look better or different.  It makes your eyes drift down to your body in the mirror, instead of at your silky soft gleaming hair. And huge welcoming, warm brown eyes. And make-everyone-melt dimple on your cheek.  Wanting to be skinny makes you think twice about enjoying a meal with your friends and instead focus on how FEW bites you can take.  Wanting to be skinny overtakes your thoughts.  Has you waking up thinking about how long you can go before having your first meal and how many hours you can go before you have your next.  It becomes a way to control things in your life that don’t need controlling or aren’t meant to be controlled.

And Being skinny?  Certainly does Not make the people who matter like or love you more.  It actually can make people like you less. For no reason.  And being skinny although lets your clothes fit better and might turn heads, actually can make you dislike yourself.  Because of how much you care when you know you shouldn’t.

I know all of this. Because I’ve been there.  In some ways, and on some days, I’m still there.  I’m uncomfortable preaching to Hannah what I have struggled with so much myself.  I’m a hypocrite.  One that says being skinny doesn’t matter, but my own brain often can’t convince myself of that fact.  I know my words to her are so right.  And the way I apply them to myself are so wrong.

Will she see right through me?  Will my being thin and seeming not to care in her eyes help her or confuse her later?

Again, I end a post without an ending.  Because this is a topic that I don’t believe I’ll ever have an answer for.  All I know is that I want to do right by her.  Set her the best example I can.  And maybe in the process… I’ll start believing it myself.

That skinny is only skin deep.  But beauty is at the core.

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I Gave You Wings

Dear Hannah,

Tomorrow is not just another day.

Tomorrow is the beginning of something amazing.

Something bigger than your little self can imagine.

Tomorrow you will take your first step

Into a new world.

One with new faces.

New challenges.

And scary unknowns.

I know you’re nervous.

Scared of the forest filled with trees so high

You cannot see the beautiful green leaves

Or even the light from the sky above.

I understand you are sad imagining

Feeling lonely and awkward

Amid the newness.

I’m sorry you are afraid that the thought of me,

Your mommy,

While not with me

Will not bring you comfort, just make you sad.

I wish I could pack my arms

In your new floral backpack

So in those moments

You could wrap them around you.

But it’s up to You now.

I have given you all I could think of giving.

All the tools.

The strength and guidance

That I knew you’d need to catapult you forward.

I taught you how to be kind

And friendly.

To think of others and give hugs

When someone looks sad.

Daddy and I taught you to tell jokes

With the right timing

To make others laugh

When they may feel nervous.

I explained what it means

To feel confident

And to love yourself

So that others will be drawn to you

And want to love you too.

I gave you wings.

That have yet to open.

And now it’s up to you

To shake them out, fluff them up and spread them out.

Because I know,

As well as ANY mommy could know,

That you will soar.

You will take flight with ease

And fly high above that world

You’ve only just begun to discover.

I hope for you to enjoy this flight.

View it as an adventure.

One without right and wrong turns

But a path with new curves to discover each day.

Make yourself proud.

Before caring if I’M proud.

Know that you’ll stumble.

We all do.

But also know you’ll brush yourself off

And soar again.

I love you my sweet Hannah.

And may this first day of Kindergarten

Prove to you that you Can Do Anything.

No matter how nervous you are tonight.

Or may be in the future.

Love,

Mommy

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