Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Laugh Lines

Being half-naked in front of an audience is never easy. At least that's been my experience with my two young, insistent children who hang out in the bathroom and watch me when I get ready in the morning. As if this isn't enough, I also open myself to the beautiful and sometimes brutal honesty that comes from only a child's lips.

A few mornings ago we were getting ready for school (and of course I had already fed and dressed the kids, so now it was time for them to stare at me with the remaining three minutes I allow for myself to get ready before heading out to most places). I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing my teeth with one hand and my hair with the other. My daughter looked up at me and asked, "Mommy, what are those lines?"

I sighed then drop my brushes on the counter and look into the extra large mirror surrounded by only slightly forgiving lighting, and pondered. Hhhhhmmm, the crow's feet that have made themselves visible nearly all the time, not just when I smile? Perhaps the deeper lines in my forehead that once simply enhanced my expressive face that now are a permanent fixture? Oh no! Tell me it isn't so . . . maybe she spotted another horrid wrinkle that I am not ready to acknowledge!

As I came to, I heard my daughter's sweet voice, "Mommy, I like your lines. They're pretty." And she pointed to the silvery, slightly faded stretch marks along my hips. I chuckled and told her "thanks" and meant it, because it hit me right then that without those "imperfections" my little bathroom buddies wouldn't be here. Guess that sort of makes those lines beauty marks.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brave Girl Walking

I met another mothering milestone today. I actually watched my beloved kindergartener walk into school by herself from the car rider line into the school building. She not only entered by herself, she also managed to open the huge, heavy door that is the entrance for the little students. It may sound like a simple accomplishment to some, but I was amazed and in awe of her.

For the first few weeks of school, I did what many other parents were doing. We entered the school parking lot, got our precious pupils fitted with their backpacks, walked them into their respective rooms, and exchanged kisses at the classroom doors. I couldn't help notice with each new school day there were fewer parents walking into the building with their children. Many had begun to drop their kids off in the car rider line at the sidewalk. The kindergarten teachers had recommended that by September 18, all children (yes, moms, even the five-year-olds) walk into school on their own. At first I thought that seemed a bit arbitrary, but I did want to follow the rules and more importantly, help my daughter build independence. My daughter's main concern was not the walk from the car to her classroom. "That's easy." But she expressed some concern over the humongous metal door. "What if I can't get it open by myself?" We discussed her options if that happened, although we took time to recognize that since she eats so many vegetables and protein, she really has gotten quite strong--probably enough to conquer the dreaded door.

So I have been talking this up for about two weeks now. And this morning on the drive to school we agreed that today would be a good day to give it a try. So why was I so surprised this morning that with no hesitation, she did it?!

As I pulled the car away slowly, craning my neck trying to watch her walk down the hall as long as I could till the mammoth door closed behind her, tears swelled up big and powerful, putting any crying crocodile to shame. I drove passed the many helpful teacher assistants who line up along the sidewalk to assist students exiting their cars. Each one smiled at me intently and kindly, in such a way to say that everything was going to be okay. Then I laughed and my tears turned to a giant and proud smile at the thought that my daughter only needed one reassuring look this morning to be brave . . . mine.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tummy Trouble

Long ago my big brother encouraged me to trust that feeling in my gut—you know the one you experience when something is just not right or something bad is on the horizon. Granted he was mostly warning his little sister about the guys out there with indecent intentions, but I have learned to rely on that weird feeling. How I wish I had been listening to my problem-prophesying belly today. My son and I had just returned from our late morning grocery trip and unloaded all the food. Of course he wanted to open the SpongeBob Cheez-Its immediately, but I advised him that we didn’t want to ruin our lunch. So instead we put up the groceries and went outside to play for a little while.

Our retired, friendly neighbor stopped by our house, and he and I were standing just inside my open garage door while he explained to me how to properly mix leaf blower oil. All the while I was watching my son ride up and down our sloped driveway into the garage, each time starting higher at the top. Trying not be rude, I would occasionally excuse myself and offer a parental warning, such as “Be careful” or “That’s as high as you should go” to my brave big wheel racer. A couple of times I noticed my belly felt a little funny—perhaps it was hunger pangs or maybe even the extra piece of cake I had for dessert last night calling to haunt me.

Mr. Helpful-but-takes-really-long-to-pass-along-his-wisdom was juuuuuuust about done going over the oil process, and I looked up noticing my son starting at the very top of the driveway. My gut let out a scream, but the drama was already it motion. My little speedster quickly transformed into a terrific tumbler and landed on his beautiful, perfectly soft, previously unblemished face, landing just inches from my feet.

As I quickly cradled my little man in my arms, cursing myself in my head and frantically searching over his sweet body making sure all the parts were still there (and thankfully they were), my eyes landed on a three-inch diameter scrape a half centimeter from his gorgeous green right eye. After realizing all would be okay, my oil informant walked back to his house, as I carried my now calm but slightly whimpering son.

After cleaning his wound, we decided it best to skip a regular, well-balanced lunch and went straight for the Cheez-Its, and yes, I allowed him to eat all of them that he wanted before naptime. As my son slumbers and I write this, my belly feels quite uneasy, but at least this time I can blame SpongeBob.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's a Ride, Not a Race

As a kid, my mom was the fastest walker I knew. No, she was not one of those amazingly fast Olympic speed walkers. She just did not stroll. Whether we were shopping at the mall or simply heading to our neighbor’s house, we were on the run—or so it seemed to my young little legs that were trying to keep up. Once in awhile, I had to remind her, “Mom, you’re going too fast.” She would catch herself and smile at me, and slow down so that I wasn’t left behind. Back then, I didn’t realize that she had a list of things to accomplish in a certain amount of time. At that age, I couldn’t understand that my mom carried a ton of responsibility as a mother and wife. She had limited time and sometimes limited money. She moved quickly because she was trying to make every minute count.

Now it’s my turn. Thirty years later I have two precious children and a loving husband. Like so many families, we find ourselves amidst this rush-and-hurry world—at a time even more busy than the one my parents guided me through. Sometimes I remember back to my mother’s fast gait and consciously try to slow myself down, especially when I look down and see my young ones trying to keep up. And it’s hard! I’ve got places to go, people to see! I have a lot to do! As a stay-at-home mom, a wife, and a freelance editor, it often seems that there are not enough minutes in the day for me to get it all done.

So as I rushed the kids around this morning, asking my daughter to brush her teeth for the third time instead of posing in the bathroom mirror, while chasing my three-year-old who really just wanted to go “commando” today, all the while reminding them that we needed to get moving so we wouldn’t be late for school, I caught myself. I heard the words that I often say to my children, It’s not a race, guys! I took a deep breath, and we finished getting ready calmly and together and happy—and even made it to school with a few minutes to spare.