Be Careful Little Eyes

I weigh myself daily. I record my weight in a journal everyday. This is before I have a sip of water or a cup of coffee. This is right after I’ve gone to the bathroom to ensure I weigh as little as possible. This is before I read my daily affirmation on my calendar. This is before I wake my daughter for school. This is my routine. Everyday.

I’ve never thought much about this, until I found a little blue sticky note, where in pencil in a child’s hand my daughter had recorded her weight twice. My seven year old. My heart sank with the realization that my seven year old is concerned about her weight. But in today’s society, it wouldn’t be unheard of. In a home where her mother is weight conscious, it’s not a bit surprising either. If we don’t think for one second our kids are watching our every move, we are fools. We are being watched, listened to, and even more important to note, we are being imitated.

I chart my weight in order to stay on top of it because if I don’t, it can easily get out of control. Would I like to lose weight? Sure would. But I try to be very careful what I say around my kid that is weight related. When I was a kid, my mom always said she was fat. So I thought she was fat, because kids have this trusting tendency to believe everything grownups tell them. Right or wrong. When I see pictures of my mom from my childhood (very few), she is not fat at all. She’s just regular. An average mom who thought she was fat. So I get that, I really do. I don’t want to pass that one on. So I am cautious to not speak of myself as fat or turn my nose up at myself in the mirror with a  big UGH.

We know how society is affecting our young children, especially girls, with its supermodels, photoshopped pictures and airbrushed glossy magazine covers. That’s all true.  My mind was put at ease when I learned that my daughter is tracking her weight because she is wanting to gain weight so she can outgrow her booster seat. Isn’t that just like a kid, trying to grow up before their time?

But this sticky note put a lot of thoughts in motion for me. It gave me an opportunity to  pause a moment and look hard at myself. My words. My actions. Our kids are living in the world we create for them. What are they seeing? What are they hearing? What are they imitating?

Do they see us lash out at the people we profess to love the most after a hard day at work? Do they see us lose our temper and hear us curse? Do they see our frustrations and road rage? Do they hear us complain about everything….the service, they traffic, the wait, the co-workers, the teachers, the bills. Do they listen to us gossiping with friends and making fun of others? Do they see us give money to the man with the cardboard sign? Do they hear us apologize when we’re wrong, and sometimes, we are. Do they hear us compliment a stranger’s shoes or see us drop what we’re doing to a lend a helping hand? Do they see us staring at our phone at every red light or line we wait in? Do they see us praising God, even in hard times, and down on our knees in prayer?

This little blue sticky note in my child’s handwriting was a huge Note to Self. It reminded me of how powerful my influence is on those around me. Not just kids, but most importantly kids. Most importantly this one kid. Remember I said she was sleeping when I do my weighing and charting? Well, not every time obviously. There are times she’s watching. And listening. And imitating.

So are others.

Never underestimate the power you have. You can have such an important impact on others. You may not think your words and actions are making a difference, but they are. You make a difference. Make sure it’s a good one.

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Love in My Lap

IMG_2849.JPGThe clock is a kill-joy on mornings like today. Mornings when my baby girl is so warm and snuggled up against me, her breathing heavy and full, a half-snore.

Mornings come so early for us, and bedtimes don’t always come easily. It’s hard to rub the sleepies from our eyes some days, and this morning was no exception.

I am on the countdown to summer break, for both of us. Well for all of us. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit to find our cat marking X’s on the calendar, if she only had opposable thumbs. I think she’s on the countdown too. She knows that soon we can sit like this all morning if we want to. We probably will. I love her soothing purrs and EK’s half snores.

It’s no secret that my baby isn’t a baby anymore. But I will carry her from her bed to the recliner as long as she reaches her arms around my neck and snuggles her face into my neck each sleepy morning. I will carry her as long as I have strength to do so. I will hold her in my lap as long as she curls up in it. I will breathe in the smell of her hair and kiss her little head for as many days as possible.

I believe that the gift of being an older mom is knowing in my heart how fleeting the days are. I may not be young and hip. I may occasionally get mistaken for her grandmother. I may be old-fashioned and a bit of a stick in the mud. I may get tired soon after playing shadow tag, but I am sure of one thing. I am not foolish enough to believe that these moments will last.

When you get to a certain age, you start looking back. Here I am, halfway through life (not positive, but realistically yes, but gosh that’s hard to think about) and it went by in a blink. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. I remember a younger time when it felt like days dragged on and waiting for something to come seemed to take an eternity. Like graduation or a wedding day. Even summer breaks felt long when I was a youngster. I remember a younger me full of goals and dreams, rushing through days, not living in the present but taking every day for granted, the next would come and I would wash and repeat. Can you relate?

Not anymore. Now me and J-Dub look at the clock in the evenings and can’t believe it’s 8 pm already. Where does all the time go? It flies. That’s the truth.

The clock that hangs on my wall was a gift from my dad. I remember my 25th birthday when he gave it to me. I remember the 25 year old who was cute and hip and took everyday for granted. She could probably play shadow tag for hours. The clock chimes on the hour. I try to have EK ready before 7 bells each day, but today we sat a little longer. I relished the seconds that passed. I attempted to slow down time. I did not want them to end. I felt such joy and love. But the clock chimed our reminder that time is passing; slowly for some, much more quickly for others.

I nudged her awake, stirred the cat, and began the day with a heart of pure gratitude for the love I hold in my lap each morning.

 

On Your 6th Birthday

My dearest Emma,

You are now six years old.  This year has been a whirlwind.  Heck, your whole life has been a whirlwind. How is it that you were so tiny just a little bit ago? A little bundle. It seems so far away, and at the same time, it feels like yesterday.

You want to be so big. We have a measuring chart hanging in our house and sometimes you check to see if you’ve grown everyday. You got your first big girl haircut, cutting your  waist long hair up around your shoulders. You just lost your first tooth, and already have another one a’wigglin’.  You want your ears pierced so badly, but your daddy is hesitant, so we’re putting you off a while longer. Just slow down a bit, kiddo. It goes so fast. We have time. We have time. There’s one thing, though. You still let me hold you. Every morning, you sit in my lap and let the sleep fade away in the dark morning. I love it so much.

You are the smartest kid. I am constantly amazed at your reasoning. You are sensitive and logical, also a bit melodramatic at times.  I might add you have a tad bit of a little temper. It’s not a good thing to have. Learn to control it and you’ll save yourself a whole lot of trouble down the road. You are witty and funny. You love a good joke and you think practical jokes are the funniest! We often find our bathroom toiletries all rearranged or your dad will find something you’ve stuck in his boot. You act silly and dance around the house unashamedly moving and grooving.

You are a pure joy. We have so many laughs and so many good times together. My favorite is when you say “I love you so much! You’re the best mommy in the world.” You have no idea how much I love you, Emma. You’re the best girl in the whole wide world!

XOXO,

Mama

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1 year down, 13 more to go

My baby girl, my only child has completed her Pre-K year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I know, I know, it’s a little silly when you think about being proud of completing pre-k, right? It’s not like she wrote research papers or received an associate degree while taking high school classes or worked a part-time job and maintained the A Honor Roll, or that she’s off to some Ivy League School. Like what did she really do that I should be so proud? Well, I’ll tell you what she did first and foremost. She blossomed! She blossomed and learned in so many different areas! That’s why I’m proud.

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Just look at those pictures!  Just look at them.

You might not be able to tell, but she grew an inch and gained 5 pounds too!

The little buttercup went from being mostly shy and timid to outgoing and confident. Granted, she still gets a little nervous talking to people, but at least she’s not hiding behind my legs anymore. As much, anyway.  That’s why I’m proud.

Of course she learned lots of academic type of things. She can read several words and a few little books, she has great number sense, and a lot of common sense as well. She tries her best at everything she does and wants to succeed. She is responsible and superb! That’s why I’m proud.

She also did big 5-year-old things this year, like learning to tie her shoes and fix her own hair, which might look a fright most of the time, but she does it herself and her independence and self-confidence is more important in the big scheme of things than a perfect hair-do.  She also decided that she can put herself to bed and sleep alone. But every 4th night, I can still sleep with her. She’s growing up independent and confident. That’s why I’m proud.

She worked so hard in both her dance and gymnastics classes and more importantly had fun doing it. She can swing herself on the swings with just one push to get her started, and cross the monkey bars by herself. She is learning that hard work pays off and  practice does make almost-perfect. She is learning that things may be hard at first, but not to give up, keep on trying and eventually you’ll get there. That’s why I’m proud.

She is good and kind and thoughtful which is the most important aspects I would like her to develop in her years of learning.  I want her to know that it is better to be a friend to someone who needs one, than to fit in with the “in-crowd”. I want her to know that not everything is going to come easy, but she’ll never be disappointed in herself for knowing she gave it her all. She learned more this year of the important stuff than she might learn her entire academic career. Her foundation is laid.

These next 13 years are going to fly by. I know that all too well. It may be that some day she’ll be off to an Ivy League School, or maybe she’ll backpack across Europe. As long as she stays true to herself and discovers happiness in her journeys is my heart’s desire for her. It may seem silly to you that I write these milestones down, but I know my memories won’t always be as clear and I want to remember it all: every little accomplishment, every single stepping stone on her path to wherever she is heading.

She is such a joy, and I am so very proud to call her mine.

 

Mother’s Day #5

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. Just a bit. Not too much. Only when I want to be, really. But I do have a little tradition of blogging on certain celebratory occasions. My daughter’s b-day and Mother’s Day are the only 2 I really think of right now. Most of the time, this little blog is a ball of random. When the whim hits. Which hasn’t been hitting much lately.

Sunday past was Mother’s Day. My fifth one.  I’m not sure words can describe motherhood. There have been many people who have tried to put the words down, including myself. I think one of the best I’ve ever read is: #motherhood:

How true.

Motherhood is complete sacrifice, even when you adore pie.
Motherhood is seeing the tiniest, most minuscule, grain-of-sand-sized love God has for us.
Motherhood is a heart that is both broken and full to bursting often at the same time.
Motherhood is worry.
Motherhood is joy.
Motherhood is an exhaustion beyond what you ever thought possible.
Motherhood is sticky fingers and sweet kisses.
Motherhood is a million “I love yous” and a few teenage “I hate yous”.
Motherhood is handmade cards.
Motherhood is lots of laughs and plenty of tears from all parties involved.
Motherhood is eating lots of spaghetti.
Motherhood is late nights and early mornings and feet in your ribs when sleep does come.
Motherhood is thankless mostly, but worth every moment.

This Mother’s Day I was showered with little gifts. Gifts that will be put away in the bin with the other sweet gifts I’ve been given and the ones hopefully to come.

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18447353_10213478050932513_4614352799574924184_nEach moment is a true gift. A treasure to hold. Time passes so quickly. For some, motherhood never happens or sadly ends too soon.

My little daughter came into my life unexpectedly and the emotions I went through were paramount.  We are tight. This girl and I. We have a bond right now that I hope will outlast all the growing pains we still have to endure. The past five years have flown by, and I know the next 13 will zip past. And then she’ll soar on the wings that her dad and I have hopefully helped give her. So for now, I cherish every Eskimo kiss, every hug, every stick figure drawing stuck to the fridge, and even every melt down.

Every beautiful moment of motherhood for the past five years I have tried to store away, either in my memories or in this blog. I have been given such a remarkable little girl and I am so honored to be her mom.

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A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.

 

What this day means to me

The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.

Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.

I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.

Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless.  Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.

There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be.  Then suddenly wasn’t to be.

I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.

I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.

I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?

We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
Especially today.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.

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