Wednesday, August 2, 2017

To My Children #2

Dear Johnny and Lily,

Today, you're at your Grammy and Grandpa's house. You've been there for a few days so that I can work. There have been three weeks at the end of this summer break where one or both of you were without childcare, and graciously your grandparents have handled a large chunk of it. 

Lily, you spent several days at work with me and while you were a champ, playing games on the iPad, messing with Shopkins (what *are* they anyway?) and charming people into giving you candy, I really didn't accomplish much in the name of my actual job that week between the moments when you needed a hug, wanted to sing a song, required an escort to the bathroom, or wanted some more gatorade to spill on my carpet.

So it's good you have this time at your grandparents and I have some time to do the things they pay me for.

Johnny, you are ramping up for school which I am aware of due to your incessant counting of days and the daily asks regarding if your new backpack has arrived from Amazon yet. I call you at your Grammy's house to say hi and tell you how much you miss me and all you want to know is if that damn backpack is here yet. YOU AREN'T EVEN HERE TO SEE IT. But you can't rest until you know it's safely in the house. Well, kid, IT'S HERE. Your life can resume its normal focus on Legos and cookies now.

It's been a fun summer and we have done All The Things. We tripped all over Kansas and saw such amazing sights as a fake castle at Coronado Heights, a large public bathroom fashioned to look like a toilet from the outside, a fake gunfight, and The World's Largest Hand Dug Pool.

We've had friends over, been to sleepovers, enjoyed Grammy and Granpa's 20 year anniversary, and both of you tried salsa.

We've stayed up late and slept in a little and stayed in jammies for whole days and sometimes gone without baths for a number of days I choose not to put on The Internet.

Anyway, this is just to say it's been downright fun and I'm pretty sad to see it come to an end, though I'll be delighted to slap a cover on that GD pool that has cost me 10 thousand smackers this summer. THINK OF ALL THE LEGOS I COULD HAVE BOUGHT.

You're both the very best and I love you so much it's embarrassing.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Elementary Math

Tonight is Johnny's 1st grade music program.

I take tremendous pleasure in these events, which is surprising because I am hands-off in almost every other way regarding his schooling. I'm not a member of the PTA, I dread parent-teacher conferences, and I don't even know how to log into his Student Portal. Do 1st graders have Student Portals? I hear people talk about these things. Hell, I can barely be bothered to keep money loaded into his lunch account.

This is, I understand, my great privilege because he is a good good boy, and loves school days  more than weekends. He told me so himself, after I'd entertained him with a sleepover, a trip to a dog show, some park time, an orange soda, and then a Kentucky Derby party (literally, the kid's day was full of a dog and pony show), and some junk food for dinner.  So the  next day, I put him in his room with the TV and the YouTube and shut the door, shoving bits of ham and raisins under it every now and then. The effect was the same. School is better.

So I don't really concern myself with it. He can read and likes to, and he prefers math to other subjects. My job? Done. Hear those pats? It's me, and my own back.

But the annual spring concert is another thing. This, I can get into. I like to dress him up and put him on stage but he won't try out for anything so this is the one chance I get. Which is really sad because once he gets up there he rocks it. Every hand motion, every clap. He's on it. He sings enthusiastically and clearly. And I love all of that, and seeing his precious classmates, especially that one kid who is up there examining the booger he put in his pocket for later instead of singing about nutritious foods and weather patterns.

But mostly, it's because I remember my school programs. My tiny country school had several every year. Like most things, it's watered down in today's system. Ours were long - or at least they seemed that way - with multiple grades, the band, and some kid's harmonica solo all in the same night. We got new dresses, knee socks, and our mothers curled our bangs. It was SO EXCITING.

So I hope that Johnny's little concerts are memorable and special. I presume they're not such a Big Deal to him, but really, we have kids because of reliving our own personal journeys, right?

Anyway, this year I will take him for his concert and the customary ice cream after. And I'll have to drop him at his dad's after that which will make me sad, and then I'll have to go get a fancy cocktail to make it all better.

So really, Johnny's 1st grade concert = fancy cocktail for Mama. And that is how we do math, kids.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Recipe for a Good Day

Yesterday, I announced on Facebook that I had a day that was "exhausting, remarkable, and ordinary." And those are now the things I hope every day can be - save exhausting - though I do think that the exhausting days, if accompanied by the other two, are usually the most fulfilling.

I love ordinary things.  I love eating popcorn in front of a movie in the basement with my family. I love chatting with my partner while he tries to read a book and I fold laundry. I enjoy tucking my kids in at night probably more than anything else on earth and doing our litany of things: book, arm wrestle, talk about the plans for tomorrow, discuss the importance of Magneto's gadgets, hug, kiss, tuck in again, lights out. I like grocery shopping, most days, and I enjoy seeing familiar faces as I do the very ordinary things around town that I do on the daily.

But every day should be a little bit remarkable, too, or they simply run together. Maybe it's just that you had a particularly big belly laugh that day, or you cooked a new and successful meal. Or you heard an inspiring speech or you read a fantastic book. Or, you traveled or ate at an inspired new restaurant or you pushed yourself farther than you thought you could in your brain, your body, your comfort zone.

And while I love a good lazy day and enjoy them more often than most, probably, I know that the days that end in a pile of tired are probably the ones that accomplish the two above goals the best. So when I complain of tired, ask me: was it ordinary? was it remarkable? And maybe I'll shut up.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

To My Children #1

Johnny and Lily,

Today I'll drive you to your grandma and grandpa's house to stay for a few days during Spring Break.

This is always bittersweet, as I do relish a few days to get only myself dressed and out the door in the morning and the ability to watch adult tv with abandon. But by the last day, I'm always so ready to have you back. Andy noticed recently that I am always unusually weepy toward the end of your stays away from me. Which is weird because I'm not a weepy person.

Lately, we've been bonding as a family while lying on my bed watching Disney movies. I do feel so guilty about this and I know we should be reading or practicing math or something, but there is something so divine about everyone piling on the bed together tucked into my bedroom away from the whole world and snuggling together with all of Lily's baby dolls. I just cannot resist it and I hope that those warm memories make up for any lack of education you may suffer because of my lackadaisical parenting.

Lily is into babies and shopkins and bless your heart, dear girl, but I just do not know how to play. I do not want to and I can't and I'm just never going to be that kind of mother. Johnny has accepted this and plays Legos at his table in the living room without my assistance and for that I am so grateful.

Anyway, it's a really fun time to be your mom and you get cuter and funnier all the time. Like Lily, when you told me to get you out of your carseat because you're "not getting any younger" and Johnny sings his ear worm "Lick it up" ad nauseam.

Please stop growing. I'm having the time of my life.

All my love,

Wherein I complain vocally and pathetically.

I can go ahead and do here what I know will be called by some as sexist, because this is my space and for a hot second I will, unchecked, say what I want.

I will also succumb to my somewhat balanced self and give a disclaimer: maybe there are men out there who do and think the things I am going to outline below, but I don't know any. I know good men, no doubt. But I know zero men who feel compelled to listen to, feel guilty about, or participate in the things that I am talking about here. The good men I know might do ONE of these things. TWO max. But they do not let their heads spin with all this garbage because they GIVE ZERO FUCKS about most of it BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE TO. And they are not called to.

Here is what it feels like to be me. To look at myself, take in media, talk to friends, think about my mother, my past, my future, my kids, and the world-at-large:

My inner monologue is this:


But there's so much to do.

I should be doing yoga and taking up running. Lose weight. Better health. Get centered. Know your body. Live longer and set a good example for the children.

Cook healthier dinners. Reduce the carbs, salt, processed, gluteny foods.

Shop at the farmer's market even though it's an extra much less convenient more time consuming stop twice a week on top of the regular store.

Keep your wardrobe updated and flattering. Shop diligently for appropriate but comfortable footwear that will not ruin your already rubbish feet.

Have a skin care process you practice every day.

Curl your hair.

Mop, vacuum, clean up dust.

Buy tasteful and current things to decorate your home so that you look like you live in a magazine but cooler because it's you. Have a point of view about decor, whatever that is.

Teach your kids to read when they're 3 and also be sure they know about YOUR favorite music. Make sure they look like they go to J Crew Preschool and that they don't want too much tv and be sure to tell your friends about all the activities they do and how creative they are.

Pack bento boxes for their fucking lunches.

Be sexy.

Don't let your car be dirty.

Be a good friend, neighbor, daughter, sister, and co worker. Be sure to care for EVERYONE'S general welfare and emotional needs and don't be a bitch even when you're sick or under water.

Learn what the fuck Cross Fit is. Reject it. Go for regular walks.

Be a good listener. Know how to bake bread. Keep a budget spreadsheet. Buy your kids all the things they need and some they want but don't spend any money on yourself.

Read important books.

Be updated on politics but don't be too loud about it. It's annoying to others.

Volunteer your time.

Give away your talents for free.

Don't be negative or complain.

Have a pleasant countenance, watch your resting bitch face.

And you guys, this is all POST feminist revolution. THIS IS THE IMPROVED SITUATION.

We gotta do better.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Johnny Letter #24

Dearest Johnny,

Today you turn 6 years old.

You love Spiderman, Batman, Power Rangers, you sister, your kitty, and me and your dad. Not necessarily in that order.

Last week,  you started kindergarten. You did it, mostly, with a shrug. After 5 years at Ballard, 3 of which I was in the building with you, you marched off to kindergarten and haven't looked back. I would have cried the morning we dropped you off but you sister was pitching a fit so there wasn't time or space for me to experience my own emotions about you standing in a new, bigger school, with a teacher I don't know and a long day ahead with no nap whatsoever.

You are the sweetest, kindest child. I'm not just saying that, either. You help with you sister, are sweet to you new kitty, who you named Lollipop without batting an eye, and freely give hugs and snuggles in between body slams and tickle fights.

This year has been tough for our family, and you've handled all the changes with your usual good attitude. To be honest, it's all probably been hardest on you, but in the midst of working out details, worrying about finances, and adjusting to "new normal" your dad and I probably haven't fully given you the opportunity to grieve, much as we've tried. Thank you, Johnny, for your loving and diplomatic spirit. We promise we will spend the rest of our lives making it up to you.

This year is the year of change. You learned to swim in the pool without a floatie. You got a big boy bike and are starting to run the neighborhood with your friends - my presence is not required. You're still a pretty picky eater, but you have learned to eat broccoli and have tried some new things, and we're not having crying episodes at the table anymore, so I'm calling it all a win.

I'm the luckiest mama in the world. You're all the things.

Happy birthday, Son. I love you.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lily Letter #13

Dearest Lily,

I'm sorry. I'm sorry I haven't taken as much video, written as many letters, had your picture professionally taken, or worked on your baby book as much as I did for your brother. I am really sorry. Unfortunately, I don't think I can promise to change my ways. I simply don't have the time or wherewithal to do all of that business as diligently as I used to. You see, it's like my friend Trina says: "One kid is one kid. Two is twenty."

So with you came an avalanche of more work. I changed to an exponentially more challenging job about two days after I found out I was pregnant with you, and then, well, two kids. Or what might as well be twenty. So you will not likely grow up with scads of memorabilia neatly organized into piles and boxes and cd's and flashdrives and frames. You will have some. It will have to be enough.

What you will grow up with is a big brother. And one that worships you and with whom you will create so many memories there won't be room for the artificial stuff I could purchase or create.

You will grow up with a mom and a dad who are busy but make it that way because they want to cram AS MUCH LIFE into each moment as humanly possible. And for you, that means a life full of parties and people and loved ones new and old. It means knowing about your community and being a part of the big picture in a way that can't be replaced with trips to Toys R Us, which we abhor and will never make time for. Sorry.

As for you, you're nothing short of exceptional. And I'm not just saying that because I'm your mom. You are brilliant. I tell people all the time about the things you can do, which are grossly boring to them but utterly fascinating to me. For about the past six months, since you were about 15 months old, you could hold a pen properly and draw. And not just scribble, but make circles and representations of bunnies and copies of things you see in books. Oh, and the books. You carry one under your wing all the time, sort of like the character Petunia. You eat dinner with "Old Man" (a little silly board book of "This Old Man" tucked under your chubby thigh. You make me read 100 books a day, and that doesn't count what your teachers are submitting to at school.

We have long said that "You be little, but you be fierce." We sort of knew from the very beginning that you are a woman of will. You're sweet and good, but you know your own mind and you don't do what your'e not really interested in doing. Your brother, who is sweetness and light and all sensitivity, can be talked into cuddles and kisses, but not you. You cross your arms and say "NO" until you're darn good and ready to share some lovin' with us. I think this will serve you well, Daughter.

You're gorgeous, also. This may serve you well, but I have my concerns. Your big brown eyes can easily become a substitute for action. If you get what you want with those, why work harder on your skills? Be careful, Daughter, with those eyes.

It's almost Thanksgiving, which means its almost Christmas, which means we are gearing up to show you a REALLY GOOD TIME.  Here is hoping you don't scream on Santa's lap this year. Or, to be honest, here is sort of hoping that you do.

We love you to the moon and back. And then some.

Thank you for being the loveliest, most amazing creature.