Saturday, May 4, 2013

Party Girl

Party Girl

Last night my daughter had her 7th birthday party at our house.  She chose a mermaid theme, invited her closest friends and we ordered pizza.  Her brothers had left to go for a sleepover at their grandparent’s house so she was feeling very special and very excited for her girl time not only with her friends, but I would learn as the night went on, to have her girl time with me.

It was this comment that stuck with me, stopped me from what I was doing and made my heart leap.  She is seven.  This age might not seem old but it is.  I can remember the day she was born…ginger hair, bright eyes and lovely long fingers that looked like she had already been to the nail salon.  She was such a good baby and it went by in a blink.  I can remember her wanting to be where her older brother was all the time and crawling with the speed of light to get there.  She loves to hear that even when she knew how to walk, if she wanted to get somewhere fast she would drop to all fours and streak over to her destination.  

When it came time to go off to school she was so excited to make her little friends and play with other little girls.  It always impressed me that while she was devoted to her brothers she always knew how to rock a princess costume while drawing a hot pink mermaid…a true renaissance girl.  And she has remained so to this day.  While her room is a blazing shade of pink and covered in posters of fairies, mermaids and every Disney princess you can imagine, her bookcase is also littered with books about sharks, alligators and Greek Mythology.  I know I am her mother.  I know I am biased.  But I have always found her to be a very interesting person.  I have always felt very blessed to have her as my daughter.

I am not sure why I was so stopped by her comment about spending time with me, having me at her party.  I had asked her if she wanted me to be scarce while she and her friends were eating and, without missing a beat, told me no.  Told me I had to be at the table eating with the girls…that I am one of her girls.  It was this comment that I will take with me as I know that there will come a day, maybe soon, that I will not be required company at the table when her friends are over.  She will have her own personal life with her friends and a mother’s presence might not always be top on her list.  And that’s okay. 

As a kid, even when I was on my own hanging out with my friends, I always knew that my mom was around.  That I could find her, talk to her, ask her things or simply just be in her presence and it made me feel better.  That is really my goal for being a mother.  I am not after having the smartest or most gifted kids who are driven by my goals, anxieties or ambitions.  Rather to have kids who are interested in lots of different things and confident enough to follow those interests and see where they go.  To have a sense of humor about life and realize how lucky they are to have a family and friends.  To keep life’s pleasures simple and avoid the trappings of what someone else wants them to be.  To be true to themselves.

After the party was over and she was ready for bed (in her new mermaid nightgown), she thanked me for the party and said it was the best birthday she would ever have.  She had all her favorite things and that seven was going to be a great year.  She’s right.  Seven is going to be a great year.  And I am so glad to be a part of it.  I am so glad to watch her play, and grow, and learn.  I am so glad to be one of her girls.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Parenthood Ain't For Sissies

Parenthood Ain’t For Sissies

This should be written on a bumper sticker, or a t-shirt at least.  I am constantly amazed at how many things can happen in the span of a morning.  Wait.  Let me correct that. In about an hour and ten minutes leading up to when the bus comes to take my kids away. 

From the moment that my feet hit the floor, my youngest is at my heels and while he has only just woken up he has enough energy to make me wonder if he has been up all night drinking espresso.  As I robotically go through my morning routine of washing and dressing he is already asking me random questions about what his best friend’s favorite color, what kind of shoes do you wear in college and why it isn’t September yet because he is so very ready to start kindergarten.  Thankfully, as I begin to head down the stairs he breaks off and goes back into his room to get dressed…or so he says.

Once downstairs in the kitchen I begin to get breakfast ready and assemble backpacks.  The counter is littered with lunch boxes, snack bags, plates, forks and waffle crumbs.  I can hear more pairs of feet hitting the floor, which is a good sign.  However, I then hear them head to the bathroom, flush and then head back to bed.  This is a bad sign.  Crap.

Once breakfast is on the table I go back upstairs to roust the troops and get them ready for their day.  Instead, I wind up yelling at my youngest as he has decided it is more important to set up a bowling game in his bedroom which my older two now want to play instead of getting dressed.  Once the bowling is put away everyone begins to take off their pajamas however not without a complaint about how cold it is and how no one wants to go to school.  I tell them to hurry up and get dressed as then they will be warm. Only my daughter buys into this.  However instead of wearing what we picked out last night she arrives at her bedroom door in a summer dress with rainbow tights and winter boots.  She insists that only her feet get cold and that this is the perfect outfit for her today.  It is 33 degrees…is she freaking kidding me? The look on her face tells me no.  The look on my face tells her she has five seconds to change or she is a dead duck.   My youngest finally appears dressed but his mouth has started again and as he goes down the stairs I can hear him tell me how he would never wear summer clothes when it is cold out…suck up. 

With only one kid left to check on I enter the room of my oldest.  He is standing at the foot of his bed with two shirts in his hands.  One is a GIANTS shirt and the other is a GREEN BAY shirt.  Blue or Green? It is a question of the ages.  He finally chooses blue and heads down stairs.  I quickly throw their beds together and then head downstairs for phase two…I need a coffee.

The minute I reach the bottom of the stairs I realize that no one is eating at the dining room table.  I hear a yelp and a scream from the kid’s den.  Crap!! They are on the damn Wii! The shouting begins a new and reluctantly, knowing they have been busted, they head to the table where they down their waffles and juice in about 2 minutes flat.  There is thankfully a minute of silence and I take this opportunity to pour myself a coffee.  Right as I am about to add the milk I hear, He Is Looking At Me!!”  Sigh.  I head back into the dining room to see my youngest smiling yet up to his sleeves in syrup.  My oldest two are laughing at him…I guess when you are little syrup if the best revenge.  Sigh again.

Once the table is cleared and a new shirt has been put on I am now at the worst part of the morning.  I would love it if we could all talk about our days ahead and discuss what we want for dinner.  But, no, instead we have to hunt for shoes, complain about what is for lunch and pray that no one has a meltdown or trips and falls before the bus comes.  Tears and the bus do not mix.  Trust me.  Where is my coffee?

Thankfully everyone finds their shoes, as well as their coats, hats and mittens.  I realize I am still in my slippers however do not care or have time to find proper shoes as once the train is moving to get the kids out the door you do not cause a derailment.  Everyone has now found the appropriate backpacks and the front door is opening.  Hurray! We are off on our day…until my daughter remembers that she has gym that morning and needs to go find her light up sneakers. Really? So back she goes as I try to keep the boys moving forward.  Once we reach the end of the driveway I can hear the breaks screeching from the bus as it turns the corner on to our street.     My daughter has not only found her light up shoes but has put them on and is blinking and flashing her way to the end of the driveway.  I give everyone a kiss and a hug, wish them well and tell them I will see them at pick-up.  I wave and smile as I see them drive away.  Then there is silence.  I head back in the house only to spy my coffee on the counter…it is cold.

I repeat…Parenthood Ain’t For Sissies.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life Is Too Short For Stupid

                                                       Life Is Too Short For Stupid

My mother used to say, “Life it too short for stupid”.  Growing up I thought this phrase was ridiculous.  I would roll my eyes every time I heard it.  And believe me, I heard it a lot.  Not that my mother thought I was stupid or that my life was stupid.  I think she just felt that it was important for me to realize that not only was life short but it was important to make the aspects of your life valuable. Use your life to do what makes you happy and fulfill your goals. It is important to have direction and not to waste time on people, places or things that did not enhance your being.  To put it bluntly, you need to get a life and then be present in it. 

"Be Glad" was another phrase my mother used that radiated throughout my childhood.  It was a phrase from the movie “Pollyanna”, another eye-roller.  Let's be honest, life can be hard and demanding and it takes every bit of patience that I never knew I had. Becoming a wife and a mother were two of the biggest achievements in my life.  Two points in time when I look back with love and joy and satisfaction.  It is in these moments that "I Am Glad".  I am forever thankful that I married a great man and together we are blessed with three wonderful kids.  However, that being said, while being a mother and raising children is supposed to be fun and exciting it is also many other things too.  What no one ever tells you is that it is also stressful and messy and HARD! Making decisions for someone and hoping that they are the right decisions is crazy! Then not knowing how your decisions will impact them for days and weeks and months to come can drive you nuts!   While these are all fact of parenthood I also must admit that I have never felt more needed, more loved and more important than when I became a mother.  I have three children and having these children has made me realize that I just don’t have time…time for people who don’t make the picture of my life more beautiful, time to waste doing the same needless chores over and over again in a day just so that my house can appear perfect, or time to spend on stupid things that take away from my time to read and play and color and listen to my kids. Life is too short for stupid. 

My greatest goal these days is to simply be present. I am constantly amazed at how easy it is to spend time worrying about the school bus, weather, money and the chicken pox.  I am even more amazed at how much more of a challenge it is to leave the dishes in the sink or the laundry in the laundry baskets while I sit and watch a movie with my children instead.  I just want to be present.  I want to enjoy the time that I have with my husband and my kids now.  I love seeing my daughter with her missing front tooth or listening to my youngest read to his older brother at bedtime.  It amazes me to see my oldest son proudly do his homework at the dining room table and then pack his backpack after he is done.  These are the little things.  On their own they may seem like the mundane ins and outs of life.  But together they add up to this flash of time that I have right now.  In another month or two the gap in my daughter's smile will close and she will look that much older.  My youngest son will start reading quietly to himself at night and my oldest son will start complaining about his homework as he would rather be playing on the Wii.  This time will pass and I don't want to miss it.

'Life is too short for stupid" and "Be "Glad".  These are words to live by. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Circus Life

A Circus Life

A few weeks ago I went to the circus.  I had not been to one in years, however attended them every other year as a child.  My mother was obsessed with them, Ringling Brothers to be specific.  She loved Gunter Gebel-Williams with his wild blonde hair and tight leather outfits.  He was amazing really.  The tigers he had tamed could jump through flaming hoops, allow him to ride on their backs and even let him put his head in their mouths.  We actually had posters of him hung in our garage that would rotate with each new year when he would come to Madison Square Garden.  It was a big event in our household and a spectacle to behold.

While my mother was bananas about the circus, I was more skeptical.  Don’t get me wrong…I enjoyed the sparkling costumes, the daring acrobats and of course, the popcorn. However, I do remember sitting in my seat with the loud music blaring and watching each of the three rings thinking “Jesus, there is just so much crap going on here at once!”   I mean really? A lion tamer in the middle ring, a woman hula-hooping with 100 hula-hoops in the ring on the right and two brothers driving motorcycles around in a cage ready to plummet to their deaths in the ring on the left.  How the hell did someone come up with this variety of random things? And then think it was a good idea to stick them together?  This wondering remains a mystery to me to this day.

So here I am, no longer a kid with my parents but a woman about to turn 37 sitting at the circus with my husband, three children and my in-laws.  We are not overwhelmed at Madison Square Garden watching Ringling Brothers but at a much more manageable local circus that comes to town every February.  We are in our seats, the lights go down, the music blares and out they come…the tiger tamer, the hula-hooper and the motorcycle brothers.  My kids are mesmerized…sitting there with their popcorn, their light-up sabers and their mouths hanging open in awe.  To my own surprise, I am clapping, smiling and cheering as each act comes out one after the next.  It is in this moment that I realize why my mother liked the circus so much, obviously aside from watching Gunter strut around in his tight leather pants.  The circus is just as much of a shit show as raising kids, having a family and trying to maintain a household.  It is actually an even bigger shit show! While moms are at home changing diapers, mopping floors and packing lunches, the roustabouts are under the Big Top maneuvering tiger cages, shoveling up elephant shit and organizing countless polyester costumes for a variety of acts.  Which would you choose?! It was in that moment that I also felt that while my life was filled with doctors appointments, PPT meetings, laundry and kids arguing over who gets the next turn on the Wii, I did not have thousands of people watching me wondering whether I was going to fall off the tight rope or go flying off of my motorcycle seat as I swung around in circles. Now granted, my applause for a job well done is not as loud but my piles of shit are not as big either.

Needless to say I enjoyed my circus experience.  I stood and cheered at the end as each act paraded out in their flamboyant costumes.  My kids, still awestruck, finished their popcorn and are still playing with their light-up sabers.  They all want to go back next year.  I think we will.  I even think I will get a poster to hang in my garage so I can not only smile at the tight leather pants but so that I can also be reminded that life is a circus…filled with daring feats, close calls and the occasional pile of shit.