Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Bear

 It has been a while since I have written. 

We are living through a year for the history books here in 2020. Neither of you has been to school since March of this year (it is now December) and unless something changes, we plan to pull you both out and home school because the screen time is just too much. 

Elle, in this year, your sensitive heart has become overly worried about death. It is not hard to see why- every headline blast numbers of the many people who are dying every day of this virus. You have been coming out of your room at night when the thoughts creep in looking for reassurance. I showed you the research about how what you are going through is totally normal. Everything in your life up this point has felt in your control because of the way your brain develops, but now you are seeing that you do not have control. 

Last night, we decided to think of death as bear. The bear is there, all the time. If you look right at him, it will drive your body into your two fear responses: flight or fight. That is what is happening in your mind at night when you look at death in the face. Instead, you have to learn how to walk next to the bear for your whole life. Know he is there, allow him to push you to experience wonderful things and keep you from doing things that are too dangerous. 

We talked about an ideal death for you. We mapped it out. You are an old woman, in a small cabin with a full garden. You have faces around you of your children and grandchildren, they hold their many memories of you in their hands. The bear comes in the door and you look at him right in his face and he scoops you up and caries you on to whatever is next. The magical next is unknown. I told you that because you came from me, our souls are forever linked and that maybe you will come find me out in the other and we will come back to earth as cats.  

Thursday, September 15, 2016

the curl

The sun had dragged itself up the sky
and found it before I did.
On the white, painted corner of the window sill
and saw it, illuminated on the nape of your neck.

As you cooed and bubbled
I let the curl capture my index finger.
A blonde feather.
A memento of your babyhood.

It grew longer and swung in the wind
as you ran and as you twirled.
It bounced at your cheek,
a little conversation piece.

Last week, it dangled, long
and almost useless at the small of your back.
We ran through the trees to the bus,
the leaves kiss our cheeks as we hurry by.

It swung onto your shoulder
right on top of your backpack strap
as you looked at me through the bus window.
You looked ahead, the sun caught your curl.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

the woe of raising daughters

The way our house is situated, our neighbor, who is quite a distance away, has a light that points towards our house. By the time it crosses their pasture, through the trees and up our driveway, the light is faint but it is enough to light up my face a tiny bit as I lay in bed and look out the window. Every night I fall asleep staring at it, thinking.

You girls got scooters for Christmas and earlier in the day, I had watched you race fearlessly down a hill on them. I was filled with two feelings; one that I wanted you both to grab the danger that is being a small person and riding a fast moving thing and stare it down and two that I did not want you to fall (I also did give thought to how upset B gets if her dress gets messy). I had to work hard to keep my usual warning of "careful!" from jumping out.

Later, while staring at that distant light, which on a foggy night looks much like a little moon, I thought about how I have those conflicting hopes and thoughts about a lot of parts of your lives. I hope that you know the feeling of playing on a winning team but that you also have many lazy afternoons in your future, not to be filled up with endless obligations. I hope that you can walk confidently alone across a crowded cafeteria with your head held high but that you also know the feeling of your fingers intertwined with a boy as he walks with you down the sidewalk. I hope that you break through any glass ceiling you may encounter and find yourself with as much success as you work for but I long for you to also know the contented quiet of a nursery where the moon lights the cheeks of the newborn sleeping in your arms.

I wish we could have all the best of all the worlds. But there is not time nor opportunity. There have been many times I have had to close the door on one dream, to take a chance on another. There is little guiding these decisions, so the best advice I have is to trust yourself. Be content with the fact that you cannot, in fact, have it all. But you can get pretty close. I may never know what life would have looked like if I spent my 20's climbing a corporate ladder, traveling remote destinations or getting advanced degrees. But I do know that starting every morning, two bright little faces accompany me on my day and focusing on what is best for you is the message I trust.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


In the morning, I am usually woken up by the sound of quiet knocking and an even quieter voice, calling "Elle? Elle!" It is Brynn and she is up for the day and as a result everyone else must be up for the day. Elle opens her door, they share a giggle.

They run down the hallway to my room where I am pretending to still be asleep. They poke me. I roll over to see their big eyes and fuzzy hair filled with morning sun from the windows. They scamper off to the living room. I stare at the ceiling, mentally preparing myself for the day. When you have two girls who are 3 and 4, once your feet hit floor your day moves forward and does not stop until bedtime stories are read, heads are kissed and doors are closed. I plan it out.

I lay there thinking and listening to them giggle, whine and fight until the one with the littlest belly comes in and tugs my arm for me to start breakfast. I pull on my sweatshirt and follow her, hand in hand to the kitchen. I pass books on the floor, couch cushions already becoming a castle and hazardous, wheeled toys.

I sometimes wonder how my mornings will change in 20 years, when they are both gone. I will still wake up slowly, as that is my way. I will roll over and stare at the ceiling and I will think of them. What are they up to today? How did they sleep? Are they happy? I will pull on my sweatshirt and walk down the hall. It is clean and neat, the couch is put together. There is a heavy silence that clings to all parts of the house. I will pass the kitchen reach the first bedroom, a room that was once filled with a thousand stuffed animals, a spindle bed and magical blonde baby girl, who was my first.

I will walk on to the next bedroom, the walls, maybe still painted a cool mint color are covered in photos of the past. A vintage baby doll bed sits in the corner. I will lean my head against the door and close my eyes, remembering the sounds that once lived here. The high pitched laugh of a 2 year old. The hum of the nighttime sound machine. They will never live here again. And I know each morning, my heart will break, just a little.

So for now, I will face my days with gratitude as I know time, that has become nothing more than a speeding train since I became a mother, will take us all too quickly to the days of heavy quiet.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Brave girls.

When I was growing up, I was always outside. Shortly after my 8th birthday, my mom bought me a dog and he and I would spend our days in the woods behind my house. I had a special fort in a nook of a tree where I pretended to live among a fairy family. I would defend us all against the evil nettle plant by wacking them all down. I would run through the trails, my makeshift cape flowing behind me, my legs covered in scrapes, my hair wild and flop down in the middle of a small meadow and watch the tops of the trees sway.

That is what I knew about being a kid. I was a tomboy. When I found out I was pregnant, I assumed I would have boys since I was unsure on how to give a girl a "girly" childhood. Two girls later, you both are my best adventure partners. You bring me back to the wonders of childhood discovery. You are unlike me in that you both must always be wearing dresses, but that doesn't stop you from picking up bugs, climbing trees, getting dirty and running fast with scraped up shins (and snagging dresses).

I have dreamed of your childhood being the greatest adventure and since your dad and I just built our house on acreage, all the pieces to achieve that childhood are in place. With great luck, I have two very well dressed but willing explorers to see that dream come true. My favorite view is watching both of you emerge from the woods wet, muddy and happy.

Here you are on recent adventures at the beach.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Snuggler.

Today, on the 5th day of a cold you have had, I have spent 70% of the day holding you. You are two and half. I held you today more than I held you any day you were a newborn. You have a snuggling method. First, you wrap yourself in a burrito in your dad's old baby blanket and then you waddle to find me. I am of course always trying to desperately get something household related done and half the time I bump into you walking slowly down the hall, your legs bound by the blanket. You look up. "Snuggle me, mama." Never has there been a request harder to turn down than this. Even though I should fold laundry. Even though I should start dinner. Even though I should say no, I say yes.

This evening, your sister paraded around the backyard in the fading sun, carrying slugs to and from the trees in her fearless way and I held you on your back in my arms like a baby. You reached up and put your hand on my cheek and I saw the scene reflected in your blue & gold eye. I could see the sky, a breathless pink. I saw the treetops, swaying. I saw your tiny hand on my cheek and my own smile. These tiny moments. This is motherhood.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Potty Training Realities

I need to write this post for both of you so I do not become my own mother. When I started potty training Elle, I asked my mom how long it took to potty training us. She said that one day, Claire (my sister) just decided she wanted to pee and in the potty and I quote "that was that!" Um, ok. With Elle, we did the 3 day method where we stayed in the house for 3 days. Elle did great! By the end of that week, we were accident free.

So then I asked my mom how it was to potty train me and she said the most amazing thing. It turns out, my own sister potty trained me in one day! Amazing! Well, it would be if it were true, but this is an example of mommy memory- where you tend to forget the bad details of parenting and completely over emphasize the good.

With Brynn, I new the possibility of Elle potty training her was out of the question because: reality. So we started on the 3 day method 4 days ago. Here were our rules:

1. Underwear on in the morning
2. I set a timer on my phone for 15 minutes and when that timer goes off we run to the potty in a silly way (keeping it light) and she sits on the potty while I read a book.
3. If there is pee in the potty, she and Elle both got a jelly bean (this turned Elle into Brynn's potty cheerleader).
4. After the first successful potty trip, the timer is moved up by 5 minutes until we eventually reach 30 minutes.

Here is how it has been: First day we had accidents all morning and a pee in the late morning- followed by more successes (all pee). Finished the day with no accidents from noon until bedtime.

The second day, we had successes (all pee) all morning. Then I left for the gym and dad let you run upstairs to play and we had a pee and poop accident.

The third day, no accidents all morning until we went out to a kiddie museum where Brynn played for 3 hours. She had two accidents in a row right when we got there
because she was scared of the toilet at the museum then got over that and went successful the rest of the day.

The fourth day, we had another accident while Brynn was playing outside. It it harder when she is distracted. 

She is now holding her poop.... so we shall see. But this is my honest account so my brain is not taken over by selective parenting memory when you ask me.