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children growing up

asleepExhausted and weary, I frantically searched my bed for my pillow; the pillow that I have had since college that has been my source of comfort for all these years. Yes, I realize, I am a grown woman and I shouldn’t “need” a pillow but I did; I do. I’m an insomniac who gets little sleep and when I do, I am a creature of habit.

I got up and searched the floor surrounding the king sized bed and then my entire bedroom. Desperate for sleep, I tiptoed into my daughters’ bedroom to see if my pillow had found it’s way into a tent or play house. I searched by the light of my iPhone, trying not to impale myself on Barbie heels or stub my toe on an American Girl. Nope. It wasn’t in their tent nor in any make shift play house, not squished in a corner or thrown in a chair.

It was late and my desperation for sleep was rapidly increasing. I went back to my bed and tried to just sleep. Just lie there and drift off to sleep but my brain kept flashing “Where’s that Pillow?” It had to be here, somewhere.

Unfortunately, I am the person who jumps out of bed in the middle of the night if I am not sure that my keys are where they are supposed to be or if I’m not sure I put my credit card back in my wallet at the restaurant. I am that person. So, of course, there was absolutely no way I was going to sleep while that pillow was still out there. God knows where.

I got up and went downstairs and searched the first floor. Not in the living room, or media room. Hell, I even checked the bar room and the bathroom. Hey, with a 6 and 8-year-old, you never know where things might end up. Finally, I gave up; deflated and depressed; exhausted.

I climbed back into bed and in my spot was the tiny frame of my 6-year-old. I gently pushed her over as she clung to a pillow like a sighing little monkey in the dark. She was holding that pillow tight; like it was the last pillow on earth.

I slipped in behind her and cuddled her small body; not the squishy baby she was but not the awkward big girl she will soon become. In this moment, I was comforted holding my sweet little girl who still smells of green apples. She sunk deeper into me and somewhere between obsessing over losing my pillow and morning I drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, I awoke to my sweet little girl still lying beside me and rousing awake. What was she clinging to so strongly during the night? My pillow.

“Hey, where did you get my pillow?”

“I took it!”

“When?”

“Last night when I went to bed.”

“Why?”

“Because I wanted to feel like I am cuddling with you mommy!”

And then I melted because how could I argue? Why would I argue? They are only this little for a little while so, I gave it to her.

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Today, puberty is hitting at age 7. 8 years olds are wearing cleavage producing bikinis. Padded bras are being made to fit 4 year olds. They are making  heels to fit infants. What’s next, pole dancing lessons in utero? Any mommy worth her salt has to search high and low to find clothes that DON’T make her little girl look like a sex worker.It’s hard having little girls. Kids are growing bigger and taller, faster. Many are being born to older parents and the kids themselves are maturing faster than when we were young. I mean I remember still playing with barbies at 12 and NOT having any boobs.Now, girls are having sex by age 12. It’s freaking scary to think of how fast society tries to make our children become adults.

What’s the rush? Why are we pushing them towards adulthood? It’s like training your ass off to compete in an iron man only to find out that the prize is to perpetually compete in iron men. I try to insure that my little girls get to be little girls. I don’t dress them like miniature adults because they are not adults. I don’t let them watch adult movies or listen to inappropriate music. My rule is if I have to explain something that they shouldn’t know, then they are too young to be exposed to it.

I have friends who have had little girls ( ages 4-6) and I hear them say things like, “Yes, my daughter so and so  has a boyfriend in her kindergarten class”. They giggle and they smirk and I stand there thinking to myself…ARE.YOU.FUCKING. MENTAL?? Seriously, do they realize how utterly ridiculous they even sound saying these words?I mean to they even realize what they are contributing to? It’s like they are non-verbally telling their little girls, Thank God a boy likes you.You are worth something. WTF is this? 1950’s…CHINA?

I try hard to not make my girls feel like their worth is wrapped up in their sexuality..because it is not.Plus, I’ve come from a mom who has spent our entire life telling my sisters and I , “I just wish you had a husband and some children so I wouldn’t have to worry about you anymore.”( This statement alone could earn a person a throat punch…..if she weren’t my Mother) I mean what does that even mean? Is there some sort of exchange going on?Are we incapable of actually taking care of ourselves ( in her mind)? Are we worthless if not validated by marriage and children?

So,this afternoon when we had a play date at the zoo with my 6 year olds best friend..a little boy, for the first time ever, I felt a little uncomfortable.I’ve never felt uncomfortable with their behavior before. This little boy really is her best friend. They run to each other every morning and hug one another and hold hands in line…just like she does with any of her little girl friends. It’s never bothered me before because, I know the kid.I know his family. There is nothing sexual or devious about it. It’s just two little kids being affectionate.But today, as we walked behind the two of them and they were walking side by side with the occasional hand holding punctuated by about 27 random hugs, it felt excessive. Then when his mom told him to stop “manhandling her so much” ( on about the 26th hug) this was his reply “Mom,She’s my friend. She likes it. I like it. Leave us alone!” I was thrust into the future about 10 years and WTF?

My question is what is too much? Where do you draw the line between differentiating between being affectionate and being sexualized? What’s appropriate? What’s not? Is it reasonable to expect our children to behave as children when society is trying to make them adults at every turn? What are your thoughts?

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Kindergarten has been a big step for our Bella and it doesn’t seem that the firsts show any sign of slowing down anytime soon. I have mixed emotions about all of this. For the most part of it, I am very excited for my Bella. Unfortunately, the fact that I left the girls overnight for the first time ever coupled with the fact that she has had about 4 firsts in the past week, add to that me trying to upload photos and stumbling into a folder with photos of my Bella when she was newborn to about 2 years old and on top of that add the Bette Midler song Baby Mine and I am sitting here, alone in the middle of the night, feeling a bit emotional. As always, I share these moments with you, my friends.

Last Tuesday, while we were at ballet class with Gabs, Bella and I were sitting in the car waiting for Gabs to be done. Bella was in the passenger seat spelling out words ( She is getting to be such a big girl) and I am reading. I hear the click clack of her Barbie laptop stop, I glance over and there she is..tying her shoe..all.by.herself! It really felt a lot like those first steps she took when she was about 10 months old. I was so proud. She’s only been shown once. She amazes me. Where did that helpless little baby go? How can I be so happy and so sad simultaneously? Mostly, I was proud. Just ask any of my friends and family…I took a picture of it and mass texted it to them all.

First Shoe Tie 9/21/10

Then on Wednesday, we had our first rehearsal for the Nutcracker. I can’t believe that 3 years have already passed since she first started ballet. She was such a tiny thing when she first began and now she is a snowflake. She looked like such a big girl ballerina in her leotard, tights, and performance bun. I do realize its the same thing she wears to class every single week for class. But something is different, my Bella is different. She is growing up every hour of every single day.Letting go, even a little, hurts a lot but thank God it is dulled by the happiness that she shows on her face when she accomplishes something that she has set her mind to. It amazes me what a strong characterful little person she is at such a young age.

First Nutcracker Rehearsal for the Snowflakes 9/22/10. This is the photo that broke the Big Guys heart because he had to miss this moment.

Then on Thursday, she came home with 2 declarations. The first one was “Mommy, I was chosen as one of the stars of the day.” Me: “Great,baby!I’m so proud of you!” Bella: ( a little bashful) “Umm, Mommy, the star of the day gets a piece of bubblegum.” And with that she pulls a little baggy from behind her back, with one little red gumball in it. She is smiling so big that I can hardly stand it. Me;”Bella, you know you are too young for gum.” Who the hell gives gum to kindergartners? This is the same teacher who is so strict about no unhealthy snacks.Yeah, OK. I am watching as Bella’s face is losing its smile. Bella: “But Mommy, the other stars got one too!” How could I deny her her reward that she was so obviously proud to have been chosen to receive. I told her that we would split it, and she could chew it for 5 minutes in my eyesight, but from now on she would have to put them in a Ziploc, put them in the freezer and save them until she’s 8! I know, very random solution but it satisfied her for the moment. I’m not a fan of gum for kids…bad for teeth, choking hazard, etc.

The next declaration was a little more substantial, thank goodness we had spat our gum out or I may have swallowed mine. Bella, puts her hand on her hip, has a very nervous look on her face and says,”Mommy,I’ve got to tell you something” Me: “Yes, Bella, what do you need to tell me?” Bella: “Mommy, I like Bill* (*names have been changed to protect the innocent) and Bill likes me!” She’s blushing, so I am pretty sure I know what that means. But I don’t want to embarrass her. I want her to be able to tell me anything.But, I had to know,”Bella, do you mean like a boyfriend?” Bella: (blushing and giggling and averting eye contact) “No, Mommy..like he’s my best friend!” I heard what she said, but I also saw what her face said, that little face that I have read every single day for the past 5 and a half years..her little heart is happy. She has her first crush.

Today, as I was waiting for Bella to come out of class ( she is one of only 4 half day kindergartners) and so is Bill*. Bill’s mother sits down next to me and says, “I was told to be here early , I have been given strict orders to find out from you when the Nutcracker performances are because Bill* said he has to go see Bella in the Nutcracker.” We both giggled, because its obviously the sweetest thing either of us have ever heard…ever. But, oh my God, I won’t lie it choked me up just a bit. As we’re pulling out, Bella and Gabs are gleefully screaming “Bye, Bill!” And the cutest little boy ever waves them both on. In the car ride home, Bella informs me that I must talk to his mother about setting up a play date with Bill*. She continues on and tells me that the two of them were talking about it. She told him he could come over and play dress up with her. She told him he could be a fairy. He said,”Nah, I have a cape with jewels on it. I can be the prince and you can be my princess!” Priceless. do you hear that “Awwwww” in your head too? Or is it just me? It also makes me wonder, am I scheduling a play date or just a date?

This, of course, catapults me about 20 years into the future and I can already feel myself losing that helpless little baby I met on the day she was born to the man of her dreams on her wedding day. I am now more convinced than ever that parenthood is misery peppered with moments of profound bliss. God has given us these little people that steal our hearts, our minds, and our bodies and then in the end they leave us alone to miss them. Now, I understand why grandchildren are so important..its a way for parents to have a little part of their children back. Its probably also why grand kids can get away with so much. Parents have already felt the loss of their children growing up and leaving and have a new barometer of what is acceptable behavior and what is not. To be able to hold your children in that moment when they are little perpetually would be worth almost any price to have again, once they are grown. For now, I am going to cherish every single first, smile, giggle, even the tantrums and heartbreak because this time passes too quickly. Baby of Mine!

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So, tomorrow my Bella starts the big K (DUMDUMDUMDDUMDUUUUUM) Kindergarten! I knew I might be emotional tomorrow, and I still suspect am positive that I will be. I assumed that it was going to be like last year, Gabs would have the break down which would trickle down unto me causing me in the end..to weep sob uncontrollably in the shelter of my SUV. That’s probably still going to happen. I called in reinforcements. The Big Guy is coming home a day early to hold my hand as I let go of my Bella’s. ( Oh shit, I think I am going to tear up just writing this. What a hot mess I will be tomorrow morning).Everything is ready. Bags are packed, papers signed, snack ready, clothes laid out; commence the letting go ( Oh how I hate the letting go).
But tonight, surprise, I was hit with a little ninja style, around the back of the head when your not looking emotional kick. It sorta reminds me of the morning that I was about to marry the Big Guy. I was fine; excited, in the moment about to marry the BIG GUY / the man of my dreams (Squeal) then it happened. As I was getting dressed,  I slyly looked out the window of the rectory and spied my betrothed,there in the church garden, smiling the biggest and happiest smile I had ever seen and taking his photos with the groomsmen. I slowly & silently pulled back from the window and it hit me like a 20 ton pile of bricks, ” You are about to be this mans wife…FOREVER!” It wasn’t just the enormity of the life altering event at hand, it was the realization that I had not a clue what it all had meant until that moment in the window. The weight of my life changing forever, even for the best it could ever be, was in fact still a humongous change. It was the symbol of who I was dying and metamorphosing into who I was becoming. It was HUGE! I was rattled, right there in my bright white wedding gown; completely disarmed by the man I love’s smile.
Tonight, as I was in my routine, getting the girls ready for bed. I was lying in bed snuggled up with my Bella reading her The Night before Kindergarten and before I knew it, another damn 20 ton pile of bricks fell on me. The enormity of my baby starting Kindergarten. This is life changing for all of us but most of all for her. For me, it is the first of many, many, many lettings go ( total SUCK for me) but for her it is the beginning for so many opportunities. It truly is the first day of the rest of her life. I am so excited for her and I want to let her know that it is OK to be frightened but excited because that is what all the good  great things in life feel like. It breaks my heart a tiny bit that she is becoming so independent and growing up so fast but I am so thankful that for a little while I got to be the center of her world. She will always be the center of mine. Happy first day of Kindergarten,Bella! Mommy loves  you and is so proud of you!

I’ll let you know tomorrow how well I actually held up! Happy Mothering!

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Slipping through my fingers~ It won’t be like this for long. I know it seems like I have been dwelling on this topic lately but its just been that kind of a week. My little girls seem to be growing up at lightening speed this summer and, quite honestly, its breaking my heart a little bit. Where did my chubby little newborns crying for me to breastfeed them in the middle of the night go? I may have been terminally exhausted but it was a blissful exhaustion. I wore my exhaustion proudly as some sort of badge, screaming to the world, I am A Mommy! I am AWESOME!

Slipping through my Fingers

It’s true there is a feeling of entitlement that comes with giving birth. Nothing feels quite like it. Sure, I complained about having no sleep, and was constantly questioning the Gods why she never stopped crying. But secretly,(shhhh) I really didn’t mind at all. Much like  I never really minded the unplanned co-sleeping, kissing booboos, or being the only person who could make their world right again. The same way I never minded having to lay down and cuddle them to get them to sleep, or have a lost lovey fed exed in from Grandma ChaCha because my toddler was inconsolable nor did I mind the tears they shed when I left them for the first time with someone else because ,secretly, I loved it all!I love being their everything even if it is a drag sometimes.
It seemed a lifetime before my little babies were capable of doing the simplest of tasks. Then ,it was like I looked away for a moment and suddenly , they were capable. Every milestone filled us with elation and pride. That first word couldn’t come fast enough; hearing their voices for the first time was like hearing the voice of God. Then quickly came rolling over, crawling, cruising, walking, etc..it all happened so fast it was like every accomplishment was hurled at me and knocked me onto my ass to sit helplessly and be witness to it all. The thing that no one ever tells you is that with every single new accomplishment, new worries ensue. Of course I wanted them to be more independent. But with each  iota of independence they gained, I had to relinquish a little bit of my heart. I am so proud to be the Mommy of such bright and independent little girls, but the pride is short lived and quickly  heartache takes its place, as I realize soon ….they won’t need me at all!
I can hardly believe how fast these past 5 years have passed and how much my life has changed from having my girls. Having them has certainly given me a greater purpose and increased my quality of life exponentially, in most regards. I can barely stand the thought that one day, in the not so distant future, I won’t be able to see them every day, and worse, they won’t mind.Why doesn’t anyone tell us about this before we get pregnant. The letting go has got to be the hardest part of Motherhood. I used to think they couldn’t live without me, but really, it’s me who will have difficulty surviving without seeing them every day. How do you survive when your heart has left your body? How do you function? They are like oxygen to my soul.Not in some creepy,I’m going to lock them in the basement until they are 40 type of way, I just mean how can you love someone so much and be expected to exist without them in your life at full capacity?
These precious moments that we have the privilege of being part of in our children’s lives pass by far too quickly.My rational self knows this is how this relationship is supposed to play out; my heart, however, has major problems with this whole situation and I am not afraid tell you, I think it is is trying to organize a coup on my good sense.This makes me reexamine my relationship with my own Mother. One day it will be me waiting patiently at home for my girls to call, and  its likely that the calls will never come soon or frequent enough. Soon, I will be the one wanting and needing their attention. Sorry, Mom! Hey, karma..pay attention, none of this coming back around shit! I said I was sorry! Mom already has you working in cahoots with her to give me ” a couple little girls that act just like you (me)!” So, karma, lets stop all the craziness. I don’t want what I gave , I want more from my relationship with my own girls!
I just hope the Mother /Daughter relationship with my girls grows into friendship as they grow up.I want to be a woman who they look up to , want to emulate, and spend time with because of the kind of woman I am not just because they have to because I gave birth to them. I want them to come to me for advice and honesty and value my opinion. This is something that I have to work at now, because it won’t be like this for long.
But for now, I am going to cherish every single moment of co-sleeping snuggling and random “I LOVE YOU”s that I can get my hands on!

I had to share this video because, as some of you know, this is the song that my Bella looked me in the eyes and said ,”Mommy, this is me and your song!” She was dead serious and I was stopped dead in my tracks and brought to tears; as I am every single time I hear this damn song!I’m telling you, these girls of mine…they have got to stop growing up so fast!

 

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