Because Parenting is for Life…

My parents bought us a new crib. I found one that has a small changing table attached. (I have 74 inches of space for baby furniture.  Think small, people.) This is after insisting that they did not need to buy us anything. 15 minutes after, I think. I call my mom from Wal Mart upon discovery of this crib. (O and I frequent Wal Mart on Monday mornings. It’s grown on me. I have no melatonin left in my skin, but they have Lunchables really cheap and Lunchables are just as cool as ever.)

Then I went home and read the consumer reviews – which rave about the product, and MOAN about its assembly. So I attach a rider to this request I wasn’t going to make…”CanyougetmethiscribandwhenitcomescanDadassembleitforme?…”

My Dad whittles entire sea vessels out of his bare hands. Surely, this would be a small chore.

I mean, all this crib took was an allen wrench…and 1400 hours and HIS COMPLETE SANITY.

Friday, he drives crib in boxes to Williamsburg.

Attempts assembly for 3 hours.

Bashes his face against the wall.

Puts crib back in car and drives back to Virginia Beach.

In the comfort of his home, amidst the soothing salty air, he assembles crib.

Puts back in car, in one piece,  Monday morning, drives back to Williamsburg.

(Do you see this next part coming?) Crib will not fit through doorway of room.

He partially disassembles the crib, moves it into the room and reassembles it.

He then leaves my home. Probably for forever.

Or until I call him to come convert it to a toddler bed…

 

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On the Hard Things

We were all a bit fragile these past days. Friday, after a particularly hard morning drop off at school, I surprised Sophia with a [non-partisan] Chick Fil A milkshake. She then accidentally dropped it directly onto my foot and into my shoe.

Ever have one moment encapsulate your entire week?

I just discovered Barn Owl Primitives through Glennon’s Blog, and was struck by this sign:

Ironically, I am not brave enough to hang this in my house. I would be too fearful that you would visit and be forced to ask…”Hard things, eh? Then why are these floors so sticky?” And I would not have a good answer, and would end up submitting my own quotes to B.O.P. such as, “We are too busy doing hard things to scrub the floors” and “We do some hard things, the rest we are feeling guilty about.”

Regardless, you know I love a good mantra, and as parenting shifts, what a powerful theme to remember…Sometimes the real hard thing for this parent, is pushing her children to do hard things. And watching the process.

I think I’d rather scrub my floors.

Abnormally Fabulous Forward Growing Hair

“Look, her hair, it just grows forward. It’s something you are going to have to keep working on.”

The Sports Clips Stylist delivered this diagnosis with an air of seriousness, received by my grave head nodding, as if I was being handed a diagnosis and a [albeit vague] treatment plan.

Forward-growing hair? Is this normal?

And then of course…did I do this to her with that first fateful home cut?

The answers are, scientifically speaking,  Who Knows? and Probably.

And I’m struck by my strong appetite for normal.

Staring at the ultrasound, listening to the jargon: “Look, I don’t understand what you are saying. Is what you are seeing “normal?”

To Travis, after helping out in either of the girls classes,: “In a group of 14 of their peers, they seem to be normal.” We both sigh, relieved.

It trickles into my marriage: “I know we’re crazy. But are we normal?”

First of all, when did I stop going for FABULOUS, and start settling for normal?

And second, what am I really asking?

Is it going to be hard? Is it going to hurt? Is it still within my control?

These answers are more clean cut,  (yes, yes, no- it- never- was), remarkably consistent and as normal as it gets.

Just read a book, I will share about later this week, that shook up my idea and goal of “normal”, and increased my understanding of God’s image, bearing that image, and His work in the world.

But, before I even read the book, I could have confessed that when I’m saying I want my children, my marriage, my life to be normal, I’m really saying that I want myself and those I love to be comfortable.

And comfortable has never been synonymous with FABULOUS either.

My Fabulous Forward Growing Hair Girl. It’s true. Those bangs want to start at the back of her neck. Where is my hair stylist from 1985 when I need her? And O is modeling her Hello Kitty Dress. My sweet high school friend Kristin made dresses and mailed them from Oregon for us! She said H.K.’s kind, mouthless face was looking up from her from the rolls of fabric and this Mother of Two Boys could not resist. Kristin thank you ! We LOVE them!

Why Doesn’t Hello Kitty Have a Mouth? (and other questions currently plaguing me…)

Hello Kitty is a new favorite around here. Not quite sure what she adds to the conversation, but maybe our conversations are full enough. Hello Kitty: international, innocuous, silent. All very helpful as my angst plate is full over the slow infiltration of another Feminine Force:

That’s Barbie, for those reading from the Island of Mypos. To be exact, that is “Dancing with the Stars, Samba Barbie.” She doesn’t live here but soon she will live with my parents (Merry Christmas Mom.) When I was growing up I remember hearing rumors  of girls not allowed to play with Barbies. I was shocked. Horrified, even. I mean, sure, I had been Dorcas for Halloween, but we had Barbies. And Skippers. And Kens.

But you know who we never did have? Jem. I’d think that I wanted Jem, and then I would get a close look, and back down. I can’t imagine why.

All that to say, that Barbie time is upon us and I fear myself becoming that Mom. That Mom who doesn’t want to enforce unfair body expectations through a doll that is anatomically impossible. That Mom, who wants bigger dreams for her daughter than after 52 years to marry the  guy with the plastic hair and the red convertible.

But then I think back on my Barbie days and realize I never wanted to look like her. All I have ever wanted was to look ethnic. Did Barbie motivate that? As far as career goals, Mattel has really stepped it up. There is a complete Barbie “I can Be” line. “I can be…a Zoo Doctor.” “I can be…a Pancake Chef.” It’s inspirational really.

Could it be that I’m more threatened by Barbie now than I was ever influenced by her as a child?

If so, I can only be grateful that this other favorite line of my childhood is no longer around to taunt me:

 

Anyone else have The Heart Family? They were Barbie’s neighbors, “but not ever friends” according to a Mattel source. Umm…yeah. Can you imagine Daddy Heart and Rocker Ken hanging out, grilling? (Though Daddy Heart’s face was from the same sculpt as a 1970’s Ken. See how heavily I research my posts?)

The Heart Family was beautiful, blissful familial perfection. Great toys,  but I could not handle them as my adult friends. Just look at that box. Clearly, they are transitioning to bunk beds, a transition we are about to undertake. How can it be that dreamy, even if I plan on wearing that dress? And the real kicker…look: they’re bilingual.

 

Okay, I need to know.

 What toys do you dread/ban?

And who out there had JEM? (Please tell me you let her babysit for The Heart Family.)

Why Getting Ready for Kindergarten Feels Like Being Pregnant with Her Did and (It all Feels Like Puberty Over and Over Again)

When I was pregnant with Sophia, I became…emotionally un-glued. She was part of the overall plan, but not the plan that year, that month. I had finally found my rhythm again and then…

Change.

Our April Fools Day Surprise, heads to Kindergarten in the Fall. Thus I am in the beginning of my Kindergarten Gestation – and am once again furiously looking for some extra strength emotional glue.

Because just like pregnancy, Sending Your First Child To Kindergarten, rings hugely universal and acutely personal.

And so when I break down in the library to a friend, half of me feels like my emotions are Seriously  Valid, and half of me feels like a  fool.

I will survive this. Just like I survived that first pregnancy when everyone and their mom’s cousin told me I would, because they did, after 9 days of hard labor and 52 stitches. (I think only men should be allowed to talk to pregnant women- seems odd, but really? The Labor Horror Stories? There are times when women just need to be separated.)

In her classic, Operating Instructions, Anne Lamott, compares pregnancy to puberty,

“I have been thinking a lot lately of Phil Spektor and his Wall of Sound, because to be pregnant is to be backed by a wall of hormones, just like during puberty, and the sense of aloneness that goes along with that is something I have been dancing as fast as I could to avoid ever having to feel again.”

And though no hormonal changes have been detected (yet) in sending your first to school, I venture that this too feels a bit like puberty.

I’ve just kind of lost my footing – and unlike my own preadolescence, I don’t have a pair of sporty white keds with which to find it again.

And I’m with Anne in that dance to avoid the hard and the awkward and the unsure.

Please, just this once, can I  stay where I am? Because I finally figured out how to be here. And I don’t know how to be there.

But something shifted in that first pregancy that I feel about to shift again…it was about halfway through when I first felt her move inside of me. Something happened. The wonder of the  almost-here eclipsed the fear and sadness of what was past.

What if, though unknown, the best was yet to come?

And I sense it as I look at this suddenly-gangly five year old with so many questions and even more opinions, who, when I turn my head for one second, is dancing in the streets wearing a horrific Dollar Tree Rapunzel wig.

These walls can barely hold her at five, so clearly the adventures are just beginning. This person, who six years ago, we were wondering how to fit into our lives, will head out every morning next year – with or without the wig, depending on dress codes.

And oh, how she will love it.

And I, for just a moment,  even in my nervous, pubescent state, with broken- out skin,  am filled with wonder at the almost-here.

“Fear is the belief that God’s goodness ends.” Ann Voskamp

 

Dear Babysitter, (a coming of age reflection)

This weekend, as I depended a large amount on a tremendous babysitter, I began  to reflect on my previous babysitting career, and though I wasn’t quite as pro Kristy, Dawn, and Mary Anne, I definitely had some opinions. Behold my confessions, with their “matured”  realizations:

When I used to babysit, I would judge the parents for having hard-to-open junk drawers and dirty floors..

Now I know, this is why the parents left and paid me to stay there.

I used to be dissatisfied if there was a low amount of pre-packaged treats.

Pre-packaged food is more expensive, and now greatly stigmatized. But stick around, next year I’ll be packing lunches five days a week, so we should improve in this area.

I used to balk at parents for letting their children have pacifiers past infantdom.

Next time, on your way over, if you could swing by the store and pick some up,  I’ll reimburse you. We all use them over here.

I used to wonder if these mothers leaving in their workout clothes were really working out.

They probably were. I never am. I dress that way to make myself feel better for not showering.

I used to be really impressed with what they paid me.

That’s why I pay you that same amount. It just dawned on me that 15 years has gone by.

I was always overwhelmed by the number of remotes and usually surrendered to watching Mary Poppins (the most mature child choice) after bedtime.

I do not know how to work our third remote. M.P. is in the pile of DVDs on the shelf.

Late at night, when I was tired of watching TV, I would go through all the family photo albums and be amused by the outdated wedding dresses.

No albums. Embarassing framed pictures are underneath Sophia’s bed. Get a good look before she goes to sleep.

I remember wondering what this one mother was doing – she did not work outside the home and always left with her journal and some books. (She also had Oprah quotes taped up around the house.)

I can only hope that this dear woman has since discovered blogging.

 

Sweet Babysitters,Thank you. And feel free to judge me. I had it coming.

 

 

Guilt-Prone Mothers Beware:

According to Bringing up Bebe, by Pamela Druckerman, published Tuesday, the French allow their children one snack a day –   at 4:15. Never sooner, never later, never more.

 The review I read also described in grave and gruesome detail, the stereotypical American family at a resturant. I think the author was spying on us.

  I really want to read this book. But I’ve learned this stuff can be my poison. Parenting has exposed a fraility in me, previously undiscovered. The part of my temperament intent on being right, is also desperate to do it right. When I read a book claiming to provide the path, I am a danger to myself and my family.

 I’m slowly learning to seek wisdom, not right-ness.

 (And yes, the book cover claims Wisdom, but I’m still not sure if I’m ready…)

What “helpful” book do you wish you’d never read (on parenting or ANYTHING?)