Tuesday, December 14, 2010

amazing mamas

Yesterday, my kiddos and I attended the Bethlehem Walk at our local Baptist church. While I am FAR from religious, it was so historically interesting and allowed me to have a conversation with my kids about the origins of the Christmas tradition.
The kids loved 'everything' about it, although I think Liv enjoyed the small, fresh loaves of bread the best judging by her pleas to go back for more. Briar really enjoyed collecting stamps on his Bethlehem map throughout the 'marketplace'....and then hoped to look at them while laying in bed (I didn't tell him that I had thrown his muddy coat in the wash upon walking through the door not realizing that the 'map' was in his pocket. I am SO hoping he forgets before I have to explain him that the hard piece of whitish lint at the bottom of his pocket was once his beloved map.)
As we walked through the ancient town, we had been instructed to keep an eye out for a baby named Jesus. Halfway through we came upon a young couple in wonderful costumes amid the hay bales depicting a barn-like scene. "Joseph" was very believable in his performance as he greeted us with "Shalom" and brief small talk about the tax man. His poor wife, however, was struggling.
"Mary" was a very young mama who was trying to breastfeed her hot, tired and altogether annoyed little one. As an audience stared on, she attempted to calm her baby with her breast without giving these onlookers something they hadn't anticipated - a flash. She seemed to be trying to look "Mary-like" - calm, serene and with a instinctive mothering knowledge that could subdue her baby with just a soothing word and mama's milk. As a mom, I could see through her thin facade to the panic and frustration she was feeling and as I led my children to the next vendor I thought of all the things I wish I had known before having my babies.....

  • Wear slip on shoes - you will always find your hands full of baby paraphernalia, car seats and bags when you suddenly realize that you should be equipped footwear as well.
  • Make sure to cross your legs when you cough, sneeze or laugh really hard - I don't know that any explanation is needed here. Oh! And say 'goodbye' to your days of jumping on a trampoline.
  • Do you remember those catty girls in junior high who gossiped about everyone no matter how perfect and fabulous they were? Get ready for round two. Mom's can be harsh to and about each other. Find a group who is as self-deprecated as you are and don't take the others opinions too hard. You're doing a great job - the best you can. And really, they worry about their inadequacies as a mom as much as, if not more than, you do.
  • You are amazing. You created a life within your body. Yes, the skin on your stomach resembles the face of a Shar-pei - but for very good reason. You made a tiny HUMAN BEING within it!
  • You wouldn't know if your baby was ugly. It's better this way. Who would want to snuggle a trash can lid? You will stare into those shiny little eyes and know that this is the most amazingly awe-inspiring little one ever to have graced this Earth with its' tiny feet and mustard coloured poop.
  • When people have issue with your breastfeeding in public, stare at them and speak loudly at the person with you, "I can't believe they are eating in public! How disgusting!!" I believe breastfeeding is normal, natural and healthy. It seems that the over-sexualization of the breast in our society has done terrible things for our children's eating habits. Would you eating your lunch in a dirty, public bathroom stall? Blech.
  • Everyone may have an opinion on what you do and how you do it. YOU are the expert on your children. Trust your gut as you're the one who loves them the most and have their survival and mental well-being first and foremost....and you'll presumably be the one paying the therapy bills when they hit their teens.
  • Also, though you may be feel judged while others look on as your sweet, wee one pitches a holy fit atop the wood chips on the playground thus embedding thousands of tiny slivers beneath their soft skin to ensure a long and drawn out reminder of this damned humiliating venture to the local park; they most likely are just reminiscing over the fact that the only way to soothe their child's impending tantrum at the grocery store recently was to allow their kiddo to plunge a damp, chubby finger into their parent's nostril as they strolled down the aisles in the shopping cart....while all the other parents stared and thought about their most recent brush with 'CIH' (Child Inflicted Humiliation) .
  • Play with them whenever you can. Even singing "Super Planet Janet" for the fifty millionth time while you secure their lifejacket before swimming at your summer cabin will go a long way to defining you as a great and attentive parent.

Friday, December 10, 2010

what it is

Photo from golfest

Talking about being a widow is not something I always do....or want to do.
Sometimes I need to talk about it. Express why I am attending a social engagement alone. Assure others that I'm not a 'cast off' - that my husband left me because he was physically unable to stay....not because he found me in bed with my tennis instructor. Now and then, I have to purge the sadness by letting even grocery store clerks know that my husband died. At these times, I am quite skilled at wedging it into any conversation under any scenario.
Other times, the whole story of his loss seems a nuisance. I dance around the topic of the whole event until it is entirely necessary to mention the fact that he dropped dead for fear of having strange, unexplained holes in my stories and sounding like a lunatic.
I found myself in the latter situation tonight. I held off talking about it for as long as I could....and finally just stated, "My husband died in 2008".
I did not want to hear the "Oh! I'm SO sorry! I had no idea!" As I answered, "Yeah, well, it is what it is." And I realized just how over-used but very astute this saying is.
I felt slightly....resentful. Not for being a widow. I just didn't want to be different. I wanted to be one of the moms talking at the table about runny noses, bullies and fuel economy. I didn't want to feel marked by loss. I didn't want to be pitied. I didn't want to explain again what life is like alone. Because often, now, it just is.
I don't really know different anymore....because this is now my reality. And it is what it is.

Friday, December 03, 2010

the wishlist

My children are aware that Christmas is in 23 days. Already they are making their preparations for the big day. Snow flakes already adore most of the windows in our house, our advent calendar is hanging above the fireplace and letters to Santa are ready to post. After ruminating long and hard over what she would write, my eight year old daughter, Liv, stood up from the kitchen table with a letter for Santa clutched in her skinny, little hands. Hope and excitement lit her face.
"Do you think Santa can bring whatever you ask for if you only ask for one thing?", she whispered.
"It depends what it is, I suppose", I answered nervously imagining pink polka-dotted unicorns and hot-air balloon rides to the moon being requested. I was surprised when she handed over her note.
Her words make me vacillate between laughter and tears....
I don't know what I'd do without these little people who make life so much harder and some much more bearable in one motion.

P.S. Briar asked for a remote control monster truck taller than his head. Not as emotionally charged, but certainly enough to strike fear in a mother's heart. How the HECK is Santa going to pull off Christmas????