Saturday, June 27, 2015

How cute are they?

I usually think my girls could care less about what I am currently working on - whether it is my paintings or my freelance illustration. They just like to come into my studio and use all of my supplies and then hang up their art all over the walls. Otherwise they are very blase about it: an artist is about as exciting as a bank teller in their world. 

The other day we were shopping, and as I checked things off of my list I turned around to see my girls hunting for my cards. Monrovia had one in her hand, "Isn't this yours mommy?" Much to my surprise, it was! And my cute little hunters looked through the entire section to find my cards. They were  melting my heart with their earnest smiles (which was a good turn of events, since about five minutes before I had threatened to walk out of the store if they didn't stop bickering!)

Monrovia announced that the store should order more of my thank you cards, and Ruby insisted a card of a popsicle covered in glitter should be one that I made. My two opinionated munchkins! I guess they pay more attention than I think they do. 

Happy weekend!

Life is Messy

I've been thinking a lot about how messy life is.

Sunday was Father's Day and two days ago would have been my parents 42nd anniversary, and both are bittersweet days for me. The pain is no longer acute, but it's funny to me how things will come up out of nowhere - an email from someone connected to the last day I saw my dad, a comment he writes on a relative's Facebook page, running into someone who knew me a long time ago when my parents were together- that remind me of how when relational fracture happens it doesn't just go away. We carry it around with in our bodies and in our memories. It doesn't just affect one person, but it reverberates out and affects small communities of people.

On Sunday, as I was thinking about Father's Day, I thought about good things about my own dad, even though now it is so hard to sift through the past and know what was true and what wasn't. I'll never know how many years ago my dad started lying to me, and what he did and didn't lie about. Sometimes I'll remember something that happened many years ago that didn't add up at the time, and I'll work it through in my mind, wondering if that too was a lie and that's why it didn't make sense at the time. That said, I know my dad loved me. It was flawed, as all love is, and the reality of it versus the projected public version of it feels like two different entities, but it was still love. I know there were things my dad gifted my family that I am thankful for.

Then I started thinking about Matt: what a good dad he is, how he rounds me out, and gives the girls habits and qualities that I wouldn't be able to. I started thinking about all of the other men I know who have modeled good dad qualities to me over the years, and who do the same now to my own children. So instead of dwelling on the messy and the hard, and the parts of Father's Day that feel sucky, I decided to think about and be grateful for all of those people.

On my parents' would-have-been-anniversary I thought of the same thing...the parts of my parents' marriage that taught me, supported me and shaped me, and the marriages around me that scaffold me now, that encourage and inspire Matt and me in our own marriage. I remember before Matt and I were married, we met with a bunch of married couples to get advice and wisdom before getting married. One of the couples we met with was my parents. At the time my parents were still married. A piece of advice that my dad gave me was that you can always learn something from another couple- no matter how much you don't like their relationship or regardless of how different it is from your own. So in the spirit of that, I often try to think of the things I learned from my dad or from my parents marriage, despite all of the pain and disruption that happened towards the end of my relationship with my dad. You can always learn.

The messy isn't going anywhere, and so for today at least, I see the mess and make some mud pies out of it all.

Friday, June 19, 2015

On Growing Up & Growing Old

Dear Little M,

When I first started writing this blog you were a newborn, just hatched into the world. So much was unknown back then; I'd never been a mom before, and as much as I couldn't wait to be a mom- your mom- I also wasn't quite sure how exactly to be a parent. Add on that we'd just found out you were deaf? I felt a little bit like I was doggy paddling out in the middle of a large body of water with no rescue boat in sight. But then, because it's life, you just have to make your way and head into the unknown because the next day is bound to come whether you want it to or not.

I make a lot of mistakes as a mom and in all the other life parts too: as a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. That's life too: we are human beings and so we mess up a lot, and then hopefully learn enough from the messing up to do it a little better the next time. There are so many days that I want to rewind and change what I've just said to you or Ruby because I know I didn't do it that well. I let my frustration or impatience come out of my mouth instead of kindness, grace and love. Sometimes I hear you scolding Ruby or talking back to me, and if I close my eyes it's my own voice I hear.

So here we are, seven years into life for you, seven years into parenthood for me.

Here you are on the first and last day of first grade.
It feels like this year sped by even faster than Kindergarten! In some ways I just want to freeze time, and keep you at this age forever. It's so much fun to be your mom, even though I still learn every day how to be a good parent to you and Ruby. But I also see how you are maturing, and I can't wait to find out who you become over time. 

This was a year jam packed with emotions- I am trying teach you to be patient, kind and to slow down when you feel all the big stuff coursing through your little body. You have so many feels: the joy, the grief, the frustration, the anger, the impatience, the delight. Lots of feelings, just like your mama. This year those feelings have intensified, and while you practice having those emotions and knowing what to do with them, I'm working on giving you good boundaries for how and when to show them. I don't always do that super well- sometimes I cut you off when you just need to try out your anger to see what happens, or I snuggle you when you really need some space. 

This was also a year full of learning! You had an amazing teacher (and two great student teachers) and every day you came home with new stories spilling out about what you'd learned that day. You are reading so well now, even though it's been a lot of really intentional for you! You soaked up new ways of doing math, discovered history, and loved science. You learned how to write your first essay with a begging, middle and end! You worked hard to speak up when you couldn't hear something in class, and you taught your classmates all about cochlear implants and being deaf. 

What makes me most proud is that aside from all of your growth academically and in the classroom, that your teacher told us how compassionate and thoughtful you are: you stick up for kids when they are being left out, you help others when they are hurt, and that you always include others.  
I'm so proud of who you are becoming as you navigate the world. Grateful for your laughter, your generosity, your sensitivity, your insight, your kindness, your tender heart, your imagination and bravery. 

I love being your mom, even when it's really hard and I feel like I'm botching all of it. There are days, hours, minutes, where I am at a loss because you are pushing so hard and I am reacting to everything you are saying and doing without taking pause to remember that you are a child, and that I am an adult, and that you need me to show you how to push appropriately. I'm sorry for the times I am more concerned with managing your behavior and getting you under control than I am with listening to what you really need, and in being patient, gentle and slow to anger. Forgive me for sometimes wanting the quick solution instead of the better route of compassion and positive discipline.
When it comes down to it, I think being a parent is a lot like being a kid. We are both trying to figure out how to be in this world, and how to take on every new stage with the tools we've got. We move toward each other and then away from each other, in different roles to be sure, but learning from each interaction.
I hope I'm teaching you well, my little one, how to engage life, how to mess up and ask for forgiveness, how to be wounded and still extend forgiveness, how to laugh at yourself, how to try over, how to stick to something, how to work hard, how to pray, how to ask for help, how to love others, how to feel confident in your own skin, how to use your words, how to share, how to know when to keep fighting and when to throw in the towel, how to be vulnerable and how to be strong. You're certainly teaching me all of those things just by being you. 


Thursday, June 18, 2015

here, not here

this week my family is here, in this amazing and peaceful place, for a much-needed reboot:
and then this morning, i happened to click on my facebook feed and see the horrifying news from charleston, south carolina of the massacre of nine african american people at a prayer meeting by a racist young man. i can't get it out of my mind - the ugliness of racism in our country. i can't get how nine more human beings have been murdered because of the color of their skin. the beauty of this lake- with water that runs cold and clear, with the sound of lapping waves that lull me to sleep at night- can't make me stop thinking of the cost of lives taken, yet again, of my brothers and sisters who are black. 

i don't have any lucid thoughts. only grief. 

lord, have mercy.