Friday, September 13, 2013

Loads of back-to-school blessings

First things first.  After being pee-trained since April! Bryson started pooping on the potty on a consistent basis.  So after 8 years, 10 months, and weeks....I am finally DONE changing poopy diapers, once and for all (I hope!)!  Also, Uncle Matt can finally babysit all three of my kids at once without Heather, now that the possibility of poo is not in the mix.  Ha.

We saw our first movie in the theatre as a family of five!  Also Bryson and Lily's first movie in the theatre.  It was a great last day of summer!  
Remember how Lily didn't want to hold my hand at the Ice Cream Social?  Ouch.  Well on the first day of school, I took the day off work, and I walked them to their classrooms, and she held my hand most of the way.  She was a little bit weird when I dropped her off at her classroom, because we'd been in Addie's class too long, so I took a snap and bolted.  But after school, she held my hand the whole way to the car, and from the car to stores to look for a new dress and from the car to Red Robin to get root beer and recap the day.  The real blessing here was not that she held my hand, but that I paid attention.  I felt her hand in my heart, I savored it, I was grateful for as much time as she would let me hold.  My heart was so happy.  

In Addie's soccer game last Saturday she scored 5 goals.  She was awesome.  Or should I say Osum? She was also a little cocky confident, I heard that after her third goal she was holding up three fingers back down the field.  

Lawrence and I did the Warrior Dash together.  I was awesome.  I'm only sort of kidding, I really impressed myself.  After planning to sort of dial it in and skip obstacles I didn't want to do, I got going and pushed hard.  We ran the whole race together and I did every obstacle.  One I needed a little boost from Lawrence and one I fell off of.  But I did it, and it was a great time.

Lily set a goal for herself to read 75 books over the summer, she did that and more.  Now she has read up all the box car children books that I got at the library and is ready for number 30-40 to be reserved at the library.  I LOVE the teacher she got this year.

My company had a "summer party" on the second day of school.  That was not the blessing part.  It was at OMSI and while we didn't spend a whole lot of time connecting with work people it was a really fun family night.  Since I work downtown, Lawrence met me there with the kids.  As Lily and I were leaving, I looked across at our city.  It was so beautiful in the setting sun.  I made my girl go stand in front of the skyline to add to the beauty.

Actually I will make that it's own blessing.  I LOVE all the kid's teachers this year.  Teachers are so awesome.

This was our first week with no nanny.  I have had someone in my house, taking care of my kids, at least on a part time basis, since Addie was born.  This week went great.  Lawrence went in early and I was on my own.  I got up early, everyone got up and ready with happy hearts and on time.  I even left that house cleanish.  Did you hear that?  Happy. Hearts. And. On. Time.  Mamas of three know what a miracle this is.

On Monday, we pulled up to Bryson's new 2 day a week childcare provider, let's call her "SuperSitter". She helped us out earlier in the year when our nanny had her surgery.  Bryson announced as we pulled up, "I LOVE SuperSitter's house!!"  I LOVED hearing that.  And I already told you yesterday how well he did at Preschool.  This kid is loving that he isn't getting left at home anymore, he has places to be, things to do! Blessing!

I survived a grueling two day New York Sales Tax Audit this week.  Not a blessing per se, but I work with some great ladies who helped me pull FOUR HUNDRED AND THIRTY additional records from the last 4 years that the auditor requested last minute. It was not pretty, but...It's done!

A few days ago, Addie was excited to tell me that she played football at recess with her best friend C who isn't in her class this year.  The next day I asked her if she played football with the boys again, she said, 'They don't really pass to me, I just run all around and stuff".  Awesome.

In other news, Addie and Bryson both have their first recess this year, it is pretty much the best thing for each of them.  

The week before school started Addie had her oral challenge to test for Peanuts after having 2 negative skin tests and 2 negative blood tests, after 5 years of her allergy getting worse and worse, it is gone!  We had an ice cream party to celebrate, with lots of peanut toppings!
I have been a little off this week, as I mentioned yesterday.  I've been making things work, getting there on time, being proud of the little things, but jeez at the end of the day, I am spent.  Lawrence has been making up the difference.  Yesterday he coached Lily's soccer team of 10 girls alone with Bryson on the side lines (good friends who are parents of the other kids on the team - BLESSING!).  He has just been in a great mood.  I don't love it when one of us is feeling slumpy, but I love the way we work together as a team.  

Having Lawrence on my team, might not be the one I give them most attention to, but it's also my biggest blessing of all.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Rawness of Back to School

All the back to school busyness has left me kind of raw.  Very raw actually.  I’ve been thinking about it a lot, trying to figure out why.  Is this year different?  Is it because my baby is in preschool now, and Addie in full day?  Is it because we no longer have our nanny?

There is certainly the fact that my babies are getting bigger.  That’s great.  And hard.  And sad.  And awesome.  And fleeting.  But that alone is not at the heart the rawness that I feel.

Third grade.  Lily is a 3rd grader.  That’s part of it.  Man, kids were mean to me in third grade.  As an adult, a successful, well-adjusted adult, I have had multiple people come to me as adults to apologize for how they treated me as a kid.  I’ve always brushed it off as ‘kids are mean’, as that is what we said before bullying was a district-wide curriculum word.  But just the other day, I was thinking about this rawness.  And third grade was rough, they were mean.  Mean, mean.  The fact that adult men and women, who have lived 25+ years of life since that time still feel so sick and guilty inside for the way they treated me, the fact that they contact me on Facebook to apologize…well that’s how mean.   So, it’s okay if I have a little bit of scarring when I think about sending my kid off to grade 3. Don’t get me wrong.  I had friends, I didn’t walk around school with my head held low, my mama loved me like nobody’s business, I was the best big sister on the block, I was too smart for my own good…I didn’t let it ruin me.  But when my little girl walks out the door to third grade…it hurts.  The little Jenny inside of me feels afraid for how third grade feels.  The mama in me knows that she is different and wonderful, and the kids she hangs out with are different and wonderful.  But still, I’m scared.  Because kids are still mean.   

The next thing I’m noticing about back-to-school is the constant state of comparison I have going in my own head.  The tireless what if…what if I was that kind of mama?  what if I didn’t have to worry about this or that?  what if my kid didn’t have to ride the bus?  what if I volunteered more?  what if I got to work earlier?  what if we had less toys.  Seriously.  I’m reading blogs about it, validating blogs, articles about how we are all doing okay.  Things we all should read.  Your okay and my okay don’t look the same and that’s okay.  How liberating.  But why do I feel the need to read another mom’s articulation of what’s okay for her to make sure I’m doing alright?   I am an advocate of other moms and of myself.  I never want to be in any discussion that reeks of mom vs mom.  My ways barely work for me, so I certainly won’t push them on anyone else.  I can feel convicted about how I want things to be, regardless of how different my reality looks, I will even work hard for those things, but I won't judge others in order to see the value in myself.  It makes me sad that by the time I get this all figured out, it will be nearly over and re-do just isn’t an option.  My kids will be out there in the world with all the best and worst of how I've treated them and how they treated each other. 

Last week I go to preschool with Bryson and I feel nervous and awkward.  I’m the only working mom in the class, I’m the only one who has a youngest child in the class.  I’m not used to that.  My hands feel weirdly empty, like they should be busier soothing a baby or picking up a puzzle that my toddler spilled.  I’m not in yoga pants because my nanny will be meeting me in the parking lot after this little orientation so I can rush off and be late to work.  I’m not doting on him like a first child, and he doesn’t need me like the other kids in the class seem to need their moms.  He can't get enough of his new teacher.  Want's every minute of her time.  This feels awkward, like I’ve never felt before, and I leave feeling like I won't fit in with all the wonderfully nice moms I've just met, and that makes me sad.  But then 5 days later it is time to drop him off for his first real day of preschool.  The first day when the mamas leave.  What was awkward a few days ago, feels good now.  Some of these three-year-olds have never been left before.  They are crying out in pain and anguish.  Their mamas are crying too.  The pain in the family is palpable, and in one case, seeing it brings tears to my eyes, I’m hurting for how much they are hurting.  Bryson goes in happily, confidently, and there is not a doubt in my mind that he won’t.  He is all joy.  He has been waiting for this day as long as he can remember.  He got toted here in a car seat, lost here in the halls as a toddler, and waited for his sisters many times at the end of the hall in the parent area.  Now it is his turn to go into his classroom, and his heart could not be more full.  I look at him and I feel proud.  I look at the crying kids and I feel bad that my boy happily waves “ga-bye mama” after a quick hug.  I know I shouldn’t.  I’m happy because my boy is not sad.  Am I a better mama because my kid didn’t cry at preschool drop off?  No, of course not…

But I’m reminded for the millionth time in this parenting journey that there are more ways than one to do this well.  I'm getting validation from my child's happy face.  The one of three faces where I should be looking for it.  

So raw isn’t a sad word or a happy word.  It’s that my heart feels more on the outside that usual.  Which is, you know, saying a lot coming from me.  I’m noticing my failures and my successes a little more often.  I’m loving what I am, but mourning what I am not.  I can taste the tears and laughter of my own childhood.  And during this time I take a few vacation days to savor the time with them.  Then I work hard and efficiently to make the most of my time at the office.  Then I wake up early and stumble to the coffee pot to remember I am God’s child and spend time being still.  To feel that God is love.  And I am loved.  

And this raw life is beautiful and good, and it’s mine and I’m proud of it.  My kids will have their own kid hurts that make them raw, but it probably won’t be the third grade, or going to preschool for the first time.  It will be things that I can’t and do not want to anticipate.  There are beautiful blessings everywhere.  Tomorrow I will be careful to notice them.  

Be where you are, because where you are is pretty great!