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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

Right this minute, as I type this, all three of my children are in grammar school. My girls, my baby girls, are in kindergarten. My beloved first born, in fourth grade.

I’m once again overwhelmed by a parenting milestone. Emotional, and even, yes, a little teary-eyed.

This time around, I did not sob publicly at the bus stop, as I had done when my son boarded the bus on that first full day of kindergarten. He was completely perplexed that a day that gave him such a thrill caused me such obvious sorrow.

As he boarded that yellow bus, I cried. Yes I cried. I cried, not because my son was leaving me, or that I worried about his ability to do well in kindergarten. I cried because my son was going off onto the bus that would take him to the world where I could no longer protect him. I put him on that bus and with him went all the impossible dreams shared by all parents. We want our children to sail easily through life. No tragedies. No missteps. We want our sons and daughters to be beloved by all, to succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

And so they go to school, and that’s why I cried. When I think of school, I remember being inspired by the rare great teacher but I also remember unending boredom at the hands of people who no longer cared for teaching. I remember the cruelty of children towards other children. I’ve sent my children off into that world and I hope I’ve given them the skills they need to thrive, but I worry. One cannot help but worry.

This year, I held it together on Monday, the open-house day, when the parents got to go to school with their kindergartners.

I held it together when the teacher read a poem about the fears parents had the night before the first day.

I held it together yesterday, when my baby girls got off the big yellow bus by themselves, after their first full day in the classroom.

I held it together – and even enjoyed the family back-to-school barbecue last night.

Today, I’m a mess. I’m a mess because I’ve launched my babies into the world and yes, it’s all good – they’re ready.

But I’m a mess because maybe, just maybe, I’m not ready for my obsolescence.

Nearly ten years ago I became a parent, and was immediately overwhelmed by the constancy of my baby’s need. He ate all the time; he slept hardly ever. Between the two, I was literally blown away by how tethered I felt as the mother of a newborn.

Then the twins came, and I was tethered, yes, but used to it by then. I had learned to fit pieces of me into little slices of naptime and other bits of time like that.

And then my son went to kindergarten and my girls went to preschool.

And today, they’re all in grammar school. All three of them are “big kids” now. And my life as the mother of babies has come to an end forever.

Today, I am sad.

Tomorrow I will celebrate this milestone. But I never realized how much of parenthood was learning to let go….

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And yes, since this is June and we are only mid-way through 2009, this is a wrap-up of the school year.

It was a great one, this year. And the end of it leaves me a little sad. Last year (2007 – 2008) was not so great for one of my children. The teacher was absent so many times, she would have been declared a truant, had she been a student herself. The endless parade of substitutes (all different from the last) made a tough year almost impossible.

This year was different. This year, all three of my children had teachers who loved doing what they were doing. They showed up. They cared. They let me prattle on with my worries and my concerns. They created an environment that allowed my children to flourish.

And they saw promise in all the children they taught.

We live in a world where people in the financial community have turned “bonus” into a debacle – who insist that there’s no reason to work at a place if you can’t make astronomical sums of money, regardless if you succeed or fail.

Teachers – good teachers, that is – show how nonsensical the Wall Street way really is. Teachers make okay money – not great – not awful. When they do their job well, however, it has a benefit that lasts for a lifetime.

My children received a golden bonus this year for sure – they all had wonderful teachers who were passionate about their work and their students. A great teacher is a priceless gift to students – something no “bonus” or amount of money can quantify.

And so I end this year full of appreciation for a job very well done by our teachers – and a little sad to say good-by to people who’ve made such a positive difference in the lives of my children.

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Shortly after my girls were born five years ago, I was given a gift certificate to 1154 Lill Studio, a fabulous boutique in Lincoln Park where you get to customize a purse by selecting fabrics and a design of your choice.

Immediately after I received the certificate, we moved out of the city to the ‘burbs and the certificate languished in a drawer for four years, forgotten. I found the expired certificate a couple of weeks ago, called the store, which made the delightful decision to honor the certificate anyway, despite its age and expired status.

Last week I headed into the city with my daughters to utilize the gift certificate. A field trip to the old sod, Chicago, a city I had called home for 20 years before moving to the ‘burbs.

(In all honesty, suburbia had not factored prominently in my life’s goal, but three kids tipped the scales in favor of a move out of the city four years ago….)

So I went back to the city, back with my daughters, who were just six months old when we moved. We had a good time at the purse studio, picking out a new purse (after I realized I needed to seat the wild things known as my daughters and have them utilize their energy drawing lovely pictures of hearts and flowers.)

We had lunch at the Athenian Room – and then I decided to give them of a tour of my life before babies. We drove by my first city apartment – and Nora, my sweet, emotional, intuitive Nora asked me, “Is that where you lived back when you was real, mommy?”

Her question caught me off-guard. (more…)

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And I’m not talking about the boozy kind.

As a working mom, holidays are hard – hard enough that I actually had a nightmare about Easter not too long ago. I dreamed I had completely forgotten Easter – and woke up filled with anxiety.

Whenever a holiday rolls around and I’ve added Santa – or the Easter Bunny – or St. Valentine – or whatever – to my limitless list of roles I need to play, the anxiety bubbles up.

How will I get it all done?

My nightmare about Easter kicked my planning in high gear. We don’t go overboard with gifts – but I had actually patted myself on the back for my organizational skills this year. I had all my Easter Bunny tasks done with days to spare!

And I felt quite proud until 10 p.m. the night before Easter, when I gathered up bunches of green cellophane Easter grass, chocolate eggs and the little gifts from Target so I could assemble the baskets.

And I realized that some stuff was missing – like a box of Leggos and a small game for my son.

I checked the Target receipt – and yes, I paid for them. I had left them at the counter several days earlier.

Suddenly it hit me – my advance preparation had left me ill-prepared with my oversight in the checkout lane.

I moved some stuff around from the girls baskets to his – and went to bed worrying that they would notice the less then full Easter baskets.

The kids woke up and were thrilled. My husband made a face at me across our cups of coffee. The kids were hardly deprived with a total of three Easter egg hunts throughout the weekend. We saw a whole bunch of members of our extended family. Soccer started too. They had a blast last weekend – despite the lack of leggos.

Don’t know why I worry so much. But I do – because that’s on my list of things to be as a mom too – worrier-in-chief.

However, I learned this Easter that the “stuff” isn’t nearly as important as the chance to celebrate with family – a lesson I can thank my children for teaching me.

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A little while ago, my sister invited all three of my children to come over for a slumber party at her house. It was the first time my husband and I had spent a night without children in a very long time.

We were all excited for the slumber party. My husband and I were particularly excited to sleep late the next morning – we had plans to attend my friend’s birthday party in the city and rejoiced in the possibility of sleeping past 6:30 a.m. for the first time in almost a decade.

(Of course, our smoke detector’s battery went out at precisely 5:45 a.m. that morning, creating an unholy din that meant we got up even earlier than we normally do… proving once again that life happens when you want to sleep late.)

My children thoroughly enjoyed their slumber party – there was not the merest possiblity of sleeping late at that house that morning. When it was time to make pancakes for breakfast, the girls wanted to help out with cooking. My sister offered to let them crack an egg, a concept that was as thrilling to my daughters as the idea of sleeping late was for us. According to my sister, here’s their response:

“My mommy doesn’t let me crack eggs,” Lindsey told my sister.

My mommy doesn’t let me crack eggs either,” Nora added, as if shocked to learn her mother imposed the same rules as Lindsey’s mom.

When my children arrived home, we heard nothing but stories about cracking eggs for a long time to come.

So the mother of both Lindsey and Nora has let both her daughters get on the egg-cracking bandwagon. And it’s still a thrilling adventure.

Let’s just say – our baked goods are crunchier than they used to be…. but that’s okay.

And as you can imagine, it is essential to find recipes that require at least two eggs….

Lindsey at work making banana bread

Lindsey at work making banana bread

Crack the egg gently - and often - on the side of the bowl...

Crack the egg gently - and often - on the side of the bowl...

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I live with a tornado.

His name is Aidan.

Aidan playing hard on the field....

Aidan playing hard on the field....

He’s fierce. He’s competitive.

Look at that concentration in his face!

Look at that concentration in his face!

But at times, it’s like living with a whirling swirl of energy.

Sometimes I FIND MYSELF EMULATING A FOG HORN – in an attempt to be heard over the din.

Sometimes I am reminded of Gertrude Stein and her rose that was a rose that was a rose. I repeat I repeat I repeat – because of my belief that repetition will surely enhance the likelihood of the message being received.

But sometimes I’m lucky – and the tornado sweeps me up into Oz, where we explore a bright and magical landscape that I’d otherwise never see.

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I had a horrible dream the other night – not a nightmare exactly, but one that left me riddled with anxiety when I awoke.

It was about Easter. (more…)

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