Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All Blocked Up

Seriously?...out of words?  How is that even possible?  There were so many all day today, and now...nothing? I suppose it could be this stifling pressure that is simply sitting on these bones below my eyes.  See...I couldn't even think to say cheekbone, or eye sockets or skull.  Really?!? "bones below my eyes?" That's terrible.

You shouldn't be subjected to this.  The ramblings of a writer who promised herself that she would write every day and now she is hopelessly wordless. 

I's 'cause I'm coming down from the high of completing yet another chapter draft.  No, no, that's not it...It's gotta' be because Pappa Sprout is coming home to see us tomorrow.  That's what it is, I am hopelessly  distracted by the return of my love...

Excuse me...I was laughing too hard to continue, plus when I read those couple of sentences over I saw one of my pet peeves.  I pride myself in not using the same word in the same paragraph, much less the same sentence.  Damn, I did it again!

This is like drunk driving.  Writing while in this frame of mind is downright irresponsible.  Someone could get hurt.

This block is because I am plain wiped out. 

So, instead of using my words to finish out this profound and life-changing blog post, I will use my favorite quotes from the Sprouts this week.

I think I'll start with Middle Sprout because she is usually, um, in the middle.  Anyway, her quote of the week is actually a phone conversation I overheard.  Talking on the phone with a friend is new to her, but I am sure the start of a probable lifelong habit.  Middle Sprout, "Oh, okay, you want me to tell you the movies we have in our cabinet?  OK, we have Bug's Life and Incredibles and Toy Story and..." she continued until she had listed EVERY SINGLE movie we own.  No doubt, she will change the world someday.

Little Sprout blessed me with her quote yesterday on the way to her last day of school at this particular preschool.  I said, "You know, honey, we are going to be a little early because you wouldn't stop asking when we were going to go."  "Oh, that's okay mom, I just love school...and I am not a good patient." It's probably a good thing we have another year of preschool to prep for Kindergarten.

And finally...the coup de gras...Big Sprout was looking over my shoulder at my college yearbook as I flipped through. (No...I don't do that often...I never even bought one...long story, long a new friend of mine happened to be a yearbook distributor in the city where I went to college the year I was a senior, and she just happened to have a copy, so she gave it to me, and I was looking at the pictures)'re so nosy.  Anyway, he noticed a rather seedy-looking fellow who was lounging on a couch at what appeared to be a college party.  He looked as if he had been there a while.  I laughed and said, too loudly, under my breath, "Wonder what he was smoking."  Big Sprout laughed too and said, "I bet he was smoking weeds."

So with that, I leave the keyboard for the night.  I fear I would be useless in my editing and I would have to scrap any draft-writing that I did tonight anyway, so instead I am going to take my stuffy little nose and go to bed.  Hopefully in the morning all the blockages that plague me tonight will be gone.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What are you Waiting For?

Last Friday I think I hit my waiting threshold.  I waited patiently for a few minutes until I realized that our scheduled babysitter was not coming, and then I loaded up Little Sprout and prepared for a trip to work with her as an unscheduled guest.  I waited for my computer to logon...and eventually realized that it was helplessly broken.  I waited for the computer techie people to come save my laptop...this waiting included occupying Little Sprout with the few gadgets I have in my office, and we waited, and waited and waited for three hours until it was time to leave to meet the other sprouts coming home from school, and I simply closed up my laptop and took it home broken.  I dusted off our desktop and realized that I had not waited that long for a computer to boot in years.  I spent the weekend waiting for webpages to load and the letters that I typed to slowly appear on the screen.  I am done waiting.  It is truly wasted energy.

I'm ready to let this one go.  Waiting makes me angry.  It is an act that I do when I am not happy to be where I am doing what I am, and I am impatient to get to somewhere else. In past years, I have spent the days during my husbands' absence waiting for him to come home.  I haven't really done that this year.  I have chosen living over waiting, and you know what...time goes by much faster!  So please call me on it, if you hear that I have waited for anything.

Instead of waiting for the techies to come save me...I pushed Little Sprout in a rolling office chair and she and I pretended we were traveling to the moon.

Instead of waiting for the computer to fire up, I made coffee or wrote notes or refereed squabbling children.

So, being the incessant planner that I am, I have decided to come up with a plan for all the times that I will likely have to wait...

Waiting in traffic will become...rocking out with chair dancing and concert-style singing.  If there isn't any good music on I'll just pump my fist to get truckers to honk or make up stories about the people in the cars around me.

Waiting in line at the post office or the grocery store will be devoted to conversations with my fellow waiters and if they don't want to talk, I'll just make up stories about the plans they have based on the packages they carry or the food they are planning to buy.

Waiting in the waiting room or in lines at the airport or for luggage to arrive need to be about more than waiting.  It takes energy to be creative in these settings, and it is easy to be sucked into the "waiting" malaise, but I want to make the conscience choice to do more than just wait.

It is not mind-blowing advice to suggest that we should choose a different activity instead of waiting, but that is indeed what I plan to do.  Waiting is inactive, living is active, and Lord knows I don't like to sit still. So my questions for the week are:  What are you waiting for? and how can you live instead?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Marking a Decade

Ten years ago today I was waddling around the high school where I taught, scooping up good-bye cards and well wishes. I felt more energized than I had in weeks and I was looking forward to the few days before Big Sprout was due to arrive. I was relieved I had not had a water-breaking incident in front of a class of sophomores...I would have been mortified, but I am fairly certain it would have been more traumatizing for them. Early the next morning...7:30 am...I got up to go to the bathroom, and as I stood up out of bed I thanked God for the puddle that had waited to pool at my feet until I was in my own home.

Baby bag...check.  Overnight bag...check. Towels...check.  Husband...check. Off to the hospital. The delivery was a story all unto itself, but we survived.  I finally got to hold him, I mean really hold him, two hours after he was born and after I was all stapled back together.  I'll never forget how that felt and how overwhelmed my heart was.  I had no idea, that it would only continue to swell over the next ten years.

That's right!  Our firstborn turns ten tomorrow, and this is by far the hardest birthday I have been a part of in my life.  It is always those birthdays that end in zero that are supposed to give us pause.  I remember my monumental 10th birthday, I looked around briefly when I turned 20 because that is just about how much time I had to look, and when I turned 30, I was pregnant with our third and I definitely knew I was at a monumental year, but I didn't have a lot of energy for birthday introspection.  Maybe I'll give it a whirl when I turn 40...but for now, it is the big guy's zero-ending birthday that has brought me to tears all week.

I can't help but to go over in my head how he has changed in the last ten years, but what really gets to me is when I calculate the ways I've changed.

Ten years ago:
I didn't know how to file a baby's fingernails...
I didn't know how scary it would be to have a sick kid...
I didn't know how to change an explosion diaper on the front seat of a truck...
I didn't know how hard it would be to let a baby cry it out when he was old enough...
I didn't know how happy I could be when a toddler's hand rubbed my belly feeling for a new baby to kick...
I didn't know that I could smile that big watching him fish with his dad...
I didn't know there could be a kinder and gentler big brother in the entire world.
and I didn't know that I could love someone this much.

I also didn't know that I would get to his tenth birthday and start grieving what is going to happen in the next decade.  I have spent a lot of energy and time, these past ten years,  learning how to let him grow.  Making sure he started to gain weight, teaching him to apologize when he did something wrong, letting him talk out his conflicts with other kids, letting him fall: on his skates, off his bike, sliding into home. Letting him face real consequences for bad decisions. Although I am not perfect, I do think I have learned pretty well how to best  let him grow...but the next decade I will have to learn how it is that I can best let him go.  That just makes me cry.  By the time we celebrate his next zero-ending birthday he will have had his first date, his first kiss, his first solo drive in a car, his high school diploma, and he'll have college squarely on his mind.  That and so many other experiences that I can not yet predict will be how life goes in the next decade.  As we trudge through the coming years, more and more, the life that he leads will be away from me, and that is what makes me sad.

It is the way it should be, and standing here in the middle of the see-saw looking at how perfectly balanced I feel between what he has already done and what he is poised to do, I hope the walk down that other side  is slow enough that I can enjoy it, just a little.  He is a light in our lives and a presence I can hardly imagine being without.  I suppose I'll feel more ready when we actually are at that next zero-ending birthday, but if's gonna' hurt like hell.  I'm so proud of this decade's worth of work, and I am steeling myself for the even harder years to come.

Happy Tenth Birthday Big Sprout!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Weather you Like it or Not

When I report that the four straight days of clouds, rain, and unseasonably cold temperatures has lifted and I woke up to sunshine this morning... you get it.  You can hear the smile in my writing.  When I read the Facebook blurbs from my friends:  "Snow again in MAY!" and "cracked out the rain boots" and "baseball probably canceled for the third time again tonight"  I get it too.  Weather has such a huge impact on our lives, and I think sometimes we write it off when a conversation starts there.

"It's so surface.  All he does is talk about the weather," I can hear you complaining.

And I know, there are people like that.  Maybe there is more being said than we hear. I am starting to understand the big joke about the old couple sitting on the porch talking about yesterday's weather, looking at the skies and doing their best to predict how the day's weather is going to go.

Why do we talk about the weather so much?  Well, first of all, I think it is the safest common ground for all of us.  Or rather, common sky.  It is one of the life forces over which we have no control, and we experience the changes in weather in much the same way as the person next to us.  Maybe the old people on the porch only need the weather to propel their conversations and their relationships.  Maybe they know that, because they have lived through enough weather patterns and storms, that the weather reports say enough.

Rain = Sad      
Five days straight of rain = annoyed and/or possibly miserable.  
First snow for the winter   =  excitement
500th snow in February = enough already
Snow in May = nearing insanity
Thunderstorms = fascination and anxiety

We want to control our environments, and although we cannot control the things that the clouds will do on a given day, working to predict their movements and trying to understand what they are doing gives us back a modicum amount of control.  I personally enjoy both the science and the beauty that is the weather. 

Last night, at the end of day four of miserably cold and wet weather, there was a crack in the clouds, and I mean crack.  The sun shone through the breaking clouds while the misty rain continued to fall.  I knew that there was going to be a rainbow.  I pointed that out to Little Sprout, after she perked up at the new presence of the sun.  She ran around the corner and she yelled, "Mom, you're right, there is a HUGE rainbow in the sky!"  It may very well be the first rainbow that she consciously understands.  I remember my awestruck realization that rainbows were possible when I saw probably the brightest rainbow of my life on the heels of an impressive Colorado thunderstorm when I was probably eight or nine years old.

So, when I stood in the rain last night with my daughter and gaped at the sky-sized rainbow, it was all I wanted to talk about.  This morning when I sense the new energy that has arrived with the sun, it too is all I want to talk about.  So when my FB post for the day reads: "Rainbow last night after four days of clouds and rain and glorious sunshine this morning"  you get it...and you get me.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mothered, Grandmothered and Mothering

Summer 2009  Four Generations

I'm late with my Mother's Day gift for my mom and although my grandma's card was ready to go out yesterday, it is sitting by the phone.  Yes, it is only the Friday before the actual holiday, but I know the package I sent yesterday will not get to my mom until Tuesday, and because my grandma's card won't be in the mailbox until today, she won't get hers on time either.  I'm losing my touch.  I used to be so on top of things.  That was...until...I became a mother.

Look what these kids have done to me.  I can hardly believe that I am okay with the state of my house on any given day.  I used to follow my firstborn around as he crawled and put his toys back in the toy basket so that I didn't have to pick up the huge mess when he was ready to go to bed.  Now, I barely even look at the clutter as I drag myself up to bed some nights, too tired to properly brush me teeth.  I get to it eventually, and when the toilet in the kids' bathroom looks like it does right now...well, I will likely run a brush around it at some point today too.

If you were to gauge my mothering skills by the way I wake up to my house sometimes, I would surely never win a mothering award. Evidenced in this photo I took just as I wrote this and resisting an urge to pick anything up first.  I guess I should explain to you all that I separate mothering from homemaking, and I am much better at the first than I am at the latter.

Our house is not filthy, it is just cluttered. The kids clothes aren't grimy, they are just well-worn. All of it reflects the life that happens here.  I'm not perfect at it, but I spend more of my energy and time on the health and well-being of the kids inside those wrinkled and stained clothes.  The things we do creates clutter, and then when I am more organized, we spend our energy together getting re-organized:  a duty of a mother to teach the kids how to clean up after themselves too.

Every mother knows that the hardest job she will EVER have is to mother the children in her home.  There are some common experiences that all mothers share, but each job is unique and challenging because what is bottled in each home is different than the next.  We all do the best we can and there is a reason we should celebrate the diversity that is motherhood.  That's why I wanted to get out my cards and gifts on time.

The cup in the background of my picture is the Mother's Day gift that Little Sprout brought home from preschool.  It is uniquely from her with the buttons placed where only my Little Sprout would put them and the real flower that she is so proud she "made" for me. It is a reflection of where she is at this point in her life.  My tardy gifts and cards are equally reflective of where I am in my life right now too. I appreciate and adore what it means to be a mother to all of my sprouts, but I also want to acknowledge my growing appreciation for the mothering I have received my entire life.

Mothers take time enough to tend to the hearts of their children, to make eye contact with them when they tell their stories, to hug on them and laugh until everyone is crying. No woman learned to mother on her own, and my thankful heart today beats with gratitude for my mom, my grandma, my mother-in-law and all the other mother's out there who have always put mothering first...even when they had to climb over piles of laundry to do it.

Happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sometimes You Just Need a Daddy Globe

What is a daddy globe, you may ask.  For us it is the garage-sale-need-to-buy-something-for-dad-for-father's-day trinket that Big Sprout picked up last year.  It is a bald head in water with what appears to be floating hair. Appetizing, I know! The inscription on the side reads, "Over the Hill and Losing It".

Who knew that it was going to become our replacement daddy this spring.

Last week I heard Little Sprout playing in the playroom.  She was talking to herself, and I just assumed that she was playing with one of her dolls or with an imaginary friend.  I was close. 

"Sweetie, what are you doing?" I inquisitively asked from the kitchen.

"Oh, I'm playing with daddy," she matter-of-factly reported.

That's cute, I thought.  I walked around the corner and saw her shaking the bald dad globe to make the hair float around.

"Oh, daddy!  That's so funny!" she laughed.

"That's perfect!" I chuckled. "Hey, instead of trying to make a "Flat Daddy" (the idea I had about putting a poster-sized version of my husband at his dinner seat) maybe this daddy can eat dinner with us."

"Sure mom," Little Sprout agreed. "You know though, if he is in the chair no one will be able to see him.  We need to put him ON the table."

So, that's what we've done.  For the last week, the bald-headed floating daddy has joined us for dinner each night.  When we would usually be holding hands and saying grace, two of the kids hands lay on top of the daddy globe head.

I am not sure that the kids will continue to be as attached to the daddy globe as they have been the last week, but Littlest Sprout will probably try to keep him real for all of us.  Today, she told me that she was walking on daddy's back. (something that she does with her real daddy).  Thankfully she wasn't really standing on the globe.  Instead she was rolling the head back and forth with her feet.

So, they may not get to hold dad's hands at dinner or walk on his back when they want to, but the daddy globe can help to distract all of us from the fact that they miss the real dad who is way more than a globe...he is our whole world!