Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School...Sending my first baby to Kindergarten

This week, my oldest started kindergarten. Not just kindergarten, but all day kindergarten. Big, scary, tons of kids all around kindergarten.

Okay, maybe that last one is just an exaggeration of my mind. But that's how I felt dropping him off. I had in my head that there would be tears (both of us), hugs (both of us), not wanting to let go (both of us). We got up extra early, got the uniform on (and did he look handsome!), got his backpack together with all his school supplies...and drove over to school.

I was holding it together. We walked to the drop-off point, introduced him again to his teacher who was telling all the boys and girls how much fun they were going to have, walked him to line up with the other kids, and then stood back and stared for about 10 minutes. I looked at my boy, standing there amongst the 16 kids in his class. Some of them were bigger, some smaller. There were alot of girls, which seemed to be his main concern (they have cooties, you know). And then the teacher looked at all the kids and said, "Okay, wave bye to mom and dad, and let's head inside!"

My son, smiling ear to ear, waved at us for a millisecond, and then was focused happily on heading into the building. And I, standing there amongst the parents, began crying. Partly because even though he's only five, it feels like just yesterday he was this tiny bundle that fit perfectly packaged into the crook of my arm, and needed me for everything; and partly because I wished my mom could be there with us to see this day.

How did he get so big, so fast? Every day, he seems to be another year older. This all-day school thing isn't a huge change for him, since he's been in daycare all day everyday since he was three months old. And here he was, in his polo and dress pants, a Super Mario Brothers backpack outweighing him with all it's school supply contents, standing tall and marching into a brand new chapter in his life, seemingly without a care in the world.

I pulled it together, and when we picked him up at the end of his day, he was all smiles and stories! He met some friends, they ate a snack, he colored. He loved it! Day 2, day 3, and now day 4 have come and gone, and not a sign of "needing mommy." I'm torn between a broken heart and being so proud of him for being such a brave little boy!

I'm sure it's not the only time I'll cry on their first day of school. I cry at commercials, truth be told! And as the years pass, they will probably blur together and every year will be like the next. But I know for a fact that years from now, I will still remember watching him wave and walk in that building, and be reminded of how much love one heart can hold for one little boy.

Hugging his sister goodbye at her daycare: 

Proud Daddy: 

Proud mommy:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

For my friend Amy...I understand ;)

I have a good friend named Amy, whom I met through an online brain cancer caregivers support group when our moms were sick. Though we were states apart and talked via phone and computer, we became fast friends, unfortunately due to the fact that we both acutely understood what the other was going through.

While I wouldn't wish the experience on anyone, having someone who understood as much as she did was part of what saved my life that year. Friends, family - they all try to understand, and we love them for it. But in each other, we found that missing link of losing our mother before we were married, had kids, etc. - and that allowed us to keep breathing and carry on with life. The simple sharing of a certain sadness.

I got married without my mother, so in turn, I understand what she is going through, preparing for her wedding next year without her mother’s help. It is a heartbreaking thing to do. While all your friends are getting married and preparing with their mothers; picking out their dresses and planning the seating chart, picking out flowers and getting ready that day; she, like me, will put a smile on her face and make the best of it (because it is a wonderful, wonderful occasion, and we are truly blessed and happy to have found someone to love!), but behind every smile will be that twinge of sadness, reminding us that we don’t have our moms there with us.

We both have had amazing family and friends to help with the preparations and the day – and we are both beyond grateful for that. Yet all the friends and family in the world cannot make up for that small percentage of us that, regardless of all the great people we do have, misses having our moms there.

When it came time for my wedding, I wondered what my mom would have said to me that day, what she would have wished for me. The happiness and good times are obvious, but I wondered what other wisdom she’d impart. Now that I have children of my own, I often think about what I want for them in life. I think about my own daughter’s wedding someday, and what I’d want her to know if, for some reason, I wasn’t there like my own mom.

Well Amy, I'm going to give to you this letter, which I wrote and tucked away for my own daughter, worried that maybe someday I won't be there for her wedding - because I know Carolyn would tell you the exact same things. Maybe this is her way of telling you.

First and foremost, you look beautiful. I might not be there physically to see it, but I know from the many minutes, hours, days I spent staring at you and absorbing every freckle and eyelash. You were radiant the moment I held you in my arms for the first time, and that's never changed. I can only imagine that today, on your wedding day, all dolled up for the hundreds of people out there waiting for you (and one very special one) that you are the most beautiful woman to ever walk the earth. I'm sure your glow is doubled by the fact that you have found someone who loves you so much.

On your wedding day, and every day from here on out, I wish for you to have a life filled with happiness. A daughter brings to life a part of your heart that lies hidden away until that little princess is laid in our arms. The part that dreams of pink and ballet classes, sports games and homework help. A little girl who is born and needs us so much, who then grows to a woman that, while becoming adult and responsible, still needs us – and even though we might be eager for you to be out on your own someday, the same part of our heart that lit up when you cried for us as babies lights up again each time you ask us a question as an adult. The happiness that a daughter brings to every inch of our souls is exactly what I wish for you – a feeling of happiness and contentment from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.

I wish for you to have courage and strength, because you’ll need it in marriage. It’s not a fairytale or a walk in the park. At times it’s a never-ending parade of fun, and at times it is that job you wanted to quit because you only wanted to punch your coworker right in the nose. But you’ve been through hard times, and you’ve seen them through, which is why you are who you are today – a strong, smart, intelligent woman who doesn’t settle. Always keep in mind compromise, and keep the fire in your heart, and learn to take and give and play fair. It won’t be easy, but it is well worth it to wake up each day with the person you love.

I wish for your heart to let go of the sadness or regret from your past, and open up to new experiences. It won’t be easy, that’s for sure, but the past is behind you, and what lies ahead are some pretty great things. You’ll be amazed at all you can overcome in life if you continue putting your mind to it. Don’t let the past drag you down, and don’t let it keep you sad. We might not have had all the times we wanted to have together, but the truth is that I am always, always with you, because you came from me, and you are a part of me. Your smile is my smile, your adventures are mine. You are a part of me that keeps on living, keeps on moving, and keeps on loving. And someday, when you stare into the eyes of your own children, they are a part of me too, because they came from you. People are always alive, as long as you remember them.

I wish for you smiles and tears, because without either, you wouldn't understand and appreciate the other as much. Life is filled with good times and bad times, but you'll survive them all and become a better person. Celebrate the good, let the bad slide, and smile every morning like it's the best day of your life.

If a problem isn't going to matter in 10 years, it's not worth worrying about today. Sage advice, and very true. No sense in working yourself up or worrying if, in the grand scheme of things, this is just a blip on the radar.

Dance every opportunity you have. In the car, in the kitchen, while you're washing clothes. It brings a smile to your face instantly, and will make every day a better one.

And finally, enjoy your wedding day. The world keeps turning, and people come and go, but we're never far. You might be looking for a sign or a symbol that I'm here, but all you need to do is look in the mirror - as long as you see your beautiful face smiling back, you'll know I'm standing behind you, my arm around your back and my cheek resting against yours.

Well, except tonight after the reception. I'll totally leave you alone for that ;) 

Happy wedding day. I love you forever and forever and for always. Nothing could ever change that.

Monday, August 8, 2011

In the digital day and age...I still love a good, paperback book...even if I have to read it with glasses.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my iPad. It allows me to do so much from anywhere I'm at. It saves my sanity on trips to the store or in the car, when I can't take the "Are you almost done yet?" or "Are we there yet?" anymore. I love downloading books to it for it's slim storage and functional convnience.

But I realized last night, as I finished reading an amazing book called "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan, that I love a good, paperback book. They have a certain smell, a certain feel, that provides perhaps some memories of growing up. Settling into a bubble bath with book in hand to read chapter upon chapter, imagining the characters and their homes, the stories coming to life in my head. I don't just read books, I seem to really feel them and see them, like a movie playing over the course of a few nights.

I was a bookworm my whole life, up until about 2005. My mom died that year, I had a baby, and well, free time for reading went out the window. In fact, the only books I read were books on caring for babies, or books for babies. And honestly - that wasn't bad. Nothing beats the look on your little one's face when you're changing your voice for the characters in the book, and they are taking in not just the story, but the time you are relishing upon them. What I did read was anything and everything else I could get my hands on that wouldn't take up immense amounts of time - such as magazines, mailers, etc. Lame, but reading all the same.

By the time I was back to having any spare time to read books, about 2008, I found that I couldn't read them anymore. Don't laugh - I could read the words and such, but I mean I couldn't focus. I would find I read a whole chapter and didn't remember a single thing I read. My mind was going a thousand miles a minute, focusing on everything else but the story in front of me. The grocery list, what I would do when I woke up, what work needed to be done, if the baby's diaper was changed. Quite honestly, it made me stress a little bit, because I thought perhaps my love of reading had dissapated along with the formerly single, childless me. I wanted to sit there and get through a book and know what I had read, and after trying different types of books thinking perhaps I just wasn't into the material, I found that it didn't matter what the material was - I simply couldn't focus intently on any lengthy, written material.

As a side note, I was also severely dissapointed again that year when I realized I couldn't play softball anymore. I loved playing on a co-ed league, but I just couldn't catch the ball anymore and wasn't a great hitter. Sigh. I figured I was getting old!

Fast forward to October 2010. After days months years of loving pestering by my husband, I finally caved and went to the eye doctor. I figured I was paying for eye insurance, so I might as well use it, right? Plus, I knew I didn't need glasses. Please. I had perfect sight. I was bionic woman, as a matter of fact. So I'd go and prove him wrong. My headaches were from staring at a computer, so maybe they could tell me how to fix that - and that's why I went.

After two hours of eye tests and charts and "this or this, this or this, one or two, a or b," I was at the front desk of the office...ordering my new, necessary glasses. I was SHOCKED when I had my eyes pressed behind what I like to call the owl mask and she was flipping back and forth and asking this or that - sometimes, with a "this" or a "that," I could actually READ what was on the board. Without it - nada. It was all a big blur. I hadn't realized that my eyes had slowly been causing blurred vision, until I saw what I COULD be seeing clearly with glasses.

When the glasses came in, they took some time to adjust to. My son cried when I walked in the door with them, because I didn't look like mommy. (Side note: Now he cries if I take them off, because I don't look like mommy without them, lol). They made my nose break out where they touched the skin. But within a week I noticed two things: I could see, and I did not have one headache even after staring at a computer all day. It was amazing.

With that knowledge in hand, I thought I might try to read a book. Who knows, I thought, maybe I can get back to some of my old habits. When I picked up that first book, I read and read and read for a couple hours - and afterwards, I remembered every part of the story thus far! It was such an amazing feeling. I hadn't lost my love of reading - I just had vision problems, which weren't letting me truly focus on what I was doing. The vision problem was causing me to do anything else but read because my eyes were too strained, and once that problem was lifted, I was able to start flying through books again - and play softball. The reason I wasn't catching balls was only partly because I'm 15 years older than the last time I played on a school team ;) The other part was my depth perception was off, causing me to be scared of the ball. Once that was corrected with my glasses, bam - I was able to play again ;)

And now, as I sit here looking at the next book on my list - a book by Nora Roberts - I can smile knowing that I am back to doing something I love. And while I could have downloaded that book on my iPad and propped it up to read in bed, I will be basking in the feel of the pages between my fingers as I read that old book that has been sitting on my shelf for years, just waiting for me to get those glasses.

Happy reading all!


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