Tag Archives: Guest Post

Guest Post: Jen

I am happy to host Jen of Momalom today! I remember when I first met her (and her sister).  Another blog I follow mentioned these two and I clicked over.  It was blog love at first site.  Since then I have been a loyal follower and can happily call these two my friends.  Please enjoy Jen’s words here and hop on over to her blog for more fun!

Perfection in Three

By Jen

When I was pregnant with my first baby, the excitement I felt from others—friends, family, strangers––was palpable. People told me I was in for “the adventure of a lifetime,” that my life “would never be the same again,” that I should get as much of my life in order as possible, hinting that “once the baby comes” there wouldn’t be much time for anything else. People asked how I was feeling, if I knew if I was having a boy or a girl, if I’d be moving out of my small apartment, how my mother had reacted to the news of a second grandchild. They asked if I’d keep working, if I was eating tuna, if I had bought a crib yet. I was bombarded with personal questions, received loads of unsolicited opinions and advice and was left feeling like finally I was going to belong to a club worth its salt.

When I was pregnant with my second baby—only eight months after my son was born—I was greeted with (now) amusing reactions such as, “You know how this happens, right?” and “Well, YOU didn’t waste any time!” I was asked again “Is it a boy or a girl?” And was met with absolute approval upon declaring that, indeed, it was a girl. (Our first was a son.) I was assured that my partner and I were on our way to creating the perfect family. Two parents. A son. A daughter. (Even in the correct order––an older brother being the guiding light of his younger sister.) There were fewer questions overall, and a lot less advice given. People, for the most part, expressed general happiness for me and my soon-to-be-perfect family.

When I was pregnant with my third baby, and toting around two children already, the oldest of whom was just barely 4, I often was met with a blank stare, even a look of pure befuddlement. Implied: Why would you have another baby? Clearly you already are overwhelmed. You knew you’d likely have “morning sickness” that lasts for months and sends you to the hospital. Why subject yourself—and your family—to such misery? Don’t you know you have arrived? You already have the “perfect family.” More than one person actually asked if I had considered getting a dog instead of having another baby.

It’s true. That third time around, I already was busy with two young children. I “looked” pregnant early on, and I was sicker than I had been in either of my previous two pregnancies. I also was exhausted enough from life in general not to be able to react emotionally to such ridiculous judgments. I let them slide off of me simply because my energies were needed elsewhere. But, here’s what I would have said: I wanted this baby. Our “perfect” is not neat. It’s not orderly. It’s not organized. A boy and a girl are not enough. Almost immediately after I gave birth to my second child I knew I wanted another. My family wasn’t yet complete. THIS baby will complete our family. I knew that in my gut. In my psyche. In my womb.

And so we had another. And now. Now I look into the dark eyes of my baby girl, who is really no longer a baby but will always be the baby of our family, and I can barely remember our life without her presence, her gestation, without the very idea of her. She always has been a part of us. And now, she is with us. And we ARE perfect. And even though I allow myself to wonder sometimes about what it would be like to have another baby, a fourth, I know that the family I have is truly complete now. A family that is the ideal size for me. For all of us. Two parents. Three kids. Just as it was meant to be.

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Here, There, and Everywhere

My dear friend Kristen is hosting me at her place today! Come over and read as I discuss my new found appreciation for parenting books.

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I Can Find Alone Time!

I think that cliff hanger was pretty awesome.

In yesterday’s post, Wolf presented three things (sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and thanks for angels) to help all of us find some alone time.  With this half, she will provide us with more specifics.

How to get a moment alone (and what to do with it once you get it) Part 2


Network

Without question, it’s easier to build a network when your children hit preschool or elementary school. You have a built-in community with whom you share common ground. You can help each other in a pinch, including finding a way to get an hour or two to yourself. If your children are younger, you may be able to build your network from mothers you meet on the local playground, after church or synagogue services, or by other means.

  • If you don’t have a network, start building one. It won’t happen overnight. We’re talking about getting to know others who will potentially care for your children.
  • Is there someone you trust to spend an hour or two with your child? Someone from church, for example? Or a neighbor you’ve gotten to know over the past several years?
  • Is it possible to ask that person to stay during naptime – perhaps for an hour? Make it clear that you cannot afford a babysitter at this time, but you would be more than happy to reciprocate.
  • Suggest that you spend some time together first. Invite her (and her child or children) to your place – for coffee or tea. Get to know each other and see how it feels.
  • The act of sharing some adult time with another parent in your situation will be helpful. You won’t feel so isolated. And then give it a try – cell phone numbers exchanged – and don’t go very far the first time if you prefer. Maybe for a walk in the neighborhood. And eventually, an hour or two for yourself, every other week – or whatever works for you.
  • Tap into your blogging community. What other mothers may live near you, or have a sister or cousin or friend who’s in the same boat, who may live in your area?

Is it easy?

No, but it is workable. Am I a trained life coach, psychologist, or educator? Nope. One weary, single mom, offering suggestions from years of experience.

Exchange of services, including for babysitting

Need a way to find a babysitter that won’t cost $10 to $15 / hour? Not sure where to start?

  • Try your clergy, your neighbor, your alumni association, a local college. Well, you’re thinking, there’s no trading off kids in that scenario. True enough, but you could trade services.
  • Talk to people when you’re out. Be friendly. In line at Starbucks or Caribou. At the library. In the pediatrician’s office. You never know when you might strike up a conversation with someone who can help, and whom you can help.

Are there skills you might trade with a college or graduate student? Absolutely! Perhaps it’s proofing, editing, Spanish tutoring, web site design suggestions. Believe me – you have skills, and they have value. Exchange them for something of value to yourself. Something like a little “me” time that will keep you healthy and sane.

Angels

There really have been angels on my life and the lives of my children. There is a remarkable woman in my neighborhood, a piano teacher, who gives lessons to my younger son. Free of charge. She also made arrangements for us to get a piano at no cost. We didn’t have one, and I certainly couldn’t afford it.

This wonderful individual has been teaching my teenager for 18 months. He adores her; she adores him. She is an angel to both of us, and in his own way, he is an angel for her. Unlike the little ones she’s used to, he wants to be there. He practices for hours each day, has begun composing, and has made remarkable progress in a very short time. She pushes him – hard – and surely she senses that she is influencing his future. Tremendously.

Angels are real. We are each other’s angels.

So what can you do with an hour or two and no money?

Think you can’t renew with an hour or two?

  • Even an hour is enough to browse a local bookstore, sit and read (without buying), watch people, write, or simply wander the aisles and poke around whatever is of interest.
  • That same amount of time would permit you go to a nearby department store and meander. Try the perfumes. Chat with strangers. Have your make-up done for fun. (It’s free.)
  • Or, talk to no one. Sit on a bench with a thermos of coffee you bring from home, and watch the world go by. No one is asking anything of you. (And remember to leave the credit card or check book at home – if I can do it – you can do it!)
  • No mall nearby? Take your thermos and a paperback and go. Walk to a nearby park. Sit, sip, watch, read. Breathe. Be part of the world in the most unobtrusive way. Free of charge, while you charge your own battery.
  • Perhaps you enjoy massage, but you can’t afford it. Furs for perfume. Perhaps you try a masseuse at a local hairdresser who might exchange a 30-minute session for practice with English as a second language. Or learning to crochet, or bake. Get creative. Trade. Ask.

Another thought? I used to be an avid quilter. I find it relaxing – especially the design and piecing of the top. I always quilted in small bits, and by hand rather than machine. That made my sewing portable, and also, when we use our hands, we seem to naturally unwind.

If you can use your hands to make something, consider it. Knit. Embroider. Knead bread. Try origami. Fold forms from paper and make a mobile for your babies!

A final word on how you spend your time

Even now, with teenagers, I’m a single mom with no “backup.” It’s not as crazy as it was when they were little; it’s crazy differently. I feel like I’m always on duty, or at the very least, on call. But over the past few years, I’ve slowly taken back chunks of time for myself. Probably not enough, or often enough, but I’m doing it. It’s good for my kids, and it’s good for me.

Even if all I do with that time is sit in a bookstore and watch, and write – I’m close enough to be accessible, I’m less isolated because I’m around people and movement – and that is the stuff that nourishes us as people, and fuels us as writers.

Last resort? Host a Latvian. Maybe you’ll find one who can babysit! And yes, hungry foreign students certainly add to the food bill, but the laughter alone is worth its weight in gold. Or rather, dzintars – and the irony in that? It is precious currency indeed, and it means Amber.

******

Wolf, I am deeply grateful for this thoughtful–and thought provoking–guest post/extensive comment.

I know that I have many angels surrounding me.  Many friends who would be willing to step in and give me a break.  But, I usually hold back because I don’t want to be a burden.  With these ideas, though, I feel a surge in confidence.  I like bartering.  Both sides win.

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Alone Time? Me? No Way!!

A few weeks ago I was feeling down.  It had been one of those mornings.  I was physically and spiritually worn out.  Wolf, in her peculiar way of knowing my moods, e-mailed me and asked me how I was doing.  She also suggested that I click over to her blog.  I did and read a thought-provoking piece entitled Do you know your body’s rhythms? While reading, I puzzled over how Wolf knew what I needed to hear that morning.  I also thought about how her post, though fabulous, could not apply to me.  I don’t have the time to figure out my body’s rhythms.

Since I was feeling whiny, I asked Wolf how I can follow her advice.  She, in her usual sage manner, wrote back with an amazing comment.  Reading her words inspired me.  I instantly e-mailed her and asked if I could re-post her comment on my blog.  She not only said yes, but sent it to me as a whole new post.  Yes, she is incredible.

For any woman/man who is feeling tired, worn out, and just plumb tuckered, Wolf has provided us with an amazing array of remedies.  Especially for those of us who are short on cash.

In order to give her post all the attention it deserves, I am breaking it up into 2 different segments.  Think of it like a cliff hanger. I love a book with good cliff hangers.

Without further ado, please welcome Wolf of Big Little Wolf’s Daily Plate of Crazy.

How to get a moment alone (and what to do with it once you get it) Part 1

Love your family, but enough is enough?

Losing your sanity? Don’t want to admit it? Sorry. I have no 12-step program, no quick fix, and not even a chocolate giveaway to take your mind off things. But I will tell you you’re in good company. The reality for most mothers, unless you have help – and I mean real help – there is never enough of you to go around. It’s true for stay-at-home-moms, for work-outside-the-home moms, for do-it-all-moms, and all the other variations of motherhood whose classifications don’t matter whatsoever.

And if your budget looks anything like mine (the UnBudget), a trip to the day spa (with pricey sitter at home) just isn’t in the cards.

Maybe you’re married and the husband works extra hours, or goes to school at night. Maybe you’re a single mom with little to no time off (for misbehavior). Whatever the scenario, don’t feel guilty for wanting a break. You need one. Consider it a sign of mental health.

But what do you do when you’re constrained by lack of money or help? No bucks for a sitter. No family to assist. Now what? Run away from home? Most of us have considered it at one time or another. But shhhhhh. Don’t admit it to the kids.

Sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and thanks for the angels

Say what? Yep. I believe in sanity networking, furs for perfumes, and angels, as follows:

  • Network (the “it takes a village” concept)
  • Exchange of services (good old fashioned barter)
  • Angels (they’re everywhere, and they look like us)

A support network is essential. If you’ve lost yours following a relocation or divorce, do whatever you can to rebuild. (Some ideas follow.) Simply put – you need people to help give you relief. A network of trusted “villagers” – other parents, teachers, students, neighbors.

Remember barter? You give me this, I’ll give you that? According to some sources, barter systems date back to 6,000 BC. Long before there was money, goods and services were exchanged. My furs for your perfume. And at an even more basic level – your hunting and fishing for my giving birth (not to mention, fabulous cave painting). Believe me, you’ve got skills that someone can use, and they’ve got skills that you can use. Barter!

As for angels, I’m not channeling Travolta in wings, nor the Sistine Chapel. Not even the backers of Broadway musicals. I’m talking about everyday people who are kind and give, for no reason except that it feels good, it’s helpful, and they can. The fact is – we all can. We can be angels for each other, perhaps by listening when someone needs an ear, or by helping a stranger who is lost. Perhaps in that “exchange of services” way I just mentioned.

I hope I’ve been an angel in my own way, and I’ve certainly run into my share in recent years. Angels are not defined by age or gender, by religion or even spirituality. They simply understand that we are a human community. And when they see someone who needs help, if they can, they help.

Haven’t you been an angel? I’m guessing the answer is yes, if you think about it. And if you’ve been on the receiving end, you pass it along when you are able.

Specifics

Just so you know where I fit in this picture (yes, this is the part where I establish my credentials), I am the mother of two teen sons, now 18 and 17. I was technically married for many years. My (then) husband traveled, a great deal, and we had no family in the area. I worked a full-time job (close to home), then a full-time job from a home office while being “full-time mom” to my boys. Helping other mothers with pickups and free time is the stuff that gets you through. I was often the “helper,” for many years.

Following divorce, layoff, and a move, my former network fell apart. Things got challenging very quickly, and frankly, I was in the robotic zone for months (years?) as I scrapped for project and freelance clients, raised my kids, and tried to keep myself semi-sane and semi-healthy. Somehow, I thought I ought to be able to do it all – if I just tried hard enough. Listen up, please. It’s not possible. No one can do it all alone. Furthermore, I don’t believe we are meant to. And nor is it the best thing for our kids.

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Guest Post: Natalie

I am so happy to welcome Natalie from boingerhead.

I found Natalie months ago and have been hooked since then.  She writes about her children, her job, and social issues with wisdom and wit.  I will laugh my butt off one day and ponder her powerful words for hours on end the next day.  She provides a great balance between light and deep posts.

I know you will enjoy this thought-provoking piece (and hilarious cartoon) as much as I did (do).

*********

being the change

By: Natalie

I once told my mother that my goal as a mother was to give my children better than I’d had. She didn’t speak to me for a month.

I haven’t had a good chance to share my Golden Rule of Parenting: When in doubt, do unto your children as you would have foster parents do. It can be a life-saving mantra to repeat during critical situations or an ego-saving one during emotionally charged situations. The ego and life being that of the child, by the way.

Scene: After I spend an hour trying to motivate six people to get out the door, Hippie Child says she is ready to go Downtown. She is wearing orange and black striped arm warmers, a red hoodie tank top with a gigantic monkey on it, blue leggings, no socks, and sparkly sketchers a size too large. Her hair was in a half ponytail, half dred thing. It is December; it is bitterly cold.

WW[iw]FPWD? What Would [I wish] Foster Parents Would Do?

Scene: The twins are up all night after pooping an array of colors Crayola would envy, and one of then jack-knifes back in to my face. I am sure my nose and glasses are broken. The little imp turns and gives me a huge smile as if to say, “wasn’t that the best ever? Let’s do it again!”


WW[iw]FPWD?

Scene: I discover a brand new box of confectioner’s sugar, mostly empty, in the back of the someone’s closet after a slumber party. Also missing: my ability to not throw up at the thought of eating an entire box of confectioner’s sugar.
Why WW[iw]FPWD?

My contention is that parenting comes in fractions. There is the parent I thought I would be before I became a mother, and then there is the parent I actually am. Half again is the parenting style I developed after I had a second child and the parenting style I’ve settled into after the twins. Half again is the parenting decisions that keep me up at night. It’s crazy.

Sometimes I have to stop myself and consider – what would I wish someone else would do in my shoes, with my child, in this situation? Not just a stranger in their lives for a moment, but someone other than me or their dad tasked with shaping and molding them into a productive, happy citizen of the world?

Why do I need an acronym to be a better parent? Shouldn’t just looking at the faces of my angels be enough to inspire me to Donna Reed levels of perfection? The truth is that sometimes that’s just not enough. Sometimes, I need a little more than that. Sometimes I need my husband to check me or to push me, and sometimes I need to resort to making up ridiculous acronyms in my head just so I can sleep at night over the decisions I have made.

Scene: Full-Disclosure Child is watching me make cereal for the babies. I added a little formula and a little cinnamon to the mixed oats with banana, and she said something I will never forget. “When I grow up and have babies, that’s just how I am going to make their cereal.”

My children, and my children’s friends, are learning from all of the adults around them. The words that come out of my mouth influence these children in ways I can’t think of; the choices I make impact their lives on every level. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what tools I use to be a better mother. The point is that I am trying to be a better mother all the time.

What Would I wish Foster Parents Would Do?

If it came to pass that someone other than myself was raising my children, I would want that person to always put the emotional and mental development of my children before what is convenient and popular. If the Hippie wants to walk around like a regurgitated 80’s mallrat, well that’s yearbook gold right there. If I need to put the babies in their cribs to cry while I stick my head in the freezer for a couple minutes, their little psyches can take it. Perhaps I did throw up in my mouth at the thought of someone eating a box of confectioner’s sugar, but the stomachache they surely must have had after that is better punishment than any lecture I could give about honesty, waste, and drawing ants into my house.

It all comes back to giving our kids as good as or better than we got from our parents. When I made that comment to my mother, I didn’t mean to imply that she hadn’t done well as a mother. Quite the contrary. I simply meant that it was my mission to take all the good she had done and keep it going. She put her health and any kind of social life aside to give me and my sisters all the material things kids growing up in the 80’s and 90’s could want.

But, my mom also worked midnights because it meant more money and slept through a lot of my adolescence. I don’t fault her for that decision because she was doing what we all do on some level: using her motherhood to make up for a lack she experienced in her childhood. That was all I meant by my comment. It’s my job as a mom to do better for my kids than I had. I missed my mom; in lieu of pricy toys and gadgets, I shower my kids with as much individual attention as they or I can stand.

Scene: I am curled up on the couch experiencing remorse from eating fish sticks. The Hippie comes up and spreads a blanket over me. She sets a glass of water beside me. Her brother brings me a chocolate heart he had been saving and, even more touching, relinquishes control of the remote.

WW[iw]FPWD?

I say, “I am the luckiest mom in the world to have two great kids like you.”
They say, “Yep, you sure are!” before scampering back to their regularly scheduled programming.

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Guest Post: Linda

As part of Amy’s Neighbor series, I am so grateful to welcome Linda of Barmitzvahzilla.  I am thrilled that I found her blog months ago.  She shares her wit in each post as she describes situations within–and without–her family.  Her posts never fail to elicit a smile.

While I truly enjoy reading her posts, I am also sincerely grateful for the wisdom she sends my way in her comments.  I feel honored to host her words here today.

The Pint-Sized Tyrant

By Linda Pressman

My husband and I knew we were in trouble. We had just changed our hotel reservation for our vacation last August. He was fed up with going to the same California city over and over again. Why couldn’t we just break free? Why did we always have to answer to her?

I was worried though. I said, “Well, we’d better ask her in the morning. We’ll see if she’ll go for it.”

He gave me a look. He said, “She’s nine-years-old. She’ll just have to get used to it.”

And I thought, Oh yeah. She’s nine.

How did I end up with a child who appears to be a child in all things except for her indomitable will? A child in size only, she is a fully-formed human being of such concentrated purpose that nothing can ever deter her from goals in any way, and, in this case, from her vacation goals: in December we will go on a vacation to the same tired hotel we always go to in Tucson, and in August we will go on a vacation to Oceanside, California. This year she sat me down at the computer until I found a hotel in Oceanside identical to the one in Tucson, and then kept me on task until I booked it.

No matter how bored we are once we’re there, she is excited and thrilled every second. She unpacks completely. She sets up her toys on the desk in her room of the two-room suite. She arranges all of her stuffed animals on the bed. She’s different than she is at home – she’s neat. If it’s the December trip and we’ve taken Hanukkah on the road, she’s ready with everything: the menorah, the candles, the lighter, she’s even organized gifts with labels for each day.

Every morning of every trip she is up at the crack of dawn ready to go eat the free breakfast that the hotel provides with her dad and brother. It’s only served till 9:30 AM so she really has to crack the whip to get Dad out of bed. Since the rest of us tend towards a type of laziness and lethargy, she follows us around with the laptop or the newspaper until we look up movie times, then she lassos us into the car to drive to see them. She is a whirlwind of activity and sheer will born into a family who would easily sleep away their vacation.

My daughter, the Pint-Sized Tyrant. She’ll make something of us yet.

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Guest Post: Letter To Grace

Lindsey from A Design So Vast agreed to guest post for me today. I have been reading Lindsey’s blog for a few months. Her writing always makes me shiver because she uncovers things that are appropriately uncomfortable.  She shares her perspective with incredible eloquence. Thank you, Lindsey, for participating.

Dear Grace,

Today is your first day of kindergarten. I honestly can’t believe it. Almost six years ago you knocked my planet into a new orbit, dented my universe, and changed me forever. You will always be the person who made me into a mother, and for that I can’t articulate my gratitude. In those dark days after you were born (I can wholeheartedly say that having a baby on the very day the clocks go back is not ideal timing) I can’t remember who cried more, and I can’t really tell which of us had the colic, but I do know that the plates inside of me were shifting in a very fundamental way. I have a lot of guilt and emotion about how those first weeks unfolded, but I’m not ultimately sure I would change them: we laid down some tracks that I’m glad we are on now, forged an alloy that has proven to be very strong.

You emerged into the world screaming and you haven’t stopped making your opinions known. I adore your openness, your curiosity, your eagerness to understand the world around you. You are generally outgoing, friendly, and quick to warm up. You approach the world with an open mind and open arms, ready to throw yourself into any experience and to greet any person with enthusiasm. You are as fond of the nice man at Starbucks as you are of your teachers, though you have very definite favorites: your grandparents and your friend Clio are at the top of your list right now.

Your physical fearlessness trumps even your emotional openness. You approach a physical challenge with confidence and coordination. You are full of energy and love to push yourself – this summer’s accomplishment was riding your bike without training wheels. When you tried to ride the bike two-wheeled last summer you fell off and quickly asked for your training wheels back. This summer you asked to try again (I deliberately did not bring it up) and the minute you had the bike to yourself you took off down the street without looking back. As cliched as it is, that is a formative moment for me – I remember my Dad running behind me on a gravel driveway in France and realizing suddenly that he had let go and that I was on my own … this time it was I who was the parent standing, watching you bike away.

You are desperate to learn to read and the gusto with which you apply yourself to this effort reminds me of when you decided you wanted to learn to write your name. Determined, you practiced and practiced, scrawling spidery “R”s that looked like jellyfish and clenching the tip of your tongue between your lips. You were so little and so determined; the same sense of absolute commitment permeates our attempts with the beginning readers today. You sound out words (wow, I did not remember how very hard that is) and try and try, sometimes guessing blindly (“Sam” – “sandwich? Sarah? someday?”) but often actually getting to the word, slowly and with great pain. The satisfaction that takes over your face when you get a word right is visible, your delight tangible.

You want so, so desperately to be “good,” to be liked, to play by the rules – the degree to which I identify with these desires is so close as to be painful for me. I watch you oscillate between the innocence of not knowing about rules, expectations, and norms, to suddenly being aware of them; sometimes the impact is like watching your wings be clipped, watching your spirit shrink. I wish I could keep you in a world where all that matters is your whim and the comfort of those around you, wish I could protect you from the onerous cloak of expectation and performance that the world is slowly pulling around your shoulders. And as much as I want to protect you from it, I know I’m pulling one of the corners. The conflicts of parenting. I want to celebrate your free spirit, your joy at devil-may-care adventure, your unbridled enjoyment of your own physical self and what it can do. But I also know I need to help you live within the world, and I know what it is to feel a deep need for approval.

I adore you, Gracie. I love watching you venture out into the world, love seeing that curious half-smile on your face as you hang back, assessing a situation quickly before plunging into it. The way you peer over the edge of the diving board for a moment before looking up, shaking your head quickly as if to rid yourself of anxiety the way a dog shakes off water, and then closing your eyes and cannonballing into the pool. The way you approach a wall of backpacks at Target and say to me, with no small amount of resignation but also no attempt to change my mind, “I guess no Hannah Montana or High School Musical, right, Mum?” The way you want to be Wonder Woman for Halloween and the way you rejected an all-girl party because you still think it’s fun to play with everyone in your class.

I’ve written a lot about your fierce independence and how much I admire and encourage it. I also, truth be told, love the moments when you still need me. Of course I want you to bike away from me, skilled and confident on your two-wheeler. But I also like when the only thing that makes a bruised knee better is my kiss, or when the middle of the night nightmare is soothed only by my special good-dream-head-rub. I realize what a tremendous blessing it is to be aggravated by your intense, constant need for my attention. The call to “please slow down, Mummy – you know if the police officer notices you are going too fast it will take a long time” is both super annoying and absolutely correct. There is so much that you do masterfully for yourself now, but you still want me to wash your hair for you, need me to tie your shoes, and hold your hand up instinctively for mine as we cross a parking lot.

I admire your wide-open attitude about your own life. Your openness to all kinds of friends, diverse in age, race, gender, religion, and socioeconomic background. It is my devout hope that you can maintain this. I am prouder than you can imagine when you announce that when you grow up you want to be, “An Olympic horseback rider, a doctor, and a mummy.” That’s a good trio, in my book. You make me laugh and you make me cry every single day. Your very existence marks life’s passage in a viscerally bittersweet way, but how would I know where I am without you to show me? I know I am sad sometimes, and when you ask me, “Mummy, why are you crying?” I always wish I could be a better, happier, more constant mother for you. I simply can’t, and I guess what I am teaching you there is that it is useless to fight certain inalienable parts of who we are.

I’ll pick you up today at 3 and will hear all about your first day of kindergarten. It’s equally as easy to remember October 2002 as it is to flash forward and imagine the day you graduate from high school. You and I feel perched on a fulcrum here, launching into Real Life, as you become more and more who you are each day. It is my honor to watch you unfold, Gracie, and I honestly believe my only task in life is to keep you alive and fed and loved. I think the seeds of who you will be – who you already are – were in you the day you were born, and the best thing I can do is stand back and let you grow. I hope I can demonstrate to you that there isn’t much in life that matters more than finding people you respect, work you love, and being as true to both of those as you can (and I’m not saying I’ve accomplished either, just that I’m engaged in the effort to do so). But ultimately I know I am neither your keeper nor your source; I am a passage you come through on your way to the Great Wide Open. On this day I feel distinctly privileged about that.

I love you. No matter what.

Mum

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