Tag Archives: motherhood

Father Knows Best

12 Jun

During our February trip to Paris we made a quick stop over in London. It was grey and cold, busy and gritty and totally wonderful. I need to go back.

London awesome-ness.

I’m not a big shopper while traveling. I would rather dine, sightsee, and experience — of course it’s always fun to have momentos, but it’s not my top priority. However as soon as it was certain we would be heading to London my heart was aflutter with the need to bring back a tiny, porcelin tea set for Abigail. We had such a limited time, less than 48 hours, but I knew it would become a family treasure with a story.

Tower of London.  “Tea set or off with your head!” 

Ryan is even less of a shopper than I am so upon hearing my desire to find the tea set he grumbled about it. The concierge recommended we try Hamley’s, a huge toy store much like FAO Schwarz. On the map it seemed that our hop on/hop off tour bus would pass right by it. Here’s the condensed version of what happened: Ryan did a lot of grumbling, I did a lot of getting upset and talking about the must-have tiny tea set. It was not our finest moment. Our friend, Jimmy, mediated with a very wise, “Ryan, if Sarah isn’t happy you aren’t going to be happy” mini lecture and we all stepped off the bus onto Regent Street. Two tea sets later, one for Abigail and one for baby to be Charlotte, we were strolling through Picadilly Circus while I held onto my Hamley’s bag victorious!

Dressed up guy in front of Hamley’s!  Happy kid to the right.

This isn’t a story about London or tea sets though. It’s really a story about Ryan. It was a couple of weeks after we returned home that Abigail made tea time a regular part of our evenings, but it was always with Daddy. He mentioned in passing one night after Abigail went to sleep that he was really happy we got it. “You’re really good at making things special,” he said, “She loves it.”

But the truth is. Ryan is really good at making things special, making Abigail feel special. As much as I would love to sit down for tea with Abigail, and we do occasionally, I’m happy to let it be theirs.

Ryan has always been a hands on dad. I never wanted to be the bossy wife correcting him if he did something differently than me. So what if he uses a few more wipes for every diaper change than I do or only lets her have 3 play dohs out at a time. It doesn’t matter if he wants to break her string cheese up into bites when I give it to her in strips. I don’t think she needs powdered sugar on top of french toast when she’s going to dip it in syrup but he loves to make it like his mom did. He does “Baby Drip Dry” after a bath and I let Abigail take off down the hallway, her hooded towel a billowing cape. Tomaytoes, tomahtoes.

I think Ryan looks to me sometimes for how to deal with certain things that come up; how to say no to a snack too close to dinner or how to read stories a little softer and a little calmer at bedtime. But I’m not sure he knows how much I look up to him.  As a mom who’s home all day amidst laundry and paperwork and kitchen duty it’s easy to lose perspective.

It’s the little things he does that help remind me of what really matters. The excited “hey you!” he says to her each afternoon when he walks through door. The undivided attention he gives her when they play often talking about important things, like strong foundations for block castles. The way he lets her stand on the kitchen counter, one hand at her back while she smells every spice we own, giving enthusiastic praise each time she identifies thyme or curry or cinnamon. The way he’s not too busy to let her have a few more minutes to collect pine cones or to run around the golf course.  His patience for chasing after her as she runs to the waves over and over again. I just love him and her, but what I never expected to love so much was the relationship between him and her.

The tea pot has a chip in it now. I won’t lie, I was a little devastated so I took it away. I put it on top of the refrigerator hoping she would forget about it for a while. The other day she told Ryan, “Tea Party, Daddy!” “Is that okay?” he asked me. “It has a chip in it. I don’t want it to get messed up.” I said. “That’s okay,” he said with his mega smile, “It’s just like Chip!” Unbeknownst to him teaching me another lesson: relax and enjoy.

She’s a lucky girl. And so am I. Happy Early Father’s Day, Ryan. XO

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The Pits

9 Jun

It was Wednesday morning when I set out a bowl of cherries for us to have alongside the hard-boiled egg Abigail had requested for breakfast. I don’t think you can look at a bowl of cherries and not think about life being one and I couldn’t help but be in agreement that morning. I was off for a mid-day pedicure with a girlfriend and the following day I was celebrating my 31st birthday.

That bowl of fruit did make life seem extra pleasant with its cheery cherriness staring up at me. The next two days seemed determined to prove themselves in the name of cherries everywhere. Life was deliciously good.

A couple days later we went to the aquarium to check out the new exhibit. All winter long we’d listened to construction behind the boarded up space and wondered what it would be like when it was finally ready. The new exhibit, The Sea and Me, was designed with kids in mind and had a play and discover feel. It was totally awesome and Abigail agreed. We spent the most time in the part of the exhibit that had a model fishing boat where you could use a pole to catch something and then deliver it to be sold at the fish market.

Time rolled by and we seriously had to go; dinnertime was right around the corner. I gave Abigail several warnings that we were going to have to leave, but reassured her we would come back another time. She didn’t make eye contact confident that if she ignored me it wouldn’t be true and we could stay. So I tried cleaning up the space hoping she would get the hint. As fast as I put the fish on “ice” she was whipping them onto the counter to be weighed. I knew things were about to end in a very bad way.

Hi.  I’m Abigail.  I do what I want.

“Abigail, it’s time to go. We need to eat dinner. Mommy has her exercise class tonight. Let’s come back this weekend and show Daddy this fun fish market.” Breathe, breathe. This isn’t going to be pretty.

I tried to take her hand, she shrugged it off. “I’m going to have to pick you up if you won’t walk out by yourself.” Ignored.

So I swooped in and picked her up. Immediately she began screaming and writhing, slippery as a fish. What is it about tantruming toddlers that make you feel like the most uncoordinated person alive?

Several times she managed to wriggle loose, each time sprinting back to the “FISH! FISH!”

Finally, we made it to the lobby door and once again she sprang from my arms and the whole wrestling match started again.  Usually getting a seabird pamphlet at the entrance will appease her — not that day.  She took that thing and flung it, hysterical. Oh dear. We just needed to get out of there and fast.

Scooping her up once again we headed to the car, but not before she tried running back again. The car seemed light years away with Abigail fighting me every step.

Things didn’t improve when we got to the car. All of a sudden the seabird pamphlet we left behind was the key to her life’s happiness.

“SEABIRD CARD, SEABIRD CARD!” she wailed standing rigidly on the floor of the van.  “Abigail, we didn’t get a seabird card because you threw it on the floor.” And repeat.

She screamed the whole way home and into the house.  It was so much screaming that Ryan bounded down the stairs and asked, “What happened?”

“She loved the new exhibit at the aquarium.”

(Abigail did calm down eventually with the help of our gourmet PB&J dinner.)

Yes, sometimes life is a bowl of cherries. And sometimes it’s the pits.

How are things today? Just peachy.

Maybe I should be worried, peaches have even bigger pits.  Instead I’m choosing to see each pit as what it really is — opportunity for growth.

Happy Together

13 May

Sometimes it is enough to just be together.  Appreciation is about more than just what is wrapped up and delivered.  It is about recognizing delicious moments and savoring every bite.  We had that kind of day today.  The kind of day where you sit back at the end and feel so very satisfied.

I live a pretty ordinary existence as a stay at home mom.

I wash a lot of dishes, do a lot of laundry, and still change a good number of diapers.  I wipe sticky hands and eat pretend confections.  Sometimes the most exciting outing we have is to the grocery store or the post office.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a good time.

In fact, being together often makes me remember how special it is to be at the helm of your own little family.  And this weekend I realized how perfect mine is…for me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the beautiful mothers I know.  Blessings to all of you as you celebrate your “perfect for you” family today and always.

And to Scott and Reisha, thanks for clinking glasses and asking us to celebrate with you.  You throw one heck of a BBQ!

 

Sugar and Spice

5 May

Abigail started climbing out of her crib, perching precariously on the front rail and giggling. We decided we’d give the “big girl bed” thing a go. It’s been pretty rough, a lot of getting up and down and a lot of getting on Ryan and I’s last little shriveled up nerve.

I know it will get better. Change is hard for everyone, no matter the age or situation.  I’m trying to be patient, but I haven’t always been. I have my parenting gold medal moments, calmly and rationally telling Abigail to get back in bed upwards of 500 times over the course of an hour or more. I have moments where I’ve had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing as she runs up the hall giggling and acting like a fool.  And I’ve had moments where Abigail is punching the color changing buttons on her ladybug nightlight, opening and closing dresser drawers, and doing everything but going to sleep and where am I? Downstairs jumping up and down with clenched fists, silently screaming “JUST. GO. TO. SLEEP!”

It’s been about a week – a week of newborn-esque waking up multiple times a night. The difference is your well-fed, freshly changed baby doesn’t fall right back to sleep. It takes HOURS. I am tired, Ryan is tired, and Abigail is tired.

I think it was that exhaustion that made me take Abigail to lunch on Friday. Just the two of us.

“Want to go to Nana’s for lunch?” “Yes. Gramps?”

After clearing up the misunderstanding that we weren’t, in fact, meeting Nanny and Gramps to eat we had the perfect little daydream of a lunch.

Coloring Ireland.

Sipping ice water with green straws.

Abigail bobbing to the Irish music like always, “Dance, Mama.” So I did, bobbing along, too.

We counted windows, ate sandwiches with french fries dipped in too much ketchup, and crunched on tart apple slices.

“Mama get box.” We packed up the leftover half of a greasy grilled cheese and headed to the car holding hands.

“Careful, Mama, cars!” she said as we crossed the street together.

We buckled up and headed home. “Thank you, Mama. Lunch.”

And I wondered…when did you emerge out of your babyhood and change into my favorite girlfriend to have lunch with?  Did that happen with your exit from the crib?

I’m okay with that because while babies are fun and sweet, so are little girls.

Especially little girls who come home to take three hour naps with full tummies and visions of Irish dancers jigging in their heads.

And that is also worth jumping up and down and silently screaming about.

Two

3 Apr

Dear Abigail,

Tomorrow is your 2nd birthday. I have been feeling like it is a big deal and today Joy reassured me that it is, but then we were talking about how Henry’s upcoming 5th birthday is a big deal, too, and so maybe your birthdays will never stop being a big deal.

Two years ago, it would have been Saturday night. I was in the hospital, finally able to sleep after being up all of Friday night, walking in circles, due to Ashley’s labor enducing Devil’s Food Cupcakes. I love that my contractions started shortly after eating that cupcake, it’s a funny coincidence that begs to be associated with the sweetness we see in you today. But you weren’t coming Friday or Saturday for that matter

You took your sweet time and that was okay with us. You wanted to make the perfect entrance into the world and you did. You were born at 6:24AM on Easter Sunday.

I couldn’t believe you were finally here, it felt so good to hold you and kiss you and have you in the world. I wanted to hold you all the time, and so I did. It was wonderful. But I shared you, too, with all of the amazing people that loved you even before they knew you.

One day, I hope you want to read all of these stories I’ve written. The ones that tell tales of happy times and silly moments, and also the stories of change and how it was hard sometimes. Our story is your story, too.

There’s been a lot of changes for us in your two years, but what I want to focus on is not what has changed. No, right now at this moment what I want you to know is what has stayed the same.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are perfectly you.

So happy birthday sweet giver of cuddles. May you always linger over a nice dinner, but may you start to eat at least a few vegetables. May you always strive to give the best of yourself while remembering that the only definition of perfection that matters is the one you write. And may you compose a beautiful symphony wherever you go, recognizing the various movements of your life are not played alone but in harmony with the different instruments that accompany you.

And if only one thing sticks with you, may it be that I love you – forever and always.

Love,
~Me

Easter Time

30 Mar

Easter is upon us. I love how the promise of new beginnings and the sense of the world renewing fills my spirit with hope. To me, Easter is much more the beginning of a new year than January first will ever be.

Maybe it is because the day Abigail was born just happened to be Easter that year. Our little Easter bunny we called her. She bounced into our lives and made our family something entirely new. She has often been the catalyst for good and healthy changes, as parents and as people.

She will be turning two in a few days. I’m a little wistful that it will mark the end of her babyhood, but it feels right. Next week we will celebrate that new beginning as she becomes an official toddler. It’s time.

Looking back over the two years we’ve shared I can see that it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had some desert moments, maybe some would refer to them as tests of your resolve. But those days have not been without a beautiful oasis filled with sparkling moments, Abigail.

She is a wonderous soul, loving and inquisitive.

She is focused and determined.

She is a mighty force to be reckoned whose twinkly laughter falls around us like stardust.

She is the greatest joy of our life.

And for that, I give thanks to God.

For sharing her with us, giving us the opportunity to experience hope, promises, and love in a brand new way.

Toddlers and Tiaras

21 Mar

“Mommy?”

That’s the sound I wake up to every morning. Before this phase, we would most often be awakened by screaming. There was no snooze button on Abigail’s internal alarm clock. I prefer this new way. It’s softer, sweeter, and actually makes me get out of bed faster. Maybe it’s something about her needing to know that I’m around, that I hear her. She says it like a question. “Mommy?” Are you there?

It makes me bolt out of bed and hurry. Yes. I’m right here.

It’s not just in the morning, she “Mommy’s” all day long. There’s excited to see me “Mommy!” and the hysterical “MOMMY!” if she’s been hurt. “Mommy, hand” when she wants to play or have a snack or show me something. And my favorite, “Mommy, cozy” for cuddles.

Sometimes it feels like a finger poking me all day. Sometimes I want to say, “What?!” “What is it now?” or “Enough already!” I’m human.

I try not to because right now she’s my biggest fan. I realize what a prize it is to be handed this award. But I’m not so naive to believe it will always be this way. It won’t be. Down the road is Amazing, her best friend. And Ms. Fantastic, the coolest teacher ever. And, please no, but probably, Shiny Superstar, the latest and greatest Disney star. There will be all of these other people that she looks up to and wants to be like and hang out with. I hope they really are as great as she thinks they are, but I can’t control all of that.

What I want is for her to have this strong foundation of love and support and self worth. You are loved. You are important. We trust you. I want her to have all of this before we are cheering her on from the sidelines. I want to give her this now so that it’s our voices she hears the clearest from afar. Maybe this will help soften the eventual blows and falls that come from that outside world. The ones you can’t control despite being crowned “Best Mommy Ever” by your adoring fan for your brief reign during her toddler years.

Her hair can go in a high pony now and she says Elmo instead of “Baboo.” Small changes, really, but signs of what’s to come. I’m pretty sure that the high pony alone is an indication that exasperated, annoyed, and embarrassed “Mom”s will be added to her vocabulary.

I’m going to let the “exasperated, annoyed, and embarrassed-by-her-Mom Abigail” go on down the road a little lot — like to the point where Amazing, Ms. Fantastic, and Shiny Superstar can be there to help deal with all of that.

For now I’m going to just cruise along proudly wearing the glittering tiara Abigail has so graciously given me — even if wearing this crown means nothing more than I win a whole lot of poking, food stealing, and repetitive singing.

I’m totally okay with that.
Right now, in her mind, we are all she needs. We are enough.
And that makes being “Mommy” enough.