Wednesday, January 28, 2015


A little over ten years ago I anticipated my 30th birthday with such ambivalence. The impression I got of most thirty year olds was that they had stopped messing around and were beginning to settle down. My twenties were bumpy and although there was a sense of adventure surrounding them I wasn't exactly pining for more twenty-somethings drama. I wasn't quite ready to grow up though either. Sure I wanted to find my future husband, get married and have kids but at the time it just felt so far from what my twenties were about that it was hard to fathom.

When I was 29 I met my husband. I didn't know for sure but I had hoped then that I could stop looking, when we started dating. My friends threw me a party and we went away, just me and three girlfriends. I remember it being so much fun and I felt so loved by the three of them. To this day those friends are still so important to me. Over the course of my thirties I did indeed get married, get pregnant (not exactly in that order) and went on to having two amazing children. My thirties have given me everything that I hoped they would and so saying goodbye to them is less ambivalent and more bittersweet.

I've heard that forty brings contentment. I feel pretty content. I definitely gave up a career when I had kids but I don't miss it at all right now. I know it will be there in a few years and I know my kids won't. Time with them is fleeting and I will be twiddling my fingers wondering what to do in no time. For now, other than my son waking up too early every day and my daughter whining a bit too much, things are going pretty swimmingly. On my fortieth birthday my husband took me away for a night. It was the first time in six years that we went away together overnight. I don't think I realized how badly I needed it until we got there.

It took me so little time to pack my own bag, after packing for three all the time. We went to Laguna Beach, and it was so beautiful. Our hotel room looked out right over the ocean. We had no set nap time, school, pickup or anywhere else to be. We hung out and read, went out to lunch, went to the beach, the only schedule was a late dinner reservation. He and I had longer conversations since no one interrupted us, we were affectionate, and when we weren't looking out on the ocean and feeling overwhelmed with gratitude we were laughing. That was pretty much all we did. It was perfect.

The next day he surprised me and had over 20 friends out to celebrate. My birthday lasted all weekend and it was so much fun. I couldn't have asked for anything more. I was pretty tired by Monday, and I forgot to put my drivers license back in my purse from the clutch I used at my party. When I went to buy beer at the grocery store the cashier asked for my ID. When I couldn't find it it he took the beer back and said I couldn't buy it. Hello forty! I was also told by some random woman that forty is young and that for women they are in their sexual prime so Happy birthday to me! In the same day I saw a black cat that afternoon that was about to cross my path but when he saw me, he turned and went the other way, so maybe forty will be pretty lucky after all.

Monday, January 26, 2015

The English Project

Like a tear drop from my heart. That is just about the sappiest thing I have ever written but it's the only way I can describe what it feels like to watch my children pass from one phase to another. Some days that tear is of the wrenchingly beautiful kind of sentimental, and sometimes that tear is the pain of frustration, anger and impatience with having to deal with two small imps. Either way it seems having children will have me crying quite a lot.

It seems lately I am a bit fixated on communication. I wrote about the words my son uses now and how one day they are destined to change into correct pronunciation. It seemed like just after I wrote that, he overnight began using sentences. I don't remember it being so dramatic with Twig but perhaps it was. Not only has his communication increased, but his capacity to express emotion as well. He suddenly seems empathetic, sympathetic, understanding and caring. He will share with other children in a way I didn't think was possible a few months ago. When someone sneezes, he will say "bess you." If we give him something, he will say "tattoo" for thank you. He calls his sister "Aya" and when she hurts herself he will ask, "Ok Aya? Ok?" and then go look her in the eyes waiting for her answer. If she says no he will say "awww, torry Aya" and top it off with a kiss.

Meanwhile at home my girl seems to have forgotten her communication skills a bit and has regressed back to whining and pouting. It's been a challenging week or so for six year old meltdowns here. I have come up short when I try to use new tools and tactics to help from spiraling into a weepy rag doll about any and every little thing that doesn't go exactly right. As of today though I have a new theory as to why. She told me a story about something that happened at school and I think she has just learned how to be such a mature, sweet, smart and together kid. It is really amazing but when she comes home she allows herself to step back and fall apart so to speak. That isn't as pretty.

One day when I picked her up at school the first grade teacher from next door to her class told me that Twig had a project. She took it upon herself to befriend Yvonne who has recently moved here from Germany and can't speak any English. She decided she would teach her. Each day for several weeks she taught her a new word. She forgoed playing with her other friends at recess in order to achieve this. When her friends wanted to play with her she said only if they would play with Yvonne too. Each day she would report back to me the new words that she had fought Yvonne.

This past Monday on the way home from school, I asked her who she played with at recess. For the first time she mentioned children other than Yvonne. When I asked her if Yvonne was absent she explained that she felt it was time for Yvonne to play with other kids now. She relayed how she explained this to Yvonne, and that she was careful to explain it so her feelings wouldn't be hurt. She told her that she was tired of teaching, and that she just wanted to play. She walked her over to some other classmates and said you are ready to play too. The way she explained this was more articulate than I can convey but basically she expressed herself so confidently, and carefully as to not hurt her friend. I was so impressed and so proud of her.

I'm watching her find herself between the little girl, who sometimes cries when she thinks I don't understand her, to the girl who can have full-on thoughtful conversations with me, and I am amazed. It is a privilege to be with these two and witness the changes. They both surprise me everyday. I don't want to freeze time. I look forward to watching them grow, I just want it to go a little slower. There is a lot to savor.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Gone Tomorrow

I remember dating an older guy when I was seventeen. I was known to do that often then. He tried to tell me that when I became an adult life would become routine and that the monotony of day to day life is a reality. I remember even then thinking that it would never be that way for me. I knew I wanted the kind of life that was exciting enough that I would never feel bored. I was pretty sure I would prove him wrong. I most definitely did!

My life isn't a piece of pie or easy as cake, or whatever that dessert reference is, but it isn't crazy difficult either. I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for what I have and what I have accomplished. Sure, I had different hopes for where I would be with a career right now but I also never anticipated just how much time I would want to commit to being with my children. I had one of those epiphany moments today, where it was a beautiful crisp fall morning and I was running in the playground with my son. No one else was there and we were taking advantage of that by yelling and laughing. We were going down the slide, jumping off together and laughing. I thought about how much fun it was to get to do this, to be silly and free with my little boy.

That joy was immediately followed by the fact that all of this will all change. I suddenly became very existential and thought about how he will grow older and I will too, and that my parents are getting older, and how yes many things change for the better with time, but some changes are terribly difficult to bear. I feel time is flying at a more rapid speed than it did in the past. When I turned forty I began to wonder about what this decade would bring and immediately I thought about the possibility of losing a parent just gets greater and greater as we all get older. There is very little I can do to prepare myself for that day so I just often put the thought out of my head as if it won't ever really happen. There is an inevitability to it though. Just as the day I had my first baby my world was seen as "before and after" because the change was so epic, I believe losing the people who brought you into the world will make it look different when they are gone. Especially if you love them dearly.

When I look at the characteristics or flaws in myself that are challenges for me I can also see the positive elements that come with those flaws. I am deeply sensitive and so I don't seem to take as much lightly as I would like. I don't laugh things off that easily, and I read into things. The flip side of being able to feel really low is the joy that comes with the highs and most importantly the appreciation for feeling somewhere in the middle. As a result I am pretty absorbed in what is going on moment to moment. One would think that is a good thing since there is so much research about being present but when I am focused on what I am doing I have trouble transitioning out and on to the next. I like to linger. I enjoy wandering and losing track of time. I often get side tracked and enjoying seeing where the day takes me. Of course with kids and responsibilities this becomes a time management issue often.  I do take to heart though that my ability to focus on what I am doing well has allowed me to be a very committed mother. I know that this role is forever and a commitment that has a lifetime guarantee. I am also aware that it evolves often and I am in the early stages. Respectfully as a daughter my gratitude lasts even longer than a lifetime. I cherish time so preciously with my parents and my children especially when we can be all together.

I've never looked that guy I up and I don't think I ever will, but I do wonder if he would to this day stand by his statement about life being so routine. I know he went on to have children and I would be really surprised if he watched and marveled who they morph into if he could still say life was boring. For me, yesterday was nothing like today and when today is gone who knows what surprises tomorrow holds.