Training Bra

My eight year old came home from Grandma’s house singing “I Dreamed a Dream” and donning her first training bra. These two facts don’t really relate to each other with the exception that they both involve my mom.

I exclaimed over her new purchase and watched her pride and excitement about an item of clothing that signified, in a small but big way, that she was growing up. Hours later, I realized my mom had just bought my daughter her first training bra. EVER. I waited for that little kick in the gut feeling to settle into my stomach, but it never came. My partner listened to the story later that night and asked, “Were you mad at her?” I explained my small revelation of surprise to him; that it had suddenly hit me that Lily owned her first bra, and that I had not been the one to buy it for her. There was a small part of me that had expected to be angry or jealous, but instead what I had found was joy.

My village. I am grateful for my extended family for many reasons. I’m fortunate they live in the same town, appreciative that instead of choosing sides they have worked as much as they can to support both me and my daughter’s father during our separation, and thankful that they want to have such a big part in helping raise two amazing girls.

I have a sharp memory involving my paternal grandmother when I was about 12 or 13 years old. Middle school marked the beginning of a complicated relationship with my parents, and I never would have been caught dead being with them in public if I could have helped it. My grandmothers were a different story. The generation gap, combined with the fact that each had raised one of parents and most likely really really really understood where I was coming from in thinking that my parents were completely crazy sometimes, created a different relationship.

I remember walking next to her and smiling. We didn’t see anyone I knew at the mall that afternoon, but if we had I would have said hi and introduced her to my acquaintances. What I remember most was simply living in that moment. She asked questions and listened without probing too much. She didn’t give me the line of “I never wasted so much time talking nonsense on the phone instead of doing homework every night” but instead would laugh at how different things were from when she was my age. She was there for me, in a very different, but also important way, than my parents.

I am not the only one in charge of raising my children. When my daughters reach the stage in their lives where they absolutely will die if they are seen with me in public, I will remind myself of this. Having a support network people beyond their own mom (who is completely crazy sometimes, remember) will enable them to gain a different perspective. They will have people to keep them in check but in a not so obvious way, and, in the end, be loved. Be supported and so incredibly loved.

I love you mom. Thank you.

Related side note: Lily’s dad freaked out when he learned Lily has her first training bra ever. He is not ready for her to be in this stage of life. I told him to hold on, ‘cause it’s comin’…..and to call his mom.

Posted in Family, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Sleep Deprived and Fabulous (?)

A year has passed since I wrote for the mommy blog; a chunk of time extensive enough that the password had been forgotten.  Perhaps this act of negligence encapsulates the things I consciously let slip by.

Almost 5,000 people have visited this third baby of mine since its inception.  Thinking back now, I am convinced I was (am?) insane, as Vivienne was a mere three months old.  Sleep deprived, certainly, in terms of birthing babies, raising children, switching jobs, maintaining a household, working on a marriage.  Fabulous, indeed, for these exact same reasons, with heels and cocktails and friends thrown into the mix.

My life had blossomed into what I had always dreamed about, planned for, and worked towards.  And yet, something didn’t fit, and I wanted more.  Trapped in my roles of wife, mother, daughter, lover, confidant, and sister, I sought a re-invention of myself, inclusive but separate from any other aspect of my life.  Describing my “more,” defining where it stemmed from, and figuring out how to move forward was challenging.

We talked, yelled, cried.  The winter drenched us in grey.  We discussed a break and clang desperately to each other while simultaneously trying to escape.  We went to therapy, started a blog, and gained new outlooks that tore us further apart.

He told me he felt like a chapter in my book that had been written, finished, and tossed aside.

We talked, yelled, cried.  We wondered if we had ever really been on the same page.  We realized we had existed next to each other and ended up losing ourselves.  We agreed “we” was irreparable.

Fifteen years is a long chapter, especially when it has been co-authored.

I’m still a mommy, half the time.  Sleep deprived, certainly, in terms of dancing until bar-time, going to midnight movies, making new connections and partaking in adventures.  Fabulous, indeed, for these exact same reasons, with parenting plans and sleeping in an empty bed and separating households thrown into the mix.

I find myself questioning if it really is fabulous to choose this life.  Some mornings, I awake and feel a freedom I’ve never experienced before.  Other days are soaked in sadness and a crushing sense of loss.  I’m finding my way again, discovering new paths, and living a life I hadn’t imagined.  In the end, the “more” I was seeking has turned out to be simply me.

I am sleep deprived and fabulous. (?) and (!).

Posted in Identity | 1 Comment

Soak

I recently embarked on a week long journey across the county.  I was delighted to attend the conference for work, but secretly was almost more excited to have the chance to fly alone.  No fruit snacks to dole out, no scrambling to find lost markers, no finding the exact-correct-scene-in-the-movie-they-were-watching-before-but-had-to-stop-because-we-are-too-busy-and-they-were-alas-interrupted?

Bliss.

I read Vogue.  I gazed out the window.  I reviewed the articles in preparation for the conference.  I edited a story.  I laughed at the SkyMall products.  I bought another coffee during the layover.  I sat.

When my flight home was cancelled due to an anticipated historic blizzard, I could hear the desperation in my husband’s voice.  He is, in fact, a most fabulous father, but single parenting for an entire week straight will drive any sane person to the brink.

I managed to catch what was most likely one of the last flights leaving the east coast.  I had a fantastic book to read, but decided to simply close my eyes instead.  I conversed with my passengers.  I took pictures of the sunset out the window.  I had a cocktail at a sit-down dinner during my layover.  I sat.

Blessed.

Upon my arrival, Vivienne screamed in delight, jumped up and down, and reached her little arms up for me to pick her up.  Lily, sick and feverish, nestled next to me and told me about her favorite parts about the sleepover with their grandmother.

Vivienne looked older.  Lily’s bottom two teeth had started to come in.  What happens in a week, when you are away?

Over the weekend, we snuggled, drank milk shakes, read books, worked on the shrinky-dink-jewelry-kit and fake-nail-kit I brought home for them while Jake went skiing.  After bedtime, he wined and dined me and we kept each other entertained during a hilariously hideous action film.

This alone time I was granted?  This love waiting for me?

Soak it up.  All of it.

Posted in Family, Work | Leave a comment

Squirms & the Sexy Vagina

At age three, Lily sat with a book my mid-wife had provided, mesmerized by the illustration of a baby being born.  The mother was standing, leaning on the father, supported in her pushing.  “The baby is coming out of her butt, Mama!”  Lily finally exclaimed.

I clarified about the holes.

A week later, Lily was in Target with my mother-in-law, buying something for the impending baby sister.  The check-out woman questioned the item and Lily shouted enthusiastically, “My Mama is having a baby.  And she is going to PUSH it out of her VAGINA!”

Thankfully, I have an amazing mother-in-law who thoroughly appreciates the humor in these kinds of situations.

At age five, Lily pointed to my stomach after I stepped out of the shower and said matter of factly, “THAT is where a baby grows.  Girls have eggs, and boys have these squiggly little things.”

“Sperm,” I said, “And yes, that is correct.”

“And the sperm travels up a very dark tunnel and a lot of them get lost but they race to find the egg.  And when one finds the egg, it turns hard and the other sperms are sad because they can’t get in.  And THAT is how a baby is made.  I watched a video with grandma.  What I still don’t know, Mama, is HOW the sperm gets in that tunnel.”

I paused, turning on the water to brush my teeth and gather my age appropriate and honest response, and a second later, she asked, “Where does our water come from? “

I clarified about pipes.

Lily’s six year old questions about sex are much more poignant.  Since preschool, the same little boy has been in her class every year.  Now that the little boy lives a house away, love letters are often passed back and forth; declarations of I LOVE YOU scribbled in red crayon, paper folded in a very special and deliberate way.  Lily often speaks of marrying this little boy.

“Why do you want to get married, honey?” I asked one night over dinner.

“Because I want babies,” she replied instantly, “When can I have a baby?”

“Your body has to be ready to have a baby; remember us talking about getting your period?  But it’s better to wait until your mind, your body and your life are all ready before you decide to have a baby,” I explained.

“Why can’t I have a baby when my body is ready?”

I clarified about teenage pregnancy.

“Hmm,” she thought for a moment, “Age 28 is probably good.”

The other night, over bowls of ice-cream and chocolate sauce, Lily asked, “You know those things that boys have, Mama?  Squirms?”

“Sperm, honey.”

“Oh, right.  Sperm.  Well, if the sperm comes out of the penis, and the egg is inside the girl’s body, how do they find each other? HOW?”

I clarified about vaginas and penises fitting together.  The somewhat horrified look on her face made me assure her we’d check that book out at the library again.

Suddenly, Vivienne leaped out of her chair, started running around the living room and chimed in with, “Vagina!  Vagina!  Sexy!  Vagina!”

“What is sexy, Mama?” Lily asked.

I mentally screamed.  Why do they even know the word “sexy,” really, at age three and six?

“Sexy means a lot of different things, honey,” I said, “It is a grown up kind of thing, and there isn’t just one example I can tell you to explain what it means.  It can be about your body, or your clothes, or your attitude.”

“Is ‘sexy’ inappropriate for kids?” she inquired.

“Yes.  Kids don’t need to think about being sexy.  It is tricky though, because some clothes that are made for kids could be considered ‘sexy’ if a grown-up wore the same thing.  That is confusing because then it seems like maybe kids should think about being sexy.”

“Oh right, like a little tiny bikini swimsuit?  That is inappropriate.”

Exactly.

As we scooped out our last bites of melting ice-cream, Vivienne’s shouts ceased and we decided to have a dance party.  The Go-Go’s, Ramones, Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson filled the living room.

Bedtime followed and questions were put to rest for the day.

I relish these conversations, even when the topics of their inquisitions floor me.  I delight in their unabashed queries and fascination with the world around them.

As my girls grow older, I hope they keep a tight grip on the ability to question, challenge, and push.  I want them to be insistent in finding answers, not stopping until they hear the entire story.  I expect them to be greedy for knowledge as they seek out their own truths.

Curiosity is fabulous.

Posted in Birth, Family, Parenting, Sex | 5 Comments

Those Summer Times

As the weather shifts, school starts, and our pumpkins begin to orange, my little family remains embedded with the sparkle and shine of this past summer.  Weekend adventures became the norm, dazzling gems crunched between my eight to five, Monday through Friday work week.  Our summer weekends have been melded into memories of visiting out-of-town friends, backpacking, roasting s’mores in the fire pit, squeezing into constantly wet swimsuits, watching tiny seeds grow into a hearty veggie plot, and fitting in bike rides before bedtime.

We actively seek adventures to embark upon, but this past summer felt different.  Lily and Vivienne grew a year older in the spring, and our family aged a little too.  I used to shy away from this type of fun, overwhelmed by the preparation, planning and packing every adventure “needed” to be a success.  My husband, Jake, has always been better at fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants living, and this mentality has finally rooted itself in my soul.

I’m not nervous about taking three hour trips alone with the girls anymore and the instances of screaming in the car have become few and far between.  I’m quicker to press pause and just chill when the girls are on the verge of a meltdown due to too much being packed into one day.  I’m more apt to say, “Grab your shoes!” and simply go, no need to work around a nap-time or pack extra snacks.

What is planned for this weekend?  Nothing is set in stone, but I guarantee it’ll be fabulous.

Posted in Family | 5 Comments