Friday, May 28, 2010

Growing Pains

I am the first to admit that I am not a good memory keeper. I don't have scrapbooks overflowing with hundreds of pictures or baby books with every detail of my kid's first year of their lives. I always vow to try and be better about taking pictures and labeling them and keeping them safe but it just doesn't happen. This is not to say that I don't have the memories in my mind though..I do and I cherish them.

The other day I was moving furniture around trying to find a bouncy ball
one of the kids lost and I found a picture. It was dogeared and folded and hard to see clearly. I looked at it for a few minutes and realized it was a picture of my oldest daughter when she was about 5. She had lost her first tooth and I had snapped the picture commemorate the momentous occasion. I sat and stared at it as the whole experience of that time in my life flooded back to me. The surprised look on her face when the tooth fell out. The tears over the drops of blood and the big smile that came next over the realization that the tooth fairy would have to find our house for the first time. That picture really is worth a 1000 words and feelings.

Another thing that the picture symbolized to me was how fast the time is going. Caroline will be done with elementary school in a few days and graduate to middle school. Then high school. Then college. Then marriage. Then grandchildren. That story behind the picture feels like it happened yesterday to me but to her is was a lifetime ago. To me the details are clear and almost tangible. My heart remembers as well as my mind....maybe better.

Her thoughts are going forward to more independence and new adventures while mine are relishing the sweet years behind us. The braces and training bras are bittersweet to me but exciting and new to her. She can't wait to be able to date and drive and be who she is going to be someday. Growing up is such a hard and tenuous process for kids but sometimes it is harder on Moms and Dads.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lessons in Losing

Soccer season came to an abrupt end over the weekend for my 3rd grader. Actually a sort of crash and burn. We went into the game undefeated. Full of confidence.. actually over confident. We lost. Faces all flushed and sweaty were now filled with tears and blame. Besides being defeated on the field the kids felt defeated inside. Finding a way to make children understand that losing is an inevitable part of life is almost an impossible feat. Almost as impossible as it is to get them to understand that there actually is a positive side to losing.
Being a winner obviously has better connotations that being a loser. When you win you hear cheers and you get hoisted up on people's shoulders. You feel bigger, stronger and faster. When you lose you get a lump in your throat and want to hide under a rock. In that moment of the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat it is impossible to step back and realize what exactly you learn from your experience. You just want the title of winner. Sometimes being the loser is actually winning in a backwards sort of way. Digging deep and seeing the mistakes we make can strengthen our minds and our attitudes. Learning why we lost and what we can do different is one of those things you can't take a way from a victory.
Losing is like an invaluable window into a person's character development. It means facing humility straight on without letting it define your identity. It means no excuses, no blaming, no self-pity. It means being able to say congratulations in a sincere way. It means understanding that the outcome can not be changed but that that doesn't have to hold you back from future endeavors. Being able to pick up the pieces and push forward is a vital lesson that can be applied to so many parts of life. Practice makes perfect even when it comes to losing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

All About the Editing

I wish everyone else had the copy of my life story that I have inside my head. It is written and illustrated with beautiful shiny bright pictures. It has the words "the end" on the final page. I have it memorized page by page and I embrace it. Too bad no one else can see it and keeps adding new material. I hate not having the certainty that I want to have for smooth and easy. I don't want a chapter added on the veins in my legs or the wrinkles around my eyes. I could do without that chapter about the glasses and braces and school frustration my girls have to muddle through. I didn't put that in the book and I wish I could make it go away. I want happy and fun and easy. I know that would make such a boring book but honestly I would take boring.

I am beginning to see that the truth is that we can't write that story. It has to write itself day by day through every trial and tribulation...every up and every down. There is no smooth and easy. The sun can't shine as bright without the storm that comes before. We all have to have chapters that aren't so easy to read to get to those that are full of excitement and true joy. Some days I want to skip ahead to the parts that aren't so hard to read but I think that would ruin the story. As hard as it is for my heart to accept some parts of my story I can see that it is what makes me me and mine mine.

As I forge forward I still have hope that the last chapter holds some truth no matter how twisted the path is to get there. That my life meant something to the characters in my story no matter how much editing was involved. That I make a mark that holds true to who I am and what I believe. That my children can read my story and know that I loved them and felt their pain as well as their happiness. That their impact on me was as much as my impact on them. Mostly I hope they can feel inspiration through me and my story.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stuck in a Muddle

Those first few minutes you hold your child are magical. They are smooth and fresh and unaffected. You see yourself mixed with your husband. You smell their fuzzy forehead and feel the extreme awe of all that is before you. Everything begins to hit you and you get sucked right in. You want everything for your child. Prom queen, valedictorian and sports star all in one. Mostly you want success for them. Success and happiness. Society puts the definition of success out there as following the herd and measuring up to the norm. If you don't fit into that mold you become different and lets face it, different is never easy. Fear and struggle plague those that see things from a unique angle...especially when it is a child. Especially when it is my child.
Imagine the frustration of looking at letters that are supposed to make up words and see jumbled out of focus blobs. Imagine your teachers and parents saying try harder or be more careful. Confusion and heartache over understanding that you aren't able to do the same thing everyone else is able to do. Seeing classmates getting patted on the back while you just can't quite get it. The extreme exhaustion of working twice as hard as everyone else to cover the same distance. Just feeling you are stuck in a muddle all the time. Then come the labels. Dyslexia, Specific Learning Disability, intervention. How do I make all this OK for my child? How do we change the measure of success for her in this world?
Revamping that measure of what makes success is hard. Having to prove that she is smart and talented in her own perception of the world becomes the focus.
Understanding the need to facilitate her ability to succeed is the most important thing. Remembering that she is blessed with a certain edge that other children don't have. Maybe it is a creative talent. Maybe it is lively imagination or a quick wit. But it is there, and it's something the rest of us don't have.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Stream of Consciousness

The rain last night really stunk. I had 2 cats, a scared 6 year old and a loudly snoring husband all squished in my bed. Not a good thing since I ran 13.1 miles yesterday in the rain and all I wanted to do was sleep. Backed out of my drive early this morning and skimmed my husbands car on the way out. Just a little red paint on his black truck. Maybe he won't notice. Went on a family grocery shopping trip. Not fun. Lots of whining and everyone throwing things in the cart. Spent the rest of the day doing laundry and sorting through the never ending piles of papers that end up on my counter every week. Mostly kid's papers and flyers from the school asking for donations or volunteers. Kept 3 out of 134. Had delicious wine and cheese at 4:30 and made a huge dinner. Strawberries with whipped cream for dessert. Lots of yelling and sibling rivalry around this weekend. Everyone lobbying for position and correctness. Vacuuming was actually fun today because I could drown it all out. A slammed door with a head in it sure makes for a lot of crying and more yelling and bruises. Ice cream is the perfect medicine. Well that and a magic ointment made from Jergen's and baby powder. The wind is blowing again and I think I see lightening. I hope not. I need to sleep tonight. This week will be busy. Soccer and soccer and soccer again. Swimming too. Throw in the dentist and a 5th grade strings concert and that looks about right. Trying to gather thoughts to finish a few posts I have started. Can't quite get there. Some things are just harder to say. Or harder for people to hear. Finishing my show and heading to bed. Hoping for no snoring. Maybe I should take some Tylenol PM or get some earplugs.