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Reflections On A Tragedy

July25

Some days it’s hard to be a Mom, especially in the midst of tragedy. Although I can shelter my girls from the outside world and much of its bad news most of the time, I cannot seem to shelter myself. Despite my avoidance of the evening news and the daily paper, the terrors still seem to find there way to me.

The past few days, if  I’m in a public place, I suddenly find myself making note of the nearest exit or mentally planning what I would do in the event of something horrific happening, like what happened last Friday in Colorado. It’s enough to make a girl agoraphobic.

The oldest victim, was a 51 year old father, who was there with his teenage children. Thankfully they were able to escape and I have no doubt he is the reason why. The youngest victim, was a 6 year old girl, who was there with her mother, who is still in critical condition.

At least four of the men died protecting their girlfriends. One had survived several tours of war, only to die a civilian in a movie theater. One was celebrating his 27th birthday and his first wedding anniversary. Another woman had narrowly escaped a shooting in a Canada mall just a few weeks before, but wasn’t so fortunate this time. Most of them were in their early to mid-20’s. None of them deserved to die.

I cannot wrap my brain around it. No one can. There is no reason for it. None. Only that a mentally ill person made a decision that changed the lives of 70 people that night and it trickles down to all of us.

Still, we cannot live in fear. We cannot prepare ourselves for every unknown or the inevitable. But still, it haunts me.

As a mother, there is no doubt in my mind I would throw my body on top of my children. It’s a no-brainer. But to think of that mother in ICU who will either die or wake up to a world without her 6 year old daughter, there is no ideal outcome.

It is a cruel reminder to love and love well. To treat every day as if it’s your last. And never, ever take anything or anyone for granted.

A Word Is Worth A Thousand Pictures…and vice-versa…

July10

In case you didn’t hear, I recently lost all my blogs…deleted into oblivion (or so they claimed) were all the words I’d ever written over the past four years. Although I’m not so vain as to think it would matter much to anyone else, it meant the world to me. Most of my writing revolves around my girls. It’s my way of keeping track of the stories and stages of their lives as they grow, so that someday, when I’ve forgotten a lot of the details, we’ll be able to share this chronicle of at least some of the highlights.

So when I thought I’d lost them forever, I was heartbroken. The only other time I was this upset was when I lost 6 months worth of pictures in a computer crash. Ever since then I try to be extra careful to back up all my pictures….but I just assumed my Blog would be floating around out there in the blogospere indefinitely…that is, until it wasn’t.

Due to hard financial times and trouble with our bank account, we were a month late on our $6.99 payment. And because of that, they deleted our account. Usually they suspend it for non-payment, but apparently, after a month, they delete the content. This was news to us, and not good news. Terrible news.

Thankfully, after combining our efforts, my husband and I talked them in to restoring our lost files and waiving the $150 fee they wanted to charge. But the lesson was not lost on us. From now on, I will be backing up every.single.blog just in case the unthinkable happens again.

Because a picture may be worth a thousand words, but a thousand words paint all kinds of pictures….

Accidental Motherhood

May13

I was afraid to become a mom because I knew I would fail at it.  I didn’t grow up with the overwhelming urge to have babies. I’m a practical girl and I knew that my impatience and imperfections meant I wouldn’t be the best candidate. So God tricked me into it. Although I willingly entered into the endeavour of ‘baby making’ with eyes wide open, after about 6 months I decided that No, in fact, I did not want to be a Mother. I came to this conclusion sitting outside the lab waiting for the pregnancy results I knew would be negative. But they were positive.  So for 8 months I tried to wrap my mind around the idea of being somebody’s mom. And then my first daughter showed up, 4 weeks early and just a week shy of Mother’s Day. And I entered into a love like none I had ever known before, or since, with the exception of her younger sister who came exactly 4 years and 4 months later. Another practical joke on the part of God. In a struggling marriage at the time, the marriage counselor we were seeing asked “How can you be pregnant, you don’t even like each other?” Not particularly what I needed to hear, but I suppose a fair question in some ways. My second daughter arrived 7 weeks ahead of schedule and a week shy of us having to move. Never a dull moment around here.

Twelve years later, I am still a screw up. My premonitions about being a failure as a mother were true. But what I hadn’t bargained for was how wonderful it would be. How life changing. How much I would love them and miraculously, they would love me, in SPITE of my many failings. I guess God knew I needed to learn a little something about unconditional love. Being a mother doesn’t just mean we have unconditional love for our children, it means they give it back to us. We fail and fail and fail some more and these little people keep on loving us. I have learned to say I’m sorry, a LOT. Admit my failings, get up, dust myself off and keep going, even when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Because, well, I don’t!

There are days I want a studio apartment. To live alone with no one else’s mess but mine to clean up. Some peace, solitude and a bathroom all to myself. But then the moment passes and I realize how boring that would be. How blessed I am to be surrounded by loving chaos.  How undeserving I am of this boundless love from these unique little beings who don’t always like me but who always always love me. My cup runneth over!

Happy 12th Birthday Juneybug!

May6

Twelve years ago today, on a Saturday afternoon, I became a Mom.  My first born was 4 weeks early and upside down. But come she did and she’s been making dramatic entrances ever since. I remember trying to savor each and every moment of those first months, watching them pass in a bittersweet combination of joy for what she’d accomplished and anticipation of who she had yet to become. Then I blinked and twelve years went by.

It sounds like such a long time on paper, but it has gone far too quickly. In 365 days I will be the mother of a teenager…and the past 41 some odd years of my life have NOT  prepared me for that–I’m not sure an eternity could.

The only thing I have managed to do consistently over the past twelve years is love her.  I have failed her in so many ways, fallen so short of the ideal I set for myself 12 years and 8 months ago. But I have never run short of my love for her. I guess that unconditional part works both ways. I love her no matter what, and she, miraculously, returns the favor, despite my unworthiness.

As I watch her grow into a young woman, still straddling the fence between childhood and teen-dom, I am amazed by her intelligence, talent, compassion and insight. Wise behind her years and gifted with a voice that amazes anyone who hears its strength and beauty coming out of that tiny girl. I look forward with anticipation to the woman she will become. But I’m in no hurry. It’s okay with me if the next 12 years crawl by.

Cupcake Love

February10

If you know me at all or have read very many of my blogs, you may have noticed a common theme. I don’t like to cook. In fact, I pretty much loathe all things domestic. Well, except the staying home with my kids part.  And after a day of trudging through the necessities of laundry, cleaning and cooking dinner, I never, I repeat, ever, have the desire to bake.

I do not make things from scratch for the sheer enjoyment of it. I don’t even like scratching open a box. The new rule that you have to bring store-bought baked goods for class parties (for safety reasons) was created with me in mind. Someone had surely seen my kitchen and/or tasted something I’d attempted to bake. Out of that, an amendment was born, it might even be named after me. BUT, I have a 7 year old who loves to bake. She loves all things cooking-related, in fact. I am at a bit of a loss as to where and how she got this inclination. And yet I hate to discourage a creative girl. So every once in a blue moon, when her Dad isn’t around to push it off on, I help her bake something. She likes to add the eggs, the oil, the water, to the box mix. (Don’t judge) She likes to hold the mixer and beat the ingredients. Then, of course, lick the beaters. Even I like that part of baking.

This afternoon, for fun, she was watching a show called D.C. Cupcakes. Then she started asking to bake something. I put her off as long as I could, but after dinner I was out of excuses. She really wanted to get a pastry bag (her words) and icing tips. So we went to the store and bought the can that looks like hair mousse and comes with 4 different tips. She tested each tip out on a paper plate and can’t wait until the cupcakes are cooled enough to ice.

It seems I have an artist on my hands. And art I understand. But food-related art? That’s a foreign concept to me. Still, I muddle through, baking-challenged and impatient. Because I love her. And for love, even I will bake!

Fast Walking

February6

When we were kids, my Dad would challenge my sisters and me to walking races. He was fast, his legs were longer than ours and he would almost always win. But what I love best about the memory is how silly he looked doing it. If you’ve ever tried to walk fast, without running, you know it’s hard to not look like a goofball while doing so. And therein lies the fun.

Now I am the one who challenges my own girls to race walk with me and I am in such awesome shape that I am usually huffing and puffing in no time, but we are always laughing too, because it’s an absurd thing to do. And as a kid, you feel like you really can beat your parent. And in my case you probably will. But the best part is that you see that your Mom is okay with acting like a fool in order to have a little fun.

“Life’s too mysterious, don’t take it serious!”

Pack-rats Annonymous

January9

I’m a self-proclaimed pack-rat. And while I know admission is the first step toward getting better, it will probably also be my last step. The thing is, I like stuff. I’m not a hoarder. I share, I give away and then I buy more! I like to consider myself very eco-minded. I don’t like to waste things.  So when my girls outgrow clothes I either give them to a friend or donate to charity. Same with old junk. Sometimes I try and earn a buck on eBay. But usually I just pay it forward. And then I go out and thrift and bring something else home. Still very recycle friendly, since I am re-using other people’s cast-off items, keeping things out of landfills and helping create jobs in my community.

I know it is possible to live with less, to live ‘simply’ and that really does appeal to me. I have gone long periods of time with little or no possessions. Well, at least not with me (they were in storage). And I know it is quite possible to get by with less. But it’s also a lot less fun.  I am a very visual person. Artistically speaking I can barely draw a stick figure. But my home is my canvas. I arrange things in a way that is pleasing to me and hopefully others.

I am also very sentimental, which is a double-edged sword. It makes it hard for me to part with certain things, but it also makes me a deeper person, I think. I value people and so I value the things that people give me or that remind me of those that matter most to me.

The older I get, the easier it is to part with certain things. But there are still things I cannot seem to let go. Like pictures my girls draw for me or cards people have written to me.

I would like to learn to strike a balance between self-expression and feeling overwhelmed by the amount of clutter in my house.  It is a work in progress.  So like any masterpiece, it will take a while to complete.

You may say I’m a dreamer….

December20

I’m at another crossroads. I’ve been at more than one of those in my lifetime, and always, I’ve asked myself what I should do. But I haven’t always chosen well. When I was in my early twenties, I was in a car accident while in a friend’s car. He later got a settlement and I received a little money as well. It was enough to pay off what little debt I had and have a small amount left over.  I should have stayed out of debt, but I didn’t. I should have bought my VW bus and followed my dream of traveling in it. But I didn’t.

A few years later, I met a guy, who had a VW bus and we eventually got married. The plan was to travel around in it…but it broke down and we rented an apartment and start accumulating stuff. Stuff makes it very hard to travel. It serves as anchors to wherever you are and it seems the only way to  break free of those anchors are to let go of that stuff. But I’m not so good at that. Still, what use is it? It sits on my shelves, aesthetically pleasing for awhile, but otherwise pointless. But I like to decorate, I like holidays and so the accumulation continues.

Then I had kids. And they come with their own collection of stuff and the anchor becomes weightier.  Not that it’s their fault.  Society assigns a list of things they must have. Most kids, if they’re parents have the means, enter the world already weighed down by the ‘stuff of life’  Every once in awhile I have an epiphany. To sell everything I own and go, Henry Thoreau or John Muir-esque into life and fly by the seat of my pants.

At 41 I keep reminding myself that I’ll never have my 20’s back, but I’ll also never be younger than I am right now. So what am I waiting for? A partner in crime? Well, yeah, sort of. I can’t very well throw off the ties that bind me when I’m married and have children. So I try, without much luck, to get them to jump on my band-wagon. I want to live life in a trailer or a log cabin, ala Travels with Charlie or Grizzly Adams.  And what am I waiting for? When will that happen? It won’t, unless I make it so. I want to take the road less traveled by, but I may have to drag my family kicking and screaming.

I’m not a mermaid, but I play one on television…

October6

I’m living with a mermaid. She masquerades as a 7 year old, but really, she’s a fish out of water. She wants to spend most of her time in the water, watching mermaid videos on youtube or searching the internet for swimmable fins.

I’m not sure what started it all, although Ariel has always been her favorite princess, from a very early age. But then she discovered H2O. No, not the real deal–water. It’s a show. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H2O:_Just_Add_Water  Leave it to my uber-computer literate kids to stumble onto a show filmed in Australia that, as far as I know, is no longer in production. And then to become obsessed.

She has relentlessly implored me to search for a mermaid tail for her. And believe it or not, they’re out there. But the ‘swimmable’ versions start at $80. Undeterred by a lack of funds and the far off date of Christmas, when Santa might come through, she has fashioned her own ‘tail’. She stuffed both of her legs into one ‘leg’ of a pair of pink tights and waddles around the house with a bikini top on. The bath tub is her ocean and she films herself with a little digital video camera, creating her own videos while playing a mermaid.

I happen to love it. I love her imagination and that she has the freedom to create a little alter-existence. After all, what else is childhood for, if not dreaming, making believe and spending part of your time, at least, under the sea?

Seven is a lucky number…

September6

How is it possible that another year has passed and my baby is now 7?  S-E-V-E-N! I have asked her each year not to grow up. She just laughs at me, as children are wont to do. But growing up is sooo over-rated, I reason. Still, they do it! Against my will, against my best advice! But the joy is in the journey and getting a front row seat to their inevitable growing up. Mikah started year 6 as a First Grade drop-out. We home-schooled through the year, by the seat of our pants, while I fought off the pain of a back injury and later recovered from surgery. We survived last year and that’s about it! But along the way, she brought me smiles, laughter and love.

In the past year, you gave up your binky (trading it for your thumb) lost your first teeth, the two on bottom not long after your 6th birthday, and the second one up top, just shy of your 7th! You traded dance class for gymnastics, became obsessed with Littlest Pet Shops and put on many a song and dance show with your sister on our living room ‘stage’.  You are laid back and mellow and would just as soon spend the day in your underwear.  But when you do finally get around to getting dressed, you still love your leopard print clothes best.

You have gotten taller and smarter and you get so proud of yourself for reading a book all on your own. You count each page you read and congratulate yourself along the way.  You have just about taught yourself to swim and would love to be a mermaid.  You are fearless and free and you love the ocean.  You fill my life with joy and I am blessed to get to be your Mama. Happy 7th birthday sweet Mikah Jean!

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