Thursday, April 17, 2014

What do you want for me Mumma?

Last night,  after a birthday dinner with Jake, a spin around the neighborhood on her new bike, birthday cake and phone calls from Aunties and Noni and Papa, Lucy and I snuggled down for bed

Sean kissed her good night, wished her a happy birthday, tuned off the light and slipped downstairs

This is my favorite part of the day - the ten/fifteen minutes I get Lucy to myself
She's freshly showered and smells like coconuts
Her hair is soft and is so blond it actually shimmers when she moves

She nestles into me and sighs

Its when we have some of our best conversations
We whisper and giggle
And sometimes we laugh out loud and make so much noise Sean hollers up the stairs
Girls! Settle down!

We talk about our day, or what it will be like when Lucy grows up
Sometimes, she'll ask to hear the story about the day she was born
Or the day we brought her home

Sometimes, she asks to hear about when Ziggy came to live with us
Or about the day her Dad and I got married
Sometimes, we just lay together quietly until our breathing patterns match and she drifts off to sleep

Last night, Lucy snuggled into me and said

Well Mumma, I made it! I'm 5! Can you believe it?!?
Can I believe you made it or that you're 5?

I hug her

No honey, I can't believe you are 5....
Do you still want me to be 4 Mumma?
Yes honey...and next year when its time for you to turn 6, I'll want you to stay 5...
Oh Mumma (she says with a sigh that translates to Poor poor Maria, so silly and naive....)

I know honey - but its what Mums do....we want our kids to stay little
Did Noni want you to stay little?
All Mums want their kids to stay little -
What else do Mums want for their kids
I chuckle
That's a long list Lucy!
Oh...she sort of trails off and seems genuinely disappointed I don't give her answer

Do you think Mumma that you might want me to have a kitty?

I tickle her

We have Ziggy you silly goose!
Well maybe you want me to have a puppy dog she says laughing and trying to hide under the covers
I want you to go to sleep birthday girl!
That's all you want for me Mumma?!?!
No Lucy, I want that and so much more.....but right now, I say as I kiss her whole face and tickle her,
I want you to go to sleep!

She giggles and snuggles back down under the covers pushing herself against me

I love you Mumma - and I loved my birthday day
I love you - you're my best five year old -
And you're my best Mumma

I hear her sigh one more time and within minutes, she's sound asleep

And in my head, I begin my list

There is so much I want for you Lucy

I want you to be
Happy and healthy
Safe and sound
Honest and kind

I want you to
Reduce, reuse, recycle
Be your own kind of beautiful
Stick with it, what ever "it" may be

I want you to
Know that life goes on - just be sure you go with it
Know who you are
Know your limitations
Know when to hold'em
Know when fold'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run

I want you to
Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you'll be criticized anyway (Eleanor Roosevelt told me that)
Do anything, but let it produce joy (Uncle Walt Whitman wants this for us all)
Keep your face always toward the sunshine and shadows will fall behind you (WW again)

I want you to
Eat healthy
Get plenty of sleep
Drink water
Breathe deeply

I want you to know
I've made mistakes...oh the mistakes I have made
I've lied
I've hurt and been hurt
I've royally fucked up from time to time
I've partied too hard
I've gotten myself in some pretty tight spots
But I've learned from all of it
And I sleep better now than I did then

You will do all of these things too
You will make mistakes and lie, you'll hurt someone or someone will hurt
One day, you will royally fuck up, party a little too hard and find yourself in a compromising situation
All I ask is that you get through it as best you can

Apologize if you need to - even if it takes you years, apologize
Pay your fines and serve what ever sentence you have to
And then learn from it all
Learn from it Lucy as much as you possibly can

I want you to know that someday, you won't need me
And that's okay - we all outgrow our Mums at some point
But I will still need you
And even though you don't need me, I will always be there

I want you to know that someday, you'll realize you do need me
And that's okay - we all need our Mums at some point
For I always needed you
And I will always be right here

I want you to know that I love you so much that it makes me cry because it is so overwhelming
I want you to know that I am so very proud of you
I have faith in you
And I believe in you

I want you to know you are my best girl
And I want you you to know that one day, I will get you a kitten....and a dog

I love you forever and always, frontwards and backwards, side to side, up and down and all around


Maria the Mum

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And tomorrow, she will be five......


You’re five
I have no idea where the time went

Technically, you are not five until tomorrow but wow, you're five

One minute I was staring at a stick with two lines on it and the next minute I’m sitting at the kitchen table at 11:30 pm making plastic mice for your birthday party

My eyes are all blurry with tears….my throat hurts from the lump that swells every time I think of you…and my heart aches because it is so filled with love and hope for you

And now, the tears slide down my face and no matter how hard I squeeze my eyes closed or clench my fists, the tears still fall

Not because I’m sad

But because you’re 5

Because you’re five and I feel like it’s going too fast

I feel like I’ve missed so much but I am overwhelmed by how much is still to come

One minute you need your Dad and I for everything, the next minute, you tell us you can get dressed by yourself and no thanks, I don’t need help

And it’s happening so very fast Lucy!

So fast that sometimes it makes my head spin and when I close my eyes to steady myself, I open them only to discover you’ve grown again and are slowly but surely exerting your independence

I fear if I blink, you’ll move out of the house

You are our one and only for so many reasons

And the three of us are okay with that – well, you and Daddy are better with it than I am but I’m getting there

You tell me all the time that you are so glad it’s just us, Ziggy and your fish Olaf

Mumma! Can it always just be me, you and Daddy? I like it this way – I like having you all to myself
You do Lucy?
Yeah Mumma, I like having you and Daddy all to myself…and I like that we can do everything together
So do I Lucy
So it can always be just us Mumma?
Yes honey, no matter what, it will always be us

When I say that Luce, I get a lump in my throat and tears burn my eyes because in some ways, I think I am denying you something

I feel like I have failed as a parent to give you a sibling to grow up with, to fight with, to love, to steal clothes from and to blame when something gets broken

It’s kind of how I feel because I’ve not taken you to see the Easter Bunny or Santa
And because I’ve not thrown you a big birthday party somewhere or had a professional photo shoot done with you

It’s this weird self-doubt and loathing parents get…..when we feel like we are not doing what we can and should be for our children

Yes, I fear that I have failed as a parent because I’ve not taken you to get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny or Santa

Crazy, I know

But this is what parents do....we beat ourselves up because we are so worried about denying you some great experience that will make your childhood complete

Its like some weird switch is flipped in our brain and we momentarily lose sight of the important stuff 

We beat ourselves up about the silliest things….and about some not so silly things

I yelled at you Sunday night because you just would not settle down while I was reading you stories

You kept interrupting me and asking for a drink and more snacks

I got so annoyed and frustrated, I dropped (read threw straight down pretty hard onto the wooden floor) your books to the floor

A look of shock registered on your face

You looked at the books on the floor, you looked at me, your bottom lip quivered and oh how you cried

You were not upset I yelled at you, you were upset I threw your books to the floor

I lost my patience with you but you

And I yelled at you

I hate that I’ve become a yeller

I struggle with that all the time Lucy

I try to take a deep breath before I open my mouth because sometimes I feel like all I do is yell

But then sometimes, you just push me to the edge and I feel like my only recourse is to yell

Other times, I don’t yell, I just snap at you and get impatient – I take solace in knowing I’m not the only one that does that because I’ve heard other parents do the same thing

But I still hate that I do it

So I’m trying honey, I really am

Sometimes when I lose my patience with you, I worry about the damage I’ve done

Will you remember nothing but me yelling at you, swatting your butt when you’ve crossed a line?

Will you remember I denied you stories at bed time or the time we took your beloved Togus the cat away from you for a night?

My friend Pam gave me the best piece of advice not too long ago – we were talking about some of your outbursts and temper tantrums and she said Maria, when Lucy gets like that, pick her up and hug her – hold her as closely and tightly to you as possible – sometimes, that’s what kids like ours need

Oh how right Pam was!

 I’ve said before Lucy, you’ve had some epic temper tantrums

The slightest thing could and would set you off

There were times you’d go on for hours (like that 5 hour drive back from Maine that time….)

Sometimes they last seconds, mere minutes

They always involve you crying and yelling – and sometimes you hit, punch and occasionally bite – those are the worst

Other times, you just throw yourself down on the ground and cry

A couple times, you’ve bolted from the house and run as fast as your little legs would carry you in whatever direction your body turned

Daddy and I were always right behind you

Pam said to me hug her Maria, just pull her into you and hold her tightly...try it she said, just give it a try

So, the next time I saw you gearing up for a nuclear meltdown, I grabbed you and hugged you as tightly as I could

You fought me at first, kicking, squirming and hitting me

But I held you tighter and just whispered in your ear

I love you Lucy

And I finally felt your body relax against mine and your breathing returned to normally

You turned your head resting it on my shoulder and rubbed your hand along my shoulder blade

Sorry Mumma
I know you are honey, but you’re okay now
I love you Mumma
I love you more Lucy

And you didn’t have a tantrum, and I didn’t yell, and no one ended up in tears

Instead, we snuggled on the couch and when you were ready, you told me what was wrong

So now, when you are getting upset, and sometimes when I am getting upset, I just grabbed you and hug you as tightly as I can (and as you’ll let me)

No matter how many tantrums you have had, and no matter how many we have had (because don’t be fooled, parents have temper tantrums too, we just don’t like to admit to it)....No matter how much we took away from you (movies, TV time, play dates, toys, stories) no matter how loudly we yelled, your love for us, and ours for you never wavered

It was tested, but we never failed that test – none of us

We will forever and always love you Lucy, no matter what

And I am so sorry for those times when I have failed to be patient, to not yell and to use my listening ears

I’ll keep trying honey, just as I ask of you, I’ll keep trying

Sometimes Lucy, I look at you and I feel like I am just going to explode because I love and adore you so much

Which makes me marvel at mothers with more than one child

I marvel because I wonder how all that love fits in their heart and in their worlds

And then I start to freak out a bit because my time, our time, with you is fleeting

I panic because Santa and I only have 3 maybe 4 more Christmases with you…five if I am really lucky

I get emotional every time I clean out your drawers and closet to move you up to the next size because you are growing up and try as I might, I can’t stop it

I don’t want you to turn five

Five puts you closer to ten, ten makes you almost twenty and then you’ll be thirty and I am so not ready for you to be thirty

I beg and plead with you to stop growing up and you laugh at me and say

Mumma! Don’t be silly! God wants me to grow up! And I have to grow up so I can ride in the front seat with you! Besides, I have to turn five so I can go to kindergarten!
Ok then if you have to grow up Lucy, do you promise you’ll never leave Daddy and me?
You giggle again
Mumma! I already promised, Ziggy and I will live with you and Daddy forever!
Pinky Promise?
Ok ok, Pinky Promise!!!

And you grab my pinky with yours and we shake on it…then you curl up against me and I breathe in your very being praying to God to freeze time……to stop the world on its axis so you will forever and always be my Little Lucy who is 4, not five

But time is not freezing Lucy, the world is still spinning, time is not standing still

You will not be 4 forever and one day, one day way too soon, you will be on your own

And Daddy and I will be on our own

And I’ll wonder where the time went

And if you are okay

And if you are warm enough

And if you are eating enough

And if you have enough money

I’ll wonder if you’re happy

I’ll wonder if you miss me

I’ll wonder if you remember the time when….

And I’ll look up at the moon and know that somewhere in this big world, a little piece of me is out there, 
doing what she does best

I’ll know that there is a piece of me, a piece of your Dad, out there in the world being Lucy as only you can be

Happy Fifth Birthday Lucy

As always, your Dad and I are so proud of you

And so honored to be your Mum and Dad

You are so excited to five; I hope you never lose that sense of excitement

I hope you are forever and always as curious and inquisitive as you are right now

I hope that as you grow, the empathy and compassion you display grows with you

I hope you have as much joy in your life as you have brought to ours

I hope you continue to sharpen your keen sense and sensibility; especially the one you have about the people you allow into your life

I hope the passion you have for books, for learning, for writing and for drawing continues to grow and flourish with you

I hope you continue to love unconditionally

I hope you grow stronger in your sense of being, of who you are

And I hope you stick by that sense no matter what others may think or say 

I hope the light, love, devotion, honesty and integrity that rules your heart and head today and is the very essence of your being is as appreciated by the world as it is by your Dad and me

And I hope, more than anything Lucy Ellen, I hope you continue to bring to my life, and to Daddy’s life, direction, balance, love, laughs, tears, fears, joy and peace

Thank you Lucy for being our daughter

Thank you for what you have brought to our lives…and thank you for what you will bring

We love you to the moon and back a hundred times over

All our love and God’s blessings

Friday, April 4, 2014

Out of Africa

A few weeks back, we took a mini vacation - a long weekend to North Conway, NH
We stayed at a hotel which houses an indoor water park - best weekend ever (aside from the fact poor Sean spent most of it in bed sick with a fever!) 

We started the weekend with two hours of tubing on Friday 
Lucy and I must have gone up and down 100 times 
At one point, as we were headed back up for another run down, Lucy turns and looks at me with a huge grin on her face and laughter in her voice and says 

Mumma! I had no idea you and Daddy could be so much fun!

At one point over the weekend, I believe it was while we were bobbing up and down in the wave pool, Lucy  announced 

For our next vacation guys, I think we should go to California, I heard they have a great Zoo
And I think Jake should come with us 'cause he likes animals so much 

California Lucy?

Yeah Mumma, there's a Zoo in San Diego - the San Diego Zoo....what, you've never heard of it?

No, I've heard of it 

Oh OK, then to California we'll go!

Last Friday, Lucy had a dentist appoint
On the way to the appointment, and in an effort to distract her from the fact she was going to have a cavity filled, I started a conversation about vacation 

So Lucy, I wanted to ask you about our next vacation 

Sure Mumma

You want to go to California right?

Weeeellll, I've been thinking I'd rather go to know to see animals in their real habitat not a zoo one....

Oh well, OK, yeah, that makes their real habitat...what's a habitat again? I ask making eye contact with her in the mirror

She cocks her head to one side, pulls her face back in utter disbelief and dare I say disappointment, and with her arms out stretched and flailing, starts her lecture:

Seriously Mumma?!?! You don't know what a habitat is? How did you even get to be a grown up?!?
A habitat is an animal's home - or a plant - they have habitats too - and so do fish 
A habitat is where something or someone lives 'cause its the best place for them and has everything they need


To better illustrate her point, Lucy starts a list and checks off on each finger the following points:

The ocean is a whale's habitat 'cause it has water and krill
The tiger has a habitat in the jungle near water
Cheetahs live in the grasslands so they have room to run
Flowers live in a garden so they have dirt and sun 
Woburn Massachusetts is our habitat 'casue its where our house is and Target and Lisa's Pizza

Right, OK, I get it 

The habitats at the zoo aren't even real - I mean its a good try but its not really real - you can't have the real Africa at the zoo 

No, I don't suppose you can I reply 

So I want to go to Africa so I can see animals where they live...and you know what we should do on the way home Mumma?

On the way home from where?

On the way home from Africa!

What's that Luce?

After we go to Africa, on our way home, we should stop by the Himalayas

Stop by the Himalayas? know, just drop by really quick 

Oh, well of course we should.....for what? 
In my head I'm thinking if she says salt.......I won't even know what to say.....I won't know what to say anyway because who just drops by the Himalayas?!?!
She gets that look again - the one who she cocks her head to the side and pulls her face back in disbelief and disappointment with her arms out stretched and flailing: 

Really Mumma??? 
To see the snow leopards! 
The Himalayas - that's their habitat!!! Seriously, you did not even know that?!?!
And they're endangered.....which if you didn't know, endangered means there aren't very many left - endangered is what happens before you get extinct and extinct means you're all dead
So I want to see them before they all die and there are none left 

Right, OK well, sounds good then....

Can you call Pam and see if Jake can go with us?

Sure, why not?

Well, I guess it's settled then Mumma......I hope they have a hotel with a water park 

Maria the Mum