Sunday, August 29, 2010

That's my daughter

Abigail spends all day, every day with me. More or less. Which means I shouldn't be surprised when she starts to sound like me. But there you are: I was. She parrots back words that I had no idea were regulars in my vocabulary line up. My favorite? "Ridiculous". As in "Mom, that's ridiculous! (I have no intention to clean up/get my cup/take a nap)"

Also the other day she was sitting in the car going through some junk mail when her voice pipes up: "Oh. My. Goodness. *big sigh* Oh my goodness!" I peered over my shoulder to see what was causing this out burst - she was shaking open a sheet of paper and peering at it incredulously. "12 dollars!?" She shook her head and said a little softer: "12 dollars. Oh my gosh." I have no who or what was attempting to raid her piggy bank so viciously, but she was clearly appalled.

Then, later, on another drive: An incautious driver made a left hand turn in front of me and I sputtered out something to the effect of: "Hello?!" To which Abby contributed, loudly, from the back seat: "Hey! Lady! There was a stop sign there!" (There wasn't, but, you know, the sentiment was right.)

So here is my daughter greeting the world with skeptisim at the tender age of 3. Already slightly jaded that someone would want her 12 dollars (though where she had acquired such a fortune I'd like to know) and her skills as a back seat driver have already formed admirably. I see many years of "helpful" comments coming from the rear of the car.

Which I hope to find half as funny as I do today.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Counting my blessings

I have been reminded lately, thanks to fellow bloggers, friends and life, how lucky we are. Josh's job as a recruiter keeps him at home. No training for weeks in the field, no night ranges, nothing "regular army" for three whole years.

And it's amazing. He was here to see Isabel born, to hold her in the first moments of life and since he has had the amazing blessing to see her every day as she grows into a crawling, babbling baby. I know having lived a year without that, just how special it is. How important. How much a salve it must be for his heart.

What brings this to mind? This last week Josh has been at work pretty much around the clock. His office is running a booth at the fair and it's kept him away from dawn till dusk. He has missed more family dinners this week than he has in months and he hasn't put Abigail to bed in over a week - very irregular.

And Abigail has noticed. She's taken to crying for no reason in the middle of the day for her Daddy. Asking for him over and over and then not believing me when I saw he's coming home at bedtime. She is convinced that he's gone to California without us and isn't coming back. (To explain: he went briefly to the west coast for a wedding a few months back and was gone for 4 days. This has stuck with her apparently.)

The only saving grace? I get to tell her, every time she asks: "He's coming home tonight. He'll kiss you before bed, or maybe after you're in bed, but he's going to be here when you wake up for sure." And my heart breaks with every word because friends of mine whose husbands are serving in Afghanistan right now, don't get to say that. And I can't imagine telling Abby 'He'll be home next year.' Or 'next month.' Or 'soon.' Or God forbid: 'never.'

So I know how lucky we are. How precious these moments are. And my heart breaks thinking of friends who are by no means unlucky, but who are bravely facing a reality I can scare imagine.

So today? I am thankful for long hours, for crappy recruiting jobs, for 3 year assignments and for a husband who serves his country with honour, but who also chose to serve his family by asking to do the job that everyone told us to stay away from, just to be here. Every day I am thankful for the ordinary moments that we have been blessed with.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The world beyond awaits

Not to long ago we were out and about when Abby came up to me and asked: "What's this?" My heart nearly leap out of my chest when I realized that she was holding a peanut M&M. I took it away from her and gently explained it was something that would make her very, very sick. Then yesterday I was getting ready to go outside to do yard work; when I came into the kitchen to see if Abby had her shoes on, too, I was surprised to see she wasn't there. Through the window in the back door I saw a small head of brown hair bobbing in and out of sight. I ran, flung the door open, scooped up my daughter and then tried to calmly explain why going outside without Mommy is such a bad idea.

It has been a long week for me, full of reminders that everyday my daughter is pushing her orbit out a little further away from me and everyday the world is getting a little closer to her. And this is a world full of dangerous, terrifying things. Because how do you explain to a 3 year old that something as tiny as a candy covered peanut is waiting to kill her? That there are bad things, bad people, waiting outside to hurt her? How do you begin the lesson that there isn't a Fairy Godmother waiting to make sure the end comes out right; that sometimes Prince Charming shows up, but he never finds the glass slipper or, worse yet, he picks the evil step sister instead. How do you prepare her for a lifetime of unknowns, of scary, of broken hearts and sometimes hurt?

As a mother how do you raise them to let them go? Because I know that is what we are meant to do: raise competent adults from the children we have been blessed with. My own mother stood aside and let me grow into a woman, and then later into a wife and mother. But Mom? How did you manage to breathe while you did it? Because I've been holding my breath since Abby found a peanut M&M and the world and all it's tiny horrors opened before me. And I am terrified to take the next breath, and the next, and the all the ones after that.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Walking blind

My nightstand is home to many things: books, hair ties, clips, binkies, and lately a sleep mask. I bought it when pregnant with Isabel and just recently rediscovered it while trying to nap. Because? Summer sunlight and heat made hiding under a pillow impossible.

The other day Abigail found it.

You bet she put it on.

And, naturally, took a walk.

I started saying "Abby! Abby stop!" But she just giggled. And completely ignored me.

And then? There was a loud thwack of her head against the door frame and the thud as she sat down hard. She was splayed out on the floor for a full 5 seconds completely bewildered before she started howling. I scooped her up and hugged her until the crying tapered off. Then we talked about how maybe? Walking with a blindfold on? Not such a good idea.

You might think that would make an impact on her?


The sleep mask? Too much fun, apparently. She put it on again and took off in great big strides. I was barely able to grab it off her head before she slammed into the foot board of our bed.

Of course.

The mask? Now? In it's new home: on top of the TALL dresser.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A tub full of wishes

A tub, some water, a bottle of body wash. Normal enough parts - but add two small girls and you'll get a horse of a completely different color. Most nights Abigail begs to go "splash-splash-splash" with Izzy and most nights I agree, because after a hot day nothing feels better than a cool bath before bed.

Watching the girls interact in the tub brings a smile to my face every time. Isabel splashes with a reckless abandon unaware that she is terrifying her sister who has a near apoplectic fit every time water larger than a dew drop nears her face. Abigail manages to bear it with aplomb and even gets in the act and splashes back - much to Isabel's delight. They chase each other around the tub one squishy tushy wiggling in inch deep water around and beside the other. They overflow with giggles and tiny-person voices and generally act as though nothing in the world could top the joy of the moment.

Except mine: This is why I have two daughters. A tub full of mirth is what I wished for without knowing the name of it. Two little girls who already love each other, already chase each other across rooms and beg to sleep next to each other is it's own kind of unequaled perfection. Two is better than one, but two girls? So much better than I imagined. Ever. Even if I tried really hard. (Which I did.)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Backwater Mama:Amam Retawkcab

Here is a view: a woman elbow deep in her small garden, kneeling in shorts that have a milk stain or two on them already and hair that hasn't seen a shower since yesterday. A toddler bent and focused on the green beans being picked, her feet tucked into sandals that need a good scrubbing and are on the wrong feet to boot; her hair is in desperate need of a brush. Behind them both a baby sits in a highchair in the middle of the yard, naked but for her diaper, cooing and babbling away at her family.

But who was viewing me so? A book salesman came peddling his wares today, catching me off guard and unprepared for company of any sort - even the transient kind. I felt incredibly backwater as I held my toddler tight to my side as I explained we'd already bought those books and were full up for the time being. Half way through the youngest began to fuss, irritated at being forgotten, I picked her up switching one child for the other on my hip. Once in my arms I discovered that not only was she naked but her face was covered with remnants from her much earlier banana snack. That was the icing on the cake: I was ready for the salesman to leave so I could run back into the house to shower and clothe the youngest and generally un-hillbilly myself.

But after some thought I began to consider: Do we not always see the worst of ourselves in our own reflection? Aren't there two sides to a mirror and if so, what other way might I have been perceived today?

Another view: A woman is elbow deep in her small plot of garden, her daughters close at hand. She is teaching a valuable lesson: reap what you sow, be resourceful. If her clothes aren't perfect it is because small hands have used her as a napkin or blanket depending on the need. If her hair isn't done it is because something more pressing has pulled at her attention: there is always one more book to read, one more game to play. Her daughter's shoes are on the wrong feet because she is an independent, do-it-myself kind of 3 year old. If her youngest is naked but for her diaper it is only to allow her to stay cool, to be more comfortable than anyone else is allowed to be in humid summer heat. The remains of bananas on her cheeks make me think: shouldn't we all be so covered by fun once in a while that even a good scrub can't get it all off?

The mirror of motherhood has two sides: It can be so easy to see only the harsher version, but to be able to see beyond to the side that rejoices in the very parts that make it unseemly is the challenge. My hope is always to look into the mirror and then beyond into the world where everything that I think marks me as an unkempt mother rather exemplifies my best attempts at motherhood.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Mother's First Dictionary

Just a few of the many Abby-isms that pop up in conversation around here. They tend to crack me up and hope that they bring a smile to your face, too!

hoop-a-loop (hoola hoop)
Cinder-la-la (Cinderella)
ca-bees (because)
dammy (mom or dad)
Izzy-bell or Sissy-bell (Isabel)
blue blue car (Dad's car)
Mickey Mouse Clubs-clubs (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show)
ban-ban (band-aid)
pataeboes (potato or tomato)
Sleeping Booty (Sleeping Beauty)