She Sings in the Shower

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I have a 12 year old daughter. She is the youngest of my three girls – my last “tween” year, my last middle schooler, my last whiff of innocence.

She sings in the shower.  It may not seem like a big deal, but very soon, the music she listens to will become “deep” and have meaning beyond what my naive heart thinks she should understand.  But the music in the shower is still light and fun and Bieber-y.

She spends thirty minutes in the shower, depleting the hot water supply in the house, and may still come out without the top of her head wet.  I frequently send her back to wash her hair, brush her teeth, pick up her dirty clothes.  It won’t be long until she’s showering with purpose.  She’ll want to apply makeup to that clean little face.  She’ll want her thick, beautiful hair to be the shiny envy of her friends.  She’ll want to smell good to catch the nose of someone she likes.  The room – well, if experience is any indication, it will have dirty clothes strewn about for at least an abundance of years to come.

I’m already seeing things that accompany the teen years.  The “I’ll just have yogurt for dinner” attempts to control what she perceives to be a paunch.  The trials and tribulations of painting fingernails that I still imagine as so tiny, the brush barely fits on them.  Debating whether she looks better tucked or untucked.

It moves so fast, it makes your head spin.  Moms tell you all the time to hug your babies, appreciate the peas that get raspberried all over you when you try to feed them, don’t be in a rush for the walking and talking and the independence.  Believe them.  Sniff their tiny heads a little longer, snuggle when they have the sniffles, read one more bedtime story.

Listen when they sing in the shower.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 9 – Long Sleeve Pants

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It’s tough being a mom.  Oh, you already knew that?  I did too, but I wish I had known it before I had kids.  I might have stuck with goldfish.

When I have doubts about whether I’ve done right by my girls, raised them to be the kind of people I had hoped they would be, I am grateful for long sleeve pants.

What are long sleeve pants?

When Granuaile was much younger than she is now, at the ripe old age of 7, she had a funny way of putting things.  One thing that always made me laugh – and still does – is the description of clothing.  She always got the concept of shorts and short sleeved shirts, and the long sleeved shirt thing never gave her any trouble.  But when it came to long pants, I don’t think we imparted the right information to her.  If shorts were shorts, then longs should be longs, but she knew that wasn’t right.  Somewhere, in the twisted mind of the toddler brain, long pants became long sleeved (or sleeve, as G would say it) pants, and all was right with the fashion world.

It’s days like today that I live in thanks for days like the ones where we were looking for long sleeve pants.  I am grateful for the memories of the funny, quirky things my kids did and said, because it gets me through the days where I can’t find anything funny or quirky about them.  It’s been one of those days today, so for that reason, today, I am thankful for long sleeve pants.

Are YOU Mom Enough? Time Magazine Puts Themselves Back on the Map at Mom’s Expense

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If you haven’t seen the Time Magazine cover yet, you’ve probably been on a remote desert island, with your head in the sand, in a cave, where you never see the light of day.  With one picture, Time Magazine has brought print media back in the public eye, after years of dwindling readership and lackluster subscription.  But who is the butt of this joke?

The article, which I won’t go into, regards attachment parenting, where extended breastfeeding is more common than among other “sects” of moms.  There are qualities of attachment parenting that I completely embrace, and my own children benefitted from co-sleeping and some of the other tenets subscribed to by parents who practice this type of parenting.

But I feel bashed.  Am I Mom enough?  I feel like this cover – and this article – is telling me that if my three year old was getting milk the old fashioned way (in a cup, with an Oreo), I was somehow failing as a Mom.

Let’s for a moment disregard the fact that I bathed my daughters, dressed them, held their hair back when they puked, wiped hinies on floors of places I was afraid to step on because potty emergencies  know no hygiene.  I’ve nursed them back to health from ear infections, strep throat, UTI, URI, and a whole slew of other medically disgusting initials.  I’ve sewed patches on a girl scout vest, stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to put finishing touches on a poster or a diorama, attended school plays, sat through dance recitals where my kid was the last class dancing, and driven hours to dance competitions.

But.

My oldest daughter was fed exclusively formula for her entire life.  My middle daughter was given breastmilk until she was only six months old.  My youngest daughter was only about three months old when she switched to formula.

And I feel like this article is trying to make me feel like I’m not Mom enough.

Well, damn.  I’m not sure I feel compelled to buy Time Magazine.  Now or later.

Ten Things You Don’t Know About Me

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My friend and fellow Walt Disney World Moms Panelist Kaylene wrote a pretty awesome blog about me today.  I love Kaylene – both her kind heart and caring nature make her someone you just admire and aspire to be like.  I was honored that she wrote about me today – which you can read here:  http://www.memorymakermom.com/ – but I thought to myself – even with all this blogging, is there stuff you don’t know about me?

Well, yeah.

So, I thought I’d share some little known outside of my immediate family facts about me.  It’s not like I’m that interesting, but I thought it would be fun if you got to know me better!

1 – My favorite movie of all time is the Shawshank Redemption, followed VERY closely by the original Arthur.

2 – I have only one spot on my entire body that is consistently ticklish, but you have to hit it just right in order for the tickle to kick in.  Oh – and it’s behind my knees.  How freakin’ weird is that?

3 – When I was 18, I took a job working for a drag racing group that was going to be fined if they didn’t hire more women.  They gave me the “racing” name of Ghia Garland on their books, but they wouldn’t let me touch the race car.

4 – The best thing I ever did in my life was pursue having children, long after infertility tried to kick my ass.  I lost five children to miscarriage, but the three amazing daughters I have were well worth the heartache I suffered.

5 – One of my most favorite foods in the whole world are Grandmom Holak’s potato and cheese pierogies, and I can’t tell you how sorry I am I didn’t work harder at learning how to make them while she was still here to share her wisdom.  Go visit your Grandmom – today.

6 – My first ever celebrity crush was Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees.  My second was Barry Manilow.  Don’t judge.  I was never much for the pretty boys – I needed personality.

7 – My second happiest place on earth?  Italy.  And not necessarily for the food.  I’d love to buy a house and retire there someday.

8 – I hate the beach.  I hate sand in my shoes, in my hair, in, well, other places besides my shoes and my hair.  I could sit on a deck and watch the ocean from now and for the rest of my life.  But I don’t want to sit in the sand.  Blech.  Oh, and while I’m hating on the beach, I saw Jaws six times.  I’m lucky I can still use a toilet without going into full body shudders from the fear.  I am NOT swimming in the ocean.

9 – My favorite color is green.  Ironically, it is probably the color I have the least of in my wardrobe.  It’s so hard to find a green that looks good on actual human beings.

10 – When I grew up, I wanted to write the Greatest American Novel.  I just might someday.

When Parents Have to Grow Up

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You all know this kid.  It’s my beautiful daughter, Brighid – one of my Beauty Girls.  And many of you know that I’m struggling with some of the decisions she’s made.

When Jim and I got married, in our wedding programs, I chose to include a passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.  The poem moved me in many ways, as a young woman entering marriage.  But once the romantic part of being engaged, planning the wedding, and embarking on a new life gave way to 9 to 5 jobs, scrubbing toilets, and embarking on motherhood, the fascination with The Prophet was put aside for the reality of Erma Bombeck.

Until now.  I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this today, but I did, and I find wisdom in the words of The Prophet.  If nothing else, I recognize that even parents have to grow up.  We have to adapt from being parents to infants into being parents to toddlers.  And with each step, we are parenting our children so they become less and less dependent on us and more and more anxious to make their own way in the world.

So it is with these words from Khalil Gibran – the poet who’s words I chose to represent my marriage – that I am going to try to hold fast to as my daughter decides that now it is her turn to make her own way in the world.  There are growing pains to be sure, as the mother of an adult.  I pray these words will help ease the pain.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

The Dash

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There’s a poem that has circulated for a long time on the internet, and you’ve probably seen it in written form or in the form of a slide show with beautiful pictures from all aspects of nature.  The poem refers to the dash on a tombstone – the one that goes between the year you were born and the year you died.  It talks about how it doesn’t really matter about the dates themselves, but what really matters is what you’ve done with all the time in the middle of those years – or, the dash. 

In the past week, I’ve learned that a brand new baby died just days after her birth.  I’ve learned that a little boy who just underwent a last resort treatment for cancer found that the treatment has been unsuccessful.  And I’ve learned that the brother-in-law of a friend has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor that will likely rob him of his life.  Every where I turned this week, the dash seemed more important. 

We don’t know how long we have when we arrive here on this earth.  We don’t know how much time our dash will be.  We certainly hope that when our time comes, someone is talking about how long, happy, and fulfilling our dash has been.  But that’s not the case for everyone. 

When I wrote the eulogy for my dad that appeared in the memorial booklet we printed for his funeral, I put the message in there that one thing I hoped to learn from him and the way he led his life was that you want to impact people here so that there is no one glad for your passing in the end.  You want people to cry, be mournful, and vow to miss you when you’re gone.  You want people to recall the great things you did, the kindness you showed, the generosity of your heart.  You want to make sure your dash, no matter how long or short, is the time when you loved and were loved.

As a child, I expected to grow up and be “something”.  I thought I might be a doctor, a nurse, a teacher.  I wanted to be “something”, and then be a mom.  It seemed at the time that being a mom was an accessory to adulthood.  You became “something”, then you had children that you could dress up, take out, and show off when you weren’t busy with what you became.  And while I will be the first person to admit that I do have times of regret that I didn’t end up as one of the “somethings” I dreamed about, what I did become is so much more important.  It’s the hardest thing I ever could have done in life.  I have three beautiful daughters, and it is my job to make sure they grow up knowing they are loved, that someone will always be available for them, and that they are not the accessories in my life, but they ARE my life.  It is my job to make the decisions that say Jim and I may be living frugally in our golden years, but we gave our kids every advantage, every benefit we could afford, every wonder life could offer to them.  It is my job to weigh the good and the bad of things, let them make mistakes where they will learn and help them avoid mistakes that will just be painful.  I won’t know for many years to come if I’ve done my job well.  There is no bonus pool each year, no evaluation every three months, no instant reward in the form of a paycheck each week.  Some days, the job seems impossible, and I think it would have been much easier to be a brain surgeon or nuclear physicist.  But I hope, at the end of my days, when someone is looking at my dash, they can turn towards my children and know that I did something with that space between the two dates.  I may not have my name in a by-line somewhere or in the medical journals or even noted as teacher of the year somewhere.  But I hope my children are great women.  That will be the achievement I most want to be remembered for.  These girls are my dash.