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Archive for the ‘mothering’ Category

My mom likes to tell the story of the day my older brother asked about skin color.  He stared at a black man in the grocery store and then asked very loudly, “Why is his skin that color?”  I don’t know how old he was, young enough that he could get away with this honest question without too much insult.

I’ve made an effort to place books and toys before my child that have people of all races.  The books she read are filled with all shades as are the many baby dolls spread throughout the house.  And since she’s a big asker of “why” I knew I’d be tackling the question sooner or later.  But, last night, she surprised me by asking the question not as “why” but as “what.”

She said to me, “Mama, what is the color we call our skin?”

And I answered, “Well, that’s a difficult question because there are many different colors of skin.  You and I have skin that’s sort of peachy pink I think.  Do you think it’s peachy pink?”

“Yes.”

“But not everybody has peachy-pink skin.  Your teacher, Mrs. K, has sort of golden brown skin.  And Mr. M. is so pale that he’s almost white.  What about your friend A at school?  What color is her skin?”

“It’s peachy-pink too.”

“Yeah, it is.  How about Z?  Is his skin peachy-pink?”

“No. It’s brown.”

“Yup.  Your doll Kevin has brown skin too.  And bitty-baby has what is called olive-tone skin.”

She surprised me again later when we were reading Girls Hold Up this World.  I pulled it out because it has nice pictures of all different kinds of girls (mostly darker than she and I) so we could talk about more skin color.  We got to the picture of a toddler who in my view has medium-brown skin.  Up unti now, we’d been placing our own arms up against the pictures to compare and talk about the differences.  Again, she held up her arm to this toddler’s face, but she happened to hold up her arm against the child’s cheek which glowed pale pink in the sunlight and declared that she had peachy-pink skin just like Avi.

Rather than “correct” her, I decided to agree.  Because it was true.  Even though I would have called this toddler a “black” child her cheek was, in fact, peachy-pink in the picture and very close to the skin on my child’s arm.

I am so proud that my three year old doesn’t question why we are born with different color skin and hair and eyes.  She simply wants a way to identify and name what she sees.  This, to me, means I’m off to a good start in raising a child who is non-descriminatory and welcomes all shades of people into her life.

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Mewling Transitions

In my little world, fall is a time of reflection.

September arrives in a whirlwind of seasonal change, school, theatre, jobs, and loss of daylight.

My birthday looms precariously as the leaves begin to change.

My dedicated relatives send me little L’Shana Tova emails and I have to pause and re-visit my heritage.

And, heartbreakingly, my child celebrates a birthday.

This has, by far, been the hardest addition to this time of transition. This year, it knocked me over the head, sent me flying and then proceeded to bounce up and down on me for a while.

I spent about three weeks getting teary-eyed at babies, sighing to myself when Avi wasn’t looking, and weirding her out by saying things like “I’m so proud of you being a big girl, but I miss you being a baby.” To which she would smartly reply with a huge grin, “Your baby grew into a big girl.”  And I would swallow the tears and grin in reply and move on.

The fact is, having my baby become a kid was an unexpected slap in the face because unlike most of my married girlfriends with two and three children, this is it for me.

Oh, I know, I’ve “got plenty of time.”   But, for now, this is it.

And that makes me really sad.

I would love to have a house just busting with kids.  But I don’t.  And, right now, it makes me sad and down right jealous to see women and their new babies because I want a new baby (and the dazed dad to go with it, if I’m really being honest).

Blame the genetic code if you want but no matter how you slice it, I want a mewling, puking bundle of squishiness to keep me up at night, latch on to my boob for instant comfort and make all the day-to-day stress completely obsolete with the lift of a tiny soft pinky.

I’m pretty much over the teary-eyed weeks until next year but I still sigh about the rapid growth of my “big girl.”  It doesn’t help when she asks me complicated questions from the backseat like, “Mama, what’s Simple Twist of Fate mean?”  And that she actually seemed to understand my halting reply.

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Dreams do Come True

I never forget that I’m a mom.

I don’t always think about it, but I never forget.

Even though I have a career I love, if I run into someone I haven’t seen in a while and they ask what I’m up to the first thing out of my mouth is “being a mom.”

With all the busy-ness of being-a-mom, it can be easy to forget how miraculous it is that I am one.

When I was growing up, I never dreamed of a white wedding and I didn’t think this was unusual.  But when I finally did get married, my girlfriends all admitted to their childhood dreams of weddings.  I had to think back and realized that in place of dreams of weddings was a dream of motherhood.  And every time I fell in love, I didn’t daydream about my life with this partner, I dreamt of his conversations with our child.  It was never a partner for which I longed, it was a child.

And, here I am, with a child.  A grown-up.  With a child.

And it wasn’t until I saw this picture this evening, of my child.  My small child with my face staring back at me that I remembered how miraculous it is, how lucky I am, how honored I am to have a child.  My dream has come true.  Unexpectedly and without warning, I am living a dream

I hope I do her justice because she’s frickin’ awesome.

at StoryLand

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There was a time when you flew in circles about the room, flapping your wee wings and laughing in delight.

There was a time when the cries ushering from your mouth were only true tears of sadness or hunger.

A hug, a nurse, a kiss, a tickle, cheered all.

Where have you gone, my little fae?  And who is this peskie pixie that has come in your place?

Who screams with a banshie howl, shattering glass with her spoiled desires.

Who refuses to listen to reason and instead throws herself on the ground–a heap of thrashing limbs.

Who screams and screams and screams and screams.

And then screams some more.

Where did she come from and why?

But, of most importance, how do I get you back, child of my heart?

I see glimpses of you as she gasps for a new breath.  I see you underneath it as she whimpers, ‘I want a hug.’  But I cannot give in while she is still here.  That would make her stronger.  Some how I must resist her caterwauling and still find you beneath it all.

I don’t know how to do that.

I miss you, child of my heart.  I miss the mama I was to you.

But, most of all, I miss you.  My little faery child.  I miss you.  I hope you find your way home soon.

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At one year and three-ish months:

  • Mama was just starting to experiment with her new camera (you can see that Avi is slightly out of focus.)
  • Her dada has bells palsey and she’s really good at mimicking his wonky eye, which we all think is hysterical.
  • She’s been walking for about five months now and is wicked fast.
  • She’s just begun her baby doll obsession and loves to cook (both pretend and real).
  • It’s been a year, so that’s all I remember.

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If I’d been able to think coherently, I would have been playing the twilight zone theme song in my head as I drove.  It would have, at least, made me laugh.

Instead, I was too busy crying and explaining to my two year old why.

“Mama wasn’t thinking.  Mama made a mistake.  All-of-the-gas-stations-are-out-of-power-and-we’re-almost-out-of-gas-and-we’re-too-far-to-turn-around-and-I-don’t-think-we-have-enough-gas-to-get-there-and-my-cell-phone-has-no-reception-so-I’m-nervous-and-scared-and-so-I’m-crying.”

Avi let me babble for a while before she interjected “Mama wanna cookie?  Avi give mama kisses.  Will that make you feel better?  Avi give you hugs and kisses.  That will make you feel better.  Let’s sing the princess song again.”

In the meantime, I’m also wishing I had just enough gas that I could pull over and take a photo because I’ve never seen anything like it:

completely white trees bent over, bowing to our honorable presence,

sweeping the streets with their top-most branches.

Cars and trucks whisking by seemingly unaffected by the disturbing absence of wildlife and light pollution.

Haunted thoughts of having to hitch a ride with a complete stranger, toddler in tow.

Looming dark gray clouds pressing down on us.

The knowledge that I might just make it,

unless I hit traffic from a downed power line or tree, unless the skies open up with hail, unless my bladder can’t contain the swelling pain from having to pee and I just have to stop and the re-starting of my engine uses up just enough gas to keep us from reaching our destination.

Here, of course, is where the theme music might have come in handy.

Not to worry.  In the end, we made it.

We hit the Pioneer Valley and it was like driving into Brigadoon.  We crossed a line and the trees were green and upright.  I cried again when I spotted a lit street lamp.  This green green electrified valley entirely surrounded by frozen homes.

I even found a gas station with at least a gallon to spare.  Of course, I parked and sprinted to the bathroom first.  Holy pee, batman.

I have no photo of this ice storm to share with you so here’s a happy bonus shot of Avi and her gramma at Yankee Candle:

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Visions of carrying my poop, hidden away in a brown paper bag, into my doctor’s office swam through my head.  Like bringing the kitty poop in each year.

It’s not like that.  Not at all.

I had hoped to do the poop scoopin’ without my toddler around.  I’m an open-minded gal; we talk about all sorts of things.  But I really did not want to have to explain to her why mama was mailing her poop.  Her current trend of reenacting all the events of her life ad infinitum does not lend itself well to the embarrassing possibilities.

But(t), well, to put it bluntly, one poops when one poops.

So yesterday afternoon, with plastic gloves on, the smell of formaldehyde in the air mixed with the stench of yuck, and a little plastic basin balanced precariously on the corner of the bathroom sink, I scooped and mixed and shook while my daughter looked on curiously.

The conversation went something like this:

Mama: “Remember this morning at the hospital?  When the nurse took some blood tests of mama?  It’s to make sure mama is healthy.  Well, the doctor will check my poop too.  So I’m sending him some poop to test.”

Avi:  (Thinking hard.  Wrinkling her nose curiously.  Thinking hard some more.) “You’re cute, mama.”

Nothing like a toddler to make you feel better about scooping your own poop.

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