Friday, May 31, 2013

The Class of 2017

Once again we come to the end of the year, and this year, more than any other year, I've been a little uncomfortable to see it come to an end.  This is the last day of middle school.  Next year Abby will be part of the high school...a freshman.  Last weekend Abby had to play with the band at the high school graduation and as I dropped her off at the school that evening, all I could think was that in 4 short years we will be dropping off a graduate!  Of high school!

The Class of 2017.

I'm hyperventilating.  It's so close.  And yet so, so far away at the same time.

A look back here and here.

And, because I love to watch the progression of things, here are the last days of school we've had with Abby.  You're welcome.

{2009 | 2010 | 2011* | 2012**}

*2011 - Abby didn't exactly have a "last day of school," because we moved to Iowa before the year officially ended.  Her last day of school in Kansas City was the day of her school play and this is the only picture I have of it.  We moved the next day.  She finished out the school year in Iowa (all 2 weeks of it).
**2012 - I have no idea why I didn't get an official end of the year picture last year.  So instead, let's all enjoy Abby marching in the Middle School Marching Band for the Memorial Day Parade and pretend that was the wrap-up of 7th grade.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How far you've come

"Remember how far you've come, not just how far you have to go.
You are not where you want to be, but neither are you where you used to be."
[Rick Warren]

Thursday, May 16, 2013

52 Photos Project: Week 4 | Crop It

It bears noting that this small human hiked for 2 straight hours on Mother's Day and I only had to carry him 2 short times near the end when his little legs got tired.  We certainly did not intend for our "quick" hike to last 2 hours, but the day was beautiful and the scenery was hard to leave.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Mothering a Teenager.

Abby has been aching to get her hair cut for some time.  As in...begging.  And, I'll admit, I put her off a bit because I really do like her hair the way it is.  Was.  The way her hair was.

Last weekend, I caved and told her we would be at the mall on Saturday morning and if she'd like to get her hair cut, she should probably have some pictures to show the stylist.  She was so excited all afternoon Friday, pouring over magazines and trying to decide what she wanted to do with her hair (and there was a lot of hair to deal with).  Her only guidelines were that there would be no coloring of any sort (that will be saved for when she can finance the upkeep on her own.  I am a staunch believer that the color of hair should be done by a professional only - there are too many variables involved.  And also, hair color should be that which is found in nature.  "Our new baby has green hair!" said no one ever.), other than that, I didn't really care what she decided to do with her hair.

I should have know something drastic would ensue when she showed me two relatively "safe" pictures of a medium length shaggy haircut and one super short cut.  The girl has been itching in her own skin for some time and I think she was ready to burst out of her safe cocoon and see what the world has to offer - and what better way to test her wings than with a very, very drastic haircut.  However, for a girl who's always tried to fit in and has never really rocked the boat, the short style was going to be a huge change and I tried to caution her against it, or at least work her way up to it - you know, medium cut first, and then decide if she really wanted to go short.  

But I am just the mom and she is perfectly content to assure me she knows her own mind.

My stomach sank on Saturday morning when I overheard the words, "Mylie Cyrus" and "shaved," but I sat back in my seat and turned up Dinosaur Train for Finn a little bit louder and tried to keep the look of utter shock off my face as the stylist pulled out the clippers and the scissors and went to town.  There comes a point when your little butterfly needs to either fly or fall and this was one of those life lesson moments that I had to sit back and watch unfold.  I'll admit, I would have been happier had I been fortified by another cup of coffee.  Or a martini.  Instead I tried to read a magazine and to keep my eyes from straying over to the locks of beautiful hair littering the floor around the stylist's feet.  

I'll cut to the chase and tell you it was a complete and utter disaster.  I tried to reassure her on the drive home that it just needed to be styled; she just needed to work with it to make it her own.  I tried to impress upon her that it's hair and it will grow back and in the meantime, she just needed to own it, but there were real tears and requests to shave her whole head (such teen drama) and how could she even be seen in school on Monday and why didn't she listen to me (my personal favorite).  Instead, I gave in to her request for a bowl of ice cream and a movie and told her I would see about finding someone to get it fixed on Monday. 

On Monday morning, I set about finding a fix for Abby's hair; I was hopeful I could get her in after school (we live in a small town, options are sort of limited) but the only thing available was early afternoon, right after lunch.  I pulled Abby out of school, which is something I never do, would never consider doing for a haircut, but I had a feeling that the day was going to be pretty tough for her.  When I picked her up in front of the school and told her we were getting her hair fixed, she was so grateful I thought for a minute she might cry.  She didn't say much but admitted to me that the morning had been pretty rough.  

I am so disheartened by humanity when I hear about the things that middle-schoolers do to each other.  I can only raise my small humans to treat each other and everyone else they meet, with kindness and respect and hope that it will leach out from them like the ripples in a pond.  I wish more parents felt that way.

The woman who fixed her hair did an awesome job.  It's equal parts demur and punk-rock, depending on how she styles it.  But, it is still so hard for me to get used to.  Every time I look at her, it's like I'm looking at a stranger.  I know it's still Abby - just a different version of her.  A somewhat older, sassier, more mature version.  Did she learn a lesson?  Yes - and it wasn't that I'm always right, far from it.  The biggest thing we talked about being assertive and standing up for yourself; being your own advocate.  We talked about walking away from the haters (I'll admit, I played the devil's advocate on this one telling her if kids were going to be mean to her, she should just be mean right back,  just to see how she'd respond.  She told me she could never stoop to their level).  We talked about making a decision and owning the consequences, good or bad.  

I got a two page letter from Abby for mother's day this year - full of kind words and respect.  She's growing up.  Right before my eyes, that squeaky-voiced bundle of energy is growing into a smart, talented, considerate young lady.  And I get to watch and, sometimes, participate, in the decisions that will mold her and shape her into the woman she will become.

I am a lucky mama.

Because I respect my small humans, Abby has asked that I not post any before pictures of her hair cut - even though the pictures I took on our Mother's Day hike on Sunday of her and Finn were so, so cute (she wore a hat and, I am telling you, she just looked like a fun, pretty girl).  Instead, I'll share these before, before pictures of both my kids.  I love being their mom.  Best. Job. Ever.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Regarding Husbands.

There was a panel of moms at my Mom's Group last week (okay, it was 2 moms, but we'll call them a panel because they were older, wiser, and more experienced than me).  They took questions, gave advice, shared their stories.  For the most part, I loved what they had to say; they each have raised/are raising successful humans.  They seem to be content with the flurry of activity that surrounds having teens in their houses now and the juggling that goes on with raising multiple people, but they were not so far away from the joys/challenges that come with being fully immersed in the toddler years, either, that they couldn't relate to us.  They looked put together, confident, content in their mom-roles.  They had some really good, insightful things to say about being present and how much easier it was when electronics (phones, computers, iPads) weren't such a time suck for adults and kids.  They made suggestions about ways to be together as a family by doing things that don't require a lot of effort (taking one kid on errands, choosing another to help with a special task during the day).  Simple things to make our kids feel loved and cherished and respected.


And isn't there always a but with me?

But, here's the thing that I did not agree with: that husband-time is not important.

And before I go any further, let me clarify that they were not flaming feminists, slinging their bras around, and shouting that women can do it all and do it better than the men-folk.  They simply said that in the midst of their own hectic child-rearing years, in the swampy trenches of toddler-hood, they didn't really think about making time for their husband; scheduling "couple time" was not a priority. They both agreed that the time just seemed to fit itself into their days, but it wasn't overly thought about or analyzed - and, as such, there wasn't a lot of it.

And I disagree.  Because here's the thing: in a few years, my kids will be out of the house.  And honestly, Uriah and I have never had a house without kids in it.  Yes, Abby was an every-other-weekend kid for a few years, but we still had a kid that we had to think about, plan around, prepare for.  We still had to be responsible and as much as we dreamed, we couldn't just take off on a spur-of-the-moment trip.  So, in a few years, when we fall like a bowling ball into our empty nest, we're going to have to really, really like each other or we are going to struggle being together without having the security of kids to fall back on as fodder for conversation.

I think it is so important for husbands and wives to take time to just be together - to hold hands and make conversations and do things that don't involve the kids.  And it's not that we want to get away from our kids, it's more that we love them enough to want to be with each other forever and that takes time and effort and commitment.  It requires vigilance, lest we fall from the partner roles into the roommate roles.

Marriage, like motherhood, has its dark secrets that people allude to, but don't talk about.  We all know it's hard work.  But really?  It is hard work.  It can get ugly at times.  It is certainly not always fun.  I do not always wake up in the morning, look at my husband and think - "Wow, look at the rainbows emanating from his eyelids!  He should ride to work on a white stallion - or better yet, a unicorn!"  Some mornings I wake up and I think - "I wonder if he will remember to close the dresser drawers after he gets dressed?" and "Will he be home in time for dinner and cover at least half of the bedtime routine?"  Some days I can be selfish and ungrateful and some days he can be tired and crabby and everything we do seems to rub the other the wrong way.

When we get to that point - and it comes in ebbs and flows - I know we need to step back, reassess, and most importantly, reconnect.

What I'm trying to say is that my husband is important   And he's important to me in a way that supersedes his role as a dad.  He's important as my balance in life.  He's there to hold my hand and rub my back and kiss my forehead while I clean up the kitchen.  He's there for me to share the funny things our kids do during the day and he's there to be good cop to my bad cop when the law needs laying.  He's there to listen to my wildest dreams - and then challenge me to attain them, help me reach them, and cheer me on as I accomplish them.  And I would move mountains for him.

He is my partner in this little life we're brewing and he's my best friend.  If I don't take care of that, if I don't nourish that friendship with the utmost care, then all of this will be for naught because someday we won't even know the people we've become.