give them wings


Lindsay, over at Suburban Turmoil, beautifully described an analogy that is not new to any of us that unfolded outside her front window.

And now I miss back home and cardinals because you just don’t see cardinals around here.

She then posed a question on Facebook:

To all of you who’ve raised children to adulthood- Based on your experience, what’s the best advice you can give those of us who’re still in the trenches of parenting?

So much wisdom was shared. And then I added my 2¢ worth because I am the mother of four children over the age of 18. I’m no expert but I somehow managed to get this far so why not offer? After all, she did ask.

Patience, lots of patience. From the time they are walking and talking teach them and expect them to take on self care, taking care of their own things and doing things for themselves.
As they grow and discover their passion and interests know that it isn’t always going to be the same as yours or what you imagine or expect it to be and begin to learn to be okay with that.
Let them fall down or fail sometimes. Then love them and guide them as they get back up and try again.

Not bad considering I was dispensing such wisdom while standing in line at Safeway on stop number four of today’s errands, which my 12 year old, who accompanied me,  was cool with during stop number one. As I was trying to form a coherent thought to share, he was making sure that I knew he was over my errands. And it was then that I remember why it was I rarely took his older siblings with me on errands once they were too big for the baby sling.

Clearly I need to work even more on the patience. I can’t imagine that I will ever have the patience that it takes to be an extraordinary mom. Still I press on.

But I have managed to nurture and teach these clowns how to take care of themselves. They can do a pretty good job at it too. Some of them are so good at it they are taking very good care of others too. I can thank the time I spent with other people’s high school aged children years ago for the inspiration that someday my kids would know how to keep track of their own toothbrush, do their own laundry, hang up their own clothes, clean their own room, pick up their own prescriptions from the drug store, carry their own suitcase, yada, yada, yada. Sure I failed at teaching them how to bargain shop because Safeway time was “me time” but they have managed just fine because they have come to realize that yes, they can take care of themselves.

The learning that their passions and interests are not always the same as mine has been an education yet surprisingly not nearly as hard to accept as I imagined that it would be. Well, after I accepted the passion that Hollie chose to pursue because suddenly parenting her wasn’t nearly as exhausting when I was watching her do and create and beautify the way that she does. It actually was kind of exhilarating. Added bonus is she makes me look good. These adult children of mine are really just barely getting started still I am working hard at just cheering them on as they chase those dreams, explores those interests and live those passions. Theirs are not mine. They shouldn’t be. Not ever. Still I get to passively live them with my adult children and my world opens up even more.

The hardest part of all has been letting them fall or fail. I am a parent of millennials. Any good parent of millennials would never, ever let their precious angel baby fall or let anyone fail them ever…no, not ever! I’m not really a very good parent of millennials still how could I possibly just stand there and watch them fall?

Right?!

But I do.

I have. I probably have Daniel’s former physical therapist to thank for being brave enough to do just that. But just like when they were wobbly toddlers, they somehow manage to get back up again and again and again. And I praise them because they did it all on their own. I also quietly heave a sigh of relief because I am still mom.

I’m sorry dear parents in the trenches, it doesn’t get any easier even as the nest empties. It’s a lot quieter. There is (sometimes) less laundry. You learn not to cook as much for dinner every night. You answer every phone call, every text, every FaceTime and you hold yourself back and mostly just listen because, more than anything, that is what they need.

Hard?

Hell yes, it’s hard.

How much easier it would be for me to lecture them, tell them what they are doing wrong, what they should do, what they could have done.

But I gave them those wings; wings that were made to fly. So I take a deep breath, I say a prayer, I bite my tongue and sometimes I shut my eyes tight as they do just that. They fly.

Today’s reward:

Clearly I’m not the only one impressed with the magic she makes.

 

 

for the daddy I love


“They” say that a little girl’s daddy is the model for which a woman’s heart will fall for when she finds The One. Yeah, that’s what “They” say.

Hmmm…

Well, I seriously doubt that theory for myself, personally. Then again, I look at my own girls, their wonderful, complex, loving, open, crazy relationships with their daddy, that man I married and I might believe it. My girls are very picky with whom they might share their heart with and they can be pretty hard on the ones whom fall for them. Perhaps the latter is because of their mom. I don’t know. We’ll let those experts in fathers and their relationships with their children armchair analyze that as they do.

Based on my own experience and my imagined expertise, I am quite certain that my children have the absolute best daddy…the best daddy ever. Of course that means that I am married to the best daddy. No, that doesn’t guarantee that I wear the best mommy ever crown. Not at all. Let’s just say that the world’s okayest mom is married to the world’s best daddy ever.

There are so many examples I can list here to illustrate that but then I would just be bragging and showing off. Still, I am pretty certain that Hollie, Zoë, Abby, Jodie and Daniel are the children of the best daddy ever. Sure others might object. Some believe that they are or someone they knows holds that title.

It’s fine.

We all are entitled to what we believe to be true.

For me, I look at the way my kids look at this man, their daddy. I look at the way that he looks at them. I listen to their conversations…especially when they think that I am not listening or can’t hear them. I see and hear what I imagine in my heart every child must have, absolutely needs and always deserves from the man in their lives who is their daddy…love with no limits and no conditions. A love like that has no room for fear, dread, criticisms, disappointments. Of course this man whom my kids call daddy is not perfect. Far from it. Neither are those kids of mine. Who is really? But through the years, I have observed nothing but consistency when it comes to this man my kids call daddy. They were raised by the kind of daddy I imagined in my heart to be the perfect kind of daddy:

  • a daddy to laugh with
  • be silly with
  • to dance with
  • to sit with you in the bathroom for what felt like hours during that potty training phase
  • to ride in the car with while he sings along loudly to some weird country-rap song just as your friends pass by
  • a daddy who will discipline without excessive fear or force, or endless criticisms or a book recording all your wrongs that will be brought out and opened up every time you do something wrong forever and ever, amen
  • a daddy who might be disappointed or frustrated with your choices in almost anything from the music you listen to, the strange person you choose to date, the way that you alter your appearance, whom you vote for, whom you pray to or don’t pray to, the career path you choose but will love you all the more so that you might not ever know that he was ever disappointed
  • a daddy who is there for you when you are scared, broken-hearted or picking yourself up after your latest fuck-up without mocking your fear, your sadness, your pain, your anxiety or your own self-criticisms
  • a daddy who might never, ever understand what makes you tick but tries his damndest to understand…even if it is who is the latest super-hot boy band or the latest Hot Wheels release or Legos set.
  • a daddy who makes more sacrifices than any of his children will ever know so that they will always be safe, be warm, be dry, be fed and pursue almost anything that their heart desires
  • a daddy who teaches them all about hard work, self-discipline, sacrifice, love and how to relax and have fun not by lecture or instruction but by doing and by example.

Oops!

I’m kind of bragging, aren’t I? My bad.

No, he’s not perfect. Some might be quick to point out the chinks in his suit of daddy-armour. Some have as the experts known as “They” like to whether you ask them to or not. Regardless, this man is the best daddy ever…for my children…which is really the only thing that matters to me and to the people who call him daddy.

Happy Father’s Day to the man my children call daddy, the daddy I love.

Go forth this weekend and celebrate as you wanted to, as you deserve to playing golf, grilling and just relaxing…the perfect way to celebrate Father’s Day.

 

 

because you gotta have hope


Here we are at the water park today to celebrate Hazel’s 6th birthday. It was triple digits and as hot as it can be expected to be in the Central Valley. It was hot! But with the water fountains spraying cool water everywhere, and the hot breezes picking up water droplets and carrying them around, it wasn’t so bad. We were in the shade. We stayed hydrated. We played in the fountains and got wet. It was good. It was even better because we all were there for Hazel.

All was good.

Well, except for Daniel. He wasn’t wearing swim trunks because he wore them yesterday. They were rinsed and hung to dry last night but, no, he could not wear them because they were just rinsed and dried. Yes, he could get his clothes wet. Of course it would be okay. His parents and his sisters, all in not-for-long-because it was so hot wet clothes assured him that it was okay, Yes, but no. And so he stood at the edge of the water fountains, watching people running around, getting wet, screaming, yelling and laughing, and he disapproved of it all.

Don’t try to understand. You’ll hurt yourself. Only someone on the spectrum or someone living with and loving someone on the spectrum will get it. You don’t fix this. You don’t force. You just let it be. Of course someone tries to intervene. Someone almost always does…because they know better.

Walk away, I think to myself. Just walk away.

Better yet, stand next to him. Let him talk to you, when he is ready, about whatever he wants to talk to you about. It’s likely to be about Hot Wheels or Legos or the Lego Batman game that is coming soon. Yes, that isn’t very interesting to you. But it’s not about you if you really care about what he is feeling right now surrounded by wet, noisy, crowded chaos and not wearing clean, swim trunks.

I am part of a support group for parents of micropreemies because life in the NICU is scary as Hell and the NICU life…the pain, anxiety and hope never, ever leaves you. You spend, days, weeks, months standing next to your baby’s bedside watching them struggle just to breathe or find yourself facing the agony of making decisions about procedures that may or may not save their lives or spend the first  few years re-living those 132 days every time you find yourself back in the hospital with your child, the former 1lb 6oz 24 weeker and you too will find that it never leaves you. No, not even years later. Participating in this group has been good. Parents like us find that we are not alone…even if we feel that way…sometimes…all the time.

The other night I was messaging back and forth with one of the newer moms in our group whose baby boy is only a month old now and, of course, still in the NICU where he was born. Her little guy is doing as is to be expected two weeks post open heart surgery and on a ventilator. He has his good days. He has his bad days. Of course this means that his parents have their good days and they have their bad days too. For her, today was a not so good day as her little man had a major setback and his feedings were stopped again. As she came home from the hospital, she got a call from her dad who has been less than supportive (her words) of the whole NICU journey questioning every decision she has made along the way. Still, she loves her dad and he loves her, so she poured her heart out, tearfully sharing her worst fears after a bad day in the NICU with her baby boy. His response, she shared with me, was most definitely not what she needed or wanted to hear…especially from family, from her dad.

He doesn’t understand…she tells me.

He has no idea how much it hurts me when he says the things he says…

Why is he like that?

Is he ever going to understand how hard this is?

I want to tell her that it is his own fear and perhaps a little guilt that is talking. I do tell her that.

Is he ever going to understand? Is he ever going to just be there for me, for my baby? Without judgment? Without second guessing everything that I do?

I pause and think of my own son, our own NICU journey and the journey that continues on even to days like today at the water park and the people who have been with us, loving us, supporting us unconditionally all the way…and those who have not. I think of those who have grown to love Daniel, accept him as he is, try to understand him, try to relate to him on his terms, learn how to support him medically, emotionally and intellectually…and those who have not.

I sure hope so, I text back to her.

I still hope so…for us…for Daniel.

Our conversation continued on for some time more where I offered her all the patience, love and support that she needed because that is what she needed at that moment.

Meanwhile, today Daniel soon enough on his terms, in his time, stepped into the fountains and got SOAKED!

 

the last days of the tooth fairy


Oh dear, sweet Tooth Fairy, your days are numbered here under the Big Top. Of course you know it. I imagine you are reveling in it too as you roll around on the floor in your pink, fluffy tutu throwing tooth fairy glitter up in the air, laughing with joy as it rains down upon your bearded self.

Yes, the Tooth Fairy here under The Big Top is a dude, a dude with a hairy chest, a bit of a beer belly and a beard. And after collecting teeth and letters for more than twenty-one years, the Tooth Fairy Dude is so ready to be done. He even has passed his job on to us mere mortal parents…okay parent because a certain clown would not fall asleep one time.

Ugh!

You can not even begin to imagine how traumatized I was pinch-hitting for the burly fairy. The kid was literally hugging the pillow his tooth was under…hugging with his arms and his legs wrapped around the pillow protecting that Ziploc bagged tooth from anything real or unreal. And he had his lights on. And the cat snuck in with me and jumped on the bed waking the kid up just as my hand slipped under the pillow to leave the gold dollar coin and grab the bag.

I might have whispered, “Oh shit!“. Maybe. Perhaps. I don’t know.

Stroking his forehead, I whispered, “it’s okay, sweetie. Zelda got in here by mistake. Let me get her out. Go back to sleep.

Yes. I blamed the cat.

Whatever, Zelda. Get over it. I’m not going to be the one who spoils the Tooth Fairy magic. The next morning Daniel remembers that somehow the cat got into his room, past his latched door and, yes, thank goodness I discovered that and got her out before the Tooth Fairy came bringing yet another gold dollar coin for his collection.

Yes. Thank goodness!

According to Daniel’s dentist, only two baby teeth remain, both rootless and having no reason to remain in the boy’s mouth.. Yet they do.. One would likely pop right out if a certain 12 year old boy would push and pull on it with his tongue or his fingers. The dentist told Daniel that.

EW!!! NO!!!“, Daniel replied with complete revulsion as a child with oral defensive behavior would.

Suit yourself.”, the dentist shrugs. That tooth will eventually come out on it’s own the dentist tells Daniel. As for the other rootless baby tooth, well, it somehow is wedged between a new tooth anxiously pushing through the gum sideways and other teeth. That tooth needs to be extracted. And so it was extracted, in pieces like broken egg shells.

Daniel carefully wrapped the broken-up tooth into an envelope and placed it in a Ziploc bag along with a note explaining how the tooth came out and why it was in pieces. He then placed it under his pillow before bed. Yes, the pillow he wraps his arms and legs around protectively while he sleeps.

The Tooth Fairy sent me a text…YES, the Tooth Fairy has my number and YES, the Tooth Fairy does text me occasionally…Please, nobody tell my darling husband. I mean it!

Couldn’t get to the tooth. Left the money though.

Clearly this is a tooth that continues to be difficult to extract.

Meanwhile, Daniel is kind of pissed off at the Tooth Fairy because leaving the tooth and the note behind?! Who does that?! Whatever happened to “No Tooth Left Behind“?

You DON’T just LEAVE the TOOTH!“, he emphatically declared…as he added yet another gold dollar coin to his collection.

And so we wait for the very last tooth and the very last visit from the Tooth Fairy, which I do hope he will get right. I already made sure the Tooth Fairy know that I am not taking that job for him because we do text one another occasionally.

I wonder if it is not too late for us to adopt the way that Millennial parents work with the Tooth Fairy.

No, they did not invent breastfeeding or baby-wearing or cloth-diapering or co-sleeping like they imagine that they did. But this, this genius I will give them credit for. Hang that on the doorknob with the tooth. Tooth gets picked up. Gold dollar coin gets left behind. Boom! Nobody gets hurt.

We’re doing this!

because everyone was personally victimized by Regina George


Ten years ago today Gretchen Weiners was trying to make “fetch” happen, until Regina George shot that crazy down.

Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen! It’s not going to happen!

But “fetch” did happen and here we are wearing pink, because it’s Wednesday and celebrating ten years of one of the Big Top’s go-to family favorite movies, Mean Girls.

On Wednesdays we wear pink…

And you can only wear your hair in a ponytail once a week, so I guess you chose today.

Thanks to TBS, because it is literally always on TBS, we have enjoyed and bonded and laughed and maybe cried a little and definitely quoted this pop culture classic and go-to source of shorthand for female — and human — dynamics. Each and every member of this family circus, well maybe excluding Fallon for now, has navigated some of the futile, poisonous, bitter behaviors that served no purpose that is growing up. It can be hard out there for a kid. Plastics, mathletes, geeks, nerds, sluts, and that thing of someone saying “You’re really pretty” and then, when the other person thanks them, saying, “Oh, so you agree? You think you’re pretty?” was part and is part of growing up for us all.

We.

All.

Got

It.

As parents, of course Bill and I took this and ran with it because, yes, we are totally connecting with our kids and hearing things they might not tell us and having conversations and …oh god, now they know because here I am blogging about it all.

But the thing is, it is true. We all were personally victimized by Regina Georges. We were angry kids with no boundaries or guidance or maybe too many boundaries with too much guidance. We were the weird kid who would never, ever fit in. We were just trying to find our “thing” while surviving high school because nothing was more important in the world than what was happening to me at lunch today.

So thank you Mean Girls. You helped this circus survive adolescence times four and just growing up times five and helped us all here under the Big Top to realize that in spite of all the Regina Georges, Cadys, Janis Ians, Damians, Karens, Gretchens, Kevin Gs, Coach Carrs, Mr. Duvalls, and Ms Norburys we are who we are and we are awesome.

Calling somebody else fat won’t make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn’t make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George’s life definitely didn’t make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.

 

Finally, Girl World is at peace.

Just kidding.

At least now we kind of, sort of get Girl World.

Don’t forget though that on Wednesdays we wear pink.