Thursday, August 30, 2012

I shit you not, this morning a commercial for laser hair removal made me cry. Not because I have an epic she-beard and I'm sensitive to the topic. Because of one little line in it, which I can't even remember word for word right now. But the gist was this:

Moms, need some time to yourself to recharge? Get laser hair removal.

And I found myself thinking, "If I could afford it, I'd totally get laser hair removal. JUST so I could have an hour of quiet that was all about me."

And then I cried.

And from the backseat, my carpool buddy said to me, "What's wrong mama? Why are you making that sad face?" and I was surprised because, truly, I thought for sure that I was hiding the tears. Stealth, silent, ninja tears like we moms get used to shedding. Tears that release that little bit of frustration or anger or sadness or just plain emotional overwhelmedness without alerting the mini-people that mama is seriously losing her shit.

I did the only thing you can do when caught mid ninja-cry. I played dumb, "What do you ask Luca? What face?"

And, in the rearview mirror, her eyes scrunched up empathetically, she nodded her head and tilted it to the side and said, "Oh mama, it's ok to be sad sometimes. We all get frustrated. I know you love me even when you're mad."

The ninja-cry dropped from its perch among the ceiling beams with a HEE-YAAAAAAAA! and became real tears.

Because I lost my patience.

Because I was running late, again.

Because the shoes we just bought her a month ago no longer fit.

Because I would consider a laser 3 cm from my face if it meant an hour of quiet and someone focusing only on making me happy.

"Is it because you're gonna be late for work again? It's ok, mama. Grandma can walk me to school. No one cares if you're late to Kindergarten."

Because she forgot her backpack at Grandma's yesterday and I got mad at her for forgetting.

Because I don't even want to GO to f-in' work.

Because I need a date night with my husband. Preferably one that involves sleeping in the next day.

Because I miss so much, every day.

So I made a decision right there. Late to work be damned, I was going to stop by grandma's for the orphaned backpack, park down the street, and walk my kid to school. I was going to tell her with my words ("Luca, I AM going to be late to work. But you matter more.") and my actions. I was going to hold her hand the whole way from our car to the playground, then watch her run free to give an excited hug to her best school friend. I was going to stand on the edge of the playground watching my kid be a kid and enjoying every second of it.

When the bell rang, I walked with her and two friends over to the morning line up spot. I listened to the girls giggle together and soaked it in. "I love Justin Bieber!" one of her friends announced. "Are you gonna make him fall in love and marry you????" the other girls asked back, in excited little-girl voices full of laughter. "YES!" proclaimed the Future Mrs. Bieber. And they giggled and held hands.

Behind me, as I stood there waiting, I heard one mom say to another, "I saw you the other day! In Scottsdale!" The second mom asked, "Do you work up there?" And the first mom replied, "Oh GOD no! I was on the way to my plastic surgeon!"

And in front of me, three girls slipped pink and purple and sparkle and pony backpacks on little shoulders, giggling together and holding hands. I watched them walk into school and I wish I could say I had some mom-moment epiphany about creating a world where by the time my kid's a mom herself there aren't moms talking about plastic surgery at kindergarten drop off.

She may not be the boss tha pays my bills, but she looks Boss in that outfit.

But I didn't. Because not every I-had-a-shitty-mom-morning event wraps up neat and tidy, cue audience applause. Because I walked to the car contemplating how I can save every dime between now and whenever and find a way to be home more. Because I imagined a conversation in which I don't cower at the idea of telling my boss I need more flexibility and more time with my kids. Because I need more time with my kids, but damn if I wouldn't let some technician super-analyze my momstache if it meant an hour, just for me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Best Girl.

Mornings are different this year, with 2 kids off to 'school'. Darrick showers while I settle the just-waking kids onto the couch with a blankie and some breakfast (and usually Bubble Guppies on TV) so I can start the coffee and pack lunches. The kids get dressed (he with help, she in whatever outfit she chose herself thankyouverymuchMOM). I am still packing lunches. Rohan comes in scrounging for something more to eat because one breakfast is rarely enough for a growing 3 year old boy who's built like a kindergartener. I am still packing lunches. Darrick comes downstairs and helps the kids finish getting ready while I run up to jump in a quick shower and grab some clothes for me to wear, slapping moisturizer on my face before heading back downstairs.

Darrick gets his things ready as I stand in front of a big mirror hanging on the wall and do my makeup while keeping one eye trained on my kids' reflections in the mirror so I can prompt them periodicially.
"Rohan. Your shoes? Put on shoes, buddy." (dot concealer on undereye circles)
 "Luca-bear, we have 5 minutes. Did you brush your hair? You don't need to whine. Your brush is right where you left it yesterday." ('...on the floor where it doesn't belong' I think to myself and line my eyes)
"ROHAN. Are you listening to me? Shoes. Your SHOES. Well, did you put them in your shoe bin like you're supposed to when you get home? What do you mean you don't know? Why don't you LOOK?" (use mascara wand to point to shoe bin below front entrance table, apply mascara).
"Luca, can you please get your backpack ready?" (run brush through hair)
"Rohan, sweetie, I can SEE your shoes from here. Buddy. BUDDY. Look. Look right there. Right there. NO, not in the kitchen. Right THERE in the SHOE BIN." (mentally recite Bill Cosby stand-up to self as I dress)

By the time we head out the door, I consider it a good morning if the kids haven't cried about being asked to put on shoes and brush hair and if everyone remembered their bags and lunches. And if I remembered shoes because, true story, I have left the house without them more than once in the mad morning rush.

My reward for the morning rush, though, is Luca as a carpool buddy. We ride together to her grandma's house, me sipping my coffee and her working diligently in one of her 'learning books', tracing letters and numbers and counting and adding and just generally preparing to be smarter than her mama in 10 more years. Everywhere we go now, under one arm she tucks an activity book, and grasped tight in the other hand are 2 or 3 markers. Her hands are perpetually stained with marker in a variety of colors. Sometimes her face has marker on it as well. Every few minutes on the ride, she asks me how to draw a '6' or what color she should make the pig she's drawing. We talk about school and she asks me questions about things she's learning. When we get to grandma's, she jumps out of the car and gives me kisses and hugs me tight before running off to another day of adventure, and despite the whining over brushing hair or what shoes are ok for P.E. day and the frustration of rushed mornings and long days of work ahead, I feel so lucky to get that time with my best girl.

The 10 quiet minutes with Luca alone each morning are the best way to kick off my day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Answer to the Question, "How's Rohan Adjusting to Preschool?" is...

Check out the comment at the bottom. I removed the girl's name, but this would be the 4th little girl whose name I've heard mentioned in connection with Rohan. Three weeks into school and my boy is already a Casanova.
I asked him about the girl because I don't know who she is. His response? "Oh, she said I can come over to her house sometime to watch movies together." Trollop.
I'd say he's adjusting just fine, thanks for asking.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Learning to Let Them Go.

Last night before bed, Luca picked her outfit for the first day of kindergarten: a brown dress with pink polka dots and her new brown shoes. Rohan asked me to get his orange 'buttons' shirt, and I selected some new khaki shorts to go with it. I packed Luca's lunch, cutting her turkey sandwich ino a star and a letter 'L' and including a strawberry cupcake she chose at the grocery store. I scrawled 'Rohan K' on the inside of an old t-shirt and pair of shorts with a Sharpie and tied them into a bag with his name on the outside. Extra clothes for school, in case he has an accident. Luca's bag was packed with her purple pencil case and a towel for after-lunch rest time. Everything was ready to go.

We took a bath together, the three of us, washing the manes and tails of every My Little Pony in the house and also washing Luca and Rohan's new hairstyles. Hers: bangs. His: short and neat.

Before bed, Luca told me she was worried about kindergarten because even though she can count, "Sometimes I skip a number." I assured her it was ok, and that lots of kids skip numbers and she was goign to school so she could learn how to remember ALL the numbers when she counts. That seemed to satisfy her, and before she rolled over to close her eyes she smiled at me and told me she was excited to start school.

This morning both kids were still sleeping when I got out of bed, so I went and woke them by rubbing their back and telling them it was time for school. Luca jumped out of bed, excited to put on her pretty dress and take her new backpack to class. Mo was a little slower going, telling me several times that he didn't want to go to preschool. I got them downstairs, dressed, and sitting in front of Bubble Guppies so I could finish getting everything ready to go.

The morning was punctuated with Rohan's sadface, as he told me several times he didn't want to go to preschool. I didn't know what to say to him other than to fill him with platitudes about how preschool is super fun and he's going to make a lot of new friends and learn new things. It didn't work. He was curled on the recliner in a ball telling me he didn't want to go. Even Luca chimed in, telling him how she was worried about preschool but it ended up being so fun and she made lots of friends. He still wasn't convinced entirely.

We parked down the street from the elementary school, following a crowd of other parents as they led kids large and small to the playground to line up for their first day. Each of my hands held a tiny hand of one of my children, and if you think for a second I didn't feel the power of that moment you must never have met me.

We got to school a few minutes before the first bell, found the spot where Luca's class lines up in the mornings, and waited. I could tell Luca was nervous, and Rohan could too which made him nervous which in turn made ME nervous and on the verge of tears. We stood together in a cluster eyeing the other kids and their parents. I was trying to guess which kids would be the nicest and hoping my kid would be seated next to them, and Luca was probably admiring all the Hello Kitty backpacks jealously. Her teacher made her rounds, checking to be sure all the right kids were in her line and she knew how they were all to get home every day that week and I tried to look friendly by half-smiling at the other parents while behind my sunglasses my eyes nervously scanned the group of new kids and parents.

I leaned in close to her, feeling very sentimental as every ounce of mama love burned in my throat, and whispered into her cheek, "Luca, I'm so very very proud of you and school is going to be amaz--" and she cut me off. "Mom," she said impatiently, "your breath stinks like coffee." Sentimental moment over.

I wasn't sure how Luca would do when the time came to walk into the school with her class. After two years of preschool this is sort of old hat to her, but it was a different school and this is a new teacher and new classmates and new rules and a new schedule. Leading up to the first week, she was really excited, so we went with that and played up the excitement in the hopes it would pay off the first day. And while she was a bit nervous, clinging to my hand most of the morning, when the time came to kiss her good-bye she was ready to go.

We stood there, Mo and I, watching her walk away from us and into big kid school. She turned several times and waved, blowing kisses as we enthusiastically waved and blew kisses back. I snapped pictures through tears I'd held in until that moment, and as she passed through the doors and disappeared down the hall to her first day of Kindergarten, I turned with Rohan, took 4 steps across the basketball court, and was stopped cold by a wave of heavy tears. Rohan was looking at me sadly, so I scooped him into my arms as I cried, and he burrowed his head under my chin, his right cheek flat against my collarbone and his left arm stretched wide to pull me into a hug.

That moment? I will never forget it. And when I looked down into my son's big blue eyes, he was crying too. We stood there for a moment, holding each other together, then he walked beside me to the car holding my hand the whole way there.

The ride to preschool for Rohan's first day was quiet. My right arm was stretched into the back seat, and he held my right hand in both of his for the whole drive. We got there much too fast and before I knew it I was unbuckling Rohan's carseat and pulling his backpack out to rest it on his shoulders. Thankfully, his hesitation and nerves had calmed some and he didn't try to change my mind about leaving him in preschool that day. Because, I swear, if he'd asked me at that moment to let him stay home one more day I would have burrowed him to me and whisked him home so we could snuggle on the couch together for a whole day.

There wasn't much time for long sentimental good-byes once we got to preschool. Most of the kids were there already and the class was just sitting down for circle time. One of the high schoolers that works in the class came right over and greeted Rohan, taking his hand and leading him to his space on the rug. And suddenly, I had two kids in school. Just like that. Babies, done. Kids, here.

I knew I should leave, but I couldn't. I needed one more hug and kiss from my son. Needed to sniff his skin and feel the softness of his blonde hair and remind him to be good and kind and listen well. So I waited patiently for circle time to end and the kids to go wash their hands and I grabbed him and held him close to me for a kiss. And then, I watched him walk away and join the other kids at the little circular table for snacks.

I walked out alone, sat in my car, and let the tears come. I was crying from pride that a new phase of their lives is starting, and in equal measure from sadness that the last chapter is ending. No longer can I even pretend they are my babies. They are big kids now, with classmates and teachers and lunch bags and friends. They bring home pictures and classwork with their names scrawled across the top. They ask questions such as, "Mama, how does a car turn all the wheels the same at once?" (him) and, "Are whales mammals? Because I know that dolphins are and whales feed their babies milk too."
Learning to let them go and let them grow up is hard for me. I absolutely adore the people they are becoming. I beam at the praise from their teachers. I smile when I hear about new friends and eating in a cafeteria and recess and music class and share day. My throat tightens and my heart feels like it will burst as I witness them growing minute by minute into the little adults they will someday become.

This will be a big year. I'm trusting my kids to teachers and other families and their kids. I'm letting my kids go and grow. And I cannot wait to look back at this time in our lives and remember it sweetness.


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