The little love…

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{Photo cred: Amy Treasure}

A week ago, I stood upon the threshold of my oldest daughter’s bedroom. My tired body leaned into the door frame. It was late, past completion of story time, lullabies, and prayers.

I’d been on my way out, my headspace churning gears in an attempt to gather energy to go downstairs and mind the kitchen still in a state of disarray from dinner.

“I love you. I’ll see you in the morning.” I smiled at her.

I nearly walked away, but her stricken face kept my feet planted at her doorframe. I was motionless for the greedy pull of my eyes. I watched as her small fingers pinched the square Hello Kitty pillow in her lap as her eyesight continually bounced from her feet back to me. Her heart shaped face was injected with an emotion that made weariness jolt my brain awake.

She was restless and most definitely had something to say to me. She deeply inhaled, before our thoughts collided.

“Mama, I have something to tell you.” She exhaled in a voice radiating excitement. Then her face broke into a massive grin, the kind that sinks the corners of her mouth deep into her cheeks.

I released the air, heavy as rocks stuck deep in my lungs, before taking a few steps toward her.

“What is it?”

Pregnant silence.

“I have a CRUSH!” Her voice energetically barrels out and then she slaps the pillow to her forehead and lets out a high-pitched squeal into it. She continues to hide her face a full five seconds, before swiftly pulling the pillow back to her lap. She’s wading in a pool of embarrassment. Her demeanor says so. Her eyes jet towards me, connect for a mere .0000007 of a second with mine, before dashing away again. She looks at her lamp. The posters on her wall. Her fidgeting fingers; anything to avoid looking at me.

I feel like choking. My oldest daughter has never been boy crazy. Now, her younger sister is mad for boys. She’s seven and already been in love forty six times–the total number of boys in her kindergarten and 1st grade classes.

But Avayah, this is new and feels heavy. My spine involuntarily straightens. Adrenaline floods my entire system. I cough, before forcefully breaking my face with an easy smile. I drop into the chair beside her bed and place my elbows on my knees before cupping my jaw.

Reactions. Dang, they are hard as a parent. You can pull out the wrong one and completely ruin the moment (and they never share with you again). There I am sitting in her chair trying not to smile too big, or worse, scowl. (This is my first baby, she’s not allowed to grow up. My heart is screaming, NO! I am not ready for this.)

“Who is it?” I croak. I’m positive my voice sounds stretched too high. She looks at me strange. I think she’s gauging my trustworthiness. I almost scoff at her in return.

“His name is Russel.” She giggles. Here is where I want to roll on the ground, stomp my feet, and act like a straight lunatic, because I’m hit with about 27 different emotions I don’t know how to comprehend.  It feels insane.

She is my first baby.  A slide show of firsts flickers before me. I’m spaced out, watching a mental video of all her milestones, as that country song, ‘I loved her first’ plays alongside it, inside my head. I can feel my hysterics inching up on me. (I’ve already cried five times writing this post.)

I’m seconds away from becoming a legit basket case. Call the asylum now. (All the while, I want to tell myself to get a grip. She’s 10. It’s not like she told me she’s getting married, but still. This is new territory. We won’t, no she, she won’t go back from here—insert ugly cry here. I need tissues…and hugs, friends.)

My baby has found intrigue in the opposite sex.

While I die on the inside, we make casual small talk about Russel. Her cheeks are pink; her face alight with infatuation. She says he’s nice, funny, and cute. He even stopped mid-race to help her up when she tripped. Gush. These parents are raising this boy right.

Yet, as I sat in that chair beside her as she spoke, I felt a small part of me dissipate into a pool of ache. The crack in her childhood just split by a substantial proportion. Light is no longer leaking, it’s bleeding out.  And it’s probably the first time I’ve despised its presence. Who hates light?  Me, right now. I know it’s selfish, but sigh. Motherhood hurts. This is the part you are never prepared for. The separation.

Near the end of our conversation she told me that he’s moving to Florida at the end of the school year and that he doesn’t know that she likes him.

I told her that she should always tell people how she feels. Unless their married. Or engaged. Just basically do not mimic a Julia Robert’s movie, unless it’s Runaway Bride.  (You can always run to Mama.)

The next day, my brave girl spoke her puppy love feels via a secret admirer note she wrote. It was the most precious thing ever.  I was so honored she let me read it (and to have gotten away with secretly photographing it, too.  She can kill me when she reads this blog much later in her life.) It went something like…I’ll give you my initials and if you guess who I am, I’ll admit it was me.

It was my turn to giggle like a tween, because they are in the same class. I don’t think the mystery will last long. Actually, it didn’t. He knew, but still wrote her a note back confessing he liked her too, along with his initials.

Ah, to witness puppy love as an adult…I’ll admit, it gives you the feels. It’s so innocent that you can’t help but giggle about it to your closest girlfriends. (Sorry Avayah, but in truth…those women love you too and your secret is safe with them…and anyone who reads this blog.  Eek, I’m starting to question my trustworthiness now.)

A week later and they’re in love and we’ve set the date.  Okay, not really. They’re just buds, who play xbox live together and see each other in class and that’s about it.

I knew this day would arrive at some point and I’m excited for Avayah, even if this milestone hurts.  If you see me, hug me and tell me that I’ll survive my daughter’s first love.  (and ignore me when I start singing, “I loved her first..”)

Because obviously, this is about me.  Not Avayah at all.

Tis Motherhood.

The Human Diary

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A couple of weeks ago, I woke up feeling rebellious. Like I’d been granted the infamous title of master. The Master of my own universe.

“Universe” being my home.

My eyes bounced around the walls of my home and suddenly, I was motivated to move mountains (of laundry).

Really, I felt a spark of liberation taking root in me, almost to full bloom. The freedom that demands acknowledgment and craves sunlight, urging you to take personal risks.

“Buy an ugly chair and give upholstery a go.  Paint a dresser…until you remember that time you painted your entry-way the most hideous color of ninja turtle green and then did a crap job re-painting it sunflower yellow, only to end up hiring a painter to repaint the entire house because you now know you suck at painting. Do not paint the dresser, but buy that chair…”  

That same liberation urged me on… Color your hair grey and wear that lilac lipstick you see those girls flawlessly daunting on Insta. Do it and do not succumb to one ounce of worry. Do not slide into thoughts of what others think. Now the husband—he might get the benefit.

“Do you like this lipstick, babe? Because even if you don’t, you’re going to have to love me through it. Our papers say so.” 

I felt grit in my bones. Adult abandon…a desire to test my limits.

This is where I tell you that I did buy that chair and worked like a mad-hatter reupholstering it.  Never. Again.  And also, I didn’t jump into the chair and dye my hair grey or wear purple lipstick…(that’s for next week)

But most days, I’m certain there is a fierce rebel, dressed in skin-tight leather with fire red hair and black matte lipstick, living inside of me. Her name is Sarah Jane. (Yes, I watch too much RHOBH. Judge Me.)

Sarah Jane swallows brownies whole and laughs at the thought of where that saturated fat will end up. She only makes direct eye contact and never silences her opinion. She has the voice of Celine Dion and survives off Rose. And she can assemble Ikea furniture without losing her ever loving mind. She is a rule breaker.

Of course in real life, I’m more of a rule following cookie cutter who cannot sing.

Falsies, a few tattoos and red lipstick is as far as I’m putting myself out there.  Also, leather pants are not my friend.  Mostly because I left my thigh gap back in my mother’s womb.  Nobody wants to listen to your pants having their own conversation every time your thighs pass one another.  (think squeaaagy, squeaaagy)

“Sarah, real leather doesn’t make a squeaaagy sound.”

“Did I say leather? I meant pleather.”

The truth is…I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting against this inner rebellious persona, strictly because she scares me. Sarah Jane does not fit the mold I’ve cast as a “Responsible Mother of Four.”

When I woke up that day, my curiosity demanded that I expand on why breaking molds terrifies me. I already knew part of my fear lives in my most important obligation—being a Mama.

I have a four-part audience, my beauties, who are front and center to my actions. I want to lead by example. I want to raise strong women, who go out and own themselves against this world—who aren’t afraid to express themselves how they see fit, not how this world sees fit.

If I become stagnant, ceasing to take personal risks than what am I teaching them? To fall in line and be an aimless sheep?

No, I want my girls to be wolves.

Kind wolves, who are vegetarians. See, that’s Mama Sarah strangling Sarah Jane. Mama Sarah lives for political correctness. Sarah Jane stomps on political correctness with her six-inch heel.

My truth is…

I can love Jesus and have tattoos. I can have purple hair AND be a responsible mother. I can have an opinion AND it be different than yours and we CAN STILL be friends.

When I say I want my girls to be wolves, it means I want them to remain passionate about this life. For their belief in self to be the amber that never flickers, or gets smudged out.

I want them to innovate.

I want my girls to color their hair purple if they feel they need violet hair, because it makes their freckles stand out. I want them to wear orange lipstick because someone they know wore it and they were completely smitten by the look.

“Perm your hair and shave the back of your head…and then walk into the sixth grade and not fall apart because clearly not everyone thought the ‘undercut’ was a good look and now everyone thinks you’re strange.  Let them…you’ll survive and be more accepting of others who take a risk.”

Face painted or completely free, I want them to believe in their beauty…because no one on this Earth is the official judge on their ‘beauty.’  Ever.

I want them to embrace being the nerd, or the diva. I want them to not apologize for their emotions. Or that they don’t meet some guys expectation of who he thinks they should be, or how they should look. I want them to feel free to carry that extra 15 pounds because they love ice cream and charcoaled hamburgers.

I want them to be authentic.

Self-expression comes in so many forms. It can be appearance, artwork, writing, or even careers.  You don’t have to dress in leather and dye your hair all the colors of the rainbow to be expressive.

This life is not limited.

I want my beauties to stand upon the ground of liberation knowing no one can change you or steal your value.  Ever.  It’s not a fight against others, because you’ve already won.  You own you.

Take a risk, break a mold, chase a dream…paddle out in search of positive self-discovery, or better get out the paintbrush of positive self-creation.

We all are writing our life, our human diary.

Let yours be filled with pages of messy brilliance, make it the most incandescent read.

 

 

 

To the random man in the Target parking lot,

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I am not sorry, although every fiber in me screams that I must be ashamed, or paranoid that I did something wrong.

I ran into Target with three of my four kids in tow to do a simple return. From start to finish, the trip lasted twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes doesn’t sound that long to most, until you tell them they will be spending that twenty minutes waiting in line at customer service with three kids under seven years of age.

That is a life sentence.

Mostly, I’d rather keep the shirt that won’t button or to be dramatic, claw my own arm off—I saw it done in 127 hours. I’d do it over volunteering to stand in line with all the beauties while I rinse and repeat distracting methods, entertainment schemes with the intent to extinguish sibling fires.

On this day, who knows what I was thinking? (Apparently, I really wanted the large instead of the medium shirt.) Or I must have drank the brave juice and committed to the lie that I am Superwoman!

While in line, Adalynne and her sidekick Amelia had reached the end of their “we love each other” fuses. They are seven and four, not robots programmed to sit still, I get that, but usually for my girls we can run and go without too much stress.

But that wasn’t today. Not even close.

The soundtrack was worse than the worst heavy metal you’ve heard in your life. (RAHH, RAHHHHHHHHHH insert maniac drum playing–by someone who doesn’t even know how to play drums–here)

“Mom! Amelia’s touching me. Amelia quit touching me! She’s looking at me! Move over, I was standing there. I GO! I WALK! Mom, MOOOOM! Adalynne poked me. I did not. You lied. Mom, she lied. No…NO MOM I DIDN’T. I GO!!!” Exhausting, huh? Need an aspirin, too?

All moms are familiar with the routine, the drill that starts out as playful banter between siblings then quickly escalates into horseplay and (we should all be psychics) eventually someone ends up hurt and in tears.

Happens every dang time.

That skit ends with me pulling out my stern mom voice in a dialogue that follows as such: “calm down, don’t fight, no ma’am, make good choices, say you’re sorry…”, while I secretly threaten, whispering through gritted teeth, “you. wait. till. we. get. to. the. car.”

That’s what happened on repeat the entire twenty minutes we were in Target.

Worse, Anabella, my two-year old, was trying sky dive off the cart. “I GO!” She demanded, while we waited in line. I get her logic. Normally, when we go to a store the cart moves, but in this case it was an island and all three of the girls were unhappy, stranded survivors plagued with delusions and paranoia towards one another. And my patience was literally a ticking time bomb.

As bad as it got? Nope, we weren’t there yet.

Nearing the end of our return at customer service (Praise Jesus), the trip reached a whole other level…straight ANARCHY.

Amelia fell over Adalynne and tumbled to the bottom of the cart. Amelia screamed like her leg had been cut off with a jagged saw, and Adalynne laughed—like any loving sister would do–and Bella screamed even louder “I GO,” while trying to head dive out of the cart. And in the midst of it all, my eyes twitched and I nearly sinked down into the floor and cried—The Ugly Cry, while yelling, “I GIVE UP! DAMMIT!”

Finally, I got my receipt back, and high tailed it out of there with three unhappy campers. Frozen yogurt was no longer on the menu and Adalynne was MAD. She ran straight out in the parking lot.  Praise God there was no oncoming parking lot traffic, because her little legs and big temper outran me to the car.  There I was running after her with Anabella on my hip and Amelia being drug behind me.

And of course, I was screaming too. The entire parking lot heard an angry rendering of ‘ADALYNNE GRACE, YOU STOP THIS MINUTE!!!!!!!!’ Yep, it’s a classic.

After latching onto Adalynne, who’s life’s mission was to wiggle free of my iron grasp, putting Amelia and Anabella in their seats one handed and shutting the door, this angry, scared, and tired mom got down on my knees and pulled Adalynne’s face as close to mine as possible and berated her for her choices.

“Do not ever run from me again! Do not ever run in a parking lot! Tell me why we don’t run in a parking lot right now! And finally…YOU SCARED ME!” and then I spanked her, twice. And it wasn’t pretty. I happened to look up and there he was staring at me…random man in the Target parking lot.

I know that I should not be afraid of disciplining my children, I have every right to. I am their parent. I should not feel regret when I spank them for a negative action that could have stolen their life.

Yet, as he looked at me I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in the wrong?  Let me include here that not every negative action my children commit means spanking…timeout and privilege loss is our go-tos, but this…this action (blatantly running away in a busy parking lot) wasn’t in the normal realm.  In a misbehaving world, it was at the peak of Everest and Adalynne had staked her claim, twirling in ballerina fashion on the point.

Have I read too many of those headlines on parenting, “why not to spank your child, or if you still spank your child you’re a caveman and their psyche will be permanently ruined.” Is that where my guilt stems from as this man stared down at me? I’m not mocking, but seriously?

After I broke eye contact with him, got into my suburban and cried, I knew that I was not wrong.

I love my girls.

I’ve devoted my life to them.

I will not fail them and part of that journey means that times like these will happen.  It will not be pretty, nor happy, but I know that I will do my best to raise my children with discipline derived from love so that they may respect themselves and others.

Even is this means…

I am a cavewoman who spanks.

 

Originally posted 2015