Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kodak Moment, Undocumented

Today we went to the end-of-the-year picnic for Joan and Kate's preschool. There was a local kid doing a magic show, and children and parents were scattered on the lawn on blankets, eating their picnic lunches and basking in togetherness. The temperature- about 78 degrees, with a cloudless, summer-blue sky. The lake, serene and clear, not yet green or smelling of dead fish. No breeze. No bugs. We were surrounded by all of these beautiful children- bright eyed, happy, showing off their school friends to their parents, faces smeared with mayo or pudding... or sometimes boogers (What? I didn't have any kleenex along, and I was saving our napkins for any Lunch Incidents). It would have been perfect, if only I had packed some chocolate in our basket.

At one point, I smacked my forehead, realizing I left the camera at home. But then I realized that if I had my camera, I would have to take myself out of the scene in order to photograph it. (Which, in an attempt at full disclosure, I'm really not all that good at anyway.) It is exhausting, right? Trying to document everything, but also trying to live in those moments too. I'm not even sure it's possible to do both. So it was nice, to just sit there and be, instead of trying to capture it.

And also, I felt at home. In a town I used to hate, or at least really, really not like.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bucket Day

Today Joan and Kate had their last day of preschool for the year. Since it's a Montessori style school- with the focus on self-reliance, they had to bring buckets and sponges to clean the classroom. (20 kids with buckets full of water- this is pretty much my worse nightmare. That is, if I was getting enough sleep to have nightmares, which I'm not.) This is the kids' favorite day; my girls have been talking about it for weeks. But taking our "last day of school" photo this morning, I was suddenly so sad. Suddenly, I could see it- the school years slipping by so fast that in 2 weeks I'll wake up and have teenagers. And I am definitely not ready for the female hormone attack on our lifestyle. Plus we need to add a bathroom before then.

And our lives are already defined by the school year? David and I have been living oblivious to starting and ending of school since I graduated from college in '98. We don't have school age kids yet. I still skip that section of "Ages and Stages" in my parenting magazine. Yet here we are, talking to the girls about "next fall" and thumbing the ads wondering when the school supplies go on sale. (Swim suits hit the rack- in our VERY cold climate- in January (WTF?), so we figure we better pay attention, or we'll miss our window.) I guess I just expected a few more years before thinking about these things.

On the other hand, the Beginning of Kindergarten will be great for so many reasons. Kindergartners are so cool! And we'll be able to do so many more fun things the older the kids get! And then there's the beauty of public education- we no longer will have to sell our body parts to pay for them to go to school! The girls have one more year of preschool, in which I'll alternately pine over them getting older and long for them to be in school all day. See, I'm processing this all now, so I figure by the time Kindergarten rolls around, I'll be ready.

But today? I wasn't ready for them to have polished off their first "school year" so quickly. When preschool started last fall, I was still pregnant with Marin. Marin was still a fetus. Now she's a juicy, roly-poly, pulling-up-to-things-and-standing member of our family.

Hokey smokes, am I the only mom out there that cannot decide how she feels about the children growing up? I mourn it, cheer for it, hate it, love it, long for it... Grow up and show me who you will become! No, wait, stay little, sit on my lap forever! Crawl already damnit, and start getting some sleep! But wait, no, what happened to my sweet newborn? I miss those beady newborn eyes and that peely newborn skin! Sometimes I think I must have something diagnosable- Is there a pill available that I could take, you know to clarify these things? Please tell me yes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Honeymoon is Over

Sweet Baby Marin. What happened? For your entire time on this planet, you've been so relaxed, so happy, so "Sure, you want to set me on the floor without any toys and walk away? Ok, I'll just play with my spit". Even through all of my postpartum complications and surgeries (all 5 of them), you were a breeze to care for. Compared to your older and very demanding sisters, you were like a fresh breath of Black Hills air. Now, though, it's more like a squirt of grapefruit juice to the neck.

I know you are trying to learn to crawl, but Baby, it's not all it's cracked up to be. Because as soon as you learn to crawl, I'll have to start chasing you around and telling you "No-no", gently at first, but more and more firmly as you learn to test your limits. I don't want to enter the disciplining stage of your life yet. It's been so wonderful to just cuddle you and freely offer you my mommy milk without worry of spoiling you. It's only now, in the wake of Frustrated-Up-All-Goddamn-Night-Marin that I learn that I am the spoiled one. *Sigh*

To be clear, I don't mind the all night nursing- we've been doing that most of your life. I can sleep through nursing and appreciate the fact that you are a baby, and babies have needs. But do you have to be so cantankerous at 3 am? Do you have to kick, throttle, head-butt, and pinch? Do you have to practice crawling, using my body as your personal climbing gym, ALL NIGHT? Sweetheart, there's plenty of time for that during the day.

And BTW, what's all this drooling about? Are you cutting your first tooth too? You should really stop that, because learning to crawl is disrupting your personality enough. Just a thought.

I love you, baby girl. But Mama needs some sleep. Ok?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Letter To Toy Makers

Dear Toy Makers,
I realize that this is a holiday weekend, but my request is urgent.

Could you please stop making toy phones, cell phones, and other "electronics" in the ever-so-obvious primary colors? These toys, while probably perfectly fun to play with, give themselves away to my 8 month old by their blatant toyness.

Instead, could you consider manufacturing a line that look, sound, and act real? For example, it's not enough to look like a real phone. This "toy" must also *beep* and light up like the real thing. A real dial tone and real ringing sound would also be helpful. (Ditch the grating computer voice that chirps "HELLO BABY!!!!". Real phones don't do that, as any baby knows.) My daughter would also appreciate a toy cell phone, exactly like my real cell phone, minus the ability to accidentally call my doula clients and leave squawking messages.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Also, could you make a real looking camera, with realistic buttons to push and a fun (but not strangulating) carrying strap? A removable lens cover would be bonus. Also consider a Sharpie marker set, with edible (preferable organic) and washable ink. The caps need to be removable, look like an actual Sharpie marker caps, yet not be a choking hazard. You'll have to have one of your toy engineers work out the specs on that. Also real, yet non-poking-your-eyes-out-or-cutting-your-thumbs-off, forks and knives would be a huge hit.

If it would help, I can send you the exact makes and models of all of our current cameras/phones/cell phones/silverware. Also, maybe descriptions of our lamp cords and vent covers.

I believe that many babies would love these products, and if needed I can test out your prototypes on all of my mommy and baby friends.

Marie Green
Mother of 3

Friday, May 25, 2007

Define Gossip

I was at a dinner party recently and this topic came up. Everyone had a different idea of how to answer this, and none satisfied me.

So here's my question: when in the company of friends, what is the difference between processing/venting/trying to understand a person and gossiping?

For me, the difference is in the intent of the conversation. When with my "sisterhood", we have a very nurturing, supportive, emotionally healthy group, so naturally things come up. If I am talking to them about someone because I have concern, or I'm trying to better understand this person, I do not consider it gossiping. In these cases, no matter what I say about someone, I'm saying it out of a place of love. A place of frustration, anger, or even hurt, but also love. I often need to process things out loud, get others' perspective, and hear myself speak in order to understand people and situations and also myself.

I leave these conversations feeling better. I feel heard, understood, and validated. Sometimes enriched. Or enlightened to what a boob I had been. And the situation at hand always seems more clear.

When I gossip, I feel yucky about it later. I said something about someone just to say it. Just to hear the other person say "Yeah, I know. I couldn't believe she said that! And the other night, she said..." When I gossip, I am doing it to build a case against someone. As in, she is so controlling! And here's an example! And here's another example! And another!

(I realize that the line between the two is narrow and often blurred, but this definition has worked for me in most situations.)

Most often, I avoid gossip and therefore the gossip hangover. Most often, my intentions are pure. But the other night at dinner, I realized that this model that I had been operating under was not universal. Some thought that relaying information (like telling your husband about your day) was acceptable, and everything else was gossip. And many people thought that ANY talk of others was gossip, unless that person was present. No one agreed with my point of view. I began to think of all the times I was probably perceived as a gossiper. Marie, Queen of Gossip.


I feel strongly that when my intentions are good, it doesn't really matter what others think. This topic got to me though. What exactly is gossip?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why I Blog

To Write, and To Be Read

Do I have a unique voice to offer the blogosphere? I'm not yet sure. But I have a desire to put into words the way I see the world, and believe that in doing so, life is a little sharper, a little more clear.

Of coarse, there is also the fear of my brain atrophying with all the tedium that is mothering-small-children. I mean, ask me how much a 3 oz jar of baby food costs at any local grocer, and I can give you a detailed analysis, but the USEFUL part of my brain, the part I'm going to need once these kids of mine launch their parachutes into life and blow away? Well, that part needs some exercise. Maybe along the way I'll write something that is coherent enough to attract a reader or two? Icing.

To Remember

I take snapshots in my mind of my children: of their perfect, beautiful, dirty, skinned kneed, runny nosed, bright eyed, blondish-brown curled, fighting, teething, drooling, laughing selves. It's hard, living in this state of feeling like I have to remember. To know that I'm already forgetting. I take video, I take pictures, I write in their baby books, but it's still not enough. I know on a cellular level that this time, right now, is the time we will always look back on. "When our kids were little" we'll say. We'll say "When Kate and Joan were babies". "When Marin was learning to crawl" we'll muse, but then we'll get her confused with the other two. We'll try to remember, but we won't remember enough.

And forget about remember me. Remembering how I was, who I was. Forget about remembering how far I've come, how much I've changed, how much these children have taught me. How much I have taught myself. Forget about remembering how much David and I clung together, holding hands and jumping into this life as parents. Forget about how we always forget the we are the parents. How we love this time in our lives, we really do, but how we dream of the future, the just-the-two-of-us time. The time in our lives when we'll be trying to remember today. So I write. To remember.

To Define

There is something special about putting into words ones experiences. It makes them more real, more honest-to-goodness-it-happened-to-me. It sharpens one's existence, to live and then to take life and define it in sentences and paragraphs. It makes one notice. It helps one understand. It validates. It clarifies. And getting it just right? When the words on the page match the essence of the experience and the experience is defined? It makes me feel alive.