Posts Tagged With: kids

Who-Hair and Other Facts of Life

A few of the Who Ville folk.

A few of the Who Ville folk.

Friday Letter to my Kids

Dear J, J, L and L,

I love your Dad. Three decades plus of being together grows Lego-like connections that only fit each other, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, mentally. I can talk to him about ANY thing and he doesn’t go ballistic or get out of whack. He’s a great listener and so very caring and concerned and generous.

MSH, also known as Dad or Pa at our house, loves you more than you can ever know. It’s one of those things you only understand when you’re halfway through your life and have gone through a few things. So just trust me on this one.

I preface today’s letter with those reassurances for lots of reasons, some of them having to do with thongs, hair brushes, speedos, who-hair, corduroy, delegation, advice and perfectionism. Not necessarily in that order. It’s all kind of a twisty mess.

Dad's alter ego?

Dad’s alter ego?

Yes, a twisty mess, kind of like Dad’s hair. I affectionately call it “Who-hair,” as in Dr. Seuss’s amazing little creatures. When your Dad wakes up who knows what his hair will have formed itself into. Bedhead hair is normal for most people. The name who-hair stuck because he so often simply doesn’t bother to comb his hair at all. That’s one of those benefits/dangers of working from home most of the time. All day long he sports a pillow-designed coif, answering the door, sometimes running errands, looking every bit like he just woke up. It’s kind of endearing, don’t you think? A little Einstein-ish.

Funny thing is when I met your father he, quite frankly, was a little vain. He took a lot of pride in how he looked. Always had a comb in his pocket. Checked the mirror frequently. He had this brown velvet jacket that he looked stunning in. Oh my! Takes my breath away even thinking about it this many years later. Yes. Your father cared how he presented himself to the world. I’m not sure when that changed, but it surely did, from day to night. I will add, the corduroy pants have been and will always be part of who he is.

These particular footwear were known as thongs (made in the 70s and 80's)

These set of footwear are called thongs (made in the 70s and 80’s)

That said, he doesn’t change very much. Doesn’t want to. That’s a big part of why flip-flops, those sandal-like shoe things we wear on our feet, will always and forever be thongs in his vocabulary. Known as thongs back in the day, he will call them that to his dying breath. Ironic that his one surviving pair that he loves are, yes, rainbow colors. I find it sad that the world has changed so much that basic innocent words and other things have taken on such odd and disconnected meanings from their origins.

Here’s two things you must remember. And this isn’t just your Dad, it’s most Dads.

Advice = Love

You need to… = I love you

When a sentence from his mouth begins with the words, “you need to,” just know those are really the three little words everyone longs to hear, just in Dad language.

All Dads see part of their role as a fixer, a repairer and an answer man.

If you actually ask for his advice on a topic you’ll make his day. You’re light years ahead if you can simply accept his advice knowing that it really means that he loves you. You don’t have to go along with the advice, but thank him for it, sincerely.  Appreciate the meaning behind what he says. I know that’s a really tough pill for some of you to swallow, but truth nonetheless.

The other Dad-unique thing he’s done is spend time with us watching TV or movies. Just being in the room together, sharing some popcorn or a snack, for him says Love. Dad isn’t  alone in that. I’ve heard of other men who are the same way. It’s not a disconnect in their minds, it’s an indirect way of sharing time and space. And shared time and space equals Love.

Shared Time and Space = Love

One of my most cherished memories is of Big J as a three-year old coming out of your bedroom after an hour of pretend sleeping. Dad would say, “do you need some time with your Dad?” And J, you’d say, “yeah,” in your sleepy voice, trying to hide a grin.

Best reruns ever.

Best reruns ever.

So Dad would break out the chips and salsa and the two of your would sit on the ugly orange plaid sofa munching while watching M*A*S*H reruns. Then you’d snuggle up. Dad would be in his classic pose of lying sideways, legs taking up most of the room on the couch, and Big J would perch on top of him in perfect imitation and fall instantly to sleep.

If that wasn’t love, I don’t know what is.

And girls, those times when your Dad went along with your idea to play beauty parlor, shows his sense of humor as well as his love. He even posed for photos with those bobby pins, barrettes, curlers and bows all over his head. Yet another example of his looking every bit the part of a Who from Who Ville. What a good sport he was. And still is.

I’m rethinking sharing the speedo and hairbrush stories, for now. And the delegation, perfectionism and creativity can wait for another day, too.

If I could sum up your Dad, it’d be in an equation that looks like this.

Dad = Love

It’s true. He’s not like any other Dad on the planet or in the galaxy. He hasn’t ever been a sports dude, or a nine to five guy, but he’s got a ton of love for each of you. More than you’ll ever know. Believe me, that’s the reality of it.

Tons of Love from,

Mom

and

from your Dad

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“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.” ~ Umberto Eco

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Friday Letters to my Children

Dear J, J, L and L,

I’m not using your full names to protect you from my nonsense. I’ve been inspired by these four Dads whose blog is simply letters to their little kids. After reading their blog for a month or so, I suddenly thought, “I should do that!“ Except, you kids are all grown and flown. And you know me, the epic procrastinator of the century, I’d probably get around to an individual letter to each of you sometime around my ninetieth year, which is half a century-ish away.

So instead of my usual procrastination I’m going to have a weekly post of a letter to my children. One week it may speak to only one of you. Other weeks the letters may seem so off-kilter you’ll wonder why I even started it with the words, “Dear Kids.”

photo by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

photo by Heinrich Böll Stiftung

I just know that if I really want to get something done, then attaching it somehow to my blog and my writing will ensure that it happens. I hope you don’t mind the public nature of this undertaking. It seems a little weird, but also for me somehow, it feels safe. I don’t have that many readers anyway. And the few I do have seem sincere and kind and know me pretty well, or they’re related to me.

Another reason I want to do this came about after spending a week with Baby N and her Mom and Dad. I fluctuated between incredible pride at what a phenomenal Mom she already is and remembering what an epic failure I felt like as a new mom the first five years of motherhood. Rather than wallowing in my self-pity and semi-inaccurate view of my past life, I thought writing about it in specifics might help me paint a clearer picture of my life as a Mother. Maybe through this writing process I can forgive myself for those failures of naiveté, youth and inexperience. That’d be a bonus for me.

It’s been an evolutionary process to raise the four of you. I’ve learned things no university could ever hope to instill. I’ve felt some of the most exalted and some of the most heart-wrenching emotions as a mother. Most of it has been somewhere between the two extremes.

The other part of this Friday Letters to My Kids thing would be to paint a clearer picture for you of who your mother is. Or who I was back then. It’s not like I’m ever going to stop being your Mom. Hardly. It’s a lifetime buy-in that I’m ever so glad I stumbled on.

No names, but you gotta admit these are some cute kids!!

No names, but you gotta admit these are some cute kids!!

With that long preamble said, for today all I want to say is “Thank you!” I am a blessed woman to have the four of you in my life. I’m proud of each one of you for being true to who you are, for being kind, loving, fun, caring, responsible people. You’ve turned out better than my wildest dreams.

You’ve also made me who I am: a little nuts, a lot of worrier and a deep thinker, and someone who needs a ton of laughter for balance and sanity.

I promise I won’t ask you here to pack or move any boxes. I really won’t expect you to do any inventory, or yard work, or dishes, or organizing. A family campout might be in order someday. Can you imagine all of us, with the babies out camping? In the rain?

Oh, and most important of all, I promise, no naked baby pictures!

I look forward to our Fridays. I’m a little scared as well, but I think it’ll be a great ride. It can’t be any worse than being raised by me and your Dad, right? How embarrassing was that? Oh. Right. “Speedos,” thongs, who-hair, family singing and sewing projects. I’ll try to avoid anything that horrifying.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. (I know, I know, it isn’t actually Friday, but it will be in a few days. This is just the introduction anyway. It’s not really an official letter.)

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Family, Friday Letters, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Happymess is…

photo-17 copy 8

Yes, that’s how I meant to spell it. It’s what home life with children can evolve into. A Big Happymess.

Life with kids is messy. And it’s often happy. Sometimes both things at the same time. Sometimes it’s just messy. Rarely does blissful, unadulterated happiness occur. But it does happen. Often when the children are asleep. But awake time happiness happens, too. Admit it.

Read the following quotations, then you tell me. Does the word Happymess fit when describing family life?

“We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve telling them to sit down and shut up.” ~ Phyllis Diller

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“The quickest way for a parent to get a child’s attention is to sit down and look comfortable.” – Lane Olinhouse

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“What it’s like to be a parent: It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but in exchange it teaches you the meaning of unconditional love.” – Nicolas Sparks

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“The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires.” – Dorothy Parker

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“Few things are more satisfying than seeing your own children have teenagers of their own.” ~ Doug Larson

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“I don’t remember who said this, but there really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.”– Anne Lamott

“Parents are not interested in justice, they’re interested in peace and quiet.” – Bill Cosby

So what do you think? Am I right? Life’s a happymess, if you take the chaos with a grain of salt. A dose of laughter every day helps, as well.

Remember, If you don’t laugh a bit, you’re gonna cry a lot.

Enjoy the mess.

Categories: Family, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Accessing My Inner Two Year-Old

Two Year-old kids get a bad rap. 

Oh sure, I’ve seen the meltdowns in the grocery store, the toy wars in the sandbox, the frazzled parents trying to get a tot cooperatively moving in the direction and speed they need to go. I also raised a few two year-old kids myself, although, admittedly that is ancient history.

I suppose it’s a case of the squeaky wheel when it comes to two year-old behavior. What most people see and experience is the negatives, of which admittedly, there exist quite a few.

There are redeeming qualities in two year-olds, apart from their general cuteness, and their adorable options in the clothing department. What is up with that anyway? How come little kids have such fun, bright, practical and comfortable pants, shirts, shoes and even sock options? Can we please just design a few of those in adult sizes? I have a particular fondness for Osh Kosh B’gosh styles which I think I’d look great in. Or not.

Sorry, I got sidetracked.

That right there is a two-year-old trait. Easily sidetracked. It’s one of those plus/minus categories. It can work for you or against you. Distraction is particularly important as you maneuver past any grocery items that might not be healthy choices. If I could distract my attention away from the donuts, soda and ice cream I’d leave the store with healthier options and a bit more cash left in my wallet. Dropping some niggling problem like a two year-old changes gears could help out my stress levels. Worry, worry, worry, oh look, something shiny, no worries. If only.

Two year-olds are usually a friendly sort. They’ll wave and smile at most people who say hello or smile at them. They’re eager to play with almost any willing playpal. I’ve seen two’s dance for an hour at a wedding reception without ever exchanging names or phone numbers. They were just happy dancing! That distraction thing then kicks in when punch and cake show up and the evening plays off as a massive success.

Double the fun with a two-year-old

Double the fun with a two-year-old

Here and Now

Two’s live in the moment. This very moment. There is no “in a few minutes.” Everything is now. That’s an enviable trait to copy. This right now takes all my attention. No yesterday haunts me as I do what I’m doing. Tomorrow doesn’t loom because I’m living the moment I’m in. Sure, that leans to the negative if taken to extremes, but so can overplanning, over scheduling and overdoing.

Empathy Abounds

One particular two year-old I know acts quickly to literally wipe away tears when her mom or sister cry. If the tears last long enough she’ll run for the tissues and bring some to help staunch the flow. Then she gives a wonderful full on hug and a kiss on the cheek. What a perfect response. Twos get it. They feel that full range of emotion loud and clear and when they hear or see it in someone else their empathy sensors kick in to high gear. “I see you’re sad. Let me help, even if I don’t understand why you’re sad, I’m gonna do what I can right now to give love, attention and solace.” Perfect. Those Two’s notice, care and respond to grief, sadness and unfairness with a quick hand.

Honest to a T

Honesty abounds in two year-old, mostly. They let you know when something is “yucky” or they “don’t like it.” There’s no fudging around, wondering what the correct response should be. Yes or no rule. Maybe doesn’t exist. Count on them for a real answer. I’d like the bravery to act and speak so definitively.

The advantages of being a house dog in a home ...

Two two-year-olds sharing with the dog. (Photo credit: EraPhernalia Vintage . . . (playin’ hook-y ;o))

It’s MINE! Except when I share it

Amazingly, the mine, mine, mine mindset that two year-olds often operate from can sometimes magically morph into sharing. Fairly generous sharing if you don’t mind half a mashed cookie or squishy banana bites. They don’t wonder if the gift they’re offering is good enough, measures up to your expectations and standards, or even if you want or need it. They just give and let it go at that. Good idea, I think, to apply to my life.

And surprisingly, there are times when the “mine” mentality needs implementing. Getting adequate sleep, eating well, meeting our basic emotional and physical needs so we can give from a position of strength rather than giving until we fizzle out.

Simplicity Rules

Simple things easily entertain a two year old. No need to buy elaborate toys when they’d prefer the box the toy comes in. The top of a soft drink cup can keep some kids going for a good fifteen minutes, popping and unpopping the “bubbles” for coke, diet, and other over and over and over. This is another two year-old trait I’d like to emulate. Not that I’m simple minded, but I’d like satisfaction to come by simple, pure sorts of things that require imagination and activity rather than sitting and being spoon-fed couch potato food. I don’t need or want bells and whistles and flash and bang. A great book, a walk in the woods, a discussion with friends,  music, bike riding, art, thinking. The more basic, the better.

Wall-e and Two’s

Recently, while watching “Wall-e” my daughter pointed out that little robotic dude behaves in many ways just like a two year-old. She was right. Focused, and yet easily distracted. Curious and driven. Playful and loyal. Simply entertained, generous, direct as possible, happy to help.

I’m lucky to have a two year-old in my life. She’s teaching me to be a better, calmer, generous, happier, responsive, more in the moment me. When I access those great traits I find a simple joy in life. It’s something to keep in mind. Food for thought.

Two-year-old’s: worthy of emulation.

Categories: Humor, People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Awash in a Torrent

It’s Gratituesday! Today gratitude washes over me when I consider my children. All four of them were in town to celebrate at the wedding reception this past weekend. A whole lifetime of sweet memories, struggles, laughs, sorrows, silliness, sadness, good times and the insanity of family life flooded over me in wave after wave of remembering.

waterfall

(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

When the house emptied out after a weekend of overflowing joy I recognized more than ever what a blessing each of them have been.

Let’s be honest, with parenting, it’s sink or swim. So you flail your arms about, kick your legs, gasp for breath every chance you get and eventually you have something that moves your through the water of parenthood. It wasn’t all roses. It’s a ton of hard work and sleepless nights, worry and tears.

But, there is a flip side.

rain dancing

(Photo credit: amboo who?)

We had some great times that surely balanced out the challenges. Swings, and slides, sandpiles and diving boards. Cooking and organizing, camping, rock climbing, hiking. Summer crafts and  road trips, summer library challenges. Sidewalk chalk, sleepovers, baking. Hide and seek, shooting baskets, building blanket forts, picnics, parks and playgrounds. Camping in the rain, puddle jumping, dancing in the rain. Skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snow walks and snowmen. Car rides to lessons, activities, games, practices, friends houses, camps. Let’s not forget story time and bath time, movies and barbies, hot wheels and ninetendo, legos, dress up clothes, sliding banisters, cats and parakeets, tire swings, singing, exploring. And so much more!

From that first dark-haired baby boy that I was clueless about, to the golden-blond independent caboose baby, I’ve learned how to be a real person from all four of them. They’ve shaped who I am today.

And them? Wow!!!  In spite of all the parental goofs, gaffs, trial and error and outright mistakes, they’ve become wonderful, kind, thoughtful, hardworking beautiful adults that I’m happy to treat as equals, friends and confidants.

Monsoon

(Photo credit: lokenrc)

This weekend felt like much more than a celebration of a marriage. It felt like a commemoration of life. The monsoon downpour of rain we had as we sent the blissfully wedding couple off into their happily ever after was a grand metaphor of the blessings of my life showering down on me.

Awash in blessings beyond anything I deserve, here’s a toast to the four of you! Thank you J, J, L and L. Being your Mom is an honor and the greatest joy of my life!

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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