Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summertime and the livin' is easy

We got Brandon a $4.00 pool. He might be a little too big for it. But even so, we put him in it today after lathering him up with Coppertone. He smelled like summer. It felt like summer.
 
 "Over here, mom!"

While he splashed in his pool, I remembered vividly being a kid myself, splashing around in our cold tub with my siblings while making up stupid games. I remembered the ice cream truck and roller blading and goofy shorts-and-tank-top combinations. I remembered putting the sprinkler under the trampoline and trading cards on the front lawn and losing to my dad over and over again at croquet. I remembered camping out in the back yard and swatting away flies while we ate dinner on the deck. I remembered swindling at our garage sale and going to the Sumner Arts festival and Neighborhood Bible Time.
After drying off, he kicks back and watches some TV with his apple juice

I had a great childhood. The best. I want to talk to my adult son one day and hear him say the same thing. We will have different experiences, of course. He lives in a different place and will most likely go to public school and won't have as many siblings. But even though different than the childhood I knew,  I will try my damnedest to make him happy. I will play with him and buy him a trampoline and even birth another child to give him a sibling. I will take him to the park and play croquet with him and buy him ice cream from the overpriced ice cream truck. I will run through the sprinkler with him, even if it's in the front yard and I'm self-conscious in a swim suit.
 
This is his "say cheese" face

Summer is for kids. For them to play and run around and stay up late. Ah, the freedom of summer. It will never mean to adults what it does to kids. Thankfully, I have a kid to remind me of what it felt like.



Monday, June 24, 2013

I - Working Mom


Today marks a year since I've returned to work. A year ago today was Brandon's first day at daycare. That day, I was a blubbering mess.

In a year, Brandon has learned to walk and talk and eat like a big boy. He laughs loudly and has a sense of humor and is easily excitable. He loves baths and bubbles and playing outside. He likes taking naps in his stroller while we run around the lake. He enjoys teasing the dog and getting into things he shouldn't. He is my little big boy.

And you would think that all of these unfamiliar new milestones would scare us. You would think I would want him to stay my little baby forever. But I don't. I love to watch him learn new things. I love to see him grow and learn and develop. Although he isn't tiny enough to cradle in my arms anymore, he finds a new nook to settle into when I rock him to sleep the same way I did a year ago.

We're in this together. We're learning together. The other night, Steve and I watched mini videos of Brandon on his iPhone. "He's teething!" I exclaimed. "Why didn't we give him a teething ring?"
"We didn't know what we were doing," Steve replied.
And he's right. We didn't. But we're figuring it out - all of us, together. Doing this whole family thing - it's uncharted waters for all of us. I'll take an adventure over déjà vu any day.

My first year as a working mom; that chapter has ended. Time to start the next one! It's time for more surprises and lessons in parenthood. And good ones, I hope. Not all poop-in-the-bathtub type of surprises.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

interdependence

I value independence. I am constantly preaching the ability to live on your own to young people. I think it is imperative before you live with someone else that you figure out yourself and how to do everything on your own. It makes you that much more appreciative to have someone there helping you with it later on.

As children, we are co-dependent on our parents. Then, hopefully we all grow into independent adults. But I never valued the final and best step before marriage: interdependence. You can always achieve more when you have other people contributing. That person who wants to do it all themself will never be able to do it all. So interdependence is the final step - you can do it on your own, but you choose to do more with others. This is marriage. I could raise Brandon on my own, maybe. But I can do it better with Steve.

Sometimes, in my moments of failure, when I am fed up with dealing with personalities other than my own, I think about doing it on my own again. I think about eking out a living without help. After becoming interdependent, sometimes I miss my independence. These are stupid moments. Yesterday, I left work early and took Brandon to the zoo. We stopped and grabbed some food to eat first. Sure, I did it on my own. I can. But it is much easier with Steve by my side.

As I drove down I-80 toward the zoo, I thought about what an ass I am for ever thinking that I would be better off alone. I wouldn't be. It's a shame that I ever for a second thought that I could be a better person without the people who love me the most. The people I surround myself with are the reason I am who I am. My parents raised me with my values and morals. My siblings taught me how to treat others. My husband taught me about love and commitment. My son has taught my responsibility and selflessness.

Without them, I could probably be independent. But that is not the highest form my life could have taken. I could have eked by, sure. I could have lived in a "survival of the fittest" mindset. But there were better things in store for me.

This week at work, I reached my tipping point. I have been stressed and stretched and my cup ran over. I didn't know how much more I could take. I thought about quitting. About taking the low road (the "flight" in the "fight or flight" options). But then, I realized I'm not doing this alone. I have the best co-workers I have ever had that are here for me. They poured out their support and appreciation for me rather than becoming aghast at my meltdown.

When I stopped thinking only of myself and thought about the big picture, I realized I am not in this alone. It is not me against the world. It is me and the people that surround me helping each other. That is much easier than eking by. I'm done feeling sorry for myself. Woe is not me. I am who I am because of everyone who loves me. And I love you all for it.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Routine

Since I was five, my family lived in the same house. We went to the same church. For ten years, I was homeschooled - doing my school work at the same table. We had mostly the same neighbors with only a few variances as people got divorced or moved out of town. My parents even have some of the same carpet and wood paneling that came with the house. When I go home, I get a huge whiff of nostalgia - a few small variances, but mostly, things are the same as they were when I grew up. That sameness is fine - welcome even. Kids need routine and structure. Their minds are busy processing the world around them, the last thing they need is that world turned upside down.

But now, I'm an adult. And sometimes, I get bored. OK, it's often. I get bored often. Sameness, monotony and routine are dull to me. It seems that there are a few years of spontaneity in life - college to marriage. But is that all? After that, is it all working long-term at the same job and paying the same bills and cleaning the same floors? I have already dated a few different people, tried out a few many different jobs. I have lived in a few different apartments. Was that my variety in life? Is the variety just for until you find what you want to stick with?

I like what I have - don't get me wrong. I could have dated for ten more years and Steve still would have been my soul mate. I could have had twenty more jobs and I would still be dreaming of being a writer. I could have moved states five times and I would still want to move again. Things are good. But things are the same. 

Maybe vacations are the answer. I live for vacations. I need them for my mind to wash out the routine for a few days. I haven't had a vacation in a long time. And these are times when I start realizing how routine my life has become.Vacation makes you crave your own house and your normal routine again. It's a fresh perspective.

All of us, from time to time, need a plunge into freedom and novelty, after which routine and discipline will seem delightful by contrast.  ~André Maurois