Sunday, November 28, 2010

Waiting Game

I'm somewhere in the middle of two distinct realities. It's a strange place to be in: to know as surely as I know that night follows day, that life is about to change again from "before" to "after".
I knew this feeling when I was pregnant the first time. I knew that I'd draw a line in the sand and say this was the way it was. Back then. Before the baby arrived. And this is how it is now. That feeling is nothing new, except that I've somehow deceived myself into believing that since I've been through it once already, I somehow know the outcome this time as well.

Which is completely ridiculous. Life doesn't give you a plan book with details on circumstances with set outcomes, like a math formula or a verb conjugation (though I'd no doubt feel comfortable living life through those conjugations!) Life is best lived through faith and wonder, and I am clinging to both as I wait. There's nothing else that I can do. I tell everyone that I'm "in denial" about life after this pregnancy--even though in a previous post I chided pregnant women for not thinking past Labor Day to what life would be like with a newborn--I just can't seem to follow my own advice on this one. Guilty as charged. The only thing that seems real right now is where I am right now. I'm 38 + weeks pregnant with a nameless Baby #2 who is unidentified (to us!) by gender. I carry around this weight within me and feel all extremes between exhiliration to utter exhaustion. I feel a sweet sentimentality toward my precious Angelica, who at 2 1/2, is entering her final days as our Only Child. I want to stay in this in-between place just a little longer and savor the not knowing of what's to come.

I love hearing her proudly exclaim that she's going to be a big sister. And her laying her head on my belly to "listen" to the baby, or bringing her favorite musical stuffed dog to "sing"
to the baby. Or...the memory of us being in the middle of grocery shopping when she turned her gaze from my mid-section to my face, saying: "Mommy, your baby is getting really BIG!" They are precious moments to me.

Yet at the same time I continue to check every day off as one more day closer to Labor Day. And I can't quite keep my mind off of the subject for more than a minute at a time.

It's a strange place to be in, this hazy space between then and what's-not-quite-to-come. I know I will look back on it and say If I even had a clue of what this new reality would be like! But somehow I feel content in this place, sensing the change slowly coming in my own soul as this new life gets closer and closer to revealing itself to us and changing residence from my womb to my heart.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why wait?

I am 100% part of Gen X, the generation of women who agonize over the "work/family" balance. We are sandwiched between two interesting generations. The ones that have gone before us--the baby boomers--were busy smashing down glass ceilings and proving their worth in the work place (sounds exhausting!). The ones that are coming of age now are being referred to as Generation Y or "the Millenium Generation". Apparantly, they are the confident ones who were brought up to 'question' everything. They won't be tied down to a job that is unfulfilling, and they see Gen X's preocupation with balance as superfluous. According to a USA Today article from back in 2005, Generation Y: They've arrived at work with a new attitude, they simply choose jobs with flexibility and seek out telecommuting options or working from home if children come on the scene.

Many of my peers have also sought such options. But I wonder if the difference between generation Y and X is that we Xers still have a tendency to feel a deeper sense of identity in our chosen work field and place of employment (apparantly the Yers feel that work is one of many facets of who they "are", not to be outdone by competing interests for their time: sports, organizations, hobbies, etc. Work will never be the isolated, main activity for them). We feel a loyalty to stay at the job, where it seems that the Yers are much more open to the idea that technology moves people around, and that can include changing jobs with relative frequency.

This all leads to the point of our angnst with "work/life balance". We were brought up to believe that we could have it all, that in fact we should go to college and pursue a career. At the same time we knew we wanted families, and just assumed they would fit in there sometime. Yet we scratched our heads in our twenties, wondering how the two were supposed to fit together in reasonable harmony? So we waited for kids. And a lot of us waited until our thirties to get started. And we still questioned ourselves constantly, wondering if we had made the right decisions. (It's amazing how many books you can find on this subject! I have a prominent one on my bookshelf, from my mid-twenties when I was already starting to think about such things called Mid-Life Crisis at 30 by Lia Macko and Kerri Rubin).

A little life experience can open a person up to just a tad bit of wisdom. After many years of waiting and wondering, I'm not in the thick of trying to live this "balance" thing. And what have I come away with? I now know that we can't and won't always "have it all" during life...that there are seasons for some things, and there are disappointments along the road, no matter the road chosen. Yet, as I've said before, there is also incredible joy to be found on the way, in places most unexpected. I still work, but I now have a different perspective and attitude. I now understand what the Y-ers seem to have intuited: work is good, work is fun, but it doesn't define who I am. It will never be the Main Thing. Priorities are now much more visible, from the meeting I walked out on half-way through because my 3-month old wouldn't take a bottle. I went home and nursed her, and that was that. I know that some colleages may look at me (one even said it) with a slight look of disdain--"You're pregnant AGAIN?!" but that's okay. Work is what I do; motherhood has had a huge part of stealing my heart.

Getting back to the generational thing. We still chose to wait before having kids. Here are some reasons:

1. It gave us time to settle down, eventually buy our condo, and know the natural rhythms of life together.
2. We traveled...a lot (although--always on the cheap!) We took trips to Italy, France, Canada, and Brazil, not to mention Mexico several times to visit my husband's family.
3. I got so much experience working that I started to get burned out, and realized that I wasn't cut out to be the type to put my energies into climbing up the latter. I was pretty "stagnant" (in terms of upward mobility) at the position where I was, and really, not all that upset about it.
4. I had "finished" a lot of things once Angelica did come a long. School, getting into the work routine, the marriage routine, etc. She didn't rock our world as much as she could have, had she shown up a few years before.

Yet, I can't help but wonder sometimes how things might have been different if we hadn't long. I'm now 32, and this pregnancy will most likely be my last. If I had started in my mid-twenties, would I now be pondering #3? Would I have had more physical stamina during pregnancies and the young baby-toddler years? My friend, who had #1 and #2 in her twenties, seeems to think so (for herself). She told me back then that she was so glad she had them when she did, so she could keep up with them physically. I know there's truth to that!

The point is, I can argue back and forth with myself about it in my head, or realize that honestly--when it all comes down to it--I don't really have the control I like to think I have in life. (Hence the disappointments and joyful surpises along the way). God gave us Angelica exactly when the time was right for her to be born; the same thing for Baby #2. I respect my generation for striving to be the best that we can be in all aspects all the time, but I also find peace in the knowledge that there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Instead of trying to have it all, I think we Gen Xers can start to be content with giving it our all in each of life's seasons. Good enough.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Don't lose the forest for the [tall and view-blocking] trees

Lately I've been thinking about all of those times over the years when I've been told that these are the best years of your life! As far as I can remember, it started in high school, but when I heard it then I just wanted to puke. If those were my best years then life was some kind of cruel comedy-tradgedy in my book. I was shy, alone, and in my own head during most of high school. Were there good moments? Yeah, of course. They just generally happened far from those front doors. Then I heard it again during college. Of course during those years I was preocupied with getting transportation to be able to get around the small Texas towns I lived in, or writing papers, or dealing with boyfriend drama. But generally, I think I knew even then that those years were pretty special. I finally broke out of my shell, started my love of traveling, and just generally had a good time with some really good friends. College was good, but I wasn't satisfied. I was always looking ahead--where would I go next? What cool job would I get? Who would I marry and wouldn't it be awesome to finally live as a completely independent adult on my own?

I did graduate, travel, have an interesting job and go to grad school. And marry and start "adult life". The next time I heard that these are the best years of your life was after we had Angelica. Having young children at home was, in the opinion of those preaching, IT. (Ironically, those were also the people who didn't have young children at home anymore). One part of me screamed inwardly, "How can this be it? Do you have any idea of what I've given up for this? My life is a sacrifice for this little person, and every day from morning to night, she comes first. Not me. My dreams and plans are still there, but fuzzy and in the backlight of my daily reality. Do you understand that?"

And then I stumbled upon a blog last week based on an article from last summer out of New York Magazine, titled I love my children, I hate my life by Jennifer Senior. Tell that to the people preaching! I wouldn't go as far as to say I hate my life, but I have been tempted to hang poster-board sized "affirmations" in every room of my house and in my office at school with the message This Is Worth It on every one. Because day-to-day life is work. And I want to venture to say that it doesn't matter what balance of outside work, home life and children a mom carries--it is always a sacrifice and many days a struggle. And during those moments of frustration, our "best selves" get buried and we lose focus. The forest is lost for the trees (the kind that rise tall and don't leave room to see beyond them).

We (okay let me go back to the first person singular) I hash things out on my husband. I end it all with the statement "I feel like I'm always complaining". He replies: "You are always complaining" and quickly tries to turn it into a joke as my eyes widen and my jaw sets in them-are-fighting-words stance: "Well, I'm like your complaint department. That's what I'm here for". Really? Has it come to that? These are the best days of your life play again in my head and taunt me. I want to be better, do better at this. When did I turn my husband into my complaint department?

Deep down inside, I know that these really are the best days and I want to live them at my best. I think the best days are the ones you are totally present in, the ones you instinctively feel their precious value even when the trees are threatening to choke you all around. Angelica teaches me this over and over, day after day. When I am exhausted and cranky, distracted and dissatisfied, she pulls me back into the now. Sometimes she does it literally, pulling my face close to hers and staring intently with her big brown eyes into mine. She does it with an emotional intelligence that takes my breath away. One day recently after running some errands, I realized that we had left behind her favorite book and that I had no idea where it was. I was devestated because this was no ordinary book--she slept with it and took it everywhere with her. So I told her that mommy had made an oops, and I confessed, I shed a few tears (dang pregnancy hormones). She gave me that look of wisdom beyond her years and she asked "Mommy, are you sad?" As I blubbered and nodded, she calmly reached for a library book of the same series (which she had shown no previous interest in) and started leafing through it. She continued asking me if I was sad until I finally relented, realizing that she was teaching me something. She said "It's okay, Mommy" and never asked for the book after that (although I admit that I went and found a replacement the next week, as soon as I could, and it has returned to being one of her favorites again).

My two-year old felt empathy? I think she did. And that's just one example of why I live each day with its monotony of meal preparation or constant toy pick-up or running here-and-running there, and fitting work into it all with sparks of wonder. The sparks of wonder tell me that this really is IT. If I need to hang signs up all over my house and beyond as reminders when the trees get too tall, fine.

Isn't it an irony of life that the most difficult things are often what end up bringing the most joy? The sacrifices made, the plans deferred bring us to a new and more vibrant NOW that we never would have imagined of know had we stayed the course we once thought we had chosen. Well that's what has happened to me. I was the girl who said "Kids? Nah...not now..and not for a LONG time". I was never the one who dreamed of mommyhood as a young woman. Yet, here I am in the midst of balancing my life as mommy and wife and teacher and so on...and in spite of the madness of it all I find these brillant colors that only being a mommy can bring. And I want to hold on to these days because there are these moments that I never, ever want to forget. And to think, I could have missed out on all of this!

And of course, as we all know, these things that bring joy in spite of great sacrifice...well, they are never things.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


My husband is my family. My child is my family, and so is the one that's not been born. The one not even known yet, but for kicks and squirms that feel more like ping-pong balls rolling around in my belly. But so are my parents. His parents. Our grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, their spouses--they're family, too. We're supposed to be adults and not "need" our "extended" families. At least, somehow we get this idea from something ingrained in our society. Mexican society treats the idea of "extended" family more as how we would view the nuclear family, in many aspects. Kids move out of the house much older. Sick members or newlyweds can come and stay as long as they need to get their feet back on the ground. Family gatherings are long, frequent, expected.

My husband and daughter have been out of town for over a week...hubby went to visit his parents and relatives in Mexico and took Angelica along. I stayed behind really, isn't it every frazzled parent's dream? To have a few days awaaaay from the 24/7 chaos of family-with-a-small-child life?

Yes, it's been nice to have a "break", but I've spent most of my days outside of the house, since it's honestly a little too painful at times to have all of this silence wrapping around me in a place where Angelica's laughter bounces off the walls and the pitter-patter of her feet up and down the hall, along with shrieks of happiness normally abide.

And yet the stories of Mexico crack me up, as I realize that the bonds being nourished with her other side of the family are building blocks, helping to fully form who she is. She chats with her grandparents in English on Skype as she sings "Abuelito dime tú..." everytime she sees my father-in-law, a refrain from a popular children's song from Mexico: "Grandpa tell it to me..." which he replies "Angélica dime tú" (Angelica, YOU tell it to me). I would have never believed a two-year-old could tease, but they tell me that when she sees her aunt Magos (short for Margarita) she throws up her hands and says "Hola, tía MANOS" (manos=hands) instead of Magos, yet refers to her "correctly" when she's out of earshot. She chatters away about the chickens she's been feeding and the towers she's made of tierra. She impresses the neighbor children--older than her--as she "reads" to them in Spanish out of her beloved picture books, repeating the words that's she's heard her daddy pronounce over and over, knowing where they go by recognizing the images that correspond on each page. I marvel at her ability to blend right into this "other" culture.

But back to the empty house. I remind myself that they're with family. I pause and think--who is family? People have asked me this week when my family is coming home, and I must admit to feeling confusion at first--my mind would go to my parents and I would think Mom and Dad aren't out of town....oh yeah, they must mean Rufino and Angelica! It is embarrassing to admit, but I DO admit I have this fuzziness about family. Everyone else infers the obvious--my family is my husband and child--and I realize that this true. Yet, I still feel strongly attached to my "family of origin", as I know Rufino does, too--we spend a lot of resources in order to get him connected and able to visit his parents as often as possible, given the circumstances of being in two different countries.

When did becoming an independent adult translate into not needing the support and nearness of our parents and/or other significant "extended" family members anymore? Nothing like becoming a parent has shoved me into the world of "independence" and "adulthood". But I relish the times my daughter spends with her grandparents both near and far. I love going to my parents' house and having dinner together or just being together. Many times, quite frankly, I feel that I need it. I need them--their presence, their support.

Can I be both independent and dependent? An adult and also an adult child? A loving parent who needs desperately to be nurtured at the same time?

My family is coming home in two days, and I couldn't be happier in the anticipation to have them back. Yet I also am incredibly grateful that they could spend time with family. His family. Who is now her family as well.

I think the answer to my questions is YES. I believe that a family can function as a circle, one to wrap its loving arms around its members at different stages of life, one to support and form life at a young age, and strengthen those who belong to it. Its arc is then completed when we remember to return once and again with those who helped shape who we are.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In the meantime

The thing with being a parent is that as soon as you have one area under control, another challenge rises up from the deep and threatens to take all of your sanity with it, and while you step from the once comfortable path toward an unknown new direction it seems that you find yourself in the meantime...

Last week we started potty-training. "We" was really me, and I think that's the heart of the problem. It wasn't a problem at the beginning; no, it was more like the perfect solution for the circumstances--being that my friend with twins, who is also a teacher, brought up the fact that all three toddlers would be well-served by knowing how to use the toilet before school starts in August. And on my end, there was the other slightly pressing detail of my pregnancy, and the fact that I was determined to grit my teeth and get this done before baby #2 comes along in December. So I took Angelica to my friend's house for a little potty-training boot camp. Spend a couple days with the twins, everyone watching each other drink lots of juice and sit on the potty at intervals, and then some tasty treats (read: chocolate) for continual motivation. The first morning seemed like a success--Angelica, along with the twins, peed in their potties and all was well. All was well until she "held it" for about five hours after that, and in utter defeat, I had to put a diaper on her and take my melting-down-haven't-had-a-nap toddler to the car.

In the meantime I stressed and exploded inwardly. Was I not teaching her what she needed to do? She's smart enough--why won't she just do it? I felt like a failure because she wouldn't comply. I still do, to be perfectly honest. I compared this challenge to my previous weaning escapade, laughing that the previous one was emotional and that this was just physical run-around. But I stopped laughing when I realize how wounded I've been feeling. This is also emotional. It's so emotionally draining that I am exhausted by the effort of wondering what I could be doing better to make this work.

But that's the thing. You've never seen someone more dedicated to the cause. My friend and I call each other, speaking in tones of anguish as one of her twins regresses and Angelica seems to not progress. We tote the potties with us the library and the park--Angelica stark naked, just sitting on her potty in broad daylight--as the park employee and teenage girls on bikes pass by try not to stare. And I die inwardly of embarrassment but press on...and I'm thankful that I can lean on my friend for support since she knows exactly what this feels like.

In the meantime, I keep hearing that this will happen on its own time, that she will show me when she's ready. I believe it, but I also hold on to the pride of accomplishment--this is a parenting task I want to cross of of the list of things to do--I want some control in this, or at least to demonstrate some leadership. I want to show the world something palpable that I've done in the hopes of proving that I'm doing a good job. Still looking for that outside approval, I suppose. And of course, I want it done before school starts and the baby comes and life becomes that much more chaotic. So I don't think my motives are all that bad...

Right now we are neither here nor there. We are in the middle--not in diapers but not out of them, exactly. Everyday has its hopes and disappointments and so I ask--what do I do in the meantime? I write about it because I don't want to someday forget that this was a struggle. In our pre-child days, we measure our actions by accomplishments. As parents, we learn that sometimes just giving it you best effort--one more day--is the best you can do.

In the meantime, maybe we'll try pull-ups...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Words, words, words

Thoughts that keep coming back to me lately, words of "wisdom" for me:

1) When you give a gift, don't expect anything back, including an expression of thanks. This also includes "gifts" of encouragement or just a nice e-mail. If it comes back to you, all the better. If it does not, and you expected it to, what was the value of the gift, anyway? This is a hard one for me but it's important.

2) "Not everything that's true needs to be said". Thanks, Lanita for that's goes against every fiber in my being to keep some things "unsaid" but if I'd live by this one, I'd live much more peacefully with others, I think...

3) "You weren't around when you were young". This one comes from Dad. As in, you don't remember the junk that you did when you were that age. But oh yes, we do...

4) "I need help". Interestingly, this came from the book How to Raise Totally Awesome Kids by Chuck and Jenni Borsellino. I'm realizing more and more how hard it is for me to reach out and admit that as a pregnant mother of a toddler, I am overwhelmed and need help. Emotionally and physically, but I do no one a great service by trying to carry the burden alone. I will seek out more help.

5) Keep it real. In relationships, I hide from the "messy" stuff because it hurts to deal with it. But the more I am open with my feelings, the more I feel accepting of the differences I ineveitably will have at times with others.

6) "What's said during jury duty, stays at jury duty". Thanks, judge for that one. I guess that goes along with #2, so if I'm called in again for a nice juicy case, I will have a tough time with #6 as well. *Sigh*

7) It's okay to find your own rhythm. Taken from Angelica and her Kindermusik teacher, Miss Cindy. Stand when other sit, tap the floor when others tap the drum. Do what you must, but be true to your heart's dictation.

Happy fourth of July weekend!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We had just gotten back from a week on the road, and after driving straight through the entire state of Kentucky--taking advantage of the fact that little Angelica was still napping--by the time we arrived in Florence for "one last stop" before heading home we were...wiped...out. Hubby suggested Olive Garden and I said Why not? So there we were, corralled into a corner booth a couple hours earlier than the standard Friday night rush, and I couldn't have been happier to be somewhat hidden, sweaty and casually clothed and just generally feeling unkempt after so many hours as a road warrior. And a very hungry one, at that.

Minutes after we arrived, we noticed that in the next booth was another family with a little girl, a sweet and gregarious little blond girl with glasses, probably about four. She noticed us and was delighted to see that we also had a little one in tow. Angelica, shy at first (what a deception!) observed with guarded interest as the other little girl pulled out all the tricks to get her attention, waving, asking her name and my name, jumping up and down and making silly faces. As I watched it all play out, a slow smile played on my lips until I was finally feeling relaxed and less self-conscious. I waited to see my daughter's reaction, and I knew it was coming.

It came. Angelica's joy finally let loose and all timidity was gone in a flash. She squealed, she jumped, she mirrored the other girl's faces and movements. She made her own faces, and the other girl obliged by imitating them as well. My husband and I laughed. The other parents, however, were not so endeared. "Honey, stop jumping! You're bigger than her". "Turn around, because I want to color with you". It seemed like they got more desperate as the time went on, to try anything to get their daughter to leave ours alone. At one point I said "It's okay, they're just playing". I looked around, there was virtually no one around us. There was a booth across from us with three adults, none of which seemed to notice us. The servers laughed as they approached our tables. I thought, Are the other parents the only ones bothered by this? They were two little girls, entertaining each other while waiting for food at a restaurant, a seemingly natural and amusing activity. For us, the fatigue and tension of driving slipped away as we watched them in action. Although the other girl's father didn't seem to share our point of view, at one point he did joke: "Dinner and a show anyone?"

The food came and we all ate, save some distractions from the younger crowd and soon the other family was leaving. Seemed they couldn't leave soon enough, and as they walked by our booth neither parent looked at us as the little girl and Angelica said their good-byes. I felt saddened, since it had been a pleasant experience for us. Had we ruined their dinner out?

Then my husband reminded me of a pre-baby trip we were fortunate to take to South America. We were staying in a hotel near Iguazu Falls and met an Argentine couple in the game room. Even though at first I wasn't drawn to them--thinking Argentines are sooooo loud!--soon they struck up a conversation with us and by the end of the evening, we were sharing music CD's at drinking mate together, while asking people to take pictures of the four of us. We remember them fondly, and always say that we'd love to go to Argentina some day to visit our friends.

We thought back about the hotels we had been at during the last week of traveling to South Carolina. Nice people, yes. Some shared conversations, here and there. Yet I started thinking that Americans tend to prefer sticking to themselves in similar situations. Was it cultural? Americans don't want to get involved with "strangers"? Too unsafe. We insist on maintaining our personal space.

Fortunately I had another serendipitous moment the midst of those negative thoughts. After the other family left, I realized that an older, African-American gentleman (who I thought wasn't paying attention to us) at the booth across from us was listening intently as Angelica sang "Baa Baa Black Sheep" to herself. He applauded her effort at the end of the song, and then launched into his own version of the song, much to our surprise and delight, pausing to check with me about the words, and then making up his own lyrics anyway. From across the way, he then asked what Angelica's name was, and continued to heap loving attention on her. Periodically he would come out with another made-up song: "I'm a big girl now, I'm a big girl now, I pay the bill, yes I'm a big girl now" as she gave the credit card to the waiter, followed by the same chant with "I'm leaving now" as we stood up to go. We took Angelica over to say goodbye and blow kisses. and I noticed his shirt: World's Greatest Grandpa. I said that it was a very appropriate shirt for him!

That greatest grandpa made my heart expand. He didn't have to show such kindness, but it just seemed to flow out of him naturally. He didn't care who heard him, and neither did I. And now I am reminded that these moments happen wherever and whenever, not only while traveling abroad. And to put it all in perspective, the other family was doing what they thought was best, too. Maybe it is better that children don't bounce around on restaurant booths "bothering" the people around them. I understand that.

Perhaps I'm too leniant, myself. It might be a good idea to nip this kind of behavior in the bud while she's only two. But honestly, a little booth bouncing doesn't bother me. I (not so) secretly like watching those kind of spontaneous acts of joy come about: while traveling, in a restaurant, at the community pool. Could it be that I, the introvert, live a little vicariously through my daughter's unabandoned interactions?

I think the greatest grandpa would sing to that.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Must Travel

I take a deep breath and feel the mental weight of worry, worry that I am tired of carrying around with me and want to let go of. Why is it that the things that bring me such joy in life also make me dizzy with anxiety? Child-rearing is a given, of course. But travel is what is heavy on my mind right now. Part of the problem is that I never give the preparation part the time and energy it deserves. Packing calls for a type of person that is more detail-oriented than me. Funny, since I've done it so many times and it is a prerequisite to going'd think I'd be farther along than I am now, but I'm not. I half-heartedly dump stuff into a suitcase and then scratch my head hours later when I open it, only to realize I've forgotten the toothbrush or the razor or the deoderant...again. Plus, what was I thinking with that outfit?! I'm not feeling it now, whatever inspired me to add it to the mix the night before.

Forget the fatigue of preparation woes, the anxiety comes from somewhere else--which must be the Unknown. Things could go well, or something could go wrong. Money might run out, or unexpected expenses might come up. Or who knows what else. But what will I see, and where will I go? That's what drives me. I have to see something new, or visit a loved one, or both, and expand myself and my horizons. Every time I do, I come home recharged. And interestingly enough, it's one of my favorite activities to do with my daughter as well. Who wouldn't melt at the sight of a two-year old safely buckled into her seat on the plane, singing with Daddy and happily awaiting the thrill of landing? Me, of course....well that's another story. In the momemt I smile tightly, and grasp the armrests like hand weights. And I worry that the plane will overrun the runway....and I think about how I used to be like her, I used to be so free when I would fly...

In those moments that I push through the worry and the fatigue of pre-travel/travel I do fly. I am never so alive as when I'm going somewhere. Contentment, pure joy. I live to travel and I reconnect with that free, flying, joyous me that gets buried in the routine of everyday life when I am on the move. Yet the most freeing thing of all is to find myself flying unexpectedly in the middle of the day-to-day itself. It will come out of nowhere and bite me in the butt, but ever so often I have that moment...where I know that this is where it's at. Waving goodbye as she stands at the top and sits in Daddy's hand to go down the twisty slide with her one more time. Watching the connections made as she repeats a new word, a sentence. Pulling weeds out of the flower garden together as she triumphantly shouts "Bye-bye, little yuckies!" Listening to he squeal of delight in anticipation of a cool bath on a hot June day. Just being together.

In those moments, there is no worry, no anxiety. Now, I know that I will push through the fog of packing and worry that has settled over me for this next trip, and I will soon find myself in the other bliss of routine-free joy. Laughing and marveling at new experiences. I close my eyes and visualize it now, and feel my breathing slow down. May I come to experience, one day, a sense of calm to overrule the worry that threatens to steal that joy.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


The end of the semester has crested in all of its drama once again, and then ceased, and now I'm left in the aftermath...feeling a little anti-climatic. I ponder the sign by our university announcing today's ceremony of "commencement" and wonder why years ago they didn't choose a word that actually means the end instead of the beginning in order to refer to graduation. Yes, typical graduation speeches are full of references to the fact that the new graduatates truly are beginning a new chapter of their lives, but having been through so many end-of-the-semesters as an instructor, and as student now years ago, I prefer to see it for what it is: completion. I see a student passing by and I quickly review in my mind's excel sheet (too bad I've never been as savvy using the real kind) his/her grade. The anxiousness settles in on me instead of the student. What grade did I give her? Will she be upset with me now that grades are posted? Ridiculousness, and you'd never think you'd hear that from your teachers. But that's where I stand at the end. Making it all about me.

I have been really irritable lately and wonder why it seems like there is a physical pull the keeps me away from writing. I've pulled out the microscopic lens to examine all the things that went wrong over the last few months, since they went by so fast that mostly I was just surviving and not reflecting (except in my sub-consciousness and a few cautious remarks here and there to a sympathetic ear). I know I sound pessimistic, but change is unsettling and there has been a lot of it lately. So I let out a weary sigh at the end of another semester because at least it's one thing I can check off my list that is completely finished, closed, nicely and neatly. Most other things can't be wrapped up that orderly. Maybe that's why I had a minor breakdown about the house being a mess to my husband. One more thing to set me off because I can't get a handle on it, can't complete it. (To my orderly readers: this is not just an "oops why can't I keep up with laundry/dusting lament"....No, on the contrary we have lived in disorder for so long that I would laugh if I saw or smelled my house "clean" just one day while walking in the door, without the random pileup of stuff and dust, and sometimes ants and spiders or crumbs and spills that linger...) Why can't I figure this stuff out? And now I mean all of it--not just the physical mess. The inner disarray is more unsettling. The questions I really seem to be getting at now that I have a moment to think...Am I really good at what I'm doing?....Is it time to transition into another direction with work?...Why did I do "x" in "y" situation? Why did that relationship turn out that way? It's too much self, self, self. An overdose of self-consciousness.

So that's when I know (even though something in me fights it so severly) that I need to write, since it's one activity that seems to keep me sane. Why? Because it gets me out of myself. (Weirdly, enough, yes..even when I'm writing about that durn self).

Madeleine L'Engle put words to this truth about getting out of one's self so well in her memoir A Circle of Quiet and I felt privileged to just happen to stumble upon it this afternoon. She says:
"In real play, which is real concentration, the child is not only outside time, he is outside himself. He has thrown himself completely into whatever it is that he is doing. A child playing a game, building a sand castle, painting a picture, is completely in what he is doing. His self-consciousness is gone; his consciousness is wholly focused outside himself. When we are self-conscious, we cannot be wholly aware; we must throw ourselves out first. This throwing ourselves away is the act of creativity. So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves....A writer may be self-conscious about his work before and after but not during the writing..." (Engle 10)

So even though the forces that may seem to want to keep me away from it, I MUST write. I must get outside of myself and in the process, become free. In the midst of the craziness of these last few months, another activity that has kept me sane is watching my daughter at play (as Madeleine mentions). In my mind's eye I see her soul in the joy expressed when she throws her head back and closes her eyes, begging to go higher as the wind blows throw her hair and the birds chirp all around us and we both laugh...I have felt myself so freed just by the observation of it. Now I get the connection between her moments of complete abandon and my occasional moments when I break through the mental fog and barriers that try to keep me from creativity. I need to be creative in order to become me, and to forget me. Happiness is laughing until you snort and then laughing even more because you snorted--and you don't care about looking stupid to the person who is laughing right along with (and probably also at but who cares) you. Happiness is throwing that negative lens away and saying: "I did the best I could in such a challenging situation. Maybe next time I'll do even better."

And as for "commencement," what's done is done. I'm going to throw out that red pen for the summer and try to delete the mental spreadsheet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A person's a person...

I had this shocking revelation yesterday--I realized that I really do like kids! I know, that may not sound very newsworthy and maybe it's a given for a lot of people, but this discovery has been a real eye-opener for me.

I was the baby of my family, and until turning ten years old I had no cousins. I was delighted to "get" cousins (I had asked my uncle and aunt to give me one that was my age, and one that was a baby so I was a little disappointed that they both arrived as babies, but what can you do...). Unfortunately, we lived a few hours away from that part of the family,and so I really never felt that I was very involved with their childhood. In fact, there is an awkward picture of a young me cradling my baby cousin in my arms, with a look of fear? discomfort? maybe even panic? on my face.

The fear/discomfort/panic of being around babies and young children never really went away. I blame this on the fact that except for one isolated event, I never even babysat as a teenager. In other words I was inexperienced and as I got older, the less and less it really seemed to matter. As I got into my twenties I started to wear it as a badge even--I'm Not a Kid Person. Sure, by then I knew I had to play by the rules--coo and fuss over friends' babies and ask the right questions to seem interested--but my heart was never into it. I ashamedly now remember feeling irritated when friends' kids would come along if we were hanging out. I'd think "Why can't they just get a babysitter?" Now, I realize that's what the people at our restaurant of choice on Friday nights are thinking of us...

If this dirty laundry isn't bad enough already, the worst is yet to come: I must admit that I had not changed a diaper until I was pregnant...and at least six months pregnant at that! My friend who had just had twins graciously handed them over so I could "practice". And I was sitting on that same friend's couch--again, awkwardly cradling one of her infant babies--and now nine month's pregnant myself--when I confessed that day to "not being sure that I had the mothering instinct for my own baby". I really believed that I might not feel loving toward my own child, given my history of indifference and discomfort with other children.

Angelica came into the world soon after that confession and rocked my own world. As every new mom learns, I knew immediately that there was nothing I wouldn't do in order to protect and help my sweet baby thrive. Yet I was still fraught with insecurities and ended up just hoping to get by each day without completely screwing it all up, since "it" was a lot on the line. Yet even after mastering diapering and sleeping schedules and transitioning back into work I realized that my love for other babies was still very intellectual. I could talk passionately about being a mother but I could still look with disdain at a child throwing a tamper. I was, and still am, very far from being Mother of all Earth's Children.

But yesterday I laughed and played with my friend's kids and Angelica with complete abandon. I delighted in the antics of the little boy playing peek-a-boo with his plastic glasses and gleefully put them on myself. Last week I found myself really interested now when I chat with another friend about her five-year old's development, and I can't wait to hold the new babies and those still to come. I loved on the kids on our trip to Mexico, and realized that Dr. Seuss was right on when he penned A person's a person, no matter how small. Not so long ago, that quote would had no real signficance to me but now I finally understand why having kids around has the potential to make us better people. These little people have hearts of gold and live with reckless abandon. Their uniqueness and talents are printed on their DNA and it's our joy to find what they are and foster them, even from a very young age.

Not only that, their trust must be conserved by us, the older and "wiser" adults. We must protect their innocence, and not insist that they grow up too fast. We fan the flame of their joie de vivre. And not just for our own children. For all the children in our life, because they enrich us and we have the power to give them their wings.

This is not a test, so I haven't aced it. And if I still don't always have the right words for your child at the right time, I apologize. I still tend to get shy and tongue-tied around people I don't know well, children included. However, my recent discovery has freed up my silly side so I can laugh until it hurts with the small crowd when the inspiration comes.

Interestingly enough, liking kids makes me like me a little more.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The children's house

What is volunteerism? Could you give a definition of the term, and show the children some examples of what it looks like?

Makenzie, Erica and Taylor stared at me wide-eyed, and Justin was silent. We were sitting in the director's office of one of the YMCA affiliated children's home in Mexico City for rescued children, where these and other university students had come to spend their spring break doing community service. I came as a translator for the group, and at that moment shortly after arriving we had just found out that our task for the afternoon was to speak to the different groups of children and teenagers--aged six through seventeen--about what it meant to do volunteer work. The students would have to split up and each one would present to a different age group. The catch? Each presentation would have to be in Spanish, which these students had a limited command of. So, what do you think? Are you up for this? Do you want to do it? The director kept beaming and asking over and over in Spanish, which I relunctantly translated. Of course they didn't want to do it; how could they do it? And it was obvious from their expressions that they felt the same way.

The children that the students would be presenting for were niños de la calle--street children. They told us their stories: parents that were drug addicts, that abused them. Impoverished families, some of whom had emigrated from Central America or other states in Mexico on their way north--to try to find a better life, or more realistically, just some kind of work--anything to put a meal on the table but didn't get that far. People who had nowhere to go, no one to offer assistance, and nothing left to their children. Desperate people. The children suffered, and the fortunate ones were eventually brought to this place, this casa hogar, which served as a safe haven for their bodies and souls--literally. They lived in the boarding house throughout the week, were served meals, performed chores. They were transported back and forth from school and taken care of from morning to night. They said prayers before their meals and were given a chance to discover what it meant to be loved.

Just be real. Just be yourselves with the children--that's all they're looking for was the advice given to us by a staff member as we were briefed about what kinds of circumstances brought them to this place.

One boy's situation had been so cruel that he was missing most of his left arm--because as a small child his mother had yelled at him to not touch this, to not get into that, and at her breaking point took out a knife and cut it off. Yet this now-seventeen year old even joked about it with Justin as they played a team-building game which involed holding hands: "I can't give you my hand--it's the only one I have!" Yet it's an uphill battle, according to the staff. They say that the children receive healing for their souls during the week only to go back to their families on the weekend, which presents all kinds of problems. But they are still their families and the children's home refuses to cut them off from them altogether.

So we went into an empty classroom and the four students got started on their presentations. They made posters with illustrations of soup kitchens and people planting trees and picking up garbage to clean up the community, and wrote out scripts of what to say in Spanish. They told me what they wanted to say in English, I dictated it back to them in Spanish, and they wrote it down. Then they practiced reading through it in Spanish. We joked around that their high school Spanish was coming in handy, and I was really proud of their work. They had taken on the challenge--and were rising to the occasion. Makenzie went into the classroom with the youngest children, the six to nine year-old bunch and read to the children about community service and her personal experiences in Ireland. It was phenomenal. After the presentation, I had to keep the children's attention and we sang songs and laughed as the children practiced their new English words. I had never imagined I'd be teaching the children--I had visualized myself as the silent observer, stepping in only if translation were necessary. When we had finished I felt that Makenzie and I both had personally made great achievements as we had had to improvise and meet the challenge.

We bonded with the children as we ate lunch with them, helped them with their chores and hung out during their weekly music class (which involved lots of choreography and solos by the especially talented ones!) and we laughed, held hands and just spent time together. I mused about how easy it was to be "real" with them as we were advised, even though hours before I'd been slightly terrified to even meet them. Then came the closing remarks. The director asked each of the four students and myself to make comments about our experiences with the children. The remarks were emotional and it was obvious that we had been impacted. Taylor said she didn't want to leave. Then the children stood up, one by one, and spoke of what they enjoyed of our visit. Even some of the teenagers were obviously touched and thanked us for coming, and then we were presented with gifts--a stuffed animal for each of us. One of them looked a little tattered, obviously well-used. Wasn't that the bear I saw on one of the child's beds? one of us speculated. Even considering what little they had, they gave it freely. But most freely, they gave us their hearts.

We were attacked by embraces, and literally pushed back by their force. I looked down to see one little girl crying, with her arms attached around my legs. She wouldn't let go. I knelt down and kissed her head. In that moment I finally realized the truth that when you become a mother you have the responsibility to mother other children. The affection I felt in that moment came directly from a mother's heart. I looked in her eyes and said that everything would be okay. I held her close. I know that I was only there for a moment, but I hope in that moment she realized that she is not alone. I pray that she will be well-cared for and grow up to be a confident young woman, capable of achieving her own dreams and more important, capable of sharing love from her once-shattered heart.

The students from the group and this "translator" herself left the children's home completely transformed that afternoon. What had been presented to us as an impossible task turned out to be not only possible, but transcendental. Because irony of irony, the assignment was to teach the children what community service was all about, yet the message was taught to us by the children of the street who reminded us that life isn't just about circumstances. It's what you do with those circumstances to persevere and become something more than you ever dreamed you could. Meet your challenges with grace and always be yourself.

I am humbled by the lesson.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I met and lost my only best friend in elementary school. In first grade, Amy and I had an instant bond and laughed at things that no one else did. We saw the world through the same lens. At recess, we would jump up on the tall wire fence together--arms outstretched and feet fitting through the holes closest to the ground--and make up the rule that we must go around the entire playground by scaling its walls. Anyone else would have thought we were crazy, but I didn't care. I was safe and secure in the total abandon and recklessness of a friendship where I was accepted and loved exactly for who I was.

Life whizzed by for the next few years pretty uneventfully. Amy and I remained best friends up until third grade when the unthinkable happened. We had a fight. And not just a little one, either. We had a huge drama-filled ordeal where she had her posse on her side of the playground who also hated me, and I had...well I had myself to defend. Of course I don't remember what we argued about. Instead, I replay the moments of humiliation that were to come after that fateful day. Things like Amy wagging her newly-pierced earlobe from across the room in math class to torment me, because I wasn't yet allowed to get mine pierced. Or Amy and a few of her posse advancing on me (by myself) on the playground only to spit with venom in my face the most horrible word: "PUS!" and then walking away laughing, and saying she remembered how I hated that word. Or perhaps the most painful--the day that I so proudly came to school wearing my new-to-me second-hand green Guess jeans (complete with the Guess triangle on the back pocket) and Amy and her friends again taunting me: "Are those Guess jeans? I bet your mom got them at the second-hand store". Ouch. I denied the claim, but it shot an arrow deep into my chest. How could someone who knew me so well use the knowledge to rip me apart?

I'd like to say that the story ended in elementary school, but it didn't. As we got older and continued in the same schools, Amy and I got civil again. Even became friends again. I sought her friendship so long and hard that when I got to high school, I realized that I would need to start over looking for friends, because her ghost of friendship was all I had been clinging too. My already shattered heart broke into a million pieces one day in study hall as I hoped against hope that the multi-page note, now being folded up into that special friendship fold and about to be furtively passed on would find its way over in my direction, but at the last minute did not--although it had my name on the first page--since my Rival #1 was also named Melissa. The other Melissa had won in the triangle, again. At the end of the note in BIG letters was my sentence: BFF. Best friends forever with the other Melissa. I would never, ever win her affection again.

I have carried Amy and Melissa in my heart with sadness for many years. I cringe whenever I hear anyone mention their "best" friend, as innoncent as the reference may be. I mourn for my loss and I have been on a quest to find another best friend to fill Amy's shoes ever since, but it's never quite happened. I've been invited to be a bridesmaid in several friends' weddings, but I was never the maid of honor. I have met wonderful people, make incredible connections, but have been almost relieved when I had to move away or the other person left. I can keep friends better by distance, it seems. Or I have shared my friendship "issue" too soon with a new person and I have scared them away. In one of these cases I recently find a friend who I lost contact with for some mysterious reason and try to reconnect through facebook. When I ask (who even asks??) to "friend" her, she doesn't respond. So I wait. Finally after a month and a half, I can't stand it anymore. She and I had connected so well--so I call her out. Well, not really. I put the blame on myself. I tell her I'm sorry for making her uncomfortable with my request, and that I really was just happy to catch up a little with her, and I wish her well. (Which is not really true. My real motivation is to find her and show her how wonderful and I am and wait for her to pursue me, and want me to be her friend. Which of course doesn't happen). I'm let down again and the pain smarts from her final words "Um, okay thanks" as if it had been Amy pushing the P-bomb at me again at recess.

So here I am at square one once more. If I'm honest, I realize that my best relationships are with people from whom I don't expect to fill that BFF hole in my heart. I do well when I reflect on advice I have heard from a friend before: "Be careful not to put all of your eggs in one basket." I know I am a much better friend when I'm not needy and full of expectations. I know, I know, I know. I receive much joy by just being myself and enjoying the moment of shared experience or good conversation. I realize that back in elementary school I began to believe the lie that no one would want to be my friend simply for who I was, and that I've carried it along by defending myself and withdrawing at the first sign of conflict or discomfort in a relationship. In this "thin place" I have a choice to make. I either follow the same pattern and believe that every friend in my life is Amy (after third grade) in disguise waiting to tell the whole world that I still shop at thrift shop (even though I'm proud of it now). Or I can reach out in faith and carve out a whole new path, hand-in-hand with my friend who will never let me down, the friend that made me who I am and was with me in those awful friendless moments hurting right alongside with me. In this friendship I can again be safe and secure in being who I am. Little by little, I am opening myself up to that truth. Thank you, Jesus.

I hope he has BFF scrawled on his palm for me.

Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses....let us have confidence, then and approach God's throne where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. Hebrews 5:15-16

*The reference to a "thin place" comes from Mary Demuth's recent memoir Thin Places which inspired me to write this entry. By all means, go go go get the book!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A new storytime en español?

Shortly after getting home from our visit to Mexico over the holidays, Angelica and I went back to her beloved storytime at the local library. It occurred to me to ask if they might have any interest in starting a Spanish storytime--since to my disappointment, I could only find two places in the whole city that offered children's storytime in other languages. Even though they have been unequivocally positive in their response on the matter, it seems like it's already taking too long to get it off the ground. This past week, I brought up the subject again to the woman in charge of the children's programs at the library, and she got visibly excited. "Oh, it's you? Yes, I think it's a great idea! In fact, I was a Spanish minor in college." So then I asked her why no one had started something similar already and she said: "out of fear".

Out of fear? Fear of what? Turns out that I think she meant fear of not speaking the language well, since she went on to tell me how she wishes she could remember enough Spanish to do it herself. I didn't follow up on the subject, though, as she was already on to telling me about her brother who married a girl from Chile....telling her story. So I let her continue, and of course told her some of mine.

Every time we go to Mexico I buy books in Spanish for Angelica. I also go scavenger-hunting at the bookstores when we're home for the "good ones". Most of them are translated from familiar stories like Buenas noches, luna (Goodnight Moon) and I especially love stumbling upon a Dr. Suess story. Who couldn't love a title such as Huevos verdes con jamón (Green Eggs and Ham) or Hay un molillo en mi bolsillo (There's a Wocket in my Pocket) I mean, did you know that "wocket" in Spanish is a molillo? I sure didn't. What's a wocket anyway? Or a molillo? I don't know, but it's fun stuff. Both the English and Spanish books rhyme but with different sounds and rhythms. Cool, right?! Until the day I found the "treasure" of The Cat in the Hat as a bilingual book. I was sooo excited until (after I had bought it and brought it home), I realized that it didn't even rhyme in Spanish. What was the point of translating it, then? Since then, I've always been more than a little wary of "bilingual" books...

Playing scavenger hunt at the bookstore to find the "good ones" has always been a treat for me, ever since I was a child and our annual family travels always dictated a detour toward a bookstore excursion. My brother and I would always get to pick out a brand-new book of our choice, and it was a delight to me. Books were by far my favorite gifts, which were also tokens of love, from Mom and Dad. I remember being disappointed one year when my grandma wanted to buy me new clothes and my heart sank, since I would have prefered a book any day to a new sweater.

It's obvious to me that I'm trying to transfer this childhood joy to my daughter. Not only that, but also to share with her stories in Spanish, too, or in another language, like German--even though I don't speak it myself--since I recently had the opportunity to go to a German storytime with her. What a delight it is for small children to naturally acquire new words in another language through hearing stories and singing songs. It's so natural, I see it more and more every day as Angelica loves to repeat phrases from her current favorite books. Hearing a story in Spanish or French or German is completely uncomplicated and natural to her. I know I've said it before, but it's we adults that make learning a language complicated. But children have the natural capacity to soak it all up without giving it a second thought.

So with all of the opportunities for toddlers to experience new things, what's so radically different about a Spanish or German storytime than a gymboree or music or signing class? The goal is to expose them to new things so that they can find what they enjoy and are good at, and if foreign language isn't part of that curriculum during their early years it will never be a natural or easy endeavor for them as young adults. Is it just fear of introducing something new?

If it is, I'm going to keep pushing against it. I will be that salmon swimming upstream, because it's that important to me. And hopefully there will be a new Spanish storytime soon at our local library!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

little hands

Remove Formatting from selection When I really looked closely at that tiny, outstretched hand it amazed me. The curved little lines sketched on it were there, just like on mine. The form was so perfect, yet so minature. It was another moment like any others--Angelica was waiting for me to pour some soap on her hands-- but for some reason today that little hand became something mystical to me. I guess it's partly because you treasure the tiny parts of a newborn, and dream about them being formed in the womb during pregnancy. But at some point all that fuzziness starts to fade and you just get into a routine, which doesn't leave much time or thought for reflecting on your child's perfect little form anymore.

But today it did. I felt like someone was saying "Remember these tiny hands. Memorize their form. They won't be so small forever. They won't cling so tight for long".

Angelica and I have come out of the weaning battle relatively unscathed. I never dreamed that it would be one of the hardest things I'd have to do in the early years with my daughter. However, now we have transitioned into a new stage and I think I'm finally really feeling the passage of time because I had clung to the old stage for so long. I'm really proud that I was able to nurse her into toddlerhood, but I think that subconciously I fell back into treating her as a baby all of the time that I nursed her. So all of a sudden, I wake up a week or so after the nursing has ended...and I see her as who she really is, which is a small person with a tremendous capacity for learning and creativity and for making me laugh, amid other things. She doesn't need me as she once did, but she needs me even more in other ways now. She is growing and I am too, since I now understand that I am learning as much a I am teaching in this parenthood thing.

Seeing that little hand today in all of its glory reminded me of how far we've come on this journey. It remains outstretched, vulnerable and oh-so-small. The lines on it tell only the beginning of a beautiful life story yet to come. I am filled with awe again to have been "chosen" as one of the people to guide it, cherish it and hold onto it as we both grow.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I've lost that loving feeling

It seems lately that I am struggling with everything. I always knew that the weaning process would be tough, and now I'm in the thick of it. It is emotionally draining. It probably doesn't help that we basically started it (I mean, the "hard core--this is it, no going back" version) right after we got home from a two-week trip to Mexico to spend the holidays with my husband's family. As if the poor girl wasn't already in some reverse-culture shock, coming back from playing outside in sunny mild-temperature afternoons to a stretch of below freezing temperatures that lasted for days and threatened all of our sanity as we seemed to pace from room to room. Oh yeah, then there was the fact that Angelica and I both brought back a nice cough as a souvenir from the trip, one that developed into a nasty full-blown this will knock you out cold and keep you miserable in every way except that you do have to go back to work this week cold. You know the kind. That make you want to spend all day complaining (which I did) and long to be in bed almost every minute of the day but yet don't get you that get-out-of-obligations-free pass that you long for. Daddy goes to work in the morning and sweet toddler still rises before 7:00 AM and the day begins.

The chocolate "shake" that originally was some sort of fortified, nutritious kids drink I found at the grocery store which turned into some Nestle's chocolate powder mixed with regular milk when we ran out of the former did at least move the process forward. In desperation as Angelica would demand to nurse I would offer her a "shake" (because the first time I gave it to her I shook the bottle, and from that point on the name was cemented and the sippy cup had to be shaken before she would drink it) and that seemed to work. I also tried a tip from a friend who's been through this before. In fact it was she who told me about the chocolate success she had had with her own boys months ago, but apparantly I either didn't really believe her or didn't believe in making my kid into a chocolate addict. Well Angelica is officially now a chocokid! Anyway, the tip was to have her put a bandaid on my...well, my milk supply...and tell her that it had a "boo boo" and needed to "rest" ("doctor's orders" but I left that part out). The result? Tears. The goodbye ceremony only brought tears from Angelica, but slowly the point was being made. She knew that we were done, and she didn't like it. Frankly, neither did I.

I must add that we got into the weaning boat to begin with because even though I had tried a month or so earlier to get the process going little by little, it really never was very consistent and as soon as we started traveling, she wanted to nurse constantly. Sleep-deprivation was about as bad as it was the first 6 months of her life, and my husband and I decided that we couldn't take it anymore. It was time to get rested again. And thankfully, as this process has gone on, we have seen wonderful results on that end. No more waking up at night for comfort nursing.

But on the other end, I'm irritable, I'm overwhelmed with starting work and being sick, I feel that I'm struggling with depression and I do believe that part of it is this letting-go process. Ironically as soon as I had felt more confident as a mother, I'm doubting it all again. The nursing was such a huge part of our bond and even though I know--I really do--that it's not all about the milk (her love for me), it breaks my heart when she cries with such feeling and reaches to pull up my shirt, trying to seek out one more time that physical bond that we are moving away from.
So we read another book, and I offer her more shake (usually she's agreeable, but not always). I tickle her or we sing a silly song. But I know that she misses it. And so do I.