reflections on a year

The sidewalk screams happy birthday with a thin but potentially dangerous layer of black ice. I get it, 2016; you have a sadistic sense of humor.

One year ago, I had more than a few lessons to learn in my journey toward enlightenment, and ice played the part of catalyst. I had to experience trauma so I could let in the light. Elective surgery, emergency surgery, three months in a wheelchair, a year of physical therapy, financial stress, and an ulcer. But in the midst of the dark, I grew closer to my sister, deepened bonds with my “sister friends,” started writing a third novel, published an opinion piece in the Washington Post, found my center, and in ten days, I’ll be sunning on a beach in Hawaii.

The greatest lessons: I can’t do everything alone, it’s okay to show vulnerability, and people want to help. This morning’s ice was a nice reminder. Slick sidewalks and roads stretched between me and the yoga class I had to teach. Two blocks away, I burst into tears and froze in place but Nancy hugged me until my breath calmed and led the way, baby step by baby step.

Ice aside, I can’t say I woke up feeling different. I still greeted the morning from the fog of a crazy dream. (Jojo from the Bachelorette was president-elect, except she looked like Anna Kendrick, and I was contemplating making a play for the chief of staff job, sacrificing my flexibility with the kids for a position in the White House because my country needed me.) The ice will melt, my relationships will continue to grow, the wine will taste delicious. And I will shine the light within me.

Namaste.

Advertisements

the strong but silent type

I don’t remember your cries at birth. I think I was too tired from being in labor for longer than I wanted, which sounds absurd because no woman wants to be in labor for any period of time. But when your brother was born, the nurses told me his birth was so easy my second baby would pop out with a sneeze. Fast forward two and a half years, those three bouts of preterm labor led me to believe you were eager to make your arrival. But oh no, once the real labor finally started, you weren’t quite comfortable with the idea of a whole new world. Until you were comfortable, that is, when you loosened your grip and took us from two centimeters to birth in 20 minutes.

This zero-to-sixty pattern continues to define you. You’re taciturn until suddenly you’re ready to entertain with a story. You resist change, but then on a dime advocate for it fiercely. Some days you barely eat, until without warning I can’t get enough food in your body.

I worried about your reaction to my recent accident. Sensitive at the core, but either unwilling or unable to always show it, I suspected seeing me in a hospital bed would bother you. And I was right. You didn’t cry or ask what happened. In fact, you sat ramrod straight in the chair. You could barely look me in the eye. You asked about safe topics like whether I had any snacks. You hugged me cautiously. But I could read the worry in your eyes.

I feel compelled to constantly reassure you I’m fine.

Until I broke my ankle, I still tucked you and your brother in at night, every night, without fail. It pains my heart that in my current condition I can’t get upstairs for our bedtime ritual. The other night, the thought that you wouldn’t want or need it anymore tugged mercilessly at my heart. As if you heard my anguish, after the lights were out, you came downstairs to tuck me in.

Inside that skinny preteen body a strong, sensitive man is brewing. I love watching your new layers and complexities emerge.

Happy birthday to my baby.

eleven years (and a day) ago…

When you’re the second child, not only do you not have a baby book, but your mom posts your birthday tribute a day late.

Eleven years (and a day) ago, I was so very pregnant and ready to kick you out of my body. You teased me, sending me into labor in the middle of the night and then cooling your heels. But your hurry up and wait approach to birth gave time for Jaxon’s mom to drive down from Philadelphia to video your arrival, secret footage you may never want to watch.

I’m not sure how it came to be that eleven years (and a day) passed with the blink of an eye. I wish I had rocked you more and spent more time breathing in your baby scent. I wish I hadn’t been in such a working mom hurry for you to get “easier” to raise by joining your brother in meeting all the major milestones: eating solid foods, sleeping through the night, using the bathroom, playing by yourself, etc. etc. etc. I never considered that every age you’ve been was the last time I got to experience that age as a parent.

I was under the impression parenting got easier as your children grew older, but nothing could be farther from the truth. No, you can’t have a Twitter account. (Though I’m curious to read what you’d post, I’ll let you date before I grant you permission to get on social media, and that includes Instagram.) No, I can’t help with your math homework because they changed the math rules between the time I learned math and now. And I’m sorry, but the big kids get to sit in the back of the bus even if you get there first. It’s not fair now but it will be when you’re their age.

The good news is I won’t always make up the rules. When you have your own house, you can stock your shelves with Oreos, Lucky Charms, Cheetos and apple cider, which you can drink any time you want, day or night. You can stay up late and have sleepovers whenever your heart desires. I just fear that day will be upon us too fast. And before I know it, I’ll be sitting on the porch in my rocking chair, gin and tonic in hand, watching the video of your birth and wondering how that tiny, smart, funny, thoughtful baby grew up so very fast into the big, smart, funny, thoughtful man I know you’re going to be.

the mother of the teen

Last night I went to bed as regular old me and this morning I woke up the mother of a teenage son.
It’s hard to believe that the little baby who cried his way into the world 13 years ago, the baby whose every move I fascinated over, chronicled, and photographed is now old enough to, well, pout alone in his room and know absolutely everything there is to know.
When Jack was an infant, I checked and double-checked Dr. Spock to see what skills, milestones, immunizations to expect. Then at some point, I stopped looking and just enjoyed each stage of his life for what it was.
Now is when I kind of want a manual. (When) will he get moody? (When) will he despise my presence? (When) will he argue with me just for the sake of having a different perspective? Acne? Body hair? Growth spurt? The voice change? Physical changes I can see and register but as he stretches his wings into adulthood, I have no basis for what to expect other than what I’ve heard from parents who have endured the same.
I guess he’s in that crazy stage of development where anything can happen at any time. For now I will relish every moment he doesn’t sulk at the dinner table, talk back or get embarrassed by being out in public with me. I mean really, the kid still has a few baby teeth, so hopefully we have time; he’s such an enjoyable kid. Funny, thoughtful, engaging, curious. And my challenge as a parent is to make sure he retains all those wonderful qualities for the period of time I have left to influence him. And of course to do that without his noticing.

IMG_5280.JPG

the fours have it

My unlucky number has always been four. And today, I turn it in duplicate. (How the hell did I get to be 44?) On top of it all, I have to spend most of this age in the year of 2014? What does this mean for the next 12 months?

I don’t even remember where and when the number four became a harbinger of doom. But we did make up recently during the playoffs. I was about to eat a fourth salted caramel with David Ortiz up to bat with the bases loaded. I started to stop myself, but couldn’t pull my arm back fast enough. I had just bitten into the delicious confection when he hit a grand slam. Which, by the way, is four runs.

With that spirit in mind, I refuse to feel jinxed. Whether today and the 364 days that follow end up as I imagine, plan, hope them to be, or something totally different, I will embrace each moment. Love. Laugh. Live. Create joy. Buy the expensive serum to ward off wrinkles. Wear the amazing push up bras (happy birthday to me) that defy what I know about my anatomy. And face it all with strength, grace and a sense of humor. Maybe just fewer salted caramels than I consumed in year 43.

20131217-082636.jpg

jack on jack

My kid is rather perfect, whether he’s displaying a moment of creative flair or getting on his preteen angst.

Today he turns 12. As we celebrate his loud arrival into the world, instead of my usual birthday gushing, I share with you the words Jack chose to describe himself as part of a recent art project. Frankly, I couldn’t have captured his essence better myself.

Short. Thoughtful. Energetic. Daring. Keen. Good. Curious. Witty. Messy. Leader. Smart. Happy. Excited. Proud. Busy. Patriotic. Successful. Funny. Humorous. Self-confident. Imaginative. Bright. Creative. Pleasing. Tireless. Thrilling. Brave. Inventive. Unselfish. Helpful. Tenacious. Honest. Joyful. Expert. Confident. Artistic. Adventurous. Friendly. Light. Cheerful. Fighter.

As a parent, you want your children to be self-aware, to know how truly amazing they are. With Jack’s self portrait, I know that he sees in himself the same qualities I see him. And I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Happy birthday, Jack Rabbit!

20130911-121505.jpg