May 31, 2014

Breathing room

It's no secret that I have not been a big fan of the younger years with my kids. I certainly enjoyed many aspects of my kids as babies and toddlers. But mostly I've had to force myself to see the good points while looking forward to later years.

At the end of April, S turned 4 and we had "an orange dinosaur cake" for him. He knows what he likes!

He also finished his first year of Cubbies, and got his first ribbon for his accomplishments. He really was glad, despite his face.

K turned 8 on Sunday. He will be done with 1st grade in 7 more days, after a truly wonderful year in a school that he loves more than I even hoped.

He loves fishing, reading, Pokemon, drawing, games and is amazingly empathetic for a kid. We are so proud of him and the boy he's becoming.

And now I finally feel like I have room to breathe in life. No more diapers, very few middle of the night encounters. K is almost done with his booster seat and S is out of the big, bulky 5-point harness car seat. They can walk to and from the car themselves and help me carry things too. We can have discussions about life, behavior, chores, expectations, concerns, interests.

We've decided that S will do a two day, couple of hour pre-school program in the neighborhood starting in the fall. It's mostly play based, so it is a good way for him to have some time with other kids. The rest of the time, I still get to have him home and help guide him and teach him the way we have been. This year was a bit tough for him with K at school and branching out with his own friendships, apart from S. So I think he will really enjoy having something of his own to do and new kids to play with.

I'm so pleased with this phase of life. I feel like I have some more control, even if I don't yet have much free time. :) I love seeing who my boys are becoming. Watching them develop and deepen their interests and personalities is wonderful. In the younger years, I often got to helpless moments, feeling like nothing would change and that possibly nothing we were doing had any real effect on them. As they grow, there is evidence that all the love, planning and attention we've given really do help. That is such a blessing.

Along with this new phase comes the understanding that older parents starting giving us pretty much as soon as they knew we were going to have a baby: to enjoy "these years, they go so quickly".  That advice REALLY doesn't help when you have a baby who never sleeps or is colicky or won't move more than four feet from you for weeks at a time. But with some distance, literal and figurative, I can finally understand and genuinely feel the meaning behind the advice. 

Ten years from now, K will be getting ready to go to college. S will be starting high school. We won't be seeing them quite as much, they won't be jumping into bed to cuddle with us, we might not even get many meals together by then. So, I think I am in a place to really start embracing the now more and more. Not perfectly of course, but in a different way than I was able to before. 

My favorite times are the silly ones:
K wearing some "armor" rings at Anthropologie.

And posing with a statue downtown.

S decided to dress in my winter gear for dinner.

But a close second are our cuddle times on the couch, or before bed:

Thankful for these days.

May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

This is a great day to remember the mothers who have born us, shaped us, taught us, protected us, prayed us through life, and loved us with all they have.

I'm so thankful for my mom and all she has done and continues to do for our family. I got my eyes, hair, honesty, stoicism, love of sports and love of the outdoors from her. I also got most of the good things about my parenting from her.

She has always been great about sharing whatever she knows with us, encouraging us to think for ourselves so we can make informed decisions. And at the same time, she's always been right there in the wings, ready to help if needed. Because of her sacrifice and vigilance, I have always felt secure and supported, equipped to do what I need to do because I'm not by myself in life.

I definitely reached a new level of understanding and appreciation once I had kids. My mom was there hours after K was born, to support me, Jim and K. Those first difficult weeks of motherhood were made so much more bearable with her help. And I got to contemplate during those moments how many of the same moments I must have put her through!

Now I get to see her as a grandmother. Delighting in the antics and diverse personalities of her three grandsons. They are so much the better in life because she is in their corner the same way she's always been in mine.

Similarly, I had two wonderful grandmothers in my life that inspire and encourage me:

My mom's mom. holding me as a baby. I'm so thankful that she is still around to be a prayer warrior and that we have had so much time with her.

My dad's mom holding me as a baby. She died in 1999 and I still miss her and think of her just about every day. 

I'm so thankful for these women and every ounce of themselves that they poured into their families to bring us to where we are. I'm thankful for their hopes and dreams and prayers that I know have sustained us. I'm so thankful to be one of the fortunate ones that gets to have a mom and grandmothers who were willing and capable and here with me for my life so far.

Happy Mother's Day!