Friday, 30 August 2013

Again, Again!

I had been told that you are never to do something with a small child unless you are prepared to do it again. And again. This is so thoroughly true! I must bonk my head when my daughter says, "Mommy, bonk!" I must burp when she says, "Mommy, burp!" (I know, very mature of me.) And the list of funny faces and silly routines is endless.

One area full of these repetitions is teeth brushing. I struggle to brush her teeth and so I distract. She takes it as part of the teeth brushing regimen and there it must continue to be until she deems it no longer necessary. For a while we had to push the sticker on the shower and say "beep-boo" before any toothbrush was going in her mouth. Then there was a stint where I had to brush the "teeth" of the three Anne Geddes Babies next to the sink, even though they have no teeth. Now, because daddy stepped into the shower holding her while I tried to clean her itty bitty pearly whites, I have to enter the shower in order to get the germs out of her mouth. But it works. She goes along with the procedure. Which is more pleasant than holder her down as she protests.

Another area of revolt is potty training. Maybe she senses my dislike (I really don't want pee anywhere). She'll go once in the morning but that's it. But that once still requires coercing. Presently, it is playing with a set of wind chimes. They stall her long enough for the down and done to fade so she can take enough time to relax. As you guessed, she now requests the chimes every time.

The repetition is strongest in a moment of fun. Tonight we went to live music and my energetic daughter wanted me to spin her around over and over. She basically wanted me to provide her with an amusement park ride and she couldn't handle the idea of stopping. She would focus on something momentarily, like cartwheels (at least an adorable attempt) or getting a drink. But it always came back to asking me to stand up then pleading, "Again, again!" She doesn't care who's watching, how dizzy she gets, or whether mommy is getting tired. She only cares about me continuing the merriment mommy started. Don't do what you are incapable of continuing.

If you feel this is something easy to work around, you probably don't have a child. You haven't experienced a crying toddler wanting a specific teddy bear, and that teddy bear only. Or a temper tantrum in the grocery store because the children's shipping cart is being used by someone else. Sure, there are moments when you, the caregiver, can't be persuaded, when you can't give in to the request Like the bag of nuts and fruit I wouldn't let her hold today even though yesterday I gave her the baggie of dried fruit when she asked "Hold it, please?"

Oh, how it's difficult not to give in to such eyes, such a nose, such a blessing. You want me to crow like a rooster? Sure, precious. Anything for you. You want me to be a bridge? Sure, darling. I'm anything you'd like me to be. I love how you squeal with glee when your request is granted. I love how your eyes twinkle when you beseech me, "Again, again, mommy!"

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Don't Worry. It's A Stage.

Parenting can be a roller coaster of stress. It can be tiring. It can test every part of your character. Nothing more than it tests patience, patience, patience. But one thing that is helpful in pushing through the tough times is to remember that, for many situations, it is just a stage. This, too, shall pass. And the view post-trama tends to look less objectionable.

I remember the frustration of getting my daughter to sleep as a baby. I was so exhausted and second guessing my choices, wondering if another mother would have her in a routine quicker. But now I look back and that wearying time seems so very short, and I feel I could have enjoyed the closeness more (though I did develop the habit of her sleeping on me).

Today, she can usually sleep through the dog barking and mom and dad talking. Even if she struggles to fall asleep, she will no longer let me rock her, exclaiming, "No! Go sleep!" And sometimes I can't even sing to her anymore as she will form a duet and be distracted from the purpose. So, after a song I'm left to say goodnight and walk away. Helping her sleep was a bygone stage.

I washed the sheets three times in a week earlier this month because her diaper overflowed. The last time, I even changed her soggy bottom at 4 in the morning and it didn't stop the accident. And so we had to restrict her water. Turns out she is a night guzzler. With monitoring, she only had two small drinks at bedtime. No problem the next morning. This stage has passed!

Other stages take a little more time. Like throwing. It drives me crazy. As she launches her trajectory across the room she'll yell out, "Don't throw!" It is a never ending game of reminding and distracting. And sometimes dodging. But one day it will be over. One day it will finally make sense to her not to throw food or dishes barbarically when she's done eating. One day it will, too, be a memory. (Will I look back at that one with fond thoughts?)

The fear of bugs has come with severe intensity and gone again. Pinching thankfully came and went in a flash. Kicking was short lived as well. Wanting to eat only muffins made a bit of a worrisome presence.

And now we're at public temper tantrums, fighting diaper changes, and an incessant repetition of the question, "Where did Daddy go?" And dumping, dumping, dumping. Which isn't as much of an inconvenience until we try to eat somewhere other than home. How old is she allowed to play with food?

And my gorgeous, smart, precious darling will have new stages begin. Fear of the dark, maybe. Getting into different things, as gone are the toiletry experiments to be replaced by other discoveries. Creative ways to torment the dogs after all the rolling toys have been confiscated. Changes in preferences. But we will learn to work around or adapt to or avoid each quirk.

And then, it will pass.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Where's My Baby?

As church was clearing out on Sunday I went to pick up my daughter and she gleefully told me, "No, Mommy, I am playing." She had the biggest grin on her face. And she ran back down the hall and around the corner to continue her play. She was so excited at the revelation of this activity that she kept running back to tell anyone who would listen, "I playing!!" She likes to exclaim, "This is fun!"

Where did my baby go? Her curiosity and revelations expand at a fast pace. My little girl requests books by their name. She now asks questions all the time. Like, "Why did you turn the tv off?" Or, "What's that for?" As with every other stage we've had, I didn't expect to have to experience it already. I seriously just finished breast feeding. (Well, maybe 9 months ago.) I just started being okay with leaving her with someone else. (What does being okay with actually mean? Does it require being worry free? Does it mean not checking in?)

Now my little munchkin is developing a mind of her own. She is vigorously experimenting with her independence. She has a temper tantrum when I declare we're done shopping and have to leave the store. (Yesterday that meant a flailing, screaming child in one arm and $60 worth of groceries in the other, which made for opening the truck impossible. I think bribery may be in our future.) She asks to drive the truck and turn the nobs. She tries to do up her own carseat. She feeds the dogs or gives them way too many cookies. She concentrates on putting her own shoes on. She even wants to try to put a diaper on.

And her imagination is developing as she investigates her world. She emphatically tells me the dogs are barking because there are helicopters or roosters outside. She tenderly holds her stuffed animals and asks if they are okay or if they would like to go to sleep. She recites lines of her books, like Dora taking her on an adventure and telling her to go through the garden. And she plays games with her dogs which they have to silently bear as they get covered in toys.

I want this time to slow down. So I find I am spending so much of our day snuggling on the couch or reading in the rocking chair. Chasing her around the house. Holding her in my arms. And being awed at her development.

Yesterday I made veggie burgers and when I offered her a bite she correctly exclaimed, "That's a beet!" Today when I tried to pick something off her scalp and asked her what was in her hair she said, "Fingers". And lately she keeps asking me, "Why? Why did you do that?"

Soon we'll be discussing constellations, planets, and mathematics. Soon we will be talking about homework and opinions and why people believe different things. And every time I'll probably think, Where'd my baby go?

But she'll always be in there. With her soft belly and her cute bum. Her infectious laugh and her inquisitive eyes. Her strong balance and confident exploring.

She'll always be my baby.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Thanks For Your Time With Us

Today I spent a few refreshing hours with a friend. We looked at artwork around town and enjoyed lunch. (Well, enjoyed minus the excessive annoyance of wasps.) The other day I spent a few hours with another friend going for an invigorating hike. That day was pleasant because it was cool and there were no bugs. Just the crazy, giggling bug in my pack who kept stealing my hat. Friday night we went out with another friend watching a movie in the park. Though it rained on us we started and ended with a nice little chat. Ah, conversation. Like vitamins for my soul.

It feels good to be social. A good that effects my ability to function at my best (along with chocolate, exercise, and prayer). I greatly appreciate these opportunities, as sometimes they sadly become few and far between. Both me and my munchkin don't like to be cooped up. She'll hound me, "Go bye-bye. Go bye-bye." Many times we have a spontaneous outing with just the two of us. It is sometimes difficult to coordinate with the changing moods of a toddler. And apparently, for the majority of people, it is very difficult to follow through with plans.

So when it does happen I am grateful. Grateful for adult conversation with expanded vocabulary, though I am so proud of how many words my daughter can say. And I am grateful for those who accept me and my attending tireless mini-me as a package. She increases my value, for sure. But she has her set backs. And so I appreciate what I can get.

It takes more patience, as getting anywhere is much slower with a curious child. Mommy, up. Mommy, down. Mommy, look. Mommy, again. My friend covered much more ground in her Art Walk today in a following small allotment of time than we did together.

Forgiveness is required for my intermittent attention, as I redirect curious hands or listen to cute comments from my little sidekick. Or take her aside to change her because she just peed on me in public.

Thank you, my friends, for giving us your precious time. If you don't mind hanging with someone peed on, we can still make great company. Maybe next time I'll pack myself extra clothes as well.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Not At The Expense Of Us

As my daughter's awareness broadens she is becoming more influenced by my intentions and my priorities. She is studiously starting to display some of my habits. Hey turns out to be my most liberal arsenal. As she repeats the words I say with the same attitude I use, I want more and more to change.

I desire to be more productive and more focused. (Facebook check again? Internet detour?) I long to be more efficient with my housework. Sometimes I think I must be the slowest housekeeper ever and I can't believe my struggle with organization. Being able to fix basic clothing issues would be convenient (as the garbage is not the most economical solution). In the kitchen I would really desire to expand on my cooking abilities. I would love to model great friendships. Every moment I long to live in the spirit to show my family faith. And patience and love. I would really like to cultivate those things in my life.

I don't want my daughter to see me nag at my husband or yell at the dogs. I don't want her to witness me give up too soon. If there is even a smidgen of possibility, I want to be able to display perseverance and a calm demeanor when faced with an inconvenience. They say not to cry over spilled milk, but today as I cleaned the kitchen I wanted to cry when I knocked the sugar bowl all over the counter and and floor.

As she ages I don't want to feed her snacks all day instead of getting her to know what makes a healthy meal. Muffins and fruit and cheese make an appearance too often. Which is currently to her joy, but not for long.

My list could go on and on and on. I am responsible for a growing human being--Yikes!-- and sometimes I feel my choices and actions do not benefit her as much as they could. You get out what you put in and I second guess the thoroughness of my investment. I am grateful that my motivations aren't overpowered by the desire to please others anymore. I've been quite humbled in my parenting journey. But my rationalization is still not healthy. I am strongly trying to prevent her from living my frustrations of coming into being an adult.

Adulthood hit me hard. I didn't feel I knew how to clean properly. I had to learn how to cook. I struggled with stress. I was horrible with money. (Ahem, I am horrible with money.) Relationships were impossible. Communication was difficult. Trusting was non-existent. And I kept coming back to parental sources for my frustrations. And so I want to be the best I can be to help my daughter. I'm okay with things that are obviously not me. I'm not going to...

blush.There's my issue. I want to do it all. I want to bake, cook, sing, sew, teach, cuddle, smile, laugh, admonish, exercise, clean, create...

And every time she gets angry, impatient, or irritable I have to stop myself from analyzing what I need to do in order to change her feelings and reactions. She's a full blown toddler. She has to test my boundaries. She has to push through the difficult in order to learn. She's going to change her mind and get frustrated. I can do my best but it will still happen. I have to stay the course, as if letting a butterfly struggle out of the cocoon instead of helping and releasing a weak butterfly. My daughter will only fly if I let her find her wings.

She doesn't need the best cook. She needs someone who will sit and eat with her. She doesn't need a perfectly clean house. She needs a place to play and eat and sleep safely. She doesn't need the most proper mom. She needs someone who will pay attention to her and be there for her. She doesn't need a parent who displays perfection. She needs a parent who models forgiveness and effort. She doesn't need a mom who can fix everything. She needs a mom who will care in all things. She doesn't need to witness a faultless wife. She needs to see honest relationships with communication and compromise.

She doesn't need super mom. She just needs mom.

I can work on every sphere I think she'll want me to and still she will be frustrated with an area of lack. There is no such thing as a perfect parent. But if I am too busy trying to be one I am going to miss out on enjoying each of her short-lived stages and on bonding with her like I was gloriously meant to. I don't want to negligently build a wall between us with my clutter of thoughts and intentions and fears. Instead those bricks can be tossed aside and together we can walk over them. Together.

Let's play on the dirty floor. Wear stained pants. Sing the wrong words to songs. Be tardy. Forget about a food group for the day. Daydream. Stay up too late. Express our frustration. Make a mess. Live in God's grace.

Let's be the best we can be. But never at the expense of us.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Mr Respect

"Back when I was young, we didn't disrespect our elders like that."

I remember frequently hearing comments like that when I was young. Older people exclaiming their displeasure with the way the next generation did... well, anything. I used to roll my eyes at the notion. Grumpy old people. Later in life I started to see their point, as younger kids wore less and less clothing, expressed their opinions more, and stayed out later.

But now, I'm on to the next circumstantial stage. A very contemplative point in life where I conscientiously have to decide what values and morals to pass on to my child, which beliefs I have to save from extinction, and what traditions can go out the door due to their plain lack of meaning or outdated objective. Every decision I make can't solely be because those before me had a standard or method (though we thank them for the scientific, medicinal, governmental, and relational breakthroughs they have accomplished for us). I have to ask myself why do we do and say.

Like I've mentioned before, some things are obvious, like saying please and thank you (okay, maybe not obvious why, but obvious in that it is my choice). But others things aren't as black and white. Turn one direction and they matter, turn another direction and they are a distant memory or an annoying presence that others want gone. One person judges for lack of action and on the opposite spectrum another judges for doing what they find unnecessary.

Like mister and misses. I look around me and see no reason to teach my daughter to address anyone by their last name. It doesn't appear to be put into practice. There have been a few people I was not certain about and when asked they usually felt uncomfortable with the titles. Albeit, the idea of first name basis for her elders is ingrained in me as strange. When I started going to church 16 years ago, I was surrounded by Mister So-and-So and Misses So-and-So. My experience was never as staid as some have grown up with. I've heard of people not even knowing the first names of others for their whole lives.

I would assume many factors have changed this curtesy. Women becoming stronger in their voice and not wanting to be called their mother-in-law's title (I can see it--Sorry, were you talking to me or my MIL?). More couples with different last names and more children with unmatched last names. Less married women in families and therefore a larger question of miss verses misses. A call for equality between women and men. The rise of trans-gender. A change in the view of how children fit in to society.

When I was young my step father, and many adults, thought children automatically fell into the seen and not heard category. We were forced to respect, whether earned or not. Obedience was enforced through fear. Our opinion did not matter and we were definitely not important. Now, in contrast, I see children as little human beings that need to know we see them, hear them, value them, and care about them. They can still learn to be polite and kind. They can be courteous and reverent on a first name basis.

I'm not saying that anyone who requires titles to be used is putting children under foot. But to me these titles represent a time when the world was all about the lower and the higher. The masters and the slaves. Starting at the bottom of the ladder and slowly working up. (Now, many expect to effortlessly leap to the top rung with no risk involved, but that's a different story).

I live in a world where the sweaty janitor or the grubby laborer is just as real a person as the proficient CEO or the ostentatious celebrity. (Life with instant information-sharing has proven they can all falter.) Who you are as a soul isn't determined by where you are at this moment in your life. (Do you need to read that again and declare it over yourself?) We are all beings with potential, feelings, hopes, failures, strengths, sins. No matter our age or occupation. And my daughter will learn that.

She will also learn, though, that she is surrounded by people from different eras. School will probably keep the titles, and so will doctors. There will be people in her life who are used to being addressed by their last name. I am hoping she will be comfortable asking when she needs to make a clarification. Even if they'll most likely laugh back and say, "Don't call me Mister!"

When I was young, we feared some elders but sure didn't respect them in any way. The more someone tried to force it, the less esteem we actually had for them.

"To respect a person is not possible without knowing him; care and responsibility would be blind if they were not guided by knowledge." -Erich Fromm

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Late Night Dog Run

I just had an amazing late night run with both my dogs. We ran on a dark path so that they could be off leash. We saw three people and one dog and my crew didn't get startled or overprotective. I only jumped at inanimate objects a few times. Though if I wasn't with two large dogs I know it would be many more times.

I am finding running two bigger dogs with a toddler more complicated than I thought it would be. I don't regret it. I know that my toddler will have to see our older dog pass and so I wanted the younger around. My girl has bonded with her new friend very well. He is obviously her favorite. Though she also gets more frustrated with him. Yes, he does knock her over. But she will get quite upset when all he did was brush past.

A large dog can't stay cooped up. So I need to get them some exercise. They behave much better when they have had activity. Sometimes they run behind the truck. Many mornings the whole family walks them together. For additional times I often have them take turns. They are much easier to handle one at a time. The other day I brought Buddy home from a get-him-socialized outing and upon our return the older girl got quite mad at him for getting to go while she stayed home. His reaction, on the other hand, to being the one left at home is to not let me out of his sight. He doesn't want me to sneak away.

It is a nice training opportunity when occasion lets me take both canines together. As my daughter slept at home this evening, I took them for a 7 kilometer run. It was refreshing, though I now see the extensive difference in the pace between the two. The old girl had trouble keeping up. It makes me wonder if I should push to keep her healthy or just let her go. I wish I could do the same every evening. But then I would be quite tired. Too many things get left for the end of the day. It is now midnight and I have some oatmeal precooked and I am ready for bed.

But the dogs will not be sleeping in the bedroom tonight. They are still panting loudly. Being drenched in sweat may not always be convenient but I am quite grateful that I don't cool off through my tongue.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Write Over The Wall

I love to write. I wish I could just ramble to people and they would enjoy my conversation. But usually they obviously misunderstand or lose interest. Or I can't get it out. Okay, most often I can't get it out coherently. So, I write it on paper or type it out instead. That way, others can read instead of listen and I don't see the misunderstandings. I am not aware of those that just skim or stop part way. I don't know if eyes are rolled or tears are shed. I'm left with my own judgements. Which means only some get published.

One day I would like to write a book. It would be something encouraging. Maybe about feeling like I was going crazy, living drastically shy and ill, and working step-by-step toward joyful sanity. But I still struggle with reaching out to those hurting. Even though I am surrounded by them. Wishing I could help. But then comes the most dreaded question ever. How did you change?

That's a hard thing to answer. There are so many variables. And when I think of all the factors, I can unfortunately recall being presented with each one and knowing they wouldn't work. I remember arguing, denial, and excuses. Yes, on their own they would not work. Just forgiving those who hurt me, whether I wanted to or not, was not the end-all cure. Counteracting negative self-speak with positive affirmations was not going to work miracles on its own. Praying whole-heartedly was not going to alter reality without action. And that idea sucked. We all want an easy solution for our arduous problems. We all want to undo years in just an expeditious moment. We want to erase ingrained mental patterns instantly.

Not going to happen. It makes me think of a cartoon of two tunnels being dug into the rock looking for diamonds. In one tunnel, the worker gives up and dejectedly turns around. He doesn't realize his resplendent goal was literally right there. He'd put in a lot if work. He probably thought of quitting more than once. Maybe he figured he didn't deserve the riches. Maybe he figured he went the wrong way. Maybe he figured his labour wasn't getting him as far along as it felt like. He had decided it was all for nothing. Defeated, he turned away right before breakthrough.

We give up on a relationship we've taken years to build because of one little misunderstanding. We disown people we've invested in our whole lives because of petty differences. We let go of potential opportunities because we can't see exactly how much work is involved. We leave difficult situations because we concentrate on the work over the reward.

And most if all, we refuse to cultivate ourselves because we can't look past the current struggle to see the gratifying fortune on the other side. It's like a weight trainer. The work-out is exhausting. It's difficult. It's painful. But the results come. One day that much weight or that many reps will become easy and bigger goals can be established. Keeping it simple would produce no results.

Sometimes you need to go back into your painful past to more effectively deal with people in your future. Sometimes you need to face overwhelming fears to be able to better function in your destiny. Sometimes you need to step into the down-right unknown to discover amazing paths. Sometimes you need to admit your plaguing faults to operate out of your shining strengths. Sometimes you need to be utterly vulnerable to become strong. Sometimes you must let go of what you want to grasp on to what you need.

I've had to talk to people about things of which I would rather never speak. I have had to forget about others getting what I think they deserve because being unforgiving was weighing me down. I have had to be humbled in order to have a concrete base to build on.

With that base I can grow step by step. Some days, I step back. Sometimes I feel it is all crumbled. But those strong building blocks of faith are now there, so it is easier to put things back together. One step at a time.

Right now I feel like I have a million things I want to work on. But I have to stick to that one-step-at-a-time. So that I can focus on what matters. So that I can avoid being overwhelmed. So that I can live life.

And hopefully I can improve on my ability to write about it. So that I can help someone else to live their life, too.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Rare Altruistic Ones

Working in the pharmacy I encounter all kinds of people, a variety of opinions, and a range of attitudes. There are a few people that truly get my attention with their devotion to their loved ones. Sure, I only see a small part of the picture, but what I see is selfless giving of something so very precious and limited: time. There are people who devote so much to a father, mother, or sibling who is ill or who has lost the capacity to take care of themselves. Some even take care of more than one loved one.

They have to let go of things in their own lives. The have to put a hold on their to-do list to take care of this priority. Some things they release will not be available to them again. What a very unselfish thing to do. Some live in the culture that would have them do it automatically without question. For others it would only be done reluctantly. Others find excuses to pass on the responsibility.

I am in awe of the few who choose to go out of their way for those who are not their family. The man who picks up items and transports more than one needing soul. It takes so much time but it doesn't matter because it needs to be done.

I wish I could be that selfless. Today I was called selfish and my initial reaction (inside) was anger. How can you call a mother selfish? I have given up many things and have to pass even on my own needs once in a while. I feel like I am constantly giving. Not selfish.

But searching my heart I know that the comment angers me simply because it is true. Just because I give more than I ever have does not mean I am not selfish. There are many, many times I could be giving more. But I am too distracted by my narcissistic thoughts. I am too busy concentrating on what I want and as a result I am unable to see what others need.

Being a parent requires sacrifice and compromise. But it also gives opportunity to hide from the give and take of the rest of the world. I don't have to commit to anything in the afternoon because my daughter needs to sleep. I don't have to have conversations with anyone at dinners or church because I am running after a toddler. I don't have to drop my day for someone else's needs because I can't just drop a kid. My easy out.

It's disheartening to think of my true nature even though I have grown. My husband is a very giving man which means I have a very high standard to live up to. I look at all the volunteer we have done and wonder how much I would have done without him. Much less, I am sure. I would have found valid reasons to be unavailable.

They usually are valid reasons. Everyone has their own troubles. Their own commitments. But that is the difference between a truly selfless person and the rest of us. When there is someone in need they don't consider the excuses valid enough. They will get back to their own agenda later.

My agenda isn't even that great. It is full of many more intentions than there are actions. There are things I would love to do that I have to decline. I would love to help some of those dear to me who are struggling financially, but due to my past selfishness I am not in a place to do so. I would love to speak into the lives of those I care about more, but because of my past selfishness I am not in the place to be received. Selfishness takes from everyone. It's curse is long lasting.

But it is never too late to change. It starts with a simple act of kindness. It starts with seeing the distress and lack in others. And when acted upon, the opportunities multiply. Not something a parsimonious or egocentric person would want to happen. But every single day gives us the opportunity to be humanitarian and grow in our capacity to think outside ourselves. We are surrounded by need.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

"That's A Lot Of Bikes"

I took my daughter to the store today to buy her a push bike. The kind with no pedals. I don't think they had them when I was young. We had training wheels that were difficult to transition from without being too scared. Today I didn't really have the money but she emphatically points out every bike she sees and so I decided to take the opportunity of my trip to the city. As we entered the extensive bike section I knew it was an excellent idea. She was truly in heaven.

"That's a lot of bikes. That's a lot of bikes. That's a lot of bikes.."

There were people testing a few and she was delighted each time they went by. The best part was after we obtained the run bike and I pushed her all the way across the store to the till. I didn't even make her dismount at the checkout. I just picked up her and her new treasure together. She was very proud. And though no one paid attention, she informed every single person we passed that she was on a bike. For the three hour drive that followed it sat next to her in the truck. Every once in a while she would point it out. She would ask to have it on her lap and I would tell her it was too big.

I can't wait to lower the seat so she can touch the ground and truly give it a try. These push bikes are so simple but they really make sense. The child sits and pushes along with her feet. The more confident she gets the more she lifts her feet. What a great way to learn to ride a bike! And what an easy transition to a regular bike with pedals.

I don't have any early memories of learning to ride. I only remember a few incidents a few years later. Driving into a parked car. Or flying over the handle bars, landing on my face, and knocking out teeth. Usually, though, I enjoyed riding a bicycle. It was fast transportation between my house and my friends.

I know that my daughter will be thrilled. But I don't know what else to expect. I imagine, at 21 months, that the learning process will start slow. I don't know if she will comprehend the braking system. She may just expect mommy and daddy to do the work.

But she'll have fun. On her very own bike.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

A Moment Is All It Takes

We went to the market on Saturday. It was so busy that we had trouble finding a parking spot. Trying not to take too long because we had a busy day, we weaved through the crowd to check out what was available. There was so much tantalizing food to choose from. We bought some raspberries, corn, zucchini, and beans. We decided to try kohlrabi (I mean I decided, as my daughter would prefer to sample berries or baking).

As I was paying for a container of raspberries my daughter tripped and fell. I glanced at her, down on the ground, to see if she was crying. She was fine and so I turned and grabbed my bag. I looked back.

And she was gone.

It took a second for me to worry as she is always close by. When we first arrive she wants to be in my safe arms. But it didn't appear to be that way at this incident. I looked around. Checked the booths next to where she was. No sign of her purple shirt and red hair. I started to panic. There were so many people. I ran my belongings over to my mother-in-law's booth and threw them down. I then scoured the crowd. For a moment I was terrified that she really was gone. My heart raced and I felt like I was going to panic. A vendor asked for her description and I was so glad I could recall what she was wearing.

And then there she was. Just wandering through a booth. Not disconcerted at all that I was not around. Wandering free like an un-supervised child. Not a care in the world. She was testing out her independence and enjoying her liberated venture.

I am not sure I am liking this new found desire for autonomy. I don't mind her trying to do things on her own. I don't mind her push to make decisions. But wandering off! That is not going to work with me!

I pride myself in my growth. My life used to be overwrought with fear. I was extremely grateful to enter motherhood with a toned down sensitivity to germs and dangers. If I were a young mother I would have been a crazy mother. I still have my moments that are driven by my desire to see my daughter develop into a healthy, confident, responsible, loving woman. I worry about the food she consumes and the chemicals I use in the home. I dislike my husband and myself handling her with our work clothes still on. I think too much about what could harm her. I just plain think too much.

But even with the fears I have left behind and the ability to see things as a bigger picture, I think this stage is going to be difficult. I am not enjoying the running the other way. I am not looking foreword to the hiding under the clothes racks. But I assume, like any other stage, it will seem overwhelming at first and then motherly instinct will kick in and I will learn to adapt and before I know it we will be passed the challenge and on to the next one.

Until then, it is time to be diligent. The next time we are in a crowd she will be in my arms or my eyes will be on her. I'll ask her to help me pay for our purchases. I can see why some moms use some sort of leash to keep themselves attached to their child. Their baby. Their world. Sometimes life requires your attention for a moment. A moment is all it takes.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Telltale Playback

Oh, Lindy, hmmm, your hair isn't very tidy on the back ... Watch the posture! Quit slouching!... You're interrupting. Listen!... Don't be so hard on yourself. Get over it and move on... Did you really just do that? What are you thinking?... Turn that frown upside down...

It would be beneficial (maybe?) if we could step outside of ourselves and objectively observe. See what we look like when you take away the thought patterns that meander from one thing to the next. See how we come across based on our physical actions and not our internal intentions. And just plain see how distracting some of our shortcomings can be to others. Like a teacher's aid I had once with nose hairs down to his lips. Not mustache. Nose hairs. Very distracting.

Some people feel they are positive but their expressions or nervous habits make the contrary seen by others. You can sing happy songs in your head all day but if you don't smile at others they'll never know. You can desire to have great friends but if you don't give them your time they wont know they matter. You can have feelings of love for another but if you never disclose that in words or actions then your valentine might never be aware.

My daughter really makes me more attentive of how I want to come across and the many distractions that get in the way. She is a little parrot, copying everything that I do and say. She reminds me that I must focus on what is important. I don't need her to learn how to nag at her father (or her future husband). It is essential that I deal with things in a positive way.

I can get lost in my thoughts and my expression can become quite solemn. I will have someone ask me what's wrong and I then notice my furrowed brow or slumped shoulders. I have to work on it. I held tension in my face and neck for years and years and years. I can see it in the lines forming between my eyebrows, reminding me to stop frowning (hmmm... i think I am frowning right now). I remember when the lines started. I begged my husband to tell me any time I scowled so I could smooth my forehead and stop the process. I even contemplated taping it.

I'd tell you that my irritable, sometimes petulant expression is lying and I'm actually on cloud nine tickled pink. But that wouldn't be honest. I know joy and peace now but I still have my moments where worry and fear and judgement get the best of me. That's why I think watching a recording of myself would help. It would be a nice smack in the face telling me to lighten up and be kinder to others.

There really is no excuse. It doesn't matter how crappy I see my childhood. It doesn't matter how much I've been hurt or let down. It doesn't matter how bad a day I had or whether I am hungry or tired. People don't see the painful memories stirred up from a bad experience 20 years ago (and if they did they would just tell me to get over it). They aren't aware when a harmless comment lashes like painful truth.

How I feel is not how I come across. My focus is not what is seen by others. My intentions are not what shine. Only my actions. My body language. My words. What I do, in spite of any reasons behind my actions.

Say thank you when you feel thankful... Compliment when you think of it... Laugh when the urge arises... Forgive when you feel the push to do so... Smile, smile, smile...

Oh wait, stop smiling! You have food in your braces!