Just Write: It Could Have Been Us

My sister-in-law is okay. She ran the Boston Marathon today. We got a call from my mother-in-law letting us know she was okay even though they were all shook up.

“Wait, what happened?” my husband asked confused.

We had been busy today with this and that and hadn’t bothered to turn on the news this afternoon. When we did, we couldn’t turn the t.v. off for the rest of the day.

Again. This is happening again. More carnage. More innocent people. And this time it was hitting very close to home. My husband’s whole family lives in Boston and his brother and sister-in-law were there in the midst of it all. Luckily, she was a still a few miles away from the finish line, but it was still so close and to a city my husband grew up in and loved and I, myself, had grown to love.

And then when I found out one of the victims was a child. An eight-year-old child. All I could think about was it could have been us. It could have been my child. We could have been there, waiting at the finish line for Auntie Jenn. The thought gave me the chills and I couldn’t stop feeling angry and sad and scared.

I think about whoever did this, whoever planted those bombs used to be a child once. They were raised by parents. I wonder how they were raised. How does a child grow up to become someone who would do such a thing? I think about how we are trying to raise our daughter. I want her to be compassionate and gentle and kind. I hope to god I’m doing it right. I think of that quote that always gets put up on facebook when these kinds of things happen, the Fred Rogers quote about helpers. I want to raise my daughter to be a helper. One of the many who ran to help the victims and the hurt today.

I kiss her the rest of the night. I snuggle her close. My husband is extra cuddly with her too. We squeeze her and kiss her and love on her and sing to her and read her stories and pray she stays healthy and safe. Because it’s getting harder and harder to be safe anymore, when a child goes to cheer his family on in a race and loses his life just standing there… it’s harder and harder to keep our loved ones safe… as a parent, that’s frightening.

tribute

*My thoughts are with the families in Boston. I am so thankful my Boston family is safe and my heart goes out to the victims of this senseless tragedy. I am usually horrible at writing things like this, but this one hit too close to home for me not to write and I felt I couldn’t write about anything else for Just Write this week. Thank you Heather for creating us this outlet. Joining in Just Write.

Just Write: Protect

cradled in my swollen belly

safe in your swirling ocean world

pushed out into my arms

held close and gentle tight for all time

from belly fed to chest

my breasts protect from illness

they calm your cries each solid latch

you’re nestled snug in pulled tight cloth

against my heart I feel you breath

the world outside stomps loudly by

and you just dream protected

Sleepy stirs, you toss and turn, wriggle close to my warmth

I am there when wakefulness disrupts

eager to help you find your way back to slumber state

scooting round my caterpillar girl

growing day by day

walks while riding close to mama’s heart

watching the world pass by

face buries into shoulder or smiles are given away

never do you feel your emotions are not true

in synchrony for years to come

I promise my shield at your ready

little fingers, little toes splayed out in the crook of my arm

you venture out, my lap your base

green grass and world to explore

from belly to arms to wrap to world

you are ready and I am here.

-joining Heather for Just Write

Just Write: Happy Morning – A Poem

Since it’s April and April is National Poetry Month and these “Just Write’s” are to get me writing freely, regularly, and to give me practice, I thought I’d write this week’s prose in poetry form.

 

Happy Morning

 

I lay beside her.

Her little tummy goes up and down with her breath.

I watch her eyes flutter under her eye lids.

She awakens slightly to find my breast.

She nurses quickly, then falls back into a peaceful slumber.

Her warm little body snuggles me close.

I open my eyes.

Sun is streaming in through the windows.

She smiles at me on all fours, scooting around the bed.

I kiss her head.

We get up.

Leave a snoring Daddy behind.

I pat the furry head sleeping downstairs.

We turn the t.v on. Find out what’s happening in the world.

The sun is rising higher now. It fills the room with quiet light.

I open the shades and let more in.

We settle on the rug.

My coffee mug in hand.

The one he bought me from Seattle.

Dadadadada she repeats, rolling the sounds around in her mouth.

She scoots around on the rug, crawling over my knees, trying to get at my mug.

I smile at her as I sip my tea and crunch my granola.

Al Roker starts singing a silly song.

She turns toward the t.v. and stares.

Smiles.

She looks back at me and goes for my tea mug again.

I put the mug down, pick her up and give her a cuddle.

She chews on my face.

Her teeth are still not coming in, but her gums certainly are sore.

I kiss her and start to sing the good morning song.

We hear Daddy come down the stairs all sleepy eyed.

The little dog follows him, sleepy eyed too.

She sees him and smiles big.

She waves her hands excitedly.

He smiles real big and picks her up out of my arms and kisses her on the head.

He asks for tea.

I get him his mug.

The one I got him for Christmas.

It says Daddy.

We watch the news together on the rug.

She crawls on top of us trying to get our mugs.

We kiss each other.

We smile.

This is happiness.

-joining Heather for Just Write.

Just Write: Following In Her Footsteps

Today is my mother’s birthday. Fifty-seven years ago my grandmother gave birth to her. These days I think about birthday’s a little differently. After going through labor and birth myself this past year, birthdays take on a new meaning for me. And this birthday is extra special because it’s my Mom’s. My Mom is a reading specialist at a local elementary school. She loves her job and you would have thought that she had been doing it for years upon years when you see how fantastic she is with the children. But, she’s rather new to the whole teaching scene. Before teaching she stayed at home with us. She stayed at home for over eighteen years, raising four children into adulthood. I asked her the other day if she regretted staying home with us. If she ever pined for time away, in an office or doing something other than changing diapers and making playdoh? She told me that raising her four kids was the best career choice she ever made. She wanted to be there for every milestone – every tear and every laugh and every smile. She explained that of course it was difficult to only live off of one income and she tried her best to bring in money here and there when she could (like selling Avon and taking in other people’s children). But she brought us into the world and she wanted to be the one to care for us throughout our days and years. She didn’t want to miss a second of watching and guiding her children’s growth. And she didn’t.

When I was growing up I wanted to be a veternarian and then a director and then a speech pathologist. I didn’t want to stay home with kids. The media and the mainstream made staying home seem weak. Women had to do it all and so I would. As luck would have it however, I ended up working at a childcare center during my college years. I loved it. I loved working with the children and I decided to pursue a career in caring for children. Other people’s children. I became so passionate about caring for children I ended up getting a masters degree in early childhood education. But, throughout all of this education and experience working with children, I began to realize something. Something bigger than anything I had ever felt before. I would call my Mom regularly after my classes and tell her “we just learned about such and such and it reminded me of what you used to do when we were kids.” I would call her after work some days and tell her, “I used your playdoh recipe today” or “I told the kids that story you always used to tell us about the cats and they laughed so hard some of them cried.” I was slowly realizing what I really wanted to do with my life. I realized the importance of being present with children and being gentle with children. I realized how much a parent could miss when they weren’t there. I was there for many firsts in other people’s children’s lives and I knew that I didn’t want that for my own children. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be like my mother, and stay home.

I gave birth to my first baby last year. I quit my job and have started my next career- full time stay-at-home mom. It’s tougher than I expected it would be but it’s also so much more than I thought it would be. I realize being home with my daughter that you don’t have to do it all, the career and motherhood. At least I don’t. It’s hard enough being a mother and watching these baby years just fly by without having to worry about a job getting in the way. I am a stay-at-home mother and I’m enjoying the wonderful times and the rough times.  I’m not sure how my own mother pulled it off with so much patience and grace, but I’m finding my way. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a career outside the home. I find times to be creative. I find times to be me. But I’m also doing what I think is best for my daughter. I get to be there for everything. I love that. Some may say I’ve followed in my mother’s footsteps. And I like that. Because I think that, yes, I hope I’m following in her footsteps. She was and still is an incredible mother … and just like she knew,  I know, I’m right where I should be…home.

Happy Birthday Mom.

happy birthday mom

*joining Heather for another edition of Just Write.

Just Write: We Keep Walking

You’ve been sick these past few days. A little head cold. Nose is stuffy and eyes are red. It’s hard for you to nurse and it breaks my heart each time you pull away unable to suck and breath at the same time. You’ve been rightfully extra fussy these days and the only thing keeping Mama sane and you happy is taking walks. You prefer walking pressed up to me in the carrier. This way you can see the world from a safe distance and nurse when you feel the need. I love wearing you in the carrier but today, after hours of walking and no napping, Mama’s back is tired. But… I keep walking and I keep wearing you. We walk down the residential streets looking at the houses, making up stories of the people who call them home. We take deep breaths together, I can hear you sigh, your chest rising and your stuffy little nose crackling and wheezing every so slightly. We watch the trees that line the streets. Their branches sway back and forth. It’s a bit of a breezy day and I tuck your little arms closer into the carrier, you snuggle into my body a little closer. I kiss you on the forehead and you toss your head back a little and smile at me. “Dadadadada” you say to me or to no one or to this world you are just learning about. Your word of the day. You even mouth the dadada’s while you ride on my chest, practicing the way your tongue hits the roof of your mouth and gently pops out with each “ae” sound. You sneeze as we round the corner. “Bless you”, I say. You look up at me and watch my mouth move. You like watching me talk from inside the carrier. You can see how my tongue plays with my teeth as it finishes a sentence. We walk by some fragrant jasmine and I breathe it in and point it out to you. I like naming the flowers as we walk by them, “agapanthas, lantana, indian hawthorne.” My mother did the same when I was young and it stuck with me all these years. We keep walking. Your eyes are heavy but you don’t fall asleep. You nuzzle in for some milk and as I walk I let you eat. You peek your eyes up. You never want to miss anything. It’s too difficult to nurse and breathe. You break the latch and go back to making “dadada” sounds, watching the cars drive past us as we walk. It’s always quiet in our neighborhood. Quiet enough to hear each bird chirping. Sometimes I point them out to you on the telephone lines. Last week we saw a hawk. Your eyes got wide. Today we hear doves cooing. It’s a nice, quiet sound. We keep walking. Often I sing to you on our walks. Sometimes you listen and sometimes when you are very sleepy you start to sing with me. Oooos and Aaaaahhs. Your sleepy song. Today your body is fighting a bug and your eyes tell me you like the sound of my voice, singing you quiet lullabies, but you won’t join in today. We keep walking. We walk by the school. Children are out on the yard, playing their games. I ask you what kinds of things will you be into when you’re their age? I wonder what kind of mother I’ll be when you’re in school? I get anxious and excited just thinking about you being school-age. You feel heavier in the carrier. We keep walking. You want to nurse again. You nuzzle your head down near my breast never needing to say anything. I let you eat again and this time your head slowly releases closer to my body. Your hand grabs hold of my sweater and you’re so close to me I can almost feel your little heart beat against mine. I pull your sun hat up just a bit and as we walk I notice you have finally given in and fallen asleep. I kiss you on the forehead and I’m grateful I decided to keep walking. 

walking

* linking up a little late with Heather and Just Write.

Just Write: Letter to My Husband

Dear Husband,

I rarely get flowers from you anymore.

Special occasions come and go.

I have to poke and prod and flat out tell you what I want for my birthday.

But, those dishes get done every evening. And the dinners you have been making since I was pregnant just keep getting better and better.

This past weekend you rearranged your schedule so that I didn’t have to drive with  Ellie alone (carseat+ellie= very stressful drive anywhere). You never whined, or complained. You just figured out a way to be there for me. I keep seeing that in you. You are always there for me. You are there in the kitchen, brining sustenance to your family. You are there after we have all gone to sleep, cleaning up so I don’t have to the next morning. You are there every night holding me close and there in the morning giving sweet kisses to your baby girl while I shower.  You are there quietly helping sustain this family and bring peace to an often overtired Mama.

You are there with a smile on your face or a silly song or a witty remark or a kiss or a hug or a listening ear. When I need comforting, you are there. All I need to do is ask and you are there.

I am so lucky to have you husband. You are always there and I am forever grateful.

your wife.

 

linking up over at EO  today for Just Write!

Just Write: The Barrier to Entrance

The barrier to entrance. A phrase lingering in the air today. It was in reference to not moving that close to one’s parents or in-laws so that they give you that needed space that all of us crave sometimes.  I thought about this phrase and the comment after it, the one about my parents visiting quite often since the baby was born. I thought about how I felt about them visiting so often and I discussed it with my husband and I thought about it some more later on, on my own.

And truth be told, I love them visiting so often.

If that barrier to entrance has been broken, I’d rather not mend it, because it’s been a joy having them over. They’re grandparents now. I’ve gotten to see them in this new light and it becomes them. My dad wanting to always hold the baby, my mom cooing into her face and telling me stories of how I was just like her when I was little. They are happy and always smiling when they are here with her. I’m hearing songs sung I haven’t heard since I was a child. I’m excited for the future and what it will hold for them as grandparents. I wonder about the relationships they will build with my daughter and smile thinking of the fun times they will have when she’s older. I see my mother teaching her to sew. I see my father playing the guitar as she sings along.

So, no, there is no barrier to entrance anymore. I want my parents to be around as often as possible, experiencing every little moment that my husband and I get to experience with the baby. I feel their presence in her life is incredibly important and I want them to know, and her to know, of its importance… I am already cherishing these moments that they get to have with each other. It’s funny how seeing your baby with your parents can bring you back to your own childhood. You can catch a glimpse of years long ago. I catch those small glimpses of how they must have been those thirty some years ago with me, when I was a tiny baby, their first. Now here they are seasoned parents turned first time grandparents and I don’t want them to miss anything.The barrier to entrance may have been up when my husband and I were too cool for parents, too young and hip and settling into our own married routine. But it’s different now. We moved closer to be closer. And anyway, that barrier to entrance crumbled six months ago when my mother walked into that hospital room, tears streaming down her face as she got to hold her grand baby for the first time…

gpa and ellie

gma and ellie

Joining Heather for Just Write .

Just Write: I Read To Her

I read to her every night now. I’m so excited we’ve added that into the night-time routine. An avid reader myself and a lover of children’s literature, I delight in the quiet evenings in the rocking chair, a baby hugged close to my chest, a board book in one hand. Her wide eyes take notice of the pages, the way I turn them. She touches each page and I allow her fingers to linger on the pages, feel the smooth paper, get to know the book in the only way she knows how. I read about the old lady saying ‘hush’, the bears in their chairs, the mittens and those rascal kittens. I’ve read this book a hundred times before to children of all ages. In story times and one on one but always with other people’s children. Now here I am with my own child. I’m at the very beginning with her. I get one chance to impress her with these things called books. I want her to fall in love with them, to know the stories. I want her to love them so much that I fantasize finding her years from now, in her bedroom late at night under the covers, flashlight in hand, finishing a classic like Burnett’s Secret Garden or Rawl’s Where The Red Fern Grows. Maybe she will enjoy the wonderful Edward Eager Half Magic series or go for something vintage like Nancy Drew. I can’t wait to read chapter books aloud to her; Alice In Wonderland, Caddie Woodlawn, The Little Prince, even Harry Potter. And then she’ll push me away and want to read her own books. Reading aloud will be for the babies and she’ll want to retreat to her room and finish the latest book in what ever series will be popular at the time. Books I may know nothing about. She will grow some more and with that growth her reading will wax and wane. She will go through periods where she reads only school books and there will be times when she wants to devour book after book after book of her own choosing.  She will grow some more and she will form a love for certain subjects, a certain type of book. She may like science fiction, romance, thrillers, maybe a little bit of everything? She will connect with books, with the characters and the stories and start discussing this with friends. She may even share with me. She may want to read the same book I’m reading and discuss it with me. Share in the magic that so many stories bring. Steinbeck, Austen, Lamott, Moore. Authors that she will turn to again and again for words of wisdom, stories to inspire and escape into. She will get older and seek out book stores for those books that make her nostalgic for her childhood and reread them. Or maybe she won’t and save the rereading for when she has a daughter to read to. I so hope the magic of books captures her. I want so much to instill this love for the written word.

I sit in this chair and finish my story… ‘Goodnight noises everywhere.’ I close the book. “The End”.  She looks up at me and smiles. I put down the book and get her into bed and smile when I think, I am just at the beginning with books and I am so excited this journey with her has finally begun.

reading magic

* joining Heather for Just Write.

** Yes, I know – this is technically a picture of my mom reading to Ellie, but no one has taken my picture reading to her yet. It’s happening though. Every night we read bedtime stories. Oh what a lovely thing.

Just Write : The Shift

7:30pm

I lay propped up on pillows, a warm little body snuggled up next to me. The white noise machine has now become a familiar song, relaxing not only the littlest among us but my own weary body as well. She stirs every so often, grabbing hold of me, making sure I am still there. Then she lets out a sigh and I go on reading.

There has been a shift. I am upstairs and he is downstairs. I spend my early evenings now curled up next to a small, sweet-smelling body while he relaxes downstairs. Unwinds from his day with out me. We used to spend hours on the couch curled up with each other at night, now we unwind separately. This shift seems to have gone unnoticed by him. It’s funny how men just go on and women think about things and worry and think about things and worry some more. He unwinds and comes up when he’s ready. I don’t mind being up here with a sleeping babe. I like the quiet, the sounds of the night, the angel face I get to stare at and fall more deeply in love with every night. Her sleepy smiles making me melt with Mama love. But I think about this shift often these days and I do miss that man and our pre-baby unwinding together. I wonder if he misses me?

joining Extraordinary-ordinary today with Just Write.