Friday, February 18, 2011

I Can't Believe You Said That

I was a college undergrad once. That heady time of possibility, knowledge, exposure and freedom without the burden of adult responsibilities. You see yourself in a certain way during this time in your life...increasing sophistication and who will make a difference in the world someday usually in the realms of education or business or industry or the environment. You see yourself wearing well-fitted, attractive business casual nicely coiffed...perhaps some makeup. You speak with conviction and eloquence. You are knowledgeable in your field. You are "successful".

This proceeds for a few years.

And meet "someone". You make some promises. You buy a dress. You make some vows. You get knocked up. The decision to become a stay-at-home parent and raise your own kids with your family's values seems like the best decision in the world. Since you can afford to do this, you do it.

And then things change.

That well-fitted business attire turns to paint-splattered cargo pants, Birkenstocks and a stretchy T claiming Blondes Make Better Lovers. The nicely coiffed hair? Well, yes, I did brush it today. And makeup...huh?

And then there is the change in your speech. Instead of discussing muscle pathology, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs or the weather patterns in, say, Bermuda, your lexicon becomes a veritable unwritten language. Fifteen years ago when I was studying public relations by day and attending fraternity parties by night I hadn't the foggiest idea that these words would someday pass my lips. For example...

"Thank you, honey, but I can wipe my own bottom."

"Hands on your belly." (Any parent who uses public bathrooms with a curious toddler knows this one.)

"Don't squish your ears like that...Because they'll stay that way."

"Back away from the potty."

"Because isn't a reason."

"I told you I am NOT OK with you whacking my bottom."

And wait for it....

"Because I'm the mommy. When you're a mommy then you can be in charge."

Or the charming alternate..."Because I said so."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Happy (6 weeks into the) New Year!

Hello All,

Since this letter is kind of late anyway, I’ll just get right to it :).

This year we celebrated the beginning of Ally’s second year of life and a whole new set of “firsts”. Her first word was “uh oh”. Her first steps had us hanging until she was 16 months of age, at which time she began her specialized head long plunge through life. A tough chick, she’ll cry for 7 seconds over a major facial injury but maintain a 30 minute tantrum over not being able to go outside. Her screams make people shake their heads and bring Ari to tears. She’s commenced the “Me Too!” phase of life and will follow her darling Ari up anything climbable, over any obstacle and into any depth of water. But her kisses and hugs don’t stop and “Daddy” (and “no”) is quickly becoming her favorite word. This is just a small taste of the force that is Ally.

Our Ari turned four this year…though he’s counting the years until he is “17 and can play football with his friends.” I smile at the personal freedom (for me) that dream entails and cringe at what I know he can do with the age of 17. The Ar-man is sort of digging his second year of preschool but frequently reports that it is “boring” and he’d rather stay home with me. I’m not sure what he thinks Ally and I do while he’s gone but “exciting” is not how I’d describe it. Despite the above, he’s learning SO much there, loves his teachers and has begun some good friendships. Other new loves include soccer, Nerf dart guns and dragons…but the unconditional adoration of his little sister hasn’t moved him.

Sascha’s been working his tuckus off this year and had some of his research accepted to present at a professional conference. I strive to get through the weeks with minimal loss of temper and maximum application of love and direction and have finally chosen to embrace my stay-at-home status as a blessing (which is notable for me J).

Two family notes this year…Happily, my brother Andy and his partner Melissa finally got hitched in a beautiful, rain-drenched ceremony this September. We love having Melissa as an official sister and look forward to the razzing that entails. And sadly, our family said goodbye to our Grandpa Schwarz as he took his journey Home this winter. Ari and I travelled together to Iowa to celebrate his life and while it was very hard to say my last goodbyes to a man I adored, it was also good for my soul to be around my extended family again and to hug my Grandma and Grandma Emma Jean. I know we are so very lucky to be a part of this family.

In conclusion, we’d like to share a few things we’ve learned throughout 2010.

1) We like each other a lot more when we’re out of the house.

2) When something isn’t working to your satisfaction, you keep trying.

3) If you don’t know how to do something, find a way to learn it.

4) If Mom is run ragged and doesn’t get a break, nobody in the family will be happy. Ever.

5) Family is everything.

Much love and many blessings to you all in 2011.
May you keep tracking down those dreams.