Mm-hmmm

Driving my almost a teenager kiddo to school this morning.

Silence and music for a bit.

My mind snaps to gear; plan for the day.

Must review the plan.

Remember, you have a game tonight.

mm-hmmm

Change into your your uniform after school.

mm-hmmm

Walk to the club like normal after school, ok?

mm-hmmm

I’ll call you when I am on the way to get you. We have to leave in time because of the Friday traffic.

mm-hmmm

Oh, make sure you order a snack too, there won’t be time to stop on the way and you’ll need something before the game.

mm-hmmm

___

Don’t say too much now.

You might use up all the words.

And, that would be such a bummer.

Snarky mama.

mm-hmmm

and an ever so slight and could-have-so-easily-been-missed

grin.

Or was that a smirk?

Have a great day, bug. love you.

love you too.

 

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Wait. Just stand there for a sec.

He walked to the table for breakfast this morning.

He looked different.

He looked different than he did just nine hours ago when I badgered him about getting his nighttime reading done.

And when I tucked him in for the night.

He looked older.

I said to him.

Wait, stand there. Just stand there for a sec.

You look different this morning.

I looked at him.

I surveyed his face, his every hair and the space he occupied in the room.

I saw the baby I once held.

I saw the small boy who used to hold my hand and call me mama.

I saw the teenager he almost is.

I said to him.

Sometimes I miss my little little boy.

But mostly, I just really like who you are right now.

And.

And I am curious about who you are becoming.

He looked at me.

With eyes that almost rolled. Almost.

He said to me.

Ok mom.

3july

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Can We Be Done Now?

My Kiddo and I have some of the best conversations; he’s an old soul and his humor on par with many adults I know. Add to that, he’s open with me and we talk about some pretty cool stuff; I feel lucky as the mom of a now ten year old boy that we talk the way we do and about the things that matter.  Boy humor is often thrown in, well, just because. And because it really is funny sometimes.  And, it’s hard to avoid!

That aside, when we get into one of our cool convos, I always know there will come a point in the conversation when I hear, “mom, can we be done talking about this now?” and I always say yes, even though of course, I want more.  I know he’s reached his limit; that he’s overwhelmed or we got just a little too close.  Some kind of noise, right?

I figure if I take his lead, then there will be a next time.

And, so far, so good; we’re still talking.

The other day, we were discussing his request for a new video game for his game console. It’s a never ending, ever-lovin’ request stream.

I hear the typical arguments:

“But mom, all my friends have it…”

“Mom, I will pay for it with my gift card…”

So, I ask kiddo to lay out the positives and the negatives.

Tell me why I should say yes. Tell me why I would say no. I want to hear both sides from you.”

He plays along, the arguments are solid.

So, then I say,

‘Tell me about the game honey. Tell me why you like it so much.”

I hear so many words, my brain starts competing with itself to stay with him.

“It’s important, let him talk” vs. ‘”you have no idea what he’s saying”

He’s doing a good job explaining it”  vs. “stop thinking about what you need to finish this afternoon”

“He really wants to get his point across, wow”  vs. “If only he was this focused and clear when it comes to homework”

Then, I start to laugh.

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Noise.

There is noise in my head.

I hear words like memory. extraction. database. points.

And then I don’t know what else. It’s all noise.

But I am laughing (he’s still explaining). I totally get it.

I say to him,

“Kiddo, can we be done talking about this now?”

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Ps…remember..change is in the air.

Note Of The Day…

“My mother… she is beautiful, softened at the edges and tempered with a spine of steel. I want to grow old and be like her.”  – Jodi Picoult

My mom was just that, soft and nurturing,  yet small and oh so mighty.  We went toe-to-toe in my childhood and adolescence – my strong will matched so completely by her inner strength; a power that I suspect she never quite fully realized.  It’s what I channel to this day as a mother of my own mini me.

To grow old and be like her would be an honor.

My mother lived what unconditional love looks like; she was forever my number one champion and the evening she quietly slipped to the other side marks a most striking contrast; a before-and-after moment in my life, unparalleled by nothing other than the birth of my own child. The stories I could share to make this clear are endless. My mother knew me in ways I am still yet realizing. She saw me in a way I can’t even quite yet, standing here in the middle point of my life.  She accepted me despite my many attempts to push her back, because I always needed one more test to know that she really and truly was always going to love me.

She always passed.

Today marks the day she left our world, sixteen years ago.  There will come a day, when I will know more years without her than I do with her, but thankfully we are not there yet. Even if so, her essence, her spirit really, is etched deep within; she is part of me. If life is aligned as it should be, we do not forget our mothers, and I think that we never stop needing them. At least I don’t, and in fact, the older I get, the more I realize just how much I need her. I wasn’t yet a mother myself when she passed on, and it’s my deepest sadness that we didn’t get to share this profound part of our lives.

Anticipating this milestone, I have been thinking of her more than usual, if that’s possible. Not too long ago, I unearthed a box of old journals – a Pandora’s box of memory and emotion.

In the box, I found – among so much else – something I wrote in October of 1995, while taking a creative writing class. It reveals, and reminds me of an exquisite part of her character, her everyday presence. That look between us in our photo above.  Her gift of constancy; I always knew I was at the top of mind for her.  What I wrote 19 yrs ago  – which turned out to be exactly two years before we started to say our goodbyes, my memorial to a most gracious soul  – is really my post for today.

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Here’s to you mom,

you are missed

in every way,

in my every day.

xo

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Motherhood Measured

A month ago, my son turned 10, and in the time since, I have been reflecting on just how much I have received in the lessons learned in these ten years; for him life and for me, a decade of Momming. Parenting. Learning. Stumbling. Loving. Questioning. Doubting. Knowing. Crying. Savoring.

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I can remember looking at myself in the mirror, when pregnant, staring at that face looking back at me, and telling the woman in the mirror:  You are going to be a mom. You will have this little person who is going to need you. There will be feet running through this house soon. You are going to be a mother. YOU. YOU? You can barely keep a house plant alive, just how do you plan to do this?

Looking back, I recall all of the cliches that have been shared with me over the years. And, they are all true: It’s a wonderful experience. It’s the toughest job you will ever have. You will never love anyone as much as your child. It all goes by so fast, appreciate each moment. You think you are tired now? 

I have had all of that. And more.

…I, for the first time, see myself in another.

…I stop dead in my tracks on some days when I remember that I am not raising a child, I am raising a PERSON.

…I am humbled by this person, and a few years ago I stood back and looked at him and could see him as not just my son, but as someone I would want to know if I were not his mom.

…This person has a sense of humor that rivals many adults I know; the spark in his eye and the cackle in his laugh emerged at the ripe old age of 3 weeks.

…This person has a wise old soul that understands – and articulates thoughts – that make me wonder where he’s been all these years.

…This person has a threshold of emotion that manifests itself outwardly in ways that matches mine, on the inside. I am proud of him for feeling safe and secure to not hold back, hard as it is on some days.

…This person has a brain that works in all directions; its only a matter of time before it’s going in circles around mine.

…This person pushes my buttons, tests my patience, wears me out and turns me inside out.

This person knows me; warts and all. And loves me.

…This person has taught me more than I knew there was to learn.

I know without question that I am a better, stronger, wiser, woman for having this now still little, but shifting – if only barely perceptibly – right before my very eyes, into this amazing person to call my son.

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I have had to learn to dig deep to find the patience in my core, because I want this person to feel safe in who he is.

I have learned to learn to stop and listen and ask, so that he knows that no matter what, he can trust me. About anything. Anytime.

I have learned to say yes as much as possible; and to mean it when I say no.

It is clear to me that no matter how much I dig hanging out, rocking-out or laughing until our bellies ache with my son, I am here to be his parent, not his friend. He has his. I have mine.

I have come to recognize myself in new ways because this person mirrors my best and worst.

I have learned that I love us both more for that.

To the next ten…

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Not All At Once

Hi Kiddo,
{a letter to my son}

In the last week you have revealed to me so  many new corners of your character, and you simply amaze me.  You got some news that had to be the hardest thing you have encountered in your short but full nine and half years.  It breaks my heart to be the bearer of any news that interrupts your otherwise perfectly placed focus on MineCraft, Soccer, pitching for your little league team, mastering the kendama,  and of course chasing the dog around the backyard.  Someday, all of this will make much more sense  to you.  Maybe you will even see how it is in a crazy way even better for you.

For now, though, I wish I could really tell you how impressed I am with you, how in awe I am of your bravery, your determination to be a big boy. Your willingness to not only bend with and lean into this change, but that you can find some upsides so readily.

I can see the ripples of fear creeping up around your edges from time to time, and yet you somehow find a way to rise above it and knock it down, almost like your own version of emotional whack-a-mole.  That, Bug, is true courage.  If you only knew.

The questions you ask me are far more insightful than some conversations I have had with adults; you find the crux of it all more succinctly than I ever would have.  You face your fears and ask me the questions anyway, even though I bet you somehow know that you are not going to like the answer, or know that at least you will not totally understand it.  I don’t like ambiguity now, decades ahead of you; you somehow are able to roll with this ambiguity with no ambivalence.

I wish I had had what you somehow have in abundance when I was nine and a half. If I did, perhaps you wouldn’t have to.

When I pushed too hard, trying to help you, comfort you, I could hardly comprehend how you knew what you needed and even more, that you knew exactly how to ask me for it. With an analogy. “Mom, it’s too much advice. All at once.  Too much advice mom, is like a bunch of rocks too close together “, you said, and then told me that, “it should be more like a long string, strung out over time.  Not all at once. Ok?” 

I hear ya kiddo, you are speaking my language and I am astounded by your wisdom.  You have my word to not barrage you with too many words too close together; but whenever you need to take a rock from that pile, you know I am right here next to you and will take your lead. Maybe together we can out to ‘your bridge’ and go throw it in the river.

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We are just starting this new adventure and you have shown me that you are possibly stronger than your mom. You are showing me how brave you are, how truly adaptable and resilient you can be and I could not be more proud of the person I get to call my son.

You, growing up, is a long game and even though you and I both want it to all be ok for you right now, let’s both try to remember that you need to take your own time with things.  I want you to know that everything I do is for you – so that things are better for you.  So that your easy laugh and smiling eyes are always what people see first when they meet you.

Love,
Mom

Ps: that wrestling match tonight? I totally won!

This Dot. That Dot. Connected.

I was reading something the other day, from a book whose title I am not going to reveal, for fear you might all find me to be somewhat of a nut (or more of one!). But no matter our individual bents or philosophies on life, perhaps this is something worth thinking about…

‘Thoughts are things…and may create crimes or miracles.’

‘There is no such thing as an idle thought, for so called idle thoughts are the building blocks of more complex patterns of thinking…thought patterns grow with feeding, and as thought patterns grow, they gather momentum…’

Whoa. I like this; thinking about thinking.

In reading this, I realized it not only resonated with me now but that it connects with something I heard while attending a national professional development conference a couple of years ago. It was a session I almost skipped, because something in the session write up – the one in the program book everyone carries around, their informational GPS device for the duration of the conference – seemed, well, a little touchy-feely to me. Which generally is fine in my book, make no mistake, but this was a conference with more than a thousand people in attendance and not a lot of hi-how-ya-doing interpersonal interaction.

At the start of the session, the presenter brought out a guitar and in what I can only describe as a very campfire song-like style, began singing – and  asking us to sing along. What? I silently cursed myself for not heeding my own internal first thoughts – as by now, you surely know that I am not that kind of angel. Singing and I unfortunately do not peacefully co-exist (in my dreams yes, in my car yes, in reality, no.).  But, I played along, well, to be honest, I lip-synced, so as to appear that I was playing along, and spare the other attendees sitting oh so near to me.

Within moments though, I realized I had made a good choice; it ended up being one of the best sessions I attended that week, with relevant, pertinent information I could bring home and actually use in my job. Life is funny this way, yes?

I scribbled notes on the hotel notepad I had grabbed from by the phone in my room, and apparently tucked away those two little pieces of paper in the time since, finding them again only recently (realizing I had failed to make note of the presenter’s name…).  When I pulled them out, at first all I saw were the words Stop, Keep, and Start, and I wasn’t sure why I had kept them. Then it slowly came back to me.

The presenter focused this portion of the session on how our brains think in patterns, seek out patterns really.  And that in the context of creating more good in our lives, cultivating more success, achieving our goals, and to help develop a more positive outlook, get us further down our own paths towards wholeness, growth,  understanding, mindfulness, peace, etc.; that we should perhaps consider these three questions:

 — What should I stop doing?  —

— What should I keep doing?  —

— What should I start doing?  —

I can think of a zillion scenarios in my own life in which I could, should, implement this: running more, eating less, eating better, communicating more clearly, improving my time management, becoming a better writer, trusting my own instincts, second guessing myself less, being  a better parent, being a better friend.

If I allowed myself, my list would be longer than Santa’s list of good boys and girls.

While reading my you-might-think-I’m-a-nut book, I connected one dot with another.  It made it more clear, for me, this connection that our brains do want to find patterns, and that we can actively feed our thoughts in ways that help them gather momentum; a momentum that hopefully causes  an avalanche of positive, innovative, constructive, affirming thoughts that move us closer to what we want, or want more of in our lives.

So, you know what I’m thinking? I wonder what you think about all this thinking.