Friday, February 21, 2014

The Seeker

She lives on sour patch and the smell of bleach. She frequently has head bruises from running into things. She can swing and spin for hours. She's under responsive to pain and becomes angry when she's overwhelmed. You couldn't keep up with her if you tried so you walk a step behind and hug her tight when she asks. She will punch you one minute and cling to you the next. She's a runner and she's fast. A free spirit and a veritable whirlwind of odd energies. When you see her stomping toward you, you're never quite sure what to expect. She's full of surprises and frustratingly inconsistent. She's in constant motion and amazes you with what she knows. Her fears seem irrational; her preferences bizarre. She's absolutely gorgeous and has no idea. She dresses strangely, if at all. She's determined and obstinate. She thrives on routine and enjoys having her time preplanned. She will clean and straighten for hours.  She is your best friend and your worst enemy. She makes her mind known, letting nothing hold her back. The majority of the time, she is fearless. She is an all or nothing girl. If she can, she will do it by herself. If she had her way, she would carry a dog with her everywhere she went. She loves makeup but knows no excess. She turns three soon. In three short years, I've learned 75% of my life's lessons from her and am humbled by her daily. They call her the seeker. And she's totally changed my life.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Thursday Club

I'm sitting in a quiet house this morning.  Hard to believe right?  It's gray and a little rainy and the kids are peacefully busy with their own pursuits, giving me some time when if I was honest with myself, I should be cleaning something, but here I sit instead.  This morning stillness is a far cry from yesterday's scene.  Because yesterday was library day, therapy day, and playgroup day.  It is the day of the week when everyone in the house gets out of bed knowing they'll be completely spent by bedtime that night (in my case, long before bedtime).  After a rousing story time and Valentine's exchange party at the library, an hour of fairly intense sensory therapy for my daughter, and a few errands run in town, we came home to wait for our friends to arrive for playgroup.  Sugary snacks and lots of free-play time abounded for the remainder of the afternoon while all the rooms of my house became filled with children and babies of all sizes and the sounds of wild and imaginative play came from all corners.  (Have you ever noticed that those sounds can actually be quite disturbing?)  When not peeking in on our kiddos or chasing down the latest escapee up the stairs, the moms generally congregated in the kitchen for some much needed adult interaction.  You see, all the moms in our playgroup are, like me, stay-at-home moms.  I think I speak for all of us when I say, at time, we don't get out much.  Some weeks, looking forward to Thursdays is what gets me through Monday or Tuesday.  Weekends spent with my family are the ultimate perfect time for me, but those Thursday hangouts with other moms who KNOW is pretty invaluable as well.
So yesterday evening as I put away toys, found Legos in unexpected places, and put away the leftover snacks (why did I make SO much puppy chow??), my thoughts turned to all my mom friends and how each of them brings something different to the figurative playgroup table.  In my head, I liken us to "The Breakfast Club" of moms if you will.  You know, the rebel, the brain, the jock, the princess?  Okay, maybe not that dramatic, but the concept is the same.  Before I had children, I did not know these women.  If not for my children, I probably would never have had the opportunity to meet some of them.  And as I listen to their various threads of conversation and hear them share passions, interests, and sometimes gross and hilarious anecdotes, I am reminded of how unique our walks of life actually are.  It's easy to lump us together when you see us at the park doling out Capri Suns and calling to our kids to "put the grasshopper down" or "don't hang off that slide!"  And I don't think any of us mind too much when we get the stereotype of "Stay-at-Home Mom" and most people who see us out and about assume we're all pretty much of the same breed.  That's okay.  In fact, I'm honored to be associated with such a wonderful, strong, and fierce collection of ladies.  They are my friends and I love them.  However, it's easy to forget to respect our individuality as well.  Yes, we are all moms and in our playgroup, we all stay home with our children.  BUT.  That, my friend, is where our similarities end.  For real.  There are some things that some of us have in common in addition to mommyhood.  But being moms who happen not hold jobs outside the homefront is the only string that ties us ALL.

In our "breakfast club" of mothers, we have a little bit of it all.  An Earth MaMa, a Preacher's Wife, a Down-to-Earth Country Girl, a Crafty Mom, a Peaceful Soul, and a Farmer's Wife.  I'm not exactly sure where I fall, but I think it would probably be something like The Darkly Comic bordering on Just Plain Weird One.  Our interests, habits, and personalities vary greatly and the differences range from quite superficial right on down to differences in how we view the very fabric of the earth and our entire philosophy of life.  Some of us buy organic, some of coupon.  Some of us homeschool, some chose public or private education for their children.  Some drink coffee in ungodly amounts, some prefer their caffeine cold, some even prefer water.  Some are openly religious and discuss it freely, while others are a little closer to the vest and less likely to chat about our spirituality.  Some just can't seem to stop talking (GUILTY!), and some prefer to listen and speak only when there's something worth saying.  Some of us are visionaries, some are planners, some are just ready to take action.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  These lovely ladies are my friends, my support group, and they've got my proverbial back.
Yesterday, I counted at least three meltdowns, a couple of small tantrums, one panicky moment where we thought we heard a child scream but was actually a very intense dragon roar, once when we thought a child might have eaten an unidentified substance, three times where it was time to go home and someone couldn't find their shoes, a dozen mini cupcakes eaten, six half-drunk beverages left on my counter, innumerable toys and dress-up items found under the beds, and once when I thought I had lost another mother's child but actually found him playing in the empty bathtub (whew!).  What you can't count are the years it added to our collective motherly lives to have a time and place where we can turn our kids loose for a few hours.  You can't count the value of letting your child play with friends unattended because they never argue.  There is no tangible measurement of being able to say without batting an eye; "Here, hold this!" and the "this" is a four-month-old infant.  We are here not just to attempt to somehow turn these unruly balls of youthful energy into functioning, independent, compassionate adults, but to lift each other up, to laugh with one another, to support one another ESPECIALLY in those moments of meltdowns or difficult to navigate situations that pop up ever so inconveniently.  We are human beings.  We are not perfect, neither are our children.  We err.  We do stupid stuff.  We make mistakes on a daily-freaking-basis.  BUT.  The bottom line is we are ALL mommies.  We are stronger than the average human being.  We carry with us a patience that is superhuman but that still wears thin and frays at the edges.  Our walks of life and parenting choices are as unique as we are, but at the end of day, I like to think we can rely on each other to be a safe-haven of non-judgment and buoyant support.  And that is why, as totally exhausting as Thursdays are, they are my favorite weekday.  It's why I secretly look forward to library and playday as much as my kids do.  Because individually we are: An Earth MaMa, a Preacher's Wife, a Down-to-Earth Country Girl, a Crafty Mom, a Peaceful Soul, a Farmer's Wife, and a Goofy Weirdo.  Together, we are greater than all the parts standing alone.  We are mommies and we're pretty dang awesome.