August 18, 2010 § 1 Comment
So, I went on this big trip this summer with Alex.
We went to Stockholm, and Copenhagen, on a whim. You know, we kind of wibbled around as to where we would go, and we both had thoughts and ideas, and Alex traveled pretty extensively around Scotland after his study abroad program, and since we were already going to France, the conversation sort of went like, “Scandinavia? Why the hell not?”
It was an adventure. Really different from any place we’d ever been. Stockholm was incredibly beautiful. There was sunshine all the time. Our hostel had really good breakfast. The pizza was good. Oh yeah, and socialist countries are really effing expensive. But we were together in a new place for the first time ever.
Copenhagen was really cool. It was more our speed, literally. Bikes everywhere! I completely randomly chose this super cool artsy hotel, and it was in the most perfect part of town. A block away from the old town, a block away from Tivoli, the amusement park, and it was really cool.
Every room was different. Ours was cool. A little spooky every now and then but we got used to it, and it was really fun.
We spent a ton of time just walking around and shopping and eating yummy street food. (Amazing hot dogs, waffles and nutella, yummy girly hard ciders)
And then we went to Tivoli, and stayed until closing. It was a really cool amusement park. There were a ton of rides, and unlike the big american theme parks, the rides didn’t last that long, so the lines moved super fast, but the rides were fun, oh were they fun. We went in loops, upside down, we went on swings hundreds of feet above the city. It was amazing.
Oh yeah, and then we went to IP3.
And then we went to France.
Lena had a great time, blah blah blah. Seriously, my face muscles have frozen in a permanent “Wah-Hoo!” face in responding to people asking how Lena liked France. SHE HAD AN AMAZING TIME. SHE IS AN AMAZING KID. I’m almost getting bored with that fact.
Blasphemy! Just kidding. She is doing great though.
It’s getting a little more interesting, her growing up and all. She’s funny. She’s empathetic. She’s smart, and she says things like. “Alex is better at taco, but you can still do tickles.” And I just fall in love with her every day. It’s hard though too. There are a few things I haven’t figured out, but I’m working on them. Sometimes I forget that I’m 22, and Alex is 24, and Lena is growing faster than ever. Sometimes I forget that I’m not 19 or 20. Like part of my life stopped when I had Lena. No, that’s not exactly what I mean, but something like it. Life is moving so fast, and sometimes I don’t think I stop to give myself, or those around me, enough credit for helping me through this.
So, here’s to you, Mom and Dad, for graciously giving up the new addition as Lena’s play room, for trading solitude in the morning for echoes of laughter throughout the day, gosh, for giving up bathroom privacy again, for this little one. For supporting me, unconditionally, while I find my way. (I think I’m at least headed in the right direction!)
Aspen, you’re up here too. Thank you, for your patience and forgiveness and understanding, in everything from, well, everything we’ve been through, and counselling me on all matters from financial to school and to real estate. (Seriously, anyone looking to move to Durham? Talk to this girl, she will tell you all about what food truck to eat from to what magnet school to try to get your kids into.)
And Alex. Alex Alex Alex. This kid. Have you guys met this dude? He’s a pretty amazing guy. I can’t say enough about you, or even to you. I want to say that the highest praise must be the love and respect that Lena gives you, that you’ve captured her heart along with mine, but while that’s true, you know, it’s not the most important thing. Not right now, that is. Not for us. Right now the most important thing is you and me, and we forget that a lot, I think. And you and me? We’re going to be okay. To say the very very least.
It’s hard work, being a mother, for sure. It’s hard work to keep up with friends, to drag myself out at night, to get Lena dressed in the morning and ready to go out, but it’s all worth it.
And the thing I’ve learned most from being a mother? I’m allowed to have multiple “most important things”. I’ve just realized that I can look Lena in the eye and tell her that I love her more than anything in the world…and you know what? I can say the same thing about Alex. I’m a mom, dammit. When I became a mom, my heart grew too big to fit in just one body, so I share it. Lena is my heart, Alex is my heart. This is the most amazing feeling in the world, having hearts beating outside your body. It is scary, exhilarating, inspiring.
This is what it means to be in love. Love is the ability to love as many things in as many ways as possible. Hell yeah I just used the word in the definition. I dare you not to.
I have everything to give, and I want to give it.
For now, simply, my thanks.
July 1, 2010 § Leave a comment
Alex has been gone the past month or so. I’m leaving in 10 days to go meet him, and we’re travelling to Stockholm and Copenhagen together, and then heading down to the south of France to hang out with the family for 2 weeks. Can you say Great European Vacation? Or “holiday” because Alex has somehow turned completely European in his time in Scotland.
I’ve been trying to find reasons to be angry at Alex overseas, but there aren’t really that many, so I have to settle on being happy when I get to video chat with him, and missing him the rest of the time.
Video chats. I don’t even have to tell Lena, but she knows that when we come home and I troop up to my room, she inevitably follows, excited to climb on the bed and say “Hello Al-ex” and offer him various accoutrement, her pacifier, her hairclip, her bear. Then she flops down on top of me and requests tickles, and if Alex and I try to talk about something, or Alex turns his head, or makes any sort of sudden movement Lena will yell out “ALEX WHAT ARE YOU DOING.”
So for some reason or another I decided to give Alex my angry face while talking, and Alex says, “Not to change the subject or anything, but Lena has changed so much in the short time I’ve been gone.”
Because you don’t really see it, being with her every day. If there’s a pause long enough for me to muddle through the general to-do list of the day, and my brain gets space enough to just process, I do find myself thinking to myself, where did all these complete sentences from? She doesn’t talk in choppy little commands anymore. She knows what everyone is doing around the house, she knows when things are out of place. She knows routines and remembers events. She has this amazing concept of past present and future.
I can’t even convey to you that Lena is funny. She just finds humor in things. She rhymes now, Popsy-wopsy and Nana-banana. She’s more adventurous in the bath, holding my hands and leaning her head back in the water, and she laughs in the way that makes you remember that too, you know? Like putting your head back in water that first time, and feeling (I really want to use the word ‘percolate’ for some reason) the water just surrounding you, and your hair fans out around you. Lena hides, then matter-of-factly answers when you ask where she is.
Alex said, albeit slightly toasted, “I used to tell people that I have this great girlfriend who has this great two-and-a-half year old at home, and now I tell them that I have this great girlfriend who has a two-and-a-half year old who is brilliant.”
Lena shines. She is so full of life and wonder. And she knows. She brings tears to my eyes, and pulls my face towards hers and says with such honest inquisition, “Mommy, you are happy?”
I mean, I thought she was cool like a couple of months ago. I really had no idea. Which is cool, right? Like I’m cherishing the moments and all, but Lena growing up is the coolest thing on the planet. She moved up a room in day care too. (Another entry for another day, my friend Charlie was right, Lena’s day care is incredible diverse, comparatively.) And today I had to bring a bathing suit and a towel, because she gets to play in the water.
My kid is growing up, she’s loving every minute of it, and she knows how to tell you.
April 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Lena is growing every day. Seriously. All of her pants are like an inch above the ankle, and I don’t want to buy her more pants because we’re almost out of pants season and then we’ll just have to buy her more pants, etc etc etc, although today I received a not-so-subtle comment from a teacher at day care stating that, “Lena seems to be getting taller every day.” No, just say what you really mean, YOU THINK I’M A BAD MOM BECAUSE OF THE PANTS.
When really, we have a plethora of 24 month jeans. Beautiful dark jeans with appliques on them, pretty embroidered flowers. Pink jeans, blue jeans, everything from Ralph Lauren to Roxy.
And she won’t wear them.
Only the grey sweatpants that are 2inches too short. Or the pink sweat pants. Or the blue sweatpants. We have a gazillion osh kosh overalls and the only thing my kid will wear is sweatpants. I love osh kosh overalls.
The most important thing, more important than the state of her pants, the most important thing is the beautiful little person that Lena is turning out to be. And I’ve realized, (I mean I’ve known this forever, but haven’t really ever believed it) is that I’ve got to be the best person I can be around her, and only hope that she follows suit.
Case and point:
Alex and Lena and I were driving back from the beach this weekend. We forgo fast food for a small cafe where I can get a caffeine fix and we can eat sundried tomato bagels for lunch. We all sit down, our bagels toasted, the coffee hot, and Alex says, “Thanks for lunch, mom”. And I smile at him, say, “No problem,” and then there’s this little echo:
“Thank you for lunch, mommy.”
And it’s Lena, her head just barely clearing the table top, her mouth already covered in cream cheese, saying so politely, so honestly, thank you.
And I’m not going to lie, it brought tears to my eyes. And I said the only thing you could say in that moment, “You are very welcome, Lena.”
Because have you ever thought about that statement? “You’re welcome”? I’ve never meant it more in that instant than sitting with Alex and Lena, and a little cafe in who knows where, that yes, you are so welcome. Please, make yourself comfortable, stay a while, stay a long while. Hell, you can stay forever, that’s what I had in mind, because you are welcome. So very very welcome.
March 3, 2010 § Leave a comment
Did you know that there are Siberian tigers in Greensboro?
That’s what I thought.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Lena has had a bout of sickness that has left her a complete mama’s girl, which is a new experience for me, and wow to I have more respect for my mom now. (Hi Mom!) It’s an ego boost for sure, it calms that one fear in my heart, the one that was afraid L wouldn’t know who her momma is, but no, I’m definitely her person. I’m her person! I’m someone’s person!
The downside of this, 7:45 and I’m about ready to pass out and I say, Lena, Don’t you want Nana to read you that book?–No! Do taco with mommy! [Taco: This great (sarcasm) game that Alex invented than involves a person (the taco filling) lying on the pillow (the taco), having that pillow folded up around you (ala a taco) and being lifted up into the air. Lena loves this game. Alex gets more air than I do, although recently Lena has been doing taco to various stuffed animals, and when we were talking to Alex on the computer the other day, Lena said, “Do taco Alex?” And Alex thinking futuristically says, “yeah, sure” and before I can stop her, Lena lifted up the computer and set it back down on the table.]
Sorry got off on a tangent. But as I was saying.
So this weekend we go to visit Alex in Greensboro. We’ve hit a year. Lena and I have been making this trip for over a year, and thinking about it in terms of Lena, it’s really crazy. A year ago Lena wasn’t even talking, and our weekends consisted mainly of walking around outside and cooking elaborate dinners. This weekend Lena happily repeated “Pizza’s here!” And declared firmly at 9 PM that “I like pizza.” And we could do nothing but acquiesce.
But this weekend we decide to go to the Natural Science Center of Greensboro.
Have I mentioned how much I love Greensboro? The science center is one of those humble institutions run, predominantly it seems, by volunteers. A nice old man greeted us as we entered inquiring as to whether we had been here before (we hadn’t) and if we were sweethearts (his words, not mine). We were informed that the otters were being fed in 30 minutes, and that the tigers were Siberian tigers so they love this weather. Uhh…did he just say tigers?
THE TIGERS WERE SO COOL. Did you know that tigers are the largest solely carnivorous land mammals? Or, that if you shaved a tiger it would still have stripes? I didn’t.
The tigers were not only HUGE, seriously, this thing had a head the size of a microwave, and they were CLOSE too. This one tiger was pacing back and forth right in front of the glass.
The Natural Science Center has a lot of really cool things going for it, besides the tigers too. They have a boardwalk over the maned wolf enclosure that’s made from recycled telephone poles. A lot of the tires and pipes and play things in the monkey exhibits were recycled and donated. Pretty cool!
Okay I swear I’m not being paid by the Natural Science Center of Greensboro, but it was super cool. You could walk right up to the wallabies, and you could pet the sheep. The otters were really playful and came right up to Lena which she was tickled about.
And the play area was great. They had all of Lena’s favorite things, mini shopping carts and cereal boxes and plastic veggies. I watched her push her cart to the cash register and “scan” each item. Another story for another day–but it was a cool lesson in gender roles, boys and girls were both happily playing house.
Lena had such a great time we had to literally drag her kicking and screaming to go home.
Having a two year old is so much fun.
No really! I wasn’t being sarcastic! Because she’s so little and so full of emotions, it’s so fun to watch her cope and categorize. She now says “I’m happy” or “I feel better” after she’s been crying, a perfectly succinct way to just get back on track. She’s so matter a fact about it it’s as if she just decides it right then and there. I admire her resilience. She’s a really cool kid, getting more and more kid like each day. At this point I’m just doing my best to keep up.