My baby girls are 20 & 16?!

Image      Image

What a crazy emotional week for me. My eldest turned 20 years old today and my youngest will be 16 on Thursday. How? How can this be? I swear to you that only a few weeks ago they were little and snuggly and damp, all sweet breath and need and warm cheeks and lullabies.

My first born is preparing to launch… this nest has grown too small for her. She’s off to a real city, a bigger city, a new fresh start…school, friends, the BEGINNING of it all. My youngest is still half mine, half belonging to the world. So hard for me to separate, she is so much more ready than I am. 16 is nowhere near as old as it was when her big sister turned 16.

When your first child reaches a milestone, a threshold, it’s HUGE. 10 is so mature. 16 is SO incredible, so grown up. Since you’ve never been there before, it’s all enormous, especially because the younger siblings seem so… young, in comparison. Now, as my “baby” turns 16, I look at her with shocked eyes and wonder how on earth this young girl can be so near to being grown. How can I imagine letting her do the things I let her older sister do, especially now that I KNOW better!

When I grew up as the eldest of 6, I was the trail breaker. I had to fight all the fights, win all the  battles, break down the door for my younger siblings. Once my parents got through battling with me over every living detail they had lost the will to fight… at least that’s what I assumed. Maybe they just decided they’d best pick their battles and trust in the universe a bit. Either way my younger sisters had it WAAAAY easier than I did.

In my house, it’s the opposite. I was so innocent, so naiive as a mother I let my eldest do things I will NOT allow my younger daughter to do. I know… now I KNOOW so much more than I did then. Poor kid 😉 Her big sister was supposed to clear the way, not alert me to the risks!

Either way I have these wonderful 3 kids, all of them growing up in their own way and following their own rocky paths. I want everything fabulous, magnificent, exciting, scary and exciting for them. I want them to be explorers, adventurers, life long learners, readers, do-ers, sharing kindness and their gifts along the way. Thankfully too, my son’s birthday isn’t ’til Fall, so I have some time to recover before getting all emotional again.

Can they possibly do that without growing up? Without growing away? Without leaving me? Please?  This is a week of joy, of remembering, of story telling… and of being a big soppy sobby emotional puddle. Happens to me this time every year. Hard to avoid; two birthdays in a week… Happy Birthday Emily, Happy Birthday Chloe.  Love you both bigger than sunshine.

Image   Image

Fake it ’til ya Make it

ImageI swear to you I don’t know how to do at least half of what I do. No, I’m not kidding. Seriously I fake most everything (not THAT!!!) I am a tryer. I am a googler.   I, as a mother, am a mother of invention. That translates to all those awesome sayings like Fake it ’til ya make it, grind it ’til ya find it and so on.

I remember being a new Mom; it was my daughter’s 2nd birthday and my first ever cupcake effort. I had no IDEA how much batter to put in the cupcake tin… fill it up? Fill it halfway? I didn’t live anywhere near my family so I did what fakers everywhere do…I called in reinforcements. Actually, I called my friend; a much more experienced mother of 3 kids under 5. She set me straight.

That’s pretty much how I’ve rolled ever since.  Sew cloth diapers? Sure… I can do that. Shaped, formed, with snaps to adjust the sizes and velcro tabs and an absorbent liner? Sure… no problem.  Cater for my husband’s office party? No worries; I got this. Write a press release… BAM. They don’t call it ACTING like an adult for nothing you know!

Now you’ve gotta have balls to barrel through life like this and I guess I’ve grown a pair… yeah, I googled that for instructions.  I’m not saying I don’t do what I do WELL, ’cause I do. I’m good at a lot of things. I didn’t START good at them mind you, and nobody taught me how to do most of them. It turns out a little chutzpah, a bit of confidence and some kick-ass research skills are pretty good in a pinch.

My Gramma was a powerhouse; did it all. I’ve kind of channeled her as I’ve grown into myself. She, like me, had to find her own way, far from her own support network and family. And she was a tough cookie; not fearless, but brave. I am trying (success or lack of will be determined in a few decades) to impart that same adaptability to my kids. It’s what makes you bounce… makes you resilient. 

My favourite quote from Pablo Picasso is “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it”.  That’s a pretty empowering way of approaching life, I think. It’s been my mantra since my first move away from home. I think I’ll have it tattooed on something. As soon as I learn how to do that…

 

On Being Grown-up, Real Life and Happy Endings

ImageI was having a drink tonight with a friend, a fairly new friend who is deep in the trench I was in 10 years or so ago. She’s got little ones… 3 and 6 years old. Her life is all about breakfast, school, pre-school, laundry, shopping, her work, play time, sibling rivalry, toys, and bedtime. Her focus has gone so far away from her own needs that she can hardly remember what they are.  And she works from home.

That’s such an intense time, when kids are small and needing you so desperately. Never a moment to do much for yourself.

What I didn’t expect was how long the intensity would last. Mine are B.I.G. and I still feel consumed by their needs so often.  I work in my office from 8:30 ’til 5 every day, then come home for the second shift; the shift of preparing dinner, cleaning up, taking people here and there, soccer practice, drop off at so and so’s house, shopping, laundry, etc.etc.  That’s not unique, I know… Moms everywhere do the same thing every single day. We know it’s part of the deal.

What surprises me is how it surprises me, even after all this time. I’m still looking around for the grown up when life gets crazy or tough or scary…it’s still a shock when I realize it’s ME!

My friend and I were talking about all the things women friends talk about: kids, work, money, marriage, sex, life, health, time, stress, worry. Both of us have had lots of crazy things happen over the last few years; deaths, financial pressures, moves, transitions, illnesses, job changes, etc. etc.  Both of us have had what you could call a “difficult year”. The truth is, I don’t know anyone who HASN’T had a “difficult year”.  Every year has so much stuff in it, so much good we forget and bad that we remember, that we seem to mostly remember the bad (I am choosing to believe that so I don’t believe that the last few years have been solid bad stuff).

Suddenly it hit me that… crap… maybe it hasn’t just been a rough few years… maybe this is actually REAL LIFE! Maybe it’s just the way  it is…always.

I’m not saying every day is dreadful, only that every few months seems to bring another tremor of some kind, minor or right off the Richter scale. Sometimes there’s a chance to recover from one quake before the next hits, but sometimes the tremors just keep on coming ’til your knees are weak and your head’s spinning.

I think I’m going to stick with my first theory; it’s been a pretty rough few years. That way, I know there’s sure to be a bit of a break in the storm really soon. Maybe that’s my Hollywood movie upbringing….rainbows, silver linings and happy endings. Maybe it’s my innate optimism. Maybe it’s desperation…

But all this “stuff”… all these “challenges” that make me strong, make my family resilient & build my character?  They’re starting to piss me off.

So reality, take a hike…I’m going to Mexico. And you’re not invited.