14 February, 2012

My Funny Valentines

Valentine's day is filled with chocolates and roses and lots of those horrid balloons and white stuffed bears that only come out in February. We do none of these things. My daughter saw a balloon with a cat on it recently and said, "Let me guess Mom, you double-hate that one."

Descartes brought home some yummy stinky cheese and delicious bread. I usually make him a heart-shaped meatloaf (since I think he fell in love with my meatloaf before he fell in love with me), but this year I opted for Banh Mi one of my new favorite foods because what's not to love about these flavor-filled, flexible sandwiches? A new tradition is born.

We finished Lucy's valentine's cards just before bed last night...I felt guilty that I did not make cake pops, stick lollies to hand-made cards or shape hearts from doilies. She had no sense of this, being perfectly satisfied to give Phineas and Ferb, and Disney Princess cards to her kindergarten friends. Her teacher gave her a Disney princess card, as did half the class. Phew. And she didn't mind that her extra-special card to once certain boy in her class did not get her an extra-special card in return.

I went to Jake's Valentine's day party at Wunderskool. I had great intentions to make a special blah blah blah for each of the children in his class, and something even lovelier for each of the professionals who guarantee my child's health, happiness and safety while encouraging him to learn every day. I decided to show up instead. He saw me as I was walking in the parking lot and headed for the gate to greet me.

I love the look my kids get when they see me across the room, slightly unsure of how long I've been standing there. They grow so fast these days it can take me awhile to find them in their circles of friends and teachers, and they both have darker hair than I imagine they have when they are apart from me. When they see me, there is a smile that spreads across their face, and it fills me up, makes me whole again. Lucy generally calls my name as if she has just greeted a dear friend from college she hasn't seen in years, and Jake will touch my arm with one finger, tracing the space between the radius and ulna.

Jake took my hand and held it later in class while we were waiting for some treats. He took my hand and lifted it to his mouth and kept it there against his lips. Of course I was chatting away with the aides in the class, teasing Jake and his friends, so it took me a moment to register that he was kissing me, kissing my hand. I thanked him for the very nice kiss and he put his arm around me and pulled me in laughing. It's nice to have those moments with him, especially because he is eleven, and there aren't that many more years when he is going to want to hold his mom's hand at all.

08 February, 2012

And Then I Was Forty

My daughter had to count to one hundred tonight for her homework as part of the celebration of the 100th day of school. She also had to put one hundred things in a bag to share with her classmates. Candy would generally be her first choice, but we settled on little slips of paper of places we could think of that she has visited.

The list was pretty easy to come up with, which is a little surprising considering she's only five years old. And it's a good list, with lots of states and beautiful national parks, inspiring monuments and small and large towns spread across the country. It made me proud that we are showing her the world.

Of course every place on her list is a place on my list too, if I were to indulge myself the time to make such a list... and I was tempted to think of every little town my husband and I visited in Europe that one summer. What was so interesting to me is that so many of those places on my daughter's list were places we saw together for the first time.

and that made me smile, because I am only forty, and there's a lot more to do.

I am not ashamed of getting older. I don't really care much about crow's feet. I've been 'long in the tooth' for a long time, and this bust line needs industrial strength reinforcements no matter what age I am.

I have accomplished so much less than I thought I would have by this age, and I know because I still have the lists I made when I was twenty and life was spread out before me. All I needed was a pen and some college-ruled notebook paper and I was in charge of my destiny. With a scribble I planned three children and graduate school, trips around the world, and a vegetable garden; I would learn to can my own food.

Once life got rolling it was hard to stop, and no little list is going to dictate when you actually fall in love any way.  There were subsequently no plans for things like a broken leg, or home repairs. My list did not have a six year gap between having my children, and no one had a wheelchair repair scheduled annually.

But I am finished with those lists, because I have done so much more than I thought I could that it is really hard to be disappointed. I have experiences in my life that my little 20-year-old self couldn't imagine if she tried, and they haven't all been great, but I am better for them. I am a much stronger, funnier, capable woman than I had imagined I'd be. I am less restless, and more adventurous. I love more deeply than I ever thought possible.

and I'm not afraid like I was when I was younger, worried I would never get a chance to check off each thing on those lists.  Now all those places I've gone, the things I have learned in just these five years of my daughter's life, the eleven years of my son's life, the fourteen years of my marriage... they lead me to believe that there will be hundreds and hundred more places I will visit in the next forty years, and I can't even imagine all the things I will get a chance to do.

(p.s. I did do a few things on that list)

a version of this post was the editor's pick today at OpenSalon.com
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