Now is Good.

Just because life hands you lemons doesn't mean you have to suck.

They Are Who They Are. August 30, 2012

Filed under: 3 kids,Childhood,Humor,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 8:51 am

If you know me in real life, there’s a good chance you also know my kids.  And if you know my kids, you know that although they may *look* a lot alike, their personalities couldn’t possibly be more different.

My kids raise the birth order theory to a new level.  Avery is my eldest, my linear-thinking problem solver, my mature and responsible child, my planner, my “I’m-determined-to-fit-into-the-grownup-world” kid.  Owen is my middle, my wild card, my emotional and imaginative son, my costume-wearing lover of fantasy and make-believe who marches to the beat of his own drum.  Amelia is my baby, my social butterfly who introduces herself without qualm and who manhandles friendship and devotion from complete strangers, my happy-go-lucky sunshine, my constant performer who tap dances her way through life with jazz hands blazing, determined to claim her fair share (or more) of the spotlight.  They are who they are.

Recently, we sat down for dinner at a local patio restaurant.  An orange Lamborghini was valet-parked across the street … quite a rare sight in our suburban bubble.  Giant SUVs and tricked-out minivans?  A dime a dozen.  Elite Italian sports cars with Back to the Future doors?  Not so much.  The kids couldn’t take their eyes off the car.  We watched as everyone within a two-block radius walked up and inspected the car, circling and ogling and making clear that this was a car deserving of attention.  After our meal, we took our turn with the ogling and snapped the obligatory photo.  Seeing the Lamborghini up close, my kids’ reactions were such perfect representations of their unique personalities that I experienced a jarring moment of clarity: They really and truly are who they are.  They are exactly that and nothing else, and my job as their mother is to nurture and foster and protect their unique selves (and in Amelia’s case, maybe protect her from her overly social self).  I had that lovely “Motherhood Moment” of clarity and then I laughed my ass off, because my children really do entertainment me.

Avery:

How much does that car cost?

How much does an obstetrician make? 

How long will I have to work before I can buy that car?

Owen: 

Mom, I bet you a million dollars that the man who owns that car is wearing a solid gold suit. 

Solid.

Gold.

Amelia:

Can we wait here for that car’s person to come out? 

Because I bet if we’re really, really nice to him, he’ll take us home with him.

They are who they are.

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Amelia. April 6, 2012

Filed under: Childhood,divorce,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 1:52 pm
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You are four.  FOUR.  You are officially a pre-schooler—no longer a toddler.  No more answering: “Three.  And-a-half” when asked your age.  FOUR.  Your birthday was actually Wednesday, but the day was so busy and you were having so much fun that I didn’t want to miss a single minute of it to write.  It was the first birthday you’ve had where you actually “got it.”  You knew you were older.  You woke up with a grin on your face.  You knew it was your day.  You worked it, too … all day long.  Birthday cake for breakfast?  Check.  More birthday cake for after-school snack?  Yep.  Chuck E. Cheese for dinner with dad?  Uh-huh.  Sleeping in bed with Mama (because “It’s my birthday“)?  You bet.  I joined you for lunch at school, you took cupcakes for your class at snack-time, you got a one-on-one dinner date with dad (and stepmom), you opened presents, and you probably matched your body weight in sugar consumption.

You seem older now.  Lately, there’s been a real jump in comprehension and communication.  You are a more integrated part of things with your siblings, rather than just an add-on.  You’re beginning to argue rationally with me, occasionally eschewing temper tantrums for logical efforts to change my mind when you don’t get your way.  You sleep through the night now, every night. (Knock wood.)  Even though you are the baby and I still “do” things for you at an age I was probably long-past doing them for your older siblings, you are remarkably self-sufficient in the dressing/feeding/bathing/bathroom arenas.

Your favorite color is yellow (“lellow”).  Your favorite restaurant is Chuck E. Cheese.  You can write your name.  You can skip.  You can swim. You know all of your shapes and colors and most of your letters.  You know all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”  (I’m not saying that’s a good thing … I’m just sayin’.  And also?  You didn’t learn it at my house.)   You love to color and play Play-Doh.  You use my iPad more than I do.  You always have 3-4 small “treasure” items that you carry around with you at all times.  They are random things—a bracelet, a plastic wand to a bottle of bubbles, a rock, etc.  Every few days, the collection changes, but whatever items are the treasures of the day must be accessible to you at all times, day or night … or else somebody (guess who?) is going to pay for it.  You sing all the time, making up words and tunes and belting them out like you’re playing to a packed room.  You dance … a lot … and we have spent entire evenings watching and filming your moves.

You are FULL of life.  You are, quite possibly, the most dramatic child I’ve ever known.  I swear that 99% of the time, you do not talk … you emote.  Your facial expressions, your hand gestures, your tone of voice, your body movement—all quite often appear as though you are on stage.  I think you are completely aware you are doing it—I’ve caught you in your bedroom practicing different reactions in the mirror.  You’re a performer.  You love the spotlight.  When someone points a camera at you, you don’t just smile … you pose.

Every.

Single.

Time.

Three was a rough year for you—you struggled with having two homes.  You missed your daddy … a lot.  There were many, many bedtimes when you tearfully questioned why Mommy and Daddy couldn’t live together.  You often preferred his house to mine.  You often preferred him to me.  I won’t lie—that hurt.  A lot.  Just recently, though, perhaps hand-in-hand with the “you’ve seemed older” mentioned above, you seem to be on better terms with the whole situation.  There haven’t been as many “Daddy” tears lately.  You’ve seemed to have a better grasp of how much time is involved when discussing the number of days until you go to dad’s, and how many more until you come back.  Transitions have seemed smoother.  Bedtimes have been easier.  I know it’s hard.  I wish it weren’t. I promise that I (and your dad, too, I think) do the best we can to make it easier for you.  I hope it gets easier still.

As we climbed into bed Wednesday night at the end of your big birthday day, you reached for me.

“Mommy, will you hold my hand?”  Of course I will.

“It’s dark but as long as you hold my hand I still know you’re there.”  I’m right here.  I promise.

“Don’t let go, ok?”  Not. A. Chance.

Happy Birthday, sweet Amelia.  You are still my sunshine, and I am still so utterly grateful you are mine.

 

Thankful Mama. November 24, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Dads,divorce,Motherhood,Thanks,Writing — nowisgoodblog @ 7:23 am
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Every year, my kids’ elementary school hosts Grandparents’ Day on the day the students are released for Thanksgiving holidays.  This year, Grandparents’ Day consisted of a classroom visitation and presentation of a short student program at a different time for each grade.  Since for the one and only year EVER, my three kids are all at the same campus, this meant for me (and for my parents), we were up at school at 8:15 … and again at 9:15 … and again at 1:00. Every classroom was hot and crowded and just about as exciting (or not) as you would expect a 30-minute-grade-school-program (or three) to be.  My wonderful parents attended each and every presentation because they knew it was important to their grandchildren.  They’re great like that.

On the wall outside of Owen’s classroom, “Gigi” and “Pop” were treated to this:

I’m pretty sure my mom cried.  I know my dad laughed.

I was gifted with this:

So, yes, apparently Owen is most thankful for all the fast food that his grandparents and Mom buy him (and for his Mom taking care of him when he is sick … surely not from eating all of the fast food?).  I had no idea about the assignment until I arrived at school that day, but as far as I can determine, the teacher’s prompt was to write about the reasons you were grateful for your parents and grandparents.

Owen didn’t write anything at all about The Ex.  The immature, revengeful part of me was initially glad about that—glad that Owen bestowed his thanks upon the people who (in my opinion) always put him first.  I can’t lie—I felt just a twinge of “you reap what you sow” satisfaction about The Ex’s exclusion.  The rational part of me, however, knew that the omission signified nothing.  It didn’t mean anything at all—Owen just as easily could have written about his dad and ignored me, if only a different fleeting thought had entered his head when the teacher read the assignment prompt.  A little competition followed by a little logic—those parts didn’t surprise me.

What did surprise me was the emotion that quickly followed on the heels of those first two thoughts: I felt bad for The Ex.  He was there at the program, as he always tries to be.  Owen hugged him and loved him and showered him with attention, proudly showing off his classroom and his teacher and his work displayed on the bulletin boards.  He didn’t favor me or favor his dad.  He was glad we both were there.  But there was no “Why I’m Thankful for My Dad” writing, and as a result?  I felt sorry for The Ex.

And then I felt really pissed off that I felt sorry for him.  He hasn’t given a rat’s behind about my feelings in years, from what I can tell, and he sure doesn’t deserve any compassion from me.  In fact, I’d bet money that he assumes I had a hand in that writing project somehow—that I encouraged Owen not to write about his father.  (For what it’s worth, that’s not paranoia on my part—the kids regularly repeat to me The Ex’s accusatory interrogations of them: “Did your mom tell you to say that?” “Did your mom make you choose that?” “Are you complaining/refusing/rebelling/expressing that because your mom told you to?”)  He’d be wrong, though.  And it doesn’t matter anyway.

I still feel bad for The Ex, even if he doesn’t deserve it, but it’s no longer my job to comfort or console him, to reassure him that he is a good parent, to remind him how much our children love him.  He’s on his own with all of that now.  As am I.

Fortunately on this day, I didn’t need any reassurance.  My boy was thankful for me, and I for him.


I’ll spend today with my children, my parents, 2 of my 3 sisters, and some wonderful friends.  I am thankful and grateful for all them and for so many other wonderful people and things in my life.

Today, may you all have many blessings to count and many loved ones at your side.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 

A Halloween Success. November 4, 2011

Filed under: 3 kids,Change,Childhood — nowisgoodblog @ 11:42 am
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Running a day late and a dollar short on this and everything else (sorry AGAIN, Owen’s birthday post).  Still, before I forget …

Our first Halloween in our new neighborhood was a raging success.

Our neighbors invited us over for a cookout and the kids had so much fun playing that they almost forgot to go trick-or-treating.

I discovered there is a huge mob of preschool- and elementary-aged kids  in our neighborhood—many, many more than in our old neighborhood.

We trick-or-treated en masse, with a pack of kids swarming each door and running willy-nilly across lawns and cul-de-sacs, parents repeatedly counting heads and glowing safety necklaces with bobbing flashlight beams.  It reaffirmed, for the seemingly millionth time, the rightness of my decision to move into this house in this neighborhood at this time.

This was how I remembered the Halloweens of my childhood.  This was the way I always wanted Halloween to be for my children.  This was the first year it measured up.

The kids declared it “The Best Halloween EVER.”  And it was.

It was the best for my Scream-guy-turned-”black-ghost” (when the mask became too irritating to wear):

It was the best for my cheerleader:

It was the best for my sweetest angel:

And it was by far the best for their happy, happy mama.

Happy (Belated) Halloween.

 

Austin Bat Cave. October 19, 2011

Filed under: Accomplishments,Childhood,Help,Writing — nowisgoodblog @ 10:29 am
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I don’t think I’ve ever shilled for anyone or anything before, but there’s always a first time ….

My dear friend Taline is a do-er.  A join-er.  A try-er.  A get involved-er.  I am extremely impressed by (and extremely exhausted just thinking about) all that she does.  She sent me a link yesterday to a fundraising initiative for Austin Bat Cave (she’s on their Board … see what I mean?).  Austin Bat Cave is a local non-profit writing and tutoring center providing children and teenagers with opportunities to improve literacy by developing their creative and expository writing skills.  As Taline puts it, “We trick kids into discovering their love for writing.”

I love this idea.  I love that there are people trying to guide children into becoming writers.  I love that there are kids in Austin who are learning to express themselves through this medium.  I love that Austin Bat Cave publishes anthologies of the kids’ works, making these children published authors and undoubtedly instilling confidence and building character in this next generation of wordsmiths.

Austin Bat Cave has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise a minimum of $25,000 by November 13.  The organization doesn’t get a dime until the minimum goal is reached. There’s a 3-minute video explaining who they are and what they do and how to help here.  If you have time, watch it and see if it doesn’t ignite your desire to see these folks succeed.

Writing is powerful.

 

Climbing Trees. October 11, 2011

Filed under: 3 kids,Childhood — nowisgoodblog @ 11:31 am
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My kids spent the night at my parents’ house recently.  The older two have long enjoyed their overnights with Gigi and Pop; Amelia is just now joining the fray.  My children crave these visits.  Given the option, they readily choose a night with the grandparents before a sleepover with their friends.  At the grandparents’, they eat way too much sugar.  They stay up past bedtimes.  They choose the books, the movies, the restaurants, the sleeping arrangements.  They are catered to, doted on, indulged.  (Which, of course, is exactly the job of grandparents.)

They also learn things that I can’t/won’t/don’t teach them.  To whittle.  To shoot a bow and arrow.  To plant.  To explore.  They tromp through the woods and across my dad’s garden.  They collect “treasures” in the form of pine cones, flowers, leaves … even once, a heavy link of chain that Owen was utterly convinced came from a pirate ship’s anchor somehow, some way.

They also climb trees.  My dad sent me these photos the day after the last sleepover.  Seeing them, I just felt so completely happy for my children.  Although I haven’t done it in decades, I remember how it feels to climb, to position yourself in a completely new world, to gain the perspective of height.  I remember the fear and exhilaration, the uncertainty replaced with satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment.  That, and so much more.  I hope they felt it, too.

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful.  Everything is simply happy.  Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance.  Look at the flowers – for no reason.  It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. 

~Osho

I have noticed that youngsters given to the climbing habit usually do something when they grow up.

~Elbert Hubbard

 When you reach the top, keep climbing.

~Proverb

 

Wonders. September 27, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Motherhood,quality time,Realizations — nowisgoodblog @ 8:22 am

Amelia’s school ends an hour earlier than the big kids’.  Which is just enough time to be inconvenient—it’s not long enough to go back home and get anything accomplished and it’s not long enough to really knock out any errands, but it’s too long to just drive from one carpool lane to the other.  Since the beginning of the school year, it’s been an hour in my day that has felt wasted … and most days I really don’t have an extra hour to spare.

Yesterday, though, I realized what that hour really was … or what it could be:  an hour for insight into my baby’s head and heart in a way that doesn’t typically happen.  Amelia’s the youngest, which means the already too-busy lives of her older brother and sister monopolize the lion’s share of our afternoons and weekends.  She gets toted along for the ride, but it’s not really her trip.  Generally, Amelia has to yell the loudest to be heard, whine the most shrilly to get attention, and entertain with wild abandon in order to grab her share of the spotlight.

Except for that one hour each day.  In that hour, it’s all her.  It’s her time.  And it’s high time I started appreciating that for the gift that it is.

Yesterday we were driving down the road en route to a quick store run-through between the school pick-ups.  My mind was on the work waiting at home to be finished, the deadlines I’m not sure how I’ll meet, the unfolded laundry, the bills, the coordination of schedules and appointments and lessons and meetings and everything else.  From the backseat, Amelia asked,

“Mommy, do you have any wonders?”

–What do you mean, wonders?

“Like, when you look up at the sky and you just fink [think] about fings [things]?”

—Sure I do.  All sorts of things.  What are some of your wonders, Milla?

“My wonders are trees.  And leafs.  And mamas and daddies and stop signs.  And grass and mittens and houses and schools and stuffed animals and movies and peoples and The Brady Bunch and car seats.  Oh, and sustructions [instructions].  Those are all my wonders.”

Mostly, yesterday?  My wonder was Amelia.

 

Stating the (Not-So) Obvious. September 20, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Humor,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 9:11 am
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Owen is a funny little dude.  My sister Caroline came over last night to spend the evening with the kids and me and to help ease a bit of my single-mama load.  We were sitting at the dinner table catching up; the kids were eating and watching TV (a usually forbidden treat during the family meal, but a necessary one last night to enable the grown-ups to have some chat time).   I didn’t think the kids were paying us any attention.

Caroline asked how a friend of mine was doing.  I said he was fine, although he’d been through some tough times.  “His dad died last year, you know?”  I said.

Not missing a beat, Owen looked at us sympathetically, nodded his head in grave understanding and asked the obvious question:

“Nazis?”

*Apologies for the photo quality and if I've posted this pic before. It just seemed fitting.


 

A Growing Boy. September 14, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Motherhood,Realizations — nowisgoodblog @ 10:21 am
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Bacon and Cheese Omelette.

Bowl of Cheerios.

Cereal Bar.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.

Baked Doritos.

Fruit cup.

Goldfish.

Club Sandwich with bacon, cheese, turkey, avocado, lettuce.

2 Containers of Yogurt.

3 Slices of Cheese Pizza.

Peas.

Ice Cream Cup.

That’s what Owen ate yesterday.  And in between the multiple meals and snacks above, the boy was hungry.  “Staaaaaaaaarving,” by his account.  He is only six, y’all.  That seems to be a lot of food for six.  I was warned that a growing boy would eat me out of house and home, but I guess I thought the onslaught wouldn’t happen til the teenage years.  Wrong again.

For some reason, this is always the post-football practice pose.


 

Happy Birthday, Avery. July 15, 2011

Filed under: Change,Childhood,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 10:08 am
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You are nine years old today.  Nine.

I didn’t do a birthday post for you last year, sweet girl.  I’m pretty sure that is mostly because we were away on vacation on your actual birthday, having the most marvelous of Dude Ranch experiences.  But if I’m being totally and completely honest, it might also have been because I just forgot a little bit.

I do that sometimes with you … I forget.  I forget that you are still so young, because you act so responsibly.  I forget that you still need so much, because you are so self-reliant.  I forget that sometimes answering your child’s question opens a door to conversations we may not be ready to have, because your logical linear thinking gets you several steps ahead of the game before I realize we’ve gone down the rabbit hole.  I worry about forgetting these things, but I am wracked with guilt over the possibility that sometimes I may forget that you are your very own you, because you are so very much like me.

And you are like me, dear one.  Holy moly, so very much so.  First daughter of a first daughter.  Eldest sibling responsible for setting a good example for the younger ones.  A success in school, an information junkie, a child capable of having the most adult of conversations.  You are hard on yourself.  You are embarrassed by anything less than perfection.  You worry.  Your mannerisms echo mine, you parent your brother and sister as I parent, you readily adopt my thoughts and my opinions and my viewpoints.  You beam when your grandparents or your aunts say, “You are so much like your mother.”

And that scares me a little.  Because I have many, many flaws.  And although I hide the ones I can and try to explain and apologize to you for the ones I can’t, I know you see them anyway.  You see them.  I’m afraid you will copy them.  And I don’t want my flaws to become yours.

What I try to remember is that although you are like me, in body and mind and spirit in so many ways, you are also different, and so, so much better.  You, already, have bested the flaws I still fight.  You show patience far beyond what I am able to muster.  You are confident in a way I don’t recall ever being.  Like me, you are naturally shy, but you bow up to that shyness and forcibly shove it aside in a way I didn’t learn to do until I was well into my twenties.  You are fair and impartial.  You call ‘em the way you see ‘em and you don’t cut anybody any slack when they wrong you or the ones you love (I’m proud of you for that), but you forgive those you love for their transgressions (I’m proud of you for that, too).

You were a challenging baby, but you are such an easy kid.  You are respectful.  You mind.  You help.  You follow the rules.  You do your chores.  You get good grades.  You love being with your family and you love spending time with your friends and you seem to appreciate a decent amount of solo time, too.  You are a deep thinker.  You are clever and funny and kindly (but never cruelly) sarcastic.  You see and hear everything.  You want to be in the middle of it all—you insist upon being in the know.  You love to read and swim and sing and dance.  You are a fantastic big sister, and Owen and Amelia both absolutely adore you.

I love you, but I also really and truly just LIKE you so very much.  I like being around you.  I think you are an incredibly cool kid on the road to being an amazingly impressive woman.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m terrified of you becoming a teenager.  I don’t want to lose you, and I know I will … at least for a little while.  The other day we were in the grocery store, just you and me, and we were laughing and teasing and giggling and talking.  I grabbed your hand and you let me (you usually don’t).  I said jokingly, but really oh-so-seriously, “Please don’t get all witchy in a few years—promise me you’ll stay as awesome as you are right now, because I just like you SO much!”  And you promised and you smiled and you held my hand, but you rolled your eyes a little.  You don’t know what’s coming, what lies ahead, what we must go through as you grow up.  I do.  I know.  And it’s coming all too quickly.

You made me a mother, which was something I always wanted to be, body and soul, so very much, for as far back as I can remember.  You were, and always will be, my first.  The first everything.  Because of that, you get my best and my worst, my wonder and my weakness.  Mothering the first child is, by necessity I suppose, trial and error—I fly by the seat of my pants with you.  I know I make mistakes, but I hope you know I revel in all you do.  You opened a door in my heart to a love I never imagined—one that still overwhelms me with its strength and steadfastness.

Happy Birthday to my perfect girl.  My first daughter.  My eldest child.  My me.  My you.  I am so awfully, all-consumingly proud of you.

 

 
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