Monday, December 23, 2013

Dear Mamasay: 23 Is Really The Magic Number

"Yes, it is. It's the magic number." ~ De La Soul

Happy Birthday, Mamasay. Today you would have been 62. And I know you wouldn't have believed it. You always said you still pictured yourself at 23. That was your magic year. A year when everything fell into place. When you told me that, I liked imagining you at 23. Running around town with Dad. Living in the Marina when it still felt authentically San Francisco. Having dinner at Gram's house on Jersey Street. The golden light streaming into her living room. Hershey's Kisses in the crystal bowl.

You were born on the 23rd of December. And you died on the 23rd of February. Some kind of magic.

It's been almost 5 years now. And I've been managing, Mom. I've been a mom for almost 5 years and I've done it without calling you every day. Well, I guess that's not true. There were the days when I screamed toward the sky, begging for your help. I didn't think I could do it. But I did. And I'm proud of myself. Not every day. But I'm prouder than I have been.

I've really felt your absence in the past few months. As I research schools for Quincy, I want your input. Your wisdom as both a mom and a teacher. If you were here, I know you'd be reviewing schools right along with me. You'd talk to your teacher friends. You'd visit schools with me. You'd help me in finding the best place to support Q's needs. His sensory issues would be familiar to you. We'd remember my strange sensitivities as a child and how you couldn't understand what was going on. But now there's a name for those sort of struggles. You'd want him to get all the help he needs so he can thrive. But ultimately you'd understand that it's up to me and Toby and what feels right for our family.

You would have been an amazing grandmother. I have no doubt. You'd keep Poppa in check with the treats. You'd dote on them but you'd know that you were also helping to mold them. Your sense of humor and warmth would bring smiles to their faces on every visit. I always admired the way you treated kids with respect. You never talked down to them. And you made each of your students, your nieces and nephews, family friends, and me and Danielle feel so important. Q and Z would have benefited from that, too.

As I'm making these big decisions in life and trying to be the mom my kids need, I often think, what would you do? How would my mom handle this? If only I had your patience. I'm working on it, but it's tough. Now I believe if I follow my gut, if I trust my instincts, you probably would make the same choice. You're guiding me in that way. Your energy is with me. I know it is. Thank you, Mom.

Happy Birthday. Your 23 is part of me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Crimes of Fashion: A 30-Something Mom's Perspective

"Seasons change, people change."~ Exposé

The other night I went to a concert where I was immersed in a sea of millenials. I hadn't been in such a concentrated stew of 20 year olds since I was in college. It was fascinating. And made me feel ridiculously old, of course. But oh, the people watching! I felt like I an ethnographer viewing a culture rife with pseudo-bohemian fashion and '90s-era goatees. Painstakingly-applied makeup and tie-dye tanks emblazoned with pot leafs sort of cancel each other out, yes? I know, I know. Just call me Judgey McJudgerson. Sorry, but I feel a bit of curmudgeonly observation is warranted after having spent these many years in the world. Well, at least compared to some.

Let me provide some more context. I've always been into fashion. I've even been known to succumb to my share of questionable trends. Hello, pumped bangs! Hello, Hammer pants! Hello, bodysuits! Hello, iridescent taupe lipstick! I love me some clothes and I'm willing to take a few risks, but as I've gotten older I (usually) realize what works for my style and my body type. And I attempt to be age appropriate, although sometimes I worry that I skew too young. Or I used to worry. Because I'm sure I looked positively ancient at that concert in my sleeveless button-up, ripped black jeans and flat sandals. (If I see one more girl in the music festival uniform, I may swear off summer concerts forever. When will that look die?!? I love cut-offs, but c'mon, let's liven things up already.)

Oh, and speaking of ripped jeans, can somebody please make some skinny jeans with reinforced knees for us moms? Within a couple months of wear, my stretchy skinny jeans have highlighted (faded) knees, which isn't really the bizness. Fortunately distressed is in because I've actually busted through quite a few pairs from so much squatting/kneeling/crawling around on the floor with my littles. But if I want a clean, solidly-hued pair, I have to be extra careful. And let's face it. That's just not happening in this season of my life.

I'd also like a sundress that artfully hides my not-so-toned middle. It's not my idea of a good time to get asked if I'm pregnant when my daughter is 22 months old. And I'm not pregnant.

Something like this?

In my dreams, Missoni.

Okay, fine. I miss being able to throw anything on and look amazing. If I was 20-something in this era, I would dabble in belly baring. Hell, I would flaunt more of the body that I used to have. I don't fault those girls really. They're experimenting, having fun, making the most of their assets. What I don't miss is the fidgeting and lacking confidence in my choices. I saw so much of that awkward hair flipping and tugging on too-short mini dresses. It made me realize how happy I am to no longer be that age. I may not love everything about myself, but I've come to accept a lot of me. To feel comfortable in my own skin. And I'd like to think that shines through the black eyeliner I still adore. I'll rock my skinny jeans and keep working on that muffin top. I'll remind myself that when my kids go through their experimental fashion phases to let them do their thing.

Just please, kiddos, choose your tattoos wisely and remember that sunblock is your face's best friend. I've had to learn the hard way.

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Q > IQ

"And something happens to me, there's some kind of wonderful" ~ The Drifters

We had a good weekend together. One that made me want to step back and press pause. To view it all from afar because sometimes that's the best view. The big picture, right? It's too easy to get bogged down in the details. In the day to day. But then you are able to be in the moment and enjoy it and realize just how fleeting it all is. 


Q has come so far over the last few months. He's not only losing the baby chub but some of the toddler antics along with it. And while that's a little sad because my baby is growing up, it's mostly a relief. I've gotta be honest--he hasn't been the easiest little guy to parent. Those who know him (and me) well can attest. He's "spirited" and "active" and "stubborn" and "aggressive". He's also curious and fun-loving and affectionate and hilarious. Plus his language abilities have grown tremendously after over a year of speech therapy. I get giddy when I hear him say something as simple as "I have an idea!" Because it took a while to get there. And he's been working so hard. His growing confidence with language has aided in his ability to better regulate his impulses. So yeah, there's more to it than needing speech support.

During our last parent-teacher conference, Q's preschool teachers suggested that he be evaluated by the school district for special education services. Not the easiest thing to hear as a parent. But very much needed. We really needed to hear it. Because I had suspicions and T wasn't on the same page. When his teachers very cautiously suggested this, we knew they were right. They just needed to push us in the right direction. And so began the journey of advocating for Q to get him assessed. After about a month of preparing and back and forths, we've gotten all the paperwork in and the dates are set for his evaluation and school observation. 

I'm looking forward to learning more about my son. I want him to get all the help he needs so he can feel he's at the same level as his friends. So he can talk and play in all the ways he wants. So he can satisfy his curiosities about the world and just get it. Really soak it in. And be ready for kindergarten. 

"What'd you say, Mommy?"

"I said I'm proud of the way you played with ZoZo today. You were really nice with her. You're a good big brother."

"I did a good job? I was nice."

"Yes, you should be proud of yourself."

My heart feels like it's alternately being squeezed and expanding. Like I couldn't love him any more than I do, but then I do and it's like, whoa. How is it even possible? He's mine and he's far from perfect, but he's absolutely amazing. 

P.S. Q had to go to the dentist 3 times in the past 2 weeks. He had a slowly dying grey tooth from when he was newly walking and banged it on the edge of the bathtub. Three years later there's an abscess above that tooth. The biggest abscess the dentist had ever seen in her career (and she wasn't all that young). So there was draining. And then more draining. And then the eventual removal. Bye-bye, baby tooth. Hello to a very apropos mischievous grin!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Many Months, Many Moons: Z's 18th Month Day

"Age ain't nothin' but a number" ~Aaliyah

18 months, ZoZo. That means a year and a half. That means we're just a hop, skip and a jump away from 2 years. Then 3, 4, 5 and you're in college. The months turn into years turn into me trying to remember your first word. Already?! Age is so much more than a number, but then I understand what Aalyiah was getting at too. (I'm 100% positive that Aaliyah didn't coin that there phrase, but it's so much more fun to give her credit.) It's your experiences that make you who you are. And you've done a whole lot of living in 18 months, Zoe.

You were born on 9/11 in the wee hours of the morning. You came out making a ruckus and you haven't stopped talking since. My heart sings every time I hear a new word come out of your mouth. She said "run"! She said "dirty"! She said "money"! Not in that order or in one complete utterance, mind you. You can also hit ear-piercing high notes. Which isn't quite as heartwarming, but impressive nonetheless.

Lately you gallop around like a pony when you hear music. You want me to pick you up so we can dance cheek to cheek, and when I stop moving, you bounce on my hip and ask me to keep going. It is THE BEST. Sometimes I feel like I'm making memories and trying to capture them with my camera or trying to tuck them into a safe corner of my brain and that maybe I'm not actually in the moment as much as I should be. I love this age of you, ZoZo. I want to make the most of it.

So you're kind of a girl's girl which both thrills me and strikes fear deep inside my bones for a future of must-have-princess-everything. You are obsessed with shoes and my jewelry. You hate being dirty. But then again you also climb and run and roll around on the floor with Q. You're extra ticklish and I can't help but try to make you giggle over and over again. Q likes to get in on the fun of course.

Our life together is not exactly how I wish it could be. I work too much and don't get to experience your daily triumphs. I love your face and miss it so much that I have to remind myself not to smooch you to death when I get home. Or should I follow Luther's advice--a million kisses is never too much?

Happy 18 months, Miss ZoZo! Sorry I'm late but I was probably kissing you instead of writing this.

Monday, January 07, 2013

I Live Four You: Happy 4th Birthday, Q!

"Sunshine baby, drivin' me crazy" ~ Clout

I used to sing that song to you. I still sing it to you from time to time. Little did I know that four years later it would be so apropos. You are my sunshine baby. My first born. My one and only son/sun. You light up my life. You're no longer my little baby, though. And you certainly have found ways to drive me crazy. You're my very own Sour Patch Kid. First you're sour and then you're sweet and then you're sour, probably more sour, a little more sour and then you're incredibly sweet. You make life more interesting, that's for sure.

His lashes!
So apparently as you turn 4, Q stands for 20 questions because you're a little reporter with your "who's that? what's that for? why? which one?" and on and on and on and on and on and on . . .
It can drive us batty, but your curiosity is most awesome.

You're becoming a great big brother. Not that you don't have a ways to go. You still push and hit and take her toys. But you're starting to say sorry more and sharing more every day. And you're protective of her--you insisted we leave the park by the Bay the other day because "ZoZo might fall in the water." You don't like when other kids mess with her either. You always tell people that you have a baby, that you're playing with Zoe, that Zoe's here, that you have a sister!

You love a good chase. You also have a penchant for all things scary. Halloween is your favorite. But you like any occasion that features treats. All you want for your birthday is chocolate cupcakes with candles on it that you can blow out. Wish granted, baby.

What I'm still coming to terms with is that I've been a mama for four whole years now. You're growing into a little man and I'm growing into a mother. We're both still learning and still making a boatload of mistakes. But mostly I'm still feeling in awe over your every little accomplishment.  You've had some struggles and so when I see you overcoming something--something as small as telling your teachers about a toy you have at home when you once struggled with the words--my heart fills my throat and I become a big ol' pile of ridiculous.  I love you so much that it hurts. You've made me evaluate myself more than anyone or anything in this world. And I truly do love you for it.

Quincy, it's your 4th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Quincy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Zoe, You're 1 of a Kind!

"I love you, baby, trust in me when I say it's okay" ~ Lauryn Hill

I refuse to believe that today is the day. That you have been in my life for an entire year already. For only a year now. Forever and hardly at all. My heart aches more than expected because you are very nearly a toddler. Your infancy has cruised right out the front door. You are becoming more and more your own independent lady. Which probably seems ridiculous to most at only one year old. Just 12 months. But I'm already starting to see the ways in which you will go your own way.

Along with cutting a few teeth, you've amassed an impressive amount of accomplishments in the last 12 months. You love to eat and get pretty worked up when you see me eating something that I'm not sharing with you immediately. You know how to sign "more" and even attempt to say it on occasion, but you'd rather bellyache your way into getting more. You have a few good words under your belt and try to say Elroy ("elyelyelyel"), which is most awesome. You crawl and climb and cruise and downward dog and are way more mobile than your brother was at this age, so I'm constantly in awe and in a state of panic.

While you have yet to grow much hair, the hair you do have looks like spun gold. I'm sure you find it amusing when I attempt to fasten a clip to those tiny strands, but just bear with me. I'm not one for those poufy headbands. Also, how the heck did I get another golden-haired child? Dominant traits, schmominant traits. Your bright hazel eyes are filled with so much wonder and you watch and mimic and watch some more. It's incredible to witness your daily discoveries.

It's tough to not be with you for the majority of most days. Sometimes I feel sick about it, and your clingy-ness when I'm home fills me with an odd blend of guilt and gratefulness. I was very lucky to have spent so much QT with Q in his first year. We had plenty of time to bond. But I'm just glad that you want to be close to me when I am home. Even if it can get challenging. Even when you shriek and cry giant crocodile tears when I leave the room just for a moment.

But as you grow older, you grow more confident in your abilities. You leave the bedroom we're in to tackle the staircase. You head into the dark bathroom and straight to Elroy's litter box. Oh yes, you keep me on my strangely flexible toes (which of course you've inherited). You splash and explore in the bathtub and the kiddie pool without fear. You want to do whatever your big brother is doing, despite him pushing you out of his way repeatedly. You read yourself books and "talk on the phone" with whatever is handy.

Thank you for making the last year so beautiful, my little ZoZo. It's hard to imagine life without you and I look forward to many more years of celebrating your special day. I love you more with every moment.

Zoe, it's your 1st birthday. Happy Birthday, Zoe!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

ZZ To The Top: Zoe's 11 Month Day

"You've got to move, you've got to move"~ Santogold

Hello Zo Zo! It's been a while since I've written you from this venue. Let's just say I've let life catch up to me. Sorry for skipping the big 10 month day post-- you know that we still celebrated in our own silly way. And life keeps speeding by and you're 11 months old now. What the what?!

So a lot has happened in the past couple of months. Not only do you crawl now like your tiny booty is on fire, but you're pulling up to standing on the regular. You've gone ahead and made like Tom and started cruising around a bit. You're so proud of yourself, and your dad and I are proud too. As if we have something to do with these milestones. 

I like to think that your first word was "mama" or "mum mum mum" but that's apparently up for debate. You also say "go go go" as we run around with wands playing Harry Potter with Q. You may have said "daddy" once or twice. And in the past few days you've started saying "ball" in a ridiculously adorable voice. 

You're a champion eater and are thrilled to finally be partaking in all of our family meals. You prefer feeding yourself, grabbing the spoon after being fed a couple of bites, so we typically give you lots of finger foods. Favorites include peas, carrots, zucchini, blueberries, TJ's O's, avocado, rice and black beans. You do not like bananas and are still considering cheese and yogurt. You still nurse or drink a bottle of breastmilk 4-5 times a day, but those teeny sharp teeth can hurt something fierce when you clamp down. Which reminds me, you now have three teeth and I think the fourth is not far behind.

I'm having such a blast watching you grow and your face light up as you discover something new that thrills you. You're so very observant, always watching the world with interest. Always watching your brother go wild. Loving his goofiness and not loving the way he snatches toys out of your hands. You, Daddy and Q kick off the evening regularly with dance parties, which you adore. You kick your legs and throw one of your hands up. I love walking in from work and joining the festivities. Keep dancing, baby girl! I promise not to be one of those scary stage moms.

You're 11 months old today. Just one more month until you're a year old. No need to rush through these last days of monthdom. Happy 11 month day, Zoe! I love your face, your toes, your arms, your scent, your barely-there hair, your voice, your laugh . . . well, every bit of you.