Posted tagged ‘childhood’

ONE!

February 2, 2012

Jane turned one (ONE!) this past Saturday.

For the week or so leading up to her birthday, my mind kept coming back to what I was doing last year at this same time.  Waiting.  I was waiting.  All her tiny clothes had been washed (one vivid memory stands out of folding onesies in my sunlit laundry room, wondering about the brand-new person that would fill them). I had occupied myself for days organizing the pantry and the cupboards in the kitchen.  I spent hours roaming the mall, trying to coax out the little one who seemed to want to take permanent residence inside my body.  She was a week late… and that week seemed longer than the entirety of my pregnancy.

Jane finally arrived after 14 hours of labor and an unplanned C-section.  And she was amazing.  I didn’t fall completely in love with her at first sight, though.  It wasn’t until I held her for the first time (about 30 minutes after her birth) and felt her latch on to breastfeed that I was completely overwhelmed with the enormity of being someone’s mother.  And completely taken aback by how much I loved this tiny baby girl.  Every fiber of my being belonged completely to her.

The first few months of her life whirred by in a sleep-deprived blur.  I wrote lots of things down during that time, in her baby book that I haven’t touched since she was 6 months old.  Then, there seemed to be lots of time to write and contemplate.  She and I had a slow, easy rhythm to our days.  But, once she could sit up (at about 6 months… I am sure I wrote it down somewhere), our times together exploded with possibility and little adventures.  And writing things down fell by the wayside.

I find myself wanting to capture every moment with her in my memory, freeze it so that I can look back and cherish each moment like folks keep telling me to.  But everything happens so quickly.  Now she is a big girl who eats brown rice, tofu and pineapple for dinner with her Baba and I.  She says “mama” and “baba” continuously.  She adores bananas (NANA!) and books (which we have to read over and over again).  She is a toddler.

I am fascinated with the child she is becoming.  She loves people.  The folks at the Y and at the church nursery always talk about what a happy child Jane is.  Amy & I didn’t have much to do with that, Jane just kind of came that way, but I bask in the compliment nonetheless.  At the mall playground the other day, a little girl wanted to hug Jane.  And she did.  Multiple times.  Jane gamely played along.  She even gave the little girl a kiss.  She is just that kind of kid.

Our days aren’t without meltdowns and tantrums; Jane has a strong will and her own idea about how things should go.  And any disapproval in my tone can send her into a crying jag.  But she rebounds quickly.  Tears are followed by hugs and (if I am lucky) a kiss.  I like that she knows what she wants.  And I am thankful that I am strong enough to set boundaries for her.

Jane had her very first cupcake for her first birthday.  She dove right into it, grabbing fistfuls of blue icing and shoving her little hands into her mouth.  She ate that cupcake like she lives her life, with enthusiasm and joy.  I am so amazed that I get to be her mother.  And so very grateful.

love at first lick

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Rainbows & Tutus

January 31, 2012

One of the most awesome parts of having a kid is dressing her in crazy, fun get-ups that I never would have been allowed to wear when I was little.

Exhibit A:

Rainbow

Rainbow leg warmers!  And a rainbow shirt that has each color of the rainbow spelled out in said color… And the cloud!  The cloud just says “fluffy” over and over in a cloud shape!  Y’all, I would totally rock this outfit if I could.  But I get to do the next best thing:  put it on my one year old daughter!

And, oh are there outfits for special occasions.  See Exhibit B, in which Janie debuts the tutu for her first birthday:

Happy 1st birthday Jane!!

Doesn’t this outfit just scream, “ONE!”?  Yeah, I thought so, too.

I know one day Jane will have very strong opinions about her clothes.  But right now, she rocks the Punky Brewster chic without a care in the world.  And. it. is. awesome.

Uh-oh!

December 13, 2011

10 month old babies crack themselves up.  It’s true.

Jane holds her sippy cup over the edge of her high chair, looks at me, drops the cup, then says, “Uh-oh!”  Sometimes, for added measure, she shrugs her little shoulders and holds up her hands like, “Wonder how that could have happened?!”  No one told me how hard it would be not to laugh at this stuff!

10 month old babies also tend to reflect their parents actions right back at them.  It’s scary.

Any time Amy or I are drinking out of a cup, Jane will stop what she is doing, look at us and say, “Ahhh.”  Every time she takes a sip of water out of her sippy cup, she says “ahhh” after she swallows.  This is maddening.  And funny.  Seriously, which one of us does this?  And why has no one made us stop?!?  And, sure this time it’s funny and harmless, but no one told me how hard it would be to be a person worthy of being mimicked by my sweet child.

I am glad no one told me.  I wouldn’t have believed them anyway.  Just like I would never have believed how much I would love her.  Or how little it would phase me to wipe snot off her face with my bare hand.  Parenthood is a crazy, lovely, messy gig.  It’s true.

 

 

Ten Speed

November 10, 2011

Today, I drove by the house I grew up in. My parents sold the house while I was away at college, so I thought Jane & I should check-in on the old neighborhood.

As I drove around, I realized that I dream about the neighborhood often. I am on my ten speed in these dreams, trying to decide if I should just go around the block or take the larger loop around the entire neighborhood. That choice always feels so significant. But I consistently choose the larger loop…and I am always pleased by the choice as I zip around the corners, leaning into the turns.

I haven’t consciously remembered these dreams until today. And now I am fascinated by what appears to be my subconscious, urging me to take a chance and rewarding my courage.

But Jesus Knows…

September 12, 2009

When I was thirteen, I was in a traveling karate demonstration team:  Champions for Christ.  That’s right… breaking boards for Jesus.

I got to wear a star-spangled uniform.  I broke boards.  I held up a watermelon, which my coach sliced through with a sword…while he was blindfolded.  The whole experience was pretty bad ass.

And then, after the demonstration, I used my newfound celebrity to lead kids to Jesus, on the Romans Road (I think the verses are still marked in the pink Bible that I had during my teenage years).  And whether you believe in this stuff or not, it was certainly better some of the alternatives my friends had discovered.  I wanted to share my faith, wanted other kids to know where faith in God could take them.

But, somewhere along the way, I developed a bit of a phobia of those boards I was supposed to be breaking.  At one point, I hit a slightly green board–and I hit it against the grain, the impact of which reverberated through my body for what felt like hours.  After that, I was scared of the boards.  And it became increasingly difficult to conquer (or break) something that I feared.

I would kick the board.  My foot would bound off of it, a little bruised for the trying.  This happened multiple times before I dissolved into tears.

My coach listened closely to my fears.  And what was his penetrating insight, his solution to help me work through the problem?  He decided that we could just pre-cut the boards so that they would be sure to break.

Awesome.  Sure takes a lot of faith to break a board THAT IS ALREADY CUT.

Our next demonstration went off without a hitch.  What could go wrong, really?  All I had to do was deliver a mild tap to the board, and it broke right in half, to the cheers of the audience. And then I told the kids that crowed around me how God could change their lives, how He could help them do things they could never do themselves.

That December, our team traveled to Gatlinburg, TN to perform in front of  hundreds of high school youth group kids.  Gatlinburg, the coolest retreat destination in the early 1990s, elicited such excitement from me that I couldn’t sleep for nights before the performance.

As I stood on the stage, in front of all my youth group friends, with music pounding and lights flashing, I knew that I had really arrived.  I stepped back into my kicking stance, put my foot up to measure the kick… and the board snapped in half.  I had barely touched it.  My partner quickly pushed the board back together; I set up for the kick, and he dramatically flung the two sides of the board in opposite directions.  But the damage had been done.  Everyone knew that I wasn’t breaking those boards on my own.  And, for the first time, it dawned on me that I was a fraud.  I didn’t have the faith, in myself or in God, to carry out the task given to me.  Fear caused me readily relinquish my integrity.  Fear quickly overpowered my faith.

I wish that, when presented with the opportunity, my coach had taught me how to invision my success… to see through the obstacle.  Or that he had suggested quiet meditation/prayer to focus me before the demos.  Instead, he suggested that I cheat.  And I gratefully accepted his offer…  because, it turns out, I had never believed in myself very much anyway.

Your Kiss is on My List

April 3, 2009

We wandered around outside, in the dark, around what would have been called the recess area, if middle schoolers weren’t way too old for recess. I could feel him slide closer to me as we walked, and I knew he was going to kiss me. My first real kiss. I was twelve. He was a tall band geek. But I totally dug him… until he kissed me.

Something was off. I had been obsessing about this boy, agonizing over whether or not he would call me (I wasn’t allowed to call boys—too forward). I giggled when I heard his name, blushed when he talked to me. I had passed countless notes about him to my BFF. So, now that I had him… what? Why did I feel so let down?

This is not an easy scene to reconstruct 21 years later. I don’t even remember why we were hanging around the school at night. There must have been some sort of event going on, because, after the ill-fated kiss, I ran inside to find my best friend to tell her all about me, and him, and the kiss, and….

As soon as I told her, it began: the firestorm of emotions that can only be elicited from a 13 year old. Somehow, with this kiss, I had betrayed her. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how. But her wrath indicated that it was undoubtedly a betrayal of the highest degree.

That night began what would escalate into my first friend break-up. The progression was slow and torturous. It took several months of fighting in the hallways at school; sobbing, late night phone calls; and her haughtily returning of her half of our best friend charm to me (she was ST END; I was BE FRI) to dissolve our relationship.

The boy? The boy was lost in the shuffle. I was too busy fretting and obsessing over what was happening with my best friend to be concerned about a boy. But now, reflecting on this first tumultuous break-up with another girl, it seems amazing that I am a lesbian at all.

Bits and pieces…

March 3, 2009

After a year of sobriety, the AAs usually ask you to share your story with the group. I have been thinking a lot about this lately, formulating what I might say… what insight I might be able to provide. As a writer, I think every person’s story has value. So, here are pieces of my story to be woven together at a later date.

In one of my earliest memories, I am having a meltdown at preschool. I am inconsolable. My parents had enrolled me in preschool shortly after my sister’s birth. They wanted me to develop social skills, to interact with my peers. I had other plans. My mother had dropped me off that morning, and I cried relentlessly until the teachers broke down and asked my mother to come pick me up. What I can still remember, though, is that as I was screaming and sobbing for my mom, I was eyeing the Big Wheels and trikes, watching the other kids have fun. And it did look like fun. I wanted to play too. But I had already chosen the crying path. Even then, I didn’t know how to redirect. So I went home with my mom. My parents never sent me back to preschool.

I was always a melodramatic kid. I remember watching Annie when I was six or seven and really identifying with her longing for parents, her wish to be loved… the problem with that was that my parents had always been right there and had alwasy loved me. My penchant for melancholy got ramped up a bit when my dad got transfered from Gainesville to Ft. Lauderdale, and we had to stay behind to sell the house. I remember my friends coming over to play and me just standing by the window, gazing out, clutching my Annie locket willing myself into sadness above the racket of my friends’ make-believe, until one of them whispered to the other, “Kendra must be sad because her dad is away right not. I think she might cry.” And I did. I shed one, single tear… just enough to express my sadness, yet still remain vaguely mysterious. Seems I was on the road to being a master manipulator at the age of six.