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Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012
My childhood home was set back ¼ mile from the highway on a dirt road. It was a beautiful, old farmhouse that my mother painstakingly restored. But it was secluded. I didn’t have anyone next door to play with. Then, the summer before fourth grade a new development went up. Some of the homes were already complete. Since it was paved, it was the perfect place to take my roller skates. One day while skating, I noticed another girl who looked my age–also on roller skates. We smiled in that shy way kids do. We did the “dance”…skating, then looking at each other, then skating some more. Eventually a “hi” came out. Then a “My name is…What’s yours?” Before I knew it, we were skating around the circle together.
Kirsten is my oldest childhood friend. Our lives grew apart, but she is one of those people who I can pick up where we left off. She married a Mexican man and made a life for herself in San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico. She has three beautiful boys. We haven’t seen each other in years, but we have that history.
None of this is interesting to anyone, but she did send me this email the other day and her words were so wise, I had to share. I posted recently about how hard it is to let go as our kids grow. But her words were a source of comfort and strength to me. They always have been. Here goes:
Kirsten and Alex post-trip
I just survived Alex’s 10-day long school trip to the Caribbean. I didn’t go; parents aren’t allowed to. Of course, I’d have been a willing chaperon but that’s against the tradition. At the beginning of the year, we were informed that part of the graduation celebration from elementary school was a trip all around the Yucatan peninsula visiting Mayan Ruins, Cenotes (sacred DEEP water sources where the Mayans prayed and sacrificed people), Eco parks, and historical cities. I didn’t have such an indulgent graduation even from University! Pepe and I said, NO FREAKING WAY!! It’s 2012 and between the narcos and the kidnappers, potential tsunamis, malaria, and the fact that Alex has never had a swimming lesson and can only kind of, sort of, tread water, the chances seemed slim that he’d make it back in one ”tweener” piece.
Well, to make a long story short, I just lived through a parental milestone moment. Not only because of the courage we had to muster up to let him go, but because of the level of discipline I had to apply in order to put into practice all the “life changing” focusing techniques, which I preach about. Where we choose to center our minds after we catch ourselves diving straight into our deepest fears, is just that, our CHOICE. I did manage to lure myself out of those dark spaces most of time, where every stranger was a potential threat and every wave could bring with it the riptide that would carry my 12-year old out to sea. It wasn’t easy, but it was a testimony to the fact that we really do choose how we live our lives based on where we allow our imaginations to linger.
What drove me to finally agree to the trip came from moments spent in quiet and solitude. I would sit and ask, “Is this trip necessary for my son?” The answer I received was always an immediate and indisputable “YES!!” I could feel it penetrating my whole body with a sort of WHOOOSH of certainty and peace.
We usually think of our “Motherly Instinct” or “Motherly Intuition” as being a built in warning system that helps us swoop up the baby just in time or to take the long way home today rather than the freeway “just in case.” It’s often our personal, physiological hotline to the Big Guy or Gal who helps us keep our little chicks where they belong–in the nest where they are safe and warm. But this new stage is teaching me a whole new realm of Motherly Intuition which I’m betting will help me through Alex’s adolescence, which in essence, is a gradual letting go of the sweaty little hand which once clenched mine with fervor and insecurity.
Rather than maintain our antennas on full alert looking for dangers, we can allow our intuition to work for the positives as well. We can ask “God,” our “higher selves,” “our guides,” our dead grandmothers, the purple elves–whomever it is that we tend to connect with in our deepest moments of silence–whether something is right for our kids. “Right” doesn’t mean that they will never get hurt or have problems and challenges. But if it’s done in the highest interest of our children’s growing process, then don’t we need to honor that? When we receive a “Yes,” as I did, then we have a space of knowing and faith to come back into when the unavoidable monkey talk starts up, reminding us of all that could go wrong.
So Alex returned sun-tanned, a little taller (at least he seemed it to me), and completely decided to be a world traveler someday. And maybe he will be. What role this trip will have in his life, I can never know, but I am sure it will have one. We can’t know our children’s destinies and I believe that it’s wrong to try and define the subtle edges of their gifts. Our role as mothers is to hold their hands as they discover that for themselves.
There will be more than enough people out there who will try to tell our children what they are and are not capable of. Meanwhile, developing and trusting our motherly intuition is the greatest gift we can offer in a world so steeped in fear. It was the true reason I was able to let go of Alex’s hand last week as he boarded the bus in the school’s still-dark parking lot at 5 am. Not without tears of course, but with the surrender that only comes from the gentle grace of knowing.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations | Tags: danger, independence, letting go, mexican, mexico, milestone, milestones, narcos, parental milestone, travel, tween, vacation
Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Damn, three weeks in a row and I’m still writing about my own milestones. I hope this means I’m vastly improving myself. Either that or I’m getting dumber and need more fixing.
Sometimes I really think we suck as parents. We decided to take a last minute mini-vacation. Saturday we started looking for hotels and cool places within a 6-hour drive from Los Angeles. We’re hotel snobs and all the places we wanted to stay were sold out. After exhausting the morning, we gave up. Then Phil had an idea.
“How about Sequoia National Forest?” he shouted from the office.
“How far?” I shouted back.
“Looks like only 3 hours. I found a cabin with a private pool.”
Done. We threw ourselves into a packing frenzy and headed out the door.
As soon as we were on the road, our old-life, (pre-kids) started knocking. We have always loved going off the beaten path. We’ve trashed many a rental car by finding dirt roads and rural routes to ding up the paint and ruin the shocks. Once in Hawaii we went off-roading so badly that we nearly rolled our rental jeep. With kids, we don’t take dangerous driving risks. But taking a scenic route with what looks like a 2-hour detour to see an old ghost town? Totally within the realm of reason.
A few weeks ago, we went to Palm Desert. On the way home we took “the scenic route” through Joshua tree. A 2.5 hour drive turned into a 7-hour one, with temperatures hitting 102-degrees. Poor Fia and Emmett were troopers, but by the time we got home, we were hot, exhausted, and dirty. Whatever “rested vacation feeling” we had was left behind on a cactus. You’d think we would have learned our lesson.
We take off on our detour towards Silver City. Turns out it’s a ghost town made up of relics from other ghost towns. In short, a tourist site. Having said that, it was still pretty cool to see all these old buildings and let Fia run around obsessing over spider webs from the 1800s.
Pre-Barf Ghost Town
I looked at the map and told Phil that the shortest route appeared to be through the mountains. You can’t tell on the iPhone how twisty the roads are. But you can guess where this is going. Two hours later, with each turn getting sharper, I start to feel sick. No sooner did I say to Phil, “I’m feeling queasy” did the projectile barf of Fia go splatting all over the back of my seat.
We had a half-pack of baby wipes and one small bottle of water and about a gallon of barf. There wasn’t a house, a store, or a gas station within an hour of us. Yup. We definitely got our wish. We were in the middle of nowhere.
We pulled out Fia, getting covered in barf ourselves, reassuring her through her tears that it was okay. We tried to wipe the barf off the car seat bedding, the safety straps (where vomit was stuck in all the grooves), and of course Fia, all the while cursing that we should always have paper towels in the car. Or at least napkins. Or maybe a better f–king plan where our own selfishness doesn’t dictate. We used all the baby wipes but 3. We saved those for Emmett. (Oh right, nearly forgot about him. He slept through it all. God, he’s good.)
We got Fia as clean as we could, promising her the pool in a mere 90 minutes. That’s like 90 years to a kid. Nothing we could do but forge on at about 5 mph with Phil practically walking the car at each turn. The windy road ended 3 miles (30 minutes) later.
At the cabin we all jumped in the pool, letting the residue of barf and guilt wash away. The water was heaven and all the playing made up for our stupidity. But seriously, no more of this ridiculous decision making. We have to remind ourselves that with babies it’s not about YOU. I think after this trip we finally acknowledge that.
Image: Windy Road via Shutterstock
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday | Tags: baby barf, carsick, ghost town, milestone, milestone monday, milestones, parenting, Sequoia, silver city, travel, travel advice, travel fiasco, travel with baby, travel with toddler, traveling, traveling advice, vacation, vomit
Friday, March 23rd, 2012
My best friend came to visit and captured this picture. I just love it. It seems to describe Fia perfectly….
As does this one. Another friend of mine, upon seeing this, said, “I know exactly the person she is going to be.” It’s a tad blurry, but I knew what she meant.
And of course, we can’t forget Emmett, who is all smiles and coos lately.
Monday, December 12th, 2011
Fia had her 2-year old checkup last week here in LA. I loved her new doctor, Dr. Iyer, at Glendale Pedatrics. She walked in, sat down and said, “Tell me everything from the day she was born.” Wow, I thought, I get the doc for 5 hours. Ha. I gave her the synopsis of her little life and she asked questions, took notes and just seemed very engaged. Not rushed at all.
Fia is developing fine, physically and verbally. No red flags. She said the hypochondria is probably a combination of attention seeking + knowing her body parts, which is very exciting to kids this age. I can ignore a little more, (since right now I immediately go and “kiss” the hurt area), and tell her not everything has to always hurt. Seems logical.
A few reminders she pointed out that I have to stay aware of: toddler safety. Phil and I tend to get a tad complacent, thinking, “well, she knows better than to…(fill in blank).” And for the most part she does. But she is still a tot, so we have to be hyper vigilant. For example, sometimes I’ll let her eat while watching Sesame Street and I’ll be out of eyesight in another room cooking. The doc gently reminded me that humans can choke on just about anything. Even a raisin (I have looked over to Fia before in her highchair and seen a mouth full of them). We always need to sit with our babes while they eat and not leave them unattended. Remember: choking is silent.
–Plants, including Poinsettias, are poisonous. I knew they were to cats, but I didn’t know they were to us as well.
–Toilets: This is the age where she may start to throw things in the toilet (gross). And along with that, toddlers may reach in to retrieve their toy and fall in since they are head-heavy.
–Make sure chords on our blinds don’t loop. Cut them so they dangle down individually.
–Secure cabinets. Two ounces of perfume contain enough alcohol to kill a small child. Mouthwash too, as it’s 85-95% alcohol.
–Stove top: cook on the back burners of your stove if your toddler is around while you’re cooking. I know Fia can almost reach the front burner now. Also, turn your pot handles inward, so they can’t grab it and pull, potentially spilling boiling water on them, etc.
–Helmets: we are thinking of getting Fia a tricycle for Christmas. From the very beginning make them wear a helmet. You want to develop a life long habit on this one.
And for my own fun, here are her stats:
Weight: 25.4 pounds (30th percentile)
Height: 34 inches (50th percentile)
Head Circumference: 19.25 inches (83rd percentile).
Some helpful websites for safety issues as well:
Picture of doctor and baby via ShutterStock.com
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Must Read | Tags: choking, Dr Iyer, eating, Glendale Pediatrics, hazards, Holiday, holidays, hypochondria, hypochondriac, milestone, milestone monday, Pediatrician, safety, toddler safety, turning 2, turning two
Friday, December 9th, 2011
Author’s Note: Join me every Friday for a dose of cuteness as I share snapshots of Fia. Adorable photos are guaranteed on Fia Friday!
Big Milestone today. I finally decided to take Fia’s mullet look and make it hip. We went for her first haircut at a super cute boutique in Los Feliz, called LaLa Ling. She sat through the whole 7 minutes without a fuss….mainly due to the 2+ lollipops she had. Those things are magic!
She sat on Cleo's (nanny) lap while I snapped away like the paparazzi
Toys in both hands and 2 lollipops later, she was a new girl!
Categories: Fia Friday, Milestone Monday, Moving to Los Angeles | Tags: babysitter, boutique, fia friday, Fia's first haircut, haircut, hip, lala ling, milestone, moving to LA, nanny, photo, picture