Moments in Magical Modernity: X


X.

Pixie-small feet find terra firma as a mother warns against flying on the public sidewalk. On the baseball diamond in the park, there are complaints against winking from third base to home in a kickball game and the rules are changed to keep things fair all round. Starlings swarm and meld into eccentric shapes at the turn of a childish finger, the tiny birds eager to please an equally tiny artist.

Nemiah, the park’s caretaker, watches with appraising eyes as his young students imagine unruly hedges and bushes into lovely topiaries for the Children’s Garden, coaxing the plants into the shapes without every clipping or snipping a single leaf. Animals, geometrics, knights on horseback, and shapely towers materialize under the fruitful imaginations of nature-sensitive children.

Leina leads her prenatal yoga class in her studio of soft blues and whites. She guides and transitions her class through the movements in soft, soothing tones, the sound of water pouring and rushing through her dulcet voice. Together, they bathe souls and bodies weary with the work of fostering and growing life in consolation, commiseration, and calm.

A young satyr blushes from his horns to his hooves with joy as a lovely, rosy redhead accepts his invitation to the Solstice Block Party and Dance with a pretty smile.

Childhood and growth are as full and varied and joyful and tumultuous as it can ever be. Babyish “I love you’s” still give way to the intermittent “I hate you’s” of adolescence and puberty. New life is celebrated profusely and milestones. First steps, first words, first flights, first shapeshifts, first discoveries of hands, feet, tails, wings. Lullabies are sung over cradles, midnight feedings stumbled and whispered and sleepily cooed through. Children grow and learn. They make friends and attend school. Magic does not separate them. Rather, it pulls these little ones together in a world sewn together by Magic.

A little girl is awoken in the deep night, sensitive ears catching the sound of crying through her open window. Peering out, she spies the neighbor boy weeping in his darkened bedroom with only the silver of moon to witness. Weeping for fear of the shadows.  A bit of paper folding, a silvery bit of flame whispered on a breath, and the little Mrs. Darling nightlight floats across the hedge barrier to rest on the boy’s window sill. There the paper lantern sits to cheerily flicker away throughout the night and assure him that he is not alone. Never alone.

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Photo Credit – Pinterest

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See Me and Delight In Me


For our wedding anniversary this year, the only gift I requested from my husband was a set of coloring books and crayons of my own, separate from those that belong to my toddler daughter. What? I like coloring. Of course, he came through with coloring books of Disney Princesses and My Little Pony (yay!), but I beefed up my coloring book collection the other day with some of the new wildly popular coloring books for adults. The one I worked on last night for my winding-down time was one of floral mosaics. I wanted something simple so I chose a picture of daisies and settled in quite happily with a colored pencil in one hand and an apple in the other. Even as I finished the stems and started working on the flowers’ yellow hearts, I felt this sudden urge to leap up from my chair at the kitchen table and run into the living room crying, “Mom! Mom! Look, look!”

That hit me hard. Even at thirty-two, I still long for my mother to see me and find beauty in me and what I do. I was over the moon when she commented that I had indeed lost a few inches. All those months of work and she noticed! When she compliments my mothering, I am chuffed for days. My mother is my hero and I want her to be proud of her girl. (I’ve definitely noticed that I’ve been singing Aladdin’s “Proud of Your Boy” more often lately.)

Then I realized that is all Elizabeth wants from me, too: to be seen, to be enjoyed, for me to be proud of  my girl. Her new trick is to come up to you with something behind her back.

“Please (close) eyes,” she asks.

You cover your eyes.

“1-2-3. Eeprise (surprise)!” And she shows you what is behind her back.

Your role is to be elated, tell her it’s wonderful, and give her a hug.

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My mom and my girl

I have lost count of just how many times we have done this over the past few days. Last night, though, I was very tired and refused to participate a few times (or at best was rather lackluster about it). My mom played along enthusiastically every single time. I am sorry that I didn’t. Elizabeth wants, needs, me to joy in her and in all she is learning to do. I want her to know that I do joy in her and I am proud of her.

One of her favorite movies is “Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch”. At the end of the film, the whole ohana is dancing Lilo’s hula together and she and Stitch hug each other. Then Nani comes over and tells Lilo, “Mom would be so proud of you.” At that point in the film, Elizabeth always runs to me for the hug and I amend the line and tell her, “I am so proud of you.” And I am. I will always be. When she is thirty-two, I want her to want to run to me, show me what she has accomplished or created, and know without a doubt that I will be elated for and with her.

“Mom, Mom! Look!”

“That is wonderful, my love! I am so proud of you!”

Fascinating Facets


I sit with my daughter in my lap as she indulges in some Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. As she sits quietly (a rare occurrence in and of itself), I take advantage of the opportunity to wrap her lovely pigtail curl around my finger and find myself once again mesmerized as I twirl it again and again and again.

Her hair is soft and glossy and smooth, as soothing as silk as I coil it around my finger. As I do and the curl tightens, I find myself marveling at it. It almost looks like an ombre candy cane, composed of shades of brown sugar and sable, though it is also shot through with bright copper and even honeyed blonde in some spots.

Her hair is smooth like her father’s but also curly like mine naturally is. She gets the shades of brown with red highlights from us both, but the shot of blonde is her father’s, as are her long eyelashes. We deal with the snaggles and tangles and she hates every minute of me combing them out of her hair. When her hair is loose, it is curly and fun and wild; when it is combed into pigtails or a ponytail, it is cute and coquettish. Either way and both, she is brilliantly lovely and I am constantly fascinated by the work of art that is my daughter’s hair. It is beautiful and unique and perfectly suited to her sunshiny, smiling face.

I dream of what that hair will be like some day, falling over her shoulders in abundant, glossy curls that bounce, the most superlative physical complement to my girl’s own buoyant spirit.

NaBloPoMo 2014 Day 8: Two and on the Move


Today was my daughter’s 2nd birthday picture session. We decided to do it early (her birthday isn’t until next month) and get it out of the way before the Holidays get busy. It was a vastly different experience than last year because now, of course, she can move and run freely. So keeping her on task for the pictures was rough, coupled with having to switch studio rooms back and forth as they were needed by other photographers. Just another testament to her growing up. But, all in all, it turned out well and fun was had, as you can judge from below. Many thanks to the hubby for the help with wrangling.

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Hey! I Was Playing With That!


The other day on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (my daughter’s favorite show), the characters were dealing with feeling jealous and what to do about it. I held my fourteen month old on my lap and talked to her about it. Though I know that she still is too little to really understand, I know for a fact that she is familiar with that feeling already. She doesn’t have the capacity yet to recognize it for what it is or think about what to do about it aside from take what she wants but I still talked to her. I told her that, when she gets bigger, if she feels jealous or wants something that someone else has, she can come to Mommy and Mommy will help her talk about it and figure out what to do.

No one has to teach a child how to be jealous. We see it immediately in toddlers with no prompting whatsoever. They aren’t necessarily interested in a toy or item until they see you or another person with it. Then, immediately, desire kicks in and the child is at your side, or the side of another child, reaching for and/or taking the item for themselves. If it is between two children, there is no mistaking the look on the face of the other child. We all know that look or those words.

“Hey, I was playing with that!”

 It’s a protest, a cry against the sudden change. What was dear to us, even for a short amount of time, has been snatched from us, even feels like it has been stolen. I have seen Elizabeth both take and be taken from and observed her reactions, as well as those of the other little ones. My girl is not retiring or demure when she wants something but it was clear to me that she did not like being on the other side of the mirror (who does, after all?), having had something taken from her by another child. She almost seemed to wilt a little bit, coming over to me with that look in her eyes of, “What do I do?” And all I could do was hug her and give her a new toy from nearby.

Adults are no different from children in their needs, wants, and the resulting jealousy and fear. However, with adults, it tends to be less about things and more about people. We treasure the attention of the people in our lives, enjoy the novelty and excitement of meeting new ones, and relax in the comfort of familiar attentions. Whether those people are siblings, parents, significant others, or friends, we will, at some point, find ourselves in the position of “sharing” that person’s friendship, time, and/or attention with others. And that is hard, especially at the outset. For lack of a better example, adults often have the same reaction as children when someone new comes along into the life of someone they care about.

“Hey! I was playing with that!”

 However, that reaction is usually hidden away in our private thoughts and feelings (as we are painstakingly taught to do in ‘polite society’), but they are still there. We have to give up the attention of the person in question, or at least a modicum of it, to make room for this new person in their life. And you’re often very right: you were there first, you were playing with them first. We all know that people are not toys, they are not possessions to be “played with”, but the principle is the same. We have to share because interdependence and relationship are part of the human existence. However much of a loner we may wish to be, there is no escaping relationship, not really. With relationship, then, comes a vulnerability born of caring, and jealousy is part of that. If you don’t like the term “jealousy”, call it “envy”, call it “being protective” or “territorial”. Use whatever describer you may prefer, but the result is the same. It happens when you care, even the littlest bit. It can blindside you in a moment’s blink. It can make your cheeks flush and stomach flop and make you want to become the Incredible Hulk and just SMASH!

“Hey! I was playing with that!”

Life is constantly new and exciting and jarring and it comes along with new twists and turns, well-met’s and fare-thee-well’s, for all of us. Along the way, somehow, we learn to cope. We learn to deal, to speak, to adjust, to adapt, and to love nonetheless.

The Truth About Birthdays


Pinterest is a fantasy world, in case you haven’t noticed. For the heck of it, I looked up ‘baby first birthdays’ (check it out for yourself) and looked through the pins that showed up. And I almost laughed out loud. Elizabeth’s first birthday looked NOTHING like these elegant, magazine-glossy affairs.

I had planned a simple, laid-back day with snuggles and cuddles and reflections on the past year, to be culminated with an afternoon nap to be fresh and ready for a family dinner at Johnny Carino’s that night. Yeah, that is NOT what happened. The morning was filled with errands, what should have taken perhaps two hours, took four, there was no nap when we got home, there were presents to wrap amidst amusing a rightfully sleepy baby. Then it was bathtime and getting ready time. The birthday girl did NOT want to get dressed, comb her hair, etc. Mommy ran through three outfits before she found one that she didn’t feel ridiculous in. Once we got everything packed and loaded up, including Elizabeth, we were fifteen minutes late leaving the house for dinner. She wasn’t happy being back in the car, naturally, and the rush hour traffic had begun. Even my husband beat us to the restaurant, coming from work, and he works about an hour away.

When we got to the restaurant, Ben took Elizabeth inside while I got the stuff out of the car. Naturally, as I’m getting out of the car, I drop her birthday presents. On the ground. In the mud. I could have cried right then and there, as I could have at many points that day. My mother handed me some tissues and I brushed them off as best I could. We got inside and found out that some family friends who had come had to leave at 6pm (it was almost five). We got Elizabeth situated and our drink orders placed (our server was patient and wonderful, thank you!). When Elizabeth’s milk came, I overfilled her sippy cup so when I went to screw on the lid, milk shot up into the air, only splishing her rather than soaking. Her bag got most of the wet. I sat there and just covered my face, again almost crying. Throughout dinner, Ben and I fed Elizabeth lots of bread and bites off our plates, though I know that she wasn’t getting as much food as she might normally. But she really seemed to like the bread and the milk at least.  Elizabeth suddenly decided that she had had enough of being in her high chair so I managed to free her and give her to our friends so they could cuddle her. They soon had to get ready to go so I had to rush along opening her presents from them, singing happy birthday and giving Elizabeth her birthday cupcake (we didn’t bother lighting it).

And there was my moment: watching Elizabeth stick her fingers in the frosting and eat bites of the cupcake as well as tasting her fingers. For a few minutes, I got to sit there and tape my girl and watch her enjoy her cupcake and frosting, eating far more daintily than I think I have ever seen a one year old eat cake. She did try to smoosh it towards the end but there was no huge mess.

On the whole, the day was not the best. I felt a great deal like a failure as a mommy, weary as a woman, and a shadow of a person, run off my feet and brain-weary. It was a ‘the universe hates me’ sort of day. But there was that moment and that moment made all the difference.

Baby Year 1


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As my husband says, I look like I’ve been hit by a truck here. Yeah, I felt that way, too. But this moment, it’s the only moment that I allowed myself to be photographed, even requested it. Because I wanted to remember that first moment of ultimate joy with Elizabeth.

Tomorrow, my baby girl will be one year old. I don’t quite know how to put all of that into words. I don’t at all, actually. When I look back through all of the pictures, read through her baby book, look at the portraits on the wall, and see her toddling around or reaching her arms up to be picked up by Mum-mum or Dada, I just…marvel.

Here is this little life that was lifted out of me almost a year ago, whom I fearfully bundled up and brought home through the snow several days later. Here is this babe whom I recorded with the hiccups on her week-old-day in the wee hours of the morning. Here is this baby girl who greets me with a smile and a bounce in the mornings, who sets up a wail when I tell her no or when her loved ones leave. Instead of a tiny baby cuddled in my arms, there is this fearless, energetic kid starting to walk quickly around my living room, squealing and laughing and playing. It’s amazing, beyond words amazing.

So, Elizabeth, on your first birthday, I want you to know how amazing your Mum-mum and Dada think you are, as do everyone P6else in your life and everyone you meet. Thank you for blessing and challenging us this year, and we are looking forward to many more wonderful years with you, my little love.