How To Ruin A Summer In Six Easy Steps …

Our Family’s Summer Fun List 2012! Are We Having Fun Yet?

I start off every summer with wonderful intentions and high hopes for wringing every last drop of summer fun out of the few short months before school starts up.

In my summertime delusion vision, my girls and I spend our days together making memories (all documented in glossy pics and HD video):   picnics in the park, sand angels at the beach, long walks around town, make-believe play at every playground in the city and visits to all museums within a five-mile radius.

We’ll play hopscotch, badminton, and frisbee with the neighbors, eat homemade popsicles, ice cream and s’mores out on the deck, and go on zoo, aquarium, planetarium and arboretum adventures before our math fact and reading marathons (to prevent that insidious “summer slide” I keep reading about).

And on the second day, we’ll tackle the water parks – don’t forget the water parks!

Our days will flow from one joy-filled activity to the next. Television/computer/iPads/phones – who needs ‘em? Other than the occasional movie night complete with cuddles and popcorn, we’ll be far too busy bonding to let electronic diversions into our lives.

Beginning on June 21, I started pressuring myself to get out of the house and enjoy the summer in a big way. With July 4 coming up next week, I’m in full on panic mode. We haven’t even begun to check-off our summer fun list. What will become of us?

I’m beginning to think that my hyper-intensive focus on having fun this summer may be is strangling the joy right out. If your goal is to sabotage your summer and ruin a perfectly lovely season, you’ve come to the right place. Here are my top six tips:

  1. Focus on how much summer is already gone (1/3) rather than how much is left (? – don’t make me do fractions – it’s summer, remember?). Why should I let a little sunshine and warm weather turn me into a glass half-full person? I’m not emotionally prepared for that much change inside of 12 weeks.
  2. Pressure and bully yourself into getting out and doing fun things. Beat yourself up for not living up to your expectations of making wonderful summer memories for your family. Nothing is more fun than feeling pressure to relax and enjoy. “Have fun now, damnit,” is a time-honored inspirational rallying cry! Right?
  3. Ignore the fact that your children are perfectly happy not running around town doing all those “fun” things. Do not believe them when they tell you they are having fun throwing water balloons or sliding down the arms of the sofa for hours at a time. They, along with your well-meaning friends (see #4), obviously are delusional and don’t know what’s good for them.
  4. Do not give any credence to your kind friends who suggest you quit trying so hard and accept that you’re in transition-mode; that slowing down to summer speed takes some time. Listen instead to the nasty voice in your head that tells you “if you take any longer to slow down, summer will be over and you’ll be in mom fail.”
  5. Try to jam all the same activities you accomplished when your kids were in school into a summer break schedule. Also, be sure to obsess over not posting often enough on your blog and having nothing sane witty to say on Twitter and Facebook.
  6. Compare yourself mercilessly to other mom bloggers who somehow manage to take their kids to the beach, amusement park and science museum on the same day, prepare a picture-perfect summer meal and write a fabulous blog post about the day, complete with Instagrammed photos. Do not compare yourself favorably – that would ruin the effect.

I know what you’re thinking! And I agree! We need … a hammock. A hammock will fix all of this insanity angst and ensure we enjoy the summer! Think of all the great conversations we’ll have swinging on that hammock drinking lemonade, identifying the constellations and catching fireflies (that I’ve never seen a firefly within ten miles of our home notwithstanding).

Thank you for reading my mind! You. Are. Genius.

No?

Well then, smartypants, you must have other ideas. Please – save me from myself. How can I let go of my inner bully and salvage what is left of the summer? If you can’t help, please commiserate! How do you sabotage your summer joy and fun?

To Me, Gentle Parenting Means …

I am participating this week in the 2012 Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Parenting Gently. I wrote the following article for the Carnival. Please visit ParentingGently.com to read other parents’ takes on Gentle Parenting …

Being Teachable:  Ideas & Ideals

I am in no way a Gentle Parenting expert. Frankly, I only recently heard the term and started learning about the concepts.  To me Gentle Parenting means treating my children with the same love, compassion, respect and kindness with which I want the world to treat me. And for me, living up to that ideal is no easy feat!

I firmly believe my two daughters are my best teachers, and we’re growing up together, step by step.  When I pay attention, I can learn from them how to listen to myself, stay in the moment and enjoy the adventure that is raising them. As an aspiring gentle mom, I want to be the kind of parent who:

  • Makes nurturing myself and getting support a priority
  • Offers myself and my children choices and boundaries
  • Identifies with my children’s successes and challenges
  • Finds the joy in parenting

While these ideas don’t come naturally or easily to me, here’s what I’m learning:

Nurturing Me

My goal as a parent is to celebrate and enjoy my children.  Rather than parenting with resentment or martyrdom, as often as possible, I want to give to my family from a place of willingness and joy. Unfortunately, I tend to be reactive. And a perfectionist. A volatile combination – and not exactly conducive to joy and fun! I have noticed that when I take in more mothering from loving friends and more nurturing for myself, I’m less reactive and better able to lovingly connect with myself and my children.

When I focus on myself and consciously look at all the ways I treat myself both lovingly and hurtfully, I recognize that I naturally treat my children in those same ways. In my experience, I can’t neglect my needs or ignore my own emotions without at some point offering the same to my children. For example, when I yell out of frustration or offer shaming messages to my children, chances are good I’m treating myself to those same powerful messages. Yet when I’m accepting and forgiving of myself, I tend to model those traits in my interactions with my kids.

To make those positive interactions a reality, I need a lot of loving self-care; things like regular meals, consistent exercise, bathroom breaks when needed (not put off until I’ve completed five more “urgent” things!), sufficient rest and downtime, some grown-up play and fun, a little fresh air and, possibly most importantly for me, connection with other loving people. If I don’t make these things a priority in my life, there is little chance I’ll interact with my children with love and compassion.

Making Choices/Setting Boundaries

Gentle Parenting to me means choices. When I am able to take a deep breath before I respond to my kids, I find I have more choices in how I interact with them. You’d think breathing would be an easy task, given that I’m presumably doing it regularly. You’d be wrong! When something isn’t going my way or is different from my plan, my typical reaction is to control, not breathe; tighten, not soften. When I’m able to remember to breathe, slow down and be gentle with myself, I tend to enjoy family interactions more. I’m guessing my kids do too!

Gentle Parenting to me is letting go, primarily of my expectations. I struggle daily with letting go – thus re-dos are a big part of my parenting. As I was working on this article, eager to finish it on my timeframe, my daughter Ava (8) asked me to read a Harry Potter book to her, one of our favorite mommy-daughter activities. My first reaction was “no,” I had to get this article done. The question, “Why?” popped in my head. I love to read with my daughters. And I love to write. Writing would give me a sense of accomplishment, a “to do” checked off my list. I knew I’d have some writing time later in the afternoon when our babysitter arrived, yet I still wasn’t convinced.

Anxiety drove my initial “no” response.  Then, when I stopped, breathed and asked myself what would bring me more joy in the long-term, I realized I had choices. And here’s the tricky part:   there was no “right” choice! Choosing to stop writing and read to my daughter would have been a fine choice; choosing to keep writing and agreeing on a time later in the day to read together would have been a fine choice, too (even if my daughter had feelings about my choice – yikes!). It seems important to me to be conscious that I have many choices and am making choices all the time.

This time, I asked Ava for a redo. When at first she wasn’t interested, I got up off my chair and went to her. We had a delightful time cuddling and reading together. When the babysitter arrived later and I started writing again, I felt happier and more in touch with joy.

While I strive to make my relationships with my daughters my first priority, it’s also important for me to remember that I deserve to set boundaries. I’m not always available at the exact moment when my children (and others!) want my attention. Neither are they. When I accept my limitations and imperfections, our time together feels more authentically loving.

Identifying Vs. Controlling

Being gentle in my parenting means being gentle and loving with myself first, something I have little patience for on my own. I like efficiency and order, the antithesis of humanness (and my children!). When I can appreciate that my girls are providing me with opportunities to grow, to open my heart and live a fuller life, I soften. When I identify with them rather than try to control them, we all grow.

For example, my daughter Ava (8) and I often struggle over her homework during the school year. Whenever I’m focused on her progress and how easily distracted she is, I end up trying to control her by pressuring and nagging. When instead I focus on my own feelings, I realize how alike we are and how hard it can be for me to focus after a long day.

When I explain to Ava that I understand and often feel the same way, we connect. When I make our relationship more important than my expectations about her homework, my daughter tends to blossom. I like to think I do, too.

Finding More Joy

To me gentle parenting is the opposite of control – it suggests forgiveness of myself first for all the ways I don’t live up to my expectations as a mom. It requires humility that I don’t always know what’s best and an open mind to let in new ideas. Gentle parenting means embracing forgiveness – of myself first – and teaching my children by modeling that there’s no shame in making mistakes, there is no shame in owning our humanness, there’s only more joy to be found.

I’d love to know … What do you think of when you hear the term Gentle Parenting? What does parenting gently mean to you? 



Please join us all week, June 25-June30, 2012, as we explore the world of gentle, effective parenting. We have new posts each day by talented authors providing us with insight into why gentle parenting is worth your time and how to implement it on a daily basis. Check out all the carnival posts over on ParentingGently.com

We are also giving away several parenting book and other goodies from our sponsors this week. Please stop by and enter to win!

This year’s beautiful motherhood artwork is by Patchwork Family Art. Visit the store to see all her work.


15 Signs That I’m a Mom

I Know I’m a Mom When …

Occasionally, when I wake up in the morning, I look over at my husband and wonder where the hell I am. (And who is this cute man in my bed?) As someone who was never certain I’d get married or have a family (and someone who waited a long time to do both), at times I’m in awe of my life. How did I get this life? When did I get old enough to have a ten-year marriage and two small children?

Our daughters resemble their dad in most ways – fair skin, brown hair, blue/grey eyes – and it’s obvious who their dad is. But, where’s their mom? Other than the fact that when the babysitter leaves, I’m the only adult left, how do I know I’m a mom?

Here are my top fifteen signs:

  1. I clean dried boogers off the walls/tables/bedframes (and my husband stopped picking his nose and rubbing his boogers on the furniture months years ago).
  2. I am conversant in Dora the Explorer Spanish.
  3. I know which sippy and straw cups leak (and the manufacturing execs who should be hanged for false advertising) and those I’d happily give a big toe to own. (Pssst:  I’ll share this knowledge with new moms for a small fee!)
  4. I’ve become a connoisseur of children’s books and I really do care what happens to Pat the Bunny, Curious George and that little shit Fancy Nancy.
  5. I compare myself to other moms. (And why would I do that if I weren’t one?)
  6. I couldn’t wait for my daughters to start preschool. Then I wept inconsolably once I dropped them off.
  7. I get excited for back- to-school season.
  8. I feel like my heart is walking around outside of my body on most days, especially when the girls aren’t with me.
  9. I treat my babysitters better than my friends because it’s harder to find reliable, trustworthy babysitters.
  10. I took out a second mortgage on our home to pay for summer camp (How is it possible that summer camp is so expensive? I’m expecting my kids to come home with at least one marketable skill after such a remarkable financial investment. Is that too much to ask?)
  11. There are more dolls in my house than shoes. And I have a lot of shoes.
  12. I now occasionally think about what may be best for someone(s) other than myself.
  13. I’m thrilled and moved to tears by small homemade gifts (unless they’re from my husband for our ten-year anniversary – hint, hint); this portrait from my daughter for example.

     14. Although our girls look like their dad, their behavior mirrors mine (And, yes, much of it is cringe worthy!).

15. I’ve become a Mama Bear – I’d do anything to protect these two little miracles. There is no question in my mind that I would die for them. And kill for them.  (Not just willy-nilly murder mind you. I would need a fairly good reason!)

Here’s what some Facebook friends had to say in response to the following:  You Know You’re A Mom When …

Misadventures in Motherhood:   “Sniffing a toddler’s butt seems like a perfectly normal thing to do.”

Summer Holt:

  • “You catch yourself singing a children’s song in the car by yourself…you catch yourself saying the things to your kids your mother said to you that you swore you would never say.”
  • “When someone says they are hungry and you say ‘I’ve got goldfish, raisins, cheerios, apple juice, and formula’ what would you like?”
  • “When your baby is constipated and finally goes, you tell the rest of the family, describe it, and give high fives!”

Kristie Clower from Creating Chaos:

  • “Using the bathroom with a baby on your lap is the norm.”
  • “Upon hearing ‘MOM!’ in the store you reply ‘what?’ even when your kids are at home.”
  • “You consider buying yourself a new nursing bra a big splurge.”
  • “You know all the words to the songs in Go Diego Go. And Dora. And Curious George. And Backyardigans.”
  • “You’ve seen Cars 217 times in a row.”

Carrie Bailey:  “Your nipples are sore but the only person you’ve been in bed with is your nursing baby who has teeth! Ugh!”

How would you fill in the blank?  You Know You’re A Mom When … _________________

Top Ten Lessons From My Newly Minted Four Year Old

Dearest Rhys,

You, my little love, are pure sunshine, a miraculous bright light in this world. You own my heart and rock my world in so many ways, big and small. I adore every inch of you from your wispy, tangled brown ringlets to your curvy, mini-me toes. You are joy to me and to countless others.

In our few short years together, you have patiently and repeatedly taught me many things about life. In honor of your fourth birthday, I want to thank you, my sweet girl, for the following lessons:

1. Love:  Pure and simple. You love me because I’m your mama and that’s enough for you.

2. Getting Your Needs Met:  You know what you want and are willing to ask for it verbally and non-verbally: One of my favorite ways is when you poke caress my face when I fall asleep take a short break during our daily mommy-daughter reading time.

3. Importance of play:  When I wrote a “things to know” list for our new babysitter, you took the list, looked at the babysitter and said, “It says, play, play and more play!”

4. Self-Worth:

Me: “Rhys, I will come to see your bubble drawings for the fiftieth time again after I finish my dinner.”

You:  “Mom, I am more important than food.”

5. Philosophy:  “Mama, cuddling fixes everything.”

6. Clarity:  “Mom, I’ll have a bagel with cream cheese, cut in half, with cereal, three kinds in different bowls, with milk and separate spoons and a spoonful of cream cheese on the side.”  (I identify with your love of all things carbohydrate and cream cheese as these are also two of my favorite food groups.)

7. Creative Problem Solving:

You:  “Mom, do you need any company in your bed tonight?” (When Daddy was out of town.)

Me:  “No thanks, honey. You can sleep in your own comfy bed.”

You:  “Mom, if I have a bad dream can I come and sleep with you?”

Me:  “Sure, Rhys.”

You:  “Mom, ahhhhhhh, I’m dreaming! Hurry, I’m dreaming! Oh no, I’m dreaming! I have to come sleep with you!”

8. Prioritization:  “Mom, I can’t shower now. I haven’t colored in five or six years and I want to color now.”

9. Fashion Sense:  “Daddy, when we play Cinderella, do not wear that to be the prince. It’s disgusting!”

10. Attention to Detail:  I was eating pasta with tomato sauce and you were on my lap. You handed me a napkin and told me, “You’ll need this, you’ll get some on your face” and pointed to both sides of my mouth.

My little bug, thank you for teaching me, guiding me and reminding me of all that is important in life, especially my relationship with you, plain and simple. I love getting to know you and appreciate having the privilege of watching you grow.

I wish you joy and the ability to see yourself as you really are, a beautiful, loving, curious child, one who deserves to treat herself well and be treated well by others. May you have a big life, full of victories, mistakes, re-dos and abundant self-compassion. May you continue to be teachable and accept yourself along the way. May you have wonderful relationships with others that nourish your soul and tickle your insides. May you hold your head up and believe the universe is acting for you, for your good. May you know love in every iteration; giving and receiving. May you count your blessings and bless your circumstances. May your life be yours and beyond your wildest dreams.

I love you,

Mama

I’m all that & more!

Joy In Parenting: Daddy Style

Can You Say Fun! Mike Dancing With the Kids at a Cupcake Shop!

 

My husband, Mike, is a loving, attentive and tender father to our two daughters, Ava (8) and Rhys (4). One of his most endearing qualities (and the one I’d most like to learn from) is his ability to stop and enjoy the moments. He’s able to ignore the dishes and the messes to run outside with the girls and stare at the moon. They dance and laugh and tell stories about what they’ll find on the moon when they visit it one day. Amazing.

When I asked our daughters how they would describe their dad, they both immediately replied, “Fun!” I describe him as playful, patient and generous with his time, affirmations and hugs.

And he’s not a saint. He’s a real dad. Inconsistent? Of course. Imperfect? Absolutely.  And he brings joy and fun and richness to our lives unlike anything we would experience without him

In many ways, our parenting styles are similar. In other ways, we’re the embodiment of the saying “opposites attract.” While at times I bristle at our differences, in honor of Father’s Day, I’d like to celebrate a few of the many lessons my partner teaches me about parenting simply by being himself:

 Imagination

  • I see a clean playroom and want to discourage the girls from ever taking another toy out of a cabinet (let’s be clear, girls, the toys are for looking, not touching).
  • Mike eagerly builds forts, towers, castles and doll houses, spending hours constructing a mess elaborate structures to the delight of our daughters.
  • Lesson:  Fun is messy.  Hire a babysitter who loves to clean up and organize.
Perspiration
  • I think it’s too much work hauling all our bikes out of the basement, loading and securing them to the top of our car, and driving thirty miles to a scenic bike path for what turns out to be a 15 minute bike ride with two whining appreciative small kids.
  • Mike willingly loads and unloads our family and sees it as an adventure.
  • Lesson:  Find out what happy drugs Mike is taking and ingest a double dose. 
Accommodation
  • I get itchy and sleepy (and Grumpy & Doc) after ten minutes of pretend play.
  • Mike willingly sits on the floor and plays Polly Pockets with the girls for an undetermined amount of time (undetermined because unlike me he doesn’t look at the clock every five minutes). And he appears to enjoy it.
  • Lesson:  Remind the girls how much it means to their dad when they ask him to play dolls with them. Encourage them to ask him more often. Enjoy the free time!
Exploration
  • I would be perfectly happy at home with a video on family nights.
  • Mike prefers to take us on adventures – running around the football field at a nearby high school, driving around town trying out new parks and playgrounds, kayaking in the Chicago river.
  • Lesson:  Borrow some of Mike’s enthusiasm and pack a snack. Or rent better videos.
Facilitation
  • I believe that  pulling out boxes of cereal, milk and fruit constitutes making breakfast.
  • Mike makes pancakes with the girls every weekend and doesn’t bat an eye at the mess. He also usually cleans up after.
  • Lesson:  Consider pulling out boxes of cereal, milk and fruit for lunch and dinner also and see what Mike cooks up.
Celebration
  • I hate making mistakes and tend to be hard on myself and others.
  • Mike encourages mistakes to the point of encouraging the girls to promise to make at least one mistake a day. When they do, he  reminds them to celebrate.
  • Lesson:  Jeez, let go and enjoy this man already. He’s a keeper!

While to us my husband is unique, apparently I’m not alone in learning valuable parenting lessons from my partner. In honor of Father’s Day, I asked some friends the following question on Facebook and Twitter:

What makes your husband/partner a good parent? What have you learned from him about parenting?

I hope you enjoy their answers as much as I did:

Tara from http://www.feelslikehomeblog.com

Time. I read once that the best gift you can give to a child is undivided attention, and I think it’s true. My husband spends a whole lot of time with our daughters, and he tries really hard to be open and willing to do whatever they want to do with him.

Cary from http://www.facebook.com/stayathomerockstar

My husband is the fun one! He is always ready to swim, throw the ball, play UNO, or wrestle with the kids. I’m trying to learn to forget about all “the stuff” that keeps me busy (dishes/laundry) and be a little more spontaneous and present like him.

Sarah from  http://www.thereshegoes.org

My husband has all the patience! I see him, daily, show our 2.5yr old how to do all sorts of things and he never gets tired of explaining, showing, guiding, and loving. I adore it when he lets her “fix” things with him even though she mostly loses all his tools and tiny spare parts that he sets down!

Mindi from http://stavishclan.com/

My husband is super attentive to the boys when it comes to their toys. He is always shopping for new ones, building transformers and legos and finding them the latest superhero masks. Oh and he keeps track of all the little parts to their toys. He also loves finding them great books.

Megan from http://www.megsamommy.com/

I have learned that my husband has the patience of a SAINT. And, I am glad too, because in some cases I do not!

Demetra from http://threegirlsandaminivan.com/

My husband passed away in 2009 but even though our daughters were very young they still have memories of him swimming with them, dancing with them, letting them help him cook, they remember he was silly…so yeah I would say a willingness to spend time and have fun…it has created lasting memories for the girls.

Christie from http://www.outlawmama.com

My husband taught me to say no.

Lisa from Facebook

My husband doesn’t get his butt puckered over bedtime, consequences, or high-fructose corn syrup. He reminds me that our reasonable best is more than enough to raise wonderful kids.

Happy Father’s Day, Mike! We love you! And Happy Father’s Day to all the dads who make parenting look easy and who generously share their hearts, strength and wisdom with their families.

I’d love to hear your responses to the same question:  What makes your husband/partner a good parent? What have you learned from him about parenting?

And The Award Goes To … Me!

Congratulations are in order … so bring ’em on! I am now the proud recipient of a distinguished Kreativ Blogger award, my first blogging award ever! A big thank you to the lovely, talented and hysterically funny Kristen of Abandoning Pretense for nominating me (that she has supurb taste goes without saying!).

I’m thrilled and honored and as anyone who knows me could guess, also a little uncomfortable. You see, I have an insidious habit:  I crave, long for and lust after kudos and recognition of any sort, yet once I receive any, I’m eager to kill any joy I experience. I call this charming tendency, Joy-Busting.

Here’s how I do it … cue the nasty little messages in my head:  (So we’re clear, I’m only doing this for your edification.)

  • This is the dumbest award ever; it’s essentially a chain-letter in disguise.
  • Everyone knows this award is a joke and is laughing behind my back for being excited about it.
  • I don’t deserve this.
  • I have nothing to wear.
  • I don’t have time to answer all these questions about myself and figure out how to put the award button on my blog.
  • I’m better off if I just stop blogging altogether and clean the kitchen floor or watch a repeat of  The Good Wife.

See how that works? Good. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like to try on some new behavior. Instead of downplaying this award, I’m gonna rock it!

www.millionlooks.com

Here’s What I’m Wearing To The Awards Ceremony

Here’s What I’m Wearing To The Award After Parties

Here’s Who I’m Bringing To The Ceremony

Here’s Who I’ll Be Leaving With (Is That Wrong? Hmm… Exactly How Wrong?)

Thanks for that. On to my award …  Here’s how the Kreativ Blogger Award works:

The Rules

  1. Thank and link back to the awarding blog.  (see above)
  2. Answer seven questions.  (see below)
  3. Provide 10 random factoids about yourself.  (I didn’t think I’d come up with any, came up with 23 and am sharing 12. See below.)
  4. Hand the award on to 7 deserving others.  (I don’t share well so I’m contemplating skipping this part. Cue Random Fact #7 below.)

The Questions

What is your favorite song? I am clueless about music and have zero musical taste. That said, Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue is a current fav cause my girls and I laugh whenever we hear it. I also love most any song by John Prine, Donna the Buffalo, Adele and the late Jimmy Dale Gilmore.

What is your favorite dessert? Anything I can mainline; chocolaty and rich preferred.

What do you do when you are upset? I cry at the drop of a hat. When I’m angry, I’m a big screamer and pillow beater. I have taught my kids how to scream to release anger and sometimes we do family screams, holding-hands style (be glad you’re not our neighbors). Check back for an upcoming series of posts I’m writing on this!

Which is your favorite pet? I love dogs, the smaller and yappier, the better. And monkeys. Perhaps a turtle.

Which do you prefer white or whole wheat? Whole wheat, baby! I’m mostly a healthy eater and carbs, cashew butter and cheese are my favorite food groups.

What is your greatest fear? That my daughters will grow up as co-dependent as I am. Is that fear good enough? Does everyone still like me? And rodents.

What is your attitude mostly? What’s with all of these insipid questions? My natural state is cranky, controlling bitch. (Surprisingly, my husband just volunteered to attest to this “factoid.”) I think I hide it well.

Ten Random Facts About Me:

  1. My current claim to fame is having sex with my husband in a Macy’s stairwell. This award is a close second!
  2. I’m a consummate eye roller. And I’m raising a second-generation, gifted eye roller.
  3. My favorite smurf is Grouchy and favorite dwarf is Grumpy.
  4. I adore my kids and often wish I could put them back in the toy box until the next time I want to play with them.
  5. I aspire to be high-maintenance and a diva. I think these characteristics would look good on me. (Again, my husband has  volunteered to attest to this aspiration.)
  6. I’m addicted to Sport Tea and hoard gift cards and store credits.
  7. I’m terribly competitive, don’t share well and tend to have what I call a Grinchy Heart.
  8. I love Improv and have taken several classes with the inimitable, award-winning Improv teacher, Jimmy Carrane.
  9. At times I can see myself as charming, funny and adorable. Other times, not so much.
  10. I’m co-authoring a series of children’s books with my writing partner who pens the brilliant, insightful blog, Outlaw Mama.
  11. I own a red, tandem bicycle and a blue mountain bike – combined mileage = + or – 10 miles.
  12. I come from a long line of Martha Stewart clones and don’t have a cooking, decorating or sewing gene in my body. And no, I don’t have any feelings about this at all, damnit. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m planning a future post on this also.

The Next Seven Recipients of the Kreative Blogger Award

I adore all of these blogs and their authors.  A couple of these aren’t aware of my respect and admiration as I’ve been more of a stalker secret admirer. Please visit them and show them some much-deserved love!

http://www.outlawmama.com

http://www.marciescudderphotography.com

http://theallergistmom.com

http://fiercedivaguidetolife.typepad.com

http://ohsheglows.com

http://mominthemuddle.com

http://www.handsfreemama.com

Cue the orchestra, my acceptance speech is running long … thanks again, Kristen!

Two Girls On The Run From Expectations

The GOTR medal that all participants received.

I ran my first 5K run on Saturday. I ran as a running buddy to my eight-year-old daughter, Ava; her first race also. For the past 12 weeks, Ava and her classmates prepared for this event through a program called Girls On The Run (GOTR). If you’re not familiar, GOTR is a national, non-profit program designed to “encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual and physical development” in these young women through running. Noble goals, well executed.

Saturday’s 5K run was the culmination of the girls’ many months of training; the big finish of this esteem-building program. And big it was:  thousands of young girls and their running buddies gathered at the lakefront in Chicago for our city’s race. Every girl ran with a buddy;  moms, dads, nannies, teachers, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters and more all weathered the sweltering heat and showed their support, love and encouragement for these courageous, dedicated young women. What an amazing group of people. So much energy. So much joy, spirit and power in one football-field-sized spot. And damn it was hot.

I’d like to tell you what a fabulous time I had, running, laughing and celebrating this accomplishment with my daughter. I’d like to tell you how much I enjoyed running, skipping and sashaying the course, my heart filled with emotions. I’d like to tell you I felt all the warm, wonderful feelings I anticipated feeling upon completing this long-awaited event with my beloved child. Unfortunately, I found out too late that I had expectations of which I wasn’t even aware. Expectations that derailed my joy, at least for a few hours. Damn those expectations. (And damn my need to make everything about me!)

I’d been awaiting this moment for the past several years, ever since I first heard about the Girls On the Run program. I was pumped and ready; eager to meet Ava’s needs and be the best running buddy ever! We would laugh! We would cheer! We would bond!

Moments before the race began, Ava decided she really wanted to run the race with her good friend, N. I felt a twinge of disappointment, but reminded myself this day was about Ava and eagerly agreed to her plan.

As we ran, Ava and N. skipped hand-in-hand; N.’s mom and I matching their pace. My twinges increased.

Ava and N. giggled and poured cups of water on each other’s heads at the rest stops; N.’s mom and I watching  with beaming smiles on our faces. More twinges.

Ava and N. supported each other, encouraged each other and cheered each other on. My twinges became full-blown contractions.

The reality of my changing role in my daughter’s life hit me head on and took my breath away (of course, my breathing situation could have been due to my lack of physical fitness, but that doesn’t make as good of a story!).

My daughter is growing up. Many of the things I’ve wished for her, hoped for her, tried to model for her, she’s finding and enjoying. She has her own friends, desires, plans and expectations. My primary job is to support her and celebrate her, every step of the way. And she gets to set at least some of the terms of our connection. It’s humbling to realize everything doesn’t revolve around my needs:  for connection, for bonding, for affirmation that I’m important in her life. Thankfully, Ava doesn’t try to take care of my feelings or take responsibility for my needs.

Of course, she still needs me desperately. And she’s building her own life. One in which I will have varying moments of being the center and more and more moments of being on the sidelines cheering her on. More lessons for me. This time in letting go. Does anyone know of a national, non-profit program for that?

Crossing the finish line at Girls On the Run 5K

 

I’m participating in Pour Your Heart Out with Things I Can’t Say!