Sunday, November 11, 2012

a letter to my three year old girl

Dear Laine,

Three years, one hour, and five minutes.  That's how long it's been since I met you face to face.  Since your daddy got the privilege of announcing to our eager families that you, our girl, had entered the world with a flourish and a cone shaped head to prove it.  Since you made me a mommy.  Three long years.  And three short years.  The relativity of motherhood.

It's so funny to think that I didn't know you until three years ago, and now I know you better than I have known anyone in my life.  I know your fears, your joys, your waking and sleeping schedule, your favorite things, when you eat, what you eat, your weight and size and shape, your smile and laugh and cry and voice. Yet even now, after studying you for years, you can still surprise me.  You are growing into a little person right before my eyes, developing a sense of humor, honing your own personal style.  Everyday you seem to grow a little, know a little more, discover something new.  And you pass that joy along to me.

I've never been the kind of person who thrived with constant change.  To be honest, I usually find it intimidating.  Your Grammy still makes fun of me for a pair of Sketchers sandals I wore until the buckle literally fell off of them while I was sitting at the dinner table.  And the curtains and paint color in my old bedroom have been the same since I picked them out when we moved in when I was in middle school.  But I know that change is a constant in all of our lives.  Sometimes there are changes we would rather not face, things that are as comfortable as old Sketchers sandals that we are reluctant to leave behind.  But that buckle will inevitably fall off.  Things WILL change.  And we all have to learn from it and grow in it.  You teach me that every day.  You face the world with such unbridled enthusiasm and joy and hunger for knowledge that I can't help but get swept up in it.

I was about to type that the one thing that will never change is my love for you.  But that's not true.  I can see that even from these past three years.  As you change, I change.  Our relationship changes, and the world around us changes.  I find new things to love about you, new ways to encourage you and challenge you.  I find joy in letting go as much as in holding on because I know that you are brave and smart and strong.  You are a light in my world and I know you will be for so many others. 

You truly are an amazing kid, Laine bug.  You are so smart and articulate and verbally gifted.  You love to learn new songs and have a memory that blows me away.  You are a kind and devoted friend and a wonderful sister, enthusiastic and generous with your affection.  Your imagination is amazing; your stories keep me either giggling or fascinated or both on a regular basis (I think you must have about 87 imaginary dogs running around by now).  You are thriving in your new preschool and your teachers always comment on how much you love it and what a sweet girl you are in class.  You make me so proud.

Every year for these three years I have sat down to write you a letter on your birthday.  Every year I stare at the cursor wondering what to write.  I wonder when you will read them and what you will think of your young, silly, inexperienced mother.  Who will you be all those years from now, reading back about who you were all those years ago? I have so much hope for you, so many dreams.  That's one of the most amazing things about being a mother; suddenly having dreams for someone else's life instead of just your own.  Dreams that started even before I met you three years ago.  Dreams that started before I even knew you existed.  Dreams that you make true already every day because, really, you were the dream to begin with.

I love you so very much.  Happy birthday, sweet girl.


Friday, August 31, 2012

letter to lawton

Dear Lawton,

It's nearing midnight on August 31, 2012.  In less than an hour, it will be your first birthday.  A year ago tonight I was getting restless bursts of sleep in between weak contractions, fighting to get comfortable on a tiny hospital bed with an IV in my arm.  We had been stuck back in a quiet corner of the labor and delivery floor waiting to be relocated to a bigger room in the morning when things had quieted down for everyone else and picked up for us.  I was so nervous that night, anticipating not only labor and delivery itself but the total rocking of our world that was imminent with your arrival.  When your sister was born I was terrified of the unknown, of how I would handle being a mother and how our lives would adapt to the challenges of parenthood.  This time I was anxious about all of the things I KNEW were coming (the struggles of nursing, the lack of sleep, the constant shifting of schedules) as well as the added difficulties of integrating you into our little threesome while still keeping Laine on a familiar routine.  I'll be honest with you, my thoughts strayed to her even as I was preparing to meet you, worried that she would feel lost in all of the new baby hubbub.  That mommy guilt is a strange beast, Lawton boy.  The second I would start to worry about Laine and her feelings, I would feel guilty for not being focused solely on you, anxious that you would not get the same uninterrupted attention she had had for almost two years.

While Laine may have gotten more of my undivided time and attention, I have to say that in some ways you were lucky to come second.  You got a more confident, strong, relaxed mommy.  Don't get me wrong, I can still rock a routine like it's nobody's business, but I have learned where I can let things slide and sometimes I do.  I knew what to take special joy in during those difficult newborn months, soaking up the weight of your little body on my chest, the tiny uncontrolled movements of your hands, the soft smell of your head after a washcloth bath.  I delighted in your milestones without consulting a single book or website.  I did the best I could and knew it was enough.  And now I celebrate the passage of this magical, crazy, wonderful, exhausting first year with pride in both you and myself.

I remember being astounded when Laine turned one at what a huge change seemed to come over her in a matter of weeks and I have noticed the same phenomenon with you.  All of a sudden you seem so much less like a baby; I get glimpses of the toddler and the little boy you will soon become.  You've entered the "dat" phase, wanting me to identify every new thing and person you see over and over and over (and OVER) again.  You point at and reach for and touch and look at and study and chew on EVERYTHING.  You pull up and wave bye bye and nod yes and shake your head no and mimic animal sounds and kissy noises and are soaking things up like a little sponge.  Watching you and your sister learn and discover things has truly been the greatest source of joy and pride in my life.

You're a little terror and a little delight.  You get into everything you're not supposed to, discovering things I never would have thought to baby-proof.  We can't go anywhere without you befriending everyone we meet, charming them with your enthusiasm and your smile and your silly little tuft of bright blonde hair on the back of your head.  We also can't go anywhere without you trying to stand up in the seat of the shopping cart but that's another story.  You adore your sister and your dogs, throwing balls, dancing, and climbing in the Cozy Coupe and waving bye bye.  You are so fearless and spirited and loud, quick to get frustrated and vocal with your anger (or your "baby rage" as your daddy and I call it), but just as quick to giggle and shriek with joy.  You make me laugh out loud every day.

I was worried about so many things while waiting in that tiny hospital room because, as you will learn, your mommy is a worrier.  But now, a year later, I realize that I had nothing to worry about.  You were exactly what and who was meant to come into my life, your daddy's life, your sister's life.  You have added to our family, not just in number, but in joy.  I am proud and blessed and happy and so, so very lucky to be your mommy.

I love you so much, my little man.  Happy birthday!



Tuesday, August 28, 2012


This past weekend marked nine years since the loss of one of my nearest and dearest.  I've written something about it here for the past few years and felt remiss in not doing so this year, so here we are.  I feel a bit rusty coming back to the blog, so I guess this is as good a place to start as any.

The weekend of the anniversary I was doing a show with a small group of some other nearest and dearests of mine.  It was a pet project of sorts that we had scraped together all on our very own out of common interest, desire, and talent.  I opened my dinosaur of a Caboodle the night before we opened (yes, I do still have a Caboodle and yes, it is purple with sparkles) to the picture of Jaime and me doing Tea in the Nutcracker that has been there for nine years now.  It still makes me catch my breath a little, and shake my head, and smile.  That's why it's still there, I guess.  And as a reminder, not only of him, but of the kind of performer I want to be and am capable of being.  Dancing onstage with Jaime was a delight and an honor and a joy, and I never want to forget that feeling and the desire to recapture it in other performances.  There was no better place to honor and remember him than onstage, and no better people to be with than the four that shared the stage with me.

The odd part of this particular anniversary for me personally is that I am on the cusp of turning 28, which is how old Jaime was when we lost him.  It is so strange and sad to me that from that birthday on I will always be older than my memories of him.  It was impossible to think of Jaime as "old", but he was just enough older than me that it seemed distant.  Almost thirty is so far away when you're barely twenty.  But here I am, and I realize with dizzying clarity just how young Jaime really was.  Just how much he didn't get to do, how much he didn't get to see ME do.  And the older I get, the farther I am from 28, the younger and younger he will seem to me.  My big brother, my "older man" crush, will never again be older than I am.

As with every year that passes I think of all of the things I would love to be able to share with him, namely my children.  What joy it would bring him to see what a smart and talented girl Laine is becoming, and what a little goofball Lawton is.  And I know they would have adored him as much as I did.  It's a loss for all of us.

Yet another nearest and dearest, Erin, always astounds me with her eloquence and maturity and never more than when I find myself at a loss for words.  I hope she won't mind me sharing what she wrote about Jaime this year...

"Two things Jaime wrote to me that I still hold onto:
1-That if I keep my heart as pure and full of love and life as the summer we shared a stage together, than I will have succeeded. 2-Always believe there is something of a wonder to the world and a magic which makes it worth living in.

Nine years is a long time to be without his magic but we've all tried to add some extra love and light and art to this world in his absence. And he may be gone, but he owed me a dinner and I still plan on collecting on that someday."

I'm planning on joining them.  Still miss you, Jaime.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

never grow a wishbone

This brings to mind the letter I posted before that Tina Fey wrote to her daughter, just in a little more serious tone.  I love things like this that encourage strength and ambition and spunk in little girls.  As much as I enjoy watching Disney princess movies with Laine and hearing her sing Part of Your World at the top of her little lungs, I never want her to feel that she has to change herself to find love. 

For My Daughter

By Sarah McMane
“Never grow a wishbone, daughter, where your backbone ought to be.” – Clementine Paddleford
Never play the princess when you can
be the queen:
rule the kingdom, swing a scepter,
wear a crown of gold.
Don’t dance in glass slippers,
crystal carving up your toes --
be a barefoot Amazon instead,
for those shoes will surely shatter on your feet.
Never wear only pink
when you can strut in crimson red,
sweat in heather grey, and
shimmer in sky blue,
claim the golden sun upon your hair.
Colors are for everyone,
boys and girls, men and women --
be a verdant garden, the landscape of Versailles,
not a pale primrose blindly pushed aside.
Chase green dragons and one-eyed zombies,
fierce and fiery toothy monsters,
not merely lazy butterflies,
sweet and slow on summer days.
For you can tame the most brutish beasts
with your wily wits and charm,
and lizard scales feel just as smooth
as gossamer insect wings.
Tramp muddy through the house in
a purple tutu and cowboy boots.
Have a tea party in your overalls.
Build a fort of birch branches,
a zoo of Legos, a rocketship of
Queen Anne chairs and coverlets,
first stop on the moon.
Dream of dinosaurs and baby dolls,
bold brontosaurus and bookish Belle,
not Barbie on the runway or
Disney damsels in distress --
you are much too strong to play
the simpering waif.
Don a baseball cap, dance with Daddy,
paint your toenails, climb a cottonwood.
Learn to speak with both your mind and heart.
For the ground beneath will hold you, dear --
know that you are free.
And never grow a wishbone, daughter,
where your backbone ought to be.

Monday, April 30, 2012

i'll be back

I promise I will return to blogging eventually... one of these days.  It is something that I so enjoy doing and yet I find that it consistently slips to the bottom of my priority list.  A list that is mighty lengthy these days, hence the long absence.  I HAVE managed to keep up with the rest of my new years goals this year though and have missed only a handful of days posting on my tumblr photo-a-day page.  I have also been writing in my question-a-day journal every night before bed, have stuck to a consistent workout and diet plan and lost a little over 30 pounds (I've been wanting to blog about that whole "journey" for a while now... it will probably be my next "real" entry), I ran a 5K and am registered for another one next weekend, I'm doing another musical with Town and Gown Players... my plate is full and my life is fuller.

Yep, fuller.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I don't think that I am a "natural" when it comes to parenting.  For a while I thought that the whole instant, all-consuming, blinding love as soon as your baby was handed off into your arms was a myth, some part of the whole mommy-guilt package, something you were "supposed to feel" but that no one ever really did.  But now, after having more friends have children of their own and say without hesitation that they did in fact have those feelings, I realize that I was wrong.  I just didn't feel that way.  I've talked about this before, especially after having Laine, and I always have a pang of guilt writing about it.  Don't get me wrong, I felt a fierce kind of motherly love that I never experienced before the second I knew I was pregnant, let alone when I finally got to see my little ones face to face.  But it felt more instinctual, more like protectiveness and ownership, less like "love".  It took me weeks, even months, to fall in love with my babies as little people rather than just my offspring.

So, no, I don't count myself among the "naturals".  But what I know I am is a GOOD mommy.  Because while I may not have fallen head over heart over heels with my little pink, squalling, cone-headed newborns, I really and truly LIKE my children.  I find the experience of parenting fascinating, almost like an incredibly consuming but equally as rewarding hobby.  I devour parenting magazines and books, scour calendars and websites for activities we can all enjoy together, delight in other people's stories and experiences and pictures.  I feel genuine excitement when we get new toys and clothes and books for the kids, and I love rediscovering things from my childhood that I can share with them (I spent hours on ebay over the past few days trying to find Disney DVDs for Laine).

So while the patience and the sweetness that seems to come so easily to some other mothers may not be natural to me, I can honestly say that I enjoy the time I spend with my kids.  I feel like I know them now, better than I've ever known anyone else in my life.  Laine is smart, charming, funny, precocious, and full of spunk.  Lawton is a ball of joy, independent and wiggly, ready with a smile from the moment he wakes up in the morning.  And they both have brought more joy into my life than I even imagined as they blinked up into my eyes for the first time.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

letter to lawton

Dear Lawton,

First of all, thank you for overlapping your nap with your sister today allowing me time to even consider writing a blog entry.  Much appreciated, bubs.

The past four months have been such a whirlwind around here adjusting to adding you into our little house and into our lives.  For the most part you have been quite cooperative and I feel like we have yet again won the baby lottery.  Both you and your sister have been champion sleepers starting at around 3 months and I could not be more grateful for that.  It's amazing how much more confident and HUMAN I feel on a solid night's sleep (although we do need to discuss this recent 5:30am wake time you've started trying out...).  We kept you in our room for longer than we did with her (mostly since your bedrooms are so close together) and you slep in your bouncy seat for a while once we moved you to your nursery, but you have now adjusted nicely to sleeping in your crib every night and even for some of your naps! 

You're a much better eater than Laine was, which you proved by weighing in the 90th percentile at your 2 month check up.  You were back down to the 50th at your 4 month appointment but seem determine to make up the loss with a growth spurt this week which has you wanting to eat close to every 2 and a half hours again.  I'll take the trade if you keep sleeping 10-12 hours a night!  I'm confident that we will be able to stick with nursing exclusively this time, which is very exciting for me and your daddy (and our wallets... formula ain't cheap, buddy boy!).

You just started trying out Laine's old jumper and your new johnny jump-up that hangs in the doorway and you seem to love the new perspective.  You're strong and independent already and love being able to be in on the action with your big sister in a whole new way.  Speaking of which, you ADORE your sister already (and the feeling seems to be mutual so far).  If you're having a fit, she can instantly calm you.  If you're playing near her on the floor, your eyes are glued on her.  I think she even got your first official smile!  There is nothing I love more than watching the two of you together and I can't wait to see your relationship grow.

Your other new favorite thing is screaming.  LOUDLY.  You scream when you're happy, sad, tired, frustrated, amused, excited, you name it.  It is your new vocalization of choice.  Most of the time it's pretty funny, but every now and then Laine and I BOTH are asking you to knock it off!  Laine reminds you often of the "no screaming in the house" rule, but you don't seem willing to play along.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm relieved to be moving out of the newborn phase into infancy.  I love watching new expressions grace your sweet little face and hearing new sounds (minus the screaming) escape your mouth.  I love watching you start to notice and explore your surroundings, grabbing onto toys, chewing on everything you can get your hands on, and even rolling over for the first time yesterday!  I also love seeing the many ways you have changed our little family:  I enjoy watching your daddy with a new little baby- his first SON!- and seeing Laine grow into such a special, helpful big sister.  And most of all, I am just so glad to be your mommy. You are and will always be my little handsome man.

I love you very much,