Monday, November 10, 2014

Laine : FIVE

Dear Laine,

Last week you had your first gymnastics meet.  You were so nervous about the idea of having a judge watching and scoring you that you were nearly in tears on the way there.  Now, let me back track a bit and say that you are not, in fact, all that good at gymnastics.  I know, it surprised me too.  You've kind of been my little golden child for all five years of your life so far, effortlessly good at most things you try, eager to learn, smart and quick and bright and talented.  You're also usually among the oldest in your groups and classes, which never hurts.  So when you were recommended for the rec league at the county gymnastics program last fall I was thrilled but not particularly surprised. We took a break when your sister was born, but you couldn't wait to get back into gymnastics this fall and I was eager to see what new things you'd learn as part of a "team".  You have worked hard and you do seem to really enjoy it, but the skills of gymnastics just do not come as naturally to you as they do for the other girls in your group (that Jordan kid is just ridiculous).  So I was a little nervous for you as well, neither of us knowing quite what to expect at this meet.

Your group of four competed in four categories: bars, balance beam, vault, and floor.  Of course, being 4-6 year olds, the skill sets were very simple, but it was still an impressive and intimidating line up.  You were practically radiating energy out there on the floor, smiling and wiggling and hopping around, sending the older girls into fits of laughter with your antics.  You tried so hard and accomplished things I had seen you shy away from even trying in class. You waved and gave thumbs up signs to me and your dad and siblings whenever you finished a section.  I was amazed at how quickly you shed your nerves, and at how well you performed.  You were so brave and so confident.  And, sweet girl, you lost pretty much every category you competed in.

But here is the amazing thing, Laine.  You didn't even know you lost.  You stood up there on that 4th place podium like you had just won gold at the Olympics.  You looked at your participation medal like it was the most majestic thing ever to hang from a neck.  You were so proud of yourself.  And I was so proud of you too.  You faced your fears, you showed up, and you followed our two big rules: you had fun and tried your best.

I am writing all of this to say that, while you truly are a gifted student and artist and performer, it is your attitude and the light you bring to the lives of everyone around you that is really exceptional.  We often joke that you could raise yourself, that you are the "easy child", and in some regards it is true.  You are independent and sensitive and respectful of authority and sweet and a whole laundry list of things that make you "easy" to parent.  But you are also such a remarkable little human being that I feel I must rise to the occasion as your mother and really foster the amazing curiosity and love of learning and compassion and talent that I see in you.  I am lucky to have the hard job of raising such an easy child.

I can't believe you will be 5 tomorrow.  There have been moments this week that I have looked at you and felt like I was seeing years flash by before me; I could see the teenager, the young woman, the adult that you will be one day.  I am so excited to see what you become, but so eager to relish this time I have with you while you're still little.  You are artistic and funny, generous and bright, an avid reader, an eager student and loyal friend, and an amazing big sister. You bring me and our whole family so much joy.

So basically what I am saying, Lainey-bug, is that I could not be more proud that you are my daughter.
Even if you are certainly no Olympic gymnast.

I love you!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lawton : THREE


How funny that the last time I wrote on this blog was for your second birthday, exactly a year ago today.  I knew it had been a while but I didn't realize it had been a full year until I logged on to write you this letter.  I guess it has been a busy year.  We added sweet Eloise to the family, daddy got promoted and added another job at the hospice, we bought, renovated, and moved into a much bigger house, Aunt Chelsea got married and moved to Denver, Aunt Kristin got married and had baby Preston... our family has been growing and changing and moving nonstop.  And so have you!

Growing, changing, and moving are three very apt words for you this past year.  You are a whirlwind, a force, a lightning bolt.  You stop my heart daily, either from the force of my love for you or from sheer terror... often both, but rarely at once.  You are fearless and wild, energetic and intense, dramatic and exuberant.  Sometimes I feel guilty about how often I joke to people about you:  that you are my test, my challenge, that your sisters are the easy ones, or that I have three times as many gray hairs as I did when you were born... you get the idea.  But truthfully, you have taught me a lot in these past few years and I am grateful.  You've taught me patience and humility, and to have faith in myself and my instincts.  You remind me to be playful and spontaneous, to be engaging with friends and strangers alike, and to delight in life at every turn.

As I type this I am calling up the stairs for you to go in your room; I hear you sneaking around in the hallway.  You're probably looking at one of your new books or imagining that you're on some kind of animal rescue.  I hear your little feet scurry away when I say your name and the click of your door closing.  I know you must be tired after a busy weekend with family and friends but you will never admit it and you will probably come out at least one more time, to see if I'll notice as much as to finish whatever it was you were doing.  In the old house we had to turn the doorknobs around in your bedroom so we could lock your door from the outside during naps.  Otherwise you and I would battle for hours, ending with us both crying and exhausted by the end of the day.  You can not be contained.  You are my wild one.

As much as you do love to test your boundaries, I can not say enough about what a charming and sweet boy you are.  You have spent the past few weeks inviting everyone we see to your "jungle birthday".  ("You want to invite me to my party?  We can hang up a big tiger!")  You also invite them to our house to watch the "Keeeeermit the Frog" movie or play with your cars.  You can not ignore a pretty girl, often asking to go say hi or sit with them when we are out.  You love your friends and teachers at school, you adore your sisters (you have given Eloise the nickname "Weezle" and she is just delighted by you), and you are generous with compliments and affection.  It is balm for my soul when you tell me I'm the "best mommy" or ask me for a "looooong kiss" or say how much you "woooove my pretty dress!".  You are also one of the funniest little guys I know.  You often have entire groups of people in stitches and you seem to already have a knack for comic timing.  I can't wait to continue to watch your sense of humor develop; I have a feeling we will have a class clown on our hands.

There have been many times in the past year when I have sat and wondered if I am a strong enough, good enough, patient enough mother for you.  I wondered if I can do enough to teach you to be the kind of man I know you are capable of becoming.  I wondered if you felt my frustration, my anxiety, and sometimes my straight up ANGER and thought it was directed at you as a person rather than at the circumstances or your behavior in that moment.  But I guess I just have to hope... no, I have to OWN that for better or worse, I am the mother you were given.  And when you ask to wear the shirt that I said you looked handsome in, it is because you sensed my adoration.  And when you looked back toward me when you jumped down from the tree at the playground all by yourself, it is because you sensed my pride.  And when you are sitting up in your room right now pressing the button on your Superman birthday card that I gave you over and over again (yes, son, I can hear you), it is because you feel the love I have for you, my little superman.  And you know that I believe you can do ANYTHING.  And it (and I) will be enough.

Happy birthday, Lawton boy.  I just adore you.