Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I understand why you used to threaten to throw all of our toys away when we were kids.  We thought it was unfair and ridiculous, but I see it clearly now.  I understand why you expected us to help with the chores. 

Sometimes, it’s just too much for one woman to handle.  I’m beginning to think that maybe you were the Asian Superwoman.

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I get it now. Even though we had a ton of toys, you still continued to buy us the new ones because we just had to have them. I understand because even though my kids have mountains of things, we continue to add more things.

The proof that mountains can grow is in each of their rooms.

In fact, it has now gone beyond their rooms.  There is even a mountain of toys that started growing in front of the bathroom door today.

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These kids are small, but mighty mom. You should be so proud. They moved those there all by themselves today. I had them neatly put away in Jackson’s new toy box.

I’m amazed how easily these children move mountains. They do it so quickly and so effortlessly.

Much more quickly than I was, when I spent hours putting everything away only days before.

I have been working on getting Ashley to start helping by cleaning up her own room. Take a look at what a great job she did.

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She says this is clean because before she pushed the mountains of toys against walls, I couldn’t even walk through the door and get to the bed.

So mom, I understand now. Perhaps it took me 32 years, but you can write that one off of your list.

Love,
Your daughter Michelle

The Silence & Time

The Silence & TimeSometimes I feel like the room is spinning.  The noise of my daughter’s Littlest Pet Shop YouTube videos playing on the TV, the sound of Baby Genius songs blaring from the Laptop, Ryan singing Christmas songs using the wrong words to amuse the kids, and himself…and me, with a million things on my mind, in the midst of it all.

Every five minutes, my daughter asks me for something and every 10 minutes my son latches on to my leg, desperately screaming for me to pick him up. He grabs for my hand to lead me upstairs to let him play with water in the bathroom sink.

Every morning, after the kids are fed I clean up the mess from the night before.  The dishes from dinner and breakfast, the toys scattered across the floor.  Clothes from the six outfits my daughter had tried on the previous day to wear for an hour, that later ended up in some room, on some floor.  Crayons and markers with caps missing, dried up and useless from being left out all night.

The shoes.  So many shoes.  Shoes in every room, in closets, under beds, behind couches and chairs and on the stairs.  Eight feet reside in this house and we have enough shoes to supply a small village.  We trip over them and get angry.  Then we continue walking, leaving them behind to trip over them again and again.

Where are the socks?  I have no idea.

Strange pieces of what could have possibly once been a bagel or toast on my daughters movie shelf; Only discovered when my baby boy walked up munching on it.  Random bits of noodle stuck to his leg. The case of the missing sugar cookie solved when he is found in a corner, silently chewing up his sugary discovery.

I’m beginning to think he knows what he’s doing.  That he stored those treats away, like a squirrel stashes nuts away for winter.  Where did those things come from?

My 7 minute showers interrupted by little hands with even smaller fingers, poking through the crack under the bathroom door.  Little fists against wood… pounding, pounding, pounding until my 5-year-old decides to open the bathroom door and they both come crashing in excitedly, trying to push each other aside to get ahead of the other.

They pull the shower curtain open and start undressing to join me.  Eyes filled with joy with only the prospect of a shower or bath with mommy;  Exuding the same level of excitement they would attain from chasing after an ice cream truck on a hot, summer day.

I hurry to finish, wrap up in a towel, turn the shower into a bath and let them bathe…as I sit on the toilet with the seat covered to supervise; Dripping wet and cold, with only the thought of how I almost made it through an entire shower without them this time.  I decide every time that the next time I’ll be quicker.

The trips to the store.  Ashley dancing through the isles, eager to find something she can ask for when she promised she wouldn’t.  Jackson standing up in the cart every chance he gets, wondering why he can’t wander around to walk just as his big sister does.  Strangers who are shopping, stopping to look at things with their carts left in the center of the isles and their bodies blocking the spaces next to it.  It’s a very dis-pleasurable experience, grocery shopping.

Sometimes we get a chance to be alone.  I shut things off when no one else is home.  It gets so quiet in here that I don’t know what to do with myself.

Ryan sits with his notebook and writes lists and lists of things down.  His notebook, which is one of a thousand.  Stacks and stacks of Ryan’s notebooks, in closets, on shelves, on the floor by chairs and beds, and in the car.  Notebooks, notebooks and notebooks… everywhere.

Where are the pens?  I have no idea.

The silence.  Then and only then, it makes me ache for the noise of the children screaming.  It beckons me to wish for sounds of the kids playing, or to hear them laughing.

The time.  The time then, leaves me lost with feelings of no direction.  No child asking me for something.  No tug-of-war over a toy to break up.  No one to take care of.

When they are gone, only silence and time is left behind.  Silence we choose to not fill, and time we don’t use effectively.  Instead we just are…as if we have no other purpose.

Reflection of This Year

I have been trying to look to days passed as this year nears its end.  I want to take the time remember all that has happened this year.  At times, this can be a tedious task; like thumbing through file after file in a room as big as a warehouse, filled with boxes that are not labeled.  Which ones contain the memories of this year?

Time seems to disorganize such things as we get older and busier, especially if one has children.  Children, and their super-charged growth, superhuman reserves of energy, and infinite curiosity.  This is all I remember, for the most part.

Questions asked and answered.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners made.  Cupcakes baked, birthday’s celebrated, gifts bought and opened in delight.  Little, soft bodies bathed.  Hair combed, brushed and braided.  Bottoms powdered and diapered.  Little bodies clothed.  Lullabies sang, children slumbered, keystrokes, alarm clocks, sunrises and sunsets.

Dishes washed, carpets vacuumed, toilets scrubbed, floors mopped, clothes freshly laundered and put away.  Seasons came and went.

Winter snow for making snowmen.  Spring-time planting of purple mums.  Summer fun in the backyard sprinklers and barbeques were always fun.  Fall came, leaves covered the grass.  My daughter and niece buried in piles of orange, red, green and brown vegetation, laughing as the sun set.  Temperature has grown colder, we tell the kids to stay inside.

Holidays celebrated and family time.  Stories told with laughter.  Arguments over silly things, the stress of daily hassles.  Friends who called for advice, or just to simply think out loud.  Loyalty and freedom, choices that were made.  Bumps and bruises, cuts and scrapes, a whole lot of Bandaids.

This year has brought so many things, I’ll never see again.  A baby boy who learned to walk, a little girl who made her first best friend.  My heart is filled with love, and teary eyed I get.  To think of the days past this year; Ones I hope to never forget.

Take time to reflect on the things, that have happened throughout the year.  Remember the big events as well as the small.  You will never have quite the same year again.

First Rite of Passage

I read somewhere that you never really know just how little you know, until you have children.  I now understand why.

At my daughter’s last dental cleaning, the dentist discovered she had a couple of loose teeth.  He told her that his guess was that she would lose a tooth before her next cleaning in six months.  She was very much excited to hear that.  For weeks she has been wiggling that tooth, trying to speed the process along.  She could not wait to have her first encounter with the Tooth Fairy.

The dentist was right.  My daughter lost her very first baby tooth yesterday.  This event was a pretty big deal for us.

Last night, I told her we had to get the tooth ready so that the Tooth Fairy could collect it while she slept. We placed the tooth in an envelope and sealed it.  She completed the package by writing the words, “Tooth Fairy”, on it and placed it under her pillow.  Then came the questions.

“What will the tooth fairy do with my tooth? How will she be able to get it?  How much money does she leave? Where did she come from?”, she asked.

“Well, the tooth fairy collects the teeth and stores them away.  She can get it because she has wings and she’s magical.  I am not sure how much money she will leave.  I am not sure where she came from, but it’s some place magical”, I answered.

Her questions led me to wonder myself how the story of the tooth fairy originated, so I did some research. Even grown-ups enjoy a good fairy tale every now and then. So parents BEHOLD, the Legion of the Tooth Fairy.

Tooth Fairy – 101

Primary teeth were an important piece to a superstition in Europe centuries ago, during a time when many people believed in witches.  It is said that witches would use parts of a human, such as hair, fingernails and teeth to brew their spells and could cast a curse on you, had they acquired any of these parts.  For that reason, when a child lost a tooth their parents would instruct them to bury it in the dirt so the witches could not find it and cast a spell against them.

This had nothing to do with the tooth fairy at all.  In fact, the tooth fairy wasn’t imagined until quite a while later.  As time went on and the tradition spread, the story and reasoning for hiding primary teeth changed.  People no longer believed in witches and spells.  That craze was over.

Parents later modified the story to replace the witch with something pleasant, like a fairy.  And so, the legend of the tooth fairy was born.

In America today and in places all over the world, the legend of the tooth fairy is still very much alive.  Many of us enjoy carrying on this tradition with our children for a number of reasons.

  • Some choose to carry it on simply, because it is tradition. These parents have fond memories of the tooth fairy and the anticipation she brings from their own childhood.
  • Others carry on the legend because of the innocence portrayed by children who are still young enough to believe in fairy tale’s.  As a child, this period of time does not last long.
  • Some parents use the tooth fairy as a means to teach their children the importance of dental hygiene.  Children with clean, healthy teeth will receive a larger reward.  Those with bad teeth will receive less, or maybe even nothing at all.
  • One final reason is that the loss of baby teeth is considered a rite of passage in some ways.  The loss of baby teeth signifies that a small child is growing up and will soon have their permanent teeth; The same teeth they will have throughout adulthood.  So, in a sense, it is the first step (or rite of passage) to becoming an adult.

This is why this was a big deal for not just my daughter, but for me as well.  I was happy for her because she was excited about the tooth fairy and the reward she was to receive, but it also made me sad.

I still remember the days, vividly, when her only means of transportation was cradled in my arms or carried on my hip.  That was only five years ago.  Now, she is losing her baby teeth.

Those baby teeth that she had grown, not long ago, that had caused her pain.  When mommy was running around searching stores, sympathetically, trying to find something to ease her teething pain.  Back when mommy researched by asking other mothers and searching the web for anything that could help her.

I don’t know what I will do next year when she starts school.  If I feel this way over the loss of her first baby tooth, I can only imagine that I will be a complete mess then!