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The First Day of My New Life August 21, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 4:49 am

Nine years and two weeks ago a delivery nurse handed me a new life–today a teacher handed me yet another.

My oldest daughter was born Aug. 8 of 2004. I knew my life was going to change when they gently passed the warm bundle to me and said “Meet your daughter,”   but I had no idea how much and for how long. When your first child is born your identity changes. Suddenly the title “Mom” is forever attached to your introductions. This is Chloe’s Mom or Neve’s Mom you say when talking to doctors, day care providers and the moms of new playmates. As they grow the moniker includes “class mom,” “team mom,” “scout mom” and in some unfortunate cases, “pageant mom.”

When you lay in bed at night planning the next day, your primary concern is your child’s needs. Usually, not always of course, a child’s mother is a child’s primary care giver. You are their person. You are the one that takes care of what they need. And then they go to school and someone else takes care of those needs. And it’s always a little bit of relief and, depending on the mom, a little bit sad.

I was more than a little bit sad today when my youngest daughter headed off to full-day first grade. She was in half-day kindergarten last year and away from me for less than 3 hours a day. Before that she went to preschool for three mornings a week for two years. Before that she was with me on average 22/7.  In other words I pulled off the band-aid slowly.

So this morning when she marched into the first grade classroom and I turned to walk away, I was at a bit of a loss.

What now?

I’ve kept my career as a freelance writer and journalism instructor on life support the last nine years. I guess now is the time get more serious about it. Or maybe I should finally finish the novel that has been “in progress” for going on two decades. Maybe I’ll train for a marathon, or start volunteering. Maybe I’ll finally get all those baby photos in albums or touch up the paint on the living room ceiling that was scratched by the top of the Christmas tree 8 years ago.

Maybe I’ll sit on the porch to drink my morning coffee. Maybe I won’t always be in such a rush. Maybe I’ll take the time to pet the cat. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

Maybe tomorrow.

Today I just caught up on a few things around the house I didn’t have time for when the girls were home and went on a long bike ride, because exercise always makes me feel better when I’m sad. And before I knew it, the bell was ringing and the girls were running out of the school that had swallowed them up this morning. They were glad to see me. They had things to tell me. They needed things from me.

And so the “title” Mom moved down on my life’s business card today, but it’s still there–and always will be.

 

 

Who Brought the Matches? August 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — chrysscada @ 4:28 am

Apparently when it comes to other’s view of my parenting, “brave” actually means “nuts.”

I’ve had the adjective assigned to me a couple of times during summer vacation–usually  in survival situations. My outings with my two young daughters start out innocently enough, but have a way of turning into life and death dramas.

In early June we headed over to Boyd Lake  with every inch of our SUV packed with essentials. What qualifies as an “essential” takes on new meaning when you’re camping with young kids. In addition to the usual tent, sleeping bags etc., we had a tub of beach toys, two bikes, two kites, three grocery bags of snacks, a stack of library books and all the necessary equipment to catch observe and nourish any insect, reptile or small mammal we might happen upon. My 6-year-old brought 32 stuffed animals. My 8-year-old brought enough soap and toothpaste to support a refuge camp.

We were roughly five miles from home and staying one night.

Of our 24 hours at the lake, about six were spent unpacking and repacking. Our fellow campers spent those six hours greatly entertained. First there was the setting up of the new tent, complete with launching tent poles and little fingers getting pounded with the big rock meant for the stakes. Then there was the arranging of the belongings in the tent into precisely divided sides. Finally came the drama of the forgotten toy (But the Mama and Papa penguin HAVE to have their baby with them).

Unpacking completed, it was smooth sailing–until dinner time. I arranged all the components of our cook-in-the fire tin foil meal. I arranged the newspaper, kindling and firewood in the sanctioned fire pit. I went to get the matches. No matches.

I usually keep a box in the car, one in my purse and one in the camping stuff, but in all the piles of supplies we lugged to the campsite there wasn’t a single match. Collapsing in defeat on the picnic table  as the last rays of the sun dipped below the horizon, I remembered where all the matches were–in the principal’s office at the girls’ school. How they got there was the result of one my more egregious parenting decisions. It was the 100th day of school and we were searching the house high and low for 100 of something my older daughter could take to third grade.

“How about matches?” my daughter suggested as the last minutes before the school bell ticked away. “Sure, why not?” I answered as we rushed out the door. Well, I’ll tell you why not, the fire code for one. So the matches were confiscated and now here we were at risk of starving to death on our camping trip.

Of course we weren’t really at risk for actual bodily harm. Not like the time the summer before when a tornado warning was issued during a camping trip. Or a couple of weeks later when I took the still-shaky swimmers way out into Horsetooth Reservoir. Or the times I took them down ski slopes a couple of degrees of pitch steeper than they were ready for. Or…well, on the off-chance someone from child protective services is reading this, we’ll leave it there.

Back at the campsite on that summer evening I sucked up my pride and walked over to a neighboring campsite. The nice couple relaxing around a blazing fire was more than happy to help.

“We’ve been watching you with your girls and were commenting on how brave you are to take them camping by yourself,” the woman commented.

I took the matches because I think she really meant it –and besides she owed me for all the free entertainment I had provided.