First Day, First Grade 2014

May he stay safe at school this year.

May he continue to fall in love with learning this year.

May he grow and change and master the skills he needs.

May I find the right balance of letting go and providing a safe place for him.

first day 1st grade photo

Advertisements

Token November Post.

I know, I KNOW. I suck at posting.

I miss the days where I’d be driving into work and have an idea and think, Oh, I need to post THAT to my blog!

Right now? I’m listening to David Sedaris on audiobook and I’m mostly struck by what a brilliant writer he is. And by the time I get to work, I have ZERO ideas of my own.

Well, except for the week after the marathon, when I had a hard time controlling my Jello legs on flat ground and I couldn’t believe how comical I looked.

But really, that’s all I wanted to post. Hey, it’s three days after my marathon and holy crap my legs don’t even feel like they’re attached to my body! It’s pretty crazy, people!

I didn’t post it, though.

(You’re welcome.)

Anyway.

So it’s November. And I said that in November I’d write a LOT more.

I have not actually managed to follow through with that resolution. Until today, the only things I’ve written are To Do and grocery shopping lists.

So what have I actually BEEN doing these past few weeks?

Well, the good news is that this November, I’ve been able to run, because I did NOT end up injured at the end of the Baystate Marathon. That’s good, for sure.

However, that does not mean I have been enjoying my runs; apparently trying to actively recover from a marathon by running makes said runs kind of suck. In fact, this past Saturday I actually had a piddly three miler that ended at the halfway point; I did the Walk of Shame home the last 1.5 miles because holy crap my legs could not run ONE MORE STEP.

Recovery: going from completely NAILING a 22 mile run to bonking on a 3 mile run.

Humbling.

The good news, though, is that Saturday’s Walk of Shame was my low point, and my runs have gotten considerably Less Sucky since then. I wouldn’t put them in the category of Good yet, but I’m starting to believe that perhaps running WON’T suck for the rest of my life. Which is really good news.

The other thing I’ve been doing is cooking. Like spending all my time in the kitchen on the weekends sort of cooking.

Last weekend I made my own chicken stock – courtesy of unsmitten kitchen. Then I made homemade cream of celery root soup, courtesy of food network. I made an awesome spanish chicken casserole from November’s edition of Cooking Light. I also made and canned a batch of apple butter to get a head start on the holiday season.

And when it was all done, and I had no more cooking to do, I wandered around my kitchen, looking for something else to cook.

Oh, I have IDEAS.

I have ideas for egg-free banana bread and chocolate chip sour cream bread and I REALLY want to try my hand at making the maple bacon scones my friend Sue brought to my house for brunch one day.

MUST. COOK. ALL. THE. FOODS!

In other news, the other day I happened to notice that my kid seemed to have a second tooth growing BEHIND his baby teeth.

Photographic evidence? Here.

photo(5)

Cue frantic googling. Because I was prepared for loose teeth and the Tooth Fairy visits and all of that. I was NOT prepared to handle another set of teeth growing in his mouth before the baby ones fell out.  Fortunately, the interwebs came to my rescue.

The technical term for it is called lingually erupting mandibular incisors. It is also referred to as “shark teeth.”

Our dental hygienist confirmed for me today that I do not need to worry about it, because it is common and it’s likely that it will force the baby tooth to become loose and fall out.

There are things I never anticipated I’d have to deal with as a parent. And I’m not sure why, but this extra tooth thing is DEFINITELY one of them.

So that’s what I’ve been up to in November thus far. And now that I’ve popped the proverbial cherry on writing, I AM hoping to post a lot more.

Maybe even once a week! 🙂

Nostalgia.

Owen was born via c-section; he was breech. And if I’m being truthful, I was happy with the idea of a c-section; after years of infertility I was terrified that my body would screw up in childbirth, and the idea of a procedure where doctors could have him out of me within minutes gave me a lot of relief.

I didn’t really expect to HAVE a baby, you see. I had convinced myself that something was going to happen to him while I was pregnant and we were going to end up empty-handed.

So when they handed my newborn to me, I was a little unprepared. For everything, really. Nursing, care, etc. I spent his first few days fretting about how much he slept – normal for a baby who was nearly three weeks early – and how little he ate. Shouldn’t he want to feed?

And then there was the whole learning how to feed him thing. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, I relied heavily on nurses and lactation consultants in those days after he was born.

Recovering from a c-section is tough: there’s not a lot of positions you can sleep or sit in that’s comfortable. So I was having a tough go of it finding a position where I could nurse my new son comfortably.

And then, one of the night nurses showed me a position where I was able to lay down on my side, a pillow under my leg, with my son laying next to me. It was perfect: not only could I feed him easily from this position, but if I was tired, I could sleep AND feed without too much worry.

It was maybe the third night in the hospital (we got 5 when all was said and done, since he was born in the evening) when Owen woke up for a bit. Since he was awake, I thought, Woo hoo! Let’s do this feeding thing! and I set us both up: me on my side, pillow under my outstretched leg, him on his side, facing me.

He wasn’t interested in eating though – he just stared up at me, like he had known me forever. It was a moment I’ll never forget; his dark eyes looking straight at me as I talked to him.

And in the weeks to come, when I was overwhelmed with sleep deprivation and his fussiness and sleep issues and feeding schedule, when I felt like a fraud and a fake as a mother, that moment – the one where he knew me – was the one that grounded me.

It was the start of our bond, you see.

_____________________________

The past two days have been rough ones; I have more work to do than I have time for. I am in heavy mileage for marathon training, and I am sneaking runs in. I am stressed out and tired, and stealing time for work and running. I worked late on Monday night and then again last night, stealing time at 8pm for a run along the Charles. And I missed bedtime both nights.

Tonight, though, I was home for his bedtime.

We always lay down next to Owen on his bed when we read stories. And we’ll generally lay with him for a few minutes once we turn out the light. Usually he’s talking; asking questions and talking about his day and coming up with stories. I can’t tell you how many times a night I have to tell him that it’s time for sleeping, that we can talk more in the morning, that it’s time to rest and close his eyes.

Tonight, though, he was tired from a long day of kindergarten, his after school program, and then swim lessons tonight. So when I turned off the light, I came back to the bed and lay down on my side, my head propped on his pillow, facing him.

He rolled towards me, cradling Bear, and tucked his hands and head into my neck. I wrapped my arms around him and he closed his eyes; he was asleep within minutes.

I had a sudden memory of that night in the hospital; his dark eyes staring up at me, the weight of him so very slight in my arms.

_____________________________

He announced that he learned a new song today, at school. Putting his hands behind his back, he sang, Trick or Treat! Smell my feet! Give me something good to eat! If you don’t, I don’t care, I’ll pull down your underwear!

He won’t let me help buckle him into his booster seat anymore – OR unbuckle himself. He does it himself now.

Since starting kindergarten, when he wakes up in the morning, he gets himself dressed before he comes downstairs.

He gets on the bus confidently, saying good morning! to his bus driver, then sits and waves at me through the window.

At swim class, he jumps in without hesitation. He swims underwater as much as he can; showing off for me, for his teachers.

He rides his bike as fast as he can, puts his own helmet on himself, and warns me as he’s riding to Stay on the sidewalk, Mommy! It’s not safe to walk in the road!

He has learned the pledge of allegiance for school and practices it as much as possible.

_____________________________

I remember the day he was born as if it were, in fact, yesterday. I remember what I was wearing; the feel of the spring air, still cold, but warming in the sun. I remember the full moon that rose outside our hospital window. How light he was in the carseat when we were finally on our way home; how it felt like there was nothing in there. The incredulity I felt that we were actually leaving the hospital with a real, live baby – OUR baby. Our son.

I love the age where he is at now; love his curiosity and sports-mindedness and imagination. I can’t WAIT for him to learn how to read and write and do math. I very much look forward to watching him grow and change; I look forward to watching him turn into the man he will be someday.

It’s just that I can’t wrap my brain around the flow of time. I blinked, and the slight weight of my infant in my arms turned into this boy, this kindergartener. And I’m going to blink again and it’s going to be this teenager, then Jeff and I will be dancing at his wedding.

So, yeah. Tonight I’m feeling nostalgic. For the teeny baby of mine.

040karenlooksdownonowensm

Who is no longer a baby.

photo(1)

The Bonk.

The Bonk: /n/ That moment during a run where you don’t think you can take another step, much less finish out the mileage you have planned.
Bonk: /v/ to hit an invisible but very physical threshold during a run that robs you of all confidence in future runs.*

I Bonked last night during my track practice.

The past week has been kind of hellish. The combination of crazy-work-deadline stress plus holy-shit-my-kid-is-going-to-kindergarten stress plus get-my-miles-in-because-I’m-marathon-training stress plus some other low-level stresses has given me trouble with insomnia.

Insomnia is bad in general. But it’s REALLY bad when you are running 45 miles a week. And working to meet a deadline. And getting your kid ready for kindergarten.

But. Last night. The workout was a ladder – 400, 800, mile, 1.5 mile, mile, 800. Which is a tough one.

And within the first 400, I had doubts. In the first 800, I had serious doubts.

And within the first lap of the mile, I had this panicky feeling in my chest.

I can’t do this.

I had NOTHING. No energy. No zip. Nothing.

It was like running in a nightmare, where you feel you’re in quicksand and you have dead legs like they’re not even attached, or alive, and you need to get away but you can’t go anywhere.

So I stopped. In the first mile. I actually laid down on the grass, and when someone else ran by and asked if I was okay, I gave her a thumbs up – I wasn’t injured, I was as okay as I was going to be. I was just trying not to cry from exhaustion.

I got up and tried again. I stopped.

And this time, I gave into tears.

I was just so tired. I had nothing to give, no kick, no reserves. I figured I’d just quit and call it a night.

And then a running friend, who was struggling herself, gave me most practical advice and got me to keep going. Karen, she said, you’re not going to win any money in the marathon! No one but you cares how fast you go. So just run slower. Pick a slower pace and run that. You are putting way too much pressure on yourself.

She was so right.

It’s funny how I didn’t even NOTICE. Work has picked up. My testing is going slower than I’d like and so I’m working more hours than I expected. My mileage has picked up too, so I have to spend more time in my day running. Owen is going to kindergarten, and I’m trying to prepare him (and me!) for the changes, and trying to do special things for and with him to celebrate this milestone.

All along, I’ve been putting more and more pressure on myself to be better. A great, productive, effective worker. A great, loving, kind mom, who takes time out of her day to make her son feel special. A better runner who nails every one of her workouts. All with a sleep deficit.

Okay, so maybe I need to let go.

So I did.

Thanks to my running club friend, I finished the workout. The mile and a half repeat was a beast, even with the slower pace. The next mile sucked too. But then it was the last 800 – the last repeat. And when I rounded the corner near the finish, with maybe 200m to go, I found some spark in my legs, and I pushed to the end.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

I am doing the best I can.

And you know what?

That’s more than enough.

 

*yes, these are made up definitions. Why do you ask?

One Week.

Dear Owen:

One week from today, you’re going to climb up the stairs onto the big yellow school bus and head to your first day of kindergarten.

I am so excited to start this journey with you.

In kindergarten, you’re going to learn that the letters you know make words. And you’ll learn how to decipher those words into meaning.

All of a sudden, the world is going to open up to you: the world is full of letters and words and meanings.

In kindergarten, you’re going to learn how to make new friends; maybe the same ones you’ve been friends with since you were 6 months old, but maybe new friends, too. Like the boy up the road who will be at the bus stop with us every day.

Or maybe even a GIRL; you can be friends with girls, too, did you know that?

In kindergarten, you’re going to learn how to remember your schedule; the days you need to take the bus home and the days you’ll stay at school until your daddy or I pick you up.

Don’t worry – I have a plan to help you keep track, thanks to our next door neighbor. Just check your lunchbox every day: the magnet with the picture of our house means you get to take the bus home. The magnet with the picture of school means you are staying there until we pick you up.

In kindergarten, you begin what I hope will be a love of learning for the rest of your life.

There are so many things I hope for you.

I hope you fall in love with learning like your daddy and I did.

I hope your teacher recognizes your deep curiosity of the world and helps us foster it.

I hope you stay safe.

I hope you make friends easily, and play fun games at recess, and jump and run and get dirty.

I hope your father and I can ease these next few weeks of transition for you to make it easier.

I hope that you want to share your day with us at dinner, telling us stories about your day and what you’ve learned.

I hope you know how proud of you I am, how excited I am to start this next chapter of your life, and how much I love you.

And I hope you know that when I blink back tears as I wave goodbye to you as you board that bus, it’s because I’m happy. A little sad, too – when you’re a parent, it’s sometimes hard to let go. Not very long ago, you were so little and vulnerable and helpless.

But I know you’re ready, and you’re going to rock kindergarten.

Love always,

Mommy