Perfect Moment Monday: Big Brother

When I found out I was pregnant with Aria my biggest worry was the impact it would have on Oscar. For three and a half years, before Aria was born, Oscar was the center of our lives. He’s always been such a beautiful and funny child, getting attention wherever we go. But when Aria was born his whole world was turned upside down.

At first it was pretty traumatic for everyone. I hated leaving the house without Oscar. I hated it when I was feeding Aria and Oscar wanted me to pick him up. One day I left for an emergency dental appointment and when I returned, Oscar asked warily, “Did you bring home another baby?”

Slowly he became more and more interested and intrigued. He was constantly asking, “Where’s Aria?” and saying, “I want Aria.”

Now that she laughs and smiles at him, every day gets more fun. However, she is still pretty small, cannot sit up on her own, and we have to make sure he doesn’t play too rough with her. I can’t wait until she is big enough for them to play together.

My perfect moment came one morning when I went into Oscar’s room to wake him. I put Aria in his bed, something they both love. She lay there and played for quite awhile, so I left her there buffeted with pillows while I dressed Oscar and got him ready for the day. At one point she rolled too close to the wall and was in danger of falling between the bed and the wall (I wasn’t too worried because that space is crammed with stuffed animals). I decided I didn’t want to take any chances so I scooped her up and was about to carry her out of the room.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, Oscar burst into tears. “Please don’t take her away! Please!”

“But Oscar, she might fall and hurt herself.”

Then he sobbed, “But she’s my friend!”

Oh, man, I immediately teared up and was filled with so many emotions. Happiness, sadness, wistfulness, love. Most of all, I felt complete.

Today, Oscar said to me, “Someday when I’m big I can carry Aria and feed her.”

We have many kinds of moments ahead of us. Exhausting and overwhelming moments, funny and joyful moments, and of course, perfect moments.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori at Write Mind, Open Heart.

The Alchemy of a Moment

It’s hard for me to work: grade, write, prepare for teaching, etc. when I don’t have a pressing deadline.  I call it living in crisis mode. I put things off and put things off until they literally can’t be put off anymore, and then the pressure forces me to get things done. It’s a terrible way to live, because I always feel anxious and guilty.

After reading a wonderful article on procrastination I decided to have a productive Sunday. I did yoga, graded a bunch of papers…and then stalled. I ended up reading blogs and a memoir, languishing in the late afternoon, feeling what I always feel on Sunday, a sense of dread for the coming week.

Then, I shook myself out of it. I sat at the kitchen table with my computer and papers and decided to plow through the worst of my tasks first, finishing up some grading. Oscar went to his room and came back out with some paper and crayons. He climbed onto the chair next to me and began coloring. With his companionship I was able to finish the grading. Darin put on some music, and Oscar got down to dance around the kitchen. Inspired, I began writing, getting a satisfying number of pages done on my book.

As I was working, I thought to myself, “Right now I don’t want to be anywhere else doing anything else.”

It was a truly perfect moment.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

Perfect Moment Monday–Personal Trainer

Every once in awhile I get bit by the exercise bug. I draw up a plan for doing cardio, strength training, and yoga several times a week. I make a schedule. I read a couple of magazines. I dust off a few exercise DVDs I bought back in the 90s.

It never lasts.

This was one of those weekends. I put on a DVD that combines cardio and weight lifting in a series of short segments. Thinking I was putting on a Thomas the Train video, Oscar came running into the living room. Then he stood and watched, puzzled, as Mama jumped around imitating the lady on the television.

He proceeded to “spot” me by jumping on my back while I was doing Child’s Pose, trying to lift up my head while I was doing crunches, and applauding happily after each segment. I’ve never enjoyed an exercise session so much in my entire life.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

Perfect Moment Monday–Goodwill

I was raised to fight any pack rat tendencies. When I was growing up we held regular yard sales and we also moved frequently, getting rid of stuff every time. You might even say I am addicted to giving stuff away. I love the clean, light feeling I get when I free up space in my closet or dresser.

Since becoming a mom, my house has been joyfully taken over by baby stuff. A friend of mine calls this the baby creep, and it’s insidious. Don’t get me wrong, I love a living room strewn with bright-colored toys. It’s something I thought I would never have.

But over the past year our loft has started to look like an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive. When you have to move piles of stuff just to find clean underwear or running shoes, it’s time to do something.

So I went through Oscar’s baby clothes for the first time in a long time. It was a bittersweet moment. The last time I inventoried his clothes was two weeks before he was born.

I remember lovingly counting onsies and receiving blankets, trying to imagine the baby that would one day be wearing them. It was a magical time, and now, deep in the trenches of motherhood, I sometimes miss it.

At first I was tempted to keep everything. These clothes represent so much. They represent the lovely generosity and good will of friends and family and memories of excitedly opening presents while pregnant. They represent Oscar’s first year of life. I can still see him in some of the outfits and remember where we were and what we were doing when he first wore them.

But, alas, there was too much. Nobody, and certainly not a baby, needs that many clothes. Looking at photographs, I realized that this was Oscar’s favorite outfit:

I also realized that when not clad in solely a diaper, Oscar (like his parents) pretty much lives in pajamas, which offer warmth, comfort, and range of motion.  Babies don’t get up and go to the office every day, they don’t need dozens of pants, shoes, and button-up shirts.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly kept quite a lot. We don’t know if there will be more babies in the future, and it’s good to be prepared. And he has a lot of lovely clothes that I will save and give away to friends or family members in the future. But I also got rid of a lot, and it felt good. After hefting several garbage bags full into the back of the car and dropping them off at Goodwill, I felt like I had removed a very large, benign tumor. I now have room to organize the rest, and much more breathing room upstairs.

My perfect moment:  the realization that memories are not housed in things, but in our hearts. The realization that holding on to stuff does not stop the passing of time. And the realization that I have been very lucky and very blessed.

Another perfect moment was reliving all of Oscar’s different stages, like when I came across this outfit (which I saved, of course):

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
Perfect Moments.

Proud Aunt

Recently we were in California to celebrate the first birthday of my great nephew Damien. That’s right, my great nephew. I became a great aunt before I became a mother, and currently have five great nieces and nephews. I am the youngest of four, and my siblings had their kids early in life while I had Oscar late in life. As a result, all of Oscar’s cousins are either high school teenagers or adults in their twenties. I adore my six nieces and nephews, but as they grew up I became sad that my kids (if I ever had them) wouldn’t grow up with their cousins.

However, a small baby boom has occurred in our family, beginning when my nephew Ryan’s daughter Layla was born seven years ago, followed by Rylan, Zack, then my son Oscar, Damien, and Zoe.

Much to my delight, most of us were together for Damien’s first birthday party. At one point all of the new moms were headed outside and I realized we might not all be together in one place like this again anytime soon. I asked my niece Britney to take a picture, and what she captured was an absolutely perfect moment.

This is my little posse of new moms. From left to right, Ganae and Damien, Cerrina and Zack, me and Oscar, and Caitlin and Zoe.

There is nothing like the mother of a baby or toddler to say, “Yes! Exactly! I hear you. I have been there.” I am often stressed out, at my wits end, and frustrated by the well-meaning advice that so many people feel they need to dish out to new moms. But at the party, my niece Caitlin plopped down next to me and said with dry sarcasm, “So how is the whole motherhood thing working out for you? Is it everything you dreamed it would be?” We both looked at each other and then burst out laughing. Caitlin makes me laugh, Ganae swaps c-section stories with me, and Cerrina brings me bags of hand-me-downs for Oscar.

I am a proud aunt.

Proud of these young moms, who are doing an amazing job raising their babies. Proud of my nephew Cody who couldn’t be there. Proud of my nephew Ryan who is a talented chef and a wonderful father.

Proud of my nieces Britney and Ashley, who love Oscar like a little brother.

When Oscar was born I was sad that his cousins had all grown up and moved on with their lives. I never realized that this new generation of babies would bring us all closer and teach us again about the meaning of family, and the sweetness of love.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
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Writing in the Zone

On Saturday I spent the day in my office at the university, because I have a lot of work to get done in the next few weeks, and I have a hard time staying focused and on-task when I’m taking care of Oscar.

In the past I might have spent as much as half the time doing nothing but reading forums, answering emails, paging through a magazine, taking breaks every half hour, etc.

However, since having Oscar I’ve come to appreciate how precious my time really is. As I drove to my office I switched off the radio and began thinking about a writing project that I’ve been in the middle of for a long time. I stayed in that mindset as I walked into my office and switched on the computer. I spent the next three hours writing nonstop. I rarely get “in the zone” like this, and when I do, it’s heaven.

If I spent more time writing and less time dreading it, I’d be a much happier person.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
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Perfect Moment Monday–Sticks and Stones

I took Oscar to the park on Saturday and he was in heaven. Which for Oscar means having his hands in the dirt. He is fascinated by rocks, sticks, and bugs.

He got to swing on the swings for the first time.

The weather was perfect, and after a long winter we just soaked it in for hours.

Despite a dirty house and a looming article deadline, I was able to relax and just be there in the moment with my son.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
Perfect Moments.

The Art of the Perfect Moment

I learned a long time ago that a moment cannot be created to look like a professional wedding cake.

We try to create this:

And we end up creating this:

(images from Cake Wrecks)

We tend to think of the best moments, the important moments, as being those that happen on big days: holidays, birthdays, weddings, parties. We try to orchestrate the big moments, and we pay a lot of money to make them happen.

But I’ve learned that the perfect moments happen when we least expect them. They happen when we might be too busy or too distracted to pay attention.

In order to experience perfect moments, we have to learn how to slow down and live each day as if it were precious and whole, not just one more day to be checked off of a calender before the important, official moments happen. We have to be fully present, quiet, and still. We have to give ourselves over to them.

We do not make perfect moments happen; perfect moments happen to us.

To see more wrecktastic cakes, visit Cake Wrecks.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori.

I Capture
Perfect Moments.

Perfect Moment Monday–Tasting the Spring

I cried during the closing ceremonies, and not because the USA Hockey Team lost to Canada in overtime.

I cried during Neil Young’s performance of “Long May You Run.” It’s not the first time I’ve cried during a song.

It was a combination of emotions. The way the Olympic games make me feel, the power of the athlete’s stories and performances, a year’s worth of sleep deprivation, and the end of February.

This time last year I was a couple weeks into recovering from childbirth, which for me was an unexpected emergency c-section. I was sore, exhausted, hormonal, depressed, and my boobs hurt from breastfeeding. My body felt completely foreign to me.

After a year, I am finally beginning to feel normal. Over the weekend, I put Oscar into his Ergo and took a walk around the block. I couldn’t get over how tired and out-of-shape a simple walk made me feel. But for the first time in years, I felt like doing something about it.

This morning I stepped outside on my way to work and there was something in the air. Maybe it was my revelation over the weekend, maybe it was the Neil Young song, maybe it was the fact that it’s March 1st. It was cold, the thermometer stood at 31 degrees, but the air had a strange liquid quality to it. There was dew on the windshield instead of ice. The air had a different smell to it. I thought of the end of the Sylvia Plath poem, “Wintering,” where she writes about bees waking up from their winter hibernation:

Winter is for women —-
The woman, still at her knitting,
At the cradle of Spanis walnut,
Her body a bulb in the cold
and too dumb to think.

Will the hive survive,
will the gladiolas
Succeed in banking their fires
To enter another year?

What will they taste of,
the Christmas roses?
The bees are flying.
They taste the spring.

My perfect moment is that this morning,  I could taste the spring. I could feel a lengthening and stretching in my body, a reaching toward the spring, toward the summer, toward the sun. There is still snow on the ground, still three more weeks of winter, and there will still be more snow and more frigid nights and mornings. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve decided to commit myself to running a 10k race this summer. There is one on Saturday, June 26, which is roughly sixteen weeks away. I can’t wait to run again.

We’ve been through
Some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do
In stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
Have come
With your chrome heart shining
In the sun
Long may you run.

I Capture Perfect Moments.

For more perfect moments, visit Lori