We’ve adopted the idea of a slow summer–you know, the 70s one you keep hearing about. It’s not because we need to announce some sort of manifesto, or statement, or grand philosophical theory about kids needing to be bored, or how a scheduled calendar creates a sad kid, …
Tag: growing up
Saoirse is–how do you say?–a sensitive child. She is funny, and sharp, and doesn’t miss a trick, as my grandmother would’ve said. But she also internalizes most of what she witnesses: interactions between other family members. Body language. The way she is treated in comparison to the way another is treated. She is, by all appearances, constantly weighing and measuring what goes on around her, deciding what is fair and what is decidedly not fair. The smallest slight will send her crumbling. She will focus on one tiny misstep–hers or or someone else’s–and be destroyed about it for hours.
She tends to cry.
I love this child more than I love the sun that shines on her face when she comes down for breakfast in the morning, all mussed hair and stuffy nose and sleepy smiles. And I love her intelligence, I love her insight. I love that she feels so much so deeply. But I don’t know how to tolerate this part of her, don’t know how to shape it, don’t know how to stop it when it reaches the edge and teeters before going overboard. I learned long ago–am still learning, really–that we can’t change the people we love. We either accept a person or change ourselves, right? And I just realized last week that SK’s sensitivity isn’t something I can change–it’s not a behavior I can alter. This is her personality. This is who she’s been since she was 18 months old and dissolved into tears because I told her she couldn’t have a piece of candy and she just couldn’t understand why not, because I swear that child does a mathematical analysis in her head to come up with a rationale for any grown-up decision. She never threw tantrums (well, one, but it was enough of a whopper to eradicate the need for any more for a solid decade). But cry, yes. Argue, yes. Justify and demanded reasons, yep.
She is her father’s daughter. And most definitely her mother’s. We are sca-rewed.
I say all this with the knowledge that our firstborn–all of our children, really–is happy most of the time. I mean, really happy: content to read a book on the couch, or play with her cars, or skip through the dining room until I holler at her to keep it down, already. She’s a happy little person–happiest when she’s learning, or when she’s discovering, or, basically, when we leave her alone and let her do her own thing, whether it’s write entire letters to her pet dolphins, or dump her clothes all over the floor. But she is sensitive, and I worry for her. I worry what the teenage years will be like, the transitions to college, to adulthood. Life is not easy for those who feel too easily. So I need to love her, still. I need to let her be Saoirse. But I also have to figure out how to guide her without indulging her. Take her hand without telling her which way she should go. Give her strength, even if she doesn’t yet know how to use it.
I just don’t know how. Not yet.
She is my daughter. And I need to raise her in spite of that.
My brother just sent me a link to this article in The New York Times called “The Busy Trap,” suggesting only that I might be interested in it. Have you read it already (the article, not my brother’s email, I mean. If you’ve seen the email, dear Lord, STOP HACKING ME. But before you do, maybe help me figure out why gmail’s new format is trying to mess with my life? Thanks!)?
I am one of you–one of those people who thinks she’s just so busybusybusy all the time, and spends a good deal of her waking hours (usually at 12:30 a.m., when I can’t sleep, or 4:45 a.m., when the baby thinks I shouldn’t) stressing about either all the stuff she’s not doing well, the stuff she has to do, or the stuff she wants to do but can’t, or should but doesn’t want to, and on and on…
Saoirse starts kindergarten this week, and right about Sunday, as we were leaving the open house at her school, I started what seems to be this fun new hobby of spontaneously bursting into tears. I honestly thought all the boo-hooing was going to escape me–SK is so, so ready to take this new step–but of course, the ringing in of a new school year–and one where she’ll have to be there every. single. day–is enough to remind me that time is marching on whether I like it or not.
(For the record, I don’t. Like it, I mean. And it’s not just me: I told David the other day that in 14 short years, we’ll be dropping Saoirse off at college. He asked me why I wanted to ruin his night.)
Further proof? Yesterday I looked at Cian, so big already in his car seat, and suggested that maybe, possibly, I want another baby. Have you ever seen an Italian guy go pale? It’s weird. Also weird is having to scrape your 220-pound husband off the floor of a frozen yogurt shop. My mom caught wind of my crazy talk and started wringing her hands and talking about how I need to stay alive for my three existing children before I start playing Russian Uterus Roulette with a fourth. I told her she was being just a weeeeee bit dramatic, but you know how those moms are.
As if we could even handle a fourth, risky baby-making abilities aside. SERIOUSLY.
I haven’t one photo of Cian printed or framed in the entire house. He’s almost eight months old.
I’m so behind on laundry he wore pajamas so small to bed last night the shirt was practically a midriff top.
Our social life comes and goes in chunks, by choice. One week we’re little butterflies, hosting and being hosted, and it’s wonderful and busy and my house is so NEAT, and the next, well, I’m sitting on my computer at 9:32 in the morning, still wearing pajama shorts and a nursing tank because, eh, I need a break from well, people. I realize that this probably isn’t healthy.
I still haven’t sent those emails. Or the thank-you notes. Which, yes, I should probably be doing instead of this, but…well, I don’t know. I can’t argue with you, there.
I still feel busybusybusy, though. My brain is set up incorrectly, I’m afraid. I’m someone who craves order, and routine, and making sure I feel in control of my life–typical Type A stuff, I think–but at the same time, I’m horribly inconsistent. My house is either really clean (HA.) or really messy. The contents of our pantry are either organized in grocery store-worthy categories or so disheveled I find the cereal tucked in behind the cleaning supplies (this bothers me more than, again, what would be considered healthy). Don’t even ask me about my clothes closet. Just know that when you come over, and the bedroom door is closed? It’s not because I’m super-protective of my bed pillows.
When Saoirse starts kindergarten next week (MWWWWAAAAHHHHHH), we will have to be somewhere, every day, at 8 a.m. I will have to pick her up at 12 on the dot. I will have Quinn’s preschool, and the girls’ gymnastics, and Cian’s music class (it’s just a mommy-and-me class, not a “Hey, kid, you’re gonna learn the viola by the time you walk, or else!” class). Our lives will be ruled by the weekends. I’m not ready for it. I’m not ready to conquer the busybusybusy into chunks of time I HAVE to manage. I’m nervous about being the type of parent–the type of grown-up–I have to be in order for my children to be happy and successful and set up for good, not “Hey, Mom, why aren’t there any clean underpants in my dresser?”. When I’m in the midst of writing (or revising, as the case has been), I lose control of everything. I need to fix that, somehow. Is it possible to reorganize your priorities so that they all stay, well, priorities? Or is it really only possible, as my grandmother used to say, to do one thing well at a time? (If you find the answer to this, please feel free to shut down this blog, because I won’t need it anymore.)
This is it. I need to grow the heck up, get organized, and stay organized, and manage the busybusy into I got this. I need to learn to manage my time like I did when I was working a paying job, and try to sleep more, and wake up well before the house arises (well, not Cian. I draw the line at 4:45 a.m.). I need to find my rhythm and put away the underwear. I need to start a new writing project but raise the kids, too. I need to sort through the kid’s fall clothes and wash the new ones and, yes, frame some photos already of my beautiful son.
But before that, I should probably stop crying first. It’s only kindergarten, anyway. Saoirse’s not in college yet.
Just recently, the girls were curled up on the couch together (I KNOW. It happens!), playing. They were pretending that their stuffed animals were their children, which was just the cutest thing to overhear. I was sitting on a chair nearby, comforting a red-faced, bleary-eyed …