Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Sincerest Form of Flattery

I'm not sure if it's because Andy just misses Ann when she's away at preschool most of the day, but one of his favorite things to do sometimes is to wear things that are hers. Some days, it's shoes (although they both loooove wearing my shoes). Today it was this pair of pajamas that run a bit big even on her.

This is one of those times when I'm not sure what to do. On the one hand, she may get upset to find that he's been wearing (and now, napping in) her pajamas. "Those are very special to me!" is a line I'd typically hear from her in a case like this.

On the other hand, they share many things, and there are two pairs of warm fleecy pajamas that were bought for him, that they have both been wearing lately. If she's wearing his, she's got to be willing to have him wear hers. We're not very territorial as a family, but it's also important that we respect one another's belongings.

I'm hoping he doesn't extend his love of the pink and flowery beyond pajamas and into clothing worn outside, because that's a battle of wills I wasn't eager to have. Oh well. At least he's dressed today.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Steady Growth

Miraculously, a styrofoam cup plant that Ann brought home last year from preschool has been thriving on our kitchen windowsill. Ordinarily, the school plant and the carnival goldfish are more vulnerable than the California condor. Nestled between the "egg-checking glass" and another plant, at home among the flour, sugar, and our kitschy Belgian kitchen chicken, Ann's plant has been growing up and over the frame, straining leftward toward the sun.

When I was pregnant with Andy, I remember someone telling me that the first time you change your bigger baby after bringing home a newborn, the older sibling suddenly seems huge. "Look at those giant legs! And you can talk! Why am I still changing your diapers!?" But in actuality, the bigger baby is still quite little, thought it's easy to forget with those tiny, chicken-y newborn legs in your house again. I do remember how big my scrawny Ann suddenly seemed that day during Sukkos when Andy came home.

This week we celebrated Andy's second birthday. He's coming into his own, and holding fast to his reputation as the Raggedy who probably adds the most fun and excitement to our brood. Although Andy's our resident displaced baby since the arrival of Little Rag, he really does feel like he's still also the baby. It was just about a year ago that I started this blog with a picture of him in the laundry basket. (Happy Blogiversary to me!)

Ann, on the other hand, has suddenly struck me as such an independent girl. I'm realizing daily that there are so many ways in which she doesn't need me anymore. Getting dressed, washing up, and keeping busy (usually) are, for the most part, within her domain. Watching the way she plays, and the way she teaches Andy to play, makes me realize that she's gotten very mature in just the last couple of months.

Yesterday at the little playground they built behind our apartment, two big boys came along after we'd been there a while. One of them was passing by Andy on the way up to the slide, and said something like, "This slide isn't for a baby!" I just watched from the sidelines for a minute. Although Ann is usually reserved with strangers, she stood up tall and said, "He just had his birthday on Sunday, and now he's two years old [showing two fingers]. He's actually a very big boy now. Come with me, Andy."

It has made me kind of wistful that she doesn't need me the way Andy still does. For the most part, she knows what she's doing and isn't going to take the same crazy risks. She certainly doesn't need me the way Little Rag does, desperately clinging to my neck for dear life, still totally bewildered by this world.

They're growing up every day, but the truth is, I'm the one who still needs them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Wild-Eyed Madwoman is Me

Somewhere along the way, I let the reigns slip, and there seems to be little chance of getting them back.

Have you ever done errands with a bunch of little kids running amok? The littlest one is helplessly screaming. Again. The oldest one is whining about a coloring book she needs, and also, she has to use the bathroom. It's a 'mergency'. The middlest one is knocking into glass bottles in stores and screaming "Me too money! My turn money!" when you pull out a quarter to feed the meter. And finding the most embarassing things ever to yank off shelves at the pharmacy (use your imagination). And anytime there's a playground in his field of vision, running, running, at breakneck speed to the PWAAAAAYYY GWOOOUUUNNDD!!.

Thank you to all of the kind people who held doors open for me on Main Street this week. Also, though less helpful, thanks to those of you who gave me long, pitying glances. Making eye contact with others can be unexpectedly gratifying.

My lists of errands didn't seem that crazy on paper. Carpool. Bank. Post office. Pharmacy. Pediatrician (little did I know, I'd wait there for 2 hours!). In actuality it was like some kind of absurd triathlon.

Oh, and also, Mondays are apparently pants-switching and sweatband-wearing days for Ann and Andy. (They look like they are here to pump . . you up!)

Thankfully, every day brings with it its own hour of salvation. Naptime. I'd better keep on sleeping when I can. I'll need all the strength I can get.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Inside Out

Over the past week and a half, although it's been a bustling time with holidays, cooking, and a preschooler on "vacation" from school, it's also been a time of personal reflection for me.

I once read about something called Impostor Syndrome in which people feel as though the world views them one way, while in truth, they are somebody quite different (and usually worse). While this is a real psychological disorder, I think that on a lesser scale, some of us really do put on minor guises that can be deceptive.

One of our Yom Tov guests remarked that I'm very calm with my kids, and it got me thinking that I know that that's not the case, but that it may seem to be so, to others, some of the time.

Being a calm, upbeat person is not my nature. In fact, the expected redheaded temperament is much more like it. Plus, worry is my middle name. In short, the way I see it, I'm a crabby, easy-to-anger, anxious person, even as I realize that people would be surprised to learn that.

It's an ongoing effort to be more of the person I want to be, and to be "on" for my kids in the way that I know I need to be. It's also a struggle to retain the genuine side of myself that I see as more interesting because it's a little more biting and edgy, Being better can sometimes get confused with being sweet and bland, like a stale, cheerful cookie. The trick is to still be me, but a version of myself that doesn't make me feel guilty and uncomfortable in retrospect.

We were lucky to be able to share a meal over Rosh Hashana with a family that I consider positive and inspiring, though not in a saccharine way. In some neutral context, the wife mentioned that she'd recently seen a refrigerator magnet at someone's house that said "The very thing you're complaining about is what someone else is praying for right now." (That's paraphrased.)

It took me some time to really try to internalize how true this is for me. Whatever irks me - a mess in my house, RaggedyDad not helping "the right way," a child showing chutzpah - while irritating, I'm lucky to have each and every one. And even though I'm human and I can complain, I'd be crazy to only complain, and not quietly (humbly) realize the truth of that saying on the magnet.

That thought, and the fact that these years are forming the basis of my children's experiences and memories, is what hopefully propels me when I'm feeling like being more of who I want to be, and trying to cut down on the hatefulness, negativity, and resentment. And to be able to mentally agree when someone compliments the real me.