As part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I share with you what I’m streaming on Netflix. What should I watch next?
It’s not all gloom and doom, I promise! But with Halloween quickly approaching, we’ve dialed up some old favorites, plus a few new ones.
First off, the Netflix series Narcos is fantastic.It’s been a while since we have truly binge-watched a series. The series covers the violent criminal exploits of Columbian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the [fictional, but based on actual] DEA agents who worked their asses off to take Escobar and his cartel down. It’s super violent and filled with fantastic acting and real news coverage footage. And given the amount of boobs in this series, is it too much to ask to get to see Pedro Pascal’s butt more than once? Come on, Netflix.
Anyway, watch it. And don’t do drugs.
Our traditional “airing of the Tim Burton” started rather early this year, sometime in early September, I would say. I admit that I did not see The Nightmare Before Christmas until we decided to watch it with our kids a couple of years ago (for shame!). But I love it! Is it a Halloween movie? A Christmas movie? NO ONE KNOWS. If they take this movie off Netflix, it will be the End of Days in the Torres household.
Along the Halloween theme, my girls have been watching this cute little show called Ruby Gloom. They love the wacky characters (Ruby Gloom, Doom Kitty, Iris, Misery, Skull Boy, Scaredy Bat, and more), and I love the adorable animation. It’s just ridiculously cute and one of the few shows they watch that I don’t mind watching with them, except when Claire insists on rewinding the same parts over and over and over and over again.
It’s not Halloween without Dreamworks Spooky Stories. It’s become as much of a staple in our house as Nutella.
I know! That’s it! We are so lame this month, TV wise. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been reading a lot?
This parenting thing, man. So much has happened since this summer that has taught me a lot about my kids (and myself). I’m not really sure how to dive into this topic, so I’ll just pour a glass of wine and jump right in.
Some events from this past summer (and prior to that, if I’m being completely honest with myself) left me immensely frustrated. Without getting too terribly specific, we had some eye opening experiences that left us feeling like a) our older two children are not on par with other kids their age, and b) we were complete failures as parents.
Of course neither of those is 100% true. Rachel and Claire are not lagging behind their peers to a detrimental degree, and well, every one of us fails at this parenting thing at one time or another.
When we had our 7 year well check in July (never mind that they turned 7 in March – see above comment about parenting fails), our pediatrician asked if I had any behavioral concerns, and since I’m super discreet in front of my kids, I gave all the wiggly eyebrows and hand signals to designate “MAY WE SPEAK IN PRIVATE PLEASE.”
Honestly, I can’t even remember what particular issues I had wanted to discuss in private. We had had some difficulties with Rachel being a bit explosive at times and showing inability to control her anger. I also feel that she struggles with mild anxiety. For both girls, we’ve struggled with impulsiveness and not necessarily not listening per se, but not really grasping the point of what we were saying, not getting it.
Our pediatrician – with whom I’ve always been able to speak candidly – nodded in understanding and said noncommittally that a few things had crossed her mind as she’s watched the girls grow. ADHD. Asperger’s. And in response to the “shocked but reeeeeaallly trying to look open-minded” look on my face, she went on to explain that if that were the case, it’s likely on the very low end of the spectrum, and many MANY kids go on to lead highly functioning lives.
When I pressed her, she listed off some of the girls’ most obvious (and cringe-worthy) habits: tendency to touch things and people without consideration, inability to control the volume of their voice, asking the same questions over and over, occasional uttering of strange, random sounds.
The thing is, I told her, most of those things I attribute to them being twins. The two of them literally have no boundaries. They’ve been touching almost constantly since conception and are practically inseparable. When it comes to other kids, well…it just doesn’t occur to them that their friends may not react well to constant hugging and random face touching. Our discussions on personal space just haven’t sunk in. And the volume thing? Our house is LOUD. Everyone is always talking over everyone else. Even me. I just know to turn the volume down when having a regular conversation. Sometimes.
And our pediatrician agreed. I love her because she listens to me, and she knows that I know my girls better than anyone else. She admitted that she hadn’t thought of that, and it made sense. At their age and with the evidence presented, she was NOT eager to diagnose them with anything. These were all just things to keep in mind.
We moved to the subject of physical abilities. I had noticed that the girls had trouble with certain feats, mainly balance and core strength. Bikes that I got them at a young age went unridden, as peddling and steering was too much at one time. We went straight to 2-wheel scooters at age 6, and they have been a struggle. Looking back, they had always had a little difficulty climbing, balancing, jumping. Nothing that would keep them from playing on a playground, but things that would keep them from taking chances and learning new things. Difficulty with these activities caused frustration, which caused lack of desire. If it wasn’t easy to pick up, they didn’t want to do it.
It’s possible that a lot of these things wouldn’t have occurred to me if we didn’t have a younger daughter who is extremely physically agile for her age, not to mention determined as hell and a high risk-taker. Her successes only made the big girls’ lack of physical abilities stand out more. All kids develop differently, but they were struggling with things they shouldn’t have been struggling with anymore.
Our doctor suggested occupational therapy (OT). It wouldn’t hurt, she said, to get them evaluated and see if they would benefit. And the therapists could also give them tools to cope with impulsiveness, anxiety, anger, basically all of the emotions that my girls seem to feel to the extreme. I mean, all kids get angry, but we were dealing with some next level shit here.
When I asked if this – the physical shortcomings, the emotional immaturity – were a product of their prematurity, the doctor shrugged. There’s really no way to tell, she said. Lots of preemies end up needing OT, as do plenty of term kids. Rachel and Claire didn’t show any obvious need for early intervention as babies and toddlers. They hit their milestones only slightly behind suggested markers, which was to be expected. Had I realized that their lack of core strength and balance was abnormal, I would’ve mentioned it. Sometimes these things just don’t show up until later, when you (and I mean ME) realize that your kids are struggling a bit.
Now that we’ve started, OT is basically the best thing we have ever done for these kids. Our evaluations showed that they are about 2 years behind on motor skills, balance, and core strength, all things that can affect productivity and attention span. They do strengthening moves and yoga. Rachel’s therapist taught her how to tie her laces, something I had been fearing pretty much since she started wearing shoes. But she got some sweet new Chucks for school, so we needed to figure it out. It’s basically an hour of play for them with someone – most importantly not me – cheering them on.
The most eye-opening takeaway from OT came when Claire’s therapist mentioned, quite candidly, that she is a “sensory seeker.” I’d say Rachel deals with this too, but not to the same degree. And then so many things from the past 7 years all fell into place. The random touching. The grabby hands. The petting of friends’ hair as said friend looks a tad squeamish. She reaches out to touch anything and everything impulsively, without thinking. It doesn’t matter how many times I admonish her or tell her to keep her hands to herself. She just can’t help it. And I started to look at it as something she was having difficulty controlling, as opposed to ME having difficulty controlling HER.
So this is where we are right now. I feel like OT has opened this secret door to Rachel and Claire’s inner workings, allowing me to understand them better. I can’t help but kick myself a little for not seeing these red flags sooner. But the thing is, the flags weren’t really red. When I acknowledged how difficult it was to take my three kids anywhere, I was hearing the exact same lamentations from my twin mom friends. Only after being shown the answers did the questions really start to arise.
I had a long conversation recently with a friend about her experiences with OT (her two children are on the spectrum).
“They taught me how to be a parent,” she admitted, explaining that at one time they had early intervention therapists coming to her house twice daily. “THEY POTTY TRAINED MY SON.”
I missed out on that perk, but the therapists do give me tools to use as a parent to help keep things consistent at home, things that maybe someone born with more parental instincts would already know. But I never claimed to have many of those to begin with.
As difficult as it is to hear that your child has some sort of special needs, it’s also a relief. Because you’re not crazy! And while you left that one event frustrated and near tears, saying, “You know, I just feel like at ages 7, 7, and 5, I should NOT still feel like I am constantly herding cats,” now you understand WHY. And the therapists are helping give you the tools for a better cat-herding experience.
[end cat metaphors]
I’m tired and lethargic (are those the same?) and I kept a kid home who isn’t nearly as sick today as she was last night, so how about some ABCs?
A - Age: 36, for a few more weeks at least.
B - Biggest Fear: Guns. And not because it’s timely and newsy. I’ve always been terrified of them. Seeing one in real life, even not loaded, spikes my blood pressure and anxiety like nothing else.
C – Current time: 8:21am
D – Drink you last had: COFFEE
E – Easiest person to talk to: Christian.
F – Favorite song: Like, right now? It’s a tie between The Emotion by BØRNS, Stay Gold by First Aid Kit, and 10,000 Emerald Pools, also by BØRNS. I’ll sprinkle them through this post.
G – Grossest memory: All of the poop, spit up, and potty training from the baby days all kind of blends together. But I have one.
When Rachel was a baby, Christian was laying on the floor and playing with her, tossing her gently up in the air and catching her. Their faces were perfectly aligned when Rachel produced a slimy stream of spit up, right into Christian’s mouth.
H - Hometown: Dallas, y’all.
I - In love with: My husband. My kids. David Sedaris.
J - Jealous of: People who can sing and dance. I can do neither. Like, I can’t even fake it.
K - Killed someone? Only in my dreams and in that last game of Mortal Kombat I played in 1992.
L - Longest relationship: Romantic? The one I’m in with this guy I call my husband. Otherwise, probably my unabashed love for the Old 97s that dates back to 1996.
M - Middle name: Ann. And let me just go ahead and state the apparently NOT so obvious: no, my name is not Leigh Ann Ann. Yes, it’s happened. More than once.
N - Number of siblings: One.
O - One wish: That my kids grow up to find fulfillment in something they love to do. Kind of like how I feel about napping, but if they can support themselves doing it, even better.
P - Person you last called: The pediatrician. I got a busy signal, so apparently I’m not the only one wondering if her kid has strep. (She doesn’t.)
Q - Question you’re always asked: “Where is ________?” It’s under your bed/in the closet/on the second shelf in the pantry/probably behind something. I’m starting to think I’m the only one who actually lives here.
R - Reason to smile: I’m home snuggling with my sickie 5-year-old today. (Reasons to NOT smile: She keeps coughing on me.)
S - Song you last sang: To stave away bad dreams, I sing a song to Rachel every night that goes like this:
Unhappy thoughts go away
Happy dreams are here to stay.
Rachel struggles with some mild anxiety, and weeks ago she kept insisting that her bed was giving her unhappy thoughts, which she was scared would turn into nightmares. So I offered to take out her unhappy thoughts, kind of like how Dumbledore teaches Harry to siphon out his memories and place them into the Pensieve. I stroke her hair and pretend I’m pulling out the unhappy thoughts, leaving her only with good ones.
T - Time you woke up: Alarm – 5:30; up – 6:00
U - Underwear color: Black with white polka dots.
V - Vacation destination: Oh geez, this is hard. I’d love to go so many places – back to Mexico, to Europe, back to NYC, back to the beach, back to tha hotel. I don’t even care what hotel, as long as they have cable and a breakfast buffet.
W - Worst habit: Procrastination; not making time for myself.
X - X-rays you’ve had: Uh, lemme see. Ankles, knees, ribs, arms. Let’s go with MY ENTIRE BODY.
Y - Your favorite food: I can’t choose. I’m a sucker for a good taco, a good burger, a delicious salad, and sweet potato fries. Also cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and peanut butter. Not to mention doughnuts and Dr. Pepper and yogurt-covered pretzels. And bacon.
Z - Zodiac sign: Libra. I am the picture of indecision and am easily influenced. But on the positive side, I’m also pretty diplomatic and I’m not exactly what you call cunning. Doormat, I relate to you.
At first glance, a thirty-something, nondescript mother of three from the almost-suburbs of Austin, Texas doesn’t sound like someone that would have easily gotten on Taye Diggs’ radar, but the truth is, I can’t exactly figure out to get OFF of his radar. If you don’t know who Taye Diggs is, he’s an actor who was the eye candy in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, then starred in the original Broadway production of Rent, but was pretty much “you know, that guy!” from several films and TV shows, until he landed a regular gig on Private Practice.
It all started with Twitter. Anyone who’s anyone knows that Taye Diggs has a thing for Mommy Bloggers. And by “anyone,” I mean you probably only know that if you are indeed a Mommy Blogger. I’m not one for labels, but I’ll label myself an Unwanted Facial Hair Blogger if it gets me celebrity followers.
For months and months, my Mommy Blogger friends (I’ll call them MBs) piped up one by one.
“Taye Diggs just followed me on Twitter! Squeeeeee!”
In January, as you can see, I was getting a little jaded. Taye (can I call you Taye?) seemed to be following everyone in blogland but me. What gives, Diggs? And why did I care so much? I mean, don’t tell him, but I’ve never seen Rent, and I stopped watching Private Practice long before it went off the air. But the need to be followed by Taye Diggs was intoxicating, like when everyone you know gets invited to some party, and you’re sitting on pins and needles, awaiting your invitation, even though you don’t really care to go to the party, but you you suddenly can’t stand the thought of not belonging.
(Don’t hate, Taye. I totally care about you.)
Taye eventually caught on and followed me, which made me 0% more conscious about my twitter behavior. I can only sit here now and imagine how much my ridiculous tweets about Netflix and coffee and how badly my children’s feet smell have enriched his Twitter experience.
Even when I’m expecting it, my Fitbit scares the shit out of me every time it buzzes.
— Leigh Ann Torres (@latorres) August 28, 2015
In July I was in NYC for BlogHer, where Taye was performing on Broadway in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I did NOT see Taye in the Big Apple, but the streets were really crowded, and I’m sure he was only a few people deep behind me. Taye, next time we’ll be saving you a seat for our midnight jaunt to Ray’s Pizza.
Now at BlogHer, there was this photographer who was fantastic. He was everywhere, snapping amazing candid moments of the conference. Bloggers started thanking him on Twitter for the fantastic photos, so I looked him up. His name is Chris Pestel. He went to West Point, which is pretty rad, but guess what?
Yup. Taye Diggs follows him too. Because of course he does.
Moving on. Friday I was excited to see the author announcement for the 2015 Texas Book Festival. Even though the only author event we made it to last year was an over-the-head, 47 people deep shot of Ziggy Marley reading his children’s book, it’s one of my favorite events of the year. I scanned the list of authors and came across local author Kari Anne Holt. She has a new YA book out called House Arrest, but I’ve been reading her blog, Haiku of the Day, for years, although you may have heard of her in this viral (and ridiculous) case.
Anyway, I scrolled down and guess who the Texas Book Festival thinks I may be interested in?
That’s right. Taye Diggs. Taye Diggs has a new children’s book out and will be making an appearance at the Texas Book Festival. Try as I might, I just can’t get away from his Taye-dar.
I thought about hounding some of my friends who are bound to have access to the author tent at the festival. I could confront Taye Diggs and his stalkerish ways, then maybe ask for an autograph and a selfie. Or I can sit back and enjoy the festival and await our imminent run in. Or you can watch for my over-the-head, 47-people-deep photo from his reading.
I have to tell you, I got bummed out today. At Costco.
We entered week two of school with a complete lack of fanfare or disgruntlement or complaining. Rachel and Claire have snapped right back into the routine of eating breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth, grabbing lunches and snacks, without me having to follow them around all morning, wagging my finger and whispering sweet nothings into their ears like “TEETH!” or “SHOES” and “No, I don’t believe it’s necessary to change your underwear for a third time this morning.” They get it, and now I can focus most of my energy on drinking my coffee. And then I catch a glimpse of Zoe wearing her nightgown on her head like a wig and say, “Oh yeah, she’s supposed to be getting ready for school too. TEETH! SHOES! DO NOT CHANGE THAT UNDERWEAR AGAIN!”
So she still needs a little guidance. It’s only fair; this routine is pretty new to her.
But other than that, Zoe has taken to kindergarten like a pro. This morning she bounced into her room, arms over her head, and announced her own entrance with a “Ta-daaaaa!” I’m sure her teacher was thrilled.
I’m not sure I’ve taken to it quite so easily. The house is quiet, and when I’m rushing to get work done, I have to keep reminding myself that the next day is not Zoe’s off day. It’ll be quiet like this again tomorrow.
In the weeks before school started, friends and neighbors weighed in on Zoe’s upcoming milestone.
“What are you going to do with all your free time?” they asked, like I had been waiting for this day all my life. Truth is, I have been less waiting for it with baited breath and more anticipating it with a pit in my stomach. My baby, off to kindergarten. My demise has begun. I’ll officially never have kids at home again.
I would laugh nervously and explain that I actually have two part-time, work-from-home jobs that keep me plenty busy. After a summer of juggling kids and work in 30 minute bursts, it will be nice to have uninterrupted blocks of time, but still have the freedom to go to partake in one of life’s simple pleasures: going to Costco alone, during daylight hours.
But therein lies the problem. Daytime at the grocery store is Mom time. Moms with babies, moms with toddlers, moms with preschoolers. All these moms with their little ones make me ache inside, so then I find myself weeping into the pile of 2T pajamas, because when my children were little, Costco was the best place to buy pajamas for three kids without having to dip into my retirement.
For years Zoe and I had days where it was just the two of us. It was quality time I rarely, if ever, got with her sisters, even if she did think Costco, Target, and HEB were the only establishments open in the city of Austin.
She didn’t always want to go, and I didn’t always love taking her places. She’s a talker, and I could only take so much before my end of our conversations deteriorated to, “Mmmmhmmm….Oh really?….Wow……” as she prattled on about this and that.
“Zoe,” I said one day as I carried her through yet another parking lot, probably Target this time, her chattering filling up every inch of my brain space, “Let’s just have some quiet time for like 3 minutes, okay?”
“Okay……..”Mommy, know why the sun is called THE SUN?”
It never worked.
When Rachel and Claire were in kindergarten, they seemed so big to me. I expected them to be able to handle the daily (albeit simple) homework and the chaos of the morning routine times two, even if I could barely handle it myself. Looking at them now, even bigger second graders next to their little sister, I am shocked at how tiny these kindergarteners are. Why couldn’t I see it then?
But here we are. In the afternoons she melts into my arms, worn out from an entire day of learning and walking in line and behaving. It’s a long day for her, but she welcomes the next with the same excitement as the one before.
It’ll probably be a while before I can run errands without getting emotional. For every mom with kids, there’s at least one without, like me. She’s usually in workout clothes and large sunglasses, walking to or from her car quickly, because she isn’t pushing a stroller or holding any little hands across the parking lot. I want to ask her when she made it, when she stopped feeling sentimental about those days home with kids that were so crazy difficult and frustrating and agonizing, but so very worth it.
But I’m afraid she’ll tell me she never did stop.
As a member of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to talk about what I’m dreaming. What are YOU watching?
Full disclosure: I haven’t been watching a lot of TV lately. The end of summer and the start of school have me falling asleep by long about 9pm. My kids went to bed late all summer, and haven’t quite caught on to earlier school year bedtimes, leaving little time for anything beyond falling face first into the couch. A night person, I am not.
But despite my extreme lameness, I do have a few things to share with you beyond the typical OITNB, Kimmy Schmidt, and My Little Pony (thank you, Season 5, for giving us a much needed break from all the Monster High).
Tig – You guys. I have been practically jumping out of my skin, waiting for this documentary to come out. Tig Notaro is one of my absolute favorite performers in the history of the world. I’m not a huge stand up person (I don’t have a love for crass, gross, or shocking humor), but Tig is on a whole other level. I first started hearing her on This American Life (the Taylor Dane story – amazing), then saw her as a keynote speaker at BlogHer ’14 (I was in the same room with her!), and I’ve been eating up all things Tig ever since. The Tig documentary is an endearing and insightful look into the life of one of the best comics around. WATCH IT.
The Queen of Versailles – Continuing my obsession with society and culture documentaries, I watched this 2012 film months ago, before the death of Jackie Siegel’s oldest daughter Victoria. Watching the extent of this family’s excess and subsequent fall from fortune (well, to their standards at least) was completely fascinating and extremely sad. Like any good documentary, I found myself both repulsed by Jackie and her lifestyle (as they lost millions and she was demoted to Christmas shopping at Walmart, where she still spent thousands on gifts her children either already had to didn’t give a damn about) and feeling sorry for her (as she repeatedly tries to connect with her stressed, workaholic husband, Westgate Resorts over David Siegel).
Brain Games – This National Geographic show has become one of our favorite things to watch in the evenings to wind down before bedtime. We all find it insanely interesting how our brain perceives sounds or takes shortcuts to figure things out, and more. Sometimes the girls can figure out what’s going on, and sometimes they are completely blown away (me too). It’s a fun family show!
We got to check out, Project MC2, a new show aimed at tween girls about a group of super smart and science savvy girls recruited to join the spy organization NOV8 (innovate). The show is cute and very “girl power,” and maybe a little over my girls’ heads (ages 7, 7, and 5), but tween girls will love the mix of smarts and style. And my science-loving girls were stoked to get a Camryn doll and some science experiments in the mail. We put the goggles straight to use.
This post is generously sponsored by Zappos.
“How many balloons do you think are in there?” I asked my kids, pen poised over the scrap of paper to place in the jar.
“Five thousand fifty hundred!”
So we need a little work on our numbers. Mainly the concept that “five thousand fifty hundred” is not one. I had the best of intentions at the beginning of the summer. We downloaded an app their teachers recommended that helped track their progress in math. We signed on exactly twice and spent most of the exercises freaking out about not being able to find the numbers on the keyboard. Learning is hard.
So maybe we need to work on our numbers AND our typing.
I grew up in my parents’ office – they owned a little office supply/print shop in downtown Dallas when I was younger – so I spent many days whiling away the hours on my mom’s typewriter (not even a computer, kids!) and calculator, the kind with the paper rolls, or painting my nails with White Out. And carbon paper! Carbon paper was my jam.
(Also, I used to run random pieces of paper through the mail meter, over and over again, only to watch it shoot out the other end. I was completely oblivious to the idea that each stamp cost actual money. Sorry, Dad.)
I don’t think we won the balloon count, even when I did adjust their numbers to something more realistic, like 552. But we DID have an absolutely fantastic day at the Zappos #dayofwow, held down at the Fair Market in downtown East Austin, an area of town that is at least 37 times hipper than I am.
So a Day of Wow basically contains everything you can imagine to help kids get pumped for back to school. In conjunction with Crafting Community and benefitting the j.k. livin foundation, Day of Wow featured tons of family friendly activities and crafts for kids of all ages and school levels.
We hopped into a photo booth and had our picture taken with ridiculous glasses and props while the girls waved pom poms in our faces, then headed straight over to the Keds booth, where each girl was given a pair of bright white canvas shoes to decorate at the tie-dye station. Remember drawing on your Keds? Our poor mothers. My biggest accomplishment of this day was suppressing my inner control freak when Claire did not see the point of making her left shoe look anything like her right.
Next up was hammering decorative brads into leather shapes to make fun keychains or pins to attach to a pencil case, also courtesy of Keds. No one hammered a finger! I call that a win.
The best part about this event was that it was not overwhelming for our three girls. I mean, sure, we had to abandon the beaded zipper pulls because with my poorly engineered body containing only two arms, I could only help one kid at a time, causing the other kid to pout and wander off. But a) we were inside, so there was really nowhere she could go, and b) she was easy to find, thanks to the strategically placed snacks and tubs of Honest Kids juice. If you’re looking for my kids, they will always be by the snacks.
Case in point:
We also enjoyed food from Franks Hot Dogs, which I had coincidentally just visited the weekend before (order the giant pretzel; trust me on this), drinks from Honest Kids juice, and the most delicious all-natural popsicles from Cold Ones. Every bit of this event was so very Austin, and we loved it.
Here are a few more shots of our day. The girls are still talking about it, and Zoe even wore her custom Keds on the first day of kindergarten, because she is completely rad like that.
Zoe made a button for every single design they had available. Thank you, sweet button lady, for encouraging her creativity. And her name was Claire, which had my Claire like WHOA.
Also, see that backpack? Courtesy of Dakine and FILLED with amazing goodies from Honest Shampoo & Body Wash to Mabels Labels to the exact Yoobi pom pom keychains I insisted the girls spend their own money on when we were school supply shopping last week.
Back to school has been fun so far, but compared the the Day of Wow, all other days pale in comparison. Crafts are my love language with the girls (when I have enough hands to appease everyone), and this day was truly WOW.
If you couldn’t tell by the massive amounts of photos of awkwardly smiling kids carrying backpacks twice as big as they are, this week marked the first week of school for a whole lotta people.
My girls have waffled back and forth between SO EXCITED! and yeah, no thanks, school. And to tell the truth, I’ve done the same. I spent the entire summer setting my alarm for 6am (instead of the 5:30 that I do for the school year) so I could work, but I’m still not thrilled to start the hectic mornings of packing lunches, making breakfast, and ordering kids to get dressed, brush teeth, pack their backpacks, and help me search for the inevitable missing shoes. Always one shoe missing, always the one they absolutely must wear.
Thankfully, spirits ran high on Tuesday, along with a few nerves. Rachel didn’t seem to want to eat her breakfast. Whereas Claire will state upfront that she’s nervous and might be shy (then proceeds to chat up everyone within earshot), Rachel is quiet and withdrawn when she’s unsure about something. But she carefully picked out an outfit that made her feel awesome: Wonder Woman tee, shorts, her new Chucks, and a pair of sunglasses.
I spent the majority of my day fielding Facebook notifications as my Facebook friends and I checked out each other’s back-to-school photos, and I found myself looking at the pictures of my own girls over and over again, in complete disbelief that I am the mother of two 2nd graders and a kindergartener. My baby is in school, y’all.
Zoe’s been my little buddy for so long, I haven’t really been able to process what life will be like with her gone every day. I keep reminding myself that she’s not staying home with me tomorrow, like her every-other-day preschool formerly dictated. I’m used to taking the big girls to school and coming home to her watching Wild Kratts and requesting breakfast, sometimes second breakfast (just like the hobbits of the Shire!). She came out of school all smiles, but quickly got overwhelmed by the chaos of the pick up area. Her face started to droop, and she asked that I hold her. “I don’t want to come here ever again,” she cried into my shoulder. “It’s too long!”
Even though she’s been ready for kinder for quite some time, there’s still an adjustment period to be had. Rachel and Claire said the same thing when they started school. “Kindergarten is SO LONG for mommies and daddies to come back!” It took a few weeks, but we got there, and I don’t anticipate it will take Zoe as long to acclimate.
So it went well, I think. I am the mother of three school-ages children. I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry, but then Christian and I went out to breakfast, so…
Also, if backpacks were personalities, I’d say we nailed this one.
I haven’t had a lot of time to write this summer. And if I’m being honest, I haven’t had a whole lot of inspiration either. It’s been an incredibly busy season, which I have not really been able to say in the past. Previous summers have consisted of seemingly never-ending days, weeks, months of heat and sweat. If we weren’t at the pool, we were hibernating in the air conditioning, driving each other crazy.
But this summer was different for several reasons. It was a summer of “Wow, this summer’s going by fast!” and the summer of not really wanting school to start.
It was the summer of starting a new job the same week the kids started summer vacation.
The summer of our first family vacation in 6 years. The last time that happened we came home with a bun in the oven. Rest assured that steps were taken to insure that did not happen again.
It was the summer of beaches.
It was the summer of YMCA day camp.
The summer of missing my kids immensely when they were at YMCA day camp.
It was the summer of fulfilling a dream and planting the seeds for possible passions.
It was the summer of cousins.
It was the summer of sisters.
And a summer of the discovery of Sonic the Hedgehog and Hello Kitty comic books, courtesy of the public library. YOU SAVED SUMMER.
It was the summer of hanging our heads out the window, because who cares? And I have bigger battles to fight.
Basically it was the summer of me not really wanting summer to be over.
As much as I agonized over this whole camp thing – it’s day camp! Stop being ridiculous! – I know it was really good for them. I feel we’ve turned a bit of a corner this summer in more ways than one. Not once did I have to write “Summer is killing me!” Gone are the days of sweating through a walk around the block with a clunky stroller and two toddlers running in separate directions. Gone are the days of sweating through explaining over and over again to crying children that it’s time to leave the pool. Gone are the days of sweating through a trip to the store for that one thing that just couldn’t wait for the evening. (It was probably toilet paper. With three girls, it’s always toilet paper.) I mean, we did plenty of sweating this summer (fun summer activity – whiling away almost the entire afternoon giving your kids the longest baths eve, one by one), just not over the small stuff.
Some things we did made me realize that I need to help my kids to be more independent. Others made me realize that I need to just let them be sometimes. And other things reminded me that they still need me quite a bit. More on that coming up someday.
So no. I’m not exactly ready for school to start. I mean, I’m ready to have some days and hours to do the work people are paying me to do so I hopefully don’t get fired. But I’m not ready to drag kids out of bed at 6:30am. All summer long I’ve been getting up early to work. I’m usually able to get in an hour or so before they start ambling in one by one, requesting breakfast while rubbing their eyes and blowing their stinky morning breath on me. I’m not ready to give up the lazy quality that even our busiest summer yet has had.