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Take Another Little Piece of My Heart Now Baby

18 Jul

The story about how my daughter broke my heart…

Ava lost her first tooth yesterday. Yesterday morning she woke up and said her tooth was really “wobbly.” I checked…sure enough it was. I thought I had time. I thought it wouldn’t come out for a few days at least. It wasn’t that wobbly. Mike took her to swim lessons and she told him that her tooth felt really weird and that she kept trying to push it back in but it wasn’t working. Sitting on the bench, waiting to get in the pool Mike hears her say, “OH! My tooth just came out!” She hands it to him. I get this goofy, toothless picture at work and all I can think is, “My baby girl is growing up!”

I posted this picture on Facebook and immediately realize I am not prepared for the tooth fairy to visit. Apparently the tooth fairy of 2012 brings fairy dust and gold coins? I did not know this. So after the wee one goes to bed, the rumor is that the tooth fairy was hard at work trying to do more than just slip a $5 bill under Ava’s pillow. I think the tooth fairy did a fairly decent job with the limited supplies she had.

It’s a milestone losing your first tooth. I remember losing mine. I remember being so excited for the tooth fairy to come. As a parent of a child who loses their first tooth, it’s also a milestone. She lost her baby tooth…her baby tooth! She lost the tooth that kept me up at night when she was a baby. It’s these little markers of babyhood that keep falling away and reminding me that my baby girl isn’t as much baby as she is girl now.

And then there was this morning. She woke up excited to see what the tooth fairy left. We read the note and she decided she would use the money to buy herself a toy. We got ready for school. Usually when I drop her off in the morning, I walk her all the way to the classroom and give her a hug and a kiss. She hugs for a long time…she’s not a big fan of drop-off. She doesn’t like me to leave her. Until this morning.

We walked through the gate and another one of her classmates was walking in at the same time. I went to the office to sign her in and she kept walking. I stopped and said, “Ava, aren’t you going to wait for me?” She said, “No mom. I’m going to walk with my friend.” Watching her walk away I said, “Well, aren’t you going to say goodbye?” And she glanced over her right shoulder and nonchalantly said, “Bye mom!” And she kept on walking.

I stood there staring at her back. Making sure she wasn’t going to turn back around. Making sure she wasn’t going to run back for a hug. Making sure she was okay. I worried she would realize in 2o minutes that we didn’t say goodbye…at least not in our traditional way. I walked into the office a little teary-eyed with the other child’s mom and she said, “And so it begins…”And my heart was torn. On the one hand I was so proud of her independence, and on the other I thought, “There goes my baby.” Two big milestones in a 24 hour period…my heart can only take so much.

And I do feel like this is how it happens with Ava. With each milestone she reaches, she gains more confidence in being a big kid and she lets go of me a little more. And I know that this is the way it’s supposed to be. I know that my parents watched me grow and gain independence until one day I was 32 with a daughter of my own. They gave me the freedom to grow and let me know that it was okay to let go a little at a time. But how they dealt with it, well, I’m still trying to figure that one out because my heart hurts a little today.

Like The Old Days…

30 Jul

Today was one of those rare days. A day where nothing was planned and yet everything happened. The kind of day where the joy is found in the impromptu. The moment at the end of the day where you go, “I want to etch this one in my wall.” For no other reason than it was made up of the good stuff. A day filled with laughter and love and joy.

It started with a posted status on Facebook of a friend “missing the south bay.” I thought he was reflecting…yet he was here…and what turned into a “come visit” from me, thinking it was a date in the future, ended up with him and his gorgeous twin girls stopping for fun on a Friday night. Mike, Ava and I are homebodies on a Friday night so this was a wonderful, unexpected bright spot in our normally routine week.

Carpets were painted, stickers were stuck to hardwood floors, toys were everywhere, parades happened, bean bags were thrown in a pillow fight…as were zebras and lambs…it was beautiful chaos. It was the kind of chaos that only happens when three little girls are up past their bedtimes and we parents just let it go. We just sat back and took pictures of the fun and let them go completely wild…encouraged it actually. Because at the end of the day…it’s just carpet…it’s just floors…it’s just…stuff. But what they got…what I got…that was  joy I wish I could bottle and sell to everyone. The giggles…oh my…they were enough to keep California sunny all through June.

Three hours past Ava’s bedtime and uncontrollable laughter takes over. There are girls hitting the hardwood floors as they miss the bean bags they aim for…there are no tears…just belly laughs…the kind that make you think you are missing a great inside joke…but it’s just delirium setting in. And it was just plain wonderful. Annie and Sophie left amongst a bunch of hugs and promises to “hang out soon.”

Ava was too full of giggles to calm down, despite it being two  hours past her bedtime. Every time the room would get quiet she would bust into a fit of giggles. Giggles that I would catch and that left Mike shrugging his shoulders…because really….only girls understand those kinds of giggles. And though I usually never stay in her room to put her to sleep, she asked if I would. And I knew the only way to stop the giggles was to snuggle her up and let her fall asleep.

As we lay there together, I was brought back to the times when she was a teeny, tiny baby…when I used to rock and rock and rock her to sleep. I felt her head start to get heavy….every minute or so she’d open her eyes and make sure I was still there and just like when she was a teeny-tiny baby, she inhaled three quick breaths, exhaled and was alseep. And I couldn’t bring myself to move for awhile. I knew she was asleep…I knew she wouldn’t wake up when I got out of her bed…but it became clear…my  baby was growing up. As much as that teeny-tiny baby is still there, it became clear that she is a little girl now. One that adores pillow fights and giggles and staying up way past her bedtime. And I realized, as hard as it is to let go of my teeny-tiny baby, I’m so excited for the pillow fights and giggles and staying up way past her bedtime. I just hope that every now and then she’ll let me sneak in her room and snuggle her up like the old days.

Don’t Panic

7 Jul

“The ultimate key to freedom is recognizing that everything is a choice.”

I read this today and it caught my attention. I struggle with anxiety. Ninety percent of the time, I am fine. It’s that other ten percent that grabs hold and really takes control and causes me to reach a point of panic. Have you ever had a panic attack? If you’ve ever been in labor, it’s kind of the same sensation as a contraction. You can feel the panic building and your mind is saying “No, no, no, no, no…not now….please stop,” but there’s not a damn thing I can do to stop it. I have to let it come and know that it passes…pretty quickly at that. But it’s embarrassing. Having them in front of my husband is embarrassing. I feel weak and completely irrational.

So what brought this on? Well, Ava has a field trip to Sea Side Lagoon next week and I’m worried. Mike’s worried. There’s water involved. And Ava, well, she “thinks” she can swim. She’s in swim lessons and she’s learning, but I still don’t consider her safe in the water. So while we were lying in bed last night, we started talking about whether or not we should let her go. And Mike said, “I don’t want her to go. I don’t want to end up with a dead child.” And so the contraction began. And don’t mistake me here, I’m not blaming him at all for the panic attack. It just happens and it’s not easily explained other than when he said “dead child” my brain processed it and saw it as if it would happen. My mind imagined her dead, imagined the feelings I would have and then actually had the feelings.  And then my heart sped up and my breathing became erratic while my Mike looked on. Awesome.

This is the part of parenting that I have the hardest time with. As I’m sure most parents do. I want her to go on her field trip. I want her to have a great time with her friends. I want her to come home from school smelling like sunshine and saltwater. I want to hear all about her exciting day. I want to be the parent that doesn’t have the long list of things that could go wrong playing on repeat in my head.I have a daughter who is adventurous. She doesn’t dip her toes in the water…she cannonballs into the deep end. She doesn’t know quiet or slow or be careful. It’s not in her nature. She is so much like her daddy in this respect…let’s go as fast as we can, as hard as we can and get as much out of it as we can.

How do I keep her safe without completely sheltering her from the entire world? How do I make sure that the people I trust to watch her know how much it would devastate me to lose her? How do I make them promise to keep her safe? How do I control everything because clearly that’s the only solution? Haha! More importantly, how do I free myself from these fears? Because that’s the issue here…my fears are justified…but I can’t control them and I can’t let them control me. I can’t shelter her so much that she can’t do anything. So after talking to my own parents this morning and talking to Mike again, we are letting her go on the field trip. We decided she has to wear a life jacket at all times and that one of us may even go to chaperone. So while I can’t control the fears that I have, I do have control over the decisions I make to try to put my mind at ease.

How do you handle parenting fears? I’m not the only person who has them, right?

When making friends, tell them your weight

14 May

I cannot believe it’s Friday. I don’t know what happens to the days or weeks anymore…they seem to fly by in a blur and before I know it, it’s the middle of May! We started the week off with Ava’s first day at her new school. I was really nervous Monday morning. She has been so excited and so brave about the whole situation that I was really waiting for the impending breakdown or fear or something.

Monday morning came and she was excited as ever. Bouncing off the walls at 6:30 in the morning and so excited for school. As I was doing her hair she quieted down a little bit. She said to me, “Mom, it’s okay if people be nervous about making new friends, right?” So I explained to her that everyone is nervous when they start something new and have to meet new people. I told her starting a new school and meeting people wasn’t any different from introducing herself to everyone at Target (and I do mean everyone at Target). I told her that all she had to do is just introduce herself and ask their name.

We show up at her school and she’s sticking close to me, holding my hand. When we first arrive there was a mix-up about which classroom she’d be in and so I was trying to get everything sorted out. We were in her classroom and I was talking to the teacher and I feel her let go of my hand. I kept talking and in the background I hear, “Hi. I’m Ava. I’m 4 and I weigh 42 pounds. What’s your name?”

Maybe I empathize because I was the new kid so many times growing up, but I was so proud of her. I could feel her nervousness and I was so proud of her for letting go of my hand and taking the step of introducing herself on her own. It was brave of her. Life is good.

A Look Back

5 May

Google hosted video content is going to be removed so I received an email to make sure to pull all my videos off of there. It has been SOOOOO long since I’ve even checked to see what’s on there and when I came across this, I couldn’t help but laugh. It’s so sweet to take a look back. Have you ever seen a little girl so excited about lotion?

She’s Ready…Me…Not So Much

4 May

I am so overcome with emotion…it’s that kind of emotion that just washes over me and I can’t seem to right myself from it. We are moving Ava to a new preschool. Not because there is anything wrong with her current preschool, it’s just that we want her to go to one closer to home and hopefully with kids she will go on to kindergarten with. The preschool is attached to the elementary school we want her to attend. It all makes perfect sense…it’s all completely logical…I know I’m doing the right thing. She’s so excited about her new school. She’s been talking about it for two weeks straight, counting down the days and trying to figure out how she can bring her current school friends and teachers with her to her new school. Her first idea was to add four driver’s seats to the car for the teachers and then put her friends in the trunk. I love her. And as logical as it all is, it doesn’t remove the emotion from the situation.

She is absolutely ready for this change. But that’s Ava…she embraces change and sees it as an adventure to experience. As adults, change is frightening. We stick to what we know, what’s comfortable and what will cause the least amount of ripples in our lives. We do this because it’s easy. And the minute we decide to make a change, we begin to question it. At least I do. But alas, I know I’m doing the right thing.

The school newsletter arrives and Ms. Jennifer, her current teacher, talks about Ava leaving and how much she and the class will miss her and how everyone needs to come say goodbye. Thus begins my trail of tears.

This morning I showed up to drop Ava off at school and was greeted by one of her teachers, Ms. Mal, and she started talking about how much she is going to miss Ava and I got a little choked up and told her that I couldn’t talk about it or I would start crying. So she leaned down and started giving Ava hugs and kisses…I think having her talk to me would’ve been easier than watching her love on Ava. Because you see, she really does love my child.

After dropping Ava with Ms. Mal, I went to Ava’s classroom to drop off her lunch bag and sign her in and I see this big white envelope in her folder with her name on it. So I grab it thinking it’s artwork and such. I walk to my car feeling a little nostalgic and sad. I open the envelope to find books and stickers and a card from another teacher, Ms. Lupe, and what she wrote on the card just touched me and the waterworks started:

Ava Jane Caruso

A fabulous child, amazingly intelligent, sweet and lovable.

I will miss you. I truly wish the best of the best for you in life and I believe you will be a successful child wherever you go. You have been a child that has touched my heart with your kindness and all the fantastic qualities you have.

 – Ms. Lupe

This was her first school…her first school friends…where she first learned to write her name….and to share (sometimes better than others). These teachers dealt with her sweet ways and her (sometimes very) bad days. They kissed boo-boos and broke up fights. They put her in time out when she misbehaved and rewarded her with praise when she didn’t. They stood by day in and day out to encourage her to learn and to work through her frustration when she couldn’t quite grasp concepts. 

In short, they mothered her…when I was working and couldn’t, they stepped in and they did oh so well. I’m so incredibly grateful for that.

I Lost Weight and My Daughter _________ed!

11 Mar

I could do a post about Japan and the tragic events…but I just can’t people. There’s nothing I can say that would convey my sadness…natural disasters are horrible and tragic. So I’m just going to send some prayers out. Send some with me.

Friday…who doesn’t L.O.V.E. Friday? I find it fascinating that little kids really have no concept of the meaning of the actual days of the week. They don’t loathe Mondays, they don’t say “Happy Hump Day” and Friday, well, it’s just another day to them. I wake up in a good mood on Fridays…it’s ingrained. This morning started off great…stepped on the scale and I lost some weight!!! Woohoo! So Ava is lying in my bed and I start doing a happy dance and singing a song that went something like, “I lost some WAY-ATE! I lost some WAY-ATE!” I may or may not have been doing the cabbage patch. Whatever. Don’t judge me. Ava decides to join in. Her version of the song, “I just FAR-TED! I just FAR-TED!” I FELL OVER LAUGHING. I love kids.

Anyway…back to Friday. I was so happy…I’m lighter, it’s Friday. So I say to her, “I don’t know about you, but I am so happy it’s Friday!” She says, “Why, mommy?” I said, “Well, because it’s the start of the weekend.” She smiles and we continue getting ready for school/work.

We get in the car and start backing out of the driveway. And here is where it all falls apart:

Ava: Mom, where are we going?
Me: What do you mean where are we going? We’re going to school.
Ava: (crying) What do you mean we’re going to school? You said it was Friday!”
Me: I know. We go to school on Friday.
Ava: But you said it was the start of the weekend!
Me: Well, it is…but the weekend starts later.
Ava: Before my naptime at school or after my naptime at school?
Me: Daddy will pick you up after your naptime.
Ava: (WAILING) Please call daddy. Call him now please. Please tell him to pick me up before my nap. Not after. Before. Please mommy.
Me: No honey. Daddy is going to pick you up after naptime.
Ava: No mommy. No. I don’t like school.
Me: Ava, you love school. Stop.
Ava: I don’t like my teacher
Me: (Amused now) You don’t like your teacher? What don’t you like about your teacher?”
Ava: Myoko pinches my cheeks.
Me: What? I thought we were talking about your teacher.
Ava: Now we’re talking about Myoko.
Me: Well, I’ll talk to Miss Jennifer at school.

But the whole exchange just reminded me of how literal she is at this age. When I said it was the start of the weekend, that meant it was the START of the weekend. No work. No school. Just fun times. And the one thing I got out of our exchange this morning…put her on Mike’s side of the bed in the morning….she can toot over there.