Day #88: Cuddles and the Fear of Being Discarded

Today I reveled in having my little love around. She is often gone on the weekends to her dad’s house and while I understand her need for her father and agree that they should share a relationship, the selfish part of me misses her like crazy on the weekends.

Mr. Meander had to go back to Fayetteville for some new running shoes because the ones we bought Friday were too big, so he was gone a chunk of the day. We missed him terribly but set about to busy ourselves until he got home.

I took her to the indoor pool at the gym where we played mermaids and horsey and anything else her mind could dream up. We grabbed Sonic on the way home and watched “The Book of Life” together as we devoured our food (after swimming for two hours we were both pretty ravenous) and then cuddled. We colored together and talked through it all. It was an amazing day of quality time that was much needed for me and probably her too.

My biggest hope in all the world is that one day she gets how awesome she is and how much I love her. I spend so much time worried at his point that maybe I’m screwing it all up… I know every good parent feels this way but still… my greatest parenting goal is for her to always feel like she can talk to me about anything, that communication stays open no matter the age… my biggest fear as a divorced parent is that she will choose to get away from me at some point.

But today in the midst of play and cuddles, I laid down the future angst and I just enjoyed her. It felt good and without agenda, I should really try it more often.

Bearded man in black hat, sitting on couch with his arm around blonde girl, wathching television.

Day #85: Childhood-Wild and Free

I was sitting on this bench waiting for Adalie to come out of her school. First, I heard a mother scolding her child for honking her horn. Then I hear a daycare teacher hushing a group while she was waiting on the rest of the children. Finally, a little boy runs up to my bench, climbs up it, jumps off, and rolls down the hill in the grass. His mother, close behind, immediately starts in on him. Now he’s dirty, now he’ll get her car dirty, now she’ll have to wash his jacket.

And it all made me realize how hard we work to contain children. The wild, raw energy that’s so curious and uninhibited. Such beauty in their excited voices, their wild eyes, their never ending flow of body, and their wide, wide smiles.

I watched her later that evening, dancing around the living room in her sequins and wild colors. Her body vibrant with movement, her checks flushed, and her voice strong.

And I thought about what all we do to quiet that voice in a child. In the hallways and the lunchrooms, in the night hours and church services. We “shh” their comments and frown at their inquiries. I send her nonverbal cues that her continuous talking annoys me.

I didn’t want to run today. I’m still just so tired. But I got out there and I chose to do it, it wasn’t even too bad. But I thought as I ran about how life can feel like this run, obligated, serious, and necessary, but not fun. I vowed to enjoy my ball of fun as much as I could tonight with her loud ways, her literal comments, and her ever-changing moods. I vowed to enjoy her sparkles and laughter, her stories and energy. I vowed to love her tonight with as little control as necessary. Because we are given the freedom to be and express ourselves–why shouldn’t a child?

Young blonde girl with flushed cheeks asleep on a colorful blanket.

Day #83: Tearful Reunions and Exquisite Exhaustion

We made it home… and through the day… and for the day after coming back from vacation, that’s pretty good.

I went and had lunch with my little love because I hadn’t seen her in five days and I couldn’t wait one more minute. She didn’t know I was coming… when she walked in the cafeteria and saw me sitting there, her face lit up and her arms reached out for me before she even realized what she was doing. The pureness of wanting me was so sweet on her face that it choked me up a little. She came over to me and kept looking away… refusing to say anything initially… I thought maybe she was mad because she’s not a kid that particularly loves surprises. But as I looked closer, I saw the un-shed tears in her eyes. After getting a hold of herself, she turned around and the talking began 🙂 After not seeing me for five days, she had a lot to discuss with me.

But her prolonged pause reminded me of how I felt this day. Not really ready to jump in, not sure about how I feel, and maybe a little tearful. It was in this state of exhaustion and confusion I was able to pass out at 9:15 without a thought to anything else except the beauty of a little girl safely tucked in her bed, a pair of arms holding me tight, and my own marvelous bed.

Day #76: Time, Changes, and New Perceptions

We ran our 3.75 miles today outside because the weather was in our favor. The sun was out and the wind felt good the more sweat-soaked I became. As I ran, I thought about how when we first started running, our goal was a 5K… 3.10 miles… and it felt like SO much. Now we are cranking out 3 miles all the time but they seem so small compared to the 13.1 half-marathon we plan to run in May. It’s funny how time changes perspective…

I thought of this again as I sat cuddling my girl before bed. Tomorrow she will go to her dad’s house because I have class and then we are taking a weekend trip to go skiing. Five days without her voice, her humor, her literal brain, and her beautiful smile. It makes me sad now, but by six years old, we understand we can live without each other for a week. When she was a baby, it would have devastated us both… it’s such a trick that time plays with us…

But still, I sat there soaking in the cuddles and thinking about what six more years might do to our perceptions of who we are as individuals and as mother/daughter. Who knows really? But for today with tears threatening to spill at the thought of who we have been and who we will be, I squeeze every ounce of joy out of who we are today.

Mand women smiling wide, soaked in sweat and flush from running.

Day #74

I watched her get all her My Little Ponies™ toys out and set them up on the blanket on the floor. I sat at the table painting for fun and enjoying every moment of it. My Love was a room away working on this blog.

We all spun in our worlds of creativity and it was a lovely moment. There is a lot of power in creation. In watching what you are doing come to life.

A blonde girl playing with pony figurines on a coloful blanket. I listened to her play. It’s one of my favorite things to do. To listen to her imagination come to life through plastic ponies and dolls. To see her breathe life into her toys and watch where they may go. Today it was a fancy ball thrown by none other than Princess Celestia of course.

My Love calls me into the office. He requests my input about colors and formatting. His eyes lit up as he shows me how he edited a few of our pictures this week.

I study my silly bee that I painted. It’s so little; it’s so trivial. But I painted it… I chose colors and brushes… I worked hard to carefully merge the colors together and add details. and in doing so, I made it mine. I created it.

It was beautiful to watch us all create in our own way. To paint our day, our project, our world as we desired… there truly is so much energy in being creative and so much joy in living a life you have created.

Blonde girl playing with her toys spread out upon a colorful blanket.

Day #71

It was an ordinary run in the park. It was chilly so not a lot of people were there. I ran my 3 miles steadily, slowly, and with little pizzazz. But I ran it all and I finished.

Then my Love and I went back to Adalie’s dance class and waited. We did dinner, bath, homework, bed. I did my homework … Love worked on his computer. We went to bed, we kissed good night, we drifted into dream worlds.

It was nothing special of a day by the markers of extraordinary days. But it was mine and I loved it.

Every grateful breath of it.

Shiny balls of candy-coated chocolate atop ice cream in a clear bowl.

Day #69

I chose to be in-tune with myself today. I was proud because I often veto the small voice of reason and push on, despite. It’s a double-edge characteristic, I feel.

I have a theory that all people think, do, and feel. But when they are faced with a dilemma or a decision, they tend to do all three of these in the same repeated pattern. For instance, my Love is a thinker-feeler-doer. He needs to study it out, look at it from every perspective, research it again. Then he goes internal: how does he feel about this decision? What does his intuition say? Then he cross-analyzes and finally… does. Me, on the other hand, I’m a thinker, doer, then feeler, more often than not. It’s not that I suppress, I just forget to check in with myself. So if it’s logical and needs to be done, I make a decision and I do. It’s part of the reason I chose to write everyday. It forces me to reflect …

Anyway, I was proud that today I remembered (perhaps due to all the writing?). My calves were still hurting, I need new shoes, and my little love was missing her mama. So today was a rest day … a replenish the soul day … a snuggle my baby before she’s all grown day …

And it felt good …

A blonde, female child asleep on the couch with rosy cheeks and her arm draped behind her head.

Day #64

Today we cross trained on the stair stepper. I went for fifteen minutes. The longest I have done that machine yet. Then I worked on arms with the heaviest weight I have done yet. Progress sings to the soul

We picked up Adalie from dance and did our usual Chick-fil-a quick dinner thing. Adalie chose to sit by Craig instead of me. She rough housed with him, she picked on him, she leaned into him throughout dinner.

My daughter is not one who attaches easily and her attachment to me is strong. So although Craig has been in her life as caregiver for about 2 1/2 years now, it has been an extremely slow process of her warming up to him … especially if I am around.

It was beautiful to get such a concrete and up-close view of progress. I watched her guard come down, her vulnerability show, her need to connect, however clumsily, come out. And I watched him effortlessly meet those needs, answer her unspoken questions, and just be present with her.

I sighed with relief and love.

So if you are working to meld families, gentle readers, take your time, be in tune, and just breathe

Progress is always right around the corner … as long as you don’t quit trying …

Day #62

I had work and class tonight (2 more after tonight) so no time to walk today. But I got to share in others’ enlightenment and that was just as good as anything I could have come up with … so here is what I learned today:

1. Having sex with your husband at least 1x a week can cure 70% of your marriage problems given the right circumstances.

2. When a child is able to go to sleep at a reasonable time and stay asleep, they are much more agreeable during the day.

3. When a child is actually getting the nutrients they need from food by avoiding foods they are allergic to, they have fewer stomachaches and less irritability which leads to fewer fits.

4. When we take time to practice mindful gratitude, we are less likely to feel depressed.

5. We all worry that we are screwing up our own offspring.

6. The power of knowledge can give us the strength to let go of unhealthy habits and relationships. It can empower us to advocate for ourselves.

7. A good husband is rare, a romantic one is rarer, one that seems to have an endless supply of love for you is worth climbing mountains for… I would climb that mountain every day for the rest of my life as long as I got to keep my Love.

A synthetic, red rose lying upon a chair.

Day #61

We were in the shower, Adalie and I, because sometimes it’s more convenient and honestly because we have some of our best conversations in there!

I will be 32 on Sunday. Some days I look at myself and think, “Alright! Only 32!” Other days, I see wrinkles, grays, “waves” in my legs (aka cellulite), and chub everywhere. As I ran today, I felt more like the latter. My knee was hurting, my calf muscle felt like it was locked up, and I had a side cramp. I ran most of the 3.8 miles but felt all of my years doing it!

So back to shower time …

Mom, will I have a big butt like you when I get older?” She giggles.

I roll my eyes to myself and try to be positive because one thing I am very careful about with her is positive body image. I see the effects of the societal pressure already … she wants dark hair, she wants “cool” clothes and asks to wear make up, she worries about getting fat. She is six years old! I look at her and see perfection, as all mama’s do I’m sure. She looks and sees mistakes; it breaks my heart.

So I try to be very positive and matter-of-fact about my own body. We talk about how my body was able to produce milk to sustain her. We talk about how strong our muscles must be to run (me) and dance (her). We talk about food and how it nourishes us or harms us. We talk about all kinds of things and I honor her curiosity with honest (developmentally appropriate) answers. And because of that, I hope she will never be afraid of her own body. That no one will shame her about her sexuality or her biology. That she will accept, and then love, herself in every stage of womanhood.

So slightly embarrassed, I answer her, “You might have a bootie like mine one day, when you grow a baby in our tummy or get older.”

I expect horror or exasperation or at the very least her to poke fun at me.

“Yes!” She says instead, “I think you have the cutest bootie.”

I must be doing something right …

A girl on the floor reading a book.