Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Happy 5th Birthday, Little Arrow!

I like to write posts to the boys on their birthdays, and it is Little Arrow's 5th birthday (you can read his 1st2nd, 3rd, and 4th posts and Big Arrow's 2nd3rd4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th posts at the links.) In fact, these birthday posts are sadly becoming just about all I have time to write these days. Sigh.

Little Arrow, I just put you to bed for the last time as a 4-year-old. I think a piece of my heart broke, but then again, I'm reminded that a few days ago, I said to my husband, "I wish I could freeze time at this very moment of parenting." I love the phase you and your brother are in right now. Old enough to be fairly independent, but still full of little kid spunk and charm. (With a little bit of frequent afterschool meltdowns sprinkled on top, if we're keeping it real.)

See, you still take baths. But then you run and put your pajamas on all by yourself and sometimes even throw your dirty clothes in the laundry. (You like a tidy room, very much a credit to your orderly father.)

You still want to snuggle at bedtime, but you also typically sleep 10-11 straight hours each night. Oh, how I wish I could tell the very-tired-mom-of-two-little-ones this miracle would someday happen round about 4-5 years ago.

Also, this is the year you learned to swim. Frankly, you were probably ready last summer but I was too lazy to really make the time for that (sorry, second kid) and a 3-year-old swimming independently just seemed absurd.

Watching you at swim lessons this summer was the perfect synopsis of what I love about you. You just look at challenges and tackle them head on. You can definitely be shy, but you're also rarely intimidated. Your comfort zone is so much wider than mine, and you're very willing to step outside it often.

As a parent, I'm trying to balance my duty to protect you from danger without holding you back. Goodness, do I struggle with this. I want you within 5 feet of me on the trail of life, but you want to be 50 yards ahead, at a full sprint, just out of my line of sight.

On the last day of swim lessons, they let the kids jump off the diving board. You wanted to jump off the high dive so badly. I was terrified. You gave me a look that said, "What's the worst that could happen?" The answer was, that you would belly flop from 10 feet up, and that's exactly what you did. Ouch. I've watched this video a hundred times and still cringe:

Guess what? You marched right back up that ladder and tried again.

I've never had to push you in anything you do. YOU push ME. I'm learning so much from you, kiddo. My heart isn't breaking because you're 5. I think it's just bursting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Focusing on Thankulness and Hopefulness

Today, I’m choosing to focus on all the things I’m thankful for.

Most importantly, I’m thankful for parents who not only told me, but SHOWED me, that through hard work anything is possible. But that when you get where you’re going, you don’t forget the people who haven’t been as fortunate. Their generosity humbles me every single day. It’s through this lens that I have formed every value I hold dear. I hope I’m a sliver to my kids what they’ve been to me.

I’m thankful that I just brought my 4 year old to a school that looks like a rainbow of humanity. So that he is continued to be reminded that no matter what country you’re born in or what you look like or who you love, we’re all equal and worthy of love and respect. We’ve been treated with that same dignity when we left these shores for a new country and I’ll never forget that compassion. It changed me to my very core. But I know that the color of our skin, the money in our bank account, and the nature of our accents affected the way we were treated, and I know that for far too many immigrants those differences make their existence an incredible struggle.

I’m thankful for a husband that sees me as his equal in every way. I know now more than ever that this isn’t something to take for granted. I’m thankful for his parents who raised him in this way. I will devote myself more than ever to raising two boys into men who will stand up for women’s rights with all their hearts. And so help me God, if so-called locker room talk ever unfolds in their presence, may I have instilled in them the courage to end it.

I’m thankful I’m a part of a religious community that stands for peace, love and justice. I’m thankful for this space where I can continue to work on being my best self, as can my family.

I’m thankful for all the friends in my life. But today in particular, I’m thankful that the way I’ve lived my life has brought me friends of every sexual persuasion, race, ethnicity, religion and more. You’ve opened my eyes to just how privileged I am. And the real, genuine challenges we face. You make me want to work incredibly hard for a better world. Because it’s so very personal.

I’m thankful for the power of the pen and the freedom to travel. It’s not only been my livelihood the past 7 years but it soothes me. I hope I never lose these rights.

I’m thankful that each day I wake up and all my life’s basic needs are provided to me with little thought. Shelter. Food. Clean water. Adequate healthcare. I know this instantly makes me ridiculously privileged and fortunate. I know so many don’t have this and I hope we can all work toward changing that.
For everything I find myself thankful for today, I am renewed in my commitment to make sure all people can experience these same freedoms and joys.

I’ll continue to live my life with gratitude, open-mindedness, and love. And I’ll try harder to be the change I wish to see in this world.