Tuesday, September 25, 2012

That Happened.

I was that mom today.

In the grocery store parking lot, I was that mom whose kid yelled at the top of her lungs: "OW YOU'RE HURTING ME! YOU'RE A BAD MAMA!!!"


I was walking to the car holding Eliza's hand and two bags of groceries*, and she wiggled her way from my grasp.  We have a firm parking lot rule about holding hands with a grown up, so of course I immediately told her she had to hold my hand and tried to grab it.  She darted away from me and so, I did what any parent would do... I grabbed her arm.  As I did so she turned, thus making it so I was was essentially twisting her arm.  Great.  Not what I was trying to do!  And that's when she lost it and started screaming that I was a bad mom.  Right there in front of the five o'clock yuppie rush.


On our way home, I explained to her that I wasn't trying to hurt her, I was trying to keep her safe and when she runs free in a parking lot, I can't keep her safe, blah blah blah... I was being all calm and explaining all this to her in a soothing way, in my best "mama loves you" sweet mama voice, apologizing for accidentally hurting her... mommy would never hurt her... etc... 

And then, from the back seat:

"You're a bad mom."

Seriously?  Those words?  Almost made me cry.  

Ugh.  This parenting stuff is hard sometimes!

*Stupid Whole Foods Paycheck and their no cart caddies in the whole entire freaking parking lot... you have to leave the grocery cart at the front door and haul your bags to your car, or leave your kid in the car while you go return the cart.  Guess I know which I will be doing from now on!  And also, as long as we're on the subject, why must you be so gosh darn appealing, Whole Foods? Why? You and your organic blueberries that taste so damn good I must go back for more as soon as I run out.  You and your amazing salad bar for $7.99/lb, your 2/$5 sale on my favorite Kombucha.  I swear to MOSES I went in there today and I just needed, like, 2 lemons and a box of cereal, and somehow I left $30 poorer.  How does that even happen?  Do I enter some sort of time and money warp when I walk through your sliding doors???  WTH????

Saturday, September 22, 2012

This is Hard: Part One

What is defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first step of something better.
—Wendell Phillips

Two weeks ago, I withdrew from my Ph.D. program. 

(Oof, that was hard to write.  To see in black and white like that, it's still a bit jarring.  Knowing a decision is right and feeling an immediate happiness about it are not necessarily synonymous, I'm learning.)

It goes without saying that this decision was not an easy one.  I hung on to that program, clinging by my fingernails for so long, trying to convince myself that this was what I wanted.  This was what I wanted.  Right?  

I thought it was.

Let's get right to it.

It was a heart-wrenching decision, yes.  One that I put a great deal of thought, tears, and sleepless nights into.  But, as soon as I made it, I knew it was right.

I finally came to that place I was afraid to go for so very long.  That place of questioning this path I was on; a place I didn't ever let my mind travel, always halting that train of thought before it gathered steam, afraid of what I might find if I did.  Gradually, I let my mind go there and it led me to admit to myself that my long-term goals had changed, and a Ph.D. was no longer what I wanted.  While I do love to teach, I am not equally keen on research.  The thought of committing myself to a career in academia, to a job that held research, publishing, and securing outside funding in higher regard than the quality of my teaching made my sad.  Weary.  Not at all excited for the future.  

So the bottom line is: I know I want to serve students through teaching and advocacy in some capacity someday, but the job description and lifestyle - both now, but especially later on - that come with a tenure-track position is no longer what I want.  Given all of this, both the time and financial commitments of finishing the Ph.D. would have been too great for me and my family.  

And then, after a great deal of self reflection, having finally admitted to myself that I was continuing down a path I knew wasn't right for me, I wondered why I was still on it.

I had slowly (omg so slowly) accepted that I really truly did not need a PhD to do what I want to do, but I had stopped there.  So then, I had to ask myself the hard, and yet so logical, next question: then what are you doing, Ella? Why are you still trying? Still trying to make everyone think you will finish?  Telling people this is what you want?  

My answer, when I finally came to it, was sad:  It was simply because I was afraid of what people would think of me if I stopped.  I finally came to terms with this, recognizing how deeply flawed it was, and in that instant I knew in my heart that withdrawing was the right decision.  

The more I thought about all of this -- all the years I'd put into this program, the questions I would inevitably have to face, the reality of my decision -- the more I realized how much being a parent has changed me. Would I have finished if I hadn't decided to start a family mid-way through my doctoral program?  Maybe, maybe not.  But more than that, being a parent showed me so much more about what is important in this life - that's what had changed most. All those things I wanted to teach my daughter about life? About living her one precious life?  I couldn't just tell her about it, tell her how to do it.  I had to live it.  

I had to show her.  

Do I want to teach my child that continuing with something you feel isn't right for you just because you're afraid what other people might think or say is how you should live your life?  No.  I want better for her.  I want her to be true to herself.  I want her to have enough faith in herself to make the hard choices - those choices that will bring her closer to living a genuine, true-to-herself life.  

I have to show her.  

And in doing so, I will live a more true-to-me life.


The decision was made.  There was a sigh of relief... followed by a stomach twisting urge to hurl, and expletive after expletive running through my mind.  Oh dear God, I'd have to tell my advisor.  I'd have to tell my parents.

I'd have to tell... everyone.  

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

Friday, September 21, 2012

Just a Few Quotes.

"I made this card for Auntie Kelly, Mama.  Now let's put it in a cantaloupe so we can send it to her."

"Can you sing me 'Simple Presents' again?" (she says this every night after I sing her the song 'Simple Gifts' - this one cracks me up every time!).

"I am two but I will be three in November." (she pulled this one out at the park yesterday when she was meeting a new friend.  Totally did not realize she knew that!  My smart girl :)

"When I am THIS TALL I will be old enough for a dog!" (She reaches up above her head, which is apparently when one is old enough for a dog...)

"I will share my Milky with my baby brother/sister (depends on the day), s/he can have this side and I will have this side." (She is CONFIDENT that this scenario will work out perfectly for everyone whenever the time comes...)

"I love you, too, Mama" <----- my favorite.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vintage E

A year ago...

...you were discovering your love of music, you had baby curls in your hair, you were on the cusp of 2,  you were exploding with the desire and ability to talk, you were enjoying our last fall in our old house on Reaney Avenue and you were just beginning your love affair with Gallihad ("your" horse)... you were becoming you.  365 days later you still are, and I am loving every day (almost every day - gotta be honest here, not every day is a walk in the park, my little lady!) of watching you.  

Sometimes it's fun to look back...

Love you, Eliza.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stretching Those Wings

Eliza, today I watched you stretch your little wings a bit further.

It wasn't your first day of school, but it was still a little step down the path of independence.  It was your first dance class.  We decided together to enroll you in a local dance studio's preschool class for 2.5/3 year olds.  You gave us a resounding "YES!" when we asked you if you wanted to join a dance class, and so off we went this morning.

Clad in your new pink leotard complete with a little skirt dotted with hearts, pink tights, and a pair of hand-me-down ballet slippers, off you went into the dance studio, confident and full of excitement.  Mama sat outside the room and hugged the door, out of your line of sight.  I was just within earshot and every now and then caught a glimpse of you in the mirror.

Your excitement was evident the entire class, even when Ms. Pat's (your teacher) voice got just a bit more serious when the group of you - all four of you little teeny dancers, hand-in-hand - went off away from her, skipping and leading one another on, giggling all the while... oh you sweet little rascals (I can't imagine leading a group of almost-3-year-olds, but the job must be left up to those with saintly patience, clearly!).

You were so patient and listened so politely to Ms. Pat, even when I could tell you wanted to go off and hop up a storm with those little tap shoes.  A few times you did - you just couldn't contain your glee to be in that class, I think - but you quickly returned to the circle when Ms. Pat called you.  I was one proud mama watching you.  My big girl.

You are growing wings and exploring your world, my dear sweet girl.  It's no surprise, of course, you have been doing this slowly since the day you took off crawling, reveling in your newfound freedom.  And I am so proud to watch you, to be by your side as you do, helping you find your boundaries while giving you ample freedom to explore within them - more and more freedom by the day, as it should be.  Of course, as your cheesy mama, I am also proud and happy to see you come back to me with a smile on your face after accomplishing something big. You KNOW today was big, you could feel it.  It showed in your shy smile, when you came bounding out of the room, telling me quietly "I really liked it, Mama".  You always come back to me; I love being your person.

Just another day in our life, and yet such a big day at the same time.  It felt big, anyway.  I love you and I can't wait to see you explore your world whether its through tap shoes, hiking boots, a karate belt, a chess board, a violin, or a soccer ball.  Go explore, Eliza, the whole world is waiting for you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My 2 Year Old Says Random Things

  • On her way to go forage for blueberries at a neighbor's house, she said to my mom: "If there are blueberries I will put a smile on, and if there are no blueberries I will take my smile off and throw it in the garbage!!
  • Upon discovering that it was raining one day: "Mom! Mommy! Come with me outside and thank the rain for watering our Mums!"
  • Listening to music in the kitchen, she will often say: "I just tooted to the music, Ma!"
  • Eliza: "I would like some M&Ms before lunch." Me: "Well, I'm afraid that's not an option, Eliza." Eliza: "You don't need to be afraid, Mama, our new house doesn't have any monsters!"
  • After being told she could not have a drink of my margarita: "But I am old enough to bowl!!" (complete with dramatic hand gestures).
  • "I'm a Kale girl!" 
I got the idea from a friend to post the random/funny things Eliza says on my blog.  I need to remember more of these day-to-day, because some pretty hilarious and random things come out of that girl's mouth!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Summer, Instagrammed

gardening, reading, my big girl playing independently, sink bathing, baseball games, swinging, margaritas at the lake, beautiful salads on the north shore, a new fence, fun with new friends, date nights, peonies in our new front yard, the iced coffee perfected at home, baking banana bread in the heat, starbucks dates with my girl, visits with family, park dates, picnics in the backyard...

Summer could not have been more picture perfect!

Eliza's Stats

Birth: 8 lbs 5 ozs
Going home: 7 lbs 10 ozs
5 days: 7 lbs 13 ozs
2 months: 12 lbs 6 ozs
4 months: 17 lbs
5 months: 18 lbs 12 ozs
6 months: 20 lbs 13 ozs
9 months: 24 lbs 3 ozs
12 months: 26 lbs 13 ozs
15 months: 28 lbs
18 months: 29 lbs 3 ozs
2 years: 32 lbs
3 years: 34 lbs

Alice's Stats

Birth: 8 lbs 11 oz
2 Months: 13 lbs 10 oz
4 Months: 17 lbs 15 oz
6 Months: 20 lbs 4 oz