Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day in a Screwed up Co-parenting World



Let’s start off with some positives—while this is the second mom’s day that I am alive without my mom, I survived.  Also, I did pretty well at my work conference, having presented at three different events, representing our state as best as I could, and I think my mom would have been proud about that.

Secondly, my girls are growing up strong and tall and smart and sassy and loving and caring and kind and silly and loyal.  I could go on and on.  So that’s good too.

Now for the screwed up co-parenting world part:

Last Friday, DD2’s teacher sent a class message to all the parents that the kids were coming home with a mother’s day gift that they had been working on all year together.  I was out of town presenting at the said conference, and when I returned, it was to an email from the ex saying that DD2 had forgotten the present, but it would come home next time.

So when I saw DD2, I told her I was excited to see the present, and DD2 started bawling, saying she gave it to Aunty (Exie’s new and generous girlfriend), because she was visiting and going back home, so they had packed it in her suitcase.  I was baffled, having received the email from Exie and the teacher and figured there must be some kind of confusion.  A suspicion did start to rise in the back of my brain, however, that perhaps Exie did encourage DD2 to give the present to his girlfriend, and I figured the best way to find out would be to apply a little kindness.

I wrote to Exie that it sounded like DD2 was a little confused, that she had told me that she’d given the present to Aunty by mistake, and also that I was glad the girls had a positive relationship with his girlfriend.  That similarly, A has always treated their relationship different than theirs, has encouraged them to give him father’s day gifts, and would never accept a present where we knew they had made it for Exie for father’s day.  Also, that I looked forward to meeting his girlfriend one day at a school event, etc, as the girls seem to like her and they really like her dog. 

All in all, I felt proud of myself for going high instead of low.

Unfortunately, the response was a long-winded, well…actually DD2 “CHOSE” to give the mother’s day gift to his girlfriend, despite him trying to talk her out of it and emphasizing that his girlfriend is not her mother and DD2 wanted to give it to her anyway.  (And another long winded response about how he would ‘think’ about me meeting his girlfriend, bringing up his past demands of how he wanted a special sit-down meeting with A to talk about parenting and I kept refusing—baffling, since they met at a school event, everything was fine.  Exie does hang on to perceived slights and then applies them out of context.)

The thing here is that DD2 is a young child.  Exie is the adult.  That’s the cue where he steps in, if it actually did go as described, about appropriateness.  The way he described is the best case scenario, however I have been a victim and now am a survivor of his emotional blackmail, so here we are.  And then I remembered that I can’t control what happens at his house.  He may not act like the adult, but I do. 

And so the crux of the story is 1) I’m sad that I don’t get to see the present that my daughter worked all year on for me,  2) I’m angry at the double-standard that if the tables were turned (which they never would be, A would never accept a gift under these circumstances), Exie’s head would explode, 3) I’m sad that DD2 feels pressured to please her dad and his girlfriend to give the present to his girlfriend, overtly or unconsciously, 4) I’m praying that DD2 doesn’t end up with a spouse that she’s always bending over backwards to please in an unhealthy way, and 5) at the end of the day, I know DD2 knows who her mom is.

Adulting is hard.  I’m going to cry that I don’t get to see this present and go to therapy to unpack what that means to me on Friday.

Then I’ll pull up my grown up pants and handle this like the grown up that I am.  All the time praying that my girls grow up with as minimal impact of his needy, manipulative ways as possible and do not replicate it in their future relationships.  Please god please let them be strong.  #cry

Friday, April 26, 2019

Proud Mama Moments While Coparenting my Tween




The other day on the way home from school, fighting traffic with DD1 riding in the backseat, DD1 nonchalantly announced that she won an award and there was going to be a ceremony at school.  It went something like this:

DD1 (fiddling with her phone music keyboard game):  I-won-an-award-and-there’s-a-ceremony-and-dad-wants-to-go-does-that-mean-you-want-to-go-too? 

Me:  Wow!  What kind of award, sister?

DD1: A writing award.

Me:  That’s great, DD1!  I’m really proud of you!  And there’s a ceremony?

DD1: Yes-it’s-before-school-dad-says-he’s-going-does-this-mean-you’re-going-too.

Me:  Well, of course I want to go, sister.  I need to know more about the award and the ceremony, though was it announced?

DD1: I got an EMAIL.  And I didn’t think you could go because you have to be at work!

I could tell she was struggling.  Having two households can be stressful.  At the same time, I had no idea what was going on and needed to learn more.  She continued to tell me that she wasn’t sure what the writing award was but that she was invited by an email and it was to include breakfast and a quick ceremony before school.  Also, she didn’t want any of us to go, but dad said he’s going so does that mean you’re going too.  Of course I said that I wanted to go, to which she responded with more sighs and stomping around the house.  Even A wanted to attend, but after all the stomping and sighing (tweens sure do stomp and sigh a lot), we came to the conclusion that while there are events to hang our hats on where all parents needed to attend (i.e. school-wide performances, graduations, etc.), perhaps this half hour ceremony before school was not one of them, given her reaction.

Later, DD1 confirmed other parents were also attending and we realized the ceremony was the morning that I was on carpool duty for drop off, so I let DD1 know that I was going.  When she spoke by phone with her dad on the phone later, she told him, well MOM wants to go now, so you can go too, I GUESS.  You know to be FAIR.

There were two more days to go by (including an overnight with her dad), so I let DD1 know, listen sister, if you REALLY don’t want parents to go, I’ll reconsider this, okay?  To which she just answered with a short:  IT’s FINE.

Then some sweet little surprises happened to let me know it was okay to go:

1)  She asked if I had a blouse for her to wear to the ceremony.  Then right before bed, she raided my closet and picked one out.  (gasp! We’ve gotten to the point where she wears my clothes!  Lol).

2)  When I asked if there was a place that sold coffee/tea at school, so I could hang out after drop off and before the ceremony started—she asked, why?  And I responded, well, I figured you wouldn’t want me hanging around you and your friends so I could go hang out somewhere.  DD1 thought about this for a while and later that afternoon, informed me: I guess you can sit with us, mom.  It’s okay.  You can sit on the side.  Just don’t be so loud.  (tee hee hee, what me?  Loud?)

3)  Arriving at school and at the tables where DD1 sits with her friends, her tweens nodded at me, and DD1’s BFF told everyone I was her “second mom.”  I smiled and said good morning and focused on playing Words with Friends, so as not to disturb the force.

4) Although, after talking with two of DD1’s friends for a little bit (careful not to be too loud), they decided they wanted to come with us.  So we all tromped over to the ceremony and sat together.

5) I asked DD1 if she wanted me to invite her dad to sit with us, and she shook her head adamantly.  But she didn’t object to me helping her catch his attention, calling his name and waving.  (I’ll follow up with her about that it’s okay if everyone sits together…)

6) When her teacher gave me a big hug and later, invited me to take a group photo of the winners, DD1 SMILED!  Awww…

7) It turned out DD1 was being recognized for her poem…and she let me READ IT.  And asked me what I THOUGHT about it.

8) We had a nice discussion about what the symbolism meant and how proud I was of her for thinking of it.  Also, why I thought it had been recognized out of the two grades it was represented.

9) She shared with me some of her other writing.  <3 o:p="">

10)  Later, we celebrated because I got out of work early—I took her and her BFF (“second daughter”) out for bubble tea and cookies before we headed home.

All in all!  A very good day in the life of a tween mom.  Heart full!!!!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Working it Out on the Healing Journey




Conundrum:
It's been many years since I left my abusive marriage and years of therapy and now I'm in a healthy re-marriage (5 years next month…!!!), so that's a good thing.  All of these years, I’ve supported my kids and their relationship with their dad and helped them unpack their complicated feelings about being both loyal to him but also not liking that he yells at their grandma and at them.

So whyyyyy am I having a hard time and all triggered that my former abuser might be getting re-married? The good news is my girls really like her. My youngest says she's glad they're getting married because daddy needs help--and went on to explain how they are late sometimes because they have to carry so many bags and make so many trips from the car into the house and daddy gets mad and upset.  I interpret that to mean that he loses his patience and crap with the menial chores and having a nice lady to help them--in my youngest’s mind makes sense—that it will make things easier for him.  At the same time, my eldest laughed when I shared little sister’s story with her.  She was like, Mom, she WISHES they would get married, lol.  Also, from what I understand, she is very well off financially and is generous with the girls (i.e., flies them first class). So what gives?  Why am I suddenly uncomfortable and out of sorts and upset?  And then angry at myself for being upset?

Observation:
I think it's because even though I've done a lot of work in therapy and accept a lot of my trauma around the violence, it's because I see this as so unfair that he 'gets away' with being so horrible. I know that part of forgiveness is letting go, moving on, and living a good life. Which i've been working for years to do so. I'm just struggling with the whole, he gets away with it. And maybe if he gets married again to a financially well off lady, it's like then it's validation that he's "not that bad" in the eyes of the world. Ugh, I guess I really do have a lot more work to do in terms of healing and therapy.

One day I hope to be in a place where this doesn't matter. I've tried the forgiveness meditation on the daily. (I guess keep on working on it... if anyone has words on wisdom ... please share.)

Answer:
So…I called my therapist and checked in and I’m distilling her words of wisdom:

1)  Even if life has moved on, the feelings come because the wounds were so very deep. This explains why, even when travelling down a completely different road altogether, even when embracing healthier ways of living, you can be triggered and why it hurts.  That’s trauma.  That’s PTSD, and that’s why it hurts.

2) Don’t be so quick to brush off the feelings as invalid; don’t be so quick to judge or berate yourself for being upset.  Let the feelings be what they are.  Recognize them.  Validate them.  They are what they are.  That they exist is not a reflection of failure on your part in healing or moving on.  They exist by virtue of what you went through.  Once you allow space for them, *then* you can go into…

3)  Remember, your ex is still your ex.  For a reason.  Would you want to be married to him?  Would you want to be in that violence?  No!  And just because he may be entering into a new marriage—no one knows what that marriage is going to be except for those two people.  His actions now aren’t a reflection of what YOU lived.  That’s on him. 

4)  Lastly, that creeping sensation that this means none of it’s true, or he’s not that bad, that somehow he’s being validated and you are not?  Again, that’s on him and on anyone else who subscribes to that kool-aid.  It might sting, but at the end of the day, you know what you’ve been through.  Your people, the ones who matter, who love and support you, know what you’ve been through.  They matter.  Everyone else, and everything they ‘might’ think…well, they don’t matter at all.  Love yourself and love your kids.  Living your good life is what makes the difference.

5) (these words are from me and not the therapist):   Deep breaths.  This is a damn marathon.  Not kidding.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Happy Earth Day & Tween Correspondence


Happy Earth Day!

And in other news, an actual email that I received from DD2:


-----

Dearest Parental Unit,

I regret to inform you that I have forgotten my racquet at home.  I am so, very sorry.  Is it possible that I can stop by and run into the house to grab it?

Sincerely,

DD2
-----

LOL.  Yes, I did remind ms. daughter to not forget her racquet before she left the house this morning.  

I’m actually impressed that she addressed me as “Dearest Parental Unit” as well as chose to spell racquet instead of racket.  Awwwww, DD2

p.s. percolating on another blog post--about Easter, grief, redemption, healing, and love.  I can't get the juices flowing right now, so I'm leaning into parenting, regular work-life, and preparing for all the death and destruction in the next episode of Game of Thrones.  

Love and hugs to you!



Thursday, April 4, 2019

April Fool's Day, April Blues Day: Healing Journey Supplies




Damn, this week has been rough. 

I have said a hundred times (or nearly) on this blog that healing is a marathon, not a sprint.  But having run a half marathon, I think this is an understatement.  Healing is a lifelong freaking ultramarathon (term for any race longer than 26.2 miles) and some days it’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning.  So today is about surviving.

In light of this, I’m packing a suitcase of tools and tips to deal with the !@#$!#$!@#$!@#$.  Here’s what I have in my bag, so I can check out of life and check into Hotel Escape.  What?  I can’t check out of life?  Work, family, job?  Responsibilities?  While I feel like !@#$? 

Dammit.  So here’s what I have in my bag so I can cope with !@#$ as I stick it out and do my best to survive:

1)  Distraction Hammer.  Sometimes, distraction is not denial.  Sometimes, getting busy with task oriented projects, cleaning out the closet, cleaning out the file drawer at work, picking apart a shelf—can take the mind off and is a break from the !@#$.  And voila! A clean shelf or closet is the result.

2)  Letting Go/Breathing Mask:  However, sometimes, you need to wallow.  It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to let those feelings come in.  It’s okay to give space to the doubts, because to suppress them with “I shouldn’t feel this way” or “Why aren’t I over this !@#$ yet,” only turns those doubts from whispers into shouts.  So when you feel the thunderstorm coming on, take deep breaths.  Breath in 1-2-3-4, and breath out 4-3-2-1.  Repeat.  While breathing, tell yourself—I know these feelings.  I accept them.  They won’t last forever.  It will pass.  I can do it.  Repeat 10 times. 

3)  Work shoes:  I know it, this one seems crazy and a little lofty, but freaking exercise.  Pull on those shoes, throw yourself outside, and run around the block.  Or if you don’t feel like going outside, stay indoors, just start bouncing.  Run up and down the stairs a few times.  Do some jumping jacks.  Do 30.  Repeat.  Get the blood pumping and the sweat going.  Talk to yourself as you run:  I love and accept myself.  I love and accept myself.  (Even if you don’t believe it, the words are nice, and maybe with repetition, it will stick).  When you are sweating and gasping for air, you’re too occupied with survival to let the anxiety take over.  In fact, for a while after you stop sweating, your brain’s endorphins kick in and will give you some relief.  (p.s. high impact exercise is not a requirement, yoga or stretching and just moving a little bit, 10 minutes of walking a day, can help, too—in fact just that little bit of walking can reduce risk for disabilities when we are seniors!).

4) Mechanical pencil:  Take out your writing tool and write your !@#$ down.  Sometimes, the feelings are stuck inside and just need an outlet.  Or if writing is not your jam, use a different medium.  I know an amazing woman who makes art out of beach combing finds.  I think she transforms her pain into art and sells it on etsy.  I know another amazing woman who  makes a living as an independent author, transforming her traumatic experiences into published writing.  I’m not saying our pain needs to be sold on etsy or turned into a career (although kudos to those women and many more artists who do!!), but an outlet for it to get outside of your head, heart, and body helps relieve the internal pressure.

5)  Friend/Family Walkie-Talkie:  sharing a piece of our hearts with an understanding friend or family member can be super comforting.  Sometimes we think that our pain overwhelms our people, but choosing to keep it to ourselves, so as not to ‘burden’ others, can be self-defeating and isolating.  Reach out to someone you trust and a simple, “I’m having a rough day today” or “I need a hug, how are you?” can add a loving connection to your day.  Or if you don’t feel like spilling your internal !@#$, go through your contacts and think of a friend you haven’t seen in a long time.  Send them a text just to say “hi!”  You don’t have to go deep, just a friendly connection, a reminder that you are NOT alone in the universe is kind to yourself (and to them).

And to take this step further—a therapist walkie-talkie can do wonders.  Healing from trauma is not easy and if not for my therapist, I would probably still be in my abusive marriage that I left 8 years ago.  (Eight years!  !!!  !!!)

6)  Safety glasses/earmuffs:  I find another coping tool in reading.  Escaping into another world is awesome and a reprieve from my world and my !@#$.  It doesn’t have to be reading, it could be any hobby, picture collages, listening to music, beach combing, playing games.  I’ve also been into podcasts lately, especially _The Moth_, because those are real stories told by real people who experienced them, from all over the world. 

7)  Safety Instructions:  One thing to know about trauma, is that while you may have good days and bad days, and the good days are great, the bad days are likely caused by some sort of trigger related to the trauma.  Reading your instructions and examining the triggers that cause your trauma can be helpful (which is why a therapy walkie-talkie is a good tool).  I know that saying goodbye to my children when they do their visitation--is a huge trigger.  I can recognize being separated from them tugs at the separation trauma I had from when I was infant all those years ago, a pre-verbal trauma being separated from my birth mother.  I still struggle with it.  That said, knowing why I’m feeling the anxiety that I feel takes away the “crazy.”  I’m not crazy for freaking out and feeling like !@#$@.  It’s part of my story.  That’s why I need this damn toolkit.

8) Lunchbox/Thermos:  The last items in my toolkit include my lunchbox and my thermos.  Sometimes the contents can be super healthy, especially when combining with those work shoes.  A healthy body helps with a healthy spirit.  On the other hand, sometimes taking a break and eating all your favorite foods and drinking all the wine can be helpful, too.  And that goes with the setting—sometimes, you may just want to veg out and eat alone, watching your favorite tv show, or sometimes you might want to be with your people and drink and laugh and/or cry and be together.  Both choices have a place in the suitcase, because both can be helpful when dealing with the !@#$.

Bonus item—Safety pillow:  Sleep.  A good night’s sleep is good for your body, your heart and your mind.  Says the person who suffers from insomnia.  I love to sleep.  One day, I will sleep through the night again. 

Do you have anything else to add?  Thank you for reading.  I was feeling super junky when I first started writing, so just by unpacking my suitcase for you has helped me get through today.

Love and hugs, from a struggling, trying to do the best to survive, Jane Thrive

p.s. for your amusement--when searching the web for a toolkit pic to use in this post, I tried to google:  toolbag gif
This search result does not bring up pictures of toolkits.  hee hee.  Enjoy! 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Happy Spring Break: A letter to my mom





Dear Mom,

We took the girls to the north shore this past week, so we could spread the last of your ashes in the country that you thought was so beautiful when you visited us years and years ago.  We each held kind thoughts about you in our hearts and then sent you out into the sea.

I thought you’d like to know that we also took the girls horseback riding along the beach, a pretty magical experience, and one that even our surly tweenager said was “pretty awesome” afterwards.  They lined us up as we went on our 45 minute ride—A in the front on Bentley, DD2 behind him on Beetle,  DD1 next on Cody, and me following on good old Nick.  Along the way through the trees, DD1’s Cody tried to pass DD2 on Beetle, so DD1 learned how to hold back the reigns and wait for DD1 and Beetle to pass her by again.  (Our leader said she didn’t want Cody to “get away with acting like that”) and I think DD1 liked the extra responsibility—she had to remind Cody to behave a few times.

When our ride was over, I taught them how to feed apples to Cody and Beetle--holding the apple pieces on their flat palms, so the horses could easily pluck them off their hands.  (Almost all horses I have met love apples.)  They don’t like to eat hands at all—of which DD2 wasn’t so sure, until she did it a few times with Beetle nudging her some more.  (I thought you’d like that, too.)  Now, DD2 says she wants to ride horses all the time!

As we marched along the sea, I tried to remember if you had ever taken me horseback riding.  I remembered that you sent me to girl scout horse camp, and after I had arrived excitedly to meet the horse I was to care for all week, I remember being a bit disappointed that I had to “share” my horse with another girl.  Then that girl went home after the second day, and in my 10 year old glory was delighted to have my horse “all to myself”—which turned into meaning having to pick up hooves and dig the crud out and brushing and brushing and rebrushing my horse until I thought my arms would fall off, lol.  That’s what I get for being selfish!  I do know for sure that you taught me your love of all animals. 

I asked DD2 what she thought about when she put your ashes in the sea.  And she shared with me that you always had macaroni and cheese in your room for her, the one where we make it in the microwave in cups.  And she remembered picking flowers for you, so you could press them into books and then put them on cards.  I have one of the cards at work.

DD1 didn’t share her thoughts when I asked her, so I let her have her privacy around that.  At one point, she had stomped off the path where we were walking, and A followed up with her, to please be kind since this was a difficult time for mom.  And she told him, “well, it’s a difficult time for me, too!”  She was there with you that last week that you were alive, so I think your passing hits her harder than her free-spirited, in-the-moment younger sister.  She also felt better after having a snack and eating dinner—so sometimes, tweenage surliness can be comforted by filling up an empty tummy.

Mostly, we were lazy bones over the last few days of Spring Break—sleeping in, watching parts of movies like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one) or the Penguins of Madagascar, while cooking and eating lazy breakfasts in our rental condo.  Or puzzling a 300 piece puzzle together on the little lanai table.  We ventured out of the house just before lunchtime each day to see what was around in the world.  We ate at a gelato shop that is owned by “Team America’s” Gelato Captain, who competed in the annual Gelato world championship and won the “Ice Sculpure” division a couple of years ago.  We wandered along a beach with a giant tidepool, where DD2 excitedly found a hermit crab and spotted other tiny fishes and crabs.

And lastly, I’m so happy to tell you that I finally crushed through the resistance of the girls’ father when it came to summer vacation planning.  I was zen and took deep breaths and now it’s all paying off.  We will be going to DC and New York City to see a play on Broadway—Hamilton, the girls’ favorite!  They can sing along to every single song by heart (I tell them to please not repeat the bad words outside of its artistic context, lol).  I remember you took me to Broadway when I was little, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.  It was to see “Starlight Express” and the cast was decked out in roller skates and the stage built with what looked like roller coaster tracks for the performers.  I’m so glad that with your help, I’ll be able to give them an experience like that, too.

It took us over a year since you’ve left this earth to finally put all of your ashes to rest, although I have a pendant with a tiny miniscule amount that I still wear nearly every day.  DD1 says I should probably let that go, too, and I agreed, that you’ll always be a memory in my heart, whether I have a remnant of your passing or not.

I wish you could be here to see them growing up stronger and to see them holding their own in the world.  I worry about them all the time, I worry if I’ll be enough, if somehow their volatile dad will wrest them away from my heart, if they will be happy, if they will love and be loved in the best possible ways, if the world will try and kick them down.  And if it does, if they will have the strength to resist and get back up and still retain their hearts and faith in the good.  I worry so much and yet at the same time, I see strength in their steps and grace in their walk.  Confidence and faith that I hope you passed along to me, so I can pass along to them.  I hope.

I’m sorry I was a big pain in the ass when I was younger.  And I’m sorry that I didn’t appreciate the time we had together as much as I should have.  I’m grateful to share your stories with the girls—that you traveled all over the world, that when the world told you no, you stood up and found a way to turn that no into a yes.  You are part of our nightly prayer where we say thanks to everyone in our family, to grandma g who is in heaven now.  Thank you for being a part of my heart.

p.s. last night, DD1 did share with me her "thought" as she put your ashes into the ocean--it was when we were in the hospital for DD2's birth.  You were trying to entertain DD1 by blowing up a hospital glove into a balloon.  It popped with a loud BANG, and everyone had a conniption because we thought you were going to wake up DD2.  But of course DD2 slept soundly.  DD1 said you were just trying to entertain her and I was laughing as she shared that memory.  I told her you always marched to your own drum and DD1 said, 'yeah, like she was just doing her best entertaining a 3 year old!" and I agreed.  

And...I do remember that moment, how upset the ex was, and how i was upset, too, because he was upset.  But when i step back, it really didn't matter, mom, it wasn't worth getting riled up about.  You were just being you, trying to share some love and laughter with DD1.  I'm glad she remembers that.  And I'm glad I remember it, too.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Happy Two Days after Girl's day (3/3)!





So today’s post will be a dedication to my two favorite girls—big sister and little sister, love letters for our day in the life.

Dear Little Sister, a.k.a. Tough Girl,

Let me tell you about why we are calling you “Tough Girl.”  Yesterday, you got whacked in the head not once, but TWICE, at tennis practice.  The first time, because you ran close by another little girl and boom came the racket on the top of your head.  You recovered pretty quickly.  The second time, you were too close to someone who was practicing her serve, and BOOM, you got hit in the eye.  You were sobbing and crying and covering your eye.

When I came rushing over with an ice pack, you cried and cried some more and I wrapped you in my giant sweater and just held you.  And you asked me if your eye was going to fall out.  And I just kept hugging you and said absolutely not, your eyeball was going to stay right inside your head.  And we just kept cuddling and then finally you asked if we could go home already and I was like absolutely.  You also told me you didn’t want to go to school and I quietly told you we’d see.  But for now we were just going to keep an ice pack on and it would help make your eye feel better.

You sat at the dinner table with an ice pack over your eye and then you asked me for an eye patch.  I made one for you out of an old Delta sleep mask that they hand out on the plane.  About halfway through dinner, your spirits improved, and you started asking me about slime and how we make it.  Then you took off your eye patch and you slowly opened your eye and I told you that you looked pretty tough.  So then you wanted to look at your eyeball and then to take a selfie and you made a “tough girl” face.  And then you decided you were going to show me this dance that you had made up with your BFF at school, called the “horse-what-are-those-straps-that-humans-use-to-guide-a-horse-mommy?”  And I answered, “reins”?  And you said, Yes!  This is our “Horse-Rein” dance.   And you wiggled and shimmied all around the living room and I couldn’t stop laughing, because you said, “and this is my horse rein’ face too” and you made an epic silly face.

Moments later, apa came home from work, and you ran over to show him your “horse rein” dance.  And you gleefully told him how you were a TOUGH GIRL and had gotten whacked twice, but mommy says I’m a TOUGH GIRL and you made strong arm muscles to show him.

So by the time it was bath time, you were singing and splashing around like there was no care in the world, and when you did your nightly call with your dad, you also proudly told him how TOUGH you were.  And that even though you got hit, you STILL LOVE tennis.  (awwww).

Later, we tucked in goodnight and said a prayer for everyone in our family, and also that we hoped your eye would get better, you asked me to kiss you all over your face, but not my eye mommy, and I prayed that you would have only good dreams.  And in the morning, you were right as rain, and you bounced out of bed ready to go to school.  You kissed me goodbye and my heart is so full because of how much I love you. 

P.s. and just a note: you won your very first tennis match, singles and doubles last week end, and we are so proud of you!

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Dear Big Sister,

You are getting older now, in intermediate school, and you keep a lot of your feelings to yourself and I'm doing my best to respect your space.  At the same time, you are sure to tell me if I annoy you or if you’re frustrated with how annoying I am, lol, so I’ve learned to roll with the punches.  When you’re in a good mood, I just cherish those moments, because you are physically a half an inch shorter than me and will likely grow taller, and I’m realizing how fast the time is flying by now that you’re a tween.

Yesterday, well after little sister’s tennis brouhaha, I picked you up after YOUR tennis—where on the way home you proceeded to tell your dad on the phone that you wanted to scold little sister for standing too close to the other players.  (I interpreted that to mean that you care about her and didn’t want her to get hurt, awww.)  You and I also had a quick talk about the weird Momo video that’s making the rounds via youtube, and you let me know that dad already addressed it being a fake filter or something, but when I shared that little sister’s vice principal had shared it with all of the  students, your ears were listening.  All I said was that if you did see something weird, and that something weird tells you to do something that hurts you or others, to talk to me or the closest parent available immediately.  And you agreed (without rolling your eyes) and asked why that person hasn’t gotten in trouble and I answered, because they haven’t found them yet, but hopefully they would soon.  The most important part was to tell someone if you see it.  There might have been a shadow of eye rolling because I repeated myself, but that’s okay, I understand.

When we walked into the house, we discovered that apa had eaten all of the broccoli, and you said you’d give him a pass even though that's your favorite (I was the one that was more lit up about you not having your broccoli, lol, and btw I love that you love broccoli), and then you quickly downed three bowls of my home-made chili mac and cheese.  (Not counting the one bowl that you ate before practice).  I love making your favorite dishes and seeing you eat heartily—with tennis practice and your hectic school schedule and you being on the verge of getting a cold, we need to keep you healthy and full of good food!

You were psyched when you found a home made pound cake in the fridge and you asked if you could have that piece too.  We sat at the table with you, I made little sister turn off her ipad since she’d already eaten, you asked apa about his day at work.  And we all shared how our days were and for fifteen minutes, I just enjoyed being next to you (I didn’t say this out loud, because it would be EMBARASSING to you).  I shared some girls day treats that I had picked up on Sunday—little favors from an afternoon tea in boxes with “Love” and you thought they were so cute; as well as chi chi dango (rectangular rice cake) and there was a blue one, your favorite color.

It turns out one of my friends knows your math teacher, so you were asking who she was and when you saw a picture of aunty, you remarked on how pretty she was.  And when I said that Aunty wanted to come over and have a mani/pedi party with us, you thought that would be fun.  Then it became time to do homework and the only minor tussle we got into before bed was that I was hassling you to brush your teeth already, because I didn’t want you to stay up too late.

You mentioned that one of your aunties asked if you had any crushes, and I tried not to act too interested when I answered, oh really?  And you said no and halfheartedly wondered why she'd asked, and I said, well, probably because we know A (Aunty’s daughter) does.  And you laughed, because we both know it’s true.  And I said well, if you do have any questions or a crush…and you rolled your eyes and was like I won’t be telling you!  And I answered, well, I’m here for you anyway, and you tucked into bed and you had some snuggle time with our sweet dog as we said our evening prayer. 

I said goodnight to you and I kissed your forehead, like I do every night, because even though you don’t really hug me much anymore, I’m doing my best to show you affection on the regular.  Because I love you with all my heart.

This morning, you weren’t even that grumpy for getting up early and asked me nicely to help get your breakfast.  And you and Q were the only two awake in the carpool and you were playing a trivia game, and the two of you were singing along to the tunes I had on Pandora, which made my heart all smooshy.  (The other two kids were fast asleep). 

The last words I said to you when I dropped you and the carpool kids off were I love you and have a good day at school—I may have imagined it, but I think you nodded and might have smiled.  (But it’s okay if you didn’t, because being a tween is hard).

Love, Love, and all my love,
mom