Graduation Day 2014.

I’m having a lot of trouble wrapping my head around how my kid went from this roly-poly wad,

To this handsome boy, the youngest in his class, graduating from Kindergarten with an award in Reading Excellence.

He wants to be a geologist when he grows up. I told him he can be whatever he wants to be. He’s Maverick. He’s a doer. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but something’s going to happen. That’s just how it is.

It’s weird how intimately you know your child, without them realizing you know them at all. I see qualities in him that he isn’t even aware of yet. I’m so proud of him, and so proud of me, because for a very long time I struggled and felt like I was failing because he was just … well, he was just awful. But now I think the awfulness is behind us because he understands that he doesn’t run our house.

It took a very long time for him to come to this understanding.

Maverick does not cower under authority figures, older kids, or bigger kids. Robbie and I took our three to the park a few months ago and we saw some of our friends there. One of the little girls climbed up a pole and was sitting on a bar. A mean little boy started yanking on her leg, trying to pull her down. Robbie and I noticed this because we heard Maverick’s voice, calm and clear cutting across the playground:”What are you doing? Leave her alone.”  

But the mean kid didn’t leave her alone, and Maverick didn’t back down. The kid pushed Maverick, but he stood his ground. He asked the boy to leave his friend alone, and the boy pushed him again and again, harder and harder. Maverick just popped right back, undeterred. Robbie and I discussed if we should get involved, but we decided no. We waited.

That was hard.

The mean kid ended up punching Maverick and it erupted into a fight, so we intervened at that point. I don’t want my son getting into playground fights on the regular, but I was proud of him for standing up for his friend. I was proud of him for not being afraid. I may have trouble knowing how to deal with some of his qualities, but I love his boldness — even when it manifests in questioning me. I love that he doesn’t just accept an answer. He pushes for more information, more explanation, more examples. 

So to my son I’ll say today, and again when he graduates from high school and then hopefully college: never stop pushing for more. There is an endless amount of knowledge, love, and fun to be had. 

I want you to have it all.



Bittersweet.

At 10 months and 2 days old, the baby finally crawled.

Raising little girls

It was so bittersweet. I was standing barefoot on a blanket watching her, and I thought I would burst with pride. Of my three children, she took the longest to start crawling, but she put the most work into learning. For almost 3 months she has been working on figuring it out, spending her nap times practicing in addition to countless frustrated hours on the floor.

It’s hard to watch your children try and fail and try again. Today I watched Maverick try to climb a tree. He insisted he needed help, but I refused. It was a low tree, and I was close by. He doesn’t know that I was climbing trees like a monkey when I was just a little older than him. I would take the canoe out alone and paddle around the lake at 8 years old. I haven’t told him much about what I was like as a little girl because I’m afraid he will think he can just jump into the nearest canoe and take off with it. He can’t swim yet … so I’ll hold off on my stories.

Looking back, it freaks me out to think about the things that my parents let me do. My mother must have been worried sick while I was off adventuring through the woods, but we had a big German Shepherd who always tagged along and — get this — nothing bad happened.

As I grew older, I found that a large majority of girls my age were fearful and lacked self-confidence because they had never been allowed or encouraged to be independent and/or strong.

Children won’t know what they are capable of if they are never allowed to DO ANYTHING, especially girls, who tend to have confidence issues to begin with. Sometimes by thinking you are protecting them, you’re actually stripping them of the one thing that is vital to their quality of life and happiness: their inner strength.

I understand now how hard it is to let go and hope nothing bad happens as you loosen your grip to allow your child more freedoms. It’s terrifying. I waffle between wanting to lock my children away from the world, and encouraging them to be as involved in it as possible so they can eventually, somehow, change it.

So … I say all of that to say, it’s a big moment for me and for my kid when he climbs his first tree. And, more notably, when his little sister finally crawls to the edge of the blanket to eat the grass she’s been eyeing for months.

As I swept her up and moved her away, pulling wads of clover from her tight grasp, I whispered “I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. YOU JUST KEEP GOING.”

And I know that she will.