Monday, December 13, 2010


Eliana and I made up this little song last year around this time. It goes something like this:
Mexico! We're going to Mex-ih-coah!
(repeat again and again with incredible exuberance)

We just dug that one up and started singing again. Cuz we're going back. After one nap. Eliana measures her life in naps. I seem to measure my life in breaks. I think after fifteen years of teaching and a lifetime of an academic calendar schedule, it's hard not to think of things in little chunks, all surrounded by splendid weeks of respite. I am at the end of my fall chunk! My first fall chunk of being a working mama with two kids. It's been a hell of a chunk. Busy and wild and full and ridiculous. I'm ready for a bookend.

It's funny the things you don't articulate or plan but just somehow happen. Jeff and I met as teachers. We saved money to travel somewhere fun over our breaks. When we became parents, we never consciously planned to travel with our kids. But this is Eliana's third trip to Mexico. Pretty good for a three year old. Sol's passport is all ready to be stamped. He's so sweet in his little photo. So official, that Sol. I guess he was with us last year, just in a different capacity...

The bags are packed, sunscreen and tums purchased and we're ready to roll. Last year we came home for Christmas. I felt really strongly about Eliana having holiday memories in her home. This year I don't have any of that sentiment. I'm not sure what happened. Perhaps I don't have time for it! I love that they'll have memories of a Christmas in the sunshine. The posada. Tamales. Lots of friends and family in an exotic and warm locale. An adventure.

Most importantly, though, I'm ready for some down time with my people. Our foursome. Ready to snuggle up and read books and meander and cook together. To break out of my routine of tasks that move us from one day to the next. Ready for the spontenaity that travel brings. The break from procedures or expectations. The surrender to the moment (especially in a country like Mexico where the very notion of time is different to the way it is here). Ready to carry Sol on my chest and hold Elie's hand. To be together. Look, it's our whole family! While this is one of her favorite exclamations, Eliana doesn't seem to get to say this enough because we always seem to be moving too fast. I'm ready to shout it from the rooftops. Our whole family. Together. For two whole weeks. On our own, sunny path.

My favorite mommy/daughter pic ever was taken in Sayulita two years ago. So much happiness...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

going there

I try, try, try not to go there. Embrace love and logic. Empathy. Deep breaths. Smooth and steady.

But this afternoon I went there.

I decided to pick Eliana up from school early so she could nap at home. I get off a bit earlier on Wednesdays and after she hung in the classroom with me for my last fifteen minutes of teaching, I loaded her up and we headed up the hill. I explained what was going to happen. She was reasonable and understood. We'd go in, wash up, and get snuggled into bed to read books. She would then take her much needed nap.

And that's about where the cool stopped. The minute she came home she wanted to play. There was no logic to her staying in bed. Even as I read while she danced around the room, ignoring her pleas to just play. It was still fun and games.

And then I began to insist. And she began to disintegrate. And I began to bargain. And she began to kick. And I began to show my frustration. And she began to hit. And I picked her up and dropped her on the bed hard and demanded quiet time and she said it:

Mommy. I don't love you!

That's when the sadness hit. The exhaustion. The how did we get here? My sweet dream of gently laying my girl to sleep while her brother napped all gone to hell.

We were both sad. I apologized for being rough. She apologized for her mean words. We sat next to each other on the steps wondering what to do. And as quickly as it happened, she moved on, a bevy of random questions, requests and statements.

But I still feel the incident in my shoulders. The back of my neck. There is always enough love. We will be okay. But how to I sustain myself, hold myself to the highest of standards, stay neutral as her little feet attempt to reach my face.

I'm not kicking, mama. I'm stretching.
Eliana, it's not okay to kick. You're NOT my friend anymore, Mommy. And you can't come to my birthday.

I know I'm her safe place. She would never dream of acting this way at school. But, like her mama, she's a complex little being, full of contradictions and frustrations, passions and misunderstanding. My heavy little hitter.

And then there's her brother. So sweet and so simple. My little mellow cruiser. The way I catch him standing in the funniest places, grasping on to whatever's there, trying to hang tough. His little voice, the way he says my name. Rubs my face when he nurses. Beams at the three of us with such grace. The way my heart seems to stay so pure for him. We are still so innocent. We are still pure love. The complexities, the layers, the testing...well, I guess that's something I have to look forward to. Ah this heavy, rich, wild time. The beautiful weight of it all.