Thursday, April 22, 2010

Eyes on the road.

We drive together, just the two of us, most of the time. I plead guilty of trying to do a million things behind the wheel—returning phone calls on my cell, lipstick at a stoplight, a dangerous reach for her snack so I can have some silence, sing-a-long to her favorite music or playing I-spy in between errands. I no longer have to listen to my inner voice, I have Ava, she reminds me often—“Mom, eyes on the road."

Do you ever think about where your kids will be in twenty years? I try not to--most of the time. Only three years in and I already toy with the idea of what Ava will choose to be when she grows up. Sometimes I get a glimpse of her unique gifts and I imagine how she will use her compassion or already impressive negotiating skills, how influential will she become?

At 33 years of age, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve had many enriching experiences thus far in life but still feel it’s only training for something bigger. For a long time, the nagging sense of something more left me full of doubt. I didn’t plan on motherhood revealing it for me. Maybe it was my gained perspective, or the forced adjustment away from my career. Whatever it was, I’m grateful to be enlightened. I understand now how much more I have left to do—one decision or career path won’t define the rest of my life.

I’ve always told myself I would try to remember what it’s like. The day I became her mother, I promised Ava I’d try to maintain perspective—remembering when I was her age (of course this is prior to my experience with raising a teenager; this journal entry will be all the ammunition she will need to use against me in about ten years).

A wise, dear friend of mine said it best. Pam is a mother of six (this alone gives her notable credentials) and I will never forget when she shared her discovery--she could do anything and everything she wanted, just not all at once. Maybe it was just perfect timing, but this resonated with me. I began to believe everything was available to me too—when it was time.

In the coming years, what I choose not to do will become equally important as what I decide to take on. I recognize my greatest influence over Ava happens now, not later. In many ways I’m just the passenger on Ava’s journey, doing my best to keep her between the lines--wherever her destination.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rainbow: an arc of colored light in the sky caused by refraction of the sun's rays by rain.

Our kids teach us about the present, not about planning for the future. At three, Ava lives only in the moment. Most of the time, this is good news. While I’m still recovering from an exhausting meltdown (hers, not mine), Ava has moved on to something else. The other day, I found myself tainted by the residue of emotional frustration, wanting nothing more than to put myself in a timeout—while Ava was crawling into my lap to tell me I’m her best friend.

I get why we teach children a second language when they are young, Ava’s memory is endless. People, places, and tiniest of details from past experiences … I find myself asking her to help me remember. If it was important—Ava remembers. The best part of her recollection is her careful accounting—every detail is significant and deserves equal amount of attention.

As mamas, we are planners. We live in the future—a constant state of forward motion. Who else will make sure the refrigerator is full (with the right stuff) or the sheets on the guest bed are clean BEFORE company arrives? Who considers every developmental milestone, BEFORE it’s time? Day-to-day routine, meal planning, family time, social calendar…we’re days ahead of everyone else in the house. While we are on the peripheral, planning away in order to avoid pandemonium, what are we missing from the heart of the chaotic present moment? In the midst of the everyday little things life offers, Ava invites me to stop and take a second look.

The other day Ava says, “Mommy, the clouds are moving”…initially I’m thinking well yes, of course they are, they always move. Next, I began working out how I might break it down for her and give her a little science lesson—you know, don’t want to pass up a teachable moment. But then, I saw a different version, it wasn’t about the science behind a typical cloud. In this moment, we sat together and watched. I couldn’t recall the last time I witnessed the weather change so quickly, it was fascinating and beautiful. I’d forgotten how schizophrenic spring in the Northwest can be; we experienced sun, rain and hail in the matter of five minutes. It was the best five minutes I’d spent sitting still in a long time. On this spring day, Ava’s the reason I noticed.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence, how Ava loves rainbows. She notices them everywhere. She insists we move anything and everything in the way, protecting the light--Ava allows the rainbow to show itself.