.:25:. PLAY, It’s simple.

 This morning I woke up with my girls and asked (as I do every morning), “what do you want to do today?”, and (as they do every morning), they excitedly responded by saying, “PLAY!!!”.

In the complex and constantly developing mind of a child, play is simple. It’s basic and requires minimal effort to ignite joy and fulfillment. Encouraging imagination isn’t complicated… with the use of tangible or intangible tools, PLAY is happening all the time in the mind of our kiddos and it becomes even more exciting, fulfilling and memorable when we also participate. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t “play” with my children every second of the day and they don’t want me to. They need to play with others and they definitely need to play alone. This is all part of their development.

However, too many parents get carried away by it all and (at times) I am one of them. They structure the day so tightly that they forget that play has to happen naturally. I reflected back on a day last week. Someone asked what we did and I blankly said “nothing”. I felt a bit unproductive, like a bad and lazy mom, and slightly embarrassed that we didn’t do anything on a beautiful day. But wait!!! We did so much more than nothing.

Danced and tumbled in the grass. We practiced somersaults and rolled down the hill, made angels in the grass and compared it to the snow that will come before we know it! We looked at the clouds while talking about the scratchy grass on our backs, and noticed the smell of summer in the air. Practiced whistling like the birds and counted the small planes departing from the local airport.

Read. They listened to my words attentively and made visual connections with the shapes of the letters and the imagery in the book. They recognized when I skipped a word, pointed out the yellow hat on the man, and counted all the fruit that very hungry caterpillar ate.

Pretended. We are at a fun stage. My girls love pretending. They acted out scenes from a favorite story, they made up their own story with an exciting “once upon a time” and a joyful “the end!”, they pretended to be the animals at the zoo, a doctor to their toys (fixing ‘owies’ and checking hearts) and they sweetly rocked and changed their babies like the little mommies they are.

^ This may seem like nothing, but to your child it’s exactly what they want and need!

Parents!!! Enough with the pressure. You don’t need to go places all the time. You don’t need to be so busy. You don’t need to have the best and biggest toys. Play does not require a plan. It’s doesn’t require a location, a certain day, and it definitely doesn’t require a reason! Play happens every single second of the day for children and it’s important that we recognize this with encouragement and support. I am not doing “nothing” when all of the above is accomplished in one morning. We are busy bonding, building brains and making memories.

With all of this in mind, I love going places with my children and I appreciate the importance of learning and exploring other places than home. But, what I’m also learning is to ignore the pressure and not feel so bad when we do stay home to PLAY. If you’re the type of person that needs to get out all the time, I commend you and I am sure you are making wonderful memories… but just know that when you stay home, you are still surrounded by many opportunities for your kids to PLAY, explore, learn and simply be happy.

Some days it’s just too much to expend all my morning energy into packing a car for two kids, quickly dressing pokey children, eating on the run, and skipping naps. It’s just not always worth it.

I encourage you, you reading this, you with the to-do list in your hand and the plan ready to be implemented. STOP for a moment and just let your littles PLAY at their own pace.

One day, they will leave the house and you will beg for them to come home as much as they can. Enjoy these days, these simple days of PLAY while it lasts… and go roll in the grass with them!


THAT is what PLAY is all about. Simple, beautiful, PLAY.

.:12:. caught in the storm.

calm

High, screeching winds. Hard and heavy hail. Unforgiving rain, changing direction every 30 seconds. Uncovered, unprotected, undeserving but the most necessary place to be.

This is how I describe my day with two snotty nosed babes, overflowing with tears and cries to be held, lack of sleep and hungry yet demanding nothing but to be cuddled.

I found myself in the middle of our house, on the floor in the midst of a storm made up of toys/clothes/food/kleenex, trying to tame two wild animals that really needed me but only fought over me. Clawing and climbing me, as if it were a competition to reach the top of Everest. My back aching, stomach muscles clenched while holding my two unhinged maniacs, trying my hardest to stay calm and relaxed (ha). My face in the line of fire – tiny hands poking at me like sharp tree limbs, slimy little faces rubbing against mine, thrashing elbows and headbutts. Contemplating a forfeit by laying down, hiding under a blanket and letting them go at it. A million serious questions and concerns running through my head, like “where are my ear muffs? why didn’t I put my hair up? how do I calm them down? how do I get up?…”

They look at me with desperate eyes and pouty lips, certain that I am the cure. Waiting for some sort of magic pixie dust (that only moms have), to make it all better.

For us, on this day it’s just the common cold (really, nothing more). I can’t imagine worse and my heart is heavy for those who are dealing with so much more that include hospital visits, bills above their heads, uncertain of the next day. From a minor scratch to long term illness, we do everything we can to be the cure for our little ones. Unknown to the outcome, we do our best to stay strong. We battle the storm with bravery, sprinkle our pixie dust, hug and kiss their discomfort and pain away until we are fresh out of x’s and o’s (which we never are).

xoxo…

.:11:. an ode to the pin.

I love Pinterest and if you were to look at my page http://www.pinterest.com/sclochie/, you’d agree and you might think, ‘wow, this gal is so creative, fashionable, has great taste in food, super organized’.  Oh how I love that it can appear so!  I have to admit, I’ve done/accomplished a fraction of a fraction of what I’ve actually posted… I’m sure this is the case for most.  And yes, I know… “pinning” isn’t proof or validation of my creativity, but it does something to the creative soul. It has now become an inspiration for me to actually be creative, fashionable (to a very tiny degree), slightly food savvy, and organized (when I make the time).  I get this strange buzz of excitement when I “pin” and think “oh, I can’t wait to do this and that”…  But realistically most of what I pin is just a tiny piece of hope that I will do one of the 2,000 + pins.  I’d love to know how other mom’s out there find motivation to do all the great freezer meals, craft beautiful and cheap artwork, reorganize their entire house to look like it should be on the pages of Martha Stewart Living.  Please tell me!

With my girls, I think about the future a lot.  Sometimes too much.  My husband reminds me that I need to just enjoy the moment more – they are only little for so long.  He is right.  But still I find myself daydreaming about tea parties, coloring books full of scribbles, barbies on the floor, princess gowns in the closet, broken-in and “loved” books, bins full of construction paper and stickers on the wall…  It’s so lovely to think about.  But I am enjoying every moment of snuggle I can get with my 17 and 20 pound peanuts.  I blame Pinterest for inspiring my daydreams.  I have a folder labeled ‘for the kiddos’, containing not only things for my 16 month olds, but ‘best books for beginner readers’, ‘how to communicate with teenagers’, and so much more that is really not necessary at this stage of motherhood. So, I’m obviously relying on Pinterest to be around for many more years.

I believe that some day I’ll be able to accomplish maybe a little more of a fraction of a fraction of the clever, crafty, delicious and orderly ideas that sit, collecting virtual dust.  Until then, I will keep pinning – holding onto hope that I will have that kind of time someday… Until then, I will be patient and live in the now.  Ok, I may still sneak off into a crafty little daydream to add more ideas to my “boards”, which I’m sure would have collapsed months ago if these were tangible ideas hanging from my old dinky cork board that I recently “freshened up” with new paint (thank you pinterest)!

“Be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can”. -Unknown, via Pinterest

baby hats made from old sweaters.
IMG_4830.PNG

IMG_4831.PNG

.:10:. “mama”: an identity crisis

imageWaking up to my babies is something I am still getting used to. Arggh, I would love just 5 more min of deep sleep. Then I listen to them in awe as they babble and talk to each other. More sleep is not going to happen, maybe if I just put the cover over my face. Then I hear that word, “mama, mama, mama?”  Do they even know what it means?  They use it an awful lot.  I’m not complaining.  I’ve definitely had those “oh she’s saying my name” or “oh she wants me” precious moments.  But, they seem to use it for everything and I’m really starting to wonder what it actually means to them?

I change them, yes.  I feed them, yes. I play with them, yes. I comfort them, yes. I teach them, yes. I guide them, encourage them, help them, yes. I watch their every move, yes – – – well, when I’m not going to the bathroom or doing things moms do when babies sleep… like watch them on the monitor (ha) – or eat/sleep/drink coffee/shower/clean/food prep/relax (kind of).

Who was I before children and who is this person that has taken over my body and changed all the rules on me? My social skills are now limited to words that end in y. Dolly, baby, puppy, yummy, yucky, ouchy, silly… or phrases that contain the word little. “Let’s read this little book”, “how’s my little munchkin?”, “is that a little ducky?”, “how much is this little shirt, ma’am?”.  Honestly, I don’t even think about it, it just falls out of my mouth. However, I’m now realizing that I need to be careful around my tiny mimes, or they will end up sounding like their “little mommy”!

It is cute though. Hearing any words come out of your child’s mouth is cute. Isn’t it? So cute, it’s worth a series of videos with invisible parents loudly whispering “that new word” in the background while actually only capturing sweet shy smiles and giggles, until take ten when they whisper the word back and you realize much later you can barely hear them.

But lately, “mama, mama, mama…” has caused me to raise some questions that I may never know the answers to. Are they asking for me? Telling me something? Requesting my attention? Expressing to the world that they know me?! Or is it just a word that equals EVERYTHING.  I’ve never felt so wanted.  Yet, I’m noticing it’s more than that.  MAMA has become more than a name.  It’s a desire, a demand, an expression of excitement and an exclamation of anger.  It’s the words to a song or a story.  It’s whatever they want it to be and I go with it!

Oh, I gotta run. I have two girls yelling “mama” over and over again… or maybe they’re just chatting about me.  Cute, how sweet of them!!

…don’t get me started on “dada”. 😉

 

.:9:. 415 days later. quite a maze

girls on grass

I was hoping to post something when my girls turned 1.  However, I was a bit busy with birthday planning – you know the ‘event of the year’ that your kids will never remember.  Still, you put your all into it so you can justify all those wasted hours on Pinterest creating a ‘Birthday Board’ with 113 grand ideas.  I mean c’mon, when they’re 18 I’d feel terrible if they look through pictures and wonder why I didn’t hand make everything. So I guess the late nights filled with sewing, glueing, painting and fancy chalk writing is all worth it!?… Lucky for me, I actually enjoy this kind of stuff.  For some women I know this isn’t the case and society has put way too much pressure on Moms to create this “homemade life” for their kids.

SO, 415 days later (almost 14 months old now) and what a year we’ve had… A whirlwind, a roller coaster, whatever you may call it. Now, I look back at the months past and imagine the years ahead and I would consider it quite a MAZE! An unpredictable experience filled with excitement and uncertainty, you know you will eventually get through.  A labyrinth of smiles, drool, bite marks, bumps, bruises, tears, giggles, and children’s songs you could sing in your sleep… on repeat.  Nothing expected, but everything imagined.

Favorite quote of the year, from my husband Jason (while changing diapers)…”It’s like wrestling gators!”.  Thank god for this man who had never changed a diaper prior to having two babies of his own.  He dove in so fast, you’d think he was a professional gator wrestler.

*Note: I now believe that if we were ever stuck in the everglades amongst gators, we would be well prepared.

Since this is our first summer with all feet on the ground (stair climbers+walkers), no more army crawl or tummy time, we’ve had a little more excitement in the house. Two walkers going in two different directions is equally comical/nerve wrecking/and slightly stressful.  They walk as if in a drunken stooper and just when you think your entire house is baby proofed, they find a way to injure themselves. Along with walking comes a whole new level of independence! They no longer want their nails clipped.  I can hear the gawkers now – “ewe, there’s those world record babies with the longest nails”.  Don’t worry, I clip their nails but (again), this is one of those gator wrestling moments and these are angry thrashing gators.  Another fun sign of independence: they can now touch the top of their heads – like little ballerinas (can you picture it?).  Although when they decide that their sweet smelling baby soft hair needs to be touched, their dainty little twirly fingers are usually full of mango, peas, pasta, applesauce, you name it.  I don’t want to brag or anything, but we may have invented a new fancy hair pomade… (patent pending).  The ending result is usually a nice glistening crust that seems to hold even the most obscure styles.

A year of watching two babies grow has been interesting.  They are so different.  I love it so much, I can hardly handle it.  Seriously, It becomes hard to handle and keep everything straight (who did what and when) – this is why I write.  I keep separate journals for both, but this is just another way to remember this experience.

To all you soon-to-be moms, new moms, or moms continuing to grow their families: keep your heads up, cry as much as you want, sing those silly songs as loud as you can, do those crazy dances that make your little ones giggle so much they hiccup, hug those babies even when they are squirmy and screaming, and love love love this life you are given. As hard as it may be at times, it is a beautiful maze of never ending moments to relish in.