Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy 6 months Aurora!

Today is your half birthday! I'm going to try my hardest to write you one of these little letters every six months. I will admit to you now that sometimes my best intentions lack followthrough, but so many other things have changed about me since you've come along that I have high hopes this time.

At six months you have come so far from the little helpless blanket-wrapped baby I brought home from the hospital that sometimes I have to look back at pictures to even wrap my head around it. You are big and strong and growing so fast! Everyday you start to show a little more of this amazing bubbly little personality that I only saw glimpses of a few months ago. You are a happy energetic little girl. You are curious and interested in everything you see. There is no doubt that you are taking it all in and learning so much... You laugh all the time! You love to be tickled. You love anything that surprises you, like peek-a-boo, and bouncy airplane rides keep you entertained for as long as I can keep them up until my arms turn to jello! Did I mention you are already so big! I like to carry you in our Moby wrap when we go for walks but sometimes you are so squirmy and heavy that we have to resort to a stroller for longer excursions. You love to look at things and you try to touch everything and everything you hold, you inevitably want to taste.

Oh, what is this? A book? What do books taste like??
You stare at strangers on bus rides and everyone who sees you can't help but smile. 
It's like carrying joy around with me everywhere we go... 
you are literally a bundle of joy.

People have dropped what they are doing just to come over and look at you. Others have called their friends and coworkers over just to see how pretty you are, even at the doctor's office, and they see babies all day! People are just drawn to you, it's amazing really. I used to avoid talking to strangers and now I can't help but show you off and be so proud knowing that no one can help but love you. It seems I'm not the only one who has fallen under your charming little spell...

When you were born and for those first few precious and precarious days I thought that my life was forever changed. I knew I would never be the same, I knew that I had never loved anyone or anything as wholly and completely as I loved you and I thought I could never love more than that.
I was wrong.
In the last six months that love has grown exponentially. With every giggle and every smile you steal another little piece of my heart... but I still never seem to run out.
Happy six month birthday little bean.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guess who's a guest?!

Do You parent with heart?

Go check out the InstinctualMamas blog where the guest blogger post  is from... ME. Getting some really great feedback so far! Just goes to show how positive and supportive their community is when compared to some others (BC I'm looking at you!) Give it a look-see and tell me what you think!


So I plan to write a series of posts on my particular adaptation of attached parenting but there's something that's been bothering me since I joined this big internet co-momma-munity... It seems like every time I start to read a blog or a post on a message board, I notice people coming from all directions to bash every little decision that doesn't correspond to how they would do things. Breastfeeding, cloth diapering, cry it out, babywearing, baby led weaning... you name it, someone should be doing it but isn't, someone shouldn't be doing it but is, someone isn't doing it enough/is doing it too much, someone thinks you should do it a certain way etc. etc. etc... ad nauseam.
It's sad really.
Now mind you, there are some parenting practices that I am wholeheartedly against. There are even some that I think are morally wrong, totally irresponsible or just plain over the top and strange. While I may voice my opinion on these things (who are we kidding, I do and will inevitably continue to voice my opinion about everything) there is one thing that I absolutely will not do, and one thing that I find completely disgusting and counterproductive: I will never publicly call someone out on their decisions for their family and insult their choices and I would never dare to call someone else a bad person or parent for doing what they think is best for their family. Now obviously, there are some offenses that would be an exception to this rule but I think they are the universal don'ts (beating your children, starving your kids, et al) and they never seem to be the topics of these debates anyway.
What I think everyone fails to realize sometimes is that no one ever says to themselves 'Gee that sounds like the worst idea ever, I'm going to try it just for kicks!'
Every decision that a parent makes is a life changing one...
I'd like to think that most if not all parents understand this and act accordingly. Which is why even the most cockamamy parenting style comes with tons of 'research' to back it up and a mom who's memorized it to quote to any naysayers at will. Seriously. Google any parenting style you can think of... they are all supported by someone and come with loads of testimonial.
Everyone believes that they are doing their best. Everyone makes the most of their situation. Everyone loves their babies and wants them to be happy and healthy and smart and strong. Who are we to say that isn't enough? How dare we assume we'd do it better... and what's worse, how dare anyone have the audacity to tell someone that they are doing it wrong!
Sometimes I think that if I were raised differently, or had different beliefs or were I not the type of person who obsessively researched things, my own parenting style might be very different. Who knows? Maybe my baby parenting style which is working very well will have to adapt to a different toddler parenting style? The bottom line is, that at every step of the way, I am researching and learning and deciding what is best for me. I accept the fact that other mothers do the same, even if their curriculum is different from mine. The fact that we were all raised differently and have different beliefs and ways of doing things is what makes being human so incredible. The fact that we can observe others and choose what is right for ourselves rather than blindly following is what separates us from animals. What's more, it's how we've evolved. Without individuality there would be no innovation or invention. If we take independent thought out of the process we may as well go back to cave dwelling... and I for one like my modern conveniences.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cute break!!

I'm working on another family post but it's a tough one too and not coming as easily as the one dedicated to my mother so I'm putting the bummer on hold and taking a cute break! Here's what Aura's been up to lately!!
We've been going to Storytime Yoga almost every week!

She's been rolling onto her belly every chance she gets!

She had her first full serving of avocado (with a little cereal mixed in)!

She got that avocado all over her face....

And then washed it off with her first attempts at a sippy cup!

We had a playdate at her new friend Declan's house with Savannah and another momma/baby duo!

And there's Aurora... already surrounded by boys. This is going to be trouble.

As you can see it's been pretty eventful! Can't wait to see what the rest of spring has in store for us!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day

This is a pretty tough thing for me to write about but I feel like I have to get it all out and start moving on. I need to let go of a lot of things concerning my family and my mother in particular. This will be my first Mother's Day AS a mom and I think it's a good time to get this weight off my chest once and for all. The beautiful woman in that picture, as I'm sure you've guessed by now, is my mother Pauline Jeannette (Plante) Humphrey. She passed away eleven years ago. I occasionally try to deal with it, usually to no avail. Once in awhile I have a moment of clarity only to regress whenever the subject is pushed to the forefront again. Here's a perfect example of a clear moment... something I dug up from my old LiveJournal written January 14,2001:
Current mood: thankful
Current music: talktalk- it's my life
i was sitting here listening to happy, fun songs for once (*gasp*)and i started thinking about why exactly i was being so damn whiny and pathetic lately.... i guess i have no right when it comes down to it. i have no money and a shitty job, but who doesn't? other problems are more prevalent but i'll never get over anything if i can't admit what's wrong and get it off my chest, mike tries to get me to talk and make me feel better sometimes, and bless him for trying, but i'm no good at talking, i never have been. writing is easier, you don't have to watch someone's reaction, or feel like anyone pities you. so this is my first attempt at moving on, maybe seeing things written down they won't seem so bad, or if they do, maybe i'll be able to figure out a way to deal with the hurt instead of drowning in it all the time.
these are some of the things i get caught up with the most often:
my boyfriend died in a car accident, but that was when i was 15... he was and probably always will be the only boy i ever loved (or would admit to myself anyway) but at 15 does anyone really know what love is?
i've lost friends to drugs and suicide, but there are others who've never had the chance to make the kind of friends that i've had and some people never will. i don't know, i think that a lot of the time i make my problems much worse than they actually are.
i decided that the only relevant thing i have to get upset about is my family... my dad is a piece of shit, he is an alcoholic and a drug addict, and he put me and my brother through things that i still can't bring myself to talk about or admit... i know that there are others who went through the same but that knowledge doesn't always help things...
and......... my mom is dead.
for the longest time i had a hard time even thinking it, never mind saying it... there are a ton of people who still don't know, but she is.
the reason that this kills me so much (aside from the obvious) is that i really fucked up... i mean REALLY. my mother was the only person in my life that i think really loved me... unconditionally, the way i guess only a mother can. i put her through so much, and it hurts me to think about it. i was so concerned with "being myself" that i shut everyone out including her...
even when she was dying.
i was too concerned with what that meant to me and how upset *I* was to even visit more than twice... and when i did visit i'm sure i only made things worse for her... i just stood there, i couldn't do anything, not talk to her or hug her, or even hold her hand, i couldn't. i realized at that moment (even though i forget sometimes) what being sad really is, it's not being broke, or upset with someone... it's giving up something that you've known all your life, your support, your backbone, your strength.... that unconditional love -forever, and having no choice. it kills me that i hadn't hugged my mother since i was 14, it kills me that i never told her i was sorry, it kills me that i never told her i loved her, or how much i let her believe otherwise when i was mad... i loved her, i did, i just didn't know how to say it, or how to feel it either i guess, i didn't know how to love someone. and i wish i could take it all back and make her believe me... i wish it wasn't too late and she could see what i grew up to be, i think that no matter how bad things seem to me sometimes, she'd still be proud of me.... that's what love is.
every day i see people who should never be allowed have children, my mother wasn't like that at all, she was one of those people that just knew how to make someone feel special and loved, you behaved because you knew she wanted you to, not because she made you, you did things so she'd smile... and you ended up a good person because she was. my father treated her like garbage, i didn't understand then but i do now, and i remember that no matter how sad and upset she was over him, and no matter how much he had hurt her, she protected us from it, and made us feel safe and loved whenever she could.
i always said i'd never have kids but if i did i can only hope and pray that i am half the mother she was... and i wish she were still alive so i could tell her that, and that i am proud of her for making me the strong person i am today (even if i don't feel so strong sometimes), and that i love her now and always... i think it would make her smile.
My mother is in the pink (closest to the bride- my aunt Nancy)
It's pretty hard for me to see how clear I was about this at 22 when at 31 I still have a hard time finding the right words whenever the subject arises. Unfortunately I think my version of 'getting over it' was to write about it and then try to erase all traces of it from my memory.
Not that it worked. 
I've never forgotten and every time I read that journal entry it's like I'm right back in that moment. I still agree with every word. I feel like I failed my mother when she needed me the most. 
Here's the part I've never written about... this is where the real guilt comes in. While cleaning and packing up my mothers room when we were moving out I found a box of her things and in it was a newspaper article from Mother's Day 1996 (3 years before she died... when I had left home because I thought she was weak for taking our father's abuse and our relationship was at it's worst) it was titled 'Tell Mom you love her before it's too late'. Now the natural thing to do is to assume that she clipped this article because she had guilty feelings about her own mother... but her mother died when she was 8. She never showed me this article or talked about it. I didn't even know it existed until it WAS too late. For a few years after I found it I had weird paranoid irrational theories about letters from beyond the grave and even for a few bitter moments that I'm not proud of I had the thought that she knew I would only find it after she was dead. That she put it there so I would read it later and know how much pain I had caused her by shutting her out. But the truth is, my mother was not that kind of person. She didn't have a vindictive bone in her body...

The strange thing about the article is that the person writing talks about how she buried her mother only to return home after the service and find a poem in her mother's desk entitled The Time Is Now... basically saying that she needed to be loved while she was alive and to tell her before it was too late. She didn't. Flash forward and I am in the exact same situation. Talk about history repeating itself. Talk about an endless cycle of guilt. Is this Karma?

So here I am, tomorrow is Mother's Day and for the first time in over a decade I have a reason to celebrate. I've brought a beautiful little girl into the world. I've given her the same middle name as my mother so that every time I look at her I can remember where I came from, I can remember what being a mother means, I can remember to show her love everyday and I can remember the kind of love that I had growing up... 
I will remember sitting on my mother's lap and reading Cinderella (I've bought Aurora the same copy). 
I will remember handmade Halloween costumes and Christmas crayons and coloring books.
I will remember eating home cooked meals together and walking to school hand in hand.
I will remember blanket forts to hide in during the hurricane so I wouldn't be scared. 
I will remember sledding and how she always made hot chocolate when we got home so I could warm my hands.
I will remember the sacrifices she made to keep us safe and pure and innocent when everything around her was starting to become so ugly. 
I will remember the last good conversation we had when I looked at her like a friend for the first time. 
I will start to put aside the memories that are not so pretty because they are doing her a disservice. My mother lived and died with a quiet dignity and she should be remembered that way. She deserves to stay unblemished in my heart because she tried her hardest to show only her good side... even when things were at their worst. I have to forgive her and I have to forgive myself.  I have to let go of the hurt and the anger and the guilt and I have to mean it this time.

I am a mother now and like I said so many years ago I can only hope to be half the mother I had. The first step is focusing on the positives and making sure I give that little angel asleep in my bed right now the best and happiest life I can give her. To make sure she is safe and protected but most of all to make sure she knows just how loved she is and how proud I will always be of her. I will make sure she never has to question that love because in the end that's the best a mother can do... my mother was amazing at it and I have some pretty big shoes to fill.

So tonight I think for the first time I can say with all my heart...

Happy Mother's Day.
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