Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teenage Drama Queen

I've been thinking about my teenager today.  As of today, I have a teenager.  Gulp.

I pulled out the scrapbooks to reflect on my daughter.  I decided to scan a page for this blog post, as a tribute to what 10 years can do in the life of my little teenaged girl.

Ten years ago, Darby talked just like Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables books.  Ten year ago, Darby expressed every thought in her head with shocking clarity.  Ten years ago, Darby would wake up at 4 a.m. and insist it was time to get up because she deemed it so, even though the sun would never obey her and rise.  Ten years ago, Darby was three.  It is all a blur right now.

Three was not a good year.  Lots of good moments, but a pretty tough year.

But that year is in a galaxy far, far away now.  Everything has changed.  For the better.  I am so grateful for this girl, for what God has given her, and for everything I have experienced with Darby.  Happy 13th birthday sweetheart.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Little Girls/Big Girls

The blues hit me today.  My girls are all grown up and I am merely an alarm that wakes them in the morning.  They get themselves ready, put in their contacts, fix their hair (but I sometimes intervene anyway), pack their lunches, do the dishes, clean the bathrooms and their bedrooms.  They still need me, but they are very self sufficient in many ways.  Sniff, sniff.

The blues hit me today when I looked at this photo.  Probably one of my all-time favorites.  I actually teared up.  Darby was in second grade and still refused to wear her glasses all the time.  Roxy was three and was learning how to get candy from every living human being by showing them those cute puppy-dog eyes and being impossibly sweet.  AND they let me dress them in coordinating outfits.  They were not perfect children, but they were completely, wholly unique, fascinating, and mine.  They needed me 24/7.

I thought about a recent photo we took of the girls on one of our random road trips and I thought of how I was seeing them now and how I saw my daughters way back then.

Maybe this is all just a precursor to the new reality:  I am 40 and am about to be the parent of a thirteen year old daughter whose mind goes so far beyond my expectations and whose intellect and love for words still blows me away.  She actually scares me sometimes.  And she is so beautiful too.  The other reality:  my baby will be turning 10 this year.  To this day, every photo I see of her, I see her as a baby.  My baby, who can make us laugh when she uses her sarcasm, her goofy faces, her infectious laugh.  And she is so beautiful too.

This recent photo shows me something that I had always hoped and prayed for:  my girls loving each other.  Roxy would do absolutely anything for her big sister and will go to great lengths to impress her and please her and defend her.  Darby looks out for her little sister, tolerates her better than anyone on the planet, and she is always so helpful and full of good advice for her.  Their kindness towards one another is startling.

I want to freeze this new reality and keep it forever.  Or, at least I don't want to mess it up.  Here's hoping that in another six years, I will see the same things in that picture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Daughters

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  It was the first day of school.

I did not shed a single tear this year as I kicked my little chickies out of the nest.  I could only hope for the best.  This is how their stories go:

Tale #1:  Daughter woke at 6 am, full of life and happiness.  Yay!  First day of school!  Daughter already had her clothes picked out (a graphic tee with the slogan "Nerd Alert" on it.  No, I am not making this up.)  Obligatory first day of school picture is taken with her sporting a lovely peace sign-covered backpack (worn on one shoulder only this year.  She has matured.)  Was so excited to be "older" this year, in the same hall as the oldest kids.  Lots of new students in class and she is going to be friends with them, but is not sure if she will ever remember their names.  Sits by all boys - by choice?  Watch out for that one, Scott.  Surrounded by friends at lunch, has a very happy recess on brand new playground equipment, rides home with a good buddy from class and the bus driver does not yell or anything bad.  Daughter is greeted at the door by me, holding a glass bowl filled with peanut butter M&Ms.  One minute later, I am signing every possible permission slip required by the administration.  Daughter proudly shows me her homework binder that she has organized with tabs, her very first agenda, and perfect handwriting is all over it.  She immediately does her homework as I toss her M&Ms.  Then, we go do our cardio workout.  Daughter is not tired yet and cannot stop talking about her exciting day.  Evening is capped off with a brand new Adventure Time with Finn and Jake.  Life is wonderful.

Tale #2:  Daughter drags her weary body out of bed.  Could not go to sleep last night - must have been nail polish fumes in her bedroom or something like that.  The hair is pretty big this morning, so she must bind the hairy beast.  Slumps at the breakfast table.  Packs her own lunch, and I smile because she is showing some gumption now.  Dresses in her newest clothes, which includes jeans with lots of holes in them, but none in revealing places, so they pass the dress code.  Daughter wears her new Keds with the yellow laces, which reminds me of being in middle school and wearing my Keds, too.  No first day photo - she is too mature for that.  Makes a mournful face and trudges off to the bus stop.  At least the makeup looks good on her, and no breakouts :)  Comes home 30 minutes late, but it is because she chose to walk home from school.  Walked home with lots of other kids and liked it?  Yes, it's true.  Had the best possible thing happen at school:  the counselors finally put her on the correct team where she has all of the classes and actually has friends.  She is no longer a transient soul!  She is happy!  She found friends at lunch!  She is impressed with a couple of teachers!  She is excited about all of the chorus activities this year!  Wicked!  Disney!  Singing at Braves and Hawks games!  She is not in P.E.!  And she is eating peanut butter M&Ms, happily watching Psych reruns on cable!  She has not had a good first day of school in years - the drought is over, and this mom feels saturated with the good things that blessed her daughters today.  Life is wonderful.

And then we grabbed our church bulletins and got free sandwiches at Chic-Fil-A.  The End.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back to unCool School

No one in this house is really looking forward to school this year.  This is the first occurrence of this particular attitude.

Darby's definition of school:  miasma.

Roxy's definition of school:  boring.

I feel great anxiety with the beginning of each new school year.  How much will the supplies cost? (About $75, collectively.)  Do they have enough appropriate school clothes/shoes? (Yes, but we picked up a couple of things anyway.)  Are the book bags intact?  (No, we need those too.  And everything in the stores is lame, lame, lame.)  What teachers will they get this year?  (Roxy has stated she will not be going back to school if she gets a male teacher.  What's up with that?)  Are the friends from last year returning?  (In Darby's case, yet again, at least one buddy is not.  This seems to happen every year.)

As a mom, I want to love and protect these girls.  I also want them to put on their big-girl britches and be quiet and get over it.  Everything is going to be alright.  Eventually.

Look at the bright side, girls.  You are getting out of the house, away from Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, you will be bombarded with lots of interesting people and activities that will cost me lots of money, you will have a whole new world of opportunities open up to you this year. 

School will not be a miasma!  School will not be boring!  Because I said so, that's why!  Three cheers for school, everyone!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Go West

The Franks' family is finally back from their lampoon of a vacation.  We did the shopping, the touristy western photo with the grands, we hit every old time candy store west of the Mississippi, we played a lot of games and received a lot of hugs.  Scott got to be Cousin Eddie when we slept in a trailer for a week.  I read five novels, pretending that I was not married to Cousin Eddie.  And the girls did not get carsick as we took every possible twisty route through the Ozarks.  We attempted to do as much as humanly and financially possible in two weeks.  I am tired, but happy.

Challenging.  That is the first word I think of when we try to plan to see our family in the summer.  Two families, thousands of miles apart and away from us, makes for some complicated, logistical strategy.  Not to mention that you are trying to hook up with as many family members as possible.  Mission accomplished.

Nostalgic.  That is what it feel as I make dozens of phone calls to meet up with everyone from our previous lives.  It kind of feels like we have lived multiple lives sometimes, because everywhere we have planted our roots, for whatever length of time, feels like a former life now.  The rolodex of names we must scroll through when we attend church in MT, OK, etc. is like playing a trivia game.  What was the name of your first cousin's second child, whom you have not seen in years?  That one is tough.  But, the family reunion was so enjoyable, and we loved seeing everyone all together with their little ones in tow.

Comforting.  The comfort we feel being around people who love us without conditions is the greatest reward.  Our family, the closest of our old friends - we love and miss them all.  I do not understand why God has chosen to scatter my family so often and so far, but I do feel that appreciating every moment of our time with family is the most important part of our summer.

So, now it is back to church and the final few weeks of summer.  I hope I can revive my tan, get through Mount Laundry, and find all of the chargers for all of our electronics.  Life is sweet.