Thursday, February 23, 2012

an open ended thank you

This is an open ended thank you to the village that helps me make these two boys men.

Thank you to the old man in the line behind me at the post office who makes my little one giggle as we wait. Thank you to the police men, fire men, ambulance drivers, and real life GI Joes that keep my children safe and remind them that superheros are, in fact, real. Thank you to the bank for the suckers, Kroger for the stickers, and to Earth Fare for not minding when we take (a few) extra samples. Thank you to the anonymous entity that keeps the sand at our park litter free. Thank you to all my mom friends who, without being asked, have loaned us a diaper, a snack, a crayon, and loved me despite my lack of preparedness. Thank you to every single driver of a cement truck, tractor trailer, garbage truck, and school bus for beeping your horn, waving, and teaching my children about community. Thank you to every seasoned mom who has ever looked my way with understanding (read: nonjudgmental) eyes when my boys were acting like boys. Thank you to everyone who has commented on their behavior and not their looks. Thank you to every doctor's office that has a toy box and not a television. Thank you to the kind neighbors who hold open the door for me and teach them how to be gentlemen. Thank you to every single person who remembered to make a big deal of the big brother when they were making a big deal about the new baby. Thank you to our mail lady and our female pediatrician for helping me make sure that they know that gender stereotypes are not applicable. Thank you to the members of our farmer's market who offer them ripe tomatoes and juicy berries for reminding me that the mess is worth it. Thank you to every store with no public restroom that has understood and let us leave our mark. Speaking of potty thank yous, thank you for turning your head when they were peeing behind a tree at the park or having their diaper changed in a far too public spot. Thank you to anyone who has ever bumped into one of them, stepped on their toes, or ran into them for teaching them politeness and forgiveness. Thank you to everyone who has smiled at them as they frowned, laughed at one of their jokes, or really listened when they talked.

From the bottom of my heart, I sincerely hope that you understand how deeply you shape who they are. For without each of you, I am one barely together mom trying to make men out of boys. But with each of your contributions, they are being shaped into the people that we all want them to become. So thank you again. For helping me plant seeds that will last.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Let them matter

Yesterday, we had our annual Valentine's party.

This isn't an extravagant affair. Just us, some construction paper decorations, and a heart shaped pizza. I love this moment with my boys. Just the excitement on their faces that comes from the expectation and the planning and the pure joy of that still baby-like happiness.
And the real truth is, I love our little party because I feel like an awesome mom. I love being responsible for the thrill. I love how decorating cookies and making a mess with a million cut-out hearts helps me focus on creating joy within them. I have so many sweet memories of how my mom did things for us, and I want those memories for the boys.

So we are sitting around the table, and I am gloating in all my parenting perfection. I am loving the way they are thrilled with the hearts tapped to their chairs and the pink paper cups and asking for second helpings of strawberries and not Doritos. And I love how they are genuinely appreciative of all my effort. Thye notice the details; I can see them storing the memory.

Then Bodhi,"Is there something you guys are forgetting to say to me? Is there something anyone would like to tell me?"

Uh. Happy Valentine's Day. I love you. "I don't know, Bodhi, what are you looking for."

"Thank you for picking out the Sprite Zero that everyone is enjoying for the Valentine's Party."

And there you have it. His desperation to be noticed. His real desire to be appreciated.

I had given him some responsibilities at the grocery store, some choices to make for the party. And when it came time to pick the drink, he agonized. Should he go with pink lemonade or fruit punch because those are Valentine's colors? The opportunity to pick a soft drink in our house is rare though so he so carefully weighing root beer and Sprite also. And I remembering thinking, "Really, kid?" when he picked the Sprite Zero. What kid, when allowed to pick any drink chooses a calorie free option. Bodhi.

But back at the table with him, I am saying thank you. And even though I am laughing a little, because really, he just told me to mind my manners, I am floored with how important it is to make him (and his brother) feel like he matters. Because I realize that if I don't make sure that he knows it now - knows that he matters to me, knows that he is an important part of his family, a contributor - then when he is older, and trying to find his own self worth, he will look elsewhere.

Parenting 101 - make them matter.