Friday, August 31, 2012

independence: you crave it, and then you don't

In many ways, this has been our big summer of independence for us. Sure, I've been more with Lilly than I was this spring. What with my healing journey and taking time off from work to be with her. Time we've spent mostly at the pool or at the beach. In the glorious sun and heat we've been blessed with this year.

But she turned four this summer in June. And she had her very first sleepover at a friend's house while Leighton and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary in July, going out on our very first full date night out ever, all previous "date nights" having been arranged early in the evening with her at a play date, meaning we'd pick her up and put her to bed after our date (read: anticlimactic). And she hosted a sleepover for that same friend later on. And she spent three nights with grandpa and grandma while Leighton and I got our very first couple's only vacation, on which we had a blast, by the way.

So she turned 4. And she wanted goggles for her birthday. It was a Friday. It was an overcast weekend. The sun returned that Monday, so we resumed our afternoons at the pool: first thing there, she dove under water. She'd been wanting to do that for so long! Her jumping grew steadily more adventuresome. Soon she was jumping far out, swimming 8 feet and more doggy style, scooping up pool water with her arms as if it were ice cream, to get back to the edge of the pool.

By August, she joined the big kids at the diving board. Jumping and jumping, oh so gleefully, her mama (ME!) cheering her on with the true and amazed and triumphant joy and glee of someone high on stunned pride.

Friday, August 17, 2012

link-love: gender boxes, sexual fluidity, and extreme breastfeeding

These are excerpts from some posts worth reading if you haven't already:

Gender boxes limit all kids by Margot Magowan at Reel Girls
A thoughtful post with helpful, practical advice for parents:
I do have some tactics to suggest for parents to deal with sexism/ gender-pressure, but before I even go into that, it’s really important not to let this issue devolve into: who has it worse, girls or boys? When we create rigid gender boxes for our kids, everyone loses out. Everyone. This is about raising healthy, happy, children, helping their brains grow so that they can reach their potential. [...]
Here’s the thing: Most kids like to play with dolls, but we label them “dolls” or “action figures.” Most kids enjoy pushing objects on wheels, but we sell them either trucks or babystrollers. As I wrote, most kids would have fun painting their nails if they thought it was OK to do so. Most kids, while playing outside will pick up sticks and occasionally poke each other with them. Most parents respond to that same act with “Boys will be boys” or “Sweetie, stop that! You’ll hurt yourself and rip your dress.” [...]

Saturday, August 11, 2012

wild: staring down fear and aloneness

I picked up Cheryl Strayed's Wild because I so loved Lidia Yuknavitch's The Chronology of Water featuring one woman's journey from loss and hurt to empowerment and peace through the rugged path of alcohol, drugs, and a lot of sex. The marketing of Wild made it sound like the two women had some things in common (and in fact they belong to the same writers' group). And they do. All of us on healing journeys do. But this one was different. Like with The Chronology of Water I got hooked but not quite as viscerally. The waters didn't run as deep nor wild in Wild I thought whereas reading The Chronology of Water was an immensely cleansing experience.

Yet I couldn't put Wild down and I found it both greatly entertaining while also rather lovely and even poetic at times. Subtitled From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail it features memories from Strayed's childhood and recounts how her own first marriage as well as her family fell apart when her mother died from cancer when Strayed was only twenty-two. On the trail four years later, she is forced to come to terms with the aloneness and fear she'd sought to numb in heroine and sexual affairs. Tapping into her own strength, and detecting her connectedness with it all, she comes out on a quite beautiful note.

Monday, August 6, 2012

free to be you and me

What my first couple's only vacation since becoming a parent gave me was the opportunity to simply be free to be you and me. "We're off on our 'first romantic getaway,'" I wrote a couple of weeks ago, but that really didn't put the right spin on things at all. There's something so awfully 1950s about the term. Like she dresses up for him and he courts her, and they live happily ever after.

Our experience was nothing like that at all. What I found was the chance to drop our roles as both parents and husband-wife and simply have a lot of honest, sexy fun together. We both went giddy wild consignment shopping together for a whole afternoon, after which we drenched our thirst with local beer at one of the many brewery pubs in Fort Collins. We dressed up and dined at all the recommended restaurants I'd tracked down in Denver, but our conversations weren't dressed up. They were the kinds of conversation shared by best friends and lovers, fellow travel through life companions and soul mates. Lounging on roof top decks and court yard patios, surrounded by the nighttime fireworks of thunder and lightning, we not so much gazed lovingly at each other as we gave ourselves and took each other in completely with our words and eyes.
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