Author Archives: Little Nesting Doll

Acceptance

Maybe I will just get up a little early, I said to Matt, and walk a few miles each morning before I take the kids to school.  Each day I go for a walk I feel better and happier and more in control of my life and my emotions.  And in England in May, the sun rises at 5AM.  May as well make use of all that daylight.

He nodded, and said that sounded like a good idea.

At 7:10 this morning, my alarm went off and I turned off the sound, rolled back over, and closed my eyes for another five minutes, wondering as always if I reallllly needed to get up yet.

And I realized I am never, ever getting up early to go for a walk.  Or a run.  Or to go to the gym.  Or to do anything really that I don’t HAVE to do.

Unless I have no choice – I have an early morning flight or an appointment or have to drive somewhere far away – I am never getting up earlier than I have to.  Never.  Ever.  It’s not happening.

As I stumbled my way out of bed, I leaned against Matt, my eyes still closed, him already up and dressed for work.

I’m never getting up early to go for a walk, I said.

I know, he laughed. 

He knew when I first said it, but he’s smart enough to also know that some things I have to figure out on my own.

Somehow those people who get up at 5AM and get things done seem so much more in control of their lives than people like me, who scrape themselves out from between the blankets at the last minute possible to get done what they must get done and who do not merrily engage in conversation until at least one cup of coffee has been consumed.  I have this idea in my head that if I just became a morning person, I’d get everything I need to do done so much more efficiently.

The truth is if I woke up at 5AM I would be crankier than normal in the morning and probably for the whole day.  I would not begin my day with a good attitude or a positive outlook, I would begin my day with anger and annoyance.  The walks I have come to love and rely on to balance me out would become burdensome.  And I would need a nap at noon and by 6PM I would be a very bad mother.

I just need to make peace with it.  I’m not a morning person.  That’s OKAY.

I’m letting go of the guilt I make myself feel over it.  I am not a morning person.  That is okay.

The flip side is that I am a very good night owl.  I can be productive late in the day, I can get things done at 10PM, and the fact that the sun is no longer in the sky doesn’t mean my productivity is somehow worth less than if I’d done all my stuff early in the morning.  It doesn’t mean I’ve procrastinated either.  It just means that that’s my time of day, far more than 5AM will ever be.

I’ve decided not to try to squish myself into the mold of who I think I should be and just accept who I am.  Maybe use my natural strengths and rhythms a little more thoughtfully though – make that 10PM hour really work for me instead of using it to play Candy Crush while Matt sleeps on the sofa (he IS a morning person, so sleeping on the sofa at 9PM is pretty much his jam). 

Maybe in my old age I’ve finally gained some wisdom.  Maybe I’ve just learned that acceptance can be grace.  Whatever the reason, I’ll be happier not trying to make myself something I’m not.

Individuals

I snapped a picture as the gondola rolled down the canal, the sunlight in my eyes blocking my view of the screen, so all I could do was hope it came out.

Later, I looked at it and my breath caught in my throat.

If you’d asked me to capture each of my children’s personalities exactly in photo form, this is what you’d get.

She is smiling at the camera, hair perfect, sunglasses perfect, smile perfect. Confident and happy and just a little sassy.  Smile, I said, and she did, and it was perfect because she knows how to make it so.  I don’t think it’s vanity, but it’s a self-awareness I certainly didn’t possess at thirteen, and an acceptance that it’s actually okay to care.  It’s not pretentious, not forced, and she’s not embarrassed by it.  She is a perfectionist, and she does live in a world where every moment can be insta-worthy, but I like to think she balances that out.  We sometimes think that only the ugly moments are real, but the pretty ones are too.  As long as we can accept both as truth, we’re all doing okay.  She’s more than okay.

He, the oldest, heard me say smile but waited a heartbeat to do what he was told.  He is purposely still staring off in a different direction, a feigned look of mild confusion on his face.  Hair coiffed to perfection though.  He knows what’s going on, knows what we want him to do, knows how to do it, but he likes to pretend he doesn’t sometimes.  Wants the world explained to him in minute detail, wants to ask questions that have already been answered and wants me to answer them again and again.  A split second later he was grinning at the camera, but I missed it and he thought that was funny.  Innocence and mischief, that one.

He, the middle, did not hear me say smile and is not bothered by it.  He was not listening.  He is leaning over the side of the boat, which we told him not to do, trailing his hand in the water, which we told him not to do, and he is not bothered by the fact that we will tell him both of those things again.  He knows he will not fall in.  Knows he will not get hurt.  Knows exactly what he’s capable of, knows what he wants to do and how to do it, and knows how far he can go without getting into real trouble.  Because he knows we also know what he is capable of.  He is independent and fierce and determined, and humors us by following the the rules we lay out before him, but not always.  Not always.

He, the youngest, is in the center of it all, confident and grinning and happy and posing like a king, letting all of us orbit him in his glory.  He has no doubt in any fiber of his body that anything is less than wonderful, and that radiates right out of him at all times.  He is completely secure and sure that everyone loves him, that everything will be fine, and that life is good.  He is right.

I don’t know what I did to get so lucky to have these little individuals for my own for a few years, these little people whose personalities are so completely their own, even when I do occasionally see glimpses of myself or Matt or another relative in them.  They came this way, and I am just lucky enough to get to steer them along their course for a little while.

This is 39

On Tuesday, I turned 39. I thought I might hate it — the last year of my 30s, a sure sign of age, and middle-age, too, no question about it — but I’m happy. 

More than happy, actually.

I’m proud and ecstatic and grateful and excited.  I love what I’ve done and I cannot wait for what’s to come.

How lucky I am to live this life, to have all these adventures with the people I love more than anything.  To see cities and countries and continents I’ve dreamed my whole life of seeing.  To have friends and family all over the world who make my life so interesting and enjoyable and who I know I’ll always get to keep, no matter where I live.  I am surrounded with good people everywhere I go: my parents and sisters and nephews and niece(s) and in-laws and cousins and aunts and uncles and more good friends than I deserve.

How fortunate I am to have a husband who loves me absolutely and who I adore.  We’re flawed, both of us, but in just the right ways to complement each other I think.  He entertains my occasionally outlandish ideas, and then, sometimes, he says – yes, let’s do that, that idea is not insane, it’s ingenious – and we move to England for three years.  We’re a good team.  We make things happen.

How grateful I am to have these four amazing children who are just the most fun and entertaining and interesting people I know.  Good lord do they make me work hard, but every second of it is worth it for the moments when it all comes together.  I look around at all of them, doing things they love, being silly and smart and funny and thoughtful and just becoming these whole, unique, amazing individuals and my heart hurts from the beauty of it all. 

How privileged I am to be able to do a job I love, to get paid well, to feel at the end of the day like I did something that matters and is worthwhile.  And to still have time and energy and the ability to do EVEN MORE things I enjoy and love, even when I don’t get paid for them. 

I can see the physical signs of age, for sure.  My forehead is so wrinkly it’s a bit horrifying, but I have bangs to mostly hide it. That might be the one and only thing I don’t like about my appearance, and if that’s all, I’ll take it.  There’s a ton of grey in my hair, more than a little, but I don’t mind covering that up.  New hair colors are fun.  Gravity hasn’t been kind in every area, but I’ll keep on doing what I can to combat the effects of time and childbirth.  I won’t age gracefully I don’t think, I’ll fight where I feel like it matters, but hopefully with some sense and balance.  Age isn’t always easy when you look in the mirror, but I hope I can remember it isn’t all bad.

Where age takes physically, I think it gives in other areas.  Age gives you perspective and hopefully a little wisdom and the ability to look back and compare now to then, and I am so happy for that chance.  Now is amazing.

I am proud of where I am and what I’m doing, proud of my husband and my children, proud of how I look and feel.  I like who I am.  I apologize less now than I did ten years ago.  I have a better understanding of what’s important.  I love everything about my life, truly.  What a gift.

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement…I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” — Mary Oliver

Happy Birthday Baby

As you have for several years now, you started the countdown to your birthday about a month ago.  You’ve kept track every single day and reminded us all frequently exactly how many days were left until you turned eight.  It’s now a running joke for Daddy to say something like “Ten days left until your birthday Quinn!” and you, with a sigh and a roll of your eyes, instantly correct him without looking at a calendar or counting (“Three, Dad.”).

The funniest thing though, is that you apparently haven’t just been monitoring the number of days, but also trying to keep track of any packages arriving in the mail.  You told Daddy the other day that you were actually getting a little concerned that maybe we weren’t really aware of exactly how close your birthday actually WAS because you had not noticed any deliveries in your name.  Daddy assured you we were on top of it, and you had a sudden epiphany – maybe the packages being delivered to DAD AND ME were actually FOR YOU.  You crack me up, kid.

Seven was a great year for you – you proved yourself to be one of the big kids as you moved up to the Upper Prep school and joined your brothers there.  You have absolutely loved the added benefits of being in the big kid end of the school: playing in sports matches against other schools, participating in all the cool after school clubs, having the real-deal sports kit and track suit to wear, and switching classes and teachers for every lesson.  You’ve done a phenomenal job of it.  (All except for the keeping track of your uniform items part.  We’ve definitely got some work to do in that area.)

We went on some really cool trips this past year and you, as always, greeted every new experience with glee and open-hearted enthusiasm.  I think Menorca may have been a favorite, between the pool in the back yard, the beaches a five minute walk away, the kayaking and sailing trips, and the snorkeling with a little tiny octopus.  You were a rock star snorkeler and it just solidified the fact that our family trips no longer revolve around what the littlest can do.  Cause the littlest can do everything! 

Except stay up for a dinner on a Spanish timeline – meals that begin at 9PM aren’t your forte.

You also discovered some new favorite foods and have carried on the family tradition of outgrowing the children’s menu by about age seven.  Weiner schnitzel, paella, and prawns were proven to be two new favorites, and you ate your weight in both while in Germany, Austria, and then Spain. 

Through every year and phase of parenting, I have found things I love and things I don’t love, and that hasn’t changed in the last year.  I have to say, though, that I really think we’re in the parenting sweet spot with the ages of you and your siblings, and the fact that we can do just about anything with you guys has been such a fun realization.  I think eight might be one of my very favorite ages to parent; you’re little enough that I can still hold your hand and snuggle you without you feeling any embarassment, but you’re big enough that we can go skiing and snorkeling all together as a family without having to make any concessions for little ones.  I’m so excited about the year ahead of you!

Another thing I love about eight year olds is that they have the best, most crooked smiles with mouths full of half giant teeth and half little ones.  You have a fantastic little fang coming in well before the baby tooth it should replace seems ready to come out.  I have a feeling we’re looking at a few sets of braces when we move back to the U.S.

We are looking ahead to another year of massive change, though to be honest, that seems like our family M.O. sometimes.  We’ll move back to America this summer, and you’ll be living in another new place where you’ve never lived before (you have frequently visited this one, at least).  But you never, ever doubt that it will be awesome.  You already know what it’s like to move somewhere new and make new friends and learn how things are done in a new place, so you’re confident that you’ll be as successful in this new endeavor as you were in the last.  I am too.  You make friends so easily and joyfully and I love your open-hearted attitude.  And as a bonus, this time you’ll have your cousins nearby to play with on a regular basis, so you’ve already got some built-in friends anyway!

You and your brothers have over the last few years become this hysterical little gang – no longer are you the little one who has to be included or helped out, you are a full-fledged member of the team.  You hold your own across the board and the three of you spend approximately one billion hours a week playing soccer, cricket, hockey, wiffle ball, skateboarding, practicing archery, and playing PlayStation.  Even though you fight (a lot), you are so lucky to have each other around every day to play with.  I love watching you guys. 

I also love watching you play with your sister.  You may be the only person in our family who she never truly gets annoyed with, because you’re pretty hard to get mad at.  Except when you stink up the room.  She doesn’t love that. (None of us do, but you think it’s the funniest thing EVER.)  But she does love you, and you love her, and that makes me happy.

I can’t wait to see what this next year brings, but I know that no matter what, you’ll go through it all with a positive outlook, a happy, goofy smile, and a million hugs for anyone willing to accept them.  You are the most genuinely sweet and happy person I know and I love that age hasn’t changed you.  You make the world a kinder place and I am so grateful that I get to live a life with you in it.  Happy birthday, baby.  Happy 8th!

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