You my dear girl are perfect. (I hope every parent feels this feel.) Everyone adores your company, your smarts, your appropriate sass, and your compassion. You my sweet girl radiate kindness.
We don’t know the appropriate next steps… we don’t know what to do. Academically you are a rockstar, and every project you touch you persevere through. You have unbelievable tenacity and grit. (Things I have studied.) At a whole nine years old you hold more of these traits than most grownups I know….
And you are so like me. A bad day ruins you. You don’t know why they throw mud, because you only see it as a super poor choice…. and you don’t comprehend why people make super poor choices. You don’t understand when your peers do not value their work. You get super frustrated when an adult treats you like a child. You were born late, and looked a month old on your birth day. You were born wise beyond your years.
And as your mama I have to decide what to do with all of your awesomeness. It breaks my heart when your peers treat you like crap. It breaks my heart further that you are already exhausted of the “boys will be boys” rhetoric. It breaks my heart that you already know that phrase… and could file it under “restless energy.” No one deserves mud throwing… not even if it’s restless energy. No one should ever be called stupid. It’s not language we use. You know this.
You are angry. You are mad that we hold you to the highest standards… that “restless energy” will never be an excuse for a poor choice for you… because I wouldn’t allow it. You know this.
So now we have to figure out our next steps. I’m tempted to follow your lead, sweet girl.
You had a bad day. They threw mud, and said unkind words…. and you don’t even understand why anyone would do these things…. because you legit think mud is poor flying material.
I love you. You are amazing. We will figure this out. I promise.
I haven’t updated our journey living with a tiny human with an auto immune disease in a while… It’s sometimes tricky to discuss, and other times I just can’t utter the words “gluten free” one more time without wanting to actually lose it.
Winter is hard. We learned that a common cold will knock down a tiny human with an auto immune disease faster than you can imagine, and lasts weeks longer, which can be pretty defeating. Her last cold sparked a hepaformis dermatitis outbreak… it caused significant hair loss…. sigh… At least we know what it is. We also learned that my affectionate way of saying bshe was a “young three” was because she didn’t develop much for almost a year.
Our grocery bill is pure insanity. (It’s almost embarrassing.) I realize it doesn’t have to be quite as insane as it is, but that’s not our reality. We still have tiny humans that hate food. I’m super fussy about organic animal products (different families make different choices). We have a new vegetarian, and melding all the needs is challenging. We gave up cereal. (It’s an occasional snack.) Gluten Free cereal is full of sugar and is super expensive. So, now I make banana muffins every weekend that are stuffed with protein and fiber. I could in theory do this for a lot of things, but I work full time, and I am finishing grad school, and there is only so much I can navigate in a week. So $6/loaf bread it is.. with $5/jar almond butter. We go to three to five stores a week. (Yes, it’s a privilege.) We shop several times a week. When we find something healthy, gluten free, vegetarian, and organic that the tiny humans will eat we legit jump for joy! So we obviously buy fancy oat bites for $5/8 bites… obvs… And fancy vegan, gluten free, veggie burgers are a new hit in lunch boxes…
I’m notating that being the older sibling of a special needs younger sibling is showing it’s challenges. I’ll write more about that later. It’s tough, because O has more ability and intelligence in her pinky finger than most adults I know. So expectations are high… maybe at times to high.
We had a tough day. I’ve been sick for days.. and I had so much school work to do. Oo was not her best self, and I wasn’t my best self in response. (Starting the day at 7:45 am in urgent care doesn’t actually lend itself to many kind words.)
She reminded me today that she can’t wait to be ACTUAL FOUR AND A HALF (May). I remembered how little she is… and I feel terrible for some moments of today. Especially when I look back on the last seven months and realize how far we have all come.
Seven months ago I almost quit my job. Seven months ago everything was hard. Seven months ago she couldn’t get dressed, and we didn’t go anywhere without an iPad because her behavior was that I manageable. Only seven months ago…
And now she’s growing. She’s thriving at school. She’s developing at a rapid rate, and her vocabulary is amazing. (Brings me joy.) Our entire house is gluten free. We provide 84 gluten free, mostly organic, many vegetarian meals a week! We are doing this. We really are. We have all worked hard these past seven months.
This girl got on stage with her peers and preformed in the winter production. (Seven months ago I would have thought this impossible.) In her own time, and in her own way she is reminding us all that we are living #beyondceliac
It’s a journey… We have more blood draws next month, but at least now we have amazing health care, and I won’t actually have to spend hundreds of dollars on pain.
The Celiac journey is something we are quickly figuring out. Six months in to this reality we do gluten free. Our friends do gluten free play dates. We never leave the house without food and water bottles. I haven’t lost an Oo water bottle in six months, because I can’t, because we have to keep her safe. Our house is gluten free. We even are slowly mastering gluten free baking, and my colleagues would admit that our GF cookies are freaking delicious.
Navigating the world is hard. We can’t ever grab a “quick bite.” We can’t ever be without her water bottles. We can’t ever ad-hoc dinner plans… or lunch plans… That’s hard… It is hard to be out in the world, and know that no place is safe to eat for your four year old.
Well… we had a win today, and it basically made me weep. The rumor on the Celiac boards was that Jersey Mike’s had trained their employees on how to be Celiac safe… and several parents were commenting that they were super impressed with their local Jersey Mike’s.
On a payday Friday, after a very long week, and a random day off of school… I just had to go see if we could really eat at Jersey Mike’s.
I immediately told the sandwich maker behind the counter that my daughter had Celiac. He cleaned the slicer several times, with a clean cloth every time. He retrieved the well sealed Udi’s gluten free sub roll. He washed his hands twice, and used new gloves. He cut her gluten free bread with a new knife from the sterilizer, and laid out clean paper. He washed the entire counter that sandwiches are made on… when I mentioned we needed fresh mayo and a new utensil for her sandwich, he informed me that they have different condiments for gluten free, and pulled out a squeeze bottle that never touched the bread…. They are serious about gluten free, and the risks of cross contamination. I was sooo impressed, and basically ready to cry with joy because when you live a life where a sandwich is hard someone making you a gluten free sandwich with kindness is a gift. When I said she needed her own bag, they gladly provided her with one. When I asked for cup further down the stack, they said of course….
All of the staff was ridiculous kind. They enjoyed being helpful. As we were leaving, I took a picture of Oo… because sandwich shop and Celiac is a pretty epic moment.
The manager and a female worker watched the exchange, and they said “glad we could help you enjoy this.”
It mattered. It is important.
They provided equity for a tiny human who needs more care for her to enjoy a sandwich. They did it with kindness and compassion. They bought a customer for life.
Today, a quick lunch, and a sandwich wasn’t hard. It was just a regular Friday lunch after a busy week, that I really wanted to treat with subs. The subs were delicious.
I have some feels about the New Year….. It feels like change is suppose to happen, but we adapt to new normals with every season and semester like most New Englanders, and families with growing tiny humans. I’m not seeking change. (Sigh, wow, it took a lot of years to get here.) I live the life we built, and most moments of it… I love the shit out of it.
I’m not going to exercise more or less… I’m not planning some insane diet. I have no notions that I’m going to save a gazzillion dollars by giving up Sixbucks. These things just do not fit right now. I have spent some time thinking about what I need and want in this new year, and what we all need and want in this new year, and here are my two ideas that I hope will guide my next year.
The first is a fairly traditional resolution. I want to read more. I’m an avid reader, and complete the entire NYTs almost everyday however, I rarely read a novel. I want to read more fiction simply for the love of a great story.
The second idea is a little more messy, and isn’t quite fully formed in measurable parameters…
I’m going to love the shit out of my life. I’m hoping to make choices to love it more. I’m going to make time to love the shit out of this gorgeous, ordinary, and beautiful life I get to live.
I plan on spending the year loving the shit out of this life, and all the people I get to share it with. I organized books yesterday, and realized how many stories I haven’t shared with Oo yet…. I want to share those stories with her because she’s my favorite (I have lots of favorites), and I will love the shit out of sharing these moments with her. I want to identify, and make happen all of the things that help us all love this life. We use a simple phrase in our family, “does it bring you joy?” If it does, then do you my friend.. do you. #findjoy
My resolution is to remember what I already own, what I already adore, what already brings me joy, what I already hold, what I’m already good at, and love the shit out of all of it. #lovealwayswins
It was perfectly scripted. I am friends with a real live college math professor, and he knows things, like all about impartial differentiation. And he gave me books, and he helped me triumph my first problem set. He said I was fine, because theoretically I knew what the math was trying to achieve, and that I just didn’t know the rules. He said just learn the rules. Done and done. #learntherules #econ
It was perfectly scripted. My sweet fourth grader left for fourth grade. She had a terrible day. A new teacher, new rules, new classroom, it was all awful. She’s nine… and I spent an hour convincing her to “trust the process and respect the journey.” This hour was spent after work (with tiniest in tow), after learning Calc, and after going to night class an hour away…. all the great shifts… all the great learning.
For the first time in many years, today I suffered with crippling anxiety. The kind that leaves you feeling like you spent the day crying, but you didn’t actually shed a tear. The kind where you can’t have coffee. The kind where you can’t eat, because you will just vomit. The kind that physically tightens your chest. The kind that makes you feel like you are on the brink of straight panic…. The kind that makes you want to check out.
I didn’t. I put on masacara, my favorite heels, threw Oo in her best twirl dress… and we did it. Barely, but we did it. I got my shit together. #getupdressupshowup
The day was perfectly scripted. I saw my favorite people. We had an epic snuggle session when I got home. It was a ninety minute check in about how hard change and new is.
I had to push through the final leg of the journey; I was about to leave during the break of my night class. (He doesn’t take attendance twice.) And then I got this text…. “Breathe, maintain presence where you are. You are smart and capable….” So I did. I even participated in the discussion.
I spent the break laying on a bench in downtown Hartford… breathing… or trying to… I anticipated my work at home… because I knew there was some serious feels.
I guess the whole point is that change is hard. Calculus is hard. Fourth grade is hard. New teachers are hard. New is hard. And sometimes new is terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.
My brilliant and dear friend coined the title of these feels. I take zero credit for this epic alliteration.
“Anticipatory agitation” is waiting for the big shifts we know are arriving. The waiting is agitating, because we are anticipating the change that isn’t actually real yet. Academics, educators, and care givers of school aged children (I’m all three of these things) feel the anticipation of the new school year. It is so close, and we feel the chaos in our bones long before it begins. I can’t do anything about these changes right now, but I’m already anticipating the work and the trials of transition.
Professionally, once again, I’ll do more with less. I have more students, a smaller budget, bigger goals, and higher institutional expectations. Riddle me that. The equation is fairly insane, but I’ll get up, dress up, and show up for my students. Four years in, and I’m finally beginning to feel like I know what I’m doing. #slideone
I’m almost done with graduate school (three classes will complete a decade as a student in higher ed). I have capstone work to complete that is currently a woeful pile of notes, and a single shakey research question at best.
Personally, and I’ve saved the best and worst for last, this fall is the season when all of the tiny humans will attend school. I have no more babies at home, or part time at home, or hanging out with grandparents and friends a few days a week…. They will all go to school Monday through Friday – 8:30 am – 3:00 pm. I’m having some serious anticipatory agitation about real full time school for all of my littles.
For nine years I’ve parceled out necessary childcare around part time schedules, and family. For nine years there was at least one tiny human home, at least one day during the work week. For nine years I could be called upon to help my full-time working friends, and take on an extra tiny human as needed. For nine years I was my own resource, and I exhausted every creative measure in my arsenal to get it all done, because a tiny human was always there. For nine years the “work week” didn’t really belong to me. I was always a mama during all, many, and some of these hours.
For nine years I packed backpacks and water bottles and took toddlers everywhere I could find that would bring them joy… on any random Tuesday or Friday. We went to the beach. I would nap in the afternoon, while they napped, because the mental load of the tiniest humans is exhausting… and it was a long time ago everyone stopped napping. I would shower, and change into clean yoga pants. I would find friends to raise my tiny humans with, and we would find empty playgrounds on Monday’s at 1:00 pm. We went to Broadway on a Wednesday. We took tiny human music class on Tuesday’s at 11:00 am. We shared a gazzillion story hours at every local library in the region. I drank coffee and ate bagels every Friday morning with the sweetest group of mamas I know. For nine years I built our community, and that was my work. On rainy days we watched movies, baked, and crafted. For nine years there was some part of the work week that was carved out for mothering, and only mothering. These past nine years are the times I will look back on, and I will know it was our best lives.
My sweetest littlest tiny human is going to school, and her 8:30-3:00 doesn’t belong to me anymore. I’m having anticipatory agitation about this loss.
I’m sharing her with the world. (The smallest world we could manufacture at our tiny local Montessori school.) I’m sharing her best hours because it’s time for her to learn how to be her best self. She’s ready. I thought I was too, but it turns out there’s a lot of agitation about these feels. A Montessori education trains tiny humans to thrive in independence. She will learn that…. I’m anticipating the loss of these hours. She’ll excel. She’ll kick ass at being a school girl. It’s in her blood. We are a family of school girls.
I really cannot even begin to express the sheer amount of privilege I own that gifted me all of these years home, semi-home, and home again, and home most of the time…. I love these tiny humans with my entire being, and I hope I did them justice during their youngest years. It continues to be my most important work.
My anticipatory agitation is losing them, and losing all of the hours where we only built love and security during the work week. Friday’s at the zoo will no longer be our game plan. I will no longer own their rainy days. They all now have different work… I can only hope that my work stays with them.
The anticipation of our different work makes me proud of these lovely tiny humans, and I’m already anxiously anticipating the nostalgia of the years they only belonged home. My mama heart is mourning the loss of the most epic chapter of my short life. Schooling is going to capture her heart (it’s already her favorite), and I will miss them. I’m agitated by change.
It’s time for them to go be awesome, and I anticipate nothing short of amazing for these school girls.
I had one of those evenings where everyone eats dinner, and uses kind words. We laughed, we read stories… we loved. Our summer was more than a little chaotic, and as change is on the horizon, I know I am slowly giving more of them to the world, and less of them will be at home. There will be no babies at home this year. Everyone is going to school this year, and our world right now is a ridiculously treacherous place, and I’m afraid.
I haven’t wrapped my head around the white supremacist rallly and violence in #Charlottesville. In the days post the election I walked around in a fog. I am terrified with how to raise girls in this nation. I feel threatened, abused, and beatened to a pulp by the realities unfolding in front of me.
Today a young student of color sat in my office, and the student was filling out paperwork that asked him to explain why they weren’t successful in the past. The student wrote “I was afraid, I was afraid I was too stupid to pass.” Yeah, read that twice. This student is kind, respectful, and has resources to be successful, yet this student is afraid. I asked “do you still feel afraid?” The student responded “If you were me, wouldn’t you be?”
When he “grabbed my pussy” I was afraid. When he denounced Planned Parenthood I was afraid. When he existed as a leader against women I was afraid.
So, yes, strong smart student, I’m afraid too.
I have to send my babies into this nation. I have to educate in this nation. I have to learn in this nation.
If we remain silent we are providing consent. Explain the first admendment, and how it doesn’t protect violence. Explain to your children the love in your home needs to be carried everywhere. Yell. Shout. Donate if you can. Stand up. Use your platforms.
This is my Post Bedtime space, and tonight I looked lovingly at my sweet tiny humans, and realized I needed to share my story, my work, to speak out against this insanity, this racism, this hatred.
There’s transition in the air. I feel it in my bones. It’s like watching the crest of the wave you are eagerly waiting to ride to shore. Our ride will be long, and hopefully as fun as crashing New England ocean waves.
Everyone goes to school this September. There are no more babies at home. I’m going to write more about those feels, but not yet, because I’m not ready. This mama heart isn’t ready, yet. I have three weeks.
We finalized our OT schedule for the school year. They are signed up for fancy ballet and private music lessons. (These things bring me great joy.) Their physical forms have been returned to school. I ordered my own text books, confirmed my funding, and plan on using my wit to bypass the riddiculous parking arrangements of UConn in Hartford.
There is an insatiable insanity that forms around the beginning of a new academic year. I have spent a decade on the academic calendar, and the beginning never fails to sweep me up in its promise, potential, unwavering demand and high expectation.
There’s a transition on the horizon. Transitions are super hard. It’s a statement I make often. I desperately try to respect the delicate nature of change. The beginning of an academic year leaves little time for this; intellectual pursuit, and teaching and learning are calling us away from the stillness of summer. From ballet slippers to the delicious smell of new textbooks, we set forth at the end of August with the promise of changing lives, and learning all the great new things.
New is hard. Transitions are hard. A new academic year is on the horizon… and my whole life is about to look different. I’ll finish grad school this year, and there are no more babies at home.