Archive | August 2013

First Day of School

The first day of school is hard for me.  Jessie’s very first day of kindergarten, she was fine.  Happy to line up and dance off to class with her new teacher, but poor Sammy Boy sobbed because he could not believe that they were taking his big sister away.  Jessie’s always done well on the first day – she genuinely likes school, I think she likes everything about it.  She’s academically oriented, and even if she’s a little nervous and unsure, she’s still happy about seeing all her friends.

But my Sam – oh, my Sammy.  First days have never been his thing.  The first day of kindergarten was horrific, and we skipped the first day altogether last year, and started him the day after everyone else.  He doesn’t like new things, and new routines and new people, and it’s not just that he didn’t like them, he was terrified and freaked out.  Not just uncomfortable, literally freaking out.  Once he gets used to it, he loves school.  He’s academically oriented too, he loves math, loves reading – he likes learning new things, and he’s, if anything, more comfortable with kids than his older sister is.  It’s just the beginning that’s so hard for him.

Today, he was great.  Beyond great, he was completely typical in his reaction.  Butterflies in his stomach, but mostly just excited about seeing his buddies and meeting new friends.

I walked them both to class.  We got there early, and I walked Jessie over to the fifth grade section, and left her with her friends.  Then I brought Sam back to the first graders, and waited with him for his friends.  Once his best buddy was there, he completely loosened up.  I left him there and went back to check on Jessie – which was only partly about making sure that Jessie was good.  She was, of course, but it also gave me the opportunity to walk away from Sam and make sure he was able to handle it.  I met Jessie’s teacher, and kissed her goodbye and went back to check on my boy.

He was … completely fine.  Happy, playing, it was completely anti-climatic.  He gave me an extra hard hug, and that was that.

Walking away, I couldn’t help thinking about how far we’ve come.  How much he’s grown, and what a major milestone it is – to be happy about going to school, excited and anticipatory, instead of mourning the time at home, and terrified of what’s going to happen.  My baby has grown up, on a level that he hadn’t before, and I’m wistful and proud and relieved and only a tiny bit sad about the change.  Not sad – because it was so hard for him, and I don’t want it to be hard.   But there was an intensity to his attachment, and it’s been a part of our relationship for the past seven years.  Outgrowing that is normal and natural and leads to such great things – but there’s a part of me that misses it.  Just a little.  The same way I miss toting Jessie around on my hip, and nursing Sammy to sleep at night.  The way I miss singing baby Jessie to sleep, baking with little Sam and reading board books to Julie.  The way I miss naptime, and having Julie wake up, all rosy and excited for the rest of the day.

So much of motherhood is being outgrown.  Of being everything to a child, and gradually having the child outgrow that.  Having your child’s world expand, to include not just new people but new experiences and new challenges.   Sometimes it happens effortlessly, and sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world.

I’m feeling… outgrown.  And proud and excited and happy for him, and just a tiny bit sad.  Not just because my girl is in fifth grade, and wearing some killer boots, with beautiful hair and a smile like an angel, but also because my boy is a first grader.  Confident and secure, and proud of himself and happy about who he is and where he’s going.  Because the path was so much harder for him, because he went thru so much more to get here.

 

 

Still Getting Ready

I went school shopping today.  Actually, I went school shopping twice, once with just Jessie and once with Jessie and my MIL.  I bought drink containers and thermos, lunch boxes and backpacks.  Notebooks upon notebooks upon notebooks (they were only seventeen cents – at that price, really, you should buy several dozen).  Jessie and I went early, but couldn’t find a backpack that she really liked.  Oddly enough, there are far too many girly lunch boxes/lunch box accessories and way too many manly backpacks.

We met Yvonne for lunch with all the kids, and had a lovely little catch up with her.  Then Marc took the kids home and Yvonne, Jessie and I kept shopping.  Yvonne is a shopper (actually, so is my  mother, and Jessie certainly picked up on that love – whereas I really kind of HATE shopping, they seem to find it relaxing and fun).  Yvonne picked out out a gorgeous denim jacket that I would never have picked out, and Jessie put it on in the store and didn’t take it off until we were checking out.  She adores it, and it’s so cute.   Yvonne also got her some of the cutest black boots – my girl will be styling.  Thank goodness for grandmother’s with good taste – I’d have gotten her keds and called it a day.

I’m checking other items off my to-do list.  Confirmed their PaRDeS registration (religious school) today.  Jessie’s was pretty straight forward, but Sam’s was a bit more complicated.  We kept him back in kindergarten and moved him to first grade in religious school last year – because he wasn’t staying back for academic reasons, but more for anxiety/social issues.  And in the end, he ended up dropping out of religious school last year.  But this year, PaRDeS is meeting at our synagogue for classes during the week (as opposed to last year, where he was meeting at a new place, with a zillion new kids), and his best friend Jordyn will be there with him, as well as Harrison.  So I think he’ll do better in that class, and to hold him back isn’t a good idea.  Especially as they get bigger… he’s going to want to be with his buddies, going through bar mitzvah prep.

Speaking of… we’re only about a year and a half away from Jessie’s bat mitzvah!

Also registered Jessie and Julianna for dance class.  I really wanted Julianna to take dance last year, but couldn’t just couldn’t swing it financially.  Not that it’s a lot easier this year, but she’s so ready for it.  She’s got all the terminology down, and has been waiting so patiently for it to be her turn to go like the big girls.  She’ll be dancing on Saturday mornings, and Jessie will have classes on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons.

I cleaned off my desk, and bought notebooks.   The nice thing about trying to find work as a free-lance writer is that there’s not a huge financial investment.  I need to start researching editors and magazines and places where I can submit and get paid.  I’m blogging for MassMoms, which I love, and InterfaithFamily, and as soon as I can get my butt in gear, I’m also going to be blogging for Mothering.com.   I’ve been published a couple of times in kveller.com, and I’ve got a piece in the upcoming Central MA Jewish Voice.  So there’s progress, but I want more.  Lots more.

 

Getting Ready

Another school year… I’ve got another week and a half before the dreaded first day.  We’re not really ready for it, the school supply lists have been in my car for the past two weeks – just in case I happened to end up at a store and in the mood to buy all the crayons and markers and folder and notebooks.  Thus far, it hasn’t happened.

Jessie is off to fifth grade this year.  In Maynard, where I grew up, fifth grade was as serious milestone year, starting junior high.  In Worcester, fifth grade is just fifth grade.  She’ll be at Flagg Street again, with new teachers.  Everything with Jessie is always new – I don’t know these teachers and their expectations.  Fourth grade was a tough year for my girl – thus far, she’s had better “odd” years.  First and third grade were wonderful for her, kindergarten, second, and fourth were the years where there was a lot more growth/adjustment/change.  So I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that this year – she loves it as much as she did when she had Mrs. Brothers and Mrs. Ring.

Speaking of Mrs. Brothers – my Sammy is starting with her in first grade this year.   I’m very cautiously optimistic about first grade for him.  He’s grown a LOT over the summer.  Much more relaxed about things that used to make him an anxiety-ridden wreck.  He’s more confident, more able to communicate when he starts getting anxious and able to talk about his fears, and as a result, able to have them resolved.   This is huge – because before, he’d be so scared and nervous, he couldn’t even figure out what was scariest, let alone talk about it and be able to get reassurance.

We’re planning on dance class for both the girls, plus Hebrew School for both the older kids.  And girl scouts/boy scouts for Jessie and Sam.  I’d like to find some sort of sport thing for Sam, but we’re going to take it slowly with him.  I’m going to start him in after school Hebrew school on Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as Shabbat and see how that goes.  I’m really not sure how I feel about all the extracurricular stuff – but it’s really hard to limit them from doing activities they really want to participate in.  For Jessie, it’s going to be the same schedule, pretty much, as last year.  Two dance classes, three days of Hebrew, and girl scouts every other week.  I know she can handle it.  I’m sure that the homework demands will be more rigorous this year, but I think we’ll be okay.  For Sam though – Hebrew is going to be a big change, and I want to make sure that he can handle it before adding more in.

I’m wistful about starting school.  Especially because Julie will be going to preschool as well, and that means a lot more time for me to get really serious about a writing career.  I’ve put it all on hold for the summer, because concentrated writing and taking care of a zillion kids is not a good mix for me.  I can handle blogging, between folding laundry and making cards and getting kids dressed and changing the toilet paper roll (all things that I’ve done this morning while composing this blog), but to actually sit down and focus – I need to be able to do it without interruption.

I’m looking at adolescence like infancy

You know how there are parents who really aren’t great at infants?  Not that they don’t love their children all the time, but there are ages and stages that are harder than others.  One stage that always seems to be considered harder is the early early infancy.  But, honestly, that’s kind of my favorite.  I’m not saying it isn’t challenging, because of course it is.  No sleep, 24 hour nursing sessions.  Spit up and dirty diaper – there are a lot of down sides.

But adolescence is worse.  Because there’s none of those problems, and when Jessie wants to hang with me (which she still does a lot, thank God), she’s freaking fun.  She’s smart, has a great sense of irony, and she’s really, really funny.  She’s insightful and generous, and I love it when she’s not defensive and irritable and angry with me.   We like the same music still, and we have enough overlap in television and even book choices (YAY for books!) that we can always still connect over that.

But then there’s the vomit and poop side of adolescence.  The anger and frustration, and complete inability to communicate when things are bothering her.  The bitter sarcasm and rolling eyes are the no sleep side – because it just makes everything so much harder.  And instead of being constantly needed with nursing, there’s the “Just leave me alone!” and “Get out of my room!”  I can’t fix it all anymore by just being there.

I don’t like this.  I miss my little girl – because she just loved me all the time.   She didn’t get furious with me, and demand that I give her time and space to calm down.  She found solace and comfort by crawling into my lap – and being able to soothe her, to listen to her and make it better – I didn’t know, not really, how awesome and wonderful that was until it stopped working.  I’m still her mom, I can still make it better, but now, frequently, we have to go thru a half hour screaming match until her defenses come down and I’m able to actually connect with her.  She can make me angrier than anyone I’ve ever met, and that freaks me out.   She’s scary smart and knows exactly what buttons to push to make me nuts, and I can’t help responding to her like she’s an adult sometimes.

This is hard – and I’m not good at it at all.  With Jessie, I’m constantly a new mom, and every stage introduces new challenges and new rewards.  And with Jessie, especially Jessie, the relationship is so intense, so intimate.  She’s my oldest, and I think because my relationship, as the oldest child, with my mother is so different from that of my siblings, I was geared to think of mine with Jessie’s as different.  Not that I love her more than the others, because I don’t.  But there’s something about my relationship with her… it’s raw.  It’s emotional and connected and vulnerable.  With Sam and with Julie – I love them just as much.  I feel just as connected – but I’m a better mother to them because I learn so much from mothering Jessie.

I’m hoping, that like early infancy, I’ll look back on this stage and just remember the good things.  Like the smiles and first words – I’ll remember the shopping trips, singing along to the radio.  Baking together and long walks.  Because there is so much beauty to this stage with her.  She’s growing up so fast, learning things and questioning everything, when it’s not terrible, it’s wonderful.  Adolescence is like infancy all over again.  I just wish I felt more like I knew what I was doing.

Ragweed

We’re in the middle of allergy season.  Again.  Spring and fall are the worst – and there’s a small period of time, in the dead center of summer and winter when things are relatively okay.  But Jessie and Sam are sniffling away all the time, having trouble sleeping and making me think that buying stock in Kleenex would be a good idea.

I woke up early this morning, but not as early as Jessie.  She’s still a tiny little thing (literally, I have accidentally put her underwear on Julie a few times and not really noticed – and it’s not that Julie is a big kid, but her big sister is so stinking skinny that despite the seven years separating them, they can kind of wear the same undies), but that girl STOMPS around the house.  She’s not angry or unhappy, just has an exceptionally heavy tread, I guess.  Anyway, she was up earlier than I was, and was happily stomping around the house.

Much better night’s sleep last night – Julie went to bed early.  We had Lilli and Sarah over for dinner, and the chaos was a little overwhelming.  Marc has a much higher tolerance for the noise and insanity, so sometimes it’s just better for everyone if I retire a little earlier.  I got her to bed by seven thirty or so, and then just chilled out, watching television all by myself.  I put Jessie down to bed on the couch, because her room is still in shambles, and had Sam sleep in my bed.  Marc slept in Sam’s – just because he had slept so little last night, I wanted to take no chances on his sleep being disturbed.

Jessie and I were up alone for a while, watching news and chatting.  She’s leaving with Marc in a few minutes to go pick up Glennys.  Then my little Sammy got up.  He’s such a sweet boy, and he got his little self up, went to the bathroom and got himself dressed and wandered out into the living room.  He was wearing my favorite outfit, his denim shorts and a t-shirt, and suddenly looked so big and so stinking cute.  Sometimes, I catch a glimpse of my kids, and really see them – not just as the day to day kid who’s hanging around my house, but as this incredibly miraculous creature that I’m blessed enough to parent every day.

It’s going to be a good day today.

 

 

I’m so tired

Last night was a rough night.  As they are occasionally.  I struggle with falling asleep at times, but almost never actually have insomnia.  I just read until I can’t keep my eyes open, or put on the television and listen until I can’t stand it anymore and fall asleep.  But Marc – who’s the exact opposite of me, didn’t sleep at all.

He’s a champion sleeper, as a rule.  Falls asleep easily and effortlessly, can sleep with the television on, lights blaring.  It’s awesome, and awe inspiring, and what’s even better is that my Samilicious is the exact same way.  Simply goes until he’s tired, asks to lay down, and then he’s off to sleep.  In minutes.  Jessie fights it, hard, and always has.  I sense that Julie will be like Sam and Marc, because she’s always been super easy to put down to sleep as well.

But my rambling point is that last night Marc didn’t sleep.  At all.  The nasty downside to the easy fall asleep thing is that there are occasionally nights when he just doesn’t sleep.   I nagged him to going to bed at eleven thirty or so, and we stayed up talking for a while.  Not fighting, but it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.  I went to sleep, finally, not happily, but asleep around one-ish.  He woke me up around three thirty or so, and we were up for another hour or so.  I had just drifted back off, when Sam woke up and came into bed with us.  He shimmied and wiggled and sneezed several times (thank you ragweed) and finally fell back asleep.  Marc got up around four thirty, and apparently came back out in the living room and read for a while, and ended up falling asleep on Sam’s bed around six.

He woke up around ten this morning.

It’s been a lazy, boring day.  The kids played outside a little, but mostly, we all laid around and vegged.  I’ve done a ton of laundry, and Marc’s got a lot done on fixing Jessie’s wall in her bedroom.  He’s in the process of repairing it, a monster project that involved ripping down the plaster, getting sheet rock and attaching that, and then joint compound and sanding, wrapping the whole thing up by painting the entire room.

 

 

Preschool

I like the idea of preschool.  I sent Jessie to Bright Start Academy, and she liked it.  She brought home art projects (I was terribly disappointed when she started kindergarten and those wicked cute little hangable things stopped coming home with any frequency).  Jessie was easier overall, when it comes to going off to school.  I remember kindergarten was hard, especially because there was a wicked ice storm that year, and she had most of the month of December off.  The school made up the missed time by extending the school day in the spring.  In retrospect, I should have just pulled her out of school early, because she’d come home from school every afternoon and sob, just out of sheer exhaustion.

But except for that, she liked school.  She got a little misty at drop off occasionally, but it was (and I hate to use this word) normal about it.

Sam, God bless him, was hell on wheels when it came to preschool.  He was younger than Jessie was,  because he’s a July birthday instead of February, and boys mature slower than girls.  All those justifications I have – but the reality was just that he really, really struggled with preschool and kindergarten and my experiences with him completely color the way I’m approaching the thought of Julianna going to preschool.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m doing all the right things.  I signed her up right away, and even bought her a backpack.  Learned her teachers’ names so that I could talk up how much fun she’s going to have in the Orange room with Miss Liliya and Miss Jessica.  I have the books on going to school, Llama Llama Misses Mama, Sammy Spider’s First Day of School, and have added them into the rotation.

I’m doing my very conscious best to not put my baggage from sending her brother onto her.

She’s more social in a lot of ways.  Of the three, she talks easier to grown ups, and is more confident and secure.  But she’s shy, so shy, and she loves her mama, and I’m afraid that she’ll hate it.  Not all the time, most of the time, I’m able to put a glossy spin on it – oh, it’ll be GREAT for her.  She’s have so much fun, and learn so much.  And most importantly, everything else will be easier for her if I introduce her slowly to school.

But I keep flashing back to Sam at preschool.  When they had to drag him down the hall to class, and he was so little and so scared.  And kindergarten – there are moments from motherhood that I’d love to forget, and Mrs. Gravel dragging my baby boy off of me and hearing him scream and beg and sob on that first day is one that I know I’ll always carry around with me.  Stuffed down, I don’t focus on it.

But the fact that starting school for Sam was so traumatic, for both of us, is obviously a part of the story of Julianna starting school.  In the same way that Jessie’s experiences color his, his and Jessie’s factor into how I feel about Julie’s.  And at the heart of it, I hate sending my kids away.   I hate the thought of them being ALONE, without anyone who loves them there to make sure everything is okay.  It’s just a part of me, there’s another part that believes that kids need independence, and that they can only learn that if I step back.  That confidence comes from proving yourself, and if I don’t ever give them a chance, they won’t feel it.   Even my Sam, who hates going to school with every fiber of his being, likes actually being there.  Once he learned to get over the fear and anxiety, he loves it.

And Julie won’t be as scared as Boy was.  Sam never wanted to go, Julie already does.  Julie forms relationships faster and talks to adults easier than either of the other two did at her age.

She’ll be great.

Moments I don’t want to forget

Forgive me, I’m a crappy blogger at the moment.  Similar to the end of the school year, it’s suddenly the end of summer and I’m trying to cram in everything.  But there have been moments, things I want to remember… I find myself  keeping a mental list of blog topics that I never have time to write.

– Marc and I took the three kids to Canobie Lake Park last night.   It was absolutely wonderful.  There were so many parts of it that I want to remember, the look on Marc’s face when Julie threw her arms around his leg and hollered that she wanted to ride with Daddy on all the rides, the look on Sam’s face when he figured out that he could steer the antique car and push the gas pedal all by himself.  The easy togetherness that Jessie and I felt when we slipped away from the little ones in kiddie land in Marc and went on a ride by ourselves.  And best of all, when Marc and I missed the turn for 495 because we were talking and he took the longest way possible home.  I couldn’t figure out what he was doing, I knew we were going way out of our way, and he reached over, took my hand and kissed it, and then explained that we were on a date.  Because with three kids asleep in the car behind us , a long car ride when we can just talk and talk and talk is kind of the best date ever.

– Jessie has spent all summer working on the J Cafe.  It’s the restaurant she plans on opening as an adult, and she’s completely, completely dedicated to it.  I’m torn between encouraging her and wanting to make sure that she keeps her options for lifetime career open.  She’s collecting cookbooks and recipes and drafting out menus and price lists like she’s got the opening coming up next month.

– Sam has been working so hard on his anxiety issues.  And he’s grown, so much.  It’s so hard for him sometimes, and my heart breaks at how difficult things are for him, but he’s learning more and more.  Growing stronger and bigger and bolder and braver.  I’m so proud of him.

– My Julianna Ruth is going to preschool in a few weeks.  Just two mornings a week, and I’m 98% delighted.  2% of me is so sad and wistful – my baby isn’t a baby anymore.   And I have to buy her a backpack and send her out into the world, without me there, for five hours a week.  I know it’s only five hours, and I know I’m not dropping her off downtown to fend for herself – but there’s something to be said for the fact that she’s going to be without a parent or someone who loves her for the first time in her entire life.  I’m sure they’re lovely at the JCC, and I’m 98% certain that it’ll be wonderful and amazing and great for her – but still… 2% of me wants to cry just thinking about it.

– I’ve taken the summer off from concentrated writing.  Mainly because trying to write with the kids at home is impossible, and I’ve had hordes of them here.  But I’m also thinking that I’m going to have FIVE WHOLE HOURS with no kids, for the first time in almost eleven years.    I think it’s time to dust off some old dreams and see what I can do.

 

Taking a break

There was a  blog post that made the rounds last week on facebook that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It’s written by a SAHM, who was essentially writing to dads objecting to moms asking for a break. My husband has never given me a hard time about taking time off from parenting, disappearing into my room or out of the house altogether when I need a little alone time. He’s always happy to send me off somewhere when I actually verbalize a need/desire for a break.

But I don’t often do it. Not because I can’t, exactly. But I don’t.

I completely related to everything this mom was saying. But I almost never actually do anything about it. Being at home with the kids is all encompassing. Even though I do other things while I’m here, I do all the housework and cooking, I write, I read, I talk to people on the phone – all of it is done while I’m also monitoring three (sometimes four, five or six) kids. I’ve stopped writing this paragraph twice, once to take cinnamon buns out of the oven and once to go deliver a notebook and crayon to my toddler so that she can play Blue’s Clues with Steve.

I’m not complaining – after all, this is what I wanted. I love being home with my kids, I’ve wanted to be a mother since I was old enough to comprehend that it was an option, and I’m achingly aware of how LUCKY I am. To be able to have gotten pregnant easily, carried my babies thru healthy pregnancies and to be able to stay home for their childhoods. I know how blessed my life is, and I also know that the fact that my day includes so many other things, like reading and cooking and baking, and talking with friends and sitting in the sunshine makes complaining about it just seem silly.

But the thing is, even though I get to do all those things, a part of my mind is always AWARE. Vigilant, to some degree, ready to drop everything to go solve the latest potty crisis, get a drink, break up a fight, find the crayon. That’s what I mean when I say that I want a break. I want to not be in charge, for just a few minutes, I want to have a small window of time when I’m just me. When I can be in the car, with the radio up as loud as I want, not because I’m trying to drown out kids screaming but because I just love the song. When I can read a whole chapter or two without stopping.

Parenting is hard. Not in the little ways, but the big ways. It’s not hard to change a diaper or do a feeding. It’s not hard to help with homework (unless it’s geometry) or do a carpool, reading a bedtime story or singing a lullaby. What’s hard is the constant and unending sense of being NEEDED. Of knowing, at any moment, all the time, you need to be ready and aware and on-call. Of putting everyone’s needs first, because that’s what you do.

The post made me realize that it’s really up to us to take the time. To recharge, to be able to reconnect with the person we were before becoming a mom. To remember, even if it’s just for a few minutes, what it’s like to NOT be in charge of everything and everyone. In order to do that, in order to not burn out completely, we need to take those “breaks.” I need to do that more. I’m a better mother when I come back from a solo trip to the store, when I’ve had a little time when I could just completely relax without wondering what’s going on in the next room.

Butterflies

I’ve been doing the mom thing for a while now, it’ll be eleven years next February. And while I like to think that I know what I’m doing, at least a little bit, I’m forever going to be a new mom when it comes to my oldest.

Give me a baby who won’t latch on while breastfeeding, I know what to do. A baby who’s fussy and constantly nursing – I know to start block feeding instead. Teaching a baby to walk, talk and use the potty? I’ve got that down. After doing it three times, I’m pretty sure I know what works, most of the time. Even going to school – I feel like by the time Julie goes to kindergarten, I’ll be experienced enough to not fall apart on the first day. (You realize I’m kidding myself – I’m sure I’ll cry just as hard or harder when my baby starts as I did when Jessie or Sam did).

But this whole “tween” thing – I have no idea what I’m doing. Suddenly my beloved little girl isn’t so little anymore – and I’m rapidly realizing that all the tips and tricks I’d discovered over the past decade aren’t as helpful as they once were. Suddenly, she’s sleeping until eleven, and reading gossip magazines from her grandmother’s house. Paying attention to celebrities and listening to music that I’ve never heard of. She’s focused and determined, making plans and dreams for a restaurant, testing out recipes and planning menus. And it’s not the little girl, pie in the sky kind of dreaming – she’s actually got goals and plans that are realistic and smart.

It’s scary, because she’s not little anymore. She’s not an adult either – she’s not even officially an adolescent. But she’s not just a little girl either. She’s growing up, so much faster than either of realized she would, and I have no idea what to with that. Time outs are just silly at this point, and sometimes I wonder if I’m getting thru to her at all. She can fight with me on an equal playing field, not all the time, but more and more. She’s scary smart, and knows exactly what buttons to push to get maximum impact. I want her to learn to respect her weapons, because she doesn’t always know her own strength. Not physically, but verbally. I want her to own her independence, to be proud and determined and feisty and brave.

So much of parenting is just doing your best and trying not to let it show that you have no idea what you’re doing. I know that we’ll survive the next couple of years the same way we did the previous ten. With a lot of love, a lot of reading, and a whole lot of praying it turns out okay. She’s her own person – and we’ve been moving closer and closer to independence from the day she was born. Part of her job over the next few years is to rebel, to figure out who she is without me there, and as hard as it is on me, it’s probably a whole lot harder on her.

I just read a book that compared adolescence to a caterpillar cocooning. In the end, my little caterpillar is going to be a butterfly, but meanwhile, she’s in a fragile state of change. And it’s up to me to give her the safe space to grow.