Mirror Mirror On The Wall

I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the mirror moments that occur in parenting.  With characters to help build, compassion to instill, and little people to send off into this world – my example frequently becomes their compass.  And more often than I’d like to admit, the mirror reflects the most tremendous catalyst to self improve. 

I often overlook the ways in which I am led by characteristics and responses that are unequivocally my children’s. 

This week I’m thankful for a perspective shift in sporadic storms and heartfelt play between the raindrops. 

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Moments Alone In Motherhood

Although my children are no longer tiny babies, there isn’t a whole lot of child-free leisure going on.  My days are usually pretty fragmented with little time for recuperation when needed.  But once in a great while, I find myself alone, seeking solitude within.  Moments of clarity occur in the grocery isle, the shower and the trips home from acupuncture.  Inner silence is often found while walking down a busy street.  And when those fleeting moments in my own space and time are over, I’m convinced that I return to the people I love a better person because of them.

Today took me to a beautiful lunch alone, in NYC’s Bryant Park.
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The Vault

It is incredible what our children retain.  Their capacity for reiterating stories back to us at the most unexpected times is extraordinary.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that my children are literally tiny vaults of encapsulated memories, constantly conjuring up elements from days past.

“We’re going to SESAME PLACE!!!!” Adrian screams every time we drive through a certain spot on the BQE.  “Remember when you made me wings, bought me a cookie, blew bubbles in the park, talked to the old lady with the doggie, and read me the story about the glittery mermaids?!”.  How can she possible recall the sequential order of a day that took place years ago? A day that felt rather random to me, yet clearly significant to her.  

I have a handfuls of memories I vividly remember from when I was Lucia’s exact age.  Like when I’d image in Kindergarten that my cubbie had the pretty rainbow painted on it and not the caged Lion that was assigned to me.  I remember that my friend A frequently peed in her pants and didn’t understand why F‘s tush was always peeking out of the top of his jeans.  I remember visiting my mother’s family in Colombia for the first time and begging my Tias to take me to see the movie Annie in English.  But mostly, I think of my mother and her ability to guide me and my brother with steadfast grace and compassion.  Traits I hope to emulate in my own motherhood.

School vacations always have a way of making me reevaluate my role as mama. Free of schedules, our days are fluid, filled with outdoor play, messy crafting and family-time.  I’m reminded of how Lucia and Adrian simply need to be kids and small gestures can make their days feel magical. 

My husband and I are a solid team, but recently, life’s challenges have been getting the best of us.  It feels impossible to practice “calm begets calm” when I honestly just want to scream, and the big girl still doesn’t have her shoes on after asking several times.   It’s been hard for my husband not to be short and stern when external stressors are no longer few and far between.

Then I observe my Lucia mimicking my frustration, and I watch them both be little bosses to one another.  Soon they retreat back to their biggest influence, seeking comfort found in mama’s arms. 

Sometime we need to step back and reassess the roots.  We need to reflect on our collective intentions and the foundation upon which we built our little family. Our future actions will continue to bear flaws, but accountability, and perseverance to amend can be part of our legacy.

We somehow always return to spontaneity and fun, and Marino-style family dance parties.  And we do our best to reflect what we want them to emulate, with remembrance that each new day carries memories in the making.

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On Mothering

I’ve occasionally experienced a dream that feels so real, I sometimes find myself questioning its truth.  This particular dream revolves around never actually having a Masters Degree, and is always a variation of accidentally missing one required course or being informed years later that my hard work was just a futile attempt at nothing.  

I’m well aware of what this dream is rooted in.  Sometimes the questioning of my role and what is best for my family feels heavy on my shoulders.  I once worked in a field with communities so marginalized, that each and every day felt purposeful.  I stopped working when Lucia was 14 months old, yet the phone calls for more work steadily came in.  Slowly they stopped altogether.

The decision to be home full time has been a great blessings for my family.  Yet, it is often easy to lose that perspective when the kiddos are arguing, there is still hardened play-doh on my floor, the awesome company benefits are long gone and so is my steady paycheck.

It recently took a family bout of a horrific flu/plague to remind me of the importance of my role as mama and the magnitude of our collective role as mothers.  In our own sickness, we mamas hear through plaster walls and white noise makers.  We rise to lessen fevers and soothe scared little ones.  In the middle of the night, we move in whispers, back-pats and sways, to the natural rhythm of our homemade lullabies.

We listen intently to stories of hurt feelings and attempt to ease physical pain with magic kisses.  We are the first ones called  upon early (usually too early) in the morning – and the pow-wow always seems to take place on our side of the bed.

In mothering, there is no dissertation to defend, no articles to co-author in scholarly journals and sometimes judgement even within our own families.

Yet there is unparalleled joy, humility and abiding love.  With children to raise and send off into this world, and characters to build and gratitude to help sow – our roles as mothers (in whatever form they come in) should never be doubted.

Sometimes perspective comes in the most unexpected ways.   

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Between Four Walls

Like most siblings, my children have their share of squabbles, hurt feelings, and episodes of what I perceive to be I-want-that-toy-right-now-because-he/she-has-it-syndrome.

Yet every single night they fall asleep to the sound of each other’s voices, the monitor fills our hearts one last time before silence sets in.  Giggles, squeals and comfort in the dark. Knock-knock jokes that make entirely  no sense.  Silly songs composed by mama, sung by tender hearts in unison.  Companionship upon awakening – they are never alone.  And in their shared space they plot grand schemes, bursting through their door, arms linked in solidarity.  “Let’s make cupcakes” seems like more of a possibility when your fellow ally is gripping your hand.

I pause to thank my lucky stars for whatever path lead me to this life and to a city where space is sparse, yet love is so so rich cocooned between four walls.

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On Flying Baby Birds

Sometimes, I’m cognizant of my mind wandering to the when and the will.  A year ago, I thought:  Will Adrian always prefer his all you can eat nursing buffet to nocturnal rest of any kind? Will I ever experience a month without migraines?  When will I have an hour to myself?  Will Lucia get into her zoned school?  When will I sleep again?  Will they be better off if I work fulltime?

And now I sleep, Adrian stopped nursing a long time ago, Lucia’s in Kindergarten and I’ve found migraine help in a skilled acupuncturist.  I sometimes still experience self doubt in mothering.

Our children, our truest markers of ticking time, often remind us just how fleeting these precious moments of childhood truly are.  Like when I stop to hear the pitter patter of banging feet on the hardwood floors accompanied by the most beautiful symphony of belly laughs.  When I’m fully present in the rhythm of my grandmother’s rocking chair, with Adrian’s wisps of hair in my face and his gentile hand on my clavicle. When my eyes open every single morning to eyes smaller than mine, overjoyed to welcome a new day, arms flailing around my neck.

And all of the sudden, while making memories in mess, the days somehow slip into years and things that feel really big take place:

And I worry and wonder about the when and the will.

And once again I’m reminded that right now is what matters most

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