Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ten Things You Should Know About Abbie

Today is my daughter Abbie's birthday.  To most people she seems like a quiet, cheerful girl who plays the clarinet and talks endlessly about Twilight.  But there is another Abbie that only a few people know.  There are some secrets that only her mother can tell you.  So I will.

1.  My husband had wanted to name her Emily, which means "industrious", but I liked Abigail, which means "my father rejoices."  When I went into labor we realized we still hadn't agreed on a name, but since I was the one in pushing something the size of a football out of my body, I got to choose.  It turns out she is a hard worker who has her daddy wrapped around her little finger, so I guess we were both on the right track.

2.  Abbie was a girlie-girl when she was little.  All of her favorite clothes were pink and she often wore several different shades of pink together.  Princesses and magic fairies, castles and Prince Charming.  Now she wouldn't wear a ruffle to save her life, dresses are out of the question and boys are "weird.."

3.  She has long, crazy monkey toes.

4.  Abbie is smart, Smart, SMART.  She's not the child prodigy kind of smart, where she'd be graduating college at age 13 but have no friends.  She asks a lot of questions (and I mean a LOT of questions), is a voracious reader, and works really hard in school. And she asks a LOT of questions.

5.  She has the digestive system of a truck driver.  My sweet, fragile flower can belch louder than any one I know and you don't want to enter the bathroom after Abbie's been "reading" in there.

6.  Abbie loves all animals, especially dogs.  Jack, our yellow lab, was her first true love.  It was a difficult time when she decided she loved pigs, but she also loved bacon.

7.  She wants to be a marine biologist.  Or a dog groomer.

8.  Abbie is a wonderful big sister (and a much picked upon little sister).  She is still not too grown up to play Barbies every once in a while and is so kind to her little sister sometimes it makes me want to cry.  And then she pulls out her preteen attitude and I have to give her the look.

9.  She's Team Jacob.

10.  Abbie is willing to try just about anything--food, sports, you name it.  And if she doesn't like it the first time, she'll usually try a second or third time.  She has no built in fear of failure, never assumes she can't do something until she tries.  I am continually amazed by her courage.

I would like to think I'm partly responsible for all the things that makes up Abbie (except for the crazy toes and digestive issues), but Abbie is just going to be Abbie, with or without my intervention.  I sometimes think she could do a fine job raising herself, but I'm glad she's letting me tag along.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Lessons I Learned From My Mother

It's Mother's Day and I've been trying to come up with a fitting tribute to my mom and motherhood in general.  They say God could not be everywhere so He created mothers. My mother had 5 children in eight years so she really didn't have time to be everywhere.  But she did teach me some very important lessons that I have taken with me in life (and occasionally imposed on my own children).

No singing at the dinner table.  This may seem like an arbitrary rule, but in a family of seven, who had very different personalities and routinely got on each other's nerves, this was a sacred rule at our house.  And it saved my mother from having to listen to "On Top of Spaghetti" for the 50th time while trying to eat.  I first imposed this rule when my second child entered preschool and could only remember one line of any given song.

Dress up whenever possible.  I often wondered why my mother put on her nice clothes whenever she got the chance to leave the house without us, but now I know: there were adults where she was going.  People who would (presumably) not grab her skirt with sticky fingers or spit up on her blouse.  That in itself was reason enough to celebrate with a nice pantsuit and a spritz of Emerude. 

Read, read, and read.  My mother was never without a book.  If ever there was a woman who needed an escape, even if it was only for the five minutes before someone broke out in screaming fit, it was my mother.  The one place she routinely took all of us kids together was the library.  Not only could she stock up on her one "drug", but it made her look like a good parent to boot.

Let them be bored.  I remember summers as a time of doing a lot of nothing.  No trips to Disneyland, no drives across the country to visit the Grand Canyon.  We had the swim lessons and camping trips (with all 5 kids in one tent and my parents in their own), but most of vacation was spent hanging out in the neighborhood or the backyard.  Televisions were turned off by 10 am and then we were on our own.  I've tried this with my own kids and they mope around complaining that they're bored.  That's when I give them two choices:  upstairs or outside.

If your brother is bothering you , stay away from him!  By the time I came into the picture, my mother had had enough of bickering siblings.  If I complained about my brother picking on me, I rarely received much sympathy.   The only time I remember her stepping in and mediating one of these conflicts is when my brother called me a name that had to do with some one's nether region.  It was a term I didn't know (though I suspected it wasn't good) so I asked my mom, who then asked me where I'd heard such a word.  Revenge is best served by a little sister.  And really, how much of world conflict could be prevented if one warring faction just stayed out of the living room?

So Happy Belated Mother's Day--now my mom knows I really was listening (once or twice).  Perhaps my kids will learn a lesson or two from me, but I hope it's something good and not "Never shove stuff under your bed when your mother-in-law comes to stay."