A Letter to My Sons

Dear Oscar and Edgar,

As I watch you play this morning just a few feet from where I sit, I am struck–as I so often am–by your sweetness, your beauty, and your joy.   And as your mother, I want so much to protect you, to shield you–literally and figuratively– from life’s obstacles, life’s pain, from grief.   That comes from my love for you–visceral, primal, all-encompassing parental love for you. 

But I know that I can’t.  Though this life offers to us many opportunities for great joy and happiness, there is also great suffering.  And ultimately one the best gifts I can give to you is to show you how to handle life’s losses with heart, with grace, and ultimately with acceptance.

This was quite a week for our family.  On Wednesday and Thursday, we thought that you were about to become big brothers to a beautiful baby boy.  And on Friday everything changed.  We may never know what caused such a change of heart, but I do have faith that one day we will understand why this happened.  When I look at you both, I see my history–the challenges and obstacles that led me to your father and then to you.  No matter how senseless things may have seemed at the time, when I look at you I know unequivocally why things happened the way they did–it was part of my journey to you. 

When we told you the news yesterday you reacted in such a way that reminded me what is best about our family:  that we are here for each other.  You were able to express your feelings and ask your questions.  There is security and love here that frees us and gives us space to express ourselves honestly and without fear. 

 There are very few promises one can make and even fewer guarantees, but I can promise you this:  You are loved, you are treasured, you are ours and we are yours.  We are traveling this road together, and thank goodness for that.

With all my love,

Mommy

It’s in the Stars

In flipping the page of the calendar this week, I noticed that Monday marked the start of Chinese New Year, and 2009 is the Year of the Ox.  For me, astrology–Chinese and occidental–has been largely entertainment.  Yes, I always thought it intriguing when reviewing the personality profile of a Taurus that I seemed to fit it perfectly; and when visiting our favorite Chinese restaurant, I always gleaned a special satisfaction from reading on my placemat that my Chinese sign, the Monkey, was described as “clever and intelligent.” 

I decided to research all of our Chinese astrological signs–Oscar and I are both Monkeys, Don is an Ox (deemed an honest, dependable, and tireless worker); and Edgar is a Rooster.

A Rooster, you say?

A Rooster is–and I quote–“an impeccably neat perfectionist.”

Really?

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I suppose it’s possible . . . just not quite yet!

One of These Kids Is Doing His Own Thing

Those of you who remember the 1970s will remember the Sesame Street segment, “One of These Kids Is Doing His Own Thing.”  In it, the screen would be divided into four boxes.  In three of the boxes the enclosed children would be, say, jumping–maybe one would be jumping rope, another doing jumping jacks, and maybe another just hopping around.  In the fourth box, a child might be reading or drawing.  The viewer’s job was to discern which child was different, which child was, perhaps, marching to the beat of his or her own drum. 

Cut to a scene from Oscar’s school this week, specifically yoga class.

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Perhaps he’s meditating . . . We’ll go with that.

Hero Worship

Today we join the world in celebration of the Inauguration of Barack Obama, the man who, from all reports, is our country’s best choice and best chance at recovering from the current messes we are in.  His intelligence, kindness, and reasonableness are worth noting and worth honoring.   Many words will be uttered and written today about this man on whom we are pinning most if not all of our national hopes; and the effect he has had in our home is no less than the effect he has had on the world.

Oscar and Edgar know it is Inauguration Day.  They know the name of our soon-to-be new president.  And they know he and his family are moving into the White House today.  They have a wonderful book on Obama and, thanks to Santa, a Barack Obama action figure.

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Santa thought long and hard before procuring this action figure:  Do toys such as this trivialize an important office?  Is placing an Obama action figure alongside Buzz Lightyear in a frenzy of childhood play appropriate?   Ultimately, Santa decided in favor of the toy for the possibilities it offered, for the discussions it might inspire, for the fact that Barack Obama is poised to stand alongside any “superhero” from any point in time.

In thinking back to my childhood toys, there were no Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Roosevelt, or Edith Wharton action figures.  There was Wonder Woman, who, as I recall, twirled and emerged in a skimpy outfit, reinforcing oh-so-many stereotypes about women without my even realizing it at the time.   My brother had Superman and the Incredible Hulk, superheroes who relied on physical strength to solve problems.

Barack Obama, without slighting his physical strength, will rely on his wits and intellect to solve problems.  His coolness in the face of adversity stands in stark contrast to the superheroes of the past, whose anger often precipitated the requisite transformations.  And there will be no need for him to don a cape or fancy armbands.  He is complete in and of  himself, gaining his powers from a lifelong commitment to education, observation, and involvement.

And though it may be premature to place him in the pantheon of superheroes, it is my wish that one day–and sooner rather than later–he will earn his place.  We can’t control who will be our children’s role models–can we?  But in four hours, President Obama is in the running.  And with him as our nation’s children’s role model, parents and caregivers around the country can collectively exhale.

Happy Inauguration Day!

Snowy Fun

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No need to fear, my fellow sun-loving friends . . . I am not falling for the charm of this winter weather.  I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. 

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And, no, I do not know who made this snowman.  I have no idea.  And I’ll never admit to making it . . . even if my  mittens are currently drying on the radiator.

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A Change in Position

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As I begin this post, I must admit that I’m not really sure what I want to write.  All I know is that as we continue to plan to add a third child to our family, I find myself looking at Edgar in a new way.  It’s kind of the way I looked at Oscar right before Edgar came home.  I knew that Oscar was going to go from being our “one and only” to a big brother, the older brother.  And I was cognizant of the fact that he would soon have to share our attention with his younger brother–though he may not have been aware of that fact at a mere 14 months old.  I remember going for extra walks with just Oscar in the clear autumn air, knowing that they would be the last walks with just the two of us–a move I made more for me than for him, I am sure. 

Edgar, though, when our third child does arrive, will go from being the “baby”–in every sense of the word–to the much-maligned middle child (visions of Jan Brady bemoaning her position flash through my mind).  But Edgar has been the baby, the younger brother for nearly three-and-a-half years.  It’s a position he seems to covet and relish.  And I find myself wondering what the arrival of our third child will mean to him.  Oscar will continue to be the big brother, the oldest of the group.  But Edgar will move into a different position.  And I now find myself picking up Edgar more often, carrying him, treating him, I’m going to guess, for the last time like “my baby.”  And, yes, I know my children will always be “my babies.”  But with the arrival of our eagerly anticipated third child–whenever that happens–Edgar will no longer be the baby. 

I know, though, he will handle the transition with his characteristic aplomb–being much more easy-going than most I know.  And for that reason alone, I believe he is going to handle his new position with perfect ease.  Hopefully, I can take a tip from him!