We met more neighbors the first two hours living in our new Madison home than we had the whole time we lived in Chicago. Everyone came by to check out the moving van, say hello, and offer advice on parks, pre-schools and nearby restaurants. I especially remember my first encounter with the delightful woman from across the street. She was friendly and funny and came bearing brownies--totally my style. But I doubted we'd ever really strike up a much of a friendship. She was, how can I say it delicately, older.
Not older like Senior Center older, but more a "senior" mom with a high school daughter, and fifth and second grade sons. Her kids rode bikes, spoke in full sentences, and were toilet trained. I had just one child at the time, an 11-month-old, and couldn't see much beyond Good Night Gorilla and the Diaper Genie . Her life just seemed so foreign: a world away across the street.
I write this post almost 13 years later, on the eve of my 45th birthday. In some ways I certainly am worse for the wear. Fine lines and wrinkles really aren't that fine; all I want for my birthday is some obscenely high-priced face cream that likely won't deliver on its promise. And I am pretty sure I can no longer pass off my ever-increasing grey hairs as very "blonde" highlights.
But my advancing age has bought me one, somewhat unexpected, surprise. I love being an older mom"or at least the mom of older kids. The 11-month-old is now 14; my husband and I don't need babysitters anymore. We are free to be spontaneous"ducking out for a quick bite or a last minute movie just because we feel like it.
And this year I took that same 14 year old and a couple of his buddies out to Graze to celebrate his birthday. We talked about philosophy and politics. I don't recall that ever happening at Chuck E Cheese.
All three of my kids shower on their own, use the microwave and sleep soundly through the night. In some ways I feel younger"or at least better rested and better dressed. I still wear stained clothes, but at least the stains aren't spit-up anymore.
Parenting was so physical when they were little. It was a good day if no one bled, had a major meltdown in the grocery store or bit a pre-school classmate. It was a great day if any one took a nap, especially me. I can best summarize those as the hands-on years. Now I am working on the art of "hands-off" parenting"letting them make decisions, mistakes and dinner. It's a mental game.
Yes, I still have times when I catch a whiff of Johnson's Baby Powder passing by and I well up unexpectedly. It makes me just a bit melancholy to realize I will never again go to a kindergarten orientation. And all three of my children are now too heavy for me to carry up to bed. But I wouldn't go back for the world.
My next-door neighbors just put their house on the market. This past Sunday a young couple pulled up to the open house to take a look. I couldn't help but notice their infant son, fussing and bored, strapped in the back seat. I rushed up to greet (maybe scare) them, offering advice on parks, pre-schools and nearby restaurants. I probably should have mentioned that the best is yet to come.
And that older mom across the street, now an empty nester? We are great friends. Maybe I (they) just needed to grow up a little.comments powered by Disqus
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.