Mama Madison: Another year older

It's time to consider the past and the year to come

On New Year's Eve 1988, home on college winter break, I got together with my high school posse to watch the ball drop on TV. We were all seniors, happy to be back together again to offer up cheap champagne toasts to the dream jobs and grad school acceptance letters we hoped to land that spring. Freshly engaged four New Year's Eves later, my husband-to-be and I raised our glasses not just to the rest of our lives together, but to a year of wedding planning, "do I take his last name?" decisions and figuring out how (and if) to merge bank accounts. But on January 1st 1997, there was no bubbly flowing, at least not for me. I was four months pregnant with my first child and knew that a "dry" New Years was just the first of many enormous life changes that were headed my way.

Fast-forward and I am now the mom of three. And this New Year's Eve, like those in the past, I've got lots of big things to toast in the coming year. Our family has major life cycle events planned, like my middle son's Bar Mitzvah this spring. And this year my youngest will graduate from elementary school and start the exciting, and tumultuous, time known as "middle school girl." And, if all goes according to plan, 2013 will be the year my oldest will learn to drive. It still seems impossible to me that the baby I was carrying that New Year's Eve 16 years ago could possibly be a licensed anything.

But as I've hung out with my kids over the last few weeks of 2012, I've been reminded that it isn't just these big moments that are special. There are a million little things in between that are really kind of awesome, too. Like two delightfully unexpected, albeit backbreaking, snow days to help kick-off winter break. Or the fact that my teenagers still think spending a snowbound afternoon filling out Mad Libs -- using "fart" for every noun and "poopy" for every adjective -- is still absolutely hysterical. Or having all three kids feign reverence during the Les Miserables movie, regardless of their actual level of interest in a French rebellion-inspired sing-a-long.

This coming year I will help at least two kids build science projects. I'll drive (perhaps with some eldest child help) dozens of carpools. The whole family will watch countless TiVo-ed episodes of The Office together on the couch. It's not the kind of stuff that makes the year-end holiday card or requires a photographic record, professional or otherwise. But when you add these little things up, they make up the lion's share of our most intimate times together.

So as I get ready to toast the New Year (with something sparkling and alcoholic of course, no more pregnancies for me), I'll do my best to resist the urge to think too grand. Maybe 2013 doesn't need to be the biggest or brightest one yet. Instead, I'll raise my glass to a year of continued little things...to more snow days, to more chances to use the word "poopy", and to the sincere hope that at least one of my children will come around on this whole Les Miz thing.

Happy new year!

comments powered by Disqus

More to read

Loading More Articles
No More Articles

Mama Madison: Three cheers for reading at the Wisconsin Book Festival

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.

Mama Madison: What's in a name?

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.

Mama Madison: Eugster's is more than just a visit to the farm

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.

Help for home-schoolers at the Madison Mentor Center

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?"

Mama Madison: Yummy Sprout is a wonderful resource

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?

Mama Madison: Tips and tricks for baby air travel

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.

Mama Madison: Apple-picking time

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.

Mama Madison: Baby feeding recommendations

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?

Heartland Farm Sanctuary helps animals that help kids

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.

Mama Madison: Back-to-school confidences

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.

Mama Madison: Does back-to-school really mean a whole new wardrobe?

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?"

Mama Madison: Next generation of bloggers

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.

Mama Madison: Returning to the workforce

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.

Triathlons raise money to teach kids healthy habits

"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.

Mama Madison: Kids will find their own passions in their own ways

"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."

Vital work is being done at the Lussier Community Education Center, from community-building to STEM skills

"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."

Mama Madison: Parental dice rolls?

Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."

Mama Madison: What constitutes a keepsake?

As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.

Mama Madison: Young love

Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.

Mama Madison: What a mother fears most

All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.