Thursday, July 1, 2010

moving day

Things just haven't felt like home around here for quite some time now, so I've been house hunting. I think I've found a new place, and although it needs a lot of TLC and a coat of paint, I'm starting to settle in. I hope you'll come visit some day soon...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a moment of wonderful

I will never forget leaving school that afternoon, walking the short walk home in the cold rain, dreading what I was to find. I'd not cleaned my room like I was supposed to and knew my mom would be furious when I walked in the door. I prepared myself for scolding, for screaming, for grounding as I dragged my feet through the fallen leaves, trying to stretch the peaceful moments before the misery began. I walked in the door quietly, wanting to melt into the background of the living room and saw her standing there. I waited for the punishment, the stern faces, the cold shoulder. Waited. But they didn't come. None of it came. My mom told me I looked chilly, wiped my nose and wrapped me in a blanket. She sat me on the couch and produced a cup of hot chocolate (and not even Swiss Miss - rather she dusted off the silver can of bitter Hershey powder, measured and mixed it with sugar, milk and vanilla and slowly warmed it on the stove). Overwhelmed by her generosity I couldn't help but confess: "but I didn't clean my room..." And she shrugged, smiled gently and told me it was ok. It was so unlike her - not that she was typically cruel or unkind, she was just never a milk and cookies mom (and certainly not when clothes were strewn across my bedroom floor, toys scattered, food remnants hidden beneath bed skirts). Unexpected kindness and a hot cup of cocoa on a cold autumn afternoon make a moment I will never forget.

And that Valentine's Day - the one that fell on a Saturday, when I watched as my dad prouduced a giant red cardboard heart filled with nauseatingly sweet candy and handed it to my stepmother - I will never forget it. My eyes widened at the sight of the cheap lace circling the heart, envious mouth watering, as I wished for the day that my own husband would bring me chocolates. And then, out of nowhere a small red box, a heart that fit my tiny hands so perfectly. So unexpected, so atypical of my family - my father had gotten me a Valentine too. And so I didn't need to wish away the days of my childhood, waiting for the time that a man would feed my sweet tooth, because my father filled my heart and my belly himself with that box. Never before and never since have I celebrated a Valentine's Day with such pure intentions, such sweet, genuine representations of true love. Each bite of cheap candy confirming that I was deeply loved. That is a moment I will never forget.

The time our camping trip was rained out and so my mom cleared out the furniture and set up the tent in the middle of the living room - replacing the camp out with a camp in. The day, at 22 years old when I opened a package from my dad to find the Harry Belafonte album I'd listened to a thousand times on his old record player - a birthday present (not just a card with a $50 check quickly scribbled and stuffed inside) that whispered in my ear that he remembered too. Or the evenings as I would help my dad in the kitchen: peeling vegetables, stirring sauces, fetching utensils until one day he asked me for my opinion ("Which spices would you use?") and then shook the bottles I'd selected over a bubbling pot. The Christmas morning when my mom called the radio station to request "Linus and Lucy" and they actually played it.

This is what I want for you, Oliver. These simple, gentle moments - unscripted and quiet in their grandiosity. I want you to remember the time you thought we were going grocery shopping and went to play mini-golf instead. Or the time I came home with Cap'n Crunch (with Crunchberries!) instead of the oatmeal I usually make you eat. Or the time when you were certain you'd be grounded and lectured for some as-yet-unimaginable rule breaking you did, but instead found a sympathetic ear and a forgiving heart.

Every parent wants to give the world to their children and I am no exception. If you show a vague interest in a toy at a playdate I have to fight myself not to rush out and buy it immediately. If you find a book you love I instantly want to log on to Amazon and buy every other book in the series. When we return home after a day of running errands and naptime looms, I find it almost impossible to put you right to bed - even if you are undeniably exhausted - because I think you deserve some playtime in return for your patience as we run into grocery stores, banks and Target (again). Rewarding you and gifting you is already so deeply engrained in me and even though you've only just turned 1, I struggle to find balance between spoiling you and saying no for the sake of no.

And so I have decided that I will resist buying the toy (you don't like any toys longer than 10 minutes anyway). I stay away from Amazon (and instead squeal with delight when I find those books you love at Marshalls for less than half what they would've cost new!) And I let you play for only a moment when you should be napping, because truth be told we're ALL so much happier when you're well rested.

But you won't feel denied, not if I have anything to say about it. Because while I may not succumb to the pull of the Toys R Us ad, I will always make time for you. I will stop to play with the door hinge you find so fascinating (while you still find it fascinating), even if it means we're one minute later than we would've been otherwise. I will let you walk at the grocery store (when you learn to walk) even if it means our trip will take that much longer. I will value your opinions and listen to your thoughts with an open mind, even if in the end I decide your mother really does know best. I will find moments to surprise you, sometimes with gifts but more often with kindness. I will be playful with you. Curious with you. Patient and calm and thoughtful with you. I will always look for ways to give to you, not just things, but moments. Moments like the ones in my own childhood when I knew without a doubt that I was respected, I was special, I was loved.

Because in the end, when you look back, I would rather you have tiny moments of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


You are my sunshine
My only sunshine
You make me happy
When skies are gray
You'll never know, dear
How much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

I, like just about everyone, have sung You Are My Sunshine here and there throughout my life. A sweet little ditty, cute and cheerful, but nothing remarkable. If I could whistle I imagine I would find myself whistling it absentmindedly - seems like just the right melody to blow through pursed lips while strolling through frozen foods. Or it did before I had you, my dear.

I sing to you all the time, every day for the last 365. And for as long as I can remember I have ended our nights with You Are My Sunshine, whisper-sung breathily in your warm, sweet ear as I lay you in your bed. But unlike the song I've sung since childhood, this is heavy stuff. Not a silly throwaway nursery rhyme, but a deep and expressive hymn. Because it's true, every word of it.

You, Oliver Robin, are my sunshine - you bring the light into my life each morning and the world is certainly darker when you're not around. Like our sun, you, my son, keep me swirling around you, dancing with me in a symbiotic relationship. My body feeds you, yes, but you feed me so much more profoundly. (And admittedly less profoundly as I scoffle the sweet potatoes you don't, slurp the yogurt you won't, finish the pizza you can't.)

I know someday you will sing that song - maybe to assembled parents and their video cameras at a school concert - and maybe you will even remember hearing my voice whispering those words in your ear as you drift off. But until you have your own children you won't understand the depth of those words.

Because you will never know, dear, how much I love you.

I can't put into words the fullness of my love for you. How it's all encompassing and incomprehensible. This world is full of mothers who adore their children, but how could it be possible that they love their own as much as I love you? How could the world keep spinning under the gravity of all that love? I can't imagine that my own mother loves me anywhere near as much as I love you. I just can't fathom how that could be. But maybe I too will never know (dear) how much she loves me?

You were born 1 year ago - in that moment, both of us flushed, both of us confused, both of us crying. I've done my best this past year, often missing the mark, I'm sure, but always trying to give you everything you deserve. And you have given me so much. Sleepless nights, yes (fantasies that you would sleep through the night for the first time on your birthday were proven to be simply the dreamings of a madwoman) and frustration about your unwillingness to eat. But so much more than that. You have given me so many smiles and such a warmth in my spirit. You have given me open mouth, slobbery kisses and an identity beyond any I'd had before (Ollie's mom). You have given me bites of your pancake after you've sucked on it and a new relationship with a man I used to call Tal, but now call "daddy" (even if you don't quite yet). You have given me your trust, your love, your admiration, whether I deserve it or not.

Let there be no doubt, my sunshine, as you turn 1 and as you turn 101 that nobody loves you like your mama. And you will never know, dear, just how much that is.

Happy birthday (one day late) my Ollie Robin boy.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


The name Amber doesn't lend itself well to nicknames. Aunts and uncles shortened it to "Ambie" and my mom tried on "Ber" for awhile, but neither really stuck. I was called Matony for years, after a commercial starring the Flying Matony Brothers that I apparently loved as a baby, but that was a name reserved only for the closest of family. But there was one nickname that stuck for a long time, used by most everyone and probably not with the kindest intentions. They called me Motormouth. Motormouth because my jaw was always flapping, tongue always rattling. I didn't walk until 17 months, but I spoke in complete sentences seemingly from birth. My dad once bet me that I couldn't go an entire day without talking and with $20 on the line (or $5 or $100 - all I know is that at 8 years old it seemed like A LOT) I was determined to prove him wrong. I did well, fighting the urges in order to gain my prize (and pride) and my dad paid up. But later he confessed that as I played the piano that afternoon, picking keys one by one, I sang along with a made up song, never even knowing my mouth was running.

And yet now, somehow when so much is happening, the hum of the motor has slowed. Inexplicably, the woman who has always refused to be silenced is quiet.

I want to talk - I do. I want to share quirky tidbits about life as a mom, about leaving the house without noticing the cheerios stuck to my ass, about finally electing to leave the diaper bag at home only to have a major poop-splosion moments later, about the wacky and wild days of motherhood. But much as I love my son (and my heart bursts at the thought of him napping peacefully (in his crib!) in the room down the hall) I can't delude myself that those tidbits are interesting to anyone but me. And frankly, some days they aren't interesting to me either.


I am enjoying motherhood in ways I never expected. Sure, there are some lonely afternoons and the nights are still long and sleepless, but I adore my Oliver Robin. I find him intriguing and hilarious and smooshable. He fills me up each and every day, even fuller than the box after box of Thin Mints I scoffle. I worry about him (not eating, not crawling, not sleeping, not sleeping, not sleeping) and yet vehemently defend him when others express those same concerns. I could reserve every breath for him for the rest of my days: breathing him in, deeply inhaling his essence, feeling his very being fill my lungs and course through my veins, bringing life to every cell of my tired body.

He fills me so entirely, a vessel overflowing, and yet I miss the days when I created my own energy, was responsible for filling myself.

I can blabber endlessly about his moments, his laughs, his pincer grasp and teeth, but I have no moments of my own anymore. People ask me how I am and I am honestly unable to respond. I don't think I exist anymore, certainly not in the way I did before. I am responsible for helping this small little man create his world, develop his senses and yet I feel, at this moment, so underdeveloped myself. In 9 months I haven't created anything (literally or figuratively) that was born of myself. And I miss me.

I have become his vessel, his vase in which the buds of his personality bloom and that is a role I value beyond all else. But there was a time when I tilled my own soil and forced my own dormant seeds to blossom. *I* was responsible for making my world beautiful.

I could feel my own power then, stretch my own wings. Now those wings don't expand but rather contract to envelop my baby bird (my Robin) to help him discover his own power. And to watch him soar might be even more beautiful than my own flight. But I yearn for the wind to ruffle my feathers too. I need to try to fly alongside him, but I just can't remember how.