Now We Are Six

Dear Connor,

Last night after dinner we put together the loot bags for your birthday party. They’re Star Wars themed, like your invitations, and your dad had selected a bunch of things along that theme that six-year-olds might like. As we put them together, you helped sometimes, and ran around sometimes, playing with the various extra bits, pretending you had a light sabre, and it struck me once again, in that moment, that you are six. You know things about Star Wars and light sabres and you are six.

Star Wars birthday invitations

For the last couple of months as we led up to your sixth birthday, my chest has been tight thinking about it. I don’t know why. There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about turning six; at least not that I can think of. You might notice that this year, unlike other years, I have titled this letter, “Now WE are six.” For some reason this birthday, unlike other years, feels more like it’s about us and not just about you.

I have thought about this a lot, trying to figure out why. The closest I can come is that it has something to do with the stage Ethan has reached. At 18 months (and then 19, and then 20) it became clearer and clearer to me how different he is from how you were at that age. And in so realizing, it became clearer and clearer just how hard those first few years of parenthood were when you were a baby.

boy in skull shirt with spiked hair

My darling boy, I love you so much, but a lot of things about being your mom in those first few years just sucked. I look back on those things now and I wonder how we got through it. Sometimes I think maybe I didn’t actually get through it intact, but maybe this is just how things are and were meant to be. Maybe some of these things would have come about anyway.

You are an entirely different person now. Well, maybe not entirely. You are still full of life and energy, but you have evolved into a person who has two speeds: high speed and off. You are either moving through life at mach speed or completely still, focused on Lego, or a movie, or fast asleep. For the last couple of mornings I’ve had to come and wake you up so you could be at school on time, something I don’t actually recall ever having to do in the last six years. You were curled up in your sleeping bag on your camping cot (which you’ve insisted on sleeping in since returning from camping last weekend) and you didn’t even move when Ethan and I came into the room. And then I left the room for a moment to tell your dad that you were still totally passed out—because it really was that remarkable—and Ethan jiggled you enough to wake you up and the next thing I knew you were out of bed. You went from completely OFF to completely ON.

Hoo doos in Drumheller

Recently, I have become better at catching you in, or encouraging you into, quieter moments. I have worked on regulating my own settings so that your high-speed setting doesn’t inevitably push me straight into overdrive. Our relationship is better now than it was. Better now, I think, than ever. I can see more clearly what you need, and you can express your needs more clearly to me, and we aren’t always jockeying to each have our own needs met RIGHT NOW.

I have struggled recently with the things your birth brought into my life - things I didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. But I struggle less with you, and as a result you struggle less with me. We have found a balance, like the point of a spinning top that stays in control, en pointe, and fully supported by the forces around it. It took us a few years of working to build the strength and structure to appear to dance more lightly, but we got here. And as I look in the mirror I see us dancing a choreographed dance that we perform mostly in unison, spending less time treading on each other’s toes.

silhouette in front of water wall

I like this dance, my darling boy.

Now we are partners.

Now we are six.

I will love you always and forever,

Mama xx

Explore: Life in Pictures, Vol. 6

The end of 2013 whipped by. Last time I did a photo update on my word for last year we were finishing summer and transitioning into kindergarten and I was getting ready to go back to work. And now it’s 2014. January 7 already. Before I know it May will be here again and the snow will be gone and 2013 will seem very far away. So here’s the end of the year in pictures.

I didn’t do much in the way of exploring, at least not in the traditional sense. But we hit some milestones and had some fun, and I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be about anyway.

Someone turned one.

eating-cake

You would think he didn’t like his birthday cake.

cake-ick

But you’d be wrong. He devoured that piece.

cake-bite

It was a good birthday. The last first.

birthday-paper

Christmas came even though I wasn’t ready, as predicted.

Christmas-cards

It was fairly low-key – a rare thing in my family. But we did the obligatory (and enjoyable) things. Now I just need to clear the detritus from my living room. (I did mention that it’s January 7, didn’t I?)

zoolights

We had a cold snap in there too. A very, very cold snap. Did you know you could get ice an inch thick on the inside of your windows? In Alberta you can.

ice-window

But winter is beautiful. At least I think so.

winter-sun

So we took advantage of it.

green-coats

We walked, and found signs of beauty and love.

bridge-locks

Winter lasts for a long time here, but sometimes you just have to throw yourself into it and become one with the snow. (Literally, even.)

sledding

He looks like he’s not enjoying himself (or maybe he just thinks the hat is goofy) but he had a blast. Deep snow is apparently quite fun when you’re one.

snowsuit

We had some losses…

lost-tooth

…but many more wins.

sunset

And so ended 2013.

#iPPP is back for 2014! Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Tea and Quiet

‘Tis the season, as they say. Life is busy enough as it is, and now we rush around trying to get ready for Christmas. I feel as though it may whiz past me this year, whether I prepare for it or not. And yet somehow that’s okay.

I’m on the computer less, reading more. I’m writing less, playing more.

I’m finding quiet when I need it and where I can.

Are you?

cup of tea and chocolate

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

This will be our last #iPPP link-up of the year. Happy holidays! We’ll see you again in the new year. 

iPPP button

 

This One Doesn’t Eat Books

You know that Friends episode where Monica fills in for a food critic and gives the restaurant a scathing review? Then when the owner challenges her description of the food she backs up her opinion with this line:

“I couldn’t eat it. I have five friends who couldn’t eat it. And one of them eats books.” 

I think of that line every time I’m reading to Ethan and I pick up one of the books I read to Connor when he was a baby. They’re all missing pieces around the edges, particularly at the corners, and in some cases sections of the covers are completely eaten away. Yes, eaten away.

I could barely get through a book with Connor when he was small. Before he was even six months old he had devoured some of the classics – Goodnight Moon, The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (He always has been quite literal, if not literary.)

These days Connor loves stories at bedtime, and occasionally at other times too. But he has never been a kid who will sit quietly and look at books. One night when he was about 3 1/2 we realized he was still awake after bedtime. We peeked in his room and he had taken most of the books off his bookshelf and had made tents with them – open and upside down, each one formed an inverse V on his bed. He had systematically lined them up, row upon row of books turned into a tent city, completely covering his double bed. It was hilarious and perfect and so very him.

Ethan, on the other hand, loves to read. He will sit and flip through books for ages. He’s mostly quite gentle, and the other night when I saw him reading some paperback Christmas stories I’ve had since I was little I wasn’t terribly worried that he would tear them apart. He just flipped through, looking at all the pictures in one book before putting it down and picking up the next.

I love that he already has a love of reading. And I love that he doesn’t eat books.

Ethan-books

 

At least not yet.

 

iPPP button

 

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

 

Finding Slow Amid Fast

It’s 10:30 p.m. as I write this, a good hour after I had intended to be asleep. The boys were both up at 5:30 this morning and, after busy days both yesterday and today plus too many too-late nights, I’m desperately tired. But Connor is asleep next to me and I don’t want to move him just yet.

When I left work tonight the sky was almost dark – the sort of fading light that comes right before the sun disappears entirely until morning. By the time I wound my way around the roads and through traffic and reached home it was dark dark. Inky blackness all around, with only the lights from cars and street lamps showing the way.

snowy field

This is the way it is now. The sun is just finishing waking up as I leave in the mornings, its rays stretching, reaching out to tinge the clouds with golden pink. My boys are finishing their morning rituals as I exit the house – eating the last few bites of breakfast, choosing clothes for the day, brushing teeth.

When I pull my car into the driveway at night the sun is gone. By the time I get home the boys are finishing dinner and are ready to start heading to bed. We reverse the morning’s routine—getting undressed, putting pyjamas on, brushing teeth—and then the day is done. The night has come. It’s somehow even darker than before, and quiet.

I walked the dog tonight – late enough and dark enough that it felt as though I shouldn’t have to go out again. And it was cold, the kind that bites at your cheeks and leaves them red. It was snowing, and the flakes looked like silver glitter falling from the sky, slowly falling and twirling. But when I caught them with my camera they appeared to whizz, like shooting stars, determined and fast. It felt like an apt metaphor for my days: I’m slowly moving, dancing, twirling, but when I stop to look I realize how fast the days go by.

snow flying in the dark

With the dog walked and one more thing checked off my list, I came back inside and got ready for tomorrow—tidying and making lunch and checking to-do lists—before sitting on my bed with a cup of hot chocolate and my laptop. It’s quiet here, just the way I like it after a day at work, and my LED-light candles glow in the corner.

I suspect that’s what attracted Connor, and why he is now asleep next to me.

LED candles in the darkness

He made a request earlier for a pyjama party with mama and the glowing candles, but Ethan wiggled at bedtime and needed extra cuddles and Connor was in bed by the time I was done. Tomorrow night, I promised him. We’ll have a pyjama party and turn on the candles tomorrow.

The promise wasn’t good enough, apparently. I heard his door open and his small feet coming down the hall. He looked in slyly, expecting me to scoot him back to bed; I didn’t, and when he crawled up on the bed and put his head in my lap I knew he would go back to sleep.

So here I sit. I’ve shuffled him off my lap to get him under the covers and so I can tuck my own feet in, too. He’s nestled against me and if I listen hard I can hear his quiet breathing, but mostly he is silent. It’s a moment of slow in a life filled with fast. It’s unusual, and I relish it.

 

I’ve joined Greta from Gfunkified as co-host of #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. Link up below!

GFunkified