My sister in law called the other day to sob (a little) about her 18-year-old son and his high school graduation. This kid was five when I started dating his uncle, so while I might not be facing the reality of a full grown adult and wondering when my baby turned into this capable person ready to take on the world, I totally understood the Where the Hell Has the Time Gone sentiment.

Because really? That thing about the, growing up too fast is only a cliche when you are talking about someone else’s kid.

It might not be a fair comparison, but I immediately looked at my own growing baby. Buttercup will soon be four years old. She’s a far cry from the six-pound newborn I brought home from the hospital. Gone is the little cherub baby face and the awkwardly adorable toddler gait and the gummy smile. It’s all been replaced with the face of a little girl who walks and runs like a little girl and that memory of the gummy smile she once had is playing tricks with my mind as she sits with her fingers in her mouth trying to gently wiggle loose the tooth that seems to be hanging on by a thread.

I asked her if she wanted me to tug it out for her. It’s almost there, anyway, and when she pushes it out far enough with her tongue, I can see into her gum cavity where the shiny white newness of her first adult tooth is still waiting to be born. She told me no. She’s not ready to be a big girl yet and can we please just let it fall out on it’s own? When it’s ready?

I sometimes ask her to please stop growing. If only for a moment. Usually she takes me literally and laughs, telling she she can’t not grow. It’s what kids do, for goodness sake. But this time, I didn’t have to ask. My little baby has given me a reprieve, however slight, allowing us both a little more time to process the reality of the coming tomorrow.

This post was written in response to a writing prompt on The Red Dress Club. This week, writers were asked to take graduation as inspiration.

 

We decided to let buttercup celebrate her fourth birthday party a little early this year so she could have include preschool friends while they are still officially her classmates. So we got up early on a Sunday which sucked for me after staying up all night baking four batches of cupcakes and got ready for the big day.

When asked where she would like to have her party (read: Our house was not on the list of options after last year’s birthday hell of too many screaming kids and more headaches than I could count) she immediately responded by saying, “The Museum!” So I called up the Children’s Museum of Tucson and booked the party room. Score one for not having to clean up my house just for the pint-sized guests to mess it all up upon arrival.

Buttercup had a blast and so did her friends. Here’s the almost birthday girl decorating the birthday crown she received for her special day.

And while everyone else noshed on the sugar-laden cupcakes I had so lovingly baked and oohed and ahhed over the crap-ton of new toys Buttercup’s friends had brought for her, I earned major points for effort in the Willpower portion of my Fitness Report Card.

The rest of the party had cupcakes. I didn’t even feel like  I was missing out.

**This post originally appeared at Bookieboo

 

The sun wakes me up.

Even with the damned light-blocking curtains in our room, the bits of light peeking through the sides are enough to break into my happy little dreams. I curse myself for forgetting to put on my sleep mask the night before and decide to throw the quilt over my head for a little more time to rest. I’m allowed. My mom is visiting and I know that the minute she leaves, my chances for anything that resembles sleeping in will be out the closest window.

But first I think I’ll check my email. You know, in case an agent has decided overnight that my book is Super Crazy Awesome and has sent a message asking me to call them as soon as I wake up because they are considerate enough to realize Arizona is three hours behind New York? So I reach for the phone on my nightstand and with a precision only a social media addict can attempt, have my email loading before I even open my eyes to focus on what I am looking at.

Blah, blah, new twitter followers, blah, blah, blah, I am now rich because of a dead relative I have never heard of in Zimbabwe and can I please forward all of the necessary banking information to the kind lawyer handling the matter, blah, blah, my mother-in-law wants to be friends on Facebook, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and WHAT IN THE HELL?

The fuzziness from sleep is instantly replaced by an overwhelming sense of HOLY FUCK WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO NOW and I resist the urge to reach over to the other side of the bed and backhand the still sleeping Husband because my cover being blown is like, totally his fault. Or maybe it’s mine for actually saying yes when he asked if he could like my blog Facebook page. BFF Mel totally warned me that was a bad idea.

“They’re gonna find you,” she had said.

Who pays attention to that crap?

My mother-in-law, apparently.

Before anyone new here gets too confused, I have a strict Public Blog Policy. In short it goes like this: You are allowed to read if you don’t already know me. That might seem ass-backwards to normal people but when you stop to think about it or stop taking your medication it makes total sense. For starters? My in-laws say things like, “Dangnabbit” and “Dadgum” instead of, you know, real swear words. I usually behave when in their presence or on the phone with either one of them, but here?

Have y’all read my shit?

And once the in-laws get on my little social media bandwagon, all hell (sorry, I mean heck…oh shit, it’s happening already) will break loose because then my side of the very Mexican and You Can’t Say Things Like Fuck family will find out and I’ll start censoring what I write and then things will get all boring for me and for you and I’ll replace posts like this with posts not like this. Obviously, this is a major problem.

Besides, if I approve the request, there’ll be questions about my book and people will assume I like to Share My Feelings with them on a regular basis and I’ll most likely piss everyone off, alienate myself from The Family, and The Husband will just sit there looking confused when I try to explain to him Just One More Time the logistics behind not letting anyone know about my writing until I get an agent, a book deal, and make the best seller lists (maybe even all in the same week, right?) because then I will be established and I would totally be okay with that.

But until then this was all supposed to be my secret word garden. Password: Strangers Only.

Before I start to unnecessarily hyper-ventilate, I blink a few times and focus on the phone screen again. Her name is still there. Shitshitshitshitshit!

“What are you doing?” The Husband is now awake and staring at his crazy wife checking her email on her phone before she has even gotten out of bed to brush her teeth and pee. “You realize that if technology as we know it were to disappear tomorrow, you would probably go clinically insane from the withdrawals within a matter of moments, right?”

I don’t answer. I don’t trust myself to speak. Instead, I hand him the phone and climb out of bed to take care of the morning bathroom routine. As I reach for my toothbrush, I hear him start to laugh. It’s probably a good thing he is still in bed because I am pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to stand at this point.

I am proven wrong just a moment later.

“Quick, turn around and give me your best Deer Caught in Headlights” look.” The Husband is standing behind me with the phone, ready to snap a picture.

I turn around, my expression unchanged from the moment I first saw the email.

“Perfect.”

 

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“Mama! Where’s my kettlebell?”

She’s standing between me and the TV, arms folded and hip jutted out to the side. Buttercup has been wanting in lately on the Pauline’s Search for a Smaller Ass Healty Kick and that means less solitary Ohms and more creative inclusion. I grab the remote and hit pause on the Gaiam kettlebell workout I just bought, set down my own four-pound bell of wonder, and start scanning the room.

“Let’ see what we can find for you to use.”

Buttercup smiles. She’s in!

“What about this?” I hand her the pink Disney princess squishy softball that was wedged under the couch. I’m figuring it’s small enough to handle and light enough for her to mimic the movements without hurting herself.

“No. It doesn’t look like yours.”

Okayyyyy….

I sigh and walk into her playroom, Buttercup hot on my trail. She isn’t going to settle for a cheap substitute. She wants Mama’s kettlebell. And Mama isn’t gonna get her workout in until Buttercup is happy.

I’m not going to argue. I’m thrilled my little girl gets to see me setting a good example. And I am doubly happy that she associates exercise with being healthy and strong instead of the words that plagued my formative years.

Fat. Big. Calories.

I was bulimic by the time I was 15. I was eating disordered long before then, hiding in the food pantry to binge as a small child.

Buttercup wants a kettlebell to be healthy and strong. I want to encourage the positive.

“Baby, I can’t find anything for you to use. Will you let Mama finish my 20-minute workout and then you can sit down with me on the computer to order you a kettlebell for kids? One that is safe for you to use?”

She considers while I hope like hell that such a thing exists. If not, it’s back to working out after she is asleep, knowing full well I will have lost all motivation by then and go back to making excuses.

“Okay, mama.”

So I work out. She plays. And when we are both done, we sit down on the couch with my laptop. Thanks to a twitter recommendation, I find a sweet stuffed kettlebell toy named Buffy on etsy. I buy it. And Buttercup is beaming.

When it shows up in the mail, Buttercup declares it her new best friend and wants to sleep with it. I, however, did not just pay $28 for a new addition to the Ignored Stuffed Animal Collection.

“Does Mama sleep with my workout equipment?” I point to my yoga mat, kettlebell, and hand weights sitting in the corner of the living room. “Or do I only use them for being healthy and strong?”

Buttercup chews on her lip, torn between the desire to play with her toy and the one to be like me. She breaks into a huge grin.

“No,” she says, laughing. “That would be silly.”

“Yeah,” I say, “it would.

“Being healthy and strong isn’t silly, right?”

“Of course not.”

She nods her head at my response and sits down on the floor to velcro on her her sparkly gym shoes. She stands up, Buffy at the ready and her own little face the very picture of determination.

“Then let’s do this.”

Yes, ma’m.

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This post originally appeared on Bookieboo

 

Mercedes M. Yardley is an incredible writer and a woman of unbelievable strengths. She inspires me to be better, reach higher, and to reach deeper within. I like to tell Mercedes that I’m just staying on her good side so I can say I knew her when for when when actually happens for her but the honest truth is that when I saw on A Broken Laptop that Mercedes considers me an inspiration? Of her very own?

Uh-mazing.

So I’m passing on The Awesome.

The rules are simple.

When you win:

1. Post the picture above to your blog.

2. List at least three writers who you feel live up to the “write hard” spirit. Think: writers who work at their craft, writers who never give up despite the odds, writers who constantly turn out quality work. Writers you admire. Optional: explain why you think they are awesome.

3. Include these rules or a link to them.

4. Notify said writers of their victory. Ask them to pass on the torch.

5. Continue being awesome.

Now for my winners…

1. HC Palmquist: Maybe it’s because she writes fiction and I well, don’t, but H.C. always amuses me talking about her characters like they are real people. Oh wait, y’all do that? She’s hilarious, determined, and talented. I’d call that a triple-threat, people. She can probably also kick my ass in four inch-stilettos before breaking her own ankle and asking me to drive her to the emergency room.

2. Sarah Joyce Bryant: It takes an indescribable talent to take horrific childhood memories and turn them into beautiful testaments of strength and character. That’s what Sarah does with her breath-taking essays. Sarah is an amazingly gifted writer who also dabbles in poetry and fiction. I’m honored to know her.

3. Galit Breen: I found Galit through The Red Dress Club and am awed by her words every time I read them. You know those little moments that strung together make up the sum of our experience as mothers? Those moments that move so fast we too often miss them because we are simply trying to ready ourselves for the next one? That’s what Galit catches with her words.

Thank you for inspiring me, ladies. And remember to pass on The Awesome.

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