The Late, Quiet Moments

The Princess’ dance studio is twenty minutes away from our home. Well, it’s usually 17 minutes each way, but I’ve done it in 12 minutes when there weren’t any slow people in front of me, no traffic on the freeway, it wasn’t raining, and I needed to get there very quickly, but I digress. Let’s just call it twenty minutes away. It’s not a hardship to make the drive, most of the time. Some nights, I’m just tired, but for the most part, it’s just an accepted part of the deal. The family we’ve become part of there, including her directors, studio manager(s), and teachers, are worth it. And we can usually get her a ride back to a closer-to-home meeting spot when needed.

Tuesdays are her late nights at the studio these days. She finishes class at 8:45pm, which means I leave the house around 8:20 to go pick her up. I was making the drive last night, and realized I don’t mind those later-night drives. I appreciate the quiet. On the way there, I appreciate the time to quiet my mind, the opportunity to just breath. It’s dark, there aren’t many cars on the road. I enjoy the drive on the curvy road between the freeway and the village the studio calls home. I also appreciate the drive home with the Princess in the car.  Some nights, she’s full of chatter. Some nights, she’s lost in her own thoughts. Some nights, she falls asleep, exhausted from a full day of cheer, school, homework, and nearly three hours of dancing. Some nights, we sing our hearts out all the way home. I love them all.

The drives at night, those late, quiet moments, remind me of when my babies were babies, and we had those nightly 3am feedings. At the same time you’re wiped out and just want to sleep, you know those quiet moments with your baby are fleeting, they’re special. There’s just something different about them. Some of my friends think I’m insane when I say I miss those 3am feedings, but I do miss them. I miss that quiet time, holding my loves closely in the dark, the rest of the household sleeping, the world outside dark, the busyness of the day  held at bay.

Here’s the thing – I’m so very aware how short my time with my babies home is. In two weeks, the Princess will take her permit test. This time next year, I won’t be driving to and from the studio because she will be driving herself. Our quiet, late night drives will be done. In two years, Big Man will graduate high school, the Princess in three. They are growing up, too fast. Maybe I’m overly-sentimental, overly-emotional, but those things that used to be irritating, annoying, disturbances to my sleep and my schedule are now cherished, because they are fleeting. So I make those drives late on Tuesday nights, or after dress-rehearsals, or after shows, or after football and basketball games, and I don’t mind.

 

Treasured

A few days ago, P was gushing about a friend of hers at school, specifically she was gushing about how he treats his girlfriend. She told me he compliments his girlfriend in front of his friends and her friends, lets people know she’s important in his life. I said, “Oh, he makes her feel treasured, cherished, lets her know she matters.” “That’s it,” P said. Yes, my dear girl…those boys are the winners in the end. When you’re looking (years from now, please) for “THE ONE”, find the man who makes you feel treasured.

That’s really how Spouse won me over. It took months for me to finally cave, but that’s what did it. He wasn’t a big gesture type of guy (although he has pulled off some big gestures since then, and I love them all the more for being few and far between – they’re always surprising when they happen), but he quietly and persistently let me know I mattered to him. He quietly and persistently let others know I mattered to him, and that meant almost more. He wasn’t one way when we were alone together, and another way entirely when people were around.

We talked, almost every single day. Now remember, this is before cell phones were in everyone’s hands and LONG before texting and social media existed. We actually talked, on the phone, every day, for hours on end. We saw each other nearly every weekend. He made me laugh. He taught me to laugh at me. He gave me the space I demanded, but never gave up, and never left. When I had to have surgery, he drove over an hour to see me and make sure I was okay. When the sun was shining and the weather perfect in  San Francisco, we both ditched work and spent a beautiful Spring day together in the City. When my dad had an aneurysm, he showed up and stayed with me in the waiting room during the long surgery. He was just there, in every way I needed him to be so that I knew I mattered to him.

He could be a little overprotective, and even a little jealous, at times (still is). I chafed against that, often, but then came to realize it’s just because I matter, because he does cherish me, that he does that. When we’re out at a party or social event, I know that he knows where I am in the room. For whatever reason, that still makes me feel a little special. He still gives me my room to be me, my space to have my own section of life, but I know I’m his, I matter to him, I’m treasured. That’s what I want P to find someday.

 

Interesting and somewhat entertaining

Spouse doesn’t have any sisters – it’s just he and his brother. He went to an all-boys high school. Guess what he doesn’t have experience with? Yep – high school/teenage girls. It’s interesting, and often a whole lot entertaining, watching him trying to process his daughter.

If you have a teenage girl, or ever were a teenage girl, you know this is a process, right? First off, you NEVER laugh when a girl is in the midst of a PMS tantrum. And whatever you do, don’t point out she’s in the middle of a PMS tantrum. I tried to tell him, but he did laugh, once. I gave him the staredown/headshake but it was too late. It took a couple of days for them to recover from that episode. He knows now the best thing is to not make eye contact, hand over the chocolate, and calmly back away until informed it’s safe.

He had no clue the drama involved with teenage girls. Oh lordy, the DRAMA! He gives a simple (read: male) answer to a situation. You can almost hear her eyeballs roll back in her head, mine too for that matter. He doesn’t get the social complexities of the drama, the potential fallout, the long-term ramifications (at least for the four years of high school). I know – for men, it is much more simple.

And don’t get me started on the boys. He’d just rather crawl under a rock than see high school boys look at, much less talk to or want to date, his daughter. He had all these high ideals and ideas and rules which aren’t practical in reality. I’ve had to talk him down, twice. He has perfected the dad glare, and I think he secretly takes great pleasure at the thought of terrifying some poor boy just because he can with that glare.

He is much easier on her than I these days. He can keep an emotional distance. I’m a girl, and I get what this time is all about, which means I can’t disengage. I’ve felt all she’s feeling (whether she believes that or not is an entirely different story). It is very interesting though to watch him – this man with only vague experience with teenage girls. There is something to be said about one-gender high schools, and growing up without sisters. It’s definitely making it somewhat entertaining to watch him navigate having a daughter in high school.

Sleeping Beauty or That Girl Can Fall Asleep Anywhere

I wrote this post nearly two years ago. But “girl sleeping” seems to be a frequent search term, because it pops up in my stats as “viewed” at least twice a week. Even two years later, she still falls asleep anywhere and everywhere. She is a super busy girl, and goes and goes until she drops, and/or we have meltdown. This is her, this is part of her story…..I thought I’d re-share since it gets hits pretty frequently.  Happy Weekend!

So, the Princess has been a wee bit ignored lately what with March for Babies focusing our thoughts on Big Man’s prematurity,  and it being Autism Awareness Month turning our minds towards Little Man and his stuff. I’m here to remedy that this afternoon.

This girl can fall asleep anywhere, and she usually does. She hated napping and going to bed when she was an infant and toddler. She would fight it tooth and nail. She didn’t want to be held to fall asleep. She preferred her bouncy seat, exersaucer, crib, pack-n-play…anywhere but in someone’s arms. She just didn’t particularly like to sleep where or when you expected her to sleep. This made for some interesting discoveries, especially after she learned how to climb out of her crib (at a ridiculously young age for my liking, mind you). She would go and go and go, until she dropped wherever she was, and I mean that literally. We have video of her sound asleep, and snoring, laying up the stairs. We have photos of her hanging half off her bed, on her back. I have pictures of her sleeping pretty much everywhere. Some samples: IMG_0074 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

across her pillow across recliner after beach after slumber party after soccer arms across e in the car booster sleeping on the stairs

I’ll give her this…in almost all of the above photos, we were either at the beach, at soccer, skiing, or at dance before she passed out and photos were taken.

Nowadays, if you put her in the car for more than five minutes, she’s out. You would think that with all the time she and I spend in the car together, we would get some good mother/daughter, one-on-one time. Not so much. She falls asleep on the way to the studio and on the way home from the studio. It is rather entertaining to watch her head start to bob, and then we hit the curvy road and she falls over. She doesn’t even try to fight it anymore. Airplane to DC? She was out before we were over Arizona.  On the way home, I don’t even think she made it to takeoff. It’s kind of her thing now, part of her story.  Seems almost appropriate – I call her Princess, and she could qualify as Sleeping Beauty. That girl can sleep anywhere.

You don’t know her

I was downloading performance pictures from Nutcracker this week, and, like any good dance mom, posting them to my social media. It hit me that most of the Princess’ friends have never seen her dance. She lives in two separate worlds….her school world, and her dance world. They don’t overlap at all. There’s an entire side to her that her school peeps have never even glimpsed. I don’t hold it against them  at all. I just find it interesting.

I looked at those pictures of her dancing, knowing exactly what faults she would find and point out, which she would like, which she would tell me to not download. She sees herself critically in the photos. I just see her when I look at them, and I realized, you don’t really know her if you’ve never seen her dance. She bares herself when she’s dancing – her passion, her drive, her emotions, her intent,  her strength, her vulnerability. Every time she performs, I learn something about her, and I think that’s what makes me cry when I watch her. I see her, and I know all the work she’s put into it.

I hope someday her friends get to see her dance. They’ll see a side of her they’ve never known, they’ll maybe understand why she frequently has to say, “I can’t, I have dance”, and they’ll know her better, because you don’t really know her, all of her, unless you’ve seen her dance.

The First Boy

To the boy who will love my daughter first:

Young man –  you will be her first love.  Make it good. She will remember you her entire life, sometimes fondly, sometimes with hurt or anger. Give her more reasons to recall you with kindness and nostalgia. In other words, don’t screw it up. Don’t screw it up for every other boy who will follow you, for while you will be her first, you very likely won’t be her last.

Take your time, and give her time. She is just figuring out who she is, her place in the world. That’s a scary thing, but more terrifying is someone trying to define that for her, or take it away from her. Don’t try to command her friendships, do support her time with her friends. She will be a better, more whole person for it. Don’t try to be her everything – that’s not what she’s looking for.  The harder you chase, the more quickly she may run.

No one besides family has loved her before.  The idea of someone who doesn’t have to care about her caring about her is difficult to trust. She may doubt, she may wonder why you care, she may not believe you really care. Be consistent but not overwhelming.  If you remain calm, she may come to believe it. In the meantime, there might be a dance of moving forwards and backwards. Trust me, she’s worth the wait if you’re willing to be patient.

She has priorities……School first, then family, then dance and cheer. You come in somewhere after that. Don’t attempt to mess  up that order. You’ll hear from us if you do. And she will probably set you straight before we even have to step in.  She’s kinda tough-minded that way.  She has big plans for her life, and if she feels like you might try to sway her from those plans, you’ll likely be shown the door. Heaven help you if you start shifting your plans for your life – kiss of death right there.

The heart is easily broken, so that first relationship is the most difficult, mostly due to fear of how it will end, and how you will deal with heartbreak. One of you will hurt the other. Most likely, you will hurt each other. There’s a lot of angst involved in that first love. There’s a lot of learning involved in that first love.

If you play your cards right, you’ll both learn, love, and grow, and someday, she will find all the notes you’ve written each other, come across an old photo or the first gift you ever gave her, and she will smile fondly in remembrance of her first love.

[Just as an aside – there’s no first boy yet, but she is a freshman in high school, a cheerleader, a smart/funny/cute girl. When you have a fifteen  year old daughter, you start to think about these things, and what you might tell that boy]

Under the Friday Night Lights

Tonight is the last football game of the season for our high school. That really just hit me today. We’ve been floating along in this new routine for a couple of months. I think I just now grasped this is our last week of this particular routine.

It’s been awesome – watching the teams, watching my girlie cheer. Everything I’d hoped for her in this experience has been realized. There’s been  ups and downs – our team isn’t the best – and there has, of course, been drama. You can’t put thirty girls on a team and expect there to not be drama. But she’s part of the school culture, part of the Friday night legacy. She’s a cheerleader.

Watching her, and the teams, every week, has brought back so many memories. My family spent every fall Friday night at a high school football field from the time my brother was a Sophomore in high school until my youngest sister graduated. There’s a community – the students, the parents, the rowdy crowd, the band, the football players, coaches, the cheerleaders, the younger and the older siblings. I love being part of that again, even if I’m frequently reminded I’m now just the mom.

Watching her cheer, watching her teammates, watching the football players, you can forget they’re just kids after all. They seem larger than life out there. But then the DJ will play some music, and you see them start to dance a bit, or a helmet comes off and you recall just how young they are, that they have so much life ahead of them.

But tonight is the last game of the season for her freshman year. I’m planning on trying to just take it in.