Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ah Vacation...

Ah vacation, how I love you so….

How is it that merely one week away from the normal daily grind can work wonders in a person’s soul? I swear, I was close to losing my mind for a few months prior to leaving for vacation. A few weeks ago I even wrote about how desperate I was for a break. As a (mostly) stay at home mom (I work part time from home) I never get “time off” from the kids. After over seven years of working the same job day in and day out with very, very little time off I was drowning. I love my kids more than anything, but I hadn’t been getting enough time away from them in order to refresh myself. I was slowly slipping into insanity.

So, when our vacation week finally arrived I was ecstatic. Granted, I was also a bit apprehensive since this vacation was a family one, just our family. No friends, no other extended family members, just myself and my husband and our three kids, the same three kids I needed a break from. However, I was determined to enjoy the time away and release myself from any sort of normal responsibility. My daily life is fiercely regulated by the clock, I’m on a strict schedule that requires me to race through the day in order to remain on time.

I didn’t want any of that. I wanted my brain and my mind to be free, relaxed, calm. I wanted to savor the moment and distance myself from time management efficiency. I wanted to actually enjoy every moment I spent with my kids and not worry about running late or mentally strategizing the rest of my daily tasks while engaging with them. I wanted my kids and my husband to have all of me and I wanted to do so gladly and whole heartedly, not with reservation. In my busy life I have a tendency to have fun and be in the moment but with one eye continuously glancing at the clock. I don’t really know how to fully relax but I wanted to, I needed to. My goal was to shed that restricting mentality and be absolutely free for the entire week.

AND IT WORKED!!!! It was the absolute best medicine, exactly what I needed to expel the stress and tension and then replenish with renewed energy. My week was perfect. All day, every day with my wonderful family, relaxed hours on the beach, playing in the surf, morning bike rides, collecting shells along the sand, evening walks at sunset, fun and meaningful interaction, and lots of healing leisure. No clocks, no cell phone, no Internet (ok, I did check my email once), no itinerary, no expectations, no responsibility, just a genuine enjoyment of every moment of every day. (I did all the planning beforehand so we had details taken care of, giving us the ability to go with the flow).

I feel much better, renewed and refreshed, and packed with magical memories. Now I just have to wait another 355 days till the next time, approximately…

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Toddler Translator

My daughter is two and is talking up a storm. She chats to everyone and, as most toddlers do, points out every single object, person and pet she encounters. It’s as though her activities and sights need a continuous verbal relay. I hear about every plane that passes overhead, every dog that walks by, every bird that crosses our lawn, and pretty much every other action taking place. Her new one is “Mama, watch this!” which is followed by some sort of action on her part, usually a tumbling move she picked up from observing her brothers “break dance”. (Her tumbling maneuver, more often than not, consists of her lifting her arms up, straight into the air then dramatically swooshing them down, bending over and kicking her feet all of two inches off the floor. It’s priceless!)

On the whole, I love to hear her talk. I’ve waited for this day for a long time. Once kids begin speaking it makes life, generally speaking, easier. The only problem is, as is the case with beginner talkers, she speaks her own language. By this I mean she doesn’t always pronounce words correctly (sometimes she’s not even close!), making it a challenge to decipher her intention. She is extremely precise and knows exactly what she wants to say, and she says it, only I don’t always understand her. We play this game throughout the day endlessly. I have to go through a list of every single word she could possibly mean and say it out loud until I hit the right one. Now, being her mother and with her all day long I’m usually quite adept at picking the winning word quickly. However, there are instances where we spend a good chunk of time attempting to understand each other.

This morning, for example, she kept saying “Pez! Pez!” I looked all around the room for something that might sound similar to “pez” but couldn’t locate anything. I asked “Birds?... Cars?... Books?... Brush?... Pants?... Bed?...” until I finally hit the jack pot with “Brothers.” Turns out she was inquiring after her two brothers while I was getting her dressed for the day.

My daughter has the habit of just repeating the word (or phrase) over and over and over until I get it. She doesn’t tire, she’ll just repeat it incessantly like a broken record. When she’s not feeling patient and is frustrated with me for taking too long she’ll continue with her repetition but then she’ll throw in a loud “No!” of exasperation in between guesses, scrunch up her face, stiffen her body and then arch her back in protest, as though I am wasting her time and could I please hurry up and get with the program already! Sheesh! (I have no idea where she gets that from, by the way… Ha! I can’t even type those words without laughing!)

I usually make an attempt to exercise my own patience in this situation because I know she’s trying hard to speak to me. I can relate to just how wearisome it is when either people do not understand your words or when you lack the vocabulary to properly express yourself. It can be maddening. Of course I also make a point to encourage her to remain calm and let her know I’m doing the best I can, thank you very much!

However, even with the challenges involved I do really love the learning-to-speak stage. It’s a point where you can see your child grow and develop right before your very eyes, from moment to moment. It’s fascinating! I think at this stage every parent proudly states their child is pure genius for being able to identify, pronounce, express, and relay meaning. It’s a remarkable time in a child’s life. Witnessing such leaps and bounds in mere days more than makes up for the Monopoly-style guessing games and frustrated toddler tantrums.