Wednesday, May 29, 2013

17 years

The cicadas have descended upon the east coast.  They have been living in the ground for 17 years.  As I stood at the playground the other day with my girls I saw all of the holes in the earth where the cicadas emerged.  There was an entire world of these insects directly beneath my feet for all of the hours that I have spent in that park for the last 10 years. When I pushed Sierra in the baby swing these creatures were there.  As I caught Laurel recklessly flying down the slide, they were with us.  And now, as I help Cadence climb on the jungle gym, I see their shells and listen to their mating call.   Their drone is constant throughout the day.  It sounds extraterrestrial to me.  As if any minute I will see a spaceship lift out of the woods and ascend into the sky.  I love the sounds.  It has the soothing quality of a white noise machine (although I know that not everyone holds this same opinion!).

In just a few weeks they will disappear.  The females will lay their eggs and the nymphs will burrow into the ground.  It will be 17 years before I hear them again.  For some reason this fills me with a deep sadness.  I realized why this was the other day.  Brad and the girls were talking about the cicadas cycle, the 17 years, and how old they will be the next time that we hear their call.  Yes.  This is why. 

Cadence will have just turned 21 years old.  Is it too much to hope that she will just be tasting wine for the first time as the cicadas get ready to appear?  Laurel will be 25 years old.  She will be the age I was when I walked down the aisle.  Will I be helping Laurel pick out her wedding dress the next time the cicadas sing?  Sierra will be 27 years old.  She will be the age that I was when she made me a mother. Will I be swinging my (gasp!) grandchild as the cicadas emerge from the ground?  (Okay, seriously, that last line kind of made me nauseous!)

I know that there is no stopping it.  There is no slowing it down. Even on the hardest days, the ones filled with whining, fussing, and arguing, I try to not wish the time away.  Seventeen years from now seems like a lifetime at this moment.   Yet, I'm getting ready for my 20 year high school reunion.  There are many moments when it seems like high school was just last week.  I  know that the next time the cicadas appear in the trees I will think about this time.  The time when the days sometimes lasted forever and I wanted to leap forward to bedtime or a time when the word "no" didn't result in a complete meltdown.  Yet I know that these next 17 years will pass by before I can even realize that it is happening.  And I will long for those days when I held my giggling girls in my arms and watched them collect cicada shells and listened to the hum of creatures that are as fleeting as time itself.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Homeschool "learning experience"

You know those times when you can completely predict how something is going to go down?  You see the path and know that there is no way that you can change the direction.  Yes.  That's what homeschooling was for me.  Maybe that is why Sierra's last day at school in December was so hard.  I even told friends back then that I anticipated how homeschooling would go for us.  I would have these grand plans in my head that wouldn't come to fruition and then I would be frustrated.  I had intended to do science experiments outside, create unique art projects,  listen to NPR pod casts and have good discussions about them, pick a country to explore and immerse ourselves in, learn and teach all things photography and cooking, give Sierra the opportunity to read aloud to Cadence and Laurel's classes.  Gosh, that sounds like such an AMAZING homeschool experience, don't you think?!  I was gonna rock this thing!  Or rather, I was going to think a lot about rocking this thing, not follow through on most of it, and then feel like a huge failure.  Yep.  That's how it went down.

I do realize that it's not that black and white.  Very shortly after our homeschooling adventure started Sierra missed her friends.  There aren't many kids her age who live close by and can just pop on over to say hello and she doesn't have a phone to text.  Our plans for her to start back at karate were put on hold when I went to Africa in February and, despite my efforts, it was challenging to find tween aged homeschoolers to connect with.  Sierra missed being around people her own age.  Homeschooling quickly lost it's appeal and by February she wanted to go back to school.  But, we had committed to try for the remainder of the year so we forged ahead. 

Unfortunately, as with most disgruntled pre-teens, it was difficult to pull enthusiasm from her.  Most of my suggestions (for those rockin' homeschool plans) were met with complaints, moans, and groans.  Sierra fell asleep as we listened to NPR pod casts.  She balked at reading aloud to her sisters' classes.  She definitely did not want to learn about any countries that I brought up.  It was frustrating for both of us.  So much that, in one particular "mom of the year" moment, I actually said that I was going to homeschool both her and her sister next year - as a threat!  Yes, it was that good.  Additionally, having Laurel in school made things even more difficult.  On a few occasions we had a bit of a groove going and then - BAM - snow day (or 5 or 6).  Of course Sierra wasn't going to do school work while Laurel was home playing.  For some reason it was so hard to pick up where we left off when Laurel went back to school.  I did learn something new about myself too.  I suck at structure.  Like, majorly suck!  And Sierra craved structure to her days and weeks.  Not a good match.

It hasn't been completely horrible.  Sierra took a fabulous art class that she really enjoyed. We've been able to do a few baking/cooking projects that she wanted to do. She has enjoyed less work focused days when she was able to hang out with friends.  It was some of these times with her friends that sort of clinched it for me.  Watching her smile, laugh, and brighten up when her friends were around made me realize the impact that social interaction has on her.  It made me realize that despite all of the things that I worry about socially in middle school (we've all been there, you know what I mean!) there are things that I cannot give her at home.  I think part of me hoped that by homeschooling her I could protect her a little longer from all of the drama that I loathe to think about my girls going through.  Give her a chance to grow into her own person a little more before exposing her to what everyone else thinks she should be.  But, it might do her more harm than good as well as the fact that neither of us is enjoying the process at all.  As a very wise friend said to me today, I need to have faith.  I need to have faith in Sierra. Faith that despite cutbacks at the school she will learn and grow and thrive.  Faith that, with our support and love, she will make the right choices and find her own way and her own happiness.  Faith that even when my kids are out of my reach, that they will be okay. 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Birthday week

The end of April through mid-May I used to a bit sorry for Brad.  My birthday, our anniversary, then Mother's Day, usually within two weeks... you can imagine it was a bit overwhelming for him to cover all of those!  Then, Cadence came home with her birthday smack dab in the middle of it all.  You can guess what takes priority over all of those now!

My baby is four years old.  I'm not sure when this happened.  She is very excited to be closer to the coveted "5 years old" when she will be allowed to have sleepovers like her sisters.  She is already counting down the days until then!  In the meantime, though, she has had a blast with her friends!  Birthday celebrations at preschool, a party at the park with her friends, and then a joint birthday breakfast celebration at my parents house for both of us.  It rounded out the week well!

Cadence is not an "easy" child.  She pushes and pulls and strives for independence when she is still so young.  She is observant and literal and will call you out to prove her point.  In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives all of us moms throw some lipstick on in the car, right?  The other day Cadence wanted to take her play make-up with us and put it on in the car.  I told her that we don't put make-up on in the car.  She responded "You do.".  Why, yes.  Yes I do.  Busted!  Cadence was annoying her sisters.  I said "Cadence" in my best 'You had better stop now or else there will be consequences' voice.  She continued and I said "Cadence, I told you to stop."  She replied "No you didn't.  You said 'Cadence'."  with perfect inflection and all. 

While she may not be "easy" she is truly one of the funniest kids that I have ever met!  She cracks us up on a daily basis.  She loves babies and coloring and playdoh.  She loves group hugs and being a clown.  Cadence brings so much joy into all of our lives.  It's so hard to believe that she has only been with us for 2 1/2 years.  She has certainly filled us all with more love than we ever imagined!
Happy birthday, Cadence!

Party in the park

Making a wish

Busting into her new year!

Happy birthday to us!