Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sharing is Hard

When I realized I was pregnant with Little Man, I had a couple of thoughts after I came to on the bathroom floor. 
1. I should clean behind the toilet a little better.
2.  I should learn to keep my big mouth shut.  I had just told anyone who asked, about two weeks earlier, at Sweet Girl's second birthday party that Sean and I were going to wait "at least another six months before trying."  Apparently God has a sense of humor and is quick with a joke.
3.  I needed to figure out how to prepare Sweet Girl for sharing.  Sharing her parents, her house, her dog, her toys, with a sibling.
4.  Actually, Sean should clean behind the toilet a little better.

I fretted over that third thought for about nine months.  Sweet Girl was making great strides in the beginning of her therapies and I was getting more comfortable with the gfcf diet we had started for her.  But, she was nowhere near the point of understanding the seismic shift in family dynamic that a sibling brings about.  Would she act out?  Would she regress?  Would I have to be constantly worrying if she was going to "help" the baby down the stairs?  Turns out I was worried over very little.  Sweet Girl took to Little Man pretty well.  That's not to say we haven't had our moments of frustration, but overall these two make a pretty good brother and sister pair.

And sharing hasn't been an issue for Sweet Girl (with the odd exception of her brush and comb, I mean she watched Little Man gum her toothbrush to death and then she stuck it in her own mouth for crying out loud, but she admonishes him every time he makes a move for the comb - because that's what one needs to be protective of).  She even shares some of her most prized possessions with her "brudder."  During his bath earlier this week, Sweet Girl came in the bathroom to assess the situation.  Seeing Little Man's bathtub woefully devoid of molded plastic, she threw in her Lumpy, Roo, Pooh, and Eeyore figures with a loud "Here you go, brudder. That's better."  Those are her own bath toys and some of her first loves.  While the delivery technique could use some finesse, the spirit is there.  She tries to share her "lemlonade" with him, though she doesn't seem to understand Little Man's failure to grasp straw mechanics.  And perhaps the most telling of all that she thinks having a brother is acceptable, Sweet Girl even tries to share her music with Little Man.

Sweet Girl is a singer.  What she lacks in lyrical comprehension, she makes up for in enthusiasm.  She reminds me of a politician in that regard; though what you're saying may not actually make sense, if you say it loudly enough no one will question its authenticity - veritas via volume.  This makes it easy for Sweet Girl to belt out songs from Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles, and (I can't believe I have to say this) Miley Cyrus with great conviction despite not actually knowing what daisy dukes are.  So when I hear her from the back seat tell Little Man to "sing a song, brudder" when "King of Anything" is on, I know there is love there.  She wouldn't share that with just anyone.  And though she is, once again, thoroughly disappointed with his lack of acceptance of such gifts, Sweet Girl sings the song and Little Man (and the rest of the population within a 500 feet radius) is entertained.

So if my three year old can share so graciously, what is my problem?  Today when I picked Sweet Girl up from school, her teacher came to talk to me about an incident in the classroom.  She started out with: "So Sweet Girl had her favorite toy...."  And that was all I heard.  Everything else Mrs. Sara said was drowned out with a million thoughts swirling in my mind.  Mrs. Sara, oblivious to the fact that I had checked out of the conversation, continued relaying the story (which I'm pretty sure involved Sweet Girl finding the cure for cancer or winning the school's beat boxing championship one or the other).  All the while I'm thinking "How does she know what Sweet Girl's favorite toy is? I don't know what her favorite toy is at school.  Oh no!  What else don't I know about Sweet Girl?"  You get the picture.  All of a sudden I was very jealous of Mrs. Sara.  I do not envy the woman her job.  I could never do what she does.  But I was jealous that she got to see Sweet Girl in a way I didn't.  I was having a hard time sharing my Sweet Girl.  Mrs. Sara finished her story (about Sweet Girl winning the Nobel Prize) and I bundled Sweet Girl in to the car. 

On the way to Sonic - of course - I was able to reel myself in a little.  I get to do quite a bit of introspection in the car during Sweet Girl's concerts (audience participation is acceptable but not necessary).  So on this trip I thought about what is best for Sweet Girl.  This is after all what I want.  I want Sweet Girl to interact with others, to make friends, to open up to people.  To get comfortable enough in an environment outside of our home that she can have a favorite toy somewhere else.  In order for that to happen I'm going to have to be better about sharing her.  Someone else gets to be in charge of her favorite molded plastic and hear her songs.  It's wonderful that Sweet Girl is sharing herself with others.  But as her mom, I have to say this sharing thing is not as easy as Sweet Girl makes it look.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Year

So, I've been putting off this post for awhile now.  Having to do this post means having to talk about the year ahead of Sweet Girl, Little Man, Sean, and myself; the year that Sean will have to be away.  And talking about it means acknowledging it.  And I've been doing an excellent job of pretending that this year is going to fly by.  But the truth is I feel like it's already been a year and it's only been a week.  This year is going to be a challenge. This year my sanity will be tested, and I'm giving 50/50 odds on keeping it intact at this point.  This year our family grows up a little while being apart.  This is probably not going to be my favorite year ever.

One of the reasons I've been putting this off is because there hasn't been that much extra time around here.  We had some big stuff going on; a very awesome trip to St. Louis, in-laws visiting, Little Man getting baptized (in style, I might add), U of I football, a not-so-necessary adventure for Oreo (dumb dog), and the rest of the not-so-glamorous things that happen before a deployment.  Sweet Girl and Little Man have seen some sights, hung out with some cool peeps, and done some exciting things.  All while leaving chaos and a fair amount of drool in their wake.  There were some great adventures for Sweet Girl and Little Man.

Another reason I haven't written about this yet is because I don't want to come off as "woe is me" sympathy-seeking.  Government sponsored vacations (as I like to call them - Sean doesn't and I don't know WHAT his problem is) are difficult for everyone involved, but I know that we are blessed.  Sean has a stable career which provides for our family.  The two years prior to this, Sean was able to get his master's degree and we had more family time than we knew what to do with.  And deployments are not unexpected.  Not to mention the fact Sean chose this as his career. He volunteered for life in the military, and as much as I would like to suggest I was duped, I volunteered to be his partner in that life.  And this isn't our first deployment, so this year scares me but it was pretty easy to see it coming.

I am scared that this year I will fail my children miserably.  I am scared of the situations that may occur.  I am scared that I will not be able to be the same amount of "fun" Sean is for Sweet Girl and Little Man.  I am scared that physically distant can easily become emotionally distant.  I am scared that Little Man will have more time without his father around than with his father around.  I am scared that I will spend so much time wishing for time to go by faster that I will miss out on making memories for/with my children. I am scared that Sweet Girl will continue to think she hears Daddy every time the dog barks at the door for a year.  I am scared she will stop listening for Daddy every time the dog barks at the door for a year.  I am scared that a family growing up apart could mean a family growing apart.  I am scared of this year.

But I have faith: in Sean, in Sweet Girl and Little Man, in prayer, in miracles, and in our family. We will do what we have to do to make this work.  And what we can not control, I will pray works out for the best.  So many, many people and families have already experienced "this year" and come out the other side.  And this year is worth that for which others have already sacrificed.  I don't often quote politicians, at least not in a serious manner, but something Lyndon Johnson once said in a State of the Union Address (I'm pretty sure) has always stuck with me and I think it applies not only to this great country on Veteran's Day but also to this family just starting out the adventure of "this year."

This, then, is the state of the union: free and restless, growing and full of hope. So it was in the beginning. So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.

So it may scare me, but I can give a year for that.  And if you get a chance to read this, Sean, Sweet Girl, Little Man, and I want to say we love you and stay safe!