Thursday, September 11, 2014

War Planes

"Listen. Those are war planes."

13 years ago, I was living here in Boston. I was working in a government building. We had all been sent home early. No one knew what was going on. But we knew that innocent Americans were being targeted. We were all vulnerable. 

Commercial air traffic was shut down. The usual background drone of flights out of BOS had been silenced. There was a lot of quiet - tense, breath-holding quiet. 

But as we listened to the fighter planes patrolling overhead that night, we did know one thing. That our delusion of safety on our own soil was just that, a delusion. And that life would be different going forward. 

The skies are not blue today in Boston, as they were 13 years ago. That crystalline sky and crisp air are forever etched in my soul as "September 11th weather." It was so glorious that day, and in such sharp contrast with the horror and confusion we all felt. Of course I remember. We will never forget. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

First Day of School

Monday was a day we'd been looking forward to for a while.
HeyMama and MeToo started their respective Kindergarten classes in a wonderful little Boston Public elementary school. LittleDebbie started part-time daycare in a wonderful little home day care center in our neighborhood. All 3 girls walked in the door with a smile on their face, and all 3 had great days. 

While I was getting dressed for work, I listened to a report on NPR commemorating the 40th anniversary of forced integration, or "bussing", in Boston Public Schools. So much has changed in 40 years. 

I drove the girls to their first day of school. We parked on a street near the school and walked together; BestestHusband rode his bike and met up with us. Children and parents were milling around excitedly outside. Parents from the Parent Council wrote down our email addresses, gave us name tags, and served us coffee and treats. We introduced ourselves to parents who also looked new, and were swarmed by parents who weren't. We were from multiple neighborhoods around town, but found some families that lived a short walk from us and shared the same bus stop. The principal rang his chime, and the hubbub died down. He directed children and parents to their places for the welcoming ceremony. We formed a circle in the middle of the parking lot. The new Kindergarteners were in the middle, the bigger kids were around them, and parents were on the outside. We held hands around the circle. The principal talked about the importance of school and the values we were all to share. Everyone there was directed toward that purpose. We were supposed to be a community. 

But the audio played of the first day of school 40 years ago was quite different, and still rang in my ears. People were yelling and screaming. Glass was shattering. Police were trying to separate an angry mob from the schoolchildren they were throwing bricks at. Yes. People were throwing bricks into busses full of children. And spitting on them as they tried to get into school. 
Let me repeat that. 
People were throwing bricks at children on their way to school.

It was because the federal mandates to integrate schools were finally being enforced. Children from white neighborhoods were being put on busses to go to schools in black neighborhoods. And children in black neighborhoods were being put on busses to go to schools in white neighborhoods. And people were angry. 

It's hard to imagine this side of Boston today. Sure the neighborhoods still have old tradition, and the elderly that live there reflect the neighborhoods' pasts. Rozzie still has a lot of people of Greek origin. West Rox is still very Irish. South Boston is still very Irish, too. The North End is still very Italian. Dorchester and Mattapan still hold generations of African-American families. But they all now hold immigrants, too. And newcomers from other parts of the US, lured to Boston by universities, like us. You don't get beat up for going to the wrong neighborhood anymore. 

When I watched my girls walk into their new school, I never doubted that they'd be safe. Of course they would be. But I couldn't help but think of those parents 40 years ago, wondering if they'd made the wrong choice by making their kids go to school. Many of them weren't wealthy enough to move to the burbs. And the Catholic schools had frozen enrollment, so there was nowhere else for them to go. How do you choose between an education and safety?

As I looked at the name tags and listened to the names called during the school assembly, I saw that the forced integration had worked. My girls' classmates will have names like Molly, Jack, Brianna, Messiah, Rashan, and Athena. This would be unthinkable 40 years ago.

Yesterday, I put the girls on the bus for the first time. We watched more than a dozen busses pass before theirs arrived. Children from our neighborhood were scattering to various schools on busses that fanned out around the city. This is the ongoing process of "bussing". Neighborhoods can no longer be insular. My girls gleefully climbed the steps for their first bus ride to school. They smiled back at me, waved, and disappeared. There would be no bricks. There would be no riot police. There would just be children going to school.

We have much to be thankful for. 

PS. I don't want to sound so blithe to imply that I don't recognize that there are still serious race and class issues in the city of Boston. There are. One of the gripping articles that I read on the matter talked about the communities of S. Boston and Dorchester that first experienced bussing; it observed that it's the poorer communities that bear the brunt of the challenges and shortcomings of the public education system. This, alas, has not changed in 40 years. We talk about how, when we got seats at the girls' school, we won the school lottery. But the reality is that we had already won by having the ability to buy out to a wealthier school district.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pre-coffee Chat

MeToo:  "Hey Mama?"
Me:  "Yes ma'am?
MeToo:  "You know that place we went once? Do you know what it was called?"
Me:  "No. I need a bit more information to help you. Can you tell me more about it?"
MeToo:  "No."

Because we've only been to one or two places in her life? This question came before I had my morning coffee. And is unfortunately typical of conversations with MeToo. And is one of the reasons I ask myself at 5pm if I should drink more coffee or switch to wine. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Hoodie

So parents, back me up on this one. You have a few favorite outfits that your kids wore when they were smaller, right? Those outfits that you see in pictures and smile. And you wish your kid was smaller so they could wear that adorable thing again. Right?

So I'm packing the girls' clothes for a camping trip. And I'm looking for my favorite hoodie. It's green and turquoise, and matches a little outfit that's actually NOT made of girly colors. And it's so cute. (And rare in our world of pink and purple!) And LittleDebbie will look adorable in it. And I can't find it. I want that hoodie. I've looked everywhere. And it's nowhere to be found. And I'm going crazy. I need. That. Hoodie.

This is normal, right?

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Year

We celebrated a huge milestone yesterday.
We've survived a full year of having 3 kids. 
In other words, Happy Birthday LittleDebbie!

So much has happened in the past year:

  • I grew out of and back into my old clothes.
  • I forgot was sleep was like, then was reintroduced to it again. 
  • LittleDebbie transformed from a tiny bundle of preciousness to a smiley bundle of perpetual motion. And perpetual trouble. 
  • I learned to keep track of 3 different bodies moving in 3 different directions at 3 different speeds. 
  • I learned that I can fail at meeting my goals daily. But I still need to try again the next day. 
  • I learned to translate she-said/she-said disputes into a semi-predictable "so she did this inappropriate act, and then you did that inappropriate act" format. Is this how Judge Judy got her start?
  • I broke my addiction to sugar. And then rekindled it on vacation. I have a trip to rehab planned for my near future.
  • I put in a lot of mileage driving a little girl to and from school. 
  • I watched that little girl transform into an even bolder and brighter version of herself. And I watched her become a sensitive and doting big sister to an increasingly adoring baby sister.
  • I watched our middle child become quirkier and funnier, and watched a fire ignite that pushes her to keep up with her older sister. And a sulking stubborn streak develop. 
  • All three girls became stronger, taller, faster, and more capable at just about everything.
  • My husband became even more adoring and doting towards our little gaggle of girls. Simultaneously, he became more adorable. And sexy. (We'll see if he actually reads my blog posts and reacts to this one...)
  • I realized how much motherhood has changed me. And more recently, I realized what I want the next 6 years of motherhood to look like. 

It's been an amazing year. I can't wait to see what happens this next year! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Date

So I went on a date today. And not with my husband. He knew I was going. He even chuckled when I told him.

I was surprised when I was asked out. A little flattered, but surprised. I was momentarily creeped out. It was a clinician asking me out at the end of the appointment. I wondered if it was crossing a line somehow. HIPPA training didn't prepare me for this....

"We should get the kids together sometime. Maybe at the playground?" Our kids are different ages. It wasn't about the kids really. They were just an excuse to get together. I paused for a moment before answering.

"That sounds great! Which playground do you go to?" We frequent the same playgrounds. Surely it's innocent, right?

Yes, I was hit on for a Mommy Date. And I accepted. Yes, I have trouble seeing my existing friends as often as I'd like. But why should that stop me from meeting other mommies and making other friends? There is so much frustration and judgement in the life of a parent. And it's really hard to make new friends. I need as many familiar faces and smiles as possible as I go though my days. I'm not positive that we're a perfect match. But she's really nice, we have a lot in common, we had a nice playground outing and picnic, and I think she wants to see me again. And I want to see her again. And I think that all counts as a good date.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Checking In

We're still here. We're actually all doing quite well. We're having a great summer, and we're quite busy. I'm not the type of person who likes to keep us running all day, so this busyness is a bit exhausting and disorienting to me. And it causes me to curl up in a ball and not blog. Or make phone calls. Or emails. But really, we're fine, I promise.

We had a great vacation to see BestestHusband's extended family. The girls had a blast with their cousins. And I had some quality time with my sister-in-law comparing notes and trying to navigate the world of being married to men from BestestHusband's family. (It's a pleasure and a conundrum, all at the same time.) And we ate a lot of good food. And drank a lot of beverages. And spent a lot of time on a lake. And it was grand.

Then we came home and I got a visit from an old college friend, and got to meet her two kids. There were 5 kids aged 5 and under in the house. It was pandemonium. And a cacophony. But fun. We even made a visit to the art museum, which was a fun adventure. I mean, where else should you take 5 young children? But my girls can't wait to go back. Well, maybe HeyMama can't wait. MeToo was upset that there was no toy room like the science museum. 

Then we took the older girls to Tanglewood. There's nothing more magical than listening to the Boston Symphony play music you grew up loving and playing, while sitting under the stars and drinking wine. Unless it's doing that while snuggling a cold bored 4 year old in your lap. (As an aside, when planning a fancy picnic, read all ingredients carefully. The "fancy lemon drink" I bought for the girls was a lemon shandy. I assumed it was like a lime ricky. Shandy, ricky, whatever. I did not learn until we opened them at the picnic that a shandy has alcohol in it. Trader Joe's did not do me any favors by featuring these bright yellow cans at the end of the aisle, away from the rest of the beer. Thanks a lot, TJ's.)

Then I hosted a few friends for an evening of facials while BestestHusband and the big girls watched the Lego Movie at our local park. Now the girls want to watch it again when our friends' housing association plays it again this week. I guess at least I'll get to watch it. With great skin.

Somewhere in all of that BestestHusband and I celebrated our 9th anniversary. One night in his hometown, we actually snuck out after kid bedtime, went to a bar on the waterfront, and enjoyed uninterrupted conversation while ordering cocktails that perplexed the bartender. (Unfortunately, it wasn't that difficult. Expectations for a great evening out change after 3 kids). We discussed the next year of our marriage. I'm greatly looking forward to all that it might hold. 

And then there's the daily grind. We go to the gym. We go to playgrounds. We go to the library. We meet up with friends. We wait for the baby to finish napping. We go to the farmer's market and have everyone ask to pet the dogs. And ask if all 3 girls are mine. And ask if we're trying for a boy next. (the answer's no!) And choose produce based on color. (We got purple carrots!) And then get cookie treats and face-painting.

And somehow the summer is racing by. Wow. I'm not sure how. There's so much we still need to do!!!

So forgive me if I've been a bit distant. My goal is to blog more often, even if the posts are shorter. 

See you soon!