The good, the bad and the..... you know.


The good: Zoe had her first week of preschool. I now have some time in the mornings to unpack, exercise, walk the dog, and gaze adoringly at my second born without guilt. She wears the most adorable uniform with an emblem on the chest and there is no wrestling over what to wear in the morning. She is very, very excited about the playground there and the "work" that she gets to do.

The bad: She has to wear the same uniform 5 days a week (she changes into regular clothes when she gets home. Which means two changes of clothes, AT LEAST, each day.). She needs an spare uniform at school for emergencies. We only bought her two changes of uniforms because I swear she's growing a foot taller every week and I didn't know what the weather would be like and now I have to do laundry every effing day (or feel the guilt of sending my kid to school in a not-quite-clean uniform).


The good: CG and I were actually able to organize our lives enough to each make a childless trip to the DMV and get our new licenses and registrations before CG had to start his new job. Mine arrived within just a few days.

The bad: On my old California license I am smiling and surrounded by color: "Hey! Welcome to sunny, happy California!". At the Virginia DMV, they insisted on a "neutral face, NO SMILING" and I had barely slept the night before due to homesickness and a strange new bed and hot, humid air and the army of cicadas trilling away at a decibel level that I was sure would deafen me in my sleep. Hence the colorless, humorless MUG SHOT: "I don't know what I crime I committed but I sure didn't enjoy it".



The good: Remember my lemon-lover lament? Well, it turns out our new back yard has apple trees! And we've eaten a few of them! That were quite delicious!

The bad: Sweet Dog loves the apples too. And ate a few. And threw up all over our king sized duvet at 5 am the other morning. OY. MORE LAUNDRY.

The good: I'm standing in front of my new WALK-IN CLOSET. Oh, my, it doesn't get much better than that. I've got two (2!) monitors strapped to me because both (both!) girls were napping at the same time. It doesn't get any better than THAT.

The bad: I have to pass by that full length mirror every time I go to our bathroom. There's a reason why the only full length mirror in our old house was on the door of the guest room closet: I don't like HAVING to pass by full length mirrors several times a day. Also, every. single. time. I bend forward with the monitors strapped to me, one or both of them falls to the floor with a baby-wakening BANG.



The good: The girls are really starting to interact and BOY HOWDY it is so sweet most of the time.

The bad: Every toy that's been given to Eliza winds up in Zoe's possession. Every old baby toy of Zoe's that's been unearthed for the suddenly-interested-in-toys Eliza is clutched to Zoe's chest as her "very favorite toy that's been missing!". My heart breaks for one or the other of them every hour, every day.



U G L Y.

I try to never say the words "fat" or "ugly" around Zoe. I don't have some major parenting philosophy about this, it's just something I started doing when she was really young because I wanted to keep those words, those concepts at bay for as long as possible (That's my philosophy! All negative things about the world will be kept at bay as long as possible! How do you think that will work out?). Books are always rhyming "fat" with "hat" and I'm always and forever messing it up with "large" and "hat-like barge". The jig will be up soon enough, I know, but I'm holding this line, this time before the concepts of "fat" and "ugly" are powerful realities for her.

I particularly dislike how "ugly" people in the stories are always "mean" and vice versa. I want Zoe to learn that just because some people have features that don't add up in our visual processing to equal "beauty" does not mean they are MEAN. How do you explain that to a three year old?

Lately, Zoe's been asking me if her hair is "pwetty", if her outfit is "pwetty", and I always start to respond with a stammer. OF COURSE, she's pretty and beautiful and I want so desperately to tell her so but I usually ask her what she thinks because I don't want to be the great arbiter of her tastes or the supplier of her feelings.

I so don't want to teach her that being pretty is the best, most important thing to be.

But then I think of women I've known whose mothers never told them they were beautiful and how hurtful that was to them. I blurt out: "I love you. You're so beautiful to me!" and Zoe looks at me like I'm a bit of a crazy person.

Both are true. I am a bit of a crazy person. And these girls are SO beautiful to me.


Amie said...

Love this post. In my California driver's pic, taken many years ago, I look seriously pissed off. I wish I could remember what made me so mad. On the flip side, I look so young and wrinkle free. And I wonder if I am hanging on to it because I plan to return to Cali or because I like the image. So yeah, concepts of beauty flow through every woman's life. I like to tell my daughter how beautiful, smart, talented and funny she is constantly. I think it has got to help.

Hillary said...

Your girls are beautiful.

As for Virginia -- that state is just no fun. I lived there for awhile and my license looked like a mugshot, too. They all do. But, yay! for apples.

artemisia said...

That little uniform is adorable. I wish we could all wear uniforms to work. I HATE picking out outfits. Bah.

(As if what I wear can usually be referred to as an "outfit." Ha!)

I remember my VA license being in color, but boy, did I look like crap. Since I lived on the edge of DC, I had to go to possibly the most crowed, grumpy, ridiculous DMV. I got there at 6:00 A.M. and waited OUTSIDE until they opened at SEVEN and still didn't get my damn license until 1!:30 a.m. Bah.

I think you are spot on about how you are raising your girls.

Anonymous said...

My GOD you look amazing with that flat belly and those muscley arms. TWO kids? Shut UP. Also, as far as mug shots go, you're too pretty to call it that.

And, your girls, I want to eat their cheeks.

I can understand about the not wanting to talk about ugly and fat with the girls. My mom sort of tried this but utterly failed. What she would do is talk about how her mother would constantly tell her she was fat and needed to lose weight, etc. etc. and isn't it great that she didn't say those things to me and my sister? Lesson taken from that: you are fat.

I hope I can teach my kid that those words are just words and words can hurt when used in a mean context just like any other word, or a swear word, or even a mean face! It's all about respect and seeing people for who they truly are, not words and snap judgements.

Good Enough Mom said...

1. AWWW! Crazy mamas are the best.
2. If I looked like you do in the mirror, mirrors would be all over my house!
3. When my older son started the toy-hoarding after baby #2 was born, I started my campaign that he should "teach his baby brother how to share" so that one day, the little guy would share with him. Call it luck, but it worked.
4. Why is VA such a stiff-upper-lip state? You should hear what my brother had to go thru when he took the bar exam there. (Otherwise, he loves it there, incidentally!)

Swistle said...

Here is what I think, but keep in mind I had a Poor Afternoon with the children and now feel CYNICAL AND BITTER. My feeling is that either way, WE LOSE. If we tell children they're beautiful, they will grow up and tell their moody college friends that we made it seem like physical appearance was important, or that we wouldn't love them if they stopped being beautiful. If we avoid telling them they're beautiful, they will grow up and tell their moody friends that we never told them they were beautiful. Either way, the moody college friends shake their heads in pity at the story of such a sad, sad childhood.

Think I should go have a drink and a nap? ME TOO.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

artemesia- I was thinking that I totally want a uniform and then I realized that I always wear black stretch pants and a nursing tank. That's... pretty much a uniform!

parking at home- Hmmmm....words are just words, it's how you use them. I've been thinking about your comment and agreeing in my head since I read it last night. I worry that by making such a big deal out of not using the word "fat", I'm giving it more power? Like the theory that if you never let your kids have any junk food they will just go crazy at their friends houses when they see it?

Good Enough Mom- I'm totally going to start the "you're going to teach Eliza how to share" campaign RIGHT NOW!

Swistle- HAHAHAHA! I think you TOTALLY deserve a drink and a nap (and a massage! and a trip to Paris!) AND I think you may be, unfortunately, totally right. We're pretty much damned if we do, damned if we don't. Somehow, it's a bit freeing to think that maybe both approaches have their positive and negative effects.

girlcat said...

I am jumping in late with my .02 here, but I really think kids (both genders, but we're talking Zoe and Eliza here) need to be taught something, or they will learn it from other people, the media, etc. What is it that you want her to learn?

There are lots of ways that a person can be "pretty," without conforming to the narrow definition that is put out there in American society. We all know people who are overweight, or have a large nose, or short legs... But they are still "pretty" because they smile, they are friendly, because of everything else about them. Because they are who they are.

Its a tired, overused expression, but its true: pretty is as pretty does. Is Zoe pretty? Of course
she is.

And when she asks you if that person or that person or that person is pretty, the answer is yes.Sometimes the pretty isn't obvious or easy to see, and sometimes its buried way down under a bunch of other crap- but it is there, and was visible once (maybe only when they were three years old and asking mama if they were "pwetty")

And you're right that "fat" only has power because we give it such- unfortunately, as a society, we do. So I'd say explain it to her as she is maturationally able, if it comes up- and correct it by saying "weighs more" or something like that.

Just my thoughts... Of course, it could all be total hooey since I don't have kids and my cats don't really seem to care. But I was one of those kids who never got ANY guidance or comments on appearance and has subsequently had body image *ISSUES* for most of my life, starting around age 5-6. When I think about it (which I have, lots!), this is the stuff that I think would have helped me, at least some.

Anonymous said...

Let's just say that I was 19 years old before I figured out that I was in fact, um, marginally good-looking because my folks didn't want to give me a "big head" by telling me I was attractive in any way. So, I vote everything in moderation. Plus, synonyms are good - I have taken to telling my gorgeous 3-week old son that he is beautiful, because he is. When he grows up, people will get all masculine and tell him he's handsome, etc. but his mama will always see him as any and every kind of beautiful/pretty/gorgeous/spectacular, etc. and let him know as much. Even when it embarrasses him. Especially then!

Good Enough Mom said...

Just another quick note re: the older sibling campaign... I really played up my older son's role in his baby brother's life, telling him over and over and over again that he gets to teach the baby EVERYTHING about the world. Then, when the baby did anything new, my older guy was totally overjoyed with all the progress he was making. Anyhooo, that was the frame for the teach-baby-to-share campaign. :)

From the look of your photos, though, your girls are getting there already!

Existential Waitress said...

I am always concerned with the over-usage of the word "pretty" in reference to my daughter. My son (who is two years older) is smart and really excells at school, and our extended family in particular is a little over-zealous when it comes to constantly telling my son what a "genius" he is and my daughter how "pretty" she is. In truth, my daughter is probably just as smart, she's just younger, and I do not want her self-worth to be reduced to whether or not she's pretty enough. And I feel the same way about words like "fat" and "ugly." We don't use them either.

Grateful Twin Mom said...

Way to make "lemonade" out of the sad lemon tree loss. Love those shots of Eliza and Zoe. So cute.. Cheeks forever.

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