Until the age of 8 I lived next to an empty field with a sledding hill that we used to tear up and down every winter. The only measurement we had for how good of a winter we were having was the depth of the track marks left in the snow. I remember the lurching of my stomach as I plummeted down the hill and the rush of adrenaline that would slam into me just before my body slammed into something else. On my way down I would inadvertently find myself dangling my over sized limbs off the edge of my sphere and digging my heels into the frozen tundra beneath me. Although the action wasn’t intentional, I’m certain it was a partial attempt to slow me down. I’ve never been one for high speeds or heights, and the combo of the two can be fairly traumatic for me. But I think there was another reason I dug my heals in as well. As terrified as I am when I’m taking risks, going faster than I’d like, and generally just living life, I’m usually loving it at the same time. Just like I loved flying down that hill with my feet leaving evidence of my bravery behind me. I dug my heels into the ground in part because I didn’t want the ride to stop. I didn’t want to come to a teeth clattering jolt only to pry myself off the ground and march back up that hill. I wanted to coast. I wanted to shriek out in unadulterated delight. I wanted to soar.
As 2012 comes to an end, I can feel myself digging my heals in more and more. Wanting to slow down the ride. I’ve been soaring all year.
2012 was punctuated with some incredible highlights for the girls.
Evan in some ways has become an entirely different person. She is contemplative and compassionate. Helpful and reasonable. She has a new found love for school and learning and has suffered through some valuable life lessons about being on the other (less enjoyable) side of mean kids. She cries over cruel words that are said to her and simultaneously says much fewer cruel words to those around her. She is still the most competitive person I’ve ever met. Nothing goes without being scored. Not even silence or sleeping. There will always be a winner and 9 times out of 10 it will be her. Even her mad hoolahooping skills are taken to a competitive level.
On the soccer field she found her coordination and excelled this year. Off the field she became a better teammate in every sense of the word. A toothless teammate (lost 4 this year!) and a beautiful one.
Lulu danced her way through 2012. Sometimes an upbeat and hilarious Macarena, sometimes a very dramatic and intense tango. Completely unpredictable and always entertaining. She inherited a love for leggings and cowboy boots. She’s braver than I am and insists on wearing them together. She mandates that socks be worn inside out and sweat pants be tucked inside boots. She is sweeter than syrup when she wants to be with love that goes “to the moon, back, to the moon and back again” and equally as hot headed and red tongued when the words she hurls are a result of someone “hurting all, all, ALL of her feelings”.
She’s a natural born storyteller, and although not all of her tales seem to be non-fiction, they are all told with exuberance and charisma. And always a shake of her hips.
This year Mike moved into our home and coated the rooms with love and layers of red and green paint. He later scratched the paint when he was carrying various heavy objects up the stairs but we forgive him because the love remained intact. He makes such grand contributions to our happiness but I find myself the most mesmerized by the small, mundane instances where I loose my breath with happiness. The scraping sound of a fourth chair being pulled out before meals. The methodical chopping sound of carrots being sliced in the kitchen when I’m nowhere near the cutting board. Even the gash in the paint I see every time I walk up the stairs. The love behind it all.
It was not a year without heartbreak. This year we lost my dear aunt Nina who was special to us all in individual ways. It was the girls first encounter with death and not one that will get forgotten. We had a lot of conversations about the process, the sadness, the finality of it and how those who are left behind put some meaning into the pieces. And thanks to Lulu we had far too many conversations about the likelihood that Nina became a zombie. Serious conversations. Many nights before bed the girls still whisper “I love you” to Nina and I often do the same.
For myself the year had multiple accomplishments. Running a half marathon, finishing school, and climbing a mountain just to name some favorites. The thing that sticks we me the most didn’t have pictures to go with it. My favorite part of 2012 was nestled deep down in between the accomplishments in an almost unnoticeable place. In 2012 I transitioned from participating in parenting to enjoying it. It’s a transformation I didn’t realize was happening until I started missing my children the second they were gone. It came to me in fret filled sleep, in spontaneous laughter, and in anticipated time spent together. Somehow as I’ve been flying down the hill of 2012 I’ve realized that I really love the journey. It’s a realization that many parents were blessed with from the beginning, but I wasn’t one of those. I can captivate a roomful of children on a daily basis but I often times had no idea what to do with my own. I felt ill equipped and at times down right incompetent. I still feel this way at times, usually brought on by Lulu’s melodramatic meltdowns, but then there they both are, singing me songs and stroking my face. Encouraging me to find the strength to be a better mother.
This is why I’m dragging my heals. Not in an effort to stop 2012 but a desire for it to keep on going. I don’t know what the ride of 2013 will be like. I’m unsure of how many times I’ll have to wearily walk up hills. Memories of years where I had to claw my way up are still too fresh. All those things are out of my control and up to the gods of 2013. For now I’ll keep on thanking 2012, listening to the sweetest bed time songs, and enjoying my company whether we are climbing up, or soaring down.