Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Is it easy?"

On Tuesday, Xander and I were talking. I was whispering sweetness to him. We have a game where we tell each other how much we love each other. How much equals how far for Xander, because he is 5. So it goes something like this: "Mommy, I love you to Star Command and then Jupiter, and then Uncle Bill and Auntie Karen's house, and then home again." (If you don't know about Star Command, may I suggest the Buzz Lightyear cartoons that are a sideline to the Toy Story franchise.) Lately, he's learned about infinite, so that features into our conversations too.

It's fun to play with words and discover new meanings with a kid who is verbally gifted.

In any case, I replied something along the lines of, "Xander, every day I get to be your mommy is the most wonderful and special day ever. That's how much I love you."

He turned solemn eyes on me, then paused a second, and said, " it hard?"

I told him it was work to be a mommy, but that he was worth all of it.

And it is work, Xander. If you ever read this, it's hard to tell you 20 times to do one thing. And you crowd a person out sometimes, both physically and mentally. I hate arguing with you about every.little.thing. "But I was just..." is not an answer to "Xander, please do not do..." There have been nights without sleep. Moments of sheer terror as I wondered where you had gone. And times where I wished there was a volume button installed when the umbilical cord was cut.

So yes, it is hard.

And yet...

None of it compares to the joy of watching you hug your brother. How tender you are with people. How much you love your Daddy, grandparents, and cousins. How you run wild with your friends and hoot for joy. The day you took your first steps, smiled your first smile, and made your first joke are beyond compare.

As I have the great privilege to watch you grow, help you read, and soothe your fears, I am in awe of who you are and who you are becoming. Your teasing eyes, silly smiles, and enthusiastic way of approaching life teach me to wonder and be joyful too.

And still, with all of this, there is nothing that can describe the quick hugs and kisses, the minutes you cling to me when you need support, and the bliss that is reading to you when we are cuddled up before bedtime.

These moments they move too fast, my Xander. To describe being your mother as being hard is to shortchange us both.

For the record, the math hasn't been created to calculate the distance that can describe my love for you, Xander.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

My Military Childhood

I grew up military. I lived in 7 provinces and was in Europe during the Cold War. My life involved moving and Christmases in new places and always having new friends. It meant ski vacations in Switzerland and floating in the Mediterranean in Spain one summer. It means I have seen a great deal of Canada and lots of European countries. It also inspired me to go to Asia by myself as a young adult.

But it also meant that I grew up knowing for sure what guns and bombs were. I was shipped home from school more than once because of a bomb scare. My father was gone for 2 six month stints to the Middle East before my second birthday. I grew up knowing that at any time, my father could go to war. That he could die for our country. And that at any time, I was representing our country. I knew all of that before my birthdays had added up to double digits.

I've not been part of the military community for a while now. My Dad retired and I grew up and married someone who was not military. We have lived in the same house for 7 years this month, which seems like an eternity to my gypsy soul.

But my heart is still there. I cry for the fallen soldiers -- every one -- in Afghanistan. And I am incredibly proud of each and every soldier and each veteran.

I've written about this before. My connection and my tears. But tonight I saw a video that made my breath catch in my throat, because it is all of this and more. It's part of my life and their lives: each and every soldier and family member who has been involved.

Please watch and listen closely.