Welcoming Nana, Summer and Confidence

It seems when I have company visiting, it is like a vacation for me, too.  I can completely focus on something else...like food, wine, shopping and visiting rather than the daily grind.  The only company we have had lately are one or both of my parents, mostly because we don't have a guest room, not because we don't like entertaining. My mother came up for Memorial Day weekend and it was a glorious way to kick off summer together. We welcomed the season of bare feet with cold treats and pool time, seafood and cold beer, crisp white wine or a refreshing cocktail (for the adults, of course), playing in the hose (for the kids, of course), eating and enjoying the summer blooms, among other relaxing rituals of the season.
You know how when your friends love your kids, love for your friends is multiplied by 10.  Well, I think it is similar when I see how much my husband and Mom truly love each other. My Dad is allergic to seafood, a delicacy my mom really loves, so when she is here, BJ goes all out with the meals for her.

I finally got on film (or card) this precious little squat Molly Mae does when she is really tickled. I just love it.

It is so fun to know she is joining in all the fun with her sister, and I know this summer will outpour with fun for her and for us.

She exudes and provides so much joy.

(Our Sunday lunch at a great local restaurant here in Fredericksburg, FOODE It is my type place with fresh food a friendly, trendy and warm setting)

Last week, I wept at the end of Oprah.  Among many things I reflected upon, I thought about "what is my life calling?" And, I don't know the answer, really.  I do know that I'm passionate about real food and real people, which I get at the local Farmer's Market. We try to go every Saturday and support the families who do business with BJ throughout the year. This sweet lady remembers us every time and always gives Anna Cate something, whether it be a bag of strawberries, a bunch of sunflowers or her beautiful smile with a lot of attention.

The display of the fruits of the earth and of people'e hard work at the market is as beautiful as an art show.

It makes me so happy to see my kid relating to people the way she does with these ladies and excitedly choosing vegetables for our table....

And homemade treats, too. These are apricot, white chocolate scones. Delicious.

I used to worry a bit that Molly Mae would not feel the grandparent bond as much, that she might get left out a bit since Anna Cate already has the connection since she was the first.

And there will be such a strong bond between my parents and my brother's children since they will grow up in the same town as my parents. But I now know that was a silly notion.

When asked who her favorite grandchild is, my dear friend Marian says, "whomever I'm with."

Molly let her Nana rock her to sleep every night, and when we picked her up at the train station, Molly Mae stared deeply into Mom's eyes before leaning forward for a kiss.  She definitely recognized her.

The morning before Mom came, Anna Cate greeted Molly with, "Nana comes today, Molly, and I'm going to let you have the first hug." Anna Cate's big sister muscles are getting very strong.

Nana's trip, like all good things, was all too quick and came to end.

But and end with a twist....

 Because Anna Cate went home with Nana, kissing us goodbye at the airport. She is going to stay a week and will be flying back by herself.

It was a big parenting decision for us to do this, but I'm confident in her confidence.  It was 100% Anna Cate's decision and I'm so proud of her.  I have had a few people comment that they can't believe I'm letting her do it. But, Mom will walk her to the gate in Nashville and from there she will be cared for by a flight attendant on the direct flight and I will be meeting her at the gate in DC. This gives me a chance to get on my parenting soap box, so here goes:

My world is made full and is encompassed by my children and I can not imagine so much as breathing if anything ever happened to either of them, but they are not 100% of who I am. They are a huge part of me and I am a part of them, but I want them to have their own life. I do not want their world to revolve around me.  I want Anna Cate to KNOW she can do things without me. I talk to her often about whom you can't trust, and that there are never any secrets from Mommy and Daddy, and where it is not ok for people to touch her and to never go anywhere with or help a stranger.  BUT I believe in the basic goodness of humanity and I want my daughter to trust people, to trust herself, to develop her own instincts, too.  You can't predict plane crashes; I won't teach my kids to trust no one, to base decisions on fear or shelter them for my own comfortability level.

If for some reason, she doesn't want to get on the plane in Nashville, then it is a good lesson about doing things that you have to do.  She'll be so proud of herself and it takes doing big things to develop real pride, a real sense of self and independence.  I know my kid, her maturity and her competency in dealing with people and she is going to be ok. Am I scared about her flying all by herself? Hell, yes.  But I'm scared about her starting kindergarten and meeting friends who come from homes that make me uncomfortable, and I'm scared about her inheriting my metabolism or my flat feet.  But parental scare is not a valid reason to limit your child's experiences. I want my children to be able to decipher between real fear and just jitters, to know when to trust that gut feeling that says something isn't right, not believing nothing is right because their Mama sheltered them. I want my children to suck the marrow out of life. I will not ever intentionally push them into something that they are not ready for, although I'm sure I'll make a mistake now and then.  It is like swimming.  Anna Cate told me she wants to do swim team and that requires swimming the length of the pool; so this winter at the gym, I would coach her to swim.  In times of insecurity, she would say she couldn't do it, and I wouldn't accept that. I got some stares from the other parents when time and again I put her back up on the wall to jump in and swim. But when she did it, she was so proud of herself. I knew she could do it; I knew she wanted to do it. She starts swim team next week at the youngest possible age.

I know children and I know my girl and that was my parenting diatribe about trust, fear, confidence and instincts. And how do I know about these things? Because as much as I love my parents and long for them to live closer, my husband and I have created a beautiful, complete life here (and for those of you who live close to your family, I'm NOT implying that you can't have that with your parents nearby so please don't read between these lines)

Although, my parents are a huge part of us and of our family.

I'm just saying I'm thankful I know how to create a life on my own. It started young when I went away to summer camps or spent time developing relationships with adults at a young age; my parents nudged me to learn how to engage with people from all walks of life and to trust in my fellow man, to be careful about people who were bad influences, to follow my gut,  to trust myself.  I believe Anna Cate is smart and engaging, and I know that if we encourage her to use her talents, to stretch her wings, she will be rewarded with more than just fabulous summer trips with family in Centerville.

With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world.
Dalai Lama


Anonymous said…
Let me try another time to comment on this wonderful piece.... I loved it so! Sarah, I am deeply proud of your ability to express your thoughts and feelings. I'm also proud of your delightful family and the journey you are on together. THANK YOU for sharing Anna Cate with us this week--we are having such a splendid time and she is such a joy to be around.

AJ said…
I cant wait to hear how she does on the plane. I agree with your choices and am proud of you from one mommy to another. I tend to shelter my kids. When asked why he can't run away from me at the store I tell him so no one takes him away from Mommy. I should find better words...don't want to scare the kid!
candace (hite) barnette said…
great post!!!