About Lesley Bolton

Posts by Lesley Bolton:

Preschool Graduation

It’s been an emotional week for Ali and me. Maddie turned one, and we had to say
Story Preschool graduationgoodbye to “baby.” Story graduated preschool, and we had to say goodbye to “little girl.” I knew these transitions were going to be tough, but I had no idea of the effect they were going to have on me. I was always curious about mothers’ reactions to preschool graduation and the first day of kindergarten. Why on earth were tears always involved? Wasn’t this supposed to be exciting? Not being much of a crier myself, I thought that maybe those moms were just the emotional sort. Never did it occur to me that I might react the same way. I thought I was fine and dandy for preschool graduation; Story certainly was. It turns out I wasn’t.

Monday, Maddie’s birthday: I left my work computer at home. I live too far away to just run home and get it, so I had to borrow one, and it did not care for me. I forgot our summer intern was starting that morning and had to rush to pull things (and myself) together enough to get her going. I lost my to-do list and forgot a deadline. I left my workout clothes at home, too. I lost my wrist brace. (I have carpal tunnel syndrome.) I forgot Maddie’s balloon and birthday card for the party.

 

Tuesday: I wore my leggings backwards all day. I made coffee with leftover grounds. I still could not find my wrist brace and guessed it was under the mountain of laundry on my couch. I also could not find clean socks for Story, so I sent her to school in mine. I wandered around at work, periodically forgetting where I was going and what I was supposed to do.

Wednesday: I forgot my lunch. I also forgot to look under the laundry mountain for my wrist brace. By this time, my wrist was killing me, so a coworker made a sort of brace out of wooden craft sticks and rubber bands. (Thanks, Rachel.) I cried a bit at the end of Book 10 of the How to Train Your Dragon series as Story and I listened to it on the way to school and felt a strong kinship with Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III.

Thursday, Story’s preschool graduation: I cried a bit in the morning as sweet Story ticked off all the ways she would still need me even after graduation. I don’t remember the work day at all. I teared up during the program as they showed the kids growing up. I held it all together though until after my family left and Story fell asleep. Then I sobbed into my pillow until I got the sup-sups.

 

Friday: I felt supremely better! I found my wrist brace. I remembered everything. I got through my to-do list. Story told me I was the bestest mom in the whole wide world. And she let me put the toothpaste on the brush for her, without reminding me that she could do it herself.

I understand now. Thanks for the lesson, Universe. And I’m sorry, moms, for judging you.

Sisters

Story is an only child and lucky to be so. All my extra energies (and income) go to her. Every time I look at her, really look at her, I’m overwhelmed by how much love it is possible for me to feel. I understand now where the phrase “my heart is going to burst from my chest” comes from. That’s really the only way to describe that so-intense-it’s-scary emotion. It is very difficult for me to deny her a smile, whether that comes from a gift of a toy or allowing her to sleep in my bed. I do it (sometimes). I can’t give in to everything or I wouldn’t be a good mom—at least that’s what I tell myself—but it hurts a little. Like any other mom, I want to give my child everything.

 

Story is an only child and unlucky to be so. She doesn’t have that special bond that is only between siblings. My family is the absolute best; I don’t know what I did in a past life, but I certainly won the lottery in this one. One of the many things that makes it so special is my relationship with my two younger sisters. I would not be who I am today without them. They each own a piece of my heart, and the really cool thing about their being my sisters is they always will be. We’re all stuck with each other; we’re family. There is an invisible but incredibly strong ribbon that binds us. If one of us tugs on that ribbon, maybe without even knowing it, the other two feel it and show up. My point is, Story doesn’t have that. Her ribbon is only wrapped around her.




So, I had the great idea to give her a sister. This is a bit problematic for a couple of reasons. First, I would need to procure sperm from somewhere. Second, it is not yet scientifically possible to predetermine the sex of your child. Bummer. So my great idea took a turn and extended to adoption. I really thought quite hard about it and was excited. And then I talked to my mom. My oh-so-wise mom asked one question: “Lesley, do you want to adopt because you want another child or because you want a sister for Story?” Well, damn. There went that idea.

I’d come to accept that Story is going to be an only child. I didn’t know how it would be possible for me to love someone else that much anyway; my heart is only so big. But Story said something the other night that made me rethink all of it. As she was getting ready for bed, Story was practicing her letter sounds. “Hey, guess what! Everybody in our family here [my family lives in different towns throughout the state] has an E sound at the end of their names: Mommy, Story, Remy [dog], Henri [fish], Ali, Riley, and Maddie!”

Story is an only child, and Story has sisters; she has a toe in each pond. It’s not at all what I pictured for her. I think it might just be better.

All the World’s a Stage

Story has chips in her two front teeth. They were made by a coffin. (Ahem, before I get hate mail, I want you to know this did not happen during my watch.) At age two, Story climbed up on a coffin after funeral services and fell, knocking her teeth into the hard surface. I’m sure she thought the coffin was a stage.

My daughter is very theatrical, and she has the personality to sustain it. I’ve told you how she wakes as a different animal every day and is that animal for a time. This sometimes carries over outside the home. She’s been put in time-out at school because she ignored the teacher’s requests for her to sit on her pockets. When placed in the time-out chair, she told the teacher that she couldn’t possibly sit on her pockets because snails don’t have pockets.

IMG_0552She has led a coup in tumbling class. She stood on a tall mat, declared herself the new leader of the group, and told the kids in her class to follow her to a different station. They did.

During outings in public places, Story will recruit strangers, kids and adults alike, to be a part of her play. She casts them in roles and gives them directions on dialogue and action. Sometimes she says hi first.

One of her favorite places is church. It has a built-in audience, after all. The children’s message is delivered with all the children in front of the congregation. Story answers every question posed, tells stories of her own, declares things such as “But Jesus is dead,” and once stood up, opened her arms wide, and stated in a strikingly booming voice that she would give a hug to everyone so they wouldn’t be sad and always remember she loved them. She also does interpretive dance in the aisles to the choir music.

I love to see Riley and Maddie let their personalities shine too. This week, Ali signed Riley up for a kids’ fun run. She showed me the adorable outfit she had picked out for Riley, and then she showed me what Riley was wearing: an Elsa costume. Riley said it was her running dress. And it was! Riley was all smiles as she ran by wearing the dress. Maddie is turning out to be nothing like what we thought. Sure, she’s sweet and all, but sly and sassy takes the dominant spot. She may also have a little bit of diva in her.

There are a lot of things about Story that are just like me. There are a lot of things about Story that are nothing like me. One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a mom is to let her grow into herself, not a vision of what I want her to be, not someone who would stuff her personality into a box to please strangers, and certainly not someone who forgets what happiness is. It took me a lot of years to remember how to love life and be me. Story, Riley, and Maddie have that now, and I’ll do everything I can to help them keep it.

Lessons learned: Don’t come to the rescue of strangers; just watch in amusement as they try to respond to your child’s directions. Don’t even bother with the pretense of embarrassment; it’s just wasted energy. And never let your child know that something she’s done has made you uncomfortable; that something will become her mission.

Safety and the Single Mom

Safety FirstI’m a bit of an anxious person by nature. After my mom left, and I was alone with a newborn, my anxiety shot my imagination with a hefty dose of steroids. I was just fine with the baby. I was more worried about things like becoming violently ill, fainting, and drowning in the toilet or tripping on my way to stir the spaghetti and falling face-first into the pot of boiling water. I even refused to go to the mailbox for so long that the post office began holding my mail because I was afraid that I would slip on the ice and crack my head open, and then the dogs would become so hungry that they would eat the baby. Yes, I’m serious. (more…)

How to Train Your Dinosaur

 

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For the past two years, Story has woken up as a different animal every day. Each morning, I must drape part of myself over her covered form to pretend I am sitting on an egg. She twitches just slightly, but this is just her preparing to hatch. Apparently hatching from an egg is a rather drawn-out process. After some more twitching and wriggling, a hand or foot appears, and as the mama, I have to wait patiently as my little one struggles to release herself from the clutches of the eggshell.

Finally, she emerges, and I ooh and ahh over my most precious offspring. (Story whispers what creature she is for the day.) Hugs, kisses, and general celebration ensue for a respectable period of time, and then I must growl and snap at the zookeeper in order to escape the zoo with my baby.

Side note: For those of you wondering, yes, Story and I have had the conversation about which types of babies hatch from eggs and which do not. However, after having gone through what I’m guessing is every single type of hatchling, Story got bored and threw “magic mammals” into the mix—those capable of hatching from an egg.

This backstory is important for you to understand how seriously Story considers these transformations. She is whatever creature she has chosen for the day for a good period of time, whether at home, school, the grocery store, church, wherever. She once was placed in timeout because she refused to follow the teacher’s instruction to sit on her pockets. You see, snails don’t have pockets.

One day Story scratched at the back door. She had been playing outside as a troodon, I believe, this time. She let me know in troodon-speak that she was ready to come back inside because she had gone pee outside. Was she just playing, or had she really done her business outdoors for all the neighbors to see? I was afraid to ask. I didn’t have to; her smile told me the answer.

She gathered plastic food and “supplies” and headed back outdoors to explore the jungle. I watched her dart from bush to tree all over the yard, stopping occasionally to scavenge while keeping a sharp eye out for predators and making horrendous noises. From the window, I marveled at both her imagination and energy level. After a while, she scratched at the back door again. I opened the door for her and she proudly exclaimed, “I pooped outside!”

No, she didn’t. I stood my ground in disbelief. “No, you didn’t.”

“Oh yes I did! Troodons potty outside.” And I knew she did.7958703620_6e9a4b3a08_m

I quickly looked around. Had anyone witnessed this? Would Child Protective Services be knocking at my door? I ushered Story inside.

Story and I had a long discussion about the rules of the house for all creatures, whether in Story form or not. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to poop-scoop my daughter’s mess from the backyard. Something within me is abhorrently against it. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Lessons learned: When your daughter is an animal, DO NOT let her in the backyard without close, attached-at-the-hip supervision; be okay with calling your toilet the litterbox; and always expect the unexpected, no matter how disgusting.