get away, come home.

I got home just in time for my kids bedtime last night, after two nights and two days away from my kids. The longest since Margot was born.

It was awesome.

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Packing up the car with four friends, listening to The Go Gos top volume, talking talking talking about spouses, kids, work, aging, life goals, insecurities, triumphs. Singing karaoke (the singing!! oh man we were so good) and dancing into the wee hours at a tiny town bar, tarot cards, soaking in hot springs, hiking, running, cheeks aching from laughter.

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We were derailed by a blizzard on Friday night that forced us to pull off just outside of Butte. The rest of the weekend was spent in Ennis, the town where my mom was born.

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The trip was perfectly timed for me as I have had this realization over the last few weeks that both Ruby and I need a little structured space apart. We’re together always and we love that. And it is time for her to have a bit of her own thing, me to have a bit of space that is completely my own. I’m talking about a regularly scheduled babysitter, one day a week, while Margot is at school. For a variety of reasons I don’t fully know just yet, it’s been hard for me to get here, to taking this small step of predictable separation from my youngest daughter. I have a feeling I’ll be writing more about it…

So a comfortable, supportive, indulgent, relaxing, hilarious weekend with four women I trust, admire and adore was beyond perfection.

It felt so good to get away.

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And, man, it felt so good to hug my kids last night.

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In this week’s mama digs, I wrote a bit about my experiences getting groovy with childhood developmental charts and my own anxieties. Click to read mama digs: different kind of rainbow.

Also, I forgot to link up last week’s mama digs where I wrote about being a mama and an occasional diva. Click to read mama digs: fro sho.

The randomly selected winner of $50 at REcreate Designs:

#3, Lindsay said…The tee skirts are adorable! So cute and creative! (I am also now a fan on FB) :)

Congrats sister! Email digthischick@gmail.com to claim your prize. The rest of you can grab 10% off your purchase using coupon code ‘digthischick.’

Wishing you all a wonderful Monday out there.

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44 Responses to get away, come home.

  1. ctb says:

    oh, that ‘space’ is so hard, taking it and giving it. my little dude and i are experiencing the same thing as you and ruby right now.

    i am so glad to hear you got what you needed. i am not there yet, but its good to read that it is possible. thank you for that.

  2. OH, yes. I’ve been pondering that space between me and my two year old for a month now. Having a hard time with it–obviously not getting anywhere yet. We are together ALWAYS.

  3. Jess says:

    I feel relaxed just reading about your trip. And that last picture…stunning.

  4. Kelly says:

    Oh, you smart and lucky mama you! So, great to hear about your time away with friends.

  5. Jessica says:

    Sounds so fun. And it’s refreshing to see you write about that much needed space. I struggle with this concept…a lot. And pertaining to all three of my kiddos. Can’t wait to read more…:)

  6. That post felt good to read. There is hope out there for us mamas!

  7. KWQR says:

    Am envious of your getaway girls weekend… am soooo in need of such an adventure. Loved the pix on instagram! Good for you for taking time away… it really does make us better mamas when we make ouselves a priority too. Am trying to figure out that balance for myself but it sure is tough!
    Kate

  8. Kelly Cach says:

    Whoosh…..just read your article. I have to say, growth/development charts make me sad on a regular basis. Makes me sad now. As much as I talk myself into ignoring them, and as much as I love our pediatrician (he NEVER refers to charts, only treats Nora as Nora….I LOVE him for that), I find it hard to escape the desire for wanting my girl to appear on the “normal” scale. Nothing like a Down syndrome diagnosis to force you to change your perspective. Sometimes I’d still give anything to worry about a 10th percentile in weight and a 90th percentile for head circumference (which I did with my son :)

    And then I physically shake the thoughts out of my head and tell my heart to FORGET ABOUT IT! I love her the way she is and can’t WAIT to see what kinds of “rainbows” she makes!

    Thank you, Nici. That was such an honest piece. And your post was beautiful, too. GORGEOUS pics….whew!

  9. It’s so good to be missed, and so good to miss the ones we love. Your time away sounds just perfect and perfectly timed, even the blizzard sidelining you into an unexpected adventure. Happy week ahead to you, feeling refreshed, feeling ready to karaoke over oatmeal and black coffee.. xoxo

  10. Maggie says:

    That is a hard step, separation, of any kind, from our babies. My daughter is almost 18 months and I’ve literally spent one night away from her…and that was only a couple months ago. I just want to breathe her in all the time, but know its good for me to have my own time. Way to go, taking two whole evenings away with girlfriends!

  11. Unknown says:

    It is so healthy for you, for everyone to have some time with your female buddies! I just did the same 2 weeks ago with 4 dear friends in a cabin in northern MN. We laughed, cried, talked in depth, walked, skied, saunaed, cooked, ate and laughed some more!! How rejuvenating for the soul!! We need our women friends!! And it is good to set that example for our children. Plus it is wonderful bonding time with their Dads!

  12. Jaim says:

    I so get the alone time or time away…it’s so healthy for both. I have a constant companion myself and struggle to let go.

    Also, that last picture of Margot strolling in her tutu is fantastic. I love the crow above her.

    Happy Valentine’s Day…

  13. Ellie says:

    fantastic pictures! esp the one of Margot walking head down in the snow, baseball cap, tutu, and all.

  14. I’d like to dance with you. But you can’t laugh.

  15. Erin O. says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Oh, I feel this so much…but in a different way.

    I’m tall (6 feet) and my husband is tall (6 feet 8 inches) and our children are really tall/long for their age. I get a lot of comments about it and at every check up the Pediatrician dutifully hands me a chart with a curve and a tell-tale dot far above that average line that reminds me that my kids are SO BIG.

    Only at our house and in our family, their not. I want to see them as they are, and not feel pushed into a corner about how they should progress. Maybe this feels like a stretch…to associate this with your post…all I know is that your words have confirmed something important for me. That the charts don’t define them. Or us.

  16. via mamalode.com:

    Yes! Not a stretch at all. Seeking balance and trusting ourselves is a constant journey in parenthood (or adulthood for that matter!).

  17. Lisa Hensley says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Nici, You always beat me to posts that I have floating around in my head! My younger boy is like this, too. When he sets out to draw, he never has an agenda. He may not even ‘know’ what it is when he’s done, but he’s perfectly happy shrugging his shoulders and moving on.

    It’s so hard to let go of that nagging little voice that whispers if you DON’T worry, measure, obsess about your child’s development, you’ll be ‘that’ parent who’s saying “I had no idea!” when her child is diagnosed with something later on, and all the other parents are shaking their heads and saying “Well, DUH!”

  18. Erin O. says:

    via mamalode.com:

    My baby is 4 months old. I remember when my midwife came to our house the day after he was born explaining how often he should be eating and how inadequate I felt. It hurt and I dreaded it for the first week or so. Luckily breastfeeding is going great now and those feelings are somewhat in the past.I just hate it when I find myself comparing my boy’s growth to his formula fed friends.

    I am so looking forward to when he can express himself on paper. I am so excited to see what kind of art comes out of his brain.

    Thanks for sharing

  19. clove's corner says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I’ve always loved your free-form art agenda with your kids and try to emulate it myself. But my husband’s always drawing clear representations of THINGS, you know, and I’ve resisted the urge to direct him on my own parenting agenda. And yet I can relate to the comparison charts, wanting your kid to be on the right side of normal. I used to worry about that shit, but not so much with the second (okay, just a little). And I smile at new moms who brag about their babies being in the 99th percentile, because who cares? And does it matter? No, I love Margot’s different kind of rainbow.

  20. MinnesotaGal says:

    via mamalode.com:

    The thing to keep in mind (that I think is not always clearly presented to parents/patients) is that diagnostic tests – particularly medical ones – are designed to detect disease. They are not a measure of normal – they’re a measure of abnormal. BUT not all abnormal results indicate disease or dysfunction. I think the most important thing I took away from medical school – it’s become my daily mantra – is “treat the patient not the numbers”. We humans are so complex and especially when dealing with child development the bell curve is so wide and there simply is no accounting for or quantifying temperament and personality.
    That’s not to say that it’s easy to let got of wanting reassurance that your kid is “normal”. I marched my 9 month old son into the speech pathologists office because no matter how much I babbled at him he never babbled back. Not one ma or ba or ooh or coo. Not one. She scratched her head and said let’s just wait and see what happens. Sure enough within 4 weeks (without any intervention) he was babbling up a storm and now at 2 years he’s fluent in two languages and talks circles around his peers. But try to get him to copy claps and taps while singing “If you’re happy” – good luck! He’s the only one in class not participating and just looking around. I have learned though to let it go. He will develop his own skills on his own timeline. He is happy and content and laughs daily and heartily. That’s really all this Mama hopes for!

  21. “He is happy and content and laughs daily and heartily.”

    I love that.

    And I really, really appreciate your medical perspective. I know there is a valid and important purpose to charts and cognitive, developmental milestones. When I was all wiggy about Margot’s low number on the growth curve, it felt like a grade. I wanted to be an A student and I was failing with a 15%. It might sound silly but it really felt that way when docs would deliver my “score” to me.

  22. Becky says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I hear you. I too was an art major in college and I think when having kids the #1 thing I was excited about was making art with them and watching their own art discoveries. My oldest sounds SO much like Margot. A mover and shaker, independent as all get out and bright as the north star. And she too has her own ideas about art. She loves to do it, but in her own way. She paints over the same spot over and over until the paper rips, loving more the sensory of wet on wet on wet than the product. She just recently started drawing people and I was elated to recognize something that she was making, but as long as she recognizes it? I think that’s what really matters. And my little 18 month old Louise? That child could carefully mark up a page all day long. They’re all so different our little ones, aren’t they? I can’t imagine there’s a chart out there that could show how perfect they each are in their own way.
    Wonderful writing as always.
    Becky

  23. Daria says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Oh, yuck… I deal with this on a regular basis. It used to really bother me, and truthfully there are times that it still does. But when your child isn’t even registering on any “charts” and as the gap between her and her peers is increasing ive had to come to terms. What I’ve learned is each kid is on their own time, and “progress” should only really be measured on how far they’ve come. Its not a race, it’s a ride.

  24. via mamalode.com:

    It’s not a race, it’s a ride! Amen, mama!

  25. Jeanne says:

    via mamalode.com:

    “It is not a race, it’s a ride” I think that quote just changed my life.

  26. sgmillar says:

    via mamalode.com:

    yep…I’m putting that quote above my desk!

  27. Jen says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Said so awesome, Daria!

  28. Jeanne says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Great article Nici! I find I try to apply the same ideas about art with my kids. And it did come to my attention about a week ago they do not do things the other kids do. It is hard not to compare but it is also so great just to enjoy the freedom they get to have right now with their thoughts and actions. And then it occured to me that if we are going to be comparing the little things now and feeling pressure, what is going to happen in three years, seven years or 15 years when they are in real school with real numbers that can be compared. I am now just trying to find joy and excitement in the individual achievements of my specific kid. Life is so much happier that way.

    Again, great post!

  29. Aimee says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Loved this! Long time reader, don’t recall ever commenting…

    If it makes you feel better, at their 4 year old check-ups, my pediatrician has asked my first three children to draw a person. All three of them drew something almost identical to Margot’s. When they showed her, she said that’s exactly what’s expected of this age. Apparently their brains don’t process necks and torsos yet.

    So, YAY MARGOT!

  30. Brooke says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Nici,
    Your attitude and perspective on the way children create art speaks to me oh so much! Because of you I have a table set up with paper, pencils, crayons, etc for my daughter where she can create whatever she wants whenever she wants.
    We go to a “preschool” class once a week that is very art based and I always cringe when I see other parents doing their child’s art. Last week when each child’s perfectly and completely brown moose was lined up on a table next to my daughters mostly white moose I couldn’t have been more proud and I’m sure she felt the same way!

  31. Jaim says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Oh my gosh, I’ve struggled with this for so long. I had an abruption when I was 5 months along with my first pregnancy and after three days in the hospital and gobs of tests the doctor told me that he had no idea why my baby wasn’t dead but she wasn’t so all he could do was to send me home and tell me to take it easy. Ever since then I have truly understood the fragility of life and have “wondered” weather we would ever see any effects from the abruption. I did the exact thing that you did with drawing with stacking blocks when she was about 1. She built a stack without a problem and I learned to not turn on the computer, to understand that other parents were proud of their kids too and to listen and really see what my girl was showing me. As much as my mind tells me to not listen to those naggy thoughts, it wonders sometimes.

    I love Margot’s drawing! Who needs to draw people when you have things to say or a story to tell.

    My kids started with what we call the “bubble people” stage. My favorite stage personally.

  32. jaymo says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I remember when my son went in for his 4 year old check up and the pediatrician said “…and he knows all of his letters and numbers…” My mom happened to be in town and was there and I kind of threw side-eyes at her as I quickly said “yes, of course.” In hind sight, I don’t think the comment was so suggestive that he should have known them all, however, at the time – I pretty much took to it mean “Boy, if you answer “no” I’ll know that you’ve really dropped the ball and this kid doesn’t have a prayer when he hits kindergarten.”
    I raced from that appointment to a store and bought 2 or 3 different sets of flash cards and lined paper and pencils and anything else I could get my hands on.
    My mom watched calmly that night as I started almost grilling my son on his letters and sounds. After he went to bed she pointed out that, while he didn’t know all of the letters of the alphabet, he knew the names of 26 different construction trucks and tools, 26 different dinosaurs, 26 different animals and the list went on and on.
    I really relaxed after looking at it from that perspective and, now in first grade, he reads at a third grade level.

    *and for what it’s worth? My youngest son is 27 months old and hits that growth curve right about 15%. I get it. I was the queen of coconut milk and he still sits at that mark.

  33. Melissa W. says:

    via mamalode.com:

    OMG–I’ve asked Owen to draw a person before, too, and I was met with a blank stare and then, “You do it, mama.” I, too, felt like a total idiot and wouldn’t have even asked him to do it if I hadn’t seen other kids’ pictures of people and faces. But then one day, I gasped at what he WAS drawing. It represented nothing (that I know of), but it was beautiful and creative and more fascinating than a stick figure! Sounds like our kids have another thing in common besides their tiny feet!

  34. via mamalode.com:

    I miss those tiny feet!!!

  35. Ellie says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Nici. So funny. Reading your post confirmed two things in my mind: 1) we all obsess over stuff and 2) we obsess about very particular stuff that is somehow otherwise a part of our life. I teach English. I obsessed over my son’s first words (were they enough, was he combining them the right way, etc.) and, now that he is five, I found myself obsessing a few weeks ago about the fact that in Kindergarten, he is reading grade 1-2 books, whereas one of his friends is reading grade 3-4 books (and then, in my sane moments, I remind myself that we should be celebrating the fact that he is READING and not even 6 yet!). In contrast, when my daughter started making complex sentences with subordinate clauses around 21-22 months, I found myself googling verbal skills and “giftedness”; then I said screw it, and now I just enjoy her extreme verbosity, without wondering what it means about her future. With my son, I also obsess over the fact that he is 25-30% for height, very skinny, and while I know my side of the family has small people, I somehow imagine that he is going to beat the odds.
    Insane stuff, all of it, and in my sane moments I laugh about it, but I know exactly the feeling you describe of wanting to somehow make the kid fit the “normal” charts.
    Love the previous quote that it is a ride, and not a race. You’ve got some wise readers.

  36. So true that we focus the stuff that is otherwise a part of our lives, our passions. Good to remember that. Wise readers indeed.

  37. Caroline says:

    via mamalode.com:

    I think “a different kind of rainbow” is the best representation for people she could dream up. Love her so much.

  38. I miss the shit out of you and your boys.

  39. Dakota says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Your comment back to MinnesotaGal about how you feel like you are struggling to get an A and are failing is right on.

    My son too, is not quite where he should be on that growth chart… he dropped from his original percentile right after he was born and we’re eeeeevvver so slowly creeping back up. He’s always been “ahead” on motor skills, but language has been a bit slower to come and even though I tell everyone who will listen that I am not worried and that I was a late talker too, there’s still the little niggling part of my brain that says, “Yes, but you’re not trying hard enough to encourage him really. Are you?”

    (I also can’t help but think that everyone I know has kids that are “behind” so how is the chart actually relevant?)

    On the other hand… my husband and I are ballroom and Argentine tango dancers. We can’t dance in the house without Munchkin wanting to be picked up and be a part of that embrace, and a more recent trend is the Naked Dancing Raver Baby… which happens nightly at 7:00 p.m. for our viewing pleasure. He’s an amazing kid… his music and dancing chops are right on… so what that he’s still talking in Toddlerese?

  40. via mamalode.com:

    I have a daughter that has a severe speech impediment. She is 6 years old and I can understand my 2 1/2 year old better than I can understand her. Even though I know it isn’t my fault, I still can’t help but blame myself. I should have done this or that. Her speech therapist, whom she has been with since the age of 3, is constantly reassuring me that I have done everything I could have. However, that doubt is always there. I just want my daughter to have things easier than she does. She is such a bright and beautiful little girl and the world can be cruel. I am thankful for the wonderful kindergarten teacher that she has who is so loving and kind and Miss Jenny, the best speech therapist in the world : )

    Oh, and she is the most wonderful little artist. She uses every color in the crayon box, which I love. I think she uses her art to express herself, since it is so hard for her to express herself verbally.

  41. Jen says:

    via mamalode.com:

    Okay,
    Most of us have done this very thing. And I am laughing, because Margot’s picture is like about 20 exact ones I had from my oldest son when he was 5!! I loved those long legs each time he drew me….just big long sticks and usually a smile on the face.

    and I am so glad I saved them. They are so precious to me now, especially because he grew into a teenager with those long, skinny stick legs. Perhaps his intuition was to draw himself?

    PS. I agree with your FB statement about arts in the school, and giving too much direction or expectation. I feel the same about music. It takes away from the experience of chaos…and decision, and this I believe is how kids learn. Organized chaos.

  42. Wesley says:

    I can only imagine how hard it is to take time for yourself when you have two little ones who always want to be around you! But it is so important to take care of yourself and give yourself a break every once in a while. Recharge your battery!

  43. MEIZITANG says:

    Acai berries do not have any more antioxidants in them than common blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries. At 10 times the price because they are “exotic”.