Friday, April 1, 2011

Making a Personalized Silhouette

This is a dream come true for sure-making your very own silhouettes!  Of course, we all love the way these framed treasures look in our homes, but they can be pricey.  I love this blog-Secret Agent Josephine..and she gives a great tutorial-all you need is photoshop, a willing model and a piece of black cardstock. These would make great gifts, and I can't wait to get started on mine-have fun!

“My Baby is better than your Baby”

     I was in ignorant Mommy bliss with my first child.  You know how they say you fall in love with your baby, almost like falling in love with a man.  Well, I did that.  I thought my baby  hung the moon, still do actually.  I spent all of my time with him, gladly.  I read to him, did puzzles with him, worked on flashcards for hours, and nurtured him like he was a little King.  (Isn’t he still? Aren’t all three of my children royalty?)  He had so many toys; my house looked like a daycare center.  Oh yeah, it literally became a home childcare center.  I was glad to do all of that for my firstborn, and I’ve done no less for my second and third, both little princesses.
     But, like all idealist scenarios, one summer day I got a rude awakening. Because I was so into my baby, it never occurred to me that any  other child could ever compare.  In my mind, he was THE baby.  The baby of all babies, a King of babies, you might say.  Till the day of my sister Kristen’s graduation from high school.  I was so proud of her; after all, she had been my baby, too.  My baby sister, ten years my junior, was experiencing one of the major rites of passage in her life. I was beyond proud.  I dressed my baby in his little  summer tuxedo and his custom fit stride rites, and off we went.   Of course, he would dazzle everyone at graduation with his advanced speaking skills, his charming smile, and his eagerness to be comfortable with even the homeliest of homely individual.  Graduation was sweet, but long and hot, being late May in Tennessee.  It never even crossed my mind that my precious, usually compliant child, might want to leave the bleachers, where the rest of our family were seated.  But he did.  So, I carried him down, and holding him, we walked. We walked some more.  We walked forever it seemed.  He was so cute, and smiling at everyone watching him.  Until it happened…another baby came into his sight.  Of course, he wasn’t as cute as my baby, or as charming, and no, he did not have on a cute little summer tuxedo.  But, a baby knows a baby, and they were thrilled to be in each other’s company.   
       This other little baby was running all over the concrete around the bleachers.  The CONCRETE.     I couldn’t believe it, I mean, I would never have allowed my precocious little prodigy to run on concrete.  Maybe when he was much older, and wouldn’t hurt his million dollar brain or smile.  But, of course, this Mom must not be doing this out of carelessness; this cute little baby was probably much older than my own.  Oh yes, of course, he had to be.  My own baby, at this point, had not even begun to walk.  After all, wasn’t I supposed to transport him around in my arms?  Was there any other way?  With all of the nurturing, and intellectual  training I had been focusing on,  I had overlooked the fact that most parents look forward to their baby walking around a year.  My little angel was fourteen months at this point, I had no idea, until this very moment-I was about to experience baby walking envy.
     Baby walking envy is a feeling I have never forgotten.  It was truly devastating.  My baby decided he wanted to run on the concrete with the other baby.  On the  CONCRETE.  On the concrete in his tuxedo, and his custom fit stride right shoes.  On the concrete, with his big baby head, with his genius, big baby brain inside.  No, no, no-my baby did not walk on concrete, he was not ready.  After all, this other  baby was much more experienced, probably  older.  Much, much older.
     That is when it happened.  The other Mom smiled at me and said, “Your baby is so cute.  I bet our babies are about the same age.”  She seemed nice, even though she was letting her baby run on concrete. Not to mention, she was quite confused.  I mean, our babies were obviously months apart.  I smiled at her, knowing in my heart I had to shock her by telling her how much older her little concrete runner was than my little tuxedo wearing intellectual.  I said, “No, I don’t think so, my baby is 14 months old.  How old is your baby?”  It all happened in slow motion, I could see her baby running on concrete  behind her, as I heard the words tumble out of her mouth, “My baby is ten months old.” 
     At this point, I felt my heart drop.  If you know me, you know it takes a miracle to shut me up.  I was speechless.  Speechless to the point of being rude.  I felt my mouth go from an upturned smile, to a horrified face.  I really wanted to cry. Then, I am ashamed to say, I ran.  I ran with my little prince to the safety of my family, who could tell something was wrong, but never knew what had just transpired.  After a while, still going through the motions of the graduation, I decided to go and let my son try to walk.  We went up and down the stadium; with me holding his fingers, helping him walk.  I was scared to death he was going to fall, to skin a knee, to bruise his sweet baby head, or possibly damage his brain.  I held tight to those fingers, but we practiced nonetheless.  Of course, I made sure and stay far away from advanced walking baby.  I am normally not a competitive person, but I did not want to be in the presence of this baby Olympian. After all, his Mom probably thought I had some sort of social affiction.
     I didn’t know what to think.  While walking my son that night at my sister’s graduation, I felt like a complete failure as a parent.  I was feeling that I had focused so much on my sons intellectual; I had neglected his large motor skills.  Oh what a failure I felt like I was that evening.   My son might be smart, but because of me, he might NEVER walk.  Maybe I would hold him back in other ways. 
     The next morning, still feeling low, I shared my secret dilemma with my brother, Billy.  Billy was my brother two years my junior, but of course, taking the role of the older child, always.  I knew he would help me figure out this complexity I had created.  After confiding in Billy, he just took my son from my arms, walked across the room, and sat down on the floor with him.  He turned my baby away from him, towards me, and said, “Call him.”  WHAT?  What did he mean?  “Clap your hands and call him to you,” he said.  I was afraid.  Before I could utter a word,   I watched Billy let go of my baby, and, as I cringed, he walked. WALKED.   He walked a typical, precious baby walk, and he was so proud to make his way back and forth between the two of us.  He didn’t hit his baby head, or knock out his new baby teeth, or rip holes in the knees of his cute baby pants.  He just walked.  Billy said, “There is no telling how long he has been able to walk, you never put him down.”  He was right; I didn’t ever put my baby down.  I was too busy holding him to my level, explaining things to him, enjoying his reactions, talking to him like he was a grown-up. 
Like I said before, I am not competitive.  But when it comes to our children, like my mother always said, “every ravens baby raven is the blackest,” meaning our children, in our minds are the best.  Meeting concrete running Olympian baby was so awful at the time, but a little competition never hurt anyone.  I will say, after that experience, I never let myself feel competitive again.  It was a waste of time.  All children grow at different rates, and do things when they are good and ready.  My baby had never attempted to escape from the safety of my arms, at least not out in public, until he spied that other cute little baby. 
     It had never occurred to me that my baby should be walking, I feel because, like so many other Moms, I was following my instinct.  I was just doing what was natural, and for the two of us, that was learning.  The instinct of a Mother is such a strong thing, and should never be ignored.  Follow your instinct, follow your heart.   

Closing note:  At the age of almost sixteen, Will is walking great, and on occasion even runs.  His passion for learning continues, in fact, my instinct to guard his big baby brain was a good one.  His brain is serving him well, as he has rarely made anything less than straight “A’s.”  He was chosen a year and a half ago, out of 9,000 high school  students to attend the very particular School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt.  (Yes, the very prestigious Vanderbilt University.) Can you tell I am a proud Momma?  I am, prouder than you can ever imagine.  That is the reason why I will never again question my instinct or judgment with my children, no matter what happens.