Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What It All Comes Down To, My Friends

My brother used to get so annoyed with me that I didn't care enough about my things. 

In the 90s, I drove around in a Toyota with a broken tape deck (Alanis' angry Jagged Little Pill probably broke it) for months before he scolded me.  "Sissy!  You have been driving around in SILENCE all this time?  Listening to NOTHING?!"

Yes.  Yes, I was.  My thoughts keep me company and since I'm a worrier/internalizer/former caffeine abuser I was never lonely.  Many, many of the thoughts to keep me company.

He'd get on me about my closet, too.  Yes, my brother had more fashion sense than I did.  Still does.  He never has on dirty shoes if he's not going to work.  My Sauconys are over a year old and thinning about the inseams like crazy.  I'd have to ask his wife but I'd bet she has to give him ample hair checking time before they go out to dinner. 

Don't even get me started on pegged jeans.  Oh my God, I die at the memory of him making me decide which peg looked better.  As if either one looked cute.  But I stared, tilting my head convincingly and lied about one of them being much sounder in roll and tuckness.  It was the only way to get him from behind the hallway mirror.

Many times since then have I thought about what a poor carer of things I am.  I love my people, my doggas, my camera, my iPad but that's kind of it.  Things just don't get me the way Sadie's frosty eyes do.  My shoes never lick my earlobes.  The last time any of my scarves kept me up giggling is for another post blog altogether. 

So, you see where I might have a real deficit at decorating.  My house.  My children.  Myself.  It's just hard.

Then holidays come around and there's this competition of doorways in neighborhoods that subconsciously makes me feel like I'm not playing the game right with only a Welcome mat.  And let me tell you what the south does, you guys.  They DECORATE.  Very Very well they decorate.  So, I strap on some gumption and give it a go.

This is what happens when I decide we need a little something special for Halloween. 

Dollar General meets Perhaps Just Give Up Next Year.

I mean, it's not even cohesive.  Why is November Scarecrow near October witch? 

And what the balls is with the weird black pantyhose draped all fat on one side and "oh well" on the other? 

Also, they were only a dollar each.  Why not spring for more fake pumpkins? 

What does your Halloween décor look like?  Do you have inflatables and puffy wreaths?  Did you carve pumpkins and hang scary liners on your windows?  Will you play creepy music during Trick or Treat?

I want to do all of that one year, too.  Just not this year.  This year I have "one hand in my pocket and the other one hailing a taxi cab." - A. Morisette

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dog Walking

Pond mist hits our faces
Sadie's narrow frame
remains all pomp
some circumstance;
Sparrow pulls to burst
wild and frothy like things
that never return.

I feel layers of her -
my grandmother,
in me,
in our home,
in Abby's room
to help her through
nightmares, bellyaches,
killer whales that live
in her open closet.

Her smell is here
and to have it back
is impossible but real.

We grow together
even when our skin
can't touch
It's what gives
me faith to trust
in magic.

The magic that keeps us searching.

The mystery of dogs
knowing what you mean
only through your eyes.

Dreams of people (gone?)
somewhere busier
than earth with more
important tasks at hand
than making dinner.

I watch my canine girls
wake up
Louisiana grass,
dig at
delicious mailboxes,
sniff around
risky gray anthills
with wet noses and standing ears.

They check in with each other
Then me
To show off
how many things
they've figured out.

Did I get it all, too?

Another layer for us to chew on
for a while.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Repurposed Love

Yesterday was Abby's preschool Tea Time with Mom.

I took her mini hand in mine and we walked toward a room filled with moms, poster paint, and clinging children. 

Especially mine.  Abby is an entirely different unit out there in the world.  Her typical twirling dervish belly laughs were silenced and in their place left a pale small child who seemed agitated if not coming down with the flu.  I kept feeling her forehead to make sure she wasn't sick.  She climbed into my lap and held my fingers tightly, one-by-one. 

"Honey, are you ok?"

"My tummy hurts, Mommy."

So we sat together, biting into our pumpkin muffins and swallowing hard because cups of water were too far out of reach.

"Would you like to show me your centers?"  I attempted to distract and noticed another mom feeling her daughter's forehead too. 

"No, Mommy, just take me home with you." 

Her tears weren't loud but they broke my heart.  This sudden collision of home and school were overwhelming her loyalties and bringing her down.

"I'll take a nap when we get there, I'll do anything, just please take me home."  This sprite just wanted her jammies.

The other mom struggled to remove her daughter's reach from around her shoulders.  We traded glances from opposite sides of the world.  Where I was ready to cave, she stood firm and grounded with zero chance of compromise.  "Now, go play.  I will see you after school," she told her tiny person who wanted every part of her jammies too. 

I attempted to get both girls to comfort each other to no avail.  They pretended they had never met or chased each other's ponytails around the swing set for months.  Other Mom and I stood up in a unified front to do what was right.  She was my leader so I stole invisible strands of her strength and resoluteness by giving my weepy daughter a quick kiss and walking toward the door. 

Abby and her friend-not-friend stood next to each other yet mountains apart.

My feet went down the hallway in slow motion as I considered going back.  But alas, Other Mom was already out the door so I followed her glossy black heels and marveled over her black skirt and leggings that were not polluted with one sliver of dog hair.

She lost me and my thrifted plum pumps somewhere in the parking lot.  I had to squeeze my toes a certain way to keep them on since they were one size too big. 

As I rummaged through my ridiculous (also previously used) Bongo purse, I noticed a pretty brunette sitting in her seat with the door still open.  Her glossy black pumps looked less sassy and way more uncomfortable in her car. 

"Ha, we broke free, didn't we?"  I said to my pretty leader.
"Yes, we did," she sniffled.  I could tell her eyes were wet underneath her sunglass frames.
"You did great!  I didn't think I'd get my latte after that session of sad,"  I joked nervously because that's my thing.
"Thanks," she sniffed again, "It is killing me to leave her like that."

My fearless leader was openly crying now.  She took off her sunglasses to unveil two of the most mournful brown eyes I've ever seen.  My heart sank to the bottom of the gap in my heels.

"Well then you should feel doubly proud," I rattled on, "You conveyed zero regret or sadness to your girl as I was there making it worse by clutching mine like an open book."

"I guess," she said.  "I just hate to leave her like that." 

Then I understood the difference between us wasn't our shoes or our ability to find the de-linting brush. 

This mom had no choice.  She had to go to work.  She couldn't afford negotiations or jumping back into her jammies to play hookie with her daughter.  This mama was just as emotional about leaving her girl in tears as I was but had no room to consider an alternative outcome.  We all weigh options of working long hours outside the home, working long inside the home, or being a parent that works their yoga panted butt off for no paycheck.  The decisions are specific to the needs of that particular family.

Sometimes I get a reminder that I'm right where I need to be for us.  For my family.

As we parted ways, I lifted my cute little Bongo bag into my lap.  I kicked off my sweet rounded nosed shoes to the passenger side.  I drove away not ashamed but grateful for my second-hand finds that allow me the freedom, at least right now, to always consider an alternative outcome.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Back to the Grind

Apparently the universe does not like a blowhard.

After posting yesterday, our lives regressed into the typical sh*tstorm they tend to be when I let go of the wheel for a while. 

Suffice it to say I attempted to take 45 minutes for myself at an inconvenient time and all hell broke loose under our roof. 

  • Abby probably has her first UTI and is behaving accordingly (Use your imagination, boys.).
  • Andy gave Grayson a Gu (Yep, there's caffeine in there!) to get through a night time baseball game without massive migraine blowout and I thought the boy was channeling Michael Jackson by the time he got home.  Full concentric body spins and falsetto singing on the field, Andy said.  Cracking the coaches up, Andy said.  It's 10:30 at night, he is bumping into furniture with his crazy jazz hands and Abby is finally asleeeeeep, I seethed said.
  • Sadie jumped the fence and got splinters in her belly last night because she couldn't find me
  • I found out I have 5% muscle mass in my entire body.  Abigail could kick my ass if she wanted to. 

All that behind me, I am sucking in my visceral womb and pressing into today. 

Because the grind is inescapable.  Every single one of us must grind. 

May we all grind into billowing mountains of powdered gold.  Or a crapton of anarchy angel dust.   

Recovering Guilt Lady

Lately, we've run into a sweet stretch of lovely time here.

We've made friends visited throughout the week when we're lucky and on the weekends when we're luckier.  The kids have made their own friends who star in retold tales at dinner time and down time.  Details of coloring with Claire or indoor soccer scores embellished remembered with small grins and happy eyes.

Even Sadie and Sparrow feel a routine of feedings, walks, naps, repeat, settling into their days.

This is not to say I have been parenting well all the time.  Nor am I treating myself to daily afternoon tea.  It's just to say this is a positive rise in our family tides of swell and release.  And it's good.

Being a busy mom, I no longer have down time.  I dearly love down time.  When I was a teenager, I preferred to hang out in a rocking chair with my headphones on, surrounded by my family cooking and chatting upstairs to going out with my friends to a party.  There were actual grooves in our carpet from the hours I logged in that rocking chair.  Also, I know every lyric to Janet Jackson, Tori Amos, and Sting if you're ever in need. 

As a mom, one of the hardest struggles I've fought is dealing without down time.  Earplugs are temporary.  Hiding in the bathroom only makes them more creatively noisy.  Laundry piles not put away make my husband itchy.  There is always someone needing me to do something every single second of my one person life.  Before kids, I dreamed this is better than being famous.  What's better than people needing you, really depending on you?  I'll tell you what.  A three hour stretch of time with a trained masseuse banging on your shoulder blades while you slurp café mochas through a large hose.

I find it impossible to live moment by moment.  I think most of us do, really.  No momming necessary.  We'd have to take notes from our canine friends to see how living in the moment is professionally done.  Except Sadie.  She's a worrier.  We think that's how she stays so thin.

Within seconds of waking up I find myself unable to process anything in the moment.  I don't even pee first.  My thoughts crank me around the house like a wooden puppet, stalling then starting from the kitchen to the garage, circling back to the kitchen because I forgot my sunglasses.  I am the last thing to brush its teeth.

Like most of us at 6:30 a.m., I react to my surroundings rather than enjoy them.  This is completely ok.  Who rises with the sun on their eyelashes whilst soft bongo drums usher their consciousness into existence?  Ok, so that actually sounds really nice and if you do that, please comment to tell me how I can get started waking up that way.

Regardless of how insane my mornings have been, I try my darndest not to build my own panic into my children.  If I'm running late and find myself internally at MACH 3, I shut my mouth.  Very simple directions to myself:  Do Not Speak.  It helps everyone to no longer let that conversation out of my own reactive sleepy-head.   Those abrupt words only make my kids anxious and worriers themselves.  I'm disgusted proud it only took me 7 years to figure this out.

Pushing my kids to "Hurry up" or "Oh CRAP, we're late you guys, let's go!" only serves one purpose.  It feeds a Guilt Machine.  I rush them, they feel anxious, someone drops a cup of orange juice or an unzipped lunchbox, everyone loses their minds, and we all feel bad about mean things we all said two minutes later.  There are times when putting Abby's hair clippies in her hair have brought me to my knees.  Literally.  Tears streaming I am praying to God to just give me the patience to clip this child's ever moving hair successfully so we can leave the ever loving house.  Then I feel bad I made her sad, too.

See?  Guilt is useless and damaging.  The good news is that guilt is also preventive.

I'm at a place in life now where I try very hard not to speak from a reactive state.  To my children.  To myself.  To my husband.  He likes me more now because of it.  I can tell because yesterday he said I looked "fit" and then told me I was "fun to be around."  From a Marine, that is basically a marriage proposal.  Those are kind, big, heartfelt compliments that mean my work on myself is working.  It's also just beginning.

It's amazing what else gets better when I keep my own guilt in check.  My inner critic gets bored, my children notice I'm listening better, and there is more energy spent refining building supporting than chopping cutting spiraling.

By reminding myself to Hush, Not Rush, I have slowed myself down enough to see all the good I manifest instead of the not good enough.  As parents we think we can't blow our own horns.  I say if we don't stop to notice our good then the negative starts to grow larger in our minds again, bringing back the evil circuit of blame and shame.

Here's a few good things that have manifested as I slowed my internal roll:
  • Abby comes to me with "secrets" and things she's been afraid to tell me before.  Example:  I have discovered she needs tissues on the ride to school.  Trust me when I say there is a place in my van that nobody wants to touch.
  • Grayson hums again.
  • My husband smiles that gorgeous smile.
  • Feel grateful for my friends instead of worried they might not like me as much as I like them.
  • Rock some new canoe earrings without care they're kind of stupid.

  • Sadie doesn't lick her mouth constantly (nervous habit she picks up when I'm stressed, dear baby).
  • Sticking to my new workout routine - Circuit Weight Training at the gym 3xs a week - results in glorious energy I've missed so much.
  • We shoot for fun around here, not perfect.

So, don't be afraid to list off all the good you're doing.  It helps Bam! Boof! Pow! some of the stressors that happen naturally in our busy lives.  In fact, blow hard and see what happens.  Please practice blowing your horn here, believe me, I want to hear the good you're manifesting throughout your day even if you think it's no big deal.  It is.  It's a big deal with beads on.



Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Curling Time

At the end of every night, when the living room TV has been turned on to Duck Dynasty or American Pickers and it's my turn to give the final sweep of evening kisses, he asks me,  "Mommy? Do you have time for curling?"

Curling means swirling my tired, frizzy hair around and around in his fingers until it makes a curl.  Or a rat nest.  Or until I whimper because he really got into it and tore some out.  Grayson has used my hair as his lovey for years.  When he was very small, he'd take my ponytail out, hold a hunk of mommy freedom hair in his grasp, and growl like a kitten practicing his cat.  My mom always called this "The Passion" which is just one of the many things my mom names that have become our family's indigenous language. 

The Passion was such a crutch for baby Grayson to soothe himself that I co-slept with him until well after a year.  When we finally braved up to stick him in his own crib, Dude was pissed.  In desperation to reclaim my own scalp and space, I bought the only doll I could find with dark hair like mine.  She was basically a Spice Girl knock-off in a shiny green, painted-on catsuit.  A ho bag we named Lolita.  Grayson wasn't fooled.  This imposter was no mommy hair replacement and she was chucked at the wall faster than I could make it downstairs to watch through the baby monitor. 

Those nights kept me awake for more hours than anyone else in the house.  Watching my baby boy and his plumped up nursing lips at midnight, then at 3, then again at 5 and 7 (He was a VERY hungry baby.  He was hangry.) was the only reward for the loss of brain cells and sanity happening in my own milk-bloated body.  When I think back to that time in his soft nursery, I remember the beige slider, Iroquois drum/chanting music on replay, and the way his baby socks always looked too small on those chunky baby thighs right before he fell asleep in the crook of my arm.

Somehow, throughout the years, we got Grayson to sleep in other ways.  Now, he rarely gives us any trouble at night and goes to bed without a fight.  Like clockwork, he asks me to kiss Abby first and then come back for him.

"Mommy?  I have to ask you something.  Do you have any time for curling?"

Most of the time I say yes, crawl in bed next to him and lay my head down on his Lightning McQueen Pillow.  He makes curls in my hair while we chat about "Luke Skywalkers," a bad call from the umpire in his last baseball game, or if I think he should be a Marine he grows up.

Lately though, Andy and I have been bustling, hustling and plain ole desperate for extra kid-free minutes to get housework done or even an adult conversation about which fundraiser to fill out or "recycle" for the next morning.

On those nights Grayson hears:
"Oh Honey, I have to go make lunches."
 "Maybe tomorrow, Mommy is SO tired."
 "I would but your sister is still milling about in her underwear."

Immediately, I hate myself as the corners of his hopeful eyes lower in acceptance.  "Ok.  Maybe tomorrow.  Goodnight Mom.  I love you."

That little meatloaf love muffin turns seven tomorrow.  I don't wistfully wonder where the time has gone because I've been right here inhaling the minutes and exhaling out the seconds for nearly every speck of it.  The decisions we've made for this family - me staying at home with our kids have made us beyond frustrated, without frills, and with somewhat funny medical side effects of fatigue.  For me though, they've allowed a keen understanding of shifts going on that I might otherwise overlook.  The subtle changing going on every day I can't see but can feel without that extra look back at the bus stop.  All this helps me fully appreciate that soon our Curling Time is coming to a close.

His once chubby baby legs now reach past the middle of his twin size bed.  His Spiderman jammy pants are always too small.  There are Lego Batman books in his bed instead of loveys.  Books that he now can read to himself before bed.  Stuffed animal friends that he once meticulously lined up in order of who comforted him the most are now strewn about in the closet, forgotten until I hold them and cry vacuum.


This little hangry, loving babe has been doing a phenomenal job in becoming a beautifully intuitive, smart boy.  I could not be prouder or luckier to be this boy's mother.

And yes, you can bet your catsuit I will always say yes to curling whenever he asks.