Apr 12 2014

Bodies in Motion

No two times on my yoga mat are alike. Sometimes I feel fluid and strong. Sometimes I feel creaky and old. I wonder if I look any different on the outside. I know that when my body doesn’t move the way I wish it would, as seems to increasingly be the case, I fret. I think about aging, about my inevitable, slow decline, about becoming something that is anathema to me: still. I move so that I can keep moving. I want to have dance parties with my grandchildren and not just be the stiffy grannie who amuses everyone. I want to get DOWN.

I’m especially preoccupied with all of this because I recently found out that my ACL repair of a few years ago did not take. It’s unclear whether another surgery is the best option. The only thing that I know is that someday, I don’t know when, this knee will hurt. And maybe it will hurt so much and for so long that I will need a replacement – which I know isn’t the end of the world, but oh my god. I find myself doing a lot of magical thinking around the knee – Would I switch bodies with that person? That person? – trying to intuit what other kinds of health issues I would be inheriting along with their seemingly intact knees.

Crazy, I know. But isn’t it nice to know that things haven’t changed much around these peevish parts?

Yesterday my yoga teacher said something along these lines: our bodies are how they are and what we have right now. It was a different beast twenty years ago and will be a different beast in twenty years from now. We take care of them so that we can use them to communicate with the people we love. We take care of them so we can feel good. Because if we feel good, we can be good.

It made me want to cry. And it made me want to write.

You must watch this video about the A-Z’s of Dance. It’s so inspiring.

And hello again. We have some things to catch up on.

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Sep 1 2013

Crappy Family Time

treeshotDoes crappy family time still count as quality family time? I sure hope so, because as of late, I feel like we’ve concocted more than our fair share of it. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. It’s when you really want to do something fun as a family and it feels doomed at the word GO. At least one person is being a pill, at least two people are fighting with each other, at least one person is crying or whining, at least one person has sunscreen in her eye, at least one parent is yelling about gratitude and at least one Croc is missing.

People don’t talk about crappy family time because mainly, you want to forget all about it. It’s pathetically easy to believe that other families don’t experience crappy family time – that your own family is the only family comprised of malcontents, drama queens and feeble brats who act like riding a bike around the chain of lakes is a cruel and unusual punishment. For my own sanity, I have to believe we all have crappy family time sometimes, and if I’m wrong, well then, you must be feeling really great about yourselves right about now.

By no means do I mean to imply that I am a blameless observer of crappy family time – some of my least proud parenting moments have happened within the framework of fun and togetherness. This is how it tends to go: I will play Julie McCoy, spawn an idea, quickly research a bit on line and announce it to the brood only to be met with resistance or worse yet, complete apathy. I will soldier on and run around making preparations, while I alternately bark orders for readiness and rattle off enticing reasons said outing will be just! so! terrific! Except that in lieu of smiling eager beavers, I get a pack of surly rabbits who refuse to come easily. And inevitably, I lose my cool and before we have even left the house, I have yelled at everyone and am left asking myself a simple yet crushing question: why bother?

Really, I’d like to know. Why bother?

Because sometimes, you finally shove off, pulling a black cloud behind you like it’s tethered to everyone’s bike seat and someone (I’m not naming names) will start in on the whining from the get go and others will bike ahead and you will spend a good 20 minutes fuming and pondering the question, and then you will find a way to dig really really deep and say something funny, something encouraging and a couple tethers on that cloud will snap, and your shoulders will relax and you’ll keep going, steadily pedaling your way into the light.

The truth is, crappy family time usually turns itself around. Notwithstanding all the annoyance and grief, if you push through, it eventually dissipates, sometimes in imperceptible increments, sometimes all at once. The moods lift, the complaints soften and you get into a groove so that by the time you’re rolling back home you feel happy, tired and like, maybe, you accomplished something. Together.

That’s why we bother.

May 13 2013

Get a Grip, Monkey Mind

treesAlways, always, always. Ten years of yoga hasn’t cured me of it. Four years of blogging hasn’t cured me of it. Circumventing bodies of water à pied et au bicyclette hasn’t cured me of it.

No matter how much I think and I think, I just can’t figure out the answers.

Why can’t I look at those plump little visiting waterfowl pit-stopping in Lake Harriet and not wonder how much fat could be rendered from them. (Cooks will understand).

Why can’t I simply write a post about how safe my city feels for my roaming kids without an attempted abduction in Linden Hills three days later?

Why can’t I figure out how to balance my summer so I don’t end up like this by the end of June?

Why can’t I bike by the archery field by Lake Calhoun without picturing, in full gory detail, sound included, an arrow whistling through the air and piercing me right through the neck?

Why does bad stuff happen to good people?

Why does being this particular age feel so messed up? Not necessarily in a bad way.

Why can’t I slow down time?

I’m going to say that about covers it, so as to avoid really freaking you out.

Aug 28 2012

Many stones. Many, many stones.

Beach_Stones_2I have finally accepted the fact that it is impossible to go to Target just ONE time during back to school season. It has never, ever happened and it never, ever will. No matter what you do, no matter when you go, no matter how many lists you bring with you, you will never ever EVAH kill multiple birds with one stone. There will always be that stretchy book cover that brings you back.

It takes many stones. Many, many stones.

Mar 14 2012

Chores and Kids

kids-doing-choresThis article in the NYTimes was a good reminder to put my money where my mouth is, and force the chore issue in our house. I’ve been semi-decent at teaching my kids to “help themselves” mostly because I’m a worn out husk of a mother most days. I have long abandoned the notion that turning myself inside out to help with every little thing makes me a better mother.

Yes, I am lazy, but I do also believe we aren’t doing our kids any favors by rushing to help them at every turn. I still make their school lunches, but I haven’t put frozen waffles in the toaster for months. I’ll still pour the milk in the cereal for Devil Baby, but only if the carton is too full for her to do it herself. I only tie skates and cleats for the youngest. Unless it’s dangerously cold, I don’t even nag about wearing a coat anymore.

But I realize that teaching them to help themselves is actually a separate thing from teaching them to help me – and I’m failing miserably at the latter. Right now I’m staring at a muddy yard covered in the white fluff of a disemboweled stuffed lamb that Foxy went to town on. I sent the girls out to deal with it yesterday and frankly, they did a terrible job. Finger pointing, and so and so not doing her share ended up in exactly nada. They came into the house in a swirl of muddy shoes and loud recriminations and I let it drop. Because it was easier.

Earlier in the day, I had found myself picking up handfuls of disintegrating dog crap out of the garden because Saint James didn’t do it on the last cold day when I told him to. He had picked up a fair amount, but again, the complaints about it being stuck in the snow and impossible to pick up got him off. And it it got me elbow-deep in warm, wet dog shit. Was it easier than listening to Saint James gag and whine? Arguably.

How can I expect them to do anything for me if I don’t even make them finish the things I have specifically asked them to do for me? As the article points out, parents have no one to blame but themselves for this. I cannot expect that my kids would have any clue of what needs to be done around here, and even if they did, that they’d have any sense of responsibility to pitch in, if I’m not putting this into play in a more consistent way. Helping to set and clear the table just isn’t going to cut it anymore. Watch out, kids! Mama’s got a bee in her bonnet.

Feb 16 2012

Poor Peevish

MontiPoor, poor peevish, I feel like I’ve been neglecting you in favor of writing about soup and more insultingly, your sexier, flashier cousin Spectacular Bitch.

It’s going to take me a little while to figure out this writing gig. Traditionally, I have not been a big computer person. I never got sucked into the hours of surfing the web that gripped so many of us in the early nineties and never let go. At work, I’d call my mom or a friend or page through a fashion magazine if I needed a break. I never turned on the computer at night unless I needed to check the movie times. I was blissfully free and I didn’t even know it.

How times have changed. I’m juggling just a few different writing projects, but I find myself on-line, or at least on-laptop for WAY more time than I’m used to. And it doesn’t feel good in my body. I feel cloudy, groggy and all around nasty. I don’t like sitting still. I don’t like staring at a screen. I don’t like feeling gross.

I suppose I should have thought about this before I started writing. But here’s the thing. I love to write. I love this little community of readers. And peevish mama is very, very special to me.

With your patient and willing ear, you helped me create a habit of writing things down. This is a place where I can stash my thoughts and the shiny pebbles that I happened to find scattered around in my real or virtual life. It’s a place where I can work through the highs and lows of parenting a young family and of being this very strange age that looks like adulthood but feels like adolescence.

I’ve hit rough patches and lean patches and cuckoo-in-my head patches with peevish mama before, and I was able to write myself through. Maybe I can do it one more time.

So hang with me while I figure myself out. Yet again.

Oct 6 2011

A Philosophy of Fighting

ewing-galloway-boxing-gloves-hanging-on-the-wallI’m a lover, not a fighter. Except that I’m a fighter too. Who isn’t? I love this piece in Esquire by Tom Junot on the role of fighting in a marriage. It’s a wise, blunt, realistic and in the end, romantic essay. Dash and I fight (sometimes epically) about stupid stuff and as Junot points out, the same stuff as always. I’m no walk in the park, I tell you. Often I think it’s because we’re lucky enough not to have more serious issues lurking, making us feel like we’re on thin ice. The house is solid, so we have a certain degree of freedom to stamp on the floors and pound the walls. But it’s good to be vigilant, to be careful, to make sure to keep it clean – even at its dirtiest. This was a good reminder that we can fight for all sorts of reasons  - but not to win.

Sep 27 2011


Slinkachu_The Last Resort_2_1000Slinkachu_The Last Resort_1_1000Slinkachu_The Last Resort_3_1000Isn’t this such a kick? Street artist, Slinkachu, sets up and photographs these fanciful little scenarios that play with perspective. I found this on Unearth, a site that collects street art from around the world. I really dig this site. It’s thought and wanderlust provoking – an antidote to boredom and cynicism. When I feel sick in my gills from what I’m reading in the news and media, a little shot of art is a no fail way to restore my faith in us. All is not lost. Our kids are not doomed. The earth is not screwed. There is beauty, whimsy, humor and heart all over this hot little planet if we’re just willing to look. And even if we are screwed and doomed (which we are, holy shit, we are), it’s good to put that away and see the good, only the good, from time to time.

I found these pictures late this summer when the coalescence of my anti-climactic 41st birthday, Devil Baby’s impending leap into kindergarten and a general end-of-summer antsiness sent me into a tailspin. If you were anywhere within a two block radius of me the last couple weeks in August, you would have been alarmed at my state: alternatively weepy and manic, confused, verbose, morose, fretful, paralyzed, nervous and freaky. Deaky. Apparently, this identity crisis of mine was like a far off train whistle rapidly approaching over the last few months. Lady Tabouli reminded me that I was having these – um – thoughts back at our book club weekend in February. After too much wine, I confessed my angst to the ladies and said something about the fact that I can’t just be this aging party girl who goes to see concerts to feel alive. I needed a PLAN. I had completely forgotten. The ladies don’t forget.

Months, weeks, days. The words weighed heavy on my chest. Bounced around between my ears. Spelled themselves out behind closed lids like Sesame Street letters: WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO NOW?



So here’s what I know: 1. I don’t know the answer to that question, 2. I am not alone – many of us are wondering the same thing, 3. It is ok to take a moment, take a breath, take some time to figure some things out.

You see that number 3 there? That’s where Slinkachu’s pics come into play. Little does he know that a Minnesota mama saw his pictures at a time in her life when the confusion and angst rivaled that of her early twenties. I was amused by them. They stayed in my head. I went back to look at them a couple more times, showed them to Supergirl early one morning and finally found my message there. I felt it open like a flower in my throat: perspective.

Take a step back from your damn self, sister! (This is me talking to myself in my best Florence from The Jeffersons voice.) Get your head outta your fanny and open your damn eyes! You still the mama and those babies need you more than ever. Step back, girl. Step back.

And so I am. Trying.

Jul 22 2011

And for what?

motherhen-1So, you know how every once in a while I read something that throws me into a bit of a tizzy and I rethink, review, reimagine, rehash, reiterate, rewind and revamp whatever small piece of the status quo happens to be at issue? Well, this one is a biggie and I’ve been sitting on it for a couple of weeks because I just don’t quite know how to tackle it, given how deeply and fiercely entrenched I am in this.

From the July issue of The Atlantic, the article’s title – How to Land Your Kid in Therapy – is sort of beside the point. What is supremely hair raising, is the notion that we super-involved parents, who are literally devoting all of our time to making our kids happy and successful, could actually be doing them a disservice in the long run. Our ”discomfort with discomfort” is actually leaving them ill-equipt to deal with the real life stressors that will eventually come their way, and in fact may be turning them into little narcissists. Saying “good job” has become a verbal tick. To the extent that our kids believe us every time we say it (and why should they not?), they are left thinking they are pretty friggin’ awesome. When is the last time someone said good job to me? And yet I haven’t dissolved into a puddle of insecurity, have I? Obviously, kids need encouragement and some kids are more sensitive than others, but when I read this article, I realized my kids are in far greater danger of turning out to be clueless and entitled, with inflated senses of self than they are of having low self-esteem. Low self-esteem? Fat chance.

If you ever sit near the diving board at our pool you can hardly carry on a conversation for the constant yelling coming from the peanut gallery. Holding up the line, you have little Ashley or whoever screaming mom! mom! mom! mom! mom! mom! until her mother interrupts her conversation, watches her jump off the diving board, waits for her to emerge from the water and gives her a dutiful thumbs up or a big wow! good job! What the HELL? We aren’t talking toddlers taking their first plunges. These are 8, 9 and 10 year olds who insist on a captive, fawning audience at all times. My kids do it too and I’ve actually felt guilty saying No, I’m not going to score your dives right now. But damn if sometimes I don’t feel like averting my eyes to the pages of a magazine instead of watching them.

A couple weeks ago, Saint James and his soccer buddy walked in the back gate after having been at a soccer camp from 9-3. They were visibly hot and sweaty and had practice in an hour and a half, but they stopped at the rebounder and started kicking around some more. I had just read this article, so I was super self-conscious about my mother-henning, but was I crazy to think those boys should cool off after 6 hours of soccer? So instead of addressing them directly, I whispered to Doctor Dash to tell them to come inside. Of course Dash perfunctorily blew me off with an oh, they’re fine and asked me not to involve him in my article-craziness. So I went stealth. I banged around the kitchen for a bit, made an icy concoction in the blender and nonchalantly crooned out the back door – hey guys, want some smoothies? Mother. Hen. Wins.

Just this past week I was on my laptop at the pool and a tweenish girl ran up to me and told me that Devil Baby had gotten a back smack during dive practice. I sprang up and saw that she was being comforted by the assistant coach. I thought of the article, about letting kids sit with discomfort and just as I was about to sit back down, one of the moms rushed up to me and told me that Devil Baby was crying. I felt like yelling So What???? She smacked her back on WATER!!!! She’s FIIIIIIINE! But as such, unable to withstand the societal pressure to check on my child (who was FINE), I shuffled over, because isn’t that what I’m there for? Just waiting in the wings until they need a little pat on the back?

I think this article touched a nerve for me because I am at the absolute apex of my kid summer business. I spend ALL of my time driving them around so they can be super happy super humans – but to what end? I can tell you based on the last couple months that it is EXHAUSTING watching other people exercise. If I were on any one of my kids’ daily routines, I would be ready to do a triathalon tomorrow. I’d be freakishly buff. Outlandishly fit. But I’m not. I’m tired and crabby. AND I haven’t gotten to build a fort, ride a horse or learn graffiti art.

The weeks wear on, the novelty wears off, the boredom sets in and I pick up an article that shines a spotlight on something I’ve been kinda sorta thinking anyway. We fill up their plates because we want them to have fun, try everything, gain that muscle memory early on, so that in the future, it won’t be a struggle to learn how to play tennis, or ski, or swim laps. But what’s wrong with sucking? We all have to stink at some thing, some times, don’t we? And what’s wrong with being bored and “unhappy” during the summer time? It’s like it’s verboten to even suggest that. But don’t some of your best childhood summer memories involve time spent scampering around your neighborhood with no agenda? The problem is that there are very few kids around these days for my kids to scamper with. Everyone is busy.

The god awful truth of the matter is that, in more ways than I care to admit, my schlepping justifies my existence right now. To do all this work, as mindless and frustrating as it can be, and then engage the possibility that not only is it not the best thing I can do for my kids, but that I may actually be doing it for myself, well, let’s just say that smarts.

I can’t help but wonder what the hell I’m doing. I keep reminding myself that the number one thing that broke my heart about working was not being able to be with my kids during the summer. I have a palpable, gut memory of pulling up to my house with my babies (who had been in their posh air-conditioned daycare all day) just as a gaggle of wet kids were spilling out of my neighbor’s minivan. I can still see all the colorful towels wrapped around heads, being dragged on the grass. My neighbor was tan, her hair wet. I was so envious and sad. And now, these many years later, we are all about colorful wet towels and yet, I am feeling truly burnt out by a different kind of rat race.

Mother hen needs a wee break, I think. And maybe the chicks do too.

Jul 10 2011


BossypantsI just finished Tina Fey’s autobiography, Bossypants, and it did nothing to dissuade me from my prior opinion that she’s hilarious. And smart. And cool. And hilarious. It was a perfect quick summer read and follow-up to the phenomenal yet heartwrenching Beloved by Toni Morrison, which we’re reading in book club. (Damn, ladies. What in the HELL? Counting the days till Wednesday night!)

Back to Tina (yes, I feel we’re on a first name basis now). Tina made me laugh over and over, and while I can’t relate to her sexy comedy and television life, I can sure as hell relate to coming up as a “brunette” in the seventies and eighties. She writes: “Let me start off by saying that at the University of Virginia in 1990, I was Mexican. I looked Mexican, that is, next to my fifteen thousand blond and blue-eyed classmates, most of whom owned horses, or at least resembled them. I had grown up the “whitest” girl in a very Greek neighborhood, but in the eyes of my new classmates, I was Frida Kahlo in leggings.”

She proceeds to talk about how she was inevitably drawn to super “Caucasian” guys, as was I. Such is the curse of a dark girl. My first TV crushes were blond (Bo Duke, Ricky Shroder, and Alice’s son, Tommy) and my first two boyfriend were blond Johns. And oh, how I coveted Cindy’s golden ringlets and Farah’s fabulous feathered do. I tried to get my formidable head of hair cut into feathers and it was so thick and heavy (and untouched by a curling iron – who knew you had to style it?) that I looked like Dorothy Hamil’s younger, retarded cousin who had accidentally injested copious amounts of Miracle Grow in an unsupervised gardening episode. Seriously, it was a bowl cut on steroids, voluminous and shiny, like a majestic, fecund mushroom – only it shrouded most of my face, which, in retrospect, is probably for the best.

I too was the frequent victim of mistaken ethnic identity. My middle school bus driver assumed that since I had dark hair and was at the same bus stop as the three Cho brothers, I must be their sister. It’s no wonder, considering my bus driver was an overweight, middle aged, BLOND Michigander by the name of Tanya. Why would Tanya need to distinguish between an Argentine girl and three Chinese boys? Aren’t they all the same? Those . . . brunettes? Only I had no idea I had been lumped into their family until one day I was getting off the bus and she yelled after me in her Midwest corn chip accent: Be sure to tell yer mother about yer brother’s nose bleed now. I stopped and turned around. Her arm jiggled as she pulled the lever. The bus door closed with a hiss.

Not that it’s a big deal. It’s not. So people think I’m Chinese (those three Chinese brother can be very misleading). Or Greek (I was in Greece). Or Arab (I did live in suburban Detroit). Or Indian (I used to get very very tan in Florida). So what? But when you’re young and you just want to fit in, it is kind of a big deal. At least Tina’s name was Tina. Try Gabriela. In Michigan. In the seventies. Oh, how I longed to be named Kim. Or Nancy. Sigh. I LOVED the name Nancy. It sure was prettier than Garbage-ella. Kids can be cruel. Clever, admittedly, but cruel.

Being a brunette or ethnic or whatever you want to call it certainly doesn’t kill you. Or even maim you. I like to think that the sense of being different, of being apart gives you the requisite space you need to observe. You aren’t splashing around having chicken fights in the pond; you’re standing on the shore, watching. And you can actually see better standing on the shore. At least until you’re old enough to beat it on out of there and get your ass to an ocean.

Mar 27 2011

On whimsy and boredom

NationalGeographicChannel9Maybe you’ve already seen this, but I’ve been in spring break unplugged mode and I just stumbled upon it and it made me feel like weeeeeeee! Apparently, the National Geographic Channel actually pulled off recreating a house flight inspired by the movie UP. Check out more pics here. So neat.

So, on a seemingly (but never entirely) unrelated note, yesterday we had no real plans aside from a date with the couch and a US v Argentina friendly soccer game at 6:00 p.m. We had a lazy Saturday morning and I managed to scoot out of the house for a noon yoga class. When I came back, Saint James had a friend over and they promptly took off for the community center down the street to kick a soccer ball around. Good boys. The girls, though, were bored, whiny, bouncing around the house and getting on each other’s nerves and mine. I finally got so exasperated that I kicked them out – it was a beautiful sunny day and they needed to be outside, breathing in the last bits of cold winter air. Go build a school of snow children, I snapped as I shut the door. They stayed out for a while, came back in soaking wet, pink cheeked and smiley, just the way I like ‘em.

Later that night when we were cleaning up after dinner I found a paper magazine subscription insert on the counter. I was about to toss it in the recycling when I saw that Supergirl had meticulously filled the whole thing out. Name, Address, E-mail (made up), Number of Issues – all in neat, tiny, purple letters. I still tossed it, of course, but not without a twinge of guilt. She was so bored, sooooooo bored, that she filled out a magazine subscription card.

But let’s be real, here. I shouldn’t feel guilty. Not at all. We just spent three glorious days in Lutsen with Nanook, Gear Daddy and familia. They got to ski and snowboard their hearts out, bunk up and giggle into the night, feast on all sorts of yummy food, celebrate Nanook’s birthday, watch American Idol with peeps, color, bicker, chat, spy, and generally scamper around a big, cool house while the grown-ups talked, drank, cooked and cast a lenient eye over everything they were doing. It was a blast. What is wrong with coming home from that kind of trip and just chilling out?

ficheIf you were to look at my shoulders, you wouldn’t see the devil and angel taking turns whispering in my ear. Instead you’d see Julie McCoy, our fave cruise director, on one shoulder, hatching plans, leading adventures, planning field trips, always thinking of ways to make my kids’ lives more FUN. On the other shoulder you’d see Joan Collins in a silky dressing gown, maribou kitten heels and a very large martini glass muttering that these kids need to learn to occupy themselves. The truth is, I like doing excursions with them because I’m a bit of a “flee the house” kind of a gal. But it’s just that kind of on-the-go life that has made them so intolerable if we ever do want to hang out at home. If they don’t have friends over, they are pretty much guaranteed to be driving me insane. Which makes me yell at everyone and shoo them into the car for – you guessed it – an excursion.

As far as I can remember, my parents didn’t spend all their free time trying to keep us entertained. There were giant swathes of idle time in my childhood, which I filled by reading books and the backs of shampoo bottles, playing Dukes of Hazzards, spying on the neighbor boy and convincing my brother I was a wizard. I know this isn’t anything new, but I wonder what my kids are missing out on by being constantly occupied and entertained. There are so many things that can only be learned with ample time: how to get along, how to love books, how to French braid hair, how to climb trees, how to choreograph dance routines to the entire Grease album and then the entire Xanadu album. I bet the dude who thought of floating that house had lots of idle time in his youth (and she brings it back! bam!)

The way things are going, it seems like our children’s generation, more than any other, is going to find success through knowing how to hustle and being creative. Seems to me, those are just the kind of skills that may be borne of a little boredom. At the risk of sounding like I’m rationalizing my laziness (which, don’t get me wrong, I’m totally comfortable doing), I think I need to be less Julie McCoy and more Joan Collins. And maybe, just maybe, my kids will be better off AND I’ll get to do more of this: joan_collins_photo_20

Jan 9 2011

Embrace the chaos.

four-monkeys-andy-warhol Four Monkeys by Andy Warhol 1983

It’s one of my many New Year’s resolutions. I’m sitting here in the sunroom on a sunny, frigid Sunday morning and I hear a rooster. Why do I hear a rooster? To my knowledge, we don’t own a rooster. But such is life with little kids. Now they are fighting. Apparently rooster sounds are annoying to the non-rooster types in the family.

When will I not find a plastic chicken drumstick under my pillow? When they are grown. When will I not find pink socks in my coat pocket? When they are grown. When will I stop catching rejected mouthfuls of food in my palm? When they are grown. When will I not have to clean the banana smoothie I just made out of the radiator? When they are grown. When will my phone be where I left it? When they are grown.

When will I get to stop doing giant mountains of laundry? When will I get to stop cutting up apples? When will I stop impaling the soles of my feet on the legs of plastic horses?  When will I stop reminding practice piano, brush your teeth, grab your lunch, hat, coat, backpack, clarinet? When will I stop hearing “mommy” a million times a day?

When they are grown. Which I most definitely do not want. Not yet. So I will embrace it. All of it.

Oct 23 2010

Don’t even get me started.

skullladyAt this time last week, I was a naif. A rube. A foolish, frivolous little woman. I did things like cook and read. Sometimes I went to yoga. Ha, ha, heh, heh, YOGA! Imagine that. Sometimes I even watched shows on TV. Oh, and I did all sorts of other indulgent stuff like open mail, look out the window, shave my legs, and eat yogurt. One time, I even shopped for boots online. I looked at a bunch. It took a while. What an indolent innocent, I was. What a fool.

Little did I know that in a matter of hours I would discover that something sinister and foul, tiny and insidious, had crossed the threshold of our home and taken up residence in the heads of the people I love the most. That’s right. Believe it. We had – I can’t even say it. We had . . . cough cough . . . it rhymes with mice. Oh, I’m not ashamed. It’s everywhere right now. No. I am SHELLSHOCKED. I have never worked this hard in my life. My hands and nerves are raw and cut up. I am battle weary, bone weary, way past the point of sceeve and reason. I am angry. I am wrung out and scarred.

I am exhausted.

And yet, though it defies belief, I discovered that it is possible to love your children more than you did. There is still unchartered territory in the heart, more room to step into, to turn around and look from a different perspective.

It is a simple truth: when you look at every hair on your child’s head, you love him or her even more.

Now excuse me while I go dig an underground swimming pool in my back yard, fill it with vodka, and jump in. Whether or not I put cement blocks on my ankles, I have yet to decide.

Sep 18 2010

Rear View Mirror Vérité

shoesSo I’m driving Devil Baby home from preschool and she says: Oh… My… God… Mom. We got popsicles for Reed Sprinkle’s birthday and it was, like, sooooooo amazing. For whatever reason, I lowered the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse. Maybe because she sounded so old and tweeny, to settle the incongruence between the voice and the face. Or maybe because she was amusing me. Or maybe it was that Reed Sprinkle that caught me. Reed Sprinkle? Whatever the case, without thinking, I lowered the mirror and there we were – framed together in a small telling rectangle. Belied by her words, her face is still the face of a baby – creamy round cheeks and shining eyes. I, on the other hand, well, not so much.

It’s odd to catch a glimpse of yourself live, especially next to the poster child for youth. There is something unsettling about seeing yourself when you’re not looking at yourself – like those video cameras in stores that you don’t know about until you see yourself, shockingly haggard, on a grainy monitor. But these surprise sidelong glimpses must represent the truth, no? At least more of a truth than when you actually look in the mirror, sending alarm bells to your unconscious which mercifully calls forth teams of tiny men in pastel leotards with “denial“ calligraphied across their taught rumps to leap about our minds unfurling long bolts of gauzy sheer fabric to soften the blow and shroud the truth. Right? Am I right?

Reality bites. But what was I supposed to do? Keep staring at myself in scared awe, rear-ending the car in front of me, essentially pulling a Narcissus, modern minivan mommy style? No, I smacked that shit shut. And I turned my attention back to Devil Baby, because what can be more important than a little girl talking like a big girl and the road unfurling before us both?

Jul 8 2010

More wonderful stupid.

It’s as if the universe is mocking me for yesterday’s post because it seems that every where I look today, I just see a whole lotta stupid. Today I was cruising along on my bike when I came upon a short freaky guy dressed in one of those paper space suits from the early eighties, blocking the ENTIRE path with what at first glance appeared to be a giant tricycle, but in fact was one of those three wheeled scooters that you stand on with legs astride and sort of swerve into motion. He was showing it off to a black guy standing at the side of the path. My knee jerk reaction was to think: get the fuck off the path – a menacing hiss in my brain which I suppress and release as a bitchy pfft, or ugh, or Jesus. But in the split second it took me to register the space suit, the ride and the interested nods of the guy on the side of the path, I remembered that darling note I got yesterday.

We can choose how to look at things and in that moment I realized: Hey, wait a second, this is exactly why I love living in a city – this city. I love that I can hop on my bike and ride through pretty wooded trails and around sparkly lakes and still see peculiar, quirky, original or down right freaky characters. Today I saw a fat lady in a colorful mumu huffing and puffing her way back to fitness. I saw dear old ladies walking arm in arm, their permed little heads bent towards each other conspiratorially. I saw a man in waders using a metal detector in the lake, pairs of women running and venting, and more beautiful pregnant watermelon bellies than I could count.  I also saw a super hot rollerblading blond with VOLLE  YBALL written across the back of her shorts. Had the guy at Speedy T’s been so anxious to retain the sanctity of the crack that he chose to move the Y over to the other buttock? And why was she wearing them? Maybe she works at Speedy T’s and wearing the shorts was the equivalent of a pastry chef eating a crooked cupcake. All of this on one ride. And Paper Spacesuit guy.

Good for Paper Spacesuit Guy that someone was curious about his toy and took a second to ask about it. His blocking the path was a good thing, not a bad thing – perfect strangers sharing a moment in our common space. A good thing. I swerved off the path with nary a sound of annoyance escaping my lips. See? You can teach an old bitch new tricks.

And not for nothing, who am I to be annoyed? I am preposterous. I am riding around on a giant cruiser called the Red Betty with a leopard print seat and black leather tassles on the handle bars in a halter top, giant sunglasses and cushy headphones. Not exactly working on shaving any time off my rides, right?

It’s all how you choose to look at it.

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