May 29 2013

Sometimes I can’t even.

leafLater this morning I’ll be going to a funeral for the mother of one of Devil Baby’s classmates. A mother of a first grader and a third grader. Two little boys. This cancer seemed private in a school where help spreads like wildfire. Why didn’t I investigate? I didn’t know nearly enough about her and I didn’t help nearly enough, and the truth is I feel guilty and sad. There are other do-gooders whom I’ve come to rely upon to let me know when to send money, sign up for meals and show up to chaperone. Industrious and generous people who make it their business to make sure things get organized, but somehow I knew nothing of this and I can’t shake the feeling that the organizer should have been me.

There is a vast and sturdy net spread taut under those boys right now and for as long as they are in our community, but did she know that? I can’t help but think that would have been a comfort. To know that the moms will be paying attention and leaning in – to borrow the newest overused term floating about. Or maybe not. No one can take our place or begin to be the way we are. We may not be a perfect mother and on any given day it can feel like we’re not even a very good mother, but we are it and we are the only one that will do it just how we do it.

A mother is like a fingerprint – no two alike – and once those chicks match up to the mom, I think it’s very hard to imagine their life without her. And to be honest, I’m talking about the mother here, not the chicks. I think the chicks can and do carry on just fine in life with other mothers, fathers who become mothers and every other permutation this weird and unpredictable life can throw at them. But for the mother, for the mother it is crushingly unfair to take away her chance to be with her babies and help them grow. In her obituary she is quoted: Revel in the small things. Stop to smell your children’s heads.

You guys. It’s just so sad.

This morning I was making lunches and breakfasts simultaneously – normally something that I crabbily rush to get through – and I just kept thinking about her. This mundane task, so easily dismissed as a bother and a burden, revealed itself for what it is when we’re thinking about things the right way. It’s a blessing – to be alive and to have given life to little people who need us to do this for them for a few short years. It’s a meditation – to move our hands in the same way, day after day, for the purpose of nourishing another. It’s something to be mindful of and grateful for.

It’s not too late to help out. We can have this little boy over to play. I can organize meal drop offs. But she’s the one I keep thinking about. This woman I hardly knew, this mama who got dealt a really bad hand – the rawest of deals. She’s the one I wish I could have helped.


May 14 2013

Music Monday for Mamas

the5It’s been a good slew of days around here, right? The sun managed to muscle out a banshee wind by Sunday, revealing one of those picture perfect days when it’s cool in the shade but hot in the sun.

We took it really easy. The day basically revolved around some early morning soccer, a bushwhacking adventure with Foxy Brown and good food. Lunch was our easiest fave – salamis, cheeses, olives, other salty bits and a Crispin cider – we huddled in the sunroom and didn’t eat until nearly three o’clock; dinner was steak sandwiches with garlic aoli and peppers and onions cooked by Dash. These people of mine know the way to my heart. We hung out on our front stoop in the sun for a long time, snagging Lady Tabouli’s family in our sticky spiderweb for a beer. Mellow and sunny. Perfect and easy.

I hope all you mamas out there were able to relax and let yourselves be loved up on Mother’s Day. It’s a good one as far as holidays go. Good for everyone to stop and be allowed to say what’s in their hearts with paints and clay, beef and tryingveryhardnottofight. I like it a lot, even though Saint James raided his art folder from this past year and gifted me with some suspiciously familiar-looking albeit cool Andy Warhol-esque pineapple prints. It’s funny to me. Something about our American school system has ingrained into my kids that they must produce art for Mother’s Day – and so he did. It’s the thought that counts – even if there was very little thought at all.

Here’s a song I love by an artist whom I don’t love. What can I say, I think Kanye is preposterous, but his music is magic to me. And he loved his mama. So there’s that.

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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¬†√† 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.


May 1 2013

And so it begins . . .

securedownloadMy boy has sipped from the delicious cup of freedom and there is no turning back. As you know, I’ve always loved the wandering. Go forth, ride like the wind, find your friends, explore. Come home tired, happy, dirty and smarter.

I feel lucky to live in a city that feels safe for our kids. There are sidewalks, bike paths, businesses and people out and about – lots and lots of people. There are also lakes and trees and parks and donut shops. Lenore Skenazy, a proponent of anti-helicopter parenting and free roaming kids writes about the “popsicle test” – if an 8 year old can walk to buy a popsicle by herself and finish it before getting home, then that city is probably thriving and therefor a safe place for children to inhabit and own. I think our little apple passes the popsicle test with flying colors.

Then there’s what I’m going to call the “eyes and ears” test. In the last couple weeks I’ve had at least three friends mention that they spotted Saint James out and about with his crew. There’s a loose but vast web of benevolent watchers who will recognize my kid and take note of where he is and what he’s up to. There are scores of mamas who will, I trust, report back to me if they see something I wouldn’t like.

When I spot one of my friends’ kids out in the wild, I make a point to wave or make the quickest of quick breezy contacts – just so they know I see them and just so they’ll see me. If they’re too far away, I take a beat to check them out – make sure all is well. Our kids seeing and being seen by adults they know has a double benefit: I will tell your mom if you’re not wearing your helmet. But also: I am here if you need me.

So I’m purportedly comfortable with the ever widening perimeter Saint James is claiming as his own. Why then, did I spend this past weekend in a state of suspended waiting and disbelief as the hours stacked up and he didn’t darken my doorway for food, drink or rest?

He’s roaming far and wide, and with him – always – goes a piece of my heart. I know he’s a good kid and he looks both ways before crossing the street. I also know that if there’s a short cut that doesn’t involve staying on the bike paths, he’s going to take it. I know that the boys really are playing sports for hours on end. But I also know that these day-long peregrinations may not be as wholesome at age 16.

My conversations with Dash are completely ridiculous.

Me: Oh my gosh, he’s been gone since ten this morning!

Dash: Ya, it’s good.

Me: It IS good. Yes! So good. I love it. But it’s been hours!

Dash: uh huh.

Me: I mean, what is he eating? He’s going to be so exhausted! What are they doing? He left at the crack of dawn this morning!

Dash: You’re the one who’s always saying . . .

Me: IknowIknowIknow!!! It’s good! It’s so good, but it’s been HOURS!

Dash: . . .

Me: I mean, what on earth are those boys up to? It’s been hours!

Dash: . . .

Me: It’s so awesome. Ya. Don’t you think he should come home rest for a bit before practice?

And I’m leaving out the parts where Dash rolls his eyes and tells me I can’t have it both ways and that I started the whole wandering thing and I slam the door in a huff.

Yep, we’re still figuring this out. So for now the rules are that he has to tell us the plan and who’s involved. He has to text back within a reasonable period of time if we text him – we have yet to define what a reasonable period of time is because he’s been decent at getting back to us. He needs to text when there’s a change of location. I’m also thinking he’s going to have to come home for lunch or start using his own money for food otherwise he’ll be at Tin Fish feasting on fish tacos every damn day this summer.

And the most important rule of all: be a good kid. You never know who might be watching.

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