Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer...It's Here. Get Used To It!

Guys, we are only in week one of summer break. And I am already learning a few important things.  First. Going to Dunkin' Donuts does in fact count as a family outing if you have a coupon. If you have a coupon, then it's financially responsible because you are saving money on something that brings the family closer.  Without the coupon, it is just contributing to childhood obesity! Also. Almond Joy flavored iced coffee is SO not worth the money you saved with the coupon.  It really sucks. We don't plan on taking a trip to Dunkin' Donuts every day of summer, but we needed a little pick me up today to get things back on track.
Our oldest child is away at camp on this, the first week of our summer break and we are really missing her!  Specifically, my youngest daughter and I do not know exactly what to do at home without her. My husband simply asks me each day, "Any word from Nana?", as if she has figured out how to send smoke signals from the campsite. I woke up this morning all rosy cheeked, bright eyed, and bushy tailed, ready to face the day.  Lulu was feeling less than eager to do anything that didn't involve watching "Ant Farm" on Netflix.  For the last two weeks, my kid who hasn't cared about TV for over a year, has been obsessively asking to watch "Ant Farm".  It's one of those really great kids' shows that make parents out to be bumbling idiots who exist only for the sake of prompting canned laughter at 15 second intervals! After two shows, I excitedly clapped my hands and said, "What would you like to do together today?!", with all the eagerness of Julie Andrews (pick a role).  "We could go to the pool...the library...the park..."
She lazily plopped down on the couch and mumbled, "Let's just stay here until (our neighbor/bff) comes home."
"She's not coming over until tonight."
"That's ok. I'm good here."
My Julie Andrews inspired plans were squashed.  I can't really say anything.  She is my child.  I have a tendency to laze about if I'm not given other instructions. But suddenly, I have a vision of us, laying about all summer long, unwashed, lethargic, and slothful! I can start to feel the walls closing in on me and just knowing that I no longer have the school day to grocery shop (pretty much daily because of poor meal planning skills), buy hair supplies, and all those other riveting things I do that I can't recall at present, makes me feel twitchy.
"We are not doing THIS (gesture wildly) all summer...we have PLANS! Let's get going."
It was a battle of the wills and I think I just needed to prove to myself that life as I knew it would continue normally this summer.  There was much delay and resistance. We put our bathing suits on and took them off twice.  We played a game in which I had to taste jelly beans and guess what disgusting flavor they might be. I did the dishes. And finally, Lulu agreed to take a ride with me to sign up for summer classes.  We argued briefly about what music to listen to in the car.  There's only so much Adam Levine I can take without becoming irrationally angry. We had to compromise and listen to Pentatonix because apparently I can only stomach pop music when it's sung acapella. Once we arrived at our destination, Lulu bravely agreed to try a gymnastics class because in the words of my own mother (you can't do nothing all summer).  Success!
We even made it to the library, to get our new library card.  When the librarian excitedly told Lulu that tomorrow there would be dancing M&M's performing at the library, she smiled politely and then gave me a squinty eyed look implying that dancing M&M's held about as much interest as getting a head start on multiplication tables or having one's cavity filled. My willful girl refused to check out any books, insisting that she had plenty to read at home, thankyouverymuch.
Together, we found a shelf containing old, worn paperbacks that were either 25 cents or free to borrow if you return them on the honor system. There was an elderly woman with a crazed look in her eyes (seriously) tossing books in her library bag, who said excitedly, "You can take as many as you want, as long as you bring them back! I've read most of them.  I like to take 30 at a time!!"
She nodded and pointed aggressively at the sign. I tried to play it cool while she was standing there watching me, but I gave in to the excitement and started hugging books to my chest.  What can I say? Little excites me more than old paperback, romance novels called things like Honeysuckle Devine, Hearts Aflame, or a personal favorite, Led Astray, which my cosmetology instructor once misread as Lead Ashtray.
Lulu got into the frenzy too and began picking out books for me.
"Mama, do you like this one?" she asked as she picked up a Sandra Brown throwback from the 90's.
"No, Mommy doesn't really like the murder mystery books. That's what Mimi likes.  Mommy likes books where everybody gets married and lives happily ever after in the end...and pirates. Pirates are good."
Just kidding. I didn't say that last part. Cowboys are better. Obviously.
In the end, it was quite a little adventure, after all.  Mommy got free books galore to borrow. Lulu even eventually caved and checked out a graphic novel about a mouse who is married to a rock star. And you know what? We thoroughly enjoyed reading the Bible together for our reading time.  The Message version on my You Version app is easy enough for kids to understand and if I leave out some of the more intense Old Testament smoting of people, it is an incredibly fun read.  If I sound surprised, it's because this is the first time I've spent much time reading it regularly!
We finished up our outing with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts and now we are home, anxiously awaiting our neighbor friend and my client. Is it going to be the most exciting summer ever? Almost certainly not.  I'm sure there will be many more temper tantrums over not wanting to run errands, plenty of trips to the pool or library, and plenty of sibling rivalry. I'm sure we won't do nearly as many educational or creative activities as we should.  We will not grow our own vegetables and no one will learn how to crochet baby hats to cover the heads of premature babies in need. But, if the beginning of summer has taught me anything, it's that this time is precious.  When my oldest daughter headed off to her first activity as a Girl Scout (overnight!) camper, without even a glance back at her needy, old mom and dad, I could practically see her at 18, headed off to college with a grin on her pretty face.
Lulu has decided that she will be eternally devoted to us, never leaving to get a job or go to college, never to marry; ultimately, she's hoping to own many cats. But, I think she will one day leave, even if she sleeps between her father and I until she is 18.
Lately, I think I can actually see them growing.  They are getting so long and lean.  Their faces are thinning out and their tummies are less round.  They are starting to understand more sophisticated humor and are becoming more sure of themselves and their ability to make their way in the world.  So, I will kiss their heads as much as they will allow it and try to speak more gently and take deep breaths when I need them.  I will try to use my "texting voice" a lot less. As in, "Mommy, you are using your texting voice."
"Hmmm? Oh, sorry!"
And, really...just try to live in a place of gratitude for these silly, little moments as often as I can.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What are You Running from?

I remember fondly, riding down the elevator, stuffing a delicious egg sandwich in my mouth, as a friendly woman, sharing the elevator asked, "Are you running this morning?"
I practically spit the eggy deliciousness out of my mouth.  Ha!
"Nooooo. No, I don't run.  I'm here to support my friends who are running the half and full marathon today.  I'm just making my way to the finish line so I can cheer them on." And anyway, I thought, if I were running, I'd be probably doing that instead of eating this and talking to you. 
"Girl, say no more.  I hear ya.  The only time you'll catch me running is if somebody is chasing me!"
I have been an excellent cheerleader (I made signs...and SHIRTS) for friends who race a few times in my life, but my one pitiful attempt at running a 5K was a bit of a disaster when I was actually trying to be a runner.  I remember pleading my dear partners, my support team, that day,
"Please, go on without me! No, I can't make it.  Got to walk. Going to puke." It was like a scene in a melodramatic movie, when the tragic protagonist says, "I feel so coooold.  Cough, cough. Hold me for just awhile." 
Okay maybe not that bad, but it was a little hard for my ego to swallow.  I had been training for 2 months.  For a 5K.  Yeah. But, that's really beside the point. Because pathetic as that might sound, those 2 months of training really transformed me internally.  For the first time in my 33 years, I found pleasure in physical exertion.  I found joy in the discipline of exercising everyday and competing with...me.  That had never happened before.  Honestly, I was always the kid who would rather take a detention for ditching gym class than face the sweaty masses, eye balling me, as I was once again the last to be chosen for a team. My stomach actually turned and dread caused my skinny knees to shake and my hands to sweat at the thought of any sort of ball hurling toward my head.  My mom, lost all street cred with the gym teachers because she wore out her monogrammed note pad, writing me excuses to sit out.  I even pulled the "female problems" card too many times to count. Balls flying at high speeds in my direction resorted in me either ducking with both arms covering my face (must protect our best assets) or better still, leaping away from the ball while yelling, "Your ball!!" to a poor kid nowhere near the ball. You get the picture. The only gym class activity I delighted in was the parachute game, beloved by 3 year olds everywhere, that involved standing under a parachute while the class tossed balls into the air over your head, squealing with delight. Now THAT's a sport!! 
So being able to run a mile without puking, wheezing or wanting to lie down in the road, was HUGE for me.  Since then, I haven't run very much, but the feeling of strength, power, and tranquility that I experienced stuck with me. A couple of months ago, we hosted two friends of mine, who were running in the Tobacco Road Half Marathon.  As I watched them bravely cross the finish line, seeing just how much that distance cost them by the sweat pouring down their bodies and the pale cast to their faces, I thought, "I want that." 
I want that. Not the race. The races, while being such a high for the people who enjoy them, only create anxiety in me. Even the short ones fill me with the weight of expectation. But, I am in awe of the people who do them and push their bodies to the brink of exhaustion; to a place far past the initial pleas that the brain makes to "Please stop! We can't do this!!" 
What I desired was not weight loss or a better ass or nicer thighs. If those things consequently happen from my running then I'll be the first person to embrace the tighter buns and flaunt them in butt squeezing athletic wear. But really? I love my body; the width of my hips, the flattest of butts, the soft tummy, the slightly stooped shoulders. I don't take any of it for granted because all of the parts work beautifully. They get me where I need to go,  and allowed me to bring two babies into this world. Plus, I really enjoy the occasional cronut with my coffee. Cronuts are so necessary.
What I really crave is the feeling of being so connected to my body, so in the moment, that anything feels possible and within my reach. When I'm running the short distances that I can run, all of the worry, the what ifs, the negativity that hides in dark corners of my mind, disappear. I have a panic disorder. And I have learned to manage it very, very well but it still causes me to wake gasping for air sometimes. It still feels like a weight, resting on my chest some days. It's like leaving the house, knowing you've forgotten something, but not being able pinpoint what it is. You are filled with unease and wish you could figure out why. 
When I run, the self talk that so often can be critical and harsh, becomes as soft and encouraging as an elderly Sunday school teacher, full of grace, who reads to you and prays for you. "You can do this, Girl. Just a little further. I believe you can finish." 
Each bounce of my feet off the pavement, each time a hill becomes level again, each landmark I pass,  is an accomplishment. Something I couldn't do before. 
Running doesn't just make me stronger; it transcends the garbage that wants to make me small and out of control. There are so many people in this world who are trapped in the prisons of their own minds. Everyone knows someone like this or maybe you have been this person. Perpetually negative or worried; always suspicious and disapointed. It's why in 2013, The New York Times claimed that more than 30 million Americans were taking antidepressants.  Antidepressants can be a beautiful thing. They are my friend. But everyone should have ONE thing. One thing that they don't do because they have to but because they want to. Something that allows them to be in the moment, right where their hands and feet are. Something that tunes out the white noise and tunes in what's good and true. 
Its probably not running. But whatever it is for you, I hope it makes you feel safe and content. I hope it blocks out the bullshit and hones in on what's good and true about you! 
And if your ass gets a little bit tighter in the process, then give thanks and order some new yoga pants off Amazon to show that sucker off. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

One Martini, Two Martini, Three Martini, Floor

So...I'm back here. After almost three years...writing! Not quite sure what to make of this but I had an old post jump up in my Facebook feed and I felt a nudge to write. So here I am. This blog was a dear friend to me during a major spiritual growth spurt several years ago and it's a bit like the mate to a pair of Doc Martens I found in a moving box this past summer, after having been MIA for 10+ years. It feels good to dust it off and slip into it again! So hello, old friend. 
Can I just say something out loud? You know how to tell if a friend is REALLY worth their 
salt? She walks up to you and knocks on your car window, only to find you binge eating your feelings via a roast beef sub (lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, cheese, mayo, mustard, oil, and vinegar), in your own driveway, no less, and instead of running screaming or averting her eyes and pretending not to notice, she says "Oh Honey...let me give you a hug!" She embraces you in all your crummy, lettucey glory. Kind of like God would if he were a Southern woman. 
I think God sends you people like that just in time. When we first moved into our current house, I was going on week 5 of chronic daily migraines. I was hiding behind my sunglasses in a sour mood, when the very same friend knocked on my car door, smiling. 
"Are we really going to do this?," I thought. "Yep, looks like we are." 
I was pleasantly surprised to find that her sunny exterior was 100% genuine and she's one of the most guileless, kind hearted  people I've ever met! I like to think of her as my car angel now...and so much more. Just when I'm feeling too overwhelmed to exit my car, and I'm planning my demise...death by submarine sandwich, my car angel knocks on my door and doles 
out hugs. 
Today, I was hiding because I'd just spent hours at the hospital in the pediatric radiology unit with three nurses and a radiologist trying to comfort my screaming child who was yelling, "Mommy, you told me I wouldn't remember it! That it wouldn't hurt!!" We were having an invasive test done for kidney reflux and had requested a sedative that would help her through the ordeal. It was the equivalent of slamming two glasses of Chardonnay and saying, "Yep, I'm good. Ready to have my bladder blown up to the size of a bowling ball. Oh and make sure you use a cocktail straw to get up there. Then I'd like to pee on command while four chicks and a dude I've never met watch." 
I told her how sorry I was because I didn't know. I just had no idea.  I sang her the awful Barney "I Love You" song that we sang when she was little. I prayed quietly in her little ear for it to be over quickly. 
It wasn't. She got the award from the doctor for being the child whose bladder held the most 
liquid she'd seen, EVER. Not a great award to compete for if it means doing this!
When it was over, I just averted my eyes and remained quiet because I feared that if I made eye contact, I might very well throat punch the staff, and I knew that wasn't nice. Especially because they were just following their protocol and did their jobs well. Plus, one was pregnant...so there's that.
But to the doctor who suggested the mild sedative was totally unnecessary, I wanted to say, "How do you like me now bitch?!" when all was said and done. We didn't need two Chardonnays. We needed three martinis, extra dirty, Dean Martin style: one martini, two martini, three martini, floor. 
But, at the end of the day, my baby is okay. Probably more okay than I am. And it's been a rough week but Spring Break starts tomorrow so the world will be set to rights. I haven't throat punched anyone all week and my daughter's kidneys are doing all the kidney things they should. I'm thankful for supportive friends and family that care about my kids! I'm thankful for car angels that don't run from the crummy version of Kate but embrace my crumminess. I'm 
thankful for hospital staff that don't get emotional under pressure. There can only be one Mama. 
And, I'd really like to end this day by trying the martinis, minus the cocktail straw/bowling ball/peeing in public trick.  Bring on the floor!