Thursday, December 30, 2010

On This Side of It

I've learned some things in 2010.  I've been reminded of some things in 2010.  I've come to a clearer understanding of some things in 2010.  Part highlight reel, part summary statement, part points to ponder, part stuff I can't let myself forget.  Here's 10 for 2010.

1.  A shower is not always about getting clean.  Sometimes it's about being behind two closed doors, locked of course.  Sometimes it's about being wet and unavailable so those people who needs things either have to wait...or figure it out themselves.  Sometimes it's about taking a little bit of time for yourself...to wash your body and clear your head.

2.  If you have time to worry about not having time, then you have time.

3.  Want is not about need...BUT you'd better figure out a way to want what you need.  This year I learned a lot about what I really need.  He is one of those things.

4.  Spooning is nice.  But so is forking.  Wink wink.


5.  There are only two women at the community pool who are memorable in their bathing suits.  The one who looks the best...you know who she is, the one in the bikini that's not meant to get wet or the mother of three who doesn't appear to have a single stretch mark...you remember her.  And the one who looks the worst...you remember her too, enough said.  So if you're somewhere in the middle, like most of us, you're not memorable.  A momentary glance will be forgotten.  An extended stare will be purged. Stop worrying about it and enjoy yourself. 

6.  You must be present to win. 

7. The things you do most of the time are what make you who you are.  There will be epic fails.  There will be days where one thing after another goes wrong.  There will be weeks where your weight is up, your mood is down, your plate is full and your luck runs out.  But that's not most of the time.

8.  You can hold your breath, but you cannot pretend you don't breathe.

9.  Lead or be led.  But don't just go.

10.  The way you do anything, is the way you do everything. 




Monday, December 20, 2010

Worth 1,000 Words?

A picture does not always seem to be worth a thousand words.  So far, this picture has proven to be worth approximately three words..."Who is that?"...has been the most popular response to my showing it around for the last few days, but it says so much more than it seems to say. 

The story leading up to the taking of this terrible, cell phone picture began in early October when one morning, my favorite local radio station announced that they would be giving away tickets to a concert featuring Train, only my favorite band in the entire universe, and that the tickets would not be for sale.  To anyone.  The only way to get them was to be the 9th caller when they played the cue to call.  Several times a day they would give pairs away.  For weeks and weeks until all the tickets were gone.  All the way up until the day before the concert.  In December.

I listened.  I called.  I listened some more.  All day, every day.  Waiting for the cue.  I had every commercial memorized, every word to every song in the top 40 list.  My children learned the cue to call.  My little girls will even sing three different versions of the radio station's jingle if you ask them to.  I was held hostage by the radio station.  The dogs waited to be let back into the house when I had to dial.  The 3 year old sat patiently on the toilet and waited until after I made my calls so I could wipe her butt for her.  The 6 year old ate a piece of toast that I burned while waiting for the cue and the 4 year old got her own socks from the dryer because I couldn't hear the radio in the laundry room.  My husband took over scrambling the eggs, buttering the bread, rinsing the conditioner out of wet heads and countless other half started tasks when I had to speed dial.  And he never complained, rolled his eyes, or questioned my commitment to this seemingly impossible contest.  I wanted those tickets so badly.

Want.  That's a funny thing.  Want.  It kind of takes over, if you let it.  I let it.  I made it clear to anyone that asked that these tickets were a want and certainly not a need, but that had very little effect on my behavior.  I listened.  I called.  Again and again.  For weeks.  I was caller #1...several times...but being #1 was not what I wanted to be.  I was every single caller number there was to be.  The most painfully unsuccessful calls were the ones where I was caller #8.  I actually felt pain.  Don't judge me.

One particularly unsuccessful Friday afternoon my husband came in the door from work and noticed that the radio was not on.  I love him for his next frantic question which was, "Why is the radio turned off?  They're about to play the cue to call!  I was listening in the car on my way home!"  Next to tears, ridiculous I know, I told him I had had enough that day.  I turned the radio off because I was tired of my failed attempts and I needed a break.  I explained that I would start again on Monday.  "Oh.  Ok." was all he said.

He tried with me all that next week.  We made calls in the kitchen.  He learned to time his calls so he could get through.  He programmed the number into his phone.  We stood by the radio together and dialed as fast as we could.  He rigged up a radio for me in the garage so we could be ready outside while the kids rode bikes in the driveway.  He hooted and hollered with me when we got through and stamped his feet in frustration with me when we were caller #4 or #5 or #7.  We dialed in the car together on our way to a dinner date.  He waited in the car with me, with the engine running, until the song playing on the radio was over just in case they played the cue to call.  And then dialed again with me in the car on the way home.

If you've looked carefully at that picture I started with, you might guess that this story does have a happy ending, but not for the reason you think.  Not because I got what I wanted one Saturday morning as we stood there dialing over pancakes in the kitchen.  Together.  As he stood there with me when he was #1 and then I was #3 and then he dialed again and it rang and rang and rang and rang and then a voice said, "Who's this?  Because you're caller #9!"  And he screamed.  And I I fell over.  And the girls went crazy.  And we ran around the house yelling so loud that when they played the call back over the radio you can hear us all in the background acting like idiots.

It has a happy ending because in the process of seeking what I wanted, I got exactly what I needed.  This man who loves me, saw how much I wanted this silly thing and jumped right in with both feet to try and help me get it.  This man never once rolled his eyes, told me I was neglecting my life, sighed as I leaped away from a task when it was time to dial, or ever gave me one tiny impression that he thought the whole thing was a waste of time.  This man was with me.  With ME.  He declared to the world, "I love this woman.  She is crazy.  But I am with her.  She loves Train and I love her so we're going to get us some tickets even if I have to dial the phone 100 times!"  He took a hold of something that was important to me the same way he embraces things that are important to him.  That's what I need.  That's what anybody needs.   

It was an amazing concert.  It exceeded my expectations.  I absolutely loved every minute of it.  And I couldn't believe I was lucky enough to be there.  With them.

He is an amazing partner.  He regularly exceeds my expectations.  I absolutely love every minute of him.  I cannot believe I am lucky enough to be here.  With him.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here. After.

This is a repost from October of last year but timely on this day for a lady I'm lucky to have in my life.

I'm thinking about a friend of mine today.  I'm thinking about the contradiction that you feel when you lose something you never had, didn't ask for and weren't sure you wanted.  The hollow, unsatisfying relief that comes when something ends that never had a chance at a beginning.

She's in the middle bit right now.  The middle that's the pits.  The middle that comes between the blissfully ignorant part before and the resolved to heal part that envelopes the after.   

I'm sure I don't know what happens to those little ones we lose.  Some are comforted by the knowledge that they journey to the Hereafter.  All I know is that we mother's that lose...we have to be here.  After.  Here without something we never had in the first place.  Here in this place.  Here in this day.  Here in this life.  After.   

She'll be the one to decide how long this middle bit goes on.  She'll have some help, but it will truly be up to her to decide.  That's when the middle bit that is so difficult comes to an end and becomes a beginning.  A beginning where you can look around at the Here.  And after everything.  Be happy you've arrived.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Santa's Not Watching!


It's one of the biggest lies out there and it makes me insane!  And don't even get me started about the true meaning of Christmas...that's not what this post is about, so just back off!  I'm ranting about Santa! 

So we're in Target today, the littlest ones and me.  With the outside temps hanging just below zero, they were bundled to within an inch of their lives and so, after about 34 seconds in the store they started moaning about being hot.  Not one tiny bit interested in their overly dramatic display of discomfort, and actually a bit sweaty myself as we rushed through the aisles to grab toothpaste and chapstick, I hurried them along.  Three year old Minnie proceeded to remove her mittens and throw them at me.  "Pick them up NOW!  And start walking," erupted from me just as this striking, young gal with a pep in her step rounded the corner.  And by 'striking' I mean wearing boots because they were cute and not because they keep your feet warm and dry.  And by 'young gal' I mean clearly single.  With no offspring.  And by 'pep' I mean she didn't just break up an argument between two short people about why we should get Dora toothpaste instead of Thomas or have to quiet the screams of the middle one when the little one chose the green chapstick, "But NOOOOO!  Momma!  That stuff makes my lips sting!!!  NOOOOOOOO!"

Anyway, this striking, young gal leaned over to my littlest bundle and whispered, "Better pick up your gloves.  Santa's watching."  Both of my children snapped their heads around and looked at me with big saucer eyes.  The middle one said, "He is?"  To which I replied, "Nope.  But I am.  So WALK!"  They walked.

Santa's watching...so you better be good.  And then what?  If you're not good is your mom going to cancel Christmas?  Take back your gifts?  I don't think so.  Does anyone ever actually do that?  What Santa would have seen today if he had been watching was a three year old acting like a three year old.  Should she be punished or rewarded for that?  And what the hell would Santa know about three year olds anyway, he lives with adults...short ones, but adults.

I love the mystery.  I foster the tradition.  I tell the story of Santa Claus.  I've bought into the image created by Coca Cola to boost sales of soda pop during the holiday that has turned into everyone's image of the jolly old elf who lives in the North Pole and has thousands of pint sized employees.  But never, will you ever hear me say to one of my children, "Santa's watching", with that lilting, sing-songy tone that is really saying 'I don't feel like yelling at you right now or bothering with the actual follow through and doling out of consequences so will you please just stop hitting your sister and play nice while Gramma is visiting.'

It makes me insane!  Do people not realize that this is not an effective strategy for seasonally managing the bad behavior of small children?  Do people not realize that if they, the parents are not capable of encouraging forcing their children to follow rules and act like civilized creatures then threatening the wrath of a jolly old elf is never going to do the trick either.  I can't actually imagine the wrath of Santa...maybe being pelted with candy canes...oh, the horror!  And how come nobody ever says, "Santa's watching," in July?


The end of the story is that we made it through Target.  There was very little crying after that initial incident.  Minnie did pick up her mittens.  They did brush their teeth with their new toothpaste.  Mona's bottom lip is not quite as chapped as it was this morning, and the story chosen at bedtime was 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.  What a lovely evening it was...but not because Santa was watching.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Karma

So a few weeks ago, I went to see this man speak about Karma, and I have been paralyzed by my thoughts for weeks.  He told some stories and said some things and offered some wisdom and I digested most of it.  Then on the way home from his talk, I had the most unbelievable realization...because of course I did not have the nerve to actually ask him my questions or speak my mind out loud when I was in his presence, but I don't really think any of that matters at this point.

He spoke about consequences and personal histories and making the most out of what you bring to every situation.  He reflected on how we shape the momentum of our lives and simultaneously suffer the results of our own actions.  Truly, as I sat there, I felt like there might have been other people in the room but that he was speaking only to me.

He told a story about two little boys that were playing trains on the floor of the playroom one day.  Completely absorbed in their activity, they were taken by surprise when a huge dog bounded into the room.  The first little boy, nearly wet his pants with fear, jumped up screaming and ran to hide in the closet.  The second little boy broke into a huge smile, rushed over to the dog grabbed it around the neck and proceeded to ride it like a pony.

Very simple story. Very clear images.  Certainly these boys acted the way they did because of their personal histories.  The first boy knows only fear because of the dogs he has known in the past.  He thinks he knows how a dog will always act and so he knows to hide.  The second boy has a different history.  To him a dog is a toy and not a beast which requires caution or amended behavior.

He went on to say how the first boy is possibly missing out on some of the pleasure of a well trained dog.  He is not able to see beyond his past experiences and act differently.  The second boy has made just as big of an error.  This boy acts the way he does because his history tells him dogs are friendly.  But some are not.  This boy could benefit from a little caution.

Great point.  I want to learn how to change my outcomes by learning from my previous experiences.  I've been working really hard on that lately.  So someone asked him, "But if I'm the child in the closet, and I've closed the door on some of the experiences in my life because I feel like I know how they will turn out, then what?"   Of course he went on to explain all sorts of things like letting go of the past and being in the moment and not allowing all of the mental garbage we bring to every situation define what it is.  I specifically remember him saying, "Don't react.  Don't manage.  Don't direct.  Just be." 

And here's where my "aha" moment came crashing down on me.  I've been working on that whole "let it go and let it be" thing lately.  Really.  I have.  I've been sitting with stuff and letting anger be anger, and letting joy be joy and turning it all in on the work that could be done on me.  And I've been feeling pretty powerful as a result of it.  And.  I'm pretty sure I thought that if I worked hard enough on me.  I could change that big scary dog into a horse.  If I was in control of me, I could make that bounding animal come into the room more slowly.  If I let go of my fears and some of the negative experiences of my past, I could transform that being into something else.

Not going to happen.  That was a crushing realization.  Yes, I need to work on me.  But no amount of work that I do on myself is going to change the people around me into something they are not.  Tough piece of news for a control freak who is willing to put forth the effort and likes to get the job done. 

Freeing though.  In a way.  To be able to stop failing at changing people.  To be reminded that the point of it all, before I lost sight of the point, was to work on me.  To let go of the past and stop letting it dictate how I'm going to behave.  Or respond.  Or react.  To begin to form a new history with some of the important people in my life.  New memories. 

New consequences of new actions.  Karma.





Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Peace. Piece. Get Some.


If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace.
                                                    Achaan Chah


Yes.  Very true.
Saw this meditation and was instantly struck by it's truth.
And was instantly inspired to think.
And I have my own spin on this of course.
Hey, my blog.  My spin.


If you let go a little, you will get a little piece.
If you let go a lot, you will get a bigger piece.
If you let go completely, you will get it.  The whole thing.
                                                    Me


Difficult for a control freak like me.  
Difficult but not impossible.  B. says, "Control is letting go."  
This is a simple statement that takes an incredible amount of strength.  
Difficult but not impossible if you want to get it.  
A piece.  
Peace.  
Yes. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

I Think the Month Doesn't Matter

Here's the backstory.  Not long before we began planning my wedding my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer and they told her... or she told me, or I told myself.  I was never really sure about that one but it doesn't matter what really happened, what matters is what I think happened... they told her, go with your daughter and plan this wedding in case you're not there next year when she gets married.  Suck.  So we did.  But then she was.  And it's 13 years later and my mom is still here.

The novelist Joan Didion is quoted, "I write to find out what I think."  Well I'm writing and here's what I think...and apparently I had so much unresolved thinking about this particular issue that it spilled out of me like a torrent and I've had to go back and do some editing.  Of words that were misspelled in my rush, of words that were more harsh than they really needed to be, of words that were more flying off the handle than helping me to get a grip.

Back to what I think...

I think October is a nice month to celebrate Fall foliage and Veteran's Day and Halloween and Polish American history.  And it's as good a month as any to shine a laser beam of focus on Breast Cancer Awareness...but the month doesn't matter I'm always aware.  Always aware.

I think I'm so glad that the experts finally stopped recommending that young women do monthly self breast exams.  But I'm not happy for the reason you think.  I'm happy because now I can stop lying to my mother about doing them in the first place.  Nope.  Never did one.  Not one.  Hung the cute pink card in my shower about how to do it and never did one.  Thanks, team of doctors for doing the research that lets me off the hook.  Sorry mom, for lying to you...about this. 

I think the term survivor sucks.  If you're the survivor of a train wreck, once the mass of twisted metal has come to a halt and you have walked away from the wreckage, you can safely call yourself a survivor.  It's over.  You made it.  Breast Cancer survival?  Not so much.  It's like this creeper in the shadow that stalks you your entire life...or at least when you "survive" stage 4 breast cancer that's how it is.  You can walk away from the wreckage of surgery, be clean for years and then get the same cancer again.  Or a different type.  How in the hell is that survival?  The only way to be a breast cancer survivor is to die of something else.  I think I'm missing the point of why they call them survivors.  The National Cancer Institute's website states, "a person is considered to be a survivor, from the time of diagnosis until the end of life." I think that makes about as much sense as declaring victory before you fight the war.  Certainly the term survivor is better than victim, but c'mon.  Really?  Those 40,000 women who will die of breast cancer this year...they're survivors?  No.  I don't think so.  I think they're victims.

I think a girl ought to be able to eat yogurt, or buy batteries, or shop for used furniture on craigslist or do any number of ordinary things without having to be stalked by that (sorry, I think I'm angry) fucking pink ribbon.  No, I get it.  Believe me.  Susan Komen's sister has done an extraordinary thing by marketing this cause and raising awareness and stimulating the research and driving the funding.  Extraordinary.  The pink wine and the pink Kitchen Aid mixer and the pink Nike sneakers.  Unprecedented.  But for me, all the pink stuff is tainted now.  I'm aware.  I get it.  It plagues me that my mom is a survivor and sometimes I'd just like to eat my fat free, high protein, double strained Greek yogurt in peace without thinking about prosthesis and surgical drains and tamoxifen and what the hell my father would ever do if he was expected to survive losing his breast cancer survivor of a wife.

I think I'm angry about a lot of this still.

I think it's ok to be angry.

I think October is as good a month as any other month for everyone else to be aware.

I think I'll always be aware.

I think I like pink.  But I liked it before.

I think surviving breast cancer is the middle, not the end.

I think I love my mom and I'm glad she's still here.

I think that's what I think.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

And then there were three...





How is it possible that you've been here for almost three years already? 

Just the right amount of time. 
                    Not nearly long enough. 

The one I never imagined. 
The one I certainly couldn't imagine being without. 

Littlest one. 
Monkey in the tree.  Wearing a helmet.

We'll celebrate you on your special day.
But you're a little party every single day.

Love.








"And suddenly, what I wound up with seems like the only possible choice."  Well of course it does.



 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Take the Prize.

Stand in the sea of faces waving your hand frantically over your head, "Pick me!  Pick me!"

Enter the contest.  Go ahead.  Run.  Throw.  Bake.  Sing.  Write.  Make your best effort.

Play the most special numbers there are.  Every week.

Put your name in the hat again.  And again.

Buy more raffle tickets than anyone.  Ever.


But.

You must be present to win. 

Present in your life. 

To win.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lentils. With a Side of Guilt.


Monday mornings in our house are stacked up, over-scheduled, frequently chaotic, rarely comfortable, always short on time, long on attitude and can, but only if we let them, set the tone for the entire week.  This week, I didn't let it get to me.  I rose at 6am to meditate (yes, I am becoming one of those people) in a quiet house before anyone else needed anything, waded through the detritus left over from a weekend filled with activities and house guests, met the electricians at the front door in my jammies, showered, woke the kids, served three different breakfasts, sent everyone off to their respective educational venues...blah blah blah...this is not the point I'm trying to make here...

When the dust settled, what I saw stretched out in front of me like a path of endless possibilities paved with DSW coupons and lined with honeycrisp apple trees, was an opportunity.  What I realized was I had a beautiful, newly remodeled kitchen and a whole day ahead of me to spend cooking whatever inspired me.

Now, you must know that culinary inspiration at my house comes mainly in the form of a popular periodical.  I will not apologize for this.  I am not one of those people who can consult the almanac, sweep out to their garden and create something from what grew there that day.  Now, my friend Julie, she's like that, and she posted about a roasted red pepper and corn chowder yesterday where she actually roasted the red peppers herself instead of buying them in that cute, skinny jar.  This is a girl with a garden brimming with culinary inspiration...I fully believe this woman is capable of growing everything from mayonnaise to birthday cake...but I digress.

On this particular Monday I was inspired by a recipe for lentils (an underwhelming legume that I hear is good for me, but I'm not convinced).  My interest piqued by a declaration of spiciness and the addition of onions and tomatoes (a slam dunk favorite in this house), I prepared my list.  Feeling kind of plucky and reminded of the fact that I had ALL day, the plan was to also make whole wheat pitas to accompany our stew (the mother in me was thinking, if the girls won't eat the lentils at least they'll have bread to fill them up.)  

Fast forward through 7 hours of the day, a playdate, a pre-school pick-up, 2 art projects made from leftover lentils, the clean-up of one shoe covered with dog poop, 3 episodes of Go! Diego! Go!, 2 pages of math homework, 1 drill of spelling words and we all found ourselves gathered at the table gazing down at plates of Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew, black quinoa and fresh whole wheat pitas.  The smell was amazing.  The visual appeal was undeniable. 



The first bite was...

Begrudgingly swallowed by the oldest sister, who was clearly unhappy about her meal but knows better than to insult the chef.

Tentatively picked at by the middle bit, who refused to touch any more of the "contaminated" rice and wanted to know if drinking her milk counted as dinner.

Completely rejected by the smallest one in the house, who proceeded to gag and carefully avoid any contact with her plate while inhaling her pita.

And thoroughly enjoyed by the Father and me, who instantly labeled it a "repeat" dish to be added to our collection. The spices were fabulous.  The textures complex and foreign, but wonderful.  Yum.

The meal came to a close with very little drama.  We don't fight about food in our house.  I serve a meal.  One meal.  And that's what's for dinner.  If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it, but there will be no substitutes.  On this night my children ate bread and milk for the evening meal, engaged in polite conversation and brought their mostly full plates to the sink when they were finished...and this is where the side dish comes in.  As I was scraping picked-at, cold, brown food into the sink I was overwhelmed  with the amount of waste, feeling guilty about what I was washing down the sink and it was all made worse by the fact that this exotic masterpiece was entitled:

Ethiopian Lentil Stew.

Ethiopian, as in starving children in Africa.   Ethiopian, as in all of those TV images we were barraged with in the '80s and '90s.  Ugh.  Guilt.  This is one of those unpleasant moments my meditation teacher keeps telling me to try and experience fully.  To really be present in.  Well I was certainly present in this one.  It felt awful and smelled like cloves.  It stirred up thoughts about waste and what I take for granted.  It stung a bit that I stood there and wiped down a gorgeous new sink and counter top when there are so many people losing their homes these days.  I also heaped on a bit of self judgment about sending my kids to bed hungry and subjecting them to wacky food when a grilled cheese might have made them happier.  And then when I got to the very bottom, I started to try and make myself feel better by telling myself I don't take things for granted, and it's good for these girls to be exposed to new foods.  Right?  Right.  A lot of mental junk over a few beans going down the sink.

And that's really all it was.  These days I'm trying to see things for what they are.  Not what I make them into. Simple to say.  Not easy to do.

So what's this all about?  My point?  Part confession about being bound to my recipes.  Part declaration about how exotic I can be on a Monday afternoon.  Part finding a way to post a recipe I thought was delightful without just simply copying the ingredients.  Part admission that my very adventurous eaters DO occasionally summarily reject one of my culinary masterpieces.  Part being very grateful for what I have.  Part writing it down because that makes it more real.

Real.  Yes.  They were really just lentils.  And I'm going to put aside the guilt.
 


Ingredients
  • 2  teaspoons  canola oil
  • 2  cups  chopped red onion
  • 1  tablespoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 3  tablespoons  tomato paste
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  Berbere spice
  • 3  cups  organic vegetable broth
  • 1  cup  dried small red lentils
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4  cups  hot cooked basmati rice
Preparation
1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in tomato paste and Berbere spice; cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Gradually add broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer.
2. Rinse lentils until cold water; drain. Add lentils to broth mixture; simmer, partially covered, 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in salt. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve over rice.

Nutritional Information
Calories:454
Fat:3.9g (sat 0.3g,mono 1g,poly 1g)
Protein:19g
Carbohydrate:85.5g
Fiber:9.5g
Sodium:867mg
Domenica Marchetti, Cooking Light, MAY 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Did You See That?

Headed out on a major errand run with a few of my children.

Rushed, always.

Unwashed, since who knows when.

Hat wearing, with sunglasses, LA incognito style.

Holey, not holy, leggings tucked into my oversized, fur lined boot-type footwear.

Full mommy mode, focused on the list and not the self.

Hoping NOT to run into anyone I knew, please.

In an uncharacteristic display of mindfulness, just happened to look up at a billboard that was rushing up towards me on the side of the highway.  It said:





Complacency leads to sweatpants.



And there it is...once again.  We see what we need to see.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Buckle Up.

I don't know if I'm apologizing explaining this to you or to myself.   Maybe both.

I can appreciate how sometimes when you read what I've left here you might feel like you need to wear a seat belt as I crash from spiritual re-construction to ranting about to grocery store distractions to professing my love for engineered produce to poems written by 12th century mystics...well.  There it is.  Lately I feel like I need to wear a seat belt to keep me safe from me.

I can't put my thoughts on a schedule.  I can't always write about what's going on inside my head.  I can't always write exactly what's true.

I can choose to be inspired by what's on my mind, even if it ultimately results in a piece of writing that's slightly embellished. 

I can choose to write about what I'm seeing.  When I see this you get that.  When I feel this you get that.

Don't call me and ask me if everything is "okay"...no wait, do that, but not in response to something you read on my blog about a life crisis or a difficult parenting day.  TheMiddleBit is where I write stuff.  TheMiddleBit is not me.  I cannot be the only blogger who feels weird talking out loud about the content of their blog?  maybe...sigh

Back to who I'm explaining all of this to.  I think it's me.  Not you.  Because you're free to go somewhere else and read.  But I'm here.  In my head.  And I'm learning how to be here.  Here.  I'm not going anywhere else to think.  And be.

Now I'm ranting a bit like an impetuous child, but there it is.  Buckle up.  Know that what you read here is not always exactly what you'd see if you looked into my life.  Know that even if it's not all exactly true, it's always honest.  Honest.  I started writing here more than a year ago because I started to be full of things to say about what was going on in my life.  There are all sorts of things going on in my life.  Some of them are funny.  Lots of them are funny actually.  Some are maddening.  A few things recently have been quite scary. 

Tears keep falling out of my eyes lately but I don't think it's because I'm sad.  I think it's because I'm so full that something needs to spill over. 

Tears quietly.  Privately. 

Words here.  Publicly.  Spill over.  My words are bit more edited than tears but just as spontaneous, I assure you.  A wise person gave me some advice in the early days of this blog,  "Give yourself a time limit for writing your posts.  Don't let the writing become you.  Let it stay about you."

Yeah.  I'm certain now that this post was for me.  And as soon as get over the audacity that I seem to have in putting this out there, I'll go back to re-writing Mother Goose, posting soup recipes, falling literally in love with coffee and apples, reeling from the wisdom I see in the tiny moments I have with my precious girls, and being more present in my life than I have ever been before.  You may find that presence here.  In the Middle Bit.  That seeing and believing.  From time to time.  I'm seeing things these days.  I'm seeing me these days.

 And I like what I'm seeing.

And that's the truth.

Honest.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Apple iOwn

The wildly anticipated Apple iPhone.
But there's another apple that is just as sought after.  

Just as hoped for.  

People who know me are aware of how I feel about Honey Crisp apples.  People who follow me have read about various atrocities committed by me whilst under the influence of this magnificent piece of engineered produce.  People who love me, madly text me upon discovering the first signs of these glorious fruits in the local grocery store.

Well, people.

They're here!

And they're wonderful.

And I'm not sharing.

So there.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Check This Out!


An open letter to the CEOs 
of all major grocery and retail stores 
including but not limited to Target, Kohl's, Cub Foods, 
Albertson's, WalMart and Trader Joes.


Let me begin by reminding you that the customer is always right, which of course, you already knew and is certainly the reason you rose to the top of the retail food chain and became the giant you are.  Please allow me to continue by congratulating you on your complete monopoly of the way a busy mother shops for everything from fly swatters to gym shoes to goldfish crackers.  Well done.  Thank you for selling it at all at one store.  Thank you for organizing all of your stores the same way so whether I'm shopping at my small town location or the fancy one in southern California I always know where to find the things I need, quickly, as I drag along three tired children.

And while I'm on the subject of dragging children, bless you for finally getting the hint that many of us have more than one child that is incapable of walking through a store and providing a supply of shopping carts that hold two bodies in the front and come complete with harnesses so these two children can be strapped way too close to each other and will not fall out of the cart while I am failing to give them my full attention as I wander down the aisles continually drawn towards the clearance items on the end caps like a raccoon mesmerized by a shiny nickel.  But I digress....

Certainly, my inability to focus during retail experiences has rubbed off on my children.  I will own up to being chronically incapable of sticking to my list, regularly guilty of buying duplicates of things I already own and spending $100 on food only to arrive home and discover that we have nothing to eat for dinner, but my suffering as a result of my lack of focus and the pains inflicted by occasionally overspending or under-buying are nothing compared to the level of suffering I am subjected to the moment I start my journey through the check out line.  With children.  Multiple children.  Three, usually.  That fully experience every single thing in those rows and rows and endless rows of tiny cardboard boxes with 3 pairs of eyes, 6 hands, a total of 30 grubby little fingers, an ability to touch more things in a 5 second span of time than a plastic tub full of hungry octopi and possessing the begging and pleading skills that could talk a dog down off a meat truck.

Which brings me to the point of my correspondence today.  I have a proposition for you.  You retail giants that have an opportunity, almost daily, to sell me everything single thing I need to function in my tiny little corner of this world.

Take a hint from the brilliant folks who began designating conveniently located parking spaces for "Expectant Mothers" and designate a check out line for "Mothers with Young Children".  Place nothing for sale in those lines.  Nothing shiny.  Nothing to drink.  No battery operated lolly pops or magazines with Justin Bieber in skinny jeans.  No princess key chains for children too young to drive or Sponge Bob flashlights for children who sleep with the lights on.  No candy bars masquerading as granola goodness with their nature names and pictures of apples on the front or bags of honey roasted anything.  Nothing for sale.

Make it a narrow aisle.  Just wide enough for my cart to squeeze through first, followed closely by me and my brood.  The frazzled mother behind me in line can then drive in behind us effectively cutting off any escape for my hooligans, trapping them nearby while I commence the check out process.

Staff it with teenagers who are oblivious to everything but the beepbeepbeep of the barcode scanner or kindly grandmother types who will not judge me for my inability to make my offspring behave or condemn me for being stupid enough to attempt a shopping trip with three urchins in the first place.

Do this for me and my fellow suffering mothers and in exchange for the potential lost revenue you might experience as a result of a check out line completely devoid of annoying sundries I would be willing to pay you admission to this check out line.  Yes.  You are understanding me correctly.  I will pay an extra fee every single time I go through this line.  Give me priority check out.  Eliminate the distractions.  Contain my progeny.  Give this tired mother some peace during her final transaction as she prepares to exit your establishment and you may collect a fee.  Every time.

Please consider my simple suggestion for enhancing the retail experience of shoppers in your store.  If there's a mother out there who wouldn't be willing to pay for this kind of ease during the check out process, I haven't met her.  And if I did, I'm sure I wouldn't like her.


Sincerely,

Nancy
Mother of 6 year old Marge, 4 year old Mona and 2 year old Minnie.


Friday, September 10, 2010

You Have to See It AND Believe It

The Alchemist calls them omens.  The Godfather refers to them as signs.  My sister knows the hand of God places things directly in her path.  Karen says the things we see just at the right time would have always been there, we just have to be ready to see them.

I'm certain they're all correct, because everyone sees things with their own eyes.  We all have our own reasons for seeing things.  Our own sensibilities, our own minds, experiences, history, needs.

I don't know what I think, but I do know I've been seeing things lately.  I know that a book a received months ago and never glanced at until two days ago just happens to have a Forward written by a man whose class I will be taking next week.  An omen?  Maybe.  I know a fragile twig in the neighbor's yard was planted on the same day I decided to name the tiny seed of spirituality that I have been cultivating for months.  A sign that I'm on the right track?  Maybe.  I know that a 4 year old's request to have a red ribbon on one pigtail and a pink ribbon on the other pigtail is the simple whim of a child but a grounded reminder to a grown child of how her own mother is battling heart disease AND surviving breast cancer.  Ribbons or mindfulness?  Both, for sure, if you see it that way.

I thought for a long time I wasn't looking in the right place and that's why I was coming up empty in the inspiration department.  I blamed it on a Faith that didn't fit me and a venue that didn't ground me, but that's a cop out.  What's true, is that I was searching without looking.  Seeing things without really being mindful of what they were telling me.  Well, like I said before...I'm seeing things these days.

But then there's the next part.  Seeing it AND believing it.  Seeing it and believing that it can have an impact on your choices.  Seeing it and being mindful.  Seeing it and allowing it to nudge you towards your next move.  Seeing that it's there for a reason and it's not just a coincidence.

I'm seeing them.  I'm believing them.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make a Space.

On the occasion of the one year anniversary of this little blog here in the Middle,
With great respect for making a space and then filling it with something,
And because sometimes you're just out walking the puppy and something hits you so hard you stand there awestruck for several minutes...

It's growing in the neighbor's yard and it's one of the most clear representations of faith that I have ever seen.
It's almost ridiculous.  A tiny plant here in the middle of this vast sea of grass.  I wouldn't even call it a tree yet, but that's where the beauty of this whole thing begins to unfurl.  He, the confident neighbor who nudged away the tiny piece of earth to place this tiny bit of potential, knows it's a tree.  He saw a space that needed to be filled and put a tree in it.  Tucked it in with mulch and watered it like it was already something, not that it might someday be something.  With care, it will certainly grow into something more, but even at it's tiny beginning, he knows it's a tree.

Impossibly over-sized is the stake that's driven into the ground alongside this tree as a sturdy warning to the distracted teen with the mower, "There's a tree here!  Be careful!  Don't run it over.  You are powerful and this tree is tiny, but it's worth saving."  That warning stake will someday lend support when the wind blows hard.  There are always things to be weathered, especially here in the Middle.

Confident was he that planted it, that the twigs that can barely support the weight of a single leaf could someday support the weight of other beings.

Make a space.  Plant something with potential.  Nurture it.  Give it the support it needs.  Raise a sturdy flag and tell people it's there, even if they don't see it yet.  And the tiny branches that are so fragile now may someday extend far enough to give you the shelter you crave and the support you need.

That's faith.







Happy Anniversary to Me!














Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where Shall I Place Blame?














In the grand event that is my life.  At the feast of every moment in time.

Where shall I place Blame?

At the head of the table?  At the focus?  Directing the conversation.  Steering the mood.

Where shall I place Blame?

Squeezed onto the bench next to me?  Forced into a synchronized dance as we move through our meal.  Or waging a battle over left and right as I cut into my meat and Blame bumps my elbow every time, knocking me away from my pleasure.

Where shall I place Blame?  At the kids table?  Tempting.  Especially these days.

I was slamming around the house this morning raging to place Blame for the way my children were screaming at each other.  Blame for the puppy poop that appeared on my living room rug during the 9.8 seconds that I stepped away to use the toilet myself.  Blame for my missing cell phone.  For my rush to get an hour's worth of errands completed in 30 minutes.  For the humidity that made my shower a waste.  For the peanut butter toast that landed sticky side down of course on my skirt after I got dressed for work. 

Where should I place Blame?  How important was it that I cater to this urge and serve it up my full attention?  I was so angry.  I. Was. So. Angry.  I was inclined to invite Blame to feast with me today.  To place Blame carefully and with precise intent.

Truth?  It would not have changed the fact that my children were uncharacteristically ill behaved and this rare display was, in fact, short lived.  It would not have changed the fact that the little dog is still be only 12 weeks old and nowhere near house-trained.   And it might have destroyed the dear exchange I had with my Little Bit later in the day where she sang "Happy Birthday" to me and delivered a gift bag that she had wrapped herself, complete with pink tissue paper and a smashed bow, containing my cell phone that she had been saving for just the right time.  She likes to give presents when people are having a bad day.  As it turns out, I'm lucky today was my bad day.

When Blame shows up shall I turn it away at the door and say Not today,No thank you,We're going to go ahead without you,You're too late?  Turns out, I had no place for Blame today.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Casual Affair

Ahhh...the block party.

The anniversary of neighborly relations.  No, I live in the gray house on the corner.  I'm married to that guy over there.  Did you know she was pregnant?  How many kids do they have?  Who the heck are those people?

That annual get together showcasing the potluck parade of pasta salad.  Oooo!  Who made this one?  Can I get your recipe for that one?  Is this a Weight Watchers recipe?  What the hell is that black stuff in hers?

The once yearly opportunity to interact with the wildlife other people's children.  Sure, I'll cut your hot dog for you.  No, I don't know where your daddy went.  I think you should go tell your mommy you peed in your pants.  We don't hit our friends, please.  

If you don't participate one of these quintessential American celebrations...

If your life has up until now been bereft of this classic suburban bash...

Well then...you need to move.  Because your neighborhood sucks.  The block party is a blast!


















Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Take the Breath

...continued from here because I had more to say.  Oh, there are so many becauses with this one.  Because intentional restraint takes power.  And mindfulness.  And focus.  And doing.  And doing without.  Holding my breath for awhile.  Because I can.  Going without one thing so I can have another.  Power.  Choice.

We do hold our breath sometimes.  We do dip just below the surface for a time and go without the things we need, because by doing that we gain something.  We can be enveloped by that water that lets us fly as long as we know at some point we're going to have to come up for air.  Because that same liquid that supports our unburdened flight, can also become too much.  If we stay too long it can swallow us up just as easily as it lets us fly.  You can take steps to stay beneath the surface, to go without air.  You can learn to live differently.  But even the fish needs air.  If you're going to live, you need air.  You need the things you need.  To be yourself.  And having him here is a big part of being me.

So now he's back, the one I needed, and I'm not holding my breath any longer.  But I'm not breathing easy yet.  No, not yet. Because when you do break the surface, and take the breath you've been dying for, it's not just a breath.  It's a gasp.  Deep.  Frantic maybe.  A bit of taking in as much as you possibly can because you've gone without.  And that can be both good and bad.  It takes some time for my breathing to return to normal when I've gone without air for so long.  I was doing just fine here without him, as unnatural as that was, just fine.  Restricting my movements, less of everything, just so I could make my breath last.  And now my gasping to have my needed one back is a new struggle.  I need him to do all those things I wasn't doing while I survived.  And do them quickly.  Now!  Please.  Faster.  More.  Now that I have my breath back there's no limit to what needs to be done.  Right?  Wrong.  It takes some time for the breathing to return to normal.  Just give it time.  Catch your breath.  Breathe easy because pretty soon you're going to do it again.
"You can hold your breath,
but you cannot pretend you don't breathe."
                                        -me




Monday, July 19, 2010

First Tomato

The big sister reached into the jungle of tomatoes, planted too close together by the mother who doesn't really know what she's doing...Hey! It's my first garden, and jostled it so gently that it dropped, red and ready into her little palm. 



The Middle Bit stripped off her wet bathing suit and came streaking across the yard to receive the sun warmed treasure.

It only happens once a season.  Once.  So you have to be ready for it...she was.  You have to treasure it...she did.

The first tomato.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Just Under the Surface

"You can hold your breath, 
but you cannot pretend you don't breathe."
                                        -me



Even as he speeds back to me I can feel myself clawing towards the surface.  Mouth gaping in a silent scream.  Chest burning, ready to explode with my need for air.  The harder I push the father away it seems.  He's been gone for weeks now...the Father, my partner, my Love, my air... and I've been holding my breath.  Blah, blah, blah...I can function without him here, yes.  But it's not natural.  You can hold your breath.  I can hold my breath.  It is my choice.  My ability.  Yes. 

I'm better at it than I used to be.  That's how it is with learning to hold your breath.  The more you practice, the better you get at it.  The longer you can go without air.  So yes.  I can go longer these days.  I'm better at it.  But it keeps getting harder too.

Because now it's not just me.  It's me and three little girls.  And the part time job.  And the house guests.  And the old black dog.  And the new puppy...what was I thinking?  Oh that's right, I wasn't thinking...thinking is a non-essential function when you're just trying to make your breath last longer.  I've learned that if I stop doing all sorts of things...like cooking, and reading, and shopping, and blogging... while I hold my breath, I can go longer before I start clawing towards the surface.

So that's where I've been.  Here, yes.  But here holding my breath.  Hold.  Hold.  Hold.  

To be continued...here.



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Re-Cycle Built for Two!

My Dear Love, I beg, hold your doubts to few.
I'm half crazy, but that you already knew.
It once was a stylish carriage,
And it seeks a choice remarriage.
It screams defeat.  And has no seat,
But with love could improve our view.

Nancy.  Nancy?  Now is my answer due?
You're half crazy.  Love of my heart, it's true.
It's charm I cannot disparage.
And it won't destroy our marriage.
For I'll be thrilled, once it is filled.
And this bicycle's made anew.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Too Much.

I'm perched half-off my chair today and only half interested in what I'm doing.  Making a "kindof" effort at collecting some thoughts because I'm distracted by a Matterhorn sized pile of laundry, marginal efforts to clean up from one set of company so I can make room for the next round of company, preparations for the departure of the Father (who will be gone for a month...sigh), too much caffeine, too much to say, too much to do...too much.  Just in the time it took me to whack out this paragraph, the dryer buzzed, the microwave beeped and the doorbell rang...distracted.

My big kid is at Gramma's house this week so I'm down to two kids for the next few days...I don't know if it's helping.  It feels weird.  The dynamic is wrong.  The little girls keep looking for her.  One less kid means I have more time right?  Hmm...I don't know how to do 2 kids anymore.  I'm wired for 3.  Regularly I find that 3 is too much.  But this week, only 2 is not enough.  Weird.

I just noticed that today is the summer solstice.  I feel like all the daylight today will be wasted by the fact that I have nothing planned.  Nothing I have to do.  Too much daylight and not enough to fill it.  For the last few mornings in a row I have found myself taking several seconds to even remember what day it is...distracted by too much "nothing to do."

Halfway gone.  Halfway back.  Halfway there.  Meh.  

Last week I vacationed on The Edge.  No, not The Verge...nobody goes there on purpose.  My Middle kid and I went to The Edge (palm trees, movie stars, multiple places to get frozen yogurt in a single city block) for a birthday trip and it was so thoroughly a vacation from my life that I have not recovered.  I can't seem to remember how to assemble the correct ingredients for dinner, pack a diaper in my purse when I walk out the door, go to sleep at a responsible hour...Our host for the week has had such eloquent things to say about the whole visit.  Read him here, and here, and here...and I find myself buried under a pile of great material to write about and can't get anything worked out to say.

Writer's block?  Nope.  I think too much is my problem this week.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If. Then.


If I had worlds of riches...it would still be true that the most important things in my life are priceless.

If I really could shop 'til I dropped...it would still be true that the best things in my life are free.

If I could travel faster than the speed of light...it would still be true that only careful, baby steps move me closer to where I want to be.

If my vision could see through walls...it would still be true that building them keeps people from seeing me.

If I was the luckiest person alive...it would still be true that I'm lucky just to be alive.

If I could hear every sound all at once...it would still be true that I should always listen to my heart.

If knew everything there was to know...it would still be true that I have alot to learn.

If I were the strongest person in the world...it would still be true that there are things I wouldn't lift a finger for.

If I could fly so high my fingers would touch the moon...it would still be true that I am highest when I'm grounded.

If I could reach my arms wider than wide...it would still be true that I'd want to wrap myself around their tiny little fingers.

If I had all the time in the world...it would still be true that the only moment that matters is right now.  This time.  This moment.

If I could do a million things all at once...it would still be true that the single most important thing I'm ever doing, is being.




Friday, May 21, 2010

Let Yourself Off the Damn Hook Already!

This list was inspired by everyone's obsessions with lists these days, by people's guilt about not being able to squeeze one more damn thing into their already busy days, by the fact that a dear friend of mine recently said to me, "Girl.  You ARE the Joneses," when I was droning on about not being able to keep up with someone about something, and my feeling that I need to disclose confess give you a truer picture of what's really going on in this house that has been accused of manufacturing it's own granola bars...ahem...they're muffins.

If I say it's ok does that make it ok?  Um.  No.  But there's a whole bunch of stuff you can get away with and still be a good Mother. Wife. Woman. Human Being.  Seriously...


It's perfectly ok to...

Pick your nose.  Sometimes there's just no other way to get the job done.

Buy your Pottery Barn furniture used on craigslist and lie about it.

Go for weeks at a time during the cold winter months of the Middle and not even consider shaving your legs.

Snack on a Fiber One bar while making homemade oatmeal muffins.

Wear the khakis with the stain on the front side if they make your backside look fabulous!  Hey, you can always just cross your legs!

Not make your bed.  Ever.  Except when your Mother-in-Law is coming.  And sometimes not even then.
 



Use food coloring in the organic boxed mac and cheese to celebrate various cultural holidays.






Wear a bra so padded that you once caught your middle kid using it as a trampoline for her Littlest Pet Shop toys.

Lock the dog in the minivan once a month so she can eat all the crushed food covering the floor and seats.

Wine a little.  Misspelling intended.

Whine a little.  Correct spelling intended.

Have curtains that don't match the carpet.  Life was meant to be lived.  Hair was meant to be dyed.

Make your kids wash their hands after using the toilet, but skip it yourself sometimes...when they're not looking of course.

Have red wine and popcorn for dinner and report it to the public the people at your Weight Watchers meeting as a fruit and a vegetable.

Tuck your issue of US Weekly inside the cover of Cooking Light so the other moms in the waiting room of the ballet studio won't realize it's Robert Pattinson you're salivating over and not asparagus risotto.

Reuse a diaper after dumping the evidence into a bush when you accidentally left the house without an extra one intentionally did not bring an extra one because it wouldn't fit into your cute Spring clutch and you didn't think she would poop at that time of day.

Dislike BJs, but occasionally make them your business anyway, because it is possible to get a good deal out of the whole thing.  And no, I'm not talking about the alternative to Sam's Club or Costco.

Get a tattoo in your thirties.

Blog about homemade soup on the same day you serve chicken nuggets from Costco to your children for dinner.

Not dust.  I subscribe to the philosophy that dust functions as more of a protective coating than something that needs to be removed.

And finally...

It's perfectly ok to have a whole list of things you're not proud of, but to still walk tall in your peep-toe stilettos!  You know...the ones you got at the thrift store!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

It's For You...

My friend thinks she missed her calling in life and now she's stuck with this one.  This life.  This thing that is different from what she thinks in a moment of haste was the calling she missed.  She also thinks she better just GET OVER IT.

And since I've always got something to say...here's what I have to say about this!  I reject your reality and substitute my own!   We're modern women.  Free range chicks...pastured if we're lucky...and we've got all this cool technology right at our fingertips.

Like Call Waiting.  The call waits until you are ready to address it, all the while softly beeping in your ear that it's still there.  This calling, it doesn't have your full attention, but you know its there waiting for you when you've finished with life's most urgent business.  Hung up on the mother-in-law.  Scheduled the dentists appointments.  Ended the phone interview.  Ordered the graduation/wedding invitations.  Finished with this life you're living now without getting over it because it'll still be waiting there and all you have to do is click over to it.

And Voice Mail that holds the information from your calling in life so you can go back to it later.  Later after the busy part of your day/parenting/life has ended and you're ready to try something new.

And Call Forwarding so that calling in life that is looking for you at an old location can find you now.  Find you here.  On this new device.  In this life.  In this place.  Because you were kind enough to have your callings forwarded...wasn't that so nice of you.  Yes.

Seriously...there's absolutely no reason to miss a calling these days!  Pick up the phone...it's for YOU!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I am...well...I am a lot of things really.

At the very beginning, for my very first thing, I was somebody's daughter.  Their child.  Full of the potential to become lots of things...eventually.  Instantly I was cousin, niece, grand-daughter, god daughter.  But first I was somebody's daughter.

Not too long after becoming that very first thing, she came along and I became somebody's sister.  Full of the potential to become lots of things...to her...eventually.  Sometimes her best friend, other times her worst enemy.  Part protector, part tormentor.  Part paver of the way, part partaker in her little sister ways.  Sister.

Along the way I became somebody's friend, student, teammate, classmate, teacher, aunt, girlfriend, best friend, employee, notable things to many different people...some of whom were notable, others...not so much.

Then he came along and I became somebody's love.  Full of the potential to become lots of things...eventually.  Best friend, lover, bride, partner.  Wife.

When she came along, finally, 13 days after I was expecting her, I became somebody's mother.  Full of the potential to become lots of things...eventually.  What did I become when the next little girl came along 2 and a half years later?  And then, the bonus little girl barely 17 months after that?  Still a mother?  More of a mother?  Certainly, even more full of the potential to become lots of things...eventually...for all three of them.  Mother.  

It's interesting to think about how what we are, connects us to the people we keep.  I have no choice but to be somebody's daughter.  It's simply what I am.  There's an amazing amount of power in that connection.  There's a different kind of strength in the connection that makes me his partner.  That's my choice..and one I would make day after day, over and over again...but still, it's my option.  That's a compelling connection.

The connection that makes me their mother is special, because for me, it's both.  For me, it began with a choice.  I chose to become a mother, but now, it's simply what I am.  Actually, it's not simple at all.  It's complicated, and sophisticated, and profound, and intricate, and unconscious and forever...and I'm grateful for it day after day, over and over again.

Happy Mother's Day to me.  Thank you girls.  For being what you are and making me what I am.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This vs. That...and other really important stuff.

Sometimes I'm awake at 3am.  Here's what happened last night and in a fog I resolved to do a little something differently.

Last night, this brilliant woman I know posed the question on her Facebook status "Are you an Austen girl or a Bronte girl?"  Almost immediately there were folks from across the globe chiming in with very definite votes for one or the other.  Always loving to be surrounded by people with strong opinions, I was desperate to join in.  But I couldn't.  I was feeling more than a bit left out, kindof small and blush-in-my-cheeks embarrassed to think that the last 3,000 pages or so that I read had me debating the question "Edward or Jacob"... if you don't know, please, don't ask.  I'm ashamed enough already.

I consider myself a fairly intelligent person.  I've been places, done stuff, eaten there, read that, met them, seen those...blahblahblah.  There's always room for improvement, right?  Right.  I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself...after all, I did have Breitzman and Schurtz for HS English, but in many ways, it was downhill from there.  I read a bunch of stuff in college.  But I did alot of stuff in college that I wouldn't do now...like drink Coors Light and kiss New Yorkers.  Blech.  Shudder.  Not that I'm comparing Chaucer to skunky beer, but you get the point. 

In the interest of full disclosure, and because I've been thinking alot lately about the things we keep, here's what's piled beside my bed this week.  So I think I'm ready for a new stack on my nightstand.  The picture of the cute husband stays.  My children sleep through the night, concert season is nearly over, summer is knocking on my door, my major home projects are almost completed and I'm feeling the strong tug of some potential free time coming my way...even if it is only 20 minutes each night before my eyes slam shut from exhaustion.

So, if you're out there (and I know you're out there, you silent, hiding readers.  I know you're there, because my sitemeter tells me so, even if you're too shy to comment here and there.  Please do, I know you have things to say.)...where should I start?  If you could map out a journey (another trip I'm sure) through your favorite classics, where would you have me start?  Free reign.  If you tell me to read it...I will.  

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Signs...continued.

"How far are we from where we need to be?"

As parents?  As partners?  Good question.

It's all a bit of a trip isn't it?  This life we travel through.  A journey.  An odyssey sometimes.  An odyssey frequently. 

There are certainly course corrections.  The u-turns/back-tracks/about-faces we make to get back on the right track when we find that we are headed in the wrong direction.  Then there the thousands of tiny adjustments we make just to stay in themiddlebit of the road.  To not crash into something.  And when you're happy about where you're going...and who you're going with...it's an easier trip.

Happy.  Yep.  I've been loving myself a lot more lately.  No.  Not that kind of self-love.  What kind of blog do you think this is?  I've assembled a perfectly respectable collection in theMiddlebit of everything else I'm doing and I may have slipped up a bit here, and maybe here, and most certainly here...but no real harm done.  This kind of self love must be the Fahrvergn├╝gen of this trip of life.  The I like what I see, this must be the right road, the scenery is fantastic, I'm no longer being held hostage in the trunk kind of love.  And I've been thinking about signs again.

There are signs along the way.  A wise girl said to me there are always signs if you know when to look for them.  Yes.  True.  Sometimes we see those signs.  Other times, we ignore them.

Here's one I apparently missed.

It's is entirely possible that I did see this sign, but thought that my skills were such that I could just keep moving along at my normal speed and accommodate the presence of children. Yeah.  I was totally wrong about that.  There's a whole list of things you need to do differently in the zone of your life that has children running all over it.  All.  Over.  It.  This is their zone and I drove right into it.  I took this route on purpose, but I've only just realized I'm going to need to slow down on some things, pay closer attention to a few others and focus a little more on the important stuff if I'm going to navigate through this without hurting the children, my other passengers, my self, and my driving record. Yes.  Go slow.  There's children. 

And then there's this one...
A narrowing road forces your focus like a laser beam and it would certainly be helpful to know those times in your life were up ahead before you headed into them at full speed.   A narrowing road gives you fewer options, yes.  But once you choose your route, and you feel like you're on the right course...how much wiggle room do you really need?

Many signs pass us by when we're on a familiar road.  Our level of comfort is such that we don't need to look at those street signs.  We know the speed limit.  We know where the stop signs are.  We just go.  But my awareness is heightened these days because I have recently chosen an unfamiliar road.  A new trip.  I've headed down the road without directions, but with a general idea of where I'd like to end up.  "How far are we from where we need to be?"  And I'm looking out for this sign.

You'll let me know if I missed it won't you?  Fellow travelers.  This sign will signal that at least for the next leg of my journey I can focus my attention somewhere other than the potential crevice I might fall into if I'm not watching where I'm going.

Thanks.  I'll send you the directions when I get where I'm going.