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 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 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 remember her.  And the one who looks the 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 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.