Thursday, December 31, 2009
It never fails: as the famous Times Square ball starts to drop, I get anxious. Antsy. Hyper. "It's almost here! It's almost here! Hey, everybody! A new year! Everyone, quick: Make a plan!"
I get a little crazy on New Year's Eve.
I'm not really sure why, exactly. It's not like I'm into the whole resolutions thing. Personally, I like to take more of a holistic approach to change for the new year.
Every year, I try to look back upon the past year and figure out how I can be better...what was missing...what I enjoyed...what I needed more of... And then I try and focus on that for the new year. Yeah, I guess you could call it a resolution. But new year's resolutions tend to be pretty concrete, as in: "My resolution is to lose 10 pounds." I don't know how resolution-y it sounds to announce: "My resolution is to live lighter."
Yes. Live lighter. That is what I want to focus on for 2010. What, exactly, does that mean? No, I don't mean lighter on the scale (although those couple of pounds gained from waaaaay too much red velvet cake...post probably forthcoming...would be good to get rid of). I mean lighter in the way I approach life.
I am happy to say that a call from my doctor with good news about my test results has already lightened the load on my shoulders. I thought I was going to have to wait until at least Monday for my results, but the gift of relief came early enough to warrant an extra flute of champagne this evening. I want to carry this good news into 2010.
Lighter. In spirit.
I want the load of my anxieties, my stresses, my pessimism, my perfectionism, my temper, my essence to be lighter.
In 2010, I want to smile more. Giggle more. Laugh. Really laugh...throw my head back and snort (yes, I snort) in gleeful laughter when my husband makes one of his ridiculous jokes or my kids do something silly.
I was told recently I don't laugh so often anymore. Apparently, I am too tired or too busy or too stressed about work or dishes or laundry or ear infections or bills or all of it. Who the hell wants to live with someone like that? Who wants to be someone like that?
Light. I want a lighter 2010. More sunshine, more smiles.
That is my non-resolution resolution.
Happy New Year's, everyone.
Monday, December 28, 2009
If you knew you were dying, what would you do differently?
I know. Heavy. Sorry, didn't mean to scare you.
Hopefully, I am not dying. Not just yet, anyways. But I had to have a test done today...one of those scary ones with the words "cancer" and "marker" in there.
I don't mean to be dramatic. Really.
Short version: pelvic pain leads to ultrasound; ultrasound leads to blood test to rule out cancer.
The doctor is not especially concerned. After going in with my looooong list of questions, she answered every one relatively positively: You have no history. The majority of these cysts resolve on their own. This is just a precaution.
But even if there is a 1% chance, no one wants to hear the c-word. Ever.
I have a reputation for being somewhat anxious. And pessimistic. And dramatic. Altogether, not a great combination for just about anything, much less for waiting for medical results.
After a mini-breakdown, I composed myself. Everything "looks good." And I just absolutely refuse to lose a day (or seven, since that's how long the results can take) of my life worrying. There is time for the worry, if necessary.
I "put it somewhere." Away. Although the thoughts linger, in the back of my brain, I will fill the next few days with happy busy stuff. And every time I look at my boys, I am determined not to think the worst. Because that is yet another thing you learn after you become a mother: every test takes on a whole new meaning.
A few years ago, I read the book Tuesdays With Morrie. Morrie advised that the best way to be prepared for death is to do as the Buddhists: "Everyday, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks, 'Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be?'" That stayed with me. I tried, really tried to live my life everyday as if that bird were there, asking me if I am ready. Is there anything I would regret, right now, at this moment, if my time came?
I started keeping a Life List then. Things I wanted to do "before I die." The items ranged from be a mother (check!) to learn to make sushi (scratched that one off a few years ago...why the heck would I go through all that trouble when I could go to the corner and pay some nice guy to make it for me?). Of course, the catch with a Life List is that for it to be really effective, you have to try and do stuff as soon as you can. You can't just write stuff down like "Go to Paris" and then not do anything to make that dream closer. Because you never know. You never know when the "before I die" part is coming.
Scares like mine right now throw things right in your face. They give you time to think, ponder, reflect. But in reality, our time can stop abruptly with no warning. We know that, rationally. But we forget. It's hard to practice.
Today I was at the grocery store, and I was struck by the prettiness of some flowers...pink and orange and red Gerber daisies. They made me smile.
I hesitated only for a moment.
I bought them. For myself.
This is something I never do, buy flowers for myself. Don't get me wrong: I buy myself plenty. Shoes and bags and lovely clothes. But flowers? They always seem so...wasteful, temporary, frivolous. But I realized, as I looked at those flowers, that I wanted them. If my days are numbered, I thought, I want those in my house. And that's when it hit me: my days are numbered. All of ours are.
I had forgotten the bird.
I looked over my shoulder. He was still there. He told me to buy the flowers.
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Well, we made it there...
We weren't sure we would considering all the fevers and close calls, but we did.
And it was perfect. 3 days of stress-free, no-rush quality time.
I had never been to Savannah (I'm more of a New York City kinda girl), but I fell in love with the place. I now understand all the talk of Southern Hospitality...these were the nicest people I've ever met! Our hotel was right on the river and was just the right mix of Savannah Old and Eclectic Chic. Check out the lobby!
We enjoyed plenty of upscale martinis (Real men drink Sour Apple Martinis!)...
And the homes in the Historic District were absolutely lovely...
(The Mercer House from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
Friday, December 18, 2009
It's true. A full month.
We'd start celebrating on December 1st. It was an on-going thing with all of my closest friends and family members. I'd have a romantic birthday outing with Hubby (ahem, I mean Chris). I'd have a girls-only birthday celebration. A dinner with my parents and in-laws and sister was usually required, too. And often, I'd have another major bash out with everyone. I'm a pomp and circumstance kinda girl.
Today is my birthday. And when I woke up, I didn't even remember.
Yep. The girl who used to have a BirthMonth forgot it was her birthday.
Oh, yeah, and the Hubby who has, in the past, planned everything from full blown scavenger hunts to trips to shopping sprees to surprise parties, forgot too.
Okay, we only forgot for like 15 minutes. By the time the coffee had brewed and the baby had wailed his first "Maaaaammmmaaaaa!" we had both remembered. But still. From 31 days of birthday partying to "Oh yeah, today's the day."
This, I believe, is a good example of how life changes when you have children...snotty-nosed sick children especially.
Yep, the plague has continued. 3 pediatrician visits this week alone. 103. 5 fever at 3:00 a.m. last night. But oh, I am not complaining. Nope. Not me. See my big wide smile? No bitterness (I swear) around here.
We leave today...for a trip that has been planned for a few months. Just two little nights. Two nights in Savannah, a few hours away, holed up in a lovely hotel, quietly (or loudly) celebrating my birthday. Just Hubby and me. Just us. Ben is staying with his favorite pseudo-aunt and her granddaughter. He is probably more excited about this weekend than we are. He's got big adventures in store: Reindeer feedings, night zoo hikes, hay rides through Christmas lights. Baby Aidan will be with the grandparents at home. The pediatrician assured us everyone was okay to go..."They'll be fine. Just pack the Motrin and the thermometer. And oh yeah, here's yet another antibiotic prescription...just in case."
So we will go. And I will relax (dammit) and try not to think about the boys except when I make all those phone calls to check on them. And I will hopefully forget for a couple of days about the stress and chaos we've had around here for the last 3 monoths. Everyone will be fine. This, I have been assured by everyone from my husband to my parents to my pediatrician. Yes, everyone will be fine, but it is hard to kick up your heels and be fancy-free when you've had fevers and doctor visits every time you turn around.
But hey, it's my birthday, dammit. And I'm a pomp and circumstance kinda girl. So I will be fine too.
And if I'm not...I'm pretty sure a few cocktails will help me forget my troubles (and remember it's my birthday).
Monday, December 14, 2009
Exhausted and sick and discouraged and stressed.
And feeling guilty about it.
It is The Holidays. I love this time of year. It's my favorite. Christmas has always been a big to-do around my house, ever since I was a teeny little kid. Add my birthday to the mix...exactly one week before Christmas...and well, December has always been good to me.
And I'm big on the gimmicks, too. On my mental To Do List every year is: watch holiday movies, drink hot chocolate, take pictures with Santa, wrap presents together, count down the days on the advent calendar, participate in every Secret Santa available, buy extra special gifts for everyone on the list, send out cool Christmas cards, take kids to a snow day event (we're in Miami, people), listen to Christmas music, decorate the house, go to a holiday park....the list is endless. This year? Um, we've managed the tree, some lights outside, and maybe a Rudolph movie or two (but not really to enjoy as a family...more to get the kids to sit still and be quiet for 28 minutes).
When I complain about all of this to Hubby (oh, wait, sorry, I mean Chris), he laughs: "What do you mean, 'We haven't done anything this Christmas'? Sure we have...we've done pink eye, multiple ear infections, throat infections, bronchitis, stomach viruses, fevers, colds....We've done plenty this season!"
I realize I shouldn't take it so seriously. I understand that what we've been dealing with is nothing...simple, inconsequential, annoying stuff. I know that we are incredibly lucky. Just this morning I found out about an acquaintance of ours, 42 years old, an athlete, a competitor, a health nut...died last night from stage 4 colon cancer. 42 years old. I realize his wife and family would give anything to be dealing with colds and ear infections and eye gunk. I should not whine. I have no right. And that's when the guilt kicks in. And then I'm more stressed because I think I'm so damned ungrateful and whiney.
I am exhausted.
I think the lack of sleep is finally starting to affect me. It's been a couple of weeks now, and my head is in a perpetual fog. Even now, as I write, I have all these points I intended to make...these themes I planned on writing about...but now, I feel like I'm still participating in the Half Drunk Challenge, because although I'm sober, I'm pretty damn sure I'm not making any sense.
Even this blog (and all those I love to follow and comment on)... it has become yet another thing to be stressed about. I have no time, no energy, no...zest.
Yes, that's it. Zest.
My zest has been all zapped out of me. And I'm usually a zesty kinda girl, you know? I like things big. I like things loud. I like things fun. I'm all for the whimsy, the silly, the metaphorical tinsel. But I feel like we're running on empty around here. It's been 10 weeks now. 10 weeks of colds and infections and fevers and complaining (mostly, mine). I'm sick of hearing myself talk about it, write about it, think about it. I just want to enjoy these next couple of weeks...my upcoming birthday trip, Christmas Eve, Christmas morning, my family, the kids, us. All of it.
So perhaps I have to force myself to let go of all of those things I think I am supposed to be doing in order to enjoy the holidays, and just...enjoy them. Maybe the less pressure I place on myself, the more I will actually get out of all of this? It always comes back to the same stuff...whatever our issues are...they keep coming back at us in different scenarios. My issue has always been letting go, surrendering, just existing. And it creeps into everything I do: work, losing weight, relationships, blogging, traveling, even Christmas. It's no wonder I'm exhausted. It's not the kids making me so tired; it's myself.
I guess this is evidence of how important writing is for me. It really is cathartic. Just by writing this all out, by going almost stream-of-consciousness, by complaining and venting and explaining it, I almost snap myself out of it. I remind myself of everything I need to learn: surrender, stop stressing, stop demanding perfection, be grateful. Breathe.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I am drunk. Red wine drunk. We're talking the kind when your lips are all stained purple. Red wine. It's my favorite. I have to save it for special occasions...occasions when I don't need to hold back, or be careful, or censor myself...because red wine is my drink of choice. It is also the drink that makes me feel the "free-est." (What do you mean "free-est" is not a word?!?)
I want to be free.
Free from judgment.
Free from worrying about other people's opinions.
Free from a mortgage I can barely afford, and 2 children I can barely contain, and a job that requires me to "behave." Free from all that life has somehow sucked me into.
How did this happen? How did I become "just like everyone else"?
I am not.
Like everyone else.
I'm really, really not.
This half-drunk challenge has been good for all of this...thinking about this kind of stuff. It's made me think... a lot...about what I am willing to put "out there"...what I'm willing to share...what I want people to know.
I'm trying desperately not to care whether I write something that's "good" or whether I offend.
So...I'm sitting here with Hubby. He's drunk too. (He has just stated that he does not like the name "Hubby'...who knew?!? This blog has been around for almost a year. NOW he tells me?!? My response: When you come up with something better than "Hubby", I shall use it.)
Blah, Blah, Blah...let's talk about something really worthwhile (so we can win some liquor)...SEX! Items in bold will be written by Chris F.K.A. Hubby) By the way, my name is not really Chris, but Liz says I look like one!
Okay, so you all see now I have a partner writer. I'm not so sure about this. (Sarah, you started this with all your Carrie Underwood stuff.)
Drinking makes me feel free. (No, I am not an alcoholic, but I think I'd be more fun if I were one.) I've said that I feel "most like me" when I'm either: drinking or running.
I have sex on the mind. (Really, don't we always?) Tiger Woods with all his sexcapades....Wolfie with her half-drunk post on "What makes you a hottie?" Sarah with her music and swooning.
So I've been sitting here for what feels like ever, trying to decide what to write about, but now Hubby (apparently, aka Chris) has decided to take over, so I give in and go drink more while he writes...
OK, I' m not proud to admit this (and as a man I really shouldn't be reading all of these Mommy posts) but as this Half drunk challenge has moved along, Liz has gotten really stoked about it. So, to be involved in her life I have done some reading. "Why are you a hottie? has been quite amusing and quite thought provoking. So here is my go at it. I think I'm a hottie because of the way I actually love my wife and put her before anyone and anything(including the kids)! Many people talk shit about their relationships and that it's the most important thing, but the reality is that they never do anything to nurture it or improve a difficult situation. People work hard at their careers, parenting, or hobbies, but don't put any effort into their spouses. Then, once the kids are grown, they wonder what the fuck happened. Well guess what, you got out of your marriage what you put into it! The way I love Liz and say it out loud from the mountain tops (and don't give a fuck who cares or what they think) is what makes me a hottie. (BTW, Did this make me sound like a Pu**y? :) )
Okay, so apparently I'm supposed to write now. Hubby (now known as Chris) says I should just
"let her rip."
I think marriage/children/mortgage sucks the sex right out of you. I think Life makes you forget who you were, who you want to be, who you Are. I think you have to fight, every damn day nearly, to keep it going. To keep that flame alive. To keep remembering why you got into this to begin with...to remember why you thought this person was: hot/amazing/interesting/worthy/whatever.
After a few years with kids and all that Life brings (financial strife, job responsibilities. illnesses, etc.), I have realized just how hard it is to keep It going....to keep the flame burning.
I'm sick of reading: "Schedule sex."
It's not that easy.
You think it is. But it's not.
It isn't until you have the 2.4 kids, the mortgage on the house you always dreamed of, the Everything, that you fully understand how hard it is to Keep It Going. To keep the passion alive. To continue to do all the things you have to make that love Inspiring.
I have someone who is sitting here, with me...who "gets" all of this. Who wants to make that fire burn brighter, but it's Hard.
I want to be Free. I want to be Fun.
But it's hard.
I'm a Mom. And life gets in the way.
Maybe my expectations are too high...maybe I want too much.
But wait...he wants it too. That guy who used to go by the name of Hubby and now wants to be known as Chris...he wants all the same stuff too.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
One ear. One child.
From there it has morphed into a full-blown epidemic in our household. You may remember when I first complained (vented?) about the state of our immune system. It had only been going on, then, for about 2 weeks. Two weeks and it seemed like an eternity...an endless bout with snot, coughs, puke, fevers, antibiotics. There's a reason we are unable to see the future...'cause if I'd known then what was in store for us over the next 8 weeks...well, can you say "defeat"? Bronchitis, stomach viruses, foot-hand-mouth disease, 2 ear infections, a couple of sinus infections, one completely lost voice, and several run-of-the-mill colds...and not just the kids, either. In our household, we share, people. Over the last 8 weeks, we have had no more than 5 days straight during which all of us have been somewhat healthy.
We thought we were done after the last bout.
We woke up today to a 104.3 fever on Ben and a little brother who is currently using his nose as a bubble wand for boogers.
We've done it all: throw open the windows, Lysol the entire joint, replace toothbrushes, wash sheets and towels. And don't even get me started on the supplements and home remedies. I've gone from scoffing at every non-doctor piece of advice to trying them all: Overly priced probiotics? Check. Vitamin C powders and pills? Check. Plug-ins with menthol? Baby Vick's rubbed on the soles of their feet? Smelly alcamphor tablets thrown in glasses of water? Check, check, and yes, even that one: check!
I feel like I can't really complain, since it's all been pretty minor in the grand scale of things, but...oh, how frustrating it is to constantly be wiping noses, checking fevers overnight, and cancelling plans (today was THE perfect day for the zoo, dammit!). I mean, seriously...we eat right, exercise, wash our hands, all that good stuff. And I know it's "the season", but 8 weeks? Really? Really?!?!
I've run out of patience, tissues, and ideas. If anyone knows of a good witch doctor, let me know...
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
There was a point, a long time ago, when we were dating, that we both knew very clearly that this was It. But because of timing, family issues, and a whole lot of other drama, it wasn't yet the right time for us to get married.
"Let's get married," I'd always say in those moments. I'd throw my arms around his neck and whisper it in his ear. "Let's get married." This never scared him. He wanted to get married, too. It just wasn't time yet.
On Saturday night, while we were dancing, all huddled up in the dark crowded room, the music thumping in my chest, his body against mine, I felt that again. Except instead of "Let's get married" I said: "Let's run away."
"Let's run away."
Together. Just you and me. Away from the responsibilities, the mortgage, the bills, the kids.
Needless to say, we had a fabulous time on Saturday night. And no, to my friends who assumed I was too hung over to blog yesterday (Who can blame ya? I do have a history...), I was not. I was, however, sleeping. Yes, sleeping...'til 2:00 in the afternoon. That's right, ladies...I did not fall asleep before leaving the house. I did not give up and go home early due to motherly exhaustion. I danced 'til all hours and went to sleep at the time I usually get up. And then...oh, thank God for my mother...I slept in...practically all day. Glory.
It was wonderful to feel that way again...just me and him. Date night. Dressed up. Cocktails. A dark, smoky room. Loud music. Just me and him.
I recognized us.
I remembered who we used to be. It was a relief, almost, to feel that way again. It didn't feel odd to be out that late, dancing, drinking, really living it up...just us. It felt, actually, normal. Familiar.
At one point during the night, I scanned the room and really looked at all the people there. Everyone looked so relaxed, so unfettered. I wondered if anyone else in that room had children at home. Because no one looked like a parent to me. And then I wondered: Did I look like a mom? Did we look like parents? Because right then, I didn't feel like a parent. I just felt like me. Just me, all glammed up, dancing and laughing and drinking, and fantasizing for a bit about leaving it all behind...and running away together. Just like the olden' days.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
"The claws come out," she says.
Now, if you knew this person, you would never even think she had claws, much less be willing to use them on anyone. She is the kindest, most generous and decent human being to walk this earth. In fact, many refer to her as an angel...and Hubby and I often joke that we will be riding her coattails into heaven, because if anyone is gonna get in, it's gonna be her.
When she used to talk about these claws, when she'd get really riled up because someone was threatening Hubby's or my happiness, I'd almost laugh. I mean, I loved the loyalty. I was honored that The Most Amazing Human Being On The Planet cared that much for us. And admittedly, I felt a teeny bit safer that this powerhouse of a woman was willing to go to war in defense of either one of us. But "claws"? "My cubs"? I'd laugh. A little bit.
Fast forward to now. I'm a Mommy. And as those of us who are mothers know, there are things in life you just can not fully understand until you become a mother. That metaphor of the tigress and her cubs...oh, how I get it now. There's a violence that can erupt within me when someone endangers my family...or, just makes one of them a little bit sad.
Lately, I have really noticed this instinctive anger kick in. Like this morning, for example...
I was driving to work, both of my little ones safely in the back seat. Ben and I were discussing our Character Breakfast plans for our upcoming trip to Disney. Aidan Kai was playing with his now-empty container of Cheerios (Have you ever noticed how those O's shrivel up and turn into dehydrated lower-case versions of themselves after being tossed all over and therefore left in your car for a few days?!?), and attempting to participate in the conversation with his gurgles and babbles. Out of nowhere, the red car in the next lane decides to change lanes...into mine....and proceeds to do so....right into me.
He barely missed.
I saw him and swerved into the other lane, avoiding what, at 70 miles per hour, would have been a pretty bad accident. After thanking every God out there that there had not been any cars in the lane I had swerved into (this was rush hour Miami morning traffic on the expressway: Someone was looking out for us) recovering from the fright, and answering all of Ben's indignant questions ("Hey, Mama, why'd you turn so fast like that? I almost dropped my milk!"), I looked over at the driver of the red car. He was driving happily along in his (MY) lane, chewing gum. No cell phone. No texting. No eating while driving. There was absolutely no excuse for him completely overlooking the fact that there was a car RIGHT THERE. And no apologetic shrug or hand wave, either. He never even realized he had nearly crashed into us.
I wanted to yell. I wanted to pull him over and bang on his window and scream in his face: "You idiot! You gum-chewing, stupid, clueless idiot! You didn't even see us! You didn't even see us! You didn't even see that there was a car right there that you nearly crashed into that had a backseat filled with two little boys dreaming about Disney World and eating their Cheerios!"
I've had plenty of close encounters with careless drivers. But this was different. It had been close. And we were going fast. And my boys. My boys were there.
And I felt it. The tigress. The claws. The violence.
This friend I had mentioned earlier, my Angel/Tigress Friend, had told me a long time ago, before I had had children, that one of the toughest parts of being a mother is that "your heart is just out there." You want to protect them, to keep them, to guard them. But you can only do so much. And even when they grow up (her daughter is my age now), she said, "Your children continue to be your heart, out there." Helpless. Vulnerable. It doesn't matter how old your children are. The instinct to protect and fight for them is still the same. The pain and helplessness is still the same.
It's a little scary, I think. The moment you realize you can not keep them completely safe...from car accidents, from illnesses, from broken bones and broken hearts.
But there's a certain amount of honor involved in being able to love someone that much.
It is almost sacred.
And so now I truly understand my friend and her tiger claws. I understand how a woman so gentle could get so angry when someone messed with someone she loved. And I realize yet again how blessed I am...not only to be able to have that kind of sacred love for my children, but also to have her in my life, loving and protecting my family almost as much as I do.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
I decided to start a blog because I was desperate to write. I used to write. All the time. But then I had kids. And like so many other parts of my personality, my writing desire was shoved down into the Diaper Genie.
Originally, my only purpose was to write. I needed to have somewhere to document my thoughts, frustrations, musings...mostly on motherhood but also on all things Me. I never thought my blog would start feeling like a little part of me. I never thought I'd be as proud of it as I am. And I absolutely, most definitely, never thought I'd make actual connections with others out there in the blogging world.
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet. Maybe it's luck that I've stumbled onto other bloggers with whom I can relate. Maybe it's that the timing is just right: I have "grown up," gotten married, bought a "real" house, had my 2 children, and now I'm back to Me. Re-finding me. Re-evaluating me. Re-creating me. And somehow, through writing this blog and reading others', I've peeled off some of the layers...gotten rid of some of the pretenses. And "met" some really incredible women.
I think this is one of the side-effects of blogging that really amazes some of us. We start interacting through this world and somehow, become friends, confidants, cheerleaders. We make connections with other people in a way that is very different from real life. Here, we decide if we "like" each other based on our experiences, our commonalities, our shared lives and the written word. It is amazingly helpful...a relief, really...to know that you are not the only one thinking some of the same thoughts, going through the same experiences, battling the same demons, revelling in the same joys. I think that's why Sarah and Jen at Momalom decided to start Five for Ten...because really, all we want is to be heard and understood, and in order for that to happen, we must be open to others and connect.
Recently, I was "talking" to Sarah, whose honesty is so raw that it can either frighten or inspire you. We were discussing, via our comments and emails, why it is that we can be so honest and bare on our blogs, but in real life...at the playground, at our kids' schools, at work, even with actual friends...we feel the need to put up facades.
I'm someone who has always prided myself on just putting myself out there: you either like me, or you don't. I usually say what I'm thinking, and I don't like to blend in too much. But...
I've realized over the last year or so, as I've looked around at the people who I've chosen to surround myself with, that I have censored myself with most of them. I feel misunderstood, a lot. I feel alone, a lot. I feel, very often, that I'm a little bit insane in a world that looks down on the the crazy people. And you know what? I've decided I kinda like being a little nuts.
It seems that a lot of people are quick to judge. Quick to criticize. Quick to decide how life should be lived.
I don't want to live like that. I don't want to be with people like that. I want to be out there. I want to make connections with other people. I don't care if they're "like me." I just want them to be whoever and whatever they are and not be afraid of that...and be willing to present themselves to me in that way and then return the favor.
It's not that I've pretended to be something I'm not. It's not that I haven't been Who I Am. It's that I've chosen only select parts of Me to be on display with certain people. My uptight friends? They get Type A Liz. My wild friends? They get Loud Liz. My stuffy friends? They only get Serious Liz. I hold back the sides of me that don't really match with the other person...just in case.
It was during one of those email chats with Sarah, when we were discussing our abilities to be so honest in our blogs that I mentioned: "We put ourselves out there and who ever wants in, joins us, and those who don't, simply don't return."
The more I thought about that, the more I reread that line, the more I realized: I want to live my life like that, too. Unapologetic. So, really, it's up to you. Join me, or just don't return. Either way, it's totally okay.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Errands with a 15-month-old are not easy. No, let me correct that: errands with this 15-month-old are not easy. My first kid? I could go to the mall on Black Friday for 10 hours and he'd sit happily in the stroller the whole time.
Today was the second day in a row when I'd had to spend hours on my own with Aidan Kai while trying to accomplish something. Simple tasks such as buying a loaf of bread or dropping off a pair of glasses for repair become full blown tests of physical endurance and mental strength with this kid.
Yes, he's cute. Reeeeeeal cute. And funny. Reeeeeeal funny. But that baby who wailed the entire first four and a half months of his life? Still there.
So as I was standing there in the elevator, wondering how in the world women who don't work out can physically handle their toddlers when I thought surely I'd end the afternoon with either a broken back or a broken baby, a woman steps into the elevator with her teenage son. She looked serene. Her hair was brushed. She smiled at me. She made cooing sounds at Aidan Kai. That's when she points to her son and says wistfully: "Awwww, it's hard to believe he used to be that little." Another woman who had been standing behind me immediately piped in: "Yeah, they really do grow up so fast."
"Yeah, I hope so!"
It was my attempt at a bit of humor and a bit of honesty.
These two women with grown children did not think it was so funny. Or true, apparently.
"Oh, no, no, noooooo. Enjoy it. Trust us." They both nodded emphatically, nearly in unison.
At this point, the elevator door opens and as we all step out, the woman with the teenage son slows down enough to let him walk ahead. She turns back to me and conspiratorially whispers (complete with the hand over the mouth for dramatic emphasis): "You know how they say this is the best time?" She pauses and motions to Aidan. "It really is true." With that, she shuffles along to catch up with her son.
And I am left standing there, blinking. Discouraged.
You mean this is IT? This is where it peaks? Then I'm screwed, because most days, I'm not digging this part so much.
Look, I get it. I know I will look back and ooooh and ahhhh and nostalgically remember the days when my boys were babies. I already do that sometimes with Ben. I get that these days really will fly by in the grand scheme of things. I understand that they are only little for a very short time. I do know that. You realize it all the more when you've had one already grow up into a small boy, all scruffy and rough-and-tumble and occasionally stinky. So I do take time to inhale all that baby/Cheerios/milk/drool smell Aidan Kai manages to harbor in his neck and, amazingly, the very tippy top of his head. I do still make sure to take tons of pictures, so I never miss out on any lasting memories with the second child. I do try to keep in mind that this will be The Last Time In My Whole Life that I will see my child learn how to walk and say a new word and discover Mickey Mouse.
But I also think: it's gotta get easier. It's got to. Because, quite frankly, I can't do this much longer.
I often find myself fantasizing--we're talking full out theatrical production complete with narration going on in my head here--about when the boys will be old enough to be self-sufficient. No, I don't mean get jobs and move out. I don't want to fast forward that much. But an independent bath and butt wipe would be lovely. To be able to go to the beach, come home, and call out "Okay, everybody to the shower and then we're getting a pizza and a movie!" To be able to run an errand without lugging a wriggling, borderline-tantrumy sack of potatoes back and forth. To be able to unload a dishwasher without having to use one foot as a mid-air gate to keep the baby from climbing into it.
So, really, how bad do things get after this? Did that woman in the elevator know something I don't? Is this like when parents don't tell people who are thinking about having kids how tough it really is because a) they don't want to frighten them and b) misery loves company?
I've spoken to many women who tell me that they absolutely loooooved the baby stage. Sometimes I wonder if they really did, in fact, love it while they were in it, or, if maybe after the years have passed, they love the memories of it. Maybe once it's all over and you have grown kids running around, with their own set of issues and challenges, you just remember that fat wriggly cooing baby and wish for that simplicity. You block out the sleepless nights, the ear-splitting tantrums in the grocery store, the mashed peas thrown across the room. I read somewhere once that scientists have discovered that the brain tends to forget unpleasant memories. It's like a defense mechanism. I suppose if you couple that scientific logic with the everyday aches and pains of babyhood, it makes sense that we'd remember only the good.
The next time Aidan Kai is screeching, stiff-legged, refusing to sit down in the shopping cart, I will try and remember that woman with the teenager. I will try. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will walk into an elevator and see a struggling mom with her struggling baby and smile knowingly, maybe even long for the smell of Cheerios and drool. But I don't think I will tell her to "enjoy it." Because really, that's kind of unnecessary.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
It was startlingly relaxing.
The moment I got in my car on Friday after work and started the drive, I felt liberated. I hadn't expected to. In fact, I thought I would be stressed...both kids were still kinda sick and it had been a busy, hectic week. I was struck immediately with the realization: I had no responsibilities. None. The only thing required of me for the next 24 hours was to sit and chat and drink wine with two of the most amazing women I know.
A few hours into the trip, I felt incredibly disconnected, but in a good way. Disconnected from the roles I play every single day, by choice. Disconnected from what defines me...from who defines me. I realized I was standing there, just Me. Not Mama. Not Wife. Just Me.
Don't get me wrong: I spend a lot of time away from the kids, but it's usually with Hubby for my Babysitting Nights or, if I'm completely alone, it's for short periods of time with a very specific purpose: running, gym time, errands. This was different. This was more of a hyper-awareness of the lack of their presence. Almost like that panicked feeling you get sometimes when you realize you're missing something: "Where's my purse? My keys? What did I forget?"
I love being alone with Hubby. It is my Most Favorite. It's when I feel most complete, content. I know that's not politically correct in today's Independent Woman World, but it's true. I am comfortable enough within our relationship to be able to say that I am better with him. We are better together. It's not about co-dependence. It's simpler. It's about happiness. I am happiest when we are together, alone, uninterrupted--like the olden' days. But being away this weekend made me realize I almost have never been. It's not that I don't like being alone. It's just that over the last several years, my life has just worked out that way. Time is scarce, so it has to be rationed: Family Time, Hubby Time, Everything Else.
I've been restless lately...going through a new phase, revisiting old dreams, attempting to reinvent myself yet again. All the while, looking for new connections, trying to relate to the people around me, searching for others who might be able to relate to my journey, my wanderings. And I realized this weekend that maybe the Universe has set up my life right now so that I am wandering a bit on my own. Maybe I'm finally supposed to ration out some time Just For Me...not just to go shopping for a while or go on a long run, but to simply exist. To be. Separate from those three men who are most important in my life, the ones who define me. Just Me. Alone. Quiet. Noisy. In my own head.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
I happen to be friends with one of the coolest girls around, and she happens to be a professional photographer. Oh, and she happened to bring her camera to my Aidan Kai's 1st birthday. Considering how many of you guys I now consider "friends," I had to share. Check out my little one. The last shot is my fave.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
It didn't matter that in reality I was never actually "fat." At my heaviest, I was what I now refer to as "thick"...and I was still well below the national average. Yet at times I felt like an anomaly. I didn't see all the beautiful women around me of different sizes. I only compared myself to those who were smaller, smoother, sexier: my sister, my thinnest friends, the women in magazines, the trainer at the gym. I sought out perfection and then when I found it, I pointed it out to myself: "See? Why can't you look like her? That is what a good body looks like."
Then I hit my 30's. You know that stupid cliche you always hear about how there's just something about the 30's...how women "find" themselves, settle in to and appreciate their bodies more, forgive their flaws, leave the lights on...? Well, there's a reason it's cliche. That's because for a lot of us, it's true. Most days, I wouldn't trade a wrinkle, a dimple, or an age spot for my 20's. Most days.
But, let me just say I am not one of those who says it was all because of motherhood. You know...the women who say the reason they love their bodies so much more now is because they carried babies? They realized the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth? Uh, no. The miracle of childbirth might have given me two beautiful amazing boys, but it also gave me looser skin, a jagged scar, and a whole new set of body issues. It was, however, the pregnancies and time thereafter that motivated me more than ever to finally make amends with my body, to get it in the best shape possible, to bring that number on the scale to a permanent, healthy home and finally end the discord between my head and my dress size. I was determined to have active (and somewhat fashionable) pregnancies, and then was even more determined to lose all the weight afterwards.
"You know, you really should give away those skinny jeans you had before you got pregnant, because there's no way you're ever gonna fit in those again."
Yes, someone told me that. To my face. Don'tcha love family?
And that was the day I swore to myself that not only would I fit into those jeans by the time Ben was one, but I'd need a smaller pair.
And I did fit into them. And they were too big by the time Ben was one. And then I did it again after Aidan, except this time I wanted to lose "just a little more."
The magic number was 125. It was a number I had not seen since my teen years. It was a number that I thought "the chubby sister" probably couldn't hit. It was the number I thought of when I was floating around at 130 as the "If Only Weight"...as in: "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I could wear that dress." "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I could stop worrying about my weight." "If only I weighed 125 pounds, I'd be just perfect."
And then I did. This week. There it was. 125 pounds. I stepped on and off the scale 3 times just to make sure. 125. The eating right, the waking up twice a week at 5:00 to go to the gym, the miles of running after work...it had all paid off.
And yet, when I looked in the mirror, it was still me. Just smaller. But the parts of my body I never particularly cared for? They were still there, too. Don't get me wrong, I loved what I saw. I love that I'm stronger now than I've ever been, that I can run faster than I've ever run (and in shorts, no less!), that I'm lighter, smaller, healthier. But it's just like that young girl I used to be, seeking out the perfection, finding it, pointing it out, unforgiving, always demanding.
I am sure I'm not alone in this: we spend so much time working towards "those last 5 pounds"...postponing the buying of a great pair of jeans, worrying at the beach about what might be jiggling, stressing, wishing, waiting...waiting for what? At what point do we "get there"? At what point do we make amends with who we are and what we see and what we love and what we don't about ourselves? I thought that point was a number. And then I reached that number and realized This is It. As Good As It Gets. I have arrived. And that magical, cure-all number? Those last 5 pounds? For me, they were realizing that pushing that number down was just an excuse to postpone the real work...the work of accepting myself, of being good enough, of looking around and seeking the perfection in myself, of pointing that out to myself and saying: "See? Look at you. This is what a good body looks like, too."
I think tonight I'll leave the lights on.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I know, I know. That's shocking, because really, I'm so damn cool now, right? But no, not then. I peaked late in life, you see.
So it's pretty fun when One Of The Cool Girls thinks I'm kinda cool, too.
That Girl39 of Forty Not Out (who is really fabulous) has awarded me with:
Now I know that my non-blogging friends right now are like: "Huh? The Zombie Chicken Award?!? And how, exactly, is this a good thing?" But trust me on this one...only the cool girls get 'em. I know. I've looked around.
“The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken – excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to at least 5 other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all.”
So because I would not want That Girl39 to brave a raving pack of zombie chickens in vain, I shall continue blogging so she is able to read my "inspiring words." And in order to avoid the wrath of said chickens myself, I shall accept the task and pass the award on to 5 other worthy bloggers:
~Jen and Sarah at Momalom because they were one of the first I discovered in this blogging world who really inspired me...and continue to do so on a regular basis with their blunt, insightful honesty...so much so that I have a quote from one of their posts taped to my wall...and because I am sure Sarah and I would be partners in crime if only we knew each other in Real Life.
~JennyMac at Let's Have a Cocktail..., and I don't care if she's already gotten one of these before and just about every other award out there. She's too damn cool not to get one from me. I mean, she has 658 followers, has been published, writes hilarious posts about everything and nothing, and still manages to find the time to check out other little blogs (such as this one) AND comment on them!
~Simone at The Bottom of the Ironing Basket, who I just discovered but whose images inspire me. I am already addicted.
~Becca at Drama for Mama because her mommy stories make me laugh, and I am pretty sure her daughter will end up marrying my son...simply because they both have the same exact annoying (endearing) qualities and quirks.
~Lucy and Jane at Four Jugs because somehow they manage to constantly write about random topics in a way that makes me desperately want to read them (not to mention their nifty occasional 80's and movie-themed quizzes).
So ladies...thanks for writing, inspiring, and making me laugh. Enjoy your chickens. You deserve 'em. Now, if you'll excuse me, I shall have a martini to celebrate my own zombie chicken fabulousness.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
4. Jewel's and Alanis Morissette's Writing Talent: Have you ever really paid attention to these women's lyrics? Brilliant for very different reasons. Jewel is soft and sensitive. Alanis is ironic and insightful. Some of their lines have gotten me through the toughest times in my life.
5. Shakira's Hips: Watch the video. 'Nuff said.
Friday, October 16, 2009
1. One ear infection, left ear--Ben
2. One cold--Mama
3. Second ear infection, right ear--Ben
4. One cold--Dada
5. One all-over body rash diagnosed as hand, foot, mouth disease (yes, it exists for those of you who don't have kids)--Ben
6. One lost voice--Mama
7. Three cough-filled nights--Mama & Dada
8. Three rounds of antibiotics--Mama & Ben
9. Three vomit clean-ups--Ben & Aidan
10. One stomach virus--Ben
Fun & frivolity abound here! Anyone wanna come over?
Monday, October 12, 2009
So we're standing in line and I am not even caring that we are finishing our night up at 8:30 while the South Beach-ites around us are just starting to ponder which uber-chic club they will go to before ending up right back at the same pizza spot. I am feeling pretty happy...the kind of happy you can only get with a bottle (or three) of wine, a day on the beach, and uninterrupted time with Hubby. This is when I get the uncontrollable urge to pee.
I saunter on down the long dark passageway of patrons and pizzas towards the bathroom. I yank on the handle, but nothing happens. I read the blurry sign on the door. Yep. Ladies Restroom. I pull again. Nothing. Within my drunken near-stupor, I notice an intimidating-looking brass contraption at the top of the door. I can not for the life of me figure out what in the world that is or how it functions, but I know, with every passing second that I must get into that bathroom. Turning over to the end of the pizza counter, I spot an employee...picture: toothless trucker/homeless guy who happens to run a ridiculously lucrative pizza joint in South Beach. Yeah. I can't figure it out either. But there he was, raspy voiced and greasier than the linoleum.
"Hi!" I bubble over to him. "How do I get into the bathroom?"
Without even looking over at me, he grumbles, "Ya' gotta put a coin in."
"A coin? What do you mean? Do you have a key or something?"
Unable to be bothered by the likes of perky, confused, sloshed li'l ol' me, he shoves a gold circle into my hand. "Here," he grunts.
"A token." Still grumbling. Still not looking at me.
"Yeah, a token."
I look down into my palm. I blink rapidly. Confused. I stand there, frozen, my alcohol-saturated brain trying to make some sense. Then, suddenly, it dawns on me. My face lights up.
"Ooooooh!" I squeal, smiling. "You mean like at Chuck E. Cheese?!?"
Raspy-greasy-can't-be-bothered-pizza-guy finally looks at me. Now it's his turn to blink rapidly and look confused. After a long pause, he responds: "Sorta."
I skip merrily to the bathroom, token in hand.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
When I did a 5k last December, it was to prove to myself that I could do one right after having a baby (okay, not right after, but as soon as my doctor gave me the OK). It turned into what I called my "3 in 4"...as in "3 miles 4 months after delivering via c-section."
So when I did a 5k this past weekend, it wasn't just for fun. I said it was, initially. I said I was "just curious" to see if I'd gotten better over the last year. But really, I wanted to see if I could beat my best time, back before I'd delivered 2 human beings. And guess what? I did. I even came in 6th in my age category...a total first. But the best part wasn't that. The best moment happened at the starting line.
Now you all know that I'm not particularly mushy about motherhood (most of the time), but I definitely had a mushy moment at the beginning of that race. Just a few seconds after I started running, I looked over to the sidelines and spotted them: My Boys. All of them. Daddy, camera in hand (as if I had not done about 20 of these in the past few years). Ben, his 4-year-old face scanning the crowd of runners. Even Aidan Kai, content in his stroller, eagerly watching the crowds and commotion.
I saw them before they saw me, so I had the chance to watch them for a few seconds. There they were, all 3 of them, looking for me. Me. And when they spotted me, they started yelling: "Mama! Go Mama!" Even Aidan's little face lit up and he started giggling and flailing his whole body when he realized who that particular runner was.
And I was shocked to discover that I was moved. Moved! Me! I even got teary. I mean, seriously, what the heck is that? Didn't you read my last post???
But yeah, I have to admit that the sight of these three "men"--my men--standing there, looking for me, cheering for me, there for me...it moved me. And I was immediately reminded of another race in my past...one definitely taken on for mental and emotional reasons.
Before I had Ben, Hubby and I had spent almost 2 years trying to get pregnant. And when we finally did, we miscarried. It was the single most devastating moment in our lives. And I knew, right then, that if I did not turn that into Something...if I did not Do something with that pain...it would consume me and I would crumble. So I chose to run the Disney Half Marathon, simply because it gave me something to do, something to think about, something to plan, and running was my escape. Running is what makes me feel strong. And I needed, desperately then, to feel strong.
So this past weekend, while I ran my little 5k for best time but disguised as fun, and I looked over at those boys...the one who got me through all of that devastation then...the one who dropped onto the bedroom floor and cried with me...the one who has been at every single one of my Important Moments cheering me on from the sidelines...standing there with these two little boys we made together...well, it was enough to make even a non-mommy-type like me go soft.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Boy, was I wrong.
It turns out (brace yourself...big secret coming...major potential for offense here) I don't really like being a mommy much.
After all those years of worrying that I would love it so much I'd cross over to the other side...the side with bob haircuts and no stilettos and scrapbooking parties and holiday-patterned cardigans...it turned out I'm not actually The Mommy Type.
Hmph. Who knew?
Okay, so yeah...this is where I say what I have to say (which is actually quite true): I love my kids, I have no regrets, I am sooooo grateful for them, their health, their smiles, their moments of joy. Yes. Blah blah blah. I am all of that too. But mostly, I am tired. And stressed. And exhausted. And sleep-deprived. And sex-deprived. And freedom-deprived. And carefree-ness-deprived. (What do you mean, 'That's not a word'?!?)
*Intermission: As I am typing, my chubby little Aidan Kai crawls over, pulls himself up, grabs onto my leg and, in an attempt to join my blogging confessions, starts slapping at the keyboard. Then, as I point out his little piggy toy is waiting for him a few feet away, he grins his dimply toothy smile and trots off...yes, trots...because he has just started to walk, and I melt a teeny bit. Parenting is the only thing that can make you feel that way: a million contradicting emotions at once. Frustrated. Trapped. Amazed. Blessed. Giggling at his antics while bitching about them...*
But yeah...I've come to realize that I am not The Mommy Type. I thought I might become the mommy type after some practice, but yeah, um, no. Like at the end of my workday, I don't always look forward to going home. I don't. I know. That's really, really terrible. But it's true. In fact, some days I dread it. I just don't enjoy entertaining and lifting and disciplining and cleaning and refereeing at the end of a long work day. I'd much rather be on the couch, reading or sleeping or writing or romping with the Hubby.
And on the weekends, I'd much rather be out...glammed up, out late, dancing and drinking. Or, not. Maybe in my pj's, staying in, sleeping in, and doing absolutely nothing. But that's the whole thing: with parenting, you just don't have that many choices. You don't have that many opportunities. You usually don't get to choose whether to go out or stay in. Because most nights (at least around my house, anyways), we are getting through all the Requirements: baths and meals and toys and to-do's, and then...oh, we are sooooo done. Done. Exhausted. Get into bed and just barely watch the latest episode of Rachel Zoe (or Monday Night Football, depending on which one of Us we are talking about).
And another thing...you know those uber-cool pics of Gwen Stefani and Heidi Klum, all chic and thin and fabulous, with a kid in one arm and a Starbucks Venti and the latest It Bag on the other? That is SO not motherhood. I mean, I could look like that too if I had a nanny (or 3) and a hair person and tons of money and did I mention a nanny? Real motherhood is not glamorous. It is not chic. It is, usually, messy and wrinkly and bags under the eyes. And if you happen to be having a good day...your hair is done and your nails are polished and you've got your sparkly hoop earrings...then chances are you're extra tired from the effort that took AND there is an even better chance that your 1-year-old will tear out, at the very least, the hoop earring, if not the whole earlobe.
So now here I am, 4 years and 2 kids later. And I don't have to work at not being The Mommy. In fact, it is the Wife, Friend, and Self that is constantly pushing and battling against the Mommy...all the Me's fighting for equal time. Except no matter how violent that fight gets, the Mommy usually wins. I admit, it's not by choice. I'd like so much to see myself as a woman who happens to have kids, instead of a mom who happens to have a life, but I can't. The truth of the matter is that when you become a mom, it becomes a major part of who you are...whether you want it to or not.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
So...as he finished his bottle, I snuggled him up onto my shoulder and rocked him, humming and patting his back, inhaling his Cheerios-Johnson's-Baby-Shampoo-Yummy-Still-New-Person-Smell, and I admit...I was loving this moment. I was incredibly aware of the fact that this is the beginning of my favorite baby stage (just turned one) and this is really It. No more babies after this. So I decided, right then and there, to start enjoying The Bedtime Routine with The Last Baby.
And just as I made that decision...just as I felt the warmth of his little breath on my ear, his tummy inhaling deeply against my chest...he puked. No warning. No gagging sound. No coughing. Just puke. Thick, stinky, curdled puke. All over my neck, my shoulder, down my back and all the way to my thighs...to settle nicely into the crevices between the rocking chair's seat cushion and its base...
Well then, I suppose it's a good thing I had decided to start enjoying the bedtime routine, because it was back to the bathtub all over again....