Sunday, October 31, 2010

Never underestimate the power of a little body glitter and some wings...

Parenting can take you to extremes...heavenly joy one minute, hellish frustration the next. Your days can become a blur of lunchboxes, birthday parties, soccer games, frantic mornings, and endless bedtimes. Being a parent almost defines you. Your life revolves around these precious little beings.
Which is why it's really nice, every once in a while, to swap the holiday-themed t-shirt and hair clip for some stilettos and eye glitter...
Admittedly, it took a strong cocktail to get me to walk out of the house like that...but boy, did it do wonders for my self-esteem (and it didn't hurt my marriage much). I'm not one to quote pop stars (I swear), but maybe Usher knows what he's talking about when he sings the "DJ's got us fallin' in love again." 'Cause for a few hours, we sure didn't feel like Mama and Daddy, and in spite of the splitting headache we fought off in the morning, trick or treating tonight was even more fun because we'd felt like we'd played hookie the night before.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taken for granted treats

relaxed meals
sleeping in
living spontaneously

What treats do you miss from your pre-mommy days?

Join Six Word Fridays! Find out more at
Making Things Up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Confessions of motherhood

There used to be a time, not so long ago, when you couldn't really talk about how hard it is to be a parent. Motherhood, especially, was cloaked in fantasy and illusions and assumptions and judgments. All you heard were words like "rewarding" and "wonderful" and "miraculous."

Fortunately, that is no longer the case. Women are speaking out--through blogs, books, articles, even musicals--about how hard it actually is. We know the truth: motherhood's not glamorous. And despite what some women wanna make you believe, it's not all glorious and totally fulfilling. We are finally being honest with each other about those days when you want to run away--the days when the kids are fighting and the laundry's piling and the bills are late and the baby refuses to sleep and everything is going wrong.

But what about the other days?

What about the ones when everything is relatively calm (we all know I'm using this word loosely) and we still feel like maybe, just maybe, we could run away anyway?

I've come to realize that I hate about 50% of parenting.
Even on easy days.
Cause here's the thing: there are no easy days.

Parenting is tedious. Parenting is exhausting. Parenting is stressful.

I don't enjoy giving my wiggly, whiny, tub-hating toddler a bath.
I don't enjoy convincing my strong-willed, opinionated 5-year-old to share his "special toy" with his brother.
I don't enjoy trying to figure out how to make semi-healthy school lunches night after night.
I don't enjoy emptying and cleaning said lunchboxes night after night.
I just don't like the every day monotony of parenting two little kids.

So this is where I interrupt this regularly scheduling ranting to pop in the usual cliched disclaimer: I love my kids. I love their wet kisses and their squeaky voices and the way they smell like saliva and Cheerios and boy sweat all mixed together. But I don't like parenting.

So the other night, when I was scrubbing my kid's hair in the tub and he was wailing that the tear-free shampoo that was not even in his eye was making his "eye hurt! eye hurt!" I was just like: "Man, I hate this." And then I was like: "Oh, man. That can't be good." I mean, it was a typical night. No real drama, no major parenting problems to tackle, just a regular day. And yet, there I was: little patience, exhausted, annoyed, and resentful.

And guilty.

Really, really guilty.

Because, c'mon, what kind of mom am I if I want to run away on the "normal" days?

Then, of course, I make myself feel worse by telling myself that I'll be sorry one day...that I should be enjoying them more...that one day I will miss the days of tear-free shampoo and Scooby-Doo lunchboxes.

And then I feel worse.

Cause now I'm not only beating myself up for hating this, but I'm stressing myself out because I'm hating this and then I'm wishing I could just be responsible for washing only my own hair and then I'm looking at this fat little face and he's stopped crying and I'm feeling guilty-er cause really, shouldn't a mother enjoy washing her little angel's strawberry blond curls and what the hell is wrong with me, anyway?

We are finally at a point where moms are being honest. We're admitting that no, sorry, but the stretch marks probably won't ever go away after you have the baby, and hell, yes, the labor hurts like crazy, and no, having a newborn around really wasn't what I thought it would be, and no, being a mother isn't enough for me... So I thought that maybe it'd be okay if I could just admit that, even on the pretty good days, sometimes I struggle.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Damaged Goods

I get migraines.

I've had them since I was a little girl. I have this very clear memory of being in 4th grade and asking my teacher to let me call home because of one, and she kept saying, "You just need to relaaaax. You'll be fiiiiine."
"You don't understand..." I tried to explain.
I had to wait until the Spanish teacher came in to the class and my regular teacher left so I could go to the office and call home.
I hated my fourth grade teacher forever.

I've always felt like it's something I have to explain, like I have this pre-existing condition that can pop up at any time, sometimes without warning, and completely knock me out, make me totally incompetent, paralyzed, useless, helpless.

It's inevitable that if you've known me for any given period of time, you know I get these headaches with some regularity. So my husband had been "forewarned" when we started dating. My very first migraine with him was memorable: sudden, acute, and accompanied by vomiting. Sexy.

"Teach me how to help you," he had said. (It's easy to see why I fell so hard, huh?)

After 10 years, he doesn't need to ask. He knows the routine, even for the most severe ones: ice pack for the head, Tiger Balm for the temples, bucket of hot water for the feet (according to my Chinese medicine doctor), prescription medication, neck rub, dark room, and assurances that I'll be okay.

He has never complained, but I have always felt guilty. I can't help but wonder how much he dreads those words: "I'm getting a headache." My migraines can't be helped, but still, they're an imposition. They make me an imposition. They make life come to a screeching last weekend when our Friday date night plans were replaced with the aforementioned routine. He must think it: "Here we go again." I know I do.

And I so resent that in this world of tension headaches and computer neck strain and general stress, the word "migraine" has become almost like a catch phrase. People throw it around to signify a "bad headache." How often I've heard, when I'm in the throes of one, no less: "Oh yeah, I know how you feel. I get the woooorst headaches..." or "Ugh, I had such a migraine the other day, I went home and had to have a glass of wine."


No, you do not have "the worst headaches," and no, you did not have a migraine if you went home and cured yourself with alcohol. Lord knows, this girl likes herself a cocktail almost more than anyone, but when I have even the slightest hint of a headache, alcohol is the last thing on my mind. And I'm certainly not saying other people around are not entitled to their aches and pains, but those of us who suffer from actual, real migraines sorta know those around us who suffer from actual, real migraines, too. It's like a twisted, sad, sympathetic, resigned private club.

I've tried it all: meds/no meds, more exercise/less exercise, identifying triggers, keeping my sugar balanced, stress-relief, meditation, chiropractors, acupuncture, neurologists.... Some of it helps. Sometimes. Other times, like the last 2 weeks, nothing seems to help. I feel like I'm walking around, waiting (which, I know, probably makes it all worse), praying, hoping, and literally being aware of the absence of pain.

I realize that along the spectrum of chronic medical "issues," I can not complain. Most of the time, I manage. But pain really has a way of seeping in to your soul, tearing up your spirit and your resolve a bit, sucking the joy out of your everyday. And, not to mention, it can really piss you off.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Stretching out of my comfort zone

As I contorted myself into side-angle pose and inhaled deeply, I tried to clear my mind.

It is one of the things I struggle the most with: clearing my mind of the constant noise...the ideas, frustrations, to-dos, dreams, anxieties...the unrelenting noise in my head. No matter what, I can't shut it off.

It was one of the reasons I fell in love with yoga over 5 years ago: the poses, the balancing, the required being in the moment...stopping, being still--literally and figuratively. But this class was different...I couldn't still my mind, even when the poses required all of my concentration.

Because all I kept thinking was: I am so fuckin' proud of myself.

Yeah, I know...probably not appropriate to be cursing in your own head during tree pose...doesn't seem very new age-y and ommm-like. But I couldn't help it. I was near giddy with simple self-pride.

Life is filled with opportunities--big ones and small ones. But grabbing even the smallest ones can have a major impact on our psyches, our sense of selves, our well being, our pride.

Last week I wrote about friendships, and I mentioned that because of what I'd learned over the past couple of years, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and invite someone I hardly knew to "hang out." A minor thing for many. A major thing for me. As if that had not been enough, I decided to throw myself a double-whammy and go do said "hanging-out" at a yoga class at a real-deal yoga studio.

I hadn't practiced yoga in a loooooong time. And attending this particular class was not exactly super convenient. And I already work out plenty. And really, I don't have much room in my budget or schedule for another passion. And so I probably could've skipped it altogether. And I certainly have lots of friends already. And my social calendar is already quite full. And I definitely did not need to make a new friend or take time out of my week to sit post-yoga and chat over sushi in order to get to know someone. Really, the yoga class...the "girl date" was all unnecessary.

But not really.

Because I wanted to get to know this person. Because I want to open my social circle to see who else might be out there on the playground. Because I miss yoga desperately. Because when I attend a really good yoga class, I feel safe and calm and still and in control and quiet.

So all of it? It was necessary. For me.

But isn't that what we all get caught up in? Life's busy. I'll get to it later. I don't have time. I wish I could, but there's laundry and children and groceries and husbands and relatives and oil changes and bills and appointments and...and...and...

Attending this yoga class and meeting this person required effort. And I realized, smack in the middle of one of the poses, how incredibly proud of myself I was...that I had made the effort...that I had inconvenienced myself and my family a bit in order to do something I really wanted to...something that wasn't super easy, something that required planning and rescheduling and more than a 15-minute drive.

In the middle of the yoga class, our instructor was talking about being open enough to discover and enjoy "the full potential of this life experience."

I was struck by this statement. Yes, she might have been referring to life in a grander, more spiritual way. But isn't it the little things, the everyday decisions, that make up our existence? Hadn't I, by opening myself up to the potential of this new person, to this new class, stretched myself in a way as to better enjoy my life experience?