Category Archives: Family

37th Birthday: Part One

So far, so good…

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I slept in a bit. Woke with the mini-me in time to say goodbye to Em and MQD.

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Kicked it in the kitchen with the salad spinner for a bit.  (Side note: A salad spinner is an excellent baby gift!! Better than you think. It has provided hours of fun.)

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Hit the gym for a spin class and a short run in my new hat! Thank you very much, Laura!!  (HA! You might kill me for linking to this, but look what I found when I was hunting for your website!!)

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And now I think I am going to close my eyeballs for a few minutes.  It appears that turning 37 has exhausted Lucy.

Stay tuned for part two when I share the rest of my birthday with two more special people.  And sushi.  And cake.  And more cake.  And a gin and tonic.  And cake.

 

Want vs. Need: The Bucket List

Is it a want or a need? I ask myself this question a hundred times a day. Sometimes it is a slippery slope and I can feel myself justifying before I even get to the answer. Somewhere in between the wants and the needs is a space for the things that we feel we “deserve.”

I want a new pair of jeans. I need to wear something. I deserve to wear a pair of jeans that fit and make me feel good. But none of that answers the question – Do I buy the jeans?

Nine times out of ten I come to the conclusion that I don’t really want or need to buy the object in question. I go around and around in my stay at home mom mind and I decide “Nope. Don’t buy it.” I am fortunate to have a partner that lets me budget our family’s expenses. It makes sense this way. I do the bulk of our spending. Food. Kid stuff. Clothes and whatnot. I have a good handle on what we have in the “Fun Money” pile and I think we do a pretty good job of spreading it around the family. Sometimes just feeling like I could buy the pair of jeans is all I need.

And then I got this fitness bug. I want a gym membership. I need the hour and a half to myself. I deserve this head space and so do my kids. It makes me a better parent. So. Gym membership is a green light. Whether it falls in the want or the need doesn’t matter. It works for us. Embarrassing truth: I spent more on Diet Coke and peanut M&Ms in a month than I spend on a gym membership for the entire family.

And then I picked up what might be the potentially priciest hobby one could choose in the realm of casual athletics. Don’t pick one sport, Kelly. Pick three. Well, all you need to run is shoes. And a better running bra. And the swimming, well, you only need a swim suit. And goggles. And a cap. And you can ride almost any bike if you’re looking to finish not compete. And I was lucky that my mom had a bike I can use. Oh. I need a helmet. I found a triathlon suit online for wicked cheap that is remarkably unflattering which means it must be a good one as they all seem to be more unflattering than the last. I just need sunglasses. And a water bottle. Oh, man, I get heinous chafing when I run in a wet sports bra so just one thing of Body Glide. And maybe a few energy drinks or something. And even if my tri-suit was inexpensive I don’t want to safety pin my number to it so I will need a racebelt. But they are only five bucks.

And that’s it. That is totally all I need. Right? The elastic shoelaces that make my running shoes turn in to slip-ons were a splurge. I admit it. Best six bucks I have spent in a long time.  Still cheaper than a great glass of wine.

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This sprint triathlon training has been riding the fence between want and need since the beginning. Even just signing up for one is spendy. But I feel so good. I am proud of myself. And it has nothing at all to do with my kids. That’s huge.  It’s worth it. What’s that old saying – “Happy wife, happy life.” Hanging in our laundry room when I was a kid was a little plaque “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Mama is happy. This is good. It is like the trickle down economics of “Fun Money” spending.

I’ve blown about a hundred bucks in the last fifteen weeks. That is in addition to the hundred bucks my mom slid in to my back pocket the last time I was at home.  I promised her I’d not spend it on groceries.  Two running tops, a sports bra, six pairs of socks, a new cap, a water bottle, a headband and a pair of sunglasses later I took this picture for her.  “Done. You spoil me,” I wrote in the text. I comparison shopped and considered different options for weeks before I almost let that hundred dollar bill burn a hole through my wallet.

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It’s Thursday.  Three more days and it is “Race Day.”  I have worked hard. I am really excited.  I have read a million blogs.  I have looked at a million lists of Tips for Tri-Newbies.  Tie a balloon to the bike rack so you can find your bike.  Don’t think so much about what you look like.  No one is watching you.  Don’t get upset when the 80-year-old woman on the mountain bike passes you. Pass on the left.  Don’t litter.  Put your stuff in a bucket.  Set up your transition area on a towel and use your bucket to sit on while you put your shoes on.

A bucket.  You can get a 5 gallon bucket at Home Depot for three bucks.  I could let Em decorate it with a Sharpie.  “Go MOM! You can do it!”  It made me smile to think about it.  But I have a bucket in the shed.   I don’t need a new bucket.  I just don’t.  Not when I have this one.

I’ll be the girl with the hot pink shoe laces and the paint covered Sherwin Williams bucket and the tears running down her face.  Wish me luck.

The Bucket

The Space to Breathe

Some days are just like every other day. You wake. You go about your routine. You look at the clock and the time ticks by, sometimes quickly, sometimes painfully slowly, but the day carries on and before you know it you are brushing your teeth and preparing to climb in to bed and do it all again tomorrow.

Yesterday was an odd one. I did things I don’t normally do. Some of those things were very small but when I stepped back from the day and sized it up they all added up. And this morning, I feel different.

I sat down yesterday morning with a newspaper. I did not open my laptop and have coffee. I sat down with the paper. A real, live newspaper. I fear Chapel Hill News is suffering if they are delivering their paper for free to neighboring towns. I can’t count on this paper sticking around in printed form if they have resorted to giving it away but I will enjoy it while it lasts. A newspaper and a cup of coffee. That was unusual.

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Later in the morning I met a new friend and her son and we walked and talked. I was late. I am never late. I cancel if I am going to be late. I was late. That is unlike me. And I did not take a single picture. I did not check my phone. Also not typical behavior. We walked and talked.

She mentioned the paralyzing freedom of having every day be so full of options. I’d not considered that fully before. The lack of structure that can be present in the life of the mother who chooses to stay at home – it can have an almost crippling presence. “But you can do whatever you want,” a friend might note. Not really. Somedays I do not do a damn thing that is “what I want.” And yet daily I am overcome with gratitude. I am all at once living the life that I have chosen, that I am deeply grateful for, and not actually very free at all some days.

Later in the evening I did another thing I rarely do.

I stopped and had two beers at a local bar in town. “Have a seat,” said a gentleman as he slid over and offered me a bar stool. It had been so long I almost said “Oh, no, no.” I couldn’t possibly sit down. I didn’t have that kind of time. I would just stand, drink a beer, and hightail it home before Lucy woke up or MQD called or … or what? I turned in to a pumpkin?

I slid in to a barstool and I felt my shoulders get lower. I felt my back get longer. I was relaxed, in my element. It had been too long. A man introduced himself, “I am Jerry, by the way.”

I smiled. “The ByTheWays, I know a lot of your people, a friendly bunch you are. I meet a ByTheWay almost everywhere I go.” He paused. And then he smiled. I apologized for my flip remark. “I spent a decade behind the bar and I have a canned response to everything, I am sorry. I haven’t been out in so damn long that that is all that’s coming to me now. Forgive me?”

We chatted about kids and our quaint little downtown. The fellow to my left interrupted me, eventually. “What are you now? Just a housewife?” I felt myself stand up straighter. “Yep. And it is fucking awesome.” I could see that he was disappointed. I think he’d been trying to rile me up and I didn’t bite. I threw him a bone. “You? What are you? Just an asshole? A prick? What name do you prefer?” He seemed pleased with himself, he’d gotten under my skin.

I smiled again and let him down easy. “I’m sorry… but you have got to be kidding me. “Just a housewife?” Come on, man, it is the 21st century. Cut the little woman some slack.” I turned to Mr. ByTheWay and said “It was really nice to meet you.” I turned back to my right and said “And you, watch your mouth,” flashing him a million dollar smile.

20130411-122721.jpgI joined my girlfriends outside and laughed some more. We talked about our kids. It was easy. It was awkward for me to realize that I actually enjoyed sitting at a table with a bunch of women having easy conversation just as much if not more than the jocular and sometimes acidic back and forth of strangers at a bar. While outside a friend mentioned a tattoo I’ve had for years. A devil-woman, nursing her baby. I got it ages ago to symbolize the union between the hell-raiser I had been and the mother I was becoming. A timely reminder that I do not have to choose. The comfort I feel at a table of women does not negate the entertainment of a seat at the bar.

It is good to do the things that we do not usually do. Read the newspaper. Turn your phone off. Go ahead and be late. Stop for a beer.

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This morning I went outside to water the flowers and said “C’mon, Goose, we need to hurry up.” Hurry. Towards what? The next task? I stopped. I poured some water on her feet and she laughed. I took a picture of the snapdragons quickly and then I put my phone inside. We sat on the deck. I don’t know for how long.

If I am quiet in the coming weeks, do not be worried. I am going back to school.  I have enrolled in a self-taught, self-guided and intensive course on the Art of Relaxing. Wish me luck.

 

Spring Sprang Sprung

From you have I been absent in the spring
When proud-pied April, dress’d in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing,
That heavy Saturn laugh’d and leap’d with him. ~William Shakespeare

Can you feel it now that spring has come?
And it’s time to live in the scattered sun.
Waiting for the Sun, Waiting for the Sun… ~The Doors

Pick your poison.  Shakespeare.  The Doors.  Donna Summer.  The Beatles.  Elvis Presley.  Springtime.  It will make you run outside and sing and dance and fall in love.  And if you have school-aged kids it might make you pack up some stuff and hit the road.

We didn’t go over the river.  And we didn’t go through the woods.  But the gals and I headed off to grandmother’s house.  Ordinarily heading home to my mom and step-dad’s house  in the Spring looks like this:

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Opening Day at the Nats’ Game

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And sometimes it looks like this:

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Or like this:20130406-140107.jpg

And this:20130406-140112.jpg

We eat.  And watch baseball.  And drink wine.  And eat some more.  And take naps.  I did all of those things.

Spring Break with the little ones is not so debaucherous.  There is very little in the way of oil wrestling.  The wet t-shirt contests have only one competitor, me, and only when Lucy Goose is having so much fun she skips a meal.  But I ate cheesecake.  And I drank a little wine.  And I ate a bag of cookies.  Spring Break was good to me. Add in a bonus Willie Roberston (of Duck Dynasty fame) sighting and Spring Break was a smashing success.

20130406-140045.jpgAnd all of that doesn’t even count Easter Egg hunts and this morning’s ColorMania 5K.

20130406-140121.jpgYep.  I ran every day but one while I was at my mom’s.  I ran this morning and I am planning a trip to the pool to crush a 3000 yard swim this afternoon before dinner.  My “Spring Break Vacation” was actually a good reason to hike up to my mom’s house to borrow her bicycle for tri-training.  And now I am attempting to hand off a post filled with pictures and sonnets and song lyrics after having been quiet for a week.  Forgive me?  I warned you.

I hope you have had a colorful week.

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It’s not a Dirty Secret.

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It was an innocent question. “Do you post about it?”

“Eh, not really. I can’t become one of those facebooking stay at home moms that posts about the gym constantly.”

He went on to explain that he thinks it is motivating to people to see people taking care of themselves. He’s right. Intellectually, I know that he is right. And he knows where of he speaks. My friend Tony lost a gazillion pounds in the last few years going to Yoga. He looks just like the handsome devil he was at 20. He is so damn inspiring he was on Good Morning, America. The guy knows what inspiring looks like.

“I agree. I just think that my stay at home mom-ness makes some people have the “Of course she works out – what else is she doing?” reaction, yanno?”

It was the first time I had admitted that there is a certain level of shame that goes along with striving to be fit when I don’t have a “real job.” Somehow making time for myself when I worked 50+ hours a week was more admirable to me.

I let this all roll around in my head for a few days. And then I decided, fuck it. I work about 22 hours a day. That is 154 hours a week. And I find the time. Six days a week I say to someone, even if it just Lucy “Nope, I can’t do that. I am going to the gym.” And I go. Sometimes the only thing that drags me there is the knowledge that I can take a shower. Sometimes I go so that I can get out of my own head for a few minutes. Sometimes I go because I am so damn close to the Wedding Weight (the number on the scale when we got married, at the peak of the Wedding Diet. It shouldn’t matter. I know this. But man, alive, it feels good. My body doesn’t resemble the Wedding Day body. My boobs are still cartoonishly large due to nursing. My stomach is still weirdly stretchy. But the scale, the dreaded scale, is resembling a me that said “Hot damn, take my picture all day and make me your wife!”)

But more often than not I go because I am obsessed. Not with being fit in a general sense. Or dieting. Or zipping up my skinny jeans. Or how I will look in a bathing suit this summer. But because I have a new hobby.

Sprint Triathlons. On April 28th I will be one week shy of 37-years-old and I will be competing in my very first sprint triathlon. Swim 250 yards. Bike ten miles. Run two miles. And I can not wait. I am over the moon excited. I lie in bed and I wonder if I can get my socks on faster if I roll them up kinda like a donut. I go back and forth between putting on a baseball hat under my bike helmet or not. As absurd as the tri-suit bathing suits are they must have a purpose and I scour the Internet for one that is universally flattering and only marginally overpriced.

I am coming out of hiding! I am proudly telling you and the whole damn world that I am “one of those women.” I am one of those women that is showing her kids that it is important to take time to care for yourself. It is important to work for things that you believe in. It is okay to take pride in feeling strong. And it is even okay to be one of those women that hangs around in the lobby drinking a cup of coffee after Spin class like “she doesn’t have anything better to do.” Because my bathrooms will get cleaned. My groceries will get purchased. My laundry will get put away and some more board books will be read. And I just might do it all with a smile on my face because I had a ten minute conversation with an adult that was not about poop or Hello Kitty.

Ladies at the gym in your fancy workout clothes – I am sorry my 26 year old self sneered at you. I did not undertand why you had on a matchy matchy gym ensemble instead of a decade old fraternity t-shirt. I didn’t understand that gym clothes might be the only “getting dressed” you did all day and that it was important to feel put together. I am sorry that I thought it was lame that you were not in any kind of hurry to leave the gym. I am sorry that I thought taking your time meant you didn’t have anything “better to do.” I don’t really have an excuse. I was still lighting a cigarette as soon as I pulled out of the gym parking lot. Can we just agree that there were a lot of things I did not have figured out and forgive me?

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So, now that I spilled the beans you can expect to hear more.  Because when I get in to something I get really in to it.  I’ll be racing for a cause, Best for Babes.  You can expect to hear a lot more about that. No more time to gab.  I have a hot date with a treadmill.

How to Spot a Mom

I was naked when she asked me the question.  Maybe that was why it hurt my feelings.  “You have kids?” She was smiling, maybe in her late 70s.  There was no reason for me to find the question off putting, I suppose.  It was casual chit-chat.

In the locker room at the gym there are lots of different kinds of women.  I am envious of the older women that stroll nonchalantly from the shower to their locker.  They are free,  maybe even confident,  certainly at peace with the body they live in.  There are the younger women and the quiet gals that change in the “dressing rooms,” the awkward spaces with shower curtains that don’t quite close all the way.  I fall somewhere in the middle.  I have given birth twice.  I came of age in a theatrical dressing room. I can surely get my bathing suit off in a locker room without demonstrating something just short of a magic trick to get my bra and underwear on before my towel drops to the floor.

But I am not yet free.  I am not yet at peace with this body.  It still feels new.  I am not embarrassed, not really.  “You have kids?” she asked me.  Why?  Is it my stretch marks?  I thought they were fading, maybe there are some I don’t even know I have.  Maybe it’s my stomach.  But then I never really had much in the way of a flat stomach before I even had kids.

It took me by surprise, my reaction to such a simple question.  Immediately, I wondered if my body was telling a story that I could not even see.  Fresh from a long swim I was feeling long and lean and that three word question brought me  to a place where I begin to wonder if I need to just settle in to a new normal and accept that this body ain’t all that bad.

I smiled and said “I do.  Girls.  One and seven.  Lucky mama gets to shower today in peace.”  She smiled warmly, turning back to her locker, unaware the spiral her innocent question had started.

I pulled my jeans on and ran a brush through my too short hair.  I took a deep breath and put a smile on my face, knowing I was going to walk by a long mirror on my way out the door.  I would smile at the woman in the mirror, maybe take it easy on her.

And smile I did when I saw her.  Yes. This woman has kids.  This woman with the Cinderella towel. She keeps her goggles and her shampoo in a hot pink  Yo Gabba Gabba tote bag.  Perhaps it wasn’t my stretch marks that gave me away after all.

~

Day  95 of This Book Will Change Your Life has me on the look out for aliens.  It gives a helpful list of how to spot the extraterrestrials among us.  I wish it would tell me how to spot the moms at the gym.  Evidently Disney towels and Nickelodeon tote bags aren’t enough to make it obvious for me.

 

In my underwear, in the parking lot, 1993.  High school was weird.  I was not always uncomfortable in my underwear.

In my underwear, in the parking lot, May 8, 1993. I had turned 17 the day before. I was not always uncomfortable in my underwear.

 

Hermit Crab Love

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Sleeping in her chick and bunny pajamas my little girl looks so vulnerable.  Babies, by design, are fairly dependent little creatures.  But when they are asleep I think they look like hermit crabs without their shells.  Any moment she will rise up on to her knees and crawl in to a painted shell.  She will cling to the side of a cage in the hopes that a 9-year-old girl on vacation will pick her to take home.

I watch my hermit crab baby sleeping and I think about how lucky I am. I watch my big girl ride down the street on her bicycle and I think about how quickly the time goes by.   Almost 18 years ago I met a boy in a bar and then it turned out he was the cook at the restaurant where I got my first job as a bartender.  Ten years after that my wondrous Emily June came in to my life.  I moved to Chapel Hill and got reacquainted with some old friends who happened to meet a boy at a dog park.  A year after that I needed a smile and they sent me out to dinner with that boy from the dog park.  He became the man that would be by my side forever.  I dreamt of the little boy that would join our family.  And that little boy was Lucy Quinn. (!)

The world is so huge.  Today’s challenge reminds us that there is 1 chance in 89 billion that life would have involved into mankind. There is 1 chance in 6 billion that your parents would have met. The book reminds us that we are all lucky to be here and suggests we show “cosmic humility.”

I am surrounded by reminders of cosmic humility.  My three biggest reminders are walking, breathing, loving examples of luck.  I want to believe that my children chose me.  I want to believe that MQD is my soul mate.  But in my heart of hearts I know that it was chance.  In this great big, huge world these three are mine.  They flesh out the living, breathing organism that is my house, my family, me.

Today I am in awe.  Cosmic humility doesn’t even start to sum it up.

Worry

I was worried.  About vaginas?  Well, no, actually.  I haven’t worried about vaginas in ages.  Not since Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues told me in the late 90’s that they come in every shape and size and color.  Participating in V-Day for years has helped me to believe that someday we will live in a world that is not so rife with violence against women and girls.  So, I wasn’t really worried, not about vaginas.  Not yesterday.

I had plans to see UNC’s production of The Vagina Monologues with some friends.  It was Natalie’s birthday.  She had sent out an email to a bunch of girls “Let’s go see The Vagina Monologues for my birthday!”  I cautiously suggested we see the matinee.  Groups of girls don’t go out for drinks and birthday shenanigans at 2:30.  But… I have this baby, see?  I know, I know, she is more than 13 months old.  But… bedtime. I can’t, I won’t be out at bedtime.  I just… can’t.  And they said “Sure.”

I had more than a month to think about it.  I was excited.

The Vagina Monologues changed me.  My first year in the OBX production I wore a black pants suit and a bra, no shirt, I was the Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy, the Moaner.  I drank wine after the show and laughed with my new girlfriends. I hadn’t ever been a part of a big group of women.  I have been lucky in life to have always had a best friend, a sidekick, a confidante.  But a tribe of women?  I’d never felt that way before. And it was fabulous.

In the years to come I would have different parts, I would wear pigtails and slouchy gaucho pants to mask my newly postpartum body.  I would sport electric blue hair to distract you from my sunken eyes from lack of sleep.  I would skip out on the wine because I feared the things I might say.  I would mumble to no one really in the middle of a rehearsal “I don’t think I want to be married anymore.”

The Vagina Monologues, these stories of women, they inspired me.  They moved me. They taught me that women are all the same.  I had always felt like an odd duck.  I was “one of the boys.” Standing on stage with a group of women I’d only known a short while I was one of a group.  I was part of a tribe.

And then I had a baby.  And I got stronger every day. A little over a year after Em was born I was in a rehearsal for The Vagina Monologues when I said out loud for the first time that I would be leaving my husband because it wasn’t working.  No one pitied me.  No one made the “I’m so sorry” face.  One woman said “Good for you.  There’s happiness out there for you” and I believed her.  It was ten months before I moved out but I started getting ready to go that day. 

20130302-193232.jpgShe was right.  Happiness.  It was out there.  I am Happy.  Most of the time.  Unless I am trying to get dressed.  Unless I am leaving the house all alone without my kids for three hours.  And then those old feelings of being the odd duck creep back in. And I am in tears in my closet, surrounded by clothes that don’t fit right.  I was planning to meet my girlfriends to celebrate being a woman and I was sobbing because I am thirteen months post-partum and I still feel like I live in someone else’s body.  We would be heading to UNC’s campus to surround ourselves with 20-somethings spreading a positive message and I was crying because my jeans are still too tight.  I could see the irony.  I just didn’t find it all that amusing.

I changed my jeans.  I swore.  I put on make-up and then washed it all off.  I picked a zit, I picked a fight.  I cried some more.  I said I wasn’t going.  I said I had to leave right now.  And then I got in the car and I went.  It was important.

I would paste my Pretty Kelly smile on my face and I would say “Happy Birthday, Natalie” and it would be fine.  I would introduce myself to someone I didn’t know and I would try not to talk about my kids at all.  I would just be me.

I opened Nat’s front door and steeled myself.  Game face.  I don’t know who I was expecting to see.  But I know I wasn’t expecting to only see people that I knew.  I made it exactly four steps in the front door before I burst in to tears. “I was afraid one of you would ask me why I was crying and I would have to be that crazy woman in front of someone I just met and say ‘Oh, because I get mad anxiety every time I leave my THIRTEEN MONTH old baby and I can’t get dressed and…'”

There they were.  Four women. A friend I have known since high school, a friend with two small children, a friend who has seen me at my lowest and a newer friend that understands more than her fair share about body image bullshit.  I spilled my big, bad ugly “I have my period and everyone hates me” guts and in moments it was over.  We laughed about how I was afraid to be “that crazy woman” in front of strangers, you know, strangers not on the Internet.

The longer I stay at home the harder it is for me to go out.  What will I say? Where will I park? What will I wear? What if someone asks me what I do? What if I start crying? Or I have a glass and a half of wine and am plastered because that’s all it takes?

I feel like if you prick me with a pin I will explode.  20130302-193239.jpg

Eve Ensler taught me that there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris.  Sadly, it isn’t any of those that are making me weep with confusion and joy and fear and excitement lately.  I am not sure where exactly the nerve endings are that make you lose your shit in your closet while you get dressed.  Or panic because you don’t know where you are supposed to park when you get where you are going. But I think I have at least 8,000 of those, too.

I will keep going, out of my house, away from my kids. I will go even when and especially when I don’t want to and think that I will not possibly survive the torture.  Every time I leave the house there’s a good chance I will stand in front of a woman that has felt exactly like me, at least once.  Because we are all the same, all of us, at least sometimes.

 

Keep it simple, stupid.

I have a knack for making things more difficult than they need to be.  I imagine conversations that will probably never take place.  When I drive I am thinking about what I will say when I arrive if I am late (even though I will be toting along the finest excuse for running late there ever was, a 20 pound machine that ejects bodily fluids at random intervals.) When I nurse my baby in public I prepare clever responses to judgey looks, even though I am one of few women that has actually never been on the receiving end of one.

Lately, as I keep putting one foot in front of the other aimlessly, I am mentally preparing some kind of justification.  Lucy is 13 months old.  Emily would rather be with her pals than with me after school.  But what I am doing here, at home, is important.  It is maybe even more special to me to be home with the girls now as they get older than it was in the early days.  And I like being available to volunteer at school.  I have the time to shop sales for the things we need.  And we save a lot of money on groceries with me being home, cooking every day. And and and … I could go on. But no one ever asks me “So, when are you going back to work? Why are you still home?’

Probably more important than the nameless, faceless strangers that I imagine asking me that question is that my husband, the one person who has an opinion that counts, he isn’t pushing me.  I shot him a line the other day “Don’t forget I have that committee meeting tonight.”  It was his second day at his brand new job.  And I was nagging him about when he would be home.  His reply was short and sweet.  But it has eclipsed all of the imaginary nay-sayers in my mind.  “No problem.  I am glad you’re doing these things.”

I don’t know what I am going to do in the next few years.  I am still running in place.  Two miles today.  And a 1600 yard swim.  I’m not even all that anxious about the fact that I don’t know where I am going.  Because when I get to the finish line MQD will be there.

I can’t see the path but the finish line is crystal clear.   With tears in my eyes I’ll say “I did it!” and with his signature smirk, that one that drives me nuts in every sense of the word he’ll say “Of course, you did.”

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20130228-134803.jpgToday’s challenge – Invent a new way to peel a potato.  I am a red bliss potato, leave the skins on kind of girl.  But when I have to peel them I have a gadget, of course.  I am a lover of the kitchen gadget.  This obsession is fed  by my mother-in-law, another lover of the kitchen gadget.  A peeler that slips over your finger.  And like all great deals in the kitchen store, you can’t just have one, you need two.  One of them is serrated, for my serrated peeling needs.

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Last night I peeled potatoes.  (And then I spent quite some time trying to take a picture of mashed potatoes that looked appetizing.) I didn’t invent a new way.  But I didn’t use my kitchen gadget, either.  I just grabbed a paring knife and peeled those bad boys.  You know, it was really simple.  Making things more complicated than necessary might be one of those things I used to do when I was young if I keep this up.  I could get used to it.

So, day 91 – I am not going to reinvent potato peeling, motherhood or marriage.  I am just going to keep doing what I am doing.  Because it’s working.

Transition

20130223-233341.jpgThe final stage of active labor is transition. It is the most painful. I wept and moaned and cried during labor. But during transition? In transition I got quiet. I was scared. Scared and excited about what was surely going to happen next.

Transition is hard. Even when I am not preparing my body to deliver a baby I have been known to get quiet as I move my mind and body in to a new stage of life.

I have been quiet. And reflective. I think I am in transition.

I have been reading about the idea that we all reinvent ourselves every seven years. According to a lot of medical research all of the cells in your body are replaced every seven years. Granted, you do not wake up to a brand new body overnight. One cell at a time your body rejuvenates itself. And who I am today may actually be a different physical person than I was seven years ago. It stands to reason that I would feel different emotionally, spiritually.

Seven years ago I felt it happening. I was a new mother. My marriage was dissolving. I didn’t know what my future would look like but I could see small stretches of the path to get there. There were tears and glasses of wine and friendships forged and promises made. I moved my body hundreds of miles from my home. I got a new job. I made new friends. The change was slow and painful. I fought against it even though I knew my smile would be brighter when it was over. I held on to bitter moments because I thought they defined me. And perhaps because I wasn’t sure who I was going to be if I let them go.

It’s happening again. The quiet. The quiet that precipitates evolution.

Change is hard when you aren’t running from anything.

And so I run in place. Or around and around my neighborhood. But I still don’t know where I am going.

I have been home with the kids for a year. I don’t want to leave them.

I have been married for three years in April. I am still over the moon for my man.

I am putting down roots in my community. I don’t want to move.

I have been writing here for almost four years. I don’t want to stop.

I have a dozen drafts in my files. Half-written essays abut the girls and motherhood and fitness and my velour sweatsuits. But none of it speaks to me. If it doesn’t hold my attention it won’t hold yours.

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Change is paralyzing. Odd that growth makes me feel so frozen solid. As my mind races and my cells replace themselves I can’t seem to make a complete thought.

My big girl is reading chapter books and Tiger Beat magazine and painting her nails with her friends. My baby girl is eating a sandwich and chasing the dog in a itty bitty track suit. They are growing so fast. Days are moving so quickly and I can’t hold on tight enough. I am running short on the time needed to sit at the keyboard and write it all down. As soon as I sit down to finish a thought I no longer really feel that way anymore.

My girls are growing fast all of a sudden. And so am I.

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I don’t know what will become of my girls. But I know that no matter who they turn out to be they will be fine. Because they are loved. And I know that someday we will look back at pictures of their childhood and laugh and say “Of course! They couldn’t have become anyone else!”

And I know that days, weeks, months from now – when my transition is over – I will laugh and say “Of course, this is the path I have always been on.” But today? Today I am not really sure where I am going. But I know I will be fine. Because I am loved.