We’re going to Disney. A first, for us.
Caden-7yr, who appears to be suddenly more interested in girls than ever before, is sure that there will be mermaids at Disney and this is something to look forward to. I’m remaining silent on the topic. Of mermaids. On the subject of girls, though, there is no such luxury and I’ve found it necessary to go hiss in his ear, “get your hands OFF her.”
“Her” being an adorable classmate of his who also has missing front teeth. I don’t mind if he talks to her forever or follows her around like a puppy or shows off for her (all of which he does every Saturday) — but I DO mind if he touches her.
Actually, I don’t want him touching mermaids, either. He better not even be THINKING of touching mermaids. (I’m a little grumpy. Can you tell? It’s a long story.)
Ethan-11yr wants to see something described as a “commercial for General Motors.” Um….fun.
Seth-5yr is interested in nachos. At Disney. Or anywhere. The child loves nachos.
Mike wants to go to a certain restaurant, I want to see plants, and my mom has a few fun things on her list as well.
None of the boys believe in Mickey Mouse ears. At all. Like, don’t even think about dorking us out like that, Mom. But I’m thinking it’s kinda my maternal right.
I have a list of things to do that I most certainly have NOT done. I need to run 7 miles tonight. (No problem, should help the nasty mood). The real kicker is packing. The oh so predictable big one on that list because wow do I hate me some packing. HaaaAAAaaate.
I once went to visit my mother in Australia and just dumped my dresser drawers into a suitcase without any editing whatsoever.
Also, once I went to Australia and (for reasons including limited international product availability issues) had a giant suitcase full of Always. Like, I don’t know. Thousands of maxi pads? I was importing them to my female relatives who lived there. Not that I wanted to. It just did NOT occur to me to say NO WAY AM I DOING THIS, I HAVE SOCIAL ANXIETY ISSUES THAT PREVENT IT, GET ANOTHER PAD SMUGGLER. I was kinda a nice kid, even when I wasn’t.
It was really awkward in Customs when my bag was searched and I was all 15 and and jet laggy and stupid and really, there just was no rational explanation that sounded right when the guy asked me pointedly if I was declaring anything. I think I just shook my head no. Because WHAT DO YOU SAY? THERE’S NOT COCAINE INSIDE THEM, I SWEAR, OFFICER. WE ARE JUST REALLY PICKY WOMEN IN MY FAMILY AND WE ONLY LIKE THIS KIND AND YOU DON’T SELL THEM HERE?! AND WHY NOT? WINGS MATTER! And then I burst into tears. He left me alone there in the middle of every 15yr old girl’s worst nightmare, with a large stainless steel table of suitcase items and seven thousand Always pads (with wings) that needed to be re-packed.*
Oooh, i hate packing.
*UNBELIEVABLE. It took more than 20 yrs, but that story is FINALLY funny to me. I think I just healed a little.
Spin Class: Not for the Naive.
I’ll explain that in a minute. But in order to do so, let’s flashback to 12 years ago when I was pregnant for the first time. And uh, naive.
(Jenn S.: Read NO further, babe. I love you. But don’t read this right now.)
I had no reason to be naive. My mother used to sit my sister and I down and have long squirm-inducing conversations about everything we could possibly ever need to know, and she always used the correct terminology. So I should have known quite a lot more than I did. But it became evident early on in my first trimester that I was a bit… clueless.
My mother in law (who liked me then) would record episodes of A Baby Story on VHS tapes and give them to me to watch. She felt bad that Mike had thoroughly mentally checked out of the pregnancy and relationship and was trying to be extra supportive. He wasn’t trying to be awful, he was just sure (based on a previous experience that had nothing to do with me) that I was about to die and so he was a bit moody and conflicted and tormented all on his own over the whole thing so it wasn’t all that ideal for either one of us.
Back then, A Baby Story was a big deal. You could watch those and see all the trends and options and what to do and what not to do in the Process of Birth.
This was particularly helpful to me in ruling out (emphatically) many things. Such as: lots of people in the room, mood music, strategically placed mirrors, etc. I was already very overwhelmed at the idea of Mike being there anyway, which was well founded since he ended up in a standoff with the anesthesiologist. Mike’s not a confrontational sort. That was an extremely ill timed exception because it delayed the epidural I’d promised him I wouldn’t have and once I broke that promise I wanted it broken FAST, get out of my way, man.
But after watching about 10 or 12 episodes of A Baby Story, I kept thinking, “well that’s weird. because they’re ALL doing something I’d just rather not do… and no one is doing anything different….how very strange.”
And that’s how I finally realized that you don’t get to OPT OUT of the traditional birthing position of legs spread wide in stirrups. Like, not a choice, like it is if you bring a favorite CD or something. Noooo. Um. NO.
I found this revelation to be COMPLETELY disturbing. Years later I was telling my mother about it and she made a face and said, “What?! You thought you’d sit demurely in a corner with your legs crossed with a blanket across your lap while you gave birth?” and I was like, “YES. YES MOM. THAT IS WHAT I THOUGHT I COULD CHOOSE IF I WANTED. EXACTLY THAT. THE ALTERNATIVE IS SO LOOK-AT-ME AND I HATE THAT.”
I think she said something like, “No one’s trying to LOOK at you. They’re trying to GET THE BABY OUT.”
So. I had no idea that childbirth was so dang unladylike. But it really is. And that’s how I found out.
Spin class reminded me of this. I’d never been on one of those bikes. I actually hadn’t really been on any bike in… I don’t know. So when everyone said, “it’ll hurt your butt the first few times” I believed them. I did not know this was code for “you’ll remember how it felt like after childbirth when you realized someone must have taken a meat hammer to every part of your private regions and smashed you.” I guess it’s just easier to say “your butt will hurt the first few times.” Inaccurate though that is.
Remember those gigantic 2 foot long maxi pads the hospital gives you afterwards and then they have this magic cooling quality that turns them into icepacks? LOVE those. I came home from spin class and looked in my cabinets to see if I had brought any extras home, years ago, because those things are awkward and awful but miraculous and wonderful too and I wanted a 2 foot long icepack/maxi pad thing. (no one TELLS you you’ll come home and look for one of those.)
The bike seat is actually SUPPOSED to smash into you. I think. Like, pretty sure. It’s definitely supposed to ‘make contact’ on the standing up when you ride parts, but I am unsure if that means ‘get really rude and personal and make you wonder about modern day availability of chastity belts’ or not.
When I got to class, my new friend with the perfect behind was there, ready to get me started. She had me pedal a few times and then she said, “What? Why are you doing that? You don’t point your toes when you ride a bike?!”
Yeah, well, you don’t have a baby with your legs crossed, either, but I didn’t know. Also, toe pointing is sort of my default mode.
She adjusted things, and readjusted and kept reminding me to stop pointing my toes and it all went really well, considering.
I mean, I didn’t get a perfect butt or anything. I got a perfectly bruised butt. (And more.)
But I learned a few things. And I made it.
But for all this pain, I really should have gotten a cute baby out of the deal.
I have a morning appointment with a spin bike.
It wasn’t really my idea. Wait. No. It wasn’t my idea at ALL. It was this lovely, overly enthusiastic perky gym person who I’ve known (sorta) for a year or so. She’s quick to tell you she’s in her late 40s. I think she likes the genuine shock this revelation always creates because not only is she beautiful – she looks at least 15 years younger.
I could write an entire post about this woman’s butt. It’s as perky as she is. Ages ago I made the mistake of standing behind her in a class where we had to do a ton of squats. Afterwards i was all, “yeah sorry about the awkward staring but it’s just so perfect it was sort of mesmerizing, how did you GET THAT?” (I felt I had to explain. There were mirrors. She’d seen my mystification. And it wasn’t nearly as pervy as it sounds — it was inappropriate but sincere curiosity at what one must do in order to attain such flawlessness. I can’t really hide what I’m thinking very well and then I have to occasionally explain or at least own up to it and yeah THAT’S so fun) But she just laughed as if she hears that every day of her life, and really she probably does. Her butt probably has its own fan club. Her butt probably has its own blog, facebook page, and exercise dvd set that is sold at 2 am on various television channels and it probably airs right after those awful ahhh bra ads.
Anyway. This woman with the perfect backside, and the perky demeanor to match, VERY strongly suggested I attend a spin class with her as a means of increasing my cardio abilities for this half marathon idea. Her ‘best’ half marathon time was when she was most consistent with spin. When she said that, I felt faint. I didn’t ask her how many 1/2s she’d done. Or anything. I tried to be noncommittal. But she whipped out her phone and said, ‘tell me your phone number,’ and then MY phone was ringing and she said, “see, now you have my number. you tell me if you are not going to be there because i’ll be there half an hour early holding a spin bike for you and if you don’t show people will get mad at me because every bike is taken in this class.” And she was smiling SO widely that it came off very nice and I had no idea what had hit me. Or what? I was now a ‘contact’ in her phone. Or how that had happened, because I’m so antisocial that crap like that does NOT happen to me. Oh DEAR. Then there were a LOT of texts about this whole ridiculous idea. I’m committed. I’m in. I’ll be on a spin bike at 9 am on a Friday.
I’m hating the thought of it, but am hopeful it’ll help with the needed endurance. Right. But really, I should get a great butt JUST for showing up, right?
Yeah, i’m sure it works like that.
Ethan-7yr describing Duke as being “completely consumed with envy” over something. Cat food, I think. (I don’t think the dog ever has feelings that strong, but I liked his description anyway.)
Mike, this morning: “I should have done x,y, and z. Instead of a,b, and c.”
Me: “Uh… but you didn’t do a,b, and c either?” (and the phrasing sort of implies ya did…?)
Mike: “Right. I’m saying I thought about it and I should have done x,y, and z.”
It didn’t make any sense. Not even with real details instead of letters. Promise.
Caden-7yr: “Oh. MY. GOODNESS! Is this Seth-5yr’s paper? It shows such WONDERFUL cursive letter e’s. MOM!!! MOM!!! DID YOU KNOW SETH-5YR COULD DO THIS SORT OF WORK? Look at them! They’re all so perfect. [he stops, studying the paper that has been on the kitchen counter for two days during which i had failed to note its significance or impressiveness in any way and now feel like total crap mother next to my amazing little mother hen type son] SETHIE!!! Come in here and talk to me about this! Let’s trace this letter ‘e’ with our fingers. It’s perfect. Looks JUST like the examples. Swing up from the baseline…. around… and back down…. you are SOOOOO good at this.”
Seth-5yr is a lovely shade of pleased pink. I lean down to tell Caden-7yr what a wonderful brother he is – and he shakes me off and asks again in all seriousness, “Mom. Did you even KNOW he could do this?” Quietly, he looks over the paper again and says, “Because I did not know.”
Caden-7yr has a sweet streak a mile wide. That particular display was completely heartfelt and sincere. (No, you can’t have him.) When he isn’t being sweet, he’s being SO clumsy and swatting out your eyeballs with Constant Unexplained Laundry Flailing or stomping on your feet while wearing cleats, though, so there’s that for variety.
Seth-5yr, upon picking the bathroom lock while I was blowdrying my hair yesterday morning and coming in to see a lot more of me than intended:
“I… saw…. Girl Parts.”
In the same detached way that little boy from some creepy movie a few years back used to say, “I… see… dead people.”
I gave him another version of my “KNOCK instead of picking the lock and that won’t happen” speech. Ugh.
Seth-5yr, wanting me to find him a pair of navy soccer socks: “Mom. They are just yike dees.” He holds up a pair of royal blue soccer socks. “But you know, navier.”
Mike: “Just how often DO you watch Bull Riding?”
Me: “Um… not often. I think every time I’ve watched it, you just happen to catch me.”
There was more to this. But I will say that if you find yourself in a similar conversation, it is really unwise to mention that chaps have something to do with your interest. Particularly the fringed ones. Might be better to just not say that and hand over the remote with a smile and a ‘whaa? no idea how we ended up there again’ expression.
So I sorta decided to try a half marathon.
I think that sentence means I haven’t really decided.
Here is the Diagram of my Indecision….
Reasons NOT To Attempt 1/2 Marathon (the abridged version, because I could go on and on and on):
1. I am not a runner.
2. I am not terribly interested in changing that, because it bores me.
3. Don’t be fooled by the fraction. A 1/2 is still kinda a whole lotta more than one would think should be an allowable quantity for something only called a 1/2.
4. Sometimes I get it into my head that I can do stupid stuff I totally canNOT do. Like if I watch Ice Road Truckers? (Which I’ve only done once, maybe twice.) I can’t HELP but think, “I could do that. I could SO do that. If I were not a Texas mother of small children, I’d be a rockin ice road trucker.” And I completely forget that I get whiny for a parka when the temperature falls below 85 degrees and that the tires those drivers change weigh more than I do and of COURSE I cannot be an ice road trucker.
5. This could be a lot like that.
6. This particular 1/2 marathon is in a VERY hilly area. Where I come from, the ground is flat. And so when I go out of town and the ground is not flat? (Like on my dad’s gently sloping driveway… I TRIP. Because I am not used to gently sloping ground and I cannot walk on it. Much less run 13.1 miles on HILLS. See. It’s the Ice Road Trucker thing. It TOTALLY is.)
7. When I went to see the course, my very nice SUV with a big engine had noticeable difficulty going up one of those hills. I am not as tough as a very nice SUV with a big engine. Much as I’d like to think that I am. And I’m SO not. Because when the SUV started chugging and sputtering and cursing me for taking it out of its flatland existence…. I cried. Oh, yes, I did. It just killed me that the car was objecting to a hill I was considering for myself.
8. It’s only 8 weeks away, and I’m nowhere near ready. (Even if I weren’t a crying mess in the face of big hills.)
9. And yesterday I went to the gym and thought I’d just run a little until the end of the Cowboys game. And then they went into overtime. And I had to keep running. And I thought I’d DIE, thanks Cowboys, I thought we had a deal there.
10. I’ve never actually run a race. Since…. track in junior high. And even then my event was just the 400m. I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to start with a 1/2.
11. There might be other people there who will inadvertently touch me or talk to me. Ick.
12. I’d rather be on my Harley.
13. I’m kidding. I’ve never been on a motorcycle. (but would love to.) Something about those bumper stickers always makes me a bit wistful for the owners. Don’t you always want to say, “then GO? GO, honey, and go ride. Be free. Stop driving around in a pickup complaining via bumper sticker and making mothers everywhere sad for you that you are not right in this moment living your transportation-al destiny.”
Or is that just me?
14. Okay. That was a tangent. You caught me. Confession: I just don’t want to get to the other part of this post. And yet we’re there.
Reasons for Attempting 1/2 Marathon (the unabridged version):
1. Sometimes it’s vitally important to push yourself to do the impossible. (And usually, at least for me, that’s when I feel least up to the challenge.) If for no other reason — just for deliberately seeking the uncomfortable experience of testing. Where are the boundaries? Maybe I’m not capable of this, but will I be able to get through some of it before I fall apart? Or half of it? How much? Or maybe I’ll slide back down a really big hill, crying and snotting and that’ll be the sad end of me. But even so… I should probably find out.
I genuinely do NOT think I can pull this off. It’s too much, too hard, too soon, there’s too many unknowns, and I feel completely intimidated and defeated at the thought of taking on this particular race. But I feel that way about other stuff in my life, too, that I don’t have the option of skipping. And if I can do this… or just attempt it and fail but give it everything within me… maybe the other stuff won’t seem so impossible either.
And maybe that’s all the reason I’m looking for, anyway.
Seth-5yr comes into our bedroom at some hour in which we are all asleep. Or supposed to be. And a weird conversation ensues. A few times a week. At least.
I now present five examples from the previous month:
1) He’s crying. He says, “Caden-7yr called me a Steve!” I reach out and hold him. Tears fall on my arm.
“What’s a Steve?” I ask, wondering when Seth-5yr learned to pronounce the “S” sound at the beginning of words. And also, I am behind on the lingo used by the kids in the house, because I don’t know what Steve means anymore.
“A Steve. Someone who takes things. He is saying I went into his room and took something.”
At which point, I realize he means ‘thief’ but cannot say ‘thief’ and also…? Seth-5yr is a TOTAL Steve. He is ALWAYS going into people’s rooms and taking stuff. But that won’t help me solve this insanity and get back to sleep so I don’t say so. Instead I just say, “give it BACK. and then go back to bed.”
2) Seth-5yr brings in a container of milk at a very early hour and says, “Here. Can you just smell this?” A request I find unpalatable at ANY hour of the day, and also pointless, since I’m a non-milk drinker and cannot really be trusted to accurately sniff anything anyway. But it wakes me right up to say, “NO, TAKE IT TO DAD’S SIDE OF THE BED.” And then gag into my pillow at the very thought of rancid milk in the bedroom, awaiting a good sniffing.
3) “Why is there a pillow over here?” he asks. I wake up and see a pillow by the bedroom door. I have no answer for this. “I guess it fell.” He shakes his head. “It could not have FALLEN from the bed and ended up all the way over HERE.” He looks at us and sighs. “I guess it jumped,” he concludes in a very serious tone of voice, and leaves the room.
Turns out Mike threw the pillow at the door in order to try to close the door without having to get out of bed. And this didn’t wake me up. And that really doesn’t make any sense. But that explanation is still less weird than, ‘it jumped.’
4) “Here, Mom. I’m just opening the door because deh cat really wants to be with you. He has been mowing [rhymes with wow-ing] all night.” And then the cat comes in and sits between my shoulderblades and continues to yell. Because now he can. Thank you, Seth-5yr. That’s not why that door was closed, or anything.
5) Seth-5yr comes and stands over me and announces, “CeCe’s mom doesn’t GET to sleep at night.” It’s tone of voice that implies, ‘you don’t know how lucky you have it, lady, that I allow you to sleep as much as I DO even WITH all my cute interruptions.’
I do not point out that CeCe’s mother works nights and sleeps at other times and that I am actually NOT supposed to be working nights and am really supposed to be peacefully sleeping instead of being judged harshly into a guilty awake state thanks to the shortest boy in the house.
I have no idea how much sleep Seth-5yr actually gets. I suspect it’s far less than he should be getting.
Caden-7yr still has not lost a tooth by natural means. They are pulled at great stress (to me) and expense when the dentist requests. For some reason, his little mouth is just not on board with the general dental timetable set for the rest of humanity. I’ll keep my precious teeth, thank you.
It distresses him.
He knows who has lost teeth, how many, and how old these tooth-losing people are and he’s painfully aware of the late blooming tendencies going on that must somehow mean he is inadequate.
So yesterday I flinched a little when Seth-5yr got in the car and announced happily that he has his “first wiggly tooth!”
Caden-7yr drew in a ragged breath. His stress at this announcement was palpable. He let the breath out in a whoosh. Then took another breath. Then cheerfully said, “That is SO great, Seth-5yr. Very exciting. If you want, I can wiggle it for you later and maybe we can get it to come out!”
It was just one more unexpected showing of a natural kindness that I find absolutely staggering. I was so proud of him. I wish I had that style of selflessness. I wondered what things I could do to be more like that. A list came to mind.*
It wasn’t a very pleasant list.
It wasn’t even a very short list.
He makes it look so easy.
*how many times does the word “I” appear in a very brief paragraph about selflessness? Right. So you see what i’m working with, here. It’s an uphill battle.
Seth-5yr brought me a small pinkish butterfly stuffed animal this morning, and its detached eyeball. He wanted me to sew it back on so that he could give it to his beautiful friend, “O’Libya.” (a.k.a. Olivia) It just couldn’t be given away until it had both eyeballs.
I agreed to sew it back on for him.
I melted at his sweet little heart. Olivia is the friend who proposed marriage to him last year, and he had gracefully accepted and then told me I couldn’t attend the ceremony because it was private. I hugged him today and told him how kind it was that he had thought of her and wanted to give her something special.
He hugged me back and said, “Well. I really want to give it to dis udder guhl who is new. But I do not know her name. And I cannot give a budderfy to a guhl unless I know her name. Even if it DOES have two eyeballs. So I will give it to O’Libya because I know her name.”
There were so MANY things in that little speech I wanted to discuss, but he had places to go. He came in just now and kissed me goodnight. Seeing a giant pink Victoria’s Secret bag on the bed next to me, he said, “Dad got you the wrong size, huh?”
I tried not to laugh. Not hard enough, but I did try.
I don’t know how he knew about that. Sure, I told y’all that Mike bought me lots of lingerie in the wrong size a couple weeks back, but I didn’t tell the kids. When Mike and I talked about it, I’d said, “just don’t buy lingerie if you don’t know what size.”
This is very much like, “I cannot give a budderfy to a guhl if I do not know her name. Even if it does have both eyeballs.”
Some things you just don’t do. Some things are common sense.
But Mike was DETERMINED to fix this. So today he brought home an even bigger bag than the last one, filled with even more lingerie of every fabric and style imaginable. None of it is the right size. It’s all pretty. And colorful. And I wasn’t expecting him to do that at all.
This time I’ll take it all back before he can beat me to it.
The man TRIES. He really, really does. And just now he came and wanted to know exactly what size, since he’d gotten it all wrong again. Just for “future reference.” I imagined him putting a bra size in some memo feature on his iphone and could just not bring myself to answer. Ick.
I told him there is no future reference, but thank you so much. After all, I now have a lifetime supply.
No more pink bags please, even though that was waaaay over the top and too much, but very kind. Kind like the pink butterfly.
Whose eyeball I will now reattach. For a beautiful girl whose name is known.
Always comically mispronounced, but at least known.
Seth-5yr went through a loooong phase of loving Mr. Strong. The little red cartoon character flexing his muscles. He wanted to wear his Mr. Strong shirt every day. The other Mr. and Little Miss characters have various adjective and emotion names and are helpful in teaching small children about moods.
Seth-5yr might have outgrown this, but maybe I need the books or t-shirts.
I was with a friend last night, doing errands, and she said, “You’re angry.” It was a calm statement. An observation from an even tempered woman well familiar with the signs in other people.
I stopped the car and my mouth dropped open just a bit and I had to process this bizarrely enlightening statement. She was right. Despite all the Seriously Obvious Signs Including Killer Back Tension (and my mother telling me repeatedly I was angry but I apparently blocked her out because, well, she is my mother), I hadn’t really figured that out.
It hadn’t made sense to me to be angry. You know how sometimes it’s obvious and justifiable and all of that? Not now, not for me. If anything, I should be sorry and upset and a little ball of repentant humility – but not angry. And I’m almost defiantly not any of that.
Big Clue That Feelings Are Mysteries In This House: the blog has lots of ‘should be’ statements regarding emotions. Because that’s so helpful and judge-y.
Mike came to bed last night and warily (oooh yes, warily) told me I looked nice.
“Good. Because I’ve just discovered I’m REALLY angry, but I still want to have sex and I don’t want you to get confused and read anything wrong into this decision.”
The man looked scared. Interested, but scared.
(I have no problem separating sex from ongoing conflict, never have. Some things just shouldn’t be avoided ever.)
He came around to my side of the bed and kissed me, and then I really got annoyed. “I SAID DON’T READ ANYTHING INTO THAT! I SAID I WANTED TO HAVE SEX, NOT THAT I WANTED YOU TO KISS ME?! YOU ALREADY GOT CONFUSED.”
(I have big problems separating kissing from ongoing conflict. Some things are just unthinkable.)
Then he REALLY looked scared. And confused.
Which I thought was really funny, because women would have understood that, right? Right. That’s why I’m telling y’all. Even if I’m not making any sense at all here, in this house, I can still be fairly sure that a good portion of y’all will still get me.
Or tell me why I’m wrong in ways that make me think or laugh, and that’s always good, too.
This time every year, a man I never knew drifts through my thoughts.
In my thoughts, I can plainly see his face, but only as it appears in this photograph. I’d participated in a blog thing in which various bloggers were each assigned to write a post about a specific person who died on September 11. I remember being terribly frustrated at not finding out very much at all about Harold, and the resulting post seemed inadequate. There’s more available now, when I search his name. I re-read it all almost every year.
I just can’t help but remember his kind face and wonder about what his life was like before that day. What it would have been like these last ten years, had he only gotten to live them.
Ten years is such a long time.
In those ten years, I had two more children. Children who, just last night, needed to discuss the complexities of faith and death and heaven and cry with me about the concept of loss. They’d watched a movie in which dogs died and there was a lot to be processed by their sweet little minds. I’m not sure I handled it as well as possible. I’m very sure I didn’t have all the answers and oh, how I wish I’d remembered not to let them see that movie.
It would have been easier if they hadn’t watched it. Easier than crying and questioning and them wondering if they would be able to sleep that night or if they’d be kept awake by the sadness of it all.
I went to bed and thought about Harold, and how he didn’t have any children yet but had wanted them.
I usually don’t mention it, but my heart breaks a little every year for the memory of this man. It would have been easier not to mention him, or cry these tears again or share my much-removed, never knew him, sadness of it all with you.
But easier isn’t often the most important thing.
And certainly not today.