Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Checking Myself

Reassessment is something that I do from time to time. Three or four times a year, spurred by a book or an event or a dream, I will step back from my life and think, "What's broken now?" It's a good way for me to rearrange my thoughts and feelings, and to reevaluate my friendships and beliefs. In essence, it's Time To Fix Shit.

This week, I have entered a Reassessment Phase. Though often not particularly comfortable, this is a good thing, something I needed. I have, for the most part, stepped away from life-- taking time out from everything normal. I haven't been to the gym in four days. I have spent less than five minutes on Facebook since Sunday, and that was only to load some new photos of the kids for my Mom. I'm not talking on the phone, really. I'm not watching television. I'm ignoring the world. I score essays. I mother my children. I talk to my husband. I score more essays. I read books, piles and piles of lovely books, and bemoan the birth of the kindle and all it implies about the world. I think. I think a lot. Not worry, there's a difference. Not worry. Just think.

That is where I am right now.

What I've learned about myself is vital, just as important as my blood and bones and soul. Or perhaps it isn't what I've learned so much, as what I've allowed myself to actually FEEL, as opposed to racing through my days and ignoring what ails me until it builds up to the point of explosion. I let myself miss my Dad. My Grandfather. My Carpenter. My E. My Ray. I let myself stay up late and wander the house, reading my Dad's obituary at 2am, or to go to bed at 8pm because I'm too tired and sad to keep my eyes open any longer. I skip lots of meals. I forget what day it is. I just allow myself to be, with no expectations, as best I can. I am hollow and zen.

And I also experience the good things. I lie on the floor with the dogs and just play with them. I take deep inhalations of my children, smelling their lavender shampoo and sweet sweaty smells. I sit on the porch and spend twenty minutes alone looking at a double rainbow, the brightest I've ever seen. I taste my husband's skin. I find joy in our blooming lilacs, a quiet cup of coffee, a message from my Mom.

There is no how and why to my life. It's messy and hard-- messier and harder as I grow older and wiser. In a few days, I'll probably return to the whirlwind that is myself, hopefully with a sunny handful of lessons in my grasp that I will hold close to my heart and keep fresh in my mind. But even if I don't, even if nothing stays with me, at least I have now. At least I have these few sweet moments. And for that, I am thankful.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


Since Christmas when she received a Nintendo DS from her Yaya, Bellamy has had a virtual pet. Her virtual pet is a light-brown chihuahua with enormous Gizmo-looking ears that requires she walk, feed, and play with him every day. Virtually.

The Chihuahua's name is Steve. After my Dad.

I have chosen these past months to refrain from commenting on Bellamy's choice of names for her Nintendo pet. Specifically, I have held back from saying, "Seriously? SERIOUSLY? You named your goddamn Nintendo CHIHUAHUA (which, by the way, is one of the most fucking ridiculous breed of dogs in existence-- the Chihuahua part, not the Nintendo part) after your beloved, no longer with us GRANDFATHER? ARE YOU ON FUCKING CRACK?" The kid normally names everything some gay-ass girlie name, like Snuggles or Fluffy. This time, however, seemingly out of nowhere, we got "Steve." So in the interest of Positive Parenting, instead of losing my damn mind and verbally assaulting my daughter, I have smiled and watched her put virtual funny hats on Steve, take him to the virtual dog park, and play virtual ball with him. Because I am a good Mom.

It's hard to remember what kind of Mom I have generally been since the birth of the Princess in 2003. When I think of Belly's toddler years, I mostly remember crying a lot and wishing I could die a relatively painless death, immediately. I remember a two-year-old Bellamy slapping me across the face once because she did not want to get undressed and take a bath, and me feeling like my world was ending--what kind of child slaps their mother? I would have never done that. I must have screwed up somewhere to produce a child who would SLAP HER MOTHER. Though I have no memory of it, apparently I slapped her back. (Which normally would make me think-- what kind of mother slaps her child?) I know this because last weekend we watched old home movies for hours, and on one tape Belly was telling her Daddy, in detail, about how she had slapped Mommy that day and Mommy had slapped her back. She seemed relatively unscathed by the incident, though to this day I still feel a bit tender when I think of it, and have obviously blocked parts of it out since I don't remember slapping her back. Or maybe I drank enough to rot that part of my brain. Either way, it's missing.

Whenever B and I take the children anywhere, we get compliments on how well behaved they are. They have good manners (generally). They are high maintenance and precocious, but they are also well versed in how to behave, particularly in public places, and they are nearly always respectful and compliant when others are around. At home, they are rowdier and much louder, but are still good kids. We are lucky to have good kids. Exhausting, frustrating, talkative, frequently-annoying-as-all-hell good kids.

I have high hopes that when the kids hit the middle school and teenage years they choose their own path-- are special and different in whatever way brings them joy. But I hope they stay good kids, on whom I can depend and for whom I can keep my expectations high. I have a hard enough time worrying about them now, when I can keep them in my arms and safe. When they reach the years when there are dates and driver's licenses, not to mention drugs and sex, I may have a tough time not losing my damn mind. It's not like I'm the most stable person, you know.

But for now, we are safe. My minions want to color and cuddle, play Star Wars and Barbies. Going for frozen yogurt is an enormous thrill, and nothing is better than a lazy Saturday afternoon. Or more fun than a virtual dog named Steve.