Sunday, May 11, 2014

About my Mom on Mothers' Day

I think there is a little crazy in all mamas. And it’s no wonder. We are keeping people alive, people who are part of us, a part of who we are. It’s complicated. But I also think that balancing that crazy, a mother has the ability to be serene, calm and wise at times when everyone else is falling apart. I guess it’s sort of like the yin and the yang. I have seen this calmness first-hand recently as my mom’s love kept me fed, sane, safe and comforted. The needs of a 38 year old are at times no different from the needs of a three year old. Moms never get much attention, and no where is that more obvious than in the millions of photos that feature everyone but the mama. And I think for my mom who doesn’t like attention, that is just fine. But this year, Mom, a little ode dedicated to you. I will never be able to repay you for all you have done for me, but I can give you a few words. My Mom. My Mom is... Strong to the point of crazy. Giving to the point of a calendar filled with other peoples’ appointments, sporting events, beach times and babysitting needs. Genuine to the point of the (occasional) dropping of a good, satisfying “Shhhhhhhhhhitttttttt.” (Emphasis on the sh and the t.) Fun to the point of a fall in the sand. Determined to the point of almost giving my Dad hyperthermia. Loving to the point of emphatic. My Mom has the most honest and real faith of any one I know, getting mad, asking for help and ultimately leaving the big problems to the big One. She also has a shit list for people who have performed in some sort of sub-par way. But an evening of beer and burgers on the back patio will swiftly take anyone off it. My Mom loves Chardonnay, biking (long distances only), historical fiction, the beach at sunset and a room full of her family. She would like to have dinner with most any author, she doesn’t believe in regrets, and she has this pretty unique and cool belief that there are invisible people next to us all the time, living on different celestial planes. But most importantly to me, I realize now, more than ever that my Mom's devotion to her kids is never-ending and her life journey has not been simple or easy at times. But my Mom can always see that her Starbucks decaf black coffee to-go mug is half-full, never dwelling on any pain for long. Instead looking forward, she’ll open up her calendar to the back page where she writes down events in the coming years, and she’ll say, “When is that again?” Then she’ll jot whatever happening down in pen, book a hotel room or two and plan on making chili. And then she’ll be there, like she always is.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Effing Eve. Did she know how she would doom the rest of her kind when she bit into that red apple? An apple for God's sake! Not even a minty mojito or a hopped up IPA or a piece of good, rich Scharffen Berger dark chocolate. An apple! Hope it was worth it sister cause you screwed us. You were stuck in paradise and we are stuck, well not exactly in hell, but we are stuck somewhere between middle school boob insecurities and menopause. We chicks are burdened with physical discomforts, emotional surges, and the expectations of our Mother in laws. We muddle through cramping, pregnancy, childbirth, aching boobs full of milk, and then to top it off, a good five year window of night sweats. We are the ones expected to send the thank you notes, the ones expected to have the bathroom clean, and the ones expected to make sure the kids get to the dentist every year. All of this is expected while we get our own asses dressed and out the door in order to make 77 cents to Adam’s every dollar. Effing Eve. My cousin’s theory is that the grl in the garden was bored. “God! If Adam starts to go on again about how much his big toe is killing him, I am seriously going to lose it.” Or maybe it was more like, “God! How impressed do I have to be that Adam lifted those three big rocks and moved them away from the pear tree?” My cousin says Eve didn’t have her girlfriends around. She had no one to talk to. She wasn’t interested in sitting around eating grapes and strawberries all day, watching the elk run up and down the forest walls. I didn’t mean for this to be a diatribe against men. There are many good uses for them. Sperm is one of them. And if you get a good man, like I did, he is the stable in the crazy, the calm in the frenzy and the beautiful accompaniment to a pretty decent song. I just feel like if I come back, I would rather come back as Adam. I know there’s a lot of pressure on men too. They're expected to make money, exhibit toughness and strength and know how to throw a football. I just feel that something about the Y chromosome leaves them with quite a bit more control over their bodies, their moods and their lives. A lot is written these days about the high expectations of women and mothers and the hows and whys about it. Is it the woman’s fault? Is it the man’s fault? Society’s fault? I don’t know. I do think my cousin was on to something though when she said Eve was missing some good girlfriends. I appreciate that these days, a grl can admit to feeling overwhelmed and inadequate without fear of being ostracized. Maybe that’s it! Maybe I’ve been looking at Eve in the completely wrong way! Maybe Eve took one for the team! Maybe she didn’t doom us to pain and agony! Rather she freed us to make our own decisions, albeit not the best ones. She freed us from the pressure of perfection and a clean bathroom! She freed us from the boundaries of a man’s paradise and instead shouted to the heavens, “I WANT MORE!” She might have been banished from the garden but she wasn’t banished from the story. And she lives on and well that she should. Eve! I’m sorry! I had you wrong sister. You did it! You freed us to be women! Emotional, crampy, imperfect women. You freed us to make our own decisions and lead our own lives. In the process, yes, you did condemn us to some worldly discomforts, but the pain passes, the cycle ends and what we end up with are lives of our own choosing, adventures of our own taking, and passions that compel us to at once love and scream. And I realize now that I wouldn’t want it any other way. Eve, thanks sister.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The triathlon and the 5k

I am trying very hard not to be one of those mothers who talks about how easy boys are and how hard grls are.


If G is a triathlon that stretches over choppy waters, mountainous terrain, and muddy trails, d is a flat 5k on a clear, cool, bright morning. Both could be challenging. Both could be easy. It just depends on how you feel that day, how you've trained, and how you want to run the race.

D loves to smile. He smiles at his mama. He smiles at his dada. He smiles at his big sister. He smiles at the bagger at the grocery store, at the couple walking down the street, at his own reflection in the mirror. He smiles when he wakes up. He smiles as he is falling asleep lying next to me holding my hand. He just smiles all the time.

G gives nothing away for free. She is up and down in a matter of nanoseconds. She is refusing to go outside. She is kicking her legs as I try to get her dressed. She is demanding another Elmo. She is crawling under the bathroom stall and running for the door at the zoo leaving me with my pants down and d hanging from my chest in the Bjorn.

Then she is also:

Explaining that the green tomatoes grow on a vine.
Asking me if I had a good night sleep.
Carefully trying to measure out the flour for cookies.
Moving her head to the beat of a new song.

D is amazed by her. He looks at her, eyes wide, mouth agape and is in awe.

Even this early in mama-ing two kids, I feel two very different relationships emerging. I want to protect d. I want to hang out with G. Maybe it's their ages at this point, or maybe I am becoming one of those mothers who talks about how they "cherish" their boys and rely on their grls. Ick. It's just that G seems so complicated and d so straight-forward. I guess they are just like two very different races. At least I know I love triathlons and 5ks equally well.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Storms in Colorado

Storms come up fast in the Rocky Mountains and summer evenings are prone to electrifying displays of nature. I spent a couple summers there in a former life and would often get caught in such shows while out on a run. But just as fast as a storm would glissade around a mountain peak and throw her fury at me with rain, hail and lighting, she would move on, leaving behind her a dissipating sky of oranges, yellows, purples and blues. And soon the outside mountain-side bars serving pitchers (pitchers!) of Fat Tire would fill once more.

G is a passionate lady. And sometimes her passions lie in rather ridiculous places. For example, she needs her pink polka dotted blanket to make a perfect rectangle lying over her. None of the edges can be turned up and both of her feet must at all times be completely covered. A misplaced polka dot could mean the difference between mellow time and meltdown time.

A few months after G was born, I applied for a new job. I emailed them my resume, some writing clips, and my family's 2009 reunion flyer. I was reunion chair that year and instead of sending the prospective employer my references, I sent them a list of what each family member needed to bring to the reunion. (Appetizer: Deanne, Lori and Chris; Decorations: Caleb, Abby and Susie.) When the employer emailed me about my mistake, I wrote back, "Well, I thought you might want to meet my family too!"

I never heard back from them.

G has a new scooter. She rocks on it. The grl is two years old and she rides that thing down the street like she was made for it. Yesterday, she got so excited to get out there on the road that as she was going to get her scooter, she ran over to it and stepped on it off balance and ended up in the splits on the ground crying. I picked her up and let her cry a bit and wondered if she would like to take a scooter break. Nope. Her tears dried and moments later we were back on the streets trying to master steering.

Last week I went to an audition. I wore a pink skirt and some makeup, shook the music director's hands, chatted about my background a bit and then the director turned to me and asked. "So, what did you bring to sing for us today?"

Right. Music. I knew I was forgetting something.

"Nothing!" I said, attempting to remain calm but wondering if it just wouldn't be better to turn and run out of the church without even saying goodbye, leaving them in a blur of pastels.

"Nothing? You brought nothing?" the organist gasped.

I ended up singing something I didn't know badly, shook hands again, smiled, thanked everyone and walked out on the verge of tears.

I seem to carry around my failures in a little space in my head and can without warning be suddenly and unexpectedly haunted by mishaps that happened decades ago. My grl has no such space. She falls. She cries. She gets up. She forgets. It's that easy. The weather may be stormy, but it will pass quickly and the sun will come out again soon.

Every now and then for a brief second, something about the city air smells like Colorado after a storm. I chase the smell down the street, but it always seem to evade me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dance

I described G to a friend recently saying what a smart two year old she is, already speaking in complex sentences, singing the alphabet and counting to 20.
"That's good. She will be successful in life then," he said.
"I don't care what she does as long as she's happy," I told him, stealing words and sentiments from my Mother.

G is a passionate and fiery kid. She loves to smile and laugh and wail on her drums and run down the street as fast as she can, and listen to music on 11. ("Turn it up! Turn it up!" she demands in the car.) The grl really sucks the marrow from every second she can. At the end of the day she is dirty and sweaty with strawberry and chocolate stains and chalk and bubbles all over the front of her shirt. Her hair is a wet mop on the top of her head and her legs are covered in little cuts and bruises. The grl does not live life half-assed.

I have a hard time figuring out how to respond to "How was your day?" Trying to keep two kids under two alive and occupied and engaged in a day is both the best and worst of times. There are good seconds and there are bad seconds. One moment G is belting out, "Tomorrow" and d is cooing on my lap, and the next G is wigging about the improper placement of her blanket and d is puking all over me. Some days I feel like I am running up a hill, and it's good, I like to run and all and the weather is pretty good and my knees feel ok in my news shoes and stuff, but man, I would really like to get to a little plateau to take a breath somewhere up ahead.

I wonder often what makes people happy, what drives people, what people would do if they could do absolutely anything with their days. Is it the right job? Money? Relationships? Or is it something more intangible like a sense of accomplishment, or the feeling you get from pushing yourself and getting out of your comfort zone as my cross country coach would say. Whatever it is, we all seem to need something to make us happy.

We have this toy that plays really bad, distorted sounding music that goes faster or slower depending on how fast you draw on it. It doesn't play complete songs. It just starts and stops in random places. G re- discovered the toy this evening and started dancing to it. Her dancing is made up of the most awkward looking, unnatural movements you have ever seen. It's a staccato dance that highlights her body's hinges: elbows and knees, wrists and hips all moving in various directions. And she throws her limbs into the air so hard, she throws herself off balance at times, stumbling a second before continuing her dervish. There is absolutely no grace involved. She is just so swept up by the music that she seems to have very little control over her body.

It is awesome.

G doesn't need a job, or money, or friends, or a sense of accomplishment or that feeling you get when you push yourself or any of that to feel happy. She just is. Why does it have to be more complicated than that?

Yesterday, at the end of the day, G said to no one particular, "That was a good day."
I hope my grl always dances her weird, primal, a-rhythmic dance.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Top 10 of my favorite things people have said to pregnant me

You look great!
You look tired!
You look exhausted.
You look green.
Are those your husband’s pants?
You look like you're about to pop!
My kid weighed 10 pounds. I should have had a c section. I tore A LOT.
And my personal favorite from a co-worker I hardly know:
Boy, you must really like to breed.

What were your favorite comments previously-pregnant or pregnant-peeps out there? This is where I am in my pregnancy! Just annoyed! I feel there are very well meaning-ed people out there who cross the line at times when it comes to conversing with a pregnant lady. And guys can be even weirder just by the way they look at a pregnant chick- like they can't decide if they want to protect her or seduce her.

Does being this pregnant feel a little like wearing a version of the Scarlet Letter? Pregnancy is no longer cute at this point.

I am clearly hormonal and tired. I am sure the non-pregnant me will soon think the pregnant me ridiculous.

But seriously, if I get into the elevator one more time and someone asks me my due date, I may lose it. Although I guess that's better than someone commenting on my breeding...

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


-I feel as though Two keeps growing, but the skin around him does not, giving me the uncomfortable feeling of wearing a pair of pants that are three sizes too small.

-When the 20-something girl sharing the swim lane beside me asks if I am alright, maybe that's a good indication that I should stop swimming.

-Please, stop looking at me - everyone.

-I really should have re-thought the two piece Speedo. Go ahead everyone, stare away...

-It is a known fact that when you bring your toddler to the doctor's appointment, you will have to wait approximately 41 minutes before you are seen by the doctor. When you bring your book to the doctor's office, ("oh, bliss! I have a doctor's appointment today! I can crack open that new library book, finally!") you will have to wait approximately one minute to be seen by the doctor. I guess it's sort of like Paddington Bear bringing his umbrella outside on sunny days.

-I am waiting (as are the toys, clothes and crumbs littered around my apartment) to feel that nesting faze come over me.

-I like it that pregnant women have something in common with birds.

- Two must sleep with his hands clenched and his arms straight out in front of him. When I lie down, it feels like I am lying on one of the corners of G's books.

-I am pretty sure he's a he in there.

-My husband referred to my belly as "engorged" tonight because he says he thought that was the nicest way to put it.

-I want to be one of those moms who knows all the other moms on the playground.

-I don't want to be one of those moms who knows all the other moms on the playground.

-All the women my age at the Oscars looked depressingly old, and they have nannies and masseuses and nutritionists and trainers and people who clean their bathrooms and...I am doomed.