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.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Letter to Baby Two

Dear Baby Two,

Hi, this is your mama. I don't know you at all yet. I am not skilled at that intuition stuff that is supposed to make me feel as if I know you already even though you are only the size of a pineapple. Even so, this early in our lives together, I would already like to apologize to you. I think I have neglected you the last eight months. By the time I was this far along with G, I had filled almost an entire journal of mama musings. I had painted G's room, bought her new furniture, looked at a million day cares, washed all of her new newborn clothes in special baby detergent and stenciled green stars over her crib.

For you? I have done nothing. I even keep forgetting to order newborn diapers. Even worse, the only time I really think of you in a live, little human person way, and not as an octopus in my belly with eight arms hitting me from all angles, is when I think of you in the context of how it will affect G. I wonder if this is the beginning of a your life of neglect from your mama. Oh dear, I can already see you reading that birth order book when you're 10 and drawing conclusions that are bound to make me feel bad.

So, let me just say now, before you're even out: I'm sorry. It's just that G was here first, Two, and therefore, she is all that I can think about and all that I can fathom loving so much and all that I imagine having in my life. I just can't wrap my head around you. G has been this gale-like force that has knocked me on my butt, slapped me around a bit, but ultimately has lead me to discover the real use for my heart. What more can you do that G has not already done? And then to top it off, I don't know how you will win: I worry how I will cope if you are like G (screaming banshee for eight months), but then I worry how I will react if you are not like G (chatty toddler who likes to sing along to such bands as The Beatles, Paramore and Patty Griffin. )

You are following a tough act, Little Person in there, and I am sorry about that. That's just the way it is. Which reminds me, I should probably make sure I remove G's name from over your crib...

Sheesh, maybe I should just give you the birth order book as you exit the womb.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Someone at work has told me a couple of times that people who work part-time do not make work a priority. I think about this often. The remark seems pretty biting, unfounded, upsetting and discouraging.

But recently, I have been thinking deeper.

My aunt and my grandmother died, both within this month. When I heard the news that they were gone, the first thing that came to my mind was not, how much money they had, how much prestige they had, or even how much time they gave to their communities. The first thing that came to my mind on both occasions was: Wow, they raised such amazing people.

My aunt was a fiery woman who knew she always wanted to have 10 kids even though she grew up an only child. She taught me first-hand about "colorful" language, and was shocked to realize that my naive 13-year-old self did not know what the word "gay" meant.

My grandmother commanded the room in an opposite manner: through silence. Yet she was no push-over either, and somehow always seemed to let her opinions be known. She once cut off her grown daughter who had poured herself a second glass of wine.

I thought of them tonight as I was singing lullaby number 15 to G, after I had read her 10 books and given her one back rub (“wit' cream, mama”). It’s hard to imagine either one of them doing that with one of the 16 kids between them. But that certainly didn't affect the people they produced.

They were both mothers first. And although I can’t really say what they were like as mothers, I can look at the people they made and have a pretty good idea that they were pretty great mothers, even if they may have been a little different from me.

I guess I hope at the end of my life, that I won’t be judged by the money I made, the articles I got published or the races I ran, I guess I hope that I will be judged by my greatest product, my greatest gift to the world, my best and hardest work and yes, my priority, my kids. I think and hope that G will best represent me.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby Deadline

I have this feeling that I recognize from when I was pregnant with G. As the countdown begins to baby two, I have that feeling that I am about to enter a void, a place where I have no life, no opportunities, little income and limited mobility. To counter that feeling, I am trying to find new projects and opportunities to fit in before I enter that baby space. But I am quickly realizing that my baby deadline is getting close.

Today T and I stopped by Starbucks on our way home from the doc's and sat there for a bit before rushing home to G. I watched another mom with her little girl and envied her a bit cause she was there with her cute little lady who was wearing an awesome embroidered long pink coat and saying funny and astute things like, "Why do I have to be quiet in Starbucks?" The mom looked tired and unamused. It was the end of the day. She had been running around all day with her grl. She was waiting for her husband to come home to have someone to talk to and someone to take on the responsibility of parent. She probably looked a lot like me at the end of my G days.

A mama friend of mine and I spoke today about feeling stuck: unable to move forward in our careers, but also unwilling to risk moving forward for fear that it would compromise the flexibility and comfort of our jobs that make it easy for us to be mamas first.

Why do we have to have more now? What is more? Do we know that "more" is better?

G and I have been a little off these days, between her whines and my hormones. Her "I want dada,"s make me crazy. I wonder if she senses that I am going to have another baby priority soon? I feel like she is moving away from me a bit. Man, that seems like such a dumb thing to say. But maybe we are both bracing ourselves for what is to come. Thinking back, the worst times in my relationship with my Mom came before big, life changes like college and marriage. Maybe that's how moms and daughters do it, even if the daughter can't even say "life change" yet, let alone understand it.

But tomorrow is a new day! It's wide open for G and me and we are going to make the most of it. We are going to seize the day! live in the moment! and not care about baby deadlines, hormones, whines, or the impending void. We are just going to play, and drink hot chocolate and not worry about any of that.