Friday, April 29, 2011

Cleaning Up Messes

In two days, The Grandma will come into town.  She is doing an amazing favor for us and will be watching our precious little boys while the Husband and I are away for a few days next week.  We will be without the kids.  Since my last post, I think I'm getting more adjusted to the idea. 

So now I'm cleaning (like that's new).  

Lots of messes - more like messy piles.  Of papers.  Of books.  Of toys.  Of clothes.  Of crumbs and debris from my baby spilling his Cheerios and Corn Pops all over the floor.  

And then there's the cat food scattered around the cat bowl.  As I walk by I keep stepping on those blasted dry food circles and demolishing them into crumbs - adding to the current crumbs. 

If I had 24-48 hours at my disposable without interruptions, I would be good to go.  Because I could focus only on cleaning my house and enjoy it.  Because cleaning actually is therapeutic for me. I can just imagine how neat my beautiful hardwood floors would be sans crumbs after my precious hard work.  Ahhh...

However I have 3 kiddos and one cat with constant needs and busy schedules (yes, the kids do) and so the cleaning becomes a side note to all the rest of that stuff.  Though I really need it to be a focal point right now because The Grandma is coming in two days!  

Have I already said that?

And funny, with all that the cat and the kids do, they leave messes that add to the messes that already exist.  Or they replace the messes I just cleaned. Which makes me wonder - where's the progress?  And almost, what's the point?  Because this constant cleaning up of messes just makes me tired.  Too tired to clean up the messes.  And there they stay sometimes.

Last night, I ignored the messy piles and went to bed.  After a long day, the zip is gone.

I know I should really be resigned to my fate of constantly cleaning messes.   But there has to be another way, right?  I'm not alone in feeling this way, right?  

So here's hoping for a miracle.  A nice, clean house with things in their place and little clutter all around, all done in record time.  

Or for The Grandma to have a soft, understanding heart when she finds herself wading through a pile of Cheerios I missed or knocking over a pile of papers balancing precariously on one of our ledges.  

I'm lucky, the latter is not that much of a miracle. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sans Kids

In a couple of weeks, the Husband and I will take a trip to Atlanta, Georgia.   Without kids.  He's speaking at a conference there.  It will be for three days.  This will be the first time ever both of us will be away from our Butterscotch Babies.     Their Grandma who is flying into town will be watching them.  

We haven't told the kids yet.  When we do, I'm sure there will be lots of whining and fussing and crying,  especially from the 6 year old.  So not looking forward to that.  He emotes like his mother.  If the weather were controlled by his feelings, we'll be standing in the middle of a thunderstorm in a few days.

But a little separation is good for them, no?  And us.  Especially me.

It will be strange.   To be out of their lives completely for three days.

Though I wholeheartedly trust The Grandma, I wonder what details she will forget.  Hopefully, she won't forget any of the kids in the flurry of school pickups and drop-offs.  She will be juggling three after all.  Honestly, I doubt she will forget any of the kids.

I hope.

I have major prepping to do - getting her familiar with our daily routine.  Just thinking about that exhausts me.   I don't normally think about how my day goes, it just goes.

I worry too that some incident will happen with one of the kids at school, mainly the 6 year old, and I won't be there to handle it.  I won't know if The Grandma would be able to do something about it.

When I tell people about my trip, I usually get "Ooh, days alone with your husband.  Nice!"  I nod but that part hasn't hit me yet.  I'm worried about being so far away from the baby.  My sweet - and lately, fussy baby.

I'm worried that I will be worried for the three days I'm away and therefore won't fully be able to enjoy this time that I will be completely alone with my husband (first time in seven years)  and visiting my family (whom I haven't seen in about eight years) in Atlanta.  

I guess this is the part where I need to trust.   Trust that things will be fine.

I'm sure when I return The Grandma will have it together more than I normally do and I'll have worried for naught.

I hope.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What I Lack...

What I lack... the will to let go.  I hold onto things so tightly like ideas and principles. the will to give in.   I will go after things.  I just will, if it's a book I left behind or a wrong that deserves to be righted. the ability to not feel.  To cover my heart over with a hard shell.  I just can't do it.  So you will see a myriad of emotions cross my face at any given time. the ability to keep quiet about how I feel in the moment.  I just express and if I am not vocal, I emote.  So you will hear me blurt out my anger at the injustices in life.  Or you will feel me as I shake in anger or excitement in my seat. the ability to be blase.   Lacking passion is not my strength.  So I will wave my arms as I express my displeasure or outrage.  My speech will be infused with fire as I speak strongly of a cause that I believe in. the ability to not defend and protect the ones I love.  I can't help but speak up and ask that kid at the playground why he won't include you boys in his games. the ability to not care.  I can't help but care even in moments when I say "I don't care."  So I will observe you on the playground, during recess just to see how you guys are doing that day because I care.  Deeply. the ability to leave God out of the equation of my life.   So I will continue to pray to him before meals (and expect you guys to do so too) and just thank him for the little and big things in our life.  I will cry out to him and even almost hate him when I am stressed out or struggling with the tough moments that crop up but I will always, always revere him.

So, my dear sons, this is me.  Your mother.  Who you live with and will be living with for the next decade and more so you'll most likely get used to me.  But know, with all my personality traits, the one I lack the least... my love for you.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

50/50: A Mother's Role?

One Sunday morning while riding in the car on the way to church with our visiting Grandmas, my husband asks me if I brought something of one of the boys.  I hadn't.  I left it home.  Was I supposed to bring it?  Apparently, I was.  He had asked me to get it before we left.  Really?  I didn't hear it. 

"Amongst the other five things I was doing this morning?" I responded to his question, sarcasm dripping through my words.  My bad.  Apparently.  I wanted him to know that I didn't purposely not hear him and I had other things that I was focused on like getting all three boys dressed and fed and ready to go within a 45 minute time period.

It was then I heard one Grandma mutter under her breath, "You're a mother."  

Oh.  Okay.   I don't think she realized I heard her but the message was clear.  I am a mother and I am supposed to be doing the multiple things at once and remembering the extra requests from the husband during those crazy moments.    

I was stung.  So I'm supposed to just bite the bullet and take the strife of kid responsibility on my own?  

I bristled.  No, the husband is in it with me.  Raising and taking care of these children are both our responsibilities - equally.  50/50.  Or 100/100, I'd like to think because I believe we should put our whole hearts into raising our bambinos.   Her remark implied that me, as a mother, should expect to take the brunt of child-rearing and be happy about it while for my husband, it is not expected.  

Of course, she comes from a time when that was the case.  The father was the provider and often, playmate, for the kids while the mother was the main one who took care of the kids, the home and all the details that come with it.  

But this is today, right? Isn't it different?   No animosity against the Grandma.  I was just shocked at her response.   The response that now makes me wonder about my role as a mother.    

Am I skewered in my thinking?  Maybe I am supposed to take on 90% of the responsibility when it comes to the kids, and not expect my other half to take on the same - to share with me equally in the duties.   I don't mind doing most of the work if the situation calls for it but I do expect the husband to do the same.  I do expect him to help me with the "motherhood" duties: changing diapers, dressing the kids, making them meals, etc.  I don't just expect him to come home and settle in his big easy chair and watch t.v. while I make the dinner and keep after the kids. 

This is 50/50. 

Luckily I have an amazing husband who actually thinks this way and steps up to help me.  I am blessed that it is 50/50 (100/100) in our household, with each of us picking up more responsibility when needed.  Even that question that morning from him came more from a  -- "you didn't hear my request?" place than from a "woman, you should've heard me and done what I said" kind of place. 

But maybe I'm putting undue pressure and expectation on him as a father?  

I wonder.  Am I getting it wrong?

Honestly, what do you think?  What is parenting like in your household?  Is it 50-50 (100-100), more on your end or less?  How much responsibility is a mother or father expected to take on?  Please feel free to share as I would love to hear your take on it.

Disclaimer: There aren't any bad feeling towards the Grandmas by yours truly.  I love them dearly and truly with my entire heart and soul.  Big, huge kisses to them (if they should happen to read this).  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Alabama Time

My memory is a series of memories, hazily blended together...

Of the first time, me - at 7 years old - left the city and ventured down south to Alabama with my best friend, Agi and her mother, Jessie for a few days.  Me, crying as the Amtrak train left New York City's Penn Station and my mother behind.  It was the first time I had ever been away from her.

The hot, summer sun and dusty open land as we stepped off the train in Alabama.  The heat wrapped itself on my bare arms as we walked out of the train station to the car.

A cacaphony of 'Bama accents from brownskinned cousins of my best friend and her mother as the cluster of arms wrapped around us in greeting.  And Ma Dear, the grandaunt to Jessie and the matriarch of the family, petite and round,  bringing up the rear, welcoming us to her home in Talladega.

There was me, in the backyard of Ma Dear's with Agi and the rest of the cousins,  being sprayed by a hose,  barefoot, in my favorite green tank top and shorts combo - the one with the apple on the front.  Hands snatching at the green hose, each one wanting to take their turn spraying.

There was me, walking the tracks with Agi and a few of the cousins on a Sunday morning trying to catch up with the rest of the family at church.  The dark metal steel of track was hard under my feet as we moved along and I stared out at the miles of light brown, dusty dirt road  that ran along both sides of the track for miles ahead of us.

Me, sitting outside on the porch steps and looking up at the twinkling stars in a black-as-night sky, as the dark quiet settled around me. A quiet so foreign to me, a little girl from the city.  Shifting in the bed I shared with Agi, listening to the crickets talk outside our window.  Looking up at the weathered walls that Ma Dear called home.

Good southern morning breakfasts of biscuits and bacon and grits with butter in the center.  The shouts of the cousins as they called out to Ma Dear: "Ma Dear, where's my shoes?", "Ma Dear, when we headin' out?", "Ma Dear, ain't nothin' like your grits!  I just love them!"

"Ain't that the truth!" I'd say, my northern accent tinged with the southern, and the southern part would get stronger by the time the week ended.

Can't remember getting back on the train to go home but I do remember shouting and running into my mother's arms on that train platform, my grin huge and my sun-darkened face refreshed and happy as I brought the good memories of Alabama back home with me.

This was inspired by a memoir prompt from The Red Dress Club that asked that we write a memoir piece inspired by this picture of a garden hose.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Joy - Stolen

You stole my joy...

Such a beautiful face - your olive skin, hazel eyes, charming smile,  you drew me in.  When you returned my interest, I was thrilled.  Our dinners in Manhattan, our weekend trips to the Cape, our walks in Central Park.

I was in heaven.  So happy.  My joy, the size of a glowing, effervescent sun, I could barely contain it.

A few months later we were rushing down the aisle of the old chapel down in Princeton - Mr. and Mrs.   I gripped your arm tightly as you held mine.

"You're mine's," you whispered, softly, seductively in my ear.  I shivered in anticipation.  I couldn't wait for that night.

Days later, lying on the bright white beach staring at sparkling turquoise blue water was divine.  My joy spread as wide as the bright horizon before me.  All was perfect in our little world.

And when we moved into our new old Victorian home with the wide steps off the front porch,
my joy pulsated.  I was the luckiest woman in the world.

Until rage like a fiery whirlwind appeared out of nowhere, your face a contorted mask.   I would see that face often.  It would stun me and bring tears to my eyes.

Each fist on my skin would pierce a hole in my joy and bring disillusionment.  The punches to my stomach, the shoves into doors, the bruises marking my pale skin, the blood on the floor.

Stinging pain followed after along with my muffled cries.   I didn't want to make you angry again.

After the tenth trip to the emergency room, I left you and my joy behind.  

The time with my parents afterwards at their comforting home was a balm to my emotional wounds yet depression overtook me, as the tears flowed.  Angry, I wanted my joy back.

So I threw myself into building the career that would make me happy -  got that job I worked with great passion for.  A little brightness like a spark flared through my darkness but the tears still flowed.

I took that dream cruise to the Caribbean with my best friends.  Spent days walking the white sandy beaches and nights relaxing to the sounds of steel drums.  Laughed a bit, but deep within me, the sadness still settled.

Months later,  I went after a life long goal and made the climb up Denali.  Majestic, breathtaking.  My first smile in a long time appeared on my lips.  But that night underneath the glittering stars a tear or two still made an appearance, though the throbbing in my heart began to slow to a dull ache.

Then one Saturday morning, while I sat on my window seat staring out at the trees across from my home,  I picked up a pen and started to write.  About all the things you did to me and all the hurts and pains I endured while with you and even a few of the good memories.  The tears rushed out and became deep, gut-wrenching sobs.  This writing and this crying went on until late in the evening until I truly let you go from my heart.

I wake the next day - today - pack a picnic basket and take off to the mountains near my home.  I sit by that spot I love near the rushing water of the creek surrounded by the  omnipresent Rocky Mountains.  I breathe in the clear air, pick up my pen and notebook and start to write.  I smile as my eyes tear up.

It's been almost two years.

Finally, I've found my joy.

This piece of fiction is based on a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club which asks to write about a treasure that was stolen from you or your character, and what you did about it.

Concrit welcomed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

They're Growing...Fast.

And we can't stop it.  The oldest is now 6, the middle boy 3, and the youngest 1.  Time is flying by and because we live apart from our families and old friends, they are missing the moments.  Missing the amazing changes in our boys: the 6 year old writing little stories now about airplanes, the 3 year old singing songs from the radio (word for word) and rocking out in our car, the one year old taking those baby steps while holding onto anything that will help him stand.

I always envisioned we'd be surrounded by the ones closest to us when these things happen and yet the opposite is what's true.   My aunt, uncle and cousins haven't even met them yet and the oldest will be in first grade soon.  The husband's aunt just met the two older boys last year for the first time at ages 5 and 2.

It breaks my heart.

Life is going on in the lives of our families and old friends and I wonder from time to time if they're noticing that our children are growing.  Do they realize what milestones they are missing?  How important it is for us to seize the day when we visit with them?  These children are precious and growing and it's not stopping. They're only going to be young once.  

Living here in Boulder with its majestic mountains and bright sunshine (and excellent school system) is like a dream except that our families and old friends aren't here to share it with us.  The thorn in this rose of being here in Boulder is that we are living far away from those we hold dear.   We have facebook, and blogs and Skype and somehow it still doesn't feel like it's enough.

They're growing fast - these boys of ours - and we can't stop it.  It breaks my heart that those closest to us are not here to witness it.   But I guess we can share it - as best we can through this new modern media and phonecalls and visits, and for now that will have to do.

Just wanted to send a special shout out to Shell for creating this meme that allows me to share the deepest parts of my heart.  Thanks, Shell! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Tomorrow is your birthday and I believe you will be 79 years old.  The last time I saw you, you were 55 years old.  Unbelievable.  I can't believe it's been that long.

We were  at the home I lived with my mother, sitting across from each other.  Little conversation passed between us.  You were speaking in short phrases, the words coming from your lips a little stilted.  You were trying to start a conversation but it would continually die with my one word answers or my silence.  I wasn't hating you then like in my childhood.  I was just not willing to make the extra effort.  However, deep within my heart I appreciated you taking the time to visit even though it was, as usual, at my mother's insistence.  She was always trying to facilitate a relationship between us, with little success.

It happened days before I left for college and my mother of course wanted us to come together before I embarked on this very important milestone.

That was over two decades ago.

Since then, I have graduated college,  become a true Christian, lived with a half dozen roommates, worked in film and television, married my best friend (we tried to look for you then, with no luck), and birthed three sons, the 3 year old bears your name as his middle name.  

Now I'm more than halfway across the country, wondering where you are.  If you're well, doing the same things you were doing back then.  If you're still in New York City...if you're still on this earth.  I don't even want to go there.  You would check in with my mother by phone at least once every couple of years like clockwork.   It's been about fifteen years of silence, yet somehow, I feel that you're still around.  I refuse to believe otherwise.

I think of you often.

Well, here's wishing you all the best for your birthday and because I am stubborn and refuse to think of the alternative,  here's hoping we meet again soon so we can have more conversations.  I promise to answer all of your questions and make so much more conversation and catch you up on what's been happening in my life.  I can't wait for you to meet these precious little boys who are your grandsons.  You would enjoy them and they would think you a cool granddad because I remember you as a hip dad, whenever you came around.

So Happy Birthday, Daddy, wherever you are.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Hi, I'm Cynthia, Your Grumpy Barista at Vic's.

Hi, I'm Cynthia.  Yes, Cynthia, the coffee barista you see every time you drive through the Vic's Coffee drive-thru lane in South Boulder.  The one who gives you a frown whenever she sees you.

I start work every morning at 4:30am.  I come in at the same time as Rick,  the boss.  He has me do all the menial stuff like turn on the lights, sweep the floors, wipe off the tables, prep the coffee machines.   All while he fiddles with the cash register.  I get no help from him whatsoever.  I mean how many times can you rearrange money?

If that's not enough, after working the busy early morning rush hour from 7 to 9 at the front, he puts me at the window right after to relieve Sara to deal with the mid-morning drive-thru rush.  I mean, I'm not the only barista working here, right?

I'm gritting my teeth because I'm trying to keep my queasiness at bay which is why my mouth is set into this permanent frown.  You see, I'm ten weeks pregnant, and this morning sickness has been getting the best of me.

I'm not really trying to be rude. I'm  just an emotional basketcase.  I start off happy but then about three minutes later,  I want to scream, then cry, then scream again, then throw the huge coffee machine that is on the table next to me against the wall.  My boyfriend hasn't called me back since I told him about the baby four weeks ago.  This was supposed to be the guy who "loved" me.   What a jerk.  Sigh.  I didn't ask for this.

I'd curse at you right now for being so slow to hand me your money but then I get fired and I really need this job.

I barely reach out of the window to hand you your coffee.  Only because reaching out makes me want to  retch in the moment, and I can't have vomit all over the customers can I?  Rick would get on my case, and then wonder what was up with me.  I haven't told him yet that I'm pregnant.  I'm not looking forward to his response.  So you'll just have to basically lean all the way out your window to get your coffee.  Sorry.

My feet are killing me.  I'm so tired that I can barely stand.  It's why you find me sitting on a stool when you drive up to the window.  And why I grimace when I have to get up and serve you your coffee.   I try to smile but I can't.   But at least, I'm fast in getting you your white mocha.  So if nothing else, you get your coffee in under a minute.

Anyway, nice to see you again.  I mean it, even though I'm still frowning.  I'm trying not to throw up the blueberry muffin I ate ten minutes ago.   Can you drive away a little faster?  I only have a few seconds to sit down before someone else decides to drive up.

Thanks, and have a good day.  I can't wait until mine is over.

This is a somewhat piece of fiction inspired by the writing prompt  from the Red Dress Club where the assignment asks you to think of someone - it could be a fictional character, a public figure, someone you know - who gets under your skin, and write a piece from his or her perspective.

Concrit welcomed.