What did those kids do to that nice lady?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

One more minute.....

Each evening as I say goodnight to Son, I climb up to the top bunk like always and lay with him for a few minutes. It is a ritual that cannot be missed, no matter how late or early it happens to be. I cannot simply wish him a peaceful night’s sleep from the ground-no that will not do. For if I try to skip this step, it is met with his Super Power Stubbornness and I find myself in some sort of ridiculous argument and end up just climbing up the bunk and planting my goodnight kiss resentfully upon his forehead and this is not how I like to end the day. So I’ve learned to….just….climb the ladder.

No matter how long or how short the time, it is never enough. He begs me for one more minute without fail. Some nights I oblige happily and other nights I just really want some space and some sofa and some housewives. But last night as he begged for his last minute, I was feeling indulgent so I put my head on his back, my ear turned onto his shoulder blades, my arm loosely hung around him and we laid like that for a few minutes, just being and breathing, my head raising with each breath he took. I could feel his heartbeat; the same heart that used to beat inside my body. I closed my eyes and all I could see was eleven years of bedtimes past flash before me in an instant.  I see Him all swaddled up, his newborn grunts and little fists finding comfort in the protective womb of those blankets. I see Him at 2 am, his legs pumping through his sleep sack, ready to greet his Mama. I see Him being rocked to sleep by a tired me with sore nipples and lazy eyelids. I hear Him talking himself to sleep in that sweet toddler voice. I see Him in his room asking for one more book; one more verse of Baby Mine. Him refusing to go to bed unless he has five grapes. Him refusing to go to bed unless the house was afire with light. Him battling his night terrors, trembling from head to toe, me scared not knowing it was just a dream he wouldn’t even remember in the morning. I see Him with piles of books we both knew by heart, each word ingrained. I see Him not ask me to read him books anymore. I see I am somewhat relieved, this freedom seemingly a victory yet a punch to the heart at the same time. Then He doesn’t ask me to sing again and I hate myself for every rushed verse, for each time I just wanted to close the door and be done. I hate myself for not knowing it would be the last time. We never know when it will be the last time. 

But there I lay with Son last night, his heart beating against my ear. There I lay soaking in every second of this precious moment I know one day will also no longer be asked of me. I forgive myself of all the bedtimes I rushed, of all the bedtimes I cursed, of all the bedtimes I’ve missed….because I am here. I am still allowed in this bed. I am still allowed to give back scratches and make jokes and ask about his day. I am still allowed to be his Mama for at bedtime I am always Mama and never Mom. Soon everything will change again; it slips by unnoticed, these little habits fading bit by bit until you realize they are gone…and it is only then how your heart aches for that last verse of Baby Mine. I take in this moment and I am grateful to realize how special it is, no matter how ordinary it may seem to Him. 

To Him, my Son and to Her, my Daughter: thank you for all the bedtimes, no matter how ugly or beautiful they have been. I cherish you both.  

Now go the f*%k to sleep.



Saturday, March 24, 2018

Dirt and Dandelions

28.

The number of years I lived before March 25th, 2009 changed my life forever.

28.

The number of years I lived before I became a mother, second time around. 

28

The number of years I lived without the gift of you, Beautiful Daughter. 

To think I lived a full 28 years never knowing anyone who could make me laugh quite like you. A full 28 years never knowing someone so full of silliness and confidence and beauty and strangeness all wrapped up in one delightful package.  28 years wandering around just living my life, not knowing that one day you would barge in and make me wonder if I have lived only that so you could as well. I don’t say that to dismiss the pure, true love I have for Son…it is just that he was not complete without you. I was not complete without you. And one day you and Son will recognize all the ways in which you complete one another, but for now, please go ahead and continue to fight incessantly and beat the crap out of each other because you know how that thrills me. 

I recognize so much of myself in you, Daughter. We both have an active imagination which I think lends itself to our shared collection of vivid, colorful dreams. I watch you through the window as you wander the neighborhood in search of a friend, or simply on an adventure all your own and I can’t help but see my girlhood self, sitting in the middle of my backyard lilac bush, lost in my own daydream. We are both content to be alone, happily engaged in any number of activities that need no companion to be enjoyed, but also need the jolt of life that only companionship with others can bring. We share an affinity for eye-rolling, inappropriate jokes and quiche. And although I am not saying that I encourage this, I, too, love a good door slam and nobody does it quite like you, Daughter. It’s a grand gesture of passionate displeasure and while you can certainly overuse it at times, I can’t help but like the spirit behind it. 

But you are so much more than anything I could be lucky enough to posses. You have a raging confidence that cannot be denied and a thirsty curiosity, always begging to be quenched with rapid fire questions. You have an effortless ability to make friends and to all those who are lucky enough to cross your path, an impression is made. You are, hands down, the funniest person I know. Why, even Brother himself can’t help but enjoy a good belly laugh at your antics. And while it doesn’t say much for me, you often wiggle yourself out of some sort of mischief simply by making me giggle and I like that about you. You are the extra in extraordinary. You are glitter and grit; dirt and dandelions. You are never anyone except exactly who you are and it is my greatest hope that that is who you will always be. To be so young and to already own such a sense of self….well…let’s just say that most of us take much, much longer to evolve to right where you are already living. 

Perhaps that cashier at Old Navy that one day not too long ago said it best about you; she said-“I’ve only just met her two minutes ago and she just gave me life.”

Happy 9th Birthday, Beautiful Daughter. We gave you life so you could keep giving us the same.

Love,

Mama

Monday, February 12, 2018

Brain Freeze

I’ve been trying really hard lately to be funny. 

That sounds weird.

What I mean to say is I’ve been trying to figure out funny stories to tell you about My Offspring being assholes or why I disdain Teslas or why it is that there is so much pontificating over organic, whole grain, coconut oil, hemp seed dinners when One: nobody wants to hear about it, especially Your Children, so just have quesadillas and call it a day and Two: these are the same people who have faces filled with Botox. It confuses me, this Organic, Whole Grain, All Natural Botox Person. But I confuse easily so it's probably just me.

But all of my thoughts are so entrenched in current Life Situation and Unknown Future that it’s hard for me to try and force my fingertips to stray another way. My brain is frozen in this sort of melancholy uncertainty that to try and be more lighthearted feels like a betrayal to my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong…I haven’t completely gone off the way side. I mean when That Lady came 10 minutes late to yoga this morning and made me move my mat over in the middle of my downward dog because for some reason her time is more important than my time and it’s totally cool to just disrupt the entire class, and then not even mumble an apology as she forces me to move all my stuff over even though I was there 15 minutes early because to be early is to be on time….I mean That Lady is clearly a horrible person who has zero awareness and I kinda wanted to kick her while we were in fallen triangle. 

See? My brain is still full of snarky.

But then my brain goes back to…ugh….That Lady is so not worth my time or effort or snakiness because I’ve got all this other stuff going on….and she doesn’t know she’s an asshole because otherwise she would have apologized so I can’t change her. Carry on.

But then I’m like NO! The world needs to know that you don’t just come 10 minutes late to a packed yoga class with complete disregard of EVERYONE! The world needs to know they shouldn’t be That Lady! 

But then I’m like…eh. I’ve got more important things to worry about. Like…how do you pack crystal stemware to ensure it doesn’t break? And also-where am I going to live? And does anyone know how to remove a Fathead off of a wall and preserve it? Because I’m scared of The Wrath of Son if I can’t figure out a way to do this. And oh yeah…I need a job and like…. health insurance I think and…some other stuff I can’t be bothered with right now…

So then I’m like…let’s think about That Lady again and how much we hate her. Much easier on the brain. I’ll just bury my head back underneath all this sand and stare down jerks at stop signs who try and run over My Children all while contemplating why Son loves steak but complains every time I make steak stir-fry for dinner. It just makes no sense. Like that snow pea with the steak is going to kill him. 

See? It’s so much more fun when my brain works the way it was intended to. 

What I do know about a freeze, brain or otherwise, is that it will melt eventually. And then it will freeze again, just when you’re used to the spring sunshine on your face. But…you wait and you are patient and the freeze gradually slips away; perhaps you will not even notice it has left. Perhaps you will just be going about your day when you notice you feel warm again. The freeze has finally surrendered to the season you have so desperately been aching for. 

What I also know is that…everything will be okay. Things will be resolved. A roof will cover our heads, I will pack the stemware to perfection and I might just have to buy another Fathead. But things will be okay.


Just a little freeze to work through.  



Monday, January 29, 2018

Ski Day

Is this a blue run? Why is it so steep? Did I do this one last year? Why can’t we just do Easy Rider all day? Crap. God I hate this part. Okay okay okay just turn and breath. Turn and breath. Oh crap! Damn, Gina, that was close. You are too close to me, Sir!! Shit! You got this you got this. Holy shitballs that’s fast. Oh shitballs I am going really fast. Fooooocus. It’s fine.  Ohhhhhhh shitballs. Oh my god please don’t hit that kid. What the HELL!!!! Who let these goddamned snowboarders on here??  I hate them! I hate you!!! HOLY CHRIST STOP SNEAKING UP ON ME! YOU ARE CRAZY PEOPLE! Where are my kids? Good god they are fast. Whoa whoa whoa which way are they going? Why are they going two different ways? YOU GUYS!!! WAIT FOR ME!!! Holy shitballs what the hell crap crap crap why are there so many people here? LOOK AT MY TURNS PEOPLE! STAY FAR AWAY FROM ME!  Can we please drink beer now???

This is me skiing.
This is me skiing each time I ski, which is only one or two days a year.
This is me skiing after learning how to ski as an Adult-which from watching the experience The Children are having- is a very different thing than learning how to ski as a Child. As an Adult I understand that it is unnatural to be moving at such an undesirable speed down a mountain covered in snow, ice, twigs, and Asshole Speed Demons. As a Child, moving at such an undesirable speed down a mountain is like super fun and only goal is to become Asshole Speed Demon. Also-as an Adult, skiing is fucking expensive and as a Child-skiing is free. It’s a compelling argument to begin skiing as a Child, isn’t it? 

Although it’s sad to admit that Son is by far better than me and Daughter will soon be on her way, there are a couple things I excel at over The Children when skiing. First-I am aware that although ski boots are highly uncomfortable and can be challenging to put on, I will not die while doing so. This is the opposite opinion of The Children who both do their damnedest to win Best Dramatic Performance by a Child at a Ski Lodge while inserting foot into boot. 

Second-I am better at Carrying All The Shit. So much shit. So so so so so so many things to carry up the two flights of stairs to the lockers to put on the murderous boots to then only be raped financially by Whitney from Nevada as she gleefully takes my credit card to charge me $300 for lift tickets for ONE day as I stand there hoping I’m hallucinating but quickly realize, nope, I’m totally lucid. Beginning to wonder how skiing is such an elitist sport…yet such a pain in the ass at the same time?  And why don’t I have a flask in this jacket? That’s what all the pockets are for….right? Flask would be so superior to this Fiber One Bar I must have left in my jacket from last year….

I don’t love skiing; I don’t hate skiing. I enjoy it. It’s challenging for me; in fact it challenges me in almost every way. My patience. My strength. My patience. My balance. My patience. My courage.  But what I appreciate most about it is how it forces me to be extremely present, moment to moment. How I can feel every muscle in my body working and hear every swoosh sneaking up behind me. All of my five senses are are high alert, ready to prevail. Each detail surrounding me is amplified; even the quiet is thunderous. Skiing reminds me that I can do something even if scares me; I can settle into the discomfort and figure it out. I can do it, me alone. I can do it and I can even enjoy it. I appreciate that sense of satisfaction, at the end of the day, releasing my feet from those barbaric boots, unzipping and stripping a jacket that suddenly seems to warm, my face flush with cold and sweat alike. I appreciate that I get to share this experience with The Children; that they see a Mama who is a little scared but she is The Adult and The Adult must lead and even though they got down the mountain faster than her, she is there, right behind them, keeping a close watch. While yelling Holy Shitballs. 

And also-the beer. I appreciate the beer. 

Happy trails. 



Sunday, December 3, 2017

Double Ones

Dear Son,

Well…here we are. Again. December is here-which means, Son, that you are another year older. The third day of the twelfth month of the year will mark your 11th year of life. And while I marvel at this, I can’t help but recall that when I was 11, I got my period, so….at least you got that going for you. 

Is that too far?

Nah. You’ll see the video later this year. 

This past couple of years I’ve had to become accustomed to not getting to wake up each day with you and also spending what seems like month-long weekends away from you and Daughter. I gotta tell you that as much as you drive me absolutely mad, I just miss you so. damn. much when you’re gone. Well…I mean…like after you’re gone for a couple of hours. The first couple of hours are okay. But then I start to become agitated and aware that nobody is beating up Daughter and wait-where the hell is she?….oh yeah she’s with you and Dad so I’m pretty sure you’re out there fighting somewhere….. which means that you’re probably driving Dad absolutely mad but MAN-it sure is unsettling when I’m not yelling at someone every 7 minutes to keep their hands to themselves. That’s basically what my resumé is going to say: Job Experience: yelling every 7 minutes, followed by excessive bear-hugging, and snacks.  I feel like this is a major selling point to any prospective employer. 


One thing that has never changed with you, Son, is how much you like your hugs. And your back scratches. And being thisclose to me as we lie on the sofa together at the end of the day, watching some god-awful show. You must admit that you have horrible taste in entertainment. It’s true. You’re basically the worst. Why, just the other movie night I had to pry the remote from your sweaty little hand and remind you that I AM THE BOSS and WE ARE GOING TO WATCH FIELD OF DREAMS, NOT some crappy Henry Danger rerun, which was followed by our yell/hug/snack routine. The very fact that I had to force one of My Offspring to watch the greatest baseball movie of all time was a tough one for me to take.  We all know baseball is the best sport and also that Iowa is, in fact, Heaven. 

But back to you.

Each year when I take out the Christmas decorations, there is a small photo of you in a holiday themed frame. I remember receiving the frame and picking out the perfect picture of 3 week old You to put in it. I remember thinking how much I was going to love taking out that photo every year and be reminded of how you’ve grown and how small you were and how magical and scary it was to become your Mama. Each year, I unwrap it carefully and run my fingers over your baby face and shake my head at the seemingly impossible fact that you are more of a young man than a baby. I look at that photo and I am instantly transported back to that moment of being a new, young mom with this Beautiful Baby Boy and no idea what to do except love you like crazy. I mean, I fed you and changed your diaper and all that-have a little faith, please, Son. But the moment you were placed in my arms, the moment I heard your sweet cry, I knew that all I really knew was to love you. And even though I’ve gotten a few things right and a few more wrong, it’s still pretty much all I know to do with you. Love. And put bacon in your lunch sometimes. 

Because remember how we do it? Yell. Bear hug. Snack.

I am proud each day to be your Mama. The days you’re with me. The days you’re away from me. All the days of all the life, I will always be forever grateful to you for making me Mama.

Happy Birthday, Baby Mine. 

Love, 
Me 




Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ready or Not

It’s almost as if it never happened.

I mean…it DID. I know it did. I was witness to almost each and every second of each and every day. Surely, I could not have imagined all those seconds of all those minutes of all those days. So…it happened. Summer. It was Summer. I know it was. 

And suddenly…it’s not anymore.

I had this strange, unfamiliar feeling come over me the last couple weeks of Summer.  The usual cheery countdown to The First Day of School was feeling more like the countdown to an unwanted event; instead of gleefully marking off all the days and making up songs to sing to The Children about their impending doom while they politely yelled at me to shut up, I…felt…like…I wasn’t ready for that first day. I wasn’t ready to jump back in. And then I had this flashback of myself, many years ago, pushing a double wide stroller with two Toddlers and overhearing a conversation between two Mothers who were clearly much older and wiser in their mothering than I was. They were discussing how great their summer was and how bummed they were that school was going to start. It was like I was hearing their conversation in slow motion…my head turning towards them, my mouth gaping open, my ears disbelieving the very words they were hearing. I looked down at my own two Toddlers and thought of how I only fantasized about school days. How school days seemed like this unreachable goal I was just striving for, minute after minute, day after day. I felt as though I was still years away from these Magical School Days and the thought of a few hours of personal freedom seemed better than a sex dream starring Ben Affleck and I just could not understand what these women were talking about. Not ready? For SCHOOL? What the hell is happening in their world?

And then…it happened to me. I became those women. I didn’t want Summer to end this time.

Don’t worry, it’s not like I became mentally insane over the summer and I wasn’t looking forward to school starting at all. Because of course there was a little skip in my step as we all headed back the first day. I like schedules. I like routine. I like to settle in and write things on my paper calendar. I like to not have to brace myself for THE END OF THE WORLD each time I announce we have to run an errand. Oh GOD! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!! An ERRAND! Not an ERRAND! Anything but an ERRAND!!!!  Help us! Help….us…..we’re meeeellllttting!   MELTING!!!!!  Worst…mom….ever….help….us…………(And…scene.)

Because of course The Children drove me crazy over the summer. They were consistent in continuing their self proclaimed challenge of fighting about literally everything. (One day, they were fighting over a piece of garbage. A PIECE OF FUCKING GARBAGE.) They were once again confused if I was their Mother, or their Cruise Director. When I asked them to do their chores, it was as if I accidentally lit their bodies on fire at the same time. Son upheld his persistence of always being bored but never wanting to do anything. Daughter upheld her persistence in just being…well, a little bit insane. At times I felt suffocated by their ever growing desire to be reallyclosetomeallthesecondsoftheday. I became a short order cook over the lunch hour. I became confused about how they actually survived on seemingly so little food during the school year because every ten minutes someone needed a damn snack. These are all the predicable things that happen to the Mothers of the World during summer. 

But other things happened, too. We had a lot of quiet time together. We didn’t rush around. We watched lots of great movies. We worked on our suntans every week, our toes in the sand. We took advantage of such warm Pacific temperatures and Son and Daughter delighted in their Mother duck diving waves with them. We’d go to the park for 20 minutes, and decide to come home. Then maybe we’d go back for 20 more. They probably had too much screen time, but I stopped giving a damn. They started a car washing business one day, and a lemonade business the next. We got to see our family. We got to go to a Cubs game. And a Dodger game. And play a pick up game. We got to decide each day if we were going to do something, or do nothing. And while some of those days where we found ourselves doing nothing ended with me pacing the house like a caged animal, I tried my very best to remain present and enjoy the fact that The Children still wanted to hang out with their Mama. Even if she does yell sometimes a lot about shoes and why they aren’t in the basket she has so thoughtfully acquired for them. We had way more good days than bad. We really did.

I spent last night looking at the calendar that is full once again. I wrote in all the soccer schedules and the baseball schedules and the dinner schedules and the guitar schedules and the schedules of the schedules and prepare again for Fall weekends being owned by….the schedules. I don’t mind. It can be therapeutic to stay busy. And I know it’s good for The Children to once again have places to be and people to see and Common Core for Mom to cry over.

But….man….I just wasn’t ready. 


It was a great summer. 











Monday, June 19, 2017

...and the living is easy....

Last night was a pretty quiet night here in the Gelato House. With the school year winding down, The Children didn’t have homework to fight over (and if they did, all three of us follow a ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy this time of year), we had no after school practices or lessons to run off too; I mean we basically had….nothing…to do besides bug each other and complain about dinner and watch American Ninja Warrior. Evenings like that always sort of throw me off balance; while it’s nice to have a chill night, it makes me feel a little antsy; like I’m not being a productive enough human because I’m not yelling GET YOUR SHOES ON IT’S TIME TO GO 37 times in five minutes. (And really, how productive am I being if I have to repeat something 37 times?) I had already declared it was Clean Out The Fridge week, so dinner was leftovers; the laundry was done; the house was clean. Daughter was playing in her room quietly. Son, after my repeated efforts to quell his proclamations of boredom by offering to play catch or go to the park or play cards or Yahtzee, rejected my ideas and instead sat on the sofa and read his book. So…with nothing pressing to do….I turned on my favorite Pandora station, grabbed my Vanity Fair, and read right alongside him. And as we sat there, side by side, with our chosen reading material, I realized how productive I actually was being. This moment of silent solitude; this quiet, yet effective time spent with my Oldest while my Youngest was happily occupying herself with nary a device in sight…it was so much more productive than running around and feeling overwhelmed; this notion of being busy for busyness sakes always trying to smother the beauty that lies in a book and a sofa and a Son. 

As The Children grow older, these years I have with them seem so much more valuable and precious because of Time’s stubborn defiance to slowing down. And as Summer once again approaches as another school year becomes a thing of the past, I am desperate to find a way to enjoy all the minutes, all the hours, all the days. It’s almost as if a Ghost of Gelato Mama Future is hovering above me, whispering in my ear to slow down and look around. She’s telling me to hug them tighter, laugh with them longer, listen to them more intently, be gentle with my words to them and to be graceful in my actions. I’m doing my very best to honor the murmurs gracing my ears. Because while I love that My Children get to play baseball and take swim lessons and go to soccer and try football and play with their friends and always have another idea, another thing they want to try, I also want them to be able to sit in silence and appreciate how very valuable it is to be present in a moment that most would not even stop to notice. I want them to believe in the magic of normalcy; to relish in it’s mundane beauty.  I want them to grow older and remember a Mama who sat on the sofa and listened to their stories while tickling their backs. 

I clearly don’t always succeed at this ideal image I have of the Mother I want to be.  I obviously get frustrated and impatient and yell and feel defeated as My Children can drive me absolutely mad and they are experts with all the buttons on all the parts they can push. But I am determined to keep trying to diminish my faults with my strengths. And I can be called a lot of things and I’m certain I have but the most important name I get called each day is Mama and the most important thing I can do is just keep trying, each day, to be better.

So here we are, at the edge of Summer, peering over the cliff. It somehow feels cute to be excited about all the long days that loom ahead, knowing full well The Children will be bored within two hours of waking on their first day of freedom. But after we jump in and climb up the other side to the early fall days of another school year beginning, we’ll be staring wistfully back at Summer, wondering how it all went by so quickly. And while I know the next eleven weeks or so will be full of laughter and fighting and yelling and fighting and adventures and fighting and boredom and fighting, I’m going to do my best to…enjoy?…survive?…soak up?…no. I’m going to do my best to just be present. To believe in the magic of normalcy.

I think there might be a book or two in our future this summer.

Happy Summer.
May the force be with you.
We’re in it together.
Send wine.