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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Galloping

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With my great grandmother during my pre-galloping phase.

Since I started an office job, I feel like I am galloping toward a finish line that keeps moving farther away. Sometimes I can see the finish line, sometimes I can’t. But always, I am galloping. Or trotting, or if I’m lucky, walking. But I’m always moving, always feeling like I will fall behind if I rest.

A month after my son started kindergarten I went back to working outside the home. (I won’t say I became a working mom – that’s a bullshit term, because we all know every mom works.) It is a perfect job situation for me, which is why I said yes please, I want to wear a badge that must be visible at all times and fight traffic every morning and afternoon. I will endure the pain of shopping for office pants because it means I get to write and use my brain and think about new ideas and talk to grownups about these new ideas and have them be happy I am there with my ideas.

After I drop my son at school, I go to the office. When I leave the office, I go to pick up my son. Sometimes he plays on the playground after school, and I sit on a bench and watch him and his friends and think about when it will be time to start galloping again. Or I chat with another mom (not being sexist – it is almost always another mom, or a nanny) and many times we talk about what kind of galloping we need to do when we get home.

When I get home, the galloping starts. Unpack the lunches, start or move laundry, look in the backpack and think about what needs to be turned in tomorrow. Is there an overdue library book under a bed somewhere? Man, there are a ton of dishes in the sink. Load the dishwasher, start it, change into loungewear, start a load of laundry, explain to child that I cannot take him to the playground in my house pants, text husband about supper, start cooking noodles for the little boy who will eat little else or try to talk him into eating one of the three other things he will eat. Prep lunches for tomorrow, check lunch supplies and if we’re low on fruit, cut up half a dozen apples and maybe rinse and portion out some grapes. Take time to play with or read to my son, maybe put on real pants and walk to the playground, then home for supper and the galloping toward bedtime.

Bedtime is its own kind of galloping, sometimes full of negotiations so insane they warrant their own post. But it’s always sweet at the end, that last kiss, that one more hug please Mama. Yes honey, I will gladly give you one more hug, because I love you to bits and I know one day you will stop asking for them.

After bedtime, there may be more galloping if I didn’t get lunches prepped or laundry needs to be moved along or or or. Really, I would like to watch something with stunning cinematography or great writing and pretty clothes, preferably set in England or France, but that will have to wait for a night I have insomnia. I need to talk to my husband about half a dozen things, and if I am lucky I will remember half of them. Do we want to go to the school benefit or just write a check, oh hey the chimney sweep finally got back to me, did you call the plumber? Damn, I forgot to call the pediatrician/pharmacy/trash company. We’re out of peanut butter/bread/frozen waffles again, I’ll make a Target run tomorrow. Hm, wonder what else we’re out of, let me look. Chips… the other kind of chips… Goldfish…Oh god the babysitter never texted me back I’ll ping her right now. I’d really like to have a date night/get together with my mom friends/catch up with my aunt up in Michigan, maybe I should make a list of calls and emails for tomorrow. Pen. Pen. Where’s my favorite pen? Did that kid run off with it…oh yes here it is on his desk along with my favorite Sharpie… with the cap off. Add that to the Target list then and make a note to HIDE THE NEW SHARPIES.

Then bed. But first I must read because that is my thing and this is one time I can do it without interruption. Reading before sleep, until everything gets very heavy. Pure bliss, even when I am reading something horrifying.

Morning. Up at 5 a.m. so I can have a cup of tea, do some yoga and shower before the boy wakes up. This is my time before the galloping begins, and making sure I get it makes me a better mom, so I peel myself out of bed and pray my son will stay asleep for another hour and a half. Breakfast, coffee, good morning sweetheart, kiss the top of a five-year-old head, toast some waffles, here are your vitamins, yes you have time for one show, it’s time to get dressed, brush teeth, please put on your socks and shoes, if you want a lunch it’s sitting on the counter please put on your socks and shoes, socks, please. Socks. And then shoes. Where’s your lunch honey?

School drop off. Drive to work. Work. Drive to school, drive home, unload the 88 bags and random things and maybe groceries. Time to start galloping again. The finish line is still moving. Oh shit, the finish line will always be moving. I will never cross the finish line. I will always be galloping.

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A few nights ago we had a hellacious storm roll through at 3 a.m., a grand finale to three days of pouring rain that brought cooler temperatures and skyrocketing mold levels. It is exceedingly rare that the Boo wakes up during a storm, but this time the thunder shook the house and he emerged from his room, agitated and wide awake. 
I crawled into his bed with him and once the thunder subsided, kissed him and left. All was well until the next line of storms came through about half an hour later. He did try to go back to sleep on his own, but the continuing light show and his anticipation of more thunder was too much. Also, he suddenly became pregnant with two small bears, and who can sleep in that last trimester, right? And then he got hungry – a syndrome I understand, having eaten more than a few bowls of 4 a.m. cereal during my own sleepless nights. 

And so down we went, Cheerios for him, Honey Nut Cheerios for me, nearly silent, bathed in the glow of the dimmest light in the kitchen as the rain beat on the windows. It was peaceful and simple, and as much as I wanted to be sleeping, I looked over at my boy, planted a kiss on his head and thought, “Remember this. This is a Moment.” Days later, I realized why: the light, feeding him, the wee hours all took me back to his newborn days. Four-ish years ago, and four nights ago, the simple acts of cuddling him and feeding him brought deep contentment and satisfaction. 

We finished our cereal and the Boo fell asleep about an hour later, shortly after declaring, “I can’t rest because there’s nothing for me to do.” We were both a mess the next day, but that sweet kitchen moment kept swimming up to soften the rough edges.

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The night before the Boo’s last day of school, as I was leaving the house for book/wine/kvetching club, the hubs asked me, “Why is the ice cream so soft?” In a rush and already mentally out the door, I said, “I don’t know, it’s been in there since this morning.”

By the next morning, it was clear that is was time to call Ye Olde Sears Repair Service. They gave us the first available appointment. For the next day. So I spent days throwing food in the trash. Food I had just bought, food I had forgotten about, food I wasn’t crazy about but had kept anyway because, get this, I hate throwing food away. It makes me feel like a wasteful, overprivileged bourgeoisie. 

I was in such a black hole of a mood I snapped at a friend who asked if we wanted to join her at a super fun play place. 

And then we dusted off the coolers and bought a few perishables and ice, none of which is my idea of fun. It was, however, the Boo’s idea of fun. Ice! Bags and bags of it with no end! Coolers to use as a personal fridge, as step stools, as fun new chairs. It helped, somewhat, seeing him so entertained.

It also helped to remember a saying a friend had taught me: A problem that can be solved with money is not a big problem. I tried to lean on that thought as we plunked down a shocking amount of money for a basic fridge. A fridge that would be delivered in a week, because there is apparently no such thing as next-day fridge delivery (note to big-box stores: GOLD MINE!).

Faced with the prospect of a week of daily ice runs and cooler-draining, I put an appeal for a dorm fridge on Facebook, not really expecting much. But several friends said we were welcome to borrow one. And one friend offered to bring hers over. SOLD! 

So now, hours away from the arrival of the new fridge, we are plotting happier things, like what kind of cookies to make as a thank-you to the friends who brought us their mini fridge-freezer. 

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Last week as an old work buddy was doing me the tremendous favor of cutting apart the Boo’s school photos (seriously I would pay an extra five bucks for that because I canNOT cut a straight line) I said something misty about how much my kid has changed since September. My friend said something really smart in response: We all change all the time, but we don’t think we do. Well, that was the spirit of it. I don’t recall the precise words because Baby Ate My Brain. 

Anyway, it’s gotten me thinking about the changes I’ve undergone this school year, right along with my kid. 

He’s grown taller and gotten heavier, while I have grown wider. (Seriously, Mother Nature?!)

He’s gained confidence in his physical abilities by exploring the creek behind his school and pushing the playground to its limits. I’ve done the same by trying wacky fitness classes in order to write about them. 

He’s acquired a taste for Rush, ACDC and Ozzy Osbourne, and I’ve learned to tolerate them. 

He’s gained more sophisticated debate skills, and I’ve developed new parrying techniques that (mostly) don’t piss him off. 

He’s discovered the joys of extended day, and I’ve discovered I can get professional, paid writing done during those glorious additional kid-free hours. Or catch up on Call the Midwife (it takes hours for the Ugly Cry Face to dissipate).

He’s moved into the “I can do it/I know how/Let me try” phase, and I’ve learned to sit on my hands/say yes/not react to the appearance of a mess on the floor I JUST cleaned.

He’s learned how to write his name, and I’ve learned to decode his scrawl.

He’s made great strides in negotiating relationships with his peers, and I’ve learned how to negotiate Facebook troll attacks.

He started wearing glasses a few weeks after I started wearing stronger bifocals. 

You get the idea, but I’ve saved the best for last: At the beginning of the year, the Boo reported in horrified Junior Narc tones that some of his classmates used potty talk. Last week he told me, eyes a-twinkle, “I do potty talk at school now Mama!” Then he waited for a reaction. All I gave him was a bored, “Oh really?”

See, even a Mama-Come-Lately can learn new tricks. Happy Summer, everyone!

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  We are lucky to have a world-class symphony orchestra in town, and they are smart enough to have a kid’s series. Last Sunday, we took the Boo to see an hour-long Dr. Seuss-themed program, preceded by an “instrument playground” with lots of very patient people helping kids try whatever instrument they wanted to. Herewith, the highlights.

– You went to the Symphony for the first time, with Mama and Daddy and Grammie. You had been excited about it for weeks, and got upset one day when you thought we had forgotten about going.

– You were lukewarm about trying out instruments, but made a beeline for a flute — and made a sound on it pretty quickly. We all thought you’d be really into the percussion options. You were not.

– You were enthralled by the size and beauty of the hall itself, and spent a lot of time going in and out of it through different doors, then down hallways and back into it. It seemed like you were trying to get a handle on how it all fit together. You said “ooh!” every time you went in.

– You sat in Mama’s lap for a good hunk of the show, but also sat in your seat, and stood, and stood on the seat. To be fair, you had had an early nap and the show took place on the first day of the time change. 

– You listened intently and clapped when you were supposed to. We explained that the different colors of shirts the players were wearing represented different sections — strings, brass, etc. — and you thought that was pretty cool.

– You needed to get up to pee once, and then to poop once, two minutes before the end of the show. 

– You said, “They said join us next time, can we go join them, Mama?” This was the day after the concert, during a quiet play time.

– You went to the symphony for the first time, and you will be going back. Mama bought the tickets yesterday. 

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We spent Thanksgiving with my family in LA. Herewith, the highlights of the Boo’s first West Coast encounter.

You did very well on the flights, though it must be said the extra attention from the Southwest flight attendants was very helpful. As was the iPad loaded with Caillou videos.

You glommed onto your Unk almost as soon as you saw him. Within a week, you were asking for your Auntie when you woke up from naps and dancing a little greeting jig for her. She danced right along with you.

You wanted to know if we were still in LA every time with left Unk and Auntie’s house.

You saw Frozen, Cars, and The Little Mermaid for the first time, and joined your cousins in the traditional post-screening dance parties. You kept asking for the “build a snowman movie” for the rest of the trip.

You followed your girl cousins around the house, prompting one of them to complain a bit about your puppy-dog ways. A few days later, they were reading books to you.

You got creamed by one high-swinging cousin. After that, you were very careful to give her a wide berth whenever she was on the swing — and she stopped swinging to play with you on the playhouse slide.

You ate meals very nicely both with the family and at restaurants. There may have been chocolate chips involved.

You adjusted to the new time zone within 24 hours, and were willing to sleep on the floor at night as long as you got to sleep on your cousin’s bed for naps. Once back home, you started lobbying for a big bed almost immediately by complaining about the bars on your toddler bed.

You learned how to eat a Popsicle, thanks to your cousins and your Unk, who responded to your confusion with, “Look at them and do what they,re doing.”

You saw Dolphins herding fish to shore.

You took such a shine to your grandpa-in-law (you let him pick you up!) that he volunteered to be your surrogate grandpa since both of yours are gone.

You were fascinated by the ocean, waves, surfers, and sand at Venice Beach. A big wave surprised you and knocked you on your butt in the 64-degree water, but once you got over the shock you wanted to go right back in. You grabbed handfuls of sand over and over and wanted to take some home — this, despite being reluctant to touch it at school.

You began shouting “mine!” and “I want to do it myself!” after a few days with your cousins.

You also began poking your cousins after a few days, and began following pokes with, “Time out?” and a grin. So much for that disciplinary tactic.

You occasionally asked to go home, usually when you were tired or hungry.

You did not miss your toys, probably because it was so warm you went outside as soon as you finished breakfast and had to be coaxed in after dark on more than one occasion.

You learned the word “thankful” because of the family’s suppertime thankfulness tradition. Once, you said you were thankful for school, another time, for Mama. Back at home, you’re responding to mealtimes by saying, “I want to say something” and then saying what you’re thankful for.

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Post Office Interlude

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The line at the post office was longer than anyone wanted it to be. I thought about leaving, but took a number so I could get my brother’s birthday gift to him on time.

The space was small and the line snaked back on itself, pressing folks toward the highly trafficked double doors. I broke from the pack, shepherding the Boo to a chair near two rotating towers of greeting cards, a/k/a entertainment.

I picked one and read it to the kiddo. Then he started choosing his own, presenting them to me with zeal. And then the first little boy showed up.

I had noticed him and his brother when we walked in. Moon-faced, pale-eyed and bored. Standing with a haggard, straggly-haired woman who could pass for mother or grandmother. She looked and sounded exasperated, whether with the kids or life itself was hard to tell.

Boy One shoved a card at me, wordlessly. Delighted, I read it to him with silly gusto. He put it back and shoved another at me. Then Boy Two showed up. We read whatever cards they wanted to see along with the ones Boo wanted (they found their voices and were happy to demonstrate their reading abilities). They were especially thrilled by a card with a baby on the front and a poop joke inside.

Then their caretaker finished her business and it was our turn at the counter. We did our thing and left, negotiating the heavy doors with care.

As we stepped into the September sun, I heard a little voice call, “bye!” A little hand waved frantically from a passing car, desperate for my attention. I waved and yelled “bye!” back.

I’m going to be thinking about those boys and their little lives for a long time.

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