Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The First Day

Yesterday was my last day as a 39-year-old. So, as the order of things goes, today I am 40. That's a big number and it makes everyone take stock. Why we do this is a mystery to me. But sure enough, I sat at the kitchen counter with my hubby last night and pondered the state of things.

I'm not melancholy about having missed out on something. Nor do I think I failed to capture my dreams or follow my passions. I've had an incredible career -- in fact many of them. Through the generosity of my dear husband I've pursued crazy, impulsive pastimes. I've hopped from occupational interest to occupational interest as I saw fit and prudent. So I'm not exactly sure why on that very last day I felt unfinished.

My kiddos are two of the most amazing boys to rule the suburbs. Really. Like all young men they are learning to learn, learning to lead, learning how they want to be loved. They are champions and scholars and I couldn't ask for better behavior. Considering who is raising them -- we are tickled pink at their stature. But they are growing up so fast. As they grow up, I know that soon they will step out. Step right out on their own and perhaps leave me behind.

So on this first day of the next decade I thought I would be a wreck. I'm not. I'm going about my day doing my usual. And I guess that is where the inventory of your life is. The importance. That which I cannot let go.

I walked my children to school in the gorgeous Colorado sun.

I watched from a safe distance as they settled into their own friend groups and giggled with their peers.

I sipped my coffee. Oh I love well-made coffee.

I answered the door to one of my favorite people of all time. A true gem of a friend.

I golfed with old friends and new friends.

I ate no less than 3 cookies before I ate anything else.

I raced to pick up the supplies for another creative project and saw the shining face of someone I really appreciate having in my life. Someone whose whereabouts on April 15, 2013, left me very concerned for her safety and well-being. I'm so grateful she's alive.

I walked my children home from school, encountering some of our favorite neighbors along the way.

I was carpool mom on the way to LAX, where I then sat high on a hill and watched my oldest son play a game I know nothing about.

I ran my car completely out of gas. Which only served to show me how loved I am. My oldest son sat with me and waited for the other half of our family to save us. It was actually really incredible.

I ate an incredible dinner, prepared by my husband and sons. The wine was good, the food was great, and the men at the table were good to me.

I wrote a little and I'll read a lot. My book and my bed are calling to me as I close this day -- this first day of the decade.

You know how you look back at pictures of your kids and you half smile? Your eyes get a little wet, and you stare in awe at the way their hair was so soft and their cheeks were so chubby. You may even point to the picture and say to them, "Gosh remember when you did that?" The zip of the years in front of you is staggering and you wish you could pause. At 40 -- this beautiful marker of a life well-started -- I realize the people who touch my life are looking back at their pictures and memories of our times together and grasping at the same passage of time. I have been fun. I have been fit. I've had long hair, short hair, gray hair (!). There was the pregnant belly, vacation sunburns, eyes glassy with drink, and a mouth wide with laughter. Not uncommon a heart broken with sorrow and a soul lifted up in good times. So yes, happy tears today because I remember when I did all that.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Adventures in Volunteering: That Time a Cherub had a Dirty Mouth

I enjoy my adventures in volunteering at the local elementary school. Recently, as I walked the halls and past a bench known to be the time out zone for wiggly kids I couldn't help but pay attention to a young boy -- maybe 1st grade -- who was wailing, or yodeling, or some such nonsense that he thought was musical and appropriate. It was neither. 

When I got to him and knew he was looking at me I said, "You have a beautiful voice."  

I said it with sweetness and sincerity. Because while I knew it was annoying everyone, myself included, I also knew he just wanted to be noticed. 

His face instantly shaded over and he stared me down with genuine disgust. He folded his arms and crossly grumbled, "I am not a girl!"

So I paused for a beat, I had no idea what his reaction was meant to clarify. 

It was so shockingly rude and tart I no longer felt sure I knew his developmental acuity. In a moment I thought he might be strange enough to think that because I was a woman I was only allowed to speak to girls. But then it struck me. 

I actually gasped and responded in a sorrowful simper, "Oh sweatheart, beauty does not only belong to girls." 

The more I contemplate this random and basically anonymous interaction the more it affects me. There are so many gross layers to his response.

First, what is the environment that developed a small boy who would speak to a well-meaning adult as if I were a feral dog? 

More disturbing still, why was he taught to associate the adjective "beauty" as feminine?

And sickening in every way, what is so offensive about girls anyway?!?!? 
When will the world get over itself? Are we not educated enough? Advanced enough? What good is our progress if we still equip our babies with gender-normative stereotypes that generate sadness? When will we learn that "beauty" does not belong to women. Just as "smart" does not belong to men. 

Compliments are compliments. Please teach your children to accept kindness with kindness. Please teach your children to mind their manners. Please teach your children that men and women are valuable, and beautiful, and smart, and allowed to live alongside each other. 

Beauty does not belong to girls. Beauty is not owned by anyone. Beauty sadly dissipates under the angry eyes of a misguided, fiercely misinformed 6-year-old. Beauty is both fragile and ready to come back with flourish. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Conversation with an Artist

Mom, do you ever do something that makes you feel crowded?

Did you? 

Well at indoor recess in the last 10 minutes I drew something and then everyone was at my desk. I mean everyone. 

How did that make you feel?


Is that a bad feeling or a good feeling?

What do you mean?

Did you like it?

I liked that they liked my pictures...


But I felt really crowded.

That's confusing. But I have a feeling that the more you draw, the better you will be. And the world will want to know you and your talents. It might get crowded. Are you OK with that?

Shrugs shoulders. 

When we have a gift, the world crowds in. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Risks of Opening Your Mouth

Here's a gross thing that happened...

Wait first let me explain what is in the top of Coop's mouth. Like so many pre-Tweens he endures the palate spreading device known in orthodontia as an expander. To parents like me, it's known as an expensive piece of metal with an interminably small keyhole placed precariously close to the soft roof of my precious child's, precious mouth. Each night I search for this infinitely small hole, then I fumble inside Cooper's mouth with a stick fitted with a pin on the end. The pin is actually a collapsible "key" that once in the hole is cranked toward the back of Cooper's mouth -- directly in line with his uvula -- in an effort to widen his mouth. It creates at once both a barrier and a small cavity in the top of his mouth. He now has a remarkable speech impediment, and can make horrible sounds and smells with the trapped air between his tongue, the metal contraption, and the roof of his mouth. 

While enjoying ourselves in the great outdoors, Coop had his beautiful mouth wide open. Perhaps he was shouting, maybe laughing, but some freaky Miller moth thought he was inviting him in. The moth flew in his mouth and then became trapped between the expander and the roof of his mouth. Fluttering and buzzing, and gagging Cooper completely out. 

If this had happened to me, I think I would have died. I base this on my reaction to the 100 Miller moths that attacked me when I freed them from the plastic house number they had hatched in. With one pop of a flathead screwdriver I unleashed a torrent of wings and freaky moth fuzz all over me. I screamed on the order of the utmost terror threat and began blindly waving my screwdriver, and arching back matrix style in an effort to escape danger. So yeah, if an effin' Miller moth flew in my mouth and then became trapped inside it, I would freak out, soil myself and just lay down and die. The heart would just explode. I would die.

Cooper just spit and kept playing.