Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Road of Motherhood Is Paved With S--t You Forgot

Even though all our devices are slowly being rolled into one (Apple and Tesla met to talk about an ICar, people!) we have more to remember than ever before.

Forgive me for starting another battle in the Parents vs. Child-free by Choice war, but when you have kids (and a body part that rhymes with bulva - yep, started yet another battle) the amount of stuff you are trying to remember to keep everyone not just comfortable, but ALIVE, goes up if not exponentially, than big-time.

Gradually you start doing things that only someone with severely impaired brain function would do, like wearing two different shoes, or misplacing your keys several times a day. And that's in addition to doozies like forgetting to put more diapers in the diaper bag the day the baby has a Code Red blowout, or getting stuck in make-Mother-Theresa-curse-level traffic when your menu of distracting snacks was left on the kitchen counter.

You think about getting more sleep, taking gingko biloba or playing some intellect-strengthening games online, before realizing how uber stupid that is.

It's simple math. The more you stuff have to remember, the more likely you are to forget something.  

You begin to realize this: 

And it's not over when your kids crawl out of that baby stage.  Diapers, sippy cups and wipes are replaced by electronic devices and gear for swimming, ballet, soccer, t-ball, school, and every other activity known to the affluent suburbs. 

And, of course, you have to remember to take kids places, and to actually pick them up.

Which can be a problem in itself.  It seems that no motherhood journey is complete without at least once forgetting a whole HUMAN BEING.   

Today I'm at BonBon Break telling my dear friend Nicole's tale of a botched pick-up.  

What about you?  What's your pick-up story?  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Hot is Your Valentine's Day? The Quiz

Revised from the original post of February 13, 2013

Once upon a time you despised Valentine’s Day.  All the red, the roses, the chocolate, the restaurant reservations.

The maribou handcuffs. 

It was absolutely ridonkulous.

Then you met HIM (your significant other, not Jesus), and it all changed.  You couldn’t wait for the big day.  Instead of envying or scorning the couples eating those overpriced prix fixe meals at restaurants, you wisely and naughtily planned evenings in.

But once the kids came, it turned into something else altogether.  A day where you sprinted all over town buying cupcakes, candy and/or cards for every child in the class, and then felt a strong urge to bust out your best Karaoke version of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling."

It can be so hard to keep the heat in Valentine’s Day, don't you think?  Take this quiz and see if you and your partner are a bonfire of passion, a slow burn, or more like a wet blanket and a match.

You've been planning what you’d do for Valentine’s Day 2013 for________ .

a. months
b. weeks
c.  Oh crap! Anyone got some Hershey's kisses and a red sharpie?

You want to get your husband an inspirational/interactive book – something You’re thinking______.

a. 50 Shades of Grey
b. Table for Two:  The Cookbook for Couples
c.  I Married a Baby:  Getting Your Mate to Grow the @#$% Up

To make your husband weak in the knees this February 14th, you will ________.
 a. rock lingerie that’ll make Victoria’s Secret models look like nuns.
 b. cook something so tasty, his heart will stop – in a good way!
 c. knock some sense into his head (literally!) via skillet.

The biggest obstacle to intimacy has been ____________ .

a.  nothing - a cobra, fire ants and a chastity belt couldn’t stop us!
b.  our children who never leave us alone.
c.  the low-lying brick wall down the center of our California king. 

To rekindle the fires you would need ______________ .
a.  if we got any hotter we’d be a volcano.
b.  a vacation.
c.  medications unapproved by the FDA.

Time to 'fess up.  What'd you score?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Can You Find Balance?


It’s maybe the most elusive thing out there.  We’re all looking for it, but no one seems to have captured it.  The quest for balance sounds like a George Costanza monologue from Seinfeld. 

Do you have balance? I can’t find balance.  I couldn’t find balance if it kicked me in the pants. Larry Tomaselli went looking for balance and was never seen or heard from again. I’m gonna tell ya, I don’t think balance even exists.

If balance isn’t something we can find, we think we can make it happen, just like it says in the title song from the movie Flashdance.  We write down lists, and plan our time more carefully than the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. We strive to get everything done, just like Boss Calendar says.

But then the baby has a poop-to-the-neck blowout just as we’re about to leave the house, the dishwasher floods, or somehow we forgot the one ingredient we need for that new dinner recipe, and it’s all shot to hell.  Our elaborate plans to get everything done, to feel whole and sane and capable have been thwarted.  Losing our grip on reality, we’re certain the universe has made express plans to crap on our cracker.

And this thwarted feeling is anything but balanced.

A mom friend and I were talking about always feeling a day late and a dollar short.  Our busy lives make getting it all done impossible. If we find ourselves with an empty slot of time, it’s spoken for almost immediately. If we take care of one thing, something else goes undone. We take the time to get a mani/pedi and only to realize we’ve totally spaced on a meeting. And it’s impossible to feel relaxed when you’re convinced you’re a disorganized asshole.

We're trying to find balance, and it’s not working. We’ve got it all wrong.

Because balance is not getting it all done, and propping your feet up like the lady in the commercial with the clean house and stocked refrigerator.  It’s not a checked off to-do list, or letting it all just roll off your back.

Balance is prioritizing because no, you can’t get it all done, not just not perfectly, but not at all.  We need to stop telling ourselves that vicious lie that we can work and parent and exercise and cook and shop and have hobbies and look great and see our friends and stay up-to-date on at least four social media outlets and find a sense of peace.

Even the most well trained seal can’t hold hundreds of balls while balancing on the point of a pyramid. 

Balance is understanding that when bad things happen it is normal to feel and to react.

Balance is looking around at the things you swore you’d never have or do – a messy house, kids who ate a processed or (gasp!) fast-food dinner, wear nothing but yoga pants for a week and saying this is the best I can do.

Balance is asking for help.  It is getting better at saying, quite simply, “No.” It is realizing that sometimes putting yourself first means doing nothing.

It is believing, not fatalistically, but realistically, that stuff happens. 

Balance is being present.

And it is forgiving yourself for being unable to be present, or say no, or to put yourself first. 

Because maybe, just maybe, balance is one of those things that finds you when you stop desperately searching for it. It gently settles upon you when you remember to breathe.  


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

What Everyone Should Be So Lucky to Say in Ballet Class

It was back in the late 80s, when we were young dancers.  So young that being at Steps on Broadway every day of the week for class, rehearsal, or work-study duties felt like a joy instead of overworking.  So young that taking 4 or 5 classes a day didn’t automatically send our minds to the word “hospital.”

Our youth made us over-confident to the point of mocking, or even insult.

In those days at Steps there was an older gentleman who took class pretty frequently.  He was in good shape for an old timer.  While his middle could be described as boxy, he was far from chubby or soft.  His muscles were lean and knotty, and in true 80s style he showed off his physique in shiny navy or chocolate brown milliskin unitards – a ballet Jack Lalanne.  

You could tell that this fellow had enjoyed a classical dance career, and that ballet was now his exercise of choice.  Maybe the muscle memory was reassuring. Maybe he relished the artistic physicality.  Maybe he wanted to keep his glory days alive.

However noble his reasons for taking class, we thought he had stayed too long at the fair. Way too long. We nicknamed him Gepetto, after the old cobbler in Pinocchio. 

The problem with dubbing him Gepetto (we never did learn his real name) was that Gepetto was a kind-hearted man, while our ballet senior was a certifiable curmudgeon. Give him a house in the 'burbs and he could easily have been the old codger shaking his fists and barking, “You kids! Get off my lawn!”  He spared no one his indignation.  Not us, the young staff who didn’t give him the proper respect when he signed in for class. Not the current professionals who couldn’t hold a candle to so-and-so. And not even the Steps faculty. 

Apparently things were way better back when he was dancing with Louis XIV. 

I happened to be in class one day with Gepetto.  The teacher was a gentle sweetheart named Kathryn Sullivan, the kind of person who gave thorough feedback, while still making everyone feel validated and whole. I can’t remember what she said to him, but her correction was offered as a mere suggestion, as in, “You might want to think about…”

Whatever she said, Gepetto wasn’t having it.  “What do you want from me?” he snapped.  “I’m 66 years old!”

Well, okaaaaay then.

Everyone was aghast. I thought Gepetto was even more of a brazen, pompous ass after that, and giggled archly whenever I saw him.  For years that incident became one of my choice dance tales, because it seemed so ridiculous, so deliciously and unbelievably WRONG.

Until now, that is. 

These days, when I take class I could be the mother of 75% of the students present, and not having given birth at age 12 either. I’m the one in class ranting about youngsters' brazen disregard of class etiquette, and sneering at lazy, sloppy behavior.  I long for steps that haven’t been done since white jazz shoes became a joke.

And, like Gepetto, every now and then I’ll hear a correction and think Like hell I will. Lady, that ship has sailed.

Still, I won’t leave the studio.

I can’t.

When something doesn’t go quite right, it is humbling to say the least.  I have dancer friends my age who never set foot in a dance class for that very reason.  As for me, I have no plans let it go; I’ll take class for as long as I can.  Class is my favorite form of exercise.  It’s no longer about striving to be among the best in the room, but about doing something for myself and getting to move. 

I remember looking askance at the brittle or soft old ladies in the room taking class with their skirts. I’m offering a retrospective apology.  I’m not quite there yet, but I see it coming. 

In a few years, I’ll buy my honorary skirt. 

To all you young’uns, look at what an older dancer is doing instead of what s/he isn’t.  Admire him or her.  Smile and be supportive. 

You might find yourself the most senior dancer in class someday, and if you are, you'd better be damn proud of it, too. 

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