Sunday, 28 July 2013

Making peace with hard

This morning I ran nine kilometers.
It felt like early May. The sky shone clear, blue and showed off with the most liberating  breeze. The sun was gentle and warm; not it's oppressive self, like last week. Even by the midway point, I was thankful I hadn't opted for a running jacket, although I know if I’d been walking I would have wished for one.
It was one of those runs.
I noticed a hundred different shades of green, emeralds and jades, olives and khakis. Lush and healthy from all the rain. And even though I’d woken up feeling tired and failing, I ran my course and remembered that my grass was just as green. The trees seemed to cheer me on, their branches dancing in that gentle wind. It was hard to believe we were deep into July.
It was a hard run.
I took last week off from the gym; I embraced my vacation that way. And the week before that I’d been able only to find enough time to scramble to the cycling classes over my lunch hour. My lungs did not like this sudden wakening, the kind only running seems to induce. But I’ve made peace with this kind of hard in the past and I refused to let it stop me today. Sometimes, like this past week at work, I remind myself that hard is like good strong coffee on a cold dark morning. Necessary.
I let Shaune do all the parenting this week.
And along the way, I collected guilt and a dwindling self-esteem. Each time one of the kids asked me to play or take them to the park, I laid paralyzed on the couch and explained that sometimes Mommies don’t have what it takes to do it all. I leaned on Shaune. I’ve never been happier to have him at home with the kids. A temporary kind of leaning made sweeter by the fact that he's been hired as a fulltime high school teacher, set to start in September.
I explained things to Deaglan. How sometimes work takes all of your energy when you get older. I explained it to him because I knew Naveen wouldn’t understand yet. I tried to buy myself some understanding.
After my run, I ate leftover steak and a handful of strawberries.
I told the kids to get their helmets on and we rode to the park. We played soccer and then they rode circles all over the park’s paths and driveways. I sat on a bench, warmed by that mild sun and watched them make tracks with their wheels from riding through the patches of leftover puddles.
I talked myself into believing that they’d remember only this.


Sunday, 21 July 2013

Vacationy knowings

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, in the still hot sun, the kids and I took turns choosing songs on Youtube on the tablet in the backyard. Naveen wanted Baby Beluga even though I thought for sure he’d ask for this one we’ve been forced to listen to again and again upon his insistence. Deaglan couldn’t think of something on his first turn so I suggested this, only because I remembered how it made me feel that first time he told me he LOVED it: Surprised, and then suddenly in love with it because it reminded me of him.

No new thing I chose this.

If there’s any chance I can get them onto Springsteen I take it. This age of no records and tapes, and practically extinct CDs makes it harder to exert any influence. I love the story-ness of an album; I lament these 99 cent moments ITunes offers.

I sipped ice cold Chardonnay while they sucked the juice out of  freezies.

I’m sort of picky about white wine. Not expensive picky. I adhere to two specific criterion: Hot, hot summer days. Glacially cold Australian Chardonnay. I’m slightly more flexible with red. At 42, finally (!), I have accepted that I’m a happy-hour drinker. Through my twenties and half of my thirties, I tried to believe I was something else: Fun and witty at parties. Charming and enduring at bars. Always lively into the night.

None of these things are true about me.

Instead. I know I’ll be asleep before the good shows come on. And more than two drinks on any given night ruins my next morning.  I’m shy. And in most situations I feel I have nothing to offer. I’ll probably never go vegan or start spending more on jeans. I love this song because I know Pink’s onto something even though it’s true, I don’t get her hair. Mascara and eyeliner is my version of putting on my face.

And I tell my little boys all the time that I’m sorry. That it’s okay to cry.  That feeling grumpy is normal.
Not because I’m modern and cool.
I just want to make room for my own imperfections.

I had last week off. We celebrated Aunt Pat's birthday. Gramma remembered how much we love that cake from Costco.
 After, we all watched Naveen play his final game of Blastball. Pictures to come.

 We spent some time with my sister and her family in Northern Michigan.

I go back to work tomorrow and although I'm sorta ready for it, I'll miss happy hour Youtube videos.

Friday, 12 July 2013

That Friday

The Friday before vacation is a special kind of stress. You don't want to be missed in all the wrong ways so you make sure to tie up any loose ends. You file things properly. You look for a reliable backup. You gently but firmly refuse to take no for an answer from delayers.

You organize delegates for meetings you should be attending. You anticipate the things people might need while you're gone and you deliver them early. In your mind you hope it's as if you weren't gone at all. And when you can't think of one more thing. You slip out quietly. Without a grand exit.

No fanfare. You just go.

In the car you think of five or six things you could have done. Someone you forgot to get back to. But you keep moving toward home. Because this week you did the work of three months. And you have nothing left.

You earned this vacation. That first vacation glass of wine.

Finally around seven in the evening you start letting go. With help from that wine.

Two things:
-I wrote this post on my tablet and used pictures I took five minutes prior from my lounge chair
-I found that ladder in an abandoned lot and I love it. I also love Naveen's brief clad bottom.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Summer boys' club

Last night Naveen held his toothbrush across his upper lip and said, “Look at my ‘stache Mommy!” Earlier when he was eating a saltine cracker with butter; he rubbed a little above his top lip and announced then too that he had a ‘stache.

And on Thursday when they picked me up from work, Deaglan said from the backseat, “Mommy, we went to the grocery store today and we saw Shannon and guess what! I had no shorts on, just my underwear.”

Shaune’s been home with the kids for the summer break.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so little in control.

If you know me at all, you know I have just the slightest hint of a need to be in complete control. When I went to the hospital to give birth to Naveen, I wrote my mother-in-law a 16 page manifesto on how to take care of Deaglan. I printed each instruction and each routine by hand. I may have sketched a few things out for good measure too. Before heading to the hospital, I walked her through what I’d written.

My mother-in-law. The retired nurse who raised four kids.

Only Naveen was home with Shaune the first week of summer. We pulled him out of daycare when we were sure Shaune would get no more supply teaching calls. By the end of the second day when I could restrain myself no longer, I asked in my most casual, nonchalant voice, “So what are you feeding him for lunch and snacks?”

My husband. The man who on a regular basis does all of our cooking.  

I got reassurances from Deaglan later Thursday evening that he hadn’t really gone to the grocery store without shorts. He told me he had been playing a trick on me. I could tell from the way he told me that it was the truth. I don’t mind telling you that it unnerved me a little that my five year old already knew my triggers.

And I can’t be a hundred per cent certain but I think I saw Shaune breathe a huge sigh of relief when he heard our son admit he was joking. I don’t think he could swear under oath that he knew for certain whether or not Deaglan was wearing pants at the grocery store that day.

I’m not sure after all these years that those kinds of details are important to him.
Here’s what I do know. The kids are loving being home with him. Every day I come home to stories of what they did together. Making pizza. Going to the carwash. Walking in the woods.  Planning out Halloween costumes.
Most of this in mismatched clothes. All of it while laughing and wrestling.
A boys' club where toots and burps are always cause for celebration.
 When I asked Deaglan to hold this sign up on the last day of school, he was irritated and uncooperative.
 I explained why I wanted to document this last special day and he basically told me the five year old version of "I don't give a Rat's A** what you want it for."
 By the time I got these pictures, I was saying things like, "I swear, if you don't give me a smile, there will be no X this weekend." I can't remember what leverage I was using but it didn't get me much.
Some day he's going to thank me for these pictures. Right?

Thursday, 4 July 2013

It connects me to you

I think about blogging every day.
In fact, over the past almost six years, not a day goes by that I don't see the happenings of my life through this lens. I’m constantly writing posts in my head, trying out new ways to express what I’m going through.  It brings me a lot of satisfaction.
It connects me to you.
I try to write honestly, give you a true sense of my experience. I figure, what’s the point in trying to fool you into thinking my life is perfect. It’s not. And I want us to know we’re in this together. I want you to know that I haven’t discovered a secret formula that you don’t know about. I'm not living a freakishly happy life over here.
My life is probably exactly like yours. Just in a different house, on a different street. In different skin.
Sometimes I worry about what you must think - I rarely stray from writing about my kids or my childhood, or my feelings. But then I remember that that is what I have to offer. That is why I write. That might be why you come back. And also this; these are the things that have shaped me. These are the things that give me a voice: Motherhood. My childhood. My feelings about it all.
I post these pictures and write these words, but I'm not living a life unlike yours.
I bicker and fight with my husband.
I yell at my kids.
I cry in the night.
I get jealous.
I wish I could lose ten pounds at least 20 times a day.
My house is a mess a lot of the time.
We’re so much the same, probably. You and me.
I find great comfort in that. I fight to remember this when I’m feeling outside of myself. When I’m feeling alone and disconnected. I write to connect again. I write to stay conscious. I write to find my voice when I feel like I can't speak.
I just wanted you to know this.

And also I wanted to show you pictures from our little vacation. We took the kids to KOA in Port Huron, Michigan again this year. On the way to work this morning, Deaglan asked me for the tenth time, "Don't you wish we lived at KOA Mom?"
Clearly he didn't notice the state of my hair due to the lack of indoor plumbing.

This guy here.
He's just naughty scrumptiousness.

At Deaglan's soccer game this past weekend I grabbed him around the waist and asked him softly for a kiss.

His response?

"Mommy, I hate you and I hate kith-is."

No less than five mothers and grandparents within earshot turned our way, chuckled and said some version of, "AWWWW, but kisses are the best and so are Mommies."

I shrugged sheepishly and shook my head. He's a hater lately. What can you do?

I wrote several variations of a veiled apology for including this picture of myself and then deleted them all. Then I deleted the picture and added it again.

Hi, my name is Kim and I don't have a flat stomach. And I never will.

 This guy. Well, as usual he kept us fed.

 And this guy here.

This joke-telling, negotiating, "I've got a great idea," sarcastic, pickle loving kid of ours. He was the perfect age for KOA this year. He helped me see it all through a kid's joy-filled eyes again. He wished out loud a dozen times or more that we could just move right into that cabin we were staying in. Just live there for the rest of our lives.

That cabin with no bathroom or running water.

Oh. Don't put ice in this kid's cup.


Especially if you have any hopes that he'll eat his dinner. When there is ice in sight, he.can't.focus. Until it's gone.

Cajun porkchops with mango salsa. Steak with sautéed mushrooms and asparagus the next night.

I'm not bragging.

Just pointing out the fringe benefits of hooking up with a guy who knows his way around a kitchen. And a campstove.

I love bedhead on a hater.

The vacuum (you see it there on the grass below?) came with us. Naturally.

We spent a great deal of time playing I spy over the three days away. On Naveen's turns he mostly spied his vacuum or our real one (which was at home) or my friend Kathy's blue vacuum. In St. Catharines.

Somebody explain the rules to this kid. Please.
Each kid got to spend $10 at the souvenir shop. I spent three days tracking down rubber balls and polished stones. And just as much time breaking up fights because of them.

That's all for now friends.