Just a Thought

May 28, 2014

Since I’ve been sick and sitting around a lot I’ve come face to face with some very basic, and probably obvious, facts.
I can’t do it all. I can’t even do close to it all. And I will never in the future be able to do it all.
My kids aren’t perfect.
Neither am i.
Damn.

Part I Thursday Night

Sitting on the edge of a holiday weekend-. There will be cook outs and Mexican food and swimming at the Y, and catching up with Girls, and long, long walks with the dogs, and arguments over who has to feed the pets, and discussions over whether it counts as “family time” just because a certain teenager spent time in the house. With six of his friends.

I will zumba and read and look out in our back yard and spend at least fifteen minutes thinking about the need to landscape. I will dance with Katy to the radio, I will applaud Colin’s jump shot. I will scratch Sophie’s belly and kill 30 minutes looking for her damned leash. I will give up and take her to Cunningham. I will call friends and see friends and miss friends that are far away.
Happy Memorial Day weekend!

Part II

Saturday Morning

Not on the brink anymore, now I’m sprawled on the sofa in the middle of a holiday weekend. Just near enough, there lay two weary dogs, two well fed kids, and one glass of cold wine in easy reach. It’s Saturday night. But instead of Monday looming large with lunches to be packed and homework to be done, I’m thinking a day at the beach. Or a trip to the pond. Or a long, long hike thru the Greatest of Hills with the Greatest of Dogs.
I love post horrible-winter, late spring, long, and lazy, afternoons.

Part III

Monday Night

It’s done. Monday night. Backpacks lined up. Cereal bought, milk in the fridge. I think they did their homework. I think they have clean socks. I think there is money in their lunch account.

No beach. No trips to the pond. Or long hikes thru the Greatest of Hills.

But I finished a book. I made whipped cream from scratch. I snuck up to their bedrooms yesterday morning and held them close and didn’t remind them that clean clothes don’t go on the floor.

I sat in the back yard with the dogs and watched people drive by with places to go.

I was a little bit jealous. And then I was a little bit lonely.

And then, the sun wamed my shoulders, the breeze touched my hair, and the radio started playing “Tupelo Honey”.

And by the time the song was over, and the sun had slipped behind clouds, I didn’t have time to be sad the weekend was over.
Tomorrow they will kiss me goodbye on their way on out the door.

I can’t imagine “empty nest syndrome.”

I will need to start thinking about hobbies, updating my profile on LinkedIn, or adopting three or four children from overseas.

Spring Fever

May 17, 2014

I got it bad.

Not the spring fever that means I really, really want to go see a baseball game. Or the variation that sends people to the drugstore to stock up on Clariten and the Kleenex with the vaseline in the tissue for a soft, comfortable blow. Or even the milder version that involves staying out in the garden until past dark, pulling up weeds and planting petunias or whatever it is people plant around here. I don’t garden. Or like baseball that much. And I’m lucky that so far I’ve avoided this seasons allergies.

I’m as restless as a cat with no claws in a house full of mice.

I live a quiet life, mostly. Two kids. Lots of long walks in the woods with the dogs. Work I love that is just part of a life that I also love, most of the time. I dance, I see friends, I go to church, I cook dinner. I even like trips to the grocery store, can happily spend a half an hour engrossed in an aisle with 17 kinds of mustard. And walk away without buying any, if they don’t have the cranberry spice mixture I like. Until the past week, contented was a word that would apply to me and the world I have made for my family.

Now, I’m inside an itch I can’t scratch.

I want to go out. I want a manicure and pedicure. I want a new dress and to wear it inside a circle of well dressed people sipping cocktails muddied with herbs and infused with fruit, like I read about in the Boston Globe every week.

I want to be able to wear high heels without staggering. I want to go on vacation, stay up after jon stewart, meander somewhere without worrying about stepping in dog shit.

I want to be thirty two, and be mulling over a variety of book deals and suitors.

And right now I’m mulling over if it makes me a bad mom that I really don’t want to see what Ben Stiller did to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s no secret that the reviews were horrible, and I’m not in the mood.

I guess I’m not in the mood for much right now, except for things that I a. can’t afford or b. probably wouldn’t do much to make me feel a whole lot better.

Fever is a transient thing.

So I’m going to take out my flute, close my eyes, lose myself in a melody and let the night fall around me.

I’ll have a cup of tea.

I’ll let Katy braid my hair and I’ll tell her about fireflies.

And if nothing works, maybe tomorrow I will visit Home Depot. I’ll by a twelve pack of perennials, some gloves and some extra high quality organic darker than dirt dirt. I’ll see why everybody outside holding a spade looks so damn content.

It couldn’t hurt.

I was driving to the grocery store this evening and went right by a playground. It was just after 7, dusk here in New England, windy and cloudy and warm. It was crowded; spring has been a long time coming and some of us are not quite convinced it’s here to stay.

And a thought came to me- My kids don’t go the playground with me anymore. Colin is 13, Katy is 10. They go to the park these days, all by themselves or in packs with other kids from the neighborhood.

I hadn’t even noticed the passing of playground days, and they are gone, along with mornings of helping them pick out their clothes for school and the Thursday night phone calls in search of a sitter.

I remembered our trips to Andrews Park. Katy would clutch my hand, which would then smell like peanut butter until I got home. Colin would race ahead, clutching a frisbee or a football or a backpack with snacks. I would juggle my phone and my iced coffee and a book, all while one of my hands was clenched inside Katy’s warm, smudgy grip.

When we got there, I swear, it took us twenty minutes at least, and Andrews is three blocks away, I’d find a bench and settle down with the book and the drink and the phone. I’d make nervous conversations with other mothers, who all seemed to know each other, while eyeing my kids to make sure they didn’t hijack the swings. I’d wish I’d brought wipes, or bottled water. I’d look at my phone and calculate how much longer we’d have to stay until I could safely give them the five minute warning. I’d wonder what was underneath all the sand in the sandbox, if that was even sand in the sandbox. I’d call someone, anyone at all who might pick up the phone, and wouldn’t mind helping me kill some time until I could safely check the time again. Finally, Katy would make me push her on the swing. Then Colin would make me throw him a ball, or shoot baskets, or teach him how to make a frisbee sail thru the air. And I’d wish I was just a little bit better at doing any of those things while looking around to make sure no one was watching. And they weren’t. Until whatever I was throwing hit someone in the head.

Today, I took Katy to SOWA, an open air market with food trucks and art galleries and one stand that had an entire display of 19 different kinds of cheese. Colin went with me last week to the Y, and we worked on the new Keiser equipment. I can’t get a basket, well I can, but it’s not that often, but I can work with him on strength training to help his jump shot. Next month, I’m going to take them to see Lion King, The Musical, which is a helluva lot more fun than watching the Disney video four times in the same afternoon, (not that we ever spent that much time in front of the tv.)

So tonight I was sad for a bit that the playground days are gone until I thought about it. Now, I’m mostly relieved. Though I’m thinking that for Mother’s Day, I might request a sentimental journey over to the swing set on Castle Island. And I will let Colin and Katy take turns pushing me.

I am in the middle of a mess of change right now. My son is hurtling forward towards adulthood. My minister is moving on from our beloved church to take on a bigger world. And my boss at the Y has rearranged our fitness equipment and left our members wondering where the Kaiser Stretching Station went.

Colin’s voice changed a couple of weeks ago. Overnight. It’s low and strange and doesn’t sound like me anymore. He’s sprouted the beginnings of a mustache. He plays basketball in the driveway for hours. He smiles at me all the time, indulgent- I love my mom even though she is a little nuts but I’m going to put up with her for a while longer because I still need a ride to the dance. And then he speaks. And I’m so busy listening for some trace of the boy I knew last month that sometimes I don’t even hear what he said. I think he wanted me to give him a check tomorrow for his school lunches but he might have been asking when I was going to drive him to get his hair cut.

Parisa has been our minister ever since I found my way to First Parish seven years ago. I had the privilege of working with her when I held a summer job in the office one summer. She is a bit of an introvert, I think. I have the sense that getting up in front of a roomful of people isn’t something that comes naturally to her and she chose to become a minister because she had, and has, something to say. Every time I hear her from my pew, I applaud her courage and I walk away aware she has lifted the bar for me a bit. To be a better member. A better mom. A better person. To take on challenges that may not come naturally to me just because I have something amazing to share. I will miss her, her wisdom, and the knowledge that this magical, fierce, wonderful woman was my minister. And I will always count her as one of my friends.

And if you belong to a gym, I want you to know something. If the management changes around the furniture, so to speak, it’s not to mess with your heads. It’s not because the trainers are bored and discovered an article in Fitness Today on how a little feng shui makes a better workout. It’s because it’s important to take a step back from time to time and evaluate. To pay attention, even if the information is coming from a source that recently sprouted a few more hairs and can no longer audition for the Viennese Boys Choir. To move on, to greener pastures, if that’s what is calling, or to places where there are no pastures, if that’s where you’re needed.

Let me know if you need any help. I’m not always good with change, and it makes it a little easier for me to handle if I’m helping somebody even more bewildered than I am.