Sunday, February 26, 2012

yo soy la mama

At the end of the day, I am the mama. I am their mama. They need me. Really, like, a lot, as Eliana would say. So I sit here and take a deep breath and remind myself that as their mom, I have a tremendous duty. I am to keep them safe and happy, fed and clean. I am to laugh, dance, read, dress up, goof ball with them. I am to show them the best version of myself, of the world.

I am also the one that they will take risks with. Try out their alter-egos. Their tired, cranky, feverish, frustrated selves. I am a punching bag for all that doesn't make sense in their worlds. And sometimes it makes for a really long weekend.

But then it's another busy week and I just can't get enough of them. I'm just waiting for that moment when I can greet Elie at her preschool door, watch her run into my arms. Find Soli at daycare, see his smile spread when he spots me through the window.

But it's not always that way.
Sometimes when I finally see them, after all the hours and meetings and read alouds and spelling tests, it's crumble and dissolve that greets me.

And that's okay.
That's my job.

I'm their mama.

So we roll through this life, ready to soak it all up, ready to cry and scream and marvel and wonder. We are so in this together. In like nothing I've known before.

Friday, February 17, 2012

get away

photo by nici

I love my friends and I love Montana. The two Love's converged in a dynamo weekend of much needed goofiness. Away from all the daily mayhem, all we had was each other, the Big Sky, some delicious mineral water for soaking, white, lakeside trails and a giant microphone for karoke.

While the deep talks and long soaks are usually par for the course when I go away with my girlfriends, the cowboy bar is not always in the equation. And while the early evening hours found us at home, me with the Tarot, leading us down our deepest paths, wine and snacks and calm, the later hours found us looking for some food. It turns out there aren't a whole lot of options in Ennis, Montana on a Saturday night in the dead of winter. But the spot we found was rockin' and we were ready to roll.

I had a very clear thought when I first walked in and spotted the karoke machine:

If I can get up there and actually sing a song, I am awesome. I will have done something that terrifies me. It will be huge.

And then I gulped and laughed at myself knowing full well that I most likely wouldn't do it. And faster than I can even conceptualize, my song came up, my name was called, and I was on the mike, visions of Donna Summer in Thank God It's Friday, dancing in my head. Kay joined me and together we brought it down. At least that's how I choose to remember it.

It was really, really, really fun.

More songs were sung, more moves busted on the dirty dance floor. We walked arm and arm in the dark, up towards our house, loud and laughing. I have always loved my girlfriends. Ever since I can remember, not a whole lot beats laughing really loudly with your buddies.

The next morning was lazy and stretchy and found me walking alone with my headphones blaring, my camera wanting to capture every piece of sky and horse and cloud.

After another gorgeous hike, we found ourselves back at Norris, soaking in the rich water.

It was hard to leave.

And as much as I love my kids, love every second that I get to spend with my family, I came to a big realization this weekend:

It's okay to have fun without them. It can be done without guilt. There are many parts to the self that need to be satisfied. It's okay that my family can't take care of all my needs. I will be a stronger and warmer and more present mama if I indulge other parts of myself with some regularity.

That said, Eliana's scream of, "Mama!" when I came in the door, her huge grin and giant hug were pretty awesome. And sleepy Soli's look up from his dad's arms, "Mama?" And Jeffy, house clean, children happy, fridge stocked -- it was lovely to be home.

But many times this week I've returned to those moments at the mike. The loud music and louder laughter. The pulse of feeling absolutely free.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

melt downs

Some afternoons are just ill-fated. Thursdays are very long days for all of us, as we begin the day with a 7:30 a.m. staff meeting. It's good to keep this in mind when I reflect on this afternoon. Maybe it was the long day. Maybe they remember that I'm going out of town this weekend. Maybe I'm already halfway out the door and they can sense that. Lord knows I've been looking forward to this just a bit. And a few bits more after Happy Sad put me through the ringer and Nananananbatman! destroyed everything in his midst. It's only a few hours we have together at the end of the day, but why the heck are they so tough?

We try to blame blood sugar lows, but my golly does my girl know how to flip the heck out around 3:30. She lays into me like it's nobody's business. Today it was over the Capri Sun she didn't get, as I picked her up too early from after-care. Of course, I gave her the kind and calm option to stay in after-care. Told her that I'd come back after snack, after I had retrieved Soli. Pretty nice, I'd say.

But the choice didn't work. She wanted me. She wanted the damn silver bag of sugar. She couldn't have both.

So often my immediate instinct is to satiate. Maybe I should just ask the teacher for the drink. Maybe I should just stop at the store and buy a dozen of them. This, obviously, is not the answer.

And I dealt with it like a good mama. I showed empathy and I smiled and I drove calmly. It was sunny this afternoon and I turned up the radio and rolled down the window. I held her on the way into Caroline's and told her I loved her. Of course, the whining and crying and It's All Because Of You's! and It's All Your Fault's ceased when we were in the company of others. She is, after all, a pleaser. So we made it over Hump A. Hump A was, of course, followed by Humps B, C, and D, all related to either sugar or the television. Yeah. Admitted. Bad news, both of them. But so part of our vernacular now. We've lost our sugarTV virginity big time around here, especially in the post school hours. Time for a cycle breaker.

The sugar thing is subtle. We don't have many sweets. But the Halloween and Christmas candy made their marks big time. Even without buying anything, she can usually scrounge something up. And TV. She has had so much stimulation all day, that an hour of Angelina Ballerina doesn't seem to be a big deal. But it is when Soli wants Elmo. And then he hurls himself on the floor, his giant head pounding the hard wood. Elmo! Elmo!?! He's a man of few words, Big Sol. I do love him to pieces. But he's physically exhausting while his sister is the queen of the drama scene. Don't know where I'm going with this. Looking for empathy, perhaps? Looking for, hey, that's so normal, don't sweat the small stuff, you're swell, chin up. Looking for closure to round out these big, full past few weeks.

Closure I can hold on to: Eliana in bed saying, Actually, Mama, it was all my fault. I'm so sorry I yelled at you today. And me saying something about how not everything has to be any one person's fault like a good mama. And Soli actually going to sleep instead of screaming his head off in his crib, yelling MAAAMMMAAA! bloody murder while trying to tear down the bars that confine him. Separation anxiety seems to be pretty insane right now. Right now while he approaches two. My little big man, finding his voice. Peace man. Man of few words, staking his claim.

So I will leave these two incredibly complex beings for the next two nights. I will only have to hear the laughter of my girlfriends at bedtime, turn the pages of my journal, of my novel, push my legs into my skis, push my skis through the tracks, through the white forest, soak my body in warm water, talk and talk and talk some more, drink and eat and soak and play.

Phew. So glad to be thinking about that again.

Thank you world for my two precious creatures. And thank you world for the gift of beautiful friends with whom I can commiserate and share. For these holy mountains and thermal waters. For my full and eclectic life.