Good Night, Bad Night

The other night, I was at a parenting class and we were doing a written exercise. We were listing things from our own childhoods that we remember and particularly enjoyed that we want to do or keep doing as part of raising our own children. One of the things that I wrote down is ‘being tucked in at night’. I remember always wanting my mom to tuck me in – it wasn’t a lengthy process, but I just wanted her to come pull the covers up, give me that kiss on my forehead and say those simple words, “I love you.” I requested this far longer, I think, than most kids. At some point, during middle school, my mom asked, “aren’t you a little old for this?” It had never occurred to me that I would outgrow being tucked in. I was a little embarrassed, but I think I kept requesting it for another good year. That, then, made me realize why I have such a hard time with bed-time with my children. I so desire for our last parting moments to be gentle and kind so that they can drift off to sleep feeling loved and safe. HOWEVER, I have somehow messed up (understatement, actually, I think FUBAR would be more accurate) this process by giving in to one or many too many things that have led up to a very lengthy bedtime routine that usually has me shouting or in tears. It’s honestly part of the reason I feel like I need so many breaks during the week because most of the other nights are a big emotional drain.

We had one of those nights again. My 3-year old and I have been battling at bed-time, off and on for a while now, but it became worse recently. I know that 3 is the prime age for this, but it doesn’t make it any easier. So, lately, I’ve been recognizing that there needs to be a change – I’ve been trying to establish more ‘routine’ around the process and creating more boundaries. I feel like we are making tiny bits of progress – tonight she actually stayed in her room, which has been a problem lately with her coming out – over and over and over again (I know, so strange for a 3-year old, right?). I read her one book and laid her down – I was trying to put her down a little earlier than usual because her nap was messed up today and she only slept for ~ 10 minutes (cue: overtired). I said my ‘I love you’s’ and we talked about closing our eyes and imagining rainbows (I thought this ingenious of me because it actually got her to close her eyes). We talked about what colors each of ours were. Hers were pink. When I mentioned mine had all the colors of the rainbow, she got a little upset and said she wanted to see all the colors of the rainbow too. When the ‘imagination’ explanation wasn’t going anywhere (ok, not so genius), I took it as a sign to say the good-nights and go. “Like a band-aid” I heard my husbands words reverberate in my head. When she sensed I was going to leave, she grabbed on to my shirt with her tiny fists, like she has so many nights before. I took a deep breath, removed them, perhaps a little too aggressively, and said “it’s night-night time, Eliana, I love you.” And the screaming ensued. I SO often listen for a while then my will breaks and I go in to try to calm her, etc. Something helped me not to do it tonight. I made the mistake of engaging at one point b/c the screaming became so loud, I went and shut her door part way, and told her she could cry it out as much as she needed, but the screaming was too loud. This made her scream louder. One more round of this and then I realized that she was screaming to get me to engage. So Max and I retreated to my room (further away from the screaming) to “talk tractor” (make up a story) and put him to bed.

I stayed focused on him. But still, her cries became pleas. For a while it was “it’s not fair!” I heard her kicking and screaming – she was m-a-d mad. Memories flooded back of me throwing tantrums in my room and no one coming to my side. I remember sometimes thinking they didn’t care. But I kept up my deep breathing. I did yell out (calmly, only yelled because I was a room away) at one point, just to let her know I was there, and I repeated “It’s night-night time, Eliana. Go to bed.” While I told Max his story, I heard her pleading, “someone help me!” She had pulled out the big guns. I started to waver. But in the vain of “needing to do something different” I decided she just needed to work through it, whatever “it” was, on her own. None of the uncountable nights before, had it ever really helped for me to go in. Well, it did if I actually ended up staying – too drained to listen to her screaming cry for one more moment. I KNOW. This is how we got to where we are. But the nice, gentle, loving moment before falling asleep, remember? I WANT that for my children!

Good or bad, right or wrong (and if 100 of you read this, there will probably be 100 different opinions), I never went back in. It was probably a good 50 minutes of her crying/screaming/pleading. She has always had stamina. I tell myself that if I am steadfast, only a couple more nights like this and it will be over. We’ll break through the bed-time battles and we can all go to bed in peace again. And if that doesn’t work, there is always this…..

The chicken and the egg

I have a group of women that I get to meet with every month – all like minded mothers looking inward, sharing ourselves with one another…all with the goal of becoming better people, better mothers and also, with no goal at all. I wish this kind of group for every woman on the planet. After our last session, one of the ladies was inspired and wrote this. I was moved and am posting it here (with her permission, of course – thanks Shannon!). Enjoy….

 

The chicken and the egg

Small hands extricate the spider and her delicate sack

from the bicycle pedal.  The sack, as large and as bulging

on her tiny frame as Santa’s, is admired, her progress tracked

across the path, speculation raining down how many babies

are transported to safety thus, tiny

as angels.

 

Watching her girls’ industry, she considers the chicken

and the egg,  the theory it is the egg that comes first after all, genetic

transformation unfurling on the  zygotic level. One being emerging

from another because of some small rearrangement of code,

some unforeseen shift. A mystery emerging in the center

of mysteries.

 

The spider and her babies are abandoned for the joys

of riding downhill.  The silken thread of this logic snaps and floats

away from her.  There are cars to watch for and helmets to adjust.

She cradles the shell of their day, the unbearable beauty

of their still delicate skulls as they push and pedal

home, dimly aware of a constant

evolution.

– Shannon Baley                                                                                                           © June 2011

It’s Real. And Organic.

There are a few things that I really love in this world…

  • My family
  • Friends
  • Whole Foods
  • Dancing. But not just dancing, like, getting my groove on, shak’n my bootie, freak’n.

And then there’s someone who crawls into my head and pulls out parts of me and molds them into One. Creative. Masterpiece. http://www.fogandsmog.com/whole-foods-parking-lot/

OK, so my family and friends do not appear in the video, but you get the idea. While I watched this the first time, I felt like it was me, in video-format. Like if I had any musical talent, any lyric-writing ability, any creative bones in my body, I might have wanted to come up with it. But I don’t have any of these things, so I rely on the creativity of others, and sometimes, people create shit that is like, my shit. Like, it’s made for me. It makes me feel one with the world. Thanks, homies. Gotta go and shake it…..

Anger and Other Emotions

Anger. Anger. Agh! Anger! What to do with you!!?? I would say, as a mother, no, as a human, anger is my “issue” to deal with in this lifetime. Pride, jealousy, all of those other ‘icky’ emotions got noth’n on me, but anger, oh Lord, may the world be protected from the wrath of me. It’s not what people expect from a Buddhist, from me. People I discuss this with are always shocked, “you seem so laid back!” they proclaim. It makes it all the harder for me to reconcile myself.

I’ve always dealt with anger, but honestly, as a single working person, there just wasn’t THAT much, on a daily basis that could trigger this ugly emotion the way that, now, motherhood does. It’s what drove me to my therapist for the first time – I had so much anger and resentment built up towards my husband and my life in general, that the silt was way past my neck – it was clouding my vision – I was drowning.

What my therapist has helped me see, and where I have made teensy bits of headway, is seeing that anger is just another emotion. When I heard that the first time, I guffawed in sarcasm, like the Taj Mahal is just a building, was what I thought. Or like Hell is just another place to whittle away some time. Because sometimes I feel like when my anger comes to visit, it takes me, temporarily at least, to a whole ‘nother place. And it aint pretty. (don’t know where all of this redneck language is coming from.)

Last night I had an “episode” like I haven’t had in a while. One of those where I get pushed to the point of breaking – the point where I let go of all “appropriate behavior” (two words I’ll usually be using with my children shortly before demonstrating my own lack of it). I am finding it useful to recognize my triggering points so that I can start to see the warning signs, but also hoping to go to the source of this spark.

(totally skip-able paragraph if you are not interested in my own personal triggers)

My personal triggering point is two-fold, and it can happen with children or anyone else, but honestly, children are adept at these particular 2 points. The first trigger – something rooted and wired in me from who knows when – is someone not listening to me. Interestingly, something children must feel a LOT. Then, when someone (again, often children) are not listening to me AND I start pulling out all of my parenting tools (I find my order tends to be something like this: I try compassion and listening, then playfulness, then firm kindness, then play the “consequences” card) and then when none of my tools work, I promptly lose it. I see as I write this that screaming is my final way to get them to listen to me. Perhaps throwing around some pillows or pounding on the bed really hard will get them to pay attention!! Although, really, at the point I lose it, they are so upset that they can’t “hear” me anyway. It’s scary to watch the person who is in charge of your entire life completely lose their minds – there are a lot of scary implications within that. But to be honest, IN that very moment, I am glad they are scared. I am scared too and my child-self is still blaming them for pushing me to this point. Last night it was when I was screaming at my child that HE needed to pull it together (it was his horrendous whining and complaining that got us to this point) that shocked me back to reality. The irony of that statement actually triggered my sanity to return. And almost as quickly as I flare, I can take a deep breath and regain my calm. OK, not always – sometimes it takes a minute of breathing and talking myself off the ledge. It depends. But the point is that I recover and then my new sane eyes look to my children who are either crying and scared or just staring in bewilderment (this was my 3 year old, observing as I ‘lost it’ with her 5 year old brother). We then gather on the couch and this is where I bumble through with everything I want to say about the situation.

But here is where I get all confused in spiritual / conscience parenting analysis. I want my children to know that it’s ok to have big emotions. That it’s normal. Human. But, of course, I want to teach them appropriate ways to handle their anger. This sounds really really good on paper: Appropriate Ways to Handle Anger. Rational. Calm. Anger as part of a pretty floral arrangement of emotions. But anger doesn’t show up like this for me. If it did, it wouldn’t be anger. My anger is raw and messy and bloody (not literally), oily and hot. When I give in to it fully, I revert to something virtually unrecognizable – it eats the floral arrangement of emotions. And I have to tell you, it feels kind of good. In the moment that is, but only in that moment of letting it out. The aftermath is a killer. One does not even get to bask in the glory of letting it out for a few moments before the hangover sets in. This hangover is not of headache and nausea, but of shame and regret, embarrassment and guilt. How in the WORLD can I ever espouse those two words – ‘appropriate behavior’ again after this display, I think, every time. It makes me want to throw in the towel. Give my kids a hug good-bye and wish them well, but explain that it’s best that I’m not their mommy. I can’t handle it. I’m not cut out for it. I’ll be finding a suitable replacement and sending her shortly.

But as it turns out, I might be hard pressed to find the mom who doesn’t occasionally lose it. The more I talk to other moms about this, the more it seems we all do it. It doesn’t make it right (or does it?), but this is where I get lost and confused (two states I find myself in so often these days). I’ve read lots of parenting advice that says it’s OK to lose it, it’s the clean-up of the after-math that is important. But as I fumble around with words, explanations (what mommy did was NOT appropriate), and apologies (I used to apologize for getting angry, now I apologize for the behavior and for ever hurting their bodies – while I have never hit my children or done anything intentionally abusive (though I fully get that this is the point when people do), if I am taking them to their rooms or some other consequence, my hand is not as gentle as I would like it to be when I am angry ), I wonder if and how this can be good for them. And this is where I am with anger. I can now at least say that and sometimes see that it IS just another emotion, I can also see that it is my fear of it that makes it something bigger. My therapist pointed out that I still can’t give myself permission to ever show anger – to really treat it like another emotion. And this could not be more accurate. While I can now put it in a list of emotions and see it as one of the pages in my children’s books that illustrate different emotions (how I wish anger just showed up as a mad face), I would actually like to asterisk that one with the caveat at the bottom that says, *while anger IS another emotion and it’s fine for you to express appropriately, it would be best if mommy just didn’t go there.

So, the reason I am even writing this is to drag you through, once again, my thought process and to work this damn thing out. I feel it, as I write, that it’s a little bit unrealistic to not have anger at all. It can be just another page in the children’s book. Just because it’s trickier – more difficult – is all the more reason to start talking about it early. It’s just interesting b/c it’s not like any other emotion. I can’t think of other emotions that need to be “handled” in the same way, that need to be explained with appropriate means of expressing them and then PRACTICED. But maybe this is just me making it big again.

Even with the bumbling, I am starting to see that maybe this IS ok. That it’s better they see me struggle with emotions, just like they do. And when my son emulates my behavior sometimes, by screaming at his sister, it’s OK…we are BOTH learning…together. But it’s hard to show this vulnerability to the people in your life that you most want to impress. And impress upon. And so this is where I sign off, still in my struggle to find the balance of sharing big feelings and searching for that “appropriate” way to do it. I’m having a hard time summing and wrapping up. It has haunted me for years and I’m sitting in the middle, looking for that ray of inspirational conjecture to leave my other moms out there with. But maybe, like I’m doing with my children, I’ll keep it real and just ask your forgiveness for not having the answers. If you have some, please send, or at least send me your address and I will look you up the next time I’m looking for that replacement mommy. Kidding. Kind of.

Drummer Boy

The other day I was sent this little life-changing morsel: http://www.hedyyumi.com/about-us/ted-talk/. Ok, so if you didn’t want to sit through 20 minutes of life-changing talk (though I encourage you to take the time later), I’ll summarize for you because that’s just how nice I am. She speaks about the 3 invisible connectors between people: The Space, The Bridge, and The Encounter. The Space is where the relationship lives between two people – the sacred space. The Encounter is the resonance that physically occurs between 2 brains that has been proven to actually calm our central nervous systems.  How we get to the Encounter is to cross The Bridge. The Bridge connects the space of two individuals and you cross it by taking a deep breath, being present, leaving your “stuff” on your own side of the bridge, and crossing over to meet someone in THEIR world. While I feel I am doing a rather inadequate job of explaining a really beautiful concept (watch the video – I’m telling you, it has transformed my week), this will suffice for the back-drop of my lovely encounter with my 5-year old, Max.

Max has been in music since he was a baby – first in Music Together classes where we sang songs, used lots of hand gestures, “played” lots of instruments and generally danced and were silly (although, evidently all of this has been highly studied and while we jump around like bunnies and swoosh colorful scarves we are actually teaching our children a plethora of complex musical concepts). Well, let’s use “we” lightly here. I did all of these things while Max sat comfortably in my lap or perched on my arm. While other children danced and swayed, Max observed and occasionally smiled. I persisted because, well, a) I love that darn class – I LOVE to sing, if any of you have forgotten this point, even if I don’t do it well, so any chance to go sing and be silly was right up my alley (I noticed the looks from the other moms, who were less enthusiastic about singing “John the Rabbit” while hopping across the room, but I didn’t care), and b) while Max didn’t “participate” in class, I noticed him doing these things later at home, sort of a closet-participant if you will. Also, music is linked to math skills in children AND Mark and I agreed that music was something we wanted them exposed to and brought up with, so voila…me and Austin Lyric Opera became very good friends.

When he became too old for Music Together, I had another child so I could keep going, and I promptly put him into Music for Mozarts, a small group class to learn the piano. He put up with it for a year and a half but lately has insisted that he hates it and never wants to play again. I take partial blame for this because I have been CRAP at setting up any structured time for this little thing called, ahem, practice. Yes – that one little key ingredient to learning anything new, let alone something as complex as learning the piano! So, as it got harder, he has grown to hate it more. Totally my bad. So now, after deciding music would be something we would value in our household I realized that I had burnt my son out at the early age of 5 and he was insisting that he hated it. Not the result I was looking for while we shook our egg-shakers and sang sweet songs in Music Together classes a short time ago.

Yesterday, Max and I got to talking about music. He was sitting at the kitchen table, across from me, like I was hanging out with a friend, having coffee. Already, it seemed like a rare and special moment. I suddenly thought about the video. I put my feet on the floor, I took a deep breath, I looked him in the eyes, and I ventured across that bridge. Before I took my first step, however (wondering if I was going to do it right), I dropped a couple things off at the toll booth on my side. I dropped my desire for him to love music. I dropped off my secret fantasy for, if not a musical prodigy, at least a child who took naturally to music and got as much out of it as I …..um, as I think my mom wanted ME to as a child. I really appreciate that I learned it (piano and saxophone) growing up, but I didn’t even start music until elementary age and honestly, it was never really my “thing”. So I dropped off even the notion that it was a NECESSARY skill or that not learning it would hinder his development as a well-rounded human being. I actually opened myself to the idea that we would quit music indefinitely, until HE raised the interest again. Tiger-mom would not approve.

After my deep breath, and feeling like I had ventured over, lighter from dropping off some baggage, I said, “Max, here’s the thing. I sign you up for music and other things because I want you to be exposed and to have fun. That’s it. If you really hate it we can re-think it” (honestly, I don’t remember exactly what I said, but I’m improvising and we’ll all get the gist).

He stared back into my eyes, “But I hate it. It’s boring.”

Hearing him and letting him know I heard him I replied, “I know. You don’t like piano. I get that.” And then the following came to me. That we were using Music and Piano interchangeably, so I added, “but music is a big thing. Music could mean whatever you want it to be. It could be the violin… it could be the trumpet (I was trying to go random on purpose to get him thinking)… it could be ANY instrument in the world!”

A grin grew as I saw the wheels turning, and he spoke slowly, “Well, I would like to learn….the drums.” On the word drums, his smile (and he has one of the best smiles on this planet) exploded. My face automatically reflected his.

“Yes!” I replied, perhaps too enthusiastically, as my desire for him to like music snuck back in. “Drums! We can do drums!” I thought of my friend/parent & life coach (one day I’ll figure out a succinct way to describe her), who had SENT me the video AND who also happens to play the drums! It suddenly struck me as odd that I had never thought of the drums for Max on my own.

And that was how it worked. I consciously decided to connect, to honor the space of our relationship. I took a few steps to get there and like that, we had an encounter. No expectations or disappointment. A simple conversation where I got to learn something else about Max – that he wanted to learn how to play the drums! Isn’t that why we have kids, anyway, to experience the world through their eyes? Well, it’s a reason I had children, so I’m so grateful to have been sent the video that reminded me – if I want that, then sometimes I have to have the courage to close my own and let them show me the way.

OK, now go watch the video:).

Once Upon a Time

Sometimes when I least expect it, magical moments abound. Our front lawn project was finished today and I’m kind of in love with it. Sometimes, in the middle of these types of projects, I second guess myself in spending money on this kind of thing – certainly not a necessity in life. It feels a little indulgent to spend lots just to be more inspired, even if my mantra in life these days is to seek out all that inspires me. But now that it’s done, there are no qualms. I was actually excited about driving up to our house today. Every time I pulled in to our driveway, magic was there.

Then after my run in 100 degree heat (yes, I am insane), though I do think it might have dropped to 98 by the time I actually left, I drove over to one of my favorite stores on this planet – because it inspires me in many ways – Whole Foods. It is Austin’s gargantuan mecca of all things healthy and bright, including a community spirit that reflects these same qualities. I got up to the register and realized I didn’t have my wallet. Aside from panicking that I had left it at the sno-cone trailer earlier today (yet another Austin institution, which is not very healthy but indeed bright), I desparately did not want to go home without dinner. Not to worry – my dinner was free. Yes, I am an extremely loyal customer who spends thousands there, but the lady at the counter didn’t know that. My heart was officially warmed and my tummy officially satisfied.

Then as I was finishing up my dinner and diving into my book, I noticed that my foot had involuntarily started tapping. I came out of the depths of the Dominican Republican’s political disarray to realize that a fabulous little band had started a little impromptu show not 10 feet in front of me. Then they gave me free music. Enjoy the magic. This is the song they were playing, and not the free one. Fork in the Road 

My evening ended with me realizing that my wallet had not been carried off by the bees at the sno-cone trailer, but was sitting on my counter at home, safe and sound. Perhaps not magical, but a lovely end to my tale. And I live happily ever after. (and btw, i’ve got two magical munchkins asleep in their beds.)

The Birthday Party Dash

My sweet little girl is turning 3 tomorrow! I’ve been running around all day preparing for her ‘easy so that I don’t have to do anything’ party, but it will be worth it.

Since I have not had time to write the last few days, here’s something that I love that I wanted to share…. http://carriecontey.com/blog/i-love-this/#more-585

It’s the Little Things

Tonight at dinner with my family, I noticed a young couple who looked like they were on a date. I had a moment of strange appreciation when I thought, “at least I never had to worry that a guy was going out with me because I had big boobs.” I don’t know if people with big boobs would ever think or worry about this, but I’ll just take my little moment of appreciation for myself- ya take what you can get. Just like you’ve got what you were given. Kind of, unless you choose to get more. But whatever, you know what I’m trying to say:).

Fjord Fun

During my recent trip to Norway, one of my Facebook posts eluded to my husband trying, once again, to kill me. This was how it went down.

Every so often and at least once every trip, I am reminded who I married and ultimately, or at least partially, why.

On our last day at the Fjord, we had most of the day before our train departure at 5:25 to choose either a fjord cruise on the water, a hike or a bike ride with the bikes we had rented the day before. Typical for us, we got a bit later start than planned (it was vacation, afterall). We checked in at the boat, but it was already full, so we decided to “ride our bikes for a while.” A suggested itinerary in the guidebooks was to take a train up the mountain to a town called Myrdal and then bike back down to our town, Flam. We had already done a small ride out to the spot to hike up to the waterfall the previous day, so we headed in that direction, towards Myrdal. Note that we were now headed up-hill. I knew this, but a) had no intention of riding all the way to Myrdal (20km) (I don’t actually know if Mark had this intention), and b) it was the kind of incline that you can’t really SEE that you are going up-hill, so there’s no, “whoa, I’m not going THAT way” reaction. Curiously, however, you end up riding in the easiest gear and still working fairly hard. I call those hills blind, but deadly. This might also be a good time to mention the bikes – 7 speed, heavy, more of a hybrid city bike. It started out a very pleasant enough ride, despite the slight up-hill battle. Then it turned downright gorgeous with jaw-dropping waterfalls around every turn. For a while, I got so caught up in the scenery that I was hardly paying attention to the fact that I was riding…up. Around every turn there was a waterfall at least as spectacular as the one before, with a few show-offs in between. We found one that Mark dubbed his “all-time favorite waterfall of all times.” It was absolutely magical. DSC00215

I’m not sure how long we had been riding, but I started to noticeably fatigue. I noted that we had not brought any food with us, despite the fact that I had on a backpack that probably weighed at least 10 pounds – it did contain water, but also 3 books, an ipad and other miscellaneous travel items (remember, I had not really planned on a 20k bike-ride). I started to stop more frequently. I found more things that I needed to photograph, which, to be fair, was every 10 feet, really. And then I hit the wall. This happens to me with some frequency while biking – well, with running too, but it takes a much longer distance for me to run out of gas while running. Once I have exhausted my physical energy, my mental energy soon goes – let’s face it – I’m using a lot of that as my physical drains, to keep me going. All that is left, then, is pure emotion and what always surfaces at this stage for me is crying. Yes, like a girl. I start o weep on the steeper inclines, partially mad and cursing Mark’s name (it’s handy to have him around) and partially just at my own end, I feel “I can’t go on”, but know that I have to, so out come the tears. Mark has usually ridden ahead of me, and he’ll either cycle back or stop and wait for me somewhere.  DSC00218

I finally started getting off and pushing my bike up the steeper switchbacks. We consulted along the way and it seemed the best idea was to push on to the next town on the map in search of food. As it turned out, however, this “town” consisted of a cluster of houses. By then, we were close enough to Myrdal that it seemed the best option to continue the quest for sustenance. Knowing the train station was there, we knew there would be a café. We also finally found ourselves in a relatively flat valley, so my mood lightened as I made my way closer to my next meal.

I should also mention that how Mark and I eat and use food is totally different. I eat small bits of food (or sometimes not so small) throughout the day – I am almost always hungry. Mark eats like a lion at one meal and then may go a day without eating again.  Also, this up-hill ride was 10x the exertion for me, given Mark is a category 2 bicycle racer and rides the hills of Austin 3x/week. This is just to say that this was literally a walk in the park for him, while I was struggling through my sweat and tears. When the road headed up again we ditched my bike to the side and I hopped on the back of his. When it was too steep for him to ride with me (slacker), we walked and ditched his bike too. The last few kilometers were straight up. The walking was, at first, fine for me, but as we carried on, putting one foot in front of the other, even the walking was too much for my drained body.DSC00241

There was some snow just before the town (which I was also unprepared for, in my suede sneakers), and it caused us to lose the path a bit. We ended up at a railway workers lodge. I was so hungry and so frustrated at this point that I barged into the lodge, looking for any sign of life that would be able to direct us to food, or perhaps give us some, seeing me in my pathetic state. And if they didn’t give it to me, I was ready to rip it out of their hands and duck into a nearby corner tearing into my find, like a wild hyena on the African savannah. But there were no people in the lodge. Only up-turned lounge chairs, some gym equipment and a half-naked girl on a calendar on the wall. I hung my head in defeat and we went searching for the train station once again. We found the path again and finally arrived to the train station. By this time, every other word out of my mouth was a curse word and I was feeling a bit pessimistic. As I cussed my way the final 100m, climbing over some train tracks, I panicked at the lack of other humans around. “oh god, the café is closed…there isn’t going to be any food here!”

And right then, I thought I might die.

I cared less about my children I was about to orphan than I thought I would in that moment as I was caught up in my own grumbling tummy. When I get that empty, I feel like I am made of air and I think that the wind might just whisk me away and I don’t really care. I might have thought about eating Mark, but given his stellar physical state, I knew I had no chance at pinning him down.

But there was a café and it was open and there was food on offer. I chose a cheese sandwich, a piece of apple pie and an orange Fanta. I could not get to the table fast enough, my body did not calm until a good 4 bites into the sandwich and ½ of my sugary drink. The apple pie (heated, no cream) was some of the best I’ve ever had. I sighed in relief – I was going to go on living after all. I sat for a moment, feeling the calories reverberate throughout my body.

Then we realized that we were potentially going to be cutting it tight to get back for our train. We jogged back down the hill (fully fueled, this was no problem). We collected the 1st bike, rode down the rest of the way to gather mine. It then took us only 45 minutes to cycle home the same distance it had just taken us 2 hours to cross. I enjoyed the coasting even more having felt I had I had earned every bit of those down hills. As we whizzed by the waterfalls and spectacular scenery, I was glad we had the slow ride up to really take it all in. There were a couple spots we had to ride up, but my newly fueled legs could manage, especially when Mark rode beside me and pushed me up. We rolled into town exhausted but exhilarated by the fast ride home. I felt proud for having worked so hard. I was again reminded why I love being married to a super-man. He pushes me (figuratively and literally), he helps me, he holds my hand through it all. At the end I feel accomplished and proud of myself for pushing through, even if I don’t do so very gracefully. The fact that he doesn’t mind my lack of grace – he never reacts or gets mad about my childish and irrational behavior – it makes me feel accepted for all of my colors, like he’s really going to see me through in life. Now that bike ride will go down in the memory books as one of the best of my life, despite the poor food planning. Thank you, Superman!

Back and Forth

I’m back! Sort of. I am physically here. I flew back on an airplane just over 48 hours ago or so. I am in my ‘transition time’, the time it takes me to really get back, especially crossing umpteen time-zones. My children feel it too – mama’s back but not really back – it’s very frustrating for them, but I can’t seem to help it or rush it. During this time, I’m always amazed at how quickly I go back to feeling like banging my head against the wall over the things I was glad to get away from – bedtime, nap-time, and the constant “play with me’s.” It just takes me a couple days to remind myself of my role – to set boundaries and to stick to them – something I’m not particularly good at so it takes energy, something I’m lacking during this ‘transition time’. I just have to get my parenting-legs back.

Yesterday, my first run in Austin was like a big warm, I mean hot and humid embrace, but which helped me get one step closer to being back. I’m almost here. In the mean time…a cute conversation with my 5-year old… He was trying on my sunglasses and was thrilled to discover that they fit him very well (it’s true – he’s got a big head, me a very small one). He asked if he could wear them the next time we go to the beach or pool and the conversation went something like this…

Me: You have your own sunglasses, Max.

Max: But those are cycling sunglasses (when he got them in his stocking, this is how they were “sold”, that they made him look like a cyclist, like dada).

Me: Well, you can wear them for other things.

Max: No, I would rather just wear yours.

Me: But then what am I going to wear?

Max: Your red ones. (soooo, you have an inventory of my accessories wardrobe in that head of yours?)

Me: Oh right, but those are my running sunglasses. (I grimaced, knowing exactly what was coming)

Max: Well, you can wear them for other things (mimicked exactly how I had said it to him just moments before).

Touché, Max, Touché

And, btw, I surrender.