Friday, November 20, 2009

I Walk Alone

**To fully experience this post, please press play on the video before you begin reading. Thank you, and enjoy your flight.

It is past seven when he walks in the door. I have two hours left to get all the things I need before the stores close. The baby is asleep and I hurriedly toss out some instructions regarding the dinner that is in the oven as I put on my coat and head out the door.

Armed with an umbrella and two reusable shopping bags, I walk alone under the nearly bare trees and through a maze of puddles accompanied by only my thoughts. OH MY THOUGHTS, how I have MISSED you! My life has become a cacophony of incessant chatter punctuated by bouts of crying by one or both of my children. And I love them, OH I LOVE THEM. It has just been quite some time since I was able to begin a thought and follow it through to it's end without someone waking up or yelling," MOMMY, WIPE MY BUUUUUUUUTTTTTTT!" from the other room.

I walk alone and ponder the nature of God. The beauty of this life; a flock of ten thousand starlings against a gray Autumn sky even seems beautiful in its lack of color. Head lights and neon signs reflected in a rain puddle and then gone in the splash of a tire. It is only a two block walk but I take it, slowly, breathing deeply, remembering as much as I can of these few moments. I will save them in that special place in my heart and pull them out again someday.

Climbing the steps to the store, I look into the faces of each person and wonder who they are. I want to KNOW them. All of them. What makes them beat and tick, who and what do they love? I want to run away with them to a place where we can almost see our thoughts as they float above us in a cloud of smoke while we drink tea from places of which I've only imagined going. But. That's just silly.....the heady whims of an ambling dreamer. And so I push them back down into the deeper corners of my soul and pull the grocery list from my pocket.

"The avocados are ripe this time". And just like that the thoughts are gone....who knows when they will return. I have switched faces, gears; persona's. Back to the business at hand. Pull my head from the clouds. And while the business at hand may not be as heady, it has it's own subtle and intense pleasures; feeling a dozen skins in pursuit of the perfect apples, the warmth of a baguette fresh from the oven, thinking of the people I love and hand selecting items with which I will create something to warm their bellies and souls; pouring my love into it like batter from my heart.

I saved 10 cents bringing my own bags. This time as I walk home I try to figure out how much I will have saved over some time. I've never been much good at math. As I walk with a bag in each hand, I imagine I am a Dutch girl with wooden shoes and two buckets of milk hanging from a stick across my shoulders.

Upon opening the door, I am greeted with the smell of dinner and exclamations of MOMMY'S HOME! My heart swells and like a flock of ten thousand starlings, may take flight.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

And Then There's The Babbies......

Ellie(ism) #1.....

Normally everywhere we go, people stop to coo and fawn over Ari, she's a baby, what can I say? Well, when this happens, Ellie is most often found standing by making mean faces and being rather disagreeable to anyone who's in her path. I attributed her behaivor to a bit of sibling rivalry.

Yesterday, we were taking a walk and a young woman walked right past us without smiling or even acknowledging us. Ellie was shocked. With an indignant look on her face, she yelled out, "HEY, she doesn't like our baby! She didn't want to look at her or talk to her!" And then she ran over to Ari and held her hand reassuringly. In that split second I caught a glimpse of the future. Of broken hearts by mean, mean ole boys and a pair of sisters comforting one another and reassuring the other of their respective charm and beauty. The preciousness was palpable.

And then there's the babbies......

Ellie calls the pacifier a babbies, I dunno. Anyway, we had broken her of them before I went back to Indiana recently by letting her cut the ends of them into the trash with "grown up scissors". She was free of them, like a junkie come clean, and THEN. And then driving back from my In Laws one day, she was bawling like you had just dismembered a kitten in front of her while pooping on a DVD of Toy Story. Yeah, it was THAT bad. She didn't want to go home with ME, her MOTHER. She wanted to stay at Grandma's where she is the sun and we are all just caught in her orbit.

Well, if that didn't make me feel like crap, so I did a terrible thing. I had a pacifier in my purse for Ari (who wants NOTHING to do with them) and like some back street pusher, I offered it to her to quell the pain.

"Here man, take some a this, you know, in a few minutes, you'll forget aaaaaaal about Grandma's. Yeah, thas right, just set back and enjoy."

And oh boy, had I started something. The addiction came back tenfold. It has been a battle of nearly apocalyptic proportion every time I try to take away the bakers dozen she carries around at all times.

I sat and contemplated how to deal with this. The subtle ways it could be handled with a minimum of tears and heartache. I was at a loss for any good ideas. But I knew one thing. They had to GO. And it needed to be yesterday! So I explained to her that she was too big for them now and we were going to go to the toy store and let her pick out a new toy that would take the place of the babbies.

As we pulled into Toys R Us, her eyes filled with tears and, grasping at straws, she hurriedly said, "That's OK Mommy, I don't need any new toys. I have good toys at home." I explained to her that this WAS going to happen and wouldn't she like a new toy to make the transition easier?

"B-B-B-But I'll really miss my baaaaaaaaaaa-biiiiiiiies!" She cried.

"It WILL be OK Ellie. I had to give mine up too and Uncle Gordon and Daddy and we were all sad too, but we were all OK. You can hug and snuggle your new toy when you feel sad about your babbies and that will help you feel better."

"OK", she said in a small voice.

As soon as we entered the doors the babbies were all but forgotten. She ended up picking out a tiny family of tigers that came with a plush little sofa. When we got to the car she reluctantly handed over the pacifiers and I traded her for the tigers.

Bedtime went off without a hitch partly due to the mound of unicorn books we checked out of the library, and this morning she asked me for them once and when I reminded her that they were gone and, well, she was fine. She was MORE fine than I would have given her credit for.

Moral: A few tears initially are worth enduring to spare yourself a mountain of them later.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

New York Part UNO

I remember when Jeremy told me he was getting deployed to Kuwait. I was pregnant and our daughter was only a few weeks old when we said good bye for what would be eight months. Despite the fact that I had temporarily moved back in with my parents, I was, for all intents and purposes, a first time single Mother. There was no one else to change the diapers. There was no one else to help me through the night times. There was no one else to say to this child, Hello, I am also in you. I see it in your eyes. My eyes.

My Mother was in very similar situations during my childhood as my Father was frequently away on business. I think I learned from her to steele myself. My Mother is tiny in height and frame. I have never heard her speak ill of another human nor have I ever heard her utter profanities...even when the dining room window slammed down on her finger and trapped it while I stood by like a chicken with my head cut off freaking the F out. She is beautiful, both inside and out and has weathered storms far beyond what I have had to endure and has come out on the other side, stronger, the victor.

I don't know if that strength, that resolve, is inherent or learned; forged, if you will over the course of time and circumstance. If I had to say, I would pick the latter. Because after years of watching this tiny woman with character of gargantuan proportions, I did what I had observed her do so many times. I steeled my will and resolved to BE OK. I can make no bones about it though, my Faith, her faith, were the compass that guided us through the storms, the anchor that kept us from getting lost.

So there I was, fifty pounds overweight, Husbandless, and with a baby for the first time in my life. I sucked it up and said, can I do this? YES I CAN! And I did so many things I may have never attempted if my Husband were there: Put together an exersaucer, work out for two hours a day, take out the trash. And in the end, when the sky parted and the sun shone again, and that storm was over, I was stronger, more independent. And while I love having my Husband here to take out the trash- one of his MANY skills- I don't NEED him to. If he had never gone, I don't think I would have learned that.

When we first moved here, it had been several years since I had lived in a large, urban area and never with children. I was admittedly overwhelmed and scared at times. The metro, the bus? By myself? Could I do it? YES I COULD! And so I swallowed my fear, dove in, asked people along the way for help. Because in one of life's great metaphors, if you get lost, despite what most men think, it IS OK to stop and ask for directions.

I have two daughters. I spend a lot of time thinking about what that means for me as a Mother. Raising two Daughters in our world. In a society that places unparalleled pressure on women to look and be a certain way. For now, I am the model for behavior that they will emulate and that is no light thing. I take my job very seriously. Just as I watched and now only hope to be a smidgen like my own Mother, they will (fingers crossed) do the same. The rest is up to Providence.

So when I recently booked a bus ticket for myself to visit my friend in New York, it could have been a daunting thing. But I knew that I could do it. And, more importantly, it was an opportunity to show Elsbeth that there is NOTHING we can't do. I had a plan, it was well thought out, everything else, our safety, all the details, I thankfully gave to my friend in Heaven.

And early on a Friday morning I drove to the metro, put Ari in the Baby Hawk, Ellie in the stroller, with one hand pushed the stroller and with the other hand pulled a suitcase and got on the train. People helped me every step of the way. The kindness of strangers is a beautiful thing. We made it to our stop and managed to meander through the crowd on their way to work, find two elevators, and then walk two blocks to the parking lot where the bus was waiting.

Because of some train issues, I had been delayed about 15 minutes and when I walked up to the bus stop, they were making their last call for our bus. We had JUST made it. And so, once again with the help of kind strangers, we managed to get our things loaded and got a seat on the top deck of the double decker bus.

This post was initially just going be about my trip to New York, but when I sat down to type it, as often happens lately, the bigger picture began to emerge. Yes, I took a trip. Which I WILL talk about at length soon. But more than that, I hope that in my resolve to accomplish whatever I set my mind to, I taught my Daughters that while the World may at times be a big, scary place; while circumstances may appear as though they are going to swallow us up whole and spit out our bones, there is never anything to fear. I hope that they learn not to be paralyzed by fear, not to NOT act because of fear. Go forth boldly, and succeed, or fail trying.

That being said, will you ever see me jumping out of an airplane? NO, because well, that's just plain dumb.