Monday, November 23, 2009

My Big Knockers

I'm having an affair with the Tidy Bowl Man. Or at least my husband probably thinks so. I regularly find myself headed to the bathroom to get just a few minutes alone.

I've got vivid memories of my mom uttering various pleads for privacy to us, namely to me and my brother but sometimes my dad too. "May I at least go to the bathroom by myself?" or "I've been to the kitchen, den, and my sewing room. Are you guys going to follow me to the next room?" (Yep, we probably were.)

Moms are like magnets. There is this amazing, unstoppable draw to the matriarchs of most families. It seems as soon as a child is born to a woman, she is magically infused with some kind of fierce polar attraction, where those who are dependent upon her must be in close proximity. Panic ensues if she is not in obvious eyesight. And if one of the them finds himself near her, the other(s) are fixated on finding her too.

Sometimes when I'm hiding away for a little restroom retreat and hear the familiar knock at the door, followed by Mo-om? I try to be patient. I remind myself that when the kids are older, I'll be sitting in there, yearning for those tiny taps (that inevitably become insistent knocks). Until then, Mr. Clean and I are going to continue our private mini-meetings as long as necessary. You see, my husband is close, but every woman knows that you can't trust a sailor-particularly one who drives around in your toilet.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Battle of Wills and the Bulge

Thought it was time to write the blog entry that inspired me to start this thing to begin with and also partially explain the blog title I chose.

I eat, therefore I run. Should also add that I enjoy drinking yummy beers, and the ones I'm partial to tend to contain the highest caloric count in each tantalizing sip. I've been "a runner" for over a decade. Many have asked me if I like running. Not especially. And although a fringe benefit to running is that it clears my cluttered mind, my main motivation for hitting the pavement is typically to work off a recently gobbled HoHo (or seven).

Months ago, I was running on my regular route, slowly sputtering up the hill I must climb on my return home. I was pushing my Chunkasaurus Rex in the jogging stroller, as he hummed and nibbled on crackers, oblivious to my pain. And I was struggling. I mean the kind of internal battle where I was actually talking to myself aloud, "Come on, you can do this. You've run further than this before. This is the same body that ran the fun and festive Rock 'n' Roll San Diego marathon, right? Just a slightly hilly three miles today. And you're on the home stretch. Let's go!"

Unfortunately my answer didn't come from my positive inner athlete but from my exhausted excuse-making slacker, "Oh yeah? Well, that was awhile ago. And I've had two kids since then. This body isn't quite the same, you know, a lot more mileage on these legs (which now that I am looking at the back of, am wondering if you don't need to cut out a few of those sugary coffee drinks, little missy."

Midway up the hill, I was able to quiet my feuding inner voices. I considered that maybe I don't often get to run as fast or as far as I'd like to, but this body of mine is just as amazing, maybe even more seven years after my one marathon run. Sure, this is the body that got me through a 26.1 mile trek. But to give it full credit, it's the same one that carried two babies, each followed by a pretty crazy emergency c-section, allowing me both of the most miraculous gifts-millions of times more precious than a race gold medal that is somewhere collecting dust.

By the time I reached the hill's peak, I had made a pretty long mental list of many other accomplishments both my body and mind have made since that hot June run in California. And I had finished yet another run, with the added benefit that my son was asleep and was able to take a long bath (the kind where I get to slowly shave my weary legs without later having to cover my cuts in a mix of Transformer and Hello Kitty band-aids as most my showers end these days).

I am one running mother.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Forgive AND Forget

Last Friday I volunteered with a fellow kindergarten mom to watch our kids' class during the teachers' luncheon. That's right, 18 extremely excitable mini-minds for an hour all to ourselves. It's been a long time since I was a teacher, but when I walked into the room and saw those fresh faces light up (even though I knew it was just the novelty of having new "teachers" for a brief spell), it felt so good.

Until my eyes met his. All of the excitement and exhilaration of being back in the classroom flushed away like a stinky Kandoo wipe. It hadn't occurred to me weeks ago when I agreed to work with the class that we would meet face-to-face today. There he was. Ed-not his real name, but that's what I found myself calling him back in October. (You may remember him by his full alias, Edward Scissorhands.)

He did not smile when he saw me. Just looked me over and then went back to making his turkey puppet. On his table I spotted the sharp scissors lying next to his pencil box. What else was in there? I pondered briefly. A poky compass? Extra pointy markers? Heaven forbid, a metal paperclip which we all know could quickly transform into a wicked weapon with one tiny twist?!

Get a hold of yourself, Sabena! Fortunately it was just a fleeting moment that I had such suspect thoughts about Ed. I've coined these brief attacks as PMS (Protective Mom Syndrome). Since the cut capri incident, I've decided that occasional PMS is okay as long as you A) don't act on your momentary fantasies for revenge, B) remember that in most instances the immature offender is just that, a kid being a kid, and C) always be mindful that the he/she is someone else's whole world. Ed's mom (or dad, aunt, grandmother, etc.) probably has a raging case of PMS herself. She proudly displays every piece of artwork his chubby hands create. (Even the ones that require cutting.)

So as I walked around the room assisting the little turkeys in making their own, I made sure I stopped by his table several times. I wanted to know as much as I could about this little felon, I mean, fellow. The more I stopped by to check his progress, the more Ed seemed to warm up to me. At my fifth or so visit, he told me why he picked each color for the various puppet parts. When he was done, he proudly smiled at me and held up Tom the turkey. And it was terrific.

BTW, I looked. Just a few dull-tipped crayons and a nontoxic gluestick.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Back in the Saddle...

. . . but just a little wobbly.

I've lived much of my life thinking about "what's next?!" Whether it's the big things like when do we have another child? To the smaller stuff, such as deciding on what color to paint the nursery, I often seem to have my mind on the next thing to be done. Well-intended as this approach is (as most of "what's next" normally concerns my family), with a bit of age, I mean wisdom, I've begun to realize, like most things, there is a downside to this kind of thinking if it's done all the time. I think I am getting it: if you are always looking ahead, it's easy to miss out on the enjoyment and wonder of what's going on right now.

Luckily I am married to someone who is more about dealing with the here and now and takes time for reflection. I admit at times this has driven me crazy. Me and my let's get it done (BTW, even in the county we should try to say it properly), let's not miss out on an opportunity, let's try to take some control of the situation kind of approach. I used to view his method as indecision (and occasionally even as slackerdom). But after over a decade together, I am learning that in some situations, there is much merit to what I used to consider madness. Why sit back and let things just happen to you? Shouldn't we try to influence and alter our fate, trying to put the odds in our favor? Come on! Let's go after (fill in the blank)! But I am recognizing that there are times, many times in fact, when not focusing on the future and simply living in the present is good.

Along with my thoughtful spouse, I also have two marvelous, miniature reminders of why it's important to let some things just happen. If I constantly continued my "what's next" approach as a parent, then I would have missed out on so many amazing moments. Lately, I am getting much better at sitting down with my children and molding things out of playdo and spending less time obsessing over whether or not we should take advantage of the currently low mortgage rates. I am a work in progress, trying to figure out when to play which card-living for the now or mildly manipulating what's in store.

In fact, a few weeks ago (on the night of October 20 to be exact) I had a particular full-on, sit-back-and-enjoy-life-right-now enlightening event while I was tucking our son in bed, while my more easygoing partner was reading a bedtime book to our daughter in the next room. I remember the date vividly because the next morning I was going to chaperone my daughter's school field trip, and at my son's bedside I couldn't help but think of all the things I NEEDED to be doing instead of scrambling around the zoo with 80 plus five- and six-year-olds (among many things, needing to write two FL articles due on Friday). And then I looked at the lowering eyelids of my little boy and was struck at how much I love him, and how blessed I was to be there at that moment. So instead of seeing this as an opportunity to run out of the room and go work on my articles, I intentionally took a deep breath, and tried to mimic the gentle rise and fall of his chest. I took a minute to admire the beautiful quilt that covered his little body. My mom had made it for him before he was born. After a little while, I tiptoed to my sleeping daughter's room, full of anticipation about spending some reflective time with her as well. I ended the evening by hanging out with my husband-intentionally minus talk of possible jobs, suggestions of future plans, or other potential changes. A great way to end the day.

And it's a good thing I did too. When I went upstairs to awaken the kids the next morning, I saw that the little guy had wet the bed. After scrambling to get them ready for school, I went to check my email real quick-like and found a horrible message-my computer had a virus. Ugh! Where was the natural high from the peace and satisfaction I had experienced just hours before?! Why could I already feel it deflating like a cheap grocery store balloon? Where was the beautiful inner harmony that sang in my soul as I was enjoying the present just last night? Oh well.

At the zoo, about halfway through a mostly fun field trip (inner peace slowly returning), we visited the gorillas, and I noticed my boy's warm forehead. By the time I collected both my kids, checked out with the teacher, and swiftly moved to the car, my son's violent vomiting spell had begun. Once I got them home and settled down for quiet time, I checked the mail and discovered my cell phone bill had almost tripled (my bad, honey). The next letter was a hospital bill from some more tests our normally healthy daughter had to undergo. How much?! (Ooohh! Christmas gifts are gonna be slim this year.) Minutes later I go check on my napping cherubs to find my son's temperature is 104.7. It takes two hours to get it to budge. I'm told that my pediatrician's office cannot see more any patients that day. ("The flu's going around, you know?") I get his fever under control and, of course, he sleeps next to me that night so I can watch him. I wake up at 2:00 a.m. as achy as a newbie taken Tracy's Turbokick class.

The next day at the doc's, my little boy is officially diagnosed with the flu. And yes, I have it too. I admit I fought the urge to run to my computer and check the day's mortgage rates-the future was surely looking brighter than the present (but remember my son and I were not the only ones with a bug). After quarantining ourselves upstairs for a few days, he bounces back, I don't. Doctor's diagnosis-probably a minor lung infection. Briefly I am better. A week later, I am worse. Diagnosis-pneumonia. Briefly I am better. A few days later, I wake up and cannot walk. Doctor and hospital visits later, I learn I have a blood clot in my leg. Are you serious?!

It's been over three weeks since my remarkable night of clarity, and I am well on the mend now. I don't know how I knew it, but somehow on October 20, somewhere deep inside my mind and soul, I knew that I needed that special gift of a few minutes of blissful acknowledgement and reflection of how life could be so wonderful right then and there. During my tri-sickness, I continuously returned to those moments with each of my children and husband. In those rather trying weeks, I rarely thought about what I needed to be doing next (heck, my computer and I were too sick). Honestly though, remembering those precious minutes was far better than any medicine (even the pain killers) that the doctors gave me. My latest awareness is that we must truly be plugged into the here and now to create the memories that make the past a pretty good place too.

(Oh and, yes, in case you are hiring a writer, I did get both articles done on time.)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My Thought for Today

When it rains, it pours.
But don't the flowers turn out extra pretty?

Either that or the blossoms all drown quickly, their exquisite beauty never to be seen.
But at least you're left with a large, squishy puddle to stomp, splash, and squelch your frustrations.

However you view it, the rain can be a gift.