Tuesday, September 17, 2013

My life has become a yogurt commercial

I spent the day putting 120 miles on my van yesterday, carting the husband and children from one end of the county to the other from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. This is very unusual for me, and I don't recommend it in general, but it struck me that I might as well have been wearing a giant bullseye when it comes to representing a certain market demographic. I started narrating a commercial in my head as I went along.

Read this in a cheerful, singsong voice that makes you want to be my best friend and also stab me in the eyeball:

Hi! I'm a busy mom on the go! If I'm not rushing the kids to a scouting activity, we're off to baseball, music class, academic activities, running errands or taking "Daddy" to work! It's days like these I'm forever thankful for - what are we selling again? Oh, yeah - yogurt! I'm thankful for yogurt.

Because without yogurt, I'd never make it.

Without yogurt, how would I have summoned enough strength to referee 15 separate wrestling matches fought in the parking lots of several prominent retailers?

How would I have ever managed to not crash my van into the ditch while steering one-handed as I awkwardly passed a water bottle to a screaming, panicked 5-year-old who was convinced he just swallowed a "flying spider" after opening his window despite my stern protests?

Without yogurt, would I have even been able to get into that zone where I pretend the rest of the world does not exist as my child accidentally-but-repeatedly hurls a baseball directly at his new coach's crotch?

Were it not for yogurt, I'd probably still be lost on Cincinnati's west side, searching for the mysteriously invisible signage involved with the current I-74 Colrain Ave. detour. Thanks to yogurt, we only drove an extra 22 miles out of our way trying to find the wrong end of the one way street we needed.

The power of yogurt allowed me to force a somewhat convincing smile  for the other parents, even when my oldest sobbed for 30 minutes because we had been "outside for too long" on a 70-degree, party cloudy day at a nature center.

Yogurt was there when I realized I had managed to force everybody under 8 to pee on a regular basis all day, but I had yet to take my own bathroom break for 9 hours and that it would be yet another hour before I could. 

Thank you, yogurt! You keep us modern moms moving, and I'm not just referring to Jamie Lee Curtis's bowels.*

*Do not Google "Jamie Lee Curtis's bowels."

Friday, September 13, 2013

Almost not a Baby Anymore

My always-up-to-something, goofy, moody, loving, wonderful little 4-year-old.

I'm just going to lay it out there. This post is unabashedly and unapologetically mushy, sentimental, and maybe a little saccharin, but it's either this or subjecting my "baby" to an uncomfortably intense snuggling session so that I might internalize the essence of being in his 4-year-old presence forever. And I don't think anyone wants to see that happen. I've already been relegated to planting kisses only on his clothes or hair, because my kisses are "too much kisses," which is really just a polite way to say I'm a slobbering troglodyte when it comes to expressing my affection. I can't face that rejection so early in the day.

So here's the deal. My youngest is about to turn 5 and I'm having an unexpected little freak out about this whole situation. We won't have "little kids" in our house anymore! Panic! I'm accustomed to little kids by now. I'm comfortable in little kid land, where I'm very much in charge, and where my children adore me and call me things like "Bubblegum Mommy Cutie Pie Princess of the West." I've become accustomed to my princess lifestyle and I do not want to give it up.

I am not ready to move past the stage where I can scoop him up like a medium-sized dog and feel his hot breath on my chest when he snuggles up on my lap, or the flutter of his soft, enviably-long eyelashes on my cheek while he whispers inane secrets to me about a duck in the mailbox.

I am not ready for the day when he tells me, hopefully gingerly, to stop calling him "baby" or when the two of them will huddle in conspiratorial whispers about what an out-of-touch, goofy old lady I've become.

I'm certainly not ready for the day one of them gets a girlfriend, life partner, spouse, personal goldfish or car! I think I'm getting the spins here. It's all too much.

I know, I know. It will all be okay. And I am incredibly lucky to have two healthy, goofy, loving little boys who are proving every day how kind, smart, and engaged they are becoming. It's a very good life. I just didn't expect this lurch in my chest as my baby crosses the invisible bridge between the land of Dora and tricycles and the one where he'll need deodorant in a few short years.

Today, though, I will sneak a sniff of his little blond head as I help him get untwisted when he tries to take off his pajama shirt.

Today I will sit on my hands while he makes his own peanut butter sandwich for lunch, even when he wipes the knife on his shorts and there's more peanut butter on the table than the bread.

Today I will maintain something between a grimace and a smile when he's on his 13th successive knock-knock joke with no punch line.

Today I will scoop him up from behind, and delight in his squeal of surprise. I will twirl him around and sing into his ear while we dance to "Long Gone Daddy," and I will try hard to memorize all of it. The size of his little warm body in my arms. His weird little boy smell. The way he says "we're" instead of "our," and how he always says thank you with such genuine sincerity whenever I make him pancakes or skeptically hand over the kid scissors.

I will remember that at 4, he loved smoked salmon and hated watermelon, and that he sometimes had to put one of his three baby dolls, Tom, Craigslist, and Cabba, in time out for breaking the rules.

I will remember how much he loved dancing and singing, and how he did both with exuberance, every single time.

I will remember that above all, he really just wanted to be exactly like his big brother, and that being with his mommy and daddy, grandparents, uncles and aunt made him happier than anything else in the world.

And even when he is faced with navigating the sometimes excruciating process of growing up, and it makes him angry and confused, I vow to remember the way his tiny hand fit inside mine when he was 4, and how he once reached for me instinctively whenever he was worried. And I'll hope that he will carry our pure, eternal love for him in his heart, and that it helps when the world shows its claws now and then.

And I will watch this video, and many others like it, and smile, laugh, and probably cry like a sentimental mommy is meant to cry at a time like that. Because despite being "mine," my little David is his own little person, and it's a gift to be able to be a part of his growing up. I will miss this part so much, but I'm so excited to see what tomorrow brings, too. Did I mention that part about how grateful I am for this awesome life?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Side Two Musings

Shake It is one of Cincinnati's best record stores. Go buy some records!

We had a rite of passage in our house yesterday. Anderson learned how to flip a record and (fairly) gently set the needle down to start Side Two. 

I think I was a little older when my dad finally let me approach the stereo system, and by then I'd already memorized all the skips, scratches and bumps on both sides of Neil Young's Harvest. I knew that my favorite, "Needle and the Damage Done" didn't come until deep into the second side, though I had no idea what Neil was singing about. When my mom was in charge, it was Carly Simon or Joni Mitchell, pouring her heart out, skating down a river I imagined was surrounded by frozen bushes under a baby blue winter sky. 

By the time I was 10 or so, I knew which songs marked the end of side one and I'd rush in to do my duty so the pause between sides was as short as possible: "Are you Ready for the Country?" "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" "Stairway to Heaven."

Records were the soundtrack of my youth.

We're no audiophiles, nor do we really wish to be, but one of the best purchases we've made as a couple has been our vintage Marantz stereo system. I don't think it's been off more than a few waking hours since we got the last pieces a few weeks ago, a couple of surprisingly decent speakers from Goodwill. We pore over our meager but solid little record collection, and we've begun to prefer our cheap-bin records to the crystal clear mp3 versions. 

Digital music is great in several ways, but there's something ritualistic about pushing a shiny silver button and watching the stereo come alive. The deliberateness of selecting an album and listening to it all the way through is contradictory to the way most of us listen to mp3s. It's slower, and far less convenient, and you can't listen to records outside your house. I get it. We've moved on as a society and I'm nostalgic and a proponent of heavy lifting when it comes to my music. 

It still warms my heart to know that when my kids hear Aqualung 30 years from now (because they will, I mean, come on - that's some amazing, timeless flute-playing right there), they will mentally insert all the scratches and bumps in just the right places, and they will know that the slightly creepy laughing at the start of "Up to Me" means it's almost time to flip.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Home on the Horizon

You're living a good life when the best part of a great trip is the coming home.
"When I come home
Cold and tired
It's good to warm my bones
Beside the fire"
(Roger Waters)

I've been reading through past posts here and approving comments from months ago, and realizing how much I miss writing here, how I never feel quite at "home" if I'm not writing this kind of stuff regularly. There's only so much creative satisfaction one can derive from writing web content for various corporate interests. That's about a .05% creative satisfaction level, I've discovered. Some days it's actually a negative number.

I've been glum for a while now, when I haven't been wracked with grief over the loss of my grandpa in April, or troubled over a spectacularly awful and seemingly irreparable falling out with a cherished friend. My state of mind has been more focused on just trying to find a soft place to land, and emotionally I haven't been up to the inherently vulnerable task of writing.

And in some ways, I'm still not there, but this is what I do, and not doing it has begun to feel worse than doing it and risking the pain of rejection or criticism. I still feel an overwhelming sense of "they're all gonna laugh at you," but I'm choosing to finally take that deep breath and dive back in. I mean, let's be honest, anyway. Of the 12 people who will potentially read this one day, surely only 2 of them will actually point and laugh. Right? Right.

I have lots of stuff I want to get to here soon, but for today, I will leave you with this old picture I came across the other day. It makes me all kinds of bittersweet and gooey. Kind of like Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra but without the brain freeze.

The little one is turning 5 in a few days. This one's going to sting.