Monday, March 26, 2012

Inspiration Monday - I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night

My parents came up this past weekend for Katie’s dance recital and to get their monthly fix of the girls. 

When my parents visit there are a multitude of reasons why I spend every moment with them for but for here, I will list two.

 I like being with them.  They are fun, loving people and when they visit (which thankfully is often) the house is filled with noise and laughter and singing – all delivered in a solid New Yawk accent.  My mom is a treasure trove of musical theatre knowledge and she has a song for every occasion.  She will belt it out and teach the girls the words and my whole childhood comes flooding over me as I remember growing up with a healthy dose of classic American musical theatre.  I was reminded of where my love of musical theatre comes from.   Sunday morning she was singing to the tune of Whatever Lola wants Lola gets, to “Whatever Katie wants.  Katie gets.  And little man.  Katie, wants you!”  My mom knows all of the words, and the play that it is from. (Damn Yankees)  This is amazing to me. 

When my mom and dad visit, my girls are treated to songs tailored to them, treats and tons of attention.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend if you are six and eight – actually any age. 

The other reason why I spend every moment with them is because I know what a handful my children – really any child - can be.    With Cliff away for the weekend, I tell myself that I must be there for the daily administering of chores and scolding and just helping in the heavy lifting of two kids on a weekend afternoon.  I keep telling myself, my folks are getting older, they can’t handle as much.  Or whatever guilt bullshit guilt I slather on for the day.

 For the first time in a while when they visited –  I said to my parents, “You know what I need today.  I need to escape to the library and write.  I need to hear nothing.  My only child ears are bleeding.   And then I’m gonna go and buy the best electric pencil sharpener that I can find.  Because every day, we waste time looking for a pencil that isn’t worn to the nub. And it drives me crazier than I already am.   And then… I am going to J Crew.  I will see you at dinner.”

And my amazing and generous parents said with ease – “Alright – bye bye!”  My dad added, “We will take the girls for ice cream and then I’ll make Chicken Marsala with the girls for dinner.”

As I am getting dressed my mom is belting out from Annie get your Gun, “Got no diamonds. Got no pearls, still I think I’m a lucky girl! I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.” And I was reminded – really thunderstruck - by how much I have and the good fortune to experience.  

I am grateful that I can have a heartfelt conversation with my dad who listens to me and dispenses solid and gentle advice about a problem that I am having parenting Sophie.  And time, precious, luxurious time to myself – the luxury to say to my parents,  “Please, I need the afternoon off.  I need to walk out of this house and know that everyone is good and happy.” They gave me the permission to just leave.  I didn’t plan out their afternoon, pack lunches or get the girls dressed.  I didn’t think about what to eat for dinner and then prepare. 

I feel like I hit some sort of internal re-set button.  Colors are brighter.  I feel like I can think and breathe properly.  My dad’s chicken marsala never tasted so good.

It really is so true.  The job of being a parent never stops.  I am forty-something.  My parents are still helping me – they helped me so much today.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Didn't we almost have it all

   I am part of the generation of women who believes and has been told that we can have it all.  I was raised in the 70’s, during the explosion of women’s rights,  Free to be You and Me and Maude.  Equality was the name of the game – and looking back I was lucky to be eight and hearing all of these empowering slogans and images. 

My 20’s were filled with girl–power independence and the chanting call of “Choice.”  I can choose to do and be whatever I want. I have become an adult with the battle cry – You can have it all!

I have grown up believing that I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never, ever let you forget you’re a man.

But the thing is I have to do so much more than that.  If that was all that I had to do maybe I wouldn’t be so tired most days.   Because I am also… dropping off and picking up my kids every day, volunteering at school - raising human beings for crisse sakes! -working out - because we have to keep it tight and juicy if I want him to never forget he’s a man, pursue my own creative path, go food shopping and cook and clean every single day of my life, plus carve out quality time for myself and have a hobby.  I am exhausted just writing some of the never ending list out.

As much as I try to believe that I can have it all – satisfying home life, quality time, healthy, home cooked meals – maybe I am just fooling myself.  I’ve heard that the trick is I can have it all, but not at the same time. 

If I can’t have it all at the same time – what am I going to let go of right now? Exercise?  Well I can’t do that because I will get flabby and have heart disease, and did you see Gwen Stefani’s abs?!  I gotta keep up.  Cooking?  Same thing as exercise – and even if we did more take-out, we still need to eat breakfast and dinner.  It is also the one chore/house keeping activity that I enjoy and take pride in, so I’m not going to stop that.  Work less – That is not decreasing.  I enjoy teaching – I’m good at it and bringing in money for our family feels fantastic, so why would I stop now?  Write less?  Are you on crack!? – I am trying to write more and crank this into a higher gear. 

 I fear that I am dangerously close to not doing any of these things very well.    It’s not cool that I  get cranky at the girls when they need help with homework because I am too distracted by cooking dinner.  I don’t enjoy the fact that exercising is close to becoming just another chore.   I need to re-adjust my focus and re-calibrate my time.

I understand that there is no life guarantee that I am supposed to enjoy every moment of adulthood.  Being a grownup is filled with the necessary tasks of life; mortgages and budgets, obligations and commitments.   However it should not become this one big, never ending to-do list that never gets crossed off.

Since this is my life and I get to choose my own adventure and make my own path and decisions -that was one of the things that growing up Free to Be You and Me has taught me -I have to ask myself, I am really living my own, personal vision of having it all?  Not measuring myself up to celebrities that have toned arms and don’t clean their toilets, not comparing myself to what I think I should be doing.  But really, listen to myself and be clear that I am the woman I have always wanted to be when I grow up.  And define for myself what it means to have it all. 

Some days I think I am close – are you?  I would love to hear how any of you handle the expectation of having it all -and what does it mean to you.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Inspiration Monday - Keeping the dream alive

We have been back from our odyssey  for barely one week and I almost feel as though we never went.  Unfortunately , there was no trying to gently slip myself back into an easy reality.  Just a slamming,  hit the ground running and we are back.  Although we are all unpacked, I am still sorting though laundry and adjusting to my tried and true east coast time.  I don’t want the trees and flowers and friends visited to be a distant memory – I need them to stay fresh in my mind.

Some thoughts and observations on travelling with two children on a cross country flight and journey throughout the Golden State of California
1.        Xanax is very helpful for smoothing out the edges, but nothing keeps my mind off a stomach dropping, shuddering plane 30,000 feet in the air more than my kid turning to me and saying, “Mommy, I’m hot.”  Which is code for , “Mommy, I’m gonna puke!”  I fanned Sophie with a barf bag  as our plane dipped and rolled its way into the Denver airport.  I was able to focus on keeping her from barfing which kept me from freaking out and playing the first episode of Lost over and over in my head.  Sophie didn’t puke and I am not part of the Dharma Initiative.

2.       When going through airports and security, a smile and a sincerely direct inquiry to the TSA agents toiling away, such as “Hi!  How are you today?”  Makes for a much nicer and humane experience.  I made a point with the girls to have them do the same – and let me tell you,  people who I  thought wouldn’t  be friendly – think extras on Hillbilly Hand Fishing – actually struck up conversation with my girls.  It’s not like we got upgraded to first class, but it sure made the experience way more pleasant.

3.       It’s not a family vacation until I get all blubbery and cry happy tears at how grateful I am for my children and husband, and how much I love my friends and how beautiful the trees are and…

4.       It’s also not a family vacation until Mom threatens to pull the car over if “You girls don’t keep it down and stop kicking my chair and I cannot drive with you two screeching in the back like a bunch of crazy people!”  Then said Mommy actually does pull the car over on the Freeway to follow through on threat.    And it calmed everybody – including said Mommy – down.

5.       When traveling to a different time zone, all time becomes meaningless.  Being on vacation, most nights everyone stays up later anyway, which to Sophie and Katie’s little bodies felt as though they were up until midnight most of the week.  Now with Daylight Saving, we are all totally screwed.

6.       It is fun to say, “Sure!  It’s vacation!” “ Mommy can we have ice cream?”  “Yes!” “ Daddy, can we play Angry Birds again” “Absolutely!”  You get to be the greatest Mommy and Daddy is the whole wide world numerous times a day with this strategy.

7.       Make sure you have logical conversations like this –We were getting dressed for a day of running around Los Angeles with friends and the girls both wanted to wear shirts they just got at Disneyland the day before.  I sucked my breath in and replied, “Oh, yeah – No.  No way girls – you can’t.  You don’t want to walk around LA, looking like a tourist.”  Sophie looked at me funny and said, “But Mommy – we are tourists.  What does it matter if we look like what we are?”  “But you don’t want everyone to know it.  You should look like you live here.”  “Why?”  “Because Mommy is from New York and I don’t want to look like a tourist.”  “Oh. OK!” 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Welcome Back

I apologize that Planet Lazenby has been on a brief hiatus these past two weeks.  I have missed my weekly Inspiration Monday and regular postings.  The reason being, the four of us just came back from an epic and amazing trip out to California and while away I needed to submerge myself in a different world.

Talk about inspiration – this one has got me doing jumpy claps of happiness.  From looking at my home surroundings in a new way (a la Every Day Jodi)  to the pure grounding feeling of spending time with lifelong friends  and driving with Cliff and the girls, watching the California landscape and crying happy tears.  (That drive with the happy tears took place after I did have to pull over on the Freeway to rip into the girls about how crazy and distracting they were.)
One of the top reasons that I love about going away – be it across the country or an overnight to my girlfriend’s cute apartment in Boston – is that it gives me invaluable perspective.  I am able to pull back the camera lens of life and see it all from a new angle.  It gives me new energy to keep on trucking through the daily grind of parenting, working and laundry.
So more to come, just needed to say thanks for holding on while I was away.
And yes, I was that person at the supermarket today, smiling away.