Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy New Year!

It is that seasonal tipping point.  The soft, beachy days of August are becoming farther away in my rear-view mirror of life and the back to school, work, volunteering, holy cow I need to use this crock-pot or we all are gonna only eat at eight O’clock every night, after school activity shuffle is fully upon our family. Kapow!  My tan is already fading.  Boo.

I feel like a cross between the lady at the circus spinning plates and a one-man band.  Part koo-koo crazy, part, “Wow! How did she do that?!”
crazy - right?!
I am trying to be very aware of the temperature my mood can bring to my family.  A harshly snapped comment at Sophie while we are all careening around the house in the morning can make or break a day.  I am learning that it really doesn’t help anyone of I lose my temper.   It doesn’t mean that I have to accept Sophie’s eye-rolling, whiny protests at whatever is bothering her pre-teen, roiling hormonal self.  I can use my calm airline stewardess voice – and simply take away her i-pod privileges, continue getting myself dressed (cue the evil, hand-rubbing, cackling, laugh of Mommy get- back)and give her a kiss later.

I don’t want the girls – or Cliff –or to see me as the yelling, wheel spinning, not getting anything accomplished, late for everything mommy.  And I’m not – most days. 

I am thinking about all of these things this morning.   I have always thought of September as the start of the New Year.   I believe that the new habits and rituals that I create and practice, the goals that I write down – really direct my path for the year.   
I like to believe in signs from the universe.  Signs that blink red-warning lights.   And signs where the universe lovingly whispers to you -"Hey honey.  You are going in the right direction."
 This is the first image that came up when I googled, "woman spinning plates". 
Look at Farrah - all back arched and sun in her California blond hair.  She's not worried.  Or crazy.  Or yelling.  She's spinning her wheels looking gorgeous and easy.   If that isn't an exquisite sign, I don't know what is.  Happy New Year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The sky today was just as blue as it was eleven years ago

I have never written about my experience on September 11th.  I’m afraid that if I write about it, I won’t do any of it justice, and my experience will be downgraded into a  Lifetime Movie of the Week.    Quite simply - that day just gutted me. 

This is not about a recounting of that day – although every year, Cliff and I do this together.   This ritual makes us feel better even though we know where the story goes and how it ends.  This history that we share gives us yet another layer of connection with each other.   

Here’s my thought - I feel as though we don’t have a national ritual that honors this day in a unique and respectful way.  I know that there are the ceremonies at the sights, and I respect and completely agree that they should remain solely for those people who lost their loves.  Sure, we post pictures on Facebook,and there are television shows dedicated the timeline of that morning - but what do we actually do on September 11th to give it the respect it deserves. 

I fear that if we had the day off,  it would become a  “Holiday”.  In the way that Memorial Day has very little to do with actually memorializing those who lost their lives protecting our country.  Sure, there are parades, and for those families who lost a loved one in war, the day takes on a deep and somber meaning.  But come on – we all know Memorial Day as the kick off of the summer season.  Most of us have lost the meaning of Memorial Day.  I know I have.

So this is what I think we should do – September 11th should be a national day of service and beauty. We should use this day to clean up beaches, plant trees, volunteer at a women’s shelter or ASPCA –whatever it is that you want to help and to give. 

We should take that day and create beauty on such an ugly day.  


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Yesterday was the earliest I've gotten up all summer - and it was worth it

I took the girls to see Barack Obama speak yesterday.   More specifically,  I went with a powerful posse of girlfriends and their daughters.  It’s not every day that the President of the United States, the First Lady and The Vice Pres come to town.  It was an event that I wanted to take my girls to and that I was very excited to attend.
I mean - we made t-shirts for the event!

I knew it was going to be a long day, with a fair amount of jostling for position and waiting in crowds in the hot sun – but I have years of practice from waiting overnight in line for concert tickets or attending many concerts and music festivals.
You talkin' to me 
I was getting a little loopy from the sun and sweaty bodies
  I was proud of my city – this massive event went smoothly, with no crazies, and the crowd maintained a respectful and easy atmosphere, despite the sweltering heat .    There was airport –like security and we weren’t able to bring in anything – no food or drinks.   Although I did manage to smuggle in pretzels, which I doled out as if we were on Survivor and I kept telling all the girls that they needed the salt because we were sweating out our body weight.  And there was water handed out constantly, which we drank and poured over our heads and down our backs.

             This was the point that my upper arm strength was in full-effect

  I felt so gratified from our day – from the girl power company, to attending this huge event  - I mean I took my daughters to see the President and Vice President speak in our own city!  Yowza!    But there was more to my satisfaction - I realized I have had this same feeling when I take a road trip with my daughters - solo.  At some point during every trip I think to myself, “ I’m in charge of these little creatures – I am completely responsible for their safety and well-being.  Wow!  I’m in charge?   How can that be?”  I usually have a moment of complete wonderment and holy-shit at the fact that I am adult enough to do this herculean task of being a parent.  The feeling quickly passes,  and I think , “Well, frick yeah I can do this – I’m Stephanie!  I kick-ass, I’m a damn good mom, and I never leave the house without a snack!” And I feel sure of myself and my ability and dexterity to navigate traveling and parenting together – successfully.

I had that same feeling of parental confidence after our experience at the Obama event.   I felt such pride -  in raising girls, speaking honestly with my daughters about what I believe in and why, and including them in this event.  Watching my daughters and her friends I appreciated this deeply responsible moment.  Hopefully, these girls will remember this day (well, maybe not one friend’s daughter who is four and she was kinda falling asleep).  As parents, we are building memories that are shaping the narrative of who they are and the people they become.  And I love that part of being a mother.

 And Michelle Obama is just gorgeous in person - when she stepped on stage, the crowd roared.  I screamed like I was at a rock concert.

We got pizza and beer after - the best most luscious beer and pizza I've ever had.   (that's pizza dough on Katie's head - of course!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What you should NOT say to Stay-at-Home Moms the first week of school.

Over the years, many well meaning people have doled out to me unsolicited, misguided platitudes along the lines of, “Oh, they grow up so fast!” and “Enjoy them while they are young.” And here’s one I love, “Breast is best!”(Not when I have a fever of 104 from Mastitis and my nipples are cracked and bleeding!)

 Along those lines, here is a guideline of phrases and sentiments that you should avoid.

10. After all those years of nurturing, quality time, won’t you miss them while they are at school?

9. See you at the supermarket!

8. Oh Goody – new blood! The PTA needs someone to head up the Election Day bake sale – come to think of it, have you considered being a class parent for your child’s homeroom? Or maybe the school carnival? Book Shelver in the Library? Hall Monitor? Book Sale?

7. Don’t you just miss it when they were babies – why don’t you have another child?

6. You would be really good at selling, Amway, Jewelry, Natural Cleaning Products, Vibrators, Nu Skin… Can I talk to you about how flexible the hours are?

5. You let her take the bus to school?! Don’t you know what happens on the bus! Well, I guess it’s OK for you – I just would never feel comfortable.

4. They don’t teach enough Arts at their school – Want to start a Home-Schooling Co-Op?

3. Honey, could you pick up my dry-cleaning?

2. So, when are you going back to work?

And the number one thing to NEVER, EVER say....

1. What are you going to do with all of your free time?