What does it take to get a couple hours to myself?
Wet, cold weather. Kids and mom stir crazy in the small apartment. Passing a pleasant day by playing in the car, making grocery shopping a big event complete with lunch at a “real table” (says Laila) and (they can hardly believe it) cookies. Texting friends funny pictures of myself stuffed in my kids’ car seats as they pretend to drive our parked car.
Someone texts back hinting that I need to socialize with people older than 5 more often. Oh, yes. Yes I do. There is a cold drizzle. It’s early bath time. One more hour until Baba comes home. I have a mom date planned tonight. I am going out with a friend for a glass of wine at a wine bar in the center of town (where all the women are beautiful and all the salaries are above average).
To orchestrate: I prep the kids all day that I will be gone for dinner and bedtime routine. There are tears and then excitement. There is preemptive nursing. The kids are bathed early. PJs are set out. Baba comes home and takes them out for
distraction noodles. I use the time to get dressed. On go my favorite boots (black leather with small silver buckles, knee-high). Black tunic dress. A very long vintage costume necklace that I bought when I was 19. Vintage inspired coat with peter-pan collar. I actually put on make-up including Stila eyebrow powder which requires the coolest little stiff angled brush to apply. I won’t exactly fit in at the town center, but I will look like me and that’s the point. Well, a cleaner, more stylish and distinctly better put together me.
The plan: since we only have one car and that car is currently out at a noodle house, my husband will call me when he’s on the road, at which time I will go outside and wait in the cold and damp dark-like a thief-for my beautiful family to go inside and start bedtime routine without me. Then I will slip into the still warm car and drive off to freedom. If they see me…I’m toast.
My friend cancelled our mom date. No shmancy little wine bar for me. No sitting at a glossy table with a new red wine to enjoy. Why not go alone, you ask? Well I thought of that. In fact I looked the wine bar up and they have live “bar cams” and what I saw did not look like a place to go alone and enjoy the vibe. Did I mention it has bar cams? Bar cams. I don’t know whether to be impressed or depressed.
So here I am, at a strip mall coffee shop drinking hot chocolate. While the place lacks soul (the cup sleeve is sponsored by Orbit gum. I know this because of the piece of free orbit gum glued to it), it’s a brush with life outside my small sphere so I’ll take it. It feels good to be out. It feels good to be just me. I can pass as a writer sitting here with my lap top. I can pose as a woman who always wears vintage jewelry and black leather boots.
*update* I just discovered I have dried glitter glue on my chin. My cover is totally blown.
After my last post I am feeling lighter. I have folded the experience into the mix and am moving on. Thanks to everyone who sent kind emails, made supportive comments, and refrained from making non-supportive comments. There is no negative thing about my involvement that anyone could have said that I haven’t thought, anyway.
One thing that is certain, I would not change the fact that we lived in Palestine. It is an amazing, vibrant, and fascinating place.
Fall is my favorite season. The leaves, the weather, the colors. Fall smells good. Burning leaves smell good. Cold air and damp earth both smell good. They smell like my childhood. One private delight: every fall I get visceral flash backs to being 16 and smoking Djarums or Nat Shermans and feeling pretty damn alive. I’m one of the lucky ones who never got in the habit of smoking anything, but for those times when I couldn’t resist the drama, my cigarettes either smelled delicious or looked like they were invented by an unicorn.
Yet another reason to love fall: my kids playing in the leaves, under bright red and yellow canopies of leaves.
Don’t get me wrong, my kids eat sugar. It’s just that we try to avoid sugar in the following forms:
1) candy 2) fruit juice 3) large amounts. Sometimes bake cookies an we eat them. Sometimes I take them out for a cupcake at THE MOST AMAZING CUPCAKE PLACE in the world.
BUT do we ever let them just have a piece of normal, every day, run of the mill candy for the helluvit? Never. My kids don’t get candy on a regular basis and given our dental history, that really shouldn’t be surprising.
So, when Sufyan and Laila found out that there was this thing called “Halloween” when adults would be handing them candy in exchange for 3 little words, they were in disbelief. Then they tried it, and it worked. Every time. By the 2nd successful “Trick or Treat!”, they were so giddy about the presence of such glorious sugar in their possession that they were visibly giddy. The following are mostly photos of Sufyan, because he was the most stunned by this development and he made the most amazed faces:
Laila and Sufyan, here’s to many more Halloweens together. I love you with all my heart. I love you both so much I can’t fit it into words. Seeing you have fun makes me happier than anything else in my life. Now go brush your teeth.
Weeping and a-wailing, the Farmer in the Dell.
I can’t decide whether to go with how much this clip makes me love them (limitless, boundless, huge love), or that it’s just friggin’ hilarious.
(the lyrics are partly from “This Train” and then that’s Sufyan playing slide whistle and coming in at the end with “Yip Yip Yip”)
Parenting Thought for Today: Mother/Phoenix
How intense it is, becoming a mother. Lately whenever I look at any woman with her children I think, “That is a woman who has gone through an incredible transformation.” She has passed through the eye of the needle. I wonder what she was like before she had her children. I wonder what it was like for her to shed that pre-child identity. How hard was it to rebuild a sense of self after self became “mom”? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “really” and ends with “effing hard”. It’s more than a new role. It’s more than a lifestyle change. It’s more than more work with less sleep. Essentially, everything you once were is burned away. What you don’t gratefully, willingly, happily feed to the fire will be useless to you (for now). It’s beautiful, and it’s so hard. Life is ashes for a while after child birth; your “self” fed to a fire burning around the clock, fueled by the most primal raw love and urgent connection to something at once huge and infinitely small and delicate. From your own body came this baby, and now with your own body you will protect, nourish and grow a child. Without food or sleep, you transform into a being that can exist on sheer willpower and love. Talk about a tiger mother. So that the house may fall around you, but not on you. The waves crash to either side. “Nobody ever asked me if I thought I could be everything to someone” (Ani Difranco). “I’m a mother! Treat me like a mother.” (Chrissie Hynde). And then…the raging fire becomes a hearth. You start to remember about food and sleep and frienship. Your baby gets older. The crisis, however beautiful, is over. Now for the marathon. Now you are a phoenix. How to rise up from this ash?
Yoga Thought for Today: light
Yoga continues to be my super glue. It’s a safety net, too. I am getting myself out to a yoga class at least twice a week and in combination with home practice it’s becoming consistent and lovely. I know myself through yoga. I have awakened again on my mat. This one thought keeps whispering to me as I practice: you are a being of light. When I remember it, I suddenly find that sukha in my asana. True, lovely ease. Effortlessness.
Here’s to ground under our feet and air in our lungs and prana in our many bodies and light throughout our being.