Sunday, September 28, 2008

Here I sit in blessed silence

Today is the big garage sale where we hope and pray to unload all our baby stuff. I've been sitting out in the front lawn now for about 2 hours and so far have made a whopping $7.00. We're not hoping for much - just for it all to be GONE. Once we made the decision to stop our procreating at two children, ridding ourselves of the crib and highchair and pack n play was the next logical and surprisingly painful step. But now we're doing it. Come on, people! Come and buy my stuff . . . 

In the meantime, I have this rare opportunity to sit in relative quiet with my computer and some books and the sun. Truly a divine experience. Hubby and I had one of those chats Friday night. He's been working late every night for the last week or so and comes to bed after I've gone to sleep. So this particular chat was about prioritizing our relationship, talking about things other than household and child management. You hear of otherwise "happy" couples that split when their children grow up and leave the home  . . . and I can see how that happens. You are kept so busy and there is so little silence that you just don't talk anymore. And this little chat wasn't only because he has been working -- it's also because between the work I do and the incessant need for attention from the kids, I often feel as if I don't have a lot of energy left to listen to another person, my poor neglected husband, say another word! Kinda like the phenomenon of being "touched out" as a mother of infants and toddlers. I get "talked out" -- my ability to remain quietly focused, empathic, other-orientated wears a little thin by the time I'm alone with the hubby. 

Now here is this glorious 8 hours of quiet with minimal attention payed to potential garage sale customers. It's a shame hubby can't join me but perhaps it's just as well. I can soak the quiet and try to recharge my waning resources. 

On other fronts, the book club I'm in has been working on two books. Both interesting and diverse takes on spirituality. The first is by Maslow, the famed psychologist, and is entitled Religion, Values and Peak Experiences. I had no idea that he dabbled in religious and spiritual experiences and though his writing in this particular essay is a bit sexist, the premise is very interesting. He postulates that when religion is separated from science both suffer and become incomplete. Spiritual experiences are valid objects of scientific research and science needs the morality of the spiritual. I haven't quite completed the book and am still getting my head around the role of "peak experiences" -- existential, other worldy experiences. The second book is a collection of American spiritual writings in 2007. A VERY diverse collection. I tend to look at it as a puzzle -- "What does this say about spirituality?" 

As rambling as this entry appears to be, the common thread seems to be my reawakening need to feel connected, to my husband and to something larger than myself. The reading, the quiet and the talk are vehicles for self-discovery and meaning-making. 

Monday, September 15, 2008

Soccer Mom

It's official. I'm a "Soccer Mom." Big D had his first kindergarten soccer game AND I drive  mini van  . . . hmm, not sure how I feel about that. (I mean when exactly did "soccer mom" become an epithet denoting a certain degree of single-minded focus, tendency towards McDonald's and poor driving skills?)

As you can see in the pic, Big D's team color is RED -- all of it in youth size large. The child literally drowned in his jersey and I couldn't pull his shorts' draw string tight enough to stay on his bony hips! Very, very cute as were his little buddies. This particular mama had snack duty and her very own two year old to corral at the game. Made for good times and a cautionary tale for anyone not as of yet initiated into the soccer rights of passage. For future reference, I will bring to games the following items:

1. Toys of varied types for toddler who will otherwise crawl between my legs, spit repeatedly on the ground (for reasons unknown) and otherwise make herself an entertaining spectacle. Barring that, perhaps a sedative . . . 
2. Lounge/beach chair -- as if there'll be much sitting but at least then it's an option. Or a holding place for snacks and assorted sundries.
3. Sunscreen or sunshade -- duh, right?
4. Snacks and drinks -- again for the toddler child as presumably I have carried out my duty as snack organizer and there will be no shortage as future games. 
5. Big D's soccer uniform in all it's glorious redness.

And finally, a WHEELBARROW to cart it all to and from the field. Big D had a great time, kicked the ball a few times and can't wait for this week's adventure. Go Big Red!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bad Driver gets my day off to a Fab start!

We've got a teenage boy who lives with his family across the street and who has, apparently, just gotten his driver's license. Now, my history with this particular adolescent has not been pleasant so I derive far more pleasure from the telling of the story than I should . . . but I will commence.

This morning while waiting impatiently for Big D to go back into the house for his lunch box and bag I noticed the teen and his dad hovering over his old jeep. Being the keen observer that I am, I deducted that today was the Big Day when he would drive, alone, to high school for the first time in his own car. I waxed nostalgic for about a millisecond and then got back to urging my offspring to make haste. While glancing into the rearview mirror to give Big D the look to go along with the urging, I noticed a mysterious beam-like object moving vertically in my line of vision. Took me a minute to realize it was the neighbors' basketball hoop! Yes, that's right. The Big Day and the teen is looking behind him while pulling forward and pushing his basketball hoop down the street. I nearly peed while cackling helplessly. Absolutely priceless! Dad was standing in the drive in his bathrobe shaking his head. I gave him a thumbs up as I drove away. 

My day continued on it's promising path when at Starbucks, the lady ahead of me in the drive through paid for my drink. Wow! Now that's never happened. Free coffee, a real belly laugh -- what next? Big D's first soccer game. More on that later. (Go ahead, let the suspense build!)

In the meantime, I'm looking for a way to "pay it forward" -- the coffee at least. Hmm . . . perhaps more on that as well.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Blood Red Diamond

Last night, hubby and I watched Blood Red Diamond starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Connelly. As you can tell, we're not exactly current in our movie viewing . . . and likely you've seen this particular one so I won't ramble on about the plot. 

As often happens after watching an action/drama movie late at night (or having sex. Toss up as to which happens more frequently -- movie or sex), I couldn't sleep for hours. I came down stairs and stared dumbly at the computer for a while, went back upstairs and swore silently (mostly) at my snoring husband and listened to my never-ending thought stream. There were several disturbing elements to the movie -- child soldiers ripped from their families and forced to do unthinkable things, complete neglect of an entire continent in the face of horrific war crimes and what people will subject themselves and others to for a profit. 

When I was in grad school, I had a class from a professor from Afghanistan who challenged us to question the status quo, make it our business to be informed and raise our voice in some way. He was amazing -- and a wee bit harsh. He had no patience with privileged, ignorant white students who didn't understand the conflict in the middle east, the ways that big business influences our politics and the limitations of our political system. I felt guilty and lazy about my involvement in my community and world at large. I began subscribing to various list serves, watching the news, listening to NPR. And I like to think I did these things because I do feel convicted on the issues (various - including feminism, education and political reform). But I slacked off, had baby #2 and began to feel very, very sad when I watched the news. 

A good part of my work life is hearing awful, can't believe they're true stories. It's as if whatever capacity I have for assimilating trauma and heartache in a meaningful way is topped off and there's not much left for the rest of the world. But I want to be that woman that is in the know, making a difference, educating her children . . . My life is filled with the details of my family and maintaining a certain semblance of balance and then a movie like this keeps me up at night, thinking. I need to be more involved, I need to do more than just care about the issues. Oh man, that means work and time and I just want to go to bed. 

Soon this entry will wander into dangerous and sleep deprived territory. So rather than drag you all (my little imaginary audience!) along with me, I will tuck myself in for the night. Thoughts, anyone, on remaining aware and socially active when consumed with potty training and kindergarten initiations? 

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Fussing = Pain in my Leg

Today's snippet from Big D involves his sister's whining and carrying on and the apparently bodily harm it does him . . . 

Big D: "My leg really hurts when Sissy fusses."

Me: "Hmm, really?"

Big D: "And when other kids make bad choices, my chest hurts."

Me: "What happens when you make bad choices?"

Bid D: Apparently stalling for time . . . "Um. My leg hurts, too. My leg really, really hurts."

Me: "I hear ya, bud." 

How much easier this whole parenting thing would be if sudden pangs would flare up in a finger here or a toe there when white lies were told, sister's got pushed, etc. And how much more meaningful our words would be when we tell our offspring that their behaviors are going to hurt them in the long run. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Black Hole -- A General Rant on Life

Alright, so it's only been the first week and not even a full week and I'm already whining. Oh. My. God. We've had soccer sign ups, parent volunteer program letters, potluck assignments for the Back to School picnic and, this is the kicker, a FUNDRAISER. In the first week? Really? I get that whenever possible our pockets will be politely fleeced for the greater good of the kids but so soon? Shouldn't we be allowed to hold on to our delusions that all that is required, beyond tuition, is our child's attendance . . . at least for a week or two? 

Ok, I'm not actually serious about that last statement. I get and look forward to how involved we will need to be as parents in our child's education. What I resist is the apparently global acceptance of the "intensive parenting" concept -- broadly defined by little ol' me as over scheduling children with extracurriculars and social activities to the detriment of learning how to self-entertain, enjoy the simple things in life and appreciate and participate in family activities. Now, I don't feel as if my family is in danger as of yet . . . but how long will it be before telling my child "no" to another sport or class or club will be perceived as, oh I don't know, NEGLECTFUL! 

This is where the black hole comes in . . . the ever increasing demands of parenting, household management, spouse maintenance and every other type of maintenance feels like a cosmic vortex ready to suck me into the unknown. I think that if I meet another parent who extols the virtues of dragging themselves and their children to 16 different after school activities in a single week, I'll puke or leave the room shrieking! Doing more stuff and having more things does not a happy and healthy family make. 

What the hell am I rambling about? I think that Big D's starting school has made me realize how much more difficult it is going to be to hold my ground when it comes to family -- how we spend our time, what we value and the tradition/rituals we create. I'm also a little afraid that the pace will continue to accelerate and one day, Big D will be all grown up and leaving home and I'll be panting, catching my breath and wondering what happened.