Monday, February 27, 2012

My first born is turning 8. My dimpled, brilliant, kind, little hockey player is turning 8. In 8 more years he'll drive. In 10 more he'll leave me. And he won't be "mine" anymore. Kids rip your heart out in pieces. One year at a time.

Party this year? Evergreen Lake. Ice skating, of course.

1992: Evergreen Lake. My then boyfriend (soon to be hub), my two younger bros, and my younger sis, me on the right.

2012: TWENTY years later: Evergreen Lake. Four marriages and many deliveries (six kids missing in this pic), tears, laughs, and heartbreak later.

And my younger bro is still a shmuck. Now he's one with grey hair.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Liminal Elegance

Yesterday my boys had no school. And some crazy person offered to take them tubing in the mountains, so of course I said YES! They would LOVE to go! What time do you leave, and who are you, by the way?

Not only did I have the ENTIRE day alone in my own house (which I don't think has happened since 2003) but I finally had the opportunity to purge and pack the basement. Not only because my "stager" told me that I have to do it, but also because it is so gross down there someone could stage a horror film.

So I found myself purging:

Trashing--so many stained and crusty stuffed animals, Happy Meal toys, and decomposing neighborhood pets...

Recycling--the only slightly stained and gently crusted stuffed animals, Happy Meal toys, and leftover Halloween costumes...

Organizing--all the puzzle pieces, Rummikub parts, and old class notes (most of which I ended up throwing away after all)...

While accomplishing aforementioned tasks, I decided to listen to this past Sunday's sermon (since I missed it due to hockey). My pastor taught me a new word: "liminal." Which apparently means "in between time" or "a state of transition" or "on the threshold of something new." Hmmmm... I thought, this is apt. She said that most people in this stage feel like they're falling. Yup, I can relate. She also said that this stage gives us an opportunity to make "identity shaping plans for our future." Whoa. WTF--I suddenly thought, I should re-invent myself into a really nice, gentle, soft-spoken person, you know, the kind that never offends anyone and always stays out of trouble.

But then I quickly realized, shit, that won't last a day, who am I kidding?

But then she quoted Julian Of Norwich. Which, first of all, don't you love her name? I think as I create my "new identity" I will change my name to "Kimberly Of Canada." Julian said something like: "God sees our wounds not as scars, but honors, for God holds our sins as sorrow and pain. God does not blame us." Which my pastor then said means that God looks at our sins as "placeholders" for his Glory, his grace...

(Have I mentioned how insanely brilliant and wonderful this person is? You really should listen to this sermon: (title: Does God Fit In a House?) )

This gave me pause. And made me cry. But I've been doing that ever since the stager was here anyway. Partly because of all the work (packing) I must do, but also partly because I am REALLY moving to Canada. And it's starting to freak me out. But I cried mostly because that sounded way too good to be true. God doesn't BLAME us? Really? Well, I sure blame myself: my own weaknesses, my lack of self-discipline, my selfishness, my tendency to not think ahead before I speak or do things, and my lack of planning... How does he NOT? Who does he then blame? Isn't there someone to blame? Why do I want to blame someone so badly?

So as I purged my belongings, I also thought I could shape my new identity. By...

Trashing: My negative self-image, my desire to blame, my reliance on approval from others, my fear of failure, my anger...

Recycling: All the nice and affirming things people have said about me. And trying to keep alive the ones that matter, while throwing away the "You have a nice butt" comments. I get that all the time.

Organizing: My values, my time, and my efforts. Prioritizing where I find value. Seeking a new system for creating an open space to allow God in my midst every day.

After all, why not take advantage of this liminal space, this threshold of something new, and try to release control... what's the worst that could happen?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

elegant obscenities

After a random (normal) conversation with my 7-year old that invigorated my angst, I responded.
Me: "Bullshit."
Myles: "MOM, you're not supposed to say that!"
Me: "Sometimes it's warranted. I'm an adult. I can do whatever I want."
Myles: "Can you bake cookies in your car?"


(With an accent over the "e", which I swear this blogspot will NOT allow me to do. That's just bullshit if you ask me.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Elegant pick-up lines for your Valentine

"Hello, Ms. V? Would you mind telling me the prompt for the 2nd grade writing assignment that brought this beauty home?"

I can only guess--Write about...

-Phrases you've heard recently on the playground?
-Things NOT to say to your teacher?
-Ways to get to second base?
-Sayings that sound awkward coming from a 2nd grader?
-Things that will guarantee an adult will NOT get a date?
-Titles of Justin Bieber songs?
-Sayings you hope to get tattooed on your bicep someday?
-Things that will make your Mother panic?
-Sayings that should be on candy hearts?

Which, by the way, my son is in love with....

Himself. Yes, after the teacher told him they could draw one special Valentine card during class today, he addressed it
TO: me
FROM: me (Myles)
As if he wouldn't remember who "me" was (huh, who's this from? oh ya, me.)
No lack of self-confidence here.

And this one from my five-year old. Caption anyone?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

elegant parenting

Superbowl 2012.

I am one of those women who sits my ass on the couch unabashedly to watch the commercials and then chats during the actual football game. Mostly because this year the two east coast teams had even less of my interest than my dentist's newsletters, or a team in my vicinity.

This year I found my seven-year old snuggled up beside me most of the debacle, which could only mean one of two things: He was ill, or he was not interested in the available toys at our friends' house. Ah yes, the latter, as it was a home with no penises under the age of 40.

Which was actually quite fabulous (my son's lack of interest, not the lack of penises). At first. I relished in my son letting me scratch his back and listening to him interject cute questions and comments into the conversation: "Mom, if the city of Indianapolis is the 12th largest city, then what is Denver?" Oh, so proud of my smart, little son.

Wait! Pride. Always. Comes. Right. Before. The...

Fiat commercial.

The one with the woman bending over and then ...

I had to cover his eyes, fearing that the commercial was indeed going to turn into soft porn, since it had already crossed more lines than the French Maginot.

But he wiggled right out of the mom-covering-the-eye trick, knowing instinctively that it was something he absolutely had to see, as if his seven-year old male libido had already ignited his carnal curiosity. He is a boy. Stupid excuse.

After halftime, sensing my fears, he tried to assure me in his big-boy voice: "Mom, I only heard one thing that was inappropriate for kids."
"Oh," I ask, "and what was that?"
"It was either Madonna or the Pastor guy who said, 'I'm sexy and I know it.'"
And my inner dialogue over whether he was bothered by the brash arrogance of the comment or the reference to something sexy was on, and forced to ask: "Myles, what do you think was inappropriate about that lyric?"
"Sexy, Mom! They're talking about sex!"
"Ah, yes. Well, 'sexy' just... kinda... sorta means... pretty, and gorgeous, and beautiful, and maybe sometimes, not all that clothed."
"But sex, Mom!"
"Which means, what, exactly?"
A question asked with dread fear that I had not been informed of the extent of the extracurricular 2nd grade learning.
He whispers: "It means... kissing!"
Oh, thank you dear Jesus.
"Yes, of course that's what it means." I knew that. Of course I did. "But where did you learn that?"
"Well, my friend Charlie told me that he has sex on Emily every day. Sometimes many times a day."
Oooooh, gross. First, let's talk about prepositions.
Then, the conundrum over whether to call Charlie's parents or to allow the innocent misunderstanding continue for as long as I possibly can pulled at me...

I long to shield my child from the world for as long as possible. I do not want him to know about the power and allure of sex until he absolutely must. Yes, this is driven by fear AND selfishness, like most of the things I do. Fear that he will become a crazy sex addict and do something shameful, like expose himself, or get an STD. And selfishness that he will pull away from me, his Mom, and stop telling me the deepest parts of his soul, his every thought. Out of shame.

It was the first time as a parent that I was more afraid of what the world would teach my child than what I would.

Innocence is an empty canvas, a blank piece of paper, a new house. Which will inevitably be filled, consumed, overtaken, but not (dear God, not while I'm involved) by Fiat commercials. Or commercials at all. Or what the media dictates. Why in the hell have we become even more sex crazed in recent years? If we believe that women are equals here in our country (which, I know, we aren't, but thanks for the efforts, Ledbetter) then why do we allow and perpetuate the objectification of women in such blatant, public places? Or do I notice it more because I have young boys and just didn't notice before? Not sure. It seems to me that we've made little to no progress in this area. You know, this area of women's lib. We still exist in a double-standard. OK, we'll respect women as equals, if you work your ass off harder than any of your male contemporaries, but we're still going to use your bods to sell our cars, our guns, and our cheeseburgers.

And then today in the parking lot: A truck with this bumper sticker "F*ck Terrorism." Of course Myles asks me, "Mom, what does F*ck Terrorism" mean?" Nice.

And I said, "Let's find out." And I proceeded to march around to every shop in the strip mall to find out whose truck it was. I found the bastard and said, "Could you please explain the meaning of your bumper sticker to my seven year old? He's curious."

To which he replied, "I'm so sorry. I'll take it off my truck immediately. I shouldn't have put it on; I wasn't thinking. Young man, please ignore this and don't become so bitter toward society that you resort to promoting your beliefs via bumper sticker mandates (at least get a blog!). You're better than that. And also, don't even think about, or have, sex until you're at least 25. And always listen to your parents. And always love them and do your homework and chores."

But really I just said, "Whatever." And whoever owns that truck probably works at that store. The one with the pretty leaf.