Monday, July 23, 2012

The Myth of Mommy Brain....

So, someone told me today that they have a bad case of Mommy Brain. I got to thinking about that statement, as well as the self deprecating tone that she used when she told me, relating an occasion when she had forgotten something important.

Mommy brain is generally thought to refer to the impact of pregnancy, birth and or parenting on the mind of a woman. Men (in general) are apparently not subject to Mommy Brain, because there is  not a male equivalent. It is not a compliment. It is the blanket excuse moms use to explain an failing to remember things, inability to perform previously simple tasks, and other intellectual failings. It is also the phrase used by others to explain nearly everything they perceive negatively in a woman with children... Yep, not a compliment at all.

Have you noticed that the addition of "mom" or "mommy" to any word is rarely positive? Mom Jeans, mommy belly, mom car....  Shit. How did that happen?

However, I am going to have to refute the entire perception of Mommy Brain. A reframing and rebranding of sorts, if I correctly remember the terminology from my graduate school education... Which I may not.... However....

As far as I can tell, most of the mommies I know have more on their plate and therefore their minds, than they ever even imagined prior to leaving the world they knew... Even the highest level CEO whatever, has a rude awakening in store when they add responciblity for every aspect of the life of another human (Good Luck to a certain yahoo exec) . I do not know if other moms feel this way, but I look at those days and wonder how I ever imagined I was busy. (BTW, a dear friend pointed out that the Yahoo exec in question will be able to hire help.... Lots of it... Sadly, that will bring other problems... There is no avoiding the life alterations of parenting....)

And this is not to knock dads... I just know very few homes in which things are truly 50/50, right down to taking care of remembering everything. If you live in one, I am glad for you... I also do not know many single dads, much to my detriment I am sure, because I love parents in general, and having been a single foster mom for 7 years, one of them with a newborn, toddler, and 5 year old, I have a deeply special place in my heart for those doing it on their own.. So, dad, if you feel like you have mommy brain after you read my revised defination, you own it!And if you are a mom and you feel like you have completely avoided mommy brain, good for you! This post is not about you, though it may help you understand the struggles of some of your friends and colleagues.

And this is definately not to knock those without kids. I was discussing this blog post with a friend who is married without kids, and she told me, "Um, that is one of the reasons I do not have kids.... mommy brain.... I saw it happen to my friends, and I did not want it for myself. I like remembering where I parked my car...."

Ouch. Yes, people without kids are busy too. But, they seem to have enough time to cast stones...

SO, here is my thesis: mommy brains are like those Galileo Thermometers... You know, with the floating balls.

Anyway, each of the balls has a different pocket of information in it. And, as you can clearly see, there is no possible way that all of them can get to the top at the same time. So, they fight for position, crowding around the top. HOWEVER, inevitably, some of them stay submerged. Some of them actually sink all the way to the bottom, perhaps never to be seen again.

Before parenthood, there were a whole lot less floating balls to deal with and nearly all of them made it to the top fairly frequently. After parenthood, it is a very different story. First of all, the sheer volume of information we need to keep track of skyrocketed. And there was a shift in priorities that ensured that some of the balls would sink like stones. For me, those are likely labeled "Car Keys" and "Personal grooming appointments ".

And instead, dozens of thoughts related to your child(ren) take over nearly every inch of space at the top. "Vaccination Schedules and Precautions" is warring with "Lunch on Tuesday and Friday and bring bathing suits on Wednesday" for precious time at the top of the heap. The "Things I need to do for other people" packet sometimes gets so big it prevents almost anything else from breaking through.

I mean, just today I had, "lunch with less carbs for Max, think about new biting habit, create bedtime routine chart, call dermotologist, tell Maryann you are working Friday, find out when swim lesson registration begins, bring lunch, buy wipes, research refrigerators, plan vacation, pay for ebay item, order homeschooling books, trade in car?, submit resume for new job, email biography, look at bank account (ewwww), insurance, bring maxs lunch, receipts?, training schedule for foster and grandparents, write RFP, ......" and so on and so forth ad infinitum and beyond until 2 days after I die.

and that is just the top layer.  The depths get scary... Horrible blood red and black bubbles with swirling words like, "retirement" and "mamogram" and "credit card debt" and "long term career goals" and "state of marriage". Those bubbles generally float to the top at about 1AM, and eliminate all trace of sleep while they linger there.

Sometimes my brain feels like it is about to explode. Not figuratively, I mean literally explode. I feel hot and stretched, and overwhelmed by the sheer volume and the fairly serious consequences of forgetting or neglecting some of these items. And very alone. It is a huge burden to bear, being responsible for keeping all these balls from hitting the floor... Thank God for Mommy Brain.

 I want to be the first one to tell you that Mommy Brain is not a pejorative. Instead, see it as a very real aknowledgement that you are operating at the very edge, that you are exploring the outer edges of possibility and, the vast majority of time, making it work... And, like all of those testing the limits, you will occasionally go over the edge, lose control, and find that a ball that did not make it to the top recently has gone bad while lingering at the bottom.

No question, those days suck. We are not inclined to cut ourselves slack in the days when we overdraw the bank account, f up the credit card with zero interest by forgetting to pay it, find out our kid had to eat crackers because you forgot his lunch.

Instead, we pull out that "mommy brain" descriptor and use it to beat ourselves up with, before someone else can do it for us. For me, it adds a few more of those black balls to the mix, marked "Early onset Alzeihmers?" and "going to get fired?"...

So, time for a new deal... Can we agree that the next time we see a parent who is on top of things- one who brought the lunch, paid the credit card, got to work with breastpump and annual report in tow, and even thought about making an appointment for a cut and color- we will finally use the term Mommy Brain in the manner it deserves?  As it should be, as a compliment and a rare moment of acknowledgement of the difficulty of the task, and the fact that even those whose feathers never look ruffled are likely frantically paddling webbed feet below the surface?

With the Olympics approaching, I am reminded that the biggest cheers are often for who push themselves the furthest. And the biggest cheers of all are for those who fall and get back up. And I am always in awe of the fact that, when the balls drop, mommies are so often the ones who pick them back up, for themselves and for one another. And far too often with no applause whatsoever...

So, lets make Mommy a word that increases the value of all the things to which it is attached. I dream of a world in which, hearing the phrase "mom jeans", young men begin craning their necks for a glimpse of the babe rocking them.

A world in which Mommy Brain is used to describe anyone who performs apparently impossible feats of intellectual strength on a daily basis, for the benefit of others, with little to no appreciation.

Where cheers of "Mommy Brain, Mommy Brain, Mommy Brain" are heard, at least in our own heads, whenever we end the day with our family even slightly farther ahead than the were in the morning.

hmmmm, I just realized in rereading this post that I kinda lost the thread of the Gallileo Thermometer imagery.  Damn.

Do not blame it on Mommy Brain, OK?


Friday, July 13, 2012

The Return of Dinosaur Rex.

One of the most difficult things being parent is setting and keeping limits. I have found that with Max Archer, the most difficult thing is that he forces me to follow through.
Every single time.
And yet, I have not yet completely internalized the idea that I MUST think before I announce a consequence. So, when Max and I were waiting for the bus a few weeks ago and he would not stop running away, and when I threatened to throw his dinosaur in the trash if he did not come back immediately, I immediately regretted it, immediately. Because I had no interest in actually throwing the dinosaur away. It cost 11 bucks and it was one of his favorites.

So, I counted to 3, then 5. I ignored him, I called him, and finally simply captured him as he ran by... and then he bit me... Hard.... I was so angry at him... not just because of his behavior, but because he was forcing my hand. I was going to have to throw the damn dinosaur away.

So, I pulled it from his sweaty hand and brought it to the trash can. when he realized I was going to do it, he shifted from laughing to crying in a heartbeat. Real, true, painful tears. And I was welling up as well. Because this is the part of parenting that hurts, having to teach lessons that are painful to learn. The only thing that keeps me going is reminding myself over and over that they are far more painful NOT to learn.

So, I threw the dinosaur in the trash.

and Max completely melted. All the fight went out of him, leaving a puddle of sobbing almost three year old on the sidewalk, and I walked over to him, oblivious by then to the watching strangers at the bus stop, and gathered him up, walking over to the fully occupied bus stand bench and standing in front of it rocking him and repeating, "I know it is hard. It hurts to lose something we like, but you must listen to mama and you cannot bite." over and over....

I did not even acknowledge the young man on his cell phone who finally stood up, giving us his seat.
I just held my sweating, sobbing, sorry baby and thought about how incredibly hard it is to be a good parent...
I was in the f*cking Peace Corps, supposedly "The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love" and it was a freaking cakewalk compared to being fully responsible for a developing human 24/7.
I was recently talking to friend about why this is so hard, why we obsess over our children, why we so aggressively judge one another and ourselves, have such a take-no-prisoners attitude in defending our choices: weaning, cry it out, cosleeping, bottle feeding, home schooling, nanny, daycare.
It all feels so amazingly important. Every choice we make seems to close as many doors as it opens, and when we meet someone who seems decent and smart, who made a different choice, it feels very scarey to think that they might have made a better decision, that we might be wrong. Because, how could two decisions at such opposite ends of the parenting spectrum BOTH be correct? AND if they are both correct, then what does that say about all the time and energy we put in to making the "right" choice, if there is no "right" choice to be made.
It seems awfully frightening, the idea that these big choices that we make, agonizingly sometimes, have no real impact in the long run.
Because if our parenting decisions are not important, than what is?
I think part of the problem is that we are terrified by the vastness of the potential entrusted to us. The idea of impacting the entire course of a humans development is....immensely frightening. The possiblities for our child's future run frrom abject misery to bliss, and it seems sometimes like our decisions on sleep training and booby vs bottle are going to be the very ones that decide whether he will be happy in his life or miserable in his skin..
So, even as our little one weeps in his crib before falling asleep, we stand in the hallway, tears on our own cheeks, and we make these decisions about how we handle discipline and then we question our conclusions with every interaction.
And so, even though my heart aches and my hands are loathe to let go of my son's beloved plastic reptile, I throw it away, determined to stick to the parenting choices I made, and even as tears drip down my cheeks, I hold fast to my stern and reasonable voice, reminding Max of the reason the dino had to go.
The bus arrives and I carry him up the stairs and grab a seat near the front as Max falls to sleep in my arms, still crying.
"mama, why dino go in trash? Is dino ever come home?" "I do not think so Max". This brings another few sobs before the big blue eyes finally close.
As I held Max, I thought about the lesson I had just tried to teach him, and questioned as usual both the message and the methods, as well basically every parenting decison I had ever made leading up to the moment I threw away Dinosaur Rex forever. I tried to decide if losing Dinosaur Rex was too huge a consequence, if it will obliterate the lesson I am trying to teach, if it will scar him for Life, if it will be the thing that he finally gets to in therapy, the root of his misery and sorrow.
As I contemplated Max's Dinosaur Rex-less future, I was sure that I had made the wrong choice...
Then I felt a tap on my shoulder, and the young man, the kid really, who had given us his seat on the bench at the bus stop was behind me. I turned to find him offering me a plastic bag.
"It's the dinosaur. I pulled it out of the trash. I thought you might want it, maybe you could give it back to him after enough time has passed."
"Oh my God, Thank you, thank you."
"Yeah", he said. "I was on the phone with my mom and told her what happened. She told me when I was little I forced her to make good on every threat she ever made. And she told me you were probably really upset about throwing the toy away, so I got it out for you."
I thanked him again, and told him that his mom would be proud.
He just smiled, and went back to his seat.
A few minutes later, we reached our stop and I carried Max down the stairs and to the car. He was still asleep when we got home and I woke him only to have the first words out of his mouth be, "mama, I wanna say sorry."
I told him I accepted his apology. We hugged. He was quiet all the way home.
When we got home, he said, "Mama, you think Dinosaur Rex come home if I be good?"
"Maybe Max."
"Mama, next time I not bite mama. I not run away."
"Max, I am so glad to hear you say that...." because it means you'll be safer next time we go out, because it means that someday when listening is a Life skill-you'll be able to do it.
And because it means that, at least in this one moment, out of all the "right"choices, I managed to pick one of them. the one that won't leave put you into therapy, the one that will make you choose a partner who cares for you, the one that will give you the courage to pursue your dreams.
Or maybe just the one that makes you a teeny, tiny,itsy bitsy bit less likely to run away and then bite me when I manage to catch you.
Or maybe not.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I need to tell you something...

On Friday, I was walking with a friend, talking about some of the changes I have been making in my life over the past few months...

As we walked, she said "Well, I am really proud of you."

and here I am, still thinking about it.... because it meant something to me...

as a mom, I spend a lot of time making sure my little guy hears positive messages about himself, receives reassurance, and generally is able to believe that he is a pretty impressive guy... not without flaws but still....

However, there is a point at which we stop hearing those messages...  there is no longer someone who takes on the role of cheerleader, telling us we look nice, we are smart, we are gifted, we are good people...

The saddest thing about that is: there are still lots of people who think it....

I know this because I think at least 20 nice things a day about people i see, hear from, and interact with....

I just do not always say them... 

and therein lies the problem....

I have thought about this before... About a year ago, I met a woman in a store whose beauty immediately struck me... She was about 40, and she had a great face, slim body, but the thing I was most aware of was her haircut. She had the most amazing very short hair. It made her eyes prettier, her neck longer, her cheekbones higher.

She was wearing the hell out of that hair...

I saw her a couple of times, and finally approached her and said, "Excuse me, I apologize, but your hair is amazing. Just perfect for you."

And she burst into tears.

She kept gasping, "I am so sorry, I am so sorry", even tears welled up in my own eyes, the two of us, strangers standing in the aisle of the Stop and Shop, crying.

After a few moments, she gained control, and said, "I am so sorry, but you cannot imagine what that means to me, to hear that today."

Turns out, that was her first day out without her wig in the 18 months she had been battling cancer.

She was incredibly self conscious, and was just about to leave the store to put a scarf over the short hair that made her feel so obvious. Her husband and son had assured her a thousand times that she was beautiful, but she found it impossible to believe them. Her sister, not a touchy feely woman, told her nobody really gave a damn what anyone else looked like, and no one cared about her hair.

However, the words of a stranger, a woman she would never see again, had the power to change her. To help her let go of the memories of her long bob, and give her a start on the path to appreciating the strength of this new warrior cut.

The entire interaction lasted about 3 minutes... One hundred and eighty seconds that, in her own words, changed her Life. We hugged, I got in line to pay. Walking to my car, I passed her on her cell phone... I overheard her say, "and she told me she loved my haircut, like it was a choice I had made."

I cried all the way home...

because I almost did not say it... I came so close to walking to the register without telling her that she was beautiful. And because there had been so many other times that I had left, had noticed, appreciated, and thought, and left...

The mom doing such an amazing job with a screaming kid. The teen offering his seat on the bus. The cashier making an extra effort to be nice to a mean customer.

Who knows if they thought to themselves, "Why do I bother, no one notices." When in fact, we do notice...

Think back on the last week.

Think of the chances you had to tell someone that they looked great, did great, sounded great, acted great.... That they were generally pretty impressive guys.. not without flaws, but still.... Bright, beautiful, kind, smart...

You'll know when you see it. Especially if you keep your eyes open and look for chances to tell someone something good about themselves.

Because we all need to hear it....

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Is this really my life?

over the past few years, I have had some moments that feel almost like out of body experiences, in which I stop and look at my life, and wonder: Is this really my life?

the oddest part of it is that the word emphasis seems to shift from instance to instance...

And it is the words we choose to emphasize that make all the difference, isn't it?

Several months ago I started this blog with a reference to the moment I swung myself up into Bill's SUV, loaded with donations for Cradles to Crayons, a local organization that offers families access to toys, clothes, etc. (, and looked into the rearview mirror at the grown up lady in sunglasses, and thought, "Is this really MY life?"

I was stunned to realize that things had come full circle, and that a little girl who once made do with so little was now able to give so much, and to little boys and girls just like her.

Wonderfully, amazingly, and gratefully aware of what a blessing it is to be a Giver.

Yes, this is MY life...

More recently, I have had some, "Is this REALLY my life" moments. I cannot say I enjoy them, these thankfully brief moments in which I question basically every decision  that brought me to whatever situation has inspired this bout of introspection. The moments in which I feel overwhelmed, isolated, exhausted, and alone, and wonder if there is any possible way that i will wake in the morning and find the strength to get out of bed.

Those times when I think that maybe it has all been in vain, maybe I will never feel valued or worthwhile, or inspired by my job, or eager to go to work. Those in which I wonder about family, friends, and foes and try to figure out how each ended up in that catagory. and whether they will stay in that catagory for the long term.

Yes, for better or for worse, this is REALLY my life....

and other times, I hear "Is this really my LIFE?", and in those moments, I get scared. Frightened I am not seeing, hearing, doing, appreciating, learning, teaching, doing, enjoying nearly enough. I begin to feel and sense of urgency, to experience fully each moment and to take every opportunity. It is in those times I start doing Life Math: 20 years since High School, 12 years since africa, 11 years as a foster parent, 4 years as a wife, 3 years as a mom.... 30ish more years working, 6 more years on my adjustable rate mortage, 2 more years til Max is a school age child.

LIFE, in capital letters, waits for no one... it goes by whether you enjoy it or not.

You can contemplate your future or contemplate your navel, either way the seconds, minutes, days.... they all pass, one after another....

So, perhaps instead of wondering which word of the question I should emphasize, perhaps Id be better off turning it into a statement, and emphasizing each important word:


I like the look of that...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Game theory parenting

Max Archer has decided that he really really likes basically anything fed to him on a skewer. Something about eating off of a pointy sharp stick makes everything taste better. He generally eats on the move... I know, I know... By the time dinner comes around on a weekday, I just want to get enough food into him that I do not have to feel guilty saying no when he begs me for just "one yittle sanwidge" before going to bed...

so, if you are judging my decision to let my kid eat off of a Barbie size spear while wandering the house, well, feel free to go get a yittle sanwidge ready for bedtime.

So, when he wandered into the room and left a small chunk of terriaki chicken on my plate, I assumed that as it had fallen off the doll weapon, he was no longer interested. So, i popped it into my mouth...

About 5 minutes later, he reentered the room, trotted over, and immediately cried, "where my yittle chicken, mama?"  Are you kidding me?

Now, for those of you who know anything about game theory, or negotiations theory, and do not have children, the choice seems fairly obvious: explain the mistake, and offer an entire new chicken spear in reparations.

Because any negotiator knows, a reasonable opponent will not cut off his nose to spite his face, and offering to provide more than was orginally requested should satisfy even the most exacting of constituents.

There is this thing called a BATNA, Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. It assumes that if your opponent is turning something down, his alternative is better than your offer, and if he accepts, his BATNA was worse.

I really loved negotiatons and game theory. I loved the sense of order it gave to what had appeared to be unpredicatable and inexplicable decisions. I also loved that it made me feel some sense of control in situaitons that felt really malleable....

I thought, man, if I apply this stuff to my parenting, I will be unbeatable.

However, I had forgotten one important thing: I am not negotiating with a reasonable person.

I am negotiating with a tiny, bipolar, self absorbed hijacker with a zealot's committment to his cause.

There is a reason that we do not negotiate with terrorists.

willing to not only cut off his nose, but mine as well, Max has been known to flip out when, after asking for a monkey plate, he is given the monkey plate and then decides he does not want it after all.

It takes all my energy sometimes to stay half steps ahead of him. quarter steps.... inches...

And the sheer unpredicatability is... mindblowing.

It is like being a hostage negotiator... and you are also the hostage.

Seriously, John Nash, famous game theorist, would have given up entirely on the idea of rational behavior had he spent more time with toddlers.

Not so long ago, Max hit me, and I put him in time out until he decided to say he was sorry... He was furious... He cried and yelled, telling me "I no yike time out, I come sit with you" and each time I would say, as soon as you can say your sorry, you can come out." But, he refused to say the magic words... And I stood my ground... for 64 minutes...

I was sweating, and the headache that started at the beginning of the ordeal had spread to my entire body...

BUT, finally, after 64 long minutes, he finally said, "Mama, Mama, I sowwy... I say sowwy mama"...


I felt vindicated in my parenting decisions, thinking to myself, well, this was the big one, and from here on in he will truly believe that mama means what she says... Again, trying desperately to find some predicatbility in the chaotic world of parenting toddlers.

I hugged him, got him a drink of water, and we settled into a calming episode of "Fireman Sam". After ten minutes or so, max turned to me...

"Mama", he said.

"yes,lovey" I responded.

"mama, I not sowwy."

"mama, I not sowwy, I say sowwy, i not sowwy"

I am wordless...

And once again, Max wins the war....

Smart and crazy is a brutal combination.

"mama, mama, mama, I talking to you, where my yittle chicken??"

"I do not know Max, I think Daddy took it."

Monday, June 11, 2012

walking through harvard square

man... my brain was going overtime... Every single thing I saw seemed to represent a road not taken, a path not fully appreciated, a door, once open and now forever closed.

not sure why, but taking max on a walk through my old stomping grounds was a pretty intense experience. I watched the young couples holding hands, the scholars walking and discussing, the undergraduates moving in groups and testing out grown up identities... I was struck... in some ways it was like a weird trip back in time to the What Might Have Been...

I noticed things like the beautiful skin of the girls, and the strong bodies of the young men beside them. and I thought of how untested they were by time... Time which makes muscles soften, faces wrinkle, and shows in every part of our being.

I noticed their freedom, the way in which the day and the weekend appeared to stretch ahead of them as time to fill or not fill, as they saw fit.

and I was a bit jealous...  ok, more than a bit... I would never give up my max, the miracle that made me believe in miracles. but to be able to go back in time and live some of those days with the knowledge that things all turn out well, and to be able to revel in the day without worrying about the future, ahhhh... Yes, i would do that in a heartbeat.

So much of what I saw in them was of the moment. Just a snapshot in time of youth and potential and hope. Because so much of youth is about the future. And each of them to me looked like the future they saw was as shiny as they were. of course, I know nothing of their inner monologue, the one in which the brilliant ones question their every conclusion and the beauties stare at imagined imperfections for hours... However,  for me, the future seemed murky and the future was scary. sometimes it appeared to yawn in front of me, open mouthed like the alligators that Max so adores now...

and in worrying about the future,far too often i forgot to enjoy the present... I think that in walking through the square, sun shining, what I was actually thinking was how much I hoped they would remember that day. The day when, as a gorgeous young woman, they sat on a bench and read, holding hands with that gorgeous young man who looked at them with so much adoration in his eyes. I wanted to tell them, "remember this... remember how it feels to live in your body at this exact moment. How good it feels to run, how exciting it is to learn, how much of the world is open to you at this exact moment in time."

I didn't... I kept it to myself. I have tried to make the point in the past, to limited success.  A dear and much younger friend of mine shared with me that she and her husband were planning to start trying for a baby... She asked me if I had any advice, I am sure looking for something wise, something about timing intercourse or monitoring ovulation. I told her, "yes... take pictures of your body...  .Because , it will never be the same. and you will find it difficult to remember how it used to be."

It was the tip of the iceberg. I could not find a way to fully encompass for her the enormity of how her life was about to shift. But I wanted her to remember...And enjoy the life she had for the moment, rather worrying about the future.I wanted her to have a reminder of what it felt like when she was one of those girls walking in the sunshine...Of course, the impact on the body is simply the easiest to document. My brain is sagging, and my heart has wrinkles, but there is no possible way to document that....

I spent alot of my life looking ahead with varying degrees of fear. It is actually my greatest regret, that I spent so much time not living in the moment, but instead worrying about the weeks, months, and years to come.

And, in the long run, the worrying was useless. things happened and I reacted to those things. And it was those reactions that made all the difference.  My plans... well, they say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for your future. I feel good about the hours of amusement I have provided Him or Her.

I spent so much time making plans, primary plans, secondary plans, contingency plans... and then barely even noticing as those plans fell to the wayside, so busy was I reacting to reality.

And so, in thinking about that walk through the Square, maybe what I actually want to do is to make sure that, 20 years from now when I am walking down a street and past a playground, and I see parents of little ones, that I can remember what it felt like to be in that exact place, to feel the soft little hands in mine, to remember the way my body felt, its strength and grace as it lifted and carried the dearest thing in life close to my heart.

I would not trade what I have now for all the choices in the world. Although there are doors that have closed to me, the ones that opened have revealed both joy and sorrow that have shaped me, molded me, and changed me in ways that the smooth skinned, slim bodied young woman of the square could not even imagine.

Tonight, when I hold max's solid little body against me for his fierce good night hug, instead of worrying about tomorrow and work and weight loss and relationships, I will do my to stop in the moment, to cement the memory of his scent and sound and the feeling of his absolute trust in the strength of my arms and back to carry him to bed. I will listen to his voice and mine as we read a story. I will write it down in my heart, to pull out on the day when I can no longer lift him, in the moment I realize there has been no bedtime story in weeks. And I will use those memories to warm me, as I leave the sunshine on the square behind....

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

I have been writing blog posts while I drive, while I shower, while I sit in boring meetings...  The only place I have not been writing them is here.... So, here we are again. I hope you will indulge me. I am hopeful that writing some of this down will make it more real, and less real, in the needed porportions to learn from the learning experiences, laugh at the laughing ones, cry at the... well, you are smart kids, you get the picture.

These past several weeks have been...well, growing pain is a real thing for grown ups as well as children. However, the pain is in the heart and spirit. Max's third birthday combined with the difficult departure of our most recent foster baby seem to have centered my brain on the fact that I will not be birthing no more babies... And it is a brutal thing to wrap my mind around. Mostly, because it is not my choice, my body for whatever reason is simply not good that the whole conception thing. Now, the growing hair in places hair is not welcome, that it seems to have mastered. (I took that line out a few times, but I am hereby declaring this a no editing for appropriateness blog. You've been warned)

I think that this is less about the fact that no more bell/lewitt babies will be born with big blue eyes, no hair, and an already apparent adhesion to the motto "to thine own self be true". It is about the fact that for the past 13 years, as a foster mom, then a dating woman, then a married woman, I have really been defined my my pursuit of the stability and joy of a family of my own. Self-defined, but nonetheless, if asked to describe my goals, wife and mommy would have been... well, high up. Maybe, if I am honest, number 2 and 1, respectively.

So, what to do after your dreams come true? And you realize that you are indeed a greedy bitch who is not going to be able to simply revel... And that WANTING MORE is indeed a state of being that you can occasionally hook out of for a bit, but in fact, it is simply who you are.

This blog is going to be a part of that... a part of wanting more and pursuing more.

I am so grateful for my life. I have not gotten here by chance. I had many incredible opportunities and people put in front of me and I grabbed them. If you look at life as a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos, I have grabbed some great marbles.

And, I am going to be making every effort to see my Life approaching in this same way... that image above, of all the marbles just waiting to be grabbed, is one that I am finding helpful in addressing my current feelings of.... out of sortedness. I know, not a phrase in common usage.

But, I think this is Life. There are bunches of opportunities and options. And there are other hippos out there, eager to grab them... And you have a choice: grab frantically and randomly, in order to assure no one else gets any that you *might* someday want, or grab more deliberately, looking at the marbles and choosing, taking that horrible chance that, when you go to grab it, that marble might have been grabbed by someone else.

Yep, I am officially now an adherent of the "Hungry Hungry Hippos  Plan for Life Management"

Feel free to stick around and see how it goes...