Hello from prison

I’d ask my children how many snow days we’ve had in the last week and a half, but they’ve both forgotten how to count. I’m not worried about their education though. While your children enjoy their summer off, my kids will still be in school doing important things like counting stuff.

There’s easily two feet of snow outside, and the plow-made snowbanks tower high above our heads. Soon it will be up to zero degrees. Still not quite warm enough to have the kids go out and play. So inside we remain, carefully navigating over toy strewn floors in our pajamas and slippers. I vaguely remember real pants. There’s something about a button, right?

I might have shed actual tears when I got the text about the latest cancellation. I definitely swore creatively and glorified the ’80s when we went to school no matter fucking what.

It’s hard on the kids to face so much unexpected downtime. The excitement has worn off; they’ve become snow day weary. TV has lost its luster. iDevices fail to entertain. Literally anything is worth fighting over.

As hard as it’s been on all of us, it’s been hardest on the house itself. All this forced time inside together has been strenuous for our habitat. The make-a-snack/make-a-mess/clean-it-up/repeat process has rendered my kitchen crumby, sticky, and out of all the good snacks. The outlets feel overworked from the constant need to recharge a phone or tablet. The sofa’s had no time to refluff. The floors just plain can’t be seen. If the Keurig goes on strike, we’re all in trouble.

Our involuntary confinement will come to an end soon and we’ll return to the outside world. We will all emerge from our respective messy homes, chafing in our real pants, rubbing our eyes at the bright sky. Our children will be reminded how to count and will remain in school until July. And our homes will rejoice in their long missed vacancy. Until then, we wait out our sentence in familial isolation. Good luck to us all.

snow day

 

My Days are Numbered

My kids are getting bigger. Soon I’ll enter the Chauffeur Years, when mothers become a barely tolerated presence in kids’ lives, good only for food, cash, and transport. With that in mind, I’m trying like hell to enjoy the time I’ve got left in the Little Kid Years.

And I do enjoy a lot of it. I love that my kids still rely on goodnight hugs and kisses and stories read aloud in order to fall asleep. I do. It’s too bad that this special time always comes at the end of the day when my nerves are frayed and my wine is downstairs waiting for me with the promise of peace and quiet.

I love that my kids still crave my approval and I know I’ll miss it when they no longer need or want my attention. But really, I just can’t feign interest in what you built in Minecraft and that song you’re singing was cute, an hour ago.

These little kid years are fleeting and all the magic that comes with them is but a moment in our children’s lives. As parents we know this so we try to drink up all the magic, and create even more by putting our children in situations where there will be more and more and more magic. Our little kids’ wonder is our drug.

We bring our children to Disney World so we can see that look on their faces – the one of pure wonder and joy that only little kids have. And we get it. We get that moment and our hearts fill, our cups runneth over, and we gain the emotional fortitude it takes not to strangle them when they’re falling apart a few minutes later, throwing epic fits born of overstimulation, exhaustion, and too much GD Florida sunshine. We bring our children to the beach and are justly rewarded with peals of laughter in the waves, tongues held out between teeth in extreme sand castle concentration, and boundless energy for chasing down seagulls, flying kites, and catching crabs in tide pools. We get our fill of the magic, and we don’t commit murder when they cry from hunger, freak out from sand in shoes, and complain the entire car ride home.

As with so many of the lovely things in life, little-kidhood is a two-sided coin. One side is full of giggles, cuddles, and wonder. It’s all enthusiasm. It’s witnessing a person encounter a firefly for the first time, a shooting star. It’s understanding that there is no greater thing than s’mores, a snow day, a rainbow. The other side is quite the opposite. If a day can be the “best day ever!” because of a lollipop, likewise, it can be the worst because of peas touching potatoes. A sibling can be a best friend, and a mortal enemy vying for the love of the people who should only have eyes for you.

This tricky coin flips easily and many times per day. Anything can flip it. There are known triggers that we parents work hard to mitigate: hunger, fatigue, overstimulation, errands, lines, frustration, transition, waiting 5 more minutes for anything, but especially dinner. It can flip back just as easily. Generally bodily functions related to digestion are the most efficient means of doing this. We parents live our lives by this fickle coin.

I’m trying hard to relish the waning years of little-kidness remaining to me. I marinate in morning snuggles and sweetness, which helps me manage later-morning attitude. I exalt moments of sibling playfulness, full of princess dresses, spy gear, and astonishing imagination, which helps me through sibling fights full of yelling, hitting, and inevitable crying. I cherish childish mispronunciations and misunderstandings, which helps me bear their diminishing number. Mostly, I have to be actively mindful of my limited time in this space. My kids are getting bigger. I have to get all the cuddles now.

My Days are Numbered



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What kind of idiot am I?

I haven’t written anything in a long time. I avoid making eye contact with my desk, unable to endure my computer’s reproachful blinking cursor, the dreaded blank screen. I don’t have writer’s block exactly, more like writer’s paralysis. And I finally figured out why.

Both my kids are in school.

As in: “When both my kids are in school I’m going to get serious about my writing.”

(And: “When both my kids are in school I’m going to hit the gym every morning.” And: “When both my kids are in school my house is going to be so clean and organized!”)

But mostly: “When both my kids are in school I’m going to get serious about my writing.” 

For five years, the time when both kids would be in school all day was a distant, hazy dream on the horizon. When it arrived my days would open wide and my fingers would fly over the keys leaving reams of smart witticisms, vulnerable admissions, and startling insights in their wake.

Suddenly the time was upon me. No more excuses. It was always just a problem with time, right? Or was it?

Maybe it was never time at all. Maybe the problem lies within. Maybe my fingers flying over the keys don’t produce reams of wit, vulnerability, and insight. Maybe I lack the talent entirely. I found myself finally at the starting gate. The pressure overwhelmed. If I fail now then I’m nothing. 

And so, paralysis.

This is a crossroad. I can go quietly away and no one would even know that there was a time when I promised myself “when both my kids are in school…” That would be easy. It’s not failure if I don’t try. Especially if no one even knows. Maybe I’ll just focus on the gym and the house first.

But then I went and wrote this, totally screwing up my plan. Shit. I’m an idiot. Am I an idiot with no creative talent or passion, or an idiot with all the passion and not quite enough of the talent, or an idiot with passion and maybe some talent too? Am I an idiot willing to work for it? An idiot willing to stand up and say that I’m going to reach for the brass ring, whether or not I grab on be damned? An idiot who says that the only failure is the failure to try?

Just what kind of bloody idiot am I? What will my story be when I look back at this juncture in my life? I don’t know. Let’s see, shall we? Maybe it all started when I sat down to write this, intimidated by that cursor no more.

writer's block, writing



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