Intentions, Sophie and the Sea

It’s common at the start of a yoga class to set an intention for the day’s practice.

Different from a goal, which is something you work toward with a focus for the future, an intention is meant to give you a focus in the present.

Bruce Black, from Writing Yoga with Bruce Black, explained it far better than I ever could …

“… setting your intention is like drawing an arrow from the quiver of your heart.

You aim the arrow at a distant target, a reflection of your heart’s desire, and with care and mindfulness release the bowstring.

And as the arrow flies toward the target, it draws your heart toward its destiny.”

My intention was set; my arrow aimed at first-born (Sophie) who becomes troubled when I leave for my Friday night trips away (an unhappy agreement made during mediation to give her father more time to parent without my ever-presence).

She cries as I leave, and as I jump into my car and drive away, I can’t help but wonder for how long she feels the pain of my departure.

There is nothing I can do to ease her pain when I’m gone.

At the end of yesterday’s class, prior to a deeply personal moving meditation and an awfully good time spent upside down in playful inversions, the class returned to our backs for quiet savasana.

As proof that I’d set the right intention, the prettiest song came through the speakers above my head; a version of Sea of Love I hadn’t ever heard.

For Sophie I’d set my intention. Now and forever, Cat Power’s Sea of Love will be our song.

M.

Do you set intentions off of the mat? Does a particular song remind you of someone you love?

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A Birthday on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is coming, but instead of being enthusiastic about the holiday itself, I’m excited about celebrating my daughters’ birthday; born five years ago on Thanksgiving day, 2007.

It was a wild ride – pregnancy with twins; months of bed rest, nervous ultrasounds, undetermined blood tests. Especially after several losses.

The fact that my turkeys arrived on Thanksgiving day was like a gift from the stars.

It came with a message that said …

“Here you go. Here is what you wished for. Here is the meaning of your life. These two 4-pounders are your daughters and they’ve been born on Thanksgiving day so that you never forget how grateful you must be for the gift of their lives on this Earth.”

And I was grateful. More grateful than for anything I’d ever received.

And while I was swimming in gratefulness, recovering from a nasty c-section, pulling my IV drip back and forth to the nursery despite pleas from nurses to rest, I was also arguing with my husband and begging nurses to make him leave. We had fought throughout the pregnancy. I never felt loved and I always felt alone when he came around.

We couldn’t get along, even at this most blessed time. Our paths were divergent despite the impending arrival of two growing babies with our DNA.

My divorce has been a long time coming. It is painful and ugly, and strips me of my will to smile whenever I’m in his presence.

But tomorrow I’m determined to (just) be thankful for my girls. They gave me what I always wanted. I wanted to be a mom.

My errands today will revolve around preparations for the celebration. A cake with mermaids will be picked up and their LeapFrog Tablet will be wrapped.

It’s a pretty neat present for a couple of five year olds; easy to get, picked out from Target.

I only wish I was able to give them the best gift of all; the gift of a happy family. Children with happy, intact families are the luckiest of all.

For this, I am ungrateful. Ungrateful, without thanks, and hoping that they never suffer from the knowledge of their unluckiness; the failure of their parents stripping them of what should have been their right.

M.

When your child/children were born, did you feel like it brought you and your spouse closer or did it put more stress on an already strained relationship? What will you be giving thanks for tomorrow around your dinner table?

People often ask how I managed to care for two babies at once. Look at those faces; pure joy, all the time. Their first year was the best time of my life.

Hyphenated Halloween

Yesterday, as we scrambled to put together costumes for the pre-school Halloween party, my daughters’ personality differences were on full display.

Sophie, generally easy-going and not as fussy about her appearance, made the quick decision to go as a cat. Simple enough; we gathered the all black ensemble; kitty ears, tulle skirt with attached tail, turtleneck, and leggings.

Grace, my mirror, inherited her mother’s discouraging habit of trying on every outfit in the closet (thus mussing the room with tossed, willy-nilly clothes) only to end up in the first frock that began the unfortunate series of events.

Standing amidst the candy-colored, tulle mess and finally pleased with her costume, I realized two things; Grace and I are very good examples of the power of genetics, and I need to get going on my punctuation re-education; this time placing focus on the hyphen.

According to Lynn Truss (Eat Shoots & Leaves), the hyphen is, “…hard to use wrongly.”

So why, then, do I feel so afraid them – not just at Halloween?

After a morning of Internet investigating, here is what I’ve learned:

1. Hyphens are very good at letting a reader in on a joke, also helping to imply that a raised or lowered voice will add emotion to the punch line.

i.e. My daughter has a face that looks like her aunt Janine – her attitude is all mom.

2. Hyphens can be used to connect or separate sentences, but are also appropriate when combining two words; creating compounds.

i.e. In Grace’s fifteen minute costume tirade, she was a butterfly-fairy, butterfly-princess, cat-princess, princess-bride, before rounding back to the beginning, settling on the original and most, “This one doesn’t tickle,” butterfly-fairy.

3. When two describing words come after a noun, they are not hyphenated.

i.e. I love apples when they’re caramel covered.

4. A hyphen can be used to join two (or more) words that act as a combined adjective before a noun.

i.e. I hope they have caramel-covered apples at the Halloween party this afternoon.

5. Lots of words can be connected (or combined) with or without hyphens.

i.e. The hair-splitting screams came from the bedroom were spooky.

i.e. Grace’s screams were hairsplitting.

i.e. Hair splitting screams are not a good way to start the morning.

6. Hyphenate compound numbers.

i.e Is it weird for a forty-one-year-old to wear a tutu?

7. Hyphens should be used with the prefixes self-, ex-, and all-, and with the suffix -elect. They can be used with other prefixes if it helps to clarify a confusing word or spelling. Here is a great list of examples (much better than my own).

But here is my attempt …

i.e. Pre-adolescence is going to fun!

i.e. It is unacceptable to leave your room a mess.

i.e. Re-education (with the prefix separated by a hyphen) looks less confusing to me than reeducation.

8. Probably the first time I was ever made to be afraid of the hyphen was when learning that they are needed in sentences when the word doesn’t fit on the line.

a. Divide line breaks at the place where the hyphen already exists.

b. Between syllables.

c. With words that end in -ing, they need to be separated at the place where the final consonant and root word are split (i.e. run-ning, or speak-ing, or dres-sing).

9. Saving the best for last, if you happen to use an Apple computer and want a longer hyphen, as opposed to a tiny word-spacing hyphen, press the alt button, while also pressing the hyphen at the upper right side of the keyboard.

i.e.[-] vs. [–]. Nice, right?

In approximately four-and-a-half hours we will revisit the “hyphenation Halloween-costume-fiasco”, as we attempt to ready ourselves for today’s afternoon Halloween house party (house-party?).

Without the help of a hyphen, what-oh-what would we be?

Are you dressing up for Halloween? What are your kids going to be? Any hyphens involved?

M.

Pumpkin-princess. But does she really need a hyphen? The debate continues …

Popcorn, Kids and Magic

Yesterday I spent the morning in a small room with eight four-year olds where I’d signed up to be their substitute teacher. Many of the children I already knew by name as they’d been in other classes with my girls or had frequented our playground with their moms.

Before I was a mom, I was a teacher, so my comfort level there was familiar and easy.

We painted and read and worked on letters and as we got to know each other as teacher and students I was on the receiving end of the love that children give in spurts to thank you and let you know that you are trusted. If teaching was only about the children, going back full-time would be without question.

Toward the end of the day, Mrs. L (the assistant) pushed play on the old tape recorder set high on a shelf.

“The popcorn song,” she said, “Give yourself space.”

While the kids ran to find their place, a good distance between themselves and their friends, I sandwiched myself between the painting easel and the cubbies.

The music began; a shaking, beating, wiggling sound propelling bodies to move.

Each little person bounced and shook and wiggled, practically choreographed,each transition perfectly timed. The corners of my mouth pointed upward at the sight of each child’s deeply rooted personal and electric rhythm.

Like the moment when the space shuttle is about to take off or the pulsing of a bass drum, the swirling liquid inside a bottle of Mountain Dew just before the cap twists off or the sound of OM in a room full of yogis, the children created a force.

They were small, their imprint took up little space, but their force was huge.

Huge and magical.

Happy magic emanating from small energetic packages.

I forget sometimes that kids have such power. I forget a a lot, actually, especially with mine who whine a lot and boss me around a lot and hit each other a lot and need something from me all the live long day.

At the end of class I asked the children to tell me their favorite part of the morning.

“You want to know mine?” I asked.

“The popcorn song.”

“Yep,” said the lot, “Mine too!”

Ever have a moment that leaves you spell-bound and happy?

M.

Pop pop pop pop music.

A Fashion Fight

I kept the girls home from picture day yesterday. The drama that ensued over what to wear became much too much; screaming and crying and clothes tossing and hysterics over matching tights to dresses to shoes.

While all of their friends were having their photos taken, my daughters sat in their room with their lunch boxes while I huffed and puffed; would have blown this place down had I been able to find the lung power.

I’d love to say that it was all them, but it wasn’t. I did my share of screaming and clothes tossing, too. I, their mother, was the ringleader of the madness; the curator of the crazy.

I feel badly about it today.

Did it matter if Soph wore the brown/green/orange polka dot tights with her navy dress? Would it have been so terrible if Grace had worn her red and white Christmas dress with the “they’re comfortable” salt water faded Keen boat shoes?

I am an easy-going mom. I let my kids have an awful lot of choices about what to wear, what to eat, where to go, what to do.

I’m not a “You WILL wear this!” kind of mom.

But yesterday I wanted pretty pictures of my girls in the Liberty print Petit Bateau dresses I’ve been waiting for them to fit into. I bought those dresses with images of my sweet daughters looking tres French. Lovely sophisticated little girls. The fairy tale image of what I always imagined my daughters would be…

They hate the dresses. They hate the print, despite my lessons on the history of Liberty of London. They hate the weight of the fabric and the style of the sleeves. Grace especially hates the front button placket.

I sent them off to school this morning in outfits of their choosing.

It’s a gorgeous day here, the sun shining bright for the first time in a week, and I chose not to fight the what to wear battle.

Do I need to start picking more battles for control?

Probably a good idea to create more limits.

What’s a mother to do when you realize that your parenting style has created a personality trait in your children (in my case stubborn minded fashion forward not at all French little monsters) that could potentially become a bigger problem? Fix it, right? And fast…

XOM

I have a nostalgia thing for Petit Bateau and Liberty of London, since I wore them myself as a little girl. I know that this is not bright pink and covered in ruffles, but would it have killed them to wear it for one day? Apparently, yes.

Girls

Today was the first day back to school and we piled into the car with backpacks empty except for spare sets of clothes, feet in socks and flashing Sketchers, bug spray to ward of playground mosquitos and girls who weren’t sure they were ready to go.

As I pulled out of the driveway I remembered how lousy morning car radio is for children. Too much talk and not enough music, tragic for little girls who get their groove on the most (the best) from the back seat of my Sequoia.

So, as I do when they just can’t stand the sound of the canned laughter and strange manly voices, I cued up song eight of disk one; Madonna’s, “What it Feels Like for a Girl.” It calms them and we listen to the breathy lovely lyrics describing what it’s like for our kind.

Incidentally, since we’re on the subject, I, depressed from the season enders (True Blood) and the almost season enders (Weeds) and the not yet started (Dexter) went on demand last night to watch the relatively new HBO show entitled Girls.

Girls, it turns out, is so amazingly written I can’t even describe the level of writing without sounding clichéd (genius, and such). It’s written, directed, acted and produced by the talented Lena Dunham (executive produced by Judd Apatow). Lena plays a writer named Hannah who thinks she might be the voice for her generation, but it’s the creator who very well might be. If you haven’t started watching you are missing out. I sure was!

This afternoon after pickup we headed home to a few good hours of house cleaning, which gave me an opportunity to listen to the audible reading of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

I’ve reached part two of the novel and I concur with the New York Times; a masterpiece!

I can’t, I won’t, I wish I could tell you….

Just go and buy it and message me when you’re done. You will not be sorry!

XOM.

Bride Girls – A Poem

“When you were bride did you wear white?

Who picked out your dress? How did you know it was right?”

The questions came fast about ‘bride girls’ so named,

“Do they ever wear color? Do they all have long trains?”

“Brides can wear anything they choose for their day.

The rainbow’s their choice, their outfit their say.”

“Bride’s are pretty,” said Grace.

“They are happy,” said her sister.

And said I with a grin, “Cause they’re marrying their mister!”

To the stairs they ran fast, we were late for shoe shopping.

To the room where I sew they headed without stopping.

Grace came out with a ribbon placed atop of her head

Satin, ivory and long it trailed her up to her bed.

And she jumped up and down while Sophie implored,

“Get a clip! Get a clip from the hair dodad drawer!”

“On my head, on my head,” said Grace all a flutter.

“But first get dressed girls…

Norsdtrom waits! You are nutters!”

Once dressed and ready I took the clip,

Placed it tight on Grace’s head, let the ribbon fall and slip.

Down to the floor she walked like a bride,

Head held high to the store she would smile, we would ride.

She wore it on her head ’til her shoe love took hold.

The ribbon left crumpled, the Sketchers were sold.

The moment was gone they were making me crazy.

The memory of ‘bride girl’ soon would be hazy.

I’ve forgotten so much from timed feedings ’til now,

Will I miss it, these four year olds when that day comes around?

When they stand up the aisle with real veils to the ground,

Will I cry, will I laugh, will I feel hugely proud?

Said a lady in Whole Foods last week as she watched,

As I struggled and argued with the girls during lunch,

“It goes much too fast, time flies and you’ll see,

There will come a day when you’ll miss this terribly!”

So today as I watch, clean, cook, fold and we play,

From the mess to the laughs I’ll enjoy the array.

And despite my kerfuffle, my whining, my rants,

I know that I’m lucky to be wearing mommy pants.

One day they’ll be grown,

Strong, free, good and smart.

No one loves them like their mother,

Every inch of my heart.

Here comes the bride…

Snooki is a Mom

Snooki had her baby and Twitter is tweet full of jokes, insults, worry and questions about the kind of mother she will be.

I get it. Watch just one episode of Jersey Shore and you’ll get it, too.

On the show, Snooki demonstrates extremes in the area of the most worrisome behaviors; tacky fashion, irresponsible inebriation, sex with strangers and (depending on how you look at it) sad or silly mischief.

The show was touted as reality, though the grown ups watching know the truth that though some of it was real, most of it was staged in order to appear that way.

I was young once myself.

I did tacky things like wear skin-tight dresses that showed too much skin. I wore much too much makeup. My heels were too high. My hair was perm fried. Tackiness personified as I look back today.

Irresponsible inebriation? There was lots of that. One time at the age of twenty (the same night I realized that the love of my life was gone and my broken heart would remain that way forever) a bottle of Jagermeister acted as my solace and my California blonde non- guido self spent the entire night heaving and puking in some strangers bushes.

There was a time in the eighties when hooking up with a boy didn’t mean much more than  the certainty that he would hook up with my best friend the next night so that he could compare the two of us later. Irresponsible activity? To say the least.

Mischief is a part of being young. It’s a part of growing up and testing limits.

College kids everywhere (anyone remember Animal House?) decide how much of the party they will engage in while away from home for the first time. Some of us start the party earlier. Other kids have their heads on straighter and don’t party to extremes. Some actually graduate with their class (sorry, mom) and go on to semester after semester of mild partying and consistently good grades.

Some kids take longer to figure it out. Some kids are busy battling their own familial demons; struggling with things that childhood has caused (both good and bad).

From the other side all these years later (and now as a mom myself) I can see the irresponsibility so clearly. But the misfortune of youth is that when you are a teenager you think you know everything!

It’s your choices that determine the kind of person you are for that moment and when you decide to grow up and out of the denial that your every decision is wise  (i.e. I’ll tell my mom I’m sleeping at your house and vice versa, Tijuana here we come!) you decide what kind of person you are really going to be.

I’m not any more worried about Snooki’s baby than I am for the average mom who is embarking on the biggest challenge of her life. Mom’s struggle for all sorts of reasons (baby won’t eat, baby won’t sleep, baby never stops crying), but Snooki has a better chance than many.

She has made a career for herself that has monetarily been good.

She has parents who love and support her.

She carried a pregnancy that resulted in a healthy baby.

For those who do not know, she was adopted as a baby herself, and so this new child is the first biological person to whom she’s ever been connected. I have been there myself and it’s an unbelievable situation that results in tremendous care and love.

And good or bad, the world is watching and waiting for her to make mistakes. We will hear about it the first time she goes out without baby and we’ll know the day the media feels she’s lost enough “baby weight.”

I think we should give this woman (she is 24) a chance and wish her the very best.

And try to remember that past choices don’t cement in stone the ones for the future.

For all new mothers, those whose lives have been documented on reality t.v. and those whose faces never grace our television screens, we should be rooting for the best.

They (and their children) deserve it.

XOM

Tijuana 1988, Junior year of high school. This photo has a history of its own. I displayed it proudly on my wall (thus the push-pin holes in the edges). When I decided to grow up a little I folded it in half (thus the crease mark) where it stayed hidden in a box for years. Now, almost 25 years later, I scanned it for posterity. Time heals all wounds…. even the ones you received having fun (notice the cigarette?).

Raising Little Ships

I read a great post over at the818 entitled, How Do You Know If You’re Raising An Asshole?

What a relief, I thought, to know I’m not the only one who wonders this very same thing.

My summer has been long. Much longer than any other summer in the history of my being.

Four year olds are not easy.

My constant admonition that “You are almost five!” said with the hope that five will be the magical age that they start acting like big girls, less like little shitballs, is like an elusive prayer.

It’s not as if they don’t have moments being lovely little people.

They can hug like champs, run to get band aids for a bleeding sister in need, bat their eyelashes so that you can see the sweet that they feel on the inside and make piles of toys to give to the children who might not have any.

Lovely little people!

But the yin to the yang is their much too often use of words like vagina, butt, butthole, stupid and I hate you (with emphasis on the hate). It’s gotten so bad that Sophie unconsciously sings butthole (with inflection on various notes) while concentrating on tasks like coloring pictures of her family or buttering a piece of toast.

They hit and they run.

Rather, they hit hard and run fast.

“Use your words!” I say.

“You butthole!” They say.

They make huge messes and then sprint in the opposite direction upon time to clean up.

The incessant and rampant whining and sobbing has gotten so, that in my exasperation I have gripped my own face to thwart my own screams.

It’s exhausting and worrisome and so like Megan at the818 I wonder if I am raising two little assholes; girls more like smoldering hot fire than sweetly spun sugar?

What’s a mom to do (besides endless time outs and positive motivators and tickle torture and bribery and go to your rooms and screaming her head off)?

In exactly thirteen days I’ll be dropping the girls at pre-school with Miss Shelley the Saint, at which time I will flee outside through the double doors like a four-year old who’s just walloped her sister. I might even whisper a cuss word (or two) in the car before calling my mother to whine (and maybe cry in relief) about the entire series of events called, “Me, My Girls and the Summer of 2012.”

Apple? Tree?

Oh God, it’s worse than I thought!

XOM

I admit that on occasion I have used the term, “You little shit.” To my delight Grace thinks I said, “You little ship.” What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her. Right?

Yin Yang A Yin Yin Yang

When I agreed to drive home from our seven weeks away it seemed like a good idea. I knew I’d have collected various suitcase filling objects and I wasn’t sure we’d be able to fit our stuff in the belly of a plane or comfortably underneath our seats.

As predicted, we left Groton Long Point yesterday morning with a car stuffed full, so much so that the only way to get to the cooler full of drinks was through the rolled down back window of the Four Runner (the door was blocked by a finicky bike rack). The roof rack above was filled to the brim with dismantled Hello Kitty bikes, dirty towels and random soft bags with items that normally do not go together (shampoo and shoes and Barbies, for example). I placed my precious laptop against the safest spot I could find (next to my feet on the passenger side floor) and surrounding us in every other empty space was an explosion of brought along foods, coloring books, items from the pencil boxes, empty Dunkin Donut bags and pillows and toys.

We rolled into Raleigh after eleven and promptly released the girls.

Said Grace later; “Mom. It’s like we were in jail and we didn’t even do anything bad to get there!”

All along the way I kept thinking that the trip could be described as Yin and Yang.

Yin: Passing around the nectarine and pear I’d brought and watching each family member take a bite.

Yang: Breakfast at McDonald’s (the girls and I didn’t actually eat it, so maybe that’s yin). But dinner at Wendy’s? So yang.

Yin: Outsmarting the GPS that was determined to take us over the George Washington Bridge. We found our way to the Tapanzee and were certain it would be smooth sailing all the way home.

Yang: Three hours of stop and go traffic through D.C.

Yin: Both girls falling asleep and staying that way through most of D.C.

Yang: The cries from the back seat when they woke with sore backs and crampy legs.

Yin: Listening to Sophie sing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) in her high-pitched lovely little voice.

Yang: Listening to Sophie singing the words to Call Me, Maybe? (beginning to end) after twelve or so hours on the road.

Yin: Listening to Adele full blast during my turn at the wheel.

Yang: Being so engrossed in that beautiful voice and missing the last big freeway change.

Yin: The Map Quest directions that said the trip would be eleven hours door to door.

Yang: Fourteen hours later peeling myself from the seat of the car and walking around my house, happy to be here but exhausted and with a headache.

Yin: Pechie’s bowl of freshly made spaghetti and meatballs in the fridge.

Yin: A fridge full of groceries that she bought for us so I wouldn’t have to take the girls in the car again today.

Yin: My house; relatively clean.

Yang: Out of toilet paper and coffee.

Yin: Kids off playing.

Yin: Me typing at my space.

Yin: Back to blogging and writing and running and yoga class and preschool and my juicer and my friends (both real and bloggy).

Yin: There’s no place like home.

XOM.

Grace seven hours in…