Friday, February 17, 2012

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Monday, January 30, 2012

That and This

Hi. My name is Elizabeth, and I am a mom. Sometimes, that is all I know about myself. I mean, I am also a wife. A cook. A cleaning technician. A very part-time teacher.

Other than these labels, I am not always sure what or whom I am, at least sometimes.

With all of my attempts at growing as a person, I often feel it all goes back to these few titles beside my name.

I confessed to a former therapist once that I was in crisis mode knowing I'd never be Buddha. This might sound silly to someone who has never had a spiritual crisis. But, in those few months, I felt extremely conflicted about which spiritual path was mine. Which road led to my personal enlightenment? Who was going to put the grain of rice in my bowl that would break open the universe? Karate, chop!

I confess. These questions sometimes really matter to me. Much of the time, however, I am too far down on the list of Maslow's hierarchy of needs to care. Often,the brain cells which worry about all of this are bogged down with wondering how my husband and I will retire before the age of 90.

But, this is a key aspect of identity: spirituality. And, for whatever reason, our society needs labels for these things. If you aren't Christian, then you must be Jewish, or Hindu, or a practicing Buddhist. The "I-am-not-so-sure-what-I-am" state of being lies outside of our comfort zones. There is something wrong if we fall into this "category."

The needing to name what we are doesn't seem like a necessary part of the quest, if I step back and look at all of this from a remotely objective position. In fact, isn't it the need to name which strangles all budding flowers? The need to know what and where we stand with everything and everyone?

As January turns her cold shoulder on the new year, I turn mine on labeling. And frankly, that's that. And this is this.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


It's been about a year since I began the effort of getting my son to say please. So, we're talking, not long after his first word, came the push for manners. It's just how I was raised, I guess. The Southern gentile woman side of my person.

And yes, he did say his first word at six months old: cat. The boy has always been a talker, despite his tendency to observe the scene and approach people and situations with caution. God, I love these things about him.

Anyway, today, Jan. 25th, he said "please." Twice. With one high five from mom.

What's the big deal about please? Is it really necessary when asking for what one wants? While this could be a whole conversation on its own, I am not going to spend the time right now. "Back later," as Asher says when he wants us to return to an activity we are stopping.

So how does all of this relate to my UOP job? It doesn't frankly. Other than, I asked God to please let me be a stay-at-home mama who doesn't have to work part-time. Please let it be possible for me to gain the super-mama skills and energy to wipe his chin while whiting out inappropriate feedback on student essays.

Please only goes so far. Even if you feel in your gut somewhere that God gets it - and even appreciates proper Southern niceities (defined by the urban dictionary as "a word for kindness when you can't think of the word for kindness). That the universe wants to support you, but it just doesn't have the frickin' time.

Thus, I will be continuing to teach a class for an unknown period of time. Maybe until I actually go back to work full-time, when Ash is older.

At this point in the "story," it seems appropriate to say "thank you." Even if using please doesn't always get us what we want, we should still have the good sense to say thank you. No, mom didn't let me have chocolate cake, but she did give me prunes!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Haze that's not Purple

You know the haze that settles above your brow and beneath your eyes during the winter cold? Whenever the wind pulls in chances of snow and ice, my head seems to freeze too. Thoughts get stuck in their respective spots, and it takes an ice pick to get them loose.

January....blah. That's what it is. It's the January blah. The time in the month when you're wishing Valentine's Day was next week. And spring vacation two weeks after that.

Ironically, I was just telling my mother that I hoped the snow would never lose its magic. That it still held such a childlike delight for me. This is true. But, the cold, dry wind and scratchy morning cough. The leather-like hands and icy toes. These, I can do without. They are my bofa on the sofa (Dr. Seuss).

So, I remind myself, and you, to take care and take cover. To create more inner beauty to counterbalance the abundantly stark landscape outside. To make sunshine in your home with good smells, hot tea, and heavy sweaters. To go indoors. Reflect on the day, the year, the joy (and oh...the horror - Apocalypse Now). : )

Friday, January 13, 2012


I find myself not wanting to let go of Asher after he's fallen asleep in my arms. His tiny, limp body still clinging like a stuffed doll with super-doll arms. Was that weird?

When I am finally able to give him up to his stuffed animals, baby blankie, and snug crib, I spend at least another minute wishing I could crawl in there with him. Wishing I could always feel as incredibly safe as I imagine he feels.

He fell down yesterday and bled actual blood for the first time that I can recall. I mean, for the first time outside of the doctor's office, where the nurse is quickly cotton-balling away any stray blood from his shot wounds. That sounds way more gruesome than it is.

Anyway. There we were. Sitting on the kitchen floor, coats recently hung up, staring at his skinned finger together. "Blood," I told him, as he stared at his little thumb (a zillion moons before he attempts to hitchhike on some stupid dare). "Bluh," he repeats, still staring in disbelief. Then, the tears come, as if there is some alien intelligence that understands he is human. Or that he can get hurt. That bleeding happens when a person runs down hill and trips on his own feet. And, man, that sucks so bad.

I wish he'd never trip again, but that's not entirely truthful. It's not that I don't want him to trip, but rather, I don't want him to bleed. I don't want him to ever feel that sting or anything else that hurts a zillion times more, which he will inevitably feel one day.

For a few precious seconds more, he is mine. Safe in his crib. He is more dependent on me than our cats are. He is a rag doll in my arms, being rocked to sleep after experiencing his first tiny scrape from the outside world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Worth Sharing

There are certain things I just don't want to share. I mean, I'd share so much if I knew that my mother and other relatives would be OK with reading news about my stress. AKA money issues that arise from time to time.

Instead of causing anyone else's brow to furrow (mine is enough), I will spare unnecessary details and just say that our life since the move has been tight financially. (That wasn't so hard, and the point was still made. Cool.)

To help ease the burden, I started teaching an online course in November. Thankfully, it - the course, the pain, the trauma - ends mid-February. As much as I love teaching writing and think I am good at my job, I've basically hated teaching writing. While also being a stay-at-home mom.

I am no supermom, even though they do seem to exist. I, for one, am not her. She is not me. It is an animal from a different species.

I am trying to be OK with this knowledge, but sometimes, I fall short. In recent weeks, I've pounded, raked, and beaten various metaphorical objects and parts of my body to find an answer as to why I cannot do it all. To why it isn't a breeze for me to keep up with one frickin English class while raising a tiny child.

The only way I can explain it to myself is that people's energy levels vary greatly. Or, the energy I expend taking care of my child is greater - or lesser - than that of other moms.

When I think of it this way, I am OK with it. OK that I will never wear a cape or be listed as a supermom by some lousy editor from Parent magazine who never had kids. 

I've blamed my lack of superheroness (don't you like it?) on age too. Maybe I am too old to do it all. Maybe if I were ten years younger, it wouldn't seem so daunting. I mean, I remember when staying up past eleven was easy. When it was perfectly fine to get to bed at 12:30 and get up at 5:00 to go teach a bunch of high school kids. Just writing this fact down makes my brain hurt. And makes me feel frickin old.

OK, I am rambling a bit now. I like getting older. I like needing time for me. I like needing to go to bed. I like that life changes and that we don't stay the same. That women wear motherhood differently.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fill it Up

While putting sugar in my coffee this morning, I thought of the same story a former friend from Seattle once told me, about an ex-girlfriend he had who used to pour sugar into a cup of coffee as if it were bottomless. As if she needed 3 pounds of sugar for each cup. On countless mornings, I have remembered this small, mundane tidbit about a woman whom I never met.

The fact I can still think of it over twelve years later is mind-boggling to me. Our associative memory is such a stubborn recorder at times. It can get stuck on rewind, caught in one track. And then, that track becomes the present and future track of so many other moments.

What is it about that one story?

The question is somewhat futile to ask, I realize. Not to mention, it's pretty obvious that we are more present at certain times than we are at others. And, we will always remember more details when are bodies and brains are more present.

I was just watching a video taken this past Christmas, and I did not remember certain comments I made to Eric, not even two weeks ago. This fact scared me a little.

Thus, I am reminded, in this new year, to keep the recorder on. To listen. To feel. To be awake to receiving some secret to the universe that could appear at any time. Right? To remember my cup can always be fuller.