And for once I was SuperMom

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


“I’m the princess and Daddy’s the prince!” My daughter shouted, lifting arms up high, in her pronouncement of love for her father.  I thought, ‘This is the wrong order of things,’ a cloudy thought circled in the back of my head, I could use this to my advantage.
“No, if you’re the princess, then Daddy’s the King and I’m the Queen,” after a few recitations of this she got it.  I was the Queen, Daddy was the King, and she was the Princess.  I felt that I could use my new found status as a parlay into my unquestionable authority.  I have yet to have to invoke the rule of the queen, but in a pinch I just might.
Later in the day I realized that becoming queen did change my status, by all definitions I was no longer a princess.  I’ve never thought of myself as much of a princess, really more the anti-princess.  A few years ago I was chatting excitedly with a friend about a new romance of hers, then it dawned on me,
“Wait, I’m the sidekick,” it popped.  My reality had changed, in prevalent romantic comedies the whole story is the falling in love, the beginning of romance.  Each movie culminating in marriage or the protagonists finally declaring love for each other.  My own personal romance had culminated in marriage about two years prior.  I was now relegated to the sidelines, the snappy friend who has something wise and wonderful to say to her friend, but is no longer the center of attention.  The birth of my children pushes me even farther away from the center stage.  I am the rare movie friend, the young mom, still snappy and full of sage advice but sweatpants clad, harried, and maybe a little too truthful.  I am there to remind the young ingĂ©nue of her future, does she really want love, marriage, and then the baby in the baby carriage?  I am sure to guarantee her that it’s all worth it and point out the one character flaw that keeps her from true love.  I still am the center of my own life, aren’t I?
As I’ve aged I’ve watched the actresses I’ve grown up with, age along with me.  Seeing Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron becoming the queens in movies rather than princesses has surprised me.  I don’t feel older, I certainly don’t think I look that much older.  I’m sure I do, crinkles at the side of my eyes, sexy on a man but sad on a woman, a waist thickened by childbearing, some looser skin. 
Here it was again.  I was the queen.  Relegated to the background of fairy tales.  What does it mean to be queen?  More responsibility?  Wider hips?  At best queens are smiling, chubby, and wise, at worst they are driven to mad jealousy by the loss of their beauty.  These paradigms make me uncomfortable with my new status.  I resent the mad jealous characters, as if my only value is my face and if I lose that I have nothing left to offer.  I like the wise characters, but I still feel as if they only exist to be there for the princess.
There is a shift though.  I feel like parenthood is the last stage of maturation, suddenly your life doesn’t revolve around you and what you want, there are these little creatures to consider and their needs are so much louder than your own.  I remember the shift that suddenly I just became the person in back of the stroller, the steward of this adorable new creature that everyone needed to see.  I honestly never minded, sometimes a joke would be made when the person was a friend, after greeting my child first they would say something like,
‘Oh hi, Lara,’ I would smile and say something like,
‘I’m back here too.’  Most of the time I don’t mind, in some ways it’s nice to no longer be the center of my own world, there’s only so much of me that needs tending to, and being self absorbed can be so tedious.  I suppose that’s what queens do, they need to think about other people first.  Their needs become less important, the people that they take care of come first.  The loss of princess-ness in my life is not really something I mourn, in some ways it just is what is; we all get older.  Surely the aging process is not something that all women look forward to, but I am thankful for some things that those crinkles around my eyes have brought me, some wisdom, a little more calm in a storm, and quite a few precious memories….and maybe a few precious children.

Friday, February 22, 2013

What they're up to now

            “So what should I get for Carys for Christmas, what’s she into these days?”  Asks my stepmother.
            “Um, she bangs on things a lot and sticks stuff in her mouth,” I’m sure the shrug in my shoulders is audible through the phone. 
“Oh, thanks a lot,” the sarcasm was actually audible.  I then sent her a list of toys that I thought would be appropriate in a variety of price ranges. 
I never know what to say when the grandparents ask me what’s new with my kids.  My brain usually freezes, caught off guard I hem and haw and then say something truly lame.
Today is momentous, Carys has finally crawled.  For the past month or so we’ve been in the ‘crawl backward and get angry’ phase.  Finally there have been enough forward striking knee bends I feel comfortable to call it crawling.  Now the diaper pail is perched up on their dresser because that is the first thing she crawled towards.  Emma used to do that in doctor’s offices, straight for the biohazard bin. 
She’s is still pretty much into banging on things and sticking them in her mouth, I’m pretty sure that’s most of her inner monologue,
‘What happens when I smack this on my high chair tray?  What happens when I stick in my mouth?’ 
She is still pretty mellow and only really cries when I put her in her car seat or when I put her to bed.  The look on her face when I put her to bed usually strikes a chord of ridiculous guilt, she looks so betrayed,
‘Wait, what?  You brought me in this dark and relaxing room, not just to nurse but for that?  Noooooooo!’ Then I get the pacifier in her mouth, ‘num, num, num, snorfle, zonk, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.’
A few days ago I pulled up all courage, all my 'what if she chokes?' fear, and I gave her chopped up banana.  I spread it on the tray before her and held my breath, I immediately wondered if I should have waited until Scott was home, between the two of us we should be able to remember our baby CPR training, right?  She was entranced.  Little fingers spread, smashed and pinched.  Eagerly they brought the little white triangles to her mouth, she mashed them up and swallowed, with no choking.  Then she giggled.  She kept giggling all the while.  
In the other corner we have Emma; who currently has an addiction to Dora.  We’ve slowly weaned her off her off her near pathological addiction to apple juice, which I think means that she is largely dehydrated all the time.  She now participates in a crime I like to call ‘toyjacking,’ wherein she runs by an unsuspecting baby grabs the toy that the baby is innocently mouthing and hurls it as far away as she possibly can.  She still believes that everything she touches is hers, and now that Carys can actually get her chubby little fingers on things this provides a perfect stage for toyjacking. 
Emma is also in a hefty active imagination stage, all around our house I find little ‘beds’ with her stuffed animals and dolls laid down to sleep.  Today I did it, I didn’t worry about educational games or teaching her anything I actually played with her.  I became a ‘fairy princess ballerina,’ not a very good one, but I tried.  I pulled a bright pink tutu onto one of my thighs (I was quickly instructed that this was incorrect, but picturing ripping elastic and tulle I wasn’t going to attempt to pull it up to my hips), balanced a crown on my head, put back on a pair of heels that I had donated to her dress up basket, and sat while she fluttered about me.  I soon learned that all she really needed was an audience to her own play.  I watched her act out all the things that she sees, she ‘washed the babies,’ and combed their hair, all actions that I perform for her and her little sister. 
Sometimes I get a little sad to watch my daughter act out domestic chores as play.  I wonder is that just because she is with me all day and that’s what I do? (Then it makes me sad to realize that’s what I do all day long.) Or does she gravitate to that because she is female?  Every time she pipes up about princesses and fairies I wonder if I have failed her, failed to expose her to positive role models that are not royalty or only valued for beauty, or if that’s just what she is attracted to.  Nonetheless, she is definitely very interested in fairies, princesses, and movie stars....sigh.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


            We were up in Gloucester, the nation’s oldest seaport, the sign boasts, walking along the boulevard.  I stood in front of the brass statue of a brave fisherman, the symbol of the town, I was looking down at the plaques of men that had lost their lives to the sea.  I vaguely remembered a cartoon I had seen a long time ago; a grizzled old fisherman sat at a bar, a half empty pint before him, crazed eyes looked past the glass, his wrinkled mouth was saying,
            “I remember the Nor-eastah of ’78,” I don’t remember the punch line, but with a scene that strange to my mind I don’t think a punch line was really necessary.  I don’t think I knew what a Nor-easter was, I had a vague assumption that it was a large and frightening storm, and in my San Diegan mind reserved for harsh and far away places.  As I stood looking at those names I thought,
            ‘Nor-easter….I think that’s here,’ a vague sense of dread crept in at the corners.  What had we moved to.
            In the two years we’ve lived here we’ve has two threats of large and frightening storms.  Both came and went without much ado.  School closed down, we snuggled with books and movies.  Our power stayed on, our trees stayed standing, and when things dried out live went on as normal.  This one seemed different, bigger, scarier, colder.  Yesterday morning I braved the pre-storm flurries for a trip to Starbucks, a date with my daughter and a purchase of coffee, the one staple that we might use up.  The coffee shop was packed, the barista told me that everyone was acting like they wouldn’t have coffee for weeks.  Some had even bought huge cups of brewed coffee to store in their freezer.  I just bought ground coffee, if we lost power we would need it ground and we could use our camping stove and French press to make sure we don’t go un-caffeinated.  I called my husband while I was out, did we need anything else?  No, he said.
            That afternoon as the wind picked up and the snow began to come in at diagonals we filled up water bottles and pulled out candles and flashlights.  We discussed filling the bathtub, but decided that might be a silly move.  Mostly I pictured our weak plug letting it all leak out overnight.  We made quesadillas for dinner and watched Beauty and the Beast.  The news tried to terrify us with tales of nine inches in Amesbury and no power in Fitchburg.  I prayed we would keep power.  We are so dependent on power that when it goes away we are left hamstrung, clueless as how to live.  Only one moment did I still wish that I lived back in weatherless San Diego. 
            At three in the morning when our baby woke I tried to think positive; the little red and blue lights of our electronic appliances still shone, I might be awake, but we still have power.  I did get a little irrationally angry at the beeping of the plow clearing out the elementary school parking lot behind our house.  Do you have to beep at this hour of the night?
            That morning we woke to large snow drifts and hot coffee brewed in our coffee maker, delivered to us courtesy of electricity.  After breakfast burritos I suited up to shovel.  There was still wind and still falling snow, I always debate to shovel half way through a storm or wait until the end.  I think I have decided that shoveling six inches twice is easier than shoveling one foot once.  I stood at the top of our stairs, how do I shovel this?  I love shoveling snow, I didn’t grow up with it so I still appreciate it’s novelty and workout factor.  I still feel like locals can tell that I don’t really know what I’m doing, I suppose there’s no right way to shovel.  Do people take their children out put a shovel in their hands and show them how?  I remember the first snow I experienced living in Chicago.  I went out and shoveled our long driveway…scrape, scrape, scrape, flick. I was so excited about the great workout that I was getting that I shoveled the neighbor’s drive too.  The next morning my body woke sore to the sound of… SCRAPE, FLICK. Someone with more experience was clearing their drive.
            I decided to plant the shovel at the beginning of the stair and scrape outward, flicking snow forward, all the way down two flights of stairs.  During the process I looked over, my neighbor’s head was poked out of her backdoor, laughing at the monstrous pile of snow in her backyard.  We shouted back and forth, laughing at the mess that Mother Nature had brought. Once I reached the bottom I realized the drift at the bottom was well past my knees.  I decided to walk to the end of the drive to see what I could see.  I post-holed down, all the way up to my knees, still feeling a few inches of snow beneath each foot.  With the vehicle ban still in place my busy street was white and empty, not eerie, but peaceful.  So strange to be crushed under this much snow in a semi-urban environment, the pile of white stuff seemed fitting in rural Colorado where you expected life to be slower and tougher.  I guess nature still owns the earth, and she will do with it what she wants, no matter where you live.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cool Runnings

The thermostat said, ‘7.’  My hands pulled tighter around my coffee cup, as if closing in on the warm ceramic could make my whole body raise in temperature, my  shoulders shrugged deeper into my hoodie.  Did I want to do that?  Did I want to run in seven degrees Fahrenheit?
It was only November.  It would only get colder.  Such is life at 9,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains.  I told myself I couldn’t let the winter win now.  I did it; I went downstairs, shucked my pajamas (remembering that cotton does no good in cold weather) for midweight polypropylene long johns, Danskin running tights bought at Walmart, and an Under Armor shirt that I’d inherited from my husband.  At the door I pulled on the cap I’d stolen from my him, blue Columbia with a fleece band sewn in around the ears (the only hat that I’ve worn that doesn’t move around while you do), a lightweight jacket with a thin fleece lining, and lightweight Manzella gloves, that I’m pretty sure are meant to be liners.  Everything bought on sale or stolen from Scott.  Except for the jacket, my mom in law bought that for me, I think she liked the bright aqua color on me. I’m pretty sure she cringed when I started running in it, but it has kept the chill at bay on many below freezing runs.  An odd quirk of mine has developed from it; all of my workout gear is either blue or black.  Always matches, don’t have to think.
How was it?  Not bad.  My right nostril will shrivel when it is cold enough, that morning I discovered that seven is when it shrivels in Colorado.  But I got out, I got air, I got to see the view.
Then there was that run in Chicago.  I had no thermostat in my apartment, I just went.  Then I passed that bank sign, it said, ’12.’  I ran a bit more, until I couldn’t feel my bum cheeks, then I turned around and went home.
I have a friend who trained for a marathon over a winter in upstate New York.  She would run until she couldn’t feel her legs anymore.  Then she would go inside and run up and down hallways until she could feel them and then she would go back out again. 
Thanks Becky. 
Thanks a lot.
Now I have no excuses.  Just polypropylene and the knowledge that exercising in the cold burns more calories, and a little more jiggle from some Christmas fudge. 
I keep thinking that I want to sign up for a half marathon in the spring.  I don’t like running in the cold.  The last six mile run I went on I got so hungry the last two miles were spent daydreaming about the breakfast burrito I longed to devour.  I think I ate oatmeal when I got home.  Sometimes I hate fudge. 
Nemo descends on us today.  I thought about running this morning, potentially my last chance before we are buried in more snow than I want to think about.  I didn’t go.  I didn’t even want to leave the house to run to Starbucks (to stock up on coffee), much less all by myself without the protection of a car.  It was only twenty five this morning.  A sight warmer than the nine degrees I made myself experience a few weeks ago.
Then there’s Becky. 
Thanks a lot, Becky.