In the kitchen

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

April, come she will

I remember when I first became a runner.  As a former non-runner, when I began stringing miles together consistently about seven years ago, I said to Sandi, "When I become a real runner, I think I will need to invest in some actual running clothes."

She replied, "If you run, you are a real runner."


I think the same might be the same about writing.   If you write, than you are a writer.

I've also heard it said that you know you are a writer if you NEED to write.  Or if when you don't write you miss writing.

WOW, do I ever miss writing.

I guess that makes me a writer too.  And, to follow that line of reasoning, I am also a chef of sorts because as much as I begrudge making dinner most of the time and no matter how many times I find myself swearing to go on strike and make my family cook for themselves, I inevitably find myself called back to the kitchen, my hands comforted by measuring, spooning, mixing and creating.

Oh, curse it.  How is one to find time in life to be all the things one is meant to be?

I have words tumbling out of me right now, so many I can't contain them or organize them or properly choose them.  Please forgive me because this likely won't be pretty or perhaps even coherent.

This has been the longest winter of my life, both in actuality and metaphorically.  As the first warm rays of spring sun hit the soil, melting its hardness and coaxing the grass from its place of hiding, I am struck more than usual with the sense of renewal spring offers.

This has been a winter without my thyroid, a gland I have spent nearly every day missing.  The months of getting my replacement hormone dose to a therapeutic level has been a daily struggle to get out of bed, to try to stay warm during the most frigid winter I have ever experienced, by perpetually walking around with a heated rice pack up my shirt to stay warm, living on potentially unsafe volumes of coffee due to a near-narcoleptic state of being and trying not to weep when the laundry doesn't fold itself and we are out of yogurt again.

When I finally started to feel better, Maya said to me, "Oh yay.  Happy Momma is back!"  Kind of breaks my heart a little.

The past six months have also proven to be the hardest months of motherhood to date.  They have been a hodgepodge of perpetual worry, giving until I've run dry and then giving some more, success, celebration, tiny miracles, breakdowns, pep talks and constantly redefining the measures of success.  Homeschooling, in every way, is a daily practice of owning my strengths and weaknesses and figuring out how to not be paralyzed by all that I do wrong.   We are working on the 3 steps forward, 1 step back model and I have to say that doesn't exactly mesh with my personality inventory.

In March we lost Sandi's grandmother, one of the most incredible human beings I have had the privilege of knowing.  She passed away a year almost to the exact day of her husband's passing.  I was honored to be there in that sacred place when the space between life and death opens and elongates and some of the secrets of the universe whisper to you.  What is left at the end?  What truly matters?  What are you most devastated to lose?  How well did you live?  Did you say what you wanted to say and do what you wanted to do? How well did you love?  

Heartbreak and loss have a way of redefining what is important in day to day living.

And yet life continues on.  Here is some general randomness since I haven't posted in so long.

For Christmas my mom gave my sister's family and our family tickets to see a Disney-themed symphony concert.  Right before we had to leave, Maya decided she was too embarrassed to go with the dark bruise on her chin she acquired from a playground injury.  Kathryn came up with the idea that we all wear a bruise on our face and Maya was game.  She helped us all apply make-up to our chins for our very own playground facial bruises.  That brilliant sister of mine. 
A playground injury makes a nice addition to wacky hair day.  

Maya wrote this sign for me on our chalkboard and I love it. 
Maya has a hard time sitting still for meals.  She kept telling me, "You need to duct tape me to the chair."  She begged me to.  Finally, I complied. Have you ever seen a kid so happy to be taped to a chair?  (That is, until she wanted to get up.)

 This long winter hasn't gotten these two down.

 There are so many things that are shifting and changing underfoot in my parenting orbit.  I have come to the point of realization that I need to do less for my kids and that they need to do more for themselves.  I think I should have started earlier because it is truly painful to change some of these habits in them.  But just because I can pack a bag, pick up clothes and clean the living room in 1/8 of the time that they can doesn't mean that I should.  I am teaching them to be more self-sufficient and independent and it is CHALLENGING.  I literally have to sit on my hands sometimes to not take over.  It also means that there are checklists and chore charts posted all over the house to increase success and independence and reduce nagging.

Perhaps the best thing I can report is that the girls are doing really well.  I always thought 6 and 3 were the best ages but the changes we have made in the past months has brought such a profound shift to our girls' sibling relationship that I am enjoying them now more than I think I ever have.  Namely, they (mostly) get along and we don't spend all our time playing referee and bracing ourselves against the next blow-up.  They also can play outside with the neighborhood kids for hours with general supervision instead of eyeball-on-them-at-all-times method and it a lovely new freedom for everyone.

I guess 10 and 7 are the new 6 and 3.

Their more mature, creative little minds make life fun and exciting and we can do so many more enjoyable things with them.  Skiing has saved us all this winter and is the first outside active endeavor we can all enjoy together.

Thrilled to finally have poles!
The girls took an hour long lesson and Sandi and I ran for the tougher slopes! 
Well, we all enjoy it most of the time....

Ella has overcome HUGE fears and anxiety to partake in her favorite hobby of all time: gymnastics.   I am not the parent who cares about how high her score is or where she places.  I am just so overcome with pride that she is DOING it and finding her confidence.  Every girl deserves some confidence and this one was especially overdue for some. 

Sometimes I really do have stand back and look at the big picture of progress.  

 Sandi and I finally got to use a very generous wedding present from her colleagues:  a gift certificate to the Samoset resort.  What can I say: ocean, room service (first time ever), naps, reading, uninterrupted conversation, amazing does a soul good.
 Also, this happened.  What can I say?  We couldn't finish it and I didn't want to leave it.  It made me feel a little like a lush, but not so much that I couldn't do it.
 The Rockland Breakwater (a mile long with a charming lighthouse at the end) has always been one of my favorite places.  When I lived in the area years ago, I spent countless hours of my adolescence out on the slabs of granite contemplating my life.  It is always such a unique feeling to return to a place that is the same when you are so very different.

My beautiful dinner date. 

I so eagerly anticipate this spring.  The world around me looks like it needs a new coat of paint.  I am ready for new beginnings, vitamin D that doesn't come from a bottle and to have my kids smell like fresh air when I hug them.

I continue to say no to almost anything that takes my energy since I am funneling so much of myself into my family.  I continue to care for myself like it is my job, since it is.  I sometimes wonder if I will ever strike the delicate balance of work and play, of holding on and letting go, of striving and of accepting, of doing what needs doing but not placing too much importance on the details of life.

Probably I won't, but I certainly won't stop trying.

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