March 19, 2015

Of Mice and Moons

I take a few slow, deep breaths. My voice is a heavy whisper. Meditative and measured. A ritual of love.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
To someone unfamiliar it might sound dull or perhaps stilted. Not a song but a kind of incantation. My voice breaks and drops out in its lowered register. I take my time. Sometimes I am simply tired. Sometimes I am experimenting with a tone of voice--even in the measured breaths between the words there is a kind of drama. Sometimes I just relish these quiet moments. These are the things that I hope will stay with her.

I am a creature of few habits, but this particular routine started 13 years ago with my first baby. Before she was even big enough to hold the book herself I would read Goodnight Moon every night--sometimes twice--before bed. It was light and fun and I would point out the mouse making his way around the room. Eventually she would track him herself.

Time marched on and I carried on the same with my son. Reading (again, sometimes twice) nightly. He was always just as willing to sit and listen as his older sister. It was a bond.

Time pushes forward and the habit gets skipped. Kids get older. The moon and the mouse lose their magic. The book, however, survives many purgings of the bookshelves. It is, to me, an icon of their babyhood. A talisman against the growing up and the forgotten memories. It is a moment, lived over and over and over, that I am loathe to let go.

And then came baby. There were new board books, new toys, new trinkets. And a new place for an old friend. The mouse and the moon return. But this baby will not have the book. She will hold it, and bite it, and wave it around but it shall not be read. She won't sit for it. And I was briefly heartbroken.

This was my thing. This was the ritual. This was the habit I kept, the memory maker, the keeper of moments. This book holds a lot of emotional weight and so much of my heart as a mother to my infants. It could not be denied. I decided that I would not read the book; I would recite it.

There are 7 years between my son and my youngest daughter--many years since I had laid eyes on and read it--but having read it so many, many times (sometimes twice a night) it came back a bit easier than I had expected. But this baby was a different baby, so the game was different.  She would hold the book, gnaw on it, throw it, all while I recited it. The words came back as they had been: light and fun. And after a time she would sometimes sit for the book and look for the mouse. 
This is our well-worn but well-loved board book.
It became apparent that she was not an easy sleeper. Even cosleeping--which I did with both of my older ones--never imparted a depth of sleep in her nightly rhythms. I have many times referred to her as "my crappy sleeper."  She needed very much to be parented to sleep and occasionally (at almost 4 years old) still does. As she transitioned (not terribly smoothly) to her own bed, I would lay with her a lot. In seeking something rhythmic to slow and soothe her, and set a pace for sleep, I once again turned to the Moon. I started reciting again.

I would lay with her in the semi-darkness of the room and I would drop my voice to a thick, deep, almost-whisper: "In the great, green room......"  And so it began again.

It is no small thing to me that my girls share a room. Thirteen and three are a tough mix and very trying some days, but it truly makes my heart explode to know that my oldest is laying in the loft bed above us, listening to the same words she has known since she was a newborn. And although the words are the same, they are different. The lightness removed, the game set aside. This is no longer about the mouse and his antics. This is "a quiet old lady who is whispering hush."  This is about goodnights and the quieting of all the things. It is about a kind of peace, even if it is only the temporary peace of sleep.

In six weeks she will be four. Overtired and restless, she asked me again tonight: "Can you sing Goodnight Moon?" A ritual that is epic in my heart and one that I never refuse.

These are the moments she will remember.

I take a few slow, deep breaths. My voice is a heavy whisper. Meditative and measured. This is my love.

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March 12, 2015

Working Out. (Or Faking Out, whatevs...)

So when I first got the word choices for this week's #OneWord challenge my initial reaction was, "nah." 

Fake and Quiet. Immediately I think, "Quiet? What's That?"  Doesn't Lisa know that I have three kids? There is no possible way I can relate to that one except to say I wish I HAD some!

So, Fake.  On the face of it, Fake is probably last on a long list of words I can relate to.  My number one compliment ever from other people is that I am down-to-earth.  Fake,  the adjective, just doesn't live here.  I figured I'd wait until next week.....

Come Wednesday evening, thoughts of writing long gone, I was seriously considering working out. This may seem like no big revelation to you (and completely non sequitur) but it was kind of a big deal for me. About 18 months ago I was working out nearly every day and I felt awesome. And if you need proof (and you're totes bored) you need only check out my Instagram and scroll back through my gallery anywhere from 58 to 80 or so weeks ago I had a lot of fun posting sweaty selfies after my workouts. (If you want a shortcut search #gitnrdone. It's not all of the posts, but I used that hashtag quite a bit.)

Anyway I've been feeling like major crapola lately and I really need to do something about it. Nobody else is gonna work this body out for me. (Unless you count The Sarge and, well, this just isn't THAT kind of post. Some things just don't need to be faked.)

So the night dragged on and although the kids were in bed on time and without fanfare, laundry (and a new episode of Survivor) awaited. Feeling accomplished (some days folding one of the 10 loads of laundry you have done IS an accomplishment) I headed back to get ready for bed.

While contemplating my choice of pajama pants I decided that maybe I could still get this workout done.  Maybe I could squeeze it in tomorrow morning. I decided that to facilitate this plan I could sleep in my workout clothes. They are no less comfortable than most of my pj's and it would save me precious time in the morning. Then it occurs to me:  I'm FAKING IT.

Choosing to wear the workout clothes in an effort to get myself in the mood to actually work out.  Physically wearing things that will hopefully change my mental frame of mind which will hopefully inspire me to physically move my ass.  Faking it 'til I make it.

I know in all actuality, I probably won't make it. Mornings here can be tough and The Sarge will be gone before the rest of us are awake tomorrow so I will be on my own in trudging through the morning routine with the superkids.

But I think in faking this, and probably repeatedly, the mental change will take hold. I will reframe how I perceive myself, my desires and my abilities. I will fake myself into believing that I am worth taking the time to do this for myself.  I will still be down-to-earth me (those sweaty selfies aren't glamorous) but if it gets me to a better, healthier place, maybe I can make room for some of this kind of Fake.


Fake it 'til you make it. #OneWord @notsosupermom_


This post is part of the One Word Blog Link up hosted by The Golden Spoons, Confessions of a Mommyholic, and Blogitudes.

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March 2, 2015


I never write about current events.  I don't write about politics, religion (ok, almost never now, I guess), mommy wars, or anything I might happen to come across in the news.  But today in the car on the way to preschool The Geel asked me where unicorns live and I thought of the small boy in Texas suspended for, well, basically for using his imagination.

Now, I knew the source of her question was the colorfully awful Barbie movie she had watched over the weekend.  It had fairies and mermaids and unicorns and a terribly moronic storyline about some bratty little princess who is stealing everyone's magic--including the queen unicorn's.

By way of an answer I was immediately and acutely aware of my need to be practical and educative and give her the "right" answer.  The same feelings have always haunted me regarding Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny--lets be "real" here-- but of course we have celebrated all of them for years because, childhood, duh!  In a space of seconds I thought through several options;

1. Tell her they are only in Barbie movies. (Dumber than the plot of the stupid movie itself--and why should Barbie have all the fun?)
2. Be the asshole that kills her imaginative spirit and tell her they're not real. (Not it!)
3. Make something up. (FAST!)

Now, for someone who was a theater major in college I am terrible at pretending things.  I HATE playing with Barbies,
or baby dolls, or playing "store."  (It is a testament to The Sarge's patience that he makes it through several days a week with The Geel doing ALL of those things.)  These days my imagination runs wild with less fun things like wondering what would happen if something happened to me or The Sarge, or less practical things like what I would do with lottery money (that we'll never win because we don't play! How's that for impractical?)

Anyway, I can't always just drum up the fun, playful, whimsical things that would answer her question and that she deserved to hear, because she's THREE!  And when you're three unicorns should be real.  What I came up with was that unicorns can only live in magical places. Which she pretended to understand but which also prompted more questions about where those places were and whether or not she could go there, and then she circled around again to Barbie and her magical Secret Door and yada, yada, yada.

I don't exactly remember where the conversation went after that, but I remember thinking that that poor boy in Texas must have been so terribly confused and crushed to be punished for using his imagination.  Since the original story broke there seems to be some discrepancies regarding what actually took place, but the incident struck a chord because the "moral" of the story is this: When you take away a child's right to imagine--unicorns and magic rings and even imaginary friends--you take away their willingness to dream, to invent, to create.

Aren't we a nation of dreamers?  Don't we pride ourselves on our independent and creative spirit?

Who among us has not pretended to be the very thing that is our livelihood today?  If we hadn't dared to dream our dreams as children, to imagine ourselves as writers, doctors, hairdressers, hobbits, scientists, firefighters, wizards, race car drivers, teachers, actors, ninjas, lawyers, soldiers and moms, who would we be today?  Who would have gone to the moon, who would have built the skyscrapers, who would have written about the "one ring to rule them all," who would have imagined a unicorn?
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