This is Son #3 at the beginning of the summer, pre-bangs debacle. And yes, this is his real mad face. Boy does not mess around!
Super Cuts is exactly the place you want your child to have a meltdown. Not only is everyone there holding sharp, pointy objects but the walls are lined with bottles of expensive goo and the floor is coated in hair. Best case scenario (and by best I mean worst): your kid will knock said bottles off the shelf, continue his tantrum by rolling around on the floor, stand up looking like a multi-hued Yeti and then bolt out into the parking lot because everyone is laughing hysterically at the kid dumb enough to lick the floor of a budget hair salon.
Which is how I ended up with one leg flung across my 7-year-old’s lap, effectively pinning him to the seat, sweating while I did my best Cirque-du-Soleil back bend trying to explain to the stylist standing behind me (and as far away from my sobbing son as possible) what to do for his back-to-school haircut. I was just trying to avoid the Yeti situation! I’d hate to make a scene.
This happened. JellyBean (4): “Look what I found mom! Now we can be twins! But… where do I buy the thingies that go in them??” (Oh honey, I too need to find the thingies that go in them!)
“Mom, can you tell me the story again of how I was born?” Everyone has a vital need to know their creation story. (No, not your literal creation story. That would be TMI. Unless you’re one of those kids named after the place they were conceived, like my friend Sage. Don’t picture it. Sage brush is ouchy.) I don’t know why I’d never realized the importance of the story before I had kids but they ask on such a regular basis that now I know: Everyone wants to know they were wanted, were loved, were hoped for and dreamed of, before they were born. Even if they weren’t born under such happy circumstance, they still want to know about that electric moment you first locked eyes, held fingers and then how they burped up amniotic fluid all over the both of you. I may be romanticizing it a little — nothing says love like burping — but the truth is that these re-tellings are deeply meaningful to my children.
A chance meeting with friends, a long talk into the night, then a first date where he cooked up a gourmet dinner complete with candles and Frank Sinatra playing in the background – Hope Cross and Steve Dezember’s courtship seemed straight out of a rom-com. But the new couple was in for a major plot twist when, not long after they met, Steve started having a lot of pain.
Successes are sunshine and failures are fertilizer but you need both to help you grow. That adage was on my mind a lot on Saturday. First, because two of my besties had flown in to visit me here in Colorado for an adventure weekend and we had Big Plans and as Big Plans are wont to do, they often go awry. Second, because I had a lot (a lot a lot) of time to think. Because we were doing this:
Friday we took it easy with some white water rafting on the Arkansas river through the Royal Gorge (mad props to all of you who guessed it right just based on the pictures!) but Saturday was going to be the main event. We were going to hike Pike’s Peak. Not only is it famous for its unique cuisine (I’ve lived here long enough to make Donner party jokes, right?) but because at 14,114 feet (4,302 m), it’s one of Colorado’s best known “14’ers” – or mountains over 14,000 feet. (There are 58 14’ers here and Pike’s is neither the tallest nor the most difficult but it’s still tough.)
Sunshine: This is us 100% hopeful and 0% experienced at the trail head at dawn.
This afternoon I spent a harrowing hour biting my nails and waiting to hear the test results. No not another test on my heart or broken brain. In fact this test wasn’t even anything to do with me! I was waiting for my son to finish his placement test for what math class he’ll end up in next year. He’s already in the advanced math track so this test would simply determine whether he got into advanced-advanced math.
When he finally emerged from the testing center I was struck by two things: How tiny my 11-year-old still looks and how the expression on his face was exactly mirroring the expression on my own.
This test had everything to do with me.
“How did you do?” I asked a little too eagerly.
“I don’t know yet,” he answered with the same edge in his voice, “but the proctor said I did better than anyone else today.” And then he broke into a huge grin made even sweeter by his outsized teeth and smattering of freckles. “Aren’t you proud of me, mom?” He held up his hand for knuckles.
Warning: Imma get all hippie-dippy up in here so if you don’t feel like navel gazing, you can always check out Humans of New York. Make you smile all day.
I love self-help books. I love projects on myself. I love therapy. Which means I’m either the world’s biggest narcissist or have the world’s lowest self-esteem. But either way I’m always trying to get better, to be better. (Perhaps I should address that compulsive drive in another post?) Anyhow, when my church offered a free women’s conference this past weekend with classes on everything from parenting to cooking to mental illness, I was in like sin! (Well not sin exactly, it being a church and all. Ah who am I kidding? Sins too.)
Parenting was the first class I went to because a) I’m convinced I’m a terrible parent and b) the teacher was a licensed therapist who specializes in treating adolescent sex offenders in prison. (ADMIT IT: You’re interested too. Who picks creepy teens as their dissertation topic? Although I’m glad someone does.)
Face down on my yoga mat is my least favorite position. Mostly because I never remember to wash the thing and it does a really good job as a “sticky mat” as evidenced by all the little flakes of my skin all over it. (Side note: If I ever go missing, use my yoga mat for DNA evidence. It’s a gold mine.) As I lay there, I felt the heaviness on my chest — and not just the weight of my body pressing down on it. Sometimes with a heart break, it feels like my heart is literally breaking. My chest was so tight I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My shoulders ached from tensing up. My stomach churned with worry. I hate feeling like that but the more I try to push it away, the heavier all those feelings get.
So I’ll admit it: I wasn’t really paying attention to my yoga teacher. I was too much in my own head. And also I was really digging the music she was playing. (She loves neo-gospel and hip hop; not your traditional namaste birds chirping but I gotta say there is something so satisfying about flowing to Bottom of the River.) Then something penetrated my mental fog. “Lift up your eyes first and then raise your arms and legs,” she was saying. Eh, I thought, I’ve done Locust Pose a hundred times. I don’t need directions. But then she added, “You have to look up to lift up.”
“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything”
Something happened this weekend. It was heart-rending and immense and the repercussions will reverberate for a long time. And all weekend I’ve been trying to figure out how to write about it, because that’s how I deal with stuff. But I can’t. For many reasons. But mostly because I don’t have the words. Sometimes the only thing you can say is nothing.
As I thought about my silence this weekend – gagged by my own emotions, clamoring to escape – I remembered how many times in my life silence has carried me, lifted me, protected me, even beautified me.Words do have power, yes, but silence is the force behind them. Sometimes silence is an animal lurking in the dark, a presence all its own. But there are so many many types of silence. Silence can be the worst kind of heartbreak. But sometimes silence is a gift.
I’ve lost myself. Oh don’t worry, it’s not serious. Not like the time I ate the special brownies and tried to join Gwar only to get eaten by a giant cockroach. (lie: I don’t eat brownies unless they’re in ice cream and the only “special” ingredient I’d eat would be black beans. I would totally join Gwar though.) But I do seem to have lost my way a bit lately, lost my sense of who I really am. It’s not a surprise – this happens to me from time to time. It’s one of the downsides of being what psychologists call a “high self monitor” (i.e. a social chameleon). I get so eager to please people and fit in that I immerse myself in whatever they like and try to change myself to fit with what they expect me to be – or at least what I think they expect me to be. Unfortunately the more I try to be everything to everyone, the more I fail to be anything to anyone. It’s been a hard lesson to learn.