Tuesday, March 29, 2011

placing her tender parts over a cactus in the middle of the night

JCK is engaging in derring-do this coming weekend. She will be out. In the open Air. Outside, under the stars. Sleeping on the ground. In something called a tent. Yes, she will be partaking in what people call...family camping...in the desert. Oh, the wonder! The adventure! The...what if it all goes awry?!

Camping is not something that instantly appeals to JCK. No...JCK's idea of a weekend outdoor adventure is akin to having a day hike with a picnic of assorted cheeses, bread and wine. Perhaps a waterfall, after a couple of hours hiking at a leisurely pace. And then the finish... a night in a cozy bed at a B&B, if not the return to her lair. At her age of ripeness, JCK is picky about her sleep, what she is sleeping on, and who she is sleeping with...

JCK has a few fond memories of camping as a child. Her parents owned a Volkswagen camper, and she remembers the hammock strung across the top, and the fold-out bed. The table with one leg, and the bright orange curtains.

In Junior High, JCK camped with friends in the Cedars of Lebanon. She remembers waking up in the cold dawn, climbing lots of Cedar trees, and the smell of coffee that she didn't yet drink.

Later, in her Turbulent Twenties, she attempted camping with friends, and the occasional boyfriend. Often there were dramas...couples fighting around the camp fire, keys locked in vehicles, a bit of overindulgence of alcohol, finished off with a case of poison ivy where legs meet ass...

This family camping will be new. It turns out there are lots of people who do it. And, who think it is Fun. JCK wants to be like these frolicking family camper aficionados, but she is frightened. There could be scorpions or snakes slithering about. Worst of all, she might not be able to sleep...

JCK is surrounding herself with friends who have experience in this unknown called family camping. They will be in it together. They do it all the time... She has borrowed sleeping mats, and pans, and dishes, and a lantern.

JCK's daughter is a bit like her. She has many questions about this adventure called...camping.

GIRL: Will there be bears?

JCK: No, there won't be bears in the desert.


JCK isn't that worried about snakes. She's more concerned about dropping trou, and placing her tender parts over a cactus in the middle of the night.

JCK knows that her children will love it. They will run around with their friends, intent on exploration, and enjoying a different kind of freedom. JCK loves the image in her head of her dirt covered children, their white teeth bright in smiling faces. The scent of smoke in clothing, cheeks pink from windy days. Families sharing meals. Laughter and s'mores.

It is wildflower season in the desert. It will be glorious! It will be 2 nights and 2 days. JCK can do it! And, secretly? JCK's getting a little...excited. But, she might need her own private stash of chocolate in the bottom of her sleeping bag... just for emergencies.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

I try not to take my marriage for granted... but

If you are lucky, you will survive your marriage. Sometimes it's a matter of grabbing an uprooted tree and riding out the vicious current. When you wash ashore, you may or may not recognize your partner. You will both be a bit waterlogged, and probably ....depleted. Yet, stopping to lay down on the cool grass under the mid-day sun can revive you. You will lie together, yet apart, fingertips touching, eyes tilted upward at the wide open sky. Breathing. Just breathing...

No one ever said marriage was easy. However, no one really says just how difficult it can truly be. You have two individuals with different needs and wants, and after a few years, you have to rediscover the overlap. If it's there... Often you may not allow yourself or your partner to grow. Because it feels too.... threatening. Yet, growth is inevitable. And, without it you're deep in a murky bog, feeling burdened, paralyzed, and trapped. You have to slog through it, or sink.

Marriage by its very nature demands you to be the very best you can be, and asks you to think of the other person first. Perhaps that is the biggest test of all.

My marriage has had its share of challenges. My husband and I, both mercurial beings, trying to fend our way. We have worked hard. We sought help when we needed it. We have had breakthroughs, and tears, and yes...lovemaking. We've always had that. Oooh la la! Lucky us...

Throw children into the mix, add a big dollop of a child with special needs, financial ups and downs, and you've got a recipe for stress. Or, an opportunity to come together. So far we've managed to make it through, and be the stronger for it. I try not to take my marriage for granted... but, sometimes I do. Days can go by with our only connection centered around our children. Invariably, I am too bloody tired to truly connect.

There have been times when I have been tuned out. I have been angry. I have felt alone. Marriage can do that. But, then there is that possibility of renewal. The sun comes out, the world seems steady again, and I am not alone. A deeper love and need and want...that comes from a core steadiness that cannot be felt if you haven't gone to those low, tough places that pull you apart.

Today, I am grateful. So blessed to have my husband by my side. I love that he thinks that marriage with me is for keeps, no matter how flawed and messy the process. That he believes in us. He is a good man. And, I am lucky. When the tough times come, it's good to know that we remember how to paddle...

"Keeping Focus" painting by Chuck Gumpert.

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

the buff boy

From the beginning it was a laugh fest. Both of them living large. A girls night out. Beverages ordered first. A glass of The Mad Housewife for JCK, which seemed apropos. Her companion.... a milk.

As they kicked back in their booth, a lively conversation ensued in which JCK and GIRL chattered on about their day. JCK asking the questions, and GIRL soaking up that one-on-one time, which felt delicious to both of them.

GIRL: Mommy, we are on a DATE!

Curious as always, GIRL had a lot of questions about the operation of the restaurant. JCK, having worked in many restaurants in her youth, was happy to launch forth on the role of waiters, the bartender, and the bus boy.

GIRL: What does the Buff Boy do, Mama?

And JCK proceeded to giggle, and GIRL started to giggle even though she didn't know why. And, JCK continued to giggle, and GIRL continued to giggle. And they giggled until there was no giggle left.

JCK: It's a Bus Boy, GIRL. Not a Buff Boy.


JCK: The reason that it is so funny, GIRL, is that there really is such a thing as a buff boy. Although, usually it refers to a man. Someone who is buff is someone who has a lot of nice muscles.

And, then JCK started giggling again. And, GIRL giggled because her mama couldn't stop giggling.

GIRL: I'm making you laugh, Mommy! Buff Boy! Buff Boy!

Because back in the day? JCK knew a few Buff Boys.

Then came the perfect finish to a special night... a giant red velvet cupcake. GIRL didn't want to share. She is too much like her mama...

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

being a witness to creative play

There are days when JCK feels like she is living in a Dr. Seuss novel. Hello Sally! Hello Go Dog, GO!

Thing One Rules and Thing Two MUST play school...

These are the days JCK treasures... witnessing the creativity of her children...

...with their gap toothed smiles and perhaps... some big red ears thrown in...

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Like any relationship, it's complicated...

Sometimes parenting makes me feel like a soggy, wadded up snot rag of tissue. All used up and no more room for blowing. Good parenting takes even more energy and most of all follow-through, consistency, intention...the list goes on. And...on. I often fail.

Tonight I lived through a full-frontal rage of my daughter's. Yesterday was one. And the day before. Whoever said the Terrible Twos are tough, has forgotten about the Sinister Sixes. Instinctively, I know that she needs these rages, that in the best of times I can help guide her toward a more satisfying way of expressing herself. Yet, when we are deep in the crevice of shrieking and screaming and YOU HATE ME! and YOU DON'T LOVE ME! and I HATE YOU!!...it is painful. Especially because I can't walk away. Much as I would like to.

I have to be a grown-up. It's what I signed up for. It's what is expected of me. Most of all, it's what I expect of myself. And, when my own head is cooled, it's what I want to do. But, it is bloody, agonizingly hard.

When you fantasize and imagine and dream... of having a family, there is no vision of children with tantrums. It simply...doesn't exist. You chuckle over the idea of changing poopy diapers, and losing sleep over a newborn. You imagine that parents with unruly children just don't know how to manage them. Then you have children. And, they teach you well. Hopefully you learn to check your judgement at the door, because if you don't? That very same behavior happens with your child, and there are... witnesses, just in case you ain't keepin' up.

The bad days can be turned around. Just when you think you can't get through another five minutes, you have. The very same children who drive you insane, are sitting across the table from you, and you can't bear to look away from their precious faces. You are blessed beyond words. Like any relationship, it's complicated...

It's the journey...Some days are amazing. Some feel like your soul is being eviscerated. Then you get up the next morning, and do it again. Because it is a privilege to be a parent. And, you want to earn it...

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

letting go of winter's clutch

The flirtation of Spring is around the corner. Whether in a wink, or the discovery of a flower submerged.

Shifting our focus outside, we embrace cold water on a sunny day.

The exhilaration of moving our bodies in nature...

The letting go of winter's clutch and inward musings...

while pausing to savor the taste of Spring...

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

She'd need a lot of moisturizer just to make it through breakfast

If there is one thing that JCK wishes she had more of... it would be sleep. A commodity that never seems to be obtained at Casa de Motherscribe. Sleep is one of the keys to longevity, youthful appearance and ...patience. JCK strives for all, but sometimes falls short.

JCK can occasionally get away with Feigned Alertness, when her son sits in her lap reading to her from his LEGO magazine...the adventures of Fire Face - or some such. All JCK can remember is that it was clearly a tyrannical, metallic, lunatic creature that appeared to be drooling fire. BOY read 8 pages to JCK, while she tried not to drool herself... as she dozed.

But, there are times when taking a cat nap on the couch is not an option.

BOY: Mom, can you have a baby when you are 99?

JCK: Nope.

BOY: Why?

JCK: Because women's bodies reach a point where they can't get pregnant anymore.

BOY: Well lizards can! And, they can live to 160!

JCK didn't pause to get her fact checker. Instead she pondered the life of the female lizard. And, JCK was glad to be human. Because if JCK lived to 160? She'd need a lot of moisturizer just to make it through breakfast. Let alone a frolic in the sand with a centurion lizard...

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

because it finally feels important enough to her

JCK had a rough week. Some of it self-inflicted, some not. A month ago, JCK's body let her know in no uncertain terms that she was hovering on the edge. That night pain, like a fiery hell hole burning in her stomach, woke her from sleep. It seems JCK had been ignoring the previous clues. Hello? Are you there, JCK? You're going to ignore me? Well TAKE THIS!

JCK's husband has been telling JCK that she isn't taking care of herself. And, he's right. JCK has gotten into some rotten habits - like working for hours on her computer, subsisting on tea. Then having chocolate for meals, when she does remember to eat. Then having more tea. Then suddenly...it's dinner time. She's wiped out and it's all downhill from there.

While JCK spent the last week worrying that she was seriously ill, and indeed, luckily she is not, she reflected on what could be changed up in her life. What would she do differently? She had some good talks with herself, and decided she is making some changes. Because she has a family who depends on her, and needs her to be healthy. Yes. And, because it finally feels important enough to her.

At the top of her list is moving her body. JCK's body is stuck in a time warp - back to when she had two infants under 1. But, her children are not tiny anymore, and JCK can make time for herself - if she will allow it. She needs to do it. For herself. There is no one standing in her way, except for...JCK.

It is time to claim a piece of her life back. She wants to recognize the feel of her own body when it moves, and not feel that her legs are a stranger's. She wants to climb a hill without being winded. She wants ...to feel alive. Because life is short. And, luckily, JCK has time to change it up.

"Contemplation" sculpture by Elaine Franz Witten.

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