SCENE: Drying off Turtle after his shower, rubbing the towel on his wet hair.

Me:  You are soooo cute!  [smothering with kisses] But I would still love you even if you were ugly!

Turtle: No you wouldn't!

Me: Yes I would! (because I don't want him to think that my love is contingent upon his good looks godforbid something happen and he becomes disfigured and worries that I won't love him anymore yes I actually thought that in that moment that's just how my crazy mom brain works) 

Turtle: No, you wouldn't because I would be mean to you and hurt your feelings!

Me: Oh... you mean you would be acting ugly?

Turtle: Yeah, [giving me the duh! look] that's what ugly is, Mom.  Acting ugly, being not nice.

Me: Right... [taken aback]

He genuinely wasn't getting that when I said "ugly" I meant ugly in appearance.  His operating definition of ugly is totally different.  (And is probably the good early childhood development teacher definition of ugly that has been instilled to him at circle time over the years, because we've never really particularly talked about any kind of ugly together.)

Which made me really reflect on my focus on looks when I said ugly.

I hope he can hang onto his definition and remain oblivious to the concept of physical ugliness for as long as possible.

It's really lovely to have a son who is not ugly (by his definition).


The Myth of the Put Together Mom

I can't tell you how many times I am out and about and see these really put together moms that make me feel so frazzled and frumpy.  You know the ones.  Standing in line at Starbucks in their freshly washed form-fitting black yoga pants and cute colorful top with coordinated earrings, silky recently trimmed hair pulled back into an easy pony, stylish purse over their arm, spring in their step, trendy diaper bag hanging off of spotless sporty stroller with GapKids ad baby cutely smiling and flirting with all the customers while well-behaved, well-dressed grade school siblings stand sweetly by, smug smiles of satisfaction on the moms' well-rested moisturized faces as they contemplate another perfect day of exercise, orderly organic picnic in the park playdate, working on that novel while the kids nap, and whipping up a gourmet dinner followed by relaxing with wine while the eldest kid reads to the others at bedtime, kisses for all, and a grown up evening of sophisticated talk and sex before 8 hours of sleep on Egyptian cotton 1200 thread count sheets.

Who are these people?!  And why do they have to exist? They only serve to highlight my ratty hair long overdue for color and cut, postpartum belly stuffed into ill fitting pants, stained loose tee with fresh baby snot on the shoulders, exasperating unwashed children with bed heads, and constantly overwhelmed feeling of having more to do than I will ever get done combined with inadequacy and guilt over my staggering (to my pre-mom self) lack of efficiency and productivity each day.

So, the other day I was getting ready in the morning.  The kids, who happened to be freshly bathed and have cute, clean outfits on, were happily entertaining each other in the living room.  I had time to brush my hair and find a nice outfit that fit well.  The eldest helped me pack the diaper bag and car for our outing.  We decided to hit Starbucks before hitting the road.  The baby smiled sweetly out of my arms and flirted with people in line.  Her brother selected his organic chocolate milk, got napkins for all of us, saved us a table and enthusiastically greeted a neighbor we know.  Little sister cheerfully ate her Cheerios while dancing endearingly around our table.  I think I had a little smile on my face as I felt well-rested and happy contemplating the fun day we had in store.

Suddenly, it hit me.  Here I was probably looking pretty well put together in the eyes of some poor other mom who walked in and was feeling frazzled, frumpy, and overwhelmed.  Oh no!  The last thing I wanted to do was induce those same feelings of inadequacy and frustration in someone else.

I think we need some kind of symbol.  A little pin we can wear that signifies "Oh, don't worry!  I'm an exhausted and overwhelmed mom, too.  We're in this together!  I just happen to be having a one out of a hundred morning here.  And it won't last, I assure you.  A few hours from now these well coiffed kids will be melting down and these yoga pants will be ripped and I'll snap at somebody.  The baby won't go down for her nap and we'll all end up eating McDonalds for dinner and putting the kids to bed too late without baths before falling asleep on the couch without finishing those emails I was supposed to send by the morning."

I thought about how when I see those seemingly well put together moms, it could be that it's their one in a hundred morning that I'm just catching a few minutes of and I shouldn't compare myself to them and assume they've got things under control any more than I do, right?  I mean, probably that's the case.  Well, hopefully.

See, that's where the pin would help.


I Have Been Writing...

I have been writing
appointments and post-its, endless post-its
I have been taking the time to write notes to summarize meetings that take time away from me
I have been writing
how to spell certain words and what we're out of
I have been writing
emails to take care of things
the kids' names on labels
to do lists
I have been writing
lesson plans and html code and letters to the teacher
I recently watched a TED talk about writing poetry
I recently read an article about writing
I recently bought a book about how to encourage your child to write
I recently made a "book making kit" for my 6-year old
I have been writing
notes to remind me of things I'd like to write about and stuffing them in my grandmother's wooden secretary and my digital folders
I have been dreaming about writing
I have not been writing

- 04.01.12


There Has To Be A Better Way!

An undated neon green post-it of mine reminds me that many months ago I wanted to write about how I was so overwhelmed by the sheer process of just getting ready to get all of us out of the house each morning.  

I was regularly carrying the following things out to the car each morning:  my work bag with laptop and charger and important papers and calendar and all the purse-y stuff I need in it, my work lunch bag with a morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack and ice packs in it, my pump with cleaned and dried cones, empty bottles, lids, milk storage bags, pumping bra in it, my work shoes (because I needed to wear easy to slip on shoes for infant drop off/pick up, but then change into not so easy to slip on/off shoes for work), my jacket/sweater, possibly my scarf and gloves, my coffee mug, Fox's baby lunch bag which had to have her jacket, shoes, socks, bottle, sippy cup, bottles of pumped milk, and daily instruction sheet filled out in it, Turtle's backpack with binder, homework, reading books, filled out forms, water bottle, and often packed lunch with afternoon snack, too, and ice packs in it, and sometimes loading the stroller and diaper bag, too, because we were heading somewhere after pick up where we would need that stuff not to mention if we planned to do a specific activity I might also need more snacks for both kids or whatever activity specific stuff we needed such as casual clothes and shoes for me or sports equipment or swimsuits, towels, goggles, toiletries, padlock or groceries or certain toys...

...and then at the end of the day I was unloading the two kids and unloading all of the above back out of the car and washing the pump parts, bottles, sippy cup, and sometimes pump bra and various clothing items, unpacking and processing as needed the items inside the three lunch bags, backpack, and work bag, which could mean lots of rinsing things, throwing things away, putting things away, signing things, fighting to convince a 6-year old to read/write/calculate things, sending emails, reading things, writing things, preparing presentations, and then late at night starting over with re-packing snacks and lunches and so forth...

...and then I would start all over again the next day.  

I swear I have packed and unpacked less for some vacations in my life!  

And I think this is the part where I am supposed to refrain from mentioning that Backtire typically grabbed his keys, wallet, and sunglasses, maybe a backpack with a laptop and just headed out the door each day.  

And I even sat around and put a lot of quality mental energy into trying to come up with some system that would streamline it all, but no matter what I did, I couldn't get around the need to put all of that stuff in the car each day and the fact that it had to be a lot of different little bags, too, because each one was traveling with a different person to a different location or certain items needed to be portable once the person got there.  So, everyday I dragged 10 or more separate items out to my car and just felt inefficient and annoyed and weighed down by it all.  

The whole thing is just so ridiculous and exhausting and takes up so much time and bandwidth.  If moms everywhere weren't having to pack and unpack and keep track of all this junk, do you know how many productive and creative hours the world would gain back? Millions of great minds are mired in trying to remember to prepare and lug all this junk around instead of teaching our youth, healing the sick, administering justice, generating products, providing services, designing the next best thing. Millions of creative minds are being wasted coming up with peanut free lunches instead of solving the world's problems or conceiving of art that enriches us all.  

And I want to say, as a friend of mind puts it, that I know that this is a "first world problem." But it still makes me crazy!  

(And I don't know why blogger is suddenly putting these giant gaps between my paragraphs when it didn't used to and it totally annoys me because I am very sensitive to formatting but I don't care to spend time solving it right now.) 

Is That With A Capital S?

Today Turtle and I were engaged in my Supermom-designed-home-summer-literacy-program, which consists of dragging him around town doing errands and trying to get him to read street and building signs out the window when we are at red lights.  We saw a sign that said "Safari Camp" and I asked him if he knew what safari meant.

His answer:   "Yeah, it's that place that you go to go on Google"

Huh?  Oh. Right. Safari. The browser.  Ahh, how sad and funny at the same time.

After, he was confused as to why I was laughing and laughing.  I tried to explain, you know about real safaris and why they named the software that and how old people like me knew about real safaris before Safari but he only knows about Safari, not safaris...but it was all totally lost on him.

So what did he image they do at Safari Camp?  All the kids sit around and 'go on Google' all day?  It's a big room filled with computers and kids all staring glassy eyed at the screens. What a camp.  -- Huh! Actually, knowing Silicon Valley, there are probably lots of camps like that.  Yikes.

Mental note:  Take my kid on a real safari-or a close facsimile of-quick!

What I Learned in Kindergarden

On the last day of kindergarden, my mom asked Turtle what the three most important things were that he learned this year. He thought and thought and said 


 silence: more thinking


more silence: more thinking


The 3 "R's"!  We eyed each other and cracked up.  I swear, this wasn't scripted!  I'm not sure what I expected him to say, I guess much more specific things that were of interest to him, but not this textbook answer. The follow up question was what were the three most fun things that he learned.

These came immediately and in rapid succession: "snackandrecesslunchandrecessandfreechoice!"  

Again, I must have been hoping for art, music, PE, a field trip, something...

Shrug.  All very classic Turtle.  He's a very no-nonsense kid who usually has things pegged just exactly right.  He's totally right about which things were the most important and he's totally honest about what was the most fun- the only three times of day he got to do whatever he wanted! 

(*BTW, related side story:  Tonight Backtire was relaying to us how he took a 2.5 hour lunch to take a motorcycle ride with some co-workers, the first time he's taken a ride in months and months and an unheard of break from his typically intense schedule.  Turtle, incredulous, said "they let you out for that at work?  You have a lucky work!"  Let you out.  Spoken like a kid who has now been fully indoctrinated into the school system.  Sigh.)  

(Yay!  Crumpling a post-it never felt so good... onto more...) 

When Everything is Overdue

I'm trying really hard not to cry at the fact that my last post was nearly a YEAR ago.

Which means a year's worth of writing (here or elsewhere) basically hasn't happened.  I have a stack of not-followed-through-on post-its to show for it, others that I went ahead and tossed because they made me too pressured, guilty, and sad, and yet more ideas forever swirling around in my head, mostly unprocessed, waiting to be freed somehow.

It's not a good place for me to be.  Having a brain that is next to impossible to shut off and letting it run rampant for a year leads to not only the frustration of the accumulation of unfulfilled creative ideas but also the stress, anxiety, and sadness of keeping too much inside.  I realize that it's really important for me to process everything- little crap that happens throughout the day and big stuff that hangs over me, too.  And I'm such a verbal processor.  I need to either talk it out or write it out and I've had a huge lack of both of those this year.  No time to write.  Not nearly enough time to talk over things with Backtire, family, and friends.

And on top of it I feel bad that I haven't made a point to carve out time for myself to write (or get a haircut or exercise or buy sorely needed clothes or or or or...).  So, I rarely put myself first and then I feel guilty about rarely putting myself first.  Isn't that great?  Beating myself up for that?  It's like kicking myself when I'm already down.  Then I feel guilty about feeling guilty about it because I know that won't help anything and then I'm headed very quickly down a spiral of inner craziness.

Instead, I'm trying to remind myself of the good way to look at it: I have been in the throes of Fox's first year on the planet and Turtle's first year of real school, doing my best to do right by them, manage the household, and keep up at work, too.  Plus all the junk that goes along with keeping a post-second-kid-mid-life-mid-career-exhaustion-how-did-I-get-here? marriage afloat.

I already look forward to the days when I'll look fondly back on all of this!

So, here I sit at a downtown coffee shop with free wireless, having forced myself to leave the house with laptop in hand and make myself sit down and write even if it's crap and even if I put four posts up tonight and not again for another year, just to try to get back in it again.