Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Proof that I love you, W

Wilder will be 9 this year. I don't write about him (or really, much of anything else) on this blog lately. He's got to that point where he deserves his privacy, and so I don't need to be writing about the minutiae of his life here on the Internet.

But I also know that eventually he'll probably be reading this blog, if for no other reason than it will provide some sort of fodder or proof for his therapist. And so today, teenage or grownup Wilder, I want you to know that I did something that proves my devotion to you.

We all forgot something important, leaving it here at home when your dad took you to school. He called me, saying, "We forgot xxx." What it was isn't important. But I knew it was important that you have it, and so — thinking I could still catch you if I moved fast — I grabbed the thing, threw on a pair of sneakers and ran out the door.

It wasn't until I got to the school and saw you'd already gone inside that I realized what I looked like. Let me paint a picture:


  • I'm wearing oversized, black velour pants. Not cool-yoga-mom pants. More like "I've given up on life" pants. (I haven't, btw, I just wear these to bed sometimes because they're comfy.) They have a draw string — it hangs down to my knees and flaps in the wind. 



  • I have on a sweatshirt with rhinestones on it. Seriously. Like, a bedazzled sweatshirt. It can look cute with the right pair of skinny jeans, but with the rest of my ensemble, I might as well be wearing a sweatshirt embroidered with cats or something equally hideous. 



  • NO makeup. Totally still puffy-eyed and there were salt deposits under my left eye from my allergies (which make it water non-stop). 



  • Dude. The hair. We stayed up late last night to see the "blood moon" — it's happening four times this year, how cool is that?? — and when we finally went to sleep, apparently I crashed so hard that my hair was in a unique state of unkemptness when I woke up. So much so that I took pictures because it was that nuts. 


(Also, I didn't have on a bra. OMG.)

In this state, I saw a teacher still standing in the side doorway, near your classroom. "Can I please go in and give Wilder xxx?" She graciously didn't treat me like a mental hospital escapee and said, "of course." 

Thankfully, I found you just inside your classroom door. "Wilder!" I shout-whispered. You heard me right away and came and got xxx. I didn't make eye contact with anyone but you — part embarrassment, part belief that if I didn't make eye contact, they couldn't see me. But I'm sure some of them saw me, and I'm sure they wondered if your mom has a really ugly, lazy and maybe insane twin sister. Or at least I hope that's what they wondered. 

Anyway, I love you, kid. Sure, you probably already know that I'd get hit by a bus to save you, but when you were 8, I also sacrificed my dignity for you. That's true love. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Sweet Spot


Today is one of those days that you feel like you might just be doing something right as a parent. And just for posterity's sake, I want to record it. Because there's no doubt that in the next week I'll be feeling like a failure again. It's just the way the parenting merry-go-round rolls.

The picture above is of the boys, having dragged chairs out to the sidewalk, waiting for their Pop to get home. They do this every once in a great while. I hope we never forget that they do this. They love that man so much, and sometimes they'll remember just how much just before he gets home, and then this happens. It's been a long time since I've worked outside the home, but I have to believe that coming home to this must feel freaking awesome.

My moment happened earlier this morning. We walked Wilder to school for his first day of second grade. We got there, he skipped off to hang out with his buds, they chatted about lord knows what (probably Minecraft), then the bell rang and he ran to get in line. This year, I didn't even think twice about it. He's in second grade; of course he's excited to get in there and get this year started. But then, as I talked to some other kid's dad, I saw him running across the grass toward me. "Don't get your hopes up," I thought to myself. He probably just forgot something. And then before I had a chance to think another thing, he flung himself into me, hugged me tight, said "I love you, Mom. Bye! Have a great day!", turned around and ran back into line.

My whole life made sense at that very moment, I swear.

"You got a good one there," the dad next to me said.

Yep. I do. Sometimes I am very, very lucky.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pep talk

The sole reason for this post is probably that I need a pep talk. From me to me. So feel free to abandon ship on this one.

I don't know at what point it happened, but I stopped caring. About my body ... about keeping it in good enough shape to serve me well into my advanced years.

And then this thing with my hip happened. I have no idea if it's a result of my apathy, but it's there, and it's not going away. No one seems to know or agree on what's wrong and, while that's frustrating as hell, one good thing has come from it: It's gotten my lazy ass to the doctor and to the physical therapist. Where one thing has become abundantly clear: I'm worse off than I thought.

My body might as well belong to someone 20 years older than me. 

I could make a lot of excuses. Back-to-back knee surgeries. Two pregnancies —one complicated — and two c-sections followed by the raising of the kind of kids I tend to have — the GIGANTIC kind. And there would be some validity to those excuses. But mostly, I just gave up trying to make a comeback from those things. I guess I thought if I wasn't getting fat, I wasn't that bad off.

Truth is, there are people who are much larger than me who are in much better shape. They might not be able to wear a single-digit size (to which I'm clinging with the tips of my fingernails), but they can run and bike and swim and touch their toes and they don't need an extended recovery period afterward.

And now there's this hip. And it's not getting better. And no one has figured out a treatment plan to make it get better yet. And so, beyond going to PT and doing everything they tell me to do and then some, I can't forge some massive comeback plan and emerge triumphantly from that with a new stronger, fitter me.

In its own way, that fact — that I'm not able to go all Sylvester Stallone Rocky-style on my own ass — is its own blessing. For two reasons:

1. If I could just start chipping away at this problem with a some big, grandiose strategy for Operation Make Kris Strong Again, chances are I would do it, probably half-heartedly, get semi-successful results, and then go about my business. And maybe go right back to being a shiftless shit.

But the fact that I can't is making me consider — and I mean really consider — why I let it get to this point. I can't physically dive into anything, so I'm having to do the same thing mentally and emotionally.

Jerry tells the boys that their mom is the toughest woman they'll ever meet. While that might have some truth to it in terms of my just plain stubborn resolve to not let life take a baseball bat to my heart, it does not, in any way, apply physically.

And his insistence to them that this is true about their mom makes me feel somewhat like a fraud. 

So, why did I give up? Why did I let my inner bad-ass fade away?

I don't know the answers yet, but I'm hoping that by not being able to hit the pavement or the court or the pool or the gym, I might be able to figure them out.

I can't pretend, and so I have to be real with myself. 

And ...

2. If there is one thing that has been true of me damn near my whole life, it's that I don't perform nearly as well without a huge mountain looming in front of me. Tell me I can't do it and I'll prove to you that I can and I will. Give me a challenge and I'll rise to it, and I will tell that challenge to fuck right on off the whole time I'm overcoming it.

And so, that stubborn resolve I mentioned a minute ago, yeah ... it's there. I've been wanting to lose 20 lbs. for, oh, about 20 years now. I realize that 20 lbs. is not 150 lbs. and that makes it even more pathetic that I haven't been able to do it.

But now I'm betting I can. Because if I were anyone else looking at me right now — the sad lazy gimp who can barely even touch her toes — I'd bet against her.

And of course it's about much more than losing the weight. I could blather on about how I want to return to my former physically strong inner bad-ass, but I did that last year after my friend Karen died, and I've proven, in a very embarrassing way, that I was not up to the task. I'm not better than I was a year ago — I'm worse.

And let's be honest, that formerly strong inner bad-ass never really existed anyway. Maybe for a brief moment in time she was there, but mostly she was too busy ordering cocktails and being concerned with making people laugh and deflecting any attention away from her insecurities.

And so there's today. And today I think I can do it. Today I'm betting on that gimp, because I know her better than anyone else on Earth and, hip be damned, I thinks she's gonna rock this motherfucker. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fireworks and sunshine

Last night, at bedtime:

Me: What's your favorite season?

Wilder: Autumn

Me: Why?

Wilder: Because the trees change to all different kinds of colors and they look like they've become fireworks. And the grass turns yellow so it feels like you're walking on the sun.

Sigh ... I love him.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Namaste?

Not expecting superhero powers, but if yoga can make me
slightly less lame, that would be good.
For years friends have been trying to get me to do yoga. As recently as six months ago, my attitude was something along the lines of "hell to the NO."

I suspect it was more unfamiliarity than anything else, but there's also the small matter of my knees. After two ACL repairs (one of which left my right knee with tons of numbness and, where there wasn't numbness, a lot of nerve pain), I just didn't think I could do it.

Have changed my mind for a lot of reasons:

Pain. I'm pretty much living with constant pain right now. Hip, back, shoulders, neck ... you name it, I've got it. Some days and some areas are worse than others, but it's there, and I know I shouldn't be living like this. Incidentally, I've also started going to a chiropractor, something I swore I'd never do after growing up with a dad who frequently espoused the crook-like qualities of the chiropractors he came into contact with in the insurance business. (And for the record, I think even my dad has gone to a chiropractor at this point — turns out I might be the most stubborn and dumb member of my family). So anyway, yeah ... pain. Ouch. Enough's enough.

New friends. I'm friends with these women who I've met through Wilder's school. And they're all fit. Like yoga-practicing, running-at-4-o'clock-in-the-morning fit. Anyway, turns out if you hang out with people who all move a lot more than you, you start wondering why you're such a lazy bastard whose biggest physical accomplishment for the day is chasing your fence-jumping dog down the block. Now, believe me, I will never run early in the a.m. Just not programmed to get out of bed that early. But running at midnight? I can see myself doing that. I'll take pepper spray. Or a taser. Or Betty. And beware, hookers (you know who you are) — come spring grandma's gunning for your butts on the tennis court. (Combining hookers and butts in one sentence might have been ill-conceived, but it stays ...)

Depression. A few months ago, my meds started not working. So I went to the doc and she doubled my dosage. Back to a moderate amount of depression. But I know, sooner or later, that same thing is going to happen again, and I'm pretty sure I'm on the highest therapeutic dosage for the anti-depressant I'm taking. And I don't want to try this drug or that drug and see what the side effects are ... given my side-effect history lately, I'm thinking it's only a matter of time before I take something that makes my eyes bleed or I spontaneously grow a goiter or somesuch. So I gotta figure something out that doesn't involve the pharma-industry. Hey! I hear exercise helps your mood!

The xBox. Not what you were expecting for No. 4, eh? A few months ago, I got this Kinect "game" that has a bunch of workouts on it. Dance, cardio boxing, tai chi, etc. And, you got it, yoga. Jerry and I have done it a few times together and I'm always surprised by how good I feel afterward. My body hurts less, my mind focuses more, my mood improves. Yay for modern technology! And I've been able to do it in the comfort of my own living room, and have proved to myself that I can actually balance on one foot for longer than two seconds. It's also proved to me that yoga is one helluva workout. I stay in one place for just under half an hour and I'm sweating by the end of it. And even somewhat breathless.

Anyway, I start a bonafide yoga class — one with other people who are presumably better at this than me — next week. I'm really hoping that the benefits outweigh the embarrassment because, honestly, I am so out of alignment, so inflexible, so, so incapable and unbalanced (not mentally ... although, yeah, that too ...), I can't imagine what a challenge I am going to present to my instructor.

If you do yoga and want to offer me a few words of encouragement, please do. I'm gonna need it, I think.

Oh, and PS! I forgot Reason No. 5. If you haven't seen this video, watch it now. Talk about the transformative power of getting your ass off the couch.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

For Karen, the birthday girl


August 2010. Together again after a 10-year exile in Texas.

Today is my dear friend Karen's birthday. Last year, a few days after this day, I met her at a park — me with the boys and her with her girls, Reagan and Peyton — and we did what we always did: Watched our kids play together while we talked pretty much non-stop. I remember that day that our younger kids kept climbing this one structure at the park that they couldn't get down from. We kept taking turns, interrupting our conversation, to go over there and pull the both of them down. Then they'd start climbing right back up again and we'd repeat the whole process every five minutes. We kept shaking our heads and laughing, more amused than annoyed.

I don't think either one of us tired of seeing our kids play together the way we had when we were little. They interacted so well, all four of them, and I know it always did my heart and her heart good to see that. It was always a reminder of how long we'd been friends, and to see that cycle repeating itself ... well, it just doesn't happen very often. There have been very few constants in my life other than good friends, and Karen was the oldest and dearest of those friends for me.

It was about two weeks after that day that I got a call that she was gone. Her heart simply stopped working the way it's meant to, and she was gone.

I'm not sure a birthday ever passed — mine or hers — that we didn't call one another. A couple of weeks before she died last year, I pulled out a box of old letters and cards, went through them and threw many of them away. If you know me, you know I'm prone to tossing things out at any give moment. I rarely regret it, but I do regret that that day I threw away a bunch of birthday cards that Karen had sent me over the years. She was always good at sending cards, way better than me. Rather than send her a card, I would usually torture her on her birthday by calling and singing to her.

I can still hear her voice, and I'm glad for that. It was a voice that always made me feel better. But I'm so sad today that I can't hear her voice. That I can't insist she get out of the house and meet me somewhere for dinner and cocktails. That I can't attack her with my singing and hear the smile in her voice as she thanks me for that.

I think Karen knew how much she meant to me. I know we both expected to be old ladies together, and I wish I could have wished her happy birthday on her 80th. I don't know what happens after we die, and I'll never presume to know, but I do hope with all my heart that when I do die, I get to see Karen's face again and hear her voice in some other dimension. And I bet she'll say this: "About time you got her. C'mon, let me show you around and let's catch up." Hopefully they'll have Crown and Cokes in this dimension and we can share a few.

Today I'll do what Karen would want me to do. Spend some time with my kids and spoil them a little — we're going to see Wreck It Ralph, and we'll buy popcorn and candy and soda and I'll get them good and sugared up and laugh as much as possible together. I never knew anyone who was as dedicated to spending as much time with her kids as Karen was. I suspect she knew she was short of it, and pledged to make the most of what she had.

There's a good lesson in there. I hope to be an old crotchedy grandma one day, but you never really know. We've got to make the most of the time we have. If you take anything from this post, even for a day, take that — go spend some time with those who mean the most to you, and make sure to laugh. Love the very simplicity of being with someone who makes your heart feel full.

Our first apartment together. CU-Boulder. 1991.
Happy Birthday, Karen. You were the most true, honest and loyal of friends. 
I miss you with my whole self.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hurt

Yesterday, Hunter had a stomach bug and a high fever, so Jerry took Wilder to school. He told me last night, when he'd gotten home from work, that dropping him off had been unexpectedly emotional. Watching Wilder's first-grade class walking into school, and drawing the inevitable parallels ...

I got what he was saying, but I didn't really get it until this morning, when Hunter was feeling better and so we resumed the norm of H and I taking Wilder to school.

As we walked up, I saw a lot of moms giving their kids lingering hugs. Taking their kids faces in their hands and telling them how loved they are. I, too, gave W an unusually long and tight hug, kissed his head and told him all the usual stuff (be good, have fun, make wise decisions, remember how much I love you ...) and he trotted off to get in line.

I looked around for Hunter to make sure he was still nearby and, seeing him, I looked back to Wilder. And there he stood, with all his first-grade buddies. And I started to cry. It was such a spontaneous response and I instantly wanted to stop — not because I was embarrassed (hell, all us soccer moms, and quite a few dads, are crying a lot more these days, I'm pretty sure — but because I didn't want any of the kids to see me. They need to feel safe at school, and seeing your mom or someone else's mom fall apart outside the school doors doesn't help that.

As I tried to pull myself together, I saw tear-blurred images of innocence. Pink and lavender coats. Little boys huddled around one another, mostly likely discussing all things Ninjago or Skylanders. Backpacks with kitties and Mario. Missing front teeth. Little-boy hair sticking straight up and tangled little-girl hair. Laughter and boisterous talk.

For fuck's sake, what the hell is going on? And how do we make it stop? How do we keep our kids safe in a world gone increasingly mad?