Monday, September 29, 2014

I hate thinking of titles.

Something strange is happening here.
I don't know what to do with it.
I don't know what to do with myself.
For 4 years I have been the mother to an intense (funny, curious, smart, strong) girl. (can I borrow the word spicy??)

When she was a baby it was the hardest.

When she was cranky-she was CRANKY. And that happened a lot. More than not. No one could hold her but me. I had to hold her all the time. She didn't want me to hold her. She didn't want me to put her down. No single activity would occupy her for more than five minutes. The only thing that soothed her was begin outside, talking a walk. And even that would only help for so long.

I spent most of my teenage years babysitting. I studied child development in school. I nannied. I worked at an orphanage. I spent a lot of time with a lot of kids.

In all that time I had never met anyone like her.

And in public, at family functions, at dinner parties, at play dates in the park, mostly people didn't understand. They tried to be kind and 'Why? Is she just hungry? Is she just tired'…but no. She just napped two hours. She just ate more than I did lunch. She is just this way. It's her way. I don't know why she refuses-screams bloody murder with a pouty lip and real tears refuses-to let ANYONE else hold her. Even her daddy somedays. Not grammy or pop-pop. Grandma and Grandpa. Not good friends she sees all the time.  Sometimes it was like she just didn't want anyone to LOOK at her.

I spent SO MUCH ENERGY playing, singing, talking, teaching, comforting, (even when she refused to be comforted) feeding… I started early teaching her to identify her emotions and teaching her how to deal with them. ('screaming is not allowed in the living room. If you are angry and need to scream, please go to your bedroom.' -this I have said on a daily basis for two years. 'If you are confused you need to use your words and ask questions.' 'If you are sad, let's talk about it-please do not scream')

For 3 years I have been the mother to a fun-loving, cuddly boy.

This boy is ONLY interested in doing something if it is fun. Riding a bike totally loses its shine after two days. Potty training is only fun when the treats are mixed up daily (Really, who wants to get M&M's two days in a row??) and never ever ever ever gummy bears. Stickers are for the birds after one use.

When he is in trouble, he laughs! When in time out he laughs! After hitting his sister, he laughs! After kicking Joki, he laughs!

He just wants to laugh ALL THE TIME.
He loves life.
He always wanted to be snuggled. Which is adorable.  And also, it made making dinner quite difficult for two and a half years. The first 2 years I could only make dinner with him strapped to my back. And when he got too big for that I put him on the counter and he cooked with me. (please read between the lines: 'cook with me' means MESSSSSSSSSSSSSSx100000)

But the point is: I have been NEEDED. In real physical, emotional, demanding way for four years. Four years of rarely having enough space or quiet to think my own thoughts. It's survival really. All of you mothers know that. And fathers too. Just get through today.

And dinnertime and bedtime…don't even…just..wwwhhhaatttt planet do we live on? Worst time of every single day. There are beautiful moments thrown in there sure- but some of you talk about LOVING bath time -its so sweet. And bed time is so peaceful and calm..and I  just want to move to your planet..because…wow. Its like a scene from a horror film over here. Screaming, running, lots of nakedness, wicked laughter (because, you know, Bub thinks me asking for him to get his pajamas 1600 times is hilarious), slamming doors, coming in and out and in and out of doors, yelling 'I NEED ANOTHER SNACK!!' and 'BUT MOOOOMMMMMMMMMM IM STILL THIRSSSSTTTYYYY' 'MOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY you forgot my song!' (even though we sang five.)

(Are you tired??)

Ok ok enough about what its been like for 4 years…here is what is happening now...

Peace is happening.




No one is helping me cook. No one is following me around the house demanding to be held for hours. No one …. is needing me.

I find myself sitting alone at the kitchen table after a meal, the posse already having put their dishes in the sink, staring at the wall. It's been so long since I've been left alone in this way that I have NO IDEA what to do.
Do I get up and clean? Do I read a book? Do I…I don't even know what my other options are. It's been THAT long.

And it's such a fragile magical thing…I'm almost afraid I'll break it if I start doing something-using my brain in some capacity. I'm sure that if they heard me thinking my own thoughts the posse would rush in with an abundance of needs.

So mostly I find myself staring at the wall or slowly mindlessly scrolling through news feeds and blogs and weird internet stories about the Irish trying American junk food and where the most affordable mountain towns are. All the while in secret parts of my soul I am in awe…eyebrows raised, stopped breathing, no words kind of awe.

I never thought this would happen. I've probably jinxed myself by writing about it.

BUT what I just really want to say is….'Its true!!! They grow up!!!'  And I feel a bit sad about it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Je veux jouer.

I spent my teenage years sitting in friend's basements watching movies-my dad always chiding us that we should DO something.

DO something? Like what? 16 is much too old to PLAY. Serious adult matters concerned us-riding with a newly licensed driver in their new-parent-bought car, and detangling the latest drama.

My immature introvert self was not confident enough in herself to realize what she really enjoyed doing. I felt most alive and happy and confident and learned the most about myself when I was playing. Outside. Hiking a cliff. Biking a trail. Water fight with friends. Rock climbing and repelling. White water rafting. Float trips. But I didn't pursue those activities…being a teenager is weird. I didn't really know what I liked to do. I felt weird about the things I liked to do. I think.

I wrote off camping and hiking for most of my life because I was forced into going when all my friends would be in a basement watching a movie (I was missing out on so much!) and I HATE PACKING. (This strange turn of events where I love camping and took Sis on a girls only trip this summer makes my parents laugh and also wonder what happened to me. I don't think they should be too surprised though-I have always been adventurous.)

But now that I'm grown I don't care so much if people think I'm weird for reading as many books as I do, or that I just REALLY love to be outside…I'm learning to play!

Not that I didn't play before. It's just a new era of playing.

I could say 'having kids is teaching me to play again!' but that sounds cliche…and not exactly true.

Yesterday we met up with friends and played all day. We ran a 10k, the posse ran a mile, it was pouring rain, we ate lunch, we swam hard (floating around the lazy river and hiking all the stairs to the huge water slide take so much energy) There was no other agenda…we just played!

I hiked with two friends last week. Into the mountains with the aspens changing colors. We heard elk bugle-one of the most magical sounds, we saw elk, we hiked off trail to find a better view of said elk…there was no other agenda...we just played!

It feels like a lot of the pieces of who I am are coming together in this one place. And they come together the most when I am playing. That's how we learn right? Somewhere along the way we forget it, like when we are 16 probably. We forget that playing is how we learn.  It's how I'm learning myself. It's how I'm learning my posse and this other guy who I've promised to spend my life with (He's really fascinating! And amazing! He does hard things!). It's how I'm learning about the world. It's how I'm making friends….And not that I haven't learned these things in other places and's just that the mountains demand these things from you. Demand that you know yourself. Demand that you know your team. Demand that you know the mountains. But they demand that you do it while playing. Because why would you endure the harshness of the mountains if it wasn't fun?

Before moving here I thought there was nothing in Wyoming. Literally nothing. And while that's sort of true-it is also not at all. It would be easy to look at our little town and write us off saying  'nothing to do. two restaurants. one screen theatre with uncomfortable chairs. no night life.' But you would be missing the world class rock climbing. The mountain biking, the trail running, the hiking, the cross country skiing, the hunting, the camping, the boating, the snowshoeing, the fishing, the being outside watching a river rush past you with wildflowers all around…all within a 20 minute drive.

I'm learning to play. I'm learning I like to play. I'm learning playing is a lifelong skill. I'm learning playing is what bonds people together…the people I care about most are the ones I've played hardest with (which also means we have probably been through hard things together too)

And my kind of playing doesn't have to look like your kind playing and we don't need to feel guilty about playing.

And, adults listen, I think we should call it that-call it playing when it is in fact playing! We are allowed that. So much else of the adult life is hard...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

le saison change

The season is changing.

The sun is at a different angle. A 'summer is bowing out' angle.

We family camped. We 'girls only' camped. We ran. We hiked. We raced. We backpacked. We played with family. We played in the mountains.We jumped through sprinklers. We picked raspberries. We played with friends. We had birthday parties! We got sun burns and blonde hair. We rode bikes. We rode bikes in the mountains. We climbed rocks. We climbed rock faces and pinnacles. We got stronger. We got smarter. We grew. We spent long slow lovely evenings sipping wine with friends outside as the sun faded. We read books. We played 'I spy with my little eye'. We got frustrated with tourists. We saw a moose momma and a moose baby. We saw a herd of elk. We saw bison. We saw deer. We saw bunnies, and pikas, and marmots, and butterflies, and bees. We saw and picked and smelled and loved flowers of a rainbow of colors. We collected rocks and feathers and bones, and horseshoes.

There is still a bit more to come. A grown-ups only hike. One more race. One big wedding in the mountains. One more birthday (party!!). One more camping trip.

But summer is closing up shop-and I feel good. Content. Happy. Filled. Ready to take on the next adventure….

And when it comes- when that fluffy, cold, white color fills these big Wyoming skies you do not even have to rub your sunny warm fall weather in our virtual faces-because this is good. We sucked all the life out of the summer. We are ready to suck all the life out of the fall. Swimming lessons, and mountains in a fire of colors, and skiing, and pumpkins, and VESTS!!, and holidays (and a nephew!) on the horizon.

I am so frequently overwhelmed by the ocean of emotions flowing through here. I ride the waves and breath deep and try remembering to move with it instead of standing against it.

But the season is changing there too. There is a little more air at the top of those waves. Just a little bit. Just enough that I know we survived it. We aren't out of it yet, but we are going to make it out of the hard 'we have a little posse at home'. And we are going to make it out having lived. Having loved. Having worn holes in our jeans. Having worked. Having experienced and felt and grown. Having taught. Having fought and come back together over and over and over. Having discovered our strength. Having discovered our weakness.

And I feel good. Content. Happy. Filled. Ready for the next adventure...