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In conclusion

15 Apr

Consciousness is a bitch. No two ways about it.

When the grass I thought looked greener fades in comparison to the side I just came from, well, I’m smart enough to turn the hell around and haul ass back. First he’ll take me in his big bear arms, then I’ll remember the day on the Pier, and after that it’s always okay.

This time I think that now is better even, because there are more rooms in the house with long warm limbs and tousled hair that smells like puppies. Four of us in all that make this place the home I always call plenty, enough, and mine.

I promise him that’s not what I was running from. He knows. That itch, it moves me, sometimes to wild places. He loves me for it, and I can’t live without it.

Mostly I find more good. More life. More to love.

Other days I find the green dream I’ve been combing my fingers through has turned brittle in my hands, weightless and vacant. Washed out in contrast to the cool floorboards that creak under the weight of my feet in the morning, at midnight, and every splendid hour in this place. The space that’s ours, that’s safe and home and only for us.

This last shit storm, if I’m being honest, was partly okay. The other part, well, you’ve gotta’ know what you don’t want to know what you want. No two ways about that. The thing about me – I always think I know.

But there are times when I can feel my youth. When I have to turn the hell around and head back to where I came from. When what I thought I wanted turns dry and dangerous under the sharp light of day, and the instinct pinching at the back of my arm makes me snap, fast, back to myself, then fall into him, and snuggle down with the others who make it all okay.

Still, in the back of my mind I hold tight to the thrill, the energy, even the hurt. Maybe I’d take it all on again, someday. A wiser me would do well there, I think. Grace, poise, valor. Maybe it’s in the cards for me. We’ll see.

But that’s not the point here. Not now, or even ever, I might say someday when I’m old and what’s done is done.

The point today is all chickens and fresh baked bread. All bare feet and laughter. All here and now and ours to live, as long as we choose to notice it.

What exactly is it about absence that makes the heart grow fonder? Maybe it’s consciousness.

That sneaky little bitch.

Anjale signature WEB

Dear You

29 Jan

I’m having a serious love burst right now and I’m not afraid to show it. This post is gonna get mushy and I’ll probably refrain from cussing. Now you know.

As you may have seen in my post last night, this weekend was confusing, at best. The family time was invaluable, the kids loved playing in the mountain-rain-that-my-bastard-iPhone-weather-app-said-would-be-snow, and I got plenty of snuggly couch time with all three of my boys.

But I just couldn’t shake that bad-mommy feeling. That question…should I have been more vigilant in protecting my son? So, last night, I told you all about it. I put it out into the world for the singular purpose of getting the heavy load off of my knotted shoulders. And what happened, for me, was exactly the thing I needed to make this all feel OK again. Continue reading

The kid’s gone crazy

30 Apr

So I know we all feel like our kids are heathens sometimes; unruly, disobedient, the worst of the worst. And when, through some inexplicable turn of events, you find yourself to be the parent of the worst of the worst, well, there’s truly nothing worse. Unfortunately for the adult contingent, there are no rules when it comes to the parent-child standoff. No three steps in the opposite direction before turning to fire. No rules of engagement to reduce operational risk, or define appropriate constraints and stuff (thank-you Wikipedia).

Anyway, I’ve felt this way periodically since my first son was born, initially when he was screaming his infant lungs out at Target because I’d miscalculated his feeding time, then at the park when I pulled the “I’m pretending to walk to the car without you” move, and many times over in various parking lots, frozen food sections, and notoriously in the middle of a school assembly.

The only saving grace is that with my first son the operative word has always been “periodically”. There was always that “oh crap I forgot to change your diaper so that’s why you’re screaming” moment, or “oh right, you skipped your nap three days in a row so I’ll forgive your delirious headbutting” allowance. With number two, however, all rules have changed. His tantrums are chronic, decisive, and unwelcome accessories to our daily routine.

Take today, for instance. When I picked the little dude up from school all seemed well and good. He even reported that one of his teachers was out sick so he had to be Ms. Gina’s “assistant” in the classroom (Ms. Gina is apparently a saint). He ate a hearty snack in the car on the way to art class, and sat through the hour like a champ. He was proud of his finished picture and didn’t hit his brother or friend in the back seat on the way to hip hop. And for the first ten minutes of big bro’s dance class he even sat on my lap and watched like a benign and obedient four year old. I was seriously dewy eyed – and judiciously deceived.

We all know when our children are teetering on the brink of a breakdown. Today I made the mistake of ignoring the warning signs. The restless pulling of my sweater, twitchy inability to sit still, high pitched whining over the sub-par volume of the Fart app. These were all warning signs; ones that I know, but carelessly ignored. Until he headbutted me. And, as outlined above, all rules were out the window.

There’s more to the story, but it’s not really relevant except to say that we oscillated between peace and power struggle for the next few minutes until little dude was overcome by the apparent urge to sock me in the kneecap. For that he landed some hard “thinking time” in the car while I pretended not to hear him breathing fire at me from outside. And though he fell asleep on the drive home, I can’t justify the kid’s behavior because he was tired; he’s four years old and does this every-single-day between 3 and 6 pm. We call it witching hour, and it’s grating on my already over-taxed mom nerves.

So tonight I’ll do what I always do: pour a glass of wine and turn to the parenting books. You should see my bedside table. Really, it’s a wealth of psychological insight…and vampire romance. Both essential for effective parenting. At times like this I wonder if I’ve got it right, if my I’ll-show-you-by-trapping-you-in-the-car parenting is whittling my son into one of those teenage cat slayers. If all of his spitting, hitting, scratching, and biting are a sign that I didn’t hug him enough as a baby (he’s really snuggly…maybe he needed more?). Or maybe today he really was just…tired?

What I do know is that for all of his challenges that little bugger is worth the fuss. Contrary to how it seems at the moment (to both you and me, I assure you) the kiddo is overwhelmingly loving, he’s audacious, he’s 100% boy (except for that whole pink cake and puppy party thing). And although his brand of tantrum is twice the storm of his brother’s, I guess I kinda’ can’t blame him. After all, I know perfectly well who he gets it from 😉

A legacy worth living for

20 Apr

A friend pointed out to me today that in numerous religions from varying parts of the world it is believed that after passing the soul exists in a waiting period for exactly 30 days. One full month, waiting, in that space between heaven and earth. Whether or not you believe in heaven isn’t relevant because what I’m getting at isn’t about religion or really about death even. It’s about life. My life and the lives of my children, about my husband, and how we will memorialize the life within his father’s 62 short years with every thought, every word, and every action we make from now on.

Our time here is precious. And when it ends for someone you love all wind is lost; your breath, the breeze, the atmosphere. Space and time implode and never will return to the way you knew them to be just one small moment ago. Days pass, then weeks, and somewhere in-between you realize that the world is still turning, that it has a momentum which will move on with or without you. So you hold on…or you don’t. Some hours are easier than others. Then more are easier than not. You wonder if maybe someday what people say will be true for you too, that your life will return to some semblance of normal – never as it was before – but normal. At least that’s what they say.

And to that I reply…I guess I don’t want things to be normal. Now or ever again. Because what I found in the 30th day after my father-in-law’s passing must be something he wanted me to have. It’s something I’ve been chasing for years, from the moment I became a caffeine driven business owning mother of two, maybe. Something that I ached for and tried to grasp at for years but could never seem to possess for long before letting it slip through my hands. With as much as I strove for, it was the one thing that consistently eluded me until now. And I have him to thank for it.

Last week I canceled two of my son’s extracurricular classes. I didn’t schedule new ones, or fill the time with more “to-do’s”. This means that for the three days in the middle of the week, I am free to bring my boys home from school at 3:10 and spend the entire afternoon with them. No agenda, no plans, no expectations. Just time. Time together. At the risk of revealing my dark underbelly, I will admit that I struggled always just to “be”. In a park, at the beach, and yes, even at home with my children. Multitasking was not just a tool, it was a compulsion. Checking e-mail on my phone, tapping at the keys of my laptop, nose stuffed in a book. With all of the commitment that I had made for my physical body to be present for my children before and after school hours, my mind  was oftentimes preoccupied, stuck in a cloud, otherwise engaged.

Until, suddenly, I returned. Present. Intent only upon the seconds that I have been afforded in this day; acknowledging that no touch is more valuable, no word more meaningful than the ones we share this minute. I wish I could identify the switch that’s been flipped or bottle a tonic to cure the human condition I was suffering. I wince to think of the hours of thought and analysis it would have saved me. But I guess that it’s fitting, coming from the girl who needs to feel it herself to know it as truth.

I’m so sorry that it took the loss of a loved one to make me believe in presence, in pace, in peace. But I thank him for a gift and a legacy that will touch the lives of his grandchildren. A gift which I swear to pass onto them, through them.

Rest in Peace, Raymond Edward Perrault. Your legacy is safe with us.

And a dreamy new year

1 Jan

We spent the final days of 2011 on the farm in Tennessee with frost covering the ground each morning and a fire in the stove each night. Four baby goats were born in the week that we were there. Two survived. The neighbor shot a doe in the field across the road and gave it to us for nothing in return. Each day we took walks with the dogs and a fat cat named Ellington who thinks he too must be a dog. On one hike up to the spring we found frogs living in it. As in, the water we drink. We left them there and were later chastised for not cleaning them out when we had the chance – how were a couple of thirty-somethings from LA supposed to know?

When we ventured out it was to visit the local pig farm or the Tractor Supply Company. These were funny moments for me, lounging on the bench seat of our souped up Crown Victoria. Yep, we rented a cop car. Anxious as the thing made me, it ate up the country road, rolling along beside great expanses of farmland with perfect ease. In the end I got close to even liking the thing.

After the boys were in bed each night we took to gin and tonic and a game of hearts. Each time we played later into the night, stopping when our scores had reached the bottom of the page. And on New Year’s Eve we drank champagne out of pilsner glasses and played well into 2012.

What I’ve been thinking about for the last few days is how all of this time, with its space for breathing and naps and sitting around the table, has got to stand for something really fantastic in our lives. Mostly I’ve been turning my wheels about how to convey it in the least schmaltzy of ways. I’ve come to the conclusion this may not be possible, and I’m writing it anyway.

Within our seven sleepy days in Tennessee we witnessed a microcosm of experiences so appropriate for the turning of the year. The precious cycle of life our children observed in the birth and passing of animals on the farm, the definite union between all of us and the vivid forest landscape, the modest pace of living that swallows you up and slows you down. These are the hopes that I hold for my family all year long, and work to preserve in the shelter of our household. Spending the final days of 2011 in the arms of such a place has set the tone for the year to come. Each time we arrive here, on my aunt’s farm, we know that we will bring a piece of this home. And lucky for 2012, we’ve done it again.