Bringing Mediocre Back

Yeah, so, hi. This is awkward.

You know that point in your marriage where you just totally stop caring about having sex with each other and the only time you even think about it is when one of you ovulates because not even apathy is more potent than pheromones and after all, we are but mammals?

No, you don't know that point? Well fuck you, too. Anyway, my blog and I are there, except right now someone's ovulating, so here I am - poking around in this mofo.

I have like 15 posts in draft but they all are totally disjointed and annoyingly boring and most of them start off with I MISS MY KIDS SO BAD and end with WAIT, I DON'T MISS THEM ALL THAT MUCH, ACTUALLY because I spent most of February in California doing the coolest work I've ever done in my entire life. Problem was, I was there on a freelance contract which everyone knows is the dirty little cocktease of employment and now my normal life has resumed in normal Texas where my normal family is who won't let me have Tres Leches or Lemon Squares for lunch because they are mean people.


I would like to find whomever it was that taught them about balanced diets and the importance of nutrients and throttle that person until they are dead. Oh, wait.

So I kind of just gave up trying to blog because Shannon's professional and personal lives both kind of exploded but then Mr Lady was all like, "oh no you di-in't" and grabbed some Vaseline to slide her rings off and just like that, my blog world came out swinging, too.

I filmed my first Momversation video this week. It was way harder than I thought it would be, so be nice to me when it comes out because no one is good their first time so shut up. Oh, and I was invited to join Momversation. I kind of forgot to mention that before now. See? I have a bio and everything.

I also had to film an interview with the despicably adorable Andrea Roxas, Editorial Assistant at Babble. They're doing a monthly Q&A with all the 50 moms they chose to spotlight in 2010, and in the coming months, they'll be releasing interviews with a bunch of us, in which I may or may not come across as a total douchebag with an asymmetrical face.

Really, this is why I chose fake print as my medium.

She Posts ran an article the other day saying that Story Bleed has opened submissions which is awesome news except we hadn't actually opened submissions yet but their wish is our command and so submissions are open even though I am totally not ready for that and though I am not a webmaster, I play one on  the internet and so I have a LOT of work to do in a very little window of time to get Story Bleed ready for all your awesome posts. Meanwhile, go here to submit. We're really excited to be back.

And lastly, but not leastly, BusyDad talked me into co-hosting a cooking show with him for The Motherhood as part of their Cooking Connections series, sponsored by Con Agra.

Jim and I are the last class in the series, and the first presented in a live video feed. We think this is because they just don't know us at all. I mean, the class hasn't even started yet and we've already made reference to our balls.

Our class was supposed to be Cooking With Dads but we think it's kind of silly to imply that most dads can't cook or that those who can't ever will, so we're just doing a Cook A Nice Meal For Your Significant Other Even Though You Think Deglaze Is Something Demi Moore Did With a Clay Pot In Ghost And Christ, If That Woman Isn't Dreadfully Hot All The Time, Yo?

We'll be live cooking from our live kitchens with our live kids and live dogs and live potty mouths and our 10 live super sexy co-hosts, who will be backing us up via chat at The Motherhood.

Angry Julie | Angry Julie Monday | @angryjulie
Mishelle Lane | Secret Agent Mama | @secretagentmama
Ashley Evans | Schadenfreudette | @schadenfreudett
Tanis Miller | Attack of the Redneck Mommy | @redneckmommy
Dan Deguia | | @deguia
Lotus Carroll | Sarcastic Mom | @SarcasticMomLC
Melanie Sheridan | Mel, a Dramatic Mommy | @ADramaticMommy
PJ Mullen | Real Men Drive Minivans | @pjmullen
MomoFali | Momo Fali | @momofali
Robin Sue Joss | Big Red Kitchen | @bigredkitchen
Eddie Carroll | Life One Pixel at a Time | @middletonrare

And to save you, and ourselves, from us for an entire live hour, we decided to open up the gates of Thunderdome and pit you all against each other. See, we'll need a potty break and a drink break and a "Mom, the dog just ate a poopy diaper" break so we need some commercials. Except we want you to make them. Because you're funny, that's why.

All you have to do is film a 60 (max) second commercial about anything (that is PG-13 and won't make the sponsor mad), upload it to Vimeo and leave the url for the video in the comments, or in my email box, or Jim's.

We'll air as many as we can in the hour and let the audience choose their favorites. The top three videos will get a gift basket of awesome from The Motherhood and ConAgra. Cheating is totally encouraged.

And with that, I have blogged more today than I did so far in all of 2011, so I'm going to go have a cigarette, then roll over and fall asleep.

Learning To Fly

The first time I got on an airplane, I was an unaccompanied minor. Except that back then, there really wasn't anything called 'unaccompanied minors' and I was accompanied by my older brother and my two very little siblings. Eddie sat way up somewhere else on the plane and I sat with J & J, making sure they ate their Kudos bars and didn't spill their many airplane-sized cups of soda.

Eventually, they just gave us the cans. You can get anything on an airplane if you whine enough.

I never did fly with an adult in all the times I've flown back and forth, Philly to Denver, parent-hopping my way through my childhood. And that never seemed like an issue at all; I mean, it's getting on a plane, sitting down for three hours and getting off the plane - not rocket science. I was 13 whole years old, I knew everything, and I found flying to be intoxicating.

Now, actually flying the plane is a little bit like rocket science, and since I always loved flying so much, when I had the opportunity, I learned how to fly them myself. I have yet to find anything as exhilarating and freeing and close to godly as piloting an airplane. Maybe I haven't done much with my life, maybe I've never seen the world, maybe I've never even seen Detroit, but at least I've flown airplanes.

But the problem, for me at least, with knowing how to fly the airplane is that now I know every single thing that can go south, literally, when trying to keep a few tons of metal aloft. Knowing how to do it took the magic out of it for me, and made me the world's worst airplane passenger. Learning how to drive made me the world's worst auto passenger, too. Really, ask my husband. My complete inability to sit in the passenger seat and not completely freak the fuck out has almost driven that poor man to the divorce lawyer.

I think that if I'd just not learned how to fly an airplane, I wouldn't be sitting here right now shivering inside while my husband sits at a gate with our sons, waiting to load them up on a plane and send them to Denver for two weeks. I wouldn't be going through all the worst case scenarios in my head, if only I didn't know what they are. I wouldn't be worrying about whether or not they can get oxygen masks over their faces, or whether or not they will whine their way into cans of Sprite.

Or maybe I would. Maybe I would because those are my babies, and they're going 1500 miles away from me, where I won't be there if someone falls off a bike and scrapes their knees, where I can't come get them if it turns out that they don't still get along with the best friends they left behind four years ago when we left Denver. That powerless feeling I get every time I buckle my seat belt and put my tray table up for take-off isn't much different from the powerless feeling I'm getting sending my sons into the world on their own for two weeks.

But I guess the best things in life are the ones that leave you feeling helpless - like motherhood, like launching yourself through clouds and over mountains, like letting go.  I never knew how to see the world until I saw it from a few thousand feet up, and maybe I don't know how to see my kids for the little men that they are until I see them from a few thousand miles away. I guess it's time to let them go. I supposed I have to let them go, and trust that I taught them how to put mud on a bee sting and ask politely for sodas and behave even when I'm not watching.

It took me a while, but I learned how to fly. It's taking me a while, but I'm trying to learn how to give my kids wings, too.

On Motherhood

Last week, a bleary eyed, exhausted me pulled my miserably sick daughter into my room after hours of tossing and turning, after sitting up worrying about why she was crying and if her pain would subside enough to find sleep.  I gave up; I gave up and I pulled her into my bed around 2:30 in the morning.  Both of us were deliriously tired; she wrapped her arms around me and asked me to hold her tighter.  We laid together until I felt her breathing ease and I thought she'd finally drifted off.  Once I knew her Motrin had kicked in, once I knew she was comfortable and sound, then I could find sleep myself.

Because that, the sleepless nights, the worry, the never ending cycle children in my bed...that is motherhood.

As I drifted off, I felt her little hand on my tummy.  She rubbed my stomach, much like I rub hers when she's tired or sad to calm her, and I smiled with the realization that she'd been waiting for me to sleep, too.  Her fingers fell into the deep grooves of the stretch marks 27 months of pregnancy have left on me and she paused.  She backtracked slightly.  She took the tip of her finger and began tracing the marks, the lines marking the roads on the map of our lives together.  At that moment I realized something I'd not honestly grasped in 11 years of parenting; that I am hers.  I am this thing, this pile of bones and skin that belongs to her.  To them.  That I am not just a 30 something girl with big hips covered in silvering tracks; I am an extension of three people, and I belong to them completely.

And that, the giving over of myself to someone else, well...that is motherhood.

If you asked me what motherhood was, I could give you the obvious answer.  I could tell you it's 9 months of puking and 18 years of mumbling to yourself.  It's hardly having enough time and never having enough for yourself.  It's diapers and bottles and boo boos.  It's dishes and laundry and grocery bills and college tuition.  And I'd be lying to you with every word.

Motherhood is none of those things.  Those are merely the minute details of life.  If I didn't have these children I'd still have grocery bills and bank accounts and I'd probably have some career that required much of my time. I'd have work to bring home and deadlines to meet and maybe a dog to feed and walk.  I'd be busy, I'd be frazzled and I'd be distracted.  None of that changes with or without having my children, just how it plays out does.

So I take all of that out of the equation and what I'm left is what happens on the sidelines.  I'm left with falling into bed and knowing that my daughter is so intertwined in my soul that she could dare trace the lines of my body while she thought I slept simply because she wanted to, which is something I'd never had dared do with my own mother.  That is motherhood. 

I brought a basket of clothes to my boys' room the other day and when I opened my oldest son's top drawer to put his socks and boxers away, I realized that he'd unfolded all of his boxers and re-folded them differently.  He'd moved his socks from the right to the left, the t-shirts to the back and laid his boxers out like I'd never think to.  I stood for a little too long staring at that drawer, smiling, realizing that my son had taken an idea I'd given him and made it into something uniquely his own.  That he was moving away from me and he knew which direction he was heading and he didn't need to ask for my permission or my seek my validation anymore..  That is motherhood.

I cook dinner at night and my middle son helps, no matter what we're making.  He does a really crappy job of chopping the parsley and he over-salts the sauce and he sets the table all wrong and we laugh our asses off the whole time we're getting ready to eat.  We talk about Pokemon or skateboarding or the new video game and  I listen to his stories, his tales, his experiences that have nothing to do with me and I learn something about that little boy who does still need me to validate him, who wants to be in the kitchen with me because I love to cook and he wants to be a part of what I love.  I listen to his silly stories, I nod at the things I honestly don't understand, because he loves those things and I want to know about the thing he loves.  That is motherhood.

My daughter climbs into the pile of dirty laundry that is now taller than she is.  She burrows into it until she finds the buried basket and she makes us all find her.  Sometimes she lunges out at us, sometimes she just peeks an eye out and whispers, "boo."  Then she leaps out and we run around the living room, tripping over piles of clothes, through the kitchen, jumping over bags of groceries still not put away, playing tag and laughing until it hurts.  That is motherhood.

Motherhood is a tide, ebbing and flowing in my life.  It is a push and a pull, a give and a take.  It's me giving all I have to these people and me taking everything I can from them while I have them.  It's them holding on to me while they push me away.  It's watching them learn and grow, it's mourning the loss of their dependence and celebrating the independent people they are becoming.  It's getting flustered because the dust is piling up and the floors are a mess but me not being able to bring myself to windex the little handprints off the windows because I want to savour them for as long as I can.  It's that it's been so long since I've had a minute, a day, a week to myself that I can hardly remember what that's like and it's the way 11 years just blew past me right then when I blinked and the next 15 are going to be over before I can blink again.  It's running on three hours of sleep, grieving for the loss of a child not my own and at the exact same moment finding a fleeting moment of pure peace in the eyes of another child.

Baby Colby

It's who I have become to my core.  It's the space in between the mistakes I make, between what isn't getting done in my day or my life, it's the touch and the sight and the sound of something bigger than me and better than me unfolding before my eyes.  It is a gift, being able to look at a child and see more than a short human; being able to see the roads that connect you to her to me to them.  It's living less in fear and more in the moment.  It's how I realize slightly more with every day that passes exactly how wrong, how tragically horrifying my own childhood was and realizing more with every day that passes that it doesn't matter anymore, that I am not that child, and neither are my children, and neither are anyone else's.  That I can learn from it and let it go.  That I don't have to forgive or forget or understand, but I am ready to accept it and leave it behind.  That I have the power to give it meaning, to make it right, to cancel the whole thing out.

It has nothing to do with what I'm doing, and everything to do with what I'm becoming.

David and Catharine are hosting Around the World in 80 Clicks: 80 stories of motherhood from around the globe.  Ree asked me, Kelley asked Ree, Tanis asked Kelley, Catharine asked Tanis and I'd like to ask X Box.  Who isn't a mother, but who's quest to become a parent is as inspirational as it is heartbreaking.  If you'd like to contribute, please let Catharine know about your post so she and David can add it to the "itinerary."
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