Love Songs Redux

Saturday I had the rare opportunity to go shopping by myself. The shopping was productive and peaceful. While driving home and flipping through the satellite radio in the hubby’s car, I landed on the Love Channel. Oh cheese, I know, but there are certain songs I can’t pass by and (please don’t judge my musical taste based on this one confession) Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You” is one of them.

That song came out in 1991. It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in high school. I was dating a senior. Oh, you can see where this is going. That song would play on the radio and I’d go all 15 year old girl soft in the gut as I wondered if he was thinking of me, too. *sigh*
Later, that senior would become the hubby.
So this song brings me back to that early, uncertain time of young love when everything is new and tummy flipping and smells good. Back before you fought over how he loaded the dishwasher or he saw you pumping or rushed you to the emergency room or watched your son get stitches on a Friday night.
Although, this past Saturday, when I heard this song, I thought of my boys. Since the birth of my two sons, love songs have taken on a different meaning. Not to say that I don’t hear the romance of a certain song and that all of them apply to a mother/son relationship, but that unconditional, I will be here for you always, undying mushy stuff? Oh yeah, that’s got my boys all over it.
The summer Peanut was born was the summer of Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars.” Of course I watched Izzie and Denny’s final moments play out to this song on “Grey’s Anatomy” and reached for the tissues. And my cousin danced with her new husband to that song at their wedding reception underneath strings of light that twinkled like fireflies in the summer night. But that summer, I would hear that song and stop to rub my swollen belly, softly singing these words to my soon-to-be:
“All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes
They’re all I can see
I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things
Will never change for us at all”
This is where you all roll your eyes and realize that High Heeled Mama is truly a sap. A big old sappy sap. Guilty as charged.
So the other day, while driving home after a much needed couple of hours distance from the four year old power struggles and Pumpkin’s demands for a level of independence beyond his 16 months, I whispered a wish for my boys:
“I would fight for you – I’d lie for you
Walk the wire for you – Ya, I’d die for you
You know it’s true
Everything I do – I do it for you.”
And before you all think that I’ve commandeered every love song for my children, take solace. The hubby and I still have “our” song. And there is nothing that can change that. And no, it’s not Bryan Adams.
But it’s just as sappy. Just like a good love song should be.

Type A to Type "Eh?"

Back when I was working, I never missed a deadline. I worked thoughtfully, efficiently and proudly. A week filled with presentations, proposal deadlines, media pitch calls, brainstorming sessions, media analysis reports, and follow-up calls inking themselves black across my desktop calendar energized me. The more I had to do, the more efficient I was. Not meeting, but exceeding expectations was a constant goal. I’d like to think I was good at it.

So, why, lately, have I been so woefully behind the proverbial eight ball? I waited too long to order the favors I wanted for my sister’s baby shower and now they are back ordered. I blanked on registering Pumpkin for the spring session of The Music Class and now we’re activity-less on Tuesday mornings. I must appear completely scatter-brained to the co-host of my sister’s shower who emails me the kind of type-A list I used to rattle off in my sleep. This space has been neglected for no really good reason I can conjure. I constantly feel like I’m playing catch-up.
Do my responsibilities not seem as important? Cleaning the bathroom certainly isn’t as time sensitive as rush-producing a news story on a new FDA approval. Or do I not feel as important? A difficult question for sure. The Mom-me most definitely feels important. I’m the one who kisses the owies better, who knows to sing Twinkle, Twinkle before nap time, who can change a 4 year old’s attitude with a well placed tickle.
But perhaps it is the household trappings of the stay-at-home-mom life where I don’t always feel important. If the bathrooms don’t get cleaned, I’m the only one who cares. If the dishes don’t get done before dinner prep starts, I’m the only one annoyed. If the laundry piles up, it’s only my problem to figure out what every one’s going to wear. If I don’t make time for my own writing or personal interests, I’m the only one affected. There are no demanding clients. There are no yearly reviews. There are no column inches in a national paper to track a success.
The stay-at-home life is often a hurry-up-and-wait kind of life. Quick, get a few chores done while the kids are distracted, check email during snack time, make a phone call during nap time. The rest of the day is following and marrying the whims of two different attitudes, desires and capabilities, which results in a lot of waiting through car playing, waiting for a particular someone to find his shoes so we can FINALLY go outside, waiting for someone to finish eating. And part of me is thrilled that I have managed to amend my Type A self into a more go with the flow mom self that allows my kids to be kids. The other part of me is screaming inside to stop getting distracted by every book in your room and find your shoe already so we can leave!
Could it be, though, that the relaxed, attention-challenged attitude of my children has finally rubbed off on me to the point where I’m failing to finish projects and easily distracted to the point of forgetting items on my to-do list?
There has to be a way to marry the deadline-centric work life I once knew with the more relaxed day-to-day operations of life at home.
Is there an app for that? I’d try to make one, but I’d surely forget to finish it.

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Monkey Go?

Today, Pumpkin woke up early from his nap. An hour early. Ugh. Rather than referee toy tug-of-war for three hours or repeatedly explain to Peanut that we can’t take out the Legos or play board games when Pumpkin’s awake and toddling around, I had a parenting stroke of genius.

Okay. More accurately, the weather was beautiful and I simply suggested we take Peanut’s big-wheel-esque trike to a nearby park. He literally jumped off the couch to find his shoes. Considering the 20 minutes it takes for us to get his shoes on for school each morning, this was quite the coup. A few snacks packed and we were off.
The park was new to us and fabulous. The trail erected as part of Atlanta’s BeltLine project was perfect for my little guy to pedal away. The path led to not just one, but two playgrounds, the perfect breaks for Peanut’s legs and to free Pumpkin from the stroller. We were having a great time just being – enjoying the dandelions, watching the creek flow under a bridge, spinning on the merry-go-round.
As I plucked Pumpkin from the bottom of his millionth slide run, I looked up to see Peanut swinging across the monkey bars.
I stood with my mouth hanging open. When did he learn to do that? I started to congratulate him for this feat of playground proficiency, but he simply shrugged and ran off to the next apparatus.
Is this how it starts? He suddenly comes home with a skill that I was completely unaware of? Yesterday, he used the word “proper” properly. Where did he learn that? Of course I expect a certain level of knowledge to be imparted at school or gleaned from friends, but the monkey bars seemed to be a wake up call at just how independent my little guy is becoming.
We raise them to be individuals. To be strong and curious and daring. So why, when Peanut actually does these things, do I feel a pang of sadness at the edge of my pride? I know, I know: ‘They spend nine months inside of you and the rest of their lives walking away.’ But I still find myself reaching for his hand so he doesn’t get too far ahead of me.
Luckily, the boys are still at ages where they not only wait for me, but look for me, reach for me, need me. So while they are busy growing up, learning new skills and sharing their uniqueness with the world, I will be busy learning how to let go.
Just like Peanut did today on those monkey bars.

Would You Rather?

During a recent all moms workout, we played a bit of “Would You Rather?” posing questions to one another to get to know each other while distracting ourselves from the lunges and bicep curls.

Listen only to Coldplay or U2?
Give up chocolate or cheese?
Abandon your flip flops or the heels?
The majority of the group immediately said they’d ditch those heels.
I, of course, said I would ditch the flippies. After all, if I didn’t, I would be damaging the old blog’s reputation, right? Haha. Back to another set of squats.
But the question has been nagging at me for the last several days. The fact of the matter is that I don’t wear those heels all that often anymore. I even had to wipe a bit of dust off the pair I wore on our last date night they were so far out of rotation. I realized I don’t have a pair of current fitting jeans in a heel-appropriate length, they’re all cut for flats.
For all intents and purposes, I have given up the heels.
And that nags at me a bit.
Certainly if giving up the flip flops means giving up my day-to-day, rough and tumble playground, sock-footed baby music class, criss-cross-applesauce Hot Wheels play life with the boys, than screw it. I’ll ditch those heels in a heart beat. But I don’t think it needs to be mutually exclusive.
It’s no secret I’ve been struggling lately with how to incorporate a professional side of my life with my decision to be a stay at home mom. I haven’t found any answers yet, which is frustrating, but okay. If I’ve learned anything from this mothering gig it’s that it’s a constant balancing act with various players constantly shifting the weight around without notice: an added soccer commitment here, a possible professional project there, a new nap routine on this hand, an inflexible car pool pick up time on the other… It’s never ending and constantly morphing into a slightly different version of normal that you hardly know it’s changed until you’re well into a new routine.
I’m doing my best to keep my eyes open to the shifts, looking for the light that seeps through the cracks to see if I can capture a bit of open space for me. I feel a bit like a surfer, waiting for the right wave. You can’t force it. You know it will come. And when it does, that’s gonna be one damn fine ride.
But the surfer doesn’t sit on the beach in street clothes waiting for that wave. Nope. They zip up the wet suit, wax down the board, paddle out to the cusp and enjoy the sunshine on their shoulders as they scan the vast horizon.
So abandon my heels? Hell, no. I can slip them on any time to remind me of that little piece of me that’s scanning my horizon, waiting for the right opportunity, the perfect wave that provides a fun ride for me all the while carrying me back to my family on the beach and the sandcastles we’ll build together.
Sure, flip flops might be a little more appropriate for my analogy, but I don’t have a problem getting a little sand in my heels.