Monday, September 30, 2013

Hot Pink Bra Day

Some days are hot pink bra days.

Not for the reasons you may think. Really has nothing to do with being sexy. That pipe dream’s expiration date has long been up.  No, it’s literally about holding me together for the day, not just any day, but those days when you’re not quite sure you’ll make it through. It’s my fall back when meditation and daily affirmations and pithy Facebook memes and cupcakes don’t work. And when I’ve used up my needy friend frequent venting card. That’s when it’s time to pull out the old Calvin Klein hot pink bra to give me that extra boost, so to speak. 

And nobody needs to know. My strap doesn’t have to accidentally on purpose peek out for someone to notice and be impressed or repulsed. As a matter of fact it’s better if they never know. Better if I can just walk around with this secret. Sometimes I’ll even forget and then remember and smile because I know there’s a part of me that’s fabulous. I may have run out of time to make my kids a decent breakfast, I may have nothing interesting to contribute in that meeting, I might have an uninspiring day in front of the classroom, I might say exactly the wrong thing in trying to get my kids to do their homework or expand their horizons beyond the latest screen that has changed their life for the next five minutes, I might fail to really listen to husband, or accidentally step on the dog’s tail, I might lose my touch in every aspect of my life, but….I have on a hot pink bra.

There is still something fabulous about me. Some part of me that made a bold choice in the face of a day that seems insurmountable from moment one. Not because anything particular dramatic was going to happen, but because so many little things form alliances to test my patience, challenge my long held conviction of my own fortitude, and wink their eyes knowingly at my fantasy that I’ve got it all figured out. When I feel beaten down, I remember the hot pink bra and suddenly my bracelets repel bullets and I can kick ass for another moment.

And of course it doesn’t have to be a hot pink bra. It could be outstanding boots, a good hair day, or a tiara, whatever it takes. Because sometimes the simple act of going through a day is the most courageous and daunting thing we do and hot pink bra is the Agent Coulson to my Avengers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sweet 16

16 years ago today I became a mother.

I know you’re waiting for the “And it was the best decision I ever made” blog post. This isn’t it.

When my husband and I decided to have a child, it wasn’t some epic moment of thoughtful and philosophical consideration of the impact of this decision on the world at large, it just felt right. We both wanted a child. Talk about arrogant and selfish. I want a child. Like, “I want a pony,” or “I want a convertible.” The entire phrase begins selfishly. “I want…” Well, you better get over that pretty quickly, because “I” won’t factor into much more after the APGAR test.

From that moment on it becomes about them and you are white water rafting. There are patches of chill smooth water where you never thought you could be this content and purely happy. But, let’s face it, that’s not usually why people go white water rafting. So, when the rapids hit, you trust your training will kick in and you’ll row together and know which waves to head into and which ones to ride over. And then while you’re enjoying your victory lap you round the corner and you’re in The River Wild, without Meryl Streep.

And your heart beats faster and you scream and swear and cry and try not to vomit. And remember, you booked this vacation, because you wanted to have a child. That’s right, we’re not in metaphor anymore.

So far the first 16 years of this raft ride has been relentless and exhilarating, shocking, gratifying, depressing, scary, tense, exhausting, thrilling, eye-opening, and the hardest and best thing I’ve done. And I’m not gonna lie or sugar coat it, there are times when I wish I hadn’t booked this vacation. They don’t last long, but I’m not going to Pollyanna this. It doesn’t mean I don’t love my kids, it simply means I’m not sure of myself.

That being said, it has also shown me myself. I’d still love a pony and a convertible, but I will give it all up for my kids. There are many things I will never experience in life (actual white water rafting is probably one of them). I will never be an accomplished actress or writer. I will never be 130lbs again. I will never be able to walk into a store and pay full price for a pair of shoes. I will never be a perfect mother, ever. But I will literally do anything for my kids. Including failing and getting up tomorrow and trying all over again.

I had no idea what I was getting into 16 years ago. I have no idea what the next 16 years holds. All I do know is that I still have to figure out what’s for dinner, check homework before bed, and put my life jacket on again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Poisoned By My Metaphorical Claude Rains

Have you ever seen that movie Notorious with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman? If not, you should, it’s a great movie. I won’t go into the whole thing, but towards the end, when Claude Rains finds out his wife, Ingrid, is actually an undercover spy sent to get info on his Nazi friends, he is told to kill her by slowly poisoning her over time so it looks like she just has some weird withering disease, until Cary Grant, who’s been denying his love for her comes, in all his smoldering spy glory, and carries her out the front door as Claude is judged harshly by his fellow Nazis.

I feel a little like Ingrid Bergman.

Let me explain.

I have always been an optimist; a glass half full, believe people’s motives are pure, lemonade out of lemons optimist.  Recently, however, I have felt a withering away, a tarnishing of my rose colored glasses, if you will, which has even made me toy with changing the title of my autobiography from “Mary had a Little Laugh” to “Death of an Optimist.”

In full disclosure, I do come from a split family; my dad is an optimist, my mother a pessimist. So there is a genetic pre-disposition for either. But let me be clear, I am not talking about being sad or even feeling sorry for myself. No I just find that I am slowly letting go of or lowering my expectations for hope and am settling into a Switzerlandish state of neutrality.

I realize it is an intricate internal security system that I have installed in my psyche to protect myself from all intruders. I had a beta system installed when I was a kid, which handled softball breaches like boys not ‘like-liking’ me and not making the basketball team and my parents’ divorce. But I have since refined it into a high tech comprehensive protection plan complete with emotion sensors and automatic total lockdown to insure ultimate protection against passive aggressive marital behavior(coming from both parties), the past (and therefore imminent) doom and gloom of my children’s relationship to school, the loss of loved ones, the financial realities of the market value of any of my skills, the disappointment at the empty Entenmann’s box at the end of a long day, and all the other shoes that are waiting to drop. It is, in fact, possible that I have acquired a system so invincible that therapists and Prozac couldn’t even penetrate the first lock let alone the floor lasers, the three-headed dog and the rolling boulder. (extra credit if you can name all the movie references)

I haven’t gone full pessimist yet. I do not expect the worst, but I am not surprised when it happens.  I scan my emails at the end of the day with dread for fear of seeing a teacher’s name and the title heading “Teenager #1 in class today,” or “Missed homework for “Teenager #2.” I am grateful for the communication because I am a parent and I’m supposed to be, but it is like another dose of poison administered by my metaphorical Claude Rains.

I still believe that Cary Grant will swoop in (though he’s more of a saunterer than a swooper) and carry me through the door with my flawless skin and impeccable hair. And I know in this case Cary Grant is hope and I will still fall in love with him and he will break my heart again, and the alarm will be tripped and I will go into lockdown recoup my losses, heal and venture out into the wild again because deep down in my nougat center, that’s who I am. Love and pain and panic and euphoria and anxiety and contentment and fear and pride rely on each other for existence. I get it. To allow yourself to feel one you open yourself up to the risk to feel all. I know to feel is to be alive and life is messy an unpredictable. (BTW my inspirational posters are available on Zazzle)

So I will fight the poison and defy Claude Rains. Not everyday, but I’m still aiming for more than half.