Wintering

Yesterday morning at the YMCA I attempted the tread mill for maybe the 4th time in my life.  I was loving it, which shocked me.  I have successfully staved off gym workouts until this winter’s trifecta; low snow, low temperatures, broken toe.  Given how elated I was with the Y, my jog, and my music, I momentarily lost track of my body.  It might have been the air drums I was playing on the handle bars or my attempt to change songs, but I wiped out in full slapstick style.  I dropped to the tread, which abruptly whisked me to the floor.  Attempting to quickly regain vertical, I got caught in my earphone wires and snagged them out of my ipod, broadcasting loudly “to dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave do not go…”  But I went there.  And I could not stop laughing, along with a dozen or so other people.  I tripped again attempting to board my moving treadmill, and had to acknowledge my display, “I’m ok, I’m ok, thanks folks.”  My right hand neighbor snickered, “wow–you are having an inspired workout today.”  When I continued to have fits of giggles over the next ten minutes, left hand neighbor finally let hers fly, saying “well, if you’re laughing, I’m gonna laugh.”

This is the same week in which I slathered chap stick on my cold-injured lips and entered the mall (another place I normally avoid) with my two year old.  I brought a few long black dresses to the changing room and started to strip.  Two year old stripped.  I threw on a dress, he threw on my shirt.  I looked into the mirror expecting to cherish this sweet moment with my son, and instead I was greeted with an old lady wearing way too much raspberry-cream lipstick; not chap stick.  This is the very lipstick situation that has marked old-age disempowerment for me for decades, only now it was on MY FACE.  I groped for wipes and found myself surprisingly overcome.  Wesley made a break for it at this moment, under the door, and was greeted by the lovely smooth-skinned fashionistas at the counter with oooohs and ahhhhs and “adorables.”  I opened the door, lip-disaster free and ready to assess my gown, but the young women were completely focused upon belting a $100 dedazzled t-shirt onto my child that he had selected from the rack.  I took a deep breath, reminded and relieved that it is his time, not mine, to be noticeable.  I doubled over laughing at the image of myself in floor-length black gown, running shoes, pony tail, blue sports bra, smeary pink lips and naked two-year-old sidekick.

This morning I got pulled over for not signaling my turn.  I didn’t even know one could be pulled over for such an offense.  He gave me a warning, ostensibly because of my “perfect driving record,” but the two toddlers in the backseat crying “cold, cold” as he stood at my open window might have had an impact on his decision.  We hadn’t been driving long enough for the car to warm up from the balmy five degrees outside.  The officer explained that he was there because someone from the neighborhood called the city about fast and incompetent drivers in that quadrant.  I actually agreed with the officer and thanked him for coming to save our neighborhood from said drivers before I shut my window and came to my senses.  Guess who made that call?

To wrap up this week, I had a funny dream last night; kind of sad/funny.  I was running through the snow with our three boys, which is no small feat.  Things were slow going and there were tumbles and exposed wrists.  Mittens fell off and had to go back on, boots got stuck in drifts and had to be emptied.  Despite all the rollicking and overall fun, ears got cold, noses dripped, brothers threw punches and kids cried.  Suddenly I looked back and gasped, “Ooh noooo!  I went over the hill and I didn’t even notice!”

IMG_0098I’m still not sure if this entry is about winter or about aging, or about both or maybe they are the same.  In summer, time stands still because its warm outside and one can afford to be still.  But in winter, you have to keep moving to keep warm.  Time passes without us noticing while we are working hard NOT to be trapped indoors, or cold-injured or chilled to the bone.  Its hard on our bodies and creates some hilarious situations.  One must have a sense of wonder and humor and pursuit to enjoy this frigid challenge.  This frigid challenge of time passing; of realizing you are suddenly over the hill when you were busy taking care of the children.  We had barely noticed we were climbing.  When I looked back up that hill in my dream, it was covered by snow angels and footsteps and big holes where we had flopped and wrestled.  At the end of the dream I looked down the hill and realized that spring, yet again, was suddenly just a few good laughs ahead.

This week, I own crazy

Today I left a paint can on the kitchen table and went to the basement to find a screwdriver to pry it open.  My nearly two-year-old woke up, jumped out of his crib, toddled downstairs and had it open before I had even found my toolbox.  I walked upstairs and was greeted by a green child, table and floor and the notion that I am no longer what’s happening around here.  My time, my home, my kitchen table, my life, are no longer my own.   Wesley is here and he is taking over the world, color by color.

When I was 20 the world felt like mine.  By the time I was 30 I had gotten better about sharing.  My 20’s were all about learning what “my life” would be like someday, and my 30’s were all about assembling that life.  My forties will likely be about refining “my life;” right?  Wrong!  The little green monster was standing in front of my saying, “life is not going to be what you expected!!”

I recently turned 40; say, 36 minutes ago.  Yes, I am writing after midnight on a Friday night because, to reiterate, my life is not my own.  The middle of the night is ME time.  So, now that I have been this age longer than it takes to paint my kitchen green, I’d like to offer some reflections on 40;

1) This is the decade in which I will finally learn to take my vitamins, 2) I will learn how to say “no,” 3) I will exercise regularly and with vigor, 4) I will be the mom I always dreamed of being, 5) I will keep up with the laundry, 6) I will be in control, 7) I will live the dream, 8) I will admit that NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE EVER GONNA HAPPEN.

Maybe its the paint fumes or sleep deprivation, but I think my forties is going to be fun.  I feel free.  Its nice not to have the big day looming anymore.  When I was twenty, I thought I would be a Senator by this age.  In my 30’s I thought at least I would have finished the kids’ baby albums and updated my resume by now.  But today I am forty, my life is not at all what I expected, and any nagging distress that this should cause me I simply cannot be bothered with.

So, here are my honest thoughts on turning 40;

1) I will know myself well enough to eat good food because I am never going to like taking vitamins.  2) I am going to say “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” depending upon how I feel at the moment.  I will be honest.  3) I will exercise with friends and family for another few years, and then I might have more time for myself.  I will be patient for that time to come because I will miss our crazy life someday.  4) I will show my kids love and praise and I will have good days and bad days like any job.  I will stop kicking myself for the things I DON’T do and I will love myself and praise myself too.  5) I will make my youngest wear the oldest’s underwear when I run out of size 4’s and if he puts up a fuss I will put my husband’s boxers on my head while I make breakfast and make everybody laugh.  6)  I will enjoy life’s twists and turns, or I will recover when I don’t enjoy them.  7) I will re-define the dream based upon the wacky things my brain invents in between R.E.M. sleep and fuzzy blond heads saying “mama will you sweep with me?”  8) I will cherish more and wish less.

The paint can incident was funny, but some of the feelings I had this week were not.  They were deep.  I felt truly challenged by my children, my spouse, my body and my thoughts.  When I thought it could not possibly get more difficult, I got the stomach flu.   Sometimes we make these weeks happen, and I am sure I had a hand in making it harder, but sometimes life can be crazy.  I was looking for the reason this all struck just before the end of a good decade.  In my 20’s I regularly climbed mountains.  In my 30’s I regularly accomplished goals.  The pay-offs were tangible, like exquisite views, a Master’s Degree, or our first born.  But since I’m not often bagging 14,000 foot or proverbial peaks these days, this week was a good reminder that I can endure.  I cannot quit my current job, but I have family and friends that love me and support me.  I will make it through.  At 40, I am prepared for unexpected craziness.  I just have to remind myself when it strikes, I own crazy.