Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Strange, Since I've Always Been A Self-Service Kinda Girl Anyway
We are up in Massachusetts and as far as the eye can see is beautiful, fluffy, snow-white snowy snow. This is why I came up here this week, to be here for the storm, so the girls could experience Winter Wonderland, because they haven’t had much of it this year. But this is snow of the useless variety. We can’t sled on it, make good snowballs with it, or make a snow village with it. We can barely walk in it. Waist-deep for the girls; knee-deep for me, and difficult to trudge through, to say the least. A giant white blanket of tease.
That didn’t sop us from trying to make he most of it. I took the girls out in it today. It took forever putting on their socks and snow pants and mittens and boots and hats and coats. Snapping, tying, Velcroing, poking, prodding, pulling, all in an effort to cover every inch of their mini bodies to protect them from the frigid air. The girls looks ready for an Antarctic Expedition. The best part is, we almost spend more time getting ready than we do being outside! They trudged around for a little less than an hour and then started requesting “inside” and “movie” and “snacks.” So much for my dreams of taking them for a long walk in the snowy woods. I forget that their legs are like a foot long.
Still, it was a great day. And yesterday was a nearly perfect day, start to finish. I would like to take those days, Apple C them and Apple V them (copy and paste, in Mac world) on my calendar to the days that follow. I feel content and satisfied and busy. I feel like a good mom and, though Nicole is still in NYC, like a good wife, like I am keeping up my end of the unwritten, unspoken, fuzzy bargain/contract of stay-at-home mother. I felt full.
But this in not by accident. I have been working hard lately at learning how to fill up my own tank. Not easy at first, believe you me. Especially for such a Needy McNeedystein as myself . I used to have a tank that only Nicole could fill. A Nicole-shaped nozzle and hose. When I was empty, I asked her to fill me up. Not just a little….allllll the way to the tippy top. After all, we don’t put gas in our car a gallon at a time, right? All or nothing, baby.
But how can one person be solely responsible for another’s tank? It’s romantic, and practical, in some ways, but unrealistic by a mile. Maybe this would work if we were prisoners who shared a jail cell. So I added mini nozzles for the girls, thinking, oh, this will take the pressure off of Nicole. After all, I let the girls live in my womb for 38 weeks; it’s the least they could do. But filling another’s tank is way too much pressure for people who don’t even understand how to add and subtract. And besides, if I’m going to be honest here, I am not going to raise my children in a paradigm where they are responsible for the mothers’ happiness. Their very existence makes me happy. Period. And almost every night, when I go into their rooms while they are sleeping, and re-tuck them in and kiss their sleepy sleeping faces and I lay my hand over their beating hearts (I really do) and whisper that I love them and that they make me so happy. And just to be sure the message sinks in, I tell them this all day too.
This big old tank of mine, turns out, it is pretty easy to fill up. It’s obvious, I guess, to most people. But did you know that each of us are responsible for our own happiness? That we need to fill our own tanks? That there is more than one gas station? And that we can’t let people take from our tank unless we let them? There's Self Service and Full Service, and both are fine. Thunderbolt! I know I am making this all seem so simplistic, and its really not. At least, not for me. But, my goodness, I have a big tank and access to a lot of nozzles. Just sitting here, writing this blog, listening to Ingrid Michelson while also googling boxing lessons (I’ll explain later) is adding to my tank. And then, drinking some tea while I catch up on the Good Wife adds some. Tomorrow, when I take my girls to Play School and watch them run across the room and hop into the Cozy Coupe (M) and onto a trike (A) and ride around in circles for two hours fills me up twenty times more. And the best, best, best living metaphor part part? They love to play “gas station.” So I sit in my designated space on the steps of the altar (!) in the church basement and put gas (!) into my girls’ Coupe and trike tanks (!) and the realness of it, the literal, the figurative, the imagery practically makes my tank overflow. Visceral, indeed.
Pictured above, snow! Notice Avery is clutching snow balls in her mittens. They were for me, those snowballs. Also pictured, scenes from Maddie’s and my Momma/Maddie date. I love that she is holding a cupcake-to-go in a cup. Literally, a cupcake! Clever, Cupcake Cafe staffers!