Over the weekend, Rick and I attended a goodbye party in Miami for someone he works with at CBS. One of his colleagues brought along her 17 year old daughter.
We asked about her summer plans and she said something like this…
“I’m going abroad and I will definitely go to Germany. And then probably France. And I absolutely want to get to Amsterdam because I’ve heard great things about it.”
My husband Rick immediately began talking about the beauty of Amsterdam, the Van Gogh museum and a whole bunch of other stuff.
And I immediately thought to myself, “Hold on a minute. I want to go to Europe all summer. I’ve never been to Amsterdam and well, adulthood is lame.”
Because all this working and laundry and filling the dishwasher is nothing like Europe. There is not one 17th century archway or cobblestone street in my kitchen.
I do have this dream that one day, Rick and I, along with our 37 children, will fly to Europe, buy EuroRail passes and just travel. I know a couple who did it last summer. Yes, they only have two children but still. I think it’s possible. I’m offering it to the universe as a possibility in case the universe feels like giving it to me.
In the meantime, (while we are working, doing laundry and filling the dishwasher), Rick and I decided to make a Get Happy list.
Not to say that we are unhappy because we aren’t. But with 5 kids (ages 2 to 10), our days are intense. And adjusting to South Florida has been more challenging than we anticipated. Our oldest daughter continues to struggle with the move and our youngest son continues to be the most adorable “let me see if I can climb on the stove while it’s on so my mom has a heart attack” 2 year old maniac ever.
The key to the Get Happy list is that we can put anything on it. Small or big. Even if it feels completely unattainable. The point is – we are putting it out there as an intention. We’re saying, this is important to us. This will happen. Some day. Because all of us waste a lot of hours of our lives on things that would never pop up on the Get Happy list.
Rick immediately rattled off a few things on his list… Get bikes for us so we can take family bike rides, go dancing and more family time on the weekends (instead of the “I’ll take this kid to a birthday party while you take these kids to the grocery store” kind of thing).
We are already in the process of getting bikes and we recently pulled out some dance moves at a temple fundraiser. Apparently, you don’t have to be at Liv night club to bust a move.
At first, I couldn’t think of anything for my Get Happy list, beyond the obvious please put Friday Night Lights back on the air and my grand EuroRail pass idea. But then I finally came up with a few things…
A content and happy 10 year old daughter
Meeting and spending time with friends that are funny and real
More time in the late afternoon at the beach
Cleaning less, being still with my kids more.
Sweet Home Alabama 2 movie (because let’s face it – nothing says happiness like a Reese Witherspoon/Josh Lucas reunion movie)
I think there is a certain power in declaring what you need – what makes you content and fulfilled. It’s the first step in taking action toward a more authentic, happy self.
There’s this photo I never took. I can still picture it perfectly in my mind. A 3 year old Dylan sleeping perpendicular in her crib, with her legs and feet sticking out through the bars. She often slept that way, despite that it looked completely uncomfortable.
I remember a new sitter trying to convince her of this. “Children don’t sleep like that. You need to keep your legs inside the crib,” the sitter insisted but like a lot of conventional ideas, Dylan didn’t care at all.
Even though I never got that photo, I did take this one….
After we would tuck Dylan in at night, she’d dig out the winter accessories and layer herself with outerwear. Why? I still do not know.
You see, those are the photos that mean the most to me. Not the family portraits. Or the school pictures. Or the family vacation snapshots. Those are, of course, nice to have. But the photographs that I truly love are the ones that completely capture a unique, wonderful trait of one of my children.
Which is why on the eve of my daughter Harlowe’s 5th birthday (and Chase too), I had to take a photo of this…
When I check on my children before I go to sleep, I always find Harlowe like this – with so much hair in her face, I can barely find her in the pile of goldilocks.
How does she sleep like that every night? Isn’t it itchy? How can she breathe? I do not know.
But it’s quirky and perfect. And some day, when she is all grown up and driving me to the beauty parlor to get my hair done, I will pull out my iPhone43 and look at this photo. And I will remember exactly what it felt like to be right here, right now.
If you’re looking for the perfect parent, you won’t find it here.
There is actually no just thing, despite all those beautiful crafted photos of family bliss you see on social media. We love our kids. We are trying to remember to sign and return all those papers that come home from school. We try to yell as little as possible. And forgive ourselves when we do.
But despite our best efforts, there is no perfection. I’m very sure of this because over the last few weeks, I had the following things said to me (by family, friends or complete strangers)…
“Your child is eating something off the floor.”
He was. It looked like a cracker. In fact, it looked pretty good.
“You have a chin hair.”
I did. I think it’s gone now.
“You left your car door open.”
I did. But can you just shut it? Why do you have to get me involved?
“Your son is standing on the kitchen counter.”
He was. He’s off now. He’ll be back. He really likes it up there.
“Your son just pulled tampons out of your purse.”
He did. That kid is fun!
“Is that sweat on your back or is that from your hair being wet?”
It was water from my hair being washed. With all these children, I didn’t have time to dry it. Obviously, I’ll make the time in the future. OMG.
“There is a lollipop stuck to your son’s back.”
Awhile back I started a letter writing campaign to get bedtime moved to the morning because wouldn’t we all be fantastic parents if we could do dinner, bath and books at 9:30 am?
For reasons that are unclear, my idea has not really taken off so for now I send my kids to school. Except for this guy…
Some mornings I take him to the grocery store. Sometimes to mommy and me classes where I’m the unofficial leader of the old moms. (Actually, I might be the only old mom.) And sometimes I take him to the gym.
Now please don’t think I’ve signed on to this CrossFit sensation or actually raise my heartbeat at the gym. Because I pretty much joined the gym for childcare. It’s a little known secret that they don’t actually make you exercise when you go there.
I drop Cash off at childcare and then I go to the pool area, set up my own personal office and work on my freelance writing assignments. I could show you a picture of my surroundings but you would resent me which wouldn’t be good for either of us. But think sunshine, palm trees, a sparking pool and solitude. Okay, I’ll show you.
Once in awhile someone will be in my “spot” and I will burn with fury because dammit, don’t they know that’s my lounge/office area?!
Anyway, once I do a couple hours of work, Cash and I go home. He takes a nap and I make calls, neaten the house and then try to squeeze in a quick nap myself before Rick brings the twins home from preschool.
Now apparently, I’ve never shared my morning itinerary with my twins because as a school project, they were asked what I do when they are at school. And this is the summary…
Yup, that’s what I do. I lounge around in my bed all day. Glad they think I’m well rested.
I finally had a mammogram this week. It’s kind of like a candygram but more boob grabbing.
I was a little nervous about the whole thing because I should have had one a lot sooner but it kept getting delayed by pregnancies, breast feeding and me temporarily forgetting how to use a phone to make an appointment.
But finally the day arrived and I showed up at the imaging center. You can’t wear deodorant which seems unfair to the people who work there but made me feel very free like a 1970’s wild child.
They immediately gave me this soft, warm robe and I suddenly thought to myself, “Hey, I’m getting a coconut infused seaweed wrap with my mammogram!” But they sort of forgot about the seaweed and instead compressed my breasts in this big machine.
The technician was quite friendly so I asked the question every woman there (without a boob job) wanted to know, “Is there an award for flattest, most droopy breasts?”
She smiled but didn’t really respond so I think I’m still in the running. She did call my breasts dense which seemed rude. I’m sure her boobs aren’t the smartest but I’m not going to call her out on that. I have manners, you know.
The mammogram experience was surprisingly okay. Just some minor discomfort and it didn’t even take too long. Although there are ways to make this experience more enjoyable for women…
Lime spritzers while you wait.
Passed hors d’oeuvres. Pigs in a blanket would be ideal but lamb chops acceptable too.
Complimentary hair styling. Keep this versatile.. hair straightening or curls!
Ryan Gosling slippers. I don’t know if they exist but they should.
Turn the volume of the TV in the waiting room down from ridiculously high to normal hearing level. Or maybe just turn it off because we are all reading our phones anyway.
Thankfully, my mammogram results were good. I don’t have a family history of breast cancer but you just never know. So I was relieved.
They want me back in a year. I’m open to it. But currently negotiating about the lime spritzers and Gosling slippers.