I am not a huge lover of dead animals. Perhaps you are. But I am not. This past weekend we were visiting my mother in Connecticut when all of a sudden, I noticed a dead bunny in the living room. Apparently, our dog Martini had grabbed Peter Cottontail (aren’t all bunnies named Peter? Or maybe Thumper) in the backyard, snuffed the life out of him and brought the rabbit inside as a little gift (dogs are so generous in that way).
At the time of the dead bunny sighting, I was standing with my toddler. As a parent, I really wish I had calmly handled the situation, using it as a learning opportunity for my daughter about the natural cycle of life and death. Instead, I screamed, “there is a big dead bunny in the living room.” I screamed so loudly that I woke my husband out of a solid sleep. Rick was also the lucky guy who got the job of rabbit clean-up. Of course, I gave lots of helpful tips like, please use a non-toxic cleaner to wipe up the remains because our baby is now crawling all over the place.
Because of the incident, I’ve likely passed on some kind of dead bunny anxiety to our nearly 3 year-old daughter. But my fear is deep routed. When I was growing up, we had two adorable bunnies named Phoebe and Sophie who use to happily hop around the backyard. They lived a wonderful, carefree life until some kind of animal ended their frolicking and sprinkled their parts across the lawn. My mother got clean-up duty that time. I’m also sad to report that when I was in 6th grade, I brought home the two school guinea pigs for the summer and they too suffered a terrible fate after a neighborhood dog managed to get into their cage. Maybe you’re starting to understand the emotional turmoil I’ve been through. Some kids just have to deal with a fish floating at the top of the tank.
As parents, we try to be calm and comforting to our children. But having kids doesn’t turn us into super heroes. We are just people, like everyone else, with anxieties, fears, and preferences. At this point, I’m pretty sure that I prefer my bunnies alive and fluffy and not lying in the living room.
Sunday was my husband’s birthday. I wrote him a really nice card, saying all the things I should try to say every day. I told him he’s an amazing husband and dad. I expressed my endless love for him. I wrote that I couldn’t imagine my life without him. As he read my words, his eyes become watery. He smiled as he welled up a bit. His reaction didn’t surprise me. Rick’s an emotional guy.
Then came his gift. As he ripped off the tissue paper and discovered his shiny, brand new iPhone, forget about misty eyes – tears started pouring down his face. Clearly, sweet sentiments from his wife were one thing but when it came to an iPhone, he couldn’t hold back. The man was weeping with joy and gratitude. It was love at first sight. Now he’s completely infatuated. Since Sunday, he has spent most of his waking moments programming, admiring and showing off his new toy. Sometimes I catch him gazing at it. Smiling. In awe.
We all know life is not about material goods – it’s about the people, the moments, the experiences. But once in a while, some inanimate object fills your heart with such jubilation. I know my husband loves me. I know he loves his new iPhone. There are now three of us in this relationship. I hope we can make it work.
On Tuesday night, I went out. Yes, out of my apartment, to meet up with actual people, who are doing things other than taking care of children. I met up with my friend Margo and some of her girlfriends to attend a Clinton Foundation benefit. The organization focuses on climate change and other global issues. So now I’m out and I’m actually helping humanity (well, to be honest, it’s my friend Margo who is helping humanity because she bought the tickets) but even so, I still feel like I’m doing my part.
I meet up with these three fun, single women who are all wearing cute, stylish summer dresses or skirts. As soon as I see them, I wonder why I am wearing a pair of jeans on this ninety degree July night. At least I have on a cute top and strappy, metallic heels but I long for a fab BCBG summer dress. It reminds me of the 4th grade when I wore pants on the first day of school and every girl wore a skirt. Of course, I wore a skirt on the second day of school and you know the end of the tale. Everyone wore pants.
So we get into a cab and immediately these super cool women are on their Trios and Blackberries, googling directions to the Roseland Ballroom and checking emails and texts. Suddenly, my Sprint Samsung phone just seems so dated and shabby. But did I mention it takes photos in color? Despite my very hot (and not in a good way) jeans and my lame phone, I enjoyed connecting with these women and not talking about children. Not once did I chime in with, “My child said the cutest thing…” This along with, “I had the weirdest dream…” causes anyone’s brain to immediately shut down.
I spent most of my twenties going out in
My 2 ½ year-old daughter Dylan was fishing for treasure in the Diaper Dekor bin.
“Honey, what are you looking for? That’s filled with dirty diapers. Please get your hand out of there and let’s get dressed.” We were late. My daughter was naked.
“I need something,” she explained.
“There’s nothing in there but dirty diapers. Come on. I’ll put a clean one on you.” I tried to keep my voice lighthearted and fun, hoping to convince her of the clean diaper adventure that was just beginning.
“I want to wear the dirty one you just took off,” she said with growing determination.
“No, it’s filled with pee. We can’t do that. Let’s go.”
As I was putting my other daughter Presley in the stroller, Dylan pulled her used, heavy diaper out of the bin and managed to put it back on. I looked at my watch and wondered if it was worth going to battle over this diaper.
It seems like parents have a million moments like these. And there is always a fine line between a zen approach to motherhood and being steam rolled by these little opinionated people. But most of the time, I try to just let things go.
The other night at dinner, Dylan was cutting her chicken with her kid-friendly scissors – perhaps not the most optimal way to cut up chicken but I must admit she was showing a certain craftsmanship for the art of poultry slicing. Given that she was also eating the food, I didn’t really mind. This morning Dylan was sweeping the walls with our swifter. I asked her to please avoid the picture frames and she happily continued on with her mission to keep our walls dust free. And last week, while sitting in the stroller, Dylan covered her entire face with lip gloss. Once again, in my “I’m really an A-type personality but I’m masquerading as a free spirit so I can have some quiet during this stroller ride,” I just ignored the beauty make over until she asked for a wipe.
I now try to save my real “no’s” for when Dylan could potentially harm herself or her sister or cause permanent damage to our home. So the day of the dirty diaper was no different. I just threw a dress over my daughter’s head (which of course she removed and put on again by herself) and then she got into the stroller without upset. I’m so zen (well, for a moment anyway).
I hated my first yoga class. A friend dragged me there, promising a physical and spiritual awakening. I was so bored. I kept looking at the clock and wondered if the yoga spirits were preventing the minutes hand from moving forward. One hour and 35 minutes. There isn’t much in life that I want to do for more than an hour and a half. Certainly, not chanting, meditating and stretching.
But after I gave birth to my first child, I was looking for something to rejuvenate my mind and body. A difficult, cranky baby can even make an A-type personality like myself ache for some quiet and solitude. So I made my way to the yoga mat again and tried more vigorous forms of the practice. This time it became an addiction.
I am hardly the ideal yogi. First of all, I hate that word “yogi.” It kind of makes me cringe, like the word “delicious” when describing something other than food. I had such a delicious walk in the sunshine. Icky. Anywho (is it just me today or is that annoying too?), enough of my literary pet peeves, back to my life as a sub par yogi.
During the chanting/spiritual message, I am anxious to get started. I get irritable if the beginning rituals drag on too long. During the class, I often forget to breathe and definitely don’t inhale and exhale at the correct times. Then comes savasana (a short restful time at the end of the class) and my mind is restless. The instructor reminds us to focus on our breath and quiet the chatter in our minds. But my brain endlessly wanders. I think of horrible things like what if something happened to one of my children? Or unexplainable things like after your child takes her first bite of sand, why does she go back for more mouthfuls?
Sometimes my husband thinks I’ve joined some kind of yoga cult. Luckily, he hasn’t noticed any of the big donations I’ve made to Yoga Sutra. He’s certainly happy that it makes his tired wife less cranky. So am I. Namaste to that.