06/12/2013

In soft whispered voices Parenting

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Sitting on the edge of the bed of my seven year old he whispers to me, “I’m writing a book about a Koala and a bear. You know that bear that made us have a lockdown at school? Well, that baby bear and the koala have a story and I’m writing it. You would identify with the Koala, Mommy. It’s a traveling Koala.”

“Oh, I’d like that story, Bud.”

“Yea, maybe you stay for a minute and rub my back?”

“Ok, I can stay another minute and rub your back.”

“Wait, you can’t leave yet. I’m not asleep. Maybe you go downstairs and do five minutes of work and then you come back and check on me? Then you can do the laundry. But five minutes of work, ok?”

01/12/2013

On the doing of Parenting Balance Parenting

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I wonder if my children will remember me as constant motion. Not a specific task, like cleaning their rooms while we talk about their day, or how I make dinner when we discuss their homework, or the laundry that I’m constantly walking up and down with from room to laundry and back. No, more like a blur of my historic self, a gusian filter placed over the presence of me in their memories.

Like my own mother is to me in my childhood; Always moving: a presence, a tickle monster, a card player, a disciplinarian. She is a blur of the eighties, a wisp of the nineties.

I wonder if my children will remember how they helped me make dinner, or bake treats for our Christmas with friends. I wonder if they’ll remember the countless card games and board games and wrestle games. I wonder if they’ll focus on how we worked so many hours or how we made time for them in spite of deadlines.

I think of my days in this rocking motion, always moving, even when still, shifting, doing, thinking. Laundry for down times, dishes for noisy times. Lunches made during dinner prep and beds re-made and stuffed animals put away during bedtime routine.

If I’m not doing two things, I am not being effective.

05/06/2013

Traveling Mom Travel Parenting

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I’m sitting in a cafe in Manchester, UK. It’s familiar, this cafe. The music, the people, the coffee. I think this is the key to traveling… everything at one point becomes familiar, even if only because we’re sitting on the same globe under the same sky.

My family rings me daily, the video turning morning in to silly faces and kisses from across the pond. I marvel at the technology compared to my first trip to the UK in 2001 when I punched in a 400 digit number to reach a calling card and the country code and finally the home phone in hopes to reach my husband. Now I wake the children up on video phone, ala Jeston’s like, rousing sleeping heads just before my dinner time.

fam

I’ve been asked “how do you do it? How can you travel and leave your children?” It is only because of this technology and the patience of Mr. Flinger that I have this opportunity. As often as I miss and yearn for them, I also try to encourage them to ask the questions “what is it like there?” It’s a small and simple task to encourage the children’s curiosity. I show them the weather, the money, the photos. I introduce them to my friends and their young daughter, who greets them with a very adorably Northern English, “hallo!” My young son blushes at the little girl in glasses smiling at him over the screen. “They have children in England, Mommy?” “Yes, Buddy, they do. See?”

This curiosity grows like a seedling. As we listen to Ingrid Michaelson’s “You and I,” I hear a small voice in the back seat of the car, “Let’s go to France and Germany, Mommy!”

08/05/2013

A letter to my son in therapy Parenting

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Tonight I checked on your sister but not you. It’s not that I didn’t want to; It’s that I didn’t realize how much the door jams would swell in the heat and rub against the door when I tried to open one. So as I squeezed in to your sister’s room with a loud “thhhhhhuuuummmmmpppppppppbbbbbb” and heard her squirm in her bunk, I knew my chances of waking you up were even greater. Also, your dad checked on you both just moments earlier because he is not as afraid to wake you both. I, however, remember countless nights of your flopping about in my belly with a knowing “oh no you didn!” squealing in my head.

So, please tell your therapist twenty years from now I did not love you, or your sister, more. I was simply more knowledgeable of the child laying in the bed after the hot squeak of the door jam. And that I still love you both very much. Even if I take it for granted, or your daddy’s word, that you’re asleep.

Love,
Mommy

12/04/2013

The Path to Grandma’s House Parenting

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I remember the roads to my Grandmother’s house. We called her “Bamma” to distinguish her from my maternal Grandmother, who would later be know simply as G’ma, and hold an even more important role in my life. As a young child, growing up in the suburbs of Houston, we would make the six hour trek to my Bamma’s house, just north of Austin. I remember the terrain changing to a hilly roll.. I remember the van’s AC unit working with an easier hum as we drew closer to my Bamma’s house. I remember my dad going over some of the rolls of the road and yelling with triumph, “WOAH! That will get you in your belly!” when the car hit zero gravity for a split second, gliding over each crest of ... to our minds.. mountains.

In reflection, after living in Washington state and visiting Germany and the Swiss Alps, those Texas mountains of my youth are Ant Hills to my present. But my childhood mind blows them up to disproportionate heights. Like every aspect of childhood, those trips take on a cartoon-like shape. I visit those memories like someone on a video game would now: Reaching back to that last saved game and running it through from start to finish. Each consecutive trip a level to discover.

I wonder if my children will think of their lives this way or if they will have better therapy to help organize their memories from Atari to Frontal Matter.

Either way, I stare now at the map of Texas, a flat representation of my youth. I smile at the familiar roads: 45, 518, NASA1. I lived there as a child, giving my most formative years to the southern-suburbs of Houston. And again, as a young career woman, giving my future to the college of Galveston, where I first taught computers and subsequently changed my career path forever. This map of Texas is not only familiar, it’s engrained in the very being that peers at it, from so far away, nearly 2,345 miles away, to be more exact.

I marvel at the flexibility of the human brain. That I have not one, or two, but three homes. That I find comfort in two countries and two very different states. That I can walk through the Nürnberg Market on a Saturday and feel as much my childhood as I can in Kroger in Houston on a Sunday. The fact that I live in a Wine Country in the north-east of Seattle seems to not matter; familiarity is bred deep within my brain and the roots dig to experiences I share with few. Inhaling the wet, humid, salty air of Houston is as much a welcome as the crisp, dry air of the Mountain here. And in the manner, so are the signs of German in a variety of villages and menus and friends as I wander the countryside of a country I was born in to by proxy.

06/04/2013

Living The Punchline 1: You have to look the way you’re born Parenting

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Day 1 of my new plan: “Living For The Story,” which, in reality, is more like “Living the Punchline” because y’all - Seriously. 

You know the phenomenon where woman want curly hair who have wavy/straight and curly hair women are always trying to straighten theirs? I’m no exception. My sister and her daughter have the envious curls while my daughter and I are stuck with straight, stringy, flat, lifeless hair. It’s the kind of hair nobody talks about. “Hey, can I look like her? The lady with the non-noticable hair? It’s so ... nothing.”

As an experiment, my daughter and I decided to go old school with rollers.

LB Curlers

Since it’s been roughly 181 years since I’ve done this, I forgot how long it takes hair to dry when it’s twisted up tighter than Sarah Palin’s knickers. So, when after several hours I needed to run to the grocery store, I put a scarf around them and went anyway.

04/04/2013

Adult ADHD, or How My Brain Works ADHD

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I was counting the railroad tiles out the window when my facilitator read, “Is often prone to daydreaming…” Yes, I thought, my daughter does that! I take a note to remember that frequent daydreaming is a sign of ADHD.

I fidget and look at the clock. How LONG is this meeting? It’s been 45 minutes already. My foot bounces at the end of my leg, a habit that irritates nearly every office mate I’ve ever had. I swirl my foot in circles and take more notes. “Fidgeting, constant moving, even in adults…” Impulsivity, forgetfulness, distractibility. If I hadn’t been diagnosed a year and a half ago, this might come as a shock. Today, though, I sit, fidgeting, for nearly TWO HOURS (mygod two hours!) in my first Adult ADHD Women’s Support Group with many others who are only learning this isn’t “normal.”

In my world, I am normal. In my world, I’ve always been this way. I’ve always had to work out daily or I can’t sit still. I don’t like going to the movies because they’re too long. I thrive as being a “big idea person” and the one who “drives projects”, the one who “loves change”, the person who will show up in Amsterdam having not thought about what I was supposed to do once the plane landed. In my world there was NOW and NOT NOW. I write notes to remind myself of important events and forget where I put the note. I make plans and forget I already made plans. People who love me cherish this about me and those who don’t? They don’t stick around for long.

Nearly two years ago my world crashed down on me for those “cherished” attributes. After 35 years of coping mechanisms, the tiny rock-chip of balance broke in to a full crack, splitting my life in two. Projects, Marriage, Children, Friends, Family… everything fell to the ground from their balance on the high wire, the very high wire I carefully walked my entire life.

tightrope

06/03/2013

No Regrets. Or. Why we need version control for life.

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They always say not to have any regrets in life. Thing is? It’s hard to avoid.

There’s that time you thought the tattoo of Winnie the poo was going to be a good idea wen you were 16. There’s the night you got so drunk you told off the barmaid who happened to be your boyfriend’s sister’s ex-lover and a former heavy weight boxer. (Consolation: your black eye looked a bit like an Eeyore so you claimed a “pooh” theme.)

There’s the time you majored in Exercise and Sports Science when you MEANT to major in Computer Science. (This one I actually have done. I’ll tell you about it some day.)

And then there are the three days you spent watching Felicity in sequence that you’d gladly take back.

I have the perfect solution for this: Git: Version Control For Life.

06/02/2013

How to not be a tourist: AKA: ten things I learned in London today Travel

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Wandering around London, alone, amidst crowds of families, strangers, losers, businessmen and lepers, I learnt a bit about how to fit in. The irony of that last sentence is that I’ve never quite learnt how to fit in at home. But here, lost in the crowds bumping shoulders with thousands of strangers, I find a way to quietly assimilate to the expectations of local society. Let me ‘splain.

1. Don’t carry around a paper map. Instead, hunt and peck on the map on your phone. You’ll look just like the local texting his or her mate to meet up for drinks later. Only tourists use a paper map.

2. Purchase your souvenirs at the end of the day, not at the start. Nothing shouts tourist like carrying around a bag full of “I LOVE LONDON bracelets” and “My mom went to London and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” (P.S. Family and friends, you’ll be receiving these shortly.)

3. If you find yourself unsure which way to go next, stop and ponder a menu outside a restaurant. This gives the illusion you’re considering a place to eat whilst giving you the opportunity to check the location of the sun and triangulate your next move.

4. Dress like you were going to your local coffee shop. I know you think you’re going to be walking a bunch and want to wear your white sneakers, but leave the stark white shoes at the hotel. You’re not actually walking a marathon. Be comfortable but sensible. Take breaks as needed. See #3.

06/01/2013

Re-imagining history Balance Stories

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“You walk very fast.” I hear the words at the same time a wet nose bumps my calves. I turn to find an older woman walking on the trail next to me. I had slowed down to text a friend briefly when she unexpectedly popped in to my path during my walk. She smiles, “I wasn’t able to catch you until now. It’s why I said something. Usually I’m way ahead of everyone but you walk as quickly as I do.”

We enjoy a nice chat as I pace along side her. I explain that I used to run but now walk because of my bad knees. She confesses she used to run marathons and was unsure about this walking business but really enjoys it. We both agree we can’t run to save our lives now and not ironically, that’s when she asks if I’ve seen the coyotes. We both agree perhaps we should carry pepper spray.

It’s about ten minutes, my time with her, this older woman in her late fifties? Early sixties? She has amazing legs and a warm, kind, lovely face. I think she never wore makeup and I identify with this. I ponder myself at her age, if I would still be walking on this trail. Would I let myself be natural and light and would I still talk lightly to another woman, a stranger?

She graciously explains she has dinner guests coming soon so she must turn here but he will keep a look out for me in the future. She tells me her name and I tell her mine. We wave as we part.

Something about her strikes me. Lately I’ve been so flustered at work. I feel so tired, exhausted, and overwhelmed. There are both wonderful, and challenging, parts of life right now and desperation consumes the harder times and a flood of light fill the good ones.