Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May madness!

I forget that May is busier than December.

I should take a picture of my calendar, because it's ridiculous. It's amazing how much can amass from little things here and there and now I know why, growing up, my mom called herself a social director for so many years. She was basically directing traffic and now I am. If I imagined myself a cartoon character (and I do), then I'm that crazy mom with exclamation marks or fizzle signs on top of her head and a clipboard saying things like "Go straight from piano to scouts!" or "Put on your baseball uniform right now we have to leave right now or we'll be late!" or my personal favorite, "No whining! I don't care if she's wearing her princess dress, just let her have the polly pocket and get in the car!" (that might be best understood in context, but, I just say that a lot.) Now my mom goes out to eat and sees movies with my dad whenever they feel like it. I mean, she works full time, but if she wants to go to the bathroom, she doesn't have to "prepare people around her" for that inevitability or lock the door to ensure privacy (I'm assuming). She's living a great life. She says she misses the stage of life I'm in now, but that's when one of the little kids hugs her around the neck or does something else cute. Ask her if she misses my stage of life when she's in a cool movie theater eating popcorn and sipping on a cherry coke while I'm texting her "PLEASE DON'T GIVE MY KIDS GUM ANYMORE!" I'm just saying, let's call it like it is. I'm so sad (devestated-confused-unprepared) about Miles not being in grade school anymore and WHAT THAT MEANS, that I'm looking for any excuse or reason to be the slightest bit happy about my babies growing up, and the image of a dark movie theater is what gets me through the preschool graduation, you know?

I don't necessarily feel busy or over scheduled right now, I just feel like I have to be about 2-3 hours ahead of everyone which makes me anxious and "ready to go" at any moment. But now, as the last day of school approaches, I realize that the schedule, "our life," will swing to the completely opposite side of the spectrum and I need to be prepared. I've done the "make a list of things you want to do" (have a Kool-Aid stand, fly to the moon, etc.) in the summer, or schedule "days of fun" (Monday: library, Tuesday: swimming, etc) and this year I'm trying to improvise. Margaret still naps and I still need "quiet time" (Don't call or send your kids over between 1:30-3), but other than that, I'm going to try to see each Summer day and a new adventure and give myself license to do whatever we want. This is counterintuitive for me. This is going to be difficult, and I'm not sure what it will mean. But, by the end of May, I'm just ready enough to give it a try.

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's hard being the big sister; happy birthday Gina, who acts like one

Gina is my little sister who acts more like a big sister to me, which, I like. She's kind of bossy, again, which I like, because then I'm not the only one. It's like she helps me carry on that nerdy, bossy older-sister who has to go first kind of thing with me. I appreciate that. Because it's a heavy load! Being the first one of your family or friends to get married, have babies, well, it's hard. All the people close to you don't get it when you do it, but they're full of expectations and presents for help when they go through it, and then you have to be the bigger person and not think, "Well, I've had five babies and never registered for anything, and you never acknowledged those births, but I'll go ahead and buy you that expensive baby outfit they'll grow out of in five minutes, because you'll learn. . .(and having a baby IS exciting!)" I can be condescending in my mind, but I'm working on that. My point: It's hard being the big sister in a family and IN LIFE.

Gina has been close on my heels in many ways. Remember when she announced her engagement to everyone at my wedding reception? Oh yes, good times. Remember when, six months later at her wedding when I accidentally ripped off her veil when we were taking our family pictures? It was a lovely accident. It wasn't premeditated. We love each other.

Well, I love Gina for many reasons, but two important reasons are her belief that she can do anything and her weird, random compassion. I will illustrate these reasons by relating two stories that happened when Gina is at her best: marathoning.

1. When my brothers and sisters and I were running the half-marathon (Oh, have I mentioned that race before?) my little sister, Amanda, had a panic attack near mile 6 (Hi Pandy!) and Gina got right up into her face and yelled at her about how strong she was, and how she could do this, and how she wasn't going to leave her side until she finished this race! It was a loud, enthusiastic pep talk. When Amanda told her she needed to go ahead and shut up and then promptly put her earphones on, Gina, who could have smoked us all in that race, told Amanda that she wouldn't leave her side. And she didn't. And then she yelled to the crowd "Yell if you love bridges!" (and the crowd yelled in unison that yes, indeed, they DID love bridges) and "I can run this race because I EAT MOUNTAINS FOR BREAKFAST!" and, again, yes, she does live directly on a mountain so, technically, that is correct.

2. At the end of the marathon, while I was carb loading on Gogurts, oreos, and bagels (reason enough for running anywhere), we momentarily lost Gina and found her crying with her arm around a total stranger. Because of a huge storm that started immediately after we crossed the finish line (maybe you've seen the flooding in Nashville recently, yeah. . .), those runners who wouldn't finish the full marathon in 4 1/2 hours were detoured to the 1/2 marathon course, so they, because of safety reasons, didn't get to finish the marathon. This woman was crushed because she didn't get to finish what she had come here to do and trained for months to do and Gina not only saw what was happening, but went over to this woman and comforted her. This stranger cried on her shoulder, literally, as Gina cried with her, lamenting "And you trained all this time! And you didn't get to finish! I'm so sorry! This is awful! I feel so bad for you! I'm so sorry!" Amanda, Chris, James and I felt a little uncomfortable when we discovered her because it seemed that we were intruding on this personal moment. But the woman was so appreciative of Gina, and Gina was so generous and honest in her emotional output that it was really, quite weird and beautiful. Just like Gina!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I think I might have post traumatic stress disorder.

In the last 2 weeks I have:

*run a 1/2 marathon (I'll stop talking about this soon, don't worry.)
*spoken to hundreds at Women's Conference
*stressed out about running 13.1 miles (stressing out is a real thing, right? I mean it's not like you can fully enjoy relaxing, sleeping, watching tv, etc because part of you is preoccupied, right?)
*stressed out about going to Women's Conference (what does this mean? Who am I? What is expected of me? Where is the fudge everyone's been talking about? What--they serve Bajios in the hall!? This is a whole new world AND I LIKE IT!)
*stressed out about what I was going to wear to Women's Conference (I hate to admit that, because it seems so predictable, but it was a process and I just ended up wearing something comfortable and old from my closet, so it was all wasted energy. I'm sure there's a point in that, and maybe it's that I hate to admit when I'm girly and predictable, but, there you have it.)
*watched my son set apart with the Aaronic Priesthood (emotional!)
*watched my son pass the sacrament for the first time (he looks so young and so old at the same time--how can that be?)
*sent Topher off to Austria
*gave Miles a no-holds-barred sex talk (the final chapter in my 4 part series. I'm kind of kidding, but mostly I'm not.)
*Did 16 loads of laundry (I usually don't count, but I did to make this post seem more dramatic)
*Went to a piano recital, baptism, 3 baseball practices (I kept typing "rehearsals" because I couldn't think of what they really call it in sports), and all the "regular" places (Target et. all)
*tried to relax

I told myself that I would "take it easy" this week and not worry about exercising and just lay around and watch tv and read and do whatever I want, but I've found that I have all this nervous energy that I've apparently become used to that I can't sit still. I know this feeling will wear off soon, but until then I've gotten a lot of stuff done and things crossed off my to-do list. Really, the garage has never been cleaner and the cupboards are organized and all that. But I'm sure that things will end badly. Like, I might pass out at the grocery store and sleep for 5 days, or I might start staring at a stain in the carpet and it will put me in a drooling trance. I know, I know, I lead a glamorous life and it cannot be sustained indefinitely! (Because if VH-1's "Behind the Music" has taught us anything, it's that you can't live in the fast lane forever. . .)

AND, I keep
*obsessing over Lost and HOW IT WILL ALL END just keeps my mind spinning and running and racing.

Nashville's Country Music Marathon

When my older brother turned 13, we had a birthday dinner for him in our little red brick house on the corner of 27th and Park in Lincoln, Nebraska that I consistently think about throughout different stages of my life. It was an old 1920's brick house with a wrap-around porch, and the small kitchen had a cozy breakfast nook where our large handmade table resided to fit all five kids and a mom and a dad. It was a tight squeeze to fit everyone in, and when you sat down at your designated spot, you were committed to that spot because getting up required others to stand, shift, move, and complain. We began that dinner like all our other dinners: by holding hands and saying a family prayer.

I clearly remember a long cardboard box with a present for Chris. With Sharpie markers of different colors (an early love), I decorated the words "Happy Birthday Chris!!! You're a teenager!!!" That night, at dinner, we celebrated Chris and my dad made a simple, enthusiastic comment something on the lines of "Wow. I can't believe you're 13! Before we know it you'll be driving, and then going off to college and a mission!" It was then that I quietly excused myself from the table to the small half bath off the kitchen, shut the door, and cried into my 10 year-old hands.

I know this may be hard for some of you to believe, but I've often been accused by my family and friends as being a little "sentimental." I didn't want to my family to see me cry, and yet, as I was sobbing in the that little closet of a bathroom, looking through my blurry tears at the wallpaper made by pasting old covers of The New Yorker magazine on the wall, I was a little horrified that they weren't all crying, too.

I have always felt very close to my brothers and sisters and parents. I realized (even at 10) that inevitably we would all grow up, want to move out of the house, and we wouldn't really end up living on the same street as each other, raising our kids together and having dinner together every night. That was what "growing up" meant. And I hated that I knew it had to be that way and there was nothing to do to stop it.

Lest you think I was too "serious" a child, let me explain that most of my motivation for feeling this way came to the seamless way my immediate family communicates with each other. We are loud and find our greatest satisfaction in life (or at least I do) in making each other laugh. Not everyone gets our humor. But we do. Not everyone appreciates the way we talk over each other or talk louder and louder to emphasize our point of view, but, to me, that's the purest form of communication. And, there are some things you can say, or admit, to your brothers and sisters and just because you share the same parents, upbringing, crucial memories and so on, you don't have to explain yourself so much, which is tiring.

All of this is to explain why I trained everyday for 14 weeks, flew to Nashville, spent money buying shoes and clothes and gels and time doing things I wasn't sure I could do--like running for more than 2 minutes (which was where I was when I started) and getting up before the kids and running up Timpview in the snow and rain. I did it so that I could have a moment with my brothers and sisters. I didn't know if I could do it, but I loved the idea that we could do it together. We ran the whole way together and waited for each other during the 13.1 miles so that, when we approached the finish line, all five of us held hands and crossed the finish line together.

Running the 1/2 marathon was a personal accomplishment of a physical goal, but it was also like getting a little piece of my childhood back, for just a moment.

(Gina made the girls matching shirts and my brother, Chris, is waiting for some dental work so he took out his temporary front tooth to run. . . SEE HOW MUCH FUN WE ARE?!)