Monthly Archives: May 2012

Power Hitting

It was the day before Thanksgiving. I’d ordered a handmade Wild Huckleberry candle to be shipped to my sister’s house for the holiday. I was planning to light it in memory of Huckster. She called me that afternoon to tell me it hadn’t arrived. I knew I’d been cutting it close with the order, but still hoped it would make it in time. Unfortunately the postman showed up empty-handed. Disappointed, we came up with a back-up plan. I got off the phone with her, feeling relatively OK. It’s just a candle, I told myself. It’s cool. No big deal. I soon realized I did not feel OK. In fact, quite the opposite. I was seething. With my boys playing Xbox upstairs, I quietly slipped out to the garage. I grabbed a bat and a couple pumpkins that still adorned the front porch. I headed out to the backyard. I started whacking. It’s just a candle. As a light rain misted my face, I smashed, hit, pummeled and pulverized those pumpkins until there was nothing left but goo. I turned my attention to the grass. Pounding. Thumping. Thrashing. Over and over again. It was then that the tears could come. I felt a little better.

Fast forward to last week. I felt like the days were a live t.v. event and that I was on tape delay, lagging a few seconds behind—in my conversations, answers, ideas, reactions. I didn’t feel like I was surrounded by a dark cloud – there just seemed to be one hanging out in my head that I couldn’t shake loose. I was even thinking how nice it would’ve been to have some pumpkins around. But with summer just around the corner, there was something else in store.

We met my son’s teammate at the batting cage, appropriately called the Rage Cage, a few miles away. It was a glorious, sunny Saturday. I stretched out in a chair, sunbathing, watching Rassy and his pal hit pitch after pitch. Mo asked me if I wanted to take a turn. Why not? I thought. I grabbed a bat. I entered the cage that pitched softballs. I smashed, hit, cranked and slammed the balls that came at me. With all my power and might, I whacked them as hard as I could. Determined and focused, with all my strength, I let loose on those balls. This time, there were no tears. But again,
I felt a little better.

Which got me thinking: maybe sometimes getting emotions out means more than writing in a journal or talking with my mom. Maybe sometimes it involves doing something physical, like swinging a bat. Or pounding a pumpkin. Or striking a softball. With bat in hand, I get my feelings out—I release them— and then it helps me to let them go.

So look out this summer, Rage Cage: I’m swinging for the stars.

Couch Potato

Many are the mom moments when I wish I would’ve done things differently or handled things another way. Few and far between are the mom moments when things go so smoothly and peacefully—brilliantly, even—that I wonder why I didn’t try something sooner. I had one of those rare experiences Monday afternoon.

We’d just returned from our Rhody Run weekend in Port Townsend. The rain was back in full force. It looked and felt like a chilly February day. I’d started a book that my mother-in-law gave me and couldn’t seem to put it down. All I wanted to do was curl up on the couch under a blanket and read. I knew that the simple act of trying to relax would be interpreted as an invitation to disturb or distract by my boys. As I came down the stairs listening to the rain, an idea popped in my head. Thinking of some of the books that line my 8-year-old’s shelf, like “National Geographic’s Weird But True 3 – 300 Outrageous Facts” (Guinea pigs can walk as soon as they are born, p. 50),”100 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet” (Ear Wax. Scientists can tell how old a whale is by counting the layers of ear wax inside its ears, p. 96) and Guinness World Records, Ultimate Gross Records
(Most Balloons Inflated by the Nose in Three Minutes, Answer: 23, p. 22), I decided to try a
different angle.

“Hey Rass. I’m thinking about trying to set the new Guinness World Record for sitting on the couch the longest. What do you think it is?”

He perked up.

“Really? I don’t know…six hours?”

“So how late would I need to sit here?” I asked.

“It’s 3:10 now…”

He began calculating.

“That might get kind of late,” I said. “It would be time for bed. How long do you think I could really go?”

“Three hours,” he answered. “Until 6:10.”

We made it a goal. We established the rules. There would be no getting up. No going to the bathroom. No filling water glasses. No retrieving snacks. I was to sit on the couch all afternoon.

The rain stopped and the boys prepared to head outside to play baseball with their dad.

“Mom, you can’t get up…don’t get up…do you promise?” Rass questioned before he left.

I assured him I would stay put.

I kept my word.

I enjoyed a leisurely afternoon on the couch, reading my book under a blanket. But I was a bit shy of our goal—only making it until 5:30— so I could join the family for dinner.

And so I await another opportunity to set a couch-sitting record in our house….

No Grouches Allowed

I tried to talk myself out of it. I stood at the stove, browning ground turkey, trying to convince myself to just stick with the routine: eat dinner, play outside, do bath, finish homework, read. Don’t abandon the schedule. Stay with the program. Then the other side of me would chime in, “Just fire up.” After all, I used to fire up. In college. On a regular basis. But these days, the extent of my firing up involves driving to the drugstore for a fresh pack of Red Vines on a Friday night. Back and forth I went. Stay home. Fire up. I envisioned the possible repercussions: tears, tantrums and meltdowns if we had a late night. I called my friend to talk through it. I finally made up my mind. I threw caution to the wind.

As the boys sat down for dinner I told them, “Eat fast. We’re going on an Adventure Run.”

We picked up my friend at 5:20 and headed down to our local running store, Run 26. Every third Thursday, from May to September, they’re hosting Adventure Runs. Like a scavenger hunt, we would be running to various places to get raffle tickets. As we drove there, I told the boys that we had one simple family rule to follow: have fun. No grouches, no grumps. No complaining, no whining. We were going to have a fun night.

We arrived to find families, friends, couples and college kids gathering outside the store. The Black Eyed Peas and Michael Jackson tunes blared, adding to the energy. At 6:10 we were shown a map of the vicinity with checkpoints called out. We were allowed to take pictures, make notes, draw on our arms…however we wanted to remember the spots on the map. Our goal was to hit as many as we could— some businesses, some activity stations —to retrieve raffle tickets. We had one hour. We were then to return our raffle tickets for chances to win things like running shoes, gear, doughnuts and coveted VIP Potty Passes for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series.

We took some notes and hit the road. Our first stop was Jamba Juice. We then walked, ran and sprinted through the surrounding area: past our favorite Mexican food restaurant, around a duck pond, along a trail, down the street to the Sheriff’s station. My three-year-old wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Baby Jogger. He ran neck-in-neck with me almost the entire time. My eight-year-old, with a fierce competitive streak, wanted to get as many raffle tickets as he could. He knew the only way to do that was to run. Fast. The activity stations were family friendly: things like bean bag toss, rock/paper/scissors and hopscotch. Mo joined us at 6:30.

Groups ran by each other, encouraging, pointing, plotting.

At different times during the night each of my boys exclaimed “This is fun.”

We collected many tickets. We talked to a kind-hearted business owner who let me use her bathroom. We enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine, the hint of summer, the sense of community.
I pushed an empty Baby Jogger for almost an hour.

We returned at 7:10 with our raffle tickets. We sat on the sidewalk and surveyed our stubs while Kelly Clarkson sang “Stronger” in the background. They called out numbers for nearly an hour. Although we didn’t win any prizes, each boy managed to get a doughnut. But we had stuck to our family rule: we’d had a grand time while running together.

And more importantly for me, the mom side was silenced—and even better—completely ignored.

I fired up.

The fun side won.

Guys & Gals

We kicked off my sister’s birthday week with a Girls Weekend in Portland. It included many treats:
a hotel suite complete with leopard-print robes; Def Leppard, Winger and Ratt playing on the 80’s rock station and a fruity, creamy birthday cake topped off with sparkler candles.

The highlight of Saturday evening was dinner at a nearby restaurant. Six of us cozily tucked into a long white booth with a beautiful view. We came from far and wide —Oregon, Washington and California— to celebrate Krista’s upcoming birthday. The relationships spanned decades: one junior high school friend, one college friend, two pre-wedding friends and me. We laughed, shared and laughed some more. Many of the tales included our children. We shook our heads in amazement. We nodded in affirmation. While we lingered over a three-hour dinner, we received heartwarming texts and emails from dads who held down the forts. One baked chocolate chip cookies with his son. My brother-in-law softly sang a good night tune to my nephew. In those quiet moments, his son reached up and put a finger to his dad’s lips: “Ssshh….this is my favorite part,” he whispered. We teared up as my sister recounted the story. While we recharged, reconnected and reminisced, dads built some pretty special memories of their own.

When I arrived home yesterday afternoon, Mo and our three-year-old were sitting out in the front yard enjoying the sunshine. As I got out of the car, my son ran to greet me with a hug and kiss. He immediately returned to Mo and jumped up in his lap, cuddling and nestling into his neck.

The realization that I was home seemed to sink in.

“Is it still dude’s weekend?” he asked his dad.

His little face reflected sadness and disappointment that it was over.

Part of me felt that way, too.

After spending the weekend cherishing time and celebrating relationships, we return to our routines filled up — boys and girls, moms and dads, alike.