Meditations at the stove…

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Some people find clarity and answers after meditating for hours on the issues and problems that plague them.  Me…I found my answers scrubbing a stovetop on a Sunday morning.

Due to an unforeseen medical emergency a week ago, I’m on a short term leave of absence from work.  It’s one of my worst nightmares come to life.  I have to be home with my kids…over spring break…while incapacitated…and unable to drive.  My four kids are between the ages of 14 and 11.

I have to take it easy for the next two weeks…and by easy, I mean easy…as in do nothing but walk a little to prevent blood clots, but absolutely nothing else.  Me?  Do nothing but casually move around?  Oh this was not going to end well.

In all fairness, my kids are awesome…but their kids!  On spring break!  Like they’re going to clean the house, cook and run themselves to practices, appointments and friends houses!

My point is simply this.

After only a few hours of restless sleep, when I woke up, this morning to make the coffee, there are dirty dishes in the sink.  The stove…let’s just say…ew.  So…in true mom form, while the coffee was brewing, I busted out the cleaning spray, soaked the stovetop in the hopes of somehow dissolving the top layer of whatever the hell it is my family has incinerated on it.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

While going through these familiar motions…my mind starts to wander.  My body and mind have separated as they often do when faced with shit that just has to get done. My body is going through the motions that it has a million times before.  My mind goes off to la-la land to escape the mundane and daunting task at hand.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My house is quiet.  My kids…and their friend whose sleeping on the couch, are happy.  My husband is home…safe and in one piece from a job that is dangerous and often sends my cortisone levels through the roof.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My life is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it is mine…and I am happy…and my kids are happy.  I am a good mom…wife…daughter…sister…friend.  Life constantly tries to knock me down and off balance…but  I am happy.  My stove is messy…but I am happy.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

Then it hits me.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

My whole adult life has been about working.  Away from or at home, my life up until this point, has been one of service.  For companies and corporations to family and friends, community both locally and nationally…I define myself by my many jobs.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

I’ve always believed the most important years of a kids life where up until they become teens.  You teach them how to do everything.  Get up, brush your teeth, eat healthy, go to school, play well with others, use your manners, clean up after yourself (okay…so this one it takes them a little longer to master), read, love your family, get a good nights sleep.

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  Spray…soak…scrub.  Spray…chisel…spray…scrub…spray…soak…scrub…

Oh my gosh…I was wrong!  They need me most now!  How could I have not understood this!  Did I not live the exact same shit when I was their age?  Oh my gawd!  This is when all the hard shirt really happens!  This is when life starts teaching them the real lessons!  What a real friend is.  What family really means when your hurt and scared and trying to short though the insane feelings of puberty.  Why life doesn’t happened the way it does on TV and in the movies!  Why doesn’t that boy like me?  How am I ever going to survive high school?  Why do my parents always try to ruin my life by making me spend “family time” with them.  Why do I have to do these dumb ass chores?  Why can’t I sleep in until noon?  Why does the world hate me?  How am I suppose to know what the hell I want to do with my life…I’m just a kid!

Spray…wipe…spray…wipe.  The stove is clean.

My kids need me now more than ever.  Although this is the time in their lives when I physically have to start to letting them go, now…more than ever…is when they need me emotionally and mentally.  Now more than ever is when they need a mom and not a friend.  They need stability and structure.  They need to know that although they have to start dealing with life in all it’s glory and messiness, they won’t have to do it alone.  I am here for them.  For the first time in my life, I want to be a stay-a-home mom.

The stove is clean…my mission is clear.  My heart is light.  I am happy.

Namaste.

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Santa and her Elf…

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The house is quiet and it’s the weekend, so I’m cruising fb and some blogs while enjoying my morning coffee. There seems to be a common “Santa Thread” this year. The one that refers to anything and everything about stockings and reindeer and the big guy (Santa) getting all the credit instead of the parents who do all the work. I also love how much more seriously moms take this job than dads…because you know, we women can’t do anything without giving 110%!

So here’s my Santa story…and the birth of a new tradition.

I was raised with the simple belief that Santa is magical. After all, how could one man make and deliver toys to every kid, all over the world if he wasn’t? Santa visited my mom’s house and left things in stockings up until three years ago (I should probably mention, I’m 39…don’t judge…you’d still let your mom stuff your stocking too if you could!). The tradition had always been we spent Christmas Eve with my moms side of the family and Christmas day with my dads side of the family (no, their not divorced, as a matter of fact, they will be celebrating 42 years next month). It always just seemed to make sense to spend the night on Christmas Eve, because let’s face it, my mom is an amazing cook and as a mom, nothing beats a hot meal…especially one you don’t have to cook and my mom makes the most amazing Christmas breakfasts!

When my daughter was born, I become Santa. When she turned three, she asked why Santa hadn’t put anything in Grammie and Papa’s stockings! They were really good and Santa must have forgot them! So then I became Santa for everyone…Grammie, Papa, T (that’s how my daughter said Auntie), Sammy (the dog…and of course he had a stocking), her and of course myself. My mom…knowing that money was tight (I was a single mom until my daughter turned 10), suggested we all play Santa, this way no one had to spend too much. My sister even got in on the deal and it was even better, because each stocking was gifted by THREE Santa’s!

I raised my daughter with the same belief that my mom raised us with. Santa is magic and if you don’t believe…you don’t receive. That simple. Santa. Is. Magic. This negates any type of conversation you have to have with your kids because the answer to any and all Santa related questions is “Santa is magic”.

So, last year…2013…my daughter learned the truth. While shopping with her at a store, I came across a great deal on these cups my kids had been wanting. My daughter was busy looking at things so I slipped them in the cart under some clothes and kept shopping. When we got to the register, I distracted her with something (to be honest, I don’t remember what) so she wouldn’t see the cups. When we got home, I volunteered to bring in all the bags from our shopping trip. My daughter has carried in enough bags to know this never happens so she took advantage of it and ran into the house without looking over her shoulder. Smart kid.

Christmas Eve, we tucked all four kids into bed and gave them their goodnight kisses and went downstairs to “watch TV”. After waiting the required hour for everyone to get out of bed for a drink of water, use the bathroom and talk to their brother/sister, their bedrooms fell quiet…time for operation Santa. We stuffed stockings. In our house, Santa doesn’t get the credit for all the cool things we bust our asses for all year long. He leaves small gifts and trinkets that are NEVER wrapped. Let’s face it…Santa is really busy! My husband and I collapsed into bed after cleaning up all the Target, Wal-Mart, and Five Below bags, making sure there was no visible evidence of Santa’s visit…other than the stuffed stockings, cookie crumbs and an empty milk cup.

At the crack of dawn, we heard them rise…they ran to each others rooms waking each other up, and ran down the stairs to get their stockings. Squeals of joy and laughter could be heard…until my daughter got to the cup. While my other three children continued going through their goodies, I heard the footsteps…or should I say the stomping of very angry 13 year coming down the hallway. My 13 year old daughter came marching into our bedroom…straight up to my side of the bed and sobbed “HOW COULD YOU!” Now, I’ve been preparing for this for a while because let’s face it…kids blab to each other about Santa not being “real” at a pretty early age. The only reason the illusion had lasted so long for my daughter was because Santa doesn’t wrap presents, put them under the tree, or spend lots of money. That’s mom and dad’s job!

I pulled back the covers and told her to lower her voice and hop in bed to cuddle with me. She very reluctantly got in and laid there…with her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.

“You lied to me mom! You said Santa is real!”

“Honey, what have I always said about Santa?”

“He’s magic, but you lied, because he’s not real, YOU’RE SANTA!”

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about…how have I told you Santa is able to deliver gifts to kids all over the world in one night?”

“Magic, but I guess that’s not real either!”

“Magic is real…but only if you believe in it. What have I always said about Santa and who he really is?”

“The spirit of Christmas.”

“Exactly. Anyone who believes in magic and the spirit of Christmas has a Santa in their heart!”

“Wait…So does that mean I’m Santa too?”

“YES!” (at this point my husband was snickering so hard to himself he had to cover it up by “coughing”).

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation or all the details, but suffice it to say, my daughter has created a new tradition in our home because of this. I am still playing the role of Santa, but because she is young and doesn’t have kids, she has decided she is one of Santa’s elves.

This year, Santa and her secret elf did the stocking shopping. It was an awesome opportunity and I embraced it and held on for dear life. My 14 year old actually wanted to spend time with me!!!! We found just the right stocking stuffers for her and her sister, as well as the boys. She took into consideration things like not giving her and her sister candy with caramel because of their braces…and the fact they aren’t “little kids” anymore. My teens got cool pens they’d been wanting, and new neon lacrosse socks…you know, Things that mom and dad would never buy!

This year when the kids…well, teens and one tween got up (they all conspired and set their alarms for 5:45 am), it was one of the best Christmas mornings ever. Santa’s elf had scored with the stocking stuffers and made all four of the kids happy. There was awe, laughter, candy wrappers and happy kids throughout the house. Our new tradition was a huge success and I look forward to it already next year.

Enjoy your kids…and the time you have with them because you are raising them to be amazing people!