Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Monday, July 28, 2008

Perpetuating the Fairy Tale Fraud

As I sit here working my way to my 40s, taking stock of my life, I wonder how I got here. How do we start off college as "ball busting" career women and find ourselves in a house, with kids, growing up? As I was reading bedtime stories to B, I think I figured it out.

Basically, I think I have it pretty good. I live in a nice house (albeit sometimes messy and dusty if the cleaning lady hasn't been there), in a nice neighborhood (cul de sac and all), where kids can go outside in the evenings and play. We have nice things, furniture, a recently remodeled kitchen, and the ability to buy ourselves things we want (within reason) and take trips when we can. I have a career. I have a beautiful baby, and the kind of life that allowed me to be home with her rather than having to put her in daycare at 6 weeks and work to pay for it. (More about the career choices another time.)

But even with all of this, sometimes there are hiccups. Sometimes we lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sometimes we have friends who are right there with us in surburbia, and then in an instant, they are gone, divorced- house for sale- moving on. Why? I think it's because we all want to believe the fairy tale. We want to believe that there is such thing as "happily ever after." We don't want to believe that our knights in shining armor are fallible. Before we meet our Charmings, we date a string of guys who are either losers and treated us like crap, or were nice enough but didn't know what they wanted and couldn't commit. We tread water in the pool of available men and get nowhere. Then "He" comes along and Boom! A catch. He is smart, good looking and treats us like a queen. Fairy tale ending, here we come!

Wrong. Life, here we come. Dirty dishes in the sink, here we come. Laundry piled up on the closet floor, here we come. Struggle to make ends meet, here we come.

So where did this idea come from, this concept that we all need our fairy tale endings, that we all deserve to be swept off our feet. Well, I blame Grimm. And not even Grimm, but Disney's interpretation of Grimm and those pesky fairy tales. Tell me, have you read Cinderella or the Little Mermaid or Snow White, or Sleeping Beauty lately? As I was reading B a bedtime story one night, I realized, this is where it comes from. At a young age, we as little girls start to hear about a guy coming to rescue us, to save us from whatever demon or beast or monster we happen to be fighting. Good prevails over evil and the girl gets her prince, the castle and the fairy godmother, complete with the tiny slippers. We go to sleep at night dreaming of the time when someone will take us away from having to take out the garbage, wash the dishes, set the table, do the laundry and clean the bathroom. We dream of an automatic dishwasher, regular pedicures and fluff and fold service. And according to these fairy tales, a man can help us get it.

Sometimes, I think we still believe in that fairy tale. We still want our prince to be above the fray, and still be our knight in shining armor. Is that safe?

So there I sit every night, recounting the tales of Cinderella and Belle and Aurora and Ariel, and ending each with "any they lived happily ever after," but wanting to say "until life creeps in the door and then you have to do the dishes and the laundry..." but I can't.

I suppose that B needs to grow up knowing that she can do it herself if she wants to. But I want her to also know that it's o.k. to have someone there to help you. Not necessarily to do it all for you, but to help. Maybe she'll be able to depend on her daddy for awhile, and she'll be able to lean on Papa when she needs to, but hopefully she'll find her own prince who will give her the things Papa or Daddy can't. I hope she's prepared for the day she realizes he's fallible, just like everyone else, and for the day she realizes that even in "happily ever after," someone has to wash the dishes.

Just to make sure, maybe I should add some "twisted" fairy tales for good measure? Maybe throw one in where evil triumphs over good, even if for just a few minutes? Maybe the prince takes a nap and forgets to go rescue the princess? maybe? ...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Some days are Granny Panties, Some days are Thongs

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go right? You wake up before your alarm goes off, feeling refreshed and awake, and sit there, sunlight streaming into your window, waiting to shut your alarm off. When it goes off, you hop in the shower singing a tune, come out feeling even more alive and refreshed. The perfect outfit awaits you in your closet, with the perfect matching shoes that fit perfectly and don't pinch your toes. Your bra matches your panties and looks like something off of the Victoria's Secret runway. You go to do your hair and it dries perfectly and sits just where you want it to. You get into your car to drive to work and traffic just seems to part to you let you through . . . ever have one of those days?

Nope, me neither.

Most days the alarm goes off and I jump. Then I smack the snooze button and roll over for another 8 minutes of sleep. Another alarm, another snooze. Finally, a mere 16 minutes after the first alarm, I stumble to the bathroom for a shower. About 1/2 way through my normal shower routine, I come to, realizing that I'm actually standing in the shower, covered in soap and need to finish up and get out. Sometimes I doze back off until I'm done washing my hair.

These days, it is less about finding the perfect outfit and more about finding an outfit that still fits with pieces that all match. My days of cute suits are slowly sliding away from me, as the ones from a few years ago are becomming very tattered and the ones they are making these days are ugly. period. Seriously, who wears that crap?

Some days I want to just crawl back into bed. I leave the house feeling frumpy and downtrodden. My hair pulled back in a scrunchie, because I just don't care to spend the time on it; wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a jacket tossed over it, hoping that no prospective clients decide to stop in and say hi. I intend to hide in my office. Those days I'm lucky if my bra and panties are made by the same company, let alone the same color or style. Those days, I'm lucky I find shoes other than flip flops or sneakers to wear, and hope that I haven't tossed them in the trash by noon because they hurt my feet. Those days are "Granny panty" days and clearly outnumber the other days. That's not to suggest I wear anything other than thongs, not that you care what I wear, but let's not let it ever be said that I wear "granny panties")

But then there are some days, I call them "thongs." Those are the days where I at least wake up hopeful that there will be something in my closet that will enable me to look "cute." Sometimes, it's not even a full day. Sometimes it's an evening out with Rob, for a concert or dinner, or something. I shower and get dressed hoping that the jeans make my ass look as good as they feel going on. I dig through my "unmentionables" drawer in search of the polka-dot panties that match the bra and hope both halves are clean. I troll my closet for the perfect "hootchie momma" top and put it all together with some killer heels. And hope. I hope that it all matches. I hope that I look cute. I hope that my hair, which has agreed to at least sort of look the way I want it to, will hold up under the sweat and smoke and beer that we will surely encounter. I hope that Rob will find me attractive or sexy (maybe even "cute"?). I hope that by the time we get home, I will still have the energy to be seductive, and that I won't just want to fall into bed and sleep.

I hope I start to have more "thong" days again.

...and then my blue pen explodes all over, on the day I'm wearing a white suit. Foiled again.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Knowing it All

As kids, we want to know everything. As soon as we start to talk, we begin to ask questions, "why?" and "how?" are very popular. If we are lucky enough to have books, we start devouring them, searching for all of the answers. Kids want to know why the sky is blue, or why a zebra has stripes. Kids wonder where the garbage goes when you turn on the disposal, where babies come from and when Grandma or Grandpa are going to be done visiting Heaven. As kids, we recognize that there is this whole world out there waiting for us, and we want to know everything there is to know about everything inside of it.

As teenagers, we decide that our universe is limited. We are obsessed with only those things that directly affect us, the cars that our friends drive, the shows their parents let them watch. We are convinced that we know everything about our little universe and that our parents know nothing at all (or at the very least, that our parents know, but don't love us enough to care.) We recognize that there might be more to the world than our little universe, but we don't care. We think that we know all that we need to know, about the things that surround us, and that is all we need to know.

In our 20s, we decide that we know everything. Whether its because of life experiences or because of things we've read in books or heard from our teachers, we think that we know it all. About everything, everywhere. We are once again aware of the vast universe around us and we think we know everything about that too. Remember when you were in your 20s? You would hear a story and you would immediately draw conclusions and make proclamations about the situation. I was in my 20s when the whole Bill Clinton/ Monica Lewinski thing broke. I thought he was a moron, I thought Monica was an idiot and I thought Hillary should have dropped that man like a cheap pair of shoes. Now having the benefit of a few years wisdom, I recognize that there is no way I could have possibly known what the people in that situation were going through, certainly not enough to judge their decisions. (and after reading Hillary's book, I'm still not sure what the heck happened in that situation.)

I remember doing it with people I would see out at the mall or in a restaurant as well. I would see someone sitting down to dinner at 9 p.m. with a baby in a high chair and I would judge them. "That baby should be in bed." I would see a child throwing a tantrum and I would think to myself "my child is not going to act like that." All of this in my 20s. I had not yet been married, I had no real concept of what it takes to make a relationship work and I certainly didn't have any children. But there I sat, in all of my "infinite wisdom," passing judgment on others and making grand statements about how I would do things when I got married/ had kids/ etc. I think I even made comments about how people lived. "Well, when I get married and have my own house, we're going to have a family dinner every night." Or maybe "when I have my own house, I'm not going to let the junk pile up, and I'm going to keep it clean." Well, it only takes getting to your 30s for the reality of "real life" to sink in.

I think for some people, the reality hits when you get married and have kids. But for me, I think it took getting to my 30s for the light bulb to come on. Then again, I was 28 when I got married, so maybe I'm behind the curve. In any event....

At some point in your 30s (I think), you realize that you don't know anything. You're now married and possibly lucky enough to have a child or children. You look around at the piles of junk and clutter in your home and wonder where it came from, who it belongs to and when they are going to put it away. You marvel at the spot on the steps where you once laid 2 pieces of paper, and wonder how it became a mountain of books, shoes, socks, toys and paper, waiting to be put away. You giggle at the thought of having family dinners every night, when you and your hubby are coming home at 7, with just enough time to give the little one a bath and put her to bed, only to then collapse on the couch, exhausted, wishing you had enough money to hire a personal cook.

The thought of keeping a 3000 square foot house clean all on your own induces fits of maniacal laughter, causing the neighbors to question your sanity. You come to the realization that there aren't enough hours in the day and there are more important things to be doing than standing over a toilet, armed with Lysol and a brush. If you are lucky enough to be able to hire someone to do it for you, you can only hope that they would do as good of a job as you would, if you could only find the time.

If you have kids, you laugh at yourself and the superior knowledge you once thought you had. You find yourself sitting in a restaurant at 9 p.m., trying to stay awake yourself, while you feed your hungry child. You know that the idea of putting her down to sleep would have brought on screams to wake the dead, so you opted to take her out to eat instead. Hey, we've all got to eat, even the ones that poop it out faster than it goes in. You snicker at yourself when your 2 year old sits down on the ground and refuses to take one more step unless she gets her favorite toy, because you once thought that you would be able to do it so much better. God is laughing, too, because she is getting her revenge on you for thinking you know it all.

Through all of it, you come to the realization that you don't know anything. You have no idea why your child refuses to go to bed, even though she is falling asleep on the floor in the living room. You have no idea why one day she wants pancakes and the next day she throws them across the room. You can only wonder why she will start to cry for no reason and want a hug one minute and run away from you the next.

I think when we hit our 30s, we wake up and realize that the world is a vast place, with so many different people and places and things, and it would be impossible for any one person to know everything about everything. We realize that we sometimes have trouble mastering our own little universe, that we sometimes have no idea or clue why even the people around us behave the way we do.

It's at this point that we begin to salvage our sanity, recovering our ability to let things go. We accept that we will not be perfect parents, that our children will throw temper tantrums in public, that other parents will nod and maybe offer a comforting smile, having been there once as well. We accept that the people we love might hurt us, whether they mean to or not. We accept that we might not know the ones we love as well as we thought, and we resolve to get to know them better. We understand that there are times to forgive and maybe not forget. We realize that our children will go through this exact same path and hopefully come out o.k. on the other side.

As the light dawns over our heads, we look back at the 20-somethings in their skimpy outfits, getting ready to go out to the clubs and dance the night away, and we smirk. We know that their boobs will shrink or sag, that the love handles will pop out, and that no amount of running on the treadmill will get rid of that little tummy poof. We giggle knowing that the light will eventually go on and life might hit them like a ton of bricks. They too will wake up one day and realize that they knew nothing about anything. They too will realize that in a situation where they once passed judgment, they may find themselves forced to make the same decisions, and they may finally realize how it really feels to be in the trenches.

It's amusing now, looking back, to think that I could have ever known what it was like to keep a house for a family, without actually having a house and a family, to understand what it means to be married and make a relationship work, without actually being married, or to understand what it takes to be a parent, without actually being one. You can't. Plain and simple.

At some point, we stop partying late and start going to bed early. We stop spending money on make-up and start buying diapers. (o.k., maybe not the make-up, we all need make-up, right?). We stop drinking cocktails and start drinking milk. We realize that we are morons and that we know nothing about anything. We start to grow up.

When is it o.k. ...

- to cry in front of your two year old because she head butted you in the nose at the end of a long day?

- to not read her a bedtime story because you are still crying and your head is starting to pound after she head-butted you in the nose?

- to be a hard-ass and not go back in to read her a story, even though she begged you as you walked out the door and has been crying for you to go read her one?

- to let one night slide?

- to concede defeat at her hands and just walk away, to your room, to the television, to a bottle of chilled wine?

- to wallow in your own self-pity and belief that you have failed as a parent because your two year old jumped into a water puddle after you told her twice not to, and then you swatted her behind?

- to ask G*d if she was joking when she gave you this beautiful, precocious, willful, amazingly smart and yet so challenging child?

- to question G*d's wisdom in thinking that you can handle all of this?

- to ask "why me?"

- to wonder if you have the strength to get through the night without completely losing it, and to have the strength to get up and do it all again tomorrow?

- to hope that tomorrow will be better?

- to hope that you will heal, emotionally, and that the scars might someday fade?

- to hope and believe that the two-year old will someday be a three-year old and the "terrible twos" will be a memory?

to admit you're fallible?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Things I'm learning all over again

Have you ever noticed that there are things you learn as a kid that you forget when you get older? Things that seemed so big and so much fun as a kid just slip away as the years pile on. But why? Where is it written that we have to give up nap time or recess? Where does it say that we can't lay on the floor, kicking and screaming and throw a tantrum when we are tired or upset?

Now that my daughter is getting older (and speaking in full sentences) she is reminding me of the joys of some of the simpler things in life, things that just make a 2 year old's head spin, that us "older" people might have forgotten.

For example, when did Peanut Butter and Jelly get taken off of the list for acceptable lunches? Who says I can't sit down with a glass of milk, and a PBJ? yum.

Another thing our children remind us of, is the beauty of imagination. I am constantly amazed at the view of the world through B's eyes. She had a full blown conversation this morning with the Dora character that is printed on her Pull-up. "Dora said hi to me Mommy." Too cute. Just when the world gets to be too much for me, I sit down and curl up with my teddy bear and tell him all about my day. Sometimes, another person just cannot comfort me the way my old friend, Ted E. Bear can. He's heard it all, and he knows me.

Mickey Mouse rocks! Do you remember the Disneyworld commercial from years ago where a little boy spends the day at D-World and doesn't see Mickey all day, and then, as they are leaving, Mickey taps him on the shoulder? Do you remember that one? Remember the look on the kid's face? Yes, it was made for t.v., but I've seen that look firsthand on B's face. There is something magical about Mickey, and even though our world could be a horrible mess, there is something about stepping over the threshhold of Disneyland or Disneyworld that makes it all disappear.

Some more things that she has reminded me of, or even taught me all over again:
- don't hold a grudge.
- McDonald's can be a gourmet meal and just the right thing some days.
- Just because it doesn't break the skin doesn't mean it doesn't hurt.
- Ice cream always makes you smile- especially when it's smeared all over your face.
- Sometimes a hug does just the trick, and sometimes you need a kiss to make it better too.
- You're never too old for a good bedtime story.
- Winnie-the-Pooh is just as good the 100th time as it was the 1st.
- Sometimes you just have to throw play-doh
- Give me some crayons and a piece of paper and I can create a universe.

Every day I am thankful that I get to see the world through B's eyes. It's like waking up and taking in everything all over again, like everything is new. B doesn't miss much, and loves to point things out. She sings, she talks, she disagrees with me. Everything is an experience. She gives new meaning to the idea of embracing life. I find myself looking for new things to introduce to her, just to see the look of pure wonder on her face. And it helps that it is such an adorable face.