Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Schizoid Me


I know it has been a LONG time since my last post. Soooooo sorry. I promise to do better. This one is a bit heavy. Stay tuned for lighter posts.

We all have thoughts and ideas that race through our minds in the wee hours that slow the clock and keep sleep just out of reach. Whether it is anxieties, problems to solve, relationships to reconcile, or the unending laundry list of tasks to be completed. These nights seem to stretch into eternity. My current middle of the night insomnia seems to somehow orbit around my current identity crisis.

We all seem to clamor for significance in some form. All that is within us wants someone to see us, hear us, or think that we are important. I’d prefer it be someone who can use an adult sized toilet and doesn’t require a five-point harness strap down for mealtime. “Look at me!” all of our toiling screams. My existence on this spinning orb isn’t futile because I can do this or am that. We all seem to claw after a space of recognition. I am no exception, but with the addition of sweet little man #3, even my most gallant attempts at anything significant or even competent is met with schizophrenic frustration. The following is my current middle of the night musings and the surprising destination.

Professional me- Once upon a time I was a good professional therapist. I contributed to the guild, subscribed to journals, wrote a few articles, and was concerned about things like continuing education, professional development, and leadership training. Wow, I’m not in Kansas any more. My one day a week work schedule, scrambling to fulfill my CEU requirements in the 11th hour, and my complete oblivion to the new greatest research disqualifies me from placing any personal worth, pride, or identity in Renee the professional. Next………

Athletic me- I’ve been doing my darndest to resurrect this one as of late as I’m trying to get this post third baby body back into shape for the Denver half marathon mid October. Despite all of my early morning pep talks, self bribes, and the most steely self determination, I’ve come to the sad realization that this more jiggly, dimpled, and weaker version of myself will never again be traded for a previous more svelte, toned, strong, and athletically capable me this side of my resurrected body. The only way I could currently run 400 meters in 62 seconds is if I had a bicycle (or an airplane). My over caffeinated, under rested, under nourished, over sugared, over stressed me is now the norm, and probably will be for the next 30 years. Yep, RIP athletic Renee. We had a good run (no pun intended☺)

Well informed me- It has always been important to me to stay informed and globally aware. In a former life I devoured the daily newspaper, was well acquainted with columnists in the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly, and could actually name a few current relevant artists. I’m not sure where this one went south but am fairly certain the part of my brain that could read, process, and assimilate this information has atrophied beyond salvage. Oh well, back to the land of glorious repetition. Oh, and can you believe that there are three women on the Supreme Court!? I can’t believe that didn’t get more coverage. And what happened to the Labor party in England? You’d think that would have gotten a little press…..

Pious me-When we religious types get insecure, we often default to this one. But to be honest, I’ve never been very good at this one. I wrestle to outline my personal holiness markers like a stammering child trying to backtrack over a discovered lie. I think my recent obsession with Mad Men, my angry outbursts at the rugrats during bath time, and my utter lack of consistency with important spiritual disciplines like prayer, meditation, and scripture reading sends me to the back of the line in the “good Christian woman” category. I might squeak by with some fancy talking until it was discovered that I actually have only been to church twice in the last five months. Ruler on the hand and no good girl gold stars for me.

Homemaker me-I can already hear the chuckles and snickers. Suffice it to say this is not my flag in the sand. For probably two months our fridge only contained chocolate syrup, wine, and beer. My bathroom has reeked of urine for months now, and I think there is something growing (or living) under the massive pile of clothes in the laundry chute. I’ve been given a lifetime suspension from homemakers r us. Further elaboration might enact some sort of child protective services alarm so I better move on.

Crafty me- Pass

Fab wife- I wish I could say that I give my husband a back scratch every night, a latte every morning, and an ever present listening ear. But that is what he does for me. Why am I not more encouraging, less naggy, and more appreciative of the God given gift that is Dave to me? Why was it much easier to be the thoughtful, connected, and giving wife 5 years ago? Ouch, sucking as a wife hurts the heart.

Super mom- I sort of feel like the hampster in the mom wheel. I seem to be working hard and sweating profusely, but not making much progress. I can’t get all the pieces in the puzzle at the same time. If I get Will to school on time with a decently nutritious lunch in tow and have a meaningful time with Ian in the morning, then I loose Beckett in our bedroom only to find him stuck under our bed. Complete collective success in the parenting realm is my proverbial carrot in front of the donkey. The self-deprecating thoughts about mommy failures are probably the most defeating. I think I’ll start a therapy fund now for my guys, any contributors?

Despite all my attempts to the contrary, I can’t seem to pull it all together this time. The loss of all my competencies and spaces in my life where I feel important, good, and capable produce an irritating fluxuating instability. All my clamoring to resurrect them has only left me haggard and exhausted. I scramble to get footing on anything that feels safe, secure, and important like one of those wipe out contestants trying to stay on the big red balls. The loss of all of my identities has painfully brought to me to an unexpected realization of security and importance. I’ve come to the realization that there is NO safe place and no stable surface for all of my meaningless identities. No skill or talent is immune to the curse of decay, death, disorder, and BABIES. All of my tightly held identities, however hard I try to re-instate them will ultimately dissolve. The loss of all of my earthly accomplishments leaves me clinging to only one anchor. The fact that I am a redeemed child of God, made by him, created for His purpose, important because He made me, significant to Him, and useful in how I redirect glory to Him is my only remaining stalwart. The false notion that my previously high held identities were lasting, important, or remotely significant compared the surpassing greatness of being His, pales in comparison.

So if it takes chaos, fragmentation, and brokenness for me to accurately see my true place in the shadow of the king, bring it on. I’m happy to bask in my incompencies, failings, and messiness as an eternally accurate plum line. If I am nothing else in my life but an arrow pointing to the true source of beauty, knowledge, life, power, and compassion, then my life would be more beautiful and significant than I could have ever imagined. Now back to the mess………………………….

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the miraculous ordinary

My initially dreaded two-day a week 32 minute work commute to the Children's Hospital has yielded some unexpected treasures.  Every Wednesday and Friday midday, I step up into the baby blue Pilot and close the car door and the world out for 32 minutes.  I hear no ringing phones, no crying, no whining, no requests, no "Honey do you minds," no Little Einsteins, no crashing, no breaking glass, and no little knocks on the bathroom door.  For the first 10 minutes, I soak in the silence.  I soften my breath sounds.  
After listening to and thinking about nothing, my routine has become to enjoy a syndicated feature on a local radio station called Storyboard.  This feature has provided tens of thousands of Americans the opportunity to step into a recording booth and etch on tape and into the archives of history a slice of their story.  Astounding stories abound.  I listened tearfully to a mother recount sending her second son to fight in Iraq after the first returned home surrounded by pine and flags.  I laughed as a young accountant recounted his decision to leave a corporate job to become a clown.  I marveled at a man in his 80's as he retold his adventure of how he and his wife built their home from materials they found in the surrounding land.  How interesting and extraordinary were the lives of these people.  
As the storyboard segment faded into an advertisement,  a leftward twist of the volume control restored the silence.  It was then that I often contemplated my own story.  If I were to stumble upon one of these storyboard booths, what compelling anecdote would I tell about my life?  At first glance, my life has been rather ordinary and predictable.  My current snapshot reeks of commonness.  I'm married with two kids, a mortgage, a part-time job, laundry, too much caffeine, and not enough sleep.  It is the same story told a thousand times over.  Right?  It was at this moment that I became aware of  the miraculously ordinary life I have been given.  
When I find myself in the Storyboard booth, here is the story I will tell about my common life.  I'll tell of the blessing of eight years of marriage to the most patient, kind, and loving person I know.  I will recount a chance meeting unorchestratable by anyone other than a divine being.  I'll orate about surprise lattes in the morning, nightly back scratches, and knocking on the pediatrician neighbors' door late at night just to assure an anxious new mom that her four month old doesn't have mouth cancer.  I'll rave about lying exhausted next to an equally exhausted man while listening to a crying baby and hearing the words, "I'll get him honey."  I'll talk about all of my blaring imperfections couched with a love without precondition or expectation.  This is my miraculously ordinary husband.  
I will tell about the birth of my first son, Will, and how I could hardly breathe when I first held him in my arms.  Every day I notice his ten toes, ten fingers, his daddy's lips and butt in miniature form on his little face and body.  I listen to his questions about hurricanes, fire fighting, and all his elaborate verbal attempts to make sense of the world around him.  I sneak into his room at night and watch him sleep while cuddling his "greeny" and sucking his middle two fingers.  How could I have been apart of this creation?  This is my miraculously ordinary Will.   I then will tell of my second son, Ian.  I will describe the sweetest face.  I will tell of a two-year-old that will often break into an original rendition of jingle bells combined with boomer sooner.  I will speak of a heart so tender that even the slightest raising of mommy and daddy's voice will elicit a stream of tears.  I will tell of his tiger eyes and his sweet high pitched often unintelligible verbal utterances.  I'll tell of a gentle and sweet spirit that makes certain his brother gets a special treat, too.  This is my miraculously ordinary Ian.  
My miraculously ordinary life has been granted, sustained, and blessed by an incredibly extraordinary God to whom I am humbly grateful.  

Friday, February 1, 2008

those eyes......................

there are characteristics endowed to children for the sole purpose of longevity.  if children did not possess such qualities, their parents would certainly murder them in an uncontrolled fit of frustration.  my children are no exception.

two active and mischievous boys produce a wide range of emotions in an often overtired mother.  there are moments when i envision myself pounding the floor after a ten count as two welter weight wrestlers exert all of their strength upon another.  at other moments, i feel as if i am walking through the aviary at the denver zoo with screeches, screams, and unidentifiable sounds abounding around.

however, there are those intangibles that so endear our children to us that we almost supernaturally transcend the chaos.  they seem to provide us a direct line to their souls.  

with my two boys, it is their eyes.  those four huge blue orbs that melt me even in the most virulent rage.  it has been said that the eyes are a window to the soul.  i feel as if i have gazed deeply into their sweet round windows and have been given some understanding.

will's eyes show me the vulnerability behind the mischief.  they speak of empathy amidst activity.  will's big blue eyes often gaze at me with a trusting question seeking understanding.  it is in these moments that i want to freeze the vulnerability and protect it from the harsh world winds.  will, i pray that your trusting, questioning, and vulnerable eyes will retain the wonder.  when will was yet an embryo in utero, dave and i often listened to the moulin rouge soundtrack.  we continually serenaded our first unseen child with a version of elton john's classic, "your song."  "so, excuse me for forgetting, but these things i do.  you see i've forgotten if they're green or they're blue.  anyway, this is the thing i really mean.  yours are the sweetest eyes that i've ever seen."

ian's eyes seem to occupy an extraordinarily large surface area of his face.  they reflect the curiosity and wonder of one suddenly becoming aware of the magical world around them.  his eyes light up when a familiar person enters the room.  his eyes dance with the simplest provocation.  he has eyes that become alive when his big brother comes into view.  ian, i'm mesmerized by your gaze.  you entrance me with your sweetness.  may the world viewed through your beautiful eyes not cause you pain but motivate you to pass on your kindness, curiosity, and wonder.  

the world seems right and morphing closer to the eventual earthly kingdom we all long for when i view the world through the irises of my two little boys.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Uncharacteristically Will

most of you know my oldest son will.  many of you in denver know him as the donut eating flash that darts uncontrollably around the colorado history museum every sunday morning.  others know him as the talkative and energetic force that leaves smiles and destruction wherever he treads.  will lives loud.  he loves destruction, trucks, swords, and participating in any activity that will leave substantial mess.  we have been told no less than a hundred times that will is "all boy."  

it is because this masculine dna map so engulfs will's entire being that the following picture caused us quite a belly laugh.  it seems as if will is starting to develop his creative and sensitive side a bit more (and possibly his romantic side as well:) 

Sunday, December 16, 2007

goods things come to those who.........procrastinate??

most of life lessons teach us to plan ahead, the early bird gets the worm, and last minute decisions often produce undesirable results.  however, there are times in our lives when the stars align and things fall into place despite us.  last sunday was one of those nights.  
a few weeks earlier, i was talking with a friend and we were lamenting how we desperately needed consecutive hours away from our pint sized energizer bunnies to spend quality time with good friends.  wouldn't it be great if we could get dressed up, attend a festive christmas production, and laugh the night away over coffee.  the next day i stumbled upon a plastic banner draped on an old wrought iron fence advertising a single production of handel's messiah at the old gothic episcopal cathedral on 14th and washington.  i called to inquire of ticket availability and was greeted with a pre-recorded message announcing the sold out status of the production.  the message concluded with a conciliatory statement offering a 'standing room only option' for those who show up on the day of the performance.  any option to socially desperate moms sounded fantastic.   within the day plans were made, restaurant reservations procured, and new dresses purchased for our evening out, despite the vague and uncertain ticket availability.  
dinner at steuben's was full of fantastic food, loud laughing, festive drinks, and much needed diaperless conversation.  after dinner we made our way to the cathedral to scrounge for standing room only tickets to find that a few other people had the same idea.  we were group #21 to vie for a square of stone on which to stand.  the start time of the production came and went with a few patrons ushered into the cathedral.  i glanced at my watch and waited to hear the all too familiar orchestra introduction of the timeless classic.  disappointment began to creep into that pit portion of my stomach when i noticed a spunky little minister in a flowing purple robe muttering, "good things come to those who wait."  within three minutes we were ushered into a lone folding chair row added IN FRONT of the first wooden pew at the last minute to accommodate the overwhelming demand.  others who bought their tickets in early october squirmed to see from the 64th row, and we were perched wide eyed as the closest people to the orchestra and chorale:)
st. john's cathedral orchestra and choir performed a robust and stirring rendition of the christmas classic.  my tears flowed as the hallelujah chorus reverberated through the ancient gothic cathedral.  through george frideric handel, i was reminded anew of the richness of old testament prophecies.  through the caramel smooth voice of an alto, i was deeply stirred and strangely comforted by isaiah 40:11, "he shall feed his flock like a shepherd, and he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."  my heart was also reminded by isaiah that the coming one is to be the prince of peace, a salve i desperately needed in this turbulent and unpredictable world.  
thank you michelle, kimiko, carolina, and mary for friendship and an evening of connecting, and thank you handel for soul nourishing piece and an ancient visceral reminder of my king of kings, lord of lords, and prince of peace.  

Saturday, December 8, 2007

mice, croup, and other catchables (or uncatchables)

week in review..........

it seems as if we have a mouse ahhhhemmm...mice.....which we are having quite a difficult time catching.  after a standoff with my brother on the back staircase in which the cornered mouse went kamikaze through his legs off of step number five, we decided to get serious about eradication.  to further taunt us, two of the mice were playing hide and seek in our kitchen during our fellowship group wednesday night.  this is no longer simply a nuisance but a war.  after attempts with the snap traps, electric box zap trap, and live animal traps, we've mounted a military type campaign with 16 rat sized sticky glue traps.  my apologies to the denverite animal lovers who are reconsidering our friendship.  this is our only remaining option.  tonight is d-night as we will line and encircle every possible mouse path with overwhelming force.  the allies will prevail and tonight is the night.   we'll keep you posted.

also, it seems as if our week isn't quite full or fully actualized unless we have at least one trip to the emergency room in the middle of the night.  around midnight on thursday, we heard the sound.  the dreaded seal like bark cough coming from our chunky 11 month old, reverberated through our house like a clanging gong.  dave and i looked at each other with the "we can either sit holding ian in the bathroom in a steamy shower all night or go to the er and get the coveted steroids."  with that glance our week was actualized and rocky mountain health plans are a bit richer.  ian is fine (but i think his voice is a little deeper).

the boys and i made two fabulous entertainment discoveries this week.  the denver zoo is fabulous in the winter.  there are few people, many animals out, and the warm winter sun shining on your face in the brisk denver winter weather.  will, kimiko, kalena, and i had peaceful morning.  the other is a goofy indoor playground called monkey bizness.  what could be better than an enclosed, padded, full contact required indoor playground for active boys?will and ian both took LONG afternoon naps on tuesday:)

i've posted a few more of our family pictures from our recent (mid september) family photo shoot with the fabulous bryce boyer.  i''m having a difficult time uploading the pictures. stay tuned as i try to get them uploaded.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Taming Wild Felines

it is strangely appropriate that my two "wild" children were tigers for halloween.  it is also probably equally appropriate that i dressed as a cat and dave was the tiger tamer.  i'm certain he has to tame more than his share of wildness with our two active boys and me as a wife.  

for the first time in will's three halloween existences, he discovered the secret.  the secret that is i can walk up to any house and utter three words and people will give me candy.  as this unfathomable concept began to sink in, he increased his cadence from a walk to a jog.  as mania further set it, he preempted the customary, "trick or treat" with "hi, i'm will," "i'm a tiger," "are you having a nice day," and "it is such a beautiful evening." he is now somewhat confused why everyday isn't halloween as it is such an amazing idea.  he is already planning for next year.

i also discovered a new halloween epiphany. children aren't the only ones who like to dress up as something or someone else.  halloween is the one day of the year that we adults can forget about our sometimes mundane lives, laundry, bills, and stresses to become something else for a day.  respite for a day in the guise of a children's holiday.  we'll take what we can get.