Category Archives: Musings of the Zen Master

With A Little Help from My Kids

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I woke up at 5:18 this morning and reset my alarm from 5:30 to 6:30. The house was cold and I was nestled beneath blankets and warm and I just couldn’t get out of bed, though 6:30 felt only marginally better.

The kids couldn’t seem to get up either. Usually, they are downstairs by 7:50 but at 8:05, I was still yelling for them to come down. It was one of those mornings.

Somehow, we managed to get ready for school and leave the house on time. We all got settled in the car, Miguel turned on the radio and I put the car in first to pull out and the tires spun on the ice. The car wouldn’t move enough to even allow me to rock it back and forth to get traction. Wheels spinning.

I went into the house and got our ice chopper and tried to break the ice around the front tires, cursing winter the entire time. The kids positioned themselves behind the car and we tried again…and again…and again…but the care wouldn’t move at all. Zeca pointed to the left tire and said, “It’s that one. That’s the problem.” So, I chopped and chopped and chopped and hoped the tire could get traction on the two inches of asphalt I’d exposed.

I got back in the car and the kids got behind it and we finally got the car out of the icy ruts but it had taken so long that I knew we were going to be a few minutes late for school. I’m learning to let go of things beyond my control and this was one.

I thought back to when the kids were small and wondered what I would have done. I would have tried calling a friend or waited for a neighbor or switched to our other car with the hope it wasn’t stuck or I would have taken them back inside until I figured out a plan. Both kids pushing the car out in the winter–another milestone.

These are the things that make me realize how slowly life changes with kids. One day, you are trying to shove tiny thumbs into mittens and the next, they are pushing your car when it’s stuck.

I noticed other things this week that caught me by surprise. Someone put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder rather than just setting it on the top of the toilet. Zeca helped me put all the groceries away without being asked. Miguel cleaned his room last night because he had decided it needed to be cleaned. These are small things but they feel like miracles.

Luisa comes home in a couple of hours and there are baskets of laundry to fold and dishes in the sink. I’ll get to those. But right this moment, I’m feeling grateful for my kids. The past couple of weeks of solo parenting have been challenging but not in the ways they have been in the past. The challenges have had little to do with the kids and everything to do with the responsibilities of daily life and even in those, I’m starting to realize that I’m really not “solo” anymore.

Here and There

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I’ve been getting up at 5:30 to write since the NaWhoozieWhatsItsMos began. I get a cup of coffee and snuggle into bed to try my hand at word-making. But this morning,  I spilled an entire cup of coffee on my down comforter. These are the writing perils no one tells you about. So, my comforter is coffee-soaked and rolled into a ball and I don’t know what to do about that just yet.

It snowed overnight and is still snowing. I put off raking the leaves because I am solo parenting and overwhelmed by the yard but now there is snow and I don’t know what to do about that either.

I also just remembered that Zeca still doesn’t have snow boots because she didn’t like any of the ones she saw and we argued and I gave up. She will be mad as hell when she wakes up because she likely won’t be allowed out at recess. I don’t know what to do about that either.

But I know one thing. I’ve been writing a lot–here, there and everywhere.

Today, I’m thrilled to have my words featured at Brain, Child. It’s a fresh piece on a topic I’ve not written much about: our donor.

Here’s an excerpt:

We made that decision 14 years ago during a very uncertain time. We didn’t know then that judges would change and second-parent adoptions would become easier. We didn’t know that we would someday be able to legally marry.

And because there were things we could not have known then, there are these things we cannot know now.

I hope you’ll head over there and read the entire piece, Things We Cannot Know.

While you are doing that, I’ll be trying to figure out what to do about leaves and snow boots and comforters.

 

The First Wedding Anniversary

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Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary and we celebrated via text because Luisa is currently in South Africa and I am here at home:

Vikki: Happy wedding anniversary!

Luisa: Isn’t it tomorrow, the 27th?

Vikki: No. Today.

Luisa: Or was it the 26th?

Vikki: Today, the 26th.

Luisa: Well, happy anniversary to you too.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned our upcoming anniversary and she said, “We’re not going to celebrate that one though.” It was a statement not a question and I agreed that a celebration wasn’t necessary but that the anniversary was noteworthy. We then engaged in a little game of Rank the Anniversary by Importance though our lists differ. We agree on the number one spot because we both want credit for all our years together (21 years on April 17, 2015) but we are split on the second spot. For me, the legal wedding takes that spot but for her, our commitment ceremony that took place in 2000 gets it. There is, of course, no right or wrong answer but I was surprised that the legal recognition of our relationship was at the bottom of her list.

In a way, it’s fitting that we have different views on this because I concluded last year that the wedding meant everything and nothing at all.

Regardless, I look back at our wedding–a word that I am only becoming comfortable using as time passes–as a great time. I still can’t completely articulate what it meant to me so it shouldn’t surprise me that Luisa’s feelings about it are equally complex. Our kids’ view of that day is clear–their parents got married. For them, it remains an iconic moment in our lives and one that should be celebrated. Or they simply want cake. As they listened to us rank our anniversaries, we had to explain that the wedding was important but it was only one of all the moments that have made our lives together what they are.

We can mark our family life by the big ones…

April 17, 1993 (the date our relationship began)

October 7, 2000 (the date of our commitment ceremony)

July 4, 2001 (the birth of our first child)

March 4, 2005 (the birth of our second child)

October 26, 2013 (the date of our legally recognized marriage)

Each date is like a foothold in the climb. The next milestone will be our 25th anniversary and maybe after that it will be Vikki’s First Hip Replacement. I don’t know what lies ahead but I plan to keep on taking note and celebrating the passage of time, even if it’s simply texts with emoticons: a heart (mine) and two beer mugs clinking (hers).

Happy belated third ranked anniversary Luisa! I’d do it all over again if I could. Actually, can we? I do so love a good party.

 

 

Keep Walking

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We got Chinese takeout last week. We rarely eat the fortune cookies so they lay about until I finally remember that the world will not end if I throw away an unopened fortune cookie, that there is no Good Will drop off site for uneaten fortune cookies. A couple of days after takeout night, I was standing in the kitchen, leaning against the wall sipping a cup of coffee and I noticed the three fortune cookies and I looked at them, concentrating to see which one called out to me. One finally did and I opened it up, cast the cookie aside and read the fortune.