Wednesday, October 28, 2009

from the mouths of babes

Ari, after handing me his art project:

"Don't break my heart, Mom. Don't break it."

I'll try not to, Ari. I really, really will.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"I am woman...

...hear me roar. "

That song always plays through my head as I walk back through the parking lot after a day at an amusement park with both the kids and zero adult back-up. Today, the early evening sun was slanting across Sea World's parking lot as I pushed my spawn through the Back 40 to our patiently waiting orange chariot. "...oh yes I am wise, but it's wisdom born of pain..."

As Sascha had other "adult" errands to attend to and couldn't share the parenting responsibility today, I decided "why the hell not have a little fun?" and packed up the kids to go see Shamu. It wasn't until I was almost at the park did I realize that a) it's a Saturday and b) it's a Halloween Spooktacular weekend at Sea World. Oh God. A lethal combination. Very quickly my flippant "why the hell not have a little fun?" turned into "what the hell have I done?" as the friendly parking attendants kept motioning us further and further away from the main entrance. How many people are here today? and Will we have to take a shuttle into the park? and I don't think they have a shuttle. However, I kept up a brave front and chattered away with Ari about Shamu and the dolphins and where-oh-where are we going to park? Luckily, we grabbed a spot, I popped the kids, several changes of clothes (ahem, potty training, ahem) and the sunscreen into the stroller and off we went.

Really, it wasn't that bad. Navigating the crowds of Elmo-clad children provided the biggest challenge...a dualie stroller isn't exactly the most deft child-hauling implement. Overall, the kids were great and I discovered yet again that if you toss enough snacks at Ari he'll sit through as many breast-feeding sessions as you want.

I also discovered anew that theme parks are some of the best places for people watching. Especially theme parks during Halloween. Children dressed as Nemo, Elmo, various levels of princesses and fairies, pirates, etc. etc. Beleaguered parents pushing strollers with screaming children (doubtlessly coming off a sugar high) slung over their shoulder. Pink-haired teenagers in the strangest moon-boot-high-top shoes...although I don't think that was a costume. "I told you to keep that thing in there or I'm taking it away," says a highly tattooed dad pushing his sword-wielding pirate in a stroller. A middle-aged woman in a walking cast and two elderly women cowgirlin' up and mincing through the throngs with their canes. As a young mom lost her daughter for about 90 seconds, I watched the panic bloom across her face and witnessed her thoughts fast-forward through the next 20 years without her little girl. "...Yes, I've paid the price. But look how much I've gained. If I have to, I can do anything..."

There were several moments that I had to force myself to keep a straight face. Yes, because some situations were simply laughable but also because I was reminded time and again of how we're all a part of this humanity-sludge and we all pretty much walk the same line when it comes right down to it. Our little trio was probably the subject of people-watching as well...At the Shamu show when Ally decided it was time for her nap and threw a Fuss while Ari was trying to sit on my lap so he could see Shamu. Grabbing Ari tends to calm Ally down so I allowed her to do this until the repeated grabbings provoked a Fuss from Ari. The Shamu Show wasn't nearly as inspiring for Ari and I this time around, although we got some chuckles from our seatmates...And again when I had to push through the throngs of waiting parents, with a nursing baby still attached, to pull Ari out of the bouncy house when his turn was up and he refused to come out on his own. As we all sat back down on the bench I had formerly been feeding Ally on, the mom next to me chuckled and said, "I've been there. I think I've walked across this whole park nursing one kid or the other. You basically just survive it, huh?"

And it all comes back down to that. We're all in this together. And yes, you basically survive it...this life thing. And if you're lucky, and if you actually try a little, then you end up living it. That's what I'm shooting for...the living it. Julia Alvarez wrote, "We are all the same size, don't you know? Just some of us stretch ourselves a little more." So I guess that's why I take small children to theme parks by myself. Why I'm determined to run another marathon. Why I choose to do childbirth without drugs. That's why I can't blow certain ideas (not to be mentioned here) out of my head. Just trying to stretch, trying to live. And as I look at a lot of the women around me, I see that I'm not alone.

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul

I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong
I am invincible
I am woman

~Helen Reddy