Wednesday, July 28, 2010

My most important relationship.

The kid-free time that our families have allowed us to have has been a real gift, Tarzan and I have had the chance to reconnect. All the ‘down time’ really has spoiled me; I’m a little worried that I’ll be a fish out of water when Cheetah comes home. Out of all the perks, I think I’ve have enjoyed all the opportunities for introspection the most. When I was younger I was adamant that I would not change for a man and once I had children I would fight tooth and nail to never lose myself in my daily roles, as I did an ‘self-inventory’ this week I was pleasantly surprised. There have been quite a few changes in the day to day life of Jane Smith but she’s still alive and kicking.

Finding the changes was a bit difficult; I really had to take a closer look at the big picture to unearth the ‘improved’ Jane Smith. Adding Cheetah to the mix means my daily routine has to be kick started pretty early in the morning now, so the night owl in me only comes out on the weekends; bed time is 10:30pm now. There are very few ‘fend for yourselves’ nights at the Smith abode nowadays, we’ve replaced it with balanced home-cooked meals followed by a fresh fruit dessert. Instead of saving all the chores for the weekend we do a load of laundry and a chore a day. I still relish in the joy of introspection, but now it’s focused on me being the example of a well-rounded person for Cheetah to emulate. And lastly, my obsession with shoes and purses has been quelled and replaced with the need for saving and spending responsibly; I am actually enjoying my 1st new purse in over a year.

How I know the ‘good ole’ Jane is still present is a lot easier to identify; maybe because I am far more familiar with her. Even though I am a few decades older, I still enjoy my top 3 things in the world: jaunts to the grocery store (going down every isle), adding cheese to all my meals and snacks, listening to music that sooths the soul and wakes the conscious. I am a Taurus through and through so creature comforts and the finer things in life are all included in my daily existence: A good meal accompanied by great conversation makes even the worse days more manageable; no foot is complete without a weekly pedicure and filing; and quality time with my bed snuggled in my cool buttery sheets, devouring a library book, praying for a thunderstorm are just a few examples. On the days where even Prozac won’t help, there is nothing like spending the evening distressing in the kitchen, even though occasionally I fail at that too. I still long to go on adventures all around the world, I am thrilled to be taking Cheetah on his 1st plane ride this September; I hope to pass on my travel-bug to him.

My grandmother always told me,” if you didn’t like spending time with yourself how can you expect anyone else to?” and she was right. The most important relationship any of us will ever have is the one with ourselves. After 32 years it’s nice to know that I still enjoy my own company. And while I may be very funny, I am making peace with the fact that Cheetah may be funnier. I guess every super-hero has to have a sidekick, I wonder if he’d take my application.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Trying not to be trite.

For the past week and a half Tarzan and I have been living kid-free, and I must admit it has been nice. I have had the chance to be reminded of why we ended up together in the first place. With two such strong personalities at times we are at each other’s throats but thankfully we are both too bull-headed to just walk away from a struggle. I remember when we met 11 years ago, we were both so young and had our eyes focused on 2 very different futures.

My entire life had been spent trying to find, make, or mold each man I dated into ‘the one’. I had been heart-broken and I was ready to turn over a new leaf. I was young for heaven sake so now it was time to be both young AND dumb. I had decided that I was done with long-term relationships and it was time to be foot loose and fancy free. Tarzan has always been a hit with the ladies, and I don’t mean a ‘ladies man’, he always knows just what to say to a woman to get in her good graces. He was (and for the record still is) suave, funny, handsome, smart and had an infectious laugh. I dreamed of being married and he had decided that marriage was not for him. We were both in college and we had friends in common but we had never spent a great deal of time together. I had done poorly in school and had to enroll in summer school to try and catch up and improve my GPA. I was pissed, I didn’t want to go to summer school, and no one I knew was going and I would have no vehicle (thanks to that .75 GPA). My mom drove me to school, got me settled in and I headed to the cafeteria for supper. As I scanned my card and turned to walk inside, there he was. I couldn’t believe it; maybe this summer wasn’t going to be all bad. My life quickly turned into a John Hughes movie and I could hear the lovesick soundtrack playing over my rapid heartbeat. That was it, in one summer I found my best friend and my partner for life.

To use the phrase ‘love of my life’ would be trite. He’s the sunshine in my day, the skip in my step, the song in my heart, and the daydream in my head. I always imagined love to be this overwhelming emotion that would block out so much of the world, essentially making me blind to things. Not ours. When things are bad; dry sobbing, gut wrenching, life changing hard…he’s the relief. When I’ve made and ass out of myself, hurt people’s feelings, or not been the person I want to be he’s there. When life is sunshine, roses, and laughs he’s there too. We may no longer be in the stage where you struggle with chapped lips, friends are forming search parties, and coming up for air can be painful, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. At some point real life has to be happen, you have to get jobs and be grown-ups. Things are no longer about always being together, now it’s about always being there FOR each other. As I’ve watched my grandparents and parents growing older together, I’ve have realized that while things will never be easy and each ‘season’ of our relationship will have its struggle, it’s nothing we can’t handle.

So every morning when I wake up I will touch his arm and silently whisper, “I choose you” and I will use my second breath to thank God for allowing Tarzan to swing into my life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Who's this "Brady" anyway?

Tarzan and I have known for a while now that we were getting a rare treat, couple time. We knew we would get a weekend but now it has turned into 17 days of kid-free adult time. We’ve been so excited; we’ve been making arrangements and lining up activities that we don’t normally get the chance to enjoy. Now I’m getting nervous, scared really. As the days go by I am actually having problems sleeping, it’s so ridiculous. I lie awake in bed imagine all the worse case scenarios that can happen and I am beginning to drive myself even crazier. I have always been proud that my child can enjoy time with other people and doesn’t always require his parents there to love, comfort, and entertain but now I’m not so sure. What if there’s an accident? What if he gets hurt? What if he wants/misses me and I’m not there? As I type the words I am realizing that it’s very egocentric of me to think that he wants me around that much. For all I know he could need the break away as much as Tarzan and I do. He may be making plans and counting down the days too. I spent the greater part of all my summers away from home, I always had a great time, and NEVER got homesick granted I was older than Cheetah is now but it has to start sometime. I was so lucky to have had such a great relationship with my grandparents and aunts and I am glad that Cheetah is getting that chance as well. It really does take a village to raise a child and the more roots he can lay down the better ‘tree’ he’ll be in the long run.

I want to make sure that Tarzan and I keep Cheetah as grounded as possible. For me there was one phrase that my mom always said that has really ‘stuck’ with me, “if your family can’t tell you like it is, who will”. Of course she was right, as usual, and I want Cheetah to see his family as his greatest resource. Being an only child can be difficult, you are left with adults as your only resource for advice and at times going to an adult can seem very intimidating…I want him to have many people that he can access. It seems like we are always surrounded by people and things that want to take away a child’s innocence and zest for life and I want to fight like the dickens to keep his intact. The one area it seems he may have problems with is peer pressure.

With Tarzan and I both being leaders (as well as strong willed) people weren’t really able to make us do things we weren’t ok with…how do you make someone be a leader? For example, Cheetah has this one friend at school that he always wants to show stuff to, tell him things, or give him a snack…this ‘friend’ is a JERK. He never likes Cheetahs’ stories, show and tells, new clothes, or games and it gets Cheetah a little down. Last night he said, “Brady didn’t like my movie I brought.” I said, “This Brady kid seems like a jerk. Just because he doesn’t like something it doesn’t mean it’s not cool. You know that right?” He thought about it for a moment and replied, “No, I really want him to like my stuff.” It made me sad, I just wanted him to be a baby again, it was easier then. I want my child to be self-sufficient, to not rely on others to fulfill him or make him happy. I remember the feeling of wanting to be cool and liked by everyone but as a parent I worry about him loosing himself one day. So maybe calling his friend a 'jerk' wasn’t the right path to take. I decide to ask questions about what his favorite movies, colors, and clothes are and he gets a kick out of all the interviewing. Later that night he picks out a shirt and says, "I really think Brady is going to like this shirt”. Baffled I mumbled, “Who cares about what Brady thinks”. He retorted loudly, “Who cares what you think?” Well played.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Are you gonna eat that???

With another long weekend under our belt we all started the week well rested and feeling very accomplished. We are now on week 3 of keeping the house in a ‘company ready’ state and I must admit that it is really not taking that much effort. Tarzan and I had a ‘melt down’ free weekend and actually enjoyed A LOT of quality family time at home. By Sunday at 5pm all the hampers in the house were empty, clothes were put away, 2 meals were cooked, and we had enjoyed 2 movie nights.

This past month we also instituted meals all together at the big table, I think this is my favorite thing that we have changed. I think it helps him to see the both of as an example of what we expect from him, and I love watching Cheetah develop his own eating habits. He will eat any sandwich as long as it has no ‘salad’ on it and plenty of honey mustard, he likes to dip his apples in honey mustard and ketchup, and no tortilla chip is complete without a dip into the sour cream; just to point out a few. There is just one little habit that worries me. While we are eating he likes to discuss what we are eating, exactly. For instance if we are eating chicken and sausage over rice we have to discuss what a chicken looks like, what exact piece of it we are eating, and what makes up sausage. I love this, I think it is very important to be aware of what you are putting in your body but when we are at restaurants we are being scoffed at. As I have mentioned before my child is very ‘exuberant’ and he speaks very loudly; I am beginning to think that some people are being made uncomfortable listening to my child’s questions while they bite into ole Bessie the cow. I don’t think it help’s much that he likes to name the meat and go over what noises they make. Every place we leave I am pretty sure we leave a few new vegetarians in our wake.

Animal eating habits have also become a serious topic of discussion, and now zoos are a place we may be kicked out of in the not so distant future. I think him being an only child leaves him loads of extra time to think of things. He wants to know what everything eats; bugs, cats, dogs, wolves, bears, sharks, lions…you get the picture. At each animal we come to he runs his finger over the brail name while I read the marker followed by him asking, “and what does Mufasa (he names the animals too) eat for suppers?” I inform him of some of the animals that they dine on and he retorts with some wildly imaginative story of how he catches and eats the animal. It’s like listening to Elmo on a Discovery Channel show. Mostly parents laugh but some are appalled by his knowledge of the circle of life and that sometimes animals eat people. Am I giving him too much information at his age? I will say that the look on the faces of the staff as my child says, “I bet that pig would make a yummy hot dog” is worth every question he has ever asked me about food and where it comes from.