Friday, January 28, 2011

What's in a Name?

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about my blog's name. Musings de Mommy perfectly suited this space when I started writing here years ago. But I sense that my words and posts are evolving, changing...they're not just about motherhood. Yes, that's still a big part of my life, and therefore it shapes my writing content. Technically, I'll always be a mother who muses.


I think I'm ready for a new name. One that more broadly captures what I do here, in this space. I have some ideas. Inspired by Aidan's post asking for name suggestions for her soon-to-arrive baby girl, I'd love to hear from you. If you were going to name this blog...what would you call it? Would you help me?

A few words about my blog:

I write about my daily journey. About the unique paradoxical nature of life. I explore the triumphs and challenges with my children, and sometimes, if he's really lucky, my Hubby. I write because I have's become as necessary as breathing. I write about my challenges as I try to stay present in this moment, the very one I inhabit, right NOW. I write about my emotions. About trees and shadows and the seasons. I share my thoughts about the ebb and flow of life...the darkness that necessarily, predictably precedes the light.

(P.S. I must admit that this whole name-change notion makes me nervous. How will people find me? Is it silly to change now? Will I change my twitter account? Will people know that it's me??? If you've been through this process, I'd also love to hear your advice and strategies. Please?? And Thank You (in advance).)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Betwixt the Bewitching

Finally, I realized it. Fancying myself a quick learner, I'm continually amazed at how long some things take to soak into my essence and become obvious. But, finally. I understand.

Why I want to slow down.
Why I want to nestle in next to my children for hours.
Why I want to cuddle under covers, warmed by multiple bodies, while I watch the steel gray winter sky threaten to sink so low that I could reach out and touch it.
Why I want to submerge into hearty recipes, warming my kitchen with the fragrant grace and bounty of stews and soups.
Why I crave slow, languid hours of quiet solitude.

Because I stopped long enough to hear it:

the combined whispers of my soul and winter and the earth, mingling in quiet harmonies:

Slow down.
Go within. Hibernate.
Release yourself from any guilt, remorse or shame. Do not push.
Rest. Recuperate. Relax.
Do so deliberately, and allow yourself to be thrilled by the quotidian, imperceptible passage of moment into moment.
Marvel at the winter's bewitching light, allow the mesmerizing power of the tree's intricate tapestry of branches to hypnotize you.


All is well.
Trust your instincts.
Trust your path.

I hear it. The occult, soft singing. So, so soothing. And I figure, since I'm lucky enough to sit betwixt the lullaby-like harmonies of soul and earth, I may as well join in.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shadows and Light

I lay in bed. The clock read 11:03 pm. Emotions, hot and raw, bubbled inside, clawing to get out. Nothing terrible--just one of those emotive passages of life. The rather unfortunate timing of this particular outlet: it was the evening of Hubby's 40th birthday. (And I adore birthdays. They are sacred days of homage to the special birthday person. Not days for emotional outburst and catharsis.)

I tried. I squelched. I pretended. I even told those emotions to take a hike. To avoid spilling my emotional beans, I vanished into the kids bedrooms, tears brimming and falling down my face, hoping that my dear Hubby would be asleep upon my return. I watched those sleeping angels and kissed, kissed kissed them through teeming emotion. I sat on the precipice of release--the great, freeing feeling of cleanse that descends once the emotions are freed. Once they're allowed to do their job.

I padded back to my room. Hearing the soft snores of Hubby punctuate the dark, I thought I'd succeeded. I didn't ruin his birthday with tears. I climbed back into bed and through that same darkness, I heard,

"How are the kids?"


"Fine," my voice wavered in response.

"What's wrong, honey?" he asked. I thought, No, no no not today not on his birthday.

Too late. Once released from the feeble confines of my controlling grasp, the emotions gasped for air. I gasped, too. He wrapped me into him. Game over. I offered up, through my tears, a silent supplication of gratitude for this wonderful man who is my husband, with whom I get to traverse this life.


Life's mystery comprises in its complexities: dark, then joyous; despondent, then brilliant. I know I am not the first to delve into life's intrinsic paradox. But comfort and sure-footing sit within this paradoxical equation. When I sit in my moments of emotional catharsis, settling into this knowledge and understanding yields comfort. Remembering helps--remembering the cyclical, idiosyncratic pulse of life, the thread that connects all of us, each of us, helps.

As I sit on the precarious perch of my life, sometimes smiling, other times crying, I ground myself in the knowledge that the predictive flow and ebb continues. Even when in the inevitable seat of growth and catharsis, the brilliance and joy of life linger on the edges of the shadows and sadness, promising the inexorable return of the light, and the giddiness in my soul.

Monday, January 17, 2011

He Dreamed a Dream

A repost from January 2009.
This morning, Hubby and I talked with the kiddos about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When I asked Abby if she knew who MLK was, she said yes; she saw a picture of him in her classroom. I asked her if she knew why we celebrate his life. She answered that he helped the “brown” children and the “peach” children go to the same school.

We discussed the many gross inequities in our country’s history and how Dr. King’s goal was to have people judged “not…by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”.

We watched moments of his powerful, goose-bump giving 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.” We talked about the significance of the inauguration of our country’s first African American president, Barack Obama.

After we wrapped our impromptu history lesson, I asked Abby what she now knew about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. She answered,

“He dreamed a dream that everyone would be safe.”

Oh, a child’s perspective. Simultaneously innocent and wise.

I often reflect on the history of our country. Living in Little Rock, where one of the most notable Civil Rights moments occurred, I often take note of the currents. For instance, I could’ve done cartwheels when we first visited Abby’s new Kindergarten class and saw all the beautiful, diverse faces sitting around that room. My heart still skips each time I visit her classroom and see so many different faces smiling at me.

Dr. King also dreamed that, “one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

Well, Dr. King, we’re not in Alabama, but just a little west, here in Arkansas. I see those children holding hands daily. The little “brown” boys and girls, the little “peach” boys and girls, the little Hispanic boys and girls, the little Asian boys and girls…they all hold hands.

We still have a lot of work to do. But it gives me hope to see one small iteration of your dream, realized. Thank you, Dr. King.

(And thank you, Abby, for getting it.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Its Constant Passage

And the winds of time will take us, with its sure and steady hand,
where the river meets the sea. - John Denver, John Denver & The Muppets

Each and every time I hear these lyrics, my eyes glisten. Even though it's technically a Christmas song, when it pops up on my iPod, I listen--regardless of the season. This morning, the song came on and the familiar tears stung my eyes. These lyrics, confound me, stop me. I find them simultaneously true, sad and hopeful, always urging reflection. These words remind me, as if the wrinkles and the lengthening of my children weren't enough, that time knows no stop signs. It does not nap. It proceeds on its continual, immutable journey.

Time, moving me through challenges and complexities. Time, delivering me to hard-earned moments of grace. Constantly in flux. Dependable. Maddening. Sure.

Today, as I drove to pick up Henry from school, I passed the cemetery. Cars lined the snowy street. People gathered to say goodbye to one of theirs. A cloud passed through my heart, aching for the loss of life. I sent up a wish for the departed that their life had been what they had wanted it to be.

Time, in certain moments, hypnotizes me with it's certainty--the hush-like descent of twilight, always followed by the promising glimmer of sunrise. At others, it's rash, steadfast passage smacks right up against my heart.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Snowflakes and Seconds

The last two days, the forecasters have promised me snow. I awoke with a start at 4:13 am this morning and peered through the blinds, anticipating my beloved snow.

No snow. Luckily, I entered sleep-land again, despite my nagging disappointment.

But when Abby came in at 7 am, asking if there'd be school, I quickly scanned outside. White. Everywhere. Ahhhh. The snow came, as promised. I exhaled deeply.

Now, the snow falls, falls, falls, steadily and patiently. Snow alters me on a cellular level...a panacea of sorts. It simultaneously calms while invigorating and awakening some part of my soul, lying dormant, heralding the arrival of the blankets of fluffy white. I love the way the air smells when it snows. I love the trappings of snow...fires, fleeces, red-cheeked faces. There's hope in that snow. A promise of sorts.

The graceful flakes hypnotize as they descend to my world. The gradual layering of achingly beautiful to me. I imagine the slumbering earth below. It seems as if Mother Earth pulls up her blanket of snow over her layers of mulched leaves and acorns, burrowing in for her winter slumber.

Tall, bare trees reach starkly, boldly into the low winter sky; their roots holding steadfastly to her frozen bed. I see the trees as the Earth's sentries. Guarding the hibernating land through the harsh, pounding winter, then, months later, gently alerting everyone of spring's imminent arrival.

The trees, they never cease to inspire wonder and awe in me. So stoic. So tall. So graceful. Today, laced in muted whites.

I stand outside, and look up at the sky and allow the snow to fall on my face, my hair. I feel small--wonderfully small, aware of my microscopic place in this life. Yet full of appreciation for the opportunity to fulfill it. My own little perch--a place to observe, learn, retreat and replenish.


The last several days, I purposefully observed my interactions with my children. I took more deep breaths. I found little gems hiding beneath snarky comments and tired eyes. I sense a softening in me; a welcome shift, for sure. I feel more tender, more open to the experiences as they present. And I suspect that my appreciation--amidst another tantrum, another pair of urine soaked pants, a barley squelched dramatic interlude--starts with the rekindled awareness that these moments are finite. As my friend Lindsey beautifully writes, these moments show "tangible evidence of the wheeling forward of time, inescapable proof that our moments on this planet are numbered. On the whole time’s movement seems an odd combination of quixotic and inexorable, some moments stretching endlessly and others passing with blinding speed."

Blinding speed. Blinking and years are spent. Yes. But in this quiet moment, fueled by the snowy tundra outside my window and the (thankfully) happy chatter of my children, time slows. The ethereal grace of this moment prevails. The seconds fall softly and slowly. Like snow flakes. I sit, satiated by the prevailing tenacity of our connectedness. Warmth from the fire. Abby, Henry and me. Together. Enjoying the endless stretch of this moment.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Year

The dawning of the new year and new decade have me feeling introspective. My acute awareness of freshness glints and reflects off all the new moments of 2011. As I feel the pulses of the new year, I realize that each and every moment in life hold the same promise and power as the arrival of a new year.

I must admit that this epiphany feels a bit obvious, elementary. I even feel a bit silly sharing this non-profound insight. I mean, last year, I wrote and wrote and wrote myself hoarse about the beautiful power of Now. And that I finally embraced the beauty of living in this moment--and showed up in each one--instead of living in passed moments or those that have yet to come. Because, not surprisingly, in living that way, I missed moments that I wish I could now reach back and soak up.

Anyway, as with all lessons and epiphanies, another iteration and layer of this evolving knowledge awaited me. I don't need a new year, a new month, a new decade on the calendar page to infuse me with an appreciation of the possibility that exists all the time. Yes, of course, calibrating with the pomp and circumstance of a new year certainly helps.

But. Now, I sit with this newfound knowledge--each moment holds freshness and possibility--all year long.

Yesterday I stood in the checkout line at Marshalls. And a woman stood in line behind me with the tiniest baby all snug in her car seat, coozily nestled in her stroller. The mom looked down at her baby and smiled--you know the smile. The one where all else ceases to exist and the hearts and souls of that mother and baby twine together, satiated in love and togetherness. I love you. I adore you. You are my world.

I remember some of these moments with Abby, and even fewer with Henry. Yet sadly, there are many more that I don't. That phase of my life, those nows, have passed. Now I'm at Marshalls, by myself. Just me, my purchases and my purse. I love these moments by myself (and looked forward to them for a looooong time) and yet...I'm longingly staring at this new mother behind me, craving my own tiny baby to share a smile with. In unsuspecting moments, like this one, the realization slaps me--my children are no longer babies. Hubby and I will not have any more babies. No more pregnancy tests, nursing, rocking, awake-all-night, mustard-seed poop diapers, binkies, tiny onesies and heavenly baby smell. I've graduated to solo-trips to Marhshalls, independence, 8 hours a night and a new set of joys and challenges I never could've imagined.

What I do know is this: now that I'm living presently, I savor the moments of youngness with my children. I notice, peripherally, the mother of teenagers smiling longingly back at me when I'm walking through the parking lot, tightly holding both of my kids' hands. The teenagers of that other mother walk ahead, heads lowered as they engage their iPhones, Northface fleeces pulled low over their quickly moving fingers. I turn back to the blond heads of my children. And smile down at Abby. Then at Henry. You know the smile.


I embrace the moments of our current reality. Nighttime spooning with Abby. Henry's silky hand in mine as we walk up the walk to his preschool. The complete and utter chaos of mornings. The gentle, steady beat of their voices--needing me, calling for me. Those moments are numbered. One day, they won't call out for my help. They'll send secret teenage-smoke signals that I'll need several books (and bottles of wine) to decipher.

So, we move forward, marching along into this Now, and the next, and the next. Goodbye babyhood and toddlerhood. A bittersweet lump forms in my throat, tangled with emotion. Bitter because I realize with the passing of each, we will never return to the splendor of those moments again. Sweet because many other unknowns await. Bruised ego moments. Holding hands moments. Even the crabby bitch moments (Abby and Henry can confirm). ALL of them. Even when I'm redirecting and reprimanding Henry, AGAIN. Pissed off moments. Blah, joyous, sad, soaring, slammed-doors moments. Toy-story reenactment moments. Mitigating. Celebrating. Living. Holding tight, fingers and souls twined together.


Happy Hew Year. Happy New Now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

King of the Non Sequitur

Henry has, at the tender age of four, mastered the non sequitur; he utters so many non-related tidbits he keeps us in stiches. But I don't think anything demonstrates his agility and prowess more than the following photo. I walked into the family room this morning and found this: