Sitting cross-legged in my bed tonight, I’m staring at my computer screen while my 7 year old is sleeps right next to me. This last week he’s had trouble sleeping in his own bed, which is on the other side of our apartment. I’m not sure what’s causing his dis-ease, I just know I’m doing my best to help him find peaceful rest and security. If I had to guess, I’d say there are two things on his mind:
A scary cartoon he watched without permission last week. This I take full responsibility for, I was distracted and didn’t realize he had floated from something authorized to something that might frighten him.
Loneliness. He was an only child for 6 years before Kid 2 came along, and it’s tough being the Big Brother. There are times he feels (and is) brushed aside a bit because baby screams are priority. He misses his time with his Daddy and me. Exacerbating this, his room is clear on the other side of the apartment from ours, so I’d imagine it feels a little uncomfortable for him to make the long trek over there, be tucked in and kissed goodnight, and then watch the rest of the family go back to the other side of the living space.
I am not an expert Mommy. I do not always get it right. In fact, I screw up on the daily. It does not feel good, but I do the best I can to keep moving forward. To be totally honest most of the time I feel like a trapeze artist who is working without a net. My parents didn’t teach me how to parent (which is a blog series for another day). Basically what I say, how I act, what I’m aware of, it’s all guesswork. Every bit of it of every decision I make comes down to equal parts research (thanks, internet and Mom Bloggers), what I imagine I would want or need emotionally if I were in the situation as a 7 year old, and blindly attempting to calculate the most logical answer to whatever scenario we are currently knee-deep in.
All of that said, I do have compassion in spades and with a sensitive child like mine, it’s basically my super power. In this tender moment between my son and I, a question formed in my mind: What is courage?
The word courage brings to mind many different images, from soldiers fighting in battle, to patients who battle diseases like cancer, all the way to Mel Gibson’s blue-painted face in the movie Braveheart, in which he portrayed the great warrior and freedom fighter William Wallace, who was willing to give his life for his ideals and his people.
What if courage manifests in other ways? I mean, what does courage look like to a 7 year old? Well, for a child this age, courage might look something like jumping off the monkey bars, or standing up to a friend who is being a bully. Maybe, though, courage is having the guts to verbalize fear and ask for help when you can’t sleep and you’ve tried thinking positive thoughts and now you really don’t know what to do. Maybe courage is walking out of the room and risking chastisement in order to escape a yucky situation.
Yep, I think for my boy to pour out his heart to us and then ask to not be left alone tonight took some serious guts. I mean, let’s be honest, many of us adults have trouble doing this! I’m proud of him for speaking up.
So on nights like tonight, when it’s been a long day and we all just want rest and the dishes can wait because my hip is hurting and I still have an article to write, when my husband texts me from the living room to say “he is out of bed again and refusing to go back”, I have to get this right. I have to match this courage with benevolence.
This consideration – the idea that kids are people, too – is something I think about fairly often in my job as Mommy, mainly because it’s not something I was given as a child. On one hand, I don’t want my son to think he’s too delicate to face minor challenges. On the other hand, I refuse to invalidate his feelings just because he’s 7. They’re his feelings, and they are real to him.
I walk quietly into the living room, around the sleeping baby, and take my oldest boy’s hand. We walk to his bed, where I plop down cross-legged and begin to investigate (as moms do). He is in tears before I can ask the first question, so I change tactics and just hold him for a while. A few moments later, I try again. He says he’s not sure what’s wrong, but he doesn’t want to sleep by himself tonight. “That’s ok”, I say without hesitation, “you don’t have to”. I continue to speak life to his little spirit, saying what I believe are helpful statements like, “it’s alright to feel afraid” and “you are safe here”. I don’t know if this is right, but I’m trying my best, against the loud sighs coming from my husband, who has been working to keep his annoyance hidden while we get this sorted out.
((Side note: My husband is not a man who thinks guys have to be “macho”. Thank goodness, he doesn’t say things like “boys don’t cry”. He is, however, a man who works very long hours at a demanding job and greatly values his rest time, so the quicker this gets resolved, the better.))
We arrive at the bed that my son and I will now share this evening, him promptly crawling beneath the covers and me grappling with the idea of being kicked, punched, and snored at all night. I know this is right, I tell my husband. I know that when I was a child and I was afraid, all I wanted was for someone to tell me I was safe. I wanted someone to say “you don’t have to be alone”, someone to validate my feelings and not force me to lie in bed, terrified of whatever thought was tormenting me at the time. Being a kid is tough enough without having your protectors leave you feeling exposed and vulnerable.
When my son thinks back over his life, and when he remembers our relationship and what kind of mom I was, so much of it won’t matter. It won’t matter what we had for dinner tonight, but it will matter that I cooked and we all sat at the table and talked and laughed and connected. It won’t matter what kind of car I drove, as much as it will matter that I was there every afternoon after school, happy to see him. It won’t matter one bit that this apartment is not always clean and sometimes (ok, at ALL times) there are clothes and toys strewn about, but it will matter that this place felt like home to him. It will matter that he felt safe here. It will matter that he had (and for as long as I’m living, he will have) a place he can go and just shake the world off. A place where he doesn’t have to live up to anything, he never needs to feel embarrassed, a place where he’s not pressured to fit into someone else’s idea of who he should be or what he should think or feel. It will matter that he didn’t have to question whether he was part of our tribe.
Deep in the depths of my soul, I want that. As a mother, it is what I strive for above anything else.
Again, I ask: What is courage? Courage is the soldier, the cancer patient, and William Wallace. Yes, all those people are brave, possibly beyond measure. But in MY life, in MY circumstance, what is courage? For a mom like me, courage is the willingness to give my boy what his soul thirsts for, even if no one else understands it. Courage is parenting him and him only, without stopping to think about what other moms (even my own) might think. Courage is stepping away from traditional beliefs and from how I was raised in order to do it better, in order to raise a whole individual, fully functional and free from emotional baggage.
So tonight, clacking away at my old laptop with my firstborn snoring next to me, I rejoice in this budding courage – his and mine – and in the knowing that this time, I got it right.
All that panicking over Hurricane Irma was for nothing, folks. We have lots of water to drink, which won’t be a problem, and BOY am I glad we didn’t buy anything else in bulk. Thankfully we never even lost power. That said, being stuck inside with hubs and kids for a couple of days, I was probably more in danger of losing my sanity.
Menu: Vegan-ize all the things! After my second bout of stomach flu in about a month (I know, right?!) I decided to go into “Immunity Improvement Mode” and eat all the fruits and veggies I could get my hands on. I generally feel better when I cut out meat, which I do a few times per year, sometimes for weeks and sometimes as longs as 6 months. Normally I do it as a cleanse or as a way to raise my energy and vibration. Try it, it works! Even the mood is lifted, which I think has something to do with the hormones in our food and the emotions of the animals before and during their slaughter. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m basically the Mister Wizard of nurition. Sha-zam! [All of that said, I’m really not promoting one way of eating or lifestyle over another and I don’t call myself vegan at any time because it’s offensive to people who actually live it 100%.]
Music: Tchaikovsky! Particularly the Sleeping Beauty Ballet. If you’ve never heard or seen it, that’s basically a crime against humanity and your parent and/or guardian should be punished. Allow me to rectify this situation:
Also, I learned this week that the song in Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, when Aurora is singing in the woods, “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream…” is from Tchaikovsky’s Ballet. Isn’t that cool? Yes it is.
Travel: The Great Wall of China has just been added to the list. As I type this, though, I’m reminded how badly I’d like to go and see Hadrian’s Wall, which stretches across parts of Ireland and England and has great historical significance as well. It’s also the wall seen in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves. Hmm. Which Wall? I guess it depends on where Kevin Costner is at the time?
Gym Rat: I took a break this week and did mostly yoga and sleep. It was glorious.
Soul: With Hurricane Irma being in the forefront of everyone’s minds this week, I wondered (out loud) whether in times of crisis people are more or less in tune with each others needs. I think both are true. Some of us are natural caregivers, so when disaster strikes we are even more empathic than usual. Others of us are selfish, and panic amplifies that selfishness to a degree that makes it difficult for us to even see other people. Just my opinion, though.
Dreams: Nothing I’d like to share this week.
Photographing: Also nothing to share. (What? We were prepping for a storm!)
Movies and TV: Law and Order: SVU and all the marathons on all the channels. What can I say? I love it.
Library: Aside from GQ magazine, not much. The current issue has an interesting interview with Steven Soderbergh and a pretty good profile on Robert Pattinson. Both of them are pretty talented and I enjoyed reading.
Tech: Two new apps this week: Stone, which is fascinating and wonderful and very, very useful if you are into and own a lot of gemstones (which I do). Stone is a user-friendly guide to gemstones, with photos, historical factoids, and what each gem can be used for. The other is Golden Thread Tarot. It’s a fun digital tarot deck that does much more than just give general readings. It explains each card and even allows the user to log and journal about cards and readings. I don’t know anything about tarot, and I like being able to choose emotions to go with my daily card, like “hope” or “frustration” and knowing I can later search for cards or readings by emotion.
Nosh – Red meat. Lots of ground beef with A1 (what makes me love A1 so much? I think it’s the Raisin Paste.) For Labor Day, Dad cooked ribs and barbecue and then after that we had leftovers with A1. It’s seriously delicious.
Tunes – I hate the new Taylor Swift song. I don’t mean that ironically. I don’t love it so much I hate it, or hate it so much I love it. I just hate it. At work I’ve been switching the Pandora station from Smooth Jazz to Beethoven for Studying. I love Beethoven. The channel features a variety of talented composers, and many selections remind me of attending the symphony with my grandparents. A favorite for me this time of year is, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, Moonlight Sonata. For some reason it always makes me think of Christmas.
Wanderlust – We surprised my Dad with a trip to the Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival for his birthday. It’s an annual event hosted by Callaway Gardens, but none of us had ever been. Riding in a balloon was a “bucket list” item for my dad, and I have always wanted to see the balloons up close. A fun time was had by all, though I will say that I definitely prefer having my feet firmly on the ground. Aside from the balloon rides, they also had Disney’s Up! playing in one of the auditoriums, live music and fair food, stilt walkers, and a huge Classic Car Show. It was great fun!
Fitness – Yoga, particularly head and handstands. I have a great fear of anything upside down, so this week I’ve been practicing kicking up to headstands and just being at peace with the feeling. I’m hoping to get much better at it and progress to the next yogi level. Whatever that means. I basically just made it up.
Spiritual – Christie Marie Sheldon has some great videos on YouTube on energy clearing and raising vibration. I’ve been vibrating lower and lower, as the universe has kicked me in the teeth a few times this week, so I googled and found these gems. They are insightful and inspiring, and I highly recommend.
Dreams – UPDATE ON LAST WEEK’S DREAM::: MR. DECKER IS MY FRIEND ON FACEBOOK! He was one of my favorite teachers ever and I’m so happy to be connected with him again. Also I had a dream last night that I was in some old town in Prague or perhaps Croatia. Some Eastern European city with rich history and beautiful buildings. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was there, and he asked me to dance in the street. We also had some inside joke going about me wearing a tiara, but I can’t remember why it was funny. Anyway he wasn’t Jaime from GoT, just Nikolaj and it felt very real but then I woke up. I wonder if it was one of those dreams where your spirit and someone else’s spirit meet up (astral projection) and you get to hang out for a while, and then you go home. I’m going to let myself believe this, anyway.
Photos – Balloons! Obviously. Also, my eldest son, The Dragon, just passed his High Blue Belt test at karate so like the proud and slightly overbearing mom that I am, I took about 1,000 photos of that.
TV and Film – Beautiful Creatures on NETFLIX. If you love the idea of an eccentric Jeremy Irons in a cream floor-length coat and a thick Southern accent, who may also be a warlock of some kind, you will like this movie. The film isn’t centered around his character, but he sure makes it watchable.
Between the Pages – On a recommendation, I’ve started (today!) reading a new book called The Disappearing Spoon (And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements). Available on Amazon here So far, I’d give it a 5/10 but I’m only about 17 pages in. I’m hoping the promised mischief, intrigue and charm are just around the corner.
Tech – Debating this week the iPhone vs. the Android. My dad got an iPhone and he hates it. I like my iPhone, though at first I thought I’d never learn everything or get used to it. My husband has an Android phone, though, and swears by it. So which is better? Livewire breaks it down.
A La Carte: Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars. Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week. Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great. As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now. Any way I can get them, especially fries.
Tunes: Elvis! That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week. My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice. So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”. I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.
Where I’m Going: I want to go somewhere new for Christmas. Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter. It doesn’t snow here. I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic. New York? Paris? Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west. I like to ski! Maybe Aspen? I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.
Flesh: Elliptical cross-training! I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be. The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back. It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN. If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness. Life is too short to have it otherwise! So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do! Challenge yourself with the settings, too. I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat. (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.) Another bonus: The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!
Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life. I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything. I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.
Dreams: Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home. She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why. I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her. One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.
Photographing: SCHOOL IS IN! My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.
Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo. It is available on Netflix and it is adorable. Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to. Before this, he would not watch TV at all.
Library: My own book. Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief. The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon. The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony. I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was. So… I’m stuck. I’m sure it’s only temporary. The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)
Tech:Duolingo is my best friend. I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over. If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App. It’s fun, free, and easy to learn. Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun. You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.
On the Menu: Pork chops in A1 marinade. This was a happy accident, as the A1 bottle fell out of the fridge and busted, and, having been raised by my grandmother, I know better than to waste food. Baked sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli and yellow squash FTW.
Lyrical: No new music this week, looking for something fun and uplifting.
Walkabout: Chatta and Disney are on deck. Found some RT tickets to Rome for around $500/pp, so we might be saying “Ciao, Bella!” before my birthday! So exciting!
Temple: I took a much-needed rest week. This was completely unplanned. I had several symptoms of stress and over-training:
Fatigue – I was so tired, I could barely keep my eyes open, and even “accidentally” fell asleep a couple of times.
Weight Gain – Suddenly my weight was up 3-4 lbs, though my diet hadn’t changed.
Muscle Soreness – My legs were hurting, big time. It wasn’t just superficial pain, it was DEEP down. When I laid down, they would throb and ache.
Irritability – Emotionally, I felt so drained, and I started lashing out at people for no reason.
So, I made a decision for my health, against the advice of my ego, and I. SAT. DOWN. Difficult (and sometimes it can feel shameful) in #MomLife, but very, very necessary.
Ethereal: Listening to my August forecast on YouTube, and as always, taking lots of notes and excited to see what this month will bring. Check out my favorite reader, Kayleigh Jean, at Falcons and Pentacles.
Dreams: The only thing I remember from this week is a dream about a former teacher. Mr. Mustache was my English teacher in 8th grade, and was quite a character. I dreamed he had died, which according to this link can have several different meanings.
Photographing: Kids, Snapchat selfies, the usual.
Movies and TV: Mostly Law & Order: SVU. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure show for me. I miss Stabler, but like the new characters, too. Check it out on Netflix, or check USA channel, it’s normally running there around mid-day and afternoon.
Words on Pages: No books this week.
Tech: Looking for a new laptop, one that is versatile and user-friendly, but also will last a long time. I currently have a DELL, but I’m looking at the Chromebook too. Also loving my GIF keyboard by GIPHY, it’s fun and silly and easy to use.
I have contacted Runner’s World in the only way I know how. That is, by using their online “contact us” form, and by directly tweeting the editor. No one has responded, and while I refuse to let this ruin my day or crush my spirit, I do expect them to respond.
Right now I feel like they are the Marlowe to my Shakespeare. Trying to take credit, but in truth the idea is mine and always was. I don’t know why they felt the need to steal it. I don’t know how they can sleep at night. I am a writer AND a runner, and this was my passion project. Sure, I didn’t have the funds, but then again, I am not a huge corporation. I am the little guy. It doesn’t mean I deserve to be swept aside like rubbish while someone else takes my dreams and profits from them.
Maybe they didn’t think I was a good writer. (Isn’t that what editors are for?) Maybe the person who stole it hadn’t had a good idea in months. I don’t know. I don’t care. Nothing is a good enough excuse for what has happened. To see my idea come alive by someone else’s (treacherous) hand is gut-wrenching. It hurts to my core. It is reprehensible.
What do I do now? Well the short answer is, I don’t know. It’s Easter weekend and I am going to try not to think about it for the next couple of days. They have stolen everything else, I won’t let them take my joy. I would really appreciate a response, though. I want them to do what is right. I want Runner’s World to admit what they did, admit it was wrong, and give me credit for the idea that I submitted to them. That’s the right thing to do, the honorable thing. I was naive, I guess, in telling them my idea in the first place. Am I naive to think they will apologize? Probably.
To Dave Willey and anyone else reading this – You hurt me. I am only one person, sure, and a stranger to you, and I get that. But I am a PERSON. It was MY original idea you guys poached. I feel like I have been stabbed. The running (and writing) community is small, and has always felt like a good group of people. Why did you do this? Do you have any idea what kind of direct deposit you just made into your own karma bank? Man.
Please contact me. I would like to discuss what has been done and where to go from here.