Tonight it is supposed to rain. Sorry, kids. (I suppose there could be adventures in a cold rain — of the highly realistic, rather miserable variety. But who wants that?)
I did not take photos at last night’s show. It was late for mamas at mid-week, a decade and a half older than the kids who came out to dance. But we mamas came out to dance too. And we still know how, despite our complaints about the lateness (so late!) and the loudness (first band, so loud!), and the “Oh God, I hope my hip holds out” (so lame!).
The dancing. It was really fun. We danced for the second band, but the really inspired getting down didn’t happen until Kidstreet arrived on stage. I love my siblings! Their sound is infectious, their performance is joyful and welcoming, and my sister is just the most gorgeous and composed creature on stage that you can possibly imagine (whether or not she can see it herself). As the set progressed, my dance moves got more adventurous, less fearful of will-this-hurt-my-hip? By the last song of the night, I’d shed that decade and a half, at least inside my own head. Walking home through the quiet of freshly fallen snow, I had to admit that I was limping ever so slightly. But when I woke up this morning, my hip actually felt years better.
Seriously. I could jog across the living-room without pain. How bizarre is that?
Let me tell you about the few hours between dancing and morning. I was gloriously asleep when the pitter-patter of feet woke me. CJ had gone to the bathroom by himself (yay!), returned to his bed and decided he didn’t like the looks of it (uh oh!), and come into our room lugging his water bottle and a giant sheep stuffie (noooooooo!). “I had a bad dream!” he announced, which is his new code for “I don’t want to go to sleep.” He attempted to climb into bed beside me. The sheep didn’t fit. Seriously, it’s enormous. We could all see this wasn’t working. I dragged myself upright, walked him back to his own room, explained about it being the middle of the night, sleeptime, etc., tucked him in.
Pitter-patter, pitter-patter. No sheep this time. “Is anyone downstairs?” he asks from the side of the bed. It’s pitch black. 4:45am. “Nope. We’re all sleeping. Because it’s the middle of the night!” He climbs in beside me, snuggles up. I’m too tired to object. We “sleep” like this for an hour until I just can’t stand the wriggling anymore. (I know lots of parents share beds with their children, and I just want to know: do those children hold still in their sleep? Because mine are like squirrels, if squirrels were much larger and not furry and had sharp elbows and hot breath and digging heels).
“Listen,” I said at last. “I can’t sleep like this. I’m going to your bed.”
“You can stay here, and I will go sleep in your bed. Or, you can go sleep in your bed and I’ll stay here. One or the other. Because I’m not getting any rest and I have to get up in an hour for a dentist appointment.”
“My blankets are too small.”
“Not the green one. The green one is plenty big. So what you do want: should I go sleep in your bed, or will you?”
Surprisingly, he chose to return to his bed. And then he slept.
And much too soon after that I was sitting in a reclining chair staring at beige ceiling panels, listening to top-forty soft rock while a masked woman scaled tartar off my teeth.
If I were sketching a trajectory of pleasantness upon a graph, say, from midnight until nine this morning, it would look like a ski hill. High to low, baby, high to low. The nighttime bed-sharing was definitely several graph points above the hygienist prodding exposed nerve endings between my teeth. At least with the bed-sharing I got to snuggle up to a hot-breathed, wriggling, pointy-elbowed creature of intense dearness. With the dentist all I got was a return appointment a week from today to fill a cavity — my first in TWENTY YEARS.
See. Straight down. Like a ski hill.
It’s a life.
I cheated. This year, I’ve claimed two words. My word-of-the-year friends were skeptical at first, but I swear I saw this online somewhere and it’s allowed. (Are there actual formal rules and guidelines for word-of-the-year? I suppose it is right there in the title, singular, not plural).
My word of the year is work/play.
It was going to be work. Work grabbed me and shook me and said, hey you, this year, you’re going to focus on me. And I replied, sounds good, I’d like that. So I walked around with Work for a week or more, quietly testing it out and accepting it as my word. Except it didn’t seem complete all by its rigorous demanding lonesome. That’s when Play jumped into the mix. Hi there, remember me?
Here’s the thing: in my world, in my being, Work comes naturally. Work is Play. I am easily obsessed by the completion of goals. I like to do things. I throw myself in really deep and sometimes get lost inside of Work. Yes, I want this year to be about Work–about Working, to be precise. But I need to strive for some balance. I need to seek out Play, too, accept it when it comes knocking at my door.
For me, Play is sometimes more like Work. Not always, not precisely, but let me put it this way: I will beeline for my office at the mere suggestion that there’s work to be done; it takes more effort, more convincing, to call me outside to play. Sad but true. It is also true that I could not create what I do without going outside to play. So my work stands to suffer and stagnate without making room, taking time, clearing space, to leap into the spontaneous, the adventuresome, the just plain fun.
One of my word-of-the-year friends told me I should make a “Playlist” (nice!). On the spot, I couldn’t come up with much. Ask me for a Worklist and I’ll get down to business. But what’s on my Playlist? Truthfully, I don’t know yet. Surprise me, Playlist. (For some reason, horseback riding was the one thing that leapt immediately to mind).
I also aim to combine Work and Play this year. They don’t have to stand in opposition to one another. Where do these words align, in my life and yours?
Yesterday held a satisfying mix of work/play. I ran with a friend before dawn; served breakfast, plus made supper in the crockpot; got everyone out the door; napped for 20 minutes; worked on a new song at the piano for half the morning and worked at my desk for the other half; picked up my youngest from nursery school; ran errands; ate lunch; squeezed in a little more writing time while he watched a movie (and no, I won’t apologize for the tactic); picked up the girls early from school for their piano lessons; visited with a friend who works at the same place the girls have their lessons; arrived home to finish making supper and hang laundry; parented some bad meal-time behavior; headed out for supper with my siblings, within walking distance; picked up Albus and walked him (almost all the way) home from his piano lesson; walked to meet with friends over tea to talk about word-of-the-year; and finally, at the end of the day, spent time with Kevin.
I was going to try to categorize each item above as either work or play or work/play, but realized I’m not sure where everything falls. Serving breakfast to my kids can be really fun when we’re all talking together; or it can be a real chore when I’m hungry too and everyone’s grumpy and wants something different and we discover homework that still needs doing, etc. I also realized that there isn’t really room for the critical element of “rest” within work/play. I’m not going to add a third word. But it’s there, lurking behind the scenes. The lack of it gets in the way of both work and play. I don’t care to focus on it, but hope to get enough of it, both mental and physical, this year. (Play seems like mental rest, though, doesn’t it?).
Uh oh. Is that me? As I woke at 5am, churned away at spin class, got home, ate breakfast, threw laundry in washer, thought about working on the writing project I’m developing, checked email instead, received message on how to use my camera better, spent next hour and a half playing with camera settings and taking random photos around the house, finally sat down at desk to work and started a new blog post. This one.
All the while, this is my morning to work while Kev hangs out with the kids. ie. my time is limited! And what have I done? Is it my habit to dart from project to project, from activity to activity, never fully developing the potential of any?
Maybe my word of the year should be focus. Or choose. Or limits.
Ugh. I don’t want a word like that. I want to do too many things. Not just do them, but master them, become expert at them. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
(Yes it is, at least all at once, if experience is any guide.)
But everything in me wants to deny it. Wants to embrace the opportunities, chase all interests, learn with a hungry and curious mind.
Look at it this way:
**This morning I challenged my body and put in time and effort toward racing goals this summer.
**This morning I ate breakfast with my kids.
**This morning I learned something new and useful: how to adjust the aperture and shutter speed settings on my camera manually, and what effect these previously mysterious numbers have on the outcome of the photos I take every day.
**This morning I recorded, briefly, where my mind is at.
**This morning I connected with friends in person and via email.
And now I am going to open a word processing file and spend an hour, **this morning, working on The Big Fat Juicy Belly Worm. Yup. My project in development is a story for children. I read the first chapter to my kids last night, and I think they’d like to hear another one. What could be more motivating?
Sorry, German saying. You’re probably right, but I’m going with my manic energy this morning.
On a completely different note, this blog post titled “Read and Loved in 2011” by The Keepin’ It Real Book Club reached out of the blue and touched me **this morning. Read it and see for yourself.
I spent an afternoon earlier this week attempting to sort through our six bins of Playmobil and reassemble castles and families and scenes. There’s a reason I titled this post “Mission Impossible.” I wasn’t doing it because I’m short of projects, of course; I was doing it because CJ was home sick and desperate for someone to play with. So we dragged out the Playmobil. All of it. If you’d been listening in, this is how our “playtime” would have sounded: “Stop sorting, Mommy! Make your guy talk to my guy!” And then I’d make my guy say, “Let’s find my missing candelabra base. We can go on a deep sea mission to the bottom of this bin and ….” Deep sigh from CJ.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’m not good with the playing.
My proudest accomplishment of the afternoon was the completion of one room in a princess castle. One room. It is now on a high shelf and everyone who looks at it has to sing “Aaaaaaaah” in an angelic tone while gazing appreciatively. Or maybe that’s just me. In any case, no one is allowed to touch it. Oh wait. Isn’t that the whole point? Of having TOYS? Maybe Albus was on to something when he came into the living-room later that evening and began vrooming the newly restored Playmobil car (with doctor and doctor’s teeny-tiny kit that includes a teeny-tiny flu shot needle) through my carefully sorted piles. Let’s just say the doctor might be in the wrong profession. She should have been a smash-em-up-derby racer with jet-pack engines and maybe a flame-thrower or two. Can you hear the heart-breaking sound of plastic items being explosively scattered across a wooden floor? I’m sure it was fun on the pure level of play, but I become momentarily deeply discouraged. My carefully sorted piles! Tossed asunder!
There’s a lesson in here somewhere, if I care to extract it. But is that the kind of day it is? A day for lessons? No, today, I’d rather skip the moral of the story, down my cup of coffee, gird my loins, and head out into the horror that is the streets of uptown: thick with people driving their cars around and around as they seek for a parking spot and grow increasingly grim and hopeless (and mentally act out the Playmobil doctor’s wreckless acts of destruction). Merry Christmas! I’m going to walk instead. But wow. I need some girding, some serious girding. I’m in the homestretch of preparations. I can do this! I can find and assemble every piece of this Playmobil holiday!
Wait, what were we talking about?
Oh what a good day was Saturday. Ambitious cookie baking plans. One ambitious cookie baking helper.
Rolling out the dough.
Cutting out the cookies.
And everyone’s favourite step in the process.
Hurray! Treats to share!
Meanwhile, collaborators work on Christmas gifts in mama’s new office.
And one child plays contentedly with Lego.
Evening. Christmas carols being practiced. (Okay, confession time–this started to grate upon the nerves after an hour or so.)
But I was still one happy woman at the end of the day. I wanted to give my kids (and myself) a weekend of holiday preparation in the lead-up to Christmas, into which we will slam at the end of this week–a week in which the kids are still slogging off to school every day. Honestly, I think we’re all a little worn out. In need of a change, a holiday from the routine. Craving downtime. And cookies.