Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meet my dog, Boner.

Meet, my dog Boner.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Boner.  I’m strategically placing the “e” in there, because, frankly it makes it easier for me to read.

This is the beloved name of my three year old daughter’s imaginary dog.  Not Cupcake. Or Snowflake or even Spot.   No, his name is, Boner.

Now, because I am her mother and speak her  slightly linguistically awkward syntax, I understand that “Boner” is her cutie-version of Bone…which is related to dog…which is not related to cat….it’s a cumbersome set of rules.  But, I get it. Bones go with dogs.  Little dogs are cute…so a puppy should be called, Bone-r.  Or Bone-y. 

Either way, I cringe a little each time she tells me about Boner’s day.  

Standing there on the driveway, blond rings of hair framing her little face, she earnestly shares Boner’s daily habits and personality attributes.

Boner is happy today…. Yes, I bet he is.

Boner likes to play ball....Um-hm. That’s what I hear.

Boner needs a bath…Ummm.

Boner likes to be petted……Gag.

Boner likes to lick me….. Too far.

Or course, I have tried to suggest other acceptable puppy names. 

“Looks like your dog likes to run fast… maybe he should be called Cheetah?”

Response:  No, Boner is just excited.

 “Hmm…he likes snacks, what about Scooby?”

Response:  Yup, Boner sure gets hungry.  


At just three, she has many similar traits of a German nanny:  Suspect. Tough. Unwavering.  

And I know I should accept defeat.  Boner it is and Boner it will remain. 

I assume this is just another, though slightly disturbing, tactic of the emotional warfare launched last summer for the “puppy campaign”.

Apparently, the existing pets or playhouse, or pool that currently distract, ahem…I mean entertain us are no comparison to a dog.  It has become the SUPREME WISH of the household....with my exception. Every birthday wish.  Every Christmas list.  You know those cute little interviews that they fill out in preschool…What is your greatest wish?  ….to have a mom that will let us get a dog (interesting it wasn’t just for the dog itself….).

I am losing the battle. But I won’t go down without a fight.

We have four kids. Honestly, I kind of feel like I could stop right there.  Four kids in seven years…and I am just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I really thought I was ready to take off the whole potty-training hat (except for my own increasing need to run to bathrooms…).  You want to talk responsibility?  How about putting your nasty muddy socks in the laundry instead of on the kitchen table?  And a puppy needs to be fed.  No, not go-gurt leftovers.  And, they eat Every day.  They don’t have a 2-4 day window like the Beta fish so graciously agrees to (so far…).

And yet, in my heart of hearts, I know it would be loved. It would be fawned over.  Brushed and cuddled. Cried on.  Dressed up in hats and wheeled around in baby carriages. Pushed through home-made obstacle courses and taught to jump off the diving board. It would highlight my own.  Their own strengths and weaknesses and it would add to their joy.

 And selfishly, what in the world is better than to witness your own children fall in love?  To watch them connect with another spirit in this world.  A friend to greet them, a companion to be still with, an opportunity to teach and lead, a vacuum for my floors….

 I admit, the campaign is compelling.

I mean, just look at Boner.  He hasn’t caused too much trouble yet.  



Thursday, May 16, 2013

Free Range

Everybody loves something about their home.  And there is a lot to fall in love with here in Stillwater.  Old Victorians with charming front porches line our street.  Vaulted ceilings.  Woodwork. River views. Hundred year old alcoves with little fountains and fish ponds. Seven years ago when we told our friends we were moving here, no doubt they pictured the quaint multi-colored turrets that poke up into our skyline. It is a magic little place to live; where stories of pioneer days and prohibition aren't too hard to envision in our very own backyard.  Yes, its true, I fell in love with the romanticism alive in this little valley and I dragged my beau out of the city and onto the North Hill. 

But not for the reasons you might think.

No Victorian.  No charming circus paint scheme.  No turrets or window seats.

Old?  Yes.

Charming? With years of work....maybe.

View?  Nope. And this was a good thing.

The six foot privacy fence all the way around the house meant FREEDOM. And I have to admit, we have savored the taste. Perhaps a little too much freedom, in retrospect. 

Because, this spring the fence came down and I'm pretty sure I'm on a county watchlist for child endangerment.

Its amazing the things that we let our kids do when we don't think anyone is looking.

Can I pee outside?  Yes.

Can I set up a homemade zip-line?  Yes

Bodypaint?  Why not?

But, can I eat, drink, slip and slide, hula hoop, play tag, dodge Nerf bullets, pitch baseballs, ride bikes....Naked? 

Yes. By all means....just stay inside the fence. 

Magic. A lot of sunscreen.  But Magic.

Like a little bubble of safety.  A visible break between the independent curiousity that accompanies all childhood and the expectations of a watching society. You can make mistakes here and it will be OK. No doubt it will be dirty and messy and LOUD, but OK.

Of course, this all started with I only had 2 little boys.  Toddlers with bright round tummies and bleached blond hair.  Digging in the mud and making waterslides for their Hotwheels out of old gutters.  Why get swimsuits?  Naked was easy.  A lot easier than those damn Swimmers.  And...we had the fence.

But, of course, they grow up.  Now there are 4 little blond heads ( well, one is pretty strawberry...) running around the same yard.  And this spring more than most, we are all ready to throw caution to the wind and get dirty out in the sunshine. Bring on the mud.  Bring on the sunscreen and water balloons. Limitless Band-aids and Icees. We have put in our time this MN winter, and we are eager to PLAY hard.

But, whoa there cowboy...... keep your pants on, literally. You are ten. And eight. And that's weird for our neighbors.  You know, the people that live in the houses next door to us?  I know that you have been trained for years to just strip off the mud and enjoy a nice air dry, but we don't want an officer to visit us this afternoon.

So mama hen says, : Go ahead, chickadees.  You still have free range of the exact same yard.  Go play and peck around in they mud.  Go scratch for treasures hiding in the bushes. Go eat your soggy Goldfish crackers in the shade of the willow.

But no.  They stay on the deck. Like I've cinched them into a tight jacket and its just not worth the effort to squirm free. Like I've clipped their little wings.

Adverse to any real physical labor, the boys would typically put up a good fight if assigned the "wheelbarrow bitch" or "raking monkey" of woodchips and leftover fence debris.  But, I'll tell you what, there's a little fire burning to get things done.  Like to build a new fence.

I'm thinking naked Frisbee isn't that far away. 

And all this time I thought they didn't understand boundaries.... 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Accidental Nudist

"Don't stare...", I say to my five year old in the locker room.

But I know there really isn't another choice. Naked strangers are casually managing their locker scenario and despite our near constant nudity at home, naked strangers are well.... unsettling.

It always amazes me how comfortable other people are in locker rooms.

Women standing in front of mirrors blow drying their hair. Naked.

One woman has managed to bend over for near five minutes to put on socks and tie high top shoes.  Naked. Really?  Gonna pull your shorts on over your high-tops?  I'm going to have to turn around for that display.

Another has been desperately searching under benches and in wet bathroom stalls for her lost mascara. Naked. Its a special kind of girl that will lay down on a wet bathroom floor buck naked. Getting up is less attractive.  I'm just sayin'.....

I am not this girl.

No, I am the "create a make-shift tent out of a wet towel and pull my up my under wire until it cracks" in 4 seconds flat" girl.  I search out the corner lockers. I don't make conversation with others.

I used to be better at this modesty thing.  If nothing else, I used to be more efficient. I could shove my pieces into a forgiving pair of leggings and a sweatshirt before you can get your locker key unpinned from swim skirt.  This was long ago in my past life when I only had to care for my own naked body.  Now, of course, there are so many other little bodies to manage.

Enter the "family locker room".  Purposely set up for the three ring circus that accompanies changing multiple children and wobbly mothers into swim gear.  Or so I thought.

I hear myself say all sorts of ugly mother comments: "Don't sit on the floor you can get plantar warts on your butt.  Don't lick the mirror. You can't wear underwear under your swimsuit.  Don't squirt your go-gurt in the swimsuit spinner".

And this is just my own pack.

Other mamas are head first into giant bags of towels, stripping off soggy swim diapers and swearing into lockers full of their own squirrely kiddos.  Babies are crying. A young boy pees openly in the tile drain in the middle of the floor.  Somebody is always missing a flip flop.

Enough of modesty.  I just want out before we end of with stitches or Hepatitis.

I bravely remove my clothes (swearing at myself for not changing into a suit at home...) and hear the shriek of my three year old.

Her hand is stuck in the paper towel dispenser. 

And I have once again morphed into the lady I NEVER wanted to be.  The naked lady walking around the locker room.  Did I say walking?  No, more of a trot.  And naked trotting was certainly not on my bucket list.

In the moment I don't care.  The shrieks sound similar to a child about to become and amputee, so I fall into the role of mother bear and claw my way forward.

Its the walk back to our home locker that shames.  Children pressed back against the wall, mother's shielding little one's eyes, an older boy uncomfortably tying his swim trunks.  

A forty something year old man standing in the shower hallway?

What the f*#%k?

Quickly, I look around for reassurance.  Family dressing room, right?

Moms with beach bags. Check.

Half naked children. Check.

Other changing women......other changing women? For Christ's sake, give me a stranger's boob, please!!!

No.  Suddenly I feel like the college girl who took the "lets go skinny-dipping" comment WAY to seriously. A little too eager to rip off her shirt.  A little lonely on the edge of the lake.....

I'm really am so slow to put the pieces together.  Family Dressing room.   This sounds so wholesome. So thoughtful. So helpful.  Like there might be Kumbaya playing on the speakers and graham crackers and milk on the way out.....maybe a cocktail?

But I'm definitely not getting the family friendly vibe.  These are scary faces looking at me.  Scary stranger faces.  I just want my wet towel tent. My corner locker....where is it??!?! 

Its right here....past these dressing rooms on the right.

Good Lord. 

Dressing rooms. 

For people to take their clothes off in private.  For FAMILIES to take their clothes off in private.  Families ...like with Dads. 

Private. Like not waving your chicken patties around while you trot through the locker room, private.

I duck into a dressing room and sit down on a nasty bench.  I don't even care if I get plantar warts on my butt.  I deserve plantar wart ass.

A little part of me waits to see if security is coming to escort me out.  What have I done?  I probably just ruined any chance of that young boy enjoying  his eventual prom night.....

My five year old daughter starts to giggle. " Mommy, everyone saw you naked!!  I can see your butt".

And I have to laugh.  After all the years I have winced in ladies locker rooms, hidden behind my wet towel tent, I have become the spectacle. Somebody will go home tonight and tell their WIFE about the inappropriate, brazen behavior of a mad-woman who ran naked through the family locker room.  I have become an uncomfortable moment for some kids.

Honestly, it would have been better to sit down and paint my toe nails in the ladies locker room buck naked than to take a jog through the Family locker room.

And this is how it goes.  Kids still want to swim. I have to suck it up and in and stuff it into a swimsuit and walk out into the waterpark.  Which I do. As soon as I feel like a good amount of time has passed without a security knock....

I am reminded of how hard it is to fight for control.  How hard I sometimes try to keep my world contained.  Covered. Wrapped up. Safe.

I have been searching for a corner to carve out and claim, without distraction.  A piece of life that won't be interfered with or disturbed by strangers. Strangers who challenge me to let go and be secure without guard. To be comfortable in my own skin (sorry...had to :)

But, there is safety in my wet towel tent. Safety from judgement and added responsibility. I can fool myself into thinking that when I'm in control of my world at any given time, I am succeeding. But, of course, this isn't safety or success. This is living in fear.

And thankfully, there are moments in our life, when we are given the chance (though sometimes unwittingly...) to be brave.  Moments that we never would have chosen. Circumstances we never would have planned. But, nonetheless, an opportunity to let down our guards, and grow.

A chance to see that we don't have to hold on so tightly to keep it all together. We can make mistakes and be forgiven. We can lose things and they will be found.  It can be unplanned and still successful.

It can be raw, plain, naked, and still beautiful. Maybe more beautiful.

We can be in the moment and it can be enough.

So, next time, I think we'll forgo the Family Locker room.  I mean, really, what's the point?  I might as well enter the ranks of the casually naked than try to weave and stuff and shuffle through the alternative.  These ladies don't care if I look like I've been mauled by a bear, they have their own stretch marks to moisturize and exfoliate in the buff. And my toenails could use a fresh coat.

That wet towel was just getting too damn heavy anyway.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Flannel Heart

“Honey, don’t ever buy me heart jewelry”, I chuckle. 
“Not even the T&A necklace that the Medicine woman designed?” 

Ha.  Now, Dr. Quinn is a woman of many talents, but her open hearted jewelry campaign just looks like boobs stacked on butt cheeks. Go ahead, look. Once you see it, you’ll be snorting with the rest of us. We are sick people.

No, Valentine’s Day has, like all other holidays around here, become kid-focused.  Don’t get me wrong, its fun.  We do a big v-day breakfast with strawberry pancakes and special heart shaped dishes. We make up funny rhymes and find food to spray with whip cream from a can.  This year, we are even going to brave the chocolate fountain we purchased years ago at a silent auction.  I’m sure it will go smoothly….no wrestling with steel pokers or spilled chocolate…..I’m sure no one will want to stick their face under the chocolate waterfall……
So I can hardly complain.  I have decided to put my effort towards our “family event”, but I would be lying if I told you that I don’t miss the old days.

Remember the old days, pre-kids?  Remember the first time you received a dozen red roses on Valentines’ Day? Sexy underwear in the mail? Remember that first Valentine card that made your cheeks blush….damn, this guys really likes me.  Maybe you liked him back.  Maybe you didn’t.  But, for a rare moment, you felt adored.

Adored ..and this is what falling in love is all about. To feel like out of everyone in the world, you have chosen Me.
Me…with my hiker’s legs.  Me…with my crooked tooth in front.  Me…with my lousy singing voice and road rage.  My distasteful mole. My inability to share dessert.

It doesn’t matter to you. You love me just as I am.
And this is hopeful. To know that despite our own tendency to self- hate, there is something redeeming about ourselves that someone else can see and cherish.  We are more than our own myopic view.  More than our own tiny needs and wants and complaints. We become larger, more powerful in this world when we know that there is someone who truly understands and advocates for us.  Romantic, or not. 

There is power in belonging to someone, not because you give up who you are as an individual, but because you realize life is worth more when it is shared. Given. Wholly. Without reservation.

Without reservations?  Like out to eat?  Yes, that sounds about right.
Somehow we go from feeling adored to…….well, less.

Babies are born. Beautiful babies that you dreamed about together before you were married.  Babies you prayed for.  Babies you named. Christened. Babies you sang over.

And they steal your heart.  In the most natural, gut-wrenching, intense, violent way.  You are theirs.  And they are yours…and just like from the very beginning, cord or not, you are connected. In a way, you have never been before…..ever.

Its not that our hearts are filled up with love for someone else. Its not a competition. Not mother over wife.  But, rather a shift.
Motherhood is encompassing.  It never stops. You never check out.  You are always on call. And for a while there, especially if you are a nursing mother, you are IT. You are the lifeline. Its frightening. Exhilerating. Powerful.

But, its also very humbling. I don’t care how many parenting books you have read. How many years you babysat. How many preschool classes you have taught. How many pediatric first aid classes you’ve mastered. You just don’t know what you are doing, until you are in the trenches. And the trenches can be a lonely place. 

So your heart shifts to this new role and its not always easy to remember who you were before. How this role came to be. This is completely self-inflicted.  Because, its pretty hard to feel sexy with young children.  I mean, we’re kind of a mess.
I remember nursing my first baby in a waterfall of tears.  Afraid to put him down for more than five minutes, I had not showered in three days.  My hair was a matted mess from sleeping in a rocking chair. My boobs hurt so bad I white knuckled the baby blanket everytime he latched on. I couldn’t imagine a time when I could sit up straight without wincing…….let alone be romantic……

Of course, this is not permanent.  No, then I morphed into a banana smeared, sleep deprived, permanent ponytail wearing, toddler mama. Sexy? I didn’t feel sexy. 
But we did end up with three more……so..

So, I have an amazing husband.  Who is Patient. And Generous. And Kind. And Forgiving.

And Persistant.
Persistant to remind me that I am more.  That I was enough before this role of mother.  That I was more than enough….I was adored. That I am adored.

Or course, this is my Valentine’s gift.
So tonight I will slip into something…flannel.  Probably covered in chocolate fountain remains.

And make reservations at ….the kitchen table with take-out @ 9. Probably with a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes and a counter cluttered with candy wrappers and medicine droppers.  

And exchange Valentines.  After all, its always good to have it in writing.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giving Tree

“Mama, you’re my Giving Tree”,  he says as he gives an awkward 8 year-old-lean-to-hug.

Heart melts.

Instant guilt sets in for all of the times I have added swear words under my breath to his name today.  How could I?  How could I forget that this little boy, trying so hard to navigate through the world, successful and unsuccessful, is MY little boy. I used to dress him in baby blue sleepers and secretly cry over his crib with gratitude.  I turned off phones so I wouldn’t be interrupted from our quiet time.  I took photos of his toes. And kept locks of his hair. 

Why is it so hard for me to just be in the moment with him, to take an extra 3 minutes to ooh and ahhh over his latest reptile discovery on the web? When did adoration turn into annoyance?

I know, I’m horrible.

I would be actually scared if I didn’t think that this was all part of the plan.  God made babies irresistible, so we wouldn’t leave them after that whole labor experience, right?  So we would get up every twenty minutes, shuffle our Mad Hatter selves back to the nursing chair. 

I LOVED having new babies, and did everything in my power to shut off the rest of the world.  To immerse completely.  Perhaps not all that healthy, but I was fully aware of its impermanent nature. This intense beginning has certainly caused some growing pains with each new delivery.

Every 18 months to 2 years, we have greeted a new life and while I snuggle into bed with my new bundle, I also mourn for the time I had with the recently displaced, “baby”.  And I’m an adult.  I can only imagine the confusion that sets in for a toddler. And the guilt sets in. Heavy.   

How can I be enough for all of them? And my husband? And myself?  And the hard truth was: I can’t.  I can’t continue with the same intensity as we grow.  But when did it become a pain in the ass?  Seriously? When did my interactions with him morph from sweet to combative?

In our house I think it happened when I wasn’t looking.  Literally.  I remember nursing my newborn little girl and having an acute feeling of it being “too quiet”.  Upstairs I find two naked boys (age2, 4) standing on their bed, peeing into a laundry basket of stuffed animals.  Shower. 

Dear God.

 I swear, they would hear me unbuckle that industrial nursing bra, and run for the hills with scissors and knives.  Ok, they didn’t have weapons, but they still regressed to cavemen tactics. There was toothpaste drawing. Butter sticks as snacks.  Legos in the washing machine. Tadpoles in the freezer. Lots of public nudity.

The cavemen were crying out for attention. “Ahhhhh”. 

And I became the CaveMom.  React to the battle cry.  Hide the weaponry. Provide the nuts and berries. Insist on pelt washing. You know….survival skills.

The bar was set at: SURVIVE. Avoid visits to the ER and from the Fire Department. A little voice said, “Master the basics….”  : but this seemed daunting. Of course we did make it through the basics, but I’m afraid that CaveMom didn’t have a lot of extra patience for the quiet magic we used to find in everyday.

 And the vicious circle continued:

Caveman: “SEE me.  See me do this mess”.

Cavemom: “I’m busy keeping you alive…..stop making it harder….”.

And you forget about the baby blue sleepers and the little train onesies. The animal pelt seems to have been tattooed all over their chubby little bodies.

But, there are still quiet moments by the fire, if you will.  When their hair has a little less spike.  Their fatigued bodies are expired from the day’s battles. And they still have little, albeit muddy, toes. I know those toes. They are just taking bigger steps now. 

A Giving Tree. 

I would want nothing more than to be the tree they keep coming back to.  A place of constant belonging and safety. A place where they can be selfish, and naughty.  A place where they can make mistakes and be forgiven. A place where they can retreat and find provisions.  I guess we were warned it was going to be painful. So, I will gather my branches and straighten my trunk.  And weather the cavemen.

They are worth every storm.

Wait  a minute, is that an axe behind his back????

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Christmas Hindsight

Its January and I’m in love with….routine. 

I know, super inspiring. 

In the spirit of New Year Resolutions and goal charting (you know who you are…) I’m praising the comforts of the Expected. Its just been eons since we’ve visited the Land of Regular, and I am smitten with the blank weekly calendar perched on my fridge. No dinners. No recitals. No duties.  At the end of the day, it can really be the end of the day(if you ignore the 4 loads of laundry sitting next to the washer..). The hum of the dishwasher at 7:00 has been music to my ears and the pressure to make “one more batch” of cookies, has lifted.

Not that I didn’t enjoy the crazy-making traditions of the holidays.  This year, we carved out an entire day for just our immediate family (isn’t this a funny reality…) and so the pressure was on to initiate some new traditions.  Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding and Homemade Ice Cream.  A Christmas ham (its not accidental that many of our traditions focus on food….). Alabama Christmas via a worn out cassette…(this is a non-negotiable to my husband’s delight). I really wanted to claim Something as our own.  Some little thing that belongs to our house during the holidays.  Something tangible to trace back to each year of Christmas mayhem… ahem, I mean, magic.   

Little did I know that our new family tradition apparently comes in the form of indecent exposure.

I don’t know why I’m surprised.  You don’t know how much I would love to be fabricating this one.

Its Christmas Eve.  Kids are in newly purchased tights. Young boys are sporting a tad too much hair gel and Dad’s cologne. And I have talked myself into wearing the little black dress on the hanger.  Since my life is a little short on black-tie affairs, its been a while since I have tried this sucker on….and I’m already feeling a little anxious about it.

The smarter half of my brain yells: “Black pants!  For heaven’s sake, stick to the damn Black pants and glitter sweater!!!”. It’s the pre-Church glass of wine that made me brave….and sorry.

Lets just say it’s a little fitted for a small Lutheran church of 45 people. After spending a good twenty minutes of profane shoving, I decide the industrial strength Control Top pantyhose will have to prove their self-proclaimed fortitude, and I go sans underwear.  Frankly, there was no going back, even if I wanted to.  Think robot legs.  Strangled, caged, mama legs.  They needed to recover from the first assault…..couldn’t even contemplate another round.

Now, Lycra is a beautiful thing, and once upright, the dress is a go.  Off to the smallest, sweetest little southwestern MN church.  You actually cross “Cherry Creek” and pass a covered bridge.  Lovely. Peace on Earth.  Then we arrive.

“Filing in” would be a generous description, I think my middle son almost took out an elderly couple while straddling a decorative Christmas pot, but we did find our way into the church with all of our pieces.  It was a little tight…..the pew, and the dress. In fact, it was so crowded that even the middle aged children were accidently bumped up onto adult laps and we all breathed easier when it was time to stand and sing.  Bags of cheerios were dropped.  Hymnals were closed just a little too aggressively, and yet, we were almost done.

As was my five year old daughter.  Maybe it was the proximity of her brother’s chili cheese breath, maybe it was rogue bobby pin, but her “inside voice” was long gone and the she-devil had emerged.  I try to ignore.  Try to pass her to an open lap of a relative.

I am out-witted in .5 seconds when she takes the bottom of my dress and lifts it up to my armpits. 

It’s tight and it has no intention of falling back down to place.

Not even a helpful “drape”. 

 I’m packed into a pew like a sardine, two year old on my control topped waist, with my Christmas dress up around my armpits and ass in full bloom for the family behind us.  I literally cannot move to fix it. After a fruitless frantic shuffle to loosen its grip, I just sit my cheeks down on the cold pew and nod my head.  My black pants would never have betrayed me.

I sheepishly wave good-bye to the wide-eyed row behind us and dart like and angry bird for the coat room.

So, in these quiet January days when I face no wardrobe malfunctions and can easily justify too many days in pajama pants, I can giggle.  It was a highlight for the kids (maybe not so much for the nice family behind us….):  Mom’s ass joyfully displayed at church.  Truthfully, nothing could be better for my eight year old boy. I still find him giggling to himself in the back of the van.  Hey, Christmas cheer is Christmas cheer. The best traditions are never planned.  You’ve gotta start somewhere…….

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Birds on a Wire

If its under 40 degrees and hot dish and casseroles are calling my name.  What pumpkin pancakes have fiber in them?  Let’s make a couple dozen and snuggle in with a 3rd pot of coffee this morning and just watch the tundra outside.  Inside my little house, I am safe from the whirling wind that knocks down garbage cans and threatens to take out an old tree or two.  It’s a good feeling, a safe feeling and its worth some extra calories to do it right.

However, MN winter is long. Like 6 months long.  That’s a lot of casseroles people. That’s a lot of baking with butter. There’s already an extra shake in my step and not the “I’ve got it all under control” swagger my sister-in-law has perfected. You get a little to comfy in the leggings and start to look like you’ve crossed the boundary of choosing to wear leggings, into having to wear leggings.

But it’s not just the war with zippers.  There is also mental exhaustion that a MN winter can bring on.  Being inside, day after day, avoiding the weather.  With four kids, I sometimes feel like I’m preparing them for war in the morning.  Is there a mere 5 percent of your skin exposed?  Good, get in the van soldier.  In my best efforts to fight the elements, my world becomes very small.  And repetitive.  And repetitive.

 Yep.  Routine is a blessing and a curse.  My mind gets fat and foggy too.

Same brown bag lunch. Same favorite sweater. Same dishes I put in the same damn dishwasher (God bless it).  Same list of complaints.

And then there are the children of course.  The lovely little bees that have been cooped up, days at a time.  Let me just say, one fifteen minute, cold recess at school, does not make a lovely eight year old boy. Any parent that doesn’t understand the importance of physical education at school, must not spend any time with their child from 4- 6 p.m. in the afternoon.   All rooms = playgrounds and after a few weeks of nagging about shoes on furniture, I begrudgingly hand over the territory to the hungry wolves. 

Children were not meant to play indoors.  At least not my children.

Its not good for me. Its not good for them.  Before long, I have morphed into an angry, rule barking, double-chinned cartoon.  They, a selfish pack of yogurt tube sucking hyenas.

Reclaiming control must be possible, if only I could have twenty seconds by myself to find out how. Ding.

A quiet space, where you shed your mental and physical weight, and ….free childcare? Yes, the gym.

Now to me, it looks pretty great.  To my husband, it looks pretty unnecessary.  I end up feeling like a 6 year old begging for a puppy.  

Would you use it?

Would you take the kids?

Do you really think you would bundle all of the kids up in the snow to go to use someone else’s treadmill for 25 min? 

How is this better than running in our basement on our own treadmill?

Valid points. Our own treadmill has been more of a mobile shelving unit for a couple of years and I don’t have a long history of keeping my commitments to self-improvement. Its true, there seem to be some months during the year when I am completely at peace with my extra layers. I understand his hesitation, and truthfully, I feel it myself. 

However, the alternative, is not the same.  We now house an elliptical the size of a small spaceship in our bedroom and everytime I change into my comfy, elasticized waist band jammies , it stares at me. Not a friendly, “Jump on and race your worries away” stare. More of a, “Wouldn’t it be nice, if those jeans were a little more roomy, my friend?”stare.

And I guess I should be happy that its in my bedroom.   Our old friend the treadmill has been kenneled up in the basement/playroom for six years. Now, I’m not trying to pass blame here, but the basement ceiling is 6 ½ feet …..so lets just say I had to strategically set my gate as to not end up with a self-induced concussion from hitting my head on a light fixture.

So, in efforts to slowly reclaim the capable me, I ignore the hyenas barking for attention, walk right past the mound of clean clothes gathering dust on my dresser and close the door to the sanctuary of my own room. I climb on up to the rocket boosters and swear I will not stop until minute fifteeen blinks on my screen. 

Its delicious.  Its rhythmic. It working. I can see how people become addicts of the little red blinking light, a bouncing cheerleader for every ounce of effort.  I’m thinking my own adult thoughts, my own dreaming.  And then I wake up.

Four little faces, smugly smiling on the end of my bed.  4 little birds on a wire.

So quick from sanctuary to spectacle.

“Your fat, Mom.”.  Chuckle, chuckle.

“Yeah, I’m working on it honey”. 

Are these the assholes you meet at the gym?