Monday, March 31, 2008

Totally snowed.

My husband Chris just returned from his annual four-day snowboarding trip with the guys. He is refreshed and pumped and thrilled to see us.

I am exhausted, wrung out like one of those paper towels on the commercials that just keeps on absorbing and cleaning, you can just use that thing for days.

I am like that.

I guess it takes being left to my own devices for a few days, parenting solo, to see clearly just how much motherhood can tax me. With no breaks, no one to absorb some of the neediness and the meal planning and the diaper changing and the "I need a napkin right now's," I become more aware of my rapid fraying at the ends. The effort required to stay neutral and kind in the face of both kids demanding precious commodities at the exact same moment - love, tenderness, goldfish crackers - all while I'm still rubbing the sleep from my eyes and pining for a hot shower.

This parenting of young children is not for the faint of heart. Or for the low of energy.

Everyone says this is temporary, this baby and toddler ferris wheel of continuous physical and emotional outpouring; it turns out though, this proves to be cold comfort. For me, at least. It's tough to embrace the bull that's taking you for the ride of your life, even though you know that when that eight seconds are over, you're going to miss them terribly. Yet, when I get a few minutes away from my ride, from my two little calves, it is them that I think of. Unfairly longing for them during my few moments of alone time, missing their little bodies jockeying for position in my lap, breathing into my neck, consuming me with their love.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lived to tell the tale.

Let's just say we've been sick lately at the Murray residence.

REALLY sick.

The kind of sick that when you first have kids, you think to yourself: "Well I hope we're never ALL sick at once, especially my husband and I, down for the count at the same time, that would be crazy, insane, I mean who would take care of the kids?"

That kind of sick.

To save you the visual, suffice it to say that my husband Chris and I BOTH ended up in the emergency room last week from THE WORST STOMACH FLU ever. At the peak of the nightmare, prior to the hospital visit, as I was in one restroom, Chris in the other, children running freely between Blue's Clues and Baby Einstein, I distinctly recall thinking we would not survive this. That they would find Chris and I in our respective locations, the children subsisting on Cheerios and water straight from the tap, no Sippy cup.

But thanks to Grandma, good friends and six bags of IV fluids and drugs, that particular crisis was averted. Thank goodness.

It feels amazing to feel healthy, though a tad shaken at how easily the wheels can come off the family wagon. I am reminded how much we need each other in this world - friends, neighbors and family. No matter how strong our little immediate family bonds may be, the community, the larger family outside our front doors can be the safety net when Mom and Dad become all too human and need the help of those outside our four walls to get us through.

Our little pod of four, our sweet collection of love and fun and laughter, was blowing in the wind there for a moment. Feeling quite vulnerable. And in came the calvary of kindness and gingerale and childcare.

Thanks a million.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Mom, God is not a person, he's a Power Ranger, right?"

This is what happens when you haven't quite figured out how you were going to explain religion to your children.

Or your lack of it, I suppose.

I am married to Chris, a former Catholic, and I am Jewish, though I haven't been the best at attending services regularly, or really even contemplating my relationship with God, as I've been knee-deep in diapers the past couple of years. Not that that's an acceptable excuse, considering all He's got to deal with up there and still listen to everybody's kvetching about their tax returns and leaky roofs and such.

Anyway, regardless of how we got here, we're now at Question and Answer time, hosted by Reese, a four-year old who grills as unreservedly as Tim Russert:

"Where is God?"

"Is he a he, a she or what?"

"Why can't I see him?"

"Have you met him?"

"Is he scary?"

Panicked, I called my good friend Stacey for answers. So she put her six-year old, Adam, who attends Sunday School, on the phone with Reese:

ADAM (SAGELY): God is in your imagination, Reese.

REESE: Nope.

So much for peer counseling. Then we scoot by for a few religion-free days until when, in the middle of washing her hands for lunch, Reese calls out to me from across the house with the doozy: "God is a Power Ranger, right?"

This is when we sit down as a family and chat about the whole faith deal in greater detail. Fortunately, Chris and I are on the same page with our story - everybody has a different idea of what God is, it's OK to think of him as whatever makes you feel good, he is not a person, he's in every good thing, he's in your heart, he's a power...

REESE: A Power Ranger?

Ah, now we see where the waters were muddied. Our previous broad "powerful force, not a person" explanation has been morphed by pop culture and out has come God as action figure. I can just hear my Bubbie turning over in her grave.

US: No, Reese, not a Power Ranger, just a power. Like the wind and the ocean. It's called faith, beliveing in something to be true even if you can't see it. Like love.

And then, as Reese is wont to do, she explains the whole concept back to us and we do not recognize any of it, not a word that sounds anything like what we said. But, at least, she's seems satisfied with her understanding - whatever that may be.

As I clear the lunch dishes and the whole group has gone outside to play, the question of God's existance put aside in favor of soccer balls and two-wheelers for the moment, I cannot shake the feeling that there are questions here that one day will need answers, even if it means simply helping our children find those answers on their own. And while Chris and I never wanted to impose our views on our kids, I realize now, they are still going to seek them, whether or not they want to claim them for their own. We are going to have to reexamine our own spiritual lives, in order to have an answer, even if it's only to say, "I don't know, let's find out together."

Luckily, there are things we do know about, unquestionably. Things I know about. Movies, for instance. Reese and I just watched the "Wizard of Oz" for her very first time and she fell head over red sparkly heels for it. Now, when I'm putting her down for bed, she takes my face in her hands, older than her years, and says to me quietly, mantra-like:

"There's no place like mama. There's no place like Daddy. There's no place like Finnie. There's no place like home."

To this belief, to this faith, I know I can agree with all of my heart, and with no reservations. Our beliefs, for now, are one and the same.