Sunday, October 21, 2012

Musings on the Elf

When Penelope was a wee babe, she was mean. And funny, and strange and whip-smart and she clung to me like I was the last fence post to be swept up in the tornado.

She was born "sunny side up" (just like her sister) with her rather short umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. As my genius mid-wife guided her out safely, she said: "Hmmm. A Cancer child. They like to stay in their shells."

I have thought about those words more in these past few months than ever before. She will fly, my PJ. I'm sure of it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And it's not even my birthday

When I got home last night from "The Most Excellent Day Ever", Link greeted me with his newly perfected refrain of "Mom! Mom! Mommy! MUMMY! MUMMY!" As I snuggled him up into my arms, he told me a story about what he did the other day.

Let me repeat that: Lincoln Anthony Sgueglia told his mother a story. He used 3 words, and one sign. And he recounted something that happened to him! In the past!

I didn't cry (though I was absolutely incredulous); I just looked at him, really, really looked into his eyes and asked him if he just did what I thought he just did. Surprise, surprise: he didn't answer me.

Instead he proceeded to name all of the things in the room that he could: Wine! Roni! Bapple! Alex! Mummy! Beeee! Book!  And then he hit the deck and started rolling around on the floor asking me (in sign) to tickle him.



My kid is KILLER.

Oh! I suppose you want to know what he said! Ha! Here it goes:

"Drive. Cows, two! Mooooo!"

(Apparently, on their way to a Fall festival over the weekend at the camp my girls' go to, they passed some cows in a field. Lincoln was impressed)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rodents are people, too

Today, the gerbil running in my mind is kind. It's frolicking on a wheel made of gold thread and daisy petals. It smiles at me every once in a while to let me know that everything is going to be ok.

It wasn't so sweet yesterday. Or the day before that. And it might bust out its barbed wire  ring and sneer at me later on.

This thing I chase (me and my fickle gerbil), has been just at the tip of my horizon for as long as I remember remembering. And over the last few days a phrase has flitted across my minds-eye, popped into thoughts. I've seen it scratched into the sandwich board around my gerbil's tiny neck and today this phrase is starting to fit, so I'm going to say it out loud: A Genuine Life.

That is what I have been stalking and hunting my whole life: A Genuine Life.

I want to feel real. I don't just want to do real, I want to feel  real, genuine. I want to take each step knowing that even if it's the wrong move, that I didn't make a mistake. That even if that's not the way I'm supposed to go, that I'm still not lost.

Since I was a very young girl I've been worried about the How's and Why's of my choices. Do I really like chicken nuggets? Or am I just supposed to? Do I really want to wear culottes on my first day of 6th Grade? Or is that just what I think everyone else will be wearing? And as I've gotten older, my choices, decisions more crucial, the worrying has gotten worse. And worse and worse and worse.

Why? How? I crave confidence. I lust after it. And no matter how often I present that very thing to the world at large, the tiny inner world I alone occupy doesn't believe it for a second. I'm sure this is why I'm so tired all the time; this constant picking and choosing and worrying...

Another day and another costume change for my constant rodent companion. Today she's wearing black eyeliner and running on a metal-studded rubber tread. Today she's tough and nasty. And I'm not sure she's on my side.

I have been working for a long time now to peel off this sticky layer of malcontent; a yucky film that I've been assured and reassured isn't real, isn't me. That it is something I superimposed a long time ago to protect myself but that I don't need it anymore and keeping it around is simply keeping me down, keeping me from seeing me and from realizing My Genuine Life.


So. I keep trying to write this post and I keep not getting it right. Ironic, isn't it? It's the crux of my anxiety. The recipe I can't get right. The instructions I can't follow. The pattern I sew *exactly* backwards.

I know I'm not alone in this. This wanting to be real and true. And if I can figure it out, I can write about it and maybe, maybe someone else can figure it out, too.

And just because I know you're wondering: Today, Madame Gerbil is outfitted in the most sublime silk charmeuse jumpsuit. She's got bedazzled Chuck T's on her paws and her iPod is blasting No Doubt while she skips along her peacock feathered wheel.

The day was good.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

COTA 2012.

All day she was so amazing, so strong. All day I saw her talking to kids she didn't know, had no context for. All day I saw her running, watching, wanting, getting. My Penelope is impossibly small. I've said it before and I'll say it again: She is the littlest elf. The smallest girl in the room and all day I would catch glimpses of her darting in and out of tents, up and down playground slides. She yelped and smiled and laughed and at times, put on a damn good show.

"Gimme a dollar, mum. Let me borrow one." I heard it a thousand times and a thousand times I handed over the buck so unbelievably happy she was so independent! Her magical face and gangly limbs moved a million miles an hour and had more unadulterated fun than I had ever seen her have in one day.

Then she fell in the mud puddle. I wasn't there but she was in the best of hands.... still, the tension pulled taut like a guide wire and I felt the cracks begin to show themselves in her most magical of days.

As she shook and cried and stayed safe in my dear friend's arms, I RAN to the car to grab a towel (YES! I HAD A FRIGGIN TOWEL IN THE CAR!) and a change of clothes. I ran so fast. Oh my god did I run fast.

And she was OK again. I mean, she was really OK. The moment was most certainly not awesome for her, but she recovered. She dried (literally) off her wings and resumed flight. I kept flashing back to our trip to Niagara Falls and I could not believe this was the same girl.

I was light. I was happy. I realize now just how much power my babies have over me. Their joy is everything, their pain is infinite.

And then I heard it. It was the end of the day, the last act was on stage and I was.. I don't even remember who I was with! I just remember hearing my name being said by the MC of the day's festivities. "Michele OBrien. We have Penelope. She's here digging Rhett Miller and she wants you to join her."

At once all of my limbs were moving forward. I'm sure I looked like Scooby Doo scrambling after Shaggy (because that's how it felt) and I ran maybe ten steps to where she was. It felt like 26.2 miles.

Her whole body was tucked onto the seat of a folding chair in front of the sound mixing board and it was trembling like her whole self was made of jello that had been left out in a hurricane.

She scrambled into my lap and instantly I was sobbing with her. She'd had enough. She'd accomplished so much that day, done so many things I'd never seen her do before. Recover and shift and decide and move on... She'd had it and we cried and cried and cried.

In my 12+ plus years of being a mother, this was my first "lost kid" episode and my guts still haven't recovered from the fact that sweet, little PJ had to be the one. My drive and determination to keep that kid safe is mind-blowing. Why her?! I was terrified for her. I'm sure that's why I was crying, too. I can relate so deeply to how fucked up things get for her in her mind. I felt like a failure, a total loser. And then she stopped crying and we looked at each other and she told me she was glad I found her.

As I carried her back to our table so we could pack up to go I realized that this fragile little girl had done her absolute best. That she owned her day till she couldn't. And when she couldn't, she did precisely what I had always told her to do: She went to a central location and didn't' move. She found a woman to talk to. She told her her name and her mother's name. And I came to get her. The End.

It was a glorious day. I suspect there will be more of them.