Thursday, October 27, 2016

Chasing the Void

“But then I don’t get her feet or legs!” shouted my four-year-old to my eight-year-old. I had been reduced to body parts by my children. Pieces of myself for my kids to fight over.  

It was bedtime and I was lying on twelve tiny inches of my enormous king size bed while two of my kids were fighting over who would lie next to me.  I had refused to lie sandwiched between them, because, well, we all have our limits, right? And that was my limit.  My four-year-old was disappointed that she couldn’t claim my legs or feet, which she liked to burrow against with her busy feet. My eight-year-old claimed she hadn’t had enough time to snuggle with me.  So there they were, claiming pieces of me like candy from a pinata. 

Of all the things that are hard about motherhood, for me, the hardest part is the being “on” all the time, with all of your senses.  The noise, and the need to reply, engage, explain, or intervene, is constant.  And the touching, oh dear God the touching.  It’s incessant.  Even if you spend a healthy amount of time letting the kids entertain themselves, it still feels like you’re always on.  Ready to catch that falling toddler or sudden vomit.  Ready to explain why they can’t stuff an entire roll of toilet paper down the toilet. Ready to duck before you get head butted by a toddler.

That’s why I find myself chasing the void lately, actively seeking out brief moments of peace and quiet. I know you'd recognize that magical place: it's the void of noise, touch, and being the one to handle whatever shit is thrown at you (sometimes literally) by your little ones.  That void—where you can just exist and nothing is required of you—is the stuff of dreams for mothers.  And it is also different for all my friends.  One friend does hot yoga because, in her words, it’s so hard she can’t think about anything else.  Not a single list running through her head, not a single worry invading her thoughts.  Another friend runs outside almost every day, because it is her time and just makes her feel better.  While exercise would be the better void, I prefer solo scenic drives in my car where I can just . . . be.  For me, it’s a time when I can know that no one will bump into me and slosh my coffee against my face.  When I can listen to music if I want, because that noise doesn’t demand anything of me except singing at the top of my lungs.  

Let’s face it, just being is hard when you’re a parent because there’s always someone needing something.  But you know what?  As much as they need breakfast or clean underwear, we, as parents, need to find the void.  Just being—whether it’s running, yoga, or belting out music in your car—is just as essential as changing the diapers, brushing their hair, or doing the laundry.  Here’s to chasing the void, friends, whatever that may be for you.  If you need me I’ll be in my car, slurping a piping hot latte and shout-singing along to pop hits on the radio.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dear Clothing Retailers: It's Way Too Hot for Those Ponchos and Sweaters

Dear Clothing Retailers,

Please stop.  Please stop pretending that we can wear your beautiful fall clothes here in the Deep South.    

Look, I want it to be fall as much as you do.  That’s why I dutifully put out my pumpkins and festive fall wreath even though it’s 92 degrees and 158% humidity.  It’s why I still get excited for seasonal coffee drinks, even though there’s no other indication that seasons have changed.  However, I simply cannot endure your oversized cable knit ponchos, wool coats, corduroy pants, and rugged sweaters.  Or the suggestion, as provided by your mannequins, that I wear layer upon layer upon layer of clothing. 

Do you know what happens when we wear that oversized sweater poncho here in the South in October?  We become one-person sweat lodges, like the ones that people died in from overheating.   That lovely plaid wool jacket?  There may be one day this year I could actually wear it, and that day probably won’t come until January.  Also, those beautiful scarves you have draped around the necks of every mannequin? It would become a sweat rag that I could use to wipe my face after about ten minutes outside.

Listen, I love our Southern version of fake fall.  I schlep the kids to the pumpkin patch and sweat buckets with all the other parents.  I buy the candy corn and giant inflatable pumpkins for our yard and I make delicious pumpkin bread.  In short, I pretend that the seasons are actually changing, even though we all know that we’ve just moved from Summer Phase I to Summer Phase II, which lasts until November. 

There’s where you come in: I think you should dump the ponchos and coats, and instead roll out a Summer Phase II clothing line.  You could even use all those rich fall colors—deep burgundy, mustard yellow, and navy—but just skip the pants and make shorts and t-shirts.  You’d sell a lot of them, because as much as we embrace fake fall here in the South, we just can’t pretend that it’s cool enough to wear your real fall clothes. 

So happy fall, y’all.  Just not in those ponchos, corduroys, and scarves.  Shorts.  Think shorts.  


One Sweaty Southerner