Walking Beside Her

Every night as Em is winding down she does laps around the apartment. It’s like she’s walking off all her remaining energy. Tonight she kept grabbing my finger and leading me around with her. Even though I slept a lot last night I still felt so tired. I think that never ending tired feeling is just motherhood. 

Anyway, even though all I wanted to do was curl up on the couch and not move, and even though my mind kept wandering to the veggie burger and fries I would order once she went to bed, every time she grabbed my finger I walked with her. I reminded myself that she won’t always want to walk with me. She won’t always want to bring me along into her world with her.

So, I thought- as long as she wants to bring me into her world, I will be there walking beside her.

Anyone But Me (A tale of middle school)

When I was in the 6th grade I would pass notes back and forth with a good friend. We drew funny scenes with imaginary characters and then wrote a little story about the character.  I don’t remember the particulars of the scenes, but I do remember laughing a lot.

One particular day the scene I drew was not funny. I drew an unflattering picture of a mutual friend. I made her look fatter than she was, made fun of her clothes, and drew arrows at her hair mocking her ponytail. I don’t remember the description I wrote, but it was probably equally mean-spirited.

I remember erasing the first drawing I made to make her look thinner because something inside of me was telling me to stop. I also remember getting a feeling in my gut to NOT pass the note. I wasn’t yet familiar with that intuitive voice inside, so I passed it along anyway.

Passing that note happened to coincide with the holiday season, and my group of friends were doing a Secret Santa. We would leave clues and presents in the locker of the person we had drawn to be our gift recipient. On the last day before holiday break, I opened my locker excited to find out who my Secret Santa had been.

What I saw inside was the note I had written hanging and surrounded by festive holiday streamers. Below it was a sign that read, “Next time you write something mean you should be careful.” Turns out, my Secret Santa was the friend I had made fun of.

My heart completely sank and I felt instant shame.

I don’t remember how everything else unfolded. I don’t remember if I apologized or if I just hid from the friend I had written the note about (probably the latter).  What I do remember was from that from that point on I was an outcast in my group of “friends.”

Around that same time, I had to miss a sleepover party because I had a dance show. When I came into school that Monday morning a friend came rushing towards me. “Everyone was talking about us the party”, she told me. When I asked her what she meant she went on to tell me a number of cruel things the girls had apparently said about me. The one thing that stood out and still hurts to this day is how they said I tried to be funny but wasn’t. They said they had to fake laugh at my “jokes.”

In addition to the note and sleepover drama, during this time I also really pissed off a friend (the same one who I had passed that note to by the way). She and I had a big crush on a boy named Steve (yes, he’s now my husband). Without telling me she asked him out, and they began “dating.” At the time I think that meant they would occasionally hold hands in public. Anyway, when someone asked what I thought about her asking out Steve I said, “No comment.” My lack of a comment got back to her and she was MAD. She didn’t want to speak to me anymore either. With that, I lost another friend.

From that day on, I wasn’t allowed to sit at the table with that group of girls anymore. I would sit at a different table feeling totally excluded and completely worthless.

In the midst of all this, I remember being in dance class and watching an older dancer perform. I thought, “I wish I was her.” I was hit with the absolute sinking feeling of TRULY wishing I was anyone else but me. To be her, I thought, would be so much easier. She was pretty and talented. I bet she had friends at school who let her sit with them. I bet she didn’t have problems like awkward, unfunny, ugly me.

Looking back, I know why I wrote that terrible note. It was because I felt terrible about myself. It felt good to project that feeling onto another person and get momentary relief. Many years later I was able to apologize to that friend for writing the note. I told her it was cruel and I should have never done it. She accepted my apology and laughed it off. She seemed a little uncomfortable with how serious I was about saying I was sorry.

Looking back, I’m happy I missed that sleepover. Instead of gossiping about other girls (which I most likely would have done), I was performing on stage.

Looking back, I’m not sorry I said “no comment” about my friend dating Steve. I really liked him. I married the guy for Christ’s sake! And I could have said something so much worse.

Anyway, I was wondering why I’ve been thinking about all this stuff lately, and maybe it’s because of the state of our world. There is so much animosity and hatred. There is a fighting and cruelty and misunderstanding. And it makes me wonder- where does that come from? If a person feels worthless, if they wish they were anyone else but them- how do you think they treat others?

I’m totally serious when I say- maybe how middle school girls treat each other is a microcosm of the darkness of the human condition. There was fear of anyone or anything different. There was projecting worthless feelings onto each other.  There was creating an “us” and “them.” At any moment everyone could turn their back on you. Middle school was rough!

My story is such a small one. It can by no means be compared to the serious horrors happening in our world right now. It does remind me though to stop and ask, “If that person is treating others like that, how must they feel?”

 

 

 

 

 

A Deep Exhale

Yesterday Em and I had a busy and stressful (for me) day. We had a follow up appointment with an orthopedist concerning Em’s hips. Being that she was a frank breech baby she was born with a risk of having hip dysplasia. For that reason, she was given an ultrasound on her hips at 6 weeks old and 3 months old.

We had a bit of a scare about her hips when she was six weeks old which left me a bit traumatized. You can read the back story here.

Our appointment was way across town which meant trekking across the city in the cold. I felt tense but breathed deeply and Em handled it like a champ.

We got there a half hour early. I know people say once you have a kid you’re always late but I haven’t found that (yet). Being late for something makes me SO anxious that I’m usually ridiculously early, even with my baby. I’m not saying this is a good thing. It’s just what always happens!

Being so early made me panic a bit wondering what the heck we would do for a half hour; however, The Hospital for Special Surgery happens to be amazing and very child-friendly. 

There was a woman playing ukulele in the waiting area! She asked for requests and gave Em her own show. She sang Itsy Bitsy Spider and I’m a Little Teapot. Em was entranced and so was I. When she sang “You Are My Sunshine” and changed the words of the first verse to be happier (like I do) I cried.

We got called in early and met with the lovely doctor who said Em’s hips looked great but they would do an x-ray just to be sure. When I asked how safe an x-ray was he explained it would be the same amount of radiation as a plane ride to California. We did that plane ride with Em so using that analogy soothed my worries.

We went across the hallway to get her x-ray and Em said “hi!” to everyone we saw. The receptionist. The 10 year old boy wearing headphones and watching a show on his phone. The mom waiting with him. The technician who walked by. She also pulled out my ponytail, snuggled into me tight and kept kissing me. Did she know I was scared? I don’t know. But she made me feel better.

As for the x-ray, I consider it a miracle moment. She laid perfectly still as we sang the ABC’s. It was shockingly easy as pie!

In the end we got confirmation that Em’s hips are developing normally and we don’t need to go back. I’m more relieved that I can explain here. The only way I could describe it is that Em having hip problems has been weighing on me since I was pregnant and learned she was breech. Now it feels like that weight is released and I am ten pounds lighter.

When we got home, I was physically and emotionally SPENT. My back was killing me from wearing 21 pound Em in the carrier all afternoon. I rolled out my mat. I rolled out Em’s mat, and this video is what happened.

I just want to say I’m so grateful for my healthy, sweet, social, communicative girl. My heart explodes every single day and I’m a way better person because of her.

Always Stretching

Over the weekend a friend of mine and I were talking about yoga. He told me how he and his wife joke around and say, “Why is Jessica always stretching?”

I thought about it and they’re right. I am always stretching!

If I’m hanging out with friends or family in my home I’m most likely sitting on the floor doing some forward bends. If I’m sitting on the couch at a friend’s house I’m probably sitting cross-legged and doing some twists. I don’t really think about it. I just do it. It’s second nature.

Ever since I was tiny I’ve always been a mover. First a jazz, ballet and tap dancer. Then a modern dancer. Then a yogi. Almost every job I’ve ever had has involved moving my body. I tried a job sitting at a desk once. I lasted one month.

This past weekend I began filming a video for my childhood dance studio. It’s the 30th anniversary of the studio’s opening and I’m honored to be creating a tribute video for the occasion. I was deeply moved by the teachers’ performances of heartfelt solos. Something inside of me stirred as I watched them, and it continues to stir.

I’ve since began editing the footage and it bring tears to my eyes every time. The purity of it all. The movement. The music. The beauty. The passion. And it’s all there because of the amazing success of my childhood dance studio. And guess what? That’s the place where I learned how to stretch.

I can’t help but cry as I think. Yes, I am always stretching. And it’s because of where I came from.

 

 

Dingleberry 

I am going to bypass the story of the rude woman on the street today (I think you’ve probably heard enough of those) and go straight to the dingleberry story.

Today after we returned from Romeo’s morning walk we were chillaxing. I sipped by lukewarm coffee that I had been trying to drink for two hours (hello motherhood). Romeo lay on his special spot on the couch. Emily was being adorable chatting to herself and playing with her Daniel Tiger figurines.

From across the room I heard. “Cookie!” Emily is fascinated by Romeo’s treats or “cookies” as we call them. Hmm interesting, I thought. How did she get a cookie? So I walked over. I saw her holding what looked like a cookie in her hand. “Coooookie?” she said as she shoved it in Romeo’s face.

I looked closer.

Good God. That’s not a cookie. It’s a turd! It must have somehow stuck to Romeo and there it was in its fully glory.

I grabbed the small piece of poo from Emily’s hand and put it in a tissue. We then washed our hands THOROUGHLY.

Then I couldn’t stop laughing and texted friends and family to share the story. Most of them had a good laugh too!

Anyway what gets me the most about this all is the purity and innocence of it all. Emily had the best intentions. She was so damn cute in her enthusiasm “coooookie?” And then to imagine what Romeo was thinking. “Um, no thanks little lady.”

I hope that’s my first and only dingleberry story.