Motherhood in the Trenches

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Airport Drama

I thought I would record this little snippet of our experience today, because, I know, in twenty years, it will be funny. Today, it was simply a test of my mental fortitude and physical stamina.

The day started off with Zofia and I heading down to Dulles airport, around 11am, to pick up Flo, who was coming in on a 2pm flight from visiting her friend, Megan, in Montana. Joe opted to stay home, and skip the airport adventure, but Zofia had to come along. I was sure, unlike Flo’s departure, where we spent twelve hours in the airport after a missed flight, that her return would be less time-consuming, and Zofia would enjoy the drive. This was true. We stopped to get blueberries on the way at a farm stand, and talked about all sorts of interesting things on the way down. But, her previous fascination with the airport was promptly tempered by waiting in lines and a newfound fear of alternative modes of ground transportation.

Upon arriving at the airport about a half hour before Flo’s flight was due to land, we took our time meandering on in, and got to the baggage claim just as her flight landed. Great timing, I thought! And, wow, Flo’s bag was the first one off the plane, so I grabbed it, and we waited for her chaperon (a service which we paid extra for) to escort her out.

Not long after grabbing her bag, Flo called me on my cell, and told me I needed to come pick her up. Apparently, it was necessary for me to go through security to the gate to meet her and sign her out. So, I had to go upstairs to the United ticket counter to request a gate pass. We had to wait in line behind a military family, moving to Germany, that was checking in their family dog, and a large family, confused about their passports and needing to check an abundance of luggage. This took awhile, and Zofia was very interested in the several pets that were accompanying travelers. She repetitively prompted me to ask if she could pet the dogs while we were waiting in line.

Finally, gate pass in hand, we headed for security. The line wasn’t quite as long as it had been when we dropped Flo off, so that was a relief. We took a spot in line and began our wait. This is when I uttered the words that were the catalyst for the events to come. The people behind us were talking about the “train” that goes to the terminal. I then made the mistake of telling Zofia we were waiting in the line to go on the train (tram/bus thing) to the gate to meet Sissy. I thought she’d be excited. Wrong! She instantly protested and ran away from me!

Sympathetic onlookers in the line offered to hold my place while I went to retrieve Zofia. This was a test of my agility, as I made my way towards her, through the partitioned walkways, set up to keep travelers in line. I finally got a hold of her, only after two security agents cornered her on each side. Such drama!

Now, tugging Zofia along by her wrist, with her yelling and resisting, I returned to my place in line. We spent the next ten minutes waiting to get our pass checked, all the while with Zofia screaming and me trying everything to divert her attention. I felt sorry for the people around us having to endure it, but they probably felt the same about me.

When we finally arrived at the front of the line, and gave the employee our pass, Zofia was now in the middle of a full-blown meltdown. The lady was obviously irritated with us, and asked why Zofia’s name wasn’t on the pass. I told her because she’s five and she’s not travelling. I was just there to pick up my older daughter. She spent some time assessing me skeptically, as if I may be abducting this screaming child. And, who could blame her. Zofia was yelling, “No. I don’t want to go with you. I want to go home!” But, eventually, after consulting a few other employees, I was ushered through to security.

At this point, we got in another line, waiting to be cleared through security. Zofia was livid and inconsolable. While trying to hold her hand to keep her from darting away from me again, through the obstacle course of people and carry-on baggage, she was kicking and screaming and pinched and scratched my hand so hard she drew blood. But, I dutifully maintained my composure, and held fast to her arm.

We arrived at the security check, and had to remove our shoes to put through the x-ray machine. To say the least, now bruised and bleeding, and testing my physical endurance wrestling with a five year old for over a half an hour, removing her shoes was almost my breaking point. But, I persevered, and we made it through the metal detector without sounding any alarms. Well, other than the alarming cry of Zofia, still yelling, “I don’t want to go!”

Now through security, carrying Zofia, I continued on to the tram. This was the funny part. Well, it is in retrospect. The “train,” unlike the actual subway-like train we had taken (while Zofia was sleeping in her stroller) when we dropped Flo off at the airport, this was simply a bus that shuttled passengers to their gates.

As soon as she stepped on the the bus, Zofia looked around, and instantly relaxed her grip on my shirt, which she had practically succeeded in tearing off. She looked around, as if thinking, “Oh, this is just a bus!” We sat down, and she finally gave up resisting, and resumed her normal, generally pleasant, demeanor. I thoroughly enjoyed the four minute reprieve of our bus ride, while nursing my wound, and taking a few deep breaths, bracing myself for any aftershocks.

But, thankfully, the journey from here on out, aside from a little whining and complaining about having to walk too much, was uneventful. We successfully verified, that I was, indeed, authorized to pick up Flo, and we happily retrieved her and slowly headed home, through rush hour traffic.

Now, almost into tomorrow, relaxing before bedtime, I can reflect upon the day with humor and love for the little person that caused such a big commotion. Even in the midst of the crazy episode, I understood Zofia’s fear and her need, but unfortunately, could not accommodate her completely by going home without retrieving my other, equally loved, daughter. So, I had to do my best to accomplish the task at hand, without being detained by security, or falling to the floor and crying myself!

As they say, all is well that ends well. And, we now have a funny story to tell Zofia someday, maybe when she’s a young mom, engaging in the unscripted drama of parenthood herself. Incidentally, today would have been my father, Zofia’s grandfather’s, 69th birthday, and I swear, as I exited the airport, I felt him grin and congratulate Zofia for her successful execution of an endurance test!

Family Circle ~ Father’s Day 2013

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Family Circle ~ Father's Day 2013

…a time came when mankind aspired not to co-creation but to analysing God's creation… when human thought faltered, aspiring not to creation but to the accumulation of knowledge… " – Ringing of the Cedars, Book 4: Co-Creation, by Vladimire Megre.

Today, we honored Fatherhood, and the important relationship of a father in the creation of a family. I pointed out to the kids that they should look to their dad for his reflections on his own experience, but not for knowledge to substitute for their own reflections. This is what co-creation is, and it makes family life seem more like a creative endeavor than a patriarchal system of governance. 🙂

We also reflected on the the Fourth Agreement: Always Do Your Best

"Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret."

Joe also chose a silly poem by Shel Silverstein about a dad who game his son dollar.


And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
My dad gave me one dollar bill
‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
‘Cause two is more than one!

And then I took the quarters
And traded them to Lou
For three dimes—I guess he don’t know
That three is more than two!

Just then, along came old blind Bates
He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
And just ‘cause he can’t see
And four is more than three!

And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
Down at the seed-feed store,
And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
And five is more than four!

And then I went and showed my dad,
And closed his eyes and shook his head—
And he got red in the cheeks
Too proud of me to speak!

Lastly, we wrote in our family journal some of the words that come to mind when we think about fathers. Love, teacher, experience… Zofia wanted to write something, too; she wrote "CAT"… And, I see Flo snuck the world "wood chuck" on the bottom by a little picture of a tree… Silly girl. When I think of my father, now well into my own parenting journey, I see someone who loved me, guided me, tried not to judge me too harshly, but occasionally looked upon me with the same critical eye he sometimes directed at himself. I see value, experience, wisdom, and the unfolding of a unique creative journey, meshed on this physical plane with mine for a short time, but entangled in the web of existence forever.

Fathers bring an element of balance to a family, or a child's relationship with the world. Fatherhood is a lofty endeavor, often thrust upon those unprepared souls most seeking balance themselves. So, though it may not be a perfectly scripted role, it offers plenty of creative licence!

Family Circle ~ April 2013 (Earth Day)

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Family Circle - Earth Day 2013

Since it's been a busy month, and we hadn't had time to have a family circle, we decided Earth Day was the perfect day to prioritize making time to be together. Monday's are usually "Media Free Day" in our house, so we figured it was as good of time as any to get the kids' attention! And, Earth Day is also good fodder for discussion.

We opened our circle by reflecting on this quote and inviting awareness and peace.

The ultimate test of man's conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.
— Gaylord Nelson

Then, we talked about things we can do to be gentler on the Earth & the impact of the "stuff" we consume. We watched The Story of Cosmetics, and patted ourselves on the back for the changes we've made in the past five or six years, minimizing the products we use, and choosing the ones we do wisely. We really don't rely on too many cosmetics. Baking soda, vinegar, peroxide, coconut oil, and Dr. Bronner's soaps comprise the majority of our daily routine, from tooth brushing to cleaning the house.

We also looked up the Great Garbage Patch Island in the Pacific ocean. The kids were really astonished by the videos and photos we found. It could really make you feel overwhelmed at the enormity of healing our Earth will have to do to repair that wound. But, we emphasized to the kids that even the little things than do, CAN make a difference, and talked about ways we could be even "greener" in our daily lives.

In our Family Journal today, we wrote things we are thankful for about the Earth.

We closed our circle with a Buddhist prayer. Darren and I went out to enjoy an evening walk on a chilly Spring night. The kids retreated to the activities in which they were previously engaged before we summoned them downstairs. A good day.

We gently caress you, the Earth, our planet and our home.
Our vision has brought us closer to you, making us aware of the harm we have done to the life-network upon which we ourselves depend.
We are reminded that we have poisoned your waters, your lands, your air.
We have filled you with the bones of our dead from war and greed.
Your pain is our pain.
Touching you gently, we pray that we may become peace-bringers and life-bringers so that our home in its journey around the Sun not become a sterile and lonely place.
May this prayer and its power last forever.
— Sensei Ulrich, Manitoba Buddhist Temple

Family Circle ~ March 2013

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Family Circle ~ March 22, 2012

Today we celebrated the beginning of Spring, though it still feels like Winter outside. We wrote the things we're looking forward to about Spring in our family journal, talked some more about meditation and watched a short video on the topic, and closed out the circle with a prayer. Love these moments together!

Springtime Prayer
O Dancer of Creation,
the earth awakens to an urgent call to grow.
In the hidden recesses of my wintered spirit
I, too, hear the humming of your voice,
calling me, wooing my deadness back to life.
My soul yawns, stretches, quickens,
as the energy of Spring revives my weariness.
I sit with wonder, observing the steady activity
of downy woodpeckers and newly yellowed finch.
I do so wait with the avid attention of a child’s first look,
savoring the colors and shapes of earth’s loveliness.
As the filtering patterns of early sunlight
lift the shades of green in every growing thing,
I enter into spring’s unlettered words of life.
For a while my doubts, anxieties, and worries
become like chapters in some ancient book
whose text no longer claims my full attention.
I am content to sit, watching Spring
turn the pages of this animated publication,
eager to discover the invigorating story
reflected in my own springtime revelation.
Tell me, Wise Awakener,
why is it easier to believe in a stem of new grass,
or the opening bud of a fresh purple crocus,
than it is to believe in the greening of me?

—Joyce Rupp

Fun Day Transitioning to Midlife

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Tara's 40th Birthday

To celebrate my 40th birthday, we decided to head into DC for the day to meet my mom and Tom, and check out the NBC4 Health & Fitness Expo. I was sort of disappointed by the event, as there weren't any natural food vendors, and the only foods served were Philly steaks, french fries, sodas, etc.

Tara's 40th Birthday

Nonetheless, we walked around for a bit, and had fun in DC, stopping off at Khepra's Raw Food Juice Bar for a yummy lunch. I've tried their food at various vegetarian/health festivals over the past couple years, but never got a chance to stop in. It's a little "hole in the wall," kind of place with lots of character and excellent raw food! Darren was happy to get his hands on a green coconut. After enjoying them in Ecuador, he's been searching for a fresh looking one for awhile.

Tara's 40th Birthday Tara's 40th Birthday

My mom took Zofia for the evening, so we enjoyed a quiet ride home, stopping at MOM's Market in Rockville to get a jug of Elderberry Kombucha, and then in Frederick, at the Owl's Nest to get a few birthday crystals.

Tara's 40th Birthday

We rounded out the day with a birthday bowl of durian (for me and Darren… Flo and Joe retreated in disgust), some quiet creative time alone, and a restful sleep. Not a bad start to my 40th year… looking forward to making it a great year!

Family Circle ~ February 2013

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Family Circle - February 2013

It was late on this mid-February evening, but we missed our January Family Circle, and finally had a night where everyone was home, so the kids set up our table. We spent a little time chatting, watching a short video on "meaning" from the the Spirit Science YouTube channel and writing things we "love" in our family journal. It was a nice way to wind down the day.

Today's prayer:
As the day falls into darkness, I ask my soul's teacher to help me recognize what is finished, not to manipulate the powers of life and death to keep alive what is really worn out this day ~ SELF-CLARIFICATION ~ May all the out-worn things that I have harboured find their true rest and eternal home.

Today's card from the deck:
"I am learning that all problems resolve themselves."

And, for continuity, we always close the circle with our Unitarian Universalist prayer:

The light does not go out, it is transferred to each of us, to share, and to hold, and to bring with us, when we next return.

Namaste. So mote it be. Amen… Until next time…

Chef Zo

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Chef Zo

Zofia is always busy rearranging the house. Today she decided to set up a kitchen on the ottoman. She's been making little "kitchens" and "fruit stands" all over the house this week. I keep finding apples, lemons, oranges and bananas in different rooms. She's definitely a child of the digital age, because every time she assembles one of her creative collections of stuff, she yells to me to come take a picture. We certainly wouldn't want to miss an opportunity to document all this five-year old Zofia goodness!

Healthy Heart

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Joe had his annual heart check-up today.  They do an echocardiogram and just check things over. When he's a little older, they'll do a stress test.  But, he's in great shape.  Even though we knew that, it's always reassuring to get a good report.  It reminds me of those scary days when he was an infant and we didn't know which way things would go.  Today, the only worry was about Joe's annoyance with with all the sticky goo left from the sensor sticker things they use to monitor his heart.  He had to tediously peel them off, one at a time, deciding whether the quick-rip or slow and steady removal approach was best.  By the end, he was opting for the quick method!   

Flo came along for the ride today, too, because she had a Spanish tutoring session just down the street.  So, after Joe's appointment, we hung out at the medical center for a bit, then drove her over to her lesson at the community college.  Joe and I decided to park and snooze for the hour and a half lesson time.  Joe brought his tablet along to read and play a game, but, I had no problem catching a quick nap while things were quiet and I could recharge for the rest of the day!

Cabin Fever Teen Night

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PHLiC Teen Social

Flo had cabin fever after our quiet holiday week and then being stuck at home with the flu.  She really wanted to get together with her friends.  So, we cleaned up the house, rounded up some holiday snack leftovers, called in the homeschooling teens, and provided a social op for Flo and friends… Fun!  

The unfortunate turn of events for me, was that I was all set to get to bed at a reasonable hour and be alert for the teen get-together!  But then… the pilot light on the heater went out!  Around 1am, I noticed the smell of gas, and temperature in the house was down to 55F.  Brr.  After spending a few minutes looking for obvious possibilities, I reluctnatly woke up Darren to consult with him.  We ended up deciding to shut off the main switch, and call the repair company.  We put in a call, but the technician just got off a 17 hour shift, so since we weren't having a major emergency, we agreed to let him sleep awhile and come later in the morning.

The rather perky and knowledgeable technician arrived around 8am, and a couple hours, and almost $800 later, we had heat again, just in time for Flo's gathering in the afternoon.  So, I was warm, but exhausted by the time the first teen arrived.  But, despite my fatigue, Flo and her friends has a nice evening, and I was happy to facilitate some friend-time for my socially-deprived homeschooler!