race you

I played sports in high school. JV tennis and varsity soccer. But no one I graduated with would call me an athlete.
I'm competitive. I like to play lots of sports but have never been great at any of them. Even after both kids I kept playing soccer...until I was taking my son to his own practices and I couldn't how to figure out how to juggle his games with mine.
I am a member of the best gym in town, but feel silly in those classes and I hate the treadmill.
I do however, love food.
I also have the cholesterol level of a 70 year overweight man who is on an all bacon diet.
And family history of diabetes and heart disease and am about 2 cheeseburgers away from shopping at Lane Bryant.
And the easiest solution to that is to lace up my sneaks, download some terrible music and take a few laps around the block.
And I'd come back home sweatier and with a clearer head.
At some point those few laps became a few miles and even occasionally a few hours.

Back in the fall a friend asked me to do a half marathon with her, to raise money for World Vision. For clean water for children in Africa. I'd only done a half marathon once before. Pre-kids and atleast 20 lbs ago. A few friends had tried to talk me into one a year or so back and I wasn't interested. Too far. Too expensive. Too much training.
But this time I said yes.

And I run for lots of reasons.
For the tshirts and race swag.
For the cupcakes I want to eat later.
For the good kind of sore the next day.
For my head to clear.
For atleast thirty minutes of quiet.
To help me get off the couch.
So my thighs don't rub together.
Because of how strong I feel after a really good run.
Because my pants fit better and I feel better when I do.
Because when else is it ok to put Beiber, Nikki Minaj , and the Zac Brown Band all on the same playlist.
Because I'll never be as fast as most people, but I know I can usually outlast them.
But this weekend I'll be running for all those selfish reasons....and one really more important one.


*nearly half of the world's population lives on less than 2$ a day (ouch. i spend more than that on coffee most days)
*Nearly every day 852 million people go hungry, over 300 million of those are children. (and not just hungry, like I feel most days after school because I eat lunch at 10:30...but real...hunger).
*One in every 5 children living in developing countries do not have access to clean drinking water (...I can just look around my living room and see almost that many half drank juice boxes or water bottles my kids left out)

and there are plenty more scary facts where that came from. (world vision stats on poverty) and I'm totally stealing this line from another one of their videos. "Some statistics you can't run from....but you can run for."
Want to help without getting blisters? Consider making a donation here: http://support.worldvision.org/site/TR?team_id=26640&fr_id=1471&pg=team
and thanks so much for the people who already have.

new do

My girl loves pink, lipsticks, dancing in tutus, the Beibs, Barbies, dresses that twirl, painted fingersnails, purple, and any princess Disney has dreamed up.
In other words. She is over the top super-sassy-girly. But she is missing one really important girl accessory.
Hair.

And even though her brother was born with thick full locks, she was bald. Like her PawPaw. People kept assuring me that their little girls were bald too. And that it would grow. Her first birthday came and went. No ponytail. Then her second and we could pull just a few strands into pigtails. And then her third all with very little progress on the hair front.

Right now she is three and half and still can’t really rock a pony tail.
It has grown of course. But slow and stringy and super fine.
Uneven and occasionally matted in the back, well lets just say it is a good thing she has such pretty brown eyes….
I’ve tried bows and hats and clippies and they can only do so much. When I visit her classroom all the girls in her class have shiny locks halfway down their backs with braids and hair accessories to make even Rapunzel jealous.

This morning her hair looked particularly awful and I decided that I’d take her in for a hair cut. I know that the old wives tail about cutting your hair makes it grow faster isn’t exactly true. But I figured it couldn’t hurt. So after lunch I loaded her up and went out to get my girl a new do.

She seemed a little nervous as we pulled up, asking apprehensively if getting her hair cut hurt. “No baby girl”, I assured her. “Your hair can’t feel. It won’t hurt at all.”
But the truth is that losing something you want so badly always hurts. Even if it is for the best.

Someone called our name and she asked how I wanted Tess’s hair cut. I told her it had never been cut and I was just hoping to jump start it a little. Clean it up. She got the apron on her, tried to run her comb through my girl’s fine mess….and might have even used the word mullet. She said that a trim would really make it look better. She said her hair was so fine and brittle that it was breaking off faster than it was growing in. And she suggested taking off a full inch and evening it out.

I was so desperate for her to have more hair that I never bothered to trim off the unhealthy parts. And this was causing it to break faster than it could come in.

Sometimes it is hard to see growth if there is damage.

A good gardener will tell you that plants need to be pruned. The dead and damaged parts need to be removed so the plant’s resources are redirected to other areas.

I used to be an average tennis player. (these days I’m just an ex-average tennis player). But I had a coach once who spent hours re-teaching me how to serve. I had a decent and consistent serve, but if I want to have a good serve…I needed to change everything about how I hit the ball. It meant that instead of usually hitting it in the right box, I was double faulting. But eventually, I started faulting less and getting more aces. Because sometimes, you have to get worse before you get better.

My hair hasn’t been cut in six months or more. And I am desperate for a new do. Because I am desperate to be different. For a little while now I have felt stuck. Like I know the areas that I need to grow and change and I swear I keep taking steps in those directions. But I mostly just feel like I am walking backwards. Probably because I haven’t been willing to get rid of the damaged parts.
And frankly, more than just my hair needs a trim.

Tess sat there while the sweet hairdresser snipped bigger chunks of her hair off than I was hoping for. Gave her a little bit of bang and some cute layers, so that as it did grow in it would look fuller. I tucked a little curl into my wallet and kept telling her how cute she looked.
She said there was so little to cut, that she would only charge me for a bang trim.

We got home and I had to stop her brother short from telling her she looked like a boy. We put in a heart clippie and painted her nails and she pranced around the living room. It is definitely shorter. And when I met her daddy, his mop was easily longer than hers, but it does look better. The stringy mullet-y parts are gone. What is left seems so much healthier. More even. Shiny.
Like it is ready to grow.

And I think I’ll follow her lead and get a new do of my own.


broken

Once I had a conversation with an old friend. It was months ago. And we were hundreds of miles apart but feeling some of the same things. She called while I was on my way into starbucks to meet someone else. But I don’t get to talk to her everyday so I stood outside, leaned against the brick wall and we spoke about how we both felt a little bit broken.
And mostly how we don’t want to be. And unsure how to talk about it with other people. And then I went inside and ordered an Americano and I’m sure pretended to be just fine and together.

Today, like most weekends, we had a kid’s birthday party to attend. Someone in my daughter’s class that I have never met. And unless it is a really close friend I almost always dread these. They are right up there with organize my sock drawer, clean out the fridge and grading papers for ways I least want to spend my weekend. It is just socially awkward, loud, and boring. The only bonus is that it usually ends with cupcakes. I have several coping mechanisms, I often volunteer to take pictures and recently I have even started bringing books. This time, I didn’t have my camera, or a book and my phone only had a few bars left on it.

I found the right party, which is difficult since I didn’t know the birthday boy and the only thing Tess gave me to go on was that he had “grey” hair. ( it is brown by the way). But I found the correct lane got Tess into some super cute tiny bowling shoes introduced myself and found a place on a nearby couch and wondered if anyone would notice if I took a nap.

There was a young mom there with her son who was currently giggling with my daughter and another boy from their class. She had a ring in her nose and her eyebrow and smelled faintly of cigarettes. She smiled warmly and initiated some conversation. I am always intimidated by the mom scene, but figured it must be even more awkward for her, so I listened and talked. Not long into the conversation she mentioned a nasty custody battle. We talked about other things briefly, but eventually it came out that I knew her son’s father. That he used to be a student at the school I used to teach at. The second I said I knew him. She asked for my hand. Which I thought was awkward, but gave it to her anyways.

She pulled it to her forhead. Pressed my fingers into it’s side and said, “Feel that? It is a metal plate from where he kicked my skull in.”

And I said something about being glad that she was smart enough to get away and protect her son. But mostly I felt inadequate. And I pictured this man, whose foot had been where my hand just was, like the last I had seen him. A cocky 16 year old kid that I was telling to get to class. Or watch his mouth. Or to slow down in parking lot.

And the party continued. Our kids threw gutter balls and danced to Justin Beiber. Eventually we were ushered to a party room for pizza and cake and I found myself talking pinterest recipes with another mom that didn’t look like one of my students.

But for the rest of the day, I couldn’t get that image out of my head. My hand on hers.
And shocked. That this woman, that I’d spent no more than 15 minutes talking to, had no problems showing me how she’d been broken.
And put back together.
And that maybe the rest of us moms, had a few things to learn from her.

pretend



Currently my son is tearing the cushions off the couch.
First he set it up like a TV and him and his sister pretended to watch cartoons on it. Then he set it up as a tent. And when her brother asked if she wanted to go camping, Tess quickly took the clipboard out of his hand and signed up. It didn’t bother her that he really didn’t have a clipboard, nor that she can’t write. Then they pretended to look at the stars on the ceiling.
They slip in and out of imaginary worlds with ease. One minute they are running from monsters or hiking up a mountain or swimming across the living room.

I watched jealously wondering when we lose our ability to pretend.
10? 14? 21?
And suddenly realizing that we just get better at it with age.
We just start pretending about all the wrong things.

We pretend to be ok when we aren’t.
We pretend to have it together when we’re not.
We pretend to have answers when we don’t have a clue.
We pretend not to be scared when we are petrified.
We pretend that we aren’t struggling when we are slipping fast.
We pretend that we are listening when we are really making lists in our heads.
We pretend not to care when we do. A lot.
We pretend to care when we really don’t.

And, all that pretending is exhausting. I do my share, but I’ve never been good at.
Instead, I’d rather look at the stars on my ceiling. Or watch cartoons on my couch cushions.