Learning To Fly

The first time I got on an airplane, I was an unaccompanied minor. Except that back then, there really wasn't anything called 'unaccompanied minors' and I was accompanied by my older brother and my two very little siblings. Eddie sat way up somewhere else on the plane and I sat with J & J, making sure they ate their Kudos bars and didn't spill their many airplane-sized cups of soda.

Eventually, they just gave us the cans. You can get anything on an airplane if you whine enough.

I never did fly with an adult in all the times I've flown back and forth, Philly to Denver, parent-hopping my way through my childhood. And that never seemed like an issue at all; I mean, it's getting on a plane, sitting down for three hours and getting off the plane - not rocket science. I was 13 whole years old, I knew everything, and I found flying to be intoxicating.

Now, actually flying the plane is a little bit like rocket science, and since I always loved flying so much, when I had the opportunity, I learned how to fly them myself. I have yet to find anything as exhilarating and freeing and close to godly as piloting an airplane. Maybe I haven't done much with my life, maybe I've never seen the world, maybe I've never even seen Detroit, but at least I've flown airplanes.

But the problem, for me at least, with knowing how to fly the airplane is that now I know every single thing that can go south, literally, when trying to keep a few tons of metal aloft. Knowing how to do it took the magic out of it for me, and made me the world's worst airplane passenger. Learning how to drive made me the world's worst auto passenger, too. Really, ask my husband. My complete inability to sit in the passenger seat and not completely freak the fuck out has almost driven that poor man to the divorce lawyer.

I think that if I'd just not learned how to fly an airplane, I wouldn't be sitting here right now shivering inside while my husband sits at a gate with our sons, waiting to load them up on a plane and send them to Denver for two weeks. I wouldn't be going through all the worst case scenarios in my head, if only I didn't know what they are. I wouldn't be worrying about whether or not they can get oxygen masks over their faces, or whether or not they will whine their way into cans of Sprite.

Or maybe I would. Maybe I would because those are my babies, and they're going 1500 miles away from me, where I won't be there if someone falls off a bike and scrapes their knees, where I can't come get them if it turns out that they don't still get along with the best friends they left behind four years ago when we left Denver. That powerless feeling I get every time I buckle my seat belt and put my tray table up for take-off isn't much different from the powerless feeling I'm getting sending my sons into the world on their own for two weeks.

But I guess the best things in life are the ones that leave you feeling helpless - like motherhood, like launching yourself through clouds and over mountains, like letting go.  I never knew how to see the world until I saw it from a few thousand feet up, and maybe I don't know how to see my kids for the little men that they are until I see them from a few thousand miles away. I guess it's time to let them go. I supposed I have to let them go, and trust that I taught them how to put mud on a bee sting and ask politely for sodas and behave even when I'm not watching.

It took me a while, but I learned how to fly. It's taking me a while, but I'm trying to learn how to give my kids wings, too.

It Should Be Against the Law For Your Child to Reach the Same Age as Your First Boyfriend.

Twelve years ago today, I doubled. I don't just mean that in the 'I weighed 98 pounds in June of 1997 and 205 on April 14th, 1998' way, either, though that is also true, unfortunately for all of us, mostly my vertebrae.

The day I gave birth to you, you gave life to me. And I never saw it coming.

I had no idea that the moment I'd become someone's mother, the moment I would look into the eyes that I could never imagine, no matter how hard I tried, that an entirely separate me would be formed. A me that would walk along side the old me, mending what was torn and gluing together what was shattered.

This other person, this mother of yours, she was an empty vessel soaking you in.

I drank in every drop of you, even the puke, but we'll let daddy tell you that story someday. The me that was helpless against you, that shrouded herself in your eyes and your hands, your whimpers, your growth, your words and your breaths and your movements...she absorbed you whole, and eventually, everything about her became of you.

For 12 years, I have built up this person that I am becoming on the back of your falls and scrapes, your triumphs and victories, your strengths and your weaknesses. I have become the thing I imagine you want me to be. I have grown for you, because of you, along side you. Every breath you failed to take, I couldn't take along side of you. Every drop of blood you've shed has poured out of my veins, too.

I have never felt anything in the world like I've felt you.

The old me, the one I hope you can't remember anymore, used to have to dig holes in my skin to feel. I used to have to die, just so I could remember how to live. Now, all I have to do is say your name out loud, and I am flooded with the feeling of your fingers ripping against muscle and driving out through my skin, pushing so hard for exit from me that I could trace every little finger on the outside of my stomach. I am overtaken by the physical remnants of you inside my head and my heart, your footprints quite literally stomped into my soul.

I have this statue on our mantle, a tiny plaster casting dipped in bronze, perched atop a marble pedestal, of your two week old wrinkly, clenched fist. We took that casting while you laid, milk-drunk, asleep in my arms in the early days of May, 1998. Occasionally, when the house is quiet and there is no one around, I'll take that down from the mantel and I'll trace the curve of your fist, each little wrinkle, each dimple of your flesh, and if I try very hard indeed, I can feel you again. I can hold that tiny, perfect hand that I held onto so tight, for so long, warm again in my palm. I can call you back to my heart in an instant when I need to, and believe me...I need to more now than you'll ever realize.

Today you turn 12 years old, and 12 is not so very old at all from where I'm sitting, but 12 is actually very much so grown indeed. My very first love, the boy who's pictures still clutter the very darkest corners in the bottom of the wine crate that contains the tattered remnants of my history, that boy who still can make my heart flutter at the very thought of him, he was 12 when I met him. He was the same age you are today, and the imprint he left in my heart will never diminish. 12 is a powerful thing to be, because you can be you now. You can change someone else's life. At your core, you are the person you are always going to be, no matter what mutation of you walks out of your teen years and into your adult life. The man peeking out from behind your eyes today...this is you, forever and ever amen.

I took your hand to cross a street the other day, as I will always do, and when your fingers wrapped around mine, it was unfamiliar, like grabbing your drink off a bar you've been at for entirely too long and realizing it isn't your water, but someone else's martini. The shock was jarring, and it hurt in a way I've never felt. I thought I'd felt ever pain there was, but this is indescribable frightening.

I catch a glimpse of you as I walk past your bedroom door, in your little man-cave, topless and distracted. I see you for a splinter of a second without a shirt on, and I realized that I can't recognize that torso anymore. I can scarcely remember where I think there should be a birthmark, because your body has been yours for so long now, the idea of it ever being mine is foreign and icky, like wine-soaked snails for dinner.

You were never mine. You were always yours, ferociously, independently yours, and I was merely an extension of you. I have no doubt that you've known this all along, but as is your nature, you've allowed me my wide-eyed wondrous folly all these years. Your infinite patience for everything in this life (save your little brother) has been the greatest gift ever bestowed upon me.

This is a difficult thing for a mother to grasp, the finality of childhood. I need this version of me that has spawned from you. I need this person who has no choice but to live in humble admiration and unmitigated awe at the power you hold over me. I need to be reminded that I am weak, that I once was broken, and I need to remember what it feels like to have someone come into your life and physically take it over.

This love for you, it is the most basic, physical thing I have ever felt.

And then I get up in the morning and I slip on my flip-flops and I take your brother and sister to school and I sit at my desk all day and work, and then when it's evening time, when I have all three of my gorgeous gifts back under my roof, screaming and pulling each others hair out, I slide off those flip flops and only then do I realize that I have been wearing your shoes, all day. And even though I was quite happy in them all day, the moment I take them off I realize that I am actually a little more comfortable all on my own.

You really can't ask for better allegory than that, yo.

You made me better. You've protected me from a whole lot of shit I kept trying to step in. You made a complete person out of a shell that was given to you, labeled "mother". You formed me from the ground up, and now it is time for me to stop taking from you and allow you to keep some of you for yourself. It's time to give you your shoes back and let you walk where your life will take you. It's time for me to put my own damn shoes on and walk beside you. From a distance.

It's time for us to become our own people. I know you are ready. I know you were always ready. And even though I am tethered to you in a way you will not understand until you have a child of your own and you feel what I felt 12 years ago today, I think I am ready to let the me before you and the me since you start coming together. I think it's time to soak the fiber of my being with the person that I have finally become, 2 parts me and 1 part you, shaken not stirred.

I think it's time to open the door of this life that you have spent 12 years helping me build and start living in it. But don't worry, kid, your room is right here, just like you left it.

What Goes Around Comes Around. Twice.

My husband and I have been married for eleven years. Eleven years is a long time to do anything. We've seen our share of ups and downs, and that is the understatement of the year. I am not the easiest woman to be married to, for any number of reasons. I am grossly insecure and particularly needy and excessively sensitive. He's got his things, too, but this isn't about him today, it's about me. I've made him work for this relationship. I change the rules on him constantly and expect him to just keep up. Example: When he met me, I worked three jobs, 19 hours a day, 6 days a week. Now I stay home and let him go to work for at least 12 hours every single day while I fail in every way to so much as wash the dishes. He does this with a smile on his face, or so I assume; it's not like I ever actually see his face anymore. I'd like to say that he at least gets to come home to a hot little body waiting for him in lingerie, but what he really comes home to is a snoring wife wearing his sweat pants hogging his side of the bed who used to be a size -0 and is now a solid 12.

I make few apologies for this. It's not like I knocked myself up with a baby that decided to make me gain 105 pounds in nine months, after all.

However misguided my feelings on the subject, I do feel a little bad that the 98 pound girl with a D cup you could stack plates on that he signed up for a life with has now turned into a National Geographic centerfold. I feel bad enough, in fact, that I, on occasion, will buy him pistachios and roses and have them waiting for him when he comes home in the middle of the night after the umpteenth night straight at work.

Roses & Pistachios are the way to a man's heart

He reciprocates occasionally, coming home late from work on the nights he's due in early, bearing gifts for me, too.

If I wrap the divorce in silk, it will be an appropriate 12th anniversary gift

That is a gym membership, brought home for me last week, because apparently he wants a divorce. You leave a man enough times and he'll start double-dog daring you to do it again, all for the low low price of $31/month.

To his credit, he did include all-you-can-eat childcare in the package. So now I can't bitch about being fat, having no where to go OR having no one to watch my kid while I go there anymore. It's like he's robbed me of everything, including my lovely lady lumps. Asshole.

But I'm determined to use it, partly because I do want to get the fuck out of this house occasionally, and I would like to do it sans-four-year-old, but mostly because I'm sick people congratulating me and asking me when the baby is due. The best answer to which is, "Four years, three months and eleven days ago; thanks for asking." So I went last night to try this thing out. I got the four year old ready to go and the nine year old announced that he'd like to go as well. So I put my gym bag down, huffed a little, and called to see if I had a two-for-one daycare special. Which I do. I grabbed my bag, my two youngest, and headed out the door when my eleven year old ran down the stairs in full gym gear asking if he could come, too. You know, to work out with me.

Seriously, I just started being able to poop without company. Will there never be a moment's rest from these people?

So I put everything down, again, and called the gym, again, huffed, AGAIN, and lied about his age, again, and found out that I could bring him. So off we all went. 45 minutes after I was planning on getting to the gym, we had two kids checked into daycare and one magically-turned twelve year old on an elliptical next to me. Who beat my fat fucking ass, hard. Every spanking this kid has ever received in his entire life was repaid last night, in full. He pwned me.

Vengeance is a dish best served sweaty, with burning quads.

It's not like I can let me kid out-work me. If he does 50 crunches on the ab-thingy, I have to do 50, also. If he's barely broken a sweat after 20 minutes on the elliptical, I have to grin and pray silently for god to strike us all dead and spare me this humiliating torture. If he gets through an entire circuit and asks to do it again, well, I just have to do it all again. Even if I can't stand upright anymore. Even if I've sweated out every drop of moisture in my body and am now replacing that sweat with blood. Even if my legs are jello and I can't recall where my arms used to be. Even if I just want so scream that THIS WAS MY PRESENT AND YOU ARE RUINING IT, SHORT PERSON. I can't do that, now can I? We're having a bonding moment, right? One of those fleeting mother-son moments that will be over the second this kid learns what a Playboy magazine is. Which, thanks to him, I may be able to appear in someday.

The Post In Which I Negate The Previous Post

My son hasn't been able to walk for a few weeks now. His heel bone has been killing him, which is only funny because I didn't know your heel bone was capable of killing you. I imagined it was much like your brain; you could fillet it and scoop it out and grill it while fully conscious and you'd never know, because for some reason god decided to make The Most Important organ in your body without any nerves at all. Also, delicious, or so I'm told. Intelligent Design, my fat white ass.

Anyway, the kid has been gimping around here with a pouty face rivaled only by 17 year old anorexic porn start wanna-bes and that's funny because he's also breaking out in epic proportions and so totally not eating anything. This from the kid that will eat anything that is incapable of eating him back. Either he's watching his figure and bored already with his newly-acquired vegan lifestyle, or he's going through a massive growth spurt.

Two weeks before school starts. Exactly when all the super good sales are going on. He hates me; he really does.

His knees have been aching, his bones are burning, his hips are making him cry. So yeah, he's going to be taller than me in 3.6 hours. Either that or he's caught the Black Death, which he'll catch anyway if I have to buy that kid another shoe wardrobe this year. Seriously, he was a size 4 junior in January. His new Crocs? Men's 6. Six. MEN'S. I don't even want to talk about the store I had to go school shirt shopping at for him, sufficed to say that I picked myself up a few tank tops while I was there and I can handle sharing Clearasil with him and I can even handle the whole "wash your own damn sheets" conversation, but this shopping at the same store as my firstborn? It's just too much reality for one girl to handle.

Yesterday, we went to visit my neighbor who just moved out a few weeks ago and over tea and, yes, one entire carrot cake later *burp*, she told me about her friend's son who is currently in hospital because he keeps having seizures which are abruptly followed with, you guessed it, aching heels, burning femurs and throbbing hips. It's moved into his arms now, and his legs are collapsing in on each other. This is not information I wanted, especially since I keep sending my son to golf camp every day, and golf camp typically involves the slightest bit of walking for fucking ever.

I came home last night fully intent on taking him to the doctor's office first thing this morning, after golf camp of course, but talked myself out of it when I sent my kids to bed. Because I've done the whole, "Dude, your kid has a mosquito bite, not the measles" thing and I've gotten the, "Seriously, three kids later and you still don't know the croup when you see it?" lecture, which comes at the lowlow price of $3,000 and I just don't have any interest in sitting in a doctor's office, scarring the fuck out of my kid, and getting told to have him drink more milk and shall we up your happy pill medication, Captain Münchhausen?

When the first scream came, it sounded like anger. Whatever; they'll work it out. The second scream sounded like pain. They better get their fucking asses in bed, I cautioned the ceiling. The third scream sounded exactly like the sound you have nightmares about your children making. The kind of scream that makes your uterus wince. I ran, 2of3 ran, hell...3of3 dropped what she was doing and ran to the hallway, where we found 1of3 drowning in tears, with a purple face and a sewing needle sticking straight up from his toenail.

Not since he was a toddler have I heard that sound come out of his mouth. I am not prone to freaking out, but I Freaked. The. Fuck. Out. He freaked out. 2of3 freaked out. 3of3 said, "Yay! I get band-aids!" She's kind of dead inside, I think, or disturbingly obsessed with band-aids. Once we ripped the needle out of the toenail and the blood did its squirt-squirt thing all over the floor and he started breathing again, we limped him downstairs and iced his toe with frozen strawberries. Because I suck at Prepared Mom, that's why.  Dad defied every posted speed limit in North America and battled a crack whore doing her week's grocery shopping at the 7-11 to procure one bag of ice for us, and we all watched Family Guy until 11 while my son's toe numbed enough that he could get to sleep for golf camp in the morning.

I paid a lot of money for golf camp. And will again for therapy, just later.

And karma once again sunk her yellow pointy teeth into my ass by making damn good and sure my kid did get to the doctor's after all, and since I am so lousy at the mom thing that I won't even take my kid to the doctor when he's got alien armies harvesting his leg bone marrow to keep their hair shiny, now I get to take him for a tetanus shot, which is awesome only because, yeah, he's totally not afraid of needles now or anything.

Stupid Is

If you were, say, an old Denver friend or a relative, and you were to call me, we'd probably catch up on my kids.  You'd ask about 3of3 and I'd say that she was absolutely perfectly lovely and a raging lunatic.  You'd inquire about 2of3 and I'd tell you that he is just as funny and charming as ever and a compulsive liar bordering on sociopath.  We'd get to 1of3 eventually and all I'd really be able to say is that he wears one shoe size smaller than I do and that he's a complete jerk.

You'd probably say something like, "Way harsh, Tai."

But of COURSE he's a complete jerk.  He's 11 and has inhaled steroids every day for the better part of 6 years now.  Puberty has sucker-punched that boy, and hard.  The only thing more disheartening about him right now than his disposition is his aroma.

The boy makes Axe body spray smell like heaven.  And Axe deodorant.  And Axe shampoo.  And whatever Axe they come out with next.  Lesser of two evils, yo.

The thing is, he's just not that into me anymore.  I am no longer a deity; I am nothing more than a boss whom he occasionally has to hug.  He'll still throw me a sideways glance and a coy smile if he sees me in his school, but he'll never approach me.  At home he spends most of his days trying to dodge me in new and creative ways.

Just because you turn all the lights off and totally bury yourself under a throw blanket, that doesn't mean I suddenly can't hear the Super Mario Brother's theme on the DS from under there, you dumb ostrich.

I've noticed a sharp and speedy decline in both the length and quality of our conversations as of late.  Where he used to talk my ears off over dinner, now he powers down his veggie burger* and runs out the front door before I can catch him. Now I know where the sudden interest in Marathon training has come from.

We don't giggle on our drive into school anymore; I giggle and he curls himself into a tight, fetal ball of over-it and prays for a quick death or the end of the torturous drive to school.  Which takes 42.36 seconds.  Drama Queen.

He still loves me, of this I have no doubt, but the boy has moved on.  He's matured.  He thinks that I am a moron.

He told me one day that he wished I'd stop wearing all that Eye Shallow (liner).  Why?  Because he thinks it makes me look dumb.  His friend came to the door three nights about at 7:45 to ask if he could go outside to Ripstick and when I said no, he looked me dead in the eye and screamed, "Oh, COME ON."  And yes, I let him live, thankyouverymuch.

I actually think this whole thing is quite endearing and almost funny.  See, I wasn't allowed to so much as say Huh? to my mother without loosing my front teeth and so the fact that I've cranked out this man who isn't afraid to tell me what he thinks, who isn't afraid to be a normal teenager, well....I'm feeling pretty damn good about that whole situation.  I think I win, you know?

And I am going to keep repeating that to myself when the kid comes up to me and says, "Why are you dressed like THAT?" and I say, "What?" and he says, with a little finger drawing an air circle in front of me, "That.  That thing you're wearing" and I say, "You mean this dress?" and he says, "Yeah, that" and I say jokingly, "You're mom's a girl, dude.  Did you forget that or something?" and he, dead serious, says, "Well, yeah" and walks away.

I'm a better parent than my mother.  I'm a better parent than my mother.  I'm a better parent than my mother.  But I'm starting to see where she got the idea to kill us all came from.  Bygones.

*That is a whole other story entirely.