Yesterday and today I have been in my head of constant memories. I guess it is because of the weather and the spring is resembling more of summer and it seems my brain was somehow able to consume and store more summer memories than spring ones or fall. 182. That was an important number for me and my childhood friends. It was ingrained into our very existence, it was our world and our safety. Our adventures and our growth. It embraced me as well as nurtured me into a being of calm, hyper, happy and sad. Memories. The memory of hearing of death and cancer for the first time when my close friend lost her grandmother at a shocking young age, and seeing her 20 something year old mom crying to my mother in her kitchen. It was hard to understand at 7 or 8 what was happening and to not understand death only brought more confusion and questions. I remember the urgency of putting on my shoes, but never fast enough with the emotions that came with playing outside with my childhood friends, Jen and Chris. It was pure adrenaline. Then to run up the hill a mere 2 houses away which felt like years to get there. It was exciting. It was fun. The lemonade stands, with the occasional popcorn stand, the dressing in clown costumes and doing cartwheels as the cars drove by, screaming with determination, pleading with strangers to pull over and buy the bestest beverage in the world. The countless nights of scrubbing pitch and sap off our hands and feet. The innumerable amounts of band-aids our moms would go through for skinned knees and elbows, or the painful sprained ankles from falling out of trees, falling off bikes, falling off homemade ramps, or falling off the blow up water bed mattresses their dad randomly would bring home from job sites. The neighborhood parties, barbecues, and pizza nights, slip and slides, water fights, and filling burning barrels with water and remembering myself panicking I could get blood poisoning with all the rust in them. The summer never seemed to end, and probably could have continued for years more if not for transfers, divorce, death, construction, destruction, development and change. The memories are my reminders of the delicacies of the neighborhood, the childhood, and now the parenthood in which I see a repeat in nature as well as with nurture. I understand as I watch my own kids screaming as they scramble to find their own shoes and race outside into the heated sunlight, a canvas waiting, to birth new memories in this new place in time. I feel it, too. The urgency to live. The urgency to play. The urgency to be.
No one really told me or should I say prepared or forewarned me of the pressures motherhood would entail. I remember hearing the horror stories after horror stories of women going in such great depth of detail to be sure I heard every gruesome, grotesque, and squirmish moment they had when each went into labor and then the aftermath of tearing, ripping, being cut, and so forth. The blood, the pain, the sweat, the screams, yes, all were a messy contribution to the delivery of a baby, however, no one cared to shed some light on the pressures of making ends meet, having enough food in the fridge, gas in the car, money in the bank, or clothes without holes or shoes being too small.
I drive a lot on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Ok, it is not that much, but when we share a car and those are the days I have the car, it seems like a lot more than not at all. As I drive, I think. I think and I think and I think. The background sounds of music, kids, and perhaps the odd horn honking from behind, don’t compare to the loud words blaring in my head on cruise control. The thoughts come like a news headline typing words out without a break, without a breather, man, don’t they ever stop, I ask? How can they, they are everywhere. Everywhere I look, I am reminded. Bumper stickers, billboards, restaurants, schools, children, low income housing, fancy cars, dream homes, farms and fields, closed for the season fruit stands, gas stations, pollution, and so many other little contributors to take my attention from reality into some twisted defiling realm where fear lives.
I thought starting new schools were chaotically arduous. I thought Math 11 was impossible. I thought deadlines for essays were brilliantly challenging. I thought the thought of dating was embarrassingly dreadful, except of course, when I met the only man I ever really dated and then married, but all these thoughts and worries, don’t truly compare to the heaviness in my heart I have at the moment of obsessively obsessing for the greatest life for not myself, but for my kids. It is a profound ache, an indescribable longing to touch the hem of God in a way I have never done before, with a faith that can only cripple the fear with an authority to speak the truth despite the dramas and questions that puzzle my being. As a mom, and as moms, we pour out all we have to be all we are. As a university student, I was naive to the responsibilities a wife and mother would have. I would tell my friends, that one day my kids would come home from school to fresh baked cookies on the table and we would sit on top of the table and eat them. Last week my friend asked me, remembering my declaration of freedom, if we have eaten cookies on the table, yet. I told her, “No, the table we have is over 100 years old, I don’t want to break it.” My slight declaration of freedom had been orderly suppressed with caution. When did this happen? Why did it happen? I am not going to blame it on life, disappointments or discouragements, instead I am going to embrace it as part of the process of my maturing and my developing of character. It is part of the small stepping stones designed for me to skip across with renewed advantage and regained strength. Not by my might, but by His.
Tonight when I was about to have a bath to “unwind” with my unbelievable awesome bath salts, 1 knocked on the door to use the bathroom. As I waited for her to finish, she looked at the lit candle, stared at the bath salts thrown around in the bath and asked what I was doing. I told her I was going to have a bath. She looked at the bath again and saw her dolls and 2’s cars on the bath’s edge and asked if I was going to play with their toys. I told her, “No, I was too big for toys, but I used to have toys when I was younger.” She then told me I am a big big kid with kids, because I have a mom. I liked this. I haven’t thought of myself as a big big kid, ever, only when I was big in other ways, but yeah, being a big, big kid is a bit foreign to me. I used to be way more easy going, but life happened. Exams happened. Deadlines, pressures, and bills happened. Making dinners, budgeting and having to buy toilet paper and expensive gas happened. I grew up. I became wife, a mom, a role model. Responsibilities happened. However, I want my daughter to see me as a big big kid, because to me, that means things aren’t impossible, life isn’t difficult or challenging, and any thing is possible. Now, I am not into Peter Pan, but I am into dreaming big. I want my kids to dream big and to have big dreams. I want them to believe for the impossible and to see the impossible become a reality, because of the belief they have. I pray I become more and more of a big, big kid and that my kids grow up to be big kids, too, never losing their creative imagination and having faith to believe in the unseen world that embraces them and defines them.
Last week when Sean’s sister was here I made this for dinner with a fancy loaf. To me there is nothing greater than eating a tasty Chili with a fancy loaf on a blustery day. Like mentioned before, the West Coast can be a rainy coast, and that particular day was alright by me. I hope you have time to make this chili one day. It is from Post Punk Kitchen and it is delish!
Red Lentil Chili
(By Post Punk Kitchen)
Olive oil (1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons, however much you feel like using)
1 large yellow onion, diced medium
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ lbs sweet potatoes cut into ¾ inch chunks
1 cup red lentils
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable broth
2 15 oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
1 15 oz can lowfat coconut milk
28 oz can diced tomatoes
½ cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Limes for garnish (optional)
How To Play:
Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium heat. Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, for 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more.
Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.
Taste for salt and seasoning, top with cilantro and lime and serve!
* Note: This tastes great the way it is, two things I am going to do the next time is add 2 pounds of sweet potatoes and use regular coconut milk, as spin instructor Lauri says, you need to eat fat to burn fat!