The Oy Vey Moments of Parenting

The oy vey moments happen more often than you’d think… or maybe just more often than I am prepared for.  Those moments when the kids say something that is the equivalent to an emotional sucker punch but, as parents, you have to keep your composure.   As parents, you can’t let them see you sweat.

I am getting older.  I get that and I am okie dokie with it.  I am not pulling my hair out, I am not botoxing, I am not making appointments for facials, I am not pushing anything up or tucking anything else in.  I am okay with me….age and all.  It just is what it is.  I did not have my children right out of high school.  I waited.  I went to college first and then I played the working game for a while.  I had my first just before I turned thirty and I have never thought I was too old.

Lately, I can feel the creaks in my bones a bit more profoundly.  I can see my gray if I put my reading glasses on and there was that moment when I was out running and I mistook the cat for a fox.  In my own defense, I will say it is dark out at 5 a.m.

So, it happened again today.  This afternoon after my kiddos came home.  I should not have taken it as such a sucker punch but, in the moment as it happened and the unexpected words floated out of his mouth, it was hard not to.  My youngest child was being all boy, using his ten year old boy brain, and the oy vey moment was so pronounced that it was all I could do to gather my breath and move on.  He is lucky he is as cute as he is.  His blue eyes have saved him on many occasions before this one.

The Oy-Vey-Moment went like this:

Little Man: Hey, Mom, I read this book today (which is a great line to tell mom since he was the one of my three who had the hardest time learning to read.  He used to carry a book around just to be ‘seen’ with the book even though he could not read).

Mom: Awesome.  What was it about?

Little Man: Well, you see, there’s this shark attack survivor and it takes place in 1916.

And, then he stops.  Then the wheels roll into boy brain motion.  For a moment he is silent as he ponders the thoughts rolling around on the wheel in his boy brain.  Being the seasoned mom that I am I should have braced myself.  I should have seen it coming at me.  I could literally see his wheels turning and I should have been able to see the words forming and brace myself before the comment ever made its way out of his mouth.  I should have.  But I didn’t. I didn’t see it all until I heard it hit the air.

Continuing, he says…

Little Man: Mom, how old were you in 1916?

And there it was…floating into the world and out of his boy brain.  And, he says it with the kind of innocence that means no one any harm.  Kid naivete and the blue, blue eyes are what saved him.  The same explosion of words might not have gone so well for my 15 year old but it was finessed by the boy.

And, while I am catching my breath, my fifteen year old, who gets how all of this works more than the ten year old, says, “How old did he just call you, Mom?” She is my math whiz with the IQ up in the stars and it does not take her long to calculate the jaw dropping facts, “Did he call you 96?”

And I can hear her and she is right but I am concentrating on breathing.  Deep breath in and then exhale.  Deep breath, exhale.  Deep breath.  Exhale.  And quietly, without any sign of gruff, I say, “He did.”  And we move on as calmly as possible, no ripples, with me licking my aging wounds because he is just a kid, a boy filled with boy brain at that, and he knows not what he does.

Age is just a number…right?

Ugghhhhh…..and that, my friends, is the sucker punch of parenting.  No ill intentions and yet an Oy Vey moment nonetheless.  I hope your day is much more sucker punchless than mine :).

The Upside of The Anxieties

I will admit anxieties and insecurities are mostly bad.  They are not good character traits, they are not helpful, they do not make my day better and yet, the reality it, they live in me and they move me.  They are part of my day-to-day and while most of the time they do not paralyze me, they do have a way of steering my choices.

I know this is a reality, I accept that I am not free of them and, in general, I have overcompensated enough with friendliness to keep them from completely overtaking my life and leaving me a crumpled mess under the quilts on my bed.  I will not hide from the world in complete retreat but I have found ways to tweak my existence so that the anxieties and insecurities in me can find a way to coexist in my life.

That is almost entirely why I run in the dark.

In case you didn’t know (because you sleep through the darkness until morning light)  the world is not awake during those darker hours.  A few scattered souls appear during my dark walking/running hours but I will emphasize it is very few.  I see a few lights on in kitchens and a few trucks on the road but, mostly, it’s just me, the cats and the frogs outside on the road.  I am used to it, I like the quiet and I am quickly discovering there is an entire world of animals that enjoy a whole lot of excitement during the dark hours of morning when all the people are gone.

Today, my anxieties and those animals kind of collided and, in a surprising turn of events, the anxieties and insecurities paid off in spades!  Surprising, I know, but it really can happen that way.

I am used to the cats about the neighborhood.  They used to scatter when they heard me hobbling about on my morning walk.  In their defense, I can only imagine how scary I look and how terrifying I sound as I scuffle and gasp.  Recently they seem to have come to accept that I may be an over sized animal of sorts and, happily, they no longer scatter when they hear me coming.  I used to take it personally that I scared them all.  Now they continue their naps on the sidewalk, they sit and watch me go by and there is one black one that will even come out into the street to say hello.

Today, as I was running by a familiar corner, I was startled when I heard a rustle in the bushes.

Noises, at 5 a.m. and in the dark, always get my attention.  I may like that early morning, cover of darkness for running but, for safety reasons, noises just freak me right out.  I was relieved when I saw the fluffy Siamese that lives on the next corner walk out and stand in the grass.  He did not immediately run away  and that made me smile.  I stopped my forward motion, jogged in place for a moment and said hello to the neighborhood cat from the road.  I appreciated that he no longer ran from me and I wanted him to know.  I stood there talking to the cat and jogging in place and then this crazy thing happened.

My eyes began to focus.

I was less than two minutes into my run and just eight houses away from my own home when my aging and fuzzy eyes began to focus a bit more.  As I stood talking to the Siamese cat, I realized it wasn’t a cat at all. It was a fox!

Wowza….I continued to talk to him and he continued to listen and we both just stared.  It was a HOOT.  He was fresh, fluffy and really quite pretty and I realized, my insecurities and anxieties brought me to him.  Had I been “all that”, secure and completely confident, I would never have been upright at such an hour and would never have been privy to such wonder.

My dark hours serve an obvious purpose in that they let my jiggle and struggle and gasp hide under the cover of darkness so that, thankfully, I am hardly noticed.  Yes, I struggle, yes I am imperfection personified, yes I am a lousy runner but, despite all the imperfections, goodness reared its head and shared with me a truly cool moment.  Now, had I been younger and had my eyes still lived with better vision, I might have enjoyed the moment for longer but, because of my fading eyes, I had a WOWZA moment that perfect and immediate focus would not have allowed me to experience.  Life is good.  The good and the not so perfect all mingle together for goodness and I loved my little fox.

With eight more houses left in my running goal and two and a half more miles to walk, I said good bye to the little guy and stumbled back into a sort-of-run that seemed a lot like my animated walk.  It occurred to me as I got my slow pace back that a big smile and renewed spirit sure can help boost your pace.  I ended up counting twenty two houses straight that I ran past this morning without walking.  It was more houses than I had set for my goal and, with the smile plastered across my face, I hardly felt it.

If the fox is out tomorrow, I think I could even run thirty houses straight!  Who knows?  Inspiration can do crazy things :).