Anatomy of a night.

It’s 8:30 pm. You press publish on a blog entry fretting about your children’s athletic prowess (or lack thereof) in between kid baths. After pulling the second one out of the tub, wrapping them in a towel, and calling the third, there’s a giant crash in the hallway where child threw a ball into a picture frame. You quickly survey the damage and call spouse for backup with broken glass while you shepherd children through bedtime routine.  You ponder the irony of child being unable to catch a ball they threw to themself.

It’s 9:00 pm. You console the child feeling the pressure of school recital, ballet recital, martial arts belt test, and general angst of having 23 days left in school. After child is calmed and in bed, you (against your plan for an early bedtime) channel your inner Pinterest mom and make a paper chain counting down the days of school left and hang it in the dining room.  You decide a real Pinterest mom would have had pretty scrapbook paper and fancy scissors to execute that project, but whatever, your kids will think you’re cool anyway.

It’s 9:30 pm. You solve spouse’s computer “I uploaded them but where did they go?” image issue with their hosting site.

It’s 10:00 pm. You manage to get in your 10-minute meditation session while *in* bed. You pensively look at the Hugo-nominee library book that you couldn’t finish before it has to be returned tomorrow. Smartly, you choose not to try to binge read the remaining 310 pages.

It’s 3:27 am. You wake up to a child standing by your bed and the dreaded words, “Mom, I need help. I thought I had to fart but it was poop. And then I threw up in the bathroom.” The bathroom is the scene of an apparent poop-splosion. You get child washed off in tub and in clean clothes, nasty undies rinsed out, toilet and sink cleaned and bleached, poopy sheets pulled off bed. You make the bed with the first set of sheets you find (you are convinced they are the wrong size, but fuck it, they’re sheets. The light of day says they are the right size. You are still uncertain how that miracle happened). During the bed-making process you manage to give yourself a giant bruise on your leg from the pointy corner of footboard. Of course it was the child who shares a bedroom who is sick, so this all must be done in the dark, silently, lest you have two children awake at 4:00 am. You go downstairs to bring the child gatorade. In the 30 seconds you were gone, they have another accident. Another bath, another set of clean clothes. You decide to layer the bed with a leftover crib protector. You put the sheets in the wash, assure the dog it’s not time to go out yet, wash your own hands, check on the child one last time, and they puke again (but in the bucket this time, yay!). You get them back up, have them brush their teeth again, decide against a second attempt at fluids since that ended so badly, and tuck them back in.

It’s 4:35 am. Your alarm will go off in 25 minutes. You consider whether it’s better to go back to bed to try to fall asleep for a few blessed extra minutes or to turn off the alarm and just get up now. You choose bed. You lay there, listening to child’s music and the washing machine and spouse’s even breathing and other child talking in their sleep. You pray that talking child is just dreaming, and is not going to wake themself up. Slowly, you relax as you gain confidence that sick child is not going to suddenly puke again and talking child returns to deeper sleep. Your alarm goes off and you get up.

It’s 6:00 am. You leave a note for spouse on child’s bedroom door and a text message for spouse on their phone indicating that in no uncertain terms should that child attend school today. You walk out the door, thankful that the poop and puke are now spouse’s problem. You decide that you earned a treat and stop for a latte on the way to work. It’s been a long day already.

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Like riding a bike.

I did not realize until recently how strongly being “athletic” is part of my self-image. I played volleyball and basketball in junior high school, then switched to a new school and just volleyball my sophomore year. (See also: what happens when you stop growing at 12 years old and everyone else just keeps getting taller.) I wasn’t a college-level prospect, but I did play a little intramural vball when I lived on campus. After I graduated, I started going to the gym and did step aerobics and yoga and pilates and a short stint with a trainer. After Mini was born, I started running. Mostly 5ks, some trail running, and then a half-marathon last summer.

Now, my children have decided that they want to learn to ride bicycles. I had to get a new one for myself since I haven’t ridden one since I learned how to drive. Besides a little saddle-soreness and a frisson of “am I too old for this?!?”, it’s been a text-book case of why “it’s like riding a bike” is such a strong figure of speech. I’m still getting a feel for the handbrakes, but otherwise my shiny new aqua pearl cruiser has been full of win.

Dem kids, tho’.

I did *not* realize how strongly it would affect me that my kids do not seem to possess my natural? practiced? athletic prowess. I watch them and I can SEE what they are doing wrong, but I cannot put it into words they understand to help them course correct. I keep just saying “Watch me, do it like this.” because physically I KNOW how the movement happens, I KNOW how to make my body just DO the thing I want them to do. But I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. And it makes me so agitated that this thing that is so easy, so natural for me to do — they just can’t do it. Like, I was pedaling behind Mini, and he’s not square on his seat and he’s pushing too hard with his right leg and leaning his upper body to the left to try to balance it out. I could tell he was about to fall over to the right (and he did), but I couldn’t explain to him why. So he’s frustrated and I’m irritated and we both just go home.

I don’t know how to explain not to fight against the physics of the motion, to move *with* the weight and momentum, to let their bodies flex and rotate and curve instead of holding rigid, to relax in the movement. To trust that the earth beneath their feet will hold them up and be there to catch them when they fall, as long as they roll with the path and don’t fight against it.

I’m scared that this is going to be a giant flashing neon metaphor for my parenting as they get older and I have to help them find their way in the world instead of carrying them through it myself.