The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Waffling Part 2

When last I wrote: I also peed. A little, tiny bit, but still. Pee. So I kept running, until...

And so as I rounded the corner and began running in earnest, I realized just how raspy my throat was and a sense of panic almost set in as I wondered how long until I go water. I faltered, my steps slowed and I lunge walked, not wanting to stop, but also not wanting to push too hard too soon.

I lifted my head and saw a car and immediately thought: Water! But it was even better:

Sean and the girls were camped out with water and hugs. I ran to them, grabbed water and knelt down to hug each of them. Fin didn't want me to go on, or if I was going to, she wanted to come. Other runners giggled and called out hello as I ushered her back to the van, blew kisses and kept running.

Not sure if Ave was crossing her fingers hoping I'd make it or what.

My gait was longer and my chest was lighter as I ran, the girls' calls of "Go mama," and "Run, win the race" shepherded me on and I kept a respectable pace as I forged through the next mile and a half of curves and high-traffic roads (read: Lot's of people watching us run from their cars, porches and gas pumps.)

Sean had hooked me up with his iPhone and some magic Nike product or another which was letting me know my pace and how far I'd gone. Simple math kept me knowing how far I had to go, which was nice. The spread was pretty even with the head of the pack keeping consistent with their insane 6 minute-mileness and those making up the caboose doing about a 14 minute mile. I kept myself right in the middle and honestly, just tried not to vomit or have pee run visibly down my leg.

At one point at about mile 5 I said to Tara, "So, I think I can officially say that I have peed," to which she replied very unimpressed, "It isn't a good race unless you pee." It was at that precise moment when I knew that I loved her.

The iPhone stopped tracking me 41 minutes into the run, which meant that for 18 minutes I was on my own, off the grid so to speak. It was agony. Lesson: use the conveniences and luxury technology affords you, you still sweat, but you don't fear.

We ran through a mile and a half of neighborhood, I remember thinking how odd it must be to be going about your day and seeing this motley group of running nuts zip their way through. As the checkpoints with cheerful teenagers calling out "Good job" grew closer together I knew I was nearly done. I started running faster and I smiled. I had started the race torn between thinking I could and knowing I couldn't.

The front of the school was packed with people. I dug my feet in more with each step as early-finishers cheered me on. The final stretch was a curved driveway right in front and as I kicked to the finish I thought of nothing but doing.

Completing a 10 k race.
Making it up that f*cking hill.
Being brave even though I was scared.
My girls watching me do it.

Sean met me at the end and smiled as FInley leapt into my arms. I held her tight as the big girls danced around me singing, "You won, you won the race!" My legs could barely hold me, my arms were weak, my pants were wet and I couldn't remember ever having felt so exquisitely happy.

I began to cry. He had said, "I want you to have that too," and I did. It was bliss.

Go do something for you.
I want you to have that too.
Come back and tell me about it, I know you can do it.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Waffling Part 1

This is the first in a 2 part series of Saturday, the day I ran my first 10K.

We were gathered in our kitchen quickly sharing a bite before heading to Saratoga for Open Mic Night at Caffe Lena. "Wanna do a 10 K with me this Saturday?" my friend asked me out of the blue Thursday night. I experienced a robust internal sputter, followed by the familiar burn of insecurity washing over my face as the sides of my mouth twitched and I said, "Sure!" I felt anything but.

Let's be clear about something, some months ago I agreed to do the2010 Danskin Triathalon when Millie asked. I did not, however, begin training. There was kindergarten to start, preschool, dueling schedules and one car. And it was finally hot. Ugh.

I thought that I would get to the gym, but that didn't happen until last week. I just kept going about life the way that I do— choosing to walk rather than ride, skip rather than step, run rather than walk and most of the time doing it with at least one daughter in my arms. As Tara's question hung in the air all I could think was, "You have to start somewhere." And then I was overcome with yearning to have something, to have a thing that I did, a talent beyond parenting or fixing unexpected crises with glue sticks, saved ribbon and MacGyver-like confidence.

"Tell me more," I said as I leaned forward. She told me that it was a 5 or 10k in Hudson Falls to benefit Operation Santa. Soon after the conversation turned to other things and before I knew it the night was over. Tara and I had not confirmed anything and I wasn't sure whether I should do it and, if I did, would it be the 5 or the 10.

Sean responded first with incredulity and next with annoying supportiveness. I was ready to take the out, but he kept saying that I should do it, that the confidence boost would be amazing for me. "I loved getting to sing, to face down the trepidation and do it. I want you to have that too." Trust me when I say did everything from claiming it would interfere with naptime to saying I didn't want to. It was decided.

Saturday morning I got to the registration table and was overwhelmed by the nicheness of it— a charity run, the entrants were all bannered with tee shirts of past races, endorsements from area running clubs or with the bright colored uniforms of high school cross country teams. I felt old, out of place and as if I was going to make an ass out of myself. Looking at the entry form I took a deep breath and made a momentous check next to the number ten.

"Did you get a course map?" Sean asked me. "A what?" I stammered, "I. Um, no. I, shit. This was a waste. I can't do this." He looked at me and I swear he took a breath for me, pale blue eyes facing mine, the picture of calm. "I'll go in and get one," I said. Everything changed in that moment.

We got the map and proceeded to drive the route. The hills were huge, the wide expanses of farmland seemed at once impossibly long and surmountable. When we got back to the start I got out to stretch and Sean took the girls to a playground. I fretted about this thing and that, comparing myself to the other runners there, but after Tara gave me a squeeze I shrugged my shoulders and thought, "What the hell? I'm here."

The start of the run was insane, 120 or so people in the 10k and another 220+ for the 5k all crammed together on a two lane road. We ran together for about a block and a half, I just channeled the Lion King and tried to get as far ahead and to the side of the pack as possible to avoid death. Before I knew it I was on a sweetly curving road that led into what can only be described as inaugural 10K torture. It was steep, long and wide open so that walking didn't seem an option without the sensation of total defeat. I ran, step after step, breath after breath. I crested the hill and realized that the land I thought was flat, was in fact not. I climbed some more and then turned the corner literally and defiantly to strike out onto the first flat stretch.

I also peed. A little, tiny bit, but still. Pee. So I kept running, until...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mad About My Man

I have been know to wax euphoric about being a mom. I've written reams on breastfeeding, the mom/dad equation, and milestones. I've shared what little wisdom I've gleaned from the journey of 2 to 5. I've achieved neither fame nor money for what I've done, but man, I've loved it. The friendships, the memories captured in adjectives and thoughts. It has felt like full-bodied preservation of my life so far, until the other night.

Sean has been getting together with two of his childhood friends. They sing, and as they do I writhe with self-loathing for not having that skill and butterflies for the hotness that is my husband singing crazy-sexy songs. Seriously, weak-in-the-knees, ready-to-release-cat-calls kinds of excitement. For my husband. Three kids, ten years, a business and a 100+ year old house and I have third-beer, second date giggles and rushes of longing.

That's nowhere in my archives. I have the odd post on love and fun, but as the crow feet spread ever wider and the tautness of my skin loses the fight, I am not giving the moments when we pulls me to him and kisses my neck and says, "You're more gorgeous than you were that first summer. My dream girl, Amanda."

That needs to be here, damnit. Which leads me to the other night, after weeks, months actually, of rehearsing they were heading out for an open mic night. I had known it was coming and was so deliciously familiar with the set list that I could mouth the words as they each sang their part, right down to when they'd shake the shakers and tap the tambourine. A series of calamities had occurred with our family and night-time sitter that made my going impossible. It hadn't seemed lie a big deal until they were getting ready to leave.

I was crestfallen. We had always found a way to balance parenting and partnering. We'd shoehorned date nights in and blurred post-dinner play and bedtime into prime time alone time and had been satisfied. I felt tremors of something that rocked me, an emotion I'd either suppressed or only just tasted for the first time: No. I want this. I want to do this for me with him.

It was embarrassing to feel a desire to shirk my duties, to quickly find someone to take the girls, but the truth was, I wanted to be with Sean. I wanted, if only for those 60 minutes, to go and be his girl. After the shame of that emotion slipped out the door with the guys, I rolled it around. So I wanted to be with my husband, the father of my girls.

Is that so bad? Is there some awful lesson in the girls seeing that I have a passion outside of my love for them? That beyond the breastfeeding and block-building, I have a side of me that smells like perfume and leather? That after getting married and having babies there are still nights that bring the sexy click of heels on hardwoods and the whiff of fallen leaves and aftershave as mom and dad head out and a babysitter bakes cookies and reads stories?

I think my desire to leave a legacy for the girls faltered in its focus, they need this side of mom and dad. The kissing and the laughter, the leaving and returning, to truly show them how beautiful their life and their family really was. The next time he plays, I'll be there. And I'll send texts to the girls and snap shots for the blog. And after, as they sleep upstairs, I'll dance with him in the kitchen before we tiptoe up to kiss them goodnight.


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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can you roar?

A few weeks ago, maybe even a month now, I posted an entry on Facebook that had something to do with going for a run and feeling kick ass about it. That wasn't it, but the point is that in the string of comments it turned into a big roar. Young friends, older friends, close friends, distant friends and I think even some of those "accept as friend"s but-you-don't-really-know-who-the-hell-they-are, friends.

It got me to thinking that maybe we need a little more roar, or, more specifically a little more license to roar. On the last day of this month I'll turn 36, which isn't a huge deal, but...

I'm increasingly aware of the you'll-look-back-and-wish-you'd-been-kinder-to yourself tsk-tsking. Or worse the realization that like the asshole who dumped you in your twenties, you never really knew how good you had it. How great you were, roar-worthy, if you will.

So, without further adieu, I give you a roar for myself that came via a couple of photos taken by my mother-in-law.

Go ahead, give yourself a roar, I promise you deserve it.

Christine, why don't you start?

And you.

And, just to populate the dance floor enough to entice the rest of you, how about you?

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Walk of Shame

I remember one morning leaving Sean's apartment on Park Street someone called to me from the theatre-

"Mott, doing the walk of shame, eh?"

I was immediately red-face, but cocky at the same time.

"You bet I'm doing the walk of shame, have you seen Sean? He's a fucking Adonis."

I didn't say it, but I thought it as I replayed the night's events. I'd fought hard, not able to believe that this guy who looked as if he'd tripped from the pages of a JCrew catalog and into my lap would want pasty, padded me. We were surrounded by actors, many of whom used their looks far more than their talents. I felt a bit like a Hyundai at a performance car show. Yet he picked me.

There were as many brush offs as there were come ons, sometimes I even brushed him off twice, three times even. On this morning I'd stayed a little longer, the feel of his arms around me, the light as it came through the windows of his apartment and the overriding sense of belonging was too much to ignore. I wanted to be there, wanted to belong to him and for him to belong to me. I wanted to be a part of something, someone.

I let the words ricochet, plinging and planging down my back. The sun hit my eyes as I crossed the wide street beneath the roundabout. The theatre and production office were behind me. I imagined all the people that might see me. Flutters erupted in my belly and then the oddest thing happened- I smiled.

I smiled a big old cat-that-ate-the-canary smile and crossed the street and walked up the steps to the door of my place. It would be another year before we truly got up on plane and a year after that before we made it official, but looking back three daughters and 5+ years of marriage later, all I can think is that on a sunny morning in Williamstown I enjoyed a walk of pride as I returned home from a night with the guy I'd make a habit of waking up next to.

Excuse me as I head to bed, I have a dreamboat to wake up with tomorrow. Maybe I'll flash you a cocky smile on the way to the coffee shop.

Go kiss someone.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm Saying It

There's a reason the phrase, "getting up the nerve" exists. I think if we always had the nerve it'd no longer feel like nerve, it would just be. Not bold. Not brave. Just constant and with constants come the desire for change, no? Look at me overthinking and stalling while I try and work up the nerve.

See, yesterday was a bad day. Started a half-step out of synch and began spiraling quickly to something much worse. We tried to fix it and by we, I mean Sean. He did every little thing you wish for your husband or best friend to do, but you're too embarrassed to ask. We almost made it, but then naps and meals and conflicting desires collided into a family-wide meltdown on the way home. Yay failure. Somehow through a haze of Lion King soundtrack, drowse-inducing heat and hand holding we made it.

This morning, despite serious indicators of another shitastic day, I turned a corner. After a brisk, but sunny walk with temperatures below 20, I found myself remembering. I walked a little faster, held my head a little taller. It was intoxicating, not a little bit, like head-to-toe chills and a smile that never wavered intoxicating.

I'd dressed for a meeting knowing that I would have to be walking outside in the cold. The pants were an unapologetic kelly green and the shirt a silky black find for our last trip west.

Here comes the part where I show my nerve. I love this shirt. Love it, love it, love it. I love that it has a ruffley front that probably flies in the face of trends but makes me feel sassy. I dig that it has a three quarter sleeve that doesn't make me feel like my arms are too long. I am wild about the way it hangs just right so that I don't have the to tuck or not to tuck fretting issue. I giggle at the way that the collar opening frames my neck and makes my hair look chic. Rather than choking up I feel giddy as the girls eyes pop when they see me in it. "Oooh, mom, that's pretty."

But the thing I love, the thing that really makes me wrinkle my nose and do the mean pretty girl laugh is...kind of embarrassing as I sit here in my too small Target sleep tshirt in day-glo coral. It feels so far off, but it's still there.

My silky, funky, cut-just-right black shirt makes me look like I have a preserve-it-in-a-pin-up-poster-OMFG-rack.

I said it.
My boobs look good in the shirt. No air of those girls are meant for nursing, no "that shirt is cut too low and all I see is cleavage," just pure, undeniable that shirt and that chest make beautiful music together.

As I said here, deal with it. Today this mama is owning the fact that she felt sexy. And that feels sexy and frankly with three kids a small business and part time day care, sexy can be in short supply.

You can go here and read another kind of deal with it or you can stay here and sing your own. C'mon, it feels good. What's your good girl's bad girl confession?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Deal with it

That's what he said, "Deal with it."

It hit me like a face full of ice water.

"You are better in your sleep than most people are on their best day."

I tried not to be annoyed, not to roll my eyes and think, "Do you have to deliver the compliments in such an annoyed and obnoxious way?"

He read my mind.

"I can't figure out a way to say this so that you'll hear me. It's exhausting."

Then I felt like smiling, which pissed me off.

He saw that too.

I cracked wise and we both relaxed a bit. He's right, but so am I— I realize I didn't explain to you the basis for all of this, but it doesn't matter. Trust me. Every so often I veer off course and let insecurities get the better of me. More often than not I recognize them for what they are; stalling tactics or passive aggressive attempts to go around something rather than straight through.

Now I find myself emboldened. I remember talking about a similar thing a while back, I called it a rear view mirror confession. A good friend printed it and sent it to me on my birthday. I'll never forget that. Thank you, Cindie.

So let's revisit the idea of acknowledging some things, good and bad.

I am a hand-wringer. Not always, but often enough to know that it could be used in a list of things about me.

I wear short sleeves year-round. My arms are long and my shoulders are broad, my torso is long too, but not so broad. Long sleeves fit me weird and if I'm cold I'll put on a coat. Deal with it.

I judge inseams. Seriously people, make sure they're long enough, it doesn't cost anymore to size up an inch or two.

I break cameras. So help me, but any camera with me, though deeply cherished and revered, has a significantly diminished lifespan. Can't explain it. I need a new camera. Sob.

I kinda love my body right now. There are hollows and curves that aren't exactly as I'd like them, but overall, the lines of my face and the planes of my body are dear to me. Rambo shoulders, phlebotomist-wet-dream-veins, muscular calves, big feet and stubborn chin. Mine.

I don't cook the same thing twice. No recipes, no discipline, just fun.

I am tuning out and going to hang with my kids. I beat myself up for this, never truly unplugging. But I am. Now. Deal.

Can you tell people to deal with it?

Can you?

Do it.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sea Change

I am admittedly bad with history and geography, like Leno-stupid-people-bad or "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" bad. It's embarrassing and something that needs to be remedied before the girls are old enough to realize mom's kind of a ditz. Luckily little things like floor size puzzles of the United States I no longer imagine Wyoming and Montana being reversed. Next up, maps of Europe, South America, with Asia and Africa to follow. The history thing is going to be a wing and a prayer and a whole lot of, "Hmm, ask Daddy," I think.

I used to be proud of my celebrity knowledge. It was my thing: who dated which star, what movie starred which actor etc. I still follow some of this, but lately Perez Hilton has lost a bit of its allure. I don't really care to spend time checking to see what state of undress Amy Winehouse is stumbling about London in, or how hard it is for Jessica Biehl to get people to understand that her relationship with Justin is sacred.

Last night a promo for the Golden Globes came on, it was a blur of flesh, bling and excess. I was shocked by how visceral my response was, never one to sort of decry the inappropriateness of something, I flinched. I remember after 9/11 they were canceling award shows, stating that to celebrate seemed disrespectful. Now I find myself wondering, how, in a time when so few of us can even afford a movie ticket, they can think this is respectful.

I want no part of this celebration. For once I have no interest in gawking at dresses, with their plunging necklines and million dollars jeweled accessories. I don't want to root for this person or that person. I want to turn inward and be thankful for what I have. As that show airs I'll be sitting with my girls, likely in a pair of jeans and unkempt hair. The only fancy frocks will be on the girls as they twirl and giggle on our kitchen floor. We don't have a villa in France and I haven't played any role other than mom, wife and a friend, but we have plenty to celebrate and we'll be doing it in the first person, rather than in some virtual audience.

I'm surprised, not sure if this is fueled by my age or my situation, but I think we have some re-evaluating of values we need to do. A little less idol worship and a bit more self-awareness and presence in the moment. I think ten minutes listening to five minutes of your kid theorizing on the ingredients in a cucumber (no, really, five minutes) will sustain and delight you in ways that five minutes of Jessica Alba blathering on about the art of whatever never could.

Go ahead, ignore the drama of the pampered, polished and privileged for a moment and just live in your own story.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Crack'n the addle

Back in the saddle seemed so dull, so you get crack'n the addle or jumping into 2009 with a clear head, an open heart and a touch of the smart ass. Oh, and another thing as I come into the tail end of my 35th year, there is going be a bit more self-love, self's ass love that is. No, that's not a slam toward Sean, he's a smart ass with a fine ass, but he's not an ass. I mean mine. No more sniveling about this or that, just 100%, grade A, all-American, organic Manda-ass*.

*Because this new self's ass love is a new resolutiony thing I was clean out of Amanda ass shots ;)

Are you still reading?

Seriously, I've been bobbing and weaving, and while it's a fine exercise, it doesn't really get you anywhere. I want to, like so many moms, begin to live smarter. Make each move count, each word be spoken with purpose, love or joy, or maybe all three.

I am going to match every impulse to nag or fret with at least one playground embrace.

I am going to trust that I can conquer anything because, yo, in this house we rock satin and snowboots for to kick ass and take names...and dance like princesses with daddy.

I've been studying some of the great connoisseurs of life, noting just how one must operate to extract the most delight.

I am no longer afraid to slip inside a hug, disappear into a moment leaving camera, phones and computer behind.

There is more than one lens, the most important thing is remembering to keep my own trained on who's important.

It's not just about love; it's about strength, courage and convictions...and lots of wise-assery also makes for more interesting people.

Shoes aren't as important as who is walking with you. I really just liked this picture, but if I squint my eyes and wince, this sounds a grade above glossy inspirational calendar drivel.

The bottom line for me, this year and in every year that follows, I want to live a life that makes me proud, makes me feel as if these lives that I have brought into the world, have been given a bit of magic. I know that when I sift the memories of my own childhood there are grains that shine with the intensity of the most precious of jewels. I don't yet know what will sparkle for my girls, but I do know that I am doing everything I can to give them a house filled with light.

Here's to a 2009 filled with magic words and potent moments. Happy New Year.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rear View Mirror Confessions

After Briar was born I rigged both visors and the rear view mirror so that I could see her. Three different angles, if I could have figured out a fourth I would have done it. When Avery came along, and then Fin, there was even more to watch. The other day, I was driving and as I looked in the rear view mirror I saw something different. There were no little girls in the back seat, no husband sitting next to me. I smiled at my reflection, not out of relief to be alone, rather it was just having the freedom to simply examine my crow's feet.

Everyday I look in that mirror, checking on little faces, watching their long curls get caught in the wind, shades of blonde and brown whipping around dancing blue eyes or making faces of my own, calling to them to look at my face in the mirror.

My face in the mirror. I rarely see it, or maybe it's truer to say, rarely do I stop to look. Nothing is stopping me, I look through it every day, and yet it isn't for me. And therein lies my confession.

I don't do for myself, or I do less. Sean and I have talked about this many times, his worries about what I make myself do without. Despite his intentions being completely fueled by having my best interests at heart, I have always bristled. I cut the conversations short and tersely assert that, "I'm fine" and "I'll take care of it." Of course I never did.

I'm not sure why, but the other night I turned to Sean and said:

"You know what? I won't buy razors. I just won't buy them for myself, too expensive."

The look he gave me was a mixture of shock and "I told you so."

"It's like I think that as the grocery bill stacks up, adding that much just for me is too much. But you know what? I want razors. I'm going to start buying them." He was smiling at me as I gained momentum, "I'm also going to get back to writing, really writing. Not for work, not for the blogs. I'm going to write my book." I said it all in one breath, as if I'd been somehow blocked, unable to speak aloud. I rushed because on some level I feared I'd lose my nerve, talk myself out of it.

"Where is this coming from?" he asked, voice soft and slow, fearful of breaking my revelatory spell.

"I don't know, but it feels true. I'm going to work at this."We smiled at each other.

So, here's a first step, a list of things that I wouldn't allow my daughters to do:

I won't buy things for myself that cost more than $5 at the store.

I won't take the last one - cookie, pop, gum, chair, anything.

I cannot end phone calls or simply let the phone ring, even if I am elbow deep in something.

I never finish getting ready if someone needs something.

I rarely just sit, must fold, research, clean or something.

I don't nap (see the previous confession).

That's enough for today. I think I'll go have the last cup of coffee.

How about you? What don't you do? Or what are you trying to start doing?

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