Friday, December 31, 2010

Mama Poetry

I have been blessed with a good mama. The best mama for me. She can find poetry that fits any occasion, and she makes sure she gets it to you, which to me is amazing. I find cool writing all the time, but I never get it to anyone. She brought me this Nikki Giovanni poem today. I've read it 100 times already. So true it makes my stomach sick, so right it makes ache swirl.


there is a hunger
often associated with pain
that you feel
when you look at someone
you used to love and enjoyed
loving and want
to love again
though you know you can't
that gnaws at you
as steadily as a mosquito
some michigan summer
churning his wings
through your window screen
because the real world
made up of baby
clothes to be washed
food to be cooked
lullabies to be sung
smiles to be glowed
hair to be plaited
ribbons to be bowed
coffee to be drunk
books to be read
tears to be cried
loneliness to be borne

says you are strong woman
and anyway he never thought you'd really miss him

Thank you sweet Mama, for respecting my ache.


One night I asked for a little validation, "You do think I'm sexy, right?" He said all the right things, praised my "Betty Boop" body. Told me men would have loved to paint my scrumptious curves, and then I ruined it! "Do you always have to reassure the women you're with that they're beautiful?" He was thoughtful for a minute and replied, "No, most women want to know if I like the way they think because they have such nice bodies." Ha, I deserved that.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Queenpin in the Kitchen

Last night Queenpin cooked for two of her best gifts from my marriage. Along with my beasties, I have been blessed with two stepkids, and now a step-grandbaby. Last night I cooked a big ole' lasagna for us, with yummy bread, and easy salad and I remembered that I love to cook for people.

Queenpin in the kitchen has been a struggle since my wusband left. Since a good Queenpin delegates any tasks she doesn't relish I have been taking food shortcuts. We eat out, we eat breakfast for dinner, we open a box of mac and cheese (organic, of course).

Food and I have been in a fight lately. Food has become a struggle. Food has taken on a whole new meaning trying to feed two small beasties whose tastes shrink by the day. My two little ones don't appreciate a good hot meal of kale and pasta. Last night while the kids played and I cooked, I remembered the excitement and joy I would get out of cooking a big meal for my family. I used to love family dinners, now I dread them.

There are so many facets to this food thing I don't even know where to begin. Food started to become my enemy while trying to figure out how to conscientiously feed two growing kids. We are meat eaters, but how to find and afford conscientiously raised animals to eat takes time, work, and money. Finding vegetables that are organic, and raised right, that takes work, time, and money. Figuring out what the kids will eat takes time, work, and some sort of extra sensory perception that I do not possess. Sitting down and eating with a seven year old and a four year old, holy shit, that takes the patience of Job. I'm exhausted just writing about it. Really, I just had to take a break from writing because I was so tired out by the thought of cooking.

In between luscious novels I am reading Geneen Roth's book Women, Food, and God. It is all about food as a reflection of our lives, how we feel about our place in the universe, and how we feel about ourselves. That means that the Queenpin is a quickly thrown together meal, with no substance, little attention to detail, and some resentment on the side. That sounds about right. Feeding myself is one thing, but when I have to take into account my beasties it throws in a whole other aspect that I am still attempting to analyze.

My goal this month is to find things to cook and eat with my kids and to make our meals enjoyable, healthy, and yummy!!! WE WILL HAVE A NICE FUCKING DINNER AND ENJOY EACH OTHER, or else.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Fairy Tales

Once upon a time there was a single mom with 2 kids, a boy and a girl. The mom was bright and shiny as a penny, her laugh was so infectious it made you want to do tricks just to see it again. She also was a sassy mama, a queenpin in training. The sassy, laughing queenpin in training mama met a man. She loved the man, the man loved her. They got married and the queenpin in training began to change, to wilt, to not be so bright and shiny. The kids missed their mama, they wanted to know why the man had to come into their lives, why they weren't enough. They tried to do tricks to make their mama laugh, but her laugh became bitter, her voice always tired. There was nothing the children could do to save their mama from the man, and over the years they suffered as they watched her bright light burn out.

This morning for the first time in 5 months there was no sweet text waiting for me on my phone. This morning there is no man. This morning the Queenpin is making herself not say, "I miss you, come back." This morning I am reminding myself that I am a strong woman and I can do this.

That story above is about a friend whose mom I love, love, love. Still love, but have watched pull her kids through the shitter, and herself down to the dumps because she chose the wrong man. Maybe the right man for her, but the wrong man for her kids.

My man was sweet, smart, fun (oh my, so fun), but there was a darker side I didn't like to shine the light on, because if I did then I knew it would be over. For four months it was fine to play dress up, and have a life completely separate from my kids, but this holiday season I found myself wanting him to come into me and my kids' lives, I found myself compromising my promise to keep them separate. And I found myself ashamed that I wanted him and my kids together, though I knew it might not be right.

Yesterday I talked to my friend whose mama chose the wrong man and she said, "There is no judgment here, but you need to be done." And though she never talked about her mama, I imagine she was thinking of her. As do I. Early in my relationship with my man I used to say her stepdad's name to myself when I wanted my man to come with me and my kids to do something. My mantra of protection against stupid decisions. Today I have repeated that man's name as my mantra to keep me from contacting my man and saying, "Just kidding, let's keep doing what we were doing."

I'm writing this as my protection against myself. There is a part of me that doesn't want to post it. If I post it then it is over, I've got to let this man go. I'm holding myself accountable, I'm saving myself for the beasties, or maybe its them saving me from myself.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Permed, Trimmed, or Shaved? The Beaver's Coiffure

Oh, yes, I'm gong to talk about the haircut of my beave. Sorry mom. I just think its funny.

I have traditionally been an all natural girl. I affectionately called my style the Diana Ross. I mean, in the winter I usually let my leg hair grow as extra insulation. I am not a huge fan of shaving. Entering the dating scene in 2008 as a 36 year old woman, I had a lot to learn about keeping up appearances.

Sitting around my neighbor's kitchen last summer, conversation fell to grooming and care of your lady bits. We laughed as we all told stories of our preferences and stories we've heard about how other women make their precious parts presentable. I was the only woman who was all natural. Everyone trimmed, some shaved full on, and others went for the Brazilian wax! Ouch, baby.

Soon after that conversation I started dating my biker. This man has dated lots of beautiful women and I'm sure seen the gamete of beaver styles. So one night before I went over I decided to do a little haircare for myself. Nothing drastic, just a trim. I stripped down, got out the scissors and began to slowly snip away Diana Ross' curly locks. Everything was going well, until I realized I had a half dollar sized bald spot right on the mound of my pubic bone! No kidding, and I hadn't even saved enough hair for a nice comb over. I had 30 minutes until my date and really thought about finding something to color the spot in with, but in the end I just decided, "what the hell?" and I went out.

I've got a body thing. I fight with her all the time. To be all natural or to sassy myself up? To wear makeup, to wear sweats, to shave, to trim to wax? Many days it just seems to exhausting to think about those things, yet when I do them, I feel beautiful in a way that I don't when I'm furry and cozy in my comfy pants. Who am I? Sexy goddess? Exhausted mother of two? Silly teacher?

The truth is I am all of these things, but many days they don't flow together easily. My beaver trimming summed it all up for me as a woman. I am real. I can trim off the spiky edges and soften myself up, but there are flaws that are a part of me. Can I rejoice in them? Accept them? See them for the minor things they are?

The night I went over with the bald beave, my man didn't even notice. That was not was he was focused on. He wanted conversation more than fancy grooming. He wanted cuddling and company more than a show. I had to tell him the story anyway, just for shits and giggles. He laughed and said it always looks good to him.

Now that I'm single again, I'm gonna let Diana grow. I always thought she might look good with a pink mohawk, but what can you do with a balding beave? Rejoice in her individuality or invest in a toupee?

Again with the Baggage

The other day my man said, "Everybody has baggage, they just don't make other people carry it" Shit. Brave Girls Workshop, here I come.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Baggage Claim

Last night I watched one whole movie and two partials. Eat, Pray, Love, (the whole thing), It's Complicated, and Fight Club. Two strong women, and sexy, crazy, angry men (just my type). I related to everybody.

Last night I also cried, yep, pitiful aching crying. I had shaved, waxed, painted, cooked and waited for my man. Who was too tired. To see me. He is tired. 14 hour days, 6 days a week at work. I get it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. When you open your heart up even just a small crack, things hurt. Do I have the energy for hurt? Life is easier without hurt.

My man has tried to make it up offering breakfast, lunch, and many apologies, but after all that effort last night, today I've chosen to stay in bed, read, and write instead of join him for a meal. I don't have the desire to get all gussied up again. I really only have one of those in me a week, and to be honest, I want that man to suffer.

I didn't think I wanted him to suffer until he and I talked and I realized that when he said, "Baby, (in his oh,so sexy voice) I'm so sorry, but I can't tonight." What I heard was, "You're not important, your to fat, your too furry, and frankly I would rather watch Matlock and drink a beer than have to spend the night with you." I'm telling you, it is crazy territory in my baggage department.

I told my single mom neighbor about it and she came up with a great idea. Baggage claim night. Next Tuesday we're going to go buy old bags from Goodwill, give them names, and put all of our personal, crazy baggage in it. I'm so sick of having this broken hearted, divorce baggage I think I'll mail it to Kathmandu.

Queenpin needs a change.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

To My Cronie On Christmas

A Fine Balance

We are a fine balance
Yin Yang
Reality fantasy
Spoken unspoken
beauty beast

Changing roles
Slipping in and out
Returning to center
Balancing on a wire

When I become afraid
The scales tip
The balance is lost
I forget who you are.

To return to center
I must quiet my mind
plant my feet
remind myself

you and I,
we have know each other
a long time and
you are my friend

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Opening a Can of Worms or My Heart....Whatever

I got asked to attend a Brave Girls Workshop Soul Restoration class. I want to go and I don't want to. It's women, (my favorite kind of people) sitting around a table doing soul work. Digging work. I used to do a lot of digging work. Lots of writing and talking and healing (from what I wonder now?). Much of that work was beneficial, but some was just self-indulgent and ego feeding. These days this blog is my soul work. Miraculously I can go days without having to sort through feelings with someone to help. That past work gave me a good foundation for making my own decisions and standing on my own two feet.

The reason I want to do the Soul Restoration class is because since the wusband left my heart has been closed. Buttoned up tight. When I open it will a butterfly emerge from it's tight cocoon? Will I laugh with more abandon? Will I be more compassionate to others?

The reason I don't want to do the class is the same. What happens to a heart while it is buttoned up tight, protecting itself from pain? Does it decompose like a body? The worms go in the worms go out? What will emerge if I open it? Will it be like the moldy cheese left in the back of the fridge for months? I pretend I don't see it so I don't have to deal with that freaky mess.

As I write this I realize even with my heart closed I still get hurt, but not long term hurt. Not husband leaving hurt. More like a stubbed toe. The first pain is great and then you get little tingly reminders, but you move on and have your day.

Friday night my was cup was filled by a few hours with beautiful ladies. We went to my neighbor"s house, drank margaritas, and made tamales like her Nona used to make. We talked and laughed and my cup was filled. That is what makes me want to do the Soul Restoration. That sharing of estrogen, wisdom, and joy.

What makes me not want to do it is fear of the worms inside, and how vulnerable I'll be without my worms. I'm terrified of being hurt again. When I think about the pain those nasty worms seem downright cuddly and I allow my heart to shelter them.

My mind isn't made up yet. May be I'll just procrastinate until the class passes. May be I'll sign up. May be I'll eat fried worms.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sometimes It's Lonely at the Top

Surrounded by lackeys, family, and friends Don Corleone still had to sit alone at his desk and make the final call. He still has to weigh decisions on his own, comfort himself, live with his choices, and in the end, like all of us will, he died alone. Oneness with another is a myth, but I can't help but want it sometimes. Lonely is just the wants hiding in a different color ache.

Thanksgiving came and went. I love, love, love being with my delicious family. Brother, sister, mother, in-laws, out-laws, partners, grand dame, children, children, children. There is a lot of laughing and intense talking and cooking, yet I always leave with the wants. Everyone in my family is coupled and happily so. My brother is celebrating his 15th year of marriage this year. My sister her 10th. My mom found an amazing man two years after my dad died. They have been together seven years.

Watching the men with their children, watching knowing looks pass between couples, watching the gentle touch between two people who rely on each other for comfort, it creates the wants in me. I have no illusions that their lives are perfect. Life is life, and human beings are so painfully human. Still, to me, while everyone is together wearing their visiting manners, couples are like shiny displays in shop windows. Out of reach and beautiful, to be looked at and enjoyed but for someone else who has more resources.

I always leave family gatherings aching and sore in my soul. It takes me a few days to return to center. Center being a place of peace with my wonderful life. My friends, my freedom, my man, my sweet job, and best of all my beasties. If I had a partner he would not feed the wants in me. He could not cure my lonely because the lonely wants are not about a person. They are about a myth.

I think one of reasons my husband left (besides being a total and complete jackass) was that I thought we were 1/2's of the same whole and that he could fill my wants. That is a tall order for one person, no one can do it, especially someone who is damaged beyond hope. I loved being married. Loved the rootedness of it. Loved the cocoon of it. Being single again is a lesson for me in self-confidence, self-care, and growing up. Learning to stand on my own and root myself. Sometimes it fucking sucks.

I woke today planning on meditating and yoga-ing myself back to center, but what I have done is read my book, smoke, and now write this. None of which will cure the wants. I have heard some people refer to the wants as a God shaped hole. The only way I'm gonna fill this baby is to fill it with spiritual food. Meditation, joy, being in the moment, gratitude.

I'm getting up, friends, shutting this computer off, and going to set up the Christmas tree. I'm gonna be in the moment, dance to Christmas music with my kids, and heal myself. Don Corleone give me strength, Buddha give me joy, Queenpin root thyself, because ain't nobody else gonna do it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Unanswerable Question

I am again at the point where I am wondering how to tell my kids their dad is broken. I do not talk bad about their dad in front of them. They know I get angry at him, but not because I rant and rave, but because of the tension in the room when we have to be near each other.

The wusband hasn't seen the kids in a week, hasn't called in five days. This morning my sweet four year old girl woke up crying "Daddy, daddy, daddy..." What do you say to those sweet tears? If the books are right, there's no way my kids aren't going to take his behavior personally. There's no way they aren't going to think it's their fault he's such a fuck up. How does a Queenpin do damage control?

I know how Don Corleone would do it, but I don't want to hurt the man...physically. I also don't want him to disappear. I just want him to be who he can't be, a dad. A person that understands what truly loving another being is. I want to teach my kids acceptance. That this is the way he is and its okay to love him as he is, but he will not change. It's not you, it's him. Really, beasties, it is. Look how freaking lovable you are. You'd have to be broken and damaged to walk away from two jewels like you.

I offer him up to the Buddhas, I offer his girlfriend up to the Buddhas. I imagine them being wrapped in loving arms and healed. That works for me (for a few minutes at least). What about my little ones, how do I let them know that this is not about them?

My daddy loved me. Sometimes I had to figure out his code for telling me he loved me, "Change your oil!" he would bellow about my car. In my daddy speak that was, "I love you". He hugged and kissed us too. He said the words, but most of all he was also THERE. Even when he didn't want to be. He stayed, and more than anything that was proof that he loved me, us. Anyone can say the words, but the actions show the truth. No one had to explain to me about Daddy love, so I've got no script to go from here.

I know the times without their dad are going to get longer. He is has been in and out of his other kids lives for years. Conveniently parenting when it suits him. I'm slowly coming up with the words to say to my sweet little ones, but when you're explaining about a dad who doesn't know how to love there are no words that will be right.

Maybe my lesson is acceptance too. There will be scars on my beasties from this. The Queenpin's job is to not make the wounds larger, and to be their healing salve. But there is no way to make their dad put them first. I will never be able to make it all right. Damn.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buddha Comes In Mysterious Ways

The other night I went into the kitchen and screamed! A full blown, I'm being stabbed scream. I was being stabbed by motherhood. The Queenpin was having a moment of FREAK OUT. If I had had a good rubberband gun I would have lined up all the baby dolls and Transformers and shot them in their beady eyes just to take someone else down. Just to watch someone else feel beaten.

Friday nights I am so tired, but this Friday no one would sleep. I would get one down and another would pop up. My son was up at this moment. Whimpering. And then crying. And then squealing. And then I screamed. And then I went to the porch for a smoke.

I was furiously puffing away, leaving some crazy mom vent for my sister on her voicemail when my kid came out and said, "Mom, I know what will make you feel better."

"What?" I growled like some rabid wolf.

"Om Tara Tu Tara Ture Soha"

My heart broke, my shoulders sagged and I said, "I'll be in in a minute and lay down with you, baby."

That mantra is to the female Buddha Tara. She is the protector of animals and children and she is my guru. It is the mantra I sing to my children when I put them to bed. It is the mantra I have taught them to say to themselves when they need soothing. It is the prayer we say when when we want to send blessings to someone.

That kid. He knows how to melt my heart. May be this is working. May be I'm teaching them about prayer and Buddhism, even when I'm screaming, smoking, and being rabid. Buddha teaches in the most mysterious ways. It's a super dirty trick to use a kid, but very effective.

Smoking is My Frenemy

Smoking is my frenemy. I hate it and I love it. The first time I smoked a cigarette I was 10 years old walking back from a trip to the ice cream shop with friends. One of the girls picked up a lit cigarette off the ground that someone had thrown down and we smoked it. Ee-gads the thought of that now makes me shudder.

I have quit countless times since that moment. Four years once, a year and a 1/2 once, months here and there, weeks, and then we get to the days mark. Sometimes I quit for hours and then find myself at 7-11 at the counter feeling like a loser passing over my cash to buy some sweet relief.

The wusband smokes too. Having two parents who smoke raise my kids chances of smoking. I get the lung cancer threat too. Really I do. But I cannot seem to stay done.

Many times I wonder what it is that keeps my going back. I have lots of reasons. I have smoked so long I define myself as a smoker. In movies I always related to the biggest baddest smoker. I was always Rizzo from Grease, the bad girl characters. But is that really it? I have redefined my life so many times you would think I would be able to redefine that out of it, but I can't let it go. Even the badass bitches in movies don't smoke anymore yet here I go puffing away. All women who were smoking in the old movies are probably on oxygen tanks now. That is so not sexy.

One thing I hold onto with smoking is that it gives me a break. I walk outside and have 5 kid free moments. It is a true quick break from the chaos that is my life. Is it worth lung cancer? The stink of it? The shame of it? Nope, but I can't seem to give it up. It beats me down it makes me feel weak physically and emotionally, yet it also builds me up and makes me feel sexy and badass. It gives me a few moments of peace, yet also has me always chasing it. I'm never really satisfied until I have that smoke in my lungs.

I have done it all; the gum, some tapping therapy thing, meditation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, cold turkey, cutting back. I'm not sure what its going to take so I wait for the next moment of quitting to come and then I'll ride it. I'll quit again. Swear it is the last time and pray to the Buddhas that this time it really is. Joe Camel you are one dirty motherfucker, I love you.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mama is a Four Letter Word

Some days, MAMA!!!! is a four letter word. It is a FUCK YOU, a SHIT, a BITCH. It is a scream and an insult. It has been my experience that getting cussed at feels more like a punch in the stomach though, the mama four letter word is a suck you down through the floor four letter word. A drain your soul, quick sand to your brain word.

Queenpins get tired. Queenpins get sucked dry, but Queenpins have to get over it pretty soon or life will be reduced to keeping your head above the muck in the swamp, or escape the dementors, which sometimes my beasties feel like. Life suckers, joy eaters.

We are not flowing as family this week. We are reacting to each other like those ping pong balls in the Bingo machine. It sucks. Mama is a four letter word this week. There is constant bickering, constant whining, and mama's mad face and sharp words.

This week I've got no words of wisdom, pour your whiskey, (you know I'm talking to you), smoke your cigarettes, lock the bathroom door and sit. Survive.

I've been getting up in the morning and meditating hoping to be a kinder mother. This morning I said 108 compassion mantras, 45 minutes later I would have happily sold both kids to gypsies. I am in survival mode. My new mantras, "This is temporary, this is temporary, this is temporary." "Call a sitter, call a sitter, call a sitter, call a sitter." Survive.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking It Like a Woman

Taking it like a woman is being wise, accepting, strong, and honest. Knowing when to hold your tongue and not falling apart.

This week I'm gonna have to take it like a woman. It's gonna be a long week. Yesterday my man looked over at me and said, I got a call from Georgia and we're getting together on Sunday. Sunday, my day to be with my man. He said he was surprised by the feelings that came up when he talked to her. He doesn't know what's going to happen on Sunday so he felt like I should know. He doesn't want to hurt me, he doesn't want to lie. I took it like a woman, gave him my blessing. Inside I took it like a little girl and made plans to kick her ass. Shit.

Georgia is my man's one true love who did him wrong ten years ago. He told me last week he didn't want to talk to her when he found out she might call him. Using the wise and not needy part of my being I said, "I think it might be good for you two to talk. Seems like you have some stuff to work out." No worries, he didn't want to talk to her anyway...until she called, and he realized he did want to talk to her, and now I'm taking it like a woman.

After the bomb was dropped I said, "Well, I think it's good. I think you need to figure this out. I'm not going to give you shit about it, I understand it." And I do. When I contacted my first husband after 8 years of silence I remembered why we were married. I concocted all these fantasies of wrong place, wrong time and meant to be romance, but then we hung out a few times and I remembered why we aren't married anymore. He is an amazing friend and that works for us. We're relieved we've work it out.

I couldn't sleep last night because I was preparing for the end. Georgia is super model gorgeous. Me and my man laugh that I'm a furry wombat. He calls me cute. It's like Janeane Garofalo and Uma Thurman in The Truth About Cats and Dogs, (though Georgia is more like badass Uma in Kill Bill). Unfortunately this isn't a movie and in my experience the super model always wins.

Sigh. I'm gonna take it like a woman. I've asked for two things from my man 1.) Tell me sooner rather than later if there is a connection that they plan to investigate, 2.) Be extra sweet to me this week, because though I'm trying not to freak out, I'm gonna be thinking about it.

Good man that he is, I know that both those requests will be granted. He's already started being very reassuring, but what can you do when you've got unfinished business with someone? You gotta finish it. The worst part for me is that though I am not in love, I don't want to be done with this man yet. The good part is being single makes my life easier time and gives me more time for me. I can be at peace single or with someone, thank the Buddhas.

The funniest thing is that I refuse to stay in the moment. I've got seven more days of this rambling in my head. This crazy vacillating between woman and girl. Brave and scared. Accepting and reacting. Being wise and stupid. Samsara, samsara, samsara.

Time to hit the cushion and meditate. Time to go inward and find a little peace and truth. One thing I already know is true, everything is temporary whether you take it like a woman or not.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Low Expectations

I have found that low expectations are the key to being a happy single mom. Not low expectations for my kids behavior, or for the people around me, but low expectations on how I think our lives should function day to day.

As a mom in general, there are always things you could be doing, fixing, cleaning, teaching. As a single mom it is double. My life is a series of unfinished tasks, unbathed kids, and unfolded laundry. It is rare for me to have the time to do something to its completion.

I have too many good things is what I like to say about my life, but sometimes I just have too many things. I have to let things go, which is hard. I can't quit my job, or stop parenting, but I can leave dishes in the sink overnight and let the laundry go a little. I can let go of being a soccer mom. I can ease up on myself.

This Queenpin used to be really hard on herself. This Queenpin used to make her own baby food and want to be the best at being a mama. In that competitive creepy kind of way, not in that nurturing mother earth kind of way.

It's not that I don't want to be a good mama now, but I am realizing how little it takes to be a good mom. My kids do not care how clean the kitchen is, if the dinner was made by me or someone else. They just want to sit and have dinner with me. My kids don't care if their lunches are packed and set out the night before, or if their sheets are clean they just want me to snuggle up at night and read them a book. My kids don't care if they play soccer or do ballet, they just want to dance with their Queenpin in the kitchen. My kids just need good lovin', good laughin', and some mama time. That's what's gonna pull us through.

Not that those things are little. Being a mama exhausts me and sometimes I would much rather clean the kitchen than mother, but I find when I ease up on my expectations and just BE, there is magic in that moment.

Last night while I was putting my daughter to bed I had to kick my way through the mess of paper and toys on her floor. When I got to the bed all I could think of was how she needed to clean her room, and which toys would be going into the Goodwill bin. When I lay down I was a little agitated, but then she grabbed my hand and pulled it around her and said, "Snuggle." I let go of the toys, melted into that golden moment, and curled up with my girl until she fell asleep.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I Love Good Stories

I love good stories. I heard a particularly delicious one the other day and had to write a poem about it. I'm no poet, but this story just had to be written down.

A Man’s Shaken Faith

On Halloween when the freaks and the friendly come out to celebrate
My faith was shaken
I saw Jesus on a stick
As usual he was just defending himself
Took on four men at once
He did, I swear
Long hair flying
Veins popping out
Eyes wild
As I imagine they were when he stormed the temple

Who knew Jesus could hit like that?
We all know he can take a punch
A beat down
A crown of thorns
A nail or two
But no one told us how he could rumble
Like a street kid
Like an old bear biker
Like the Hulk

The earth slipped under my feet when Satan appeared to help him
Another long haired ineffable being
Horns so perfect
Hair flowing down
Blue eyes blazing just like the Lords’
Pulling men off Jesus
Fighting like you knew he would
As my wife told me later
Looking much better in person

Then Jesus got arrested and the devil slipped into the crowd
A few feet before me
A man said emphatically to his wife
You see,
I told you if he was still alive today
They would still be persecuting him

But all I saw were those two in cahoots
Jesus and the Devil
Out drinking
Playing Texas Hold ‘Em
Laughing about their miserable jobs
Laying plans for how they were going to fuck with us tomorrow

The next day I awoke to a message from a friend
A cop at the station
Who left a long message about his Hollow’s Eve night
And the devil bailing Jesus out of jail
And I was certain then
That the divine plan was twisted
And God’s good grace had failed
To keep those jokers apart

The Never Ending Ending

My wusband and I cannot seem to get divorced. It is not because there is any chance in hell that we will reconcile (Thank you Buddhas). It is that we cannot agree on anything, and especially because he is a nut. I am going to try not to get into his side of things too much because we all know everyone has their own story, but on my side he is a nut and I am just trying to do what is right for my kids.

On November 4th it will be three years since he left me with our one year old daughter and 4 year old son. You would think that in that time we would have made some progress. Or at least that I would stop being completely manipulated by his sly ways, but somehow I cannot not get sucked into it. What is the difference between being compassionate and just being plain stupid?

I spent my day today fighting with him and having fits of tears because once again I am accepting that he is a shitty dad and he will not change, until he's nice again and promises to be a better dad and then I believe it all over again. It is the never ending ending. The never ending cycle of us.

My kids suffer the most from my ridiculous choice of father for them. After the wasband left someone told me about a movie with Chevy Chase when he is driving behind a truck and all this toxic waste dumps on him and changes him into a different person. Often I am tempted to tell my children that this is what happened to thier father, "...and he was never the same again, but its not your fault, it is the toxic waste."

I wish I could believe that, but I know what is true, he is who has always been and who I chose not to see. I've got to get my vision checked because this Queenpin cannot take one more year of in the process of divorcing! Plus one of my friends wants to throw me a divorce party and every Queenpin Mama deserves one of those.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Importance of a Good Booty Shake

The other day my daughter's teacher came to me with a smile and said, "Your daughter woke up from her nap today and said, 'I had a dream my mama was shaking her booty.'" It made me laugh because just that morning we had been shaking our booties to War's Low Rider while we got ready for school. I am a big believer in booty shaking.

It's not that I am an expert booty shaker, my moves are simple and not full of grace, but sometimes it is good to drop it all, turn up the tunes, and shake it. My wasband used to tell me not to dance, though before him I had been a woman who would go out on the floor and try to dance like no one was watching. I let him ruin it, I knew I was being watched when we were together, and I knew he thought I looked stupid, so I stopped. Like Stella, after he left, I was determined to get my groove back.

Once I was free of those chains I began slowly. I set up a dance circle with my students and we took turns going into the middle and shaking it, Getting Jiggy With It blaring in the background. These days other classes come down and join us sometimes. The dance circle is a big hit. At home I put a CD player in the kitchen and I turn it up so me and my two beasties could twirl and shake and laugh and sing.

These days booty shaking is a must, especially when things get stressed. Stop, turn on the music, Queenpin and dance. The morning we were shaking it to Low Rider, it was one of those mornings. You know, the yelling mornings, the sweating over what to cook for breakfast, pack for lunch, and kids NOT PUTTING THEIR SHOES ON mornings. I stopped in my frantic state, picked out the perfect song, and turned it up.

This is what I want the beasties to remember about me, booty shaking in the kitchen, singing the GoGo's or Koko Taylor. Taking a moment to readjust her groove.


Do you ever think Don Corleoni had self-doubt. Do you think he worried if he looked fat in his pin stripes? Would his hands shake at the idea that he looked stupid holding a gun? When the Don was alone with one of his women did he worry that maybe his cellulite was just too plain ugly to show? Did he only have sex with his clothes on?

In the first Godfather the Don never wavers. You can tell when one of the other members of the organization feels insecure, they start getting the shifty eye. They either look around the room for someone to validate them or they drop their gaze to the ground. These days this is what I relate to, not the confidence of the Don. Not the moxie that a Queenpin should have.

I've got the self-doubt these days and I've got it bad. My acupuncturists says it's because I'm burning myself out with school, work, kids, man. I've got no foundation to hold me down. My uprooted being is just shifting and floating around. She said it in more Chinese Medicine speak, but that is what she meant.

I hate self-doubt. The best word I can think of to explain it is icky. It makes me feel icky. Like I can't do, or shouldn't be doing, shouldn't be existing. It makes me miss out on the lusciousness of things because I'm so focused on how much I suck. I'm figuring out that I can't shudder this self-doubt away. You know with an, ugh, shoulder shudder, this feels like shit now lets move on. I can't ego it away either. I let my ego go wild and say and do all kinds of outlandish things, but then I feel self-doubt ten times worse. Did I really do that? What do people think? Am I a crazy woman?

On one of those ego occasions, I went to a beautiful wedding shower where we supposed to give advice. Queenpin Mama, twice divorced, has not much good advice for that, so what did I do? I sang Madonna's "Spank Me" and suggested singing that could help a marriage make it though one more day. Now, months later, I still worry, worry, worry, do those women dislike me now, was I too wild? Ugh, I don't want to worry about these things, I'd like to just shudder and move on, but this time self-doubt is holding me down.

This is a deep self-doubt. A deep core shaking, where the hell is my self, and do I really like her, kind of thinking. This is ungrounded fear and pain. Is this the part where I get to blame it on the ex? It's been three years and I still can't believe how earth shaking it has been to be left. To have this one who you loved like no other walk out the door and never look back.

I know at some point I'm going to heal up and bear a sweet scar that I can tell about at cocktail parties, but right now it there is still a wound. I don't want that man back, I'm redefining my dreams in life, but still I have a slowly healing wound. Really, I still have Turret's Syndrome sometimes when we speak and I can't keep my cussing to myself. But I know it's not him, but the leaving shook my core and I still haven't quite found my center.

The fact that I am full time mom, 1/2 time graduate student, and full time teacher doesn't help. When is there time to actually take care of me? To nurture and not push. I so relate to the scene in American Beauty when the mom who is a real estate agent is having an open house and no one shows up. She starts crying and then she starts yelling at herself and smacking her own face so she'll get it together. Sometime I notice myself mentally being that hard on myself and I think of that scene and laugh. Ease up, baby. My wusband used to say, "Lighten up, Frances."

I think enlighten up is more appropriate. I am now trying to sort all this out so I can heal myself before I go off the deep end. My life is too sweet to waste it with self-doubt and negative rumination. This Queenpin has got to get grounded. I've been waking, not studying, but meditating and doing yoga. We went to the Buddhist Center last night and I felt love and caring wash over me as I prayed. What would Buddha think? Self-doubt? Try emptiness, baby.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Curbing the Wants

There is something so delicious about driving home in the early morning, Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" blaring, hair a mess, wearing your clothes from the night before, smelling like the man you were just with. I'm savoring my moments of badness.

This is where I'm trying to stay. In the moment. What I have is so perfect. Once a week a little bit of wickedness. But I have a fear, it is the same fear that keeps me out of Target when money is tight. It is fear of The Wants. I have worked very hard to accept and be grateful for what I have exactly as it is because it brings me peace. Unfortunately with men I have not perfected this skill. I would like to assign blame at this point, damn American culture, but instead I'll refocus on me.

The fear of The Wants is actually worse than The Wants themselves. I actually don't want anything else than what I have now, a smart, fun man, who requires little, and makes me dinner every week. But in my experience in a few months the wants are going to start, the wanting of more from him, from our relationship. Even if it doesn't make sense, which it doesn't.

I am working hard to change my idea about what I want in life. When I start to have wants (that ache inside that tells me things aren't enough), I have to stop and check in, what do I want to be different? When I check in with myself I realize nothing. The wants are so empty when I stop and look inside them.

What I want to want is the now. My one night a week of total womaness with my very sweet and cool man. My six nights a week of kidness that will not last forever. My life, sweet, imperfect, and divine.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Stinking September and My Savior Sorella

My least favorite month of the year is here, September. Imagine me saying that like Newman said Seinfeld's name, or with a grimace on my face, expelling a wad of spit afterward. I detest September. September is the month when the many good things in my life come together and create a gang war.

Yesterday the Queenpin had to go to her sister and sob. Yesterday the Queenpin was a shitty mom. Yesterday the Queenpin thought she might cry and stab someone at the same time. Yesterday the Queenpin took advantage of one of the most important aspects of her organization, her famiglia, and more specifically her sorella (sister). Yesterday was the end of my first week back at work.

I called my sister with this opening, " I need to bitch and whine and...oh, yeah, I think I'm going to sob." and then I broke down. My first week at work. Fighting with wasband over the never ending divorce. Kidney stones returning mid-week. Having something unpleasant and unexpected happen at work. Yelling at my poor boy so bad he went and hid in his closet.

Thank the Buddhas for my sister, for the one I can completely lose it with and she doesn't judge, unless needed. She doesn't give too much advice, just enough. She listens and lets me be, and then checks on me in a few days. She has faith in me that though I lose it, I will recover and be fine.

As a Queenpin you need one person in your organization who can let you lose it. Someone who isn't so invested they become afraid when the head of the organization starts to look a little crazy in the eyeballs. For me this is my sister. I do have a lot of women that I talk to about my daily life, but when I want to wail and sob, I call my sister. She is safe.

Yesterday my sister did what she normally does. Supported me, "Sure, I'll listen", validated me, "You should have yelled, what he was doing was dangerous!", and sympathized, "I would be crazy too if I had all that going on." (She has a lot going on, she just underplays it).

After our conversation I hung up and felt a little saner. A little less like my eyeballs were spinning around in my head. And though my hair may have still been standing on end, my sister made me feel it may not have been out of fashion. Most importantly I felt like I had dumped my stuff and I could move on. My sorella was not going to call me offering solutions, she wasn't going to obsessively call and make sure I hadn't killed someone. She knows I'm not a psychopath, just a woman trying to find her way. Her faith in me humbles me and helps me have faith in myself.

This month is hell. It is a hang on, white knuckle it time, and once again the Queenpin has made it through a week and no one has gone down. Not because I am so strong, but once again I looked to my organization to get me through. This week it was specifically my sister. "There can be no situation in life in which the conversation of my dear sister will not administer some comfort to me." ~Mary Montagu Is is smaltzy to say again, I am so blessed?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fire and Water Dinner

Tonight I went across the street to my neighbor's for a fire and water dinner. I know, I had never heard of it either. Apparently it is a Meredith College tradition. I am now stealing it and making it my own. My sweet, sassy, and beautiful neighbor was celebrating her wedding anniversary sans husband who left her recently after returning from Iraq. She is a Princess Pin, learning the ropes of running her own network.

Eight women, one man, and eight-ish kids. Until dark we ate spaghetti and cupcakes, drank wine, and let kids play. We caught up with some folks and got to know others. When darkness fell we sent the kids in for a movie and got down to business; fire and water, burning and floating. Each person was handed a stack of note cards and a pencil. Write down what you love & want to keep going in your life and write what you want to get rid of. What you want to rid yourself of we burn, what you want to keep going we float.

We then stood around an open grill and burned what we needed to let go of. People read their cards if they wished. Here's my list:

My dream of having a nuclear family
My ex-husband
Mother Guilt

Next we stood around a blue kiddie pool filled with water. Lit candles floated on the surface. Each person read. Here is my list:

My neighbors and our porch parties
Acupuncture school
My family
My sweet house

It was beautiful, moving, and a little silly. I love ritual. I love my friends.

We laughed about how the kids will remember this night. Adults standing around catching things on fire, using the kiddie pool to put trash in. When they confront us will we pass them $100 and say talk to your therapist about it? Maybe, if it is a good day, we'll get out the pool, light up the grill, hand 'em some note cards, and teach them to free themselves.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Baby Buddhas

Yesterday my 7 year old son came downstairs to my room when he woke up. Sweet tousled thing needed something. I could tell. When I got up to make coffee he took over my space in the bed and wouldn't give it up. He needed something but couldn't explain it. Queenpins know these things.

After finally being allowed back in my bed, I read US magazine to him and explained who all the trashy people were and why people watched them on t.v. That made no sense to him so we got up and tried some yoga. After a few moves he said, "Mama, are you going to put on the Buddha music? Are you going to do your Buddha stuff?" An ache from my kid. He is missing spirit, quiet, something, and it is the Queenpin's job to help him find it.

I used to be a member of a Buddhist Center. I taught the Dharma for Kids program once a month and I had a fierce desire to have my kids be raised in that center. However, there few other parents with kids my age, and even worse, I began to question some of the center's teachings. I was a single mom, full time teacher, graduate student, so I let the center go. I would be a Buddhist without a center and I would teach my kids Buddhism.

It's not so easy to teach my kids Buddhism though. I have only been practicing for about 4 years and I am not an avid student. My kids loved going to the center. They would bring offerings to the Buddha, pick through the sog, and were fascinate by the shrine. Here in our house, we have shrines, but not much sog, and we don't have the energy of the center. We just have me, imperfect, impatient, many times ignorant, teaching these kids spiritual lessons. So scary.

I guess that is what my son was feeling when he asked for the Buddha yesterday morning. We sat and did meditation prayers. We meditated for a few brief moments, and then I asked him, do you want to go back to the center? "Yes." Was his firm reply.

Last night I dragged my kids to a puja at the center. Thankful that there was only one other person there we participated in our first family puja. There was lots of shuffling, and laying around, one bathroom break, and some wispering, but we made it through and the kids left with some blessed toys, some pudding, and an apple that we ate with dinner. They also left with a sense of quiet, spirit, and blessings.

I was raised an Episcopalian. My mom found peace in the rituals of the church, and in some of the teachings, but she struggled with much of the dogma. She wanted her kids to have a spiritual base, she wanted us to have the community of church. Until I had kids I never understood the importance of this. I cannot be both spiritual base and community to my kids, too much responsibility. Too much to get wrong.

Even Kingpins have a priest. I decided last night to rejoin the center and to make it about me teaching my kids about Buddha. I want them to experience the peace and joy I find in my path. When they feel lost and are unable to speak it, I want them to know the mantras to say, instead of having to come downstairs and take over my bed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Queenpin Dates Again

I think I have stumbled upon the perfect dating situation. Yes, it allows me to fart in my bed. In fact I just did.

Maybe my picker is broken. I just love bad boys. I thought I wanted a good man, but then I got reacquainted with a good ole' bad boy and I am so happy about it. A 36 year old woman who has already been married twice, obviously has lessons to learn about relationships. I'm not saying this is going to be the perfect relationship or the perfect man, but it is a great situation.

To be honest this is the man that started the whole fart in my bed phrase (see July 4th post). I've known him on and off for 16 years. Dated a friend of his, seen him around town. I have had such a crush on him I would get all giddy and my voice rose about three octaves whenever I saw him. We reconnected, talked on the phone once, and I thought I would rather be able to fart in my bed than have to put on visiting manners for that man. But he persisted and I realized I didn't want what I thought I wanted.

This summer I have fallen in love with being a single mom. I love parenting my kids alone, making all the decisions, not having to worry about another person, just soaking up these kids and making our life about each other. I realized, I don't want to build a life with another adult. I want to build this life with my beasties and when they are old enough to start building their own lives I'll decide then if I want a partner.

When I had found peace in singleness in walks the man (ain't life a bitch?). We talked, we flirt, we set a date. What is Queenpin doing? The first date was like a Quentin Tarrentino film with no violence. Smoky room, sketchy characters, shifty eyed roommate, and low lights. I had a blast. I know it sounds crazy, but I realized that this is going to be a complete mama thing. No kids allowed. The man has no interest in meeting my babes and I wouldn't have this tattooed Harley cat around my sheltered little beasties anyway. I don't need that role filled.

I have good men in my life. My first husband and I go to lunch, email, and he helps me with big projects. I also have a rent-a-husband who dog sits for me and does small odd jobs around the house. My kids know these men and love them. We have great dads in our neighborhood that love the beasties and will teach them about good fathers, and good men. We have Yoyo, my mom's boyfriend who is a wonderful grandfather to my kids. He will teach these kids about commitment.

I have had to redefine what family means and what I want in my life. It is pretty nice just the way it is, but I guess I was missing something. That part that made me feel like a woman. I didn't know I was missing it until I kissed someone new and rediscovered it. Hello little lady, been awhile.

This man and I see each other one night a week. That's it. We text and talk on the phone during the week, which is fun and exciting, but not too time consuming. For six nights I get my bed to myself, or share it with a beast or two. One day a week I wax, shave, put on Victoria Secret underwear, and head out. The next morning I return home tired and giggly. Ready for another week.

I'm willing to enjoy this until it fizzles out. I was startled the other day by how perfect my life is at this moment. I had to stop, take a breath and savor it. I'm a Buddhist, I get that it's temporary. I'm just gonna try to enjoy this part until it turns into something else.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Queenpin Goes Down

The Queenpin is sick. The Queenpin aches and wants to take a pain killer, but when you're a Queenpin, it is hard to take the day off. When Don Corleoni is shot and has to lay low for awhile his whole organization goes to hell. He has to meet with all the bosses to restore peace. I just can't have that happen so I put off the pain killer and let my kids watch a little more t.v.

Kidney stones that is what has got me down. Day nine of kidney pain and I am sick of it. In Chinese Medicine there's this whole interesting link to fear and the kidneys. I am hoping by passing these stones (will they ever pass?) that I am passing on my fear, that I am letting it go where it belongs, the dark and dank sewers. Perfect place for boogie men and random accidents.

I am lucky my support system is so much better than Don Corleoni's. No one is going to fly off the handle and shoot someone unless it is with a Nerf gun. Yesterday my luscious neighbor sent over pancake batter for breakfast. She offered to take my kids for breakfast, but I wanted to feed my little beasties. I had just been out of town for 6 days.

Mid-day my mom took the kids for three hours and I made myself lay in the bed. No movies, no cleaning, no reading, no studying, just rest. Okay I did get up and do some laundry, but give me a break. Three hours of resting, it was freaking me out.

Isn't it funny that mama's are so good at caring for others and so bad at caring for ourselves? How does a Queenpin rest? How does a Queenpin say I need you to take care of me for a bit? Even though I feel like hell, I don't want to spend my day grumpy and bed ridden. I used to think that not being able to rest and take care of yourself was a burden of motherhood, but now I see it as a choice.

I choose to push myself. I choose to get up and get things done. I choose to find ways to laugh and be close to my kids, even when the thought of them touching anywhere on my torso makes me want to scream. The other day this therapist said to me, "How about caring for yourself by having someone watch your kids while you just take a whole day to cry?" Are you f*cking kidding me? What a waste of a perfectly great day! Not that I'm an anti-crier, I should probably do it more, but why would I cry for a whole day? Just seems like a waste of tears and time. It also seems completely and ridiculously self-indulgent. My life is too delicious to cry over.

This weeks illness is teaching me balance for self care. I ask for help if I need it, and I keep moving on but in a slower pace. My organization will not fall to pieces if I'm laying low, but if I'm not here who will be the Queenpin? So it's about balance, and kidney stones, and letting go of fear, and using my network, and laundry.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I leave my kids a lot. I have lots of mama guilt about it, but it is a part of how our life works right now. Two years ago this month I started working towards a graduate degree in acupuncture. I can truly say it was a calling, I just knew it had to be done. I wasn't sure how it was going to work, but I applied to the school, got accepted, and worked it all out. Graduate school doesn't seem like such an outlandish thing for a single mom to do, but my school happens to be 3 1/2 hours from my house and five days out of the month. Once a month I leave my kids on a Tuesday night and get them back Monday morning. It is a long week.

While I'm gone my kids stay with their Yaya, (my mom) for three nights, a babysitter (who is fabulous and comes to our house) for two nights, and the last night they spend at their dad's.

The act of me going to school and leaving my kids is what created the Queenpin organization I have today. It forced me to reach out, accept help when offered, and ask for it when it wasn't. It taught me to lower my expectations about how life is supposed to be and allow it to be as it is. This is a daily lesson that is getting easier.

Physically I am gone from my kids six days a month, but I have noticed that if I'm not careful I can leave them while I'm standing right next to them. This is my great challenge. Being present. Listening. Appreciating what we have this second.

What I have found about me is that I can really do this for about an hour each day, but only in 15 minute increments. Being present is f*&^ing hard! And being present when what you're confronted with is, "Hey mom, watch, no, no WATCH THIS." Or the always joyful dinner time, "Please put your feet down, don't throw food, don't feed that to the dog or he'll poop all over the house. No you may not put green beans in your nose. The next person who says poop is going to their room!" (I could go on and on with the dinner time rants.)

Anyway, the point is that cute moments, fun moments are easy to be present in, but the tedious ones are really hard for me to grasp. There are many times that I would rather not be in the moment because that particular moment sucks or is boring or is completely annoying, but when I do that, I'm leaving again and my kids see that I'm not looking them in the eye or really listening to what is so vitally important to them.

Lately, I've been trying to laugh when I feel like removing myself from the present moment. Laugh at my boy who has talked incessantly for the last two hours, laugh at my girl who is perfecting the perfect squeal/whine, and laugh at myself for being so damn uptight.

I just read an article where a Tibetan monk commented that he felt Western meditation was great, but it was missing one thing, laughter and joy. Buddha believed in joy and so do I. I'm gonna rub my own Buddha belly and let that laughter bubble up, I'm gonna be here for my kids, except when the fart jokes start and then I'm outta here.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Getting Grounded

Today me and the beasties went to a wedding. It was a beautiful, small country wedding on a creek. I love weddings and this one was my best friend's younger sister so it was extra special. It was lovely to see a young woman I had know since birth marry someone she obviously adores. There were so many people there that had know me since I was a babe. It was delicious and so grounding.

In my daily life as Queenpin I sometimes take a moment to stop and to take those three cleansing breaths Pema Chodron has taught me to take. I often find when I do this that my feet are off the ground. I am going through the motions of life not being mindful of myself or the tasks at hand. While keeping track of kids, house, dog, school, work, I am so unaware of so much, especially myself.

After being the boss, conducting deals, and making sure his network wasn't going to hell, don't you think that Don Corleone was a little frazzled and lost at the end of the day? I think he was grounded by good Italian food, but I'm on a cooking strike so that won't work for me.

Today at this wedding, I felt so aware, so firmly planted, and so happy. Being around people who had known me for so long kept me planted. They knew me when I was so wild and lost, and so sweet and young. They see me as I was then and as I am today.

For me, part of the challenge of being a mom has been realizing that me and my children are completely separate beings. My wasband and I made these kids while we were in love and I formed their sweet bodies in my body for 10 months. I am still myself and they are themselves, but I have to take into consideration how my every action affects them. Sometimes I feel lost. Who am I now? Who am I when I have to make different choices these days because of motherhood? Who am I whose husband left? Am I good enough as I am? Am I a sinner or a saint? Am I a mother or a single woman?

As a woman I can see what a strong sense of self I had growing up, but at the time I always felt I was searching for myself. In the past few years I heard the George Bernard Shaw quote, "Life isn't about finding yourself, it is about creating yourself." These days I get confused because I am creating myself, but also trying to be a big part of creating who my kids are. Who am I gets lost in my desire to help them figure out who they are.

At the wedding I was with my kids just enjoying them and the day. I was held down by roots and memories. I was reminded of who the Queenpin is. I am a fierce, sassy mama, with blues in my soul, and love for laughter. I am a singer, a poet, and a bit of a mess. I am creating myself, but I am also already a creation. I can stand alone and I do it everyday.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Mama Mind

The Mama Mind is a big mind and a state of being. It took over for me as soon as I realized there was a little human growing in my body. For months after my son was born I would stop in the middle of something and giggle thinking, "Holy shit, I am a parent." The Mama Mind has so much love and so much worry. B-I-G emotions come with the Mama Mind.

Yesterday I took my seven year old boy on a great and beautiful hike. We had a fabulous time, barefoot, skirting over rocks, wading in water pools, feeling the splash of waterfalls on our hot bodies. It was delicious, but not free. Before I possessed the Mama Mind I would have been giddy on this hike, challenging myself to push further, being daring, and relishing the freedom and possibilities of what I could do. Not worrying that I could go crashing down a 50 foot waterfall all broken and battered and dead. But now I have the Mama Mind. My boy and I had fun, but there is always this part of me that holds back a little bit. Talking it over with my mama neighbor yesterday I realized it is the Mama Mind that curbs that freedom. It is caution, it is fear, it is responsibility for another living being.

On the hike my boy was pushing higher and higher up the mountain, off the path, no shoes, water and rocks as our guide. The Mama Mind held back, surveying all potential dangers, assessing the risks, and finding the right path. There were many times I had to tell Mama Mind to hush, let the boy climb that rock, let him find his path, feel the freedom. Mama Mind closed her mouth but shot me mean looks the whole time that said, "If that boy falls you'll never forgive yourself." Mama Mind is overly protective. She keeps my feet firmly grounded, and has a hard time letting my kids soar. "What if their wings don't work and they fall to the ground?" she says. "What did we do to ruin their wings?" she asks.

Mama Mind is good, but also over the top. She makes sure that my kids are safe, but she has a hard time letting them wander and find their own way. Mama Mind weighs heavy some days as she plans healthy meals and tries to solve all the world's problems so my kids don't suffer one bit. Mama Mind is the monkey on all mamas' backs pulling our hair when we don't listen to her practical advice.

I'm working on balance with my Mama Mind today. I'm trying to worry less and laugh more with my beasties. Buddhism reminds me again and again that karma directs me and my kids' lives, not the Mama Mind. She thinks she is the conductor of all things in our world but in truth, we are not in control of everything. Life happens, death happens, suffering happens. Finding the joy right in this moment is what sweetens the deal, its not about making it out unscathed.

Yesterday I caught my boy in moments of pure joy and freedom, being daring, pushing himself to his limits. I took a breath, with my feet firmly planted, and offered that beauty up to the Buddhas savoring seconds of pure joy, and then I told my boy to get down off that rock before he cracks his head open.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jesus Was My Real Estate Agent. Thank You Jesus.

I live in a great little house in the perfect neighborhood, and Jesus is the one who sealed the deal. No kidding.

After my husband left I had to foreclose on my house. Yes, my house, not our house. It was in my name and had my down payment in it. It was a good house. We loved that house, except for the fact that the back half was slowly sinking into the ground. Even a Sassy Queenpin Mama cannot stop a sinking house, neither could I afford to pay the mortgage with my private school teacher's salary, let alone clean that sucker. So I watched it be sold on the court house steps. Not as dramatic as you would think, but a good story.

Next we moved into a sweet little rental, but way to expensive, and super moldy. The real issue though was that there wasn't enough neighbor in my hood. Every Queenpin knows you need a network to survive in this world, especially as a single mama. After a year in the cute, overpriced, moldy house we started the process finding a new place. Things were looking small, but I was determined to find a place I could afford on my own that would provide me and my little beasties with community.

I have a good friend, who teaches with me that lives in a great neighborhood. Most of the kids on the block are the same age and they all play together. Mama's get together and chat as kids play in the yards, running wild and laughing. Impromptu cookouts happen as mothers try to plan what to feed their broods. I coveted her neighborhood.

In steps Jesus...My mom actually saw Jesus first. Thank the Buddhas for mamas. While I was off looking at teeny apartments and trying to figure out how to fit three bodies in a space for one, unbeknownst to me my mama was looking too. There was a house I would have completely ignored in my married days. A small rectangle, which from the street looked like a small brick box with a picture window in the center. The box happened to be on my friend's street, in her block. When my mom knocked on the door to check it out there was Jesus. Not just a small Jesus, but a huge, larger than life sized painting of Jesus that took up one whole wall of the living room. He was kneeling down with baby sheep. No kidding. Now as a Buddhist I'm not one to follow Jesus signs, but how could you miss it? I believe in blessing whether they are given by Jesus, Mohammad, or my sweet Buddha.

So here I sit, in my bed, in my house, on the best street we could live. Yesterday, as my friend and I were trying to plan dinners, she 3 bean salad and me pancakes, we decided to pool resources. A feast was created with a glorious adult dinner and not so shabby stuff for the four kids either. We drank wine and talked. My mom stopped by, her mom stopped in midway on a road trip, my friend's husband was there helping with the kids, and here is my community.

Sometimes I worry about my kids, growing up with a dad who is so misguided in his parenting, but then I remember my Jesus Realtor and look around at all the parents my kids have gained by our move. I feel blessed, blessed, blessed. The Queenpin and her brood are making our own village and redefining what makes a family, we are three, plus fifteen other folks trying to do the same. Thank you Jesus.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Most Skiddish Little Buddhist Down in Texas

Well, I'm not actually in Texas, but I am truly skiddish.
I am wrapped up in it. I can't figure out how to shake it. One of my classmates in graduate school actually suggested to me I begin smoking pot, but that doesn't seem like the solution. I mean I am the only person over the age of seven (excluding the 16 year old 3 legged pooch) in my household. That just doesn't seem Queenpin to me. I mean isn't that what did the guy in in Goodfellas? A mobster on the fast track, possibly next in line for the Kingpin role and it all goes to hell because of drugs. No, pot is not the answer. Plus, I don't need help with laughter, just the fear that comes with a good laugh. Oh shit, I may pee in my pants, and the 'ole brain goes straight to, "Is that a sign I have kidney cancer? Because that's how my dad died."

From my meager Buddhist studies I get that fear is attachment, to ego, to people, to things, to permanence. That's the thing about fear, you get in your head that the fear is not real, yet your body reacts anyway; sweats, racing thoughts, heat rate through the friggin' roof. Even though I know that my shady neighbors two houses down don't even know who I am, I still set the alarm every night on my 900 square foot house because when night falls and silence hits I'm sure they want to murder me in my bed.

I used to be brave, I promise. Stupidly bold, rash, and daring, but these days I can't walk by a yard with a dog without envisioning it jumping on my face. Is is over attachment to my face? No, just this life I guess.

I know that meditation would help this. Been there, done that. But for some reason I can't meditate these days. I was hoping for the simpler solution which of course is just the change of the T for a C. I went to the doctor requesting mediCation. That went over like a ton of Valium at an AA meeting, when on the first day of popping the pills I realized I had no verbal filter and actually told my classroom of first and second graders that they needed a whoopin'. Queenpin Mama's really have to watch what they say.

Thank goodness I have this nice nurturing part of me that says, "Go easy, Baby. This is where your life is right now. You won't always be afraid. Just let this be." So I guess that's it. Accepting again that at this moment I am afraid. When I publish this post, I'll shut down my computer and sleep with the lights on. I'm staying in an old, old house this week and I'm sure there are ghosts just waiting to spook me.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Queenpin Dating

Nine months after my wasband left I dated a man for about a year and a half. I needed it. To be found attractive again, to go out on the town and have fun, and yes, to have a little support with the kids. Someone to talk things over with. The first nine months we were together he met my kids a few times, but I kept him separate fearing they would get attached and then we would break up. That did happen anyway, but I learned many lessons about dating. Some things I would repeat, others not so much. The best thing I learned is that my picker is not broken. This guy was a very nice man who was good with my kids, kind to me, but who didn't want commitment. I chose very carefully someone who I knew could not rip out my heart, stop on it, and flambe it up for hor dourves. Been there, done that, have two kids, and bad attitude enough to prove it.

Right now I am not pursuing anything with men, however available men do tend to make themselves...available. So my litmus test is, would I like to wake up to this man in my bed or would I rather be able to just fart in my bed in peace? After the wasband first left I was sad to sleep alone. The bed too big, the space to cold, the room too quiet, but this Queenpin has gotten used to having her bed all to herself, with an occasional beastie snuggled up for comfort. I like not worrying whether I stink or snore, I like sleeping with books and computer all piled on one side waiting for me to wake, reach over and devour one up. I like the quiet, peacefulness of my room, and yes, I like to fart like any Queenpin Mama can and not worry about offending a guest.

My old Buddhist teacher once said, "We say we don't have enough to give, but who puts on those limits? There is always more to give." I have found that to be true, but I have found that I don't want to give to a partner right now. I work full time and am in graduate school for acupuncture. This Queenpin Mama values her quiet time, her time to study, her time to clean. I value being able to leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight and most of all not having to take another person into consideration when I make decisions.

I am a linguistic learner, which means I learn by talking it out. That was a big change for me, having no sounding board. Queenpinship means finding a good network, so I've done that. I have such good mamas around. I call them up and say, "I need you to be my husband for a minute..." I'm working on adding some men into that realm to. Men that go home after a fine meal has been had, or something has been fixed. Men my kids can look up to, but don't influence our daily lives. Men that can teach my kids the things I can't do and their father won't do. Luckily, I have women around to do that too. One mama neighbor just built an exceptional chicken coop, another can do electrical work, another is the gardening queen.

As I sit an write this I am currently drinking coffee in my bed, while kids play upstairs (probably watching a movie) happily ignored by their Queenpin. There is so much room for me here to spread out and breath, even if the air is polluted by my own gaseous omissions. I don't think I'll be single forever, but for now it feels just so very right.

The Beginning

It's been 2 years and 8 months since I started on the journey of single motherhood. The babysitter, as we refer to my wasband, looked over at me one night and said very matter of factly, "I don't want to do this anymore", and that was the beginning of the end. But this is not about the end. This is about the middle, or the minute, and the wish to learn how to enjoy single motherhood, and be the Queenpin Mama.

I am most certainly not a KINGpin. There is no king in this castle. There is a prince (my 7 year old son), and a princess who would like to know when she is going to get her penis (my 3 year old daughter), and a duke possibly, which is my 16 year old three legged dog. Poor old dog thing is really treated like a pauper, because the Queenpin is often tired after a long day of keeping other living beings alive. The duke really lives off the scraps of my lovin'.

A good friend with a great mind labeled me the Queenpin Mama and it just fit me like the most comfy p.j.s. The Queenpin is what being a single mama is. The dictionary defines a king pin as a 1.) the inner most or central in an arrangement of bowling pins, 2.) the most important person or element in an enterprise or system. In other words if this mama goes down we all go down.

Thanks to the universe, so far this mama aint going down. She's bobbin' on the water and not thrashin' around too much these days. I'm being the stable Queenpin and holding us all upright. My wish is that I can do it gracefully.