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.