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.