Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Clapping My Hands Like a MoFo

"If you believe," he shouted to them, "clap your hands; don't let Tink die."
Peter Pan

I am determined that my kids, even though they are being raised by a single mom, will not miss out. It is a thought that is often on my mind. It is one reason I have worked hard to create such an amazing village that is helping raise my wonderful beasts. It is why I took them canoeing last year with a big group. But I also want us to do things as a family. Just us three. I want them to know that we are strong as three, the rest of our village just adds to our foundation. 

This weekend my beautiful boy beast turned 9 and I did something I have been longing to do for years, but have been a little afraid to do alone. I took my beasts to a cabin in the woods, and it was amazing. We left on Friday after the kids got out of school. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. The beasts and I, alone all weekend, weather calling for rain, no phone, no internet, no distractions. What am I going to do with these two small people? These small people who can suck the life out of me and who have eaten my brains.

Silly me. There was no need to worry. My kids are awesome people. They are so fun to hang out with. A fact I easily forget as I rush them off to school, or try to get them to clean their room. 

As soon as we arrived at the cabin the magic started and it carried us through the weekend. We started Friday afternoon by gathering things to build a fairy house. The cabin we were staying in was in a state park named based on a legend about fairies. The kids joyfully waded in the lake and found magic in the shells, the rocks, and the flowers around us. They laughed and delighted in everything they found. My heart opened and my loved flowed out watching them. It pooled at their feet and climbed up their little bodies. My beasts soaked that love right up and then they sent it back to me and I smiled, content.  

We needed this weekend. We get so caught up in to life that we forget each other. Especially me, the Queenpin. I am overwhelmed by school, by work, by keeping our house together. The week, prior to our trip, I had been on never ending nicotine withdraw as I stopped and started smoking again and again. I had yelled at my little beasts so much I think they thought we were on constant RED ALERT. They were probably as nervous about heading to the mountains with their crazy mama as I was about heading to the mountains with them. 

But the amazing thing is that once all those outside stressors fell away I was able to just hang out and be, and so were they, and we were able to enjoy each other. 

We built the fairy house straight away and added to it all weekend. Each morning the kids were rewarded with fairy stones left by grateful fairies. We relished the rain and would head out for a few minutes of walking and then dart back into the cabin as they sky opened up. We played games. We colored. I taught big beast how to make a fire. All weekend the magic of our love pervaded everything we did. There was very little bickering, there was very little mama madness. 

I was very conscious that the years of my beasts believing in fairies will soon come to an end and I was filled with gratitude that I had not waited another year to take this trip. The unrestrained joy on my boy's face as he ran to the fairy house the first morning, and yelled back to us, "They left us stones! Fairy stones! You know mommy didn't do it..." I quickly interjected, "You think I'm going to run out in the rain to leave stones? No way." That joyous look on his face will feed my soul for years, and remind me why I chose to have these two little stinkers.  My sweet beasts want to believe, and because of that I do too. 

At one point we were walking in the woods searching for fairy stones, cold rain pouring down our backs, the kids bounding, skipping, jumping along, pretending we had machetes to cut the underbrush, Little Beasts, who had assured me she had seen a fairy, looked at me sideways and said, "What do fairies look like?" she wanted to make sure we were all on the same page. The question was lost to the rain as Big Beast yelled, "Is this one, Mommy? Do you think this is a fairy stone?" I didn't want to have to answer because I wanted Little Beast to imagine her own fairy, as sparkly, magical, and bright as the beast's sweet brain could conjure. We moved on to examine the stone. 

Surprisingly I only had one single mom moment. That moment when I thought, "I wish I had someone here to teach them how to do this." I took the kids fishing, something I had grown up doing, but since becoming a Buddhist with I struggle with. I prayed a lot for those little worms, and made the kids thank each one as we put it one the hook. I can take a fish off a hook, a small fish, a blue gill, or even a small bass, but as we fished I saw this kid hook a HUGE fish across the lake. I ten pound fish. I monster big mouth fish, and I thought, "Oh shit, if my beasts hooks one of those we are in trouble." And then thankfully came the rains and we packed up and hit the cabin. Those fairies were watching out for the Queenpin too. 

Clapp your hands if you believe. That's what Peter Pan said, and I was clapping my hands like a mother fucker this weekend. Believe babies, believe beasties. Believe in magic and in our family. Believe in yourselves, and believe in your crazy mama. We can do this. This weekend I realized we are better than okay. We are flourishing. My beasts and I, even when we are not in the woods, we have a magical family. They will not have to fly off with The Lost Boys to find peace, maybe just pack up the car and head to the woods. That is a lesson that all beasts should learn, and finally, at 38 the Queenpin is learning it too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Finding Jesus through Batman

Last weekend my Sweet Escape and I watched The Dark Knight. There are so many scenes where people are put in impossible situations. Situations where the worst parts of human nature are exposed. It is a pretty intense movie. One of those movies that makes you want to crawl into the screen writer’s brain and visit, just to see where all those dark visions are born. Just visit, not move in for the madness.

In particular, there is one scene of the movie where there are two ferry boats loaded with passengers who are being evacuated from Gotham City. One ferry has convicts, one has regular citizens. The Joker, (oh sweet, Heath Ledger who this movie supposedly drove to madness), has loaded both the boats with bombs. The convicts have the detonator to the everyday citizens' boat, the regular citizens have the detonator to the convicts'. Each ferry full of passengers is told they must blow up the other boat before midnight or both boats will be blown up by The Joker. Oh the drama!

What struck me the most during this scene is the lack of prayer among the passengers. No one seems to bow their head in prayer. There is a mother holding her son, yet I do not see her whispering words of comfort in his ear. She is angry, and afraid. Her son's face is hidden buried into her shoulder. Watching this scene of human struggle, I thought, when a psychopath takes over my city, and pits me against a bunch of convicts, I want to be able to comfort my children with talk of a beautiful life in the beyond. I want to know the prayers to say to comfort my beasties and myself. I want something to hold onto, beside fragile morality, and fear of death.

I turned to my man and said, “This movie makes me want to go to church.”
“You’re finding Jesus through Batman?” he asked with a grin, and yes, and I believe the answer is yes, I am.

This week I went to a different church than last week. I was so ready for some spiritual healing. I picked the beasts up early from their dad’s so they could come with me. This search is for them too. The church is old school beautiful, and we have a little bit of history. The last time I had been in that church I had watched my first love’s coffin be carried down the isle after he shot himself at 16. When I was 15, watching that coffin slowly proceed down the isle, I was not so hungry for God, I was fucking pissed off. God and I are in a different place right now, where I’m a little less egotistical and na├»ve. I'm a lot more jaded and desperate. These days God is so much larger than the controlling, gambler I had him pegged to be when I was a teen. 

Tonight I sat in a pew with my friend Sugah Mama (my friend who had been so amazingly nice about the nits) and the beasts. Things were going well. I was feeling like this could be THE church. I was feeling connected to God and the message on faith. I was feeling the little crack in my heart opening up.

And then they started, and by they, I mean my little beasts, and by little beasts, I mean my sweet beasts who had sprouted cloven hooves and pointing tails, and little horns on their blessed little heads right there as they sat in that pew.  

It started with a little shuffling, you know a little beastie movement, not a big deal. But then 5 year old little beast starts crawling in between me and the pew in front of me. Almost 9 year old big beast started lolling around on the pew. Laying on his sister, laying on the pew, getting down on the floor. And then they started arguing in loud whisper voices. There was also crying from the big beast because little beasts slammed his head into the pew in front of us. At one point little beast was on the floor next to my leg pushing on me and being a general nuisance, and I had this overwhelming desire to kick her, hard.

I was trying to listen to how Abraham gained faith DAMN IT!!! I had a flashback of my mother in church, tight lipped, and frustrated, a defeated look in her eye. The poor woman was just trying to friggin' pray, while my brother, sister, and I did our best to push her to her spiritual limit and make her snap right there in front of the Lord and everybody. She would be a physical buffer between us and our dad. He got to worship in relative quiet. She on the other hand had to worship under the greatest duress. Maybe that's why she's a Unitarian now. Post Traumatic Church Disorder caused by three wicked kids.

I'm sure the people behind me thought I was the meanest mom ever, with my tight lipped whispers, pointing finger, and evil eyes: "Be quiet," "Sit still", "Hush" "GRRRRRRRRRRRR". We slunked out of the service before communion, me with tears in my eyes and a big ole' lump in my throat. As we left the church big beast said, "What? I didn't do anything." And then I felt like kicking him too, hard. Jeez, what a fucking wreck. This is not the compassionate Buddha/Mother Mary that I thought I would be.

This picture says:
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit intercedes for us
with groans that words cannot express
Romans 8:26 NIV

What would the Don do if his children acted up in church while he was trying to commune with the Lord and be forgiven for his many sins? I'm sure he would've smacked somebody's mouth, but that is not a road I want to take. My mom said, "You can't take it so personally. No one in the church probably cared that your kids were misbehaving."

"I was crying for me!" I wailed on the phone to her (I'm still such a teen drama queen with my mom), "I need this so bad, I want it so much. I'm just too new at this, I can't worship with the beasts right there. I've got get a on solid spiritual ground, and then I can have the patience to teach them how to behave in church." The OSQ got it. She commiserated. She gave good advice.

And so I'm finding my way, and as usual it is messy. I am not the Don, nor Mother Mary, nor the Buddha. I'm more like an exploding, sobbing, desperate, fired up, conflicted, obsessive, joyous, mess. Yeah, that's about how it always rolls with me. I like it complicated and juicy. I think I'll end this post with a prayer/haiku that explains where I am with this whole religion thing:

Dear God, you know me
I will walk this rocky path
Just make sure we laugh