Monday, January 17, 2011

Fibs and prayers.

This post is almost solely about parenting my living children. I'll give you some room to leave.

While you are waiting, I will give you a little Connery.

Good evening, bitches!

Honestly, I have no idea what is wrong with me. I am sober, actually. I am just in a weird Connery codpiece kind of mood. Alright, onto the post.

My daughter talks about her vagina now. She makes jokes about it like a frat boy jokes about his johnson.

"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"My vagina."
"Don't be sassy, Beatrice."
"I'm not sassy. I am funny."
"Well, actually, that was kind of funny, but it is also sassy to joke about your vagina."

She draws it too. There is her head, then her body, then her vagina and then her legs. I actually thought she was drawing a thorax, but no, she assures me it is her vagina. It is a lot like performance art with her these days.

She sat today with namaste hands, eyes closed, cross-legged under her princess canopy.
"Excuse me, Mommy."
Sam and I look up from our heated conversation about how we envision the children's room, bunk bed and loft reading spaces. Thomas joining in conversation by screaming here and there.
"Yes, my love."
"I am trying to meditate, so you need to be quiet, or leave my room."
You are three, daughter.
"Oh, I'm sorry, honey. We are going." But I wonder what happens in meditation for a toddler. And then I realize that I taught her that. I taught her about the meditation and the vagina.

I had all kinds of ideas about the kind of mother I would be when I was a single woman. I'd get lost in the 100 yard stare, imagining a thousand "what if" scenarios. I have never really encountered a scenario for which I have been prepared. I mean, sort of, but not really. Not conversations about death, or birth, or vaginas or meditation. She comes at it with her own perspective, interest and questions. It is disarming and comforting to know that she will always be unpredictably herself. And I will never be a lecturer. She will always be someone I am getting to know.

I watch my daughter with equal parts amazement and wonder. She is so much like me as a child. Her little way of being, her diligence, her generous spirit and curiosity. Her desire to talk and connect and be part of the adult world. All of it is straight me, and when I see an adult get impatient with her, I pull her on my lap, and kiss her eyes. "My angel," I whisper. "Don't change."

It is the ultimate healing to love this girl. I find myself being more forgiving, compassionate and loving towards myself as a child. I always thought I was a bad kid. My mother assures me now that I was nothing close to bad, but in my head, I hear her admonishments and annoyance at my imperfections. I've always been notoriously hard on myself. It is no different now, I guess.

My parents' main parenting style, from what I can parse out by questions over wine, is primarily shame, not in a wholly unkind way either. Maybe that is a Catholic thing, or the way parenting used to be. I was ashamed when I misbehaved in public, and so I didn't. Shame is still a very close companion for me. Shame motivates me in a way that nothing else can, and in the same way, abandoning shame feels like finding that child again, pulling her on my lap, kissing her eyelids.

We drove upon the aftermath of an accident a month or so ago. Ambulance. Police cars. Lights. She watched a man strapped to a board being taken aboard the ambulance, and she said, "Who is that, Mama?" as though I know everyone in the world. I could only see that it was a man in his thirties, perhaps.

"I don't know, my love."

She paused, and said, "Maybe it is one of my friends." I turned around quickly. It caught me up--my breath and my parenting both. It was a moment where I needed to say something profound, something important. "This is the time when I teach a lesson about compassion," I thought. This is the moment I imagined before I ever had children, when I would imagine a scenario and how I would deal with it. I said something about how it wasn't her friend, but that it was good to see everyone as someone's friend. And then I kept going until I made no sense anymore. I am just winging it. I am just making this parenting stuff up as I go along. Maybe I am even making this life stuff up as I am going along too.

This year, I have made one resolution--to forgive myself and forgive my body. To learn to love this shell of me, because it is just a shell that I need to keep strong and healthy, even though the shell is not me. And I am not my shell. Forgiving my body, and learning to live in this skin is exceedingly hard, especially when you realize that you have been lying to yourself for so long you suspect you may be built of fibs and prayers.

But still, I am working hard these days on healing, on forgiving myself, on being a whole person honest with my faults, my shortcomings and my defects of character. It feels like a little like being skinned alive. I want to crawl under something which provides warmth and darkness, like the stove, until my skin grows back. And yet, some days, when I hold my girl on my lap, I realize that I am still exactly like her on some level. I am still little somewhere in me, even if I have found destructively adult ways to cope with the littleness.


  1. I really enjoyed the part where she threw you out of her room.

  2. This is beautiful, Angie- moved-me-to-tears beautiful. Perfect thing to read before I turn to my closing activity of the night, which is listening to the tonglen meditation CD you gave me this weekend. A good evening for compassion all around.

    That said, I am afraid that I will interrupt my listening by snorting at Bea's vagina joke. I know I'm not helping matters here,but it's funny.

  3. She sounds like a delight! A kid that adults would like to have around, although they might not always know what to do with/say to her.

    I think all parenting is about forgiving yourself for screwing up.

  4. This is brilliant. And first, let me tell you that I'm alone at a very quiet evening shift in the library and that codpiece just made me snort water out my nose, to the amusement of our two patrons. So the Connery has brightened at least three days on the West Coast.

    I wonder how much of parenting is re-parenting ourselves. I am wishing you good luck in your resolution with all my heart.

  5. I could go on and on about the Connery, what was he thinking?
    Angie you always paint a vibrant picture of your home and life, I love that you let me in. Thanks.
    I never thought a 3 year old could meditate, I was wrong. Go Bea.

  6. We were traveling on a long journey with the kids, playing the hungry alphabet game to pass the time. "I am so hungry I could eat an apple", etc, etc. We got to "V" and it was Astro Boy's turn. He was three. "I am so hungry I could eat a VAGINA." K nearly crashed the car.

    I love three. I love that our children can be our teachers and I love that they can throw in such hefty doses of humour to the life lessons.

  7. Re: Sean Connery: what movie was that from???

    If a three-year-old can learn to meditate, there's hope for the rest of us. : )

  8. Angie, you've done it again (I sound like the blurb they always do at the end of "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!") - you've managed to make me want to move to your neighborhood and stalk you until you agree to meet me daily for tea (and or bourbon and or beer) so we can talk and laugh and cry...

    And radarofchance, oh my goodness, thank you for making me choke on my coffee this morning, that was really funny.

    Love to you, Angie, as always. xo

  9. Perfect post. I think we're all making this parenting (and life) stuff up as we go along.

  10. By the way- is that from Zardoz?

  11. YES! It is Zardoz. 1974 b-film. I meant to answer yesterday. I believe the character's name is Zed. Also, to clarify, Beatrice sits crosslegged, hands in prayer position. It is sometimes called meditation, sometimes called yoga. We meditate as a family with me leading, "Breathe in love. Breathe out anger." That sort of thing, but when she declares she is meditating and we should be quiet, it is usually to show off a bit. Or tell me to shut up and make me proud in the same action.

  12. I always love the quote that goes something like, "I was a perfect parent until I had kids." Winging it is the only way to go . . . we have no choice, really.

    I love the image of a little 3-year-old meditating. I could use some lessons from her :) And I love kids that can be their own kid selves around adults.

    You really have a gift for combining the hysterical with the serious--thank for sharing this glimpse of your life.

  13. Thanks for the Connery... that image is burned into the back of my skull... undetermined if that is good or bad yet... :)

    I see a lot of me in Caelan too. Its an interesting perspective. xx

  14. I haven't even read the post yet, but that's definitely Connery... not Borat?
    Now I am looking forward to the post. Your tales of your children are always so moving.

  15. I'd like to meet Bea one day, she sounds hilarious. xo

  16. It sounds to me like your daughter is being raised by a kind and compassionate mother with infinite love. What more?
    Thank you for the hilarious Connery... but I think Louise took the cake today! That had me laughing out loud!

  17. as always, I come away from reading your posts so glad that you are willing to share with us. I got some good laughs out of this one. Thanks...I needed that.

  18. LOVED, LOVED this post - from Connery, through vaginas and meditation and beyond.

    "I watch my daughter with equal parts amazement and wonder."

    I do this too - with my boys too, but especially with the daughter I get to raise. I love her vibrancy and her livingness.

  19. Thank you for your blog. It has helped me with my healing journey after the stillbirth of my son. Your words ring so true and often bring me to tears. Thank you.


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