Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Dirt

Took the ladies to the house of mouse to see their daddy at work today. I have been back only a small handful of times since I quit over two years ago, and it is always with mixed emotions that I return. Disney was synonymous with such a specific phase in my life- that post-college, pre-grown up time- and it is always strange to see it going on without you, the same players busy at the same game, never missing a beat, while your life seems so far away from what used to be your reality.

On the way home, I noticed a little dirt road intersecting with the main highway that I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I couldn’t even tell you the name of the road, I affectionately referred to it as simply “The Dirt” when I was still working at WDW, but I know every hairpin curve, every rut and every abandoned orange grove along its route. I drove that road home from work many times, not because it was faster or more efficient, it was quite the opposite really, but because it was a refreshing change from driving past the tourist trap strip malls and junky hotels with their “All Rooms Just $39/Night” signs that dotted my normal commute. Sometimes I would drive The Dirt by myself, cruising slowly, scanning the horizon for a coyote, searching the shoulder for a tortoise or armadillo. Sometimes I was flanked by my friend and fellow adventurer D, recklessly careening over ruts and around hairpin turns, my confidence bolstered by her 4x4, rope, and towing know-how just ahead of me. I took The Dirt in the orange glow of the sunrise, in the blackness of night without a streetlight in sight, even in the blinding rain, radio blaring, laughing out loud to myself, not much of a care in the world.

How things have changed, I think to myself, glancing in my minivan’s rearview at my two snoozing little ones. I wouldn’t dream of turning on to The Dirt now. Not a chance.

This change in me didn’t happen over night. I left Disney a couple of years ago, the first step towards my transformed life. Teaching Kindergarten was a totally different kind of responsibility from what I had shouldered as a tech. On the stage, if I made a mistake I put the lives of performers and fellow technicians at an immediate risk, and I was constantly and acutely aware of that fact. Teaching, if I made a mistake, the consequences might not be so immediate, but could be damaging in an entirely different way- a word spoken harshly, a skill not taught to mastery, missing a sign in a child that things were not well at home- these things put kids at risk too, and I took it every bit as seriously as I did my technician gig. Teaching changed my life outside of work too: suddenly I was a member of the community. People recognized me out and about. My days of wearing midriff shirts to the grocery store and cursing loudly at the Post Office were over. Now I glanced around surreptitiously before ordering a beer in a restaurant, concerned about undoing our “Too Good For Drugs” lesson about the evils of alcohol. My days of being a Responsible Citizen, of being a role model, had arrived.

Then, of course, there are the girls. I want them to be fearless adventurers, to not be afraid to face The Dirt in their lives, all the challenges and the beauty revealed in those experiences. It’s a fine line to expose them to this way of thinking, to encourage them to take chances, without ever putting them at risk. I want to lead by example, to show them life off the beaten path, the road less traveled as it were. But at the same time, I guess it’s ok that they know that my more carefree lifestyle, (A long time ago, yeah / Before you were born, dude…) was not better or worse than my more “traditional” suburban, mini van driving, stay-at-home mom life. It was just different. My life is still rich and rewarding. More so, even. Just in a totally different way. For now I will protect them. Because I can. But soon, they will be taking their first steps, toddling off down their own path, literally stumbling and falling from time to time. Soon those stumbles will be figurative. I will do my best to encourage them to take a different route, to explore a dusty trail, because you never know what you are missing by staying on the highway. I guess I just want them to know that no matter what, I won’t be far behind with 4 wheel drive and a rope. Just in case.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

A Post About the Iowa Trip Which is Largely Pointless Since Most People Who Read This Blog Were There

They said we were nuts. We couldn’t really argue with them. Taking 2 four-month-olds on an airplane is not the kind of thing people in their right minds do. We, however, never claimed to be sane, or even really all that smart. So we loaded up what we used to carry on (a granola bar, bottle of water, Kindle, iPhone, lip balm) plus what we needed to carry on for the girls (double stroller, 8 diapers, wipes, lotion, 2 bottles, 4 binkies, 4 toys, 2 board books, 2 extra outfits, 2 blankies, hand sanitizer, saline drops, aspirator, children’s Benadryl, children’s Tylenol, and a partridge in a pear tree) and experienced the glory known as “Priority Boarding.” After a lifetime of glaring at “That Person” with the screaming baby, I was bracing my self to be “That Person” times two. But guess what? The kids did great! Soph fussed a little here and there, I think she was sensitive to the pressure change (Sophia? Sensitive? No!) but it was nothing that was not easily pacified. Livi, who is so much like her dad, slept the majority of both flights. We had 3 seats for the 4 of us (the extra elbow room was a necessity!), our flights all ran on time, and overall the airline gods smiled down upon us.

Mom and the "Sisters Lovely"

Daddy and Soph (can ya tell they're related?!)

We had so much fun being with my family. Mom, of course, was in super-Grandma mode, and had the place pimped out with all the necessities and then some. (Did I mention my folks gave us their HOUSE? And they stayed at a HOTEL? That is love for you.) The girls loved the attention, and I loved watching them smile at the people who have made me smile so many times throughout the years. A big motivator for me to get the kids up there ASAP, even if it meant flying with infants, is the fact that I still have two grandparents living. Not to be morbid, but my Grammy and Grandpa are in their 80’s and I was afraid that if I waited too long I might miss the chance for the girls to meet them. Hopefully this will have been the first of many visits to see my grandparents, and hopefully the girls can get to know them, but if not I will be satisfied knowing that I did everything I could to get all of these important people in my life together. I loved spending the evening with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, and my cousins’ babies who are close in age to the girls. It was hysterical to see the differences in personalities of the 4 babies, and I really hope we can continue to get them together as they grow up. It was also great to spend some time with my sister and her husband, and to feel like sis was really getting a chance to know her nieces, as well as to hang out with her youngest two kiddos a little bit who were both really babies last time we were up there but who are now an adorable preschooler and toddler with hysterical personalities of their own. So precious. And of course her oldest, my special guy Jet, brings a smile to my face every time!


4 Generations of Tough Broads (Normally we don't all lay down on our sides like that. In real life we pretty much are upright. Damn Blogger.)

My girls with Miles and Annika, my cousins' kids

SPEAKING of important people in my life, Genny, my best friend from high school, drove up from Missouri to spend the weekend with us, and I could not have been more thrilled. It was incredible to see her, to share our passion for SCRAPBOOKING and to catch up on each other’s lives. I have never connected with anyone’s sense of humor as much as Genny’s, and I can genuinely say I missed it. I can’t describe how it feels to have her back in my life… the closest word I can come up with is relief; it’s like a piece of my puzzle was missing but now it’s back in place. It was great to see her interact with the girls (I love people who are not afraid of babies) and she charmed the dickens out of Miss Sophia, which is not always an easy task. Mom even watched the kiddos for a while so Genny and I could go scrapbook shopping, and it was great to chat without someone constantly pooping their pants or distracting us in a myriad of other ways. Genny brought up binders containing all of the notes I wrote her in high school (yes, binderS, yes, ALL of the notes, yes, I now understand why I didn’t do so great in Chemistry, since a lot of the notes were written in that class and included fascinating illustrations of my poor chem teacher). I was also lucky enough to get to pour over some scrapbooks she put together and they were truly creative, quirky, and so so fun. Wish we were closer so we could create together! I look forward to many continued years of friendship and I am going to try extra hard not to be a shit-head and fall out of touch again.

Genny and Sophie

Why, yes, we ARE fabulous!

It has never been harder to say goodbye to my folks. The girls are growing up so fast, and I wish we could all be together every minute. Of course I always miss my family, living so far away, but this is with an intensity that I never felt before, even when I was at my loneliest. I’m glad mom is already plotting her next trip down to see us, and I can hardly wait until my parents are both here after Christmas. It seems like a thousand years away, but I’m sure time will fly. I hope.

Bonus: Naughty Tomato grown by my dad