Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
I no longer look down at them sleeping the way I did when they were smaller.
I don’t check just to make sure they’re breathing.
I don’t stroke their heads in my lap while giving thanks for the temporary respite from the noise of small children.
Contrary to the unsolicited advice from so many about having them sleep in my bed in their early years, my offspring grew into big kids who love the space and privacy of their own rooms.
I do sometimes still catch a glimpse of them sprawled out or curled up, breath heavy and mind off in some other world. I still appreciate the quiet and it is still one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
Seeing sleeping children always elicits contemplative sighs and pondering thoughts.
My own kids are at that stage of being full sized physically, yet emotionally and mentally, they are still kids. Smart,competent kids and even mature sometimes, but still very much kids.
While they are under my wing, I’m grateful~ for their health, intelligence and character~ for who they are now and the people they are growing into.
But I’m also realizing how little of this I left. I feel like I'm running out of time.
My Boy Child who just turned 16, towers over me and wants to drive cars and start money making businesses that range from selling tomato seedlings to faux Rolex watches. Like so many teens, he tries hard for the fun perks of being older, but in so many ways, he wants to be a goofy child while he can.
His Sweet 16th birthday party~ a mini camping adventure at a nearby lake~ had entertainment ranging from horribly offensive rap music that I eventually had to censor before my head split open from the awfulness of it, to a homemade pinata, just for old times sake.
The pinata was made to look like a car with my son’s head sticking out the top as the driver and a couple of kids suggested it be filled not only with candy, but Ramen packets (which I normally will not buy, but they will actually eat raw.)
Since he and friends are no longer small sized, we decided they didn’t need a bat, but could instead pummel the swinging pinata with their fists, blindfolded and one at a time. It was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in awhile.
He will be getting his driving permit soon, and practicing behind the wheel of my well loved car~ on the real roads, with other cars. While he doesn’t think it’s necessary, as with my Oldest, I am making him have and keep the insurance deductible in savings…. just in case.
From my experience, people are a lot more careful when they know they actually have to cover any little “oops” incidents they cause. It’s one way I can help him practice responsible adulting, even if he doesn't like it. (Who does like adulting, anyway?)
Anyhoo, after a weekend of observing (and occasionally shouting at) him and his friends, I am still baffled as to why some normally intelligent people seem to lose mass quantities of brain cells when immersed in peer groups?
Seriously, there were times when their IQs appeared to have dropped by at least 50 points each and the infection spread among them by osmosis.
But, they are good kids and I know (or at least I hope like heck) that this will pass. While lamenting the dumbarsery that their culture promotes, I think hard about what I can offer and how I can package it to be of interest to them.
Thankfully, I realize I am not trapped into accepting things that make me feel bad, no matter if they are mainstream norms. I can choose what I foster and facilitate, what I pay for and provide access to.
As always, reality may not be as easy as philosophy, but I feel a lot better knowing I still don’t need to blindly submit or assimilate.
My Girl Child, who turned 18 a few months ago, will be flying the coop this fall~ heading out for 8 month adventure in Ecuador.
This is 4000 miles away.
Four. Thousand. Miles. Eight. Months.
When she was little, and we spent our days funschooling by the creek with goats, reading books for hours in bed and making food for fairy tea parties, I felt pretty sure she was getting all she needed.
She had opportunities for creativity and expression, to connect with animals and people of all ages, to delve deep into her interests, to travel and explore, to be immersed in nature and exposed to big cities, to make food and grow plants and care for creatures both very young and very old, to witness first hand the circle of life.
And I felt pretty sure that would continue~ that she would always get just what she needed. And so far, I think that she has.
But the way that she gets things has changed so much. I am no longer a primary source from which she seeks knowledge. In fact, I’m pretty sure she now prefers to get her new ideas elsewhere, and may sometimes feel she has had her lifetime max fill of “lessons” from me.
She does love to come home often to tell me new things she has learned in the world, although my input or feedback doesn't seem to be what she's looking for, and if I already knew of what she speaks, I’m pretty sure it annoys the heck out of her.
Perhaps she just would like me to listen? (poor thing has a mama who understands the concept of “active listening” but hasn’t exactly become zen with the reality of not speaking / solving / talking. But... I’m trying.)
I think these are signs that she is nearing ready to go. The time is coming and the world is waiting. As the time of her departure nears, we go back and forth with things she needs to do in order to leave her home country for nearly a year and head out into parts and situations relatively unknown to any of us.
Sometimes she wants my help, sometimes she just wants to verbalize frustrations. It’s all bringing her closer to her exit.
So I realize even more that I have this tiny window left.
There’s so much still to say, to show, to teach, to do, and so little time left.
They have already heard so much of my rambling, I fear they will be tuned out when we're dealing with something really important.
And what is the most important anyway?
Some things I felt were totally covered in younger years seem to have been completely forgotten post puberty.
Other things were never relevant when they actually wanted me to tell them stories all day. Now that these things actually matter, I worry they are tired of hearing me talk.
That leads me to repeat or reword things in 75 different ways with lots of examples and analogies and metaphors in hopes they will understand one of them.
Perhaps that just makes them block out more so all they hear is “whaawhaaa whaaahwhaa whawha.”
(Insert Big Sigh....)
So, do I just leave things unsaid? Undone? Not even try?
Not likely. That wouldn't be me.
So much has already changed and I know that soon, this season will be gone too.
Cheesy cliche or not, it's true~ Time waits for no one.
Ugggh. (I've moved on to groaning now...)
I sure hope I'm doing this right....
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Last Friday evening started out like Ladies Art Night usually does~ good food, great people, acceptable wine, entertaining chit chat and some sort of creating.
A good deal of wine later, our latest gathering turned into a slumber party of cackling and therapy that went late into the wee hours when I made up beds around the house for my friends to crash in.
As always, it was good for my soul on so many levels.
I’m in the habit of telling the teens in my life to make good choices (I generally shout it from the car as I drop them off) and I can be proud that we mamas did just that. (like not driving home, and also drinking plenty of water along with our other beverages.)
I'm also in the habit of telling people that good hydration solves a myriad of woes, and it’s true~ especially when other beverages are involved!
Anyhoo, I suppose a few questionable choices were made as well (like trying to create another round of art pieces starting at 2:30 AM after a good deal of wine) but the only consequences at stake were baggy eyes and slightly embarrassing and amusing artwork.
The great thing about Ladies Art Night is...well...there are so many great things!
My top 3 are:
There’s a certain point after you start adulting, and definitely by the time you’re parenting, where you no longer get to stay up late chatting with your friends, eating and lamenting / solving the world’s problems.
Of course, the years of forced sleeplessness that comes with parenting can eliminate the desire for the late night part, but there’s still the need to connect with peers. Unfortunately, people are usually Really Friggen Busy. Most of us have work, family and life responsibilities that take up the majority of our time and energy. Friend time takes a back seat, even though we could really benefit from it.
There are stages when you can squeeze a little connection at park day while your children play or at work on a coffee break, but, having adult contact in a non-work and non kid related setting is HUGE. It’s a chance for real smack talk (the good and healthy kind where you analyze and think, not the damaging and mean kind) and conversations have the chance to be about whatever you want, not just family and work (even though those topics come up a lot anyway)
2. Creative Fuel~
There are something like 5.3 million sad American adults who think that colored pencils and markers are just for kids. Are you one of them? If so, I have news for you.
First, I totally made up that statistic.I have no idea the number of American adults that gave up art with childhood, but it seems like a lot. I do feel like adults in general are woefully deficient in creative endeavors though, and it’s a bummer.
The reasons adults don’t make fun things are plenty~ Life is busy and parents spend a lot of mental energy on other people, so sometimes they are just too brain dead and tired to create anything.
But also, for a lot of people, back when they were little, some well meaning adult squelched them for not coloring in the lines or making a cow purple or forgetting the legs on their bear drawing, and they took it to heart that they are not creative.
In her Birthing From Within book, Pam England talks about the connection between how we approach art and how we approach life~ or at least new things that we don’t already feel competent in. A lot of people are really critical of themselves and afraid to try. That brings me to the second thing.
If you haven’t picked up a paintbrush or colored markers in some time, then you are missing out on all kinds of fun, and possibly even some therapeutic benefits of art. Even my friends who don’t consider themselves creative, always have a great time and come away with some cool piece of individuality. It’s not a competition and no one is judging the outcome. It’s just a fun way of self expression, and you might make something pretty.
Easy projects like collage or coloring mandalas are non intimidating places to start. We’ve done vision boards, dream boxes and this last gathering, we made mosaics from broken old cds, which were shiny and fun.
I also appreciate bringing some balance of creating versus consuming in my life. Most of us consume, consume, consume~ all day every day~ not just food and physical products, but information and entertainment even. Balancing what I make with what I take is one really important thing I’m working on this year.
Of course, food and beverages are an important part of art night (and life) for me. But, amidst all the consumption that happens here and all around us, we are actually creating things too. Sometimes we make awesome things, and get new art to hang up in our homes and offices.
Other times we learn that projects are harder than they look on the Internet and wind up with candidates for a “nailed it” photo shoot. But, either way, we are making stuff, not just consuming it.
3) I get to play Hostess with the Mostest
And I even have a cute apron! Just kidding (although I actually do)... Really though, I enjoy having gatherings in general, and am almost always happy to host Art Night at my house. I Love, Love, Love my new home and I also love when I don’t have to drive!
There are some occasions when I want to get all dressed up, but if I want, I can wear yoga pants too. I can wear slippers even! And, I only invite people who aren’t lame and judgey, so I don’t even really have to clean ahead of time!
I like to keep it low key so all I have to do is pick a date and a project and put out some food. And before the evening is over I know I will get filled up, and not just my belly, but also my heart and mind.
There might be a few glitter explosions to clean up later, but I don't really mind. They're just sparkling reminders of people and things I like having around in my life, and I look forward to doing it again soon.
If you haven't tried a Ladies Art Night, give it a shot. You'll be glad you did, and you might even get something shiny out of the deal.
It was just past 1 AM, after much late night reading, writing and thinking, when I was finally about to doze off. I was jolted awake by the barking, or should I say shrieking, of my dogs. As much as I love these animals, they have what may quite possibly be two of the most annoying and ear splitting barks in the history of the canine species.
During the daylight hours, I would not have been entirely surprised by their barking, because there are things like unauthorized squirrels and mail delivery people to bark at. My Jack Russell has an especially strong need to yap her ferocious cease and desist orders at anyone who appears to be having fun, and my mixed mutt is prone to high pitched whines of excitement when his favorite house members come, go or get remotely near his leash.
But, it was 1 o clock in the morning, and by all accounts, these creatures should have been sleeping.
As I was the only human in the house who was awake, and I wanted to keep it that way, I went to check on situation. I found my larger dog outside with that "oh no, I'm busted" look about him. As I opened the back door, he slumped in shame and came inside, looking somewhere between a deer in headlights and someone who was about to be killed.
Considering he had just woken me from the brink of slumber at this hour, I suppose murder may have been a possibility, but he tends to look like that every time he thinks he is in trouble, which is at least 47 times a day.
I didn’t see anything to bark about, although I really didn’t look all that hard. I was just glad he shut up. I naively assumed my problem was over.
Within minutes, I was back to bed, and almost back to sleep when my eardrums were again shattered by more barking. This time, it was right outside my bedroom door. I deliriously fumbled my way to opening it, but the dogs had run into to my office, again near the back door.
At that point, I noticed the little dog was outside, just looking up at the sky barking. It wasn’t even a full moon. I don’t know what could have been in the trees above her head and I really didn’t care. I just wanted her to shut her pie hole.
In contrast to her buddy, she didn't seem to look like she thought she was in any trouble at all. I called her in, which felt like it took 5 years, because she is old, possibly deaf, and definitely doesn’t care what anyone wants her to do. Just as I was about to chase her down, she finally came in, looking right past me with a snarky look of "I'm only doing this because I want to."
In my grogginess, I didn’t think to shut the doggy door and trap the loud mouthed little beasts inside. I once again just gave thanks that the barking had stopped before I completely flipped my friggen lid, and went back to the coziness of my bed.
Snuggled under the covers, I was again just on the verge of la la land when THEY STARTED BARKING AGAIN!!!!!!!
I sat up, my head spun in circles and flames shot out of my eyes and nostrils.
“Will you please go check on that before I hurt someone?” I growled to my partner through clenched teeth.
Smart and kind man that he is, he did.
I started to lie back down, my eyeballs rolling back into my skull. But, before I could get too cozy, I realized that I didn’t want to fall asleep before he got back because if I hadn’t gotten the reassurance that there was nothing in fact wrong, I would probably have nightmares that woke me shortly anyway. That’s just how my brain works.
So, I sat up, but not straight. I swayed back and forth, attempting to stay awake for what seemed like a really, really long time.
“What the heck is taking him so long?” I wondered.
My annoyance moved fairly quickly to fear as I thought that maybe what was taking so long was that he could be dealing with an intruder. In that case, he might be trying to calmly reason and listen actively, using his painfully patient non-violent communication skills to avoid being killed. Because he’s like that.
No, I thought, if there was an intruder, the dogs would be barking again, but they were quiet.
But……..What if that was because…. the intruder killed the dogs????? At this point, I wondered 2 things.
Why the heck I watched so many scary movies as a teenager, and where was that metal flashlight I had been using to read with a few hours before. I didn’t want it for the light to see by, I could have just turned on a lamp for that. I wanted it to use as a weapon to chuck at the head of the intruder if he (or she~ best be equal opportunity!) came into my room.
I reached over to my nightstand, bumbling around and grabbing the thing that seemed to be shaped most closely to the flashlight. It was a ¾ empty lotion bottle. Uggh. That wouldn’t even hurt if I hit someone with it. It wouldn’t even slow them down, let alone stop them. I suppose I could try to fling lotion in their eyes, but that seemed a long shot, even for me.
I reached around more, knocking things over and onto the floor. I knew I should have cleared all that clutter away, dang it. Just then, I heard footsteps. I recoiled under the covers, cursing under my breath. The door opened…
and there was the shadow of my sweet partner.
He had no news to report and we never found out what those dang dogs were barking about. When I lamented my tale to him, he pointed out that if I needed a weapon, I have a Himalayan salt lamp that weighs about 20 pounds right next to my bed. It's supposed to do something with the ions in the air and create positive energy, and it does it emit a lovely light. I suppose it would work as a weapon as well!
Why hadn’t I thought of that?
I’m not sure I would have been very accurate with throwing that weight at that hour in my exhausted state, and I’m glad I didn’t try as it was in fact my sweetheart and not an intruder, and if I did manage to hit him, it would have definitely hurt.
At least I know what to grab for next time.
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Until Next Time....
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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