Thursday, January 7, 2010

Second Chance

We just joined the YMCA. I am a little bit in love with the YMCA right now and I love it so because I can tell that the YMCA really, really loves me. And all moms, apparently. The membership is sixty-some dollars a month for our whole family and that includes access to the hundreds of thousands of group exercise classes and endless aisles of workout equipment and swimming pools and showers and basketball courts and ping pong tables and billions of spinning cycles, which is awesome, but it would all be worthless if it were not for the fact that the Y really really loves me and every other mom in the world. Because do you know what they have there? Do you know how and why it's fun to play at the YMCA? Because they have free childcare.

FREE CHILDCARE. FREE. and unlimited. (Well, slightly limited, but in no way that will ever affect me.)

Monday-Saturday, I can drop my kids off for up to two hours and go take a class or go swimming or get on the elliptical and listen to podcasts about budgeting or indie rock or sex therapy OR WHATEVER and no one will interrupt me. No one will ask me for water or throw the remote at my head or take off all their clothes and run around naked (I assume there are rules against that at the YMCA) - I will have access to alone time. Me. Alone. Oh, god, I'm all weepy just thinking about it.

But get this, it's even better because this is totally a mutually beneficial thing because now? my kids get to go have a little pre-school in their world where before there was no way we could afford to give both of them that. Bam! Free social interaction and fun times for A&F. And they totally dig it. New kids to play with, new grownups to tell their jokes to; rad.

Yesterday I took a Pilates class and it was fantastic. Ava colored a picture of an ugly rat and the teacher cut it out for her with kid scissors and she was amazed by those tools and couldn't stop describing them to me in the car on the way home. The daycare ladies loved the kids and complimented their behavior and I got to feel like a stellar mother. Today I took Yoga. I don't think I expected it to be quite so trying upon my sense of balance, but I felt wonderful, just totally blissed out when class was over. Per the routine, I removed the kids from the KidWatch room and took them outside to the big playground. Where moments later, a kid bit Finn's Colbert ear. I was grateful he didn't break the skin - but Finn was pretty pissed. I don't blame him - there he was, happily going the wrong way on the big orange slide when this little boy, Max, climbs up behind him and nips at him, totally unwarranted, like a teeny Mike Tyson. The mother was completely embarrassed, and I appreciated her humility and quick action, but I also made a point to let her know that this was not a big deal. Really, how much of a toddler's behavior can you control? And how is that anyone's fault that their kid bites people? It's a weird quirk, but when you can't really express yourself fully to other people, feelings get manifested in all sorts of weird ways.

We watched 'Babel' a few months ago. The theme of the movie was about breakdowns in communication throughout different cultures. I found the film to be the most anxiety producing piece of cinema I had ever encountered. I wanted to enjoy it; I knew this was depicting a universal problem that affects anyone who goes outside of their comfort zone. But, I realized, watching the events unfold and feeling my blood pressure skyrocket, this is the reason I could never imagine travelling to the beautiful land of Southeast Asia, the arid desserts of the Middle East, the fragrant, fecund cities of India. These are all countries where chances are slim that, in an emergency - or terrible misunderstanding - scenario I could easily access English-speakers. These are places that, just like the characters in Babel, I am afraid I would be lost in translation. Does that make me ethno-centric? Ignorant? Fearful? Being unable to express yourself to someone, not being understood no matter how desperately it matters that you are - what a universally terrifying scenario.

In my marriage, the biggest and most challenging journey outside of my comfort zone I'll ever have, I have often felt unheard and misunderstood. And I have often resorted to ignoble means to get my point across. Throwing dishes and curses at my partner rarely gets across the point that I really want to drive home - but it certainly makes an impact. To truly express my passions takes some real time and effort and vulnerability to put it all into the words that can create effective change ~ and I have gone for years now, bypassing those extra steps and just simply giving up and biting ears. I hope that, were my mother there for these outbursts, she would also yank me away and scold me in shame. But she's not and just like Finn, my friend would never bite me back. Like Max, I'm left taking a little time to think about what it is I've done...and to develop my verbal skills, so that in the future, I won't feel like I have to attack to be heard.

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