I’ve been looking for a fun new exercise regime. Actually, I have been pretending to be looking, which means for about two years I thought about looking. Finally – yay, me! – I actually bothered to type “fun exercise class” and my city into Google and found an article about a couple of unusual local classes, like one that has a bunch of cowboy gates and all the exercises are somehow done on the gates, like maybe how cowboys climb over rodeo fences to hop onto those cows – wait, bulls? – that jump around and try to throw them off. (I mean, I guess that’s what it like. I don’t actually know. The article wasn’t too clear on that.)
Quick background: Liz and I went for a drive today to listen to Disney music and sing (we’re actually both 6) when the song Under the Sea from Little Mermaid came on. In the song, the crawfish/lobster guy, Sebastian, is singing about his “hot crustacean band” and all its members. Liz heard the line “each little snail ear*, know how to wail here…” and she wondered why Sebastian is singing about snails’ ears. As a singer, she needed to know the truth about this – she might need the details for, say, a test in later life. In case any of you other musicians aren’t familiar with this obscure but important time in the history of music, here it is (as told by me to Lizzie via text):
You know what you get when you get complacent? A kick in the ass, that’s what.
Say you love to sing – like, really love to sing – and you take a singing lesson every Tuesday and it’s the highlight of your week, and your singing teacher is a close friend, and you talk about show tunes and you sing show tunes and you introduce each other to new show tunes, and you get better at singing and you both get excited about that, and when you hear new songs on your Broadway radio station you get excited to tell your friend/singing teacher about them and maybe to work on them with her, and when friends ask, “Are you doing anything with your singing?” you say, “Not really, but I take lessons and do a couple recitals a year and I love it and that’s really all I need,” and you sing in the church choir but not consistently because you have a hard time committing to getting up early every Sunday but even that’s okay because you still have your singing lesson every week and it’s still the highlight of your week, so you don’t pursue singing in any other way, you don’t go out of your way to find other singing opportunities because your Tuesday singing totally fulfills you so you’re perfectly content and complacent with the way your singing life is proceeding… and so what happens then is that out of the blue you get an email from your friend that she is MOVING TO MAINE and that you won’t have her or your weekly lessons come May.
One of the reasons parenting is so exhausting, in addition to all the usual running around, is that you’re giving your all (and then some) to teach your kids how to live. I was struck by this thought today: it’s all up to Paul and me. Yes, other people come into play: grandparents, friends, teachers, other people in the line at Starbucks. But for the most part, the shaping of their character — the teaching of right from wrong — is in our hands. With newborn babies, our main job is simply keeping them alive. But later on? You have to teach them how to be.
It seems we’re bombarded daily with inspirational quotes and mothering advice columns that encourage us to take time for ourselves by having a bubble bath or a massage. A bubble bath is nice on occasion, but I get bored in about 10 minutes, and personally, I find it comfier to read in bed with my seven pillows than in a slick tub. Also, bubbles make a scummy mess. And massages are great, but I need a LOT more than one hour to recharge. In fact, ever since the kids were born, I have felt guilty about how much time I seem to want (need?) for myself. Those encouraging articles always suggest taking time “every now and then.” But I want a chunk of time to myself DAILY. In fact, I want a regularly repeating bunch of consecutive hours to do what I want without guilt, without questions to answer or obligations to fulfill. And I finally realized why I need so much of this: it appears I have very few consecutive grown-up days in me before I feel myself reverting back to a kid again. I can’t help it. It’s just a fact. Continue reading