jen groeber: mama art

4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.

Head Stands, a Walk in the Sky

In my teens and twenties, over half a lifetime ago,  there was no end to the possibilities for positive personal discoveries.

Who me? Play field hockey? Well, I’m not very athletic and my family sort of hates sports, but sure, I’ll give it a try. And while we’re at it, why don’t we make me an Ivy League DI goalie, too? Sounds GREAT!!

Run a marathon? Seriously? Okay, but how about I run five?

Hiking? My family also hates to be outdoors, but what do you say I start with a month-long hike with grizzly bears just to keep things interesting?

I was grossly unstoppable. In the midst of a disproportionately high level of self-loathing, I was actually finding out that this little ol’ body of mine could do stuff. Grizzly bear stuff.

My thirties were a mixed bag of self-discovery. Hey, someone wants to marry me! Maybe I’ll get pregnant! Maybe I’ll never get pregnant. I’m definitely not getting pregnant right now. Hey look! I’m pregnant… with twins! Wait, how do I stop this thing from reproducing?!

But 40? 40 has been a bit of a shocker. Like when I got one of those 10x magnification mirrors to stick on our bathroom mirror? What happened to my face?! Am I hallucinating or did a lot of stuff suddenly go south around here? (Gestures desperately to lines between eyes, forehead wrinkles, crow’s feet.) Or when I was doing downward dog and I got a surprise peek at what was happening under my gaping t-shirt? No one should ever see that. (And for the record, a vacant kangaroo pouch built for two, that’s what’s happening under my gaping shirt.)

I remember being challenged by a kid I was coaching when I was in my early 20’s.

“Try walking on your hands, Ms. Groeber!” And out of nowhere, I kicked up my heels and walked across the field on my own two hands. Who knew, right?! Nearly 20 years later I tried it again during date night at the beach. I may have already had a glass of wine. And I ended up with my head buried in the sand. Literally and figuratively, apparently.

And so the other week at the beach, when my five-year-old, the one who says things like, I can’t, and I just stink, and Mama, I’m the worst little girl ever, well that one said, “Mama? Can you do a headstand?”

image

Glum 5-year-old wearing her swim burqa
June 2014

My immediate thought was, “Ha! No way am I falling for that one,” but looking at her and her doubt-ridden face I instead replied, “Sure, I’ll try! Nothing to lose…” (But my self-respect.) We all know how I look doing downward dog. Could me fumbling through an awkward non-existent head stand in the polka dot bikini I let them pick out for me at Target last year be much worse? Really?!

Two minutes later I was gasping, “Takeapicture… Takeapicture…”

From my inverted position on the beach!

image

So small, right? It’s a bikini photo.
You expected a centerfold?
June 2014

Maybe it was all the unaccustomed blood rushing to my pre-dementia brain or the inversion of my osteopenia bones, but I couldn’t help but think, could I do this my whole life and I never knew it?! Holy cow! That’s CRA-ZEE! I can stand on my head, yo! You feeling me?

Who knows what else might lie quietly inside this tired old husk of a collagen-free, polka-dotted body, just waiting to be discovered? A book? Tight-rope walking? A masterpiece? The Whitney Biennial? Dancing With the Stars? Naked and Afraid? (It’s a television show, not a state of mind.) This is all enough to give a 43-year-old girl the chokey voice. What else have I missed?

image

Walking in the sky
June 2014

To think, I had no idea I could do this amazing thing! And now I do it all the time. Every time I go to the beach. We line our towels alongside each other, me and my little invincible self-doubter daughter. We dig a head-sized pit in the sand and kick our feet up to the heavens, with our eyes trained on the distant horizon.

We have no idea what possibilities await us in the future.  I don’t know. She doesn’t know. But for now we walk in the sky.

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24 comments on “Head Stands, a Walk in the Sky

  1. jesskawrites
    July 22, 2014

    Oh. My. Word!!

    I am well impressed 🙂 Go you! (Both of you)

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Too ridiculous. But a total hoot! And who knows what other undiscovered talents lie waiting within all of us?

  2. Matt
    July 22, 2014

    Fantastic, Jen.

    I’m so glad your kids have you to help them understand they can do grizzly bear stuff.

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Thanks for reading, Matt. And we can all do grizzly bear stuff. The key? Don’t be the slowest one in the group. 😉

  3. donofalltrades
    July 22, 2014

    My 40 plus year old body ain’t doing that, so kudos! You go, girls! I’m impressed with the accomplishments! Also, that bikini is pretty hideous upside down. Lol.

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Thank you… for clarifying that it’s only hideous upside-down. I promise you, it’s almost as bad right-side-up. Ha! And one thing that inspired me to try the headstand. At a board of trustee dinner, an aged trustee (suffices to say, he’s beyond retirement age and would look even worse in that bikini) did a headstand. Granted we’d been drinking wine for awhile, but I’m sure it happened, and he stuck it. You’re never too old to try, Don… (may I recommend you clear the area first though? Don’t want to crush your kids.)

  4. mollytopia
    July 22, 2014

    Hey yay you! I relate to this so much – awesome post : ) I’m totally standing on my head later today…

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Did you do it? Stand on your head? Because I would like to start a Mama-head-stand revolution. Although I’d recommend a better bathing suit than a skirted bikini. The proportions are all wrong…

  5. Margie S
    July 23, 2014

    Woot, Woot! You go girls! This post it so great. It is true, our kids really can be an inspiration to us parents. BTW, went to the museum and saw/experienced your art work. I am in awe! The computer pictures don’t do it justice. Simply amazing! You have such a gift!

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Oh, thank you, Margie! You are the best! So glad you got by the museum.
      And yes, my kids do inspire me.

  6. Heidi
    July 25, 2014

    Beautiful and strong. Love it!

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      You inspire me to be a stronger Mama.

  7. Kelly L McKenzie
    July 25, 2014

    Damned impressive! OK I’M GOING ALL CAPS FOR THIS. YOU GOT ME DOING IT! Last time was about five years ago. Yep – for my kids. Today FOR ME. Wow . I could def. do the teddy bear stand and got my legs half way up. Going to wait until my kids are home so they can spot me. Yes – I am considerably older than you so youv’e got lots and lots of headstand years ahead of you. So much fun. Thank you!

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      YOU ARE AWESOME!! Did you do it with your kids around? And I’m terrible at the teddy bear stand, but when I just throw my legs up I can hang out for awhile. Trust, that what it takes. And a soft place to land!!
      Thank you for inspiring me to keep the head stands (and self-discovery) going. Seeing someone who’s gone slightly before me kick metaphorical ass, in her writing and in her life, is truly an inspiration.

  8. bethteliho
    July 25, 2014

    Ohhh, this was really sweet, plus I’m super impressed with your headstand!! I think my decades are complete opposites of yours. My twenties were…..I don’t even know. Drunk. Stupid. Whatever.

    My thirties were: holy shiz, I think I’m a grown up! I’m going to get married, graduate college (I’m a late bloomer), squeeze out two kids, and buy houses. Depression, migraines, uterine polyps, and adult acne pretty much scarred 34 – 39.

    Then FORTY. Hysterectomy, migraine meds, clear face, no mo depression…wallah! NOW I can see what this body can do! Now I can walk on the sky. 🙂

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Love that you’re now walking in the sky. Why did people tell us how great our 20’s and 30’s were? Except for the collagen, the 40’s pretty much are great, right? Although I guess we needed those messy 20’s and 30’s to make us so absolutely powerful in our 40’s. Thank you for reading. You’re awesome!
      Now go try a head stand. But make sure someone you trust is there to spot you!

  9. Anna Spanos
    July 29, 2014

    Yes, that polka dot bikini! This totally made my night 🙂 You’re killing it (and probably killing it even more with every year that passes, field hockey or no…).

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Right with the bikini? I swear they picked it out. They all came into the dressing room and then I sent selfies to my husband from the dressing room at Target with random hideous bikinis on and my kids clustered at my ankles. And then he passed his phone to his assistant!! Oh, the shame.
      You totally have to try the head stand… or whatever metaphorical head stand works for you!
      (And as always, love seeing you here! It made my day. Thank you for stopping by.)

      • Anna Spanos
        July 31, 2014

        Well, after a week of a sick, sick kid and crazy deadlines at work and too many nights of sleeping on the floor with a tiny little fever furnace (I swear I will never understand why the bed becomes so unattractive to sick toddlers??), my whole world feels like a headstand. So maybe I’ll just stick to the metaphor for now – though what a perfect metaphor it is! Motherhood is just one big, swaying headstand, right?
        And I love stopping by! What a nice break after a not so nice week 🙂

        • jgroeber
          August 8, 2014

          (How am I just now seeing this?) I’m hoping those floor-sleeping sick toddler days are long past and you have caught up with your much-needed sleep.
          And yes, all of motherhood is pretty much a bad-bikini, legs-swaying, looking-like-a-fool-at-the-beach head stand. Yay, us, for managing it each day, gracefully or not.
          And I do so love it she you stop by!

  10. Tandi
    July 29, 2014

    I always wanted to try a head stand in a canoe. There was a time I think I could have done it. Now, I’m not so sure. But maybe if I had a polka dot bikini it would help! Thanks for the great post.

    • jgroeber
      July 30, 2014

      Truth. Sometimes I try yoga poses on my paddle board (which is about the equivalent) and I have to say, it’s awkward. Ha!
      Thank you for reading and commenting! You rock!

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