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