P.E. and a Mother’s Fear

Dear Gym Teacher:
At the risk of sounding like a hysterical, maladjusted mother of a pre-teen, I have a couple of questions about P.E. that I’m hoping you can help with.  Middle school P.E. was a realm of hell for me.  So was high school.  We are not an athletic family.  The idea of my daughter having to run through Valley Park makes me want to run for the bathroom.  She won’t be able to run non-stop!  She’ll have to run/walk it.  I’m so horrified for her/me…I’m sure I’m not the first couch potato mother to drop penitence at your door.  I have shared none of this neurosis with her.  I just need to know what you do with girls like T that haven’t shown any type of athleticism, are out of shape and probably can’t keep up with the class.  What can I say to her to reassure her about the running, especially?  Please help!  Kristi Deutsch

Kisses for a Price

a stolen "lean-in"
a stolen “lean-in”

Around ten, my daughter started offering her forehead when I’d move in to give her a kiss.  When I asked why, she said she didn’t like slobbery kisses.  So, I tried to make my kisses very dry…empathetic, of course, to hating slobbery kisses from well-meaning, open-mouthed adults in my own childhood.  But it turned out that no amount of drying my mouth and lips would cut it.  Turns out she just didn’t like kisses; especially what she liked to call “repetitive kisses.”  This drove my husband crazy.  Just another “particular” thing we had to abide by.  So, I settled with forehead kisses for a while trying to be happy with the knowledge that she still liked to snuggle and hug.  Well, hugs went by the wayside on the first day of middle school.  Nothing allowed from me now but a tight-lipped, “Have a good day honey!” and she’s off!

Now I read an article a few years ago that made me cry in the waiting room of some place I was in.  It talked about the end of physical intimacy with your children as they get older.  It was something I’d never even thought of, and yet one more thing to dread.  This child felt like an extension of my physical and spiritual being.  Those moments of heart-tugging pulls of breast-feeding, listening to her soft breath when she’d sleep next to me, holding her snugly when she cried, and tangling up under covers to watch movies…giggling under blankets in our own small world.

And now she wants to sail off, without so much as looking back to say goodbye; without a bracing hug that assures her that I will always be the one she can count on; without a sweet kiss to fortify me for the day?  I can hardly bear it.

I know that I’m not the only one that feels this way.  My friends laughed along with me at dinner the other night, but one dear one started to weep in her enchiladas.  Her baby will turn one year old next month and they are so folded into one another that she can’t comprehend the sadness of this.  I had to choke back my own sobs watching her…I’m sorry that I told you of this.

I am a practical person.  I know why this is happening.  If  T didn’t separate from me and go out into the world to procreate, the species would die off.  It’s as simple as that.  But last night, when her Daddy was spending the night out for work, she slept with me, our breath getting more quiet, the soft night closing in.  The sheets rustled, and I felt her foot, almost as large as mine, find my leg and rest there.  I lay there very still, letting it sink in, letting it make its mark, putting it in my pocket of moments…before she turned away to dream.

Welcome Extraordinaire

Some have suggested that I write down my thoughts about the everyday things that I experience being a wife, a mother, a worker among workers, a daughter and sister.  It’s taken me about 12 years to get the gumption to do it.  There’s nothing extraordinary about me, my life or my family.  I’m trudging the same road as all other women out there.

What turns the ordinary to sublime is when I connect with other women in my life, and we’re able to share our experience, strength and hope with one another about things like:  adoring our husbands one moment, and wanting to kill them with a frying pan and bury their bodies in the backyard the next; loving our babies so much that our hearts hurt and wanting so badly to spend the weekend in a hotel room with nobody calling our names with complete control over the remote; knowing that marriage is like a marathon, and you  have to pace yourself to stay in the race, but still wishing that someone could see you through brand new eyes just one more time.

My life is interwoven with sorrow and light, strands of fear and palpitations of joy, envy, stardust and taxes.  I’m ordinary in every way, but I breathe moments of extraordinaire…and that’s what our lives are made of.