Thursday, November 11, 2010

St.Martins Day Musings

Nearly every morning, Geoff gets up with Kaya at 7 and gets ready for work. He goes into her room, greets her excitedly, and invites her into the bathroom. As strange of an invitation as it is, he always gets an excited little "yeah" in response, and off they go.

They head into the bathroom and do their thing, Geoff in the shower and Kaya out about and around it, playing with various bath toys. Often I'll hear Geoff asking Kaya to put the "blue cup into the yellow one" or to put the "yellow duck on the green turtle." She follows his commands eagerly, often repeating various words back to him in English, "turdoh" being one of her favorites of late. Yesterday, after the common cup command, I heard Kaya say, "bik." And then there was a brief silence, until Geoff finally caught on. "Oh, right, it's too big! The yellow cup is too big for the blue one."

After they leave the bathroom, it's time to see Mama. Sometimes, Geoff can buy me a few extra minutes of sleep, when he's successful at distracting Kaya from her pleas for Mama. But generally, following a few "mama"s, I hear the door open and see Kaya come sauntering along the bed looking for me under the down fluff. Despite my desire to continue sleeping, I greet her with excitement, often a "morgen, Mein Baby! Wie hast du geschlafen?" (morning, my baby! How'd you sleep?) Immediately thereafter, Kaya starts in with her "Milch" request, and Dada heads out like a champ to bring the white gold.

But really, none of this is my focus.
It's all lead-in to what happened a few days prior.

Kaya had her milk in hand as she came waddling towards me in bed. As soon as she saw me, she said, "Milch, uh-oh," and quickly turned around to leave the room. Too tired to feed my curiosity, I rolled over to enjoy a few more moments of warmth. A few minutes later, she returned, eager as ever to snuggle with mama and her milk. Geoff soon follows with the details of the uh-oh. Apparently, Kaya had spilled two drops of milk on the carpet before she came into our room. When she left our room, she went to the kitchen to grab a towel from the oven door. She brought the rag to the two spots to wipe them up.

Wow, I thought. What I have I done? I've created an OCD-monster! Until a few weeks ago, I used to "freak out" when milk would spill. Not on the table, not on the floor or on the counter, but on my clothes. I know. I know. I wasn't following the golden rule. It wasn't every time--usually when I was tired, she was tired, and life felt just too overwhelming to add spilled milk to the mix--but it was a heck of a lot more often than I wanted it to be. And I hated myself for it.

When I think about it now, I recognize that underneath that freak-out was a fear. A fear about what it meant to have a stain on my clothes. Kaya drinks whole milk, full of fat. Fat stains. If I had a stain on my clothes, it clearly meant one thing that I came to believe in my childhood: if I don't take care of my clothes, I am irresponsible.

Clearly there was a lot at stake when Geoff brought me a leaky cup.
It was easier to snap at him than take responsibility for creating that fear.

With this realization, I certainly don't encourage Kaya to shake her sippy all over our bed, as she's been doing the past few days. I stop her, as I did before, but now, with a level of respect and understanding that it's just milk, she's just experimenting, and I'm not 'irresponsible' because of it.

And once again, I feel freed from the entrapments of my fears.

This morning, I heard a big bang coming from the office. I listened for a Kaya-cry and heard nothing, so I figured all was well enough for me stay put and let the bang work itself out. Will they think that I'm irresponsible since I didn't go rushing to my kid when something clearly happened? Maybe. But it means nothing about me, right? Right. Right. Keep writing and move on. So, I continue putting in my lenses and then walk out into the living room. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a glimmer. Something shiny on the hardwoods in front of the office. Look a little closer and I see that it's a big puddle of water, with a white towel in the middle of it. Kaya looks at me, saying "uh-oh. Towel" (one of the words she's still learning in German, so she uses the English term with both of us). Kaya often brings the water dish to us in the kitchen so we can fill it. This morning, she noticed alone that the dish was nearly empty and took it upon herself to complete the chore (will it be this easy when she's 11?!) But, she must have tripped on the dog gate, spilling the water in the process. I just now realized that the dog bowl was back in its place (on the frisbee) before she went to get a second towel from the kitchen. Make no meaning, make no meaning...

Maybe this tendency of hers is because of my prior reactions. Maybe not. Either way, I love that I now 'get' to make whatever meaning, or none, that I want out of the events that took place.


As I was walking to Swapnplay yesterday evening, it hit me that, from the outside, to most people, my life looks the same.
I didn't yell at my dogs, or at my kid, in front of other people. It was too risky. What if people saw me and realized what I really am?
From the outside, I look the same as I did before. I have a cute little house, a husband whom everybody thinks is wonderful, and a sweet little girl with blond curls who speaks two languages. What could be wrong in the life of that woman? She's clearly got a good life.

I find myself, still, wondering if reality is based on what most people think. Telling myself it's not, but wondering if it is...because that's who I've been for most of my life.
Is my life the same, am I the same, just in some sort of pretend bubble that will burst once reality hits again?

I recognize now that I was really good at keeping it together for those on the outside. And underneath it all, I was driven by my fear that I don't matter and that if people knew how really weak I am, they won't want to be with me. Because that's how I thought I felt about other 'weak' people. It was too much of a reminder of my weaknesses to hang out with others who didn't cover it up as well as I did.

So last night, as I was vacuuming at Swapnplay after our Laternenumzug (Lantern Parade), I was thinking about this. For the first time in a LONG time, I was really vacuuming. I vacuum every day at our house, but I'm not usually vacuuming. I'm usually somewhere else, thinking or worrying about something else, vacuuming in this numbed trance of action. Last night, though, I was aware of everything and everyone around me in a completely different way. It hit me that I've been going around in world afraid of everyone. Completely conscious of what I'm wearing and how I look and what others will think of whatever I'm doing. ALL. THE. TIME.

I was aware, as I was moving the vacuum, that I look like the same woman vacuuming that never vacuums at swap (I always had an internal story that I was too busy or overwhelmed to do my part, so I didn't have to if I couldn't get to it). But on the inside, I see the carpet. I notice its colors. I think about how thick it is and about how the vacuum slows as it rolls over the thicker threads. I notice people playing with their kids, around me as I vacuum, and I feel freed from the thought that I'm working and they aren't. I am vacuuming. They are playing. That's it.

A hummingbird just fluttered at my window to suck on a purple flower on our rosemary bush. A helpful reminder that I am sitting here, at my desk, listening to music that I love, writing to people that care, about things that, for me, are the current crux of my being.

I am ecstatic that I can lead again, like I could when I was 18, without the distractions of my fears. I can take a group of 50 around the block in the rain, singing German songs I've never led before, to a group of singers who've never sung them. And love it. And get tired as I sing, and be aware that my voice is flailing. And not worry about what that means. Or what others are making it mean.

It's just my voice.
And my purple striped hat.
Singing German lantern songs on St.Martinstag.

And while Mama has all these musings on life, Kaya is...


  1. Oh Tamara...thank you so much for taking the time to share your musings. I thoroughly enjoyed your thought-provoking report on life. You write so well...keep up the sharing!!!

  2. Amanda,
    And I thoroughly enjoy your willingness to read along and share your thoughts, too. I have been eager to call you back, after we got cut off so quickly last time...maybe this weekend! But in the meantime, thank you, thank you! I look SO forward to hearing about some nitty in your life soon, too!


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