Jan. 9, 2012:
It’s very early. I am up to get my head on and shower and to just orientate before my five kids wake and we get them dressed, fed, touched up, and off to school, piled into the Suburban. It’s Yorgos, our new Greek educator's first day.
It’s a lot to show someone new every single detail and not sound insane. Theodore gets milk once he’s finished half his food, Constantine not till it’s all done, or else they fill up on milk and don’t eat. Christiane and Petros can have milk at any time, she because she’s a big eater and he’s a small drinker.
The house is blissfully quiet, but my head is heavy. Went to bed too late, after 10:30 p.m. and stayed up with Yorgos talking about good ways to teach the boys Greek.
I wish I could carve out a moment to sit and pray in the morning. But my focus is not all there. The second I wake up, in the dark, my mind starts racing, all the have-to-do's, and I know most every mom has this. The list in the head is now on my iPhone. I search for it, and it magically glows in my hands as I go to "Notes," and start scanning and adding what needs to be done, what should appear above and below other stuff. (The car’s oil change can wait, getting Constantine’s hair cut should come soon). It’s sort of a thrill to use this device this way. And studies have actually been done that show that people experience the same physiological quickening for their iPhones as they do for a new lover. No, really. So count me among the crazy.
We went to Supercuts, me and the boys, on Friday as a trial run. (We always do something special together on Fridays after school: a haircut, ice cream, even a movie some days). The boys did not want to go to Supercuts because they thought it was not fancy enough. (God, what are we teaching them?!) But then I noticed that their hairdresser, Mary had normal enough looking hair herself, a calm vibe, and seemed to want to listen to me go on a bit about their hair: layered, not straight, a slight trim, etc. And more importantly, she wanted to listen to them. Truly, she gave about 20/25 minutes to each, which is a lot, for boys age 5 (soon 6!).
And then Petros started giving himself a faux-hawk, with gel and using the water spray Mary uses to wet hair down before snipping. And Mary was chill about it.
We are pleased with our haircuts, our entire Supercuts experience, so now Constantine can go get one (early this week – on a day that Mary is surely there). Christiane, hmm, I am growing out her bangs. She wants long hair like Rapunzel in Tangled. But it would be a touch shorter. I am admittedly totally confounded by her hair, have no clue. Let’s just say it’s a work in progress, a living, breathing document, as they say in consulting.
Oh, she is okay with Theodore calling her Zsa Zsa, but if she had her choice, she’d be known to the world as Rapunzel Madonna.
We did yoga together after my run with our neighbor Marie yesterday. Theodore and Christiane joining me. And trying to invade the one mat. So we all did yoga, smushed together, in unison. I see that we are a bit of a trio sometimes. Theodore loves Christiane and me so much, so to us it feels great. And right now she is clinging to my leg almost.
Oh, Marie. She is the mom of twin girls, age seven, and an older daughter, age nine. They have never mutually spent a night away from their girls, even once. Never a vacation just she and her husband. They did a brave thing moving all five of them to Paris when the girls were babies pretty much, and Marie knew no one, and her husband went on the road for work all the time. And she coped and thrived. I really admire her bravery and stamina. And her stamina in running! She’s fast, and in amazing shape, and it was just freeing to chat and get to know her better and to run in Fisher Meadows, but through a new access route I’d never tried and really liked. I like her. She has spirit.
The baby is doing well. Walking further now, but also never losing her efficient scoot!
So, I’ll take Yorgos to the school today where he will teach the kids, and introduce him around. He is a pretty handsome guy, somewhat Christian Slater in looks, but kinder and warmer and even more boyishly handsome. The people there should be pleased to have such a nice face to stare at. He really is a pleasing personality. He looks you right in the eye when you speak, which is rare. Or is it just me?
When They Were Babies
I hear Christiane now, her little wail is pretty insistent. When they were babies, her cries and Petros’s were like, “Get me RIGHT NOW,” and Theodore and Constantine’s were more like, “When you have a moment, could you please, if it’s not too much trouble…”
Clea-Noelle is something else. She gets upset when she cries, and that’s the worst part. Not mad, not in need, disturbed, so you have to get her and it has to end.
I mean all kids do get picked up right away, I am not just sitting here with a legal pad making notes on the severity of their anguish, just things I keep on noticing that have given us a shape that we associate with their individual personalities, a way to tell them apart, and to make them each distinct, which any mother of more than one, even the most identical of twins, will tell you that all of her babies are entirely separate little personas.
Reading About Love
I have been reading Erich Fromm’s The Art of Loving. I remember as a teenager my father had mentioned it and said, in some gruff sort of way, You can’t love anyone until you love yourself first. Upon reading it, it seems that that is not the exact message. Rather it’s about how loving is a verb, and it’s a huge effort. And something you have to be up for and work hard at. You just don’t “fall” into love effortlessly with a love object and due to the intensity of that attraction stay loving. The intensity of that attraction shows you how much your own personal terror at the separateness inherent in Life being aware of itself – being human — is. We must love and continue to love through an active choice to love. A mature and whole one, recognizing our own separateness from the Source, from Nature, our exile from the Garden of Eden as it were, and knowing that through Love, what we Give, we can lessen the horror of the knowledge of Death.
Whew. Maybe I got that wrong, but how’s that for first thing in the morning? Whoa. I should just go and be with Christiane now, pick out her leggings and Constantine’s corduroys and whip up some form of breakfast. I will return to the Art of Loving, after we do the Art of getting out the door in just under 65 minutes, all buckled in their car seats, all with correlating hats and mittens in their backpacks, all fed, clean, hair done, and hopefully, with some sense of connection, and not just as chattel being rounded up and transported from here to there.
In the Car
They sing in the car, they chant, "Guillaume," their favorite guy who works with my husband, Fotis who’s always coming as they’re leaving. They trash talk: "You’re a Googalie! No you are!" They laugh, they cry sometimes, they ask what’s for dinner. They just zone out.
And we go.