Straight Outta Joshua Tree

As promised, Tighe and I escaped from Kansas City right after Christmas. Just before it got really, really cold, we flew to San Diego for a night, then drove northeast to Joshua Tree National Park where we had rented a house with several other people. The online listing boasted that the house had previously been rented by several celebrities, including but not limited to: Leonardo DiCaprio, Clint Eastwood, Demi Moore, Johnny Depp, and Cher.


So, add that little tidbit to my growing list of commonalities with Cher.


Babysitting for this five-night excursion was courtesy of my parents and their dog, who seem to intervene every time they sense I’m about to lose my figurative marbles. Though our literal marbles also seem to be missing…I blame our move this summer. I’m sure they’re up in the playroom crammed in one of our many toy boxes…


Anyway, I haven’t actually felt as though I was about to lose my marbles lately. I actually feel like I’m starting to be comfortable being a mother. I mean, I still have no idea what I’m doing and I crave my “Erin time,” but I feel like I wake up every morning with some semblance of a plan, and there’s a mindful intention behind every interaction with Nate and Tess.


Not with Sam though. Sam likes to cuddle and curl up in a ball on my lap, which is nice. But then we have to accomplish a task, like get to school on time or change from his pajamas into clothes, you know, to leave the house or something. And that’s when, both frustrated, we lose it on each other and my words become a lot…less mindful.


But really, it’s my physical body that needed this rest.


My eardrums are sore from listening to Nate and Tess. Each is constantly competing to be the loudest in the room, convinced that he/she has the most important thing to say. And sore from Sam’s shrieking each time his fourteen-inch Lego robot starts to tip even the slightest bit.


My joints are old and achy from kneeling on the floor picking up toys and crumbs and dog hair and squatting down to make sure Tess doesn’t stick Legos in her mouth or her fingers in the electrical sockets—you know, to keep her alive. Last time I knelt down, my knees were noisier than Donald Trump’s Twitter account.


My vocal chords are strained from pleading with Nate and Sam not to wrestle at the top of the steps. “But Mom! We’re going to take breaks to pee!” Nate argued back.


And then there’s my back.


As I’ve mentioned once or twice, Tess enjoys a fine slice of pizza pie—who doesn’t? I’ll tell you who: my lower back. Endless hours of carrying her girth on my right hip are starting to twist my spine and the surrounding muscles are having a tough time compensating. Because they’re weak.


My upper back, on the other hand, is tight from the time I’m investing in training Tess to walk—in an effort to get her off my hip. So, all day every day, I hunch over, waddling a half-step behind her teetering body as she clasps my fingers, determined to keep up with Nate and Sam.


When those muscles begin to spasm, the pain shoots into my neck, and as she can feel me starting to give up, she tightens her grip, too delighted with her new skill to allow me to rest.


Babies are sadistic. And selfish.


My body isn’t what it once was. Sometimes, like any self-involved, deluded has-been, I sit Nate and Sam down to tell them of my glory days.


“…I could do thirteen pull-ups without pausing…”


“…I would run twelve miles—uphill the whole time…”


“…I had six touchdowns that day…”


“…thirty-five pound medicine balls, slamming them straight into the ground…”


By this point, no one’s actually listening to me anymore. Nate can’t hear anything outside of his own head, and Sam’s deeply engulfed in the Lego directions, which he reads like riveting suspense novels.


So yeah, I needed this time away in Joshua Tree.


I hiked. I people-watched. I drank champagne. I took showers in the middle of the day. I ate slowly and luxuriously. I sat in the hot tub. I stood outside and looked at stars. And sunsets. I woke up when I wanted to and ate really well-prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.


I didn’t carry Tess around. I didn’t wrestle clothes onto Sam. I didn’t make meals for people who wouldn’t eat them. I didn’t listen to Nate’s recitation of the most prized Ninjago weapons. I didn’t attempt to organize and put away all the new toys they got for Christmas. I didn’t freeze. And I didn’t worry that I’d need to change my outfit immediately after breakfast because there was banana stuck to it.


There’s a reason that moms giving birth over the age of thirty-five are now considered geriatric. I feel it. “They don’t make them like they used to.” –Nick Saban.