Thursday, August 1, 2013

Library Books and Blow Dryers and Aren't You Just Looking for an Excuse, Missy?

I rode my bike home yesterday - it has been a long week of doctor appointments and school appointments and commitments after work that preclude a bike ride. It felt so good! Major detriments that put a damper on the ride home: the six or so block stretch of busy, busy downtown streets between my building and the "relaxed, relieved breath" point of the commute where I am not focused on not being creamed by a bus or an aggressive motorist.

Seriously, people, be nice to bicyclists on the road. It is so hard to ride in busy traffic or even not-so-busy streets. Cars are big and scary. I'll admit, since I started cycling so much, I am much more tolerant and conscientious of bikes on the street. Hey - our dang feet are locked onto the pedals! It's funny how even that can affect your maneuverability on the road...or at least my own perception of it.

Well, cars may be big and scary, but I am a badass scary bicycle commuter and I have the uber-cool backpack to prove it!

Look at my super-strong legs, not my lunch lady arms, por favor.
I had already brought my bike bag home (poor little Carema - my bike - had been left overnight at City Hall for a few nights) but I had stuff I needed to transport. I had coincidentally gone to Old Navy yesterday and bought that backpack for my soon-to-be-8yo. I think I will keep it for myself! Skulls are inappropriate for young children, I've decided. Such a good mommy.

Anyway. This morning, the right thing to do would have been to hop on the bike and ride back into work. I couldn't do it. Greg and I had a not-so-great-isn't-family-blending-fun-no-not-really-at-all evening last night, and I was spent. Wiped out. Biking would have cleared my head, but I wanted a few minutes of our short commute together, alone. I did not want to sweat. I wanted to wear a pretty dress.

And I had library books. A buttload of them to return to the Seattle Public Library, where I almost never partake in their fine book collection. I'm a King County Library System (only the very best library system in the free world, thankyouverymuch) girl. But a few weeks ago the kids and I had come over for the very, very lame See Jane Run expo (long story - my daughter wanted to see a big expo. Last year, it was a good one. This year, it SUCKED). We stopped at the library next door and loaded up.

The SPL is NOT FOOLING AROUND when it comes to overdue fees. A quarter a day, per book. My library system charges $0.10/day and it caps at $3/book. SPL caps at $8/day. Their terroristic ways work: my books are returned on time, every time, haha. With KCLS, I consider overdue books my way of supporting the library system. You're welcome! At $10 in accrued fines, they freeze your account. I pay my library subsidy willingly, but always strive to mend my ways, haha.

Ok, so there were books, and then there was the blow-dryer issue. Sure, I rode in allllllllllll that time without showering before work, but then I did it one time and now I don't wanna ride in without a shower when I get here. Spoiled. And at my desk, I have the blow dryer I brought in, my new padlock, my flip flops, my hair product. All at my desk. Which is not at the locker room, and not even in the same building.

Today, I have committed to carrying all these things over to my locker and settling in. No more excuses.

There was a thunderstorm on my bike commute home last night. A little scary. I decided my tires would ground me, though. It was so bad that my 12yo called me mid-commute to ask if we had just had an earthquake, because the windows rattled so loudly. Yikes.

Blended family. Double yikes. I won't say we are struggling, but I will say that it is not seamless cramming all these personalities together under one roof. Admittedly, I am by nature not a tidy person. I looooove a tidy place, I just don't know how to get it there or keep it there. Since G and I got back together, I have really been trying. It's not that *I* am so messy, per se, it is that I have not done a good job at all teaching my children to clean up after themselves. G is not quite but almost clutter-phobic. He is challenged, daily, by his decision (emphasis "his decision") to move into our busy and messy home. We are all trying. Why, just last night I told my 12yo son, "look, if you are going to repeatedly blatantly disobey my direct orders to not eat on the couch (Greg's brand new couch, oy), then at least have the good sense to clean up the evidence." See? Trying. G would like instantaneously-reformed children (as would I, haha) but he has a fairly solid grasp of reality in this regard and knows that's a pipe dream.

Last night, though, what started about clutter and mess turned to my 8yo. As his mother, I am the first to admit that this kid is HARD. He's always been hard. Always a little more than you expect or are prepared to handle. I have been letting him sleep with his brother, primarily because his room was such a disaster area and I did not have time to clean it, secondarily because of photo opportunities like this:

Did I tell you that my boys were with a boy that drowned, right after school got out in June? I don't remember. It was horrific. An 8yo boy of X's girlfriend's cousin, at a family picnic at someone's lake house. My boys weren't just there, they were there. And since that day, my 12yo, who was always a worried, protective older brother, is now a worriedprotectiveolderbrother. And he has become incredibly tolerant of his little brother, including letting him sleep with him. Anyway, it was time to get R back into his own bed last night and this created a freakout tantrum crying jag of epic proportions. It was awful. It was awful for me, as his mom, it was awful for G as a man who must by now be questioning the wisdom of joining our family.

Ah well. We arrrr what we arrrr. My almost-8yo is lit from within like a beacon: his highs are blindingly bright and vibrant and joyous, his lows are tearful and trying and terrifying. The other day, for example, my 12yo picked him up from day camp. His dad had dropped him off that morning, so he didn't have his bike to ride home, as he normally does. His coping strategy, when faced with this disappointment? Lay down on the ground. Refuse to leave.

Sigh. My 12yo called, "I don't know what to do." Sigh. Me neither. I invoked some sort of threat over the phone via B that got him moving, this time.

Anyway. He's hard. He's epic. He will grow up to be a rich, rich charismatic man: kids love him (because he knows the best ways to get in trouble, perhaps). I fear a throng of girls (hopefully not baby mamas!) one day beating down our door to tousle his hair and beat out their BFFs in the competition to be indifferently treated by him, haha. I see a young man being funded eagerly by venture capitalists who back his latest idea. I see a strong, confident, charismatic leader (oy, for good, for good, I hope and pray! Leader, not ringleader...)

But right now I see a kid who is often a real pain in the ass to be around. And I say that with every cell in my body screaming out how much I love and adore him. Truly. And yet in the midst of his tantrum last night, some primal urge was in my head telling me to eat him, haha.

When I was dating, I was overjoyed when I met a man without children. I have always said my dream was a man who had wanted children, but sadly, had been unable to have them due to childhood mumps, perhaps.

So I get it. Believe me. G's children are older and not around much at all. I do not have any expectation that my brood will drive him away - this was an issue for him last time around (aka v1.0) and G is nothing if not a thoughtful and measured man. He weighed heavily the pros and cons of being with me. The kids are no surprise and he is open that he loves me and wants to be with me, but that the kids wear him out sometimes. I get it.

And so. That's why I didn't ride my bike this morning. Library books and blow dryers and a glass of wine in bed and hey, and a see how nice it is when we're alone commute.

p.s. I am inspired by all these July workout summary posts this morning (Kim and Lindsay) to say that I biked 189.3 miles in June. I didn't run more than a couple times, although I should be well on my way to the Biggest Loser half marathon training program with my daughter. Thankfully, she is doing well on her own in that regard.


  1. So jealous of the KCLS. Why or WHY did I ever decide to have an apartment in Seattle Proper?!?! I am FOREVER on waiting lists for books, and yeah, those SPL fines inspire fear. I return my books on time EVERY time, even if it means a very late night drive to the branch 5 minutes away.

    And eek! Bike commuting in major traffic is super scary. I met the BF and 5th and Jackson to commute home via Lake WA Blvd one day. NO thank you. I'll stick to my bike-lines-down-12th-Ave-to-Beacon-Hill-I90Trail commute.

  2. You must keep the back pack for yourself. Must.

  3. Oh my gosh Julie. I'm laughing and crying all at the same time. How do you DO that? First I'm so sorry about the 8 year old who died. That is horrific. And horrific for your children to witness. I can't imagine what that kind of thing does to a small growing mind. Love the backpack and yep that's a keeper (I agree no skulls for kids...but for Mom, hey that's all good!) and look at your itty bitty hiney...OMG all that exercise is certainly paying off! Where is Sabrina to take a photo of you wearing a dress? Next time you are all girly and cute haul her over for a little photo session. ;) OH and I can only imagine what would happen if I were in your shoes regarding blending a family and my two girls. I have one that is my spitfire and I love her so dearly but I just laughed at the EAT HIM comment. Because I have soooooo been there with my little spitfire. LOL LOL LOL!