Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sex after Three

Some women feel no libido after kids; I just can't seem to get away from my kids long enough to act on my libido. I lie nursing my infant daughter, using my feet to play with my toddler son, and in the afternoon I chase after my nearly five-year-old daughter with one or the other baby in my arms. In the evening I watch my hot hubby cooking dinner, aching to wrap myself around him just the two of us, and I remember when we did this almost constantly, and how that's exactly what led to the beautiful situation of having three children, which is also the frustrating situation of not getting lovingly laid is often as would be nice.

With one child, my sex life didn't really suffer. In fact, the sex in my first marriage was either yucky or non-existent, so when I found David and we decided to share lives and bodies forever, lovemaking and related sexy playfulness flowered and we enjoyed the deliciousness deflowering like water for lilies. If I was tired, I drank coffee before bed, because everything, and especially love was new, and I was still dressing (and undressing) to impress nightly. I bragged to my friends about being a parent with a great, active sex life.

When my son was born, I decided that sex wasn't worth the energy; I just didn't have extra to spare. So we did it sometimes, but not constantly, and I felt more pragmatic than romantic. This was also the stage of a relationship where you realize the person you married is not an ideal, but a real flesh and blood person whose baggage triggers your truckload of garbage and you wonder if human intimacy is such a good idea, while you muse that maybe a life of solitary ecstasy in a convent could be a great plan for contentment and happiness.

Now that I have three kids, something's changed, like the turning of seasons, or the opening days of a new year. I feel romantic again. I want to make love even if I'm sleepy. But my infant daughter wakes up when I try to remove myself from her side, and so I lie awake, thinking of my sexy husband and imagining vacations when the kids are old enough to send off on their own adventure while mom and dad play in bed before lunch. And again before dinner. And maybe again before drifting off to sleep, curled in a ball of loving bodies and connected hearts.

A Wacky Wednesday

Nika looks at me seriously and says, "For my bedtime story, I want to do the letter book. because for story, I'm studying...tomorrow I'm doing my thesis." "Okay" I say, we can do studying. And so we unscramble letters, forming them into words like "Leopard" and "Rooster" on the even of David's thesis defense.

It's Wacky Wednesday, the day when you can wear something wild and you're encouraged to put on your pants backwards for school. Nika selects a blue shiffon dress with a velour bodice and sparkling blue sequins, and sits down for breakfast.

"I'm glad I get to do my thesis presentation on Wacky Wednesday!" David says to Nika.

"Nika, say, "It's not a thesis presentation, it's a thesis defense," I instruct my daughter who sounds so comical when she parrots.

Parrot obliges. "It's not a thesis presenation, Dad, it's a thesis defense."

"Ohh, that's right Nika, it's a thesis defense, says David, And he does a gesticulating gesture that looks life something halfway between a karate chop and a wiggle.

This is our family.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Eat him, not me

My husband barrels toward our daughter Nika, slapping his arms like a fierce crocodile.

"Here comes Crocky!"

"Eat Gabe, don't eat me!" Screeches Nika, giggling with mock terror. Of course if Gabe's in any actual danger, she's the first one there to guard him with her life.

Just days earlier, Gabe reaches for his little sister, Avriana and pats her head saying in his sweet voice, "baybee." He then reaches around her neck giving her the hug of a cobra, before trying to rip a huge hunk of hair from her scalp, possibly with the aim of removing her head from its socket.

"Hug..." Says Gabe, as his little sister screams in pain.

"I love you. Eat him, not me. You're cute. I want to kill you. I'll protect you with my life." These are not just the sentiments of toddlers and young children.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Public Servants? The aspirations of the candidates

I heard Al Gore say on NPR the other day that he's set his sights, in a most determined way, on making climate control the #1 issue for both candidates during the next presidential election. He has pinned his goals on making a difference rather winning a position; a smart move for anyone, but especially someone who cares passionately about an issue and isn't likely to win the fancy position anyway.

But what I want to know is why Hillary and Obama are wasting lots of money on individual campaigns when they could run together on a shared ticket and promise to switch drivers if they win this time and get a second term? Obama's fresh charisma and vision, Hillary's knowledge, experience and saavy...I think they would be a good team. No only that, I think they need each other. And maybe in the end they'll run together. But all that money spent before the primaries could be put to some decent use, like education, sustainable agriculture, clean drinking water worldwide, helping the poor become self-sufficient in the next generation, finding true cures for Malaria and AIDS. Why can't those who do have a shot at president put the wellbeing of all people before individual aspirations?

Are there times I need to ask myself that same question? Heck yeah. And it hurts. In love, it hurts so good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Instinct and Intuition

Some experts (and non-experts) say "follow your intuition." Then other folks assert that the key to abundant life is live counter-intuitively, in an upside-down kingdom sort of way. It hit me the other day that the apparent contradiction is simply a language issue.

At least for me and my personal experience, there's instinct, and then there's intuition. Sometimes the two agree, other times not, but they are separate functions, each with its own purpose. Instinct is concerned with survival at all costs; intuition is concerned with living in harmony with oneself and God, navigating the realm of life and relationships with truth and grace. Intuition ultimately transcending both intellect and instinct.

Instinct might tell you to have sex with anyone flaunting great jeans (and genes,) but intuition will tell you more about a person's character than the information of the eyes or pure reason or plain instinct. Intuition tells the truth, serves love and understands the big picture without always articulating the individual pieces. We know, but we don't know how we know.

Instinct might tell you to run from a difficult person or challenge; intuition may tell you to listen closely for the gift or lesson God's Universe is offering.

Instinct may tell you to defend yourself in an argument; intuition may tell you the safest place for you and the other beloved being is humility and compassion in the face of an attack.

Because instinct guards the physical body and the ego, but intuition guides the soul.

I've been seeing this dynamic in my parenting lately. My daughter does something irksome and unattractive and my instinct is repulsion, anger, disappointment; My intuition is learning to read deeper... to grasp the tenuous, beautiful space where teaching and love are the tools of good discipline, where the child is understood and admired in her search for autonomy, her gutsy testing of a parent's love, her strong, beautiful spirit, and the sweetness that lies tucked between her spunky need to assert herself and her intense fear of losing my love to an apple-faced baby sibling or two.

Life is an adventure, and adventures are not boring or easy or simple. Adventures involve challenges, heroism, ingenuity. Adventures call people out to become Someone beyond Joe or Jill; someone who is the heroin inside each of us, with all our vulnerabilities and quirks. Adventure brings the opportunity for quirky grace.

And so far, parenting is by far, my most exciting, unknown, terrifying, impossible, impossibly amazing and not-simple or easy but deeply wonderful, beauteous adventure of my life. Day by day my choices matter; I can be the villain or the heroin and sometimes both within five minutes. And everyday I learn that self-discipline is really the excersize of intuition challenging instinct, guided by Love.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On a walk today I noticed a Lady Slipper peeking out from the woods. "Those are rare," David observed. Yes they are, I thought, remembering treasure hunting for lady slippers as a kid with a childhood friend, and our strict instructions from my friends mother never to pick these rare gifts of nature.

Today I took it as a good sign. Like a sign from God and the universe that I'm finally discovering that rare beauty of my own childhood as I step out in risky faith to love my wild child from God, leaving the safe bounds of boring adult pleasures to meet myself and my daughter in new places.

And this afternoon, post-Lady Slipper, I took Nika (and Avriana tucked in her Bjorn) to Borders for a special outing. And for the first time in...well, a long time, being together was a delight. She was a delight. Maybe I was a delight to her. And I'm so thankful...

My mother said my voice sounded different on the phone today. "It sounds like you're coming into your 'Jemila power," she said. Which is totally a my mom thing to say. But maybe she's right. I've been focusing on devoting each act of my life as an act of love, and practicing "smiling in my liver," as Liz Gilbert's Balinese medicine man suggests in Eat Pray Love. I feel my veins changing, literally changing, from toxins and poisons to love with contentment and joy.

Maybe I'm growing up or something. And maybe it's God awake in me, smiling in my liver.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Mulch Blessings

At the playground today, an older boy patiently received the mulch my toddler son scooped into the bigger boy's palm with the pleasure and intentionality of a sacred ritual. What struck me was that the older boy, perhaps ten, seemed to recognize, and not merely tolerate, the joyful offering of a treasure, as though my son had bestowed on him a robin's egg or gold dust, or the skeleton of a tiny dinasaur, millions of years old. And I wondered what made this boy kind and present to the enthusiastic nature love of my son. How did this kid come to have such wise and sweet eyes, with an open heart?

My first thought, sadly, was that this boy must know some sadness. Perhaps he was bullied or made fun of at school. He didn't seem particularly ridiculous in any obvious way, nor was he wearing a sign that said, "pick-on-me" as some children unfortunately seem to have stuck on their blessed little foreheads. But the boy was alone, so I wondered.

But above all, I thanked God for him. And I thanked him. He seemed surprised and sweet. "Oh, you're welcome."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


Avriana had remarkable episode of burping and pooping simultaneously today. What amazing, gurgly creatures are babies!