Lights on, don’t know what time it is. “I peed my bed” says Jack. For a minute I suggest he sleeps in our bed for the rest of the night. We both think thats a bad idea. I get up, take off the peed sheets, blankets, and pillow, remake his bed and go back to sleep. Sore throat keeps me in bed longer than usual. I hear laughing and screaming, it sounds like it’s coming from outside. Pry myself from under the covers. What are they doing? Go upstairs, cold air rushing in, patio covered in white. Jack and Fiona naked, freezing. Alan yells, how bad what they’ve done is. The whole carton of new milk empty, splattered all over, whip cream container, six yogurt drinks all empty. Take Fiona and Jack in, put them in a warm bath. “I put milk on my body, mommy, we poured it on our whole bodies, our butts, my penis” Jack says. “On my butt and on my vagina” Fiona says. “Will Daddy still be mad?” Fiona asks. “What you did was very bad” I say. I dress them and we go upstairs and have breakfast. We might need to put a lock on the fridge. Alan says we don’t need to have candy in the house, they don’t need it to survive and they do this sorta shit when they’re spoiled. It all started with a game, Pie Face they got for Christmas. I may have put the idea in their head yesterday about a food fight. We were talking about pie face and I said I was going to get them each a can of whip cream and they could have a whip cream fight. They loved the idea. I think its my fault they got into the fridge this morning and had a food fight.
This is the deal, right here. Black and white, legs stretched out wide, she’s a beautiful dog. Content because I took her for a walk. Making GREAT headway on my book, Nap Time Paintings. In fact, I have learned more the way that things have gone than if they had gone how I imagined they would. I figured I was paying the publishing company to layout my writings and illustrations beautifully. Tt would look fantastic. I found out, Artistically I am required to make all the decisions if I want it to look good, how I imagine it looking. Mind Blowing. You learn something new every day. I want to paint now. I have an hour. I also want to take my paintings to the frame shop. My new Book, School Time Paintings By Jenny Hynes. Catch ya on the rebound.
The space in between. In between two paper turkeys that hang on the wall from over a year ago. Above the kitchen table, many meals shared. The crows cawing loud today. What are you cawing about crow? September heat rot summer figs. Dried dark purple corpses, tears down the middle, reminiscence of pink and yellow juicy insides. The leaves on the fig tree so large now, they canopy the sand box, crisp dried fig leaves crunch under my feet. I walk to my green chair I put in the corner at the beginning of summer. I sit down, it’s cool here, the coolest place around. I wonder if I should put away the trucks for the winter? Will they deteriorate if I leave them out in the rain and wind? Should I put up new paper turkeys? These are baby paper turkeys, just dollops of paint, glue, brown and orange construction paper, and googly eyes. Jack and Fiona are three and a half now. Their Thanksgiving decorations this year will be more sophisticated. A few little baby paintings are still taped on the wall. Fiona is drawing “The Green Faced Man” now. Jack rode a scooter down the sidewalk this morning to school and stopped at all the driveways. Time that passes between is a growing time, a learning time. It’s hard to let it go, of the past three years, the baby phase. It slipped through my hands like sand in the sand box. The narrative was set, predetermined. The baby is born dependent on the caregivers, the child learns to be interdependent and become caregivers themselves. I never think about the time they spend away, in their communities without me. I think of them as they are with me. Fiona started helping a younger child we were with yesterday in a very mature way. I can only imagine she is a caring person on the outside. Jack likes talking to everyone. He looks older than he is and speaks clearly. He looks at people’s eyes when having a conversation. What’s happened in between the spaces here- two babies have grown into confident, individual children. Maybe it’s time for new paper turkeys.
I sit on my bed, Thursday afternoon. The house is quiet, Jack and Fiona are asleep. I went to my studio for an hour, painted everything I worked on the other day white. I worked on my notebook pages. I start to cough and feel depressed. The flu can cause depression, I read this on the internet. I decide to come inside, rest. Yesterday I woke up in the morning, my eyes bulging with pain, behind my ears hurt so bad I almost threw up. I called my husband, he could be home by 4:00pm. I had to make it through the day on my own with Jack and Fiona. My legs weak, I had a hard time walking from one location to another as Jack and Fiona called me, “Play with me mommy”. Jack mostly watched T.V. and Fiona stuck by my side all day. While I was still in the process of trying to beat this monster that crept into my body to wreak havoc, I took my vitamins, ate cantaloupe, drank lots of water, and did a kids Yoga video with Fiona. My back, arms, legs so stiff and sore as I went into Childs Pose. Fiona held my hand when we did Tree Pose and airplane. I knew that I was going to recover, I still was scared. I was scared to be alone with my children when I was so sick. I felt myself going into some strange survival mode. As I ate the cantaloupe I felt the juice run down my throat, it felt so nourishing. Fiona and I made a smoothie, she cut the banana, put in the protein powder, turned on the blender, she was so proud.
Last night, after Alan was home, I came down to bed. Fiona wanted to come with me. At first Alan tried to stop her. She cried the kind of cry that shows true disappointment. I said, it’s O.K., she can come with me. “Can I sleep in your bed with you?” Fiona asked. “Yes” I say. My body aches, I can’t get comfortable. Fiona starts to bring animals, horses, the Glass Pig, she brings me pretend food. She talks to me and asks me questions. She doesn’t have her hearing aids on and I’m too tired to talk loud or repeat what I’ve said or use sign. I just say “yes” and “thank you” and that suffices. My bed is soft and cozy. Jack played upstairs with Alan the whole time. Fiona took care of me. It was comforting. I remembered myself alone with the flu. When Fiona was talking to me so much I thought maybe I should have her go, be alone. But I decided to let her stay. I enjoyed her company. I remembered the times I went home from work and jumped in bed. I don’t remember missing anyone to take care of me or keep me company. I thought about the times before Alan and I had kids and he took care of me. I thought about my mom and how she took care of me. My mom died very young and healthy, (except for the massive heart attack). I never had the experience of taking care of an aging parent, but Jack and Fiona will. I think they know intuitively that I will die before them. How depressing am I? Fevers and sickness always remind me of my mortality, of my limited energy. I always get a little bit sad the next day when my fever is gone but I still feel tired but the laundries pilling up and there’s calls to make and e-mails to respond to but I can’t.
Jack and Fiona will be up soon from their nap. I hope to be a good mom and wife tonight, to cook a nice dinner and not stress. Be fully present and available. Every moment counts.
“Peppa and George are fast asleep”, I hear from the kitchen T.V. 7:29 AM Monday morning mid-June. Fiona is on break this week, no school. Jack has a stuffy nose today, I keep him home from school too. Last week I receive an e-mail from Yoga Works, it’s an invitation to a “10 Day Yoga Challenge”. I’m excited, I set up my free online membership, I can do videos on-line Tuesday and Thursday morning at home. I imagine myself in the studio Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then I realize that Fiona doesn’t have school until the following week. I wonder if I could get away with bringing Fiona to class with me. It would be so inappropriate, everyone goes to the studio to get away from domestic responsibilities. Fiona is good at Yoga though, I think. Maybe she’s the one kid and I’m the one mom who could get away with it? No, not a good plan. Now, I sit in my living room Monday morning, Jack and Fiona watch Peppa Pig, then a Phonics video. I feed them juice boxes, crackers, fruit roll ups, blue berries, raisin bagels left untouched. I decide in my mind, in my heart of hearts to do the online classes here with Jack and Fiona, or at least Fiona, Jack can play in the sandbox. I’ll make it an activity we do as a family. Just need to have the will power. It’s a gorgeous morning, rays of sun shines through the blinds. Something Alan said as we were driving yesterday pops in my mind, “It’s been a crappy summer so far hasn’t it?” he says. I ask, what do you mean? He explains the weather has been cold and windy. I feel like it’s always windy here in the summer, I say “No, I think it’s been a good summer so far.” But my glass is always half full. I hover on a plane of half full glasses ready to catch me when I fall, when I start drowning in the other half. I always have something pulling me back.
Part of today, I feel or think, is a free roaming, anything possible, (except if it requires leaving the house) kind of day. It’s just me and the babies until at least afternoon. I can make my own reality, as a mom. Yesterday, after our morning and lunch out, when we got home, Fiona wanted to take a nap and Jack wanted to play in the sand box. Alan took Jack and Fiona in the Jacuzzi, Fiona took a shower with Daddy. When she got out I put on her jammies, gave her the new book we got at TJ Max. I laugh because I’ve trained my kids to love going to TJ Max looking for cool discounted toys. It’s been a fun activity for us through the years! Consumerism, pleasure center. I let Alan know one person needs to read a book to Fiona and tuck her in, one person needs to bring Jack his clothes to the sand box and hang out. I go to the sandbox. It’s a beautiful afternoon. The sky is blue with a slight breeze that rustles the fig leaves. It’s quiet for a while. I can hear the birds singing, then the breeze comes. When the leaves of the fig trees trap air, I can hear what the airs looks like between the leaves. It vibrates through my body. When it stops, contrast in the silence it leaves in its wake. “Jack did you hear that?” He acts like he doesn’t know what I’m talking about. When the symphony starts again I ask him, “can you hear that?” he evades the question, he starts playing with an excavator, pushing an old battery. I relish in this moment; the birds sing, the quiet play I am invited to with Jack. I feel I am in his private world.
Now Fiona watches the Wiggles in the kitchen and Jack watches Blippi on the i-pad. Clouds cover half the sky and a cold air comes in the house. I make a second cup of hot coffee I drink it now. The table is covered with everything, empty juice boxes, books, playdough, pens, games, I have two kids with only shirts on. I have two “screens” on, the words and music merge to create one constant background noise. The sun peers onto the deck, I want to go outside. Now Calliou is on, I have Jack and Fiona both in the kitchen. This will be the last show, I promise. When I was sick the other day I watched T.V. all day. I woke up Saturday morning, well I didn’t sleep very well. I had a severe allergy attack Friday night and bad cramps, then Saturday I woke up wiped. I missed my friend’s birthday brunch. Alan wasn’t too happy I was out of commission, I’m guessing. I’m inferring really, just by mood. He took Jack and Fiona to the bouncy house and a pancake and bacon breakfast. I did a twenty minute on the bike, showered, put on comfy clothes, ate a piece of pot chocolate (for the cramps), vacuum the living room, set up the couch with clean sheets and pillows, turn on the circulation fan, close all the blinds and windows and doors, turn on a sci fi movie and rest. I sat on that couch and watched the movie, then Oliver Stone’s “Untold History of the United States.” Yesterday morning I took Billy on a walk up the trail, I feel well rested, It’s so good to be up here. Billie’s leg is better. I have a euphoric moment, I think I found the Golden Ticket, resting! And not feeling guilty about it. To listen to my body and take care of it, not let outside influences affect my needs, not affect the way I care and love myself. These are goals.
Last sip of second cup of coffee. Still in Pajamas, Jack and Fiona are watching Blippi again on the i-pad. I start to feel guilty. I’m a bad mom. But I’m such a good mom. The past day I begin to teach Jack and Fiona to say, “No, don’t touch me, I don’t like that.” I teach them that they own their bodies. That their bodies are in their private space. I ask them every time I give them one of my automatic heard rubs or hugs or any automatic touch adults do to children to show affection, I ask them “is that ok?” I find out Jack only likes his back rubbed at night when he’s going to sleep, but my head hug is sometimes welcomed, especially if he can wipe his snotty nose on my shirt. So far Fiona says she does not like any of the automatic touches I give her on her arm. I am uncomfortable with most random touching too. I don’t like when people touch me or get too close to my face. I want Jack and Fiona to know they have the right not to be hugged or kissed or grabbed or held when they do not want it. The powerlessness small children must feel when a parent grabs them and holds them when they don’t want it must be freighting. Sometimes it’s necessary, to be strong held by an adult, of course, but maybe if they have the words to say, “I don’t like that”, even when it has to be that way, they will feel more powerful and confident, not helpless.
It’s soon time to start playdough, painting, playing outside, baths, lunch, and naps. Jack needs a nap today with his cold, to get better quicker. I hope I have time in my studio today. I hope I follow through with my Yoga plan. That’s all. Those are my only hopes for this Monday in June. It’s my reality. I can grow my day as I see fit under the circumstances. I take a nice breath, I feel relaxed and the bit of anxiety I felt about letting Jack and Fiona watch three hours of T.V. and eat junk this morning has dissipated. I will join Jack and Fiona on their road of growth today, watch the sun shine through the clouds and fog, find small adventures to have in the garden together, enjoy our day together.
Layers of skin and organs and blood and pain. Layers of joy and pleasure and softness. Layers of hardness and calluses and sun spots and crusty toe nails. Layers of stress and relaxation. Of noticing, of ignoring. Of panicking, of accepting. I hate myself. I love myself. I hate him, her, them, us, our world. I love him. I love her. I love our world. I love my dog. I hate my dog. I love my chair. I hate my chair. Fuck, I hit the corner of my toe again on this chair. Fuck I hit my shin again on this stroller. Yesterday, I’m watching a couple, drinking forty ounces of Miller high life outside the Big Rock Deli. I pull up, think Yum, wish that was me. I’m with Jack, ready to pick up Fiona. Just gotta pick up some lunch. The couple looks at his phone. All of the sudden they jump up in a hurry, get in the SUV with forties half gone in their laps and take off. What are they doing? Where are they going? I feel cool with only one kid right now, but he starts pushing, he starts climbing, he starts trying on sunglasses, touching everything. I feel helpless. I follow him saying no. I follow my children saying no. I have best intentions. I am open and happy. The more I give the more they take. “You’re never satisfied” I say. It’s always something. They take and take. I give and give. I make time to love myself. I make time to take hot baths and put on facial masks and take care of my feet and take yoga classes and do spin workouts and eat right. My stomach still always hurts. My best intentions can’t remove my frailty. My age. My premenopausal symptoms. My disconnection with my body. My painful, swollen, annoying body. I love you body. Thank you body. You are a good body. But I hate you. But I love you. I’m trying. I lay down now. I leave the dishes, I leave the picking up to lay down. I put a pillow under my knees. I rest. I feel guilty. I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t say shouldn’t. I paint. I draw. I feel. I get excited, then exhausted. I get honked at as I’m driving and Jacks saying “I want to go home over and over again” and Fiona’s saying “I want tiny” over and over again. I’m sorry other driver. I’m sorry, maybe I cut you off on accident. I’m sorry. He drives behind me and when I make my left had turn he honks at me one last time to make sure I know how mad I made him. “It’s always the woman drivers” I hear my husband saying in my mind. We try. We try our best. We try to see you. We try to be good drivers with screaming kids in the car. O-Well. I take comfort in the fact that I never honk at people. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I am kind.
I’m sitting in a black and white skull dress in front of a grouping of black and white drawings; A powerful portrait in charcoal by William Kentridge hangs on the wall in front of me. I think to myself, don’t need to rush, I can spend as much time as I need to. I stand in front of white canvases listening to the collage of footsteps, how they echo from the other side of the wall, no faces, only sound. Jasper Johns paintings, every time I see them I look at them in a new light. I recognize a piece of myself, understanding things in these paintings I hadn’t understood before. I have moments of memory flash through my being, remembering sitting in front of these giant Clifford Stills, on my lunch break, or after work on my way to Bart. I spent so much time at MOMA I wonder how much influence these Abstract Expressionistic paintings had on my practice. The Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Jay Defeo, Guston, Lobell paintings I know. I feel like I’m with good old friends. I haven’t seen them in so long; I’ve only been once since they remodeled and that time was with kids. I miss my days in the MOMA, alone. Visiting galleries. I feel like I climbed back over a bridge to a part of myself deep down inside. Today I needed a break, a bath, studio time, writing time. So, Right when we got home today from preschool, I put the babies down for a nap. They fell asleep around 1:30PM. (An hour earlier than usual.) It was so hot and they were so tired and I needed what I needed. It worked out perfectly. Today in my studio I paint in shades of blues, inspired by our meditation on water this morning. I feel like hanging them up in my house to cool things off. My note book entries are beauties too, and I closed the cover of one more note book for my show. I love the quiet right now. I only hear the fridge, the air conditioner and fan. It’s dead hot and quiet outside. Jack and Fiona will be waking from their nap soon. Time to go and make snack!