Into the “Woods”

Last week I asked Clark if there was a particular fairy tale he liked as a kid. He said “The Dark Crystal” was his favorite. I fell asleep during the movie so I had little hope for the book. Since I’m generally not one for fairy tales, I was more or less counting on him to choose one for our Cheap Date Night Challenge.

Cheap Date Night Challenge #2

“With a flashlight, blanket, and favorite fairy tale book in tow, find the most magical of forests or wooded areas in which to stage your nighttime story hour. And if you think fairy tales are for sissies, bring some Sherlock Holmes stories or, better yet, H.G. Wells instead. Don’t forget the thermos of hot chocolate and the box of animal crackers.”

Clark suggested we read The Secret of Nimh, which I found on Tuesday for a dollar at a used bookstore that smelled like kitty litter. I had my doubts once I learned that this story had something to do with rats and mice. I don’t care much for either. The mouse I found in my kitchen last month left me standing on top of my bed for the better part of the afternoon waiting for Clark to get home and rescue me. He didn’t think that was too cute. My friend Ashley came over an hour or so before our date on Saturday to bring me some fairy tale books that have a bit more adult humor. Just for clarification, this implies a story line that adults find humorous. This was NOT a clothing optional date night challenge. While Clark and I were checking out at the market with our frosted animal crackers (because the plain ones are disgusting) and a bottle of Barefoot pinot we ran into Martha who innocently asked us which fairy tale we chose for our date to which I responded, “Ashley gave us some adult fairy tales.” Clark, Martha, and the check out girl at Harris Teeter looked at me as if I had just gone streaking down the produce aisle. I turned 8 shades of red, promptly paid for my frosted animal crackers and left the store. So I feel the need to be as clear as possible on that point.

Duke offered to sit for Salem and Mia while we were out on our date. Duke (David Docusen) is my friend of 20 years who also happens to be my pastor. The thing about friends of 20 years who are also your pastor is that no matter how compelling the Sunday sermon may be, you can casually say things like, “Hey, remember when your nickname was Dookie?” A friendship like ours serves to pride-proof your life. I am totally comfortable leaving my kids with their “Uncle Duke”, however, I am not, nor will I ever be comfortable leaving him with 5oz of my breast milk. I know pastors are supposed to display a servant’s heart, and Duke does so more than any pastor I’ve ever known, but that is going above and beyond for any man. How does one respectfully say, “There are diapers in the top drawer and you can feed Mia at 8:30. There is a bottle of my breast milk on the counter. Oh and good luck with Leviticus.” I’m not sure if it was more awkward for him or for me, but needless to say, Pastor Dookie was a real trooper.

So Clark and I left our children and my breast milk with Duke and set out for our little dating adventure. We are city folk, so the only “magical forest” we could find was our community park. We toted our bag of tales with our flashlight and our basket of goodies to a patch of grass where we toasted to making it through the wilderness season. Over the course of the past year, we have had a baby, moved to a new city and started a business. Talk about topping the stress charts! The only thing that has come easy is taking each other for granted amidst so many other demands. As silly as it is to spend the night eating animal crackers and reading children’s books to each other, we learned that sometimes in order to simply enjoy one another again, we have to take the unconventional approach. Surprisingly, The Secret of Nimh was a hit! We were totally hooked until the cops came and asked us what we were doing in the park after dark. It was a most thrilling end to our magical experience.

Just add water

Hello, my name is Salina Beasley and I am a chronic over-achiever. I always have been. It’s obnoxious really. I was the Hermine Grainger type in school– finishing papers 2 weeks early and doing the extra credit even if I was already acing the course. What can I say? I’m a doer. All right, that’s putting it mildly. As I write this, I am looking at a row of titles I so diligently studied before I had my first child, and I have to laugh at myself. I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually thought I could ace the “mommy” test if I read all of the right books and followed all of the right advice.  My “just add water” approach to parenting would have been very effective for raising puppies or chia pets perhaps, but not children. Nevertheless, when my son, Salem was born, I was so overly confident that whatever this little pooper could dish out, I would be ready for it. [Insert disclaimer here: Moms, please do not hear me making light of post partum depression. It is a very real thing (even if Tom Cruise doesn’t think so).] Anyone that has gone through it can attest to the hormonal free-fall, the mind-numbing exhaustion, or the fact that every 2 hours it feels as though there is a piranha attached to your breast sucking your very will to live. “Nipple soreness”…. Talk about putting it mildly. Who thought that was an accurate description? Clearly someone who never breastfed before… probably a man…. probably Tom Cruise. Anyway, the point is that I began to suspect that perhaps someone had tossed out my “A” score with the placenta. No parenting book could have prepared me for how difficult it would actually be. My husband, Clark, and I kept asking each other, “Why didn’t anyone tell us it would be this hard?” He thought that all parents were part of a secret society sworn to downplay the reality of life after birth. Our friends with kids would see us all disheveled, looking like poster children for the world’s worst hangover and in a very inaugural way put their hand on our shoulder as if to say, “you are now a parental conspirator avowed to disguise the truth from childless unsuspecting. You are hereby entitled to use mild phrases like ‘baby blues’, ‘low energy’, and ‘nipple soreness’. Welcome to the fellowship.”  I can look back on it now and laugh at my own ignorance, but in real time, I feared that life, my body, my marriage, and my nipples would never be the same

One afternoon, my friend Lindsey came over to see Salem and I. She brought fresh bread and a list of daily activities I should do as an alternative to jumping off the nearest bridge. The list went something like this:

1.    Take a shower

2.    Put some makeup on even if you don’t plan to leave the house

3.    Pray and journal

4.    Get some fresh air

5.    Do something for yourself

6.    Spend time with friends

Here suggestions were so simple, but little by little, over time, the fog lifted and I began to feel sane again.

What are some of the things you did to rediscover life after birth?