August 29, 2013

super nutty summer

Not sure what it says about me that I am a total mess at the end of “vacation,” but the kids start school Monday, so if you came here looking for anything coherent, sensible or otherwise enriching, you might want to check back next week.

(The granola’s kind of badass though, so at the very least, skip to the end.)  

My initial thought:

Maybe I should just post recipes until school starts.

The inner dialogue that followed, resulting in the accomplishment of almost nothing save for this long-winded granola recipe:

“Recipes are not my true passion. I should really write from my passion.

So let’s see…presence. Something about presence, and of course homemaking, and how each are underrated for their potential to save us as a species.

Hmm, Making Home sounds so much better than homemaking. Less 1950s oppressed housewife, for sure. All those 24-year-old moms with energy left to fight would surely wage war with such a shocking word as homemaking in the title.

So, something engaging and concise but not too much like other stuff I’ve written on the topic. I wonder if there’s anything good in that one post I started about mindfulness and motherhood. Where the hell is that anyway?

(after 45 minutes of scrolling through Evernote, unlabeled folders on my desktop and the hard drive of my old computer that turns on only when you hold the cord a certain way and tilt the screen back 110 degrees, and being reminded of just how unorganized I really am)

I sure thought that piece had a little more substance. Whatever, so presence.

Wait, where are the kids?

(after finding them outside with two boxes of cornstarch, the hose, the dogs and all the towels I had just washed, line dried, folded and put away, then pretending to see nothing and sneaking back to my computer before being caught and needed for something urgent and complicated)

Thing is, making home actually requires very little presence and I use it as an escape from my children all the time, so maybe attaching it to presence in the title is disingenuous and misleading. Moms have enough to sort without me spewing half-assed hypocritical opinions under the guise of maternal wisdom and getting away with it because I’ve been doing this my whole f-ing adulthood.

Will I ever amount to anything else? Is this enough? Is this whole blog just some delusional fear-infused attempt to hold onto the only thing I’ve ever done that actually matters? What about the plight of women the world over? Granola, Beth? Really?

Maybe I’ll just post my granola recipe as a sort of a space holder while I interview the local mothers in my neighborhood. Yes, now that sounds better. Much more consistent with the woman I want to be.

But those ladies don’t want to talk to the grinning gringa across the street with her two cars and banana bread baked in benevolence! And wait a minute, this isn’t about me, or them, it’s about my readers. Moms in the US don’t have time to ponder the perils of third world parenting, they’re too busy driving to dance class and paying down their principle. Shoot, I should probably check our bank account.

I know, I’ll talk about how jarred I feel every time I return to the US and why I think that is. The pace, the consumption, the distractions, the rules, the tidy rows of seemingly endless pleasantries in pretty packaging…

Wait, but it’s the end of the summer, no one wants to process all that. Besides, everyone’s back-to-school shopping. Reminding them of conscientious consumption now will just and add to the pile of guilt parents already feel for allowing so much screen time all summer. (Or is that just me?) What moms need this time of year is some comic relief

Maybe I’ll write an argument for mandatory sound and tamper-proof glass between drivers and children following that flirtation with insanity I experienced on I35. Or better yet, a plea to congresspeople for two-year minimum electronics-free manual labor camps for all US born 18-year-olds. Oh, but most of my readers’ kids are probably still little and cute and squishy, no need to burst their bubbles. A proposal for psychiatric evaluations free to any parent who has ever considered having more than two children? Nah, that’ll probably offend all those wanna-be moms who stand on their heads after sex during ovulation.

Besides, anyone who’s ever met me knows I’m actually not funny at all, but that I take everything way too seriously and have to be reminded that having beers on the front lawn while the kids run naked through the sprinkler is exactly the same thing as writing a manifesto about the revitalization of local communities through spontaneous picnicking and potlucks. Ok beer, but no sprinkler, too wasteful. Or maybe, if they play with it in the garden…

Wait, what was I doing? Facebook? Should probably check Facebook.

(after losing myself for forty minutes following link after mind-numbing link, proving that not only is my voice just a drop in the bucket but that everyone else gets shit done during the summer)

Why am I blogging again? Was the whole point to have a creative outlet and honor the voice inside me or was it to grow a readership who would eventually buy my books? Oh shit, my BOOK. Forget the blog, I have books to write!!

Huh. The kids are way too quiet.

(after finding the entire porch, kitchen and bathroom covered in cornstarch and the kids parked in front of an unauthorized movie)

I am failing as a mother. My kids know neither the value of hard work nor do they possess the willpower to make decisions in their best interest. Has giving them a second language really been about them or about me? Am I doing more harm than good by keeping them here, away from their friends and just a fly bite away from flesh-eating tropical disease?

Wait, do mosca chicleras sting or bite? I should probably look that up.

(after getting my google on, consoling one who came in crying from loneliness, another who’d been caught in the ensuing crossfires of despair and annoyance, then making food that no one liked nor thanked me for)

Maybe I should just speak my truth — hang my heart’s holdings like prayer flags and hope they’re not too heavy:

Like how I sorta lost myself this summer amidst the madness of being a mother. Like how it’s a different thing altogether to lose it and lose yourself, but that they’re often mistaken as one in the same.

Like how it’s sometimes easier to set down my own needs when theirs are so weighty, but that it rarely works out to be less of a load for anyone.

Or the way the guilt piles up alongside the dishes when I open my laptop in lieu of a storybook, and how vital it seems to carve space for both, and keep them separate.

Like the discovery that once you evoke your passion and it finds you, shoving it into the shadows — even for just a summer — is a recipe for resentment.

Like just how exhausting it is to straddle two countries, helping girls back and forth and back and forth, emotionally, and how impossible it is to know whether their expansion and growth is worth it for the heartache and frustration.

Like how a pack of daughters will pick the meat straight from the very bones that birthed them (at the first sign of weakness), and how hard it is to keep still; to stay vulnerable, instead of showing my teeth, grabbing them by the throats and throwing them to the ground.

Like just how intentional I suddenly realize I’m going to have to be if the goal is five whole women, not just four.

Like how startling it feels when you realize you’ve already raised one, and that she’s right when she says, “I’m going to be fine.”

Or whatever. Just granola.

Where are my children?”

super nutty maple granola

Super Nutty Maple Granola

4 c oats

1 c dried coconut

1/4 c flax meal

1 c pecans, chopped

1 c almonds, chopped

1/4 c sunflower seeds

1 cup dried cranberries or raisins

1/2 t sea salt

1/2 t cinnamon

2/3 c maple syrup

2 T olive oil

2 T melted butter

1/2 t vanilla

1 egg white, whisked to soft peaks

In large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients, folding in egg whites last. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until oats are coated. Oil two cookie sheets (or line with parchment paper), divide granola and spread on each sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes, turning halfway through and checking toward the end to make sure the edges aren’t browning too fast (every oven is different). Allow to cool completely before breaking into clumps and storing in an airtight container.

super nutty maple granola

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  1. Your best one yet! I hear your voice, loud and clear. You are funny and a wonderful writer (who is also a mother, a wife, a daughter and a sister).


  2. holy crap, I love you woman!!!!! so raw. so perfect.


  3. Hey, missed you over the summer, so glad you’re back! Loved this post. For some reason felt like crying AND laughing, and even COOKING. Granola looks awesome :-)


  4. Ha! I have been neglecting my own blog for feelings like these. You have written it so much better than I ever could.


  5. So glad you are back…I was getting worried…where did Beth go? Now I know…you were out there with the rest of the moms hanging on by their fingernails until school starts. Welcome back and welcome into the club of doubt and what did I do on summer vacation?


  6. This was SO, SO GOOD. I can so relate to so much of this.


  7. Being inside your head was fun just now. Love the raw and gutt wrentching honesty. Not to laugh at your frustration but i found myself laughing my ass off with this one. Such a difficult balance between being a good mom, wife and artist. It is one of the biggest challenges in life for me. Keep it raw! Keep it real!


  8. Bahaaaahaaaaaaas! Samesies!


  9. I feel your pain. We spent 5 weeks in the states this summer, a record for us. I find I need a week of adjustment when I get there and a week of adjustment when I return home to Playa. I’m still in the middle of that first week so all bets are off for any sanity in my world!


  10. Fantastic! Love your honesty and openness. Have definitely experienced the “lost it” feelings, along with many of the feelings you express. Thank you for sharing with all of us Moms, wives, friends, sisters, daughters! You rock!


  11. This post nails an astonishing number of the frustrating realities of mothering. It reflects almost exactly my own state of mind/state of being — and sadly, not just in the summer! P.S. I didn’t read the granola recipe — don’t like granola — but I’m going back to read the whole post again.


  12. You speak my language and I’m so thankful for you Beth.


  13. Yes. Just, yes.


  14. Thank you! As I ignore my children in the background, I laughed, cried and absolutely love the granola recipe. Your blog is one of my favorite escapes…


  15. If granola is the excuse for such good words, bring it on. Write a whole damn cookbook. I was just thinking tonight that I can’t take one more day of summer vacation. Helpfully, school starts in the morning. I could cry with happiness, but it’s mostly fatigue, and sorrow for all the hard moments we’ve had in these last days of burnout. Thanks for writing.


  16. I f*king love you! That was awesome.


  17. I love your honesty!…and your blog :)

    I’ve been thinking lately that I’ll never get the balance thing — that I will always be searching for balance between self and family, creativity and just mundane tasks…and that maybe that is just how it is.


  18. Girl, i hear ya! although i’m impressed you were able to type your rambling thoughts. i usually only get to sit with mine while washing the dishes or folding the diapers. i keep telling myself ‘it’ll be easier when the girls are older.’ they’re 3 1/2 and 5 weeks. and while there may be some truth to this lie i tell myself, i forget to focus on my wellbeing until i’m crying in the face of my newborn who wont stop crying and go to sleep, asking her when it’ll be my turn to get taken care of. totally unfair for me to meltdown to a newbie. time to stop making excuses and make time for me! 3 whole women IS a challenge, a challenge i accept!


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