Saturday, April 30, 2005

Porno Model Mommy

Genevieve only had one nap today. I hope that this is not a coming trend. She was also very finicky at dinnertime. All she wanted to eat were Kix.

Her pointing is now often toward the television when she is in the living room—a disturbing turn-of-events.

It seems as though when I sit to write the first thing I think to mention is what’s going on with Genevieve. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just noticing.

Now I am sitting here reminding myself that I am more than a mom. It’s strange how the role of mom just seems to overshadow all other aspects of a woman. I can remember being a little girl and resenting that my mom worked outside the home. I wondered why being my mom wasn’t enough to fulfill her life. I also remember at other times being very proud to be able to say that my mom was an art teacher.

I suppose Genny will have these conflicting feelings about me, too. There may be a point in her life when being able to tell her friends, “My mom was a porno model!” will be a cool thing. Of course, more likely, it will be a source of embarrassment.

Which leads me to ask myself, if I had the chance to do it all over again, would I do things the same way? Would I have been a nude model if I knew I was going to have a daughter who would be upset by it one day?

The answer is, yes, I think. I know that no matter what I had done in my life, Genny would find something wrong with it at some point. There’s no use wishing to change my past now, especially since my life has given me so many interesting stories to write about today.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Rolling On

Genevieve’s life is all about crawling, waving and pointing now. And eating, of course. She’s gained tremendous crawling speed in just one week. She is now able to catch up to Luke and point at his pink nose.

My life is all about chasing Genny, drinking my decaf, soy lattes and trying to consistently write and do yoga. I’ve gained tremendous crawling speed in just one week. I am now able to catch up to Genny and yank the telephone cord from her mouth.

Life can be so simple.

I think perhaps I like complicating life—or trying to shove too many things into one day. Genny is happy working with her simple skill set, layering her skills as the days roll by.

I feel like rolling now myself. Down a green slope, under a blue sky. Scratchy grass woven through my hair. My laughter mixed with Genny’s and Nick’s voices. Closing my eyes, I feel the world spiraling inside of me. Deeper toward my center. Deeper toward my peace.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


I was in bridge pose on my purple sticky mat one moment and then suddenly I found myself in a strip club. I was bent over backward in shiny heels smiling at a bald man with glasses chugging a beer.

I felt my chest expand open with light as these two very different moments of my life converged—dark, dirty bar filled with drunk men and sunny living room occupied by my daughter and I practicing yoga.

I’ve had these stripper flashbacks in yoga poses before. My hatha yoga practice has taken me deeper into finding meaning in these odd experiences. Asanas closely resemble many of the poses I struck as an adult entertainer and model. Could it be that even then, before I was on a spiritual path, that my self was trying to point me in the right direction? And perhaps at the time I was not yet ready to receive the message and start the journey?

My revelations regarding physical poses help me heal today. When my body takes a familiar pose that pulls up past memories, I allow the memories to surface. I practice being non-judgmental of the woman I was then and refocus on the present and the fact that the pose is just for me now. I am no longer performing for others. I now refocus on correct alignment, a quiet mind and strength, rather than how my pose looks to others and how much money it can make me.

Yoga asanas are doorways to my past, but from a centered self who knows where she wants to be today. I am able to make different choices about how I use my body and how my spirit expresses itself through that body.

I hope that Genevieve will learn a love for and respect for her body not easily achieved by most women today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


I push Genny on the baby swing at the park. My hands push her thighs as she arcs toward me and I can remember the pat of hands on my own thighs. The reassuring light clap and push against my skinny girl legs. I feel the breeze in my face and taste my flying warm hair in my mouth.

I tickle Genny as she comes to me. We laugh as she flies away. She points at the other kids, I think, or perhaps she’s pointing at something I don’t even see. She kicks her legs and waves her pink-shoed feet.

By the time we head home from the park, Gen’s blue pants are dirty at the knees from crawling practice. This is the first time that she’s ever had dirty knees. I suppose this is one of those baby milestones to remember.

Since she learned how to crawl last week, Genevieve is becoming clingier. She never used to like to just sit in my lap and relax, but now she eagerly crawls into my lap and even rests her head on my shoulder. I think this is what Dr. Sears (or some other Dr. writer person) wrote is separation anxiety. Gen’s body is growing more independent, but her mind still needs to check back in with mom.

I like it when she comes to me on her own. It makes me feel wanted and needed and loved.

I am starting to think that this is the easy part. A baby loves you no matter what. As she grows older, I will have to prepare Genny for being a female in this society. How will I prepare her for the stress of being a woman? How will I explain the choices that I have made? Will she follow in my footsteps?

How funny that I can go from swinging babies and happy memories to wondering if my daughter will one day want to be a stripper. Stop, breathe and laugh, Sheila. Stay in this moment. Enjoy the swinging while it lasts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My Mom

My mom has stage-four breast cancer. She has been sick for a long time. I doubt if even Mom knows how many chemo treatments she has received and will need to keep receiving.

She has just started yet another new chemo. This one will probably make her lose her hair again.

Genevieve and I visited her in Connecticut today.

Genny crawls to my lap in the warm sun and rests her head on my thigh. Her untrimmed fingernails are lined with dirt. We don’t have much grass for digging through in Jackson Heights. This is a special treat.

I want to crawl to my mom. I want to bury my eyes against her shirt. Bury my skin against her freckled face. Close my eyes, open them and find us back at our house in Trumbull. Mom’s brown curls bobbing against her bare shoulders. We could be raking leaves or running down the driveway to get the mail or hanging wet clothes on the clothesline in the backyard.

I want to take away her illness. I want to cast it out of her. She is my mother and I need her as much as Genevieve needs me.

Having my own daughter has allowed me to understand the incredible love my mother has for me. And, of course, I think of all the hand wringing and teeth gnashing I have caused her over the years.

I understand now why she didn’t want me to become a stripper. I understand now why she made me brush my teeth. I understand now why she slept next to my bed on my bedroom’s bumpy gold carpet when I was sick.

And I understand why I always felt better in the morning.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Mommy, The Entertainer

Genevieve’s latest skill is pointing, which I’m quite enjoying. Her finger smells like cinnamon from the Zwieback toast. I kiss her sticky little pointer like it’s a ripe, juicy berry hanging from a branch.

She points at her pile of toys on the table. I pull out an orange fish puppet and offer it to her. She takes it and tosses it to the floor. I offer her a life size Minnie Mouse and she pushes it away. This game continues until the table is bare.

This has just been pointing practice.

Genevieve practices and I observe. This is not a new role for me—observer. I have always enjoyed watching people, quietly making note of details that make people unique. Perhaps if I try to focus in on my role as observer of Genny I will be able to enjoy our time together more.

Observer, not entertainer.

I am so used to being the entertainer, whether I was stripping on stage or acting on tour. Eyes grazed my body and face, feeding off of what I offered. And I always felt like I needed to present more. I required of myself perfection.

Maybe I sometimes think that Genny is expecting the same perfected entertainment from me. She is just a baby; I’m the one putting pressure on myself to be the perfect performing mommy.

I need to practice stepping back. I need to remember that it’s not the end of the world if Genny cries a little bit. I do not have to rush to entertain her into happiness. How I have always hated it when people tell me to smile when I am crying.

I can let Genevieve feel upset. I can handle it. Or I can at least practice handling it until my own table is laid bare.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Hot Chili

Genny just went to bed. I walk out of her room, shut the door behind me and feel a sense of relief. Hopefully, she will sleep all night, but most likely she’ll wake up around Midnight or so.

My depression is feeling very heavy tonight, like a dirty trench coat on a crippled old man. There is no obvious reason for my depression at the moment. None that I can think of at least. And I feel very cold, although it isn’t that cold outside.

I think the higher dosage of my antidepressant is making me feel cloudy headed. Tired, like fuzzy curtains drawn across my brain. I wish I could tug on the cord and pull the cloth aside. Open the shades and reveal a clearer space.

Sometimes I think I am not cut out for this mothering gig. I want to be more enthusiastic about playing with Genevieve. I want to be more creative in teaching her about life. I want to feel sad when it is time to put her down for bed.

I know that I am just in a low mood and that it will pass. I love Genevieve. Nick is opening photos of her from some emails. She was so tiny and had so little hair.

I’m going to cook dinner now. I feel a certain sense of serenity when I cook, even if I’m just heating up my vegetarian chili. The results of my efforts will be immediate—hot food to quench my growling belly. I will not have to wait years to see how my chili’s going to turn out.