on being a mom

adventures of being a mom

My girls make being a mom the absolute best adventure I’ve ever experienced!


With Thing 1 in Charleston, Thanksgiving 1999


Sweet kisses from Thing 2, Christmas Eve 2002

Thing 2 posted this on my fb and it literally made me laugh out loud! It’s so very Thing 2!
Even though she tagged her sister in it, I’m not sure she saw it. I’d love to read her answers too.

Mother’s Day is coming up! ADULT daughters…
How well do you know your Mom?

1. She is sitting in front of the TV, what is she watching?
Baseball if it’s in season, or something Joss Whedon created. Good runner-ups would be HGTV or food network.

2. What dressing does she eat on her salads?
…..
(chopped garlic, lemon juice and olive oil)

3. Name something she hates?
Crickets!

4. What does she like to drink?
Wine, wine, cran-apple juice, and wine.

5. Favorite music to listen to?
Lots of British alt-pop

6. What is her nickname for you?
Punkin-belly Or, classic, (a combination of both girl’s names)!!

7. What is something she collects?
School supplies.

8. What would she eat every day if she could?
Melons? If that were possible?
(I’m allergic but love watermelon.)

9. What is her favorite color?
Tiffany blue, bitch!

10. What would she never wear?
….white shoes after labor day?
(I’m a good Southern girl.)

11. What is her favorite sports team?
NATS! NATS! NATS! WOOO!

12. What is something that you don’t do that she wishes you did?
Answer my phone, visit.

13. You bake her a cake, what is it?
Probably not very delicious.

14. Favorite animal?
Alligators? Robin birds?
(Yes. Yes. and kitties)

15. What could she spend all day doing?
Certainly not making napkins. Perhaps taking photos or writing?
(I laughed, definitely not making napkins!)

16. Who is her favorite child?
Used to be me, is most definitely Thing 1 now.

17. What’s her favorite candy?
Snickers?

18. How many brothers and sisters does she have?
One brother

19. Favorite alcoholic beverage?
Wine? Mimosa? Cosmo?

20. You’re in jail and you call her, what’s her response?
$20 on the table, it’s “Jesus Christ, Magdeline.”
(This made me cackle! That $20 is hers. She’s so right! I didn’t know that’s what I’d say until I read it. Of course I’d ask if she was OK very first…but that is absolutely my “annoyed with her” phrase.)

Mother’s Day is tricky for me. I no longer have a mom…I’m not near my own children…but I loved being a daughter and I absolutely love being a mother.
I wouldn’t trade being the mom of my girls for anything in the world!
They helped me become the woman I am.

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a great break

I spent my Spring Break visiting Thing 1 and husband N in their new (to them) home! I enjoyed being in a new role with my daughter. Being on her turf. Though she was quick to utilize my mad organizational skills to help her finish getting settled.
With all sincerity, we enjoyed being together in this new way. Our love was deep and wide and so pure. Even though the drive was a bite in my ass, I’m so pleased I went and shared that time with her.

At the county plant farm I was amazed to find affordably priced plants of top quality. So many herbs I couldn’t even choose! Trees priced for real people, with real incomes. I was awed by the plant life and garden supplies. One trip just isn’t enough.
Thing 1 went home with this gorgeous hanging basket fuchsia.

My mobile carrier has no towers in this particular part of Georgia, so I spent the week with spotty cell signal. And you know what? It was kind of cool to be disconnected! I did speak with YBW every couple days just to touch base.
What I found myself missing was baseball. (natch) But to my delight, I was able to take in a T ball game while I was there. Husband N’s little cousin plays in the county rec league for the Yankees. So Thing 1 and I went to watch that sweet little dude play ball.
I loved this sign reminding us to pay attention.

As much HGTV as I watch, you’d think I’d know how sugar molds are huge in home decor right now. Yet I found myself surprised to discover sugar molds at Corner Market Trading Company. This little shop run by these precious people made me oh so happy!
Thing 1, Husband N, and I were as kids in a candy shop in this place! I found several things I’d like to have at home, but what I actually ended up purchasing was a sugar mold. In addition to it being painted the perfect Robynbird color, it reminded me of our honeymoon in Barbados visiting the sugar plantations. I simply couldn’t leave without it.
Wanna see what I did with it?
Yeah, I knew you would!

I debated between making the sugar mold a home for these gel pens or my amazing colored pencils. In the end, the gel pens won out because I couldn’t bear to mix up the ordered perfection of the colored pencils in their metal box.
YBW walked by my desk and chuckled, “You put them in color order.”
Well duh!
Then he patted my bottom when he passed me and said, “Of course you did.”
I could hear the smile in his voice.

I had a great Spring Break!
Spent time with my girl and her sweet husband.
Got to see gorgeous plants.
Went to a ball game.
Did a little shopping.
Bought a super stylish (and meaningful) way to sort my ever growing collection of pens.
And I got home in time to go to see the Nats beat the Phillies!
I forgot being on a school schedule is the absolute best!

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twenty three years

Today is Thing 1’s birthday. She’s twenty three. Older than I was when she was born.
I find it hard to believe it’s been twenty three years since I first clapped eyes on her. The time has gone by in only a moment! Yet I feel like I’ve been her mom since the dawn of time. (in the best possible way)
We had some rough times. Times I never expected to recover from.
We had beautiful times that I wish I could somehow bottle, open up and swim around in once again.

She wrote to me earlier this week, “I miss us.” in response to the resurfacing of something her sister said years ago. A moment in time when the three of us were an unstoppable unit of girl power and giggles. A mom and her two girls just living and loving and laughing together.
I miss us too.
But even though I miss us, I know that I raised two very strong willed and independently minded young women. I know I did my job providing the best possible foundation for them to continue to build their lives. I know that power resides in them and they’re going to use it to the best of their abilities when they set themselves to it. I know the natural course of life is for them to create nests of their own. They don’t need to be in my nest anymore, they can create their own, and they can live and love and laugh as women.
I am proud of who they are.
I’m just a bit sad that we’re no longer “us”.
Both of these are OK.

Thing 1 was the human personification of every hope and dream I ever had. Yet she exceeds them. She challenged me every step of the way. But I realize now, she was meant to do. She is who she is to help me become who I am supposed to be.
She will call me to tell me to goofiest things. She will ask for advice. She was the one who most encouraged my decision to return to therapy. She reminds me that I wasn’t always “sick” and that I’ll get through this and will come out the other side better off.
There are times when I want to “kick her in the face”. There are times I want to hold her close and whisper sweet things to her. I think that’s only natural.

We’ve lived through twenty three years of some of the best and worst things I’ve ever experienced. But here’s the deal, they made us “us” and I choose to celebrate that.
She recently posted this photo on social media. I was moved to tears. All the hard work, and all the love, and all the laughter, and all the pain, and all the silliness created this Momma and this daughter. And it means something just as powerful to her.
daughter-crown
Woo Hoo! Birthday Birthday! Happiest day to you, Bear! I love you more than the whole wide world.

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love not hate, and certain unalienable rights

Yesterday was a huge deal for women in my country. Women, no, not just women. People all over the country marched in protest. Marched in love. Marched because they could.
And I was greatly moved.
we-will-not-go-back

I debated heading downtown yesterday, but truly hadn’t made enough of a plan to get it together. I missed a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate, but I was able to spectate. And honestly, that’s perfectly acceptable to me. I experienced it and it continues to impact me.
I was saying to YBW today that I don’t regret not going. That I am truly humbled by being able to watch it happen. That I’m humbled and proud to know so many amazing human beings. That our first amendment is a living breathing thing. That hundreds of thousands of people were able to exercise that beautiful right to take to the streets to say and show what they’re passionate about.

Gloria Steinem’s speech reminded me of being a little girl in the 70s. I did not like that she called out Trump…but I liked other things she said.

I think Madonna needed to shut her mouth before she even opened it.
To me it’s not about how horrible Donald Trump is. It’s about showing the world how strongly (these particular) Americans feel about human rights.

A friend of mine posted about her mother and uncles participating in the March on Washington with Dr. King. That she was marching for the same reasons as they did. Marching to honor them. Marching for her young daughters.
I was amazed at photos and posts on social media! Girls I held when they were babies marching. Mothers of children I’ve taught.
It was truly awe-inspiring to watch.

I read comments written by women who question the motives. And I began to wonder what that must feel like…to not be at all impressed by something that began as a facebook post became hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children standing up for freedom.
not-all-women
This was posted by a woman I’ve known since we were nine and ten years old.
What troubles me about my country being so polarized is that this march was perceived as a “We hate Trump” rally.
Now sure, some of those people do hate him. Some of them are simply exercising their first amendment right. Some are truly all about the preservation of basic human rights.
It feels to me that this woman I’ve known since I was a little girl is focusing on hate and ‘party lines’ rather than perhaps considering that it’s not about hate. That it may be about something more.
That perhaps it might be better to strive for some unity rather than remaining so deeply divided.

This dad and his little daughter in Annapolis know what’s up.
equal-greater-than-divided

I don’t worship Hillary Clinton. I truly felt as though the election in November was a decision between the lesser of two evils. Yet, I couldn’t in good conscience abstain from voting. I could not dishonor the women who came before me in that way.
I don’t idolize her. I don’t demonize him.
I just want to believe that all the hard work that was put into building my country will be honored by everyone with political power.
Though I understand that concept of “not my president” I think it’s awful. He is our president. We have no choice now. Like it or not, if you’re an American citizen, he is your president. Acceptance is where it’s at. You can accept without liking it.
We must stop perpetuating this whole ‘us against them’ mentality. Divided we fail! We are all Americans. We are all human beings.

I’m so proud to be a woman.
A woman in a country in which women have had the right to vote for less than one hundred years! This is a bigger deal than most people ever stop to consider!
What those Suffragettes went through so women could vote…
What the Greatest Generation when through during the Second World War…
What those men and women went through in the time of the Civil Rights Movement…
What same sex couples went through for marriage equality…
What the LGBTQ people are going through to be respected as human beings…
I believe so strongly that we cannot ignore our past. We must honor it. And if we can, we must learn from it.

I read one remark (written by a woman, mind you) that the march seemed to be all about being able to have an abortion. And I thought, ‘Wow are you truly missing the point! It’s about the unalienable rights of all human beings.’ At least for me that’s what it is.
Being able to have an abortion is no longer an issue of concern for me. But it is for my daughters. It is for girls I’ve taught. I don’t believe abortion should be used as birth control. But I do believe every person should have the basic human right to choose what to do with and for their own body.

What the men and women who came before us went through to get us where we are is worth honoring. What those men and women did yesterday is worth honoring.
There will always be haters. On either side of any topic.
But for me, yesterday was about love.
Love for human beings.
what-could-go-right
What can go right if we let go of hate and embrace each other?

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feeling inspired

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Inspiration sometimes comes from the most surprising places. Thing 2 shared this old photo on facebook this morning. She has been uberpositive of late and it moves me greatly!

I took a screenshot to share.
It got me thinking:
Love the you that you are!
And love the you that you were. Sure, those you(s) need work…so do the work! But always love yourself unconditionally while you do the work.
Treat yourself with kindness!
You deserve to be treated with kindness. That starts in you, be kind to yourself. How else will others know to treat you with kindness?
Share your inspiration!
Stories of ‘failures’ are just as powerful as stories of ‘success’. We all “wore Crocs” at some point in our lives. That is both a good and perhaps a not so good thing. Embrace it. Let it be a source of hope and inspiration!

And in the words of my daughter: “Just freaking worship yourselves, okay?”
You deserve it!

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Santa bring my baby back to me.

I don’t think about it any more than I have to.
I’ve only written about it once.
I heard a song today that made it all come crashing back.

I realize I have only flashes. Only moments. I have no full memories of that time.
I remember Thing 1 begging for help.
I remember being in the ER at Richland.
I remember going to Palmetto Baptist and being separated from her.
I remember saying goodbye and leaving her there. I held her close and told her how brave she was.
I remember falling to my knees in tears on Taylor Street before I could even make it to my car.
I remember explaining to Thing 2 where her sister was.
I remember leaving work early every day to be home in time for Thing 2 to get off the bus so she wouldn’t come home to an empty house.
I remember how painful it was to visit the hospital or talk with Thing 1 on the phone.
I remember singing ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ with Thing 2. So hopeful she’d be well enough to come home to us for Christmas.
I remember ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me’ having an entirely new meaning that Christmas.

The pain of that time was excruciating. The healing process even more so.
I don’t intentionally ignore the fact of it. I just don’t choose to get up to my ass in it. Sometimes it sneaks up on me and I don’t have a choice but to feel it. Today was one of those days.
Leaving my suicidal first born in the mental health hospital was one of the absolute worst experiences for my family.
All I wanted for Christmas was my child to come home. And she did. And it was awful.
We lived through it.
We came out the other side irrevocably changed.

When I heard the My Chemical Romance version of All I Want for Christmas is You this afternoon, I was up to my ass in what it felt like that Christmas six years ago.

As I write this, I am filled with love. The love of a mother who nearly lost not just one, but both of her babies. That love is precious. That love is sacred. Those girls are my heart. And that means I have all I want for Christmas.

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pony in the middle

I went to see my therapist Friday morning.
Mostly it was all, blah blah living my intention…love and gratitude and grace blah blah…my friend’s email…moral courage blah blah…changing my life and lives of others blah blah…love and joy and calmness and fortitude blah blah…
(pretty much the stuff I told y’all the other day mixed in with a bit of “none ya”)

And then she said something that triggered a thought I had the night before right as I fell asleep.
It was something about how I’m the linchpin holding my family and YBW’s family together…only I knew that wasn’t right the night before when I tried to put language to the nugget of thought…

So, when I explained it to my therapist I said, “Imagine a venn diagram.”

venn

It’s not that I’m a linchpin. It’s not even that I’m in that overlapping space alone.
It’s that I’m not really in either family.
I’m no longer in my own family because one member of that family is 500 miles away from me and the other is 900 miles away from me on a daily basis.
I’m not really in his family either.
I’m the “mom of this house” according to Thing G, but being the person who prepares their daily meals is me being a house elf, not me being their mom. That, and they’re 23 and 16, they hardly need the mom they have, much less a surplus one.

At first I thought what bothered me was that in the middle should be both YBW and me. I had this naive idea that even though we each came from a family, we would be creating a new one together. This isn’t really happening…and I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer worry about whether or not it’s OK, I simply accept that he’s not ready for that phase of his life yet. Eventually we’ll get around to it…

The more I think on this, journal on this, I discover that’s not what bothers me about it. What bothers me about it is that I don’t really seem to belong in either family.
Not the one I made.
Not the one he made.
I’m the monkey in the middle.

pony-in-the-middle

Well, maybe I’m the pony in the middle…

What does that mean?
And that’s where I get stuck.

What I’m supposed to be doing is figuring out how to live my intention. Not just live with love for other people, but for me too. Live with love for me.
Being the pony in the middle doesn’t feel like love to me.

Need to keep the focus on me.
Not on “his family”.
Not even on “my family”.
Must focus on that little sliver of me in the middle.

Here’s what I know about me right now.
I am so resentful.
I don’t get to enjoy the company of my daughters, but I am without choice that YBW’s sons enter this house every six days.
I don’t actually resent his sons. I love them greatly and have incorporated them into my brood. It’s more that I resent what they represent. I’m not even sure I resent their father…but I absolutely resent being their bitch.

I love food.
I love to cook.
Feeding these people who only like a handful of things, who complain at every meal has made me hate food so much that I don’t even want to feed myself anymore.

I don’t know what the big deal is. I mean, it seems a bit dramatic to be resentful about feeding people. But there it is.

I’m resentful because my life has to be put on hold every other week.
I’m resentful because I want to give more time and love to my own family.
I’m resentful because I’m lie to myself about who I really am in this life.
I’m resentful because my biggest fear is that I’ll never again be in the circle labeled “my family”.
I’m resentful because I’m not comfortable in my own home…because it’s not really my home.
I’m resentful because I have all this freaking resentment!

Perhaps I should consider my own independence before the wishes of others?
Perhaps I should put myself first?
Perhaps I should stop doing things because I think I should?

It has come to my attention that I’m deeply unhappy and need to make some changes or possibly lose myself completely.
I’m the only me I’ve got.
I’m the only Momma Thing 1 and Thing 2 to have.
I need to be me for me.
I want to be me for them.
Can’t lose myself.
Don’t want to be unhappy.
Don’t want to be resentful.

It’s not actual hard work to feed people. But it’s really emotionally hard work.
I don’t feel comfortable in the house I live every other week. But I have no recourse of action. It’s a hand-me-down home for my hand-me-down life.

I don’t know how to put myself first. It feels selfish.
I feel a bit like Carrie Bradshaw asking questions…but here’s another: When is putting yourself first self-preservation, and when is it just selfish?

I’m not sure where I found this quote:

We can only go so far in making our life the way we would wish it to be.

I’m feeling it, yet I question it at the same time.
If we can only go so far…how do we end up where we want to be? Where we belong?

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“You were always a pretty badass mom.”

Sometimes when things are absolute shit, something lovely occurs to spark a little hope in your heart. This happened to me in the form of a text conversation with my own Thing 1.
We were talking about the little boy she nannys for after she sent me a snapchat of him dressed as Batman and generally being kind of adorable. He’ll be two in November.

Thing 1:
He has started holding actual conversations. It’s so cute.
Me:
Oh that’s the BEST!!
Thing 1:
It makes me want five kids.
(then we talked about education for a bit)
Thing 1: That’s cool. I’ll probably look into good schools before I make a final decision. I mean I have all the time in the world.
Me:
Either you’ll be a mom or you won’t. Either way as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. And if you are a mom, you’ll be that much better at it than I was!!
Thing 1:
I doubt that. You were always a pretty badass mom.
(After everything we’ve been through, that made my heart take flight!)
Me:
Aww! Thanks, bear!! But I’m a better mom than Grandmommy was. You’ll be a better mom than I was. Your (maybe?) girl(s) will be better mom(s) than you…does that make sense kinda?
Thing 1:
Hahaha I don’t know how you think I could be better than you. That’s just crazy talk.
Me:
Thank you for saying I was a badass mom. I often times feel like I failed you. All I ever wanted to do was be your mom. I’m glad the bigger percentage was good for you.
Thing 1:
Hey, if anybody got failed parenting, it’s Thing 2, but I’ve kinda said that from the beginning. Ever since she almost died, I think you were afraid of her mortality and it made you really really soft on her. And of course, Dad was no help to either of us.
Me:
I’m sorry your dad isn’t a better parent. I do believe he loves you.
Thing 2 was an eyeopener for me. She deserves better, but I can’t fix what’s past and I can’t help her now. She’ll have to come out of it on her own with just our love to help her.
Thing 1:
I know he does in his own weird little way. I just have to make a serious effort to keep from getting irritated with him most of the time.
Yeah, pretty much. She’ll figure it out. Eventually.
Me:
I don’t know if you truly know how much it pleases my heart that you and I found our way back to each other. You, my very first girl. My own sweet love. You were always your daddy’s…but I got to love you too.
Thing 1:
I’m very glad we did too. It makes me so happy that I can talk to my mom without fighting with her.
Me:
Oh, me too Bea!! Me too!!
I know it was crap! In my defense, I was scared and miserable most of my adult life. I was raised by a woman who loved me but wasn’t real. I didn’t know how to do it…I just learned as I went. I wanted you to be strong and independent. And guess what!?! You ARE!! I’m proud of who you are.
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Me:
Shit, some days I’m like, am I even a real grown up? Seriously! Even after all this time and practice.
Thing 1:
I know. I just have to find that perfect balance between adult and kid at heart.
Me:
You will…you’ve only been an adult for a hot second.
(We talked a few more moments and then ended our conversation.)

That girl is the human embodiment of every hope and dream I’d had since I was a little girl.
We lost our way. Turned our backs on each other in the most cruel and horrific ways. But time heals all wounds. Time and distance. And perspective.
I think she understands that all I ever wanted for her was to have the best foundation upon which to build her life. Sure, I went about it poorly on occasion…but I didn’t know how to be a mom. Do any of us know how to be parents? We know we must keep our children healthy and safe from harm…that’s instinctual. And it’s the easy part! The tricky part is navigating everything else! Parents are bound to bugger it up…we have no choice. We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to hold onto this kid while we’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, you’re never truly prepared. So you cross your fingers and follow your instincts and if you’re very lucky, you parent with another human being that thinks the way you do.
My girls didn’t always have the best grades.
Thing 1 dropped out of college.
Thing 2 left high school to get her GED and hasn’t yet gone to college.
But you know what? My girls are strong and capable young women who stand a real chance in this world. They’re not waiting around for some man to come take care of them. They’re going to make it their own way. The best they can.
That’s more than some parents can say about their kids.
Both my girls have discussed going back to school. This pleases me simply because they’ll have a better chance of being properly employed with degrees. They’ll make more money with degrees. Money isn’t everything…but it keeps you from being hungry, and homeless. And having a bit of extra money keeps books on your shelves and shoes on your feet. My girls need that.

My life has been a mess of hotness lately. Between my own personal struggles and the struggles in my relationship with YBW, I’ve been feeling awful about my life. About my ability to ‘adult’. About my ability to parent. About my ability to be in a relationship. About my ability to be a “stepmother” to two partially grown young men.
Thing 1 gave me hope this morning.
I am a badass mom! And, perhaps that means I’m kind of a badass woman. And if I’m a badass mom and a badass woman, perhaps I’ll be able to sort my struggles and come out the other side with my badassness intact and been able to learn another important lesson.
I’m crossing my fingers as I fly by the seat of my pants.

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*sips fruit salad*

Thing 1 posted this on my facebook this week.
I was amused.
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Then I got to thinking…did I drink too much when the girls were growing up?
Am I a bad mom?
Am I a bad example?
I’ve decided to answer all three of these questions with a nopity nope.
I am an excellent mom. Playful and sincere, with loads of important life lessons.
Of course, I’ve had phone calls or text messages from each of them at one time or another asking me for my Cosmopolitan recipe.
Hmm…perhaps I’m not the best mom after all…
Meh, I’ll just have another sip of my fruit salad and decide not to worry about it.

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terrifying and strange and beautiful muchness

Thing 2 sent this via snapchat one day last week. It triggered in me a deeply buried memory of a poem I read or heard…before Warsan Shire’s words became the backbone of Beyonce’s Lemonade.
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Thing 2 is a curious beast. She struggles with her place in our family. She struggles with her place in the world. She is the kind of girl that defies labeling. Like Alice, her muchness is undefinable.
She is cursed with the kind of awareness that not many of us possess. The kind of awareness that sends one straight into one’s head with a great deal of difficulty to get back out again.
Thing 2 doesn’t really have enough life experience under her belt yet that these words ring true in the deepest levels of her soul. But they ring true on the surface.
She knows that even if she doesn’t completely understand it.
What she does know is that she’s a bit different from most people.
The Hatter said to Alice, “‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.” Thing 2 was muchier when she was a small girl…life has gotten in the way. Her muchness isn’t gone, she’s just kind of forgotten where it is inside of her.
She knows she’s meant to be more than she is now. She just doesn’t know quite what to do about it.

Here is “for women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” by Warsan Shire, for my Thing 2 and for all the women out there who are much more muchier than they realize.

you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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