on being a mom

bubbly and blocks and old photos – a visit from Thing 2

Thing 2 arrived on a morning flight Thursday last.
She let me know she landed safely and was waiting for her gate checked bag.
Then I got this message:

This is a perfect example of how I communicate with my daughters. I knew what and why she was actually asking. I answered the underlying question. It’s a silly thing, but I love that about my relationship with my grown girls.

After we brunched at First Watch we hung out at here at home drinking bubbly.

Friday Thing 1 and Baby K came over to play.
YBW came home from work just after they arrived.
Of course he and Baby K brought out the blocks.
Aunt Gaga built too!

Saturday we went out to Naked Mountain to pick up YBW’s wine and hang out in the barrel room.
Thing 1, Husband N, and Baby K met us there.
Baby K shared her snack with Aunt Gaga before falling asleep in my lap.

Thing 2 and I went through two boxes of photos from the great and arduous process. She asked questions, I told stories. We saw her grandparents and mine when they were children. We saw our own faces reflected in these photos. We sent quick snaps to Thing 1 asking if she saw Baby K’s face in certain photos of their Grandmommy.
Thing 2 told her own stories, shared her memories, and expressed her genuine joy and gratitude hold these photos in her hands. She created a pile of photos we wrapped up carefully, tucked into her journal, and packed in her suitcase.

We binge watched Our Flag Means Death holding hands and snuggling up on the sofa. Thing 2 was all about that “boy love”. I was all about the beautiful humanity of it.

We also went to see The Haunting of Night Vale. This was the reason for her visit. Tickets she received as a gift Christmas of 2019 for a show April 2020. (we all know how that turned out)
But, two years later there we were in the theater holding hands and being as SQUEE as only we can.

She flew home Monday afternoon.
I miss her.
But I’m not sad. There’s no room in my heart for sadness right now.
My heart is overflowing with love.
Overflowing with gratitude.
I’m grateful to have this time with my girls together. Grateful for this time with YBW and Thing 2. Grateful for time with my second daughter.
I’m grateful we went to see Night Vale together, something she’s absolutely adored for ten solid years. Something she introduced to me and I also now love. Aren’t we lucky we got to experience this together?
I’m grateful we went through two boxes of photos. I got to see my parents through my daughter’s eyes. She never her her great grandfather, but she knows she’s named for him. She knows he was my first true love. She sees his image and feels the strength of that connection.
I’m grateful for our silliness. Our seriousness.
I’m grateful to have a strong and healthy relationship with my adult daughters.
I love that girl more than the moon and the stars and I know how fortunate I am.

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

again and anew

I journaled about Thing 2 visiting before she arrived.
I wrote about my excitement and joy.
I wrote about my desire to learn this newest version of Thing 2.
Who is she? How is she the same as she’s always been? How is she different?
What does she love? What is she passionate about?
To learn as much about this version of her as possible filled me with enthusiasm.
Who has she evolved into as she approaches her twenty-fifth year?

How can I show her I truly see the her she is even though I’ve known her all her life?
How can I honor who she’s grown into while still holding close the memories?
How can I take all the love I have for her and wrap it around the woman she is now?

When I considered these questions I was not feeling at all anxious.
I was feeling curious.
I was feeling excitement.

I had every intention to show my daughter I have evolved.
That I have no preconceived notions of who she is.
That I expect her to grow and evolve.
That I embrace who she’s becoming.

I am not stuck.
I am evolving each day.
I learn new things about myself and my place in the world and figure how to incorporate them into my life.
I learn and grow.
I wanted to give her the chance to experience and learn to love the me I am now.

There were many long years in which we weren’t open with each other. Not being open makes it easier to assume. Not being open impedes growth and understanding.
Not being open kept us stuck in old relationship patterns.

This time I was open.
Both in giving and in receiving.
I was present and paid attention.
It feels to me that she was also.

After our time together I feel as though I truly know her.
Again and anew.
A beautiful feeling with powerful impact and I’m grateful.

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

all that compounded smartness

I felt anxious Monday.
Literal low-level thrumming in my body.
This list is enormous!
Three weeks sounds like a long time, but it’s not.
How will I get this done?
How will I be ready for the movers?

My logical brain knew all that was straight up bullshit.
My logical brain knew I’d planned everything out to the nth degree.
My logical brain knew I was prepared.

But my feels were actively attempting to run the show.
That physical vibration was convincing as hell.

To thwart the feels, I over-functioned my ass off.
So much so that I crossed off everything for the week of July 11-17 on my moving list that very day.
But that wasn’t good enough.
I had to do stuff scheduled for the following week too.
I had to get more done.
On Monday.
Of the second week.

This is where I was when I went to bed Monday night.
Monday July 12.

What you don’t see crossed off are two things I actually started working on.
pack bathroom and linen closet
pack clothes

I was chatting with Thing 1 about how I was feeling. She was loving and encouraging. But I simply couldn’t shake the feels.
She was quite clear that I shouldn’t overwhelm myself right before the finish line.
(it’s like she knows me)
I assured her I knew it wasn’t real. That logically I was even more on target than my prep work suggested I be. But I sure as hell felt a way about it.

We talked later in the day when I finally stopped and sat down.
In this conversation I was finally able to verbalize what I was feeling anxious about. I wasn’t sure how to pack all the random things so the movers would take them. I didn’t want to waste boxes I might need for dishes on laundry room things, etc.
It was then I began to realize my panic wasn’t only about being ready on time, it was also about being properly packed so the movers could be successful.
Thing 1 was like, “Uh…Momma. You can put stuff in your car and take it over there.”
(but actually kinder than that sounds)

Her words created an instantaneous shift in me.
My body was still even though my brain was thrumming – with realization!
I didn’t have to pack up anything awkward. I could simply put it in the car.
Y’all! My girl saved the day!
I often tease her that she’s smarter than me. She doesn’t see it that way. She calls it ‘compounded smartness’. That she’s as smart as she is because I’m as smart as I am and she simply built upon it.
(something like that, I think she explains it better)
Either way, she saved the day.

The container we packed in March is being delivered Wednesday of that last week and being unloaded first thing Thursday morning.
Thing 1 offered to meet me at this house after they’re finished at the new house. We’ll each load up a vehicle and take it to the new house.
Then anything that doesn’t really go into a proper box, or anything we’ll need straight away will be there ready for us.
YBW is staying at the new house because the smart home guys will be there working their magic. So he’ll pack up his car the night before instead of coming back home with me.
Those three loads will carry all the awkward things, and the movers can do the rest.

I’m still properly planned.
I’m ahead of schedule.
I’m perfectly still inside.
Like some sort of organizational ninja, this move won’t even see me coming.

This is an excellent example of why we must talk about feeling a way. Just because our logical and emotional selves are at odds, doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution.
In my case, the solution was someone looking at it from a different perspective.
Someone who knows and loves me, and had the patience to listen even though she knew I wasn’t making any kind of sense.
Grown children know what’s up.
It’s all that compounded smartness.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

the worst truth

Thing 1 and I were in the car Wednesday morning. I’m not exactly sure how it started, but we were talking about how to manage anxiety and it turned into how Mommas always prioritize your best interests even if (or especially when) it’s hard to understand.
Thing 1 said something to the effect of: Even years fourteen through eighteen when I thought I hated you, I always knew you’d do whatever it took to help me, to take care of me and keep me safe.
Then she said, “That’s why I came to you when I was cutting myself and wanted to die.”

I had an immediate rush of relief. I always worried that when she came to me for help and ended up in the hospital for two weeks she felt like I betrayed her instead of helped her.
She told me while being in the psyc hospital was in itself traumatizing, she never equated the two. Her asking for my help was one thing. Being in the hospital was another thing entirely. They’re separate in her thinking.

I didn’t know this at the time, but three or four months prior to her coming to me, she talked with her dad. When she shared with him how she was feeling and that she was hurting herself, he “looked away from me, stood up, walked out of my room and shut the door behind him.”
He left her sitting there after she told him she wanted to die. (Everything I think and feel about this is a different topic for a different day, but let me assure you, ain’t none of it good.)

In the car that morning, she talked about how it only made it worse for her. She felt like if her own dad didn’t love her enough to help her it only reinforced all her negative feelings about herself. She began cutting herself more and actively planning how to end her own life.
Then she said something that literally took my breath away.
She wondered aloud if her father would have let her die in order to hold it over my head for the rest of our lives. She imagined him saying to me, “She killed herself because she hated you and it’s all your fault.”

I opened my mouth to deny her wondering.
I opened and closed my mouth five times before I finally said, “I want to believe he loves you more than that, that he’d rather you be alive than hold it over me forever.”
But I knew in my heart of hearts that she was right. And sadly, she knew it too.

Then she said, “Would he really want me dead to punish you? Don’t you think he loves me more than that?”
To which I replied that I do think your father loves you in the way he can love. However, his grief would fade. The pain of losing you would ease. But he could get pleasure from blaming me that you were so unhappy and hated me so much that you took your own life. All the pleasure, absolutely none of the effort.

Here’s the worst truth.
I didn’t know she talked to him before she came to me.
He never told me she came to him. Not when I told him I was taking her to the ER. Not the two weeks she was in hospital. Not when we had family sessions with the therapist when they released her from the hospital.
I only found that out because she told me in the last couple of years.

Had she taken her life I would never know that he could have done something to prevent that. I would have lived the rest of my life thinking that when we struggled the most I couldn’t keep my baby safe.

In Conscious Discipline there is a ‘safe keeper’ ritual in which the adult in the home or classroom (or wherever) tells the kids, “My job is to keep you safe.” to which the kids reply, “Our job is to help you keep us safe.”
My daughters knew I was their safe keeper.
They still know this.
But this ritual is different now.
They are their own safe keepers and I am the one helping them.

I want so desperately to reassure her that her life is worth more than her father’s desire to “win” against me. I all honestly can’t do that. As soon as she spoke I knew she was right.
She called this ‘a startling revelation’ then told me, “As soon as I said the words I wanted to suck them back in because I knew they were true.”

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this for y’all to read.
Partly because it was simply too big for me to keep inside. Partly because I thought writing it would help me understand it better.
I feel confident in saying I don’t understand it any better.

I hate that my girl experienced this time in her life.
I hate that I experienced it.
But I am awed and humbled by the healing we’ve experienced in the years since.
I am awed and humbled by the words we share.
By the love we share.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Eeyore

The beanie crisis is over.
Here it is ready to be wrapped and sent to Thing 2.

I’m still pretty fucking salty with Love Your Melon.
I was able to get a kids beanie, but it feels more like a draw than a win.
I’m joyful my daughter will get what she asked for.
This silver paper and snowy ribbon are helping tip the joy scales.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

customer (not)-service

Thing 2 asked for only one thing for Christmas.
She wants an Eeyore beanie from Love Your Melon.
They went on sale 11.24 at 11 am.
I bought one immediately.

The LYM package arrived Monday.
I was so excited!
Huzzah! Christmas for my baby girl!

And then…

WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!?!
You’ll notice this is a pink Piglet beanie. Not only that, it’s a baby size beanie. Too small even for the toddler head of Baby K.
You’ll also notice the invoice and item don’t match.
Somewhere there is someone who ordered their baby an adorable beanie but ended up with Thing 2’s Eeyore beanie. They must be just as disappointed and frustrated as I am!

Much to my dismay there is no phone number for me to call. That means I’ve been emailing LYM customer service for several days.
It’s all: here’s how to return the beanie by clicking this link.
Um…K…so when I click the link it wants me to enter my order number. You know, the order number that matches what I ordered, not what I received.
Still no straight answer about where my beanies are and how to send back the one I received. Not to mention that the customer service reps who email me are more concerned with me returning the misshipped (is that even a word?) beanie than assisting me in getting the beanies I ordered.

The fucking Eeyore beanie is now out of stock so I can’t even order another one while I wait for this mess to get sorted.
I know my daughter is a twenty three year old adult and understands when things go awry. But sweet baby Jesus, she only asked for one specific thing!
And because someone made a mistake in packing an envelope, she may not be able to get it.

You know, I’m not “a Karen” by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m nearly ready to rip off somebody’s head.
I’m fired up about this and won’t let it die until I have Thing 2’s beanie in my hand.

Customer service exists to assist the customer.
I did everything required of me but because of their mistake, I don’t have what I paid for. And I’m not receiving any real help in solving the problem.
These mfs need to get it together!
I just want my baby to have her fucking beanie!

Late last night I finally got an email. It seems a customer service person called Savanna actually listened to my problem and responded accordingly.
Of course this is what she said:

Thanks for letting us know! I sincerely apologize you received the incorrect beanie. Feel free to keep the beanie that was sent to you and place another order with the code I’ve provided. Your store credit is detailed below. Please use this code at checkout on a future order with us. This code can only be used once but does not expire.

I don’t want the fucking baby beanie! I want the one I ordered for Thing 2!
The Eeyore beanie is still sold out…I clicked the ’email when available’ button and have my fingers crossed I may be able to purchase another between now and Christmas.

None of this even touches on the second beanie that went missing. Still no credit for that one.
And based on this email, someone has Thing 2’s Eeyore beanie AND Thing 1’s double pom beanie and they’ve been told “feel free to keep” them.
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

I’ve sussed out the kids beanie is one and one half inches smaller in height and width than the adult beanie. I’m waiting for a text back from Thing 2 to find out how her other LYM beanies fit to see if this will do in the meantime…

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

grateful for joy and sadness

Thing 2 and Boyfriend M were here last weekend.

Thing 1 was thrilled to see her sister!
Baby K was excited to spend time with her Auntie!
Loads of peek-a-boo, story reading, block building, and media table play. (dried beans are excellent for sensory play)

Friday saw us at 2 Silos.
Even though it was chilly, the sun came out and we enjoyed our beers.

Saturday Thing C and Thing G came over.
We played Bye Felica, Uno, and Phase 10, and had burgers and dogs for dinner.
YBW and I had all the joy at all of our kids in the same place at once.

Thing 2 went through my shoes and took home four pair. (less things for me to move)

Thing 1 drove her sister and Boyfriend M to the airport Sunday afternoon.
Baby K cried when they drove out of the driveway.
So did her Birdie.
A LOT!

I was making leftovers for my lunch Monday and asked Thing 1 when we made that particular meal.
She told me it was Wednesday, because “they came on Thursday. As short as they were here, it felt like an eternity.”
She’s right. They weren’t here all that long, but it felt good and long.

I’m sad they’re gone, but chock a block full of joy and gratitude they were here.
My cup runneth over!

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

my Momma heart

The housemate (codename: Housemate A) of the young man Thing 2 is seeing (codename: Boyfriend M) tested positive.
Not only has Thing 2 been around him, they actually shared a beer the week before.
She’ll get her results in ‘five to seven days’.
She decided to quarantine with the guys, partly because they’ve already been exposed to each other and partly to keep her father safe.

My Momma self is freaking out!
My logic believes she’s going to be fine.
But she has always had sick lungs and that triggers fear in me.
I don’t like feeling helpless. I want to swoop in and take good care of her.
Of course that’s not practical.

These are some of the random thoughts flitting around in my head:
I can’t do anything to help her.
She’ll spend her twenty-third birthday under quarantine. At least she’s with people she likes.
She might die.
Stupid janky lungs.
I sent her birthday gifts to her dad’s and she won’t be there to get them.
I want to take care of her.
She’s going to be fine.

I had panicky tears.
YBW hugged me tight.
He said, “I’m worried about Thing 2. But me panicking not going to help you right now, so I’m going to remain calm.”
Friday morning he asked if I’d talked to her, actually heard her voice. I told him I wasn’t ready because I couldn’t talk about it without tearing up and I didn’t want to do that to her. I needed to get my feels under control before I talked with her.

Husband N remarked that he wasn’t sure quarantining with the new guy was the smartest choice, he might not take good care of her. I replied, you know her dad and know damn well he won’t take care of her at all, so anything’s better than that!
I actually believe Thing 2 and these young men will take good care of each other.

I’m sending them a little care package of treats. Uno and Phase 10, a jenga-like block game with colorful blocks. Books for Thing 2, and sweet treats each one of them likes.
Thing 2 told me Housemate A was like, ‘honestly I’m just touched that your mom wants to send us something’.
To which I replied, These guys are going to have to learn that to be a part of your life is to become part of my brood.
He told her now he feels like he has another mom.
With a twinkle in his eye and smile on lips, YBW suggested Housemate A be reminded of that with mother’s day comes around.

I talked with her via chat this morning for quite a while. I still haven’t heard her voice, but I’m much less anxious about her well being. That may change if her test comes back positive…or if I start to worry…or if…or if…
But, I know she’s making plans and smart choices on how to take care of herself and she’s not doing it alone.

She and Housemate A organized the pantry, fridge, and freezer. She created a list and they ordered grocery delivery from Publix. They assigned Boyfriend M the yard work that needs to be done because he slept through their kitchen work.
They’ve got a plan to get around-the-house things done, as well as books, games, computer, guitars, etc. to keep them occupied during their quarantine.

There’s a part of me that always sort of knew she would get sick. Part of me that accepted it in a logical way. Part of me that knows even though she’s (probably) got it, she’s going to be fine.
But she’s my baby and I worry.
I can’t actively take care of her, but I can send fun things to occupy her time. Sweet treats for when she craves them.

I know she’s going to be OK. But I’m still going to worry.
She almost died two different times before she was two months old.
She’s survived bronchitis nearly every winter of her life.
She’s survived pneumonia.
She’s survived mono.
She’s survived H1N1 swine flu.
Even though her immune system is questionable, she’s made of seriously tough stuff.

After talking with her this morning, my Momma heart is less anxious, chock full of love, and waiting (impatiently) for test results.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

and the momma lioness roars

No sooner than my post about cookies published, did I received a text from Thing 1 apologizing for causing drama.

I hate that because I expressed my frustration, my daughter apologized for starting drama.
The truth is that’s drama I started by writing about it.
She shouldn’t feel responsible for it.
I reassured her she did nothing wrong. That her comment was innocent and she was not at all responsible for any of it.
She said she shouldn’t have said anything about Christmas, and she was OK with me staying here with YBW for Christmas if that’s what I decided.

I told her I was angry at the mother being manipulative, and at Thing C for not being honest.
She agreed. She wondered how YBW was feeling about it, how he would choose to deal with it.
She said: It just sucks because nobody is fair to him.
She said: I can’t help feeling bad. I should have kept my mouth shut.
I replied: Your comment was innocent. The information was abused.

She said something that surprised me, the truth of it I mean.
She said: She’s almost as bad as dad

And that’s why she pushes my buttons.
She is so manipulative. She does it with such skill those she’s manipulating don’t even realize it.
Because I’ve lived with this type of behavior the majority of my life, I’m acutely aware of it.

She asked if Thing G would be alone on Christmas.
She designed her message specifically to push YBW’s buttons. She saw an opportunity to have her sons with her on Christmas day and used her words to manipulate the situation.
Neither YBW or I would leave the kid alone for Christmas. I mean, come on.

She invited YBW to come to her parents house for Christmas.
Now, to the casual observer, that seems kind and welcoming.
But with all passive aggressive, manipulative behavior each word is chosen with purpose.
She used those words to appear inclusive.
If questioned, the manipulative person can say, See! I said ‘this’, to be interpreted as appropriate. Knowing full well they were manipulating the situation to get what they want.
She wants what she wants and is capitalizing on an opportunity made clear to her by one simple sentence written by my daughter.

Is there drama because she creates it?
Is there drama because I’m overreacting to it?
In all honesty, it could be both.

I don’t want to feel the urge to protect my husband and my daughter from this woman.
I know they’re capable. I know they don’t need to be protected.
But I feel protective of them.
When my husband is being manipulated, and when my girl apologizes for starting drama, it triggers something deeply protective in me.

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

we are not our feelings

Thing 2 was feeling her feels this morning.
Anxious and fearful.
Her sister and I (and Baby K) showed up ready to rock.
Y’all, I’m talking loving, supportive girl power to the nth degree. But that’s what we do for each other.

Thing 2 works in a cool Asian fusion restaurant. She is currently the senior-most server.

She wrote in our group chat: There’s a 35 top coming in as soon as we open
Me: May the Force be with you!

Thing 1: You are amazing, just be your charming self and you’ll get good tips and you’re going to be OK

I stopped for a moment. I realized we both jumped in to ‘rescue’ her. I considered that she might simply be expressing herself. Perhaps she didn’t need to be bucked up, perhaps she needed to be heard.

Me: It sounds like a complicated situation. Your anxiety makes sense. It’s overwhelming af! You’re feeling your feels

Thing 1: You got this!
Me: So wig out for a couple more moments. Like, seriously, set a timer. Then steel yourself. You are so capable. And(!!!) you can guide them along instead of waiting to see what they want.

Thing 1: (FTW) Don’t do that. Be pleasant and gregarious, and you’ll be great!

Thing 1: You’re the Thing 2est Thing 2 that ever Thing 2ed!

Me: Your anxiety makes sense in this situation. However, you actually possess the skills and abilities to make this situation successful for yourself and your customers!

Thing 1: And once it’s all over, you’ll be done! My therapist always says there’s a finish line, you just have to get to it and you can move on to the next thing. It will end and it will be behind you and you can move on.
Me: YESSSSSSSS!
Thing 2: Wow. I like her.

Thing 1:

Me: Breathe. You’ve got this! Look, if chubby, somewhat drunk looking Baby K believes in you…you can’t possibly fail!
Thing 2: I WAS JUST GONNA SAY SHE LOOKS DRUNK! What a beautiful tiny encourager
Me: You have the most powerful women on your side! We’ve got you, and you’ve got this! I love you more than the moon and the stars!

We did that.
We were her cheerleaders.
We encouraged her.
We reminded her of what she’s capable of doing.

We also honored her feelings.
We acknowledged her fear and anxiety.
We reassured her that her feelings are valid, and in this situation, made sense.
We reminded her she is not her feelings.

I think we all need to be reminded of that.
We are not our feelings.
We experience them but we are not them.
I read somewhere, I can’t for the life of me remember where, but it went something like this.
Feelings are like the rain, we might walk in the rain, but we are not the rain.

We don’t become our feelings.
We feel our feelings.

Thing 2 was feeling the hell out of her feelings today.
But, with a little bit of love and support from her momma, big sister, and baby niece, she didn’t let herself become them.

Later this afternoon we got this:

Me: Brava, Thing 2! You DID it!
Thing 1: Way to go! We knew you could do it!!!!

Taking a break to sit in the grass.
(I’m purposely ignoring the smoking.)
She needed to feel connected to the earth. She needed to feel grounded.

35 people came into the restaurant and Thing 2 served them.
The world didn’t explode, and neither did she.

Though she be but little, she is fierce.
Even the fiercest among us need a bit of encouragement now and again.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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