Posts Tagged With: blessings

Husband N

I’ve mentioned before my daughter Thing 1 is married to Husband N. Now, Husband N is a patient human being, God love him, he has to be to be married to my daughter. He’s rather adept at accepting her for who she is without ever really “letting her off the hook”. I like that about him. They’re giving each other a run for their money, that’s for sure. But they’re doing it with so much love!

I received this text from him this morning.

When Mo died, I was choked by my own grief. I was in mommy mode about my girls and their grief. I was grateful that Husband N was there with Thing 1, but I never stopped to consider his grief. That man welcomed into their home, with open arms, the dogs of his wife’s childhood (well, teen age anyway). He was working with Mo to develop a healthy relationship, switching over from the Things father being Mo’s “father” to Husband N being Mo’s “father”.
He cared for Mo. He moved his lifeless body to the grave he and my daughter created. He did this out of love for their dog.
Their dog.
Even though Mo started out being all of ours, in the last five or six months he truly became theirs. Husband N loves Thing 1. He loves Thing 2. He loves me. But he also loves Mo. His grief was just as real as ours.
He was strong and brave for us.
I don’t have the words to express how strongly I felt the love for him this morning when that text came. I just hope he can feel it.

Now, it took me longer than it should have to decide to like, and then love Husband N. That had almost nothing to do with him and mostly everything to do with me (and Thing 1).
Thing 1 met Husband N when she went away to school. They met in a math class, bonding over their sarcastic senses of humor.
Now this is a meet-cute I can get behind.
What I struggled to get behind was her dropping out of school and shacking up with this guy.
That was not my plan for her! That wasn’t the life she was meant to have.
All I could see what that he’s older than she is, by more than a decade. That she left school because of him. That we didn’t know him from Adam.
I was frightened she was making all the same mistakes I made… a guy so much older than she is…no education…no way to support herself. I wanted more for her than the life I’d lived. I wanted her to be healthy and content and able to take care of herself. I didn’t want her to suffer and struggle.

Of course, what the hell did I know?
A whole lotta nothing, I’ll tell you that.

Turns out, Husband N is a kind and loving man. An intelligent man. A helpful and sincere man. A man who loves my daughter and would do (and has done) whatever it takes to make sure she’s safe and sound.

Y’all know that when YBW and I got married, his Things and my Things were our best men and maids of honor. The girls even “gave me away” that day. Thing 1 remarked to my friend and mentor, Jessica, that she had no idea how (emotionally) hard it would be to give her mom away.
Well, (not yet) Husband N and Thing 2’s then boyfriend were here too. And even though it was busy and a bit chaotic, I got to spend some good time with Husband N. And when YBW were driving to the airport to go to Barbados for our honeymoon, I turned to him, and said, “I like Husband N!” YBW was so relieved! He was waiting for me to decide to like Husband N because he very much liked him.

Then they came back for Christmas that year. And I got to spend even more time with him. I love his childlike enthusiasm! I listened to him and my daughter talk about what kind of life they wanted. And I realized it wasn’t the life Husband N wanted that Thing 1 just accepted, neither was it the life Thing 1 wanted that Husband N accepted. They had really thought about this. They had talked about it. They were planning this life that they wanted together!

They are truly each other’s best friend. They are both great big nerds about books and movies and comics and D & D and video games. They’re learning from each other how to appreciate these things the other brings to the table. They are so loving. They are also quick to get after each other. Each one feisty in their own way. They fight. They laugh. They play. They love. They do these things with the entirety of themselves. They give everything to each other and their relationship.
How could I possibly want more for my daughter? Or her sweet husband?

When they married, I was joyous for them! It wasn’t a big white wedding, but it was them. There was love and laughter and genuine joy surrounding them. This man is the husband of my very first girl. That was hard yet simple all in the same moment. I knew they could marry and build a life together and I wouldn’t have to worry about their ability to work together. I wouldn’t have to worry about their ability to love each other and embrace each other’s families.

Husband N just might love Thing 2 as much as her big sister does.
I know Thing 2 adores him.
They have such a special friendship.
I believe he’s been instrumental in helping my girls rebuild their relationship.
One more thing to love about him.

When his grandmother died and there was talk of them moving to her farm. Thing 1 was all for it. Husband N was a bit more hesitant. He called me and we talked for a long time. He shared his concerns. He asked my opinion. We talked about how he didn’t want to disappoint Thing 1, but felt so strongly that he didn’t want to raise (future) children where he grew up. He wanted more and better for them. (I can SO relate to that.)
I made some suggestions. I offered to speak with his wife. I promised to have their backs no matter what choices they made for their future.
I was touched he wanted to have that conversation with me. I was honored that he valued my opinion. I was pleased to be his (mostly) impartial sounding board for that important process.

I talk with my girls frequently. A phone call at least once a week, but there are texts and snapchats, emails and social media posts mixed in there too.
Husband N and I also text, snap and share things with each other’s social media. We sometimes even talk on the phone. It’s fun. He makes me laugh. He shares information he thinks I’ll be interested in. He expresses his concern for my health.
He expresses his love for my daughters and acknowledges how hard I worked to help them become the women they are.


Dude loves my girls.
Respects my hard work to help them become those ‘epic legends’.

I’m so grateful.
My girl chose well.
For herself.
For her sister.
For her Momma.
Husband N has his hands full with we three girls, but he takes it in stride.
Y’all we are so damn blessed!

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Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

love and light at the Cathedral

The day after Christmas we went downtown to the creche exhibit at the National Cathedral.
For the first time in many years, the sun was out on that cold, cold day. (sorta kinda)

We walked the long way around the Cathedral College on our way up the hill to the Cathedral.
Thing 2 especially loves this building, the tower with the ivy vines. I think it has something to do with her love of the Disney movie Tangled…though she might not agree. It was important to her to bring boyfriend J to this place.

I loved this glimpse of colored glass! It wasn’t until I viewed the window through my lens that I realized there was a pane missing.

The Cathedral is my absolute favorite building the the whole of DC. I mean to the point that I began to breathe differently when we drove up Wisconsin Ave and I could see it. The building is truly awe inspiring, but more than that, it’s just a lovely, peaceful place. God’s house for everyone.
I was pleased to see the Advent wreath in the Bethlehem Chapel!

Though they were beginning to look a little worse for wear, the Christmas trees were dressed with a garland of hydrangeas. A few jingle bells and, boom! You’ve got yourself a gorgeous tree.

The sun was shining brightly as we made our way through the chapel and the stained glass positively sparked!

The “Space Window”.
Inside that little white circle is a piece of moon rock given to the Cathedral in 1974.

This view stopped me in my tracks. I honestly cannot describe the beauty my eyes saw, and this photo is a sad representation.
But not so sad that I wasn’t asked by a local online culture and lifestyle magazine if they could feature it in a current coolest pics article.
Go me!

This little beauty was waiting in the observation tower.

Here’s a view of the Bishop’s Garden from the observation tower.

Down on the crypt level is the chapel of St Joseph of Arimathea. This is my absolute favorite space in the entire building. I always stop for a moment (or longer) in this chapel to talk with God.

The teeny chapel where we normally light our candles in prayer.

Much to our dismay this little chapel was otherwise occupied. Who dropped off an organ in there? It actually brought Thing 2 to tears.

So we went back up the the Bethlehem chapel to light a candle in prayer. I finished my conversation with God before Thing 2 finished hers and I shot this pic without her knowledge. Seeing her like this moved me so.

I saw many lovely nativities at the creche exhibit, including one from Norway in which both Mary and the baby had red hair! Like, what’s that!?!
But this one is my favorite from this year.
From the collection of Mr and Mrs Harold R Amos, Jr, painted on wood by Miami folk artist, Flor Larios.

We left our coats, hats, and gloves in the car to avoid having to carry them around the Cathedral. Not the smartest choice when we decided to visit the Bishop’s Garden. Though the beauty of the dappled sunlight nearly made the freezing air bearable.

My Cathedral experience (as always) ended with the Cathedral Library.

I love this building. I long to get in there and oodgey-goodgey, only it’s never open when I’m there.

This Christmas is over and I find myself feeling that natural sadness. But in a positive ‘comfort and joy’ way. That beautiful sense of anticipation during Advent and the childlike joy of Christmas morning has moved through me and now I find myself ready to say a hearty “Bye Felica” to 2017 and see what kind of shenanigans 2018 will bring.
YBW and I are already talking about going on a mini-break for Christmas next year. Neither of us are sure how we feel about that…leaving home for Christmas, but we’re considering the idea, and it feels kind of fun.
I think I’m in a place within myself, he’s in a place in him, and we’re in a place together that we’re ready to make some changes to better suit the ideas we have for each other as we move through our life. And that’s very exciting! Perhaps ‘just we two’ will be even more fun that we can imagine!
Blessings of love and light continue to wash over me.

Categories: me, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

twenty years of muchness

Thing 2 is twenty today!
Twenty years of the muchiest muchness you ever saw!
That girl.
Sometimes she’s the most precious angel. Sometimes she’s the devil incarnate. I suspect that could be said about many girls on the planet, only this one is my girl.

At the Udvar-Hazy there, is a missile with Thing 2’s name on it. Whenever I see it, this is what I think, ‘Thing 2 missile, blowing shit up with sass!’
Because that’s kind of what she does. She just goes around blowing ship up with her sass. I actually love that about her.
She wears a bit of an armor, going around like a bad ass, but she’s got a kindness to her that she keeps close to the chest.
Like Veronica Mars, Thing 2 has a marshmallow center.

We’ve had a tricky time of late. She’s trying to figure out how to be a more grown version of herself. I’m trying to feel connected to her as she develops this new version of herself.
It’s easy to let miles and time create a hole in our relationship. We both do it.
The hole in our relationship doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, but it sure feels icky to have to traverse that hole to connect with each other.

Five years ago, she wrote this:

Truth is: You are the best mom I could ever ask for, even when I’m all messed up-you fix everything! Love you.

I want to be this mom still. Only that ship has sailed. I can’t fix everything for her anymore. I know that. Knowing it and accepting how that feels are two different things. I will always be her Momma. Only in an entirely new and less active way.

Last month she wrote this:

Oftentimes it feels like you’re reaching out to and calling for a Thing 2 that I’m just not anymore. Be it that you want different things for me, or just different things in general. I can’t be “your Thing 2” anymore. I have to be the person that I am, even if that’s still flaky right now.

You will always be my mom and I will always be your daughter. I need you to respect that your role in that isn’t going to be as active as it used to be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need you, and it’s ridiculous that I don’t want you in my life–I just want you to let me go a little.

In my response I wrote the following:

As for being “my Thing 2”, well, you will always be “my Thing 2”, that’s just because I’m your Momma. The Thing 2 you are is a constantly growing and developing Thing 2, that’s natural. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

What you don’t know is that I don’t judge you. I believe you think I do. But in all honesty, I don’t. All I want is for you to get your muchness fired up and be the Thing 2 you want to be. That might look like something I never even expected. And that is OK! I know the Thing 2 you’ve been isn’t the Thing 2 you want to be, I know you want more for yourself. Only you can decide what that looks like.

We will always be connected because you are my daughter and I am your mother. I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. I long to be connected to you as a human being. I want to know the Thing 2 you are now, the Thing 2 you are becoming. Not only because I’m your mom, but because I have a burning desire to know you as a human being.

Today, as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her birth. I’m reminded of the sick baby she was. I’m reminded of the precocious preschooler she was. I’m reminded of the sweet girl she was. I’m reminded of the sassy teenager filled with “wizard angst” she was. I’m reminded that through every illness, joy, sadness, laugh, tear, hair color, and fight, she is my baby.
She is the love I never even knew I needed.
She is my heart outside my body.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Woo Hoo! Birthday Birthday! Happiest day to you, Moo! I love you more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

paying attention to my gratitude

I’ve been thinking about what it means to feel gratitude.
What it means to appreciate what’s important in your world.

These thoughts have been bouncing around for a few days, inspired by my therapy appointment, another with the acupuncturist, and a long-overdo conversation with my beloved sister in law. And though these thoughts are not as fully formed as they might become, it feels to me that they’re ready to hatch.

In living my intention, I’m inclined to believe that in love, all things are possible. But somehow I think it’s more than that. Well, perhaps not ‘more’, as much as ‘in addition to’. (Remember up there where I said these thoughts might not be fully formed?)
Nothing will ever convince me that the word with which I intend to live my life is not love. But…I’m always open to adding new meanings to my personal definition of love. And that’s the pinball of thought that’s been bouncing around in my brain.


A woman I love so dearly commented, “I just love this pic and your life.” in response to this photo.
And you know, for the first time in a while, I stopped and actively thought about it. I love my life too!
I mean I really love my life!
I’m grateful, thankful, and joyful for who and what I have in my life!

I get stuck in my head so frequently. So damn frequently that I don’t actually stop to look around me. And I miss it. I miss all the little things. Sometimes the big things too. And in those moments of recognition, gratitude bursts forth from my heart like a dam breaking.

I don’t think the people in my life experience my gratitude. How could they really, if I don’t?
I told YBW how much I appreciate him. How grateful I am for him. Not only as my husband, but as a human being. His kindness, his patience, his ridiculous sense of humor. My life would be lacking without him.
I’m not sure he feels it. So I’ve charged myself with being more mindful about showing my gratitude, especially to him.

I’m grateful for new and different healthcare providers that have helped me feel well for the first time in years. Thank you for helping me move from a place of being actively sick, to being actively getting healthy!

I’m grateful for my nieces and nephews, none of which are my blood kin. The love we share is sacred. Each one of them is so precious to me. And when I get a random voicemail from one announcing he’ll be in the area with his boyfriend and best friend looking for a place to stay, there is no hesitation. I simply open our home to them. Wherever I am will always be home to my giant brood of children, grown as they are.

I feel gratitude for the relationships I have with my stepsons. My love for them is much bigger than I think any of them understands. Thing C and and Thing G are a blessing in my world. They’re teaching me how to understand boys in a way I have never experienced. And though I’m quick to say I need more estrogen in my world, I’m grateful for the life lessons these guys share with me.

I’m grateful for the women I love. The ones that call me when they need to be talked off the ledge, or that I call for the same reasons. Though we may not see each other or talk as often as we’d like, not a moment has passed in the in between.
That by my precious Sally saying she loves my life, I remember to stop and love it too.
That when Nicole calls me from across the country because she can’t break the cycle of chaos in her brain, I can tell her that she can’t fix it. And it settles her because she knew it, but needed to hear me say it to get there. That Jessica and I can speak of all our joys or troubles with love and understanding.
That Sundance and I are able to communicate oftentimes without even using words.

I’m filled with gratitude when I see my grown girls living their lives. That Thing 1 has become a woman I am constantly awed by, yet retain the feeling of knowing what it’s like to hold her in my arms and keep her safe.
That even though my relationship with Thing 2 feels more like navigating a minefield at the moment, my heart fills with gratitude for all the years of loving each other.

I’m so much more grateful to YBW than he can even imagine. I took a leap of faith all those years ago, and trusted him when he told me he thought he was falling in love with me. That leap of faith has brought me great joy and some pain. But mostly it’s brought me love. A new and different way of loving. When I think “hashtag love my life” so much of that is because of him. I’m the me I am now because of my relationship with him.
Now, I’m the first to admit this me is still me in progress…but I’m a pretty damn good me.

Huh! Looks like Destination Girl is learning to be grateful for the Journey after all.

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blessings of love and light

We made our annual pilgrimage to the National Cathedral Monday to see the crèche exhibit.
I made a quick stop in Bishop’s garden on my way around the cathedral.
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It always seems to be cloudy when we go. I’ve looked back at four years of photos and the sky is gray in every single one.
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Doesn’t make it any less beautiful, but it sure would be nice if the sun would make an appearance once in a while.

I turned my attention to the cathedral. Much less scaffolding than in previous years. The repairs from the 2011 earthquake are coming to an end.
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Something stopped me in my tracks on the sidewalk towards the front of the cathedral.
What could it be?
Why robin birds, of course!
There were five of them flitting about the grass and sidewalk as we made our way around the building.
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I was so excited I could hardly stand myself! I spent quite a bit of time watching and photographing these little birds before I could tear myself away to go inside to see all the baby Jesuses.

Downstairs, I peeked in on my most beloved space, the chapel of Joseph of Arimathea.
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Then onto the nativities.
This one was made in Zimbabwe of jacaranda wood.
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I like that the figures are tall and lanky. I like that the shepard cradles the lamb in a way that mimics the way Mary holds her baby. I do so love nativities in which the momma holds her son.

Of course, there is something to be said of the baby bundled up in a basket.
This one was specifically made for the collection in Jamaica at the request of a Cathedral docent.
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I love that he sleeps with a little smile on his face. How many parents have watched our own babies sleep the same way?

This one is hand painted pottery from Turkey.
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I like that it’s just the Holy Family. I also love the traditional Ottoman style of the flowers and designs, not to mention the little rugs especially made for this nativity.

I remarked to YBW that I would only purchase a nativity if it was somehow unique or particularly beautiful. Well, this one sort of met both criteria.
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This gourd was specifically chosen then hand carved in Peru. I particularly love the stars on the back of the lid. (not pictured)

After going through the crèche exhibit, I found my way to the teeny chapel to say my prayers.
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I kneeled on the prayer bench and gathered myself before I began. After my conversation with God, I lit my candle in benediction. As the light grew brighter, my blessings reached far and wide to touch those for whom it was intended. My love and hope are overflowing.
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We left the cathedral and headed to the Ellipse to check out our National Christmas tree. I mentioned before that I love when Hanukkah and Christmas coincide. And I honestly can’t remember a time in my life that both the menorah and the tree were lighted at the same time.
Monday was the third night of Hanukkah.
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(Of course I was on the back side of the menorah.)

YBW wanted to look at all the state and territory trees, but I decided to stay in the inside circle around the big tree. All the trains were set up and running…so many little villages and trains…
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If you look closely, you can see the train circling the base of the tree.

My grinchy heart not only grew three sizes that day, it was filled with the love of ‘ten Grinches plus two’!
I’m waiting patiently for twelfth night. In the meantime, I’m still lighting menorah candles and saying my prayers each night between now and New Year’s Eve.
May the light of my candles bless and keep each and every one of all y’all.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

happy Hanukkah

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I’m only a smitch Jewish, but it’s an important part of my heritage so I like to celebrate when I can.
I especially love when Hanukkah and Christmas coincide.

The prayer for the first night is my very favorite.
Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheinu melech ha-olam, shehechiyanu ve-kimanu vehigianu lazhaman hazeh.
Thanks be to you, Lord our God, Ruler of the Universe, for keeping us alive and in good health and for bringing us together.
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Happy Hanukkah, y’all.

Categories: me, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

back to school rant

I find myself wondering why certain people simply cannot be positive.
I mean, sure we all have those moments when we feel negative. When we’re at the end of our ability to give one more teeny tiny damn about whatever it is.
But I’m talking about people who are actively negative. Do they lack hope? Are they not skilled in observing the positive in any thing?
Imagine what their inner speech sounds like! Imagine what they heard as children…what they continue to tell themselves as adults. Why, it breaks my heart! What is it like to be inside that head with no idea of how to hope?
Honestly, it breaks my heart.
But it also makes me angry.
It makes angry because these negative people inflict the same things on their own children. The first thing that comes to mind is negative. Hope is a foreign concept.
I’m talking big broad concepts this morning, I know…but I’m angry.

I checked social media this morning to see all the “back to school” posts and photos. Kids I taught when they toddlers are in high school now. Kids I taught when they were toddlers are in kindergarten now. Kids I’ve known since they were toddlers starting college now!
I have so much joy seeing these photos! I have so much hope for these children!

And then I come across a post that made me want to kick someone in the face.
A post of our own Thing G starting his junior year posted by his mother. Who couldn’t put a positive spin on anything if a gun was held to her head. She has a knack for posting things to get positive feedback. When I read her posts,I’m often thankful that I know I’m enough. That I know my own worth even on days when I don’t feel it. I don’t need people to boost my self confidence.
This morning, I saw a photo of YBW’s baby captioned with the saddest bunch of drama you’ve ever seen. Words written with designs on having comments to boost the mother’s confidence and nothing about the child. The words she wrote focused on his diagnosis. Focused on the most negative aspects of his personality. Under the guise of her “being hopeful” his teachers would see his good traits as apposed to these negative ones.

I was so angry. How dare she use him like that to get attention?
I just want to shake her and say:
How about YOU see your child for his good traits!?!
How about YOU focus on what he is capable of doing!?!
How about YOU have a little faith and trust!?!
How about YOU stop putting YOUR stuff on a child that has enough on him already!?!

I’ve posted stuff about my children on social media for years. First day of school pics included. I’m sure that I’ve posted things that may be questionable. But I guarantee I’ve not done it with negativity. I guarantee I’ve not done it to get more attention.
Parents are proud. We live in an age where it’s no longer photos in your wallet that you bring out and pass around. We’re posting on social media, we’re sharing photos online. I mean come on! We’re even creating hashtags for events! Parents are proud to share their accomplishments, and the accomplishments of their children. I love sharing things about my girls.
I worry about motivation. I worry about how what you say and post online will be forever out there. I worry that one day a child will read what a parent writes and hear nothing but negativity. I worry the child will further internalize that.

I’m angry because it’s so not fair!
Children deserve better.
Parents deserve better.
And people who are exposed to you on social media deserve better.
It’s the first day of school, for the love of all things holy! How about a little hope!?! I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Rant over. Please continue with your regularly scheduled reading.

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my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

happy birthday to Thing 2

Today is Thing 2’s nineteenth birthday!
My sweet angel baby has been in the world for nineteen years.
She is a miracle. She almost died twice before she was eight weeks old. She’s a fighter. A survivor.
I went into the NICU to see her before she was even twelve hours old. I reached to touch her little hand and she grabbed my finger so tightly. In that moment my whole life changed. I fell in love in an entirely new way. In that moment I knew she was going to be fine. She was so strong, that tiny little girl.
She is my gift from God.
She is light and love and deep dark feelings. She of the waspish tongue and deliciously dry wit. She is hopes and dreams even though she’s forgotten how to hope and dream.
I love her more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

mother’s day

I struggle with Mother’s Day.
My birthday is always the week of Mother’s Day. Sometimes even falls on that particular Sunday. I don’t remember it bothering me until I became a mom. First one precious little girl and later, two precious little girls called me their mommy. They were SO focused and excited about Mother’s Day that my birthday often fell by the wayside.
When they got old enough to understand, I explained how much I loved their beautiful appreciation of me. I explained that I was their mommy every day. That it was the most special thing EVERY DAY. But that my birthday was only one day and it was special. It took a bit for them to get it, but they knew how important I made their birthdays and they began to come around. So while Mother’s Day remained special, “birthday birthday” became the focus that second week of May.

Mother’s Day is painful for me because I don’t have my mom anymore. However complicated our relationship was, she was my mother and I loved her.
I took Thing C and Thing G to get cards for their mom. I went with YBW to get a card for his mom. I spent the day with YBW and his mom.
It was agony.
I no longer have a mom. It hurts more than I can even communicate.
Thing 1 called to tell me Happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me for being her mom. She talked about the life she’s building. She talked about going back to school. She told me she sent a little gift, but it was going to be late. She told me how much she loved me.
My heart sang with joy!
Thing 2 did nothing. (I don’t know if she was being purposefully hurtful or not…I honestly don’t think it matters. It was hurtful enough.) People that I did not actually give birth to called and texted to wish me Happy Mother’s Day. I’m just sayin’.

When my girls were little and I was teaching preschool, I was blessed to be surrounded by some of the most truly awe inspiring women I’ve ever known.
We were a family. If something happened to one of us, joy or sorrow, it happened to all of us. These women helped me realize who I could be. They let me help them see things from my unique and sometimes brash perspective. (I may or may not have publicly accused the director of being on crack at a faculty meeting…in my defense, it opened a new way of talking about a serious topic.)

When I started this blog I promised my family and friends anonymity. That’s why I never use anyone’s real name…apart from my own. My girls and Sundance have expressed their ambivalence regarding this promise. I keep it because YBW is especially protective of his identity, and the identity of his sons. I respect that. Nobody “signed up” to be part of my public words regarding my private life. I want to keep those who need to feel safe feeling safe.
That said, I’m going to use the names of the women from that perfect moment in time when we lived and loved and worked in the safest and most creative environment.

It kind of started this way:
On Sunday, Nicole posted in our private group chat:
HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! I would not have survived young motherhood without you all!!

I was thinking something along those lines when I was washing my hair that morning. I was thinking about some of the women that influenced my life. What I learned from each of them and how I incorporated that into my parenting style, and into my own personal development.

I learned from my mom that always having to be in control will wear you the eff out. That it breaks you and makes you miserable. My mom taught me the value of creativity and expressing opinions because she squashed those out of us as children. She taught me that love is conditional, you must be exactly what someone wants or they can’t love you.
She taught me that you just have to keep fighting for what you believe in. She taught me what true sacrifice looks like. She taught me that a color book and box of crayons eases heartache. She taught me that birthdays are the most important celebration, because the day you came into the world is sacred. She taught me to love books. She taught me Elvis is the King. She taught me that being redhaird is the most precious gift, and that only a few of us ever have the luxury to receive it.
Some of the things she taught me made me a better mom because I did the exact opposite of what she did. Love is unconditional. Creativity and expressing yourself are the most important life stills to possess.
Some of what she taught me formed my most basic ideology. Birthdays are sacred. New crayons are priceless. Books are uniquely portable magic.

Nicole taught me that organized chaos is a great way to raise children. She taught me that love is fierce. She showed me how to see things through the eyes of a child. She taught me the value of true and long lasting friendship.

Jessica taught me that I was more capable than I ever realized. She taught me to listen differently so I could truly hear. She taught me to ask the most important question: What’s best for children? She taught me the value of my own mothering. She taught me when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. She helped me believe in myself at the lowest point in my life. She showed me the fire in my belly still had embers to nurture. She loved me when I couldn’t love myself.

Becca encouraged me to trust my gut, because she never seemed to be able to do that for herself. She taught me to appreciate every contribution. She brought out even more nurturing in me, she needed and still occasionally needs to be taught self-love. She taught me how innocent kindness can change lives. She taught me that my tough as nails hide could benefit from softening up a bit.

Terri taught me to see my firstborn in a new and different light. She provided much comfort and support when I was struggling with learning how to mom a three year old and a new and extremely sick baby. She was an example of love and tenacity through her own terrible illness. She taught me how to approach the enigma that is the three year old with the perfect mix of fear and appreciation.

Nancy taught me that I must embrace and celebrate my gifts. She is the first person who said out loud that I am a writer. That moment caused a change in my life that I will be forever grateful for. She supported me with love and hope when I didn’t know who or what I really was. She taught me that life is so much more than simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Marianne taught me that letting go is so much better than holding on too tightly. She taught me the importance of repetition. She helped me realize that a classroom was one of the most loving environments in the world.

Cory taught me that I matter. She helped me understand how to be a mom and a real person too. She accepted me for who I am. She guided my learning of that most important skill. I’m not great at it, but I am working at it every single day…even all these years later.

Julia encouraged me to take risks. She helped me realize that fear is a part of life, but if I didn’t try new things I might miss out on something extraordinary. She taught me a new kind of patience.

Sara gave me the courage to breathe when I needed to take a step back. She showed me the importance of kindness when Thing 2 and I experienced serious separation anxiety.

Like Nicole, I would never have gotten through young motherhood without these women. The gifts they gave me have gotten me through the last twenty two years.
It takes a village to raise children.
It takes a village to raise parents too.

I’m so blessed to know and love these women. I would not be the woman I am without experiencing their love and support.
I saw Becca this weekend, we talked about how those years were a sacred moment in time. We will never be able to recreate that, but we’re lucky enough to forever be better mothers and better women because of it.

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

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