Posts Tagged With: motherhood

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

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

being his mom for a little while

Late last night there was a timid knock on our bedroom door.
YBW was dead asleep.
I went over to the door and Thing G was standing there.
Me: Are you OK bud?
Thing G: I just threw up.
Me: Are you OK now?
Thing G: I threw up in my bed.
Me: OH!
We stripped his bed, started the laundry and I got him set up in the guest bed. (After I removed the quilt my grandmother made and replaced it with a old blanket just in case of more vomit.)

What y’all don’t know about me is that I absolutely don’t do vomit. That’s why my kids had a dad…to handle the vomiting. It’s the only bodily fluid I just can’t handle.
So what I did last night was a pretty big deal.
But I’m a mom…that’s what we do…mom stuff.
Even though I’m not his mom, I had Thing G’s back when he needed me.
That’s what moms do.

YBW emailed me this morning: Thank you for taking care of him last night.
I replied: You’re welcome. That sounds dumb to say because you shouldn’t have to thank me. I was just being his mom for a little while.

I love that kid.
He needed love last night. He needed someone to take care of him.
I was on it.

Thing G is right as rain this afternoon…I think he ate too much junk yesterday.
We’re snuggled up on the sofa catching up on all the MLP episodes in the DVR right now.
That’s what moms do.

Categories: 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

it’s all about your point of view

I’m eavesdropping on a conversation between Thing G and his mother. Apparently something happened at school today and she called to talk with him about it.
She got an email and has one version of the story and asked him to her his version.
He immediately gets defensive and says: I can’t really explain it.
She reads the email verbatim. (I know this because I can hear her clearly.)
He says: That’s not what happened.
She asks to be told what happened.
He repeats that he can’t really explain it.
She explains if he can’t explain his version how will she understand.
He gives a HUGE exasperated sigh.
She asks him not to get mad at her for trying to help him.
He says: I’m not mad. I’m just frustrated. You go on and on.
She pauses. (I can hear her pause.) Then she explains she’s trying to help him by understanding his point of view, how he was feeling at the time.
He sighs again.
She tells him she loves him.
He tells her he loves her too.
The call ends.
He returns to watching videos on his phone.

This exchange fascinated me. She’s a tough mom. She takes no prisoners. She calls him on his BS straight away. BUT she’s the first one making sure he’s getting everything he needs when it comes to his education. She needs his input to know how to respond to the teacher. She needs his input to make sure his particular educational needs are being met as laid out by his IEP.

YBW will come home and ask about this incident. He’ll say I got an email. He’ll say I know Mom already talked to you. He’ll clarify he just wants to hear what Thing G has to say.
Thing G will present with the same defensive attitude.

We’ve been working on trying to help him see what it is he presents to the world. His perception of his behavior is vastly different than how it’s viewed from the outside. Don’t get me wrong, we’re all like that. But in the case of this particular individual, he cannot seem to take the outside perception into account.
We’ve been talking to him about how his actions look. We’ve been trying to explain to him what is expected behavior of a fifteen year old boy. (Honestly, he behaves like my three and four year old preschoolers a great deal of the time.)
He’s too smart for his own good. He’s been accommodated in life and in school since he can remember. He manipulates it to his advantage.
He has so many excellent qualities and I absolutely adore him.
Sometimes it’s hard to get past the roadblocks. Some of these roadblocks are naturally occurring based on his diagnosis of ADHD and Aspergers, but some of these roadblocks he creates. He is literally his own worst enemy.

YBW and I were talking with him the last time he was at this house about how what he does and says looks to other people. He simply can’t see it. Whether he chooses not to see it or really can’t, is the question and none of us have the answer.
I found what I considered a perfect example on the fb page of a local community theater. We were at one of the performances and they shot a preshow photo of the audience. In the photo you can clearly see Thing C, me, Thing G, and YBW in the second row. YBW and I were reading the playbill, Thing C was smiling because he noticed the photo being taken. But Thing G, who had complained about going to the show since he got in the car was bent over at the waist with his head in his lap.
So I asked him what did he notice when he looked at that photo.
He told me he thought that guy looked tired.
I agreed and told him that he knew he was tired. (An excuse, because the moment the play started he was COMPLETELY engaged.) But then I pushed further, I asked him about the other audience members. I asked him to pretend he didn’t know that guy with his head in his lap. I asked him what he thought then. He repeated that he thought he looked tired.

I don’t know how to help him realize how he looks to the rest of the world.
I don’t believe he has to care all that much. He’s his own person, etc. BUT by behaving the way he behaves, he’s not presenting the complete picture of who he is.
Most of us strive to put our “best face forward”, it’s like he’s working hard to put his “worst face forward”. I understand not caring what the world thinks of you…to an extent.

He has been accommodated for so long that he utterly lacks skills to cope when things don’t go his way.
I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I’m stating fact.
He’s great as long as things bend to his will, but the moment he has to make accommodations…well, all bets are off. But that’s the way of the world. We all spend our days accommodating and being accommodated. It’s a delicate give and take.

I want the absolute best for this kid.
Helping raise other people’s kids is so much harder than raising your own. I can pinpoint each thing I did or did not do that buggered my girls. Where I failed, where I was successful. So it’s not that I think I’m the perfect mom and should be able to raise this kid who isn’t really mine.
It’s tricky. I love him. He is part of my brood. But I don’t really have a leg to stand on when it comes to him.

It’s hard to help someone that simply isn’t interested in being helped.
I experience it with him fairly regularly, but witnessing it today while he was on the phone with his mom was an entirely new way of seeing.

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

on being a mom

I write a goodly bit about being a mom. It’s all I ever wanted to do with my life, be a mom.
That might not sound like I had great aspirations when I was a little girl, but it’s the truth. All I wanted to do was grow up and be a mommy.
I made sure I found someone who would make that happen as soon as I possibly could. I was twenty two when Thing 1 was born and twenty six when Thing 2 was born.
I’ve been a mom half my life…well technically not till March when Thing 1 has her birthday…but speaking strictly mathematically, half of forty four is twenty two.

My goal was to raise strong and independent girls. They would be ready to take on the world when the time came.
Of course it all got derailed along the way.
We lost everything in 2008. Our business. Our home. It was the final straw that killed my already broken marriage.
When that happened, there was subterfuge and betrayal. My first daughter was used maliciously as a pawn against me. I wasn’t able to protect her from that. She walked headlong into it. She has since told me: I’m so sorry. I didn’t know how bad it was for you. Daddy brainwashed me and I believed him.
I was able to protect my baby daughter a little better. But only for so long.

We were trapped in a waking nightmare. I was the one who was brave enough to change it by moving out. The plan was to bring Thing 2 with me and leave Thing 1 with her father. She wouldn’t have come with me even under duress. Thing 2 used to worship her big sister and wanted to be just like her and in this case, she temporarily joined the “I hate Momma” team. She chose to stay with her sister instead of coming with me.
This was not my first mistake.

To keep myself sane, I turned my back on Thing 1. She was horrid and my pain and anger made it so simple.
We tried to come back together several times…each time driving ourselves further apart.
Until she tried to take her life. I’m the one she came to with the desperate plea: Please help me.
None of that was in my childhood mommy-ing plan. But I did what was necessary to keep her safe. To keep her alive. Even though I believe she still resents me for it.
It wasn’t better after she came back from the hospital. She didn’t seem changed. She just seemed more angry.

A few months later, we got into a physical brawl, she held me down by my hair and I bit her so hard there was a perfect ring of teeth marks on her arm but she didn’t let go. Thing 2 was screaming and crying and I think that’s what finally made her let go.
Her therapist saw the bite mark and reported me to child protective services. The investigation showed no real abuse and it all went away. That doesn’t change the fact that my baby daughter had to tell a stranger: No, my Momma doesn’t hurt us.

Thing 1 damaged her relationship with Thing 2. They have good moments, but nothing like the way they used to love each other.
I don’t think Thing 1 understands this and Thing 2 won’t ever feel brave enough tell her.

Their father stood back and let it all happen. He watched with twisted joy. I was being punished for my sins and he didn’t have to lift a finger. He just planted the ideas and watched as my first born and I not only ruined our relationship, but she ruined any chance of a real and positive future.

I am not without fault. I didn’t just let her go, I pushed her away. I only loved her because she came out of my body. I didn’t love her for herself. It was easier to not love her than be in that much pain every day.
Shame on me. I should have fought harder. For her.
I was manipulated by the situation just as she was. Only I’m the grown up. I should have worked harder to keep her safe.

Thing 2 and I went through the hell of her not wanting me to be her mom anymore. She was “tired of always being responsible for my happiness”. She’s not entirely wrong. But neither is she right.
She wasn’t responsible for my happiness. She simply brought me joy.
I’ve learned that telling someone: You’re my favorite person in the world. can be too much pressure. However much the truth it is.
When I came here we chose for her to stay there. I wanted her to understand that I respected the life she’d built for herself. School, friends, theater. I knew in my gut she needed to come with me. But I didn’t feel like I could force her.
She accused me of setting her up to fail. That if I hadn’t “protected” her all her childhood she would never have been in that situation.
I never wanted her to see her father for what he really is. I wanted her to simply love her dad.
I also never thought she’d ever be alone with him.

I failed her too. Not because I was the buffer but because I didn’t trust my parenting gut. I didn’t want to make her unhappy so I ignored what I felt was best for her.
She’s lost. She has no support from her father. And I can only do so much from five hundred miles away.
I can’t fix that.

The masochist in me thinks they like it this way. They can always blame everything on somebody else. They can blame me for the way it turned out.
They don’t remember when it was good. When we were safe and sane and actually happy. They only remember how awful it was.
I think Thing 1 blames me for not protecting her from her father and his manipulations.
I blame her for disregarding the first fourteen years of her life.
I know Thing 2 blames me for protecting her from her father and his manipulations.
I did what I thought was best for them. Most of it I would do all over again.

If I had been braver I would have left their father sooner. Maybe I could have protected them better that way. I know I could have protected myself better.

I am trying. Trying to reconnect with these girls of mine. They’re so jaded. They’re so hard. It pains me so to see them this way.
Thing 1 is trying too. I believe we both want more than we have. We want to love each other freely and without fear. It is so hard.

She sent me a message last week about a wedding gift for YBW and me. I told her she didn’t have to give us a gift, that her participating and loving and supporting us was enough.
Then she wrote: I feel like I don’t show you how special you are to me enough and I haven’t for a long time and I want you to know that you are and that I’m happy you’re starting a new life and that’s a special thing and I want to give you something to commemorate that.

I don’t show her how special she is to me enough either.
I don’t remember how to do that. I shut her out for so long to feel safe that I worry I’ve lost my love for her.

All I ever wanted to do was be a mom. I was so damn good at it for so long. And then I failed epically.
I can’t make that go away. For any of us.
All I can do is sort my own shit and then I’ll be ready to move forward with them.
I’ve worked hard to sort mine. I think it’s finally time to help sort theirs.

The love of a mother for her child is easily understood conceptually. The reality of it is indescribable. There are truly no words to express the ferocity of it.
I know they don’t understand. I know they listen and hear. But how can they possibly understand? Perhaps one day when they become mothers they’ll get it.
What they do understand is that nothing they can do will truly make me not love them. Therefore they continue to test that theory.
They don’t do that with their father. They both know intrinsically that to test his love would be to lose it. Perhaps that’s the curse of being their Momma. They’re going to try me to see if I break because they know I won’t.

This is my love letter to them.
Being their mother has been perfect and horrible and the happiest and most painful experience of my life.
My love for Thing 1 is remembering how to be unconditional. My love for Thing 2 is trying not be be too much pressure for her to handle.
Thing 1 was the most perfect human equivalent of all my hopes and dreams. I loved her because she was my wish come true.
Thing 2 was the gift I didn’t even know I wanted. I fell in love with her because she was there.
There’s a difference between loving and being in love. But one does not diminish the other.

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

mothers and daughters: tricky, curious beasts

Being the mom of daughters is tricky.
I’m sure being the mom of sons is not without tricks. But I honestly think daughters might be a bit trickier. At least once they hit a certain age.

Thing 2 is having some issues with her hair after we went and had it done on Wednesday.
It was tri-colored, pink, purple and blue and mostly dead from the over processing. She wanted to save length to grow it into her “hair goal”
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but there was a great deal of damage. While some length was saved, she has what she bitterly referred to as “mom hair”. She’s not wrong.

Knowing how dissatisfied Thing 2 is with her hair, Sundance suggested she figure out a cute short cut that will satisfy her as well as get rid of all the damage and give her a starting point for growing into her longer “hair goal”.
Thing 2 knows her Auntie is right, but doesn’t know what she wants to do with her hair.
Frustrated tears.

Pinterest to the rescue! After literally hours of searching, she’s found something she really likes!
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Instead of doing her normal thing of over-analyzing the living hell out of it, she made a gut decision. This is HUGE for her!
Like her mother, (So sorry about that, Mousk.) she has the ability to get so trapped in her head when making a decision…and not just the ability to do so, but the crippling reality of it. Unlike her mother, (Who has twenty-six more years life experience.) she has not yet learned to listen to and trust her gut. The fact that she trusted her gut and then said: Give me a minute to think about my gut decision. made us both laugh.

For those of you who don’t know, hair really is a big deal. Part of Thing 2’s issues with hair is that from the time she could form an opinion, she wanted to have red hair like me. The fact that her hair is brown (A beautiful, warm and rich brown.) is something she just has trouble accepting.
I wanted to be blonde when I was teenager.
hermione what an idiot
So I am acutely aware that the hair struggle is real.

All of this brings me back to my opening sentence.
Being the mom of daughters is tricky.
It’s tricky because you have to have just the right bit of understanding mixed with a splash enough of indifference to keep you sane. I care deeply that my daughter is content but I don’t care quite as much what her hair looks like. Does her hair make her happy? If so, then I am happy for her. Do I want to like her new do? Sure! But it’s not going to cause me frustrated tears if I don’t.
My tears of frustration are caused by other choices for her life…school, employment, life-long well being. You know, the stuff that moms really care most about.
I care about her hair. I want it to be adorable. To match her personality. To look beautiful in my upcoming wedding photos.
What I care most about is her emotional well being. And I know deep in my soul that bad hair can make you feel miserable and dissatisfied. Thing 2 has had enough of that. So if new, good, and ‘gut decided’ hair will make it better for the time being, I’m on it.

I’m both a mother and a daughter. I know how it feels to be each one individually. I want my daughters to know that nothing and no one is more important in my heart than they are. That every single decision I’ve made has had their best interests at heart.
I want to remember that though my own mother was fraught with her own special…idiosyncrasies may be the best word here, I know she loved me and did her best.

There are hard feelings. There are times you’re not sure you did the right thing. You’re trying to take the other one’s feelings, thoughts, ideas into consideration and possibly failing.
But there is love, limitless founts of unconditional love. There are times when you just know that you did it right. That you are the product of, or looking at the product of the most on point mothering humanly possible.
Am I the best mom in the world?
Most likely not.
Have I tried to be the best mom I possibly can?
With every fiber of my being.

Daughters are curious beasts. Every single daughter ever. Some of us grow up to be mothers and become an entirely new kind of curious beast.
As much trouble and hard times as we’ve had, I wouldn’t trade my curious beasts for anything! Because we’ve also had great times and so much love that I sometimes can’t even contain it!

Mothers and daughters are tricky. There’s never going to be any getting around that. But sometimes tricky is the best thing ever!

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

oh happy day

Finally! After a twenty day countdown today is the day!
Thing 2 arrives at Dulles at 11:45 this morning!
I am quite possibly the happiest human being on the entire planet!
I can hardly wait to get my arms around my baby!

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My joy knows no bounds! I wish this level of happiness for absolutely everyone!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

sassy birthday love

I write a great deal about my love for my daughter, Thing 2. Partly that’s because I’ve honestly never loved another human being the way I love her, and partly because she (frustrating as she is) has become one of my favorite people. She’s become a bit of an acquired taste, but if you can get through her thick hide of protective armor she’s rather spectacular!

The kind parts of her personality are truly something to behold. The unkind parts are somewhat amusing, she can sarcasm and sass like nobody’s business, but sometimes it can cross that line between amusing and cruelty. I don’t believe that’s her intent. She just calls it like she sees it.
She’s quite like me in so many ways. Perhaps years of life have helped my sass remain more so on the amusing side of the line with occasional jaunts over to cruelty. I’d like to think so anyway. My sass intentions are never cruel and, surely that counts for something.
Thing 2 is still in that ‘figuring it out’ phase. That wretched place in life we all have to wade through to get to the place where our actions more and more reflect our intentions.
We do think very similarly about things and have those moments when we call each other and report some event of the day when she had a “Momma moment” or I had a “Thing 2” moment. We laugh about them and I tell her I’m so glad she’s a good sport about being so like me.

There is trouble in her heart. A wound that she simply hasn’t figured out how to let heal. I’m hopeful that with time and hard work she’ll realize that it doesn’t have to define her. But I have great concern she may not ever know how to come to that place. I’ve offered every kind of help I can think of. She’s becoming more open to help…perhaps that’s a good sign.

She celebrated the eighteenth anniversary of her birth last week. Eighteen years of Thing 2. With all honesty, I can hardly believe it! It seems only a moment. Only a moment since she was a teeny little think in the NICU. Since she was fitted for her first pair of glasses (at sixteen months). Since she put on her first black leotard and pink shoes. Since she got on the school bus the very first day of kindergarten holding her big sisters hand and smiling from ear to ear. Since she stood on the stage for the first time as a young princess in disguise.
Since the terrible moment she told me she didn’t want me to be her mom anymore. And the beautiful moment we found our way back to each other.

Eighteen years of love and laughter and sadness and tears. Eighteen years of silliness and snuggles and sassiness to spare.
One of the best gifts I’ve ever received! And so many more to come!

I wasn’t with her on her birthday, that was hard for me. But I’ve come to terms with it. She was with her friends and her big sister even came to town to celebrate with her. She and I decided to celebrate later on, when she’s here for a while. I didn’t even send her gifts (some she even knows about). Because I found what I hope will be the coolest gift and I selfishly want to be with her when she opens it. I can’t yet share the secret because she sometimes reads these words. I can say the item is celebrating it’s centennial this year, that it was involved in an important historical situation, and that it is meaningful to our family.

Interestingly enough, it was YBW who came up with the idea that sparked my search for this perfect item. I love that he gets us, even though he sometimes doesn’t understand us.

I have this item for her and wanted a special way to present it to her and nothing felt quite right. So I made a trip to the craft store and found the thing that sparked my idea for the way to present Thing 2’s special gift. A janky little balsa wood suitcase that with a bit of stain, antique travel and map stickers, and some mod podge became the perfect box for her gift!
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Thing 2 loves antique suitcases and bags, I hope she loves this one too!

The inside had to be as perfect as the outside.
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How precious is this little case?
I’m so excited to celebrate my baby’s birthday!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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