Posts Tagged With: mothers and daughters

pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook √† la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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at one with myself

Today, for the first time in a quite some time, I wrote a long stream of consciousness email to my friend Jack. In the process of that, I had a relatively quick text conversation with my friend and mentor, Jessica.
I’m sharing them here this evening because I’ve been moved by the power of my own thoughts and feelings.

I sometimes wonder if I enter this sort of ‘calm before the storm’ mindset before all hell will begin to break loose. I say that partly because after a three month term break, I’ve no choice but to start a new school term in June. I’m so over it and my heart isn’t in it anymore, but I’m no quitter. So I’m going to get it sorted as quickly as possible and finish up and be well shot of every bit of it. It’s strange to be in a degree program I’m no longer passionate about. But I’m so close to the finish line now and I absolutely refuse to trip!
And partly I sometimes think I’m not terribly successful at loads of “free time”. But, the last time I had loads of free time, I was sick and miserable and depressed and just over all pretty pathetic.

Or perhaps I really am ready to tackle all the things I’m excited about along with this six month term I’m not.
We’re about to find out.

(excerpt from email)
I’m feeling healthy for the first time in literally years. I know I’m finally ready to get crack-a-lackin on doing what’s good for me, for my life.
I still struggle with how sick I was and how much it negatively impacted my life. My sense of self. My over all well being. Even the people around me.
Feeling well, feeling healthy, well, it’s a gift really.

I think I’ve been in crisis mode the entire time I’ve lived here. First I had to adjust to leaving my friends and job I loved. Leaving my children.
Then my child “disowned” me.
My father suddenly dropped dead.
My child officially moved here but left again in six weeks.
I had surgery on my foot.
I started planning a wedding (yay but stressful)
Then I got sick.
My daughter’s wedding.
Then the huge upheaval with YBW that threatened to change everything.
And finally I’m coming out the other side of all of that.
This all happened since August 2103.
I’ve been in survival mode for nearly four straight years. AND been sick through half that time!
It’s no wonder I’m feeling as though I’m not in control of myself or my life. I’m finally able to feel like I can tackle living my own life!

Now, there were amazingly good things in this time too, but some of them were also stressful.
I’m realizing I’m not considering these as “bad” things, just things that were stressful. Things that kept me in that crisis mode. Never truly moving past that initial survival time.
I think if I hadn’t gotten sick it would have been different, but I did do. And I’m finally feeling less and less like a sick person and more and more like a real person!

So while I’m conceptually ready to consider taking on the world, I’m smart enough to know that I can’t just jump in with both feet. That I can’t attempt to tackle too much all at once. That will overwhelm me and send me into a downward spiral. So I’m seriously creating a “daily schedule” for how my summer days should go. Just as if I was still running a preschool classroom.
I’ve not yet put it to paper, it’s still in my brain. I have anxiety about putting it to paper just yet…once I write it, it will be hard to adapt and change it. I feel more comfortable planning a bit longer.
Though, quite possibly, I would benefit more from getting it down on paper and seeing it. I’m a visual learner.
To write it and see it would make it real.
If it needs to be changed I simply start again. By erasing. By chucking it in the recycle bin and writing a new schedule.
I’ll most likely need to tweak it as I go in the beginning because it may not work the way I have it planned out.

Yes. I must write this schedule out for my own review. To see what I expect of myself each day.
Here’s the thing, with the exception of course work, it’s all stuff I love and want to do!! It’s freaking summertime! I have nothing pressing that isn’t a choice I can make!
I’ll write. I’ll do lula. I’ll garden. I’ll do projects around the house. I’ll have to do school work.
But over all, these are things I love! These are the ways I long to spend my time. I oughtn’t feel pressured by scheduling them so I can maximize my time and abilities.
Yes! I think that’s it.

Wow!
I’m having this ‘conversation’ with you and I’m having a text conversation with Jessica about Thing 2. In both conversations I’m really introspective. I’m aware of where I am, yet not feeling compelled to “over function” in either situation.
(end of email excerpt)

In the case of Thing 2, I told Jessica:
I kinda wanted to update you on the Thing 2 situation. I sent this text late the following morning:
It’s important you understand that I’ve not responded because I’m not sure how I’m going to respond, and not that I’m not responding simply out of spite.
She responded later in the afternoon:
It’s no big deal if you can’t, really. Don’t worry about it

Jessica replied:
Interesting. What is your gut telling you?


Then I wrote:
I think that should worry me, but it does not.
Jessica responded with:
I urge you to stop judging your thoughts and just begin to notice and accept it. The ball is in limbo. Be patient. You will know when to go forward.

Seriously y’all! This is the kind of introspection I’ve got going on today. And it feels good. It feels really really good.
I feel at one with the universe. But even better, I feel at one with myself.

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

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.

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

a great break

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

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

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

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

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

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

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drama is seventh-grade but I’m not

You know what I get sick of?
Drama.
And I’m talking some serious next-level-seventh-grade drama. Only the participants are not really seventh graders, but adults.
I’m not going to get into specific details, but I’ll say that someone I dearly love is being treated to a ‘mean girl’ extravaganza. She cut the perpetrators from her life, so then they began to work on her college age daughter. She can’t stop that without tipping her hand. The daughter must learn for herself what is going on.
You know how kids are, you can’t tell them anything. They have to experience everything for themselves. Sitting back and waiting for the other shoe to drop is particularly painful for the mother of this young woman.

We’ve all been there. Caught up in chaos. Some of it our own making, some of it we’re simply chaos-adjacent. A mother’s instinct it to protect her young. But there comes a time when the young must learn lessons not taught by their mother.
That’s downright painful.
The mother can fret and get all spun up or she can close her eyes and wait for it to be over.
I know of what I speak.
I’ve done both with both my girls and I promise you both suck.
Staying back, whether it’s with eyes closed or completely spun up, is the only way to get through it. When the child comes out the other side, she experienced something she couldn’t be protected from…but she learned an invaluable life lesson.

I’m one of those strange women that doesn’t actually like drama. I have little patience and can’t abide something outside of my control to have that much impact in my life. Chaos-adjacent is bad enough.
I know people who thrive on the drama. Love to swim round in it until their fingers are all pruney. That is not the life for me. I don’t need that kind of attention. I don’t need that kind of adventure. I don’t understand that desire for constant chaos.

Do we sometimes make bad choices in who we choose to let into our world? Sure. Should we blame ourselves to the point of complete loss of power? Nope.
My beloved person living in this chaos said to me:
I can’t believe I let someone in my circle that easily, what the f**k is wrong with me. I made a stupid mistake and now my people are paying for it.
I responded:
This is not entirely your fault. You must stop blaming yourself. The only choice you have it to accept the way it is. I know it’s easy for me to say that. But if you let every little thing get to you, you’re going to lose your mind. You can’t lose your mind because then the 7th graders win! You’re stronger than drama! You know who you are. Dig deep and find that nugget and use it to your advantage.

We all have that nugget of power deep within us. Sometimes the way to wield that power is to do nothing at all. That’s the hardest action…non-action. Sitting and waiting for the inevitable to play out. Knowing someone you love will get hurt.
Life lessons can be harsh, but we all need to learn them.

There’s one more thing…it’s called karma. And that bitch doesn’t mess about. If you’ve got it coming to you, eventually it will catch up with you. The trick is to be aware. You may not be on hand to witness karma serve a comeuppance, just trust that it will happen.
karma
What kind of person do you want to be?

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twenty three years

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

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

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

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

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

just hold on a bit longer

I haven’t felt like writing in a while.
What’s curious about this is I find I miss it. Writing, that is.
My health has been…questionable. This plays a huge part in my desire and ability to write, but it’s also my mood. Where I am in my head. I haven’t had the emotional strength to write.

I feel as though there are angry little fish swimming round in my brain.
I feel as though I’m barely keeping my head above water.
Chronic pain breeds anxiety and depression.
I’ve got to break the cycle. I’ve got to figure a way to get it together.

Perhaps forcing myself to write will help with that.
If this was my journal I’d just write stream of consciousness stuff till I found my groove. I’ll spare y’all the chaos of that, but I will write about what’s taking up the most space in my mind…

Right now that’s the state of my health.
It didn’t go well at the new neurologist. She had (like every other neurologist I’ve seen) the bedside manner of a toad. I managed to keep it together until I left her office, but once I did I burst into angry tears. I was shaking and crying the whole way home. And I mean ugly crying. Poor YBW just held my hand. I am so frustrated! I just want to know how to feel better! So back to the drawing board for another new neurologist.
I’m tired of living with daily pain. I’ve lost my patience with always being tired. This is no way for a girl to live.

I’m overwhelmed and frustrated with life. It seemed smart at the time to throw myself headlong into school and lula and work, but now I’m realizing I bit off more than I could chew. I’m not sure what needs to be pushed off the plate. School can be pushed off the plate for up to three months, but that’s as long of a term break as I can have without withdrawing. And I can’t do that as I only have two more terms to finish.
Lula is almost successful. But needs more of my time and attention.
Work is overall good. Only it’s hard to stay engaged when I fell awful so frequently.

Perhaps I need to manage my time better. Surely I could do it all if I was properly organized? Though, I feel fairly organized and yet there are things that need to be accomplished that never seem to get checked off the list. I don’t feel like it should be this hard to live my life.

I miss being around my girls. I miss them every single day. It’s much harder to experience than I ever expected. It’s the silly things, being in the car together with fun music and great talks. Getting ready in the mornings together.
It’s hard for me to be so far away from them. Especially when I’m struggling, they bring me such comfort.
I know that they’re grown girls, that Thing 1 is married now, she’d be away from me no matter where I was. Thing 2 is at an age where she might be away from me too. I sometimes suspect it would be easier if it happened in that natural way. Or perhaps it would never be easy at all?

I’m floundering.
Being near my girls would be comforting, but I know that isn’t the way it’s to be.
YBW is comforting, only right now he’s preoccupied with the health of his mother. I see how it causes him to fret and I don’t want my stuff to add to that.

I’m just in a bad place right now. It will pass, and I’ll feel less like this. I’ll feel brighter and more engaged. Until then, I just have to hold on.
I’ve done it this long…
472738476-8ee9f9d57da138754fdab627043ca4d0

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Santa bring my baby back to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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my mom

Today is the fifth anniversary of the day Mommie died. I’ve been thinking of her so much lately. I miss her in ways that sneak up on me and hit me upside the head like a baseball bat. I’m momentarily stunned and then I feel sad. Or I laugh uncontrollably. Or I get a warm fuzzy feeling. Or I get so angry I grunt and stamp my foot. I firmly believe that all daughters feel these things about their mothers.

I’ve written about my mom before, But I’m not going to talk about our unpacked baggage, or our love of robin birds, or the gift of silly memories. I’m just going to share my mom.

I love this photo!
This is my mom when she was sassy AF. I think she’s so beautiful. This photo was taken in the mid 1960’s. I think my mom stopped being sassy when her mother died. She looks different in any photo taken after 1969, like something’s just a bit off…or something. Now, this is just my theory…but I do know that death of her mother changed her greatly.
20161118_213846-1.jpg

This was taken at our house on Barton Street in Arlington. I suspect my dad took it. It was before I was living in that house, but I don’t know how long after they were married this was taken. Some time in 1970.
I think she’s beautiful in this photo too, but she looks different.
20161118_213734-1.jpg

This photo was taken in April of 1971. The month before I was born. I think she looks tired. But I’ve been that far along in a pregnancy twice in my life and I remember feeling tired.
I’m so glad that the middle part went away for a long time…does it really look good on anyone?
20161118_201842-1.jpg

So, my parents were pretty freaking strange. And quite possibly they shouldn’t have been allowed to bring me home from the hospital. I’m the weird little alien looking baby. My mother is holding me inside my father’s boot (he was a motorcycle cop) as he takes the photograph.
Obviously, I wasn’t a very cute baby…though in my defense, I’m kind of crammed into a big leather boot. That makes for some uncomfortable faces. Summertime 1971.
20161118_213837-1.jpg

I went through years and years of photographs trying to find some of me with my mom. There are tons of photos of me with my dad (before he left) and even more of me with Grandaddy. But few with my mom. She was always behind the camera.
Being behind the lens is something that must run in our blood. I’m a photographer. Thing 2 is a photographer. Thing 1 is kind of a photographer too. Luckily, there are other people with cameras who’ve taken photos of me with my girls, even though I’m almost always behind the lens of my camera.

This is Grandaddy and Mommie and me. I’m not sure why Mommie and I are dressed up and Grandaddy is wearing a¬†sweatshirt. Maybe we girls were going somewhere just the two of us? I don’t know.
I was probably in sixth grade so that would make it 1982…maybe?
(note my awful middle part)
20161118_213801-1.jpg

I did find this one of us working a WETA telethon. (taken before we were actually on the air) I had this mad skill of sticking out my tongue just as the shutter clicked. And our hair is really terrible. This was the next year or so. My mom hated my long hair and cut it all off one afternoon under the guise of giving me a “trim”. Circa 1983?
20161118_213830-1.jpg

This one was taken in November of 2000 by Thing 1. We went to see “Grandmommy” for Thanksgiving. This photo was taken sixteen years ago this same month. I love this photo because we look happy to be together. I recently removed it from the album and put it in a frame.
Positive reinforcement of love.
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Five years ago this day, my mother’s life ended. She died the Monday before Thanksgiving. The girls and I drove down to see her body (before it was cremated) on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.
The little bit of my mother’s ashes that belong to me are in a tiny enamel heart shaped container.
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Sometimes I take it out of the blue velvet box and hold it in my hand. Sometimes I hold that heart to my own heart and imagine that we can feel each other’s love.

A small stuffed robin bird sits atop the blue velvet box. The blue velvet is on a small cedar box filled with memories. The small cedar box is on my bookshelf below my collection of journals. This is the side of the shelves that face my work tables and comfy reading chair. So I can see it whenever I want.
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In some ways, five years is the blink of an eye. In others, it’s a long, dark eternity.
I’ll always have a complicated relationship with my mother. It wasn’t sorted before she died, but that’s because of who she was. And I guess that’s OK too.
I know she loved me. I know I loved her.

Categories: loss, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“You were always a pretty badass mom.”

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

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

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

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

Categories: love, me, on being a mom, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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