Posts Tagged With: sisters

we are not our feelings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thing 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Later this afternoon we got this:

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

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

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

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

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

love is not a contest and I don’t have to choose a favorite

These thoughts hatched while I was washing my hair this morning.

I’ve always said parents have a favorite kid even if they don’t admit it. This is of course, if they have more than one kid. Each kid also has a favorite parent. Kids don’t like to admit it either.
The thing is, for the most part, cohabitating humans are not unaware of each other. Sometimes, it’s understood but never spoken. Sometimes it’s understood and spoken. Sometimes no one favors any one else.

The family I made kind of naturally split down the middle.
Thing 1 and her daddy.
Thing 2 and me.

Thing 2 was my favorite.
But not because Thing 1 wasn’t.

Thing 1 was all about her daddy. I mean, those two were like peas and carrots. I never felt left out, but I never felt that level of connection with Thing 1.
I didn’t feel like I was allowed to choose her as my favorite because she and her dad were already each other’s favorite.

Thing 2 came along and our bond was completely different than my bond with her sister. It was powerful and chock full of unwavering love.
We kind of became each other’s favorite by default.
For years that’s simply how our family was.

When the marriage dissolved, that down middle split became a chasm.
It was terrible for all of us.
I’m only now truly realizing how bad it was for the girls.
I humbly ask their forgiveness for my part in that time in our lives.

What’s interesting about this whole favorites thing, (I’m simplifying the hell out of this to get to my point.) is that I’m under the impression the Things think I switched favorites.

From my point of view, it’s not a switch in favorites.
It’s more that for the first time, I feel as though Thing 1 is an option to favorite.

I’ve discussed my relationship with each of my daughters.
This is somehow different.
I mean, partly it is about how we relate to each other, then and now. Partly it’s because we’re each at different places in our lives.
I never expected to feel as close to Thing 1 as I do now. I’m grateful for that. More than I have words for.
I don’t feel any less connected to Thing 2 because of it.
I have the ability to love them both at the same time in two completely different ways.

They can’t each by my favorite.
Yet they actually are.
Each one, my favorite in a different way.
Is that growth?
Is it that we’re no longer under the spell of their dad?

All I know is that I feel differently about favorite kids and parents than I did before.
I feel fortunate that I have the option to favorite either one, or both of my daughters.
Perhaps because I have the option, I don’t have to choose it?

Love isn’t a contest.
Love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love.
I love my daughters in exactly the same, yet completely different ways, and I don’t really want it any other way.

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

mother – daughter dynamics

The girls were here for about ten days.
Mostly it was lovely.
There were moments that weren’t so much.

I see the dynamic between my daughters, their fierce and devoted friendship. I am awed by it. The love they share is truly something to behold.
I feel confident and comfortable in the dynamic between myself and my daughters individually. There is strength in these relationships, a love that is new and ‘grown up’ as well as that powerful mother-child dynamic. While I cannot speak for them, I feel strongly that we are healthily navigating this new way of being in a relationship. The relationship between mother and adult daughter.
When it comes to the dynamic of the three of us in a relationship, well, that’s where it becomes tricky for me. Landmine riddled, and though carefully trod, I seem to be blowing shit up left and right simply by being in the relationship.

Is it simply triangling?

Or is it defaulting to our old roles in the relationship?

Thing 1 has always been a Daddy’s girl. They were each other’s favorites from the get go.
Thing 2 has always been a Momma’s girl. We were each other’s favorites.

When the three of us are together, I worry that Thing 1 doesn’t see my love for her. That I don’t consider relating to either or both of them as a competition. I don’t know how to help change her perception.
I worry that Thing 2 feels as though she must walk the tightrope between her sister and me. That she cannot just stand on her two feet and actively love and accept love from us both.

Of course, these are the stories I make up. I don’t know what goes on inside them.
I want to create an environment in which love is an even field. Where we can be together and feel safe.
What I want and what actually happens seems to me, vastly different.

I was stressed with both girls here. I watched them speak their own private language with awe and amusement, but after a while, I began to feel sad and hurt. The time we have together is precious, and they were using it to be together without me.
I began to feel as though I’m simply here to swipe my card.

There were moments that felt connected. That felt like we were in that even playing field of love and safety. But they were few and far between. Even the precious and sacred trip to the tattoo shop was tricky.
I know they had moments of dissatisfaction while they were here. But I don’t know what they were thinking or feeling.

I feel confused.
I feel disappointed.
I feel sad.

Last summer when Thing 1 was here, it felt so different. It felt like we were really successful in relating to each other, in loving each other.
The difference between last summer and last week is that Thing 1 was here alone last summer and Thing 1 and Thing 2 were here together last week.

I understand that I relate to them in different ways.
With Thing 2 I have an easy, yet deep intimacy. We can talk of deeply personal feelings and the whys and wherefores behind them.
My relationship with Thing 1 is loving, but with a practical twist. We don’t have the ease of intimacy between us, but we can be real with each other.

The quick and easy way to fix to this landmine situation is to only spend time with them one on one. But that’s not really a solution for the long term.
I’m not sure how to go about removing the landmines from our even playing field of safe love, but I want to try. I’d like to be able to be with both the girls and for all three of us to feel safe and loved and comfortable.
Mothers and daughters will always be tricky curious beasts.
I would like, and I hope they would like, to remain as tricky and curious as ever, but to do it in a healthy, safe, and loving way.
I feel hopeful.

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

Sundance knows all the things

Sundance sent me a package late last week.

The inside of the card says, ‘add vodka and soda and call it a day’.
That is so us.

She knows I’ve been struggling emotionally. So she sent a little something to say, “You got this.” and “I love you.” all in one.
How kind of her.
I look at that little red haired girl on the book and smile. She’s a little bad ass for sure!
Somewhere inside me is that little warrior goddess. The one that won’t take shit off anybody. The one that really does “got this”. She must be taking a nap or something, because she doesn’t seem to be showing up of late.
I wonder if I need to be all, “WAKE UP!!” or if I need to continue to be patient and know I’ll come out the other side of this low point when I’m meant to.

I have no choice but to wait and see.
I’m so tired of feeling this way.
YBW asks me, “How are you feeling today, baby?”
It would be lovely to respond with something other than, “I’m me.”

But I am me.
I’m depressed.
I am also a bad ass warrior goddess.

Sundance knows this with certainty.
She’s my anam cara. My soul friend. My soul sister. She knows all the things.
I am truly blessed.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Godspeed, Mo

Yesterday at 11:16 I received a text message from Thing 1.
This photo and these words.

Look at him just chillin! Sweet boy 🙂

Yesterday at 3:44 I received a phone call from Thing 1.
She was crying. She said, “Mo’s gone.

She said after they took that pic of him lying in the yard, they went for a walk, and over by their pond he wandered off into the woods, as he sometimes does. A bit later on she went to get the mail and found him in the road. He’d been hit by a car.

Mo was a miracle for our family at at time when we were in great change. The Things dad and I had just separated and the girls were living in two different places for the first time in their lives.
Thing 2 was obsessed with going every Saturday to adoption day at the pet shop. We went religiously. Never to “get” a pet always to look at the dogs and cats.
One particular Saturday we were walking past the dog crates in which all manner of dog was barking or acting a fool. With the exception of one dog.


This sweet dog was lying quietly in his crate completely ignoring the chaos around him. He looked up when we stopped and his little nubby tail started to wag. We three girls were enamored by this sweet boy.
(Y’all don’t know this about me, but I don’t like dogs in any way shape or form. I’m not a hater or anything, I just don’t like dogs.)
But this dog. This sweet boy. I feel in love with him. So did the girls.
There was much conversation about how we might adopt Mo. We liked that his name was Mo, not only did it suit him, it also went nicely with our last name.
I walked away from the girls and called their father at work. I told him that the girls were going to call him about a dog. He heaved the greatest of sighs. Then I said, “We need him.” That gave him pause. He knew that if I said that, this must have been some dog.

Well, we ended up adopting sweet Mo and he became part of our family. He mostly lived at their father’s house, but sometimes he lived with me too.
He was the sweetest, most neurotic thing you’ve ever seen. He had mad abandonment issues and fretted when we’d leave him to go to school and work.
Thing 2 took quite a shine to him, she researched online, and in books from the library, how best to love this quirky boy. She was enthusiastic to take him to the dog park to play with other dogs.

She was enthusiastic about taking him for long walks, especially down to the riverfront park where we could walk along the canal. One time, Thing 2, Mo, and I arrived just in time to watch the authorities pull a body from the river. Good times.


Mo was such a good loving dog. He was happy to belong to our weird family. We loved him so.
When it was time for me to move from SC to VA, Mo would lie on his big green pillow (which he stole from Thing 2’s bed) and keep me company while I packed box after box of books.


Just this fall, Mo and his “little sister” Sweetie moved from the Things father’s house to Thing 1 and Husband N’s. Being on the little farm gave them so much more freedom. They were able to rip and race and be silly doggies without disturbing any neighbors.
Of course, it was an adjustment. The dogs missed their dad. They missed Thing 2. But they were so happy with Thing 1 and Husband N. They were happy to be together and loved.

I’ve been hit by waves of sadness since I talked to my daughter yesterday. The tears come out of nowhere and choke me. I couldn’t breathe for the weeping when I told YBW the news last night. I’ve cried alone, I’ve cried with YBW. I’ve cried on the phone with each of my babies.
That sweet dog was more than just a dog we adopted one day. He was a gift for our family. We were able to love him and each other through the worst times and come out the other side better off.
I really do not like dogs. Mo is the only dog I’ve ever truly loved. He was so special.

When I was more calm after sharing the news with YBW, he got angry. He wanted to know how fast one must drive down a dirt road to hit and kill a dog. What kind of “stupid Georgia hillbilly” didn’t stop to help, but just kept driving.
His anger surprised me.
But he’s right.
There’s no excuse for that kind of driving. There’s no excuse for Mo’s death.

Thing 1 felt so responsible, felt that she failed at keeping Mo safe for our family.
I told her that it wasn’t her fault. That none of us blame her. That we’re so sorry it happened and she has to live through it.
Turns out Thing 2 told her the same thing…nearly verbatim.
She told me her father said that Mo was an old dog, thirteen or fourteen years old. And wasn’t it wonderful that he’d had such a lovely day? That he was healthy enough to run and play and lie in the sun. That he left this world a strong dog, not an old sick dog.
My heart thanks him for being a good dad to her in that moment.

Thing 1 and texted a bit last night when we no longer had the will to speak.

I called her a little while ago to check on her.
She told me she wished she hadn’t found him. That it would be easier for her to deal with if she hadn’t seen him. I understand that on the deepest level. I told her how proud of her I am. I told her she was a real adult yesterday, and that I understood it sucked more than anything. But she did it. She’s doing it now. She’s living though the grief and pain. She’s not looking around for someone more “adultier” than she is. She’s just doing what it takes to get through. That’s adulting.
She asked me to hug YBW and thank him for his anger. She said she wants to hang signs on the road. “Thanks for killing my dog, you f**king asshole.”
She has moments of tears, and moments of anger.
Mostly, she has love.
We all have love.
The love of a dog called Mo.

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

my girls

After being here with me for nine days, Thing 1 left Thursday to return home to her sweet husband, N.
I woke Friday to an empty house.
Normally I’d love that, but after Thing 1 being here, I didn’t. I was sad. No, not really sad, more disappointed. Kind of empty feeling.
But it was fleeting.
I got to work. Only I was missing someone to talk with. Even missing her crazy habit of following me everywhere.
I’m feeling that nagging sense of missing out. I know they’re meant to grow up and leave home and all that jazz. But I’m selfish! I want to spend more time together.

The way I’m feeling reminds me of that Abba song Slipping Through My Fingers.

That’s what it feels like to have grown girls.
I miss them in ways that cause me physical pain.

I get my hackles all up and think, I shouldn’t have to miss them. Only that would be impinging their natural development. But it’s funny, it seems to me that in my natural development, they should still be mine and not yet their own.
Children grow at their own pace. Parents are left in the dust.
Logically, I get that. I understand that I did my job. That I gave them the best foundation I could and now it’s up to them to build upon it.
Emotionally, I want to still be active in their lives, I want to listen to troubles and joys and giggles and have great snuggle-fests in my bed.
Parents should evolve at the same rate their children do. That they don’t doesn’t seem quite equitable.
Alas, it was always thus. (or was it?)

Thing 1 is an amazing woman. I don’t say this because she’s my daughter. I am truly awestruck by her. She is smart and funny. She is more strong and capable than she actually realizes. She speaks of not feeling “adulty” enough and looking around for someone more “adulty” than her. But she’s got this. She’s absolutely “adulty” enough to successfully live her own life. And really, what more could a mom want for her child?
We had such wonderful conversations, some seriously examining our relationship and life, some just plain silly. We talked about raising children and healthy relationships. We talked about baseball. (She’s a convert! She decided to love baseball after her first trip to Nats Park!) Oh happy day!
Spending that time with my firstborn was precious to me. No, more than precious. Our time together was sacred.
At one point in our lives I wondered if we’d ever truly be a part of each other again. Yet, here we are.

At the ballpark, the couple behind us told us that we were a “precious family”. That we were “so blessed” and it was obvious that Thing 1 was “adored”.
That moved me so. I’m not sure Thing 1 believes she is adored. I hope she learns to remember that more each and every day.

Before Thing 1 came here, Thing 2 and her boyfriend J spent two weeks with Thing 1 and Husband N.
One thing that makes me happy is that the girls being together seems to have been especially good for Thing 2. Though, it was really good for Thing 1 too. And I enjoyed listening to her talk of their time together while she was here.
Thing 2 is dating a guy that Thing 1 absolutely adores! That’s a big deal for Thing 1. Those external relationships must function successfully within their internal sisterhood.
She’s said that if Thing 2 hadn’t liked Husband N, she never would have married him. She expressed that she’s closest to Thing 2 over anyone else in the world, and that is her most valued relationship. I know not with certainty if Thing 2 feels the same, but I sure hope she does.
It seems the time they spent together was healthy and positive for both of them.

Thing 2 is becoming so much more aware of herself. I love that for her!
She is a tricky sort of girl…filled with acute self-awareness, yet seemingly unable to put it into action. This causes her much trouble. To know, yet be unable to do much about it is a tricky place to be.
But, I think she’s making some positive changes for herself. I also believe the time with her sister was beneficial to reinforce that.

We had an interesting text conversation late last week.

Thing 2’s friend Anna was critically injured in a car accident last summer, in all honesty, we’re lucky that she’s still with us. She just had a follow-up surgery to assist in the healing of one of her legs that’s a bit shorter than the other from the accident.
Anna lives with Thing 2 at her father’s house. Thing 2 has been her primary care giver since the accident. It took a toll on their friendship, but it seems as though they’ve been able to come out the other side stronger.

This one came immediately after the first one, before I even had a chance to respond.

“I was full of shit.” Yes, my darling, you were. But, owning it is the first step to changing it.
I told her that communication is difficult, but becomes simpler with practice.
She wondered if it was “shitty to say I’m proud of me?”
I assured her it was not, that she should be proud of her accomplishments.
Then I told her ‘life = perpetually learning more about yourself’.

Y’all, I’m forty six years old and I do that every single day! My twenty year old daughter is wondering if she should be proud of learning more about her self.
Um, YES PLEASE!

Being a mom is the most gut-wrenchingly painful experience of my life.
Being a mom is the most joy-filled, awe-inspiring, rewarding experience of my life.
It’s no wonder I feel like I didn’t evolve at the same rate as my girls. How could I possibly?

I find it hard not to focus on “missing out” when they continue to become such unbelievably cool human women! But, I have their lifetime of love and joy and being together deep within me. It sustains my sadness at being apart from them. It keeps me from missing them more than I can bear.
But we’re lucky enough to have a love that is unshakable. We’re lucky enough to be able to call each other out on her shit. We’re lucky enough to carry on real conversations about important issues with love and compassion, and even a bit of understanding.
Communication. Who knew?

This is what Husband N had to say in response to me thanking him for helping celebrate Thing 2’s birthday. But more importantly, expressing to him how much it means to me that he loves both my girls.

Amen to that!

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

sisters

My heart is full of love.
I got a snapchat from Thing 2 late last night.
She’s at her sister’s!

The idea of my two Things together makes me so happy!
They have a uniquely precious friendship. It’s been through it’s share of troubles, but what sister relationship hasn’t?

They’ve lived through every moment of their lives (well, Thing 2’s life anyway) together. Every joy. Every sadness. Every fear. Every love. They’ve been each other’s best friend and worst enemy. Though they are quick to get at each other, each girl would kill or die to protect her sister from an outside threat. Even now, after time and events and miles have created a distance between them.

Am I jealous?
No, that’s not the right word.
Do I feel like I’m missing out?
Absolutely!
But not in a selfish way.

Being able to witness their complicated love of the last (nearly) twenty years. To see how their relationship has evolved as they become women. To listen as they speak their own personal language, when they finish each other’s sentences. To laugh at age-old jokes, or family stories they love to share.
I love the relationship my daughters have with each other. They are so blessed to have it. And they know it.
Sure, they take each other for granted. Sure they annoy each other if they’re together for too long. But when it comes down to it, they belong to each other in a way they belong to none of the rest of us.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

some words can never really be spoken

My child always moves me.
This may seem a ridiculously obvious thing to say, but I’m honestly not sure how else to say it.
I called Thing 2 this afternoon just to say, “You’ll be here in ten days!” and we have talked and talked and talked the deepest well of emotions and pain and love. She emailed me a couple of samples of what she’s been writing and the anguish I felt upon reading them borders on indescribable.

She has been emotionally crippled by a time in our family life much more severely than I ever realized. The pain I feel is overwhelming. (These words simply cannot convey the feeling behind them.)
I worry so that this moment in time has come to “define” her. That she doesn’t want that, that there is a part of her that knows it isn’t true, but it does indeed contribute.

This time in our life was excruciating. My Mommy pain stole the breath from my body. The only other time I felt as helpless was when I left Thing 2 in the NICU when they discharged me from the hospital.
I couldn’t protect either one of my girls and that was something I had no idea how to live with.

She wrote a “spoken word piece”. I adore the irony of this…writing the spoken word. But she said it’s all about the way she speaks and I agree. When I read it, I heard her voice saying the words.
To say it is powerful is an understatement.
I’ve asked her permission to share these words. I’m grateful she agreed. I feel so strongly that her words need to be “out there” if for no other reason than to get them out of her.

We were actually on the phone when I read it. I cried so much I could barely speak. All I could do was apologize to her. Tell her I was sorry I couldn’t protect her.
She has so much pain and anger inside of her. I still don’t know how to help her. Feeling helpless about my babies is truly the most horrible thing I’ve ever experienced.

I’ve copied and pasted it exactly as she wrote it.

born second

Shave your head, slit your wrists,
In the middle of a teenage crisis,
Get out of your head, cause you’re making a mess,
I’m not just talking about the bathroom,
God, you’re so selfish,
Ruining my childhood innocence,
I was just a little kid, it doesn’t make sense,
I didn’t know any better than to keep your suicidal secrets,
Looking back I cant believe that you did that to me,
“Don’t tell mom”
What happened to the role model you were supposed to be?
Did you care when I was tiny and scared?
Praying I wouldn’t come home to find you dead,
I’m still freaked out by hospitals, makes my stomach flip,
Remembering the visits makes me fucking sick,
Throwing the blame of the disappointment you became on everyone else,
Yeah, fuck em, they can all go to hell,
Then you’ll be left with yourself,
And the hole in your heart where mom was supposed to fit.

And after you went back to school, it was all about attention,
Nobody seems to remember when I had to keep it secret,
Cause the rumor mill was churning, they already called you a lesbian,
What would they say about this?
I started failing history, couldn’t pay attention,
Barely talked to my friends for two months and when they questioned it,
“Oh, sorry, I don’t feel good, I’m sick.”
And that was it, we were eight graders, they just believed it,
Years passed, and when we talk about the past all my friends talk a big game,
“Yeah, I knew something was wrong then, I just didn’t say anything.”
It makes them feel better, like they’re being supportive,
I ignore it, none of them knew shit,
But I can’t hold a grudge because they couldn’t help,
What are they supposed to say?
“Sorry that your sister tried to take her life away.”

It was a very dark December, I’ll say that,
Since then it’s been a struggle to forget the fact,
Like how we waited for you, to come home to decorate the tree..
And you didn’t want to, don’t even get me started on “All I Want For Christmas Is You”

Thing 1 tried to take her life, was hospitalized for ten days and came home the week before Christmas. Our lives have never been the same. Their relationship has never been the same. Thing 2 had the harsh reality of the darkest part of life kick her little girl soul and hasn’t been able to heal…even after all these years.
My instinct is to hold her in my arms, that won’t take away her pain. It won’t help her heal. But it’s the only thing I can do to comfort either of us.

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

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