Friday, December 31, 2010

As the bowl swirls...

Once upon a bowl, there was a daddy.



He felt all alone.


His wife felt alone too.


She took care of the babies alone.



Went places alone


She tried to explain to the children that daddy had a disorder.


Daddy was sad.

And cold, too.


Until one day, the daddy drove himself to the hardware store and got wheels for his potty!


And voila! Now he could join his family for birthday parties!


He could read his daughter a bedtime story- "What exactly IS irritble bowl syndrome?"


And then he could lay down his tired head. Well, kinda.


Neither one was lonely anymore. And so what if they had to wear lotsa perfume to hid the stench, they were together.


Daddy could even work!


And watch his favorite shows!


Mommy even convinced him to do dishes.


He took the kids to the park!


And joined them on family outings

A happy family is one that can be together!


And they all flushed happily ever after.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This side of heaven

I cannot explain the heaviness of my heart right now. My spirit is defeated. I am weary, I am sad.

My friend lost her baby. A wanted and loved baby. A baby created in love. A baby that would be born into a loving family.

I have a friend that is having trouble conceiving. A friend that has lost baby after baby. A friend that lost her baby in the middle of pregnancy, after it was safe to "relax".

It's just so unfair. SO UNFAIR. And I am angry.


Why, God? Why?

There is no answer on this earth that is sufficient. None. No mother should lose a child. No mother should grieve for her babies. Children should bury their parents. Period.

The only place to turn in this is to faith. And in faith, there are few answers, only comfort. But we want to know, don't we? We want to KNOW. And we don't. And we won't, until we see Jesus.

It's enough to make me want to scream.

It's hard not to look at news stories of people abusing and killing their children and become bitter that those I love lose their babies, cannot conceive their babies. It's hard to not become hard hearted.


It's hard not to think of Joshua, whose little remains lie under the statue of St Mary in my backyard.

And then I look at Sam. And I know, I know, that there is a form of redemption on this side of heaven. There is some comfort before the passing.

But still...those sweet babies.

Because they were loved before they were conceived. They were loved before they had a heartbeat. They were wanted and treasured when they were just an idea. They were PEOPLE. They were children. Babies. Beloved and longed for.

And they are gone. Swept to heaven before they drew breath.

If you are reading this right now, and you have lost a baby, I want you to know just how sorry I am. How I feel, deep down in the sacred spaces of my heart, I feel that pain with you. I will carry it with you. I will remember your babies with you.

I cannot offer you any comfort other than the knowledge that you are not alone. God draws close to the brokenhearted. He is there. He mourns with us for what has been lost. And He is not intimidated by our anger, our disappointment, or our grief.

There are no answers this side of heaven. And it is unfair. It is wrong.

But it will be redeemed. One day we will know why. One day we will hold our lost babies. One day it will all make sense.

One day.

Until then, let's carry our burden together. Rememeber our babies together. Because you are not truly ever gone unless you are forgotten.

It will never make it right. But maybe it will make it bearable. Maybe.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Google search: baby video monitors

*We are lounging on the couch, listening to the kids playing in their playroom upstairs. Mark is messing with his phone (aka the mistress), and I am doing random google searches on my laptop and pretending to be uber busy.

There is an ominus thud from upstairs....then, silence.


I look up at Mark.*

Babe?
Honey?
Babe?
Yo, Said!!!
MARK!

*At this he looks up, glassy eyed.*

Can you check on the kids? I'm really busy here.

(Google search: 12 step programs for Angry Birds addicts)

*He thinks for a minute.*

(Google search: What to do if smoke comes out of someone's ears.)

Lily?

Yessssss?

Is Sam okay?

Ummmmmmmmm...

(Google search: First Aid for bonehead moms and dads.)

*Mark keeps thinking.*

Lily?

Yessssss?

Is Sam bleeding?

(Google search: Applying a torniquet.)

No!

Okay, good.

*Thinking continues.*

(Google search: 10 signs your spouse is an evil mastermind.)

Lily?

Yesssss dada?

Is Sam sleeping?

Ummmmmm, no!

Good. Carry on.

Okay, dada.

*He tips his coffee cup to me with a grin and goes back to Angry Birds.*

I sigh.

(Google search: How not to be ashamed that your husband is smarter than you.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

12.25.10

Did the cattle lowing
cause him to stir
to open his sweet eyes
and did she look at Him
so small
so vulnerable
and weep for his great power
this one who lived within her
would save her
this one who lived within her
would die for her
and she knew as she held his sweet hands
as she heard the angels sing
and listened to the world rejoice
she knew
that the being she held
was man
and more than man
was the beginning
and the end
as she held him
nestled in the hay, laid among the animals of the stable
did she see her future
did she know that because of him
and because she carried him
she would live forever?
the same eyes she gazed into
she would see close for the last time
the same body she bathed
she would bathe when it held no breath
the same toes she counted
she would see cling to the stones of Calvary
would see graze the wood of the cross
the head she kissed
she would see pierced and bleeding
and the ears she whispered into
would hear mocking
but she knew
that he was
messiah
king
savior
come to her, through her
to be with her
to save her
there, among the beasts of the stable
she held her king




Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A cry in the night...

It is 12:30 AM, a bare hour after I have fallen asleep. The cry is sharp and unrelenting, the kind that won't stop without intervention. The intervention, is, of course, mama.

We get up, warm the bottle, and I send Mark back to bed while I cuddle my boy. He lays his head on my chest, drowsily clutching his woobie. He drinks, he sleeps. I lay him back down and stumble back to bed.

It is 1:30. She is next to me. "MAMA!". She is scared. I lead her back to bed. She insists that her pj's are bugging her. I remove the pj's, redress her, and order her to go back to sleep.

I take a handful of motrin, go back to bed.

It is 3:30. She is next to me. "MAMA, where is St.Mary?" Her statue that she prays to when she wakes up in the night. She has left it next to me on her last trip in. I pick it up, take her back to bed where I threaten to return all of her Christmas gifts if she wakes me one more time. I am only half joking.

I go back to bed.

I lay there, seething. Why? Why do they have to wake me up? Why can I not just get ONE NIGHTS SLEEP!? And why does my throat still hurt? And why is it so cold in here?

And then, I stop.

I am in a warm bed. My husband is beside me. Granted he is snoring like a howitzer, but he is there. My children are healthy, if not good sleepers.

And it all changes in a blink. I think about how one day I will be sitting on the couch, coffee in hand, waiting for them to get up. How I will struggle not to reach out and fix her hair or straighten his shirt. How I will miss all of these small things- bathing them, feeding them, wiping their tears. It won't be like this forever. They won't be little and they won't wake up and want me.

I thought of all of this, lying there. I thought of God, and I smiled as I changed my complaining to praise. I thanked him for every whimper and every disturbance.

And like an arrow cast into my mind I heard- "Every cry in the night is a victory for you as a mother. It means your children know they will be answered."

Like I never knew.

It means I have crossed the divide between what I was shown and what I will live. I have soaked in the great grace of God and am parenting from a place of faith and grace, not from a place of conditioning. I have learned at the feet of the One.

Because when I cry out in the night, He answers. And until my children can put their own face on God, I am it. I am responsible to show them who He is.

The cries in the night will come. And I will come to them and carry them out of the dark. I will hold them until their fear is gone. I will comfort and shelter.

Just as He does for me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bittersweet

The house is quiet, the sky just beginning to lighten to pearl. I wake to the sound of stirring, sleepy baby murmurs over the monitor. I tiptoe in and pick his sleepy heavy body up. I smell his neck, nestle him into me. He is heavy, damp with sweet sleepy sweat, and warm.

His eyes open slightly, and he smiles around his binky. My heart melts on a wave of love so intense it takes my breath.

I lay down with him, running my fingertips over his soft face, gently taking out his binky. I watch as his hands move up, reaching for me, his lips open in search of my breast.

He latches on for the last time, and I cry quietly, great wracking sobs that hurt my chest. I whisper, over and over, how much I love him. I tell him what a great privilege it has been to nourish him, and how grateful I am that he allowed me to feed him from my body. I rub his head, his earlobes. My tears fall onto his face and hands.

I tell him how much I have loved nursing him. I feel the last milk I will ever give him leave my breast. He becomes sleepy again, his hand lying limp on my chest, his eyes closed in peace. I whisper of how sorry I am that I cannot give him more time to breastfeed, how I have to choose myself now, but how much I am going to miss it, and how heartbreaking it is for me to have to stop.

I know it's right. He has been self weaning for quite a while now. He has been supplementing more and more. He is busy, too busy to nurse. He loves his cups and his bottles. He likes to sit up and see the world as he has his milk.

But still, he would lie down with me a few times a day. He would nurse, and let me enjoy the stillness of his little body. It was beautiful and sacred. I never took it for granted, ever.

But in order to nurse him, I have had to be on medication so sedating that it has been hard to function. I've been on meds for my blood pressure that simply don't work well for me.

But I was determined to nurse. And I did. For him and for myself.

My heart literally hurts with the choice I have had to made. My body yearns to go in to him, pick him up, and nourish him. But I can't. New medication means a happier, more energetic me...but the cost is breastfeeding.

I know, I know. I gave him nearly 11 months. It was time. He was ready. But I wasn't, despite the obvious need of my body to switch meds. I wasn't ready to have to give up something so precious to me.

But I did. I made the choice. This morning at 6:12 AM, I nursed my precious boy for the very last time. I enjoyed every moment. I treasured the scent of his skin, the push and pull of his latch. I ingrained in my mind the feeling of milk leaving me and going to him. I kissed him a million times, and thanked God for the miracle of breastfeeding.

And when I laid him back down, I watched him for a few minutes. I looked at his full cheeks, his chubby legs. I cried as I ran a hand over his full tummy. I asked his forgiveness for the choice I made.

And then I poured a glass of water, and took the medication that will hopefully change my life.

At 6:12 this morning, I chose myself. But I will never forget the blessing of breastfeeding.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Blood

Last night I dreamed of blood. Blood on my hands. My hands on an object. The object rounded, ripe as fruit. Blood ran over my fingertips, stung my nose with it's heady fragrance of copper and wine. I sat with it coursing warm over my flesh, spilling over my wrists. It was warm, nearly hot.

I dug in with my fingertips. I scratched with my fingernails, pieced away at something that bled in running courses until warmth covered my arms, my lap. It touched my bare feet. I twisted them together against the floor, tapping my toes in sticky warm saltiness.

Pain bloomed hot and silent in my chest, twirling away from my center in tendrils. I raised a bloody hand to my breast and felt the ragged emptiness there.

My heart, then.

I lay both hands on my heart, lying silent and still on the table in front of me. I picked it up, soft and light as a dove. My fingers ran over the grooves and cupped it's curving arches, traced it's fleshy exterior.

I saw the malignancy inside. The trapped and glistening blue black of sickness. The bitterness, entrapped in the flesh. I dug my thumbs in. I worked at the mass with desperate intent as pain touched me. My body begged for the return of it's heart, agonizing ropes of feeling pulling at my lips.

I wanted to scream. I didn't. I dug my fingers in deeper, tearing tender flesh. Blood bloomed again and again. My vision was scarlet stained.

A voice.

I did not look up. I knew who stood there.

I bent again to my task, my hair tangled about my face, pooling in the blood.

A hand in my field of vision. I jerked away.

I didn't want to let go. This was mine, this pain. Mine to keep, mine to remove.

Mine.

A hand on my head, the touch as warm as fire. Comforting. I hunched, cold and still over my burden. I held on with two hands to my wound, though I was bleeding.

Two hands closed over mine. They held mine as softly as air. His hands became stained as well. I tried to protest, to pull them away. But He held firm.

"Not just yours." He said.

My hands opened, the small bird of my heart sitting cold within. Drained of life, it was an empty stone. Darkness massed inside. I tired to cover it with my thumbs. His touched brushed them away.

"I see it."

He touched the dark mass. Under his fingers it rose like a flower, pushing from it's prison. It bloomed under his touch, becoming more than it was. He shaped it, slowly as I watched. Smoothed it over as it rooted deep again.

Blood flowed. Scarlet and magenta and onyx entwined. The mass of bruised and battered pain settled like a night blooming flower. It became part of my flesh.

He held my heart, smoothing his thumbs over it. His fingertips grazed every surface. My hands fell away.

I looked up only once, as he gently tucked away my burden. My chest rose and fell as my hand felt what had been ragged.

Smooth unblemished skin. A steady bump of life beneath.

I opened my lips to speak. Words failed beneath the kindess of his face.

My hand remained against my chest, over what had been. Over the healed pain. Over the brokeness.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Father of Mine

There is a war in my heart right now.

I'm going to be really transparent here. I have been praying for a while for God to show me how to restore my relationship with my father. I've been uncertain of how to breach the void between us. I want him back in my life, even if it's in the smallest of ways.

I think of him now, in a home. Being cared for by strangers. It's what is best. But my heart ACHES for him. The thought of him being lonely crushes me. In one second I am in tears because of the isolation he surely feels. In the next, I am cursing myself for being so easy on him. After all, where the hell was he when I was lonely? When I cried? Where was he?

I asked God this today. And the answer was very difficult to swallow.

"It doesn't matter."

It doesn't matter where he was. It doesn't matter that he wasn't there. That I was alone. I can't fix that by punishing my father now.

I can only FORGIVE.

It makes me angry with God. Yes, angry. Angry that I have to swallow down so much hurt and anger. Angry that I cannot discuss this with my father, because he doesn't acknowledge that he ever did anything wrong.

I told God this as well.

"It doesn't matter that you are angry. You love him. So forgive him."

"But God, he doesn't acknowledge my hurt. That he abandoned me. He left me. He let me be abused."

"Yes he did. It doesn't matter."

"Well it matters to ME."

"And I will heal it, if you forgive him."

"But I want him to hurt and feel pain and cry like I did! It's not fair, Lord."

"I know."

And that's where I am. Pulled between my soul and my heart. I can't stand the idea of him hurting, and I want to do anything to alleviate his loneliness. But I also want him to pay for what he has done to me. I want to punish him.

I can't have it both ways. The whole thing is big and ugly and weighs on me terribly.

I have to decide. Do I love myself enough to let this go? Can I reach out to him? Can I love him well now, even though he has never loved me well?

I walked through everything in my life for a purpose. I believe that. His abandonment of me made me a better mother. His alcoholism made me vigilant of myself. His cruel words and his lack of care made me hyper aware of the power of words and actions.

So in his own way, he taught me alot. Teaching what not to do is still teaching.

I know he loves me. He is a selfish, selfish man. But he loves me. And I can't help but think that with no booze to numb himself, he has had plenty of time to reflect on his life.

So.

I don't normally do this, but will you please stand with me in prayer? That I can go forward and try to mend what is broken with honesty? That my anger and need to punish him will be conquered by love and forgiveness?

I can't do this alone. I need more than my own strength.

Thank you friends.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy friggin holidays. Pass the vodka.

Every year it's the same.


"Let's get the tree out and decorate it!!!"

Silence.

Crickets chirp.

A baby cries.

Mark stares at me.

"Oh come on honey! Please!"



Fast forward to three days later.

"Honey, can you get the tree down. Seriously."

Silence.

"I am SO NOT KIDDING."

*deep sigh*

"Why are you such a SCROOGE??!!"

He simply glowers at me.

Later that evening, I sneak up into the attic, hell bent on bringing the damn tree down myself. Oh yeah, I woulda done this 3 days ago by myself but I am banned from setting foot in the attic. The why is not important. Suffice it to say I put my lower region through our ceiling once.

I hear him yelling for me from downstairs, but I ignore it and maniacally try to reach the tree box that is buried in the farthest reaches of the attic. Finally I go downstairs.

"Where were you?" he yells, as I dig insulation outta my feet.

"In the attic. Gettin the tree!"

"Oh for gods sake!It's too early to get the damn tree out. It's not even December yet. Why do we need it? It's just another thing that the kids can destroy."

"GET.THE.TREE."

"NO. You can't make me. I won't do it."

I raise my eyebrow.

Thirty minutes later, the tree is downstairs. The kids are in their red pj's, their little faces scrubbed clean. I consider putting christmas music, but I know Mark's head would explode like a rotten tomato, so I hum quietly to myself.

Lily runs in circles around me. Sam yanks on the tree repeatedly and then melts down when I yell at him to stop.

I soldier on through it all, twining ribbon through the synthetic branches, fixing the bow just right. Lily yells from the vicinity of my feet "Can we decorate it noooooooooow???".

"Okay okay."

She begins randomly chucking ornaments into the tree. Sam, seeing this, growls like the tasmanian devil and makes a beeline for the shiny things. He of course bumps his head in the process and begins wailing like a soprano in a christmas choir.

I look at Mark.

He looks at me from his perch on the couch. He is smug. Very smug.

"Not quite how ya pictured it huh?" he asks, smirking.

I shoot him the bird. And I don't mean a turtle dove.

I put the kids to bed, while humming a sweet christmas hymn. Or while muttering about the virtues of becoming a nun or a lesbian. No matter.

And in the end, it is me decorating the tree. Alone. Carting the ornaments downstairs. Alone. No christmas music. No cocoa. No sweet family exclaiming over all of the precious treasured ornaments that emerge from the box. Just a mom in her mismatched pj's and messy hair listening to her husbands burps and the football game on the tv. Muttering to herself and possibly drinking the cooking sherry.

So happy holidays, damnitt. The tree is done.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Actual Conversation

Mama?

Yes?

I'm hungry.

Okay. Whatcha want?

Hmmmm. *puts finger seriously on chin, eyes half closed*

*I tap my foot*

Maaaamaaaa, I am sinking!

Okay, okay.

I will have a wedge of stinky cheese, an apple, and some thin sliced turkey.

Ahem. Okay. Anything else, your majesty?

Ummmm, pincess, mama. Puuuuh-leez.

Don't push your luck, tonto.

PINCESS tonto!

Okay, whatever.

Mama?

Yes?

Do we have any water crackers?

Uhhhhhhh,no. We have goldfish.

No, no no. How about some of those yellow grown up crackers?

Okay, sure.

Ummm mama?

WHAT?

I don't want fugi apples. I only like Jonagold now.

*sigh*






I only WISH I was kidding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lily

Okay, so here it is.

I am a really sensitive person.

Stop laffin. I am!

Truly. I remember everything anyone has ever said to me. Any hurt, any slight. It sticks with me. I forgive, but much like my rump sized counterparts, I have an elephants memory.

I cry over hurting anyone. If I hurt you, I hurt too.

My daughter has gotten this gene. And I have to send her out into the world like this.

I watch her at school, on the playground. A little girl sits beside her, and my girl reaches over, pulls up the little girls hood, and yanks her zipper up to her chin. She then hugs her and kisses her cheek.

And my heart busts.

Because I just know...one day, it will all come down. Somebody will wound her, terribly. And she will curl around that soft spot in her soul and forevermore pretend it doesn't exist. She will hide it behind sarcasm and a toughness that isn't true.

So help me, if I find out who that person is...

Well, I digress.

I just want to protect her from that. But how? How? Do I try to toughen her up? Do I push her to be less sensitive, less motherly? Do I wound her first, in a thousand small ways, so she learns how to protect herself?

I just can't. I treasure that light inside of her- the one that makes her shine so bright to others right now, but soon will draw anyone looking for an easy target. I want to hold her tight forever and keep her from losing that gentleness that Jesus has surely, tenderly planted in her mind and soul. It's a gift, but one that comes with a sad price- the ability to be blooded and wounded by those who surround you.

I am lucky enough that those I choose to surround mhyself with love her too, and treasure her, just as she is. Her teachers adore her. My friends as well. Our family- well they don't just think she hung the moon, they KNOW it.

But I am so afraid this world will scar her, and she will begin to hide what makes her so unique and beautiful- her love and care for others. Her ability to instantly empathize with another's pain. Her tears for other's tears, her care for other's hurts.

It is a wonder to behold, something intrinsic. Something untaught or unforced. The work of a loving God, all inside my baby girl.

She is like the flower that bears her name- beautiful, lovely, and so so fragile. She will go out into thid world and bloom, and I won't always be there to shelter her. So I have to arm her- but how?

Well there it is. This is the crux of motherhood. Let them out, hope to God you have done enough, and pray, pray pray. And then pray some more. And when they come back and the world has caused pain, heal them. And then send them out again. And feel your heart crack and bleed for the beauty of this love that cannot be explained, named, or given words.

My beautiful darling Lily, please don't lose that tender spot Jesus placed in your soul. I promise to always honor it....even when others do not.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

In which I wax poetic. Or just my legs. Or none of the above.

I am utterly in love with my life. I love my kids, I love my hubs, I love my new house.

I am blessed.

But.

There are days. Oh there are days. When I am so overwhelmed by 5 PM that I want to drink. That I yell. That I take frustration out on my kiddos. That I want to run away. Far away.

I had a day like this a few weeks ago. I left the kids with Mark and walked out. I drove aimlessly, seething with anger that came from nowhere. And then I pulled into a parking lot and had a complete breakdown.

There was crying, sniffling, yelling and pounding the steering wheel. There may have even been blowing of my nose on my sleeve because I NEVER have tissues. So then I was upset and had a crusty arm.

I digress.

Anywho, here's the thing. Being a mom is fabulous. But it is so easy to get lost under all of that. It is easy to let your kids define you. To say -I am ONLY a mother. But I'm not.

I am a woman. I am a writer. I am creative. I love to read. I love to craft. I love to sit in the sun and pray to a God that I don't get to spend nearly enough time with.

Yes, I am a mom. But I am more. I have a soul that needs nurturing. I need to be taken care of too. I need to be held, loved, and asked if I need anything. I need to be cooked for, prayed for, and have my spiritual tank filled up once in a while.

It doesn't happen as much as I would like. I find that somne days I am so utterly depleted by my role in the world that I want to crawl under the covers and cry myself to sleep. I need to draw from something bigger than myself, to hear words that are just for me, encouragement for my soul- not as a mother, but as myself.

Does this make sense?

I was speaking to a friend yesterday, and she told me that she finds herself with little patience some days. She feels isolated and as if she only watches babies all day.

Oh how I can relate. Her tank is empty. Through no fault of her own, she has run down and is looking at the world and wondering where SHE is in HER life. It is so easy to get there.

Are you expecting answers to this dilemma? Yeah, I don't have any. I don't know how to fix it. But I DO know something that draws me upward through the depths when I am in that place.

Chocolate.

Ahem. Just kidding. Kinda. Not really.

In addition to chocolate, it is other mamas. It is talking, laughing, and crying with other moms who know right where you are. We ALL love our children. But we all need more than just loving our children. We need to nurture our souls as well, in order to better nurture the little souls we have been given.

So, I have a challenge for you. Reach out to another mama today. Call someone you know might need an uplifting word. Take brownies to a friend. (I'm not saying me, per se...but...) Pray for all the mamas you know, that they may have a moment to sit in the sun today, and to know they are MORE than their role as mom.

Together we can help each other feel uplifted and in turn, be better mamas to our little ones. The world can change with one act of kindness.

You may proceed in singing "Kum By-a" now, although I prefer "Lady Marmalade". Your choice. Have a great day!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The end of lonely girl

All my life I have struggled to fit in. In younger days, I was chubby and awkward. In middle school days,I was chubby and in foster care. In high school, I was chubby and had a drunk mother roaming the halls of my school, or was in foster care.None of this endeared me to my peers, as you can imagine.

I know....dooooooooowner.

But seriously. Always. Awkward. Socially inept. Not a talker. Serious. Afraid to show myself to anyone.

I thought I would just always be that girl. The one who cried at night from loneliness. The girl who wasn't so much disliked...but invisible. I gave up on myself, and my ability to make and keep friends.


Then, I met up with a group of moms. I joined Stroller Strides. I went to get a workout. I was ready to sweat and jiggle in front of people. Being myself came pretty naturally after that. I mean really- once somebody sees you sweat and grunt and hobble through an hour of intense workout, what's a little conversation.

And I became free. Free to say what I thought. Free to be open. Free to care for other people like I wanted to.

And I hit my stride. Hit it. It opened up a whole world to me that I had never ever known. A world where women love and care for other women. Where judgement is just not an issue. Where we love each other, and each others babies. We trade phone calls and go for walks and watch each others little ones. We bring food to our mama friends when they have a new baby, when they are grieving, when they are sick.


But last night I joined my mama friends for dinner. 16 of us mamas, eating loads of calories, swilling cocktails, and talking about men and babies. Crowded around, laughing with each other. Laughing until our stomachs hurt and cheeks were sore. And somewhere in the midst of the conversation and joking I realized that that lonely girl was gone for good.

I was finally there, at the place where you love more than yourself. Where your friends triumphs are shared, and their miseries halved- because you exist. I am at the place where I can be entirely myself- goofy and sarcastic and inappropriate. I can be vulnerable. I can reach out in sadness. I can share the burdens of mothering, of married life. I can exist for more than my little sphere of life.

I made a promise to myself a long time ago. I was going to "say it". What I was feeling was going to be there on my lips. I was going to be open. I would say "I love you." I would say "Let me help", "I'm so glad we met." "You are special to me." No matter how it tugged at me, or how much that lonely girl inside yelled- "Don't SAY that! What if they laugh at you?"

I was still going to say it. Because if my last day on this earth is today, and you exist in my world, you will KNOW without a doubt that I love you. That you are important to me. That you are cared for and held in a place in my soul reserved for sacredness.

Last night, I dreamed about lonely girl. I told her she could go. I didn't need her to guard my words, to try to tell me not to look stupid or be vulnerable anymore. Because I am going to keep putting myself out there, continue growing as a person. And to me that means that I will not sit silent because I am afriad of my own words. I will give and care and open myself to the world.

So lonely girl, take a hike, will ya? I've got it from here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

03.11.10

The day is dreary and gray. The rain falls off and on. I sit on the floor and play with my son. We giggle. We romp. He eats cheerios and I sweep them up. He watches as I rinse dishes, load the washing machine with clothing.

And then, I come across her t-shirt. It is stained with apple juice. The sleeves are covered in crumbs. Regardless, I raise it to my face and smell her scent. Baby lotion, shampoo, and little girl. The giant lump that has been in my throat for an hour rises swiftly. Tears overflow.

The first day of school for my firstborn was yesterday. We actually didn't plan for it. The school called as we were loading up to go shopping. They said Lily could come right then if she wanted. And she did. And so we went.

I walked her in and we met her tacher in the front hallway. She knelt down, hugging my baby girl to her chest, saying how happy she was to have her. She then took her hand, walking her to her class. I watched her small ponytail bob as she skipped along, her face shining with excitement. She was led into the classroom and rushed off to join the other children for circle time.

She never looked back.

She never looked for me.

I peeked at her, sitting criss cross on the floor, hands folded in her lap, and my heart broke with love for her. I felt pride. I felt sadness, deep as the ocean. I felt joy for her.

I also felt left behind. Forgotten. Somebody else would be seeing her smile and hearing her voice. Somebody would be teaching her abcs. Somebody else would watch her hands fold in prayer, listen to her say grace over her snack.

I would be sharing her. I would not be her everything, anymore.

And my mind flashed back in those small seconds. The ultrasound tech saying "It's a girl!" The ultrasound tech saying "She is too small." The doctors joyous face as she laid her on my chest, after saying she would have to go right to the NICU. Her face as she slept on my chest, full of milk and contentment. Her first steps. Her first haircut. Her arms reaching for me over her crib rail, face blotched with tears. Her lip bleeding after a fall. Her first time out. Everyone gathered in my kitchen for her first birthday as she smiled. Watching her at her second birthday party, grief over Joshua mingled with the laughter. Her hair glowing in the St Maarten sun. Her wonder at seeing Cinderella's castle. Watching with her as the ultrasound tech said "There's your brother!". Laying Samuel in her arms and watching as she tenderly kissed him, saying "It's okay, big sister is here." Seeing her be rejected by children on the playground, her shoulders falling. Kissing away her tears. Making her smile again.

And now, watching her walk into a classroom and never look back.

It's funny. Life marches madly on. It tumbles by, time flying. You think the world should stop and notice. You think everyone should see your face and know a piece of your heart is missing. I walked through stores yesterday feeling as if I was missing an arm. I felt like everyone should see it.

These are the things nobody tells you. That motherhood is a series of heartbreaks worse than any a man could possibly give you. That even in your happiness, you still are, at all times, letting go of something. Every step forward is necessary and right, but it involves an unraveling of the heart you can't anticipate.

I took her back to school today. It was harder and easier than I expected. As we turned the corner of the hallway to her classroom, I saw both teachers look up. And then, their eyes lit up. "Hi Lily!!!" was called out.

She let go of my hand quickly, rushing forward.

And then, she turned back. She reached up to me.

I knelt down, pulling her close. She held tight and kissed my cheek.

"Bye Mama. I love you."

I couldn't speak past my tears.

I kissed her hand, still in mine.

And then I let go.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lily

I look at your face
your eyes
your sweet cupid bow lips
and I see
your face nestled against me
firstborn, warm from the womb
and then you speak
and I remember you are nearly 4
but always, always
I see my baby
my sweetness
the child I spent months adoring
I made you a promise
those first days
that every moment you were awake
I would be touching you
holding you
my hand on your back, your hair, your toes
the promise was for me,
really,
because I didn't know how I would do this
mothering
and touch heals
touch conveys
love
warmth
contentment
and now
I am not your center
I am not the face of God for you
I am
simply
mama.
And I know
this is good
an right
and healthy
but the pull of my sweet baby girl
the remembrance of your first breath
your body curled into mine while we rocked
your face through the bars of your crib
as I watched you sleep
it's hard for me
to give that up
so now
I watch you as you run
as you play
as you struggle to understand this world
and you become
your own center
and little by little
I let you go into this world that you belong to
as much as you belong to me
but always
and forever
you are my firstborn
the one who created in me
what I was always meant to be
mother.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homeschooling FAIL.

Before I had Lily, I had visions of what our day would be like. Trips to museums, parks, playdates and hours at the library. Learning with joy and through experience. I would be her teacher. I would have a steadfast and true shadow who would hunger for my wisdom.

Ha.

HaaahaaaahaaaaHAAAAAHAAAAA.

I have also thought I would homeschool, especially when we moved into a county with less than stellar schools.

She is nearing four and has never been apart from me for more than a day. Never been to daycare or preschool.

I have tried to teach her. Have bought books, sat down to write letters with her. But then life intrudes. It's 9 AM and the baby has been up all night. It's 4 PM and all I want is to watch Oprah and eat ice cream from the carton. It's noon, the house is quiet, I am feeling happy and so is she...but I want the peace to last so we just sit.

And then there have been times I HAVE sat with her to do letters and numbers. And within minutes I am bored. Yes, bored! I am antsy. I am annoyed. I can think of 80 things I need to be doing.

I am a hack.

I can't teach her. She pushes all of my buttons. She is not out and out defiant, but sassy and slow to respond. She dawdles and moans and groans. And I think about homeschooling and it just makes me so...tired.

So, we will be putting her in preschool. And once I made the decision and decided on a school I found that they only had a space in the 5 day a week class. School. Everyday. Three hours a day away from my girl.

Do you hear that? It's the sound of my heart breaking.

But as much as I am sad, I know it will be good for her. She is SOOOOOO over me. She follows her friends around with a kind of frantic neediness that I think would be helped immensely by school and peers. She and I spend a good part of the day discussing if we like KaiLan or Dora more.

Clearly, she needs an injection of intelligence.

But, oh how I will miss her.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

5 years

I could write a novel about how much I love my husband. I could go on and on about how he is the beeeeest, how he is the sweeeeetest, etc. It's true- he's wonderful.

But being married to a good man is still a challenge. Living with anyone day in and day out is hard. And truth be told, I am not a huge believer in marriage. I actually don't believe in it as an institution at all.

But, I am a big believer in love. Lasting, enduring love. The kind that requires no flowers, music or romance. The kind that allows for the other person to grow and change even when it is difficult. The kind that is accepting and devoted.

I have that love. That kind. Not the one in the movies, or the one every little girl dreams about, but the kind that lasts. This is the kind of love that gets you through it all.

When I am wounded, it's Mark I want. When I am sad or angry, it's him. It's his hand I want to hold, his arms I want around me. It's his voice I love to hear, and it's his heart that holds mine. And I can't see that changing. Ever.

No, it's not perfect. He is a pain in the ass. And as much of a pain in the ass that he is, I can be worse. But we are okay with each other. We have times we don't connect, but we don't panic. We ride it out, and soon enough, it all falls back in to place. Sometimes I look at him and love him so much it hurts, and sometimes I look at him and want to hurt him.

That's love.

So today, it's been 9 years since we met. It's been 5 years since we married. But what we are really celebrating today is the fact that for 9 years we have loved each other. That we still laugh together until we pee ourselves. That we have picked on each other, laughed at each other, and given each other wedgies. We have had massive fights and marathon make-ups. We have given even when the other did not give back. We have held tight through pain and anguish.

And here we are, still in love. And that's the real celebration- not the years, not the marriage- but the love that endures through it all.



Mark, I love you, even though you are a punk. Here's to the next 50 years.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Elena

I didn't know her well
I walked with her a few times
chatted about babies and breastfeeding
smiled at her big sun hat
but didn't connect beyond the surface
Until
cancer came calling
and then, I followed her words
her status
her progression
hoping, hoping
praying for her strength
praying for her sweet babies
thinking all the while she would make it.
It cannot be
the end
and she cannot be taken
with two children on this earth
children she fought hard for
she cannot be taken
in the middle of life
with so much left
and yet,
she was.
And my heart broke
and all I can think of are her babies
her husband
her family
that must go on without her.
But she does not end here
because of her, I held my babies extra tight
I laughed when I should scold
I hugged when I should discipline
I did it for her.
This is the legacy of a mother
gone too soon
love your children
every moment
be kind
and generous
reach beyond yourself
and love love love
for those that cannot anymore.
Hold tight, for those who have slipped away.
Rest in peace, Elena-

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

20 Random Things About Me

1. I love coffee. Like a person.

2. I hate to cook.

3. I named my daughter Lily after watching the movie "Bad Girls". Don't watch it. It's stupid and badly acted. But I loved the way one of the characters would say "Lily". And so, there it is.

4. My husband is my best friend who I occasionally wanna back over with my car.

5. Last night, my husband followed me to the store in our car as I biked and pulled our 2 kids in the bike trailer. On the way home, he passed us and was eating chips. I kid you not.

6. No, the last random thing wasn't about me, but nonetheless it needed to be said, because seriously?

7. Sometimes I look around at my kids and husband and feel like I am surrounded by idiots.

8. My pinkie toes look like cashews.

9. I cannot sleep without my pillow I have had since childhood. It's disgusting and smelly and I like it that way.

10. I drool in my sleep, making number 9 even more disgusting.

11. I yell too much at my daughter because she is JUST LIKE ME. Gah. I hate that!

12. I love makeup. Putting it on, doing new things. Sometimes this means I go to Stroller Strides looking like an opera singer. Please ignore this. It means I found 10 minutes to myself.

13. I love old lady nightgowns. Like with the ruffles and lace and ankle length.

14. I wish I could loosen up and be happier sometimes.

15. I love to sing. Love it. I am a terrible singer. Can't carry a tune in a bucket.

16. My husband would rather slam his head in a car door than listen to me sing. This makes for ultra fun car trips.

17. My son's smile can melt me.

18. My daughters whining can make me so high strung I am like a poodle on crack.

19. My new life motto is- "Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate".

20. I smell coffee. Asta.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

What remains

I cannot say that love did not exist
or that it was conquered and vanquished
I cannot say I was left alone
because along the way
there were dozens
and still are
a "heart family"
instead of a blood family
an ebb and flow of people
to fill the void
like tide
and so what remains,
now,
is the pictures
of her leaning over me
my first bath over, her lips pressed to my cheek
and what remains is
his face in the pictures
smiling at me as I held the camera
and what remains is
the family I have created,
like patchwork over my life
and what remains is
this love God gave me
like a flower in my soul
and my ability to not hate or hurt
but to feel and hold the pain
without it consuming me
and what remains is
my family
my lips pressed to my babies sweet cheek
my voice singing singing with my daughters
my heart so full of love it hurts
what remains is what I have created
from what remained of me

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Agnes

I am so angry right now. Angry enough to be shaking.

My maternal grandmother died last week. Nobody thought to inform any of her 3 living daughters of this- namely my uncle...so he could get everything he wanted out of her house before anyone found out. He cremated her and did no funeral so nobody would find out she was dead. So he could have her stuff. Classy huh?

My maternal grandmother was mentally ill- wait. No, that's not true. Many people are mentally ill but they don't commit atrocities against their children. She was evil. Demented. I cannot explain everything to you, but she is the reason my mother was who she was- scarred and sick and wounded.

She is the reason I am scarred as well- in my mind and my body. She began all of this twisted sickness. She hobbled my mother and my aunt terribly. The abuse- God, I cannot even put it into words. It is... beyond imagining.

But you know the worst part? That she never even wanted to know me. I saw her once, in passing, at age 24. She didn't acknowledge me. Wait that's not entirely true. My mother and aunt brought me as a newborn to her house. She opened the door, saw who it was, and slammed it in their faces.

But others in the family- well she was all ABOUT them. Her son- the golden boy, was treated well the entirety of his life. So were his daughters. She loved my cousin Lewis. But my Aunt and my mom and myself- it was as if we didn't exist.

It's all a fucking mess. The physical part of it- her house, everything in it, is now being fought over. But the emotional shitstorm is just as bad. If she had not abused my mother so terribly, would she have been a better mother? Would she have been bi-polar her entire life without a diagnosis? Would she have abused HERSELF so drastically that she died, riddled with lung cancer at 46? Would she have been able to love me? The disgusting creature that created all of this is gone. And those left behind all have such varying knowledge of her as a person that we cannot speak of it to each other, or help each other along with what we are feeling.

I know I should have forgiven her long ago, but when her actions continue to maim and destroy even NOW, I just can't. She created such destruction. She never apologized. She never acknowledged it. She just went on living for 80 some odd years, while my mother dided alone in a strangers house at 46. Where's the justice?

God help me. God help all of us that her lives touched- because we surely need His mercy now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pray.

Please pray for Marleigh.

http://www.marleighonelove.com/

Please.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Rant

To the idiots driving in this city:
Hello! Do you see me? I am really hard to miss. Can you please refrain from scaring the poo outta me in parking lots by FLYING up on me in your car? I have 2 kids with me for Gods sake- and I am in a CROSSWALK!!! I am so sorry you have to pause for 20 seconds to let me pass, really I am. But if you come even CLOSE to hitting me or my babies, IMA MESS YOU UP.

To the inventor of Listerene:
OW!!! WTF!!!! Nuff said.

To anyone I pass in the store and smile at:
If you don't smile back at me, you are an ass. Seriously. I am taking the time to smile and nod at you, say hello, etc...with 2 kiddos in tow. The least you can do is smile back. Fake it for goodness sake, but don't be an asshole.

To the skinny chick in Dillards dressing room:
I don't want to be you, and I don't envy you your body or youth. I know that preening in front of the 3 way mirror in your size 2 dress and looking at me smugly must make you feel good about yourself, but honey, I am to old and too tired to worry about your need to be superior. So move outta my way or I'll sit on your skinny butt.

To the damn idiot working in the Wal-Mart deli:
I asked for it sliced THIN. THIN!!! Don't gawk at me through your glasses and pretend you didn't hear me or are incapable of understanding what I mean. This is not an extraordinary request. Now just do it, already! You work in a deli, you slice meat. There's nothing wrong with that. Have some damn pride in your work.

To the inventor of the cell phone:
I hate you. Is it necessary that I be able to be found ALL THE TIME? You say that it is, and since I have a cell phone, people assume I agree. I don't.

To the whole building/ construction industry:
Why can you give a date and have that BE THE DATE? Why? Huh? I can't find my kids in this tower of boxes over here. You finish the house friday, but we cant close til MONDAY!!! This is torture!!!! Gaaaaaaaahhhhhhh!

To my husband:
I have packed EVERY SINGLE BOX in this house by myself. I WILL NOT forget this. And neither will you, come Christmas-time. Right, sweetie?

I think that's it for now. Have a happy day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

02.15.07

Dear self,

Tomorrow, your life will change in ways you would never believe. Oh, you think you're ready, and in many ways, you are. But in others your deficiency could fill oceans. What is really key here is to know everyone else has their ocean as well. Their space of unknowing. Everyone. No matter how together they look, it's there. So don't cover up your lack of knowledge, because together with other mommies, you can help fill the void in each other.

Motherhood is not for wimps. You are going to panic. You will feel utterly overwhelmed. You will be tired and worried. You will at once love and want to abandon this small being who utterly relies on you for everything. You will want to run away. Oh yes you will. You won't do it, but damn you will want to. You will sit, nursing, in your rocker...and you will look out the window and want to take off. At times, it will overwhelm you. Life will seem to go on without you outside this window, while you are a prisoner inside. It will feel endless. It's not.

There will be a morning you will glance down at Lily and she will be looking at you and smiling, just for you. And you will finally know what every mother knows- that your heart can break and fill at the same time. You will, at that very moment, connect with every other good mother in this world. You will KNOW that feeling everyone talks about. It is such a sweet burden- a beautiful collision of love and worry and fear and devotion. It can take your breath, make you hurt, make you cry with gratitude. It can make you feel like anything, any kind of love you have felt before was a shadow. And it was. No love is like this one.

This sweet child that will be born tomorrow will save you. You don't want to be saved. You don't think you need to be saved. But you will be and you need it. In the one second between her leaving your body and looking upon her face your old life will fall away. You will live for her. You will wake every night, breastfeed for 2 years, hold your tongue and reign your temper. You will weep at a glance of her face, her eyelashes spread like fans across her cheek. You will HURT with loving her.

You can stop looking for who you were supposed to be. Stop searching for what will fill you to brimming with joy. She is here- your forever. Your one thing has breath and life and a heart filled with kindness. She will add weight to your world, make every decision so much more than it was. And you will care for her, everyday, and you will know...that this is it. This is your destiny.

You are going to make mistakes. Many. Mistakes that will make you sad, make you cringe. You will raise your voice and yell. You will take frustration out on your sweet toddler. You will see her face crumble with hurt. But you will also learn the power of a sincere apology. You will ask your child's forgiveness, and she will give it. In turn, you will see her kindness bloom like a flower, and see that she gives forgiveness willingly and with love.

You will be in constant amazement at this creature you have created. But the most amazing thing you will learn is that as much as you nurture her, she nurtures you in return. She teaches as much as she is taught. She loves as much as she is loved.

God is about to become a much more real and vibrant force in your life, because you will never look at your daughter and doubt His presence again.

Love,

Your Self

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thirty-four

Dear year 34,

Hello there. I am happy to see you. Come on in and stay a year will ya?

So tell me about yourself. Do you include anything really fantastic? Can you please assure me that you don't come with any new wrinkles and gray hair? That would be great.

Well let me tell you a little about me. I am happy. Really happy. Oh the everyday life is mundane, yes. But it has a solid, steady beauty. It is predictable and flows with a rhythm I can easily dance to.

I have 2 great kids. Wonderful, sweet, and darn cute. And I get to stay home and see them grow. It is a blessing that I sometimes don't see in the right perspective. I plan to try to see it more for what it is- a blessing, and something that I should soak up instead of try to muddle through.

I have some goals for you, year 34. Yeah, I know everybody says to get in shape. But I plan to get back to where I was. No more, no less. I know I won't be slim, but I plan to regain my strength and energy. I plan to gripe less about my body, and enjoy it much much more. I want to walk, bike, run, dance. I want to enjoy my boy being ALL MINE again, after these years of babies and nursing.

I plan to laugh way more. Take myself less seriously. Let things go for heaven's sake. And love without worrying about rejection. I plan to say it all, every chance I get. I plan for the people I love to get so sick of my kindness they can't stand it.

This is the year. The year I am done having babies and get to raising them. The year I can get back in touch with my husband, after being so focused on babies and their needs. The year I will enjoy everything with a new heart focused on family, God, and my blessings.

So, year 34. Get ready. I am going to challenge you, live everyday of you to the fullest, laugh and dance and act silly and throw myself into my life. I am going to delete the negativity, and regain my power as a wife, mother, and child of God.

Strap on your helmet, year 34- I am going to take you on one helluva ride!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Little Update

I don't have anything good to say tonight. Nothing uplifting. My heart is heavy and all I want to do is sleep.

My dad went from the psych ward to ICU at 4 am. They found him unresponsive with high BP when they checked him in the night. They gave him fluids in ICU and he was doing better, but became combative and refused all meds. So they had to restrain him and tie him to the bed.

I called this afternoon and my brother was in the room with him. We talked for a few minutes and then he asked dad if he wanted to talk to me. He refused. He put the phone to dad's ear and he said "I don't want to talk to her!".

And that, in a nutshell, is my relationship with my dad. Pathetic.

I want to believe God isn't done with him yet. I want to think a miracle is on the horizon. I know I should have hope, but I just...don't. Should I?

Anyway, so that is how it stands. I would love to have something really profound to say, or to tell you I am learning something from all of this. That it is changing me somehow. But I am just so tired and sad. I am weary of caring so much, and angry at myself for being so invested in his well being.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tangled

When it comes to my complicated relationship with my father, everything is tangled. Like a ball of yarn, every thread of love, devotion, anger, sadness, disgust, disappointment, hope and longing is all wrapped together in my heart. It cannot be unwound. It has been bound since I was a child.

I have very intense memories of the heat of Vegas. The tar of the road was sour smelling and stuck to my shoes. Tunnels of Oleanders drooped over me as I hid underneath their shiny leaved, drinking too sweet Kool-Aid from a dirty plastic cup. My hands smelled like dirt, my clothes like smoke. And underneath it all was the permeating smell of booze, sharp and thick in my nostrils. It was everywhere- in the air, on my skin, on my father's breath.

Many times, I am still that little lost girl, wishing for a daddy that was a safe warm shelter.

My father always drank, but in spurts. Sometimes he would go months between binges- sometimes years. When he wasn't drinking, he was kind and loving. He was never a stellar father, but he was all I had. And then the drinking would begin again. I remember being afraid of this man I loved when he drank- not because he was mean, but because he became somebody I didn't know. His words would slur, his eyelids droop. He would care less and less about my whereabouts and ignore me more and more. And I would keep reaching out with more and more desperation the farther he pulled away. That dynamic is as much a part of me as my hands.

The hallmark of a child is the need for attachment and love. A fixed point of family like a north star. Consistency. Discipline. It makes you feel safe. And when that safety is abruptly removed or inconsistently displayed, a frantic sort of need sets in. It becomes ingrained to be wanted and to be seen.

The hallmark of an alcoholic is selfishness. The booze is everything. Nothing else matters. My father exemplifies this. It's a disgusting dance. Back and forth, back and forth. Love and sickness in every step.

So, there you have it.

I have many well meaning people in my life who give me advice about my father.

"Love him and forgive him." I do and I have.

"Distance yourself. Don't think about him." Oh God, don't I wish.

"It's about HIM, not YOU." This one is my favorite. Yes, I know it's about him. But it effects me too. And he is my father. And I love him. So it is about me, too.

"It would just be easier if he died." Yes, in some ways. And in others, not so much.

"Just let it go." I have tried. Many times. But it's tangled, you see.

Add my faith into this and you have a mess. I am supposed to forgive. Okay. But at what point does forgiving mean enabling? I am supposed to love. Well that has never been a problem for me. I love him. It would be easier if I didn't. Don't judge. Yeah, okay. That would be easier if he wasn't actively trying to kill himself and hurting all that love him in the process.

So what do I do?

I want to do the right thing. I want to do what God wants me to do. But I also want to preserve my sanity and not fall apart. How do I do both? How do I love and not engage? How do I get past the anger and stop feeling like that little girl, desperately crying out for a daddy that just.does.not.care?

I cannot unravel all of these threads. I cannot pull them apart now. They are, for better or worse, a part of how I feel about my father. I have no idea how to feel, what to do, or where to go with these feelings.

Tangled and tied. Just trying to put one foot in front of the other.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The ties that bind

I've been thinking about my dad for 2 days now. A tugging in my mind and soul- a pushing and pulling to make contact. I resisted until today, when I called my sister.

She was already crying. My sister does not cry. Ever.

My father fell in the rehabilitation home a week ago, hitting his head on a metal pole. He was taken to the hospital, checked out and cleared.

But since then he has been increasingly confused, and today has been wandering the halls since 5:30 AM, trying to strike the nurses with his cane, and acting increasingly paranoid.

They called an ambulance. He refused to go, saying that they were the cops and taking him to jail. This went on all day, until they called my sister and put him on the phone with her. She told him nobody was taking him to jail, just transporting him by ambulance to UNMC. He kept saying there were cops everywhere.

In the end, he went.

So now, we wait again.

My sister and I have never been super close. I love her dearly. She is loving and calm and has always shown me grace and care. But she is older than me, and was starting her married life when I was still very young. Our lives simply didn't mesh.

We don't talk often, don't even exchange Christmas cards.

But we are drawn together over this man that we both love, despite his many flaws. A man that did not treat either of us particularly well, and yet we still are invested in his world.

My sister loves him, but she also has the unenviable task of making decisions for his care. The decision that he won't go home again. That she will commit him to a nursing home for the rest of his life. Just in speaking to her, I can tell that the decision is weighing heavily on her. I am sad for her, wish I could hug her. I wish she didn't have to do this.

I ask her- "Should I come?" and she says "Maybe it's time."

And she says "If he would have just stopped drinking..." and we both sigh.

Because it is true. If he would have stopped drinking, he never would have fell. He wouldn't have stopped eating. He wouldn't have lost his mind.

My heart is so heavy tonight. I am thinking of my daddy alone in a hospital. Confused and possibly injured. Is it a stroke? Concussion? Is it the end?

And most heavy on my mind, my friends, is this: in my inability to stop being angry and disgusted, have I lost precious time? In making a decision to step away from something I cannot bear to watch, have I lost the father I knew? If I don't go, will he still know me if I do decide to wait?

I am torn, and angry at myself. I made a choice for my sanity, but I am now second guessing everything.

Shit.

Shit shit shit.

I just want to do the right thing. The thing I can live with. The thing that lets me sleep at night, and helps me to make it through the day.

I wish I could be sure what that is.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Breastfeeding: A Love Story In Pictures

It is awesome, miraculous, beautiful. It is a journey I took for nearly 2 years with Lily, and now over 6 months and still going with Samuel. It saved me as a mother. Whenever I was uncertain, I offered the breast. Whenever I didn't know who I was as a mother, or what to do, I cuddled my babies close and nourished them. It is a connection and a bond I will never, ever lose with my babies.

It is national breastfeeding week, and I am so proud to have given my children this gift.















Monday, August 2, 2010

July 31, 2010

Your image has faded
though I feel you still
an your voice is still in my head
though your face has blurred
The walls of my Jericho heart are tumbling, tumbling
broken down by my babies smile
Do you see them?
His sweet neck, the scent of powder
Her hair, lying in waves across her back
Her spirit like a wildflower
His face, so open and sweet
Do you see them?
I think of you each day
pass your picture in the hall
your rosary in my drawer
broken beads under my fingertips
and you are missing this
all of this
my hands, dressing my babies
my face when I look at them
the wonder I feel
you are missing it all
each year that passes you get further away
never as distant as when you had breath
but farther in my mind
But still...
I love you
And still...
I invite you into my world
from wherever you are
come.
sit.
watch.
Be with me.
I cannot give you life
I cannot change your caged and wounded soul
I cannot forget all of what you are or what you gave me
but I can do this:
I can have compassion for every kindness
I can remember your voice under my cheek
your hand on my back
I can remember falling asleep to your heartbeat.
all of it echoes
ripples
through my memory
and when I rock my babies
I whisper to them
so my voice becomes their lullabye
my whisper carrying them to dreams
just as you did
once and far away
for me.



Happy Birthday Mom.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Houses

Last night I dreamed of my father's house. I roamed the halls, looking at everything. Seeing the overflowing ashtrays, the coating of dust. The cheap wood paneling bumped under my fingertips. The room he should be using, the big room, sat still and silent, the bed made. The room he had chosen to use, the small one, sat still as well, but with a stained mattress covered with a tattered blanket.

His chair sat alone in the dining room, the pillow he rested on crooked. A blanket lay on the floor.

It smelled of cigarettes, dust, dishes.

I wandered back and forth, waiting for him to come home. Convinced he would be around a corner or standing in the kitchen. I looked in the fridge, and rotten food spilled out. I looked out the window into the roadway, watched the gravel and dust lift in the wind.

I waited.

He never came.

I felt helpless, forlorn, sad, and bitter.

I have this dream often. The landscape rarely changes. Sometimes I can find him, but he acts as if I am not there. I cry, I yell. Nothing. He doesn't see me.

I was going through cards the other day, and I came across one that he sent when Lily was born. Sweetness echoed through every word. It was written in steady hand, one not shaking from drinking.

Just 3 1/2 years ago.

And now he sits in the hospital. He went in April. He was self starving, stopped taking all of his medication, and had open sores with maggots in them on his legs. He was drinking and fell. He was on his floor for 2 days.

This is my father's life. I cannot wrap my mind around it.

And now he is going to be sent to a nursing home, to live out his life there. He will not be going home again. It is the best thing for him, but it makes things very real for me.

He will not go home again.

I think of him when he wasn't drinking. When he was so strong and good. I loved him so very much. I still do, the same way. I love him, but I see him for who he is, and it breaks my heart. He is a broken man, and always had been.

There are no more chances to make this right. His mind is not what it used to be. Resolving this rift between us will not happen now. I can either move past it or not. I am stuck here, in the in-between.

I love him, and I wish things could be different for him. I am not sad for myself, or for what's missing from me, I am sad for him. I am sad for what he is missing and what he is choosing to miss. He has always held me at arm's length. I don't know why, but now I know it won't ever change.

I am sure I will still dream of his house, of his things. In my dream, I will run my fingers over his glasses, his mail. I will straighten his shoes and close the washer.

I will look for him without finding him.

As always.

Friday, July 23, 2010

One last summer

The days are hot. Everything is wilting in the heat. Bumblebees buzz lazily in our yard. The flowers lean over with thirst. The world outside of our house shimmers.

And inside our house, it is us. We spend each day singing, dancing, coloring, watching sesame street and baking cookies. We are insulated from the world here, in our little bubble of family.

And I know that it is the last summer we will be like this. The last summer we won't be rushing, busy and busier each day. With classes and soccer and school, dinners and playdates and pool time. When the sun rises and sets without me noticing. When the warm days are gone in a blink.

It is the last summer Lily will be entirely mine. The last summer we will spend without anyone else's influence. Ours, these last few days. Days of heat and naps curled like kittens. Days of giggles and baths and snacks and endless chatter. Singing Bob Marley and James Taylor, dancing to Lady Gaga and Beyonce.

I've had my sweet girl to myself for 3 summers now. We have played, planted flowers and tomatoes and herbs. We have run in the sprinkler and baked cupcakes. We've painted and eaten popsicles in the sun. We've learned about each other, and our days follow a rhythym like a heartbeat.

But she is 3. And next summer she will be 4- that magical age where friends and school become so important. She will want to go to a friends house and play, instead of stay home with me. She will hop out of the car at school and not look back. She will whisper and giggle with friends. She will be in a circle, with me on the outside. For three years I have been the circle...now I will be watching her create her own.

So this one last summer is what I am asking for. For her to spend these last heavy, heated days being my girl. When she will ask for me to rock her, read her a book, bake cookies. When we will go to the pool, the park, and the museum. We will explore together, dig in the dirt, play games and laugh. One last summer to enjoy her before there is no baby left in my baby.

Already she is so much older. She is taller, her legs brown, her toes pointed like a ballerina. She is opinionated and funny. She is sassy and silly. She grows each day, her braids getting longer, her face thinner. She has lost the babyface she always had, and now when I look at her I can see the beautiful young lady she will be.

But not yet. Because for this one last summer, she is mine. And I will soak up every warm, lazy, and beautiful moment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Dear God

Dear God,

Thank you for reminding me, in the smallest of ways, just how big you are. How great your love is, and how much I am loved.

Today, I felt your presence as I sat to eat a beautiful meal a friend had prepared for me. I thought of you as I tasted a tomato, ripe and beautiful from the sun. A tomato my friend shared with me. Simple but sweet.

I felt you today as I made an effort to be appreciative of my husband. To see everything he does for me. He is a gift I can never thank you enough for.

I thank you for friends that get my sense of humor. (South Dakota- woot woot!)

I thank you for my heart, that keeps opening further and further, and trusting more and more.

I thank you for a best friend that will vacation in my city so she can see me.

And I thank you most of all, for my sweet babies. For the smell of shampoo and baby powder. For sweet little souls. For love and smiles.

I thank you also, for the deep sadness that creeps up. For thoughts of Joshua. For loss. For anything that glorifies you, Lord. I thank you for it all.

Love,
Me

Thursday, July 15, 2010

6 months


Dear Sam,

Six months ago, I was sitting in a hospital room alone, watching bad tv and thinking of you. I laid my hand over your sweet spot and patted you. Your heartrate would go exceedingly high, then down to normal. Over and over. It was as if you knew something big was happening.

And the next day, it did happen. YOU happened. After a traumatic birth, you arrived, face full of bruises. You didn't cry. People rushed in and out. Their faces took the blankness of professionalism, instead of easygoing joy.

I was scared to death. I watched as they finally got you to cry, and as the nurse gave you your first feeding- glucose and formula. I was in pain and, frankly, angry that nothing had gone as I wanted it to. I collapsed into dreamless sleep.

But the next morning I went to you. I sat in the rocker in the nursery and put you to my breast. You latched on fiercely, and laid your hand over my heart. I gasped so deeply with the love I felt for you I was sure they could hear it for miles. I looked up, expecting the world to have stopped to notice my joy. Nobody paid me an attention in the nursery- they have seen it all, I'm sure. But sweet angel, I was rocked to the core with love for you. It was as if angels, rainbows, and butterflies all occupied the same space around us. It was magical.

And as much as I loved you then, I love you more now. One look at you and I am lost. Your smile is heaven. The scent of your neck, sweeter than perfume. Your disposition is so bubbly and happy. You are a true loudmouth- yelling ALL THE TIME. But it's a happy "Looka meeeee" kinda yell.

If you were dessert, you would be cheesecake. You are edible, squishy, and sweet from head to toe. You continue to grow in ways your father and I can only laugh at. Everyday we pick you up from the crib and your pajamas are suddenly too small. You kick and flail your arms as if you could fly. You inch and roll all over the house. You have two words- "Hi" and "Mama". You adore your sister and she makes you giggle until you lose your breath.

You are sunny. You are bright. You steal my breath a thousand times a day. I watch you sleep, and I want to never stop. You give me such joy, such such joy. I am in constant wonder and awe that God has graced me with you- my beautiful boy.

I wish many things for you, Samuel, but mostly I hope you hold onto your joy. I hope you keep happiness always. I hope your sunny face never loses it's light. I hope you always smile with joy when I peek over your crib rail every morning. I hope you keep growing and growing, even if I do worry about how I will ever feed you when you are a teenager. And I hope, beyond all things, that your family is always a refuge for you. That peace is yours in these walls. That you love us as deeply as we love you.

I could go on and on, my son, but the truth is that words can never adequately describe how I feel for you. You are simply my boy. My sweetest of sweets. I love you, adore you, and am blessed by you.

Love,
Mama

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lily

Dear Lily,

For three years you have been by my side. My shadow, my life, my love. You have been my everything. You have given me so much more than I have ever given to you.

But yesterday it occured to me that soon I will have to let you out into the world. The world that may not look upon your face and love every single thing about you. A world that may not appreciate your joyful heart, yourchattery lips, your sweetest of souls.

A world that will see you simply as another person. A student. A face in the crowd. A child to care for, and not out of love...but obligation.

I don't want to give you up yet, my sweet love. But it is drawing near. Separation is good and healthy.

My head knows this. But my heart says otherwise.

Someday I won't be there when you fall. I won't see somebody fling their cruel words on you. I won't be able to scoop you up and soothe the hurt.

You will be on your own.

So when that day comes, my sweet love, know this: I will always be here when you get home. The door will always open, and your mama will always be there. I will let you fall apart. I will let you tell me all of your troubles. I will listen and love you and appreciate you...even when others do not.

I cannot prevent the hurt from coming. It happens to us all, my love. Hurt feelings, cruelty, sadness. I wish I could keep you here forever, in this little bubble of love that is our home.

But even as the world contains hurt, it also contains joy. You will have friends and laugh and find wonder out there. You will learn and grow and gain confidence. You will find others who look at your beautiful face and see you for who you are, and love you for who you are.

But always remember, I have carried you. I have held you. I have loved you and known you. I will be the strongest force of love this earth will hold for you, my precious precious daughter. Only heaven can contain a love stronger than this.

So when you need to be seen, to be loved, and to be treasured, come to me. When the world is cruel and you don't understand it, come to me. When you need a hand to hold in silence, a strong presence at your back, arms to wrap you up, and words to bring you back to joy, come to me.

I may have to send you out into the world, but I will also shelter you from it.

Love,
Mama



I will, for you

I have never allowed my heart
to bend to the will of my spirit
to hurt until the hurt
turns to joy

but
I will
for you

I have never given myself
entirely to another soul
loved without thought
given until I break

but
I will
for you

I have never
gazed for hours at beauty
counted toes lined up like ears of corn
dimples on cheeks and hands
and wept over a smile

but
I will
for you

I have never opened my own chest
allowed myself to earn heartbreak
carved love from my soul
created fire from ashes

but
I will
for you

And in the end
it is you who will look into my eyes
and reflect my love back to me
I have never waited for this moment
never stuck around long enough to reach it

but
I will
for you

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The dance

My last post only went an inch deep into what I was feeling. For the past month, I have been struggling mightily with the sucking vortex of depression. It has been hanging like a leaden cloud over me, and I have been trying to espcape it. I have been two steps ahead of it, if that. Wily Coyote and the Roadrunner have nothing on me and my depression. Beep beep.

Last week, my body started showing signs of this marathon of psychological running I was doing. Stomachaches, headaches, a general feeling of fatigue. Being able to lie down and sleep at any moment of the day. Being awakened at night and not being able to return to sleep. Thoughts that are running, running, running.

This is not new. I have always battled depression. I have always been Eyeore. I have tried with herculean effort to push the dark away and let in the light. And for the past few years, it has worked.

But this last month has been hard. If I had to pinpoint a reason, I could not. My father's hospitialization began it all, yes, but then along with the anger from that situation comes the spiral of thoughts...all too maudlin and melancoly to record here.

And the past two weeks, the longing for someone to care for me has been wrenching. The need for a mother, for memories of a mother, for a tangible hand to hold or somebody who is biologically chained to me, and therefore HAS to listen to my trouble has been overwhelming. I don't ask for help with my sadness or pain, because I want to be neither pitied or to burden anyone else with this mess I am.


Getting off the plane here in StMaarten, I heard a voice clear as a bell speak in my mind. "Let it all go, now. Be HERE, in this place. Put pain behind you. Enjoy."

And I felt that voice into my toes. This has always been difficult for me. I go through life with a running list in my head of what needs to be done. I am always on the hunt for what it is in me that needs to be fixed or uprooted. My most profound prayer to God, te one indured with the most meaning and emotion, is "Fix me, please."

So to just be? Mightaswell ask Michaelangelo to fingerpaint. I have made busy-ness and self improvement my Sistine Chapel, friends. A monument that screams "HEY WORLD, I AM TOTALLY EFFED UP."

But here I am. As I write this, Sam lies net to me on a big king sized bed. His lips move, nuring in his sleep, or as my in-laws say "eating rice with the angels". I can see the bay with it's splendid colors right outside the doorway. The light flashes silver, turqiouse, blue, green. Boats lie moored, swinging back and forth together like lovers. Palm trees graze just the bottom of our balcony. I can hear children calling, laughing, from the pool below.

The first night we were here, my mother in law made me bascilla and roz (peas and rice), just because I love it. She served it to me without a word. No boasting. No calling attention to it. Just put it on my plate with a smile. And in my mind the voice whispered "THIS is love." And I FELT it. I ate, and was nourished, body and soul.

My mother in law makes me tea, because she knows I love it. She asks me, everytime, how much milk and how much sugar. She wants me to know that she WANTS to do this for me, to give this to me. She wants me to be nourished. She wants me to be peaceful and know that I am cared for. And in my mind the voice says "You have a mother."

My daughter will only know one grandfather in her life. The idea used to upset me- but just now, as I watched Lily sit on her Gidu's lap and talk to him, taking his hat off, putting it on, again and again...the voice said "It is enough for her. This one man, this one grandfather. It is enough".

And so here it is- God chose every aspect of my life. He chose my childhood, and he chose my adulthood. He chose my pain and he chose my joy. He had laid it out before me. I need only walk through it, relying on Him to know more than I know. I need to remeber what was before, because it is important. I need to remember the valley, and the darkness, the tears and the lonliness...because they are vital to who I am. But I also need to open my eyes to the joy. To the people He has placed, lovingly and with great care, into my life.

I am like the water here. I am changing. The tide comes in, and pulls out what is no longer useful. The tide returns, bring new life and vitality.

I may dance with depression again one day- after all, biology is biology. But in those times I can remember THIS time, when my eyes were open, when I saw clearly.

I have a family. I have a mother, and a father. I was not born to them, I was brought to them. They were a gift to me. There is no darkness that can diminish this blessing.