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!!!"


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."



*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."


"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



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.



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?


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


I only WISH I was kidding.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


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 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.


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.


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


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.