Friday, October 10, 2014

Thank You for the Memories

It is with much dragging of all my proverbial feet that I must write this post.

It's time for me to stop posting publicly about my family on this blog.  It's time for me to retire One-Sided Momma.  For serious political reasons we all hear about on the news lately and other privacy matters, I must discontinue One-Sided Momma.

Thank you for coming here to read what I've had to say for almost six years.  This blog has been a lifeboat for me more than I can ever express.  And you have all been my buoys of light throughout some of my darkest days, happiest moments, and memorable turning points.  Knowing you're out there cheering me on gives me fuel to keep writing.

We've been through a lot on here.  For that reason, I'd hate to lose anyone who is still interested in following our journey.

Please send me a personal email if you'd like to follow our anonymous adventure on an already established anonymous blog that I will not be linking to here.  If you've been a reader (and even if you've never commented) and you feel like you know us then I will extend that invitation to my new writing place to you personally.

Please leave me a comment on this post or maybe on the FB site with an email to reach you if you're interested in the new blog.  I would hate to leave anyone behind who is invested in our little happy world.  You are a big reason why I kept showing up here on One-Sided Momma when it would've been easier just to eat chocolate chip cookie dough.  My gawd do I love chocolate chip cookie dough.

Thank you for the memories, my friends.  Please join me somewhere new if you are missing OSMA.  I know I already am.

Love always and two weeks after that,

OSMA





*********************

I am leaving this message up for a few days.  After that, I will remove One-Sided Momma blog from the internet and cry a small river of sadness for this chapter of my beautiful life to close.

Thank you for being a monumental part of that.

xoxoxo

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Still in There

Entering this new phase of life is disorienting but really fun.

Kids need me but only between the crushing hours of early morning and after 4pm.  Dogs and kitten want things with their eyes every thirty minutes in between.  Husband is all newly flirty, sweetly romantic, and retirement-planning.


I knew this time would come but I must've been changing the garbage bags because I didn't see it arrive. 

Ten years in family-rearing trenches never felt so rewarding and so completely bereft of self.  I'm sure I was there because two small children call me Mommy but sometimes I wonder. Do you, too?  Do you wonder where you went and why you had to go all these years?  Do you miss yourself?

Where did that student go who finally earned a respectable GPA by her last year of grad school?
What about that new teacher who smiled at everybody except the principal?
Who did away with the girl in the band they called Dove because she was the only white girl in the entire studio?
Why didn't that writing thing take off?
Didn't she try photography for a while, too?

Well, here's what happened:
The student is resting.  She studied her eyes out for like 28 years, she's tired and taking an eternal break from putting pressure on herself to do better all the time.  
The teacher is still teaching.  Her class is much smaller now, more manageable for her.  Sometimes her students get mouthy and she still tells them to drop and give her 20.  The big one enjoys PT but the little one doesn't.  She prefers to answer everything in song.  
The girl in the band still gigs.  She has a regular show every night at around 8:15 when one of her students is scared to be in bed alone.  It's an intimate setting in a dark venue - a rocking chair with the lights on low.  The set list has been on repeat for about four years.  Time to work in a little O.A.R. and Juice Newton.  Man, I really loved Juice Newton.
That writing thing really did take off.  She authors her life story for her children to read someday when she can no longer recall the details of their beautifully busy days. 
She did try photography for a while but has decided to step away from a lens that is one more distraction during the day.  She'll bring it back when the time is right. 

Moms and dads, don't worry.  I know by the time you get to where I am - 40something and experiencing a shift of seismic proportions - you're going to wonder where you went, too.

You're still in there. 

Watch, I'll prove it. 

Did you sing in the shower this morning?  Yes, humming counts.
Do you daydream at work and linger at the water cooler so you can hang out with your friends?
Are you secretly DVRing that Roosevelt special on the History channel because you always thought Eleanor was Teddy's wife?
Do you feel resentful that you are expected to stand by and take pictures with your phone like a parent of all things during a really cool birthday roller skating party for your son's friend?  Instead of strapping on those skates to let your 16 year old legs - because that's how old your body still is in your mind - fly around the rink?

Yes?  Well, there ya go.  You are still in there.  Never left, actually.  Simply a change of focus on other people who needed you to focus on them for a few years instead of your impressive small turning radius on wheels.  

I won't pretend to know how to resurface after all these years of being subterranean.  But I can tell you it's a bad idea to think you'd make an amazing Roller Derby Girl if you've never actually seen a roller derby scrimmage in person.  

Oh yes, I highly recommend researching thoroughly and no, attending practice doesn't count.  The girls play hard during practice and sometimes there's a pack of ice on someone's ankle but the real bouts are where it really goes down.  Girls become women on a gurney to the ER.  

I had a name picked out and everything.  Many names, truth be told.  Every day the youngin' in me would come up with another bada$$ name to match my bada$$ idea of becoming a roller derby girl.  

Seize Her Milan
Bangers & Smash
Gin 'n Toxic
Queen of Tarts
Picass-Ho

and my all time favorite:  Venus Envy. 

Well, it's not going to happen.  Derby is for ladies who don't mind breaking bones and working through the pain of healing.  I mind all that very much.  Trying to imagine folding laundry and giving Abby a bath with a broken clavicle was all I needed to cure me of signing up.  I'm more of a "Here, let me get you a warm washcloth," and less of a "Hey Pansy, I'm gonna smash you in the throat!!"  

It's good to know your limits. 

Venus Envy was but a dream.

But it's ok because I'm still in there.  Bubbling up more and more every day.  You will. too.  

Enjoy the surprises you have in store for yourself.  See if your body needs plyometrics or a cozy nook in a cafe people watching.  It knows, all you have to do is shower and grab your keys.  Want to work with animals but feel you need experience?  Drive to your local sanctuary or Humane Society and they'll set you right up with a plethora of dogga kisses and kitten head boops.   Need to stop doing for others and instead do for your sassy self now?  I get it.  Peruse aisles of a store and listen for a new style to lure you in.  You've always wanted to try big round earrings?  Do it.  They might go great with your new short hair. 
I'm sorry, I should've warned you.  And yes, it's a little shocking to me, too.  We'll all get used to it.  I've always wanted this hairstyle.  Just on a much younger face.  Ha!


Yes, this might be a disorienting time but an exciting time to rediscover yourself or better yet - redefine yourself!  If not now, then when?  If not you, then who?  Someone else named Venus Envy, that's who.  You cannot let that ho steal your thunder.  Go out and make your own. 

I'll pass you a warm washcloth. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Sacred Conversation



When I was very little I prayed to the God I believed granted wishes to give me a ravaging disease instead of to other moms.  My reasoning was that I thought I was strong enough to "handle" it.  I'd seen enough after-school specials to know kids needed to have their moms around for a long time (whomsoever "they" were and let's pretend whomsoever is still in the English rotation).  I was young, ignorant, unattached, and dispensable.

I'm not sure where that particular wish came from or why I had the ego of Kanye West.  Maybe because my mom means so much to me.  And her mom means so much to me.   Maybe because my dearest friend's mom had just died from cancer before she entered high school.  Maybe because I felt impervious and virtuous to ask for such a blow.

Who knows why we do anything as kids.  But now?

Now?

I am taking that request back every day, like a chump.  Please God, please let me me live long enough where my children will be ok without my daily presence.  Andy too.  Nice and old, maybe 80 something.  Dear God, I realize we made a deal but now other people are relying on me and I had no idea WHAT ravaging diseases ravaged.  Dear God, I have saved a lot of Ziploc bags and cut all those plastic rings so turtles and dolphins won't die whenever we buy bottled water.  I'm sorry we buy bottled water.  (When it comes to living, I am not above pointing out how green I am and how much I honor sea life.)

I have no idea if this is how it works.  Because while I've felt a God since I was little, my relationship with religion has been soft and light-hearted.  For me, proof is the point of living.  All the rest feels more like a test I am studying for when I have the time.  Read a little hear, write a little there, all the while hoping to take in what I need to pass the final when the time comes.

When the time comes.

Jimmy told many of us his time would come sooner than later.  He knew he wouldn't live to be an old man.

"But HOW do you know?" I prod him, squinting my eyes at his.
"I just do.  Look at me.  I'm aging in dog years.  I look like a basset hound."
"Shut it.  You look as handsome as ever.  More like a distinguished terrier.  Besides, I don't think I'm going to live that long either.  I made this deal with God a long time ago.  Oh no, it's cool.  We can party together in heaven."

Jimmy's countenance changes immediately.  He is not amused.  His face is locked flat, his eyes are sad, and I get the sense he thinks I'm mocking his premonition.

"No," I clarify,  "I just mean I'm not going to be ok without you here."
"You're going to live a very long life, Hon,  AND you're going to be ok," his words still make me cry, "I'm old and you're going to get old, ok?"
"Ok, fine.  If you say so, Jimmy."

And now, getting older every year feels like an extra bonus from him.  A little nod to one of our last conversations together.  Gifted time I get to spend growing grayer, softer, and stronger.

And yes, I'd say even a little basset hound.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wake Up



Wake Up.

That's what my brother writes in his journal every night, before he goes to sleep.  He summarizes his day in an 1 inch by 1 inch square, highlighting in pen what stands out the most.  An artist of paraphrasing over a miniature scale of time.

"I forgot to wish Paulo a Happy Birthday," he tells me over the phone recently.

"How did you know it was his birthday?  Facebook?"

"My calendar.  I saw it on my calendar from last year."  Ah, what a treasure trove of important events my brother has created for himself, all the recipients of his birthday wishes, and beyond.

"It's been twelve years since you adopted Sadie."  I know, she's almost 13.
"You moved to Pennsylvania nine years ago yesterday."  Nine?  Why does it feel like twenty?
"We visited Dad in Texas in 2001."  Holy sh*t, your calendars go way back, man.



I think about what it means to my brother to write those words in the "tomorrow" box every night.

Wake Up.

Yes, yes, we do wake up.  Every morning.  To this new place again.  When we are lucky.

Lately, I feel so lucky to wake up and find my children small.  Oh good, you're still little as though the heavy hours of my soupy sleep has aged them exponentially.  My dreams are fierce, twisted, barrier crossers and I'm too tired to be in them anymore by morning.

Daylight is fanning through lazy blinds, iCarly is on low volume in the living room, and the coffee pot is hissing from the kitchen.  All this familiar glints beautifully through a bothersome world beneath.  My dreams have no power over me here.  Thickness fades while blinking and oxygen feel like rebirth.



"Goodbye, Daddy, I love you," whisper-shouts my son as Andy gathers his backpack, a piece of half toasted raisin bread most likely in his teeth.

"I love you, too."


I am so grateful to wake up.  To wake up here in a real world filled with delicious sounds of small children, busy husband, happy dogs, and one very naughty kitten.  It is a world filled with daylight and decaf, T-shirts and dishwashers, fundraisers and overcooked chicken, kisses and fights.




It's the world I love to live.  To devour by the hour, staving off the night.




I'm so lucky to wake up.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hold My Hand, Mama




"Mama?  I thought about it all day.  I want to go to Full House with you tonight and skip gymnastics."

"You sure?"

"Yes, because gymnastics is one day a WEEK and Full House is one day a YEAR.  It's important."

"Sold.  Go get your happy clothes on, little mama, let's roll."

And off we go.  To Abby's Full House or Open House as those administrators like to call it.  We arrive a bit late on purpose to miss the general meeting.  Neither of us are interested in joining the PTA or sitting in cafeteria seats.

Full House is no misnomer as the halls are pulsing with parents in khaki pants, belted dresses, and scrubs.  (I miss wearing scrubs to places where nobody knows if you are just getting home from your residency, the ER, the OR, or the kennel.  Oh, the mystery.)  Immediately, I withdraw from the crowd in front of us.  Abby pulls me onward, her tiny hand in mine.

"Mama, C'MON!  We'll be late!"

Her confident presence fuels me to motor not only into the throng of people, but through it.  We come out the other side a smiling semi-circle, attached at the palms.

As we enter the classroom, Abby's teacher points to her, winks, then kneels down to hug a little boy showing off his herringbone jelly necklace.  She makes a big fuss and all I can see are her eyes, blue as daytime, and her pink painted toes.  She is a magnet for the children.  Before we make it to Abby's desk, I count four kindergartners tugging at the teacher's blouse, excited to see her after-hours and to show them something from their very own home.

Abby's major modus operandi is strictly to stick with the program.  She has an agenda and follow it we must, leaving no cubby unturned and no folded paper house untouched.


Proudly and reverently, she walks me to each corner of her classroom.  "This is where we nap, Mama.  But I don't really nap.  I might close my eyes but I don't really nap, I don't think, please and thank you."





Abby's nervous "please and thank you" started a few months back.  It's her go-to filler phrase when she doesn't know what else to say.  There are others that have come and gone like, "I think" or "Maybe I just dreamed that" or "I don't know" but "please and thank you" has stuck around the longest.  It's what I will remember when I think back to Little Abby.  That and her love of bubbles.





Moms and Dads are holding Chicka Chicka Boom Boom charts.  Some are pointing to cut-out pictures of their own children on the wall.  Most are making the exaggerated, "Oh my!" face so their children will know their art is not going under-appreciated.  We are all walking slowly.  But I notice something.  The other children are running around the classroom, to each other and to their beloved teacher.

All the children are untethered from their parents except mine.

Worried, I'm holding on too tightly and of course, ruining my daugther's chances at a successful future and marriage, I give slack in our hand and let my Abby go.

"Mama, I have to show you the HALLWAY!!"  She is already moving as she gobbles up my palm in hers once again.  Like a silent wish being answered, it is her doing, not mine.

Again, we weave in and out of people clusters like two coils of one busy DNA.

This tiny hand of hers in mine is everything in the world right now.  I can't make small talk, parent-teacher niceties, bend down to admire a little friend.  My girl has my hand in hers almost on accident  as though it's the most natural thing in the world, to connect herself to me -voluntarily- because she wants to.  Not because she needs to.

It's more than wanting to show me the hallway.  (The HALLWAY.)  It's more than attending her very first Full House.

It's a connection.  A connection that will be paraded through crowds, schools, projects, arguments, boyfriends, girlfriends, sleepovers, dances, graduations, and time.  A connection that will sometimes disconnet, momentarily, but always find its way back again.   A connection that I believed was one-sided:  me holding on to her for dear life.  

All these years, I've been so worried about what happens when I let go.  




Until I did.




*********************************************************************************
Hive Update:  Didn't mean to leave you all hanging about Abby's hives.  After she finished the cocktail of medicine her doctor put her on, she is all better.  No hives, no fever, no more mystery virus that caused them in the first place.  The ER doctor (yes, Dr. McSteamy) warned me that it will come back when I least expect it.  He's a realist, after all, just like an imaginary boyfriend should be.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Zen of Ducks

Plump, steady, funny clowns
Ripple through their circles
Shifting weight like canoes
with a tipsy Captain


South to crane a tired neck
North to hunt for brighter fish
East, then west on pine needles
A hammock for an hour.



I look to them
when I feel gone
At ducks?
When I feel gone?

They remind me how to be here.




One gray, two black, 
two white, I count
Their feathers curl against the wind
They are made of layers, too

So very much like talking




Is that your smile, Astro Duck?
Is this where you sleep at night?

I'm not here to hurt you.




They trust this moment,
Not the last
Give no credence to
a past

Inside his circle
Wonder filled

I really hope he's smiling.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Doctor, Doctor





When you wake up in the morning, you don't get dressed based on whether or not you're going to be in the ER hours later.  (Or maybe you do.  Do you?  Can we be real life friends, we have so much in common already.)

You get dressed based on what's happening that day.  Walking the dog?  Tank top and Wal-Mart shorts.  Meeting at your kid's school in the afternoon?  Capri pants with that cute tangerine shirt that buttons up the front. 

So on a regular Tuesday, I wake up and pull on my favorite sleeveless peasant dress.  It's blue, kind of oddly tiered in segments like those dresses you find at candle shops.  The ones that reek of frankincense and perhaps a skoshe of myrrh.  

I have errands to run, dogs to walk, and dinner to make.  One too many things in public to get away with neon shorts all day.

By 6pm, I am in the ER with Abby. 

Abby who comes off the bus with hives.  If you have children, you know this is not a rare or special thing.  Kids come down with the craziest symptoms that have you googling with one hand and stirring taco meat with the other.  



My parenting alarm doesn't sound until her upper lip swells up.  She is suddenly and drastically a tiny Marge Simpson.  Yes, it is adorable but logically speaking, I worry it will be her tongue to poof next.  In my way of thinking, we have seconds to get her to a doctor before her airway is completely closed in.  I ask Andy to drive Abby and me to the ER.  Because, you know, I need my hands free to perform CPR or flail wildly at will.  Either, or.


It's crucial to let you know I pull back my hair and mop it down reeeeallly well on my head when I'm nervous.  So, by this hour, every oily molecule living near or on my hands is now ground deeply into my skull.  I'm shiny from tip to (pony)tail.  Now I am donning the kind of thing that is neither attractive or particularly successful.  My bangs are dangling in my eyes like spider legs. Something on me smells like tacos.  

We all make it to the door, register, and are seen within minutes.  Nobody's freaking out.  Abby's lip is stable albeit very Aflac like.  Things are going so well, Andy and Grayson take off to make the rest of his baseball practice.  That's when things happen.  And man, it could've been great.  If only I had showered.



Scene 1 - Nurse Enters Room
Nurse:  I'm going to ask you to drink this, Honey.  It will help with the itching and the swelling.
Me:  Steroid?
Nurse:  Yes.
Me:  Are we ok?
Nurse:  The doctor will be in shortly.  Yes, I think so.
Abby:  Can we go now?  We've been here FOREVER.
Me:  Hang on, Baby.  The doctor needs to look at you first.




Scene 2 - Doctor, Doctor
Doctor:  Well, Hello.  Abigail is it, or do you prefer to be called something else?
Inside my Head Me:  Oh No.  You're beautiful.  


Abby:  Abby.  I like. To be called. Abby. 
Inside My Head Me:  Be nice to my future boyfriend, Honey.  He's only trying to get to know you before we ride into the sunset on his yacht.
Doctor:  Then I shall call you Abigail.


Abby: I LIKE TO BE CALLED ABBY!
Real Me, finally making eye contact:  She really doesn't like the name Abigail.  I can't help you there.
Doctor, taking a dramatic stage pause, looking directly at me:  You're not from around here, are you?
Inside my Head Me:  Holy crap.  Is this happening?


Real Me:  No, I'm not.  How could you tell?  My accent?
Abby:  CAN WE GO NOW MOM?
Doctor:  No, it's more like your lack of any accent from anywhere, it's fascinating.  I've never heard anyone with a non-accent like yours.
Inside My Head Me:  He just called me fascinating. - rifling through purse like a drug addict - Where are my cough drops?  Dammit, Grayson ate my last piece of gum, didn't he?  That little...
Doctor:  Where are you from?
Inside My Head Me:  I am from Roma, Italia.  It is the city of love.
Real Me:  Oh, me?  I'm from the suburbs of DC.
Abby:  Mom, seriously.  I'm missing Teen Titans.  
Real Me:  I only let them watch an hour of TV per day, tops.
Inside My Head Me:  I should've said we don't even HAVE a TV.
Doctor:  Them?  You have other children?
Inside My Head Me:  Yes, but I can farm them out.  Would you prefer we just start anew?
Abby: G-R-A-Y-S-O-N
Doctor:  Well, I think you're going to be ok, Abigail.  I have an Abigail too and she's four.  She doesn't like to be called Abigail either.  
Inside My Head Me:  Oh thank you Lord for letting him have children, too.  Now I can keep mine.
Abby:  Does she like Hello Kitty?
Doctor:  Yes.  Very much.  Do you want a Hello Kitty band-aid?  I'll see what I can do.  I'll be right back with your discharge papers.  
Me:  Ok, I'll be waiting.  Umm, WE'll be waiting.  We'll be here.  Ok.  


Scene 3 - The Breakup
Doctor:  So, I couldn't find Miss Abigail a Hello Kitty band-aid but my nurse will be in with a pink one, ok?  You two take good care and come back if anything else comes up.
Inside My Head Me:  I am feeling a little faint.  See you in fifteen.
Abby:  Ok, we can go now?
Doctor:  Yes, you can go after the nurse gives you your prescriptions and your pink band-aid.
Abby:  And a purple one?
Inside My Head Me:  Oh my, I'm wearing flip-flops, this just keeps getting better.
Doctor:  AND a purple one.
Inside My Head:   I will always love you.
Real Me:  Thanks, Doc, take care!

Married Me:  HONEY, you should've SEEN this doctor.  No joke, he was from freaking Grey's Anatomy.  It was so annoying because I am just not in the mood for all of that tonight. 
Andy:  You're just saying that because you're mad at me for being late.
Me:  Heh.  No, I'm really not.  Believe me, I wish none of this happened.  Do I smell like tacos?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Not the Summit

Last night I watched my five year old daughter exhaust herself during gymnastics.  Abby was working on a drill by herself without any instructor to please or frustrate, yet she pushed herself to utter muscle fatigue.


The tears escaped the second our eyes met after practice.  "Mommy, I'm so, so tired."

"I bet you are, Baby.  You know something?  I'm so proud of how hard you are working out there.  I can see how great you're doing and so can your instructor.  And you know what?  You can rest at times.  I think maybe go slower sometimes.  You don't need to work so hard."

"Let's go home, Mommy."

Then I felt the zing.  The parenting boomerang that headbutts us when we've rallied against the machine.

You don't need to work so hard.

Those are the words I choose to usher my girl into her formative years?  Don't work so hard?  Will her teachers pummel me with spitballs for saying that?  Will her future employers write me a pink slip for teaching her the virtue of slacking off?  Will her future spouse forget my birthday every year because I've raised an entitled child?


I don't think so.

I don't think we live in a day and age where hard work necessarily always wins the good fight.  I think smart work does.  There is a distinction.  And I believe it's unrealistic to expect hard work to result in success every single time.  It won't.  And I don't really want my children falling into that antiquated trap.  Hard work will end in exhaustion every single time.  Which will lead to unfulfilled dreams, slighted passions, and built-up resentment as a result of punching in 12 hour days, plus a cruel hour commute in traffic away from the city.

I'm going to teach my children that hard work is a virtue, yes.  But it is not the most virtuous virtue.  Hard work to be married to intelligent shortcuts and updated thinking is what I believe brings happiness.  What good will your calloused hands do you they are reaching for the bottle of Motrin for your stress-induced migraine or worse, the bottle of gin to numb your pain?

With things moving so quickly online and kids needing to know how to interface well with websites, it seems the natural trend will continue to move toward technology.  I'm not advocating daily marathons of Mindcraft and Lego Batman but I'm also not entirely against it.  Those computer skills, after all, are the real-life skillset our children will need to have in their adult world.  No?  You don't think so?  Ask any new graduate from any college.  Even performance-based schools.  Entire musical scores are recorded, engineered, tweaked, and graded on computer programs that require more hours staring into a screen than practicing bar chords.

Hard work plus a dose of worldly perspective is what I'm after.

Of course I want my children to pursue their interests and their passions.  I want my children to know that you can't skip a practice from a bruised foot and expect to make it regionals.   But you know what else?  I want them to love it.  I want them to look forward to it each and every day, be fueled by it.  I hope when they wake up, they will be itchy underneath their skin for the thing that brings them inner joy, not outward recognition.  I hope Grayson will reach for the piano keys when he can't figure out how to ask someone he's been pining for to prom.  I hope Abby will turn to her art table when she's sorting something out about her crazy moody mother.

I think there is too much to lose from pushing our children to be better, faster, smarter, stronger all the damn time.  If they show Olympic promise?  Ok, go ahead and push.  But for the 97% rest of us, it's a push and a pull.

The push alone gets hard-wired into our children at an early age and before long, their natural curiosity dissolves into ashes on their Gifted & Talented diplomas.  We don't need more "perfect" adults in this world.  We need more imperfect adults who know true personal fulfillment.



We need more imperfect people who glean enlightenment in the doing and not the victory.

Ask any mountain climber why she climbs.  Not many will say the summit.

A taxed, frantic, relentless young mind becomes a neurotic, chaotic, unhealthy adult mind later on.  It's about learning balance early on.  Yes, please do practice your soccer drills.  But also please completely f*ck around in the backyard for an hour afterward without any catalyst or blue ribbon in sight.  That is where your happiness hides.  And sometimes it hides well.  I always want for you to find it.

Life just becomes hard work for hard workers, I'm afraid.  

But life is mysterious, rewarding, and delicious for smart workers.  People who have their finger on the pulse of what makes their generation tick.  People who understand what the hell Bill O'Reilly is saying and why we should dig harder than the sensationalized news channels.  People who aren't so booked every second of the day that they can't take a walk with their grandmother around the parking lot of Applebee's on a regular Thursday.  People who know the importance of following through but also understand regular vacations will keep their fuses soft and their mental health sharp.

People who know how to push themselves and also know how to pull back.



And parents who will let them.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Anna's Rare Bird

Typically, I never would've left a comment.  There were already hundreds.  Anna had so much love pouring in on her blog already after the accident.  What difference could one more "I'm so, so sorry" possibly make?

A world of difference, actually.

To me, to their family, to the wall of grief threatening to swallow them whole.

When a twelve-year old boy is swept away in a neighborhood creek, never to return home again, all bets are off.  Everything is wrong.  The world is no longer playing by the rules.

Adding my voice to the many hearts opened and hurting that day led me to care and awkwardly pray for a family I've never met, for a boy I couldn't fathom was gone, to a God I wasn't sure was listening.

The Donaldsons haven't left my heart since.  They haven't left the heart of millions.  I believe our voices mattered to a family needing to see miracles.  To feel unearthly love.  To know compassion on a larger scale than they have ever known before.

And we need them in return.

After Anna's book, Rare Bird, comes out that circle of hearts will widen and more people will be forever moved by their story and their boy named Jack.  More people will learn how to bring comfort when the worst thing imaginable happens to a family.  More people will understand how to keep waking up when the act of living does not feel like an option.  More people will have hope.


Anna's grief unfolds real time in Rare Bird, just as it does on her blog.  Her shock is delicately transparent as she tries to process the incredible trauma it is to lose a child.  Anna does not hide how she and her family suffer, fight, and struggle to be the cohesive unit they just were.  She allows us to see how every little detail of her life, even the privacy of her own driveway, is brutally unrecognizable.  There is no point in pretending.  Anna doesn't need dramatic words to help us understand her pain.  She simply describes her days, layer by layer, while we walk with her and force ourselves to breathe.

I rest a bible underneath my copy of Rare Bird while I read.  As if doing so will negate the outcome, somehow bring Jack back to her.  It's an unread powder blue-of-the-softest-leather-bible I bought at a thrift store.  I know Anna would give that purchase a thumb's up and coupling it with the story of a mother's greatest pain seems right to me.  It is my crutch when I want to deny the details of that terrifying afternoon.  Anna's words gently lead up to that indescribable moment when she feels in her soul that "...Jack is gone forever." A moment that riddles your arms with goosebumps that flush through to your toes.  Anna's honest disclosure is both horrifying and divine all wrapped in one. That glimmer of knowing without understanding how you know.



One of the first impossibles.

Anna goes on to reveal many more inexplicable moments.  Signs of Jack where there should only be trees.  An unexpected visitor who brings her peace when she only knows anguish.  Premonitions that would typically be cast aside as coincidence.  A deep connection that escapes reason yet somehow brings comfort.  Despite crippling heartache and constant longing for Jack, there is a connection.
 
 

Things that should be impossible but are not.  Because once you get to know Jack, you understand his life verse in new and fascinating ways. "Nothing is Impossible with God" is more than a collection of prophetic words.  It's a glimpse into a vast inter-connected place with the kind of beauty you only get from a boy with such soulful eyes.


You will fall in love with the entire family.  Anna has such gift with words that allowing you in to her world feels like a visit over tea.  Add to that her refreshing funny bone and you just want to ask The Donaldsons to wait up for you for their next camping trip.  They are each unforgettable.

But it is Anna's daughter, Margaret, who shines like a comet for me in this book.  She is a witty, real life broken-hearted warrior who inadvertently inspires her parents to keep going.  As you would imagine, Margaret tends to her own overwhelming loss in private ways, right for a 10 year old girl.  Her natural charm springs off the page, intimating at the humor she shares with her brother, the one that forever glues four people together, not three.

Living without Jack is not something Anna, Tim, Margaret, or anyone who loves him ever planned on having to do.  Nobody ever dreamed it would be a reality.  But now, after reading Rare Bird, I can see it is a daily reality they each must make on many different levels.  A choice that will never feel easy or right.

But one that is somehow, beyond all understanding, beginning to feel possible.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Five Scenes in Driving Over a Bridge

When we first moved to Louisiana, I knew I'd have to drive across the causeway bridge.  I've read that it is the "World's Longest Bridge."  At 23.8 miles long, the entire thing is over a body of gator lovin', fish havin', snake dwellin', shark inhabitin' water, Lake Pontchartrain.  If my mom is reading this, she has officially unfollowed.  She doesn't do bridges.


That little Lego looking bridge in the distance is the causeway.  It's not so cute up close. 


The first time I drove across the bridge, the kids were with me.  Which was good because you're less prone to pass out when you have trusting passengers willing you to remain upright.

"Just bweathe, Mommy," little Abigail offers with her lollipop mouth.
"Look at that PELICAN!" suggests Grayson as if I can see anything but the narrowing of my life before me.

But fear be damned.  Before long we are hitting the metal grid of the halfway mark and heading down toward the city.  Four more trips just like this and I am a pro.


Until I don't have my cheerleaders with me.

Last Friday, I took the trip solo.  As would be the norm with me, panic set in before hitting the toll.  Radio off, windows cracked (you know, in case I need to push them down manually - I saw that on Oprah), and heart in my throat, I remind myself to "bweathe."

Not only am I able to breathe, I am also able to have an entire Round-House theater musical on that 23.8 mile bridge.  Set to various numbers on the radio.  I am the Meryl Streep of The Causeway with nobody but pelicans to see me sweat.

Scene One:  Christian singer Matthew West's Hello, My Name is..
"Hello, my name is regret.  I'm pretty sure that we've met.  
Oh Yeah, we've met alright.  And I just kept on walkin!  Ain't nobody got time for you, regret!

"Every single day of your life, I'm the whisper inside that won't let you forget."
You might be a whisper, but I'm a ROAR!!  RAWR!  R o a r.  Meow.  Aww, I miss my kitty.


"Hello, my name is defeat.  I know you recognize me.  Just when you think you can win, I'll drag you right back down again, til you've lost all belief."
Ok, yes, I do recognize you too, defeat.  And you are one sneaky little son-of-a-gun. BUT I haven't lost all belief so YOU LOSE DEFEAT.  YOU LOSE AGAIN HAHAHAHahahahah.  Ha!  Ha.  Hmmm, this song is making me hate myself.  NEXT.

Scene Two:  Country Boy Dustin Lynch's Where It's At
"It's at 2am when she's reaching over, faded T-shirt hanging off her shoulder.  Dressed up, hair down, in a ball cap."
Hey, I do wear a faded T-shirt....although it's not a sexy shoulder hang one.  Maybe I should stretch one of my old shirts out for Andy.  "Hi Honey.  Here's my shoulder.  Am I sexy with my Flashdance shirt"  HahahAHAHAhhaha.  Ha!  Ha.  I'm hungry.


Scene Three:  Rocker Lady Pat Benetar's Heartbreaker  
"You're the right kind of sinner, to release my inner fantasy, the invincible winner and you know you were born to be....
be...a what?  Born to be a what, Pat?  A writer?  A vet tech?  A teacher?  I need to know, Patty...I'd love some direction and advice.   What was I born to be?!?

"You're a heartbreaker, dream maker, love taker, don't you mess around, no no NO!"'
I love you, PB.  You're more to me than roller skating at Wheel-a-While with Bobby.  Who, incidentally, turned out to be a real jerk.  And he wasn't that cute.  I should've had higher standards.  DON'T YOU MESS AROUND WITH ME BOBBY, NO NO NO! [throws one-handed rock and roll horns to the pelicans]

Scene Four:  Soulful Sam Smith's Stay with Me 
"Oh, won't you stay with me.  Cause you're all I need.  This is ain't love, it's clear to seee...but darlin' stay with me."
Man, this guy's voice is amazing.  Even his breathing is kind of hot.   Poor guy, he doesn't need to beg with a voice like that.

"Why am I so emotional?  No, it's not a good look gain some self control.  Deep down I know this never works.  But you can lay with me so it doesn't hurt."
Who wouldn't lay with you if you sang to them?  Sweetheart, it's ok to be emotional.  But I'd recommend finding someone else.  This one night stand has already texted someone to meet her for breakfast at Waffle House.  You can do better.

"Won't you stay with me.  Cause you're all I need.  This ain't love, it's clear to see but darlin' stay with me."
Just sing, baby.  You'll find someone at the studio, at the rock climbing gym or maybe Walgreen's.  That's how it happens in the real world.  You'll be ok.  Do you like to hot yoga?   


Scene Five:  Radio Off To Enjoy Some Silence
Whoah.  End of bridge already?  That was fast.  


Where's Wendy's?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Order Room Service


Parenting small children did not come easy for me.







As a hormonal, highly sensitive to the universe, I love me some quiet, Erin person, it was almost more than I could handle.  There were times I thought I'd check myself into a little room governed by psychiatrists, nurses, and lots of hand sanitizer but that never came to pass.  Believe me, there was this one day I tried.  But I wasn't needy sounding enough.  That's the thing about moms.  We know how to sound very put together when everything in us is falling apart.  Such a gift.

Before I go on, I have good news.  No, AMAZING news.  I made it.  Yes, my children still need me and I'm barely at the finish line but I made it through the hardest stay-at-home years of my life, raising my smalls.  Again, I wasn't sure I'd still be here to see the light at the end of this tunnel, but I'm here.  And you guys, it's the prettiest light I've ever seen.  It's worth it.

If you're wondering a few things, I'll try to pre-answer them for you:
Did I have postpartum depression?  Nope.  I took the survey, all checked out fine.  Was my husband deployed?  Yes, one time for 10 months.  Didn't I have any family nearby to help?  Nearby is a misnomer when you're talking Virginia mixing bowl and DC traffic.  Even those who tried to get to me got stuck in hours (4 hrs on a Saturday one day!) of traffic going one way.  Didn't I have any friends to talk to?  Tons.  Didn't any offer to help?  Yes, many did but I couldn't articulate what I needed myself.  And when I realized I needed help raising my children, I didn't know how to word that without sounding like I was 12.  People can drop in and lend a hand for a few hours but I knew I had to figure this out for the long haul.  Couldn't I hire people?  I did.  Sometimes it went well, other times not at all.  When you are already at your lowest point, hiring a babysitter feels as hard as building a car out of spoons.  Plus, all of your spoons are dirty.

You see, when you're someone like me you're very independent, stubborn head-strong, determined, and mostly positive.  You view yourself as capable and are bewildered that raising children is suddenly so hard.  How can little kids make you this depleted when you've gone to graduate school, got a teaching job, learned to SCUBA dive, and run a marathon all in the course of one year?  How is a nap schedule and Play-Doh kicking your ass after all of this?

Because it is, that's why.  Who cares about the details, it just is.

I know the details now.  Eight years later, I'm a scientist about the details.  I know that I need ridiculous amounts of quietude and space to feel normal.  I know that I cannot stomach sitting on a floor to play dolls but love kicking a soccer ball in the backyard for days.  I know I need music, not just lullabys.  I know I have to eat well or my brain goes haywire.  I know that structure, sleep, and removing myself from the noise of social media - especially the sensationalized news channels - is not optional for my psyche.  I know that I love to sing my babies to sleep in my arms when they're sick.  I'm a virtual expert on me, eight years later.

So, for anyone who's been confused as to why the job of raising young children is such a huge one.  Stop wondering.  You'll figure it out eventually.  Right now you have to survive.  Right now you have to get through it.  Right now your job is to do the hard work, cry sometimes, and laugh so much more.

Here's a quick guide that might help.  I'm calling it The Simple Guide to Living with Smalls.


  1. Go to bed by 9pm.  Stop laughing, just do it.  Don't scroll Facebook.  It'll be there tomorrow.  And the same stories will burn on your timeline for days so you're not missing anything.    
  2. Wake up before your children.  Yes, even the little effer  lovebug who gets up at 5:30 giggling in his crib just because he just can.
  3. Sit upright in a chair drinking your favorite drink.  Not rum.  Trust me. 
  4. Brush your teeth.  If you don't do this you will find a dry toothbrush next to your sink at 8pm, which incidentally, is the next time you get to think about yourself.  Floss, too.  Duh.  Always floss or else all the cute people in your life will stop wanting to kiss you.  You're welcome.
  5. Get dressed while listening to music, NOT the TV.  Pick something uplifting that you like even if it's from the 80s.  Especially if it's from the 80s.  May I recommend this one?   Rock that tune in your grannie undies all around your room until you find the outfit you can feel comfortable in yet still maybe stop at the grocery store for emergency chocolate.  We've all been there.  Aisle 5.
  6.  Make yourself a smoothie filled with all the veggies, fruit, and water you'll need for the next 6 hours.  This will be the best meal of your day.  The younger your children are, the more good sh*t you need to put in that smoothie.  P.S.  Spend the car payment and buy the Ninja Food System.  Add avocado to everything.
  7. Make eye contact with your kid(s).  It's hard because those dishes, that laundry, those dogs, your hair, The Twitter...but look at them.  They're here because you worked hard to get them here.  They're here and they love you the most.
  8. Answer their questions.  Even the one about babies.  My kids recently saw a cartoon of a woman getting ready to give birth and both of them couldn't figure out why her legs were up.  They couldn't imagine popping a baby out of her bellybutton that way.
  9. Love your partner.  He/she's freaking tired too.  Like more tired than you.  Not really but what the hell does it matter?  It's not a Tired Competition.  Nobody gets a night at the Hilton with oversized body pillows as a prize if they win.  By the way, don't worry...you're totally more tired.
  10. No seriously, love your partner.  This is worth repeating.  Text them funny texts.  Flirty ones.  Emoji ones.  Communicate throughout the day but about Date Night, not your jobs.  Your jobs both suck right now, talk about something fun.  Hug them when you see them at night.  Kiss too if you took my advice about flossing.  Thank them for running the bath, sorting the mail, making the appointment for the AC guy to come, not show up, come, and not show up again.  He/she is working two jobs at least, just like you.  But don't worry, you're still totally more tired.  Way.  If there is no partner and you're going this completely solo?  Please be extra kind to yourself and reward yourself with positive friends, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle that allows you little glimpses of what keeps you feeling like yourself.
  11. Pamper yourself like you would your best friend.  You bring your bestie Gatorade when she's got the flu, right?  Well, you're worth it, too.  Stop and get yourself Airborne pills when your little snotbuckets cherubs bring home all the germs.  Paint your toes that funky robin egg blue.  That color looks cute on you.  Take your kid(s) to a store just for you and make them suck it up for 20 minutes while you enjoy your life.  They already enjoy theirs because you're an awesome mom, remember?  Buy that uplifting card you see... for yourself.  You need Maya Angelou quotes.  You need the pretty lady made of hemp seeds and butterfly magic that says Spirit Warrior.  Get them.  For yourself.  Then, buy the cup of coffee/tea/flavored water to enjoy on your drive home.  When the kid(s) fall asleep?  Drive around to get yourself another one.  You'd do it for your sisterfriend when she's sick, right?  Do it for you because parenting smalls is very much like being sick all the time.  You feel like crap while you're making everyone else forget you exist, see?  Same thing.
  12. Play with your kid(s) as much as YOU want.  They just got here, they have no idea what's appropriate.  If that means 20 minutes a day, then rock that sistermom.  Seriously, do you remember your parents playing with you every waking second of the day?  I remember a whole lot of meandering aimlessly and happily in my neighborhood and in the woods behind our house.  Can't do that today, I realize, but my gawd, the children can still learn to entertain themselves safely within your decided parameters.  Plus, I tried playing with Abby all day long one time, not even getting up to get myself another cup of tea, and we were both in tears before 3pm.  Nobody was happy because nobody had a mom.  I became a 3 year old along with her and we both desperately needed a nap. 
  13. Haha, here's the catch:  Play with your kid(s) without a technical distraction.  Yes, I know, I love my phone and my camera too.  So. Much.  But those two will still be here when they turn 18.  Our kid(s) won't.  This time of raising smalls feels like forever but it couldn't be more of a trick The days are long but the years are short.  By the time your kid(s) reaches school age, you will have more time to devote to your distractions.  And that's when you're going to need them.  Let your children be with you while they're little.  More importantly, let yourself be with them.  They're your memories too.
  14. Give yourself a mid-day dance break.  Or several.  Freestyle is great but hip hop is better.  Because how precious is your little one trying to do the running man?   It's ok to bust out the camera too.  Fine, go get your phone.
  15. Messes do not make you a horrible person.  They are a byproduct of all the fun in life.  Take out the paints!  Bring out the colored bubbles!  Be the master of a Play-Doh Universe!  If you just hived out reading this one then do it all outside.  But make the messes.  It's how your children learn to do things and how you learn to not do things for them.  
  16. Clean up is for everyone.  Good heavens, please don't do what I did.  Please do not become the only person in your house who knows where everything goes.  Ask your kid(s) to help you put things away.  Ask them to sort laundry, then put away folded laundry, then help you do the laundry.  Your shoulder blades and your spouse/girlfriend/boyfriend will thank you for it.  Anyone raising children and trying to keep a clean house is already insane.  They need help and your children won't know how to help if you don't make show them.  Pretty soon, it'll become a habit for all.  
  17. Give yourself a Time Out.  I'm not talking an hour or two at Barnes & Noble on a Saturday.  Not even three hours with your friends for Happy Hour.  I'm talking two full beautiful wonderful so very necessary days of rest at a hotel when nobody can find you will need you.  You need nobody to need you for a couple of days.  If you don't do this, none of 1-17 will help you one bit.  Trust and believe, if you're like me at all, you need time to defrag and reconstitute yourself for the hard week of doing it solo ahead.  P.S.  Order room service.  Turn off the TV.  Bring a book you've been dying to read.                                          You guys, I was so tired in this pic.  I can remember this day.  Abby was sick with a upper respiratory stuff.  I threw her a B-Day party where many family members came.  Andy was deployed and I wouldn't ask anyone for help because I wanted everyone to know I had it all together.  
  18. Stop yelling.  It's not them you're mad at.  You're mad because you're sad.  You're sad because you feel like a monster when you're this low, I get it.   So you yell because it feels like all you have left to gain control.  We all do it from time to time because you're so tired you just need everyone to do exactly as you say or you'll drop.   But do your guilty little self a favor and stop yelling at your kids.  You're a big girl, close your mouth or yell into a pillow if it has to go somewhere.  Kickboxing classes are good too, just a suggestion.  Personally, I prefer Tae Bo but that's because I'm 40.  Your kids don't understand how tired you are.  They're new on the scene of life and haven't been that tired yet.  Let them live that innocently for as long as they can.  You can handle this.  
  19. Let go of guilt.  It isn't serving you at all.  It's depleting you even more of anything good living inside your tired bones.  We all make parenting mistakes.  We all expect too much.  We all think we have to be perfect at this.  We all think they should be able to wash their little bodies by now because your head pounds with the despair of knowing you're not going to sleep tonight...again.  Forgive yourself of your mistakes after your kids forgive you.  Because guess what?  They forgive you right away.  They love you the most.  Now, you need to love you half as much. 
  20. Write down their sweet words.  Draw with them.  Wrestle on the floor.  Play the board games you like.  Who cares if all the marbles fly off the Hungry Hungry Hippo board?  We all know it's not about keeping our marbles.  It's way more fun when you let some of your marbles go.


There's a light, you guys and it's the prettiest light I've ever seen.  I'm here now and I've found my voice.  Please don't let yourself think it doesn't get better.  It does.  Yes, you'll miss them while teachers/administrators/their friends spend their days with them but you need this time apart.  You will find yourself again and the best news is that the old you is happy you're back.  She's so happy you didn't give up on her.  She's so happy she's singing so that others like her will hear her and know it really does get sweet again.  Do the hard work, know this season of your life does not last forever, and definitely order room service when you have no more left to give.  Having no more left to give is a sign you need to give to yourself.  Guilt-free.  You deserve it too, sisterfriend.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukyq9NWJM0c

Monday, August 18, 2014

Shrinking the Moat





When first receiving the text to join them for breakfast, my mind reeled with excuses:  I have this cough.  It's the kids' first full week of school.  I ate crawfish last night and now my pants don't fit.  But instead I wrote back:  Ok, I'm in.

The Military Spouse Group meets often for various things throughout the year.  Sometimes socials, sometimes exercise, sometimes to unwind through designing wreaths and swapping numbers of babysitters who hang up wet towels.

Throughout the years, I've joined in.  I've clinked glasses, read Book Club books, and traded stories of endless nights as new mothers while our husbands worked their way up the ranks at new duty stations.  For the most part, it was always a good time.

But lately, I've not felt like joining in.  I've (rudely) ignored invitations.  I've hit the "maybe" button just to declare it a firm "no" the day of.  I've driven to the function, joined in for an hour and made haste to leave less than an hour later.

Why?

I think because I've made assumptions.  The wives here are so put together.  One is a ballerina.  Literally, she is a walking, talking, pixie-haired precious ballerina.  Another takes pictures of babies that make you beg your ovaries for one more try.  A few others have started their own businesses and are committed to their heart's work.  The last one has a gorgeous British accent and rocks Athleta outfits like she has forgotten she's wearing clothes.  I can never forget I'm wearing clothes.  Mine are forever tugging, pulling, scooching, getting pinched somewhere too rude to re-situate in public.  I remain, at all times, acutely aware of an underarm that's showing through a bell sleeve, or of a clasp driving a new bellybutton somewhere deep into my hip.

I assumed all these women weren't like me.





Yes, those are dog pajamas.  I need an intervention.



So I said No way more than Yes.  I reveled in No.  Bragged to my non-military-spouse friends about the freedom of my No.  Danced around my kitchen while those Together Girls had gatherings because No was so much more risque than Yes.

Then, the boomerang returned.  The distance I created to empower myself with non-comparisons turned into a moat of disassociation.   An island of women who move every two to four years, miss their family, and bleed Tricare were within reach and I pushed myself away because I didn't think I had my sh*t together.  A large well of fellow moms deciding to pause their career clock, like me, and balance their family on the small of their back were nearby and here I've been, walking away from them with an empty bucket.

So dumb.

This morning that changed.  Forcing myself into clothes that would gripe and fuss, I went to meet a large group of very intimidating  easy going women.

And when I got there, the moat shrunk.  Our differences became laughable while our similarities beamed.

One spouse just moved here.  She has three young kids, is a stay-at-home parent and is also a registered nurse. She told us a story about how she found out a bully was stealing her kindergartner's lunch midway through his first year of school.  My mama blood ran hot just like hers as she retold the story.  She dealt with the situation like a champ and we all applauded her instinct to investigate.

One mama mentioned her recent abstinence of social media and right away I went in for the gold.  "Are you happier?"  She lifted her gaze to mine and breathed a very full, "Yesss, so much happier"  Hmmm, I might have to try this, New Happy Mom Lady.

I met a rescue freak mama just like me.  Yes, her biceps and svelte yoga frame daunted me at first but before long we were chatting about her elderly beagle and the most efficient way to make food for a dog in kidney failure.  She adds baked salmon.




At the end of the table was another wife, cradling her week old baby in a front carrier. Next to her sat her own mother who told stories of living with her daughter in tiny living quarters overseas while the husband was deployed.

My friend, the one who texted me last night, gave us all hope that teenagers do come back after the painful "I Hate You" years.  Hers even lets her snuggle.  At sixteen.

When it was time to go, I checked the time.  Four hours had passed although it felt like one.

And I barely noticed that new bellybutton two inches away from my hip.

Friday, August 15, 2014

It's Always the Little Things

The hygienist making small talk with your chatty 5yo while she clearly has a raspy voice and pink eyes herself.  She's not feeling well but you'd never know it unless you had the chance to be two feet from her kind face.

My Sadie, a senior girl now of almost 13, lifting her chin toward the sun until she deems herself warm enough to seek shade.

An old friend from high school leaving heartbreakingly sweet youtube videos of animals on your facebook timeline.  Him having no way of knowing how you look forward to seeing them pop up when he sees fit.

Pledging only $10 for a rescue to bring a bull terrier mix to safety and seeing his freedom picture two days later.

A grown man giving a 7yo his favorite shirt to wear because the 7yo's mother forgot to pack an extra shirt for her now shivering son.

Your friend's silence as she listens, really listens, to you tell her how you are.  Her asking about *you* again and not your family.

Sitting down in a quiet place with a ceiling fan on.

A teacher's new tangerine top with the tag showing.   Her warm smile as she describes how much kindergartners can do.

A lady, maybe a fellow mom, smiling a big one after realizing you are waiting for her to go first at the four-way stoplight.

How Sparrow finds her Food Lady and digs "a hole to the middle of the earth" after eating dinner as a thank you.  Every time.

Telling a new mom you like her shirt as an excuse to meet her.  She was nervous too and now you have each other.

Sharpening pencils, signing your name in cursive, and packing lunches with autographed love note napkins tucked inside.

Playing footsie with him while he flips the channels.  And flips the channels.  And falls asleep flipping the millions of channels.

Listening to a stranger tell you about their shy little boy without telling her everything about yours.

Birds.

Just a few leaves falling in August.

Avocados.

Saying yes to a balloon fight, ice cream for dinner, and TV for at least an extra hour.

Tuning out media when it's fighting for justice, happiness, and wellness for all.  It has good intentions but to your mind it's still a fight.

The Beatles.

Watering plants back to life.

The first bite of pizza.

Interruptions from people who won't always want or need you right this very important I-made-you- a -cookie-with-black-frosting-and-an-orange-slice-on-top second.

Green tea.

Invitation to a secret club.

Recycling.

Sketched drawings of children.

Date Night.

"Reece-Out" instead of "recess"

Friday night Pizza/Movie Night waiting for you patiently.


What are the little things that accumulate for you?



Tuesday, August 12, 2014

When Sad is a Rabbit Hole



Sad is a rabbit hole.

For some people who experience feelings of sadness, it casts a pall over a canvas of normal, to hover for a day or so, and then it leaves.

For others, others that seem untouchable, sadness is the canvas and there are things to be done that cast a pall of normal over it.

Things like drinking cappuccinos.  Taking a walk with a friend.  Making people laugh.  Prescription drugs.  Volunteering. Things like going to work, having conversations, and coming home to go to bed.  Normal things.  Normal things that take more energy, strength, and willpower to accomplish than they should.  Because, for them, sadness is busy, so very busy, gnawing away at every molecule of goodness and light it can consume. It feasts on their energy while draining them of theirs.  Sadness is a greedy bastard.  It's obsessed.  It can never have one.  It keeps gnawing and biting and chewing until its had more than its fair share to slog around your insides like a sticky cloud.

Some people figure out a magic formula that protects them.  Their magic formula works!  It changes their chemistry for hours, days, and if they're extremely devoted to the task of meteorology, years.  They find their recipe to stave off sadness and they are euphoric.  They win their mind back before the sticky cloud makes its way to the tippy tippy top.




But then the formula changes. The cloud is back and working its way up, inch by healthy inch.  Your normal becomes warped.  So unrecognizable.  Off kilter and scary.  Unbelievably so, it is back to square one.  Back to search for things that will cast a pall of normal over their inner landscape of that dastardly cloud.

It's a never-ending cycle for those people who fight to feel "well."  They don't choose their canvas but they sure as hell try to color it pretty every single day.  To distract themselves, to fit in, to counter-attack the storm that is always brewing.  To hide it from others who might think less of them despite their heart not to do so.  Some worry if the cloud is catching.

This type of sadness doesn't have to eat you whole.  It will die trying but one day it will die.

May all of you who find yourselves in the rabbit hole give yourself more time.  More time to create another formula that wards off your storms.  More time to understand your struggles will pay off, are paying off today, are such a gift to others fighting with their heads down.  More time to feel how much you are cherished and needed on this earth.  More time to show others that it can be done.

Your rabbit hole won't spit you out.  You have to keep climbing.






In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline