Musings for 2 Birthdays

Sunday marked the midway point between my turning 42 and my daughter Morgan’s 18th Birthday. In a way this year is a pivotal year for both of us. Morgs is turning 18 and will be what I call a Junior Adult. The whole world is there for her taking. Her life is made of endless possibilities and opportunity. Everything is beginning for her. It’s amazing and beautiful to watch. I couldn’t be a happier or more proud parent. She deserves a shiny rose colored world. It’s not there but she has the means to create the best world for herself.

New and beginnings are words I expect to use for an 18 year old but not for myself. But here I am. My 41st year was by far the worst year of my life, thus far. I experienced a loss and betrayal that I had never expected to experience. I was literally broken and I truly thought I was lost. I’ve heard the phrase “darkest hour” bandied about before and I can tell you that I now know what it is to be there. I was drowning and felt that I’d never have light or happiness again. I was and am lucky because I have this amazing group of people in my life, old friends, new friends, family, friends who are family and friends I didn’t even know I had, who were never going to let me drown in that overwhelming darkness. I am truly blessed; truly lucky. The start of my 42nd year has been truly pivotal. I have immersed myself in passions and interests that I have long forgotten. I am searching for myself and have found pieces of myself that had fled and hid for years. I have accepted that the sadness and pain I’ve had over the past year was necessary; that it was important to propel my life forward in a new direction. I embrace this new direction with hope, love, and optimism. I, too, am standing on the precipice of change and new beginnings. It is the most wonderful gift to have been given.

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Love

As a teenager and young adult, I thought love was butterflies and obsessing

“He loves me…. He loves me not.”

The kisses, the touching, the feelings so hot

Maturity has taught me

Love ebbs and love flows

It is ever changing

Love is staying up until midnight waiting for your call while you are away just to touch base for the grounding your voice gives

It’s taking 10 minutes out of your busy morning to send Hi daddy messages even though you are running late

It’s taking turns through the night to take care of a sick child

It’s making sure your mug is out for coffee so you can have some even though you no longer live here

It is waiting up to see you when your flight comes in late

It’s picking you up late at night when you call even though things are strained

It’s holding you when you get devestating news

Going to your shows to support you

Sunday afternoon bike rides just for the connection, the time without kids

You looked for love in superficial ways

The quickening of breath connnection

The heart pounding

The thinking of her every minute every hour every day wondering if she is of you

The going out all the time

That connection doesn’t last

That connection was born out of boredom, bleakness, and unhappiness with a marriage that needed help, that needed repair not abandoning

It is not real…it is not true

That love is false-false words, false premise, fabrications of another love gone bad

Love is holding the children you created together for the first time

It’s the little things that go overlooked

Love is not grandiose it is a series of small kindnesses and gestures that seem unimportant until they are no longer there.

Love is history, it is messy, it is not always happy but it is always true

Always

Motherhood

Motherhood is…

Cleaning up the same grouping of stuffed animals every hour

Stepping in a wet spot on the carpet and hoping it’s just spilled water

Deciding you better err on the safe side and hopping on the dry foot to the kitchen for the carpet cleaner

Returning to the living room only to catch the dog creating a moat on your newly finished wood floor between the living room and kitchen

And noticing two seconds after, that the toddler, who loves to splash in puddles, has started towards it and seems to have gained super fast running powers

Motherhood is taking a gigantic leap over the dog’s accident to stop said toddler, stepping on a Lego upon dismount, and just grabbing the toddler half an inch from the dog’s mess 

It’s realizing that the cat must of wanted in in the action too- he knocked down your already dilapidated Betty Crocker cookbook.

It is noticing that he really wanted your attention so he threw up on the potato pages. Sorry Betty, your recipes for potato pancakes, au gratin, twice baked and scalloped are gone.

To add to this already disappointing news-you step backwards only to find the remaining cat vomit.

It is wet and squishes as you step down.

Walking on the sides of your feet you wet and soap a paper towel to clean that contaminated area.

Motherhood is realizing that your floor is washed in a series of circles-messes that are cleaned and wiped throughout the day.

It is washing your feet and hands once you are through and instead of brushing your teeth before going to bed… You decide to rinse them with a nice glass of wine.

Wine that will sit on the counter-missing two minuscule sips because the youngest child will wake up and call for you

You end up going to bed and will sleep at the very edge with your arm held by a sleeping child.

Somewhere in the house something will crash to the floor.

Tomorrow you’ll find the cat had to protest the lack of refill in his bowl of food by knocking  that unfinished glass of wine and your favorite mug, for good measure, to the floor

Motherhood is dirty, grimy, full of “oh shit” moments that you will miss someday

Both fleeting and forever is Motherhood.

Blocked

So it has come to this-blank space teeming with possibility mocks me.  Uncertainty and fear grins at me from separate corners of a dark room as the household sleeps.  It is 2:30 in the morning.  I am sleepless.  I am 40 years and 10 months old.   I have let fear and uncertainty whip me into this paralyzed state for too many years to count.  When I was young I was fearless.  Words poured out of my guileless soul onto college ruled paper baring my heart to all.  No worries, no cares as that was what the words were for.  A writer writes, right?   Until she stops.   She stops and the words flee.  Doubt creeps in.  After all, it is one thing to indulge in sharing and pretending that one has talent when one is young.  Youth is there to explore and dabble and “create.”   But where is the room for such frivolity when life moves you forward in years?  When doubt has creeped in like arthritis attacking once healthy joints.  Crippling the brain and stealing confidence as I trip over the words. Changing perspective, voice, and jolting the reader through time as tenses shift and grammar flees. 

Stories from the bored

I’m crazy, they tell me… The people in those white coats; although they are not really wearing white coats.  I cast them wearing white coats in my retelling.  But they do smell of mint, lots of mint and speak through foamy dripping mouths.  I tell my wife this repeatedly as she shakes her head.  She tells me that I’m wrong.  Her voice is garbled as she tries to hold the pasty substance back.  I sigh as I realize they’ve gotten to her as well.  I didn’t know; am not sure when they got to her.  I’ve always known before.  The smell of mint is strong when it happens; overpowering.  I tried to warn her but she wouldn’t listen.  I told her about the caps.  Oh, how angry it would make her.  I hated hearing that drilling, piercing noise as she yelled, “how hard is it to put the caps back on the tube.”  Then she’d screw it back on.  For years, I didn’t tell her that she was inviting danger.  How could I?  She could not see what I could see.  She’d never met them.  Insidious creatures reeking of mint.  I even tried losing the caps.  It was all to no avail.  There was no way to fight them.  Now I wonder if I alone am the only one who truly understands what they are.  Is there anyone left?  Anyone they’ve not gotten to.  I smell the mint everywhere.  HELP!  HELP!!!  No, here come two with the white coats with pills to make me forget.   I won’t take them, I won’t.  No, not a needle.  No, you can’t make me forget the caps.  They can’t be connected to the tubes, it’s how they live.  Believe me, I won’t forget….  But I can’t fight it alone.  Take the caps, the caps, the….

“He’ll sleep for a while now, Ma’am.  He fights the pills.  This will work.”  “Oh, good.  Any change?  Is he still refusing to replace the toothpaste caps?  He’s been so afraid of them.” “The doctor’s are making progress,” the nurse smiled at her.                  “Thank goodness, I never thought a breakdown would come in the fear of caps.  Imagine fearing such things as if they were horrible monsters.  Poor man.”  She smiled at the nurses as she gathered her things to leave.  “I guess I’ll be back tomorrow.  I wish I knew when he’ll be better.  It’s been so long.”  She waved at the nurses and sighed as she stepped outside, breathing in the fresh mint air.  The nurses waved back.  The one on left smiled as he dabbed at the white foam in the corner of his mouth.

Musings for Peter on Father’s Day

I am the only child of a single mother.  My father who sporadically sent cards and postcards between rare visits existed mostly in stories.  I had no reason to believe that dads were important in a child’s life.  Then in 1994, I met the boy who would eventually become my husband and father to our three beautiful girls.                                                                     He is outnumbered in gender save the orange tabby cat who is the only other male in the house.  There is a lot of drama in the house, two teens, a toddler and a wife raised by an Italian mom and grandma creates a household that gives Shakespeare a run for his money.   Peter deals with it pretty well.  I’m sure he is baffled by the yelling, shrieking, and door slamming that turns into laughter and civil talk in a matter of minutes.  Moods in this house turn fast in either direction.  I can imagine that his head is often spinning.   Despite the craziness of his household Peter manages to be a pretty awesome dad.                                This dad is what I only imagined fathers were like.  He loves all three of his girls.  He shares video games with his oldest, wit with his middle girl, and shows patience with the toddler.  It is so easy to fall even deeper in love with him when he interacts with his girls.                                              This is the man who sang songs to his first born and held her for hours while playing video games.  He agreed to adopting a puppy because his adorable five year old used to wish for one at the mall fountains. He has been known to do silly dances with his toddler even when he was exhausted and busy.  He is an exceptional father who is proud of his daughters and who has encouraged them to be who they want to be.  The girls are so lucky to have this dad; this man who loves them enough to be ever present in their lives.  I’m lucky to have married him and to have had his children.  I truly do not think that there is a better dad out there.        Happy Father’s Day-thank you for all that you do.  You are loved and appreciated far more than what we are capable of expressing.

A True Personal Day…

Today, I took the day off of work.  I used a personal day just for me.  I have no appointments or household projects. The children are at school.  I have not logged onto my work email; I did a few little chores first thing in the morning but then stopped myself.  I’m spending the day being productively lazy.

What is productively lazy? I have recently  returned from a companiable lunch with my husband at our favorite Indian restaurant.  The owner shared the most delicious ice cream treat; I forget the name but it was like having a frozen Mango Lassi.  Then I left my husband at his place of work.  I am currently sitting in my favorite chair next to an open window, wrapped in soft blankets.  It is raining outside and the temperature in my house is a cool, damp 64 degrees.  The house is silent save the rain and ambient nature/neighborhood sounds.  There are some birds chattering, cars driving, a barking dog and the occasional siren.  My orange cat is curled on my lap almost as a fashionable accessory to my brighter orange blanket and brown sweater and my dog is snoring at my feet.  When I am finished writing, I will turn on some music and settle down to read a totally frivolous but surprisingly well-written book while enjoying my ginger lemon mint tea.

Why am I sharing this?  I share this because I rarely give myself the time to just be; to exist in my own space without my jobs (the ever invading professional career, wife, and mother).  I rarely relax without guilt.  Today, I am giving myself permission to do just that.  I think all parents (and I say parents only because I am one; non-parents can enjoy this too) should find the time, even it is only five minutes, to “be.”  We are so tuned into everything, social media, children’s schedules, spouse’s schedules, pets’ schedules, and work that I think we forget that we need to relax.  The result is that we run around making lists, forgetting things, being anxious and nervous and we tend to miss out on what makes us who we are and leaves us way too frazzled to enjoy our loved ones’ company.  This is why I’m sharing my day of relaxation and why I’m enjoying the silence in my favorite comfy chair.  My mom once told me, in response to to my query, that silence was her favorite sound.  I didn’t understand then but I am content with that sound today.

Dear Mom,

Thank you for humor and fun.  You never acted like you were too old to have fun with me.  There was the time we were walking to the store in the snow and you began throwing snowballs at me.  We ended up in a heap in the snow, laughing so hard I almost wet myself.  A woman, not much older than you walked by and heard me call you mom.  She turned around and said that we were having so much fun, she thought we were sisters.  Then there was the summer day that it was so hot and you kept dropping ice cubes on me.  Then at bedtime, you thought it would be funny to put the tray in my bed.  There were water balloons and practical jokes.  Laughter was prevalent during my childhood.                                                Music, too.  I remember so much singing.  We’d sing with the radio and without it.  Songs about my doll, clocks, and ribbons.  We’d sing songs from your childhood and favorites of yours.  I never did like the one about your hair turning silver.  I did not want you to get old.  I only wish that we had your music to sing to in your last year. That was the one thing that was missing.                                                       I remember playing board games and putting jigsaw puzzles together. I loved our card games and remember fondly the nurses and technicians who would pop into your hospital rooms (on your too frequent visits) and ask us which game we were playing and who was winning?  I remember tv shows and favorite books that you read to me.  I remember crying with you when Beth March died.  I remember you giving me suggestions late at night as I built a Popsicle stick schoolhouse for a fifth grade report.                                                         Mom, you kissed boo-boos and nursed me through chicken pox.  You hugged me and you were comfort through countless goldfish funerals, fights with friends, and even through a few broken hearts.                                           So today, I say thank you for teaching me to show kindness to everyone, to have compassion, to overcome huge obstacles, and to ignore hate.  You taught me to do that and to always have a song with me.                               You taught me how to be a mom and how to do my best.  I still hear your laughter and your voice.  I still vividly see my favorite childhood memories, clips of mother and daughter; a life filled with love.                                             Today , I fondly remember your hand smoothing my hair from my forehead, your hugs, and your voice.  Today, I say thank you for all of your love.   I love you and miss you.  Thank you.

A Normal Day Off in April?

My days at home rarely go by without a belly laugh or a “did that just happen” moment.  My sense of humor is pretty warped and my kids are too humorous; often unknowingly.  This mixture leads to serious amounts of silliness.  Today has been no exception.  It began quite early as the toddler (A) has decided to lead a protest against the wearing of diapers.  Now moms, don’t get excited because she is also boycotting the potty.  I believe she enjoys the freedom of going commando.  When asked if she is going to use the potty, she purses her lips and says “nooooo.”  Ok, no issues as we are home and not going anywhere today.  I did get her to wear underwear and let her run off with a little “tell mommy if you have to use the potty” warning. “Kay”, she says and runs off to watch her “show.” (Have I mentioned that my toddler uses the words of a 60 year old grandma?).  Flash forward to 45 minutes later while I’m talking, old school style, on the phone and A states I sit with you for bebe. (Yes, she still nurses-she’ll stop before her teen years, I hope…) She sits on my lap, nurses, gets up and stands near my feet. She’s been dry and I’m just about to ask if she has to go potty when I feel it.  She is peeing on my foot; she looks at me and states-“I go potty.”  I blurt out you just peed on my foot and A looks at me with a “duh” type of look.  Now to be fair, I didn’t specify to her to tell me before she went potty….so I guess she was following directions.  I forget toddlers are so literal.  And you’d think I’d have learned my lesson.  But no.  My free spirited toddler refuses her diaper and this time I do say to tell me when you have to go potty before you do.  She is watching her “shows” in my room so I add, “please don’t pee pee on my bed.”  Note that I said pee pee.  She does great for an hour and a half. Then I smell it.  The dog is standing in my room and is whining.  She is looking at a small bit of toddler poo on the floor.  Again, the kid has followed my directives.  “A” pipes up and tells on herself stating proudly, “I did poopy.” The 14 year old walks by and says, “I was wondering what that smell was.”  The dog is still staring.  I can only imagine she is thinking-are you going to yell or put her outside?  I look at my toddler’s adorably proud face and start laughing.  The dog, I swear, whined in disgust, barked at me and gave me a reproachful look as she walked away.  It’s been hours and she hasn’t forgiven me.  On the plus side, probably because she was afraid I’d ask her to help in cleaning the “toxic toddler waste”, the teen offered to wash the dishes.  Sometimes dreams do come true…. Given my story I could end with a rhyme but I won’t go there… Just another day when you are the mom of a toddler… 

The Beginning Journeys

As you may know K is on a school trip to Paris, France.  She left yesterday. There were many parents there excitedly seeing their children off and there were some tears on the part of mostly moms.  As the bus pulled away, one of the moms that I had been standing with turns to me and says, “I don’t understand the tears; that some moms were crying.  I mean you have paid for this trip; you knew they were going.  This is supposed to be happy and exciting for them and parents should be happy that they are getting this experience.” Now this mom was right that this is an awesome experience and I believe even the tearful moms were excited for their children, after all they did pay for this trip. My response to this mom was, “I know.  But I will miss my daughter.”  Here is where the other mom lost her wisdom.  She answered, “sure you’ll miss her.  You’ll miss her doing the dishes and cleaning.  The babysitting.” I did not have the time to say what I will be saying in just a few moments nor do I think this mom was being rude; I think she was keeping the mood light (I hope) and in the same vein I joked-” I’ll miss the grunts passing as hello as she disappears upstairs into her room.”  But this is what I really wanted to say:  I don’t understand parents who view their kids as the charges who they just have to take care of until they’re grown.  I understand that part of parenting is pushing your children to grow and have new experiences.  I do understand that we have to let them go; that they have their own lives to live. But I don’t understand the glee (not to be mistaken with the pride we have in our children) some parents take in that.  The idea that there is a finish line and then you get your life back is foreign to me.  I like my life this way.  My kids are not burdens and they’ve not taken life away from me.  My children have enhanced my life.  I am a better person for knowing them.  I genuinely like my girls; I am proud of them.  I don’t want to raise them and then ditch them to get on with my interrupted life.  I want to raise them and then get to know them as the wonderful adults I know they will be.  So yes, I am going to miss my oldest daughter.  I am going to miss her, not the things she can do around the house; just the being who is K.  And yes, I shed some tears yesterday as I drove away from the school after the bus left.  You see from the days that each of my children were born I’ve known that I will have to let them go.  The time that I get to have them physically under my roof is fleeting.  These wonderful experiences, the trips abroad and stateside are the beginnings of the girls having their own lives.  It is exciting and sad and I will miss the energy that they bring into the house but I am happy for the fact that being mom will never be done.