Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Stop singing!

I just got home from grocery shopping. While I was at the store, I saw a mom shopping with two little boys. One of the boys was singing something to himself and kind of dancing around to the music in his head. It was totally adorable.

All of a sudden, his mom yelled, "Stop singing!"

The boy startled and froze with his hands at his sides.

His mother said, "You're flitting around like a girl," and she kind of flapped her hands in the air and made an ugly face, mocking the little boy's dancing. "You're not a girl, so quit acting like one!"

His older brother laughed at him, and the boy bit his bottom lip and tried to act tough. I felt like my heart was ripped out of my body.


It's different, in my world. All the people I spend time with get that there's no such thing as "acting like a girl." They understand that there is no appropriate situation in which you should yell at a child for singing. Sometimes, when I'm out by myself, surrounded by people I don't know, I feel totally lost. I feel like I live in a little pod of good people and smart people and that 95% of the people in this world are pieces of shit.



-

Lake Erie



We so totally needed a weekend in the sun.

Her first trip to the lake. Louisey sort of hated the beach, but there were moments.

Happy sandy mommy feet.

Look at that face. Daddy is love.

Scouty is a little adventurer.

I guess sand isn't exactly her deal, but she tried so very hard to be happy.

The girls.

Little happy family.

Instead of watching the sunset, we saw a storm roll in. It was beautiful.

The storm was my favorite part of the trip.



As a reminder of why we so desperately needed a vacation, this was the first thing Louise did upon returning home.








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Beauty...

A photo of Louise and I is being featured at Faces Of Beauty today.

It's an awesome website where you can submit a photo of you, as you are. Head over and leave some love, and while you're there, consider adding to the true beauty.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Question from a reader!

Okay, great. This is exciting. A big thank you to Amanda for asking me a question. If there's something you want to know about me, go ahead and ask and I'll try to post the answer here. As long as you're not being a sicko or a huge dick, or something.

Who is my favorite musician?

Well, I have a few answers for that, I suppose. I have had a long string of favorites that all moved me, in one way or another... they mostly moved me groin-ally as a teenager. Oh who am I kidding? I still get moved in the groin-al area. I've had imaginary love affairs that went like this... in mostly sequential order, starting at around thirteen: John Lennon, long haired sensitive Bono, Robert Smith, David Bowie, Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Conor Oberst, Iggy Pop, Jenny Lewis and Elliott Smith.

I think I can say with complete honesty that Elliott Smith is my favorite musician. Louise's middle name is Elliott even, because Kurt and I love him so much. I wonder if he had any idea that people would be naming their kids after him, he means that much to some of us.

I also think that maybe Rilo Kiley might be my favorite band. I will always harbor a secret wish that Jenny and Blake will remember when it was love, and run away together to get married.

My favorite album is hands down, Raw Power.

My favorite song is... I don't have a favorite song. Probably Waltz #2. Or maybe it's Things The Grandchildren Should Know. Oh yeah, I also love Eels.

So, yeah. I don't know. Who is your favorite musician?

I'm actually really interested. I think that subject of music is a strange one. Our family is definitely the kind of family that needs music. Kurt and I talk about it all the time. Dissecting it and putting it back to together in the context of us and our lives. We're very oriented around the artists we like. We're very educated and philosophical music consumers, too. Talking about music makes me want to do it with my husband about fifty million times.

We're different in a lot of ways, Kurt and I. I've talked about some of them here. He's mild mannered and soft-spoken. He's shy and thoughtful and mathematical in his approach to the world. He's also politically minded and full of knowledge about things I have no idea about. But, we have a lot of the same ideas about music, even if he believes (erroneously) that Fun House is a better album than Raw Power.

I am fully aware that the world is also heavily populated with people who don't feel like music is necessary to living happily. Some people just never really got into it, for whatever reason. Some people require that their music be fun or danceable, or something. I guess I don't really know what goes on inside the head of somebody who doesn't feel like complete strangers they will never ever meet are writing songs reeled right out of their guts. I know there are lots of those people, and I'm totally respectful of that way of living. I guess I just can't imagine it.

I am also aware that, when I start talking about music that I like, the people who aren't music people start rolling their eyes or fidgeting in their seats because why, oh why is she going on and on about this? So, I'll just leave it be.

But, I do have to admit that a person's taste in music is wildly interesting to me. I spend so much time and thought with it, it informs a lot of my perspective and mood. I feel like if I can unlock your musical deal, I can read something about the you, inside of you. I'm not saying that I judge people based on their taste in music. I don't care what you want to listen to. I do care to know, though.

So, thank you, for that interesting question. I was so excited to open my email and find a question from a reader! Reply here to tell me about what your favorite songs and albums and artists are. And, if there's anything else you want to know, just ask.


-

Friday, May 27, 2011

Shirtless boys and the coldness of heaven...

She once showed me a Twisted Sister music video where a dad busted into his son's room and told the son to stand up straight and tuck in his shirt, but mostly the dad hated his son's guitar and the fact that he wanted to rock. I felt scared of Twisted Sister and their hair and lipstick, but I knew enough not to take the side of the dad. I knew enough that it was important to rock, even if you felt like something wasn't quite right about it. I stayed awake at night, picturing men in tight, snakeskin pants, wearing pink lipstick and singing songs about how homework was stupid, and how it wasn't cool to drive the speed limit. The 1980's were a strange time to be a child with only a remedial understanding of the way the world worked, and for the bulk of that understanding to have reached you through the filter of a trailer park in rural western Pennsylvania.


I have been writing about my childhood.
It's scary, opening all of these old memories up.
It's kind of thrilling, too.
I remember side ponytails and rented roller skates.
I remember kissing boys from the church youth group, how sticky and grabby they were, and how much I hated them.
I hated being put into place more.
I hated the idea that God spoke through his followers, and his followers told me that I was just a girl. That someday I would be just a woman. I would be a wife and wives were subservient.
I liked the songs about the beauty of Jesus, though. I pictured him as a long haired, shirtless boy with dirt in his shoes.
Eventually, I grew to like long haired, dirty, shirtless boys very much. Those boys pretty much solidified for me that there wasn't a god in the sky. There was only this moment, breathless and scared in the passenger seat of a beaten up Volkswagon, with the gear shift real and cold in my palm while the rest of my life was a mess of clumsy fumbling and wormy fingers getting into places we weren't allowed to talk about at church.
I thought there was something to it, though. The warmth on warmth and loneliness of being human and seeing the stars for what they were. Hot, burning and heartless.

Stars
Painted stars on decaying trailer by Steve Snodgrass


-

Sun sun sun...

We are finally getting to enjoy a few sunny days, here and there. You better believe we're making the most of them.

The big girl on her last day of preschool for the year!


My little gardener with our lunch harvest for yesterday. Have I mentioned that we eat a lot of kale?



An armload!


Louisey doing her part...

Most gorgeous toothless smile in the world.


Time for the splash fountain!

It was Cheesy's first time.


Sun, sun, sun, stay with me.





We're going to spend the day at Presque Isle State Park over Memorial Day weekend. What are your plans?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BlogHer Feature!

I'm very pleased to announce that my 500 Dollar Month project is being featured today at BlogHer!

Please head over and leave some love while checking out all of the wonderful content at BlogHer!


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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

500 Dollar Month - Week 4

I'm getting to the end of my 500 Dollar Month project. I can't say I'm sad to see it come to an end. But, then again, really? What am I going to do? Just start spending money all over the place to make up for the fact that I haven't had any fancy cheeses in the house for a month? I feel like this month has actually changed something inside of me, as far as money is concerned.

Evidence:

-I don't have the same go to impulses, anymore. I don't feel like... "I'm bored. I think I'll go shopping for... something?"

-When I do have the impulse to do something expensive, or even something that costs money at all, I immediately feel an unpleasant recoil. I've gotten used to thinking, "We can't go to the $10 indoor playground because I only have $500 this month." So, maybe from now on, I'll think twice about the $10 playground even when I don't feel pressured to meet my goal.

-I feel so much relief over the fact that our grocery bill has been so low, this month. There is no way I will go back to unplanned, all over the place grocery store trips.

-I actually like planning all of our meals ahead of time and executing them as cheap and nutritionally sound as possible. It's like a game and it's even a little bit exciting on Sunday when it's time to come up with all the things I want to buy and cook.

--Spending any money at all feels like a fun treat. Buying cocoa powder for my banana "ice cream" was like, this is naughty, but I'm still going to do it. I hate the word "naughty." I'm sorry for putting you through it. But really, having some frozen yogurt to share with Kurt last week was like a sneaky fun treat. It used to just be blah, ice cream, whatever, sure I guess I could stand to get even fatter today.

-I've lost 5 pounds in 4 weeks without even trying. The only thing I did differently was eliminate all extra spending on food and coffee. I didn't work out any more than I usually do. I didn't intentionally diet. I just didn't buy sugary, awesome things and I didn't have a single latte all month. (I had an iced coffee at house, though... and it was the world's most delicious special treat ever.)

-I feel good, being in control of what we're spending. I don't feel intimidated by money. I feel like, if a car needs fixing or a preschool tuition needs paying, I'll be able to handle it, no problem.

-I'm totally on board with setting a limit for our spending every month, from now on. It feels good to have money further than the end of the month. It feels way better than having 8 Rooibos Lattes and fancy chocolate cupcakes and 5 pounds over the course of 4 weeks. Our limit is just going to be a little less strict.


There are some catches, though.

-I have been crouched and ready to run to the store to buy some real maple syrup on the 31st.

-I am also totally planning to spring for the giant bottle of lavender Dr Bronners the second Kurt gets paid. I have been washing myself with baby soap all week because I ran out. I can't spring for $15 soap on this $500 plan.

-I am so happy about the prospect of farmer's markets and shopping in the strip again. It's hard to shop all local when you only have $500 to spend.

-I have been dying to make a recipe that relies on saffron, and I don't have any. Saffron is like... a million dollars an ounce.


All together, though, the whole thing is going marvelously. We were able to put away about half of what we'll need to rent our beach house next summer. I even paid the down payment to secure our reservation. Oh, did I tell you that I found our house? I picked something beach front and secluded. Something with a crow's nest and a hot tub. It has one of those amazing outdoor showers that they only have in very sandy and very wonderful locations, and I just can't wait.

Dunes
photo by Prfxshn



As of Wednesday, May 25, we have $8.17 left to spend. Think that sounds crazy? I think we'll be totally fine. Click here to see what I've spent and saved and cooked and baked all month!



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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We can disagree...

Disagreeing is very important to me.

I feel like I barely ever disagree with people anymore. I have so few precious opportunities to build and maintain relationships, with the way my life is structured right now. I'm so consumed with the daily tasks involved with caring for my children, that the way I relate to other people has been shaved and pared down to a sort of streamlined and efficient thing.

What I mean is that... I spend time with other moms. Specifically other moms that like to be around my children and have a similar lifestyle to the one we lead. That way, no matter what Scout, Louise and I are up to, our friendships can be easily integrated into our lives.

This approach to socializing isn't on purpose. It's just that, I'm barely clinging to a thread of sanity, most days. I just don't have the wherewithal to start and/or maintain relationships with people who aren't up for a morning trip to the library, or who can't come over for a lunch of pretzels, peanut butter and apple slices at a moment's notice. I can't plan time away from my girls. I can't tell you for sure that I'll be able to see you if you're in town for a few days and have a busy visit scheduled, even if I want to see you a lot.

Disagreeing doesn't come up very often. The biggest debates I get into anymore are with a four year old and involve pressing subjects like a compulsive need to wear a certain pair of My Little Pony underwear. (The Rainbow Dash ones. Don't even tell me they're dirty.)

I notice, though... that every time I mention God on my blog, or the fact that I formula feed, I lose a few followers. My feed subscribe level drops just a little bit.

So, let me just say something.

I don't believe in God or support the institution of religion. For me, spirituality involves weather and words. It's about the feathering of my daughter's eyelashes and the way the sunlight catches them when my husband lifts her up to fly in the clouds. I don't even have any nice things to say about my extensive involvement within the confines of Christianity as a child. I don't try to find nice things to say. As a matter of fact, I purposefully voice opinions that aren't nice, sometimes.

Also, I don't (and didn't) breastfeed my children. I have reasons. I also feel like my reasons aren't important. I would be more than happy to share them with you, if this is something that is very important to you and you'd like to talk to me about it. Really. Go ahead and ask. I don't mind.

I'm not ashamed of my choices and experiences with bottle feeding, but I will say that I kind of don't care, either. When women start debating this topic, I just sort of feel happy that in a few more months, I can put the subject (and cost) of formula behind me forever. I don't care if you breastfeed or bottle feed. I don't care if you feed your baby a steady diet of pond water and snake pee, as long as your baby is healthy, cared for and happy. I care a great deal about it when people do things to neglect or hurt their babies. Feeding your child in a way that doesn't raise eyebrows within the medical establishment isn't one of those things. I just don't care what you do.

So, there we go. Those are two topics that people disagree with me about. I brought them up so that I might be able to say this:

I am so totally okay with disagreeing with you. I don't mind if you don't share my point of view about things. We can even disagree so wholeheartedly that we have no choice but to tell one another, "I don't agree with you," and I'll still like you. I'll still be able to respect and appreciate you. We can even still be friends.


I love this about grown up life. When I was young, things were always happening that had me cutting off and throwing away friendships right and left. I can't EVEN believe that she said that Robert Smith looks like an ugly woman. I'm not being friends with somebody who can't appreciate true sexy genius.

Now that I'm grown, I am fully able to say that my self-esteem is not so tied up in anything you think about anything, even in what you think about me, that your opinion could be dangerous to me. It's a very free way to feel.

Not only is it nice to disagree with someone without having it ruin my day (or life)... I feel like it has actually served to help me to appreciate and love some people even better, even more, because, when I realized that people's opinions aren't dangerous to me, I didn't have to reserve parts of myself, in case of disappointment. I am even able to appreciate and enjoy things about other people that are totally different, even in opposition to ways I conduct myself.

It's nice and preferable to agree, but it's okay if we can't. I will even go as far as to claim that disagreeing is, or can be, an important part of a real, grown up relationship.

What do you think? How do you deal with confrontation and disagreement? Do you feel like you handle it well? Do you find yourself only seeking out people who believe the same way you do? I'm just curious.


-

To all you Golden Girls out there...



Thank you for being a friend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I dreamed you

Knowing you, with your tiny fingers and toes. How you bite down when I brush. I think I must be mistaken, because I have never been one of the lucky ones. I think I must have imagined you, because you're only made of light and blood and love and there is no way I made you, not with all I've done. You don't know what I've done, but it is enough to have damned me.

I have never been a girl with hair that behaves. I have never been one of the easy, lucky ones. I painted myself so that I would be visible, and even then. The only thing they saw was how matted I was, or how severe. I have never been seen, not really, but this morning, I lay in bed with you, my love. Your tiny fingers ran circles through a strand of my hair and I watched your big brown eyes and there was nothing. In the vast expanse of all of everything, there was only you and me.

I love you and so I am real. I am permitted to walk around in the daylight and share glances with strangers on the sidewalks. I confess, I'm still not very good at it.

----------------------------------------

I talk to you at the library and waiting in a check out line. You ask me, "Have you ever made any bad mistakes?"

I don't have to pause before answering you. "I have made more mistakes than anybody could ever count."

"Like what?" you ask me, and I'm flooded with hard responses. I tried to die without having lived, first. I poisoned myself, and I let myself be poisoned. Mostly, though, I believed I wasn't worth anything.

"I took earrings out of Grammy's jewelry box when I was a kid," I say. "Then I lost them."

"Why did you do that?" you ask.

"Because I thought they were pretty. And I believed that everything that belonged to Grammy belonged to me," I say.

"Because she was your mom?" you ask.

"Yes," I answer. "Because she was my mom, and I wanted so much to know her and be like her that I didn't understand that she was a person with a real name who wanted to have things, like earrings, that she could keep for herself."

"Was she mad at you?" you ask.

"I don't remember," I say, but I think I do. I think she was exasperated more than she was mad, but I don't feel like explaining what exasperated is.

You think for a minute, your perfect lips curving down at the edges. "Are you a person, too?" you say.

I don't know. I don't think so, not in the sense I just explained. You could steal the guts from the center of me and twist them in your fists and I wouldn't demand them back. You are my guts and the center of me.

"Yes," I say, instead. "I guess I am. That's why I like to go to the gym by myself in the evening."

"And why you have earrings in your box in your room," you say.

I look up from where I've been watching you talk, your pretty little face made of plaster and peach tinted paint. There are people listening to us, and they're smiling to themselves. Some of them even venture a look directly at me, telling me in their own quiet way that they see how much I love you. In their eyes, I see it. Not confusion or revulsion or a bristling uncomfortable sensation at the color bleeding out of the edges of my life, but a genuine acceptance and even approval.

You really are magic, to make a person out of me.

---------------------------

Sometimes, littlest one, I hold you so close that I am breathing your breath. I get out of bed at night to stand over you and watch the rise and fall of your chest; you're buried sweetly under white and red blankets with tiny pictures of ladybugs. I can smell you, powdery and sweet and perfect, and this is your bedroom and your bed. This is your life and the twinkle of your nightlight illuminates your profile and you are immaculate.

Sometimes, I press my nose to your cheek and try to see the world as you see it. What are you so afraid of, and delighted by? Why do you cling to me and trace the shapes of my features with the soft tips of your chubby fingers? Why are you never comfortable or happy unless I'm with you?

There will be at time where I barely know the shape of you, where I won't carry you, molded into the curve of my hip. There will be a time where I can't have you freely and completely. You'll pull away from my kisses, someday and so, I want to be you, as much as I can. I want to let you fit into the bends of my body because they were made for you. We were created together, you and I, at the beginning of time. I waited for you all this time, I did. I was lonely and amputated, walking around with these wide hips and these strong arms, and I loved you but I didn't know you, yet. Now that I do, I can say with conviction that I was made to hold you.

----------------------------

Tell me about how you and daddy were before you had me.

We were lonely and we were sad. We wanted two little girls, just like you and your sister. We made a deal with the moon, and out you came, two perfect little pieces to fit next to us and make a new life. A good life. Because of you, all of our dreams came true.




me, circa 2003, or 2004, maybe.

We didn't even know we had dreams, and you made them real and pretty and true.

-----------------------------------------

I love you.



-

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I'm so glad it's my birthday, I mean, poop day...

Do you want to know what I did last night? (How could you not, given what you know about my lifestyle and my obsession with spending time wherever you can find half-asleep old people?)

Well, last night, I went to a party, big shot.

It was a poopy party. The first one I've ever attended. Jealous?

Let's go back in time to Sunday night, where we find our heroine, Scouty B, doubled over and in so much pain that I rushed her to Urgent Care. Her belly was hurting. "But not regular hurting," she told me, "it's need to go to the hospital hurting." At urgent care, a giant, gruff doctor with yellow fingertips lectured me on how it wasn't normal to bring a perfectly healthy little girl in for emergency care. Like maybe I was some kind of weird freak, like those Munchhausen bi-proxy people... for rushing my girl in to be examined, when by the time we got there she was fine. Totally fine.

It was a rookie mistake. The kind of thing I laugh over. "How stupid we were when Scouty was a baby! We rushed her to the hospital for everything, haha, idiots..." Thank god we're so much more experienced and knowledgeable, now. I basically walked into the Urgent Care center and shrugged and threw up my hands. Why does she seem fine? You tell me, doc. I didn't go to medical school.

There was nothing wrong, except that Scouty hadn't pooped that day. Hm, or maybe the day before. We were out all weekend, and nobody had bothered to take notes about her bathroom habits, imagine that. (I blame Kurt.)

But then she didn't poop on Monday, either.

By Tuesday, she was a sobbing, sorry and pathetic little creature with red, sticky cheeks and pleading eyes that said to me, "make this better, mommy."

So we sat all morning in the bathroom, which was no picnic for any of us, including a very crabby and very neglected Louise. There is really only so much for a baby to do on an only moderately clean bathroom floor. Mostly, she spent the day attempting to put her mouth onto things while I ran interception.

At lunch time, levels of constipation and crabbiness reached a terrible sort of frenzy where I called Kurt at work and broke into tears. "What? I can't hear you," he said. Thank goodness both of my girls were crying louder, to cover for me. I administered a series of herbs and oils and concoctions and we tried, oh how we tried.

Eventually, I started promising her the world.

"As soon as you poop, we'll go straight to the toy store and you can pick out anything you want," I said. "You can have candy, too." Looking down at her scared, sad little face was more than I could bear. "As soon as you poop," I told her. "I'm throwing you a party! We'll have a big party with presents and cake and --"

"Can we invite Grammy?" she asked.

"Yes, okay. And we'll invite Grammy," I said.

When she still hadn't pooped by nightfall, and Kurt was late coming home, I panicked again and started dressing myself and the girls to go back to the emergency room. Thank God my mother showed up, just as I was balancing both of my children on my hips and trying to slip my feet into my shoes. "Let's all just try to relax and get back to our regular lives," she said.

Relax? Our regular lives? Just look at those big, sad eyes, Grammy. There's no relaxing here. But, then we did, and it worked better than obsessing and panicking, I admit begrudgingly.

Well, the next day, I went to the store and left my phone in the car, because phones have magical properties when you do that. I knew that if I bought a few things and came back and looked, there would be a voicemail waiting for me, from a triumphant Daddy.

And so I shopped slowly, dragging out the agonizing anticipation, and when I got back to the car, that voicemail was really there!


Poopy Party time. There were presents. There were fruit tarts from our favorite bakery. There were party hats, and we invited Grammy. You should have been there.


Scouty kept saying, "I'm so happy it's my birthday! I mean... poop day!"

(Let this be an historical record for when she's thirty years old and has to explain to her therapist how exactly she developed such an... interesting relationship with her bowels and their functioning. I'm pretty sure this kind of story is the kind of thing I should be documenting to embarrass her in front of her high school boyfriend, right?)



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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

500 Dollar Month - Week 3

I'm in the middle of Week 3 of my 500 Dollar Month. I'm pleased to say that it's turning out wonderfully. Click Here to see how I'm saving, what I'm cooking and how it's all going down.

500 Dollar Month Thoughts:

- I'm going to make it through all of this week without spending any money on groceries. Thank you, huge giant tubs of spinach from Costco.

- I think I might be suffering from some sort of health food store withdrawal. I keep having dreams about visiting these exotic, decorated in earth tones and muted brown, bulk foods galore, grocery stores. I feel so at home in these dreams. I buy fresh broccoli in these dreams.

- We spend a ton of money on stupid food. This month we have been sure to waste nothing, which has been kind of eye opening. If you had asked me before whether or not we wasted a lot of food, I would have told you, No. I mean, maybe a brown banana here and there, but no. It has come to my attention that we are wasters of like... whole meals worth of food. Ends of unused bread, left overs, wilted greens, homemade salad dressing that sits in the fridge for a week without being used. Getting organized about planning meals and spending less on them has really helped me to use up everything we have.

- Buying and using less feels good. It feels better than being out of control and not having a plan.

- I'm aching a little, though, for some other, exotic and expensive ingredients... but definitely not for more of anything.

-We have $97.41 left to make it through the next 12 days. I'm taking wagers as to whether or not we can actually do it.

- I feel like a trip to The Outer Banks is totally possible, after seeing how successful I've been this month. I bet you that by the end of next week, I'll be able to put away about 20% of what we need to actually make it happen.

- We're definitely staying beach front on the least inhabited island.

Cappe Hatteras Beach
photo by razvan orendovici


-

Dear Scouty,


Dear Scouty,

You are a little softy.

Before I became a mommy, I thought it was a parent's job to teach her children. I didn't realize that while I would be teaching you the basics of living, how to eat and bathe and cross the street, you would be teaching me the hard stuff about life. You teach me how to be patient and kind and because of you, I'm even getting the hang of placing somebody's else's needs ahead of my own.

I watch you with your sister, how you're always hugging her and using your funny, high pitched mommy voice to tell her, "You're a sweet little thing, aren't you?" I see that sometimes she annoys you, like when she crawls right up to you and grabs a toy out of your hands. You never let her know it, though. You calmly pat her arm and say, "You can see it for a minute, Cheesy, but then it's my turn." And I'm your mommy and I have no idea how I ended up with such a beautiful and caring daughter.

I've always been a fighter.
I've always wanted to win.
You are more brave than I am.

Recently, I had someone imply that it might be good for you to grow a thicker skin, to learn how to be selfish, how to stand up for yourself.

Can I tell you how I feel about that?

Being selfish is a very common way to be, especially when you're four years old. Standing up for yourself and demanding what you want is something that pretty much all four year olds are able to do. What you are, is uncommon, and I will never encourage the world to try to talk you out of your gentleness, in favor of toughening up. As far as I'm concerned, you are a wondrously uncommon little girl. You're a diamond in a grey expanse of nothing. A speck of light on the face of an otherwise unremarkable humanity. As long as I am your mommy, I will never ask you to stop caring about how your actions are impacting the people around you, just so you can win, and get what you want, instead.

You are you, and the day you were born, the sun started shining and world turned good again. You've taught me so much that, after a lifetime of stumbling around in the dark and keeping to the shadows, I am finally proud to be myself. I finally realize that I don't need to win every fight. I finally see that fighting isn't the point at all. You've taught me to hold my tongue, to stop up my indignation and to think before I speak. You're full of impossible things.

I love you and stay as you are, please. You don't need to learn how to be another thick skinned person. The world will do plenty to encourage you to learn how to be selfish, but not very much, I'm afraid, to encourage your sweetness and tenderheartedness. That's my job. It's the only job I've ever been suited for and I'll protect the glowing seed of love inside of you for as long as you'll let me.

I know that someday you'll be a teenager and you're probably going to want to give it up, you're going to want to be liked more than you want to be likable. Do you know what I'll do? I'll wrap up all that softness and kindness, and I'll covet it and keep it safely in the hollow of my ribs, the place that was slippery and empty before I met you. I'll do my best to breathe life into it and keep it warm until you're ready for it, again.

Because you will be. Because I'm not going to let the world convince you to be different than you are... to be just like every other sad and sorry dog that learned how to protect themselves from things that weren't meant to harm them. You and your sister are the only perfect things I've ever known. Stay as you are.

Stay as you are.

I love you, always,
Mommy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Scary Mommy Society!

I am so unbelievably thrilled and honored to announce that I'm being featured here on Scary Mommy today!

AAAHHHHH!!! Scary Mommy! Like, one of my favorite, most awesomest blogs, ever.

Please head over and leave a whole bunch of love for Jill!




Note: It didn't occur to me while writing this piece, but it's come to light through some of the comments that my point of view could be perceived as, "Taking a pill will fix anything for you!" While that was actually true for me, I understand that it could be an irresponsible message. The point of my post wasn't to say, "Woo, pills are awesome!" It was just to encourage women not to be afraid to admit, own and seek help for feelings, thoughts and emotions that aren't normal and don't have to be suffered through. I just wanted to encourage new mommies to be brave. There's so much suffering that can be avoided by asking for help from a professional! That help, for me, happened to come in the form of medication. Who knows what might work for you?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Louise and the bus that wouldn't slow down...

I'm having a sudden thing where I feel like, "Uh oh... did I forget to pay attention as time was passing?"

Because really, there is no way my BABY is this big.



People don't ask me anymore how she's sleeping, or whether she's crawling, yet. "Of course she's doing those things," they think to themselves. "She's a huge, grown up little kid."

I get indignant. "Well, yes. She can do big kid things like crawl up stairs and pull all of the books off the shelf above her head, but she's still just a teeny-tiny baby. I have a four year old. She is my big kid. Louise is my baby."

Don't mistake it. My second child, she was born just a few days ago, I think. Or maybe weeks. There is no way she's ten and a half months old and eating Cheerios and saying, "Hiiiiiii!" in a big voice while she waves at me. She's only a baby, a delicious yummy baby and it can't be possible that she laughs out loud when I eat her belly and toes. It's just not possible that she spits peas and green beans all over me because she doesn't like them. Babies only spit things all over you because they've just discovered a fun trick... not because they're so big and so much smarter than you, that they know that if they blast you with a fine spray of vegetables, you'll give in and take them away.

Wait a second, right? Who is this big kid?



It just isn't right. The last thing I remembered, I had two children and one of them was only a sleepy little do-nothing baby. I was here the whole time, and still, I feel like time has pulled a trick on me and stolen my tiny infant and replaced her with a gorgeous, chubby, big girl.

She actually plays with her sister. I mean, they sit together and Scouty does funny things and Louise laughs and laughs. She squeals when Scouty hugs her and shouts out loud in surprise when Scouty does a puppet show. They no longer seem like two separate creatures without anything in common, like a baby and a preschooler. They are just two sisters who love each other. They are patient with one another. They smile when they see one another in the morning. They share snacks and communicate in their distinct and funny ways, bored in the back seat of the car.

I have two, full-blown children now.

What?

If I wasn't so sure I was done having kids I would be getting a little weird and weepy about this. I would be feeling like, "Noooooooo! My kids are growing too fast and I can't keep up with them." I would also be a little bit like, "I want another baby."

But, I'm not being like that, am I?

I don't care how big she is... these are magical little baby toes if I've ever seen them.





-

Friday, May 13, 2011

We were lost...

I think I believed, growing up, that kids just weren't loved all that much. I remember wandering the neighborhood with other children, how we were lost, most of the time. We dug up the bed of a creek in the woods, looking for crayfish. I was afraid of them, but my brother was brave. My brother was kind of nothing, in the real world, but under the canopy of trees, he was a real adventurer.

Maybe there were too many of us. Maybe there just wasn't enough enthusiasm to go around, but we were lost.

One afternoon, I was ten years old, or maybe eleven. I crawled into my bed in the middle of a summer afternoon with the intent to die, I think. I wanted to sleep until the sun was gone. I pulled the sheet up to my chin and lay frozen, staring at the ceiling. I was alone and sad and so far away from myself. I was a little grubby nobody, and it was nice to be still, to feel the cool of my mattress in the middle of the day.

My mother startled me by suddenly bursting into my room. I was embarrassed that I had been trying to disappear, so I jumped from where I was laying and I started to feverishly pretend like I was simply alone in my room because I wanted to clean. I was making my bed, see?

I don't know why I didn't want to be caught, wasting my time, not caring about my life or the fact that it was summer and I was young. I didn't want my mother to think I was lazy or weird. everybody felt that way about me. I wasn't a regular kid. I was a bossy know-it-all who was good at spelling and I had no interest in running or catching a ball. I was lazy and weird. I tried to pretend that not everybody knew, but they did. My mom knew that I was worthless.

"What are you doing in here?" she asked.

"Just making my bed," I lied and smoothed the sheets with my palms.

"Are you hiding something?" my mom said.

"What? No..." I said.

"Move away from your bed," she said, and grabbed the top sheet and pulled it quickly away so that it floated in the air for a moment, casting everything in shadow. "What are you hiding? What were you doing?"

"I wasn't," I said. "I wasn't doing anything."

How could I tell her that already, at eleven years old, I knew I wasn't good at anything. I knew I didn't like walking around in the world. I didn't like people, they scared me because they could all see right through to the heart of me. Inside of me, I was just a pile of blubber and nerdiness. I knew that people hated me and my clothing from The Salvation Army that squeezed too tightly on my arms. I knew that other kids could jump and throw and run endlessly, but all I ever wanted to do was talk about movies I'd seen.

I'd talk for hours, if somebody would let me. I once told my grandmother the entire plot of The Batman Movie with Micheal Keaton, acting out the scene where he whispers, "I'm batman. I'm batman." She eventually asked if she could hear the rest of the story another time. I was annoying and weird and sometimes teachers called me precious or beautiful and I clung to those compliments like they infused my blood with new iron. I tried to replicate all of the precious and beautiful things I had ever done, like knowing how to spell the word zany, when everyone else thought it had an E. I sat up straight and raised my hand at each question. I wasn't cute and well dressed like the other girls, but I was well-behaved and terrible at sports. I was an invisible little dumpling and a teacher's pet. I held that role in my fists, tightly. Outside of zany I had nothing. I didn't even believe in God.



-

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sunshine...

It seems to me that the new found sunlight around here has everything growing by leaps.

Our Kale is getting brave and reaching out with new arms.


Our lettuce is a bunch of giant blooms.


I guess I was even inspired to bake the biggest and most delicious loaf of bread in the world.

Little friendships have more room and light to become something very big and very real.


And we can finally stop wrestling with Louise over her issue with keeping socks on her feet. Now that it's warm, instead of chewing on her socks, she can pop her adorable little toes right into her mouth.


We made a card for Daddy with Scouty's new set of watercolors. The inside says,


Dear Daddy,

You are the best. I love you. You are my best friend. I like playing with you because you're funny and because you wrestle me. You are adorable.

Love, Scouty.



Oh, we're very into spring, this year. It's Louisey's first! Imagine that. A very first spring! She's been content to sit in her little swing on the porch for hours, closing her giant brown eyes against the breezes. In fact, I'll start to feel like I'm neglecting her, or maybe I'm just being selfish and I want to hug her chubby little body in my arms, so I'll take her out of her swing to snuggle, and she twists around in my arms, reaching back for it, eventually crying until I put her back in and give her a little push.



-

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

500 Dollar Month - Week 2

We've finished week one of my 500 Dollar Month project. Overall, it's going well. Here's a little run down of everything.

-I spent 200 of my 500 dollar allotment in one week. That seems extreme, but we had to spend money for Mother's Day and a birthday.

-I also still have food supplies to cook at least two dinners in the upcoming week.

-We managed to eat all of our meals at home, every day! There was no extraneous spending on eating out.

-This project is also inspiring me to eat less. Apparently, saving money is a bigger motivator than the promise of losing weight.

-There have been millions of times this past week where I've thought, "I'll go grab a coffee and read tonight... oh wait." Or, "Louisey and I can go thrift store shopping while Scouty is at school... oh wait." Or, "I have money for all of us if the ice cream man shows up at the playground... oh wait." I'm really realizing how I don't think of free things when I'm on auto-pilot. My first impulse is to go somewhere and do something that will cost money.

-Gas is expensive.

-Groupon and Heartsy are tempting.



This whole thing has me thinking a lot about how far we've come, as a family in the 5 years we've all been together. During my first pregnancy, and when Scouty was a baby, most of the time all we had was $500 per month to spend on food and gas. So, every time this feels hard, I just think about how there are lots and lots of people who would read this and think... "It's hard for her to stick to only spending $500 this month?" I get that. I get that I'm totally privileged and blessed to be even thinking about a trip to the beach.

The point for me is that it is totally possible to spend and consume less, and it's possible without living in a state of deprivation. This week, we've maintained all of our social visits and have been eating super healthy, super yummy meals. We've just changed locations and ingredients around.

While spending money on whatever I feel like spending it on is fun, it's not really rewarding. I mean, I can have rewarding experiences through less thoughtful spending, but the actual act of handling our money isn't rewarding. There's nothing satisfying about making it through another month. I already feel a sense of accomplishment every time I turn down one of my impulses to spend money in favor of saving for our goal.


Ocracoke Sunrise
Plus, it's going to feel super rewarding to be the only family on earth, or at least on our private section of beach at Ocracoke Island.


Want to see what I'm planning, buying and cooking? Click here for the details.


-

Monday, May 9, 2011

I've decided I'm not fat anymore...

I gained three pounds this weekend. I'm not sure if this is a big deal or not. In some moments, I feel like I'm a total failure of a person because I can't get a grip on things. I try. I try to be in control of my schedule, my caloric intake, my spending, the laundry.

If I'm unhappy about the way I'm doing something, why am I living with it?

I have an easy answer for the laundry and my schedule. There are so many outside forces acting on me that it actually is futile to hope not to have a pile of clothing at the top of the stairs AND the bottom of the stairs. It is futile to hope to have the kind of day where I'm not rushed and not stressed and not so busy I feel like I might just crack and drive into the sea. I have kids. I take responsibility for all the laundry, feeding, dressing and caring for them.

My spending, it's really not all that out of control. I don't actually have enough money to be out of control of it. It's enough to get us through the month, and so I spend so that it does. And it always does. I'd like to have a savings, and I'd like to be able to afford to relax. Something like my 500 dollar month is actually kind of fun. I can rearrange things and simplify things, and hope in the end that I win. I think I will, despite the fact that I spent 200 of my 500 dollars in one week. I'm good at making a plan with little charts and projections.

My weight, however, is not a fun thing for me to tackle. It's purely annoying. There is nothing outside of me and my actions making me fat. I can't even blame having kids, because I was fat before I got pregnant. I was sexy and plump and taut and thinner than I am now and most importantly, all of my parts were in their right places... but I certainly wasn't skinny. I just want to be skinny, or at least some version of skinny. I want to catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror and think, "Oh yeah..." instead of gasping and saying to myself, "Every time somebody sees my profile, they're seeing THIS?"

I don't really even eat meals. I just grab stuff and eat it as the day goes on. For example, I had tea this morning, like I do every morning. Two hours later, I had oatmeal. Two hours later, the kids needed lunch, so I ate apple slices and peanut butter and pretzels. And then they wanted strawberries, so I ate some strawberries. And then we made banana cream out of frozen bananas. And then I ate a muffin, just because it was actual lunch time and I made them and they were there. My whole morning and afternoon always go like this. I just eat stuff as the day goes on. There's no structure to it. There's no breakfast, lunch and dinner. It's just a big, unorganized mess.

It's my mess.

I feel like I can't do anything about messes in my life, because my life is so busy and crazy and so much of it is out of my control. When it comes to planning the way my day is going to go, I can't think ahead. I have no idea if Cheesy is going to be miserable and teething or if Scouty will fall into the mud on our way to school, necessitating a trip back home at top speed to get new pants. There's no way for me to predict the whims and circumstances of my children. I feel out of control, in general, and the best way I know how to deal with it is to just kind of relax and let things happen organically.

This approach works wonders for my sanity, and it also makes me fat.

I'm no longer pulling off voluptuous and busty. I'm obscene and stretch marked and saggy. I no longer fill out my clothing in all the dangerous places. I am simply abusing the properties of stretch.

This is totally silly. Am I not the person who goes around claiming that we can be anything we want to be? We can decide to have happiness and then make ourselves happy. I believe that. We can decide that we want to be cool, and then be it.

Well, I don't want to be fat, anymore.
There. I've decided it.
I guess it's time to be it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Now and Then...






"I think our life before would have made a better book, but our life now makes a better life." - Kurt.



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day...


It's mother's day tomorrow. Everybody is blogging about how they don't want gifts, they just want to be off duty. I don't disagree, but I won't write that same post. Instead, I've decided to come up with a post all about me. I'm a mother. It's my day tomorrow, right?

But, honestly, I'm only a mother because my girls made me that way, so this is a post about me, as told by my oldest (and only verbal) daughter. (Maybe baby cheesy would tell a different story. She can say ball, by the way. She goes around all day picking up balls and calling them balls. She's a genius. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what she has to say about me on future mother's days.)


Me: I'm going to interview you, okay? Do you know what that means?

Scout: You're gonna ask me questions.

Me: That's right. Okay, let's get started. What's your favorite thing about having me for a mommy?

Scout: Lovin' me.

Me: What's the one thing everybody likes about me, your mommy?

Scout: When you give them presents.

Me: Is there anything that people don't like about me?

Scout: They don't like hating you.

Me: What could I do to be a better mommy? Is there anything I could do to be better?

Scout: Well, you could love me.

Me: What is mommy's favorite thing to do?

Scout: Play with me and Louise?

Me: What is your favorite thing to do with mommy?

Scout: Hang out with you and snuggle.

Me: If mommy was an animal, which animal would I be? Why?

Scout: A chipmunk, but I don't know why.

Me: Does mommy love daddy?

Scout: Yeeees.

Me: How come?

Scout: Because you're married with him.

Me: What's the most fun thing about being my daughter?

Scout: The love.

Me: How come you're so good and cute?

Scout:
I was just born that way.

Me: What is the thing that mommy is the best at? Do I do something really super well?

Scout:
Brush my teeth? Because the dentist said you're doing a good job.

Me: Do you ever feel proud of me? How come?

Scout:
Yes, because I'm your daughter and I'm awesome.

Me: Do you ever feel mad at me?

Scout: No! Never!

Me: What's the best thing that mommy cooks?

Scout: Beans and kale!

Me: What is the yuckiest thing I cook for you?

Scout: Grilled Cheese sandwiches. I don't like the cheese inside.

Me: How come I love you so much?

Scout: Because I'm your daughter and because I do nice things for you?

Me: What do you want to be when you grow up?

Scout: A karate chop man, hyyyy-yah!

Me: You're pretty smart. Where did you learn everything you know?

Scout: At school. At home.

Me: Do you know how much I love you? How much?

Scout: A tons.

Me: Is there anything you'd like to say to all the mommies who are reading this? Any advice? Is there anything you'd want to tell them, about how to make their kids happy?

Scout: Just love your kids and care about them.

Me: I think that's it. You did a good job. What's the one last thing you want to say? Do you want to say anything about the world?

Scout: Yeah! Rock and roll is the coolest thing ever!









I love both of my adorable girls more than it's even possible to love something. Happy Mother's Day, everybody.

Friday, May 6, 2011

1/31/05 - Old Letters

I love looking through old letters between Kurt and me. This one is from Jan 31, 2005. More than six years ago. We weren't as familiar as we became, very quickly, shortly after this time. He went to visit a friend for New Years, and so did I. I missed him, and wanted him to have seen what I saw, but I didn't want him to know how much I had missed him. Not yet, anyway.





New York City is a monstrosity that makes me feel very claustrophobic and paranoid. The living spaces are ridiculously small, and the bars are ridiculously small, and the cross streets are entirely too slim. Millions of people are packed, one on top of the other, in towering and lopsided buildings, and no matter where you walk or run, you feel a sense that something giant is looming over you. It feels like a very vain and arrogant space... like it knows, somehow, that it is exerting itself on you, and it doesn't care. It's fucking New York, after all.

I loved the empty highway on Friday night, though. It was cold and lonely and long, and I sang songs at the top of my lungs and almost died text messaging you while I was passing a truck on a curve.

I got to Brooklyn around midnight on Friday. My buddy's apartment was on the fifth floor of a fire escaped, grey building, and a New York City Corrections Officer lives on the floor below her. We had weed delivered to the front door, and sat on the freezing mini-roof deck and I ate pills habitually to keep my muscles in place.

On Saturday, though, it was 55 degrees so we went to the beach at Coney Island which is a marvelous place. Old ladies wearing fur jackets, hooked securely on the arms of their smartly trench-coated old man husbands, and the people from the poorest projects in the city all live in the same place. The old timey amusement park is beaten up and battered and gorgeous. The ocean is always perfect to me. I took off my shoes and walked under piers and wandered to the edge of the surf to stare at the crooked rocks jutting just out of reach off of the shore. If I am a sucker for things that are desperate and sad, then the ocean is my reason.

...


After sleeping for a few hours, we ran down the coast to Atlantic City. A vain space, as well, but nothing like the glare and pomp of New York. Atlantic City is a harlot pressing against the cage of your brain. SO beautiful. I love the lights and the noise and the empty promises. Our hotel room was comfortable and clean smelling and we were on the 20th floor at the very end of the boardwalk, overlooking the ocean.

I was desperately tired. The first thing I did upon entering the city limits was to put my bags into my room. The second thing I did was to order a long and seamless string of Bloody Marys, minus the Worcestershire sauce... mispronouncing it every time. The drinks came with celery and olives and lime wedges and they were all free.

I was falling off of my seat, propped up in front of various slot machines. Dead. Tired. We decided to walk out in the freezing ocean air, on the boardwalk. My friend twisted her ankle in the sand and fell down and pulled me to the ground with her, which was the beginning of a moment of madness. The third thing I did in Atlantic City was to run crooked and tired and drunk through the cool, dry sand and plunge, face first, into the water.

The force of the cold hitting my skin was marvelous. The breath left my body and my joints and muscles all locked themselves up painfully and seized. I fell down on my hands and knees while a wave retreated and my friend screamed gleefully and we ran back to the relative safety of the windswept sand. The wind was a murderer. We only had to walk about 2 blocks to get back to our hotel, but I have never been so sure of anything as I was that I was going to die that night, right there on the frozen beach in front of a tour van of old people in windbreakers.

We changed clothes and took showers that were too hot, and we went back to the casino and lost all of our money. By the time I rolled into Indiana on Monday evening, the car was on empty, the gas light was on, and I didn't have a cent on me. Everything worked out perfectly. Charmed, even.

Except that I couldn't stand the stale feeling of my dead wooden apartment, and I had a staring contest with the cat and tried to find an activity that didn't make my chest hurt with hollowness from you being gone. This never looks so grubby and pointless as it does when you've been somewhere else for a while. I can't stand it. But, give me a few days, and I will be placated and serene seeming. Habituated for show. Whatever.

Visit me next weekend. You can sleep in my bed.


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

500 Dollar Month

The month of May is a 500 dollar month.

We've refinished the bathroom, fixed and inspected both cars, paid for Scouty's summer camp, gone on a mini-vacation, registered and paid ahead for next year's preschool, thrown Scouty's big 4th birthday party, purchased our gardening containers, fence and supplies, gotten pictures taken and framed of the girls and more... all in the past month.

It was a total flurry of spending.
I need to get a grip on things before I start cracking down and admonishing Kurt for buying himself lunch, like he does like... once every two months. (Compared to the many coffees and teas and lunches and play dates that I take the girls out for, Kurt spends pretty much ZERO money, EVER.)

So, for the month of May, we're not going anywhere, or agreeing to any activities that cost money. So, don't tempt me by inviting us out for lunch or to play at awesome, fun Toys To Try. If you ask me, I'll say yes, and then it will be all your fault that my family is languishing in the poor house.

We'll eat at home, all month. No exceptions. (Not even when I realize that we don't have any juice boxes to pack with Scouty's lunch and so I decide that we'll just stop and get her Subway instead of taking both girls to the grocery store.)

We'll attempt to stick closer to home to save on gas. I won't make this a NO EXCEPTIONS rule, because... we're not going to spend the rest of our lives in the south hills. We have a membership at The Children's Museum, for example and friends who live in other neighborhoods that we're going to visit, for sure. However, I'll try to engineer our bored, time wasting activities near our house.

We'll take advantage of parks, libraries, the play area at the mall... although that's risky because of mean, tricky Teavana and the workers there who totally get paid a commission for making you buy something you never would have agreed to if you weren't being swindled by their magical fast talking.


I'm tired of feeling out of control about how much we're spending. I'm sick of having a house full of stuff that there's no place for. I just want to feel calm and empty in all the good ways and organized.

You can click the 500 dollar month at the top of this page to keep track of how we're doing with this project... how much I'm spending, what we're eating, what we're cutting back on and where we're spending our time.

Here's my inspiration:




I want to be able to go on a trip to The Outer Banks next summer, just the four of us. I want it to be quiet and isolated. I want both of my girls to love the sand and the waves together.


Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I am made up of my love...

I am weirdly emptied out. Every time I feel this way, I make it a point to write something that will humiliate me. I try to dig as far into myself as I can and admit something that might seem hard to admit. But, in the end, it isn't. It's easy to say things I never say. I feel good when I've said them and nothing bad happens.

We keep so many things inside of us. Embarrassments and old hurts. Things that scared us and made us into the people we are. We're full of them, so much so that every single thing we do is either an effort to cover them up, or to exploit them or to show we have learned from them.

Thinking this way and seeking out the things I'm ashamed of inevitably leads me to talk about my childhood. About religion and my dad and growing up poor in a coal mining town. Those are the easy things, though. If I try harder, I come up with issues about my body, sex and shame over times I've been mean or horribly, obviously wrong. I don't like to be wrong.

I still think that those things are kind of easy, because they're all things that happened before. They play a part in the way I live my life now, but... there must be something hard to say about my life, in its current form. While I was living out my childhood and my teenaged years, I didn't know that I was barely scraping through a series of humiliations. Or, if I did, I didn't think about it. I just woke up in the morning and tried to get on with myself. It was hard to be me, but I didn't know that my youth would someday become a source of unending digging and wading and coming to terms with. I just thought that life was hard for everybody.

Maybe I still do think that.
When you're by yourself, are you happy with who you are? Where do your thoughts wander, when you have a chance to think for yourself. Do you think about all the good things you've done? Do you feel good enough?
I want to know. Are you full of things you're ashamed to admit? Is everybody?

If you were to ask me, I would tell you that I'm happy. But, when I'm left alone, I can't relax. I can't be still. If I'm still and relaxed, it will hit me all of a sudden that I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm dressing and feeding and caring for my daughters. I'm married and I cook and I garden and I write and write and write, and in the deepest, most embedded parts of myself, I feel totally inept. I feel like if I'm left to my own devices, the world will grow to one thousand times the size of itself and I'll drown in its shadow. But also, I don't feel that way.

In most ways, I've only been a person for a very short time. I never tried before. I have so many bills I can't pay.

An old friend from since we were Jr. High School kids came to visit me this week, and it was fun and nice, and totally, very very very much so challenging. I see this friend only once a year or so, and I feel like the whole time we're together, she's comparing me to myself. Saying things like, "Your house is so nice, not like how you used to live." Or, "You own jeans now? All you used to wear were ripped up dresses." It is almost like being with a stranger who has an idea about who I am that doesn't quite fit.

It is like being with somebody who decided who I was before I was finished growing.

None of it is her fault, because she is right. When she actively knew me and participated in my life, I didn't own jeans or a nice house. I didn't even own underwear and now, not only do I own them, but they're so big and full of coverage that they're touching my belly button, as we speak.

I also have babies now, and she doesn't. She's a New Yorker and an actress and I love all of it, for her. I love her and I love her braveness and her adventures and she's my friend. I just think that, on my side of the friendship, I am suddenly participating as a stranger. I suddenly don't have stories about fights with my significant other that turned into early morning sex and tears at sunrise. I don't have offhanded tales about a friend who decided to become attracted to me and how he was depressed to the point of falling down drunk in the streets over me. About bars and job interviews and impromptu trips to the ocean.

I don't really have anything to say at all that isn't infused with the way I love these two little girls and the man who is helping me to make them and love them and love them and love them. How we love them! My love is all that matters to me, and I honestly don't remember that everything else exists most of the time. If I'm being honest, I don't really care.

Maybe sometimes I feel like I'd like to get laid or figure out my thoughts. Maybe sometimes I think I'd like some new shoes, but it's kind of beside the point. My girl is sick and I'm sleeping on the floor next to her bed, using my bath robe from the hallway closet as a blanket. I'm worried that if I'm not with her, she might wake up and feel alone inside of her fever. That maybe she'd call for me in the night, and I might not hear her, and if she was scared for even a moment, I would die.

I'm coming off of a night like that, and I'm having a trendy mediterranean lunch with my old friend, and it's taking everything I've got to not mention my daughters and not mention the cute, sad things they do every day that break my heart. I'm trying to pretend like I still live in the world of boyfriends and bartending until five, of walking the dog on a wet city sidewalk and sleeping late. Of smoking, but only sometimes and defaulting to a midnight dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches on white bread at a diner and the ketchup bottles have lids that are stuck on with dried red scum. My friend, she is funny and engaging and full of things to say, and my head is spinning. My heart is skipping under the effort not to say,

"Louise was late to crawl, but now she's going every where, and eating every speck of dirt left behind by my ailing vaccuum. She does that, you know. She crawls around the house and finds little specks of dirt and I have to dive across the room to catch them before she plunks them right into her mouth. Sometimes I'll see that she's only found an old cheerio, so I just let her... eat it."

But everything is already ruined. My friend feels like she needs to make an excuse for not having children and I'm trying to come up with a story that doesn't have anything to do with organic fruits snacks or children's books or how the ocean of my love for my daughters is so giant that it's all there is. That I'm finished with being that old person, because now I have my girls and nothing is the same. They inform every thought in my mind. They direct my hands' every movement. They hang the sun on a branch in my mind in the morning, and bury it at night, where it glows, muted and warm in the soil of my heart. They push and pull on the slippery importance of my breathing. They are the reason I was born. The fact that they exist in the world means that I was wrong, all of those years. The world is good. People are good. I am good. My girls have eyes so pretty that I look at them, and everything else is flat and dead compared to their devastating sparkling. Nothing else exists but these tiny, amazing people and their charm and their brilliance.

...

None of this is relatable, is it? I've ruined lunch again, I'm afraid. Maybe when I try to talk about things I'm afraid to say, everything that I might hate about my life... my student loan notices that are turning yellow and then pink. The fact that I can grab handfuls of my stomach, that you can trace the pink lines of my stretch marks with your finger and feel the impression they've ripped into my skin. That there is a blue vein bulging on my calf. That I'm fully grown now, and I didn't make it to the moon, like I thought I would. I never impressed anybody. I never finished that story. It played out until it fizzled and I never left Pennsylvania. I wasn't a big deal, after all.

It's amazing how stupid it all is.

It's amazing how much I don't give a shit about what anybody thinks of my body, it's done godly things.

It's amazing that things that used to hurt me, don't anymore. Nothing I've ever done compares to the fact that I house the only perfect and honest love, that I grew two people out of a cell and they nestled inside the safety of all that I am, and I was enough.

I didn't make anything out of myself because I was the world's most devoted and in love mommy, I just hadn't met my purpose, yet.


I try and I try to dig past this, to get into the parts of me that sting when I probe them, but the fact of my life is this:


I am made up of my love. The world is big and full of things to discover and fear. Nothing compares to the beauty of my love.


There isn't anything else.


Scouty was three months old, once.

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Monday, May 2, 2011

Very long weekend...

We had a very long weekend with a very sick little girl. There is nothing more stressful and exhausting than worrying over one of your perfect babies. Thankfully, she's on the mend and today was kind of a wonderful Monday, full of awesome thankfulness.

I sat down to write a post about... I don't even know what. Instead, I was directed to this inspiring post and decided to share it, instead. I totally feel the sentiment behind it, one hundred percent.

I'll be back tomorrow with something to say, but, for now, just go read this piece and feel the hell yeah.