Posted in adventure, family, friendship, fun, humor, Life, love, Musings, parenting, People

One Awesome Mutha’

mutha

This is where I write the obligatory Mother’s Day Blog. Only I don’t want to write something perfunctory and average, that is never my goal. If my heart isn’t in it, I just don’t want to do it. So I thought and thought all day long, and this is what I can tell you from my heart:

1.) You may think you know how much your mom loves you, but, until you are a mom yourself, or a dad, I suppose, although I have no idea if it works the same way- until the day that you become a parent, you have no clue. I hate to break this to you, but the kind of love you have for your children sort of makes every other kind of love look sort of…not as important. I mean, God, some of you people are going to get all butt-puckered over this (predictably), and defend the kind of love you have for your dog, or your girl, or whoever. I know, I know. I am not trying to say that certain kinds of love are better. All love is important. But the love I learned about when I held my first child in my arms (okay, after, like, a few days- she kind of freaked me out at first) was so much more vast, and pure, and unconditional. It kinda blew my socks off. So trust me when I say: Your mom, as annoying and nosy and cringe-worthy as she may be? That woman would jump in front of a truck for your grown ass without even hesitating. Take your love for her and multiply it by about a thousand, and you might be in the ball park.

2.) Having said that, not all moms are created equal- not by a long shot. I have friends who changed their lives completely the minute they gave birth, and took to mothering like a duck to water ( I am assuming they do this immediately, right? Ducks? If not, please replace that last remark with something that means, like, right away, and naturally. I am on a roll and cannot be bothered to go google what baby fucking ducks do). I have friends (me) who do okay. I have a maternal instinct ( I am not kidding you, I almost just wrote “maternal extinct”. Er…Freudian slip?) but it seems to have a short. It can work just peachy for a while, and then all of the sudden, it starts throwing sparks, and I turn into Joan Collins, only less classy. Like just now, for example, when my four year old asked for food, and I got mad at her for being hungry while I am busy writing. How DARE she? But I try. I try REALLY hard, most of the time. It just doesn’t come totally easily to me. Then, I know people who are about as attached to their kids as cats are to their kittens- they do great for a few months, but then it’s “see ya! It’s been real, thanks for the stretch marks!” and off they go. These types, I do not understand at all. You would need a crow bar, a tranquilizer gun, and several strong men to keep me apart from my babies. Apart from this anomalous few, I promise you, we do the best we can. Again, until you have walked a mile in our shoes, please do not judge or condemn us. Trust that our love is as real and true as any other- we are all doing the best we can.

Having gotten that out of the way, I have some special Thanks to dole out, here.

* My mom- What can I say, mom? I love you with all of my heart. You sure got screwed in the kid department. If it weren’t for my fantastic self, you would only have had Casey to love, and, well…need I say more (you had that coming, Casey. I am totally moms favorite, she tells me that all the time. hahaha). For real, though, mom. I have a lot of respect for the life you have carved out for yourself, even more so now that I am a mom, myself. This is not the easiest of jobs for us wild, gypsy types. Thank you for never giving up on me. I love you.

* Single moms- you are the bravest of the brave, doing the work of two people with aplomb. Please do not be hard on yourself for falling short. Repeat after me: “I am one person, doing the job of two. I fucking rock this shit every single day. I am Superwoman.” Make this your mantra. Single moms can carry in all of the groceries in one trip, unlock the front door while carrying a carseat full of infant, talk the people at PG&E into one more day for three months, and make a life of lemons into the best lemonade you ever tasted- and just might share it with you if you are worthy. Single moms do not have time to fuck around. We are serious, and our love for our children is the fiercest of all. It has to be. They are OUR babies, no one else’s. If you know a single mom (and of course you fucking do) you want to tell her how much you admire her for holding it down. Those words mean a lot.

* Married or otherwise Partnered Moms- I know what you are thinking…these ones have it easy, though! Right? Well, clearly you have forgotten how hard it is to raise kids in the confines of a relationship. All the compromise, all the extra BS, all the disagreements about right ways and wrong ways. Yes, there are benefits to having an extra set of arms and ears and eyes- as long as those parts are working in harmony with yours. When they aren’t, well…lets not pretend we haven’t all wished for a little time alone with the kids to whip them into shape. Daddies rule, but they can also be a big pain in the butt. The kids usually like them more, because, you know, chocolate for breakfast. You feel like the household villain. And, unlike the single mom, you find yourself having to work on your marriage (or whatever kind of thing it is) on top of everything else. Really, all you want to work on is a nap. It’s no walk in the park, and you rule, married mom.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is, if you are out there, in the motherhood trenches, doing the deal- you deserve a day of honor. If you work, if you stay at home, if you don’t vaccinate your kids (although I think you are kind of an idiot) or you do, if you are organic mom, or McDonald’s mom, whatever kind of mom you are- Thank you. Thank you for pouring your heart and your soul into the little people in your life. Thank you for doing the very best you know how, at least 75% of the time. This is the hardest job any of us will ever do, and we all, somehow, seem to do it just fine. Against all odds, they turn out pretty great in the end.  Good job, moms.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Advertisements
Posted in family, fun, humor, kids, Life, love, parenting, People, random, relationships, writing

Dear Daughters:

two daughters

Hi! It’s me, your mom- you know, the weird lady who lives down the hall, who yells a lot (so that you can hear me, because apparently, our “inside voices” don’t work around here).  Anyway, I figured I would write to you this morning, since you girls are the center of my universe, basically blocking out everything else, and I have no other material. Not that I am complaining. I feel pretty lucky, I happen to have created not one, but TWO, offspring that I actually like.

I mean, yes, you have your less awesome moments. Like Camryn, when you want me to pretend to be a vampire or some other scary, imaginary creature, and I do, and then you get too scared, and punch me in the mouth with your tiny little fist. It’s hard to believe how much your bony little knuckles can smart, but you always seem to catch me in the exact wrong spot. I know you feel bad about it, and I am likewise ashamed of my (clearly too) believable portrayal of a blood sucking demon of the night. I don’t think I want to play that game anymore. And Aisley, thanks to our much lengthier history, I have a wide assortment of complaints I could lodge against you, anything from vomiting in my shoes, to taking my thong underwear to school for show and tell, all the way up to sneaking boys in the house (which I actually found more amusing than anything, because any guy who still likes you after being covered in your dirty laundry deserves whatever he gets). Despite all of that, however, you are both my favorite people in the whole entire world.

There is probably something wrong with me. But, I am not alone. Most moms feel pretty much the way that I do, just loving the shit out of our disgusting, embarrassing children- lucky for you. I am sure it is just some built in safety feature that keeps us from eating our young, or leaving them out on the side of the road when they become too screamy. Nope, most moms still don’t do that, even now, in these crazy times. Not that it doesn’t cross our minds occasionally. There was actually a full year, Aisley, when you were about thirteen or fourteen, when my dearest fantasy was to…well, it wasn’t kind, lets just say that. But in my defense, you were barely a human being at that age. I think it speaks volumes of both of us that no one was jailed. For long.

I can assure you, before you were born, I had never been peed on. Not even for fun. I had never been vomited on, at least not by the same person more than once, ever. I had certainly never been able to continue to tolerate anyone who wet MY bed on a regular basis. I am pretty sure that before you guys came along, no one had ever used me as a Kleenex, although that is one of those things you can never be totally sure of. I had never been expected to comfort and soothe someone who obviously hated me, I had never had so many doors slammed on me, so much change stolen from me, and so much of my stuff haphazardly destroyed. Before you were born, my main job was keeping myself alive, and I was not very good at it- mediocre, at best. After you were born, I was suddenly promoted to keeping alive small humans who couldn’t even hold their own heads up. Do you know how fucking terrifying this is? You both had mushy spots on your HEADS where the effing SKULL hadn’t finished growing. I just wanted to point that out, for the next time (or in Camryn’s case, the first time) you want to tell me what a terrible mother I have been. I managed to not let your giant heads snap off at the neck, and I kept things out of your soft spot. Cut me some slack.

In spite of all of that, I find that I can still look at both of you, at times, and feel the kind of love I have never felt for anyone else. The kind you read about in overly dramatic romance novels, only without the creepy parts. You both make me weak and stupid with love, like, my heart pounds and I get all choked up, and ALL of that. It’s embarrassing. But you are both SO lovely, and so funny, and so full of life and outrageous personality. In a MILLION years, if I had been able to hand pick every single aspect of you, to make a perfect child for me…I never, ever could have gotten it right. No one could ever be better, more perfect, in my eyes, than you are. You beautiful girls make me laugh every single day. I keep going because of you. I try harder because of you. I may not always get it right, but please believe, I never, ever stop thinking about you. And I love you both more than I could ever have imagined loving anyone, and that will never, ever change.

I just wanted to let you know.

Love,

Your mom ( the crazy lady down the hall)

Posted in beauty, family, kids, Learning, Life, love, People, relationships

Vigil

Image

I am one of those people who is extremely uncomfortable when flying. There is something about being strapped into an extremely heavy object, in a relatively small space, thousands of feet above the planet where I belong, with NOTHING HOLDING ME UP. Something alarming. Thinking about this while in flight has resulted in some barely contained hysteria (not to mention several passengers around me drinking what seemed like an awful lot of wine), as I try to figure out how the mechanics of flight and the law of gravity could possibly come together peacefully! Luckily, I found a way to deal with it. By sheer force of my will alone, I have carried commercial flights half way across the United States. It is an awful lot of work, and I felt like I needed a serious massage by the time we touched down (Ah, sweet, sweet ground), AND, the armrests of my seat will forever bear the half moon scars of my finger nails…but I was able to pull it off.

I have employed this same fierce concentration while watching Ice skating in the winter olympics, but with much less success, and at traffic lights with hardly any success at all. And now, I have used it on my toddler. Not to break her will with my own, as you might assume. No, I don’t subscribe to that method of parenting (most of the time). This was far more serious…I stayed up the entire night listening to her breathe, cringing as she coughed and tried to clear her throat, using my amazing powers to keep her safe and alive, at least until morning.

I think I have had it with this illness. It was bad enough when I had it a few weeks ago, but it is far worse to watch your normally chipper, cheerful, happy, robust little girl reduced to a limp, hoarse, snorffling, feverish little waif, in a matter of mere days. Now my teenager seems to have yet another version of illness, previously unknown to this household. My resolve to be happy in spite of outside circumstances did not bargain for severely ill children. I’m sorry, my happy has fled the building. I mean, I’m happy that my babies are alive, happy that I can hear Cammy breathing relatively normally right this very second. I’m happy that all three times I lept out of bed and flipped the light on during the course of the night, Camryn wasn’t actually blue faced as I thought. That makes me happy, indeed.

I don’t like my inability to control my fear at all, though. I go from fine to the verge of a panic attack in nanoseconds, and most of the time, it’s in response to nothing more than my THOUGHTS. In other words, not an actual problem I am observing unfold, but an imaginary scenario that exists nowhere but between my ears.  I would like to learn to knock all that off, honestly. You know, I can, for a short period of time…until I forget, and Camryn coughs, or I begin to question my judgement about when, exactly, I should rush her to the hospital…and what if I’m too late?! What if I call 911 and they are all BUSY? What if I misunderstood the doctors directions, and my kid suffers permanent damage from my negligence?! Just writing it down, my heart begins to race. If only I could be calm, cool. collected instead of this hysteria prone, outburst having, raving harpy maniac I morph into. Even my best attempts to restrain or disguise my panic only result in that incredible tension that draws my shoulders up to my ears, cords to pop out in my neck, and anything I say shoot from my lips like poisonous darts or small but devastating bullets. Not to mention a definite forcefield of intensity three people deep all around me. The same forcefield,  I believe, that is strong enough to keep sky vehicles aloft. Or a very close relative.

It’s just that I love my kids SO much. I am so afraid of losing them that it actually nauseates me to consider. I remember when I held my oldest daughter for the first time, when I was just 22, and brimming with that special level of self absorbtion that only a very young, very ignorant girl can be full of. I was not prepared for the ramifications of actual, pure, REAL love in my life- I didn’t even know I didn’t know about it until I looked into that tiny face, and a pair of enormous, wise, brown eyes, fringed in long black lashes, looked back at me. I was like, “Uh-oh.”. I knew then, deep inside, that I was screwed. I now loved another human being enough to see myself and be displeased with things- things that had been totally no big deal a few months back. I now loved a person that wasn’t me, that I couldn’t control, that I didn’t even KNOW. And I was so right. I wasn’t her, I couldn’t control her (not in the ways that I wanted to), and I didn’t know her…not then. It only got worse when, 13 years later, I decided to try it all over again.

And so, I stayed up all night- all but maybe 45 minutes of fitful, jerky, dozing off, I prayed, I talked myself off of the ledge of panic a time or three. I felt my daughters feverish face, worried, watched cartoons that she likes, even though she was mostly asleep. I kept the age old vigil of mothers across time and the span of the world…all of us do it, at least once per child. I studied her face, I smoothed her curls back off her face. I lay my head gently on her chest, and listened to her breathe. I willed her to continue this habit for at least the next seventy years. There really is not sweeter sound, is there?

Posted in advice, beauty, family, kids, Life, love, People, Uncategorized

The Heart of a Mommy

courtesy of Gail Nogle Photography

I would like to dedicate this post to all the moms I know, but especially to Amanda Davis, and her one month old baby girl, Maxine. I love you with all my heart.

The day that each of us got the news, either from a doctor, or, more commonly, from the stick we just peed on that had the nerve to turn pink, our lives began to change. I cannot speak for everyone, but I know for me, the first few months were a mixture of fear (is everything alright in there? What the hell will I do with a baby!?), excitement, and that weird, buoyant radiance that feels different from any other thing apart from pregnancy. We become so in tune with our bodies, and every day we wake up with a new sense of purpose- to carry this life within us carefully, safely, to it’s fruition. Not everyone of us gets to do this perfectly- I have friends who have lost babies, friends whose babies were born so, so early that they spent months in the hospital keeping vigil at their tiny infants bedside. For many of us, as mothers, this is the first time our lives are every truly hard or scary- it’s like everything before this pain is NOTHING in comparison.

From the time we feel their movement inside of us for the very first time, like a butterfly’s wings fluttering or a flurry of tiny bubbles brushing against us, to the alien rolls and elbow jabs of late pregnancy, we begin to develop a relationship with this little person. Then the moment arrives when they are ready to come out into the world, and time stands still the first time you see this marvelous, beautiful human being for the first time, or hear their tiny, gorgeous voice. There is nothing in the world like this.

You have expectations. What you think they will look like, what you think they will be like. Then, here they are, so different than you imagined- and yet perfect, better in every way than you could ever dream up on your own. A lot of times, we are so busy and caught up in them, these little miracles we get to claim as our own, that we don’t see what is becoming of us. The  biggest miracle of all, for me, was what happened to my heart the day that I began to love my first daughter.

Before she came along, I was very, very self- possessed ( I”m not saying I’m so damned perfect now, I’m just saying you should have seen me before!) and it was incredibly hard for me to be empathetic for others. But the love that came to me with her was so profound, so incredibly pure and perfect, there was no way I could accept that love and not be fundamentally changed. My heart was just laid open, and it changed who I was. It was really the best day of my life.

I was very, very young, and messed up countless times with that child. I will go so far as to admit that she got a bad deal with me. I wish I could go back and change it all, I really do, but you know how useless that is.  But I will tell you this- because of my love for her, I had the good sense to feel guilty about the way I was living, and the desire to change grew from that. Because of my oldest girl, and my love for her, I found my way out of the mess I was living in, and became someone better.

My second daughter knocked out every barrier I had left, allowing light in all of the places I had hidden away for myself. There was no place left in me now that was safe from emotion. My second daughters birth obliterated me with that love, and I was so ready and receptive to it. My heart expanded, making room for both of my girls and so, so much more. You think you know about love before you have kids, and I hope I don’t offend you when I say, with all sincerity, you don’t. You can’t, it’s not possible, it’s different, it’s rare and perfect and amazing. I know you love your dog, you love your parents, you love your husband. But this love, while absolutely worthwhile and good and necessary, is not the wrecking ball love you get with your babies. It destroys you and resurrects you into someone so much better than you were before- softer and stronger, deeper and…just better.

As our children grow, and the time flies by, there comes a moment when you realize that there is a distance growing between you. Then you come to understand that this was always the purpose of all of these years- to raise them and to let them go. It happens so fast. So, so much faster than you would have believed fifteen or so years ago…it breaks your heart. No matter how rotten and selfish and foul mouthed they have become, they are the same big-eyed, sweet smelling, little miracles who latched onto your heart with their sticky hands and kissed you with their runny noses underneath all that teenage loathing, and it hurts to let them go. But that is all you can do.

My advice to you, just starting out, is to relish every minute of it. Every time you start to feel fussier than the baby making you climb the walls, look down into that tiny face, and memorize it, because in five minutes they will be someone else. It goes by in a heartbeat. You cannot love too much, listen too much, be too affectionate, be too present …when they are small. But you can  do and be too little of all of these things, and you will carry that pain with you for the rest of your life-so do yourself a favor, and be the kind of parent you can be proud to be. You will not regret it. Welcome to the mommy club. May the force be with you.

Posted in family, kids, Life

Motherhood (Raw and Uncut)

Well, hello, you good people of blogger-land, Facebook, Twitter and various other internet locations. I hope you haven ‘t forgotten about me. I know it’s been a few days. I did not turn my computer on once this past weekend (I never sat my phone down once, though)- I needed a break from the constant stat-checking I’d been doing. So on the sixth AND seventh day, I rested. And also the first day of the next week, and then it just started to become a bad habit. I figured I better sit my ass down and dredge up something clever to say quick before you guys didn’t like me anymore. I have no idea if I will be able to achieve that or not, seeing as how I have a headache, Nick Jr. is blaring out of the TV, and my toddler is periodically climbing up behind me and doing something to my hair. I’m pretty sure she is checking me for lice. I hope she doesn’t find any.

So, while I was rushing around trying to cook dinner, keep the baby occupied,  and not accidentally step on the dog (simultaneously)this evening, it occurred to me that this was not exactly what I’d envisioned being the mother-person in a family would be like. I don’t really know where I got my weird idea that it would be this easy and totally gratifying experience…perhaps it came from every woman with a child I know saying, at one time or another, that their children were the greatest blessing of their lives. Not that they are NOT, don’t get me wrong. I’m a subscriber to that particular belief, myself. I think it’s a chemical imbalance you develop at the moment of conception that keeps you from throwing your infant out the window after the third sleepless night in a row.

Now, girls, if you really think about it- how many times have you conversed about motherhood with a childless person, and contributed blatant honesty in your statements? Because when I think about it, I realize that I have been guilty of a whole lot of glossing-over-of-the-truth, myself. Which is weird, because I am normally a really, brutally honest kind of girl. I can’t help but wonder if maybe this is another instinctual glitch deep in our animal brains meant to encourage the human race to be fruitful and multiply. Or maybe it’s just what we’ve been conditioned to say, as mothers-“She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” “I can’t remember what it’s like to NOT be a mom.” “It’s hard, but it’s worth it.”. All of those things are true, and maybe we are scared to tell the WHOLE truth…but here, again, is one of those things that no one really talks about so everyone feels bad about it. Thinking that they are the only freakish, soulless female in the world who ever thought about how nice it would be to have a nervous breakdown just so she could stuck in a mental ward for a week or two, and rest, kid free.

Well, if you are thinking those thoughts, love, rest assured- you are not alone. Here are some other things you either already know or, if you don’t, you really ought to be told:

-Pregnancy may or may not suck for you, but I encourage you to enjoy being the object of such affection and attention while you can. The minute you pop that baby out, it’s like you barely exist anymore. Of  course, that isn’t really true, but after months of people doting on you and treating you so sweetly, it’s a bit harsh when it all gets yanked away overnight. You may find yourself  spouting the words “I just had a baby” an unreasonable amount of times in all sorts of inappropriate conversations. I know I did! I wanted people to know I wasn’t just dumpy, I had leased my body out to a smallish human for almost a year. It got a little too small for her and she had to move out, but she left the place a mess!

-People will give you so much advice that you will not know what the hell to do. Everyone sounds very sure of themselves. When you tell them, timidly, that you plan on going back to work when the baby is four months old, they will look at you like you just added “and I was going to just leave the baby out in the yard with the dog.”  to the end of your sentence. These well meaning folks will find fault with anything you say that does not mirror what they believe to be right. Don’t worry about it.

-After the first two days of being a mom, you will probably have to be alone with the baby. It’s okay if you don’t really feel all that excited about this stranger you just gave birth to. I was shocked by how ambivalent I felt towards both my kids for the first little while after they were born. I mean, I LOVED them and thought they were amazing, but it wasn’t how I thought it would be. It took a little bit of interacting to get to that adoration phase.

-IMPORTANT! The first three months of being a mom is sort of nightmarish. I mean, it is freaking hard. You are fat, tired, sleep deprived, soggy and  isolated from the real world. Your whole life suddenly revolves around this fragile little person that you can’t even leave alone while they are sleeping (I checked my infants constantly for signs of life  while they slept, even poking them when necessary) . It is really a thing you have to go through on your own, no matter how great the dad may be. He isn’t the one dealing with the hormones, the body changes, the life altering craziness of it all. But it will get better. It really does. And I’m not just saying that to encourage you to breed, I promise.

Wow! That was really long, really quick. I think I will have to do this in segments-Yay! A plan! So I’ll meet you back here really soon, and we will talk about the truth about toddlers, ok? Now I’m outta here. I have jury duty tomorrow. Oh! And feel free to add your thoughts about how much infants suck, sometimes. And how much we love them, anyway.