Is Grandpa Dead?

“Is Grandpa Dead?”

This is what I hear while I am in the kitchen, unloading the dishwasher. Two of the three Wildlings are huddled in the living room conspiring. I tiptoe around the corner of the kitchen to eavesdrop.

“I don’t know.” I hear Sam telling Marilyn. She is looking at him, searching his eyes. He bends over to pick up a My Little Pony and gives it to her. “Brush her hair next.” he says.

“But is he dead?” she asks again. Sam spots me. My cover is blown. He gives me his typical I-will-fold-under-questioning-please-don’t-question-me smile and says

“Hi, mama. We are playing with the ponies.” (He isn’t lying, he is omitting truth. Well played, sir.)

“Is Grandpa dead?” Marilyn says with the same tone she inquires about Mac and cheese. She will stand toe to toe with me, ‘Is it Kraft?’ she will ask with one golden eyebrow raised in scrutiny. ‘I wont eat it if it’s not Kraft.’

Pause Scene

After years of abuse which ended in an epic explosion of family feuds (details withheld to protect my mom, who will undoubtedly pick this blog post to read even though she has never read another) my parents divorced.

My father left one late summer night, never having said good-bye, and didn’t return for a year. (And that was for a visit, and then he vanished again, but that’s another blog post.) Even though I tried to keep some semblance of a relationship with him. Hoping at some point he would turn into a human worth salvaging, but by then I already hated him.

Highlights of why I severed my relationship with my father:

  • He missed nearly every birthday party, concert, event of my life. choosing not to participate in any graduation, father daughter dance or even keep a consistent address so I could send fathers day cards.
  • He failed to think child support was necessary and as of this day stands tens of thousands in the red.
  • He once told me on the phone, amidst what I would now identify as a psychotic break, that he had killed the kitten he had purchased for me. (I never met the cat, or substantiated the truth of the story)
  • When I was mauled by a German Shepard at eleven years old, I spent a week in the hospital, received 400+ stitches in my leg, and spent a month in a wheelchair. He didn’t visit because it was ‘too painful’ for him.
  • He wrote me a letter at 13 telling me he wished he had drowned when he was a child visiting the ocean.
  • The same letter told me I was excrement. (No I mean it, that was his word choice).
  • By age 15, in the deepest trenches of teenage angst and self preservation masked as self pity, I severed ties. When I told him I couldn’t do this anymore he said ‘If you push me, I will disappear’ and guess what? He did. I guess parenthood was more than he could handle. Lucky for him, he has five other kids to try to get it right with!

But back to the story at hand. My children have never asked about my father, until now. They have three other living grandparents and two great grandparents. My husbands parents are Amma and Zayde, my mother is MomMom, and they have never lacked for interaction with any of them.

Re-Start Scene

I stare evenly at Sam, and then at Marilyn. Sam has his head tilted to the side. “She’s kidding” he tells me. Sam is one of the most empathetic human beings I have ever encountered. He picks up on what people are feeling nearly before they themselves know. Right now I am feeling like this is a cruel joke, where is my husband when these questions happen? Sam takes a step towards Marilyn and forcefully pushes another pony into a hand which already houses one. “Brush this ones hair, Nan-Nan” he says.

I feel back on familiar ground. Normally when they are conspiring it is about one of these issues:

  • Who they are going to blame the latest fart on
  • Who is in charge of the situation (that’s the one I was witnessing currently)
  • Who is going to get to tattle on the other person first
  • How they are going to beg for a popsicle/candy item
  • How they are going to beg to go outside.
  • How they are going to get out of bath time.

It’s never, are we or aren’t we going to ask about Dead Grandpa?

“Who is grandpa?” I ask carefully.

“Your dad” Marilyn says icily. She is the cold hearted assassin in this household. She will ask any question, make any statement, to anyone, at anytime. Remind me some time to tell you how she announced to an entire Target ‘My mommy has a bagina and my daddy has a PEEEEEENNNNNNIIIIISSSSSS.’ and the lack of hilarity that ensued.

“I see. Well. To answer your question… kind of.” I am stuttering, pausing for breath. Being a parent is hard. While all you expecting idiots go to breathing classes and tour your hospital (which you’ll never even see, outside of your room), take a minute and think about this. You need to be taking classes on how to clamp your hand over your daughters mouth while she sing-songs all the names for genitals while also holding the baby and pushing the cart and retaining some sense of dignity. You need to take a class on how to answer Earth shattering questions. You need to take a class on how to gracefully exit shit-on and vomit covered clothing without getting any (more) on your face, in a public restroom, while balancing a toddler on your knee. This is the baptism by fire kind of experience that parents don’t tell non-parents about for fear of decimating the future population.

“Kind of dead?” Marilyn presses me. “Like the kind of dead Fathead and Dada Cat are?” Now Sam is interested, and he asks about two cats that have gone over ‘The Rainbow Bridge’.

“Well.” I am suddenly very tired. I would like nothing better than a nap. I don’t know how to tell them that no, he’s not dead, he just chose not to want children after he had them. He’s not dead, but he’s mentally ill on a severe level, combining a serious mean streak with mental illness and adding alcoholism into the mix. No, he’s not dead, but he’s a bonafide asshole with a capital A-S-S-H-O-L-E.

‘It’s not exactly lying.’ I tell myself. ‘He could very well be dead, after all.’

I don’t know how to explain that sometimes families break up, and the parents who were supposed to guide your life, secure you to the Earth, be your tethers to morality suddenly decide to just Not. I don’t know how to explain that kind of a thing without inflicting sudden terror on my children. I can imagine them clinging to Joe’s pant legs when he wants to go to the post office. “Nooooo…” they will sob “You might decide to never come back!” or the nights lined up in a never ending domino set-up before me. One or both of them will be in our bed. “Just checking that you are still here.” they will whisper like little prison guards before going back to sleep, a vice-like grip secured to an extremity.

“Yes.” I tell them. “Unfortunately, Grandpa is dead.”

“Okay” they say in unison, and then,  “I already brushed Apple Jack’s hair.” Sam bends down, searching amongst the ponies.

“I think you brushed all of them.”
“Okay.” Marilyn tells him. “We can play now.”

And that’s it. They are over it. There is no monumental shift in the dynamic of our life. They aren’t devastated, I didn’t ruin them. They don’t even seem to register that I am in the same room any longer.

So you’re asking yourself, ‘What’s the point of this? Is there a moral?’ and there is. The moral of this story is Don’t be an asshole or my kids will think you’re dead.

You’re welcome.

Fat Chew

Fat Chew

Eight years ago I would have stalked
the streets instead of pacing our bedroom floor.

Before children became my tethers
I would have burst like a flame leaping
through an unopened window,
and left you lacerated with this fury.

Or maybe, I would have insisted you left- instead.
My gums pulled back to bare teeth,
the inner-ugly spilling out.
But not now, now everything is fragile and neccessary all at once.

In the now, things,
important things hang in the balance of us making it.
There is no room for dramatics.
Or the crust-breaking desperate breaths
like a drowning victim fighting for the surface.

No moments of would-be silence filled
instead with disappointed if-onlys.
Or broken spined poetry books to share
the torment of being let down.

Willingly,
I gutted, rinsed and cleaned out
every big town dream
till my thoughts were sterile, quiet and calm.
A lobotomy to stop wanting things outside reason.

Anything outside of being your sounding board,
your partner, was too difficult to manage fairly.

A dream tourniqutte around my lungs.
To breathe, if just to breathe.

How I have erred,
the naive fool who thought
she was only pretending at playing the joker.

How surprised when the mask would not come off!

——————————————————————————

Guard

I was meant to be sleepless.
To toil into the deep night,
working on the future, documenting the past.
Awake in time to see children off to school.

However in the bright morning I am,
just another mother flipping laundry
unloading the dishwasher,
making up four beds emptied of their contents.

I guard the door,
here when you come home
and when you leave.

Hello! Good-bye again.

A childs guide to friend keeping

My son Sam has been very interested in a wide variety of topics lately. A few weeks ago he wanted to talk about skin color, after that it was about a child’s view of fat-shaming, more recently it has been about what it means to be a good friend.

I wanted to tell him;

“Sam- you need to talk to your father about this. Your mother has an awful track record with friends. I just don’t have those friend-keeping skills. I think I missed that day in Kindergarten.”

Except, I want to save that ‘ask your father’ card for the day Sam comes up to me with something truly hideous to discuss, (like he thinks he wants to be a lawyer, or any question pertaining to his nether regions, or the equally as dreaded ‘So… I was born 6 months after you married daddy…?’)

So we sit down, and we talk about some traits that would be required in order to be a good friend, even though he probably knows more about being a good friend than me. My kid is a smart cookie. I did indeed learn a few things and I thought I would share them with you.

In order to be a good friend (according to a seven-year old boy) you must:

  • Never trade real Pokemon cards for ones printed on computer paper.
  • You must never blame your fart on the kid sitting next to you on the bus.
  • You must always be nice to the little sister/brother at a playdate.
  • You must never yuck someone elses yum.
  • It is imperative that you like Hockey.
  • It is not okay to wipe your booger on someone elses desk. Boogers must go on the desk of the booger owner.
  • You can’t always make your friend be ‘It’ during tag.
  • Don’t lie. Especially about ‘losing the real Pokemon card’ when your friend realizes you duped them with a printed paper one and wants the real one back.
  • Help your friends.
  • If someone is hurt, try to help them up. Especially if you are the reason they are splayed on the ground currently.
  • Do not take the last mystery color popsicle.

Having had such a great conversation with Sam, I decided to probe Marilyn a little bit to get her take on what friendships need in order to flourish. Marilyn is four.

  • Do not leave your friends in the house if it is on fire.
  • Share your crayons.
  • Do what your friends want you to do.
  • Give them money.
  • Always play My Little Ponies
  • Do not brush their hair if it is very knotty. It will hurt.
  • Bring them cookies.
  • Hug them if they cry.
  • Put on their makeup.
  • Give them your car.
  • Give them your house.

It is apparent to me that while Sam is on the right track for being a normal, reliable if not slightly over sensitive second grader, Marilyn is on track to be taken advantage of by a degenerate fellow four-year old with a drivers licence. Perfect.

The lists made me think about what it really takes to keep a friendship going. Mind you, I am probably the least qualified adult for this list. I didn’t write The Awkward Mom blog post (http://wordsfortrade.com/2012/11/17/awkward-mom/) for nothing, fools.

Here is a list of things I thought you might find useful for adults looking to keep friends.

  • Never send an edible arrangement. They are actually quite inedible. And they attract fruit flies.
  • Don’t be a face book stalker, because crack is whack, yo.
  • Don’t call your friend. No one likes the phone anymore, text instead. Believe me. They might answer the phone, but they’ll hate you secretly.
  • Don’t tell your friend about your Pinterest successes. They wont believe you, and if you prove it to them, they will hate you.
  • Don’t tell your friend that you pack your childs lunch everyday with sandwiches that look like they popped out of Le Gourmet. They will…. you guessed it.
  • When they text you that someone else did any of the above, offer copious amounts of wine and links to sites for children’s therapists.
  • Do complain about your spouse, sparingly. They will feel better about their own spouse who most likely leaves their dirty boxers right next to the hamper also.

So what do You think keeps friendships healthy and successful? Let us know!

This blog was written while three children tried to maim me. You’re welcome for my dedication.

Fuck it Friday- July 26th

Fuck it Friday- July 26th

This weeks Fuck It Friday is brought to you by a serious case of bed head, five (7 year old) boys over for a playdate who decided to have a fart competition.
Aforementioned bed head boy? Yeah he is also I-don’t-sleep-at-night-anymore-SURPRISE! boy.

Cheers bitches!

Don’t forget to leave a note telling everyone what makes your Fuck It Friday worthy of truly being a Fuck It Friday legend.

How keeping up almost killed me

A friend of mine recently said (and by said I mean typed through the Internet) something poignant to me.

“Don’t compare your ‘behind the scenes’ to everyones ‘highlight reel’ ”

I cannot tell you how much this simple sentence has changed me. Of course! Right? It seems so incredibly uncomplicated. Except it’s not.

We love to compare ourselves to just about anything and anyone, and nowadays it’s so easy to get sucked into the vortex of Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram (et al).

You might find yourself thinking things like:

  • Do my cookies look as delicious?
  • Are my children making crafts as beautiful?
  • Why didn’t that 24 step process of ‘make your own cleaning products’ work for me?! It had 5700 re-pins!
  • Why didn’t our vacation look as amazing as [that person] on facebook?

These are dangerous thoughts. They make us feel ambitious and competitive but they set the bar so impossibly high that it’s no wonder we fall flat on our faces.

Let me start off this cozy little sharing circle, mmkay? We’re safe here! And then you tell me about your revelation!

Let me take you way back in time to January 20th 2013.

I had a 6.5 year old, a 3.5 year old and a 6 week old baby. It had snowed enough to keep us inside nearly every day since he was born (except to drop off and pick up from school) but not enough to accumulate into anything useful.

My eldest son had begun giving me looks of pure hatred as I continued to lock him in the house, afraid for my sanity if I tried to take three children anywhere. My daughter on the other hand happily became one with the television set. I realized this when she was sitting at the dining room table eating cheerios and reciting My Little Pony episodes. (Not lines, full episodes).

My days had blurred from the hospital to the house. Occasionally I scurried like a recently released convict to Target and back again. But the majority of my nights were spent working out ways to get rid of one of my children.

I had made a mistake, surely. I was definitely not meant to have more children than hands with which to duct tape them to the wall.

Who was I going to give up? It was three am. The baby was latched successfully to my breast like a leech and I, in my delirium was pretty sure he was drinking my brains cells instead of milk. I was checking facebook. Again. Facebook is a lonely place at 3am when you are reminded that all normal people are sleeping. (and how I hated the sleeping).

These were the things I looked upon, at 3am:

  • Someone’s vacation photos.
  • Someone elses date night.
  • A pinterest party.
  • An entire album dedicated to someone’s children making a snowman.

The thought electrocuted me through the screen and seared my brain. I must do something to prove I am handling motherhood x3 well. And that was where it all went wrong.

On three hours of sleep the next morning I catapulted out of bed and declared to my wide eyed and obviously afraid (of me) husband. “We are going to the Aviary today!” My children rejoiced at the idea of getting outside of the house and I spent the next two hours packing us up, feeding, changing and then re-feeding and re-changing the baby.

That was the first time I had the niggling feeling that maybe this was a bad idea. But I was not going to let something as ridiculous as instinct ruin my plans.

I wont hold you in suspense. The trip was a complete failure. Judah had his first blow out diaper right there in the Aviary’s viewing room and we were banished to the restroom where I realized I had left his second outfit in the car, exactly one zillion miles away. Sam and Marilyn decided this would be the best exact moment to have an epic fight right outside the restroom door that my husband chose to ignore, but the rest of the Aviary chose to watch with disapproving ‘tsk tsks’. I failed to even consider packing food for my older kids (Gee whiz, you animals want to eat?!) Judah wanted to nurse and currently my blood was boiling (from aforementioned children’s argument) and I was beginning to panic (cold sweat). These were the 2nd-15th times I thought ‘maybe this is a bad idea’. The blanket I brought to cover myself while nursing was hot, Judah was now sweating, the big kids were done with eating and bored. They took to the dusty floor to entertain themselves by pretending to be snakes. Perfect. My husband looked upon the wreckage that lay before him and became quieter and smaller as though if he made no noise, perhaps my wrath would not find him.

The worse it got, the more determined I was to have The Best Time Evar! By the end of the day we had staged photos of happy children, I had frantically stuffed souvenirs into their hands all while near-shrieking ‘Be Happy!’ at them and my husband had written Help Me on his palm and frantically flashed it at anyone who looked at him in a feeble attempt to save himself (I am pretty sure he did this). By the time we got to the car, I was near tears. I don’t think I even saw a bird, to be honest.

As we packed the kids into the car I jokingly said to my husband “Well, I got some good photos. So even if we didn’t enjoy it today, we’ll look back on it in ten years and think we enjoyed it”.

And maybe that’s true. Maybe in ten years, or twenty. I will look back on these photos and forget the time we really had and instead remember the time I wanted everyone else to think we had.

But what was I striving so hard for? To appear perfect and non-flustered? To seem calm and collected? To be some sort of bizarre alpha mom who succeeded in each parenting task with not only poise and grace but also with gusto? I just wanted to show that I could do it too. That I could merge my way back into the life of the living and keep The Wildlings happy while I did it. That I had not made some tragic mistake and ruined all our lives by exceeding my natural talents as a human being, as a mother.

I went home and posted all these photos to facebook. I put up captions like ‘Best time ever!’ and ‘So much fun!’ when what I really wanted to put up were captions like ‘Just changed my kid in a filthy restroom. Would have been more sanitary in a birds nest’ and ‘Thanks for using Judah’s fragile head as your arm rest Marilyn! Way to be careful!’.

But remember when I said the day was a Complete Failure? I fibbed a little bit. During the day of staged photos and near-meltdowns there is one photo that encompasses the truth of life. I didn’t even realize I had taken it until a few days later.

The kids didn’t need perfection, they just needed to be out of the house. They didn’t need souvenirs, they just wanted Joe and I to be present with them. And they certainly didn’t care who thought what about anything.

So if you stumble upon my facebook, if you happen upon my instagram or my amazing gorgeous pinterest boards full of things I’ll likely never do and places I’ll probably never see? Go easy on yourself. These are my highlight reels. But it’s my behind the scenes that make this family mine.

Remember to leave a note sharing your highlight vs behind the scenes story !

Bitchin’ Books- a fight against the brain melt.

If you haven’t been here for long then maybe you don’t know that I have three children Wildlings. Sam-7, Marilyn-4 and Judah-7 months. If you don’t have your own Wildlings, work in a child-geared job/career or step inside any kind of box store (think grocery, Target) with regularity then maybe you don’t know that children cause Brain Rot. But they do. *

Brain Rot is a pretty severe diagnosis and often onset is subtle. You might not even realize you’ve become a statistic of significant damage until one day you are driving in your minivan having dropped your cannibals sweet angels off at day camp, you’re halfway into the 30 minute drive home when it occurs to you. You are still listening to their DVD play despite being the only person in the car.

You, my friend, are in the moderate stages of Brain Rot. Get help quickly. Stage an intervention for yourself, schedule a night out, buy an outfit that makes you look like a spring-breaker, drink a glass of wine before 5pm, forget to pick your kids up from camp. Do something dangerous.

If you sit back right now and realize you have neither showered nor peed alone in the last two months, that you don’t remember what hot coffee tastes like, or what the adult world is doing after 830pm then you, sorry sucker that you are, like me, are in the advanced stages of Brain Rot.

In an attempt to reverse the systematic degradation of my brain cells I decided to start reading books. (Shock and Horror! All those big words! Could I even manage?)

To give myself a quick boost of both

  • Do something dangerous AND
  • Read books

I decided to start with a book that had the word FUCK in the title (which; BONUS! I have a seven year old who can read so all book time also resulted in Leave Mommy Alone time!)

I’m cheap also. (I know, I sound like a real winner, invitations to dinner and proposals for marriage can be left with my husband.) So most of my books come from the free Kindle section or my Free Books app. (www.bookbub.com is a favorite).

So- I read this book.

Andersen Prunty has a decent selection of books, none of which I’d ever heard of, and all of which are quietly waiting on my queue now. He is a bizarre guy, with weirder story lines, and I love them. Sometimes depressing and often a little haunting, but you’re never going to guess the endings and I promise, you’ll feel a lot better about your own life after reading about his characters.

Here’s a little bit about Fuckness

The narrator gets beat up after trading a green sucker for a guilty feel at the popular girl’s crotch, when he goes home the abuse continues. His alcoholic mother and angry gimp of a father become so enraged at his continued failure of the 8th grade that they make him wear a pair of horns. He has no idea where they have come from, but they’ve always been in the house, and they bestow a power nobody anticipated.

How could this be a bad book?

Test it out for yourself and fight the good fight against Brain Rot!

*It should be noted that Children are not the only cause of Brain Rot. Unhappy jobs, trafficky commutes, hateful in laws and long lines at public restrooms are just a few of the Brain Rots favorite ways for getting a hold of your precious grey matter.

Viva La Brain Cells!

Fuck it Friday

Fuck it Friday

Today’s Fuck It Friday is brought to you by two of my three Wildlings having a sleepover, my insurance company screwing up (once again, but who is counting?) and the ridiculous amounts of laundry I’ve done this week.

Cheers, bitches!

(Don’t forget to leave a comment about why your Fuck It Friday is so special!)

Follow where your heart leads.

A month after I turned 18 I went to Fat Camp The Duke Diet and Fitness Center in North Carolina. I had gone with my mom and it was my every intention that I was going to take that summer to slim down before college.

I had been dating the same (older) guy (the first boyfriend) for a year and a half. I promised him I would miss him, and I meant it. We were serious, after all, right?

How is it possible that the girl who left Long Island at the end of June, who meant it when she said she would miss her boyfriend, who meant it when she said they would be together ‘4eva!’ could turn around at the end of July, and break up with him for an (even older) guy, all those states and miles away? Trading in a sure thing for a guy who was basically anything but?

Life is weird, people. You have to take those unexplainable and seemingly impossible (but at least completely improbable) cues and run with them. They mean something. They are bringing you to the place you are supposed to be at.

That guy who was even older than the boyfriend I’d just left? (He so loves it when I remind him of just how ancient he is) He was 33 years old when I met him. He was in a funky place himself, having been to the same Fat Camp diet center I was now attending just the year before. He sold his house in Pittsburgh and moved to North Carolina to center himself, to find himself. (I found him instead, stalkerific!)

He had friends who were still attending/re-attending the center and he came to play poker or visit. My mother introduced us. She had met him the year before, and loves to tell people she is the reason we know each other.

I was, at the time, both dating (that guy back in New York) and interested in someone (in North Carolina), but that guy, that old guy… I was enthralled by him. He was completely unavailable in nearly every sense of the word. He was dating around, he was adrift, he was divorced, he was old, he was far away, he was not interested in commitment and he wasn’t interested in a one night stand either. C’est La vie, right?

Wrong. I am nothing if not determined.

A group of us went out on several different occasions and I found myself pushing to talk to him, after everyone else was tucked in for the night we would end up by the pool, talking about books, life philosophies, poetry, movies, friends, family. The expanse of topics we covered was enormous. Often dawn would peek out from the horizon before we would wrap it up.

In my 18-year-old fumbling sense to appear coquettish I told him that I liked him. He withdrew immediately. His hand from mine, from our conversation, from my quasi-normal summer life.

His list of reasons was sensible. We were fifteen years apart in age, we were 400+ miles away in reality, I was going to college, he was divorced, I had a boyfriend, he wasn’t interested in long term any things currently, on and on ad nausea. I hated him.

I am nothing if not impulsive and when I want something I can strike a perfect Varuca Salt imitation. “I want a Golden Egg Daddy! And I want it NOW” (Complete with demon horns and fire background).

I wanted to show him that I was serious. I wasn’t even sure why I was so serious about this ‘he’s-not-that-into-you’ example of a man, but I was. I flew home to Long Island and broke up with my boyfriend. I flew back to North Carolina with a renewed sense of want. Now this had to work, because I had rendered all my bridges burned.

On July 25th after thoroughly liquoring the old man up, I unburdened myself of every romantic notion I’d had. I bartered with him for time, for something easy, just for the summer. It will be fun.

(Before you start to feel sorry for my patheticness, just hold that thought, okay?)

The summer passed by at an impossible speed. The way my infatuation blossomed into fully heated-by-the-sun love was at rate I could not even explain to myself. However, over the giddy days of exploration and jovial adventuring, hung an expansive black cloud of doom. I knew I had to go home and start college. I knew this pretend life could not last.

And so at the beginning of September he packed me up and sent me home with promises that things would be okay but no clear definititon of what those things were. I spent September and October weeping in the car to sad music. I spent lonely evenings filling marble notebooks with my crushed heart bleeding into every nook of my life.

I was truly heart broken. I spoke on the phone every day with my North Carolina man but his voice never gave anything away. It was his eyes, his demeanor, that I was so sure encompassed his ‘tell’. Standing outside of his life, I was positive I would be replaced.

He was kind and reassuring. He told me he missed me. We still talked about books and life and our everyday experiences, but I felt like I was drowning while he was taking a leisurely swim. And he wasn’t noticing my distress.

Still though, Varuca Salt-ing it for all it was worth, I made plans to visit him. He said the right words when I excitedly told him, though he did not offer to pay my airfare. He picked me up at the airport just the same, and I knew when I saw him. He was for keeps.

For ten painful months I visited him as often as I could afford. He never paid my way, he never visited me, and at the end of every visit, I would stand in the airport barely able to breathe, positive that my lungs were going to refuse to work, and he would wave and smile, and drive away, promising me he’d miss me.

In the middle of the winter he broke up with me. “I want children” he pleaded with me. “I want children and you are so young.” Though he had not said it yet, and though it would be nearly a year more before he uttered the words. I was positive he loved me then. And he was killing me.

My ribs, my heart, my entire chest cavity exploded with sadness. I felt scraped clean, completely blindsided by his gentle explanation of my failed readiness. ‘Our timing is wrong.’ he had offered me. ‘In another life…’ But then I was incensed. Since when did someone else get to decide when I was ready for anything? After weeks of phone calls I told him that if he was going to throw this, us, me, away- it was going to have to be for a better reason than that one.

That was in March of 2004, in June I moved to North Carolina.

The pathways you travel are not always easy. You don’t always get to be the hero. Sometimes you look pathetic trying to get where you are going. Those gorgeous positive campaigns on facebook and instagram about life being a journey? They are right. But the journey is not always a person on a sunlit path with wild flowers growing on either side. It’s not a constant good-hair day with an expensive white flowing dress that makes you look fucking incredible. Some stories are like this one. Some stories are filled with longing and floundering. Often the path is filled with muck and you aren’t so much traipsing along as much as you are army crawling through shit.

But there is a reason for the obstacles.

There are moments of glory. It is these moments, stolen from the throat of life that sustain us before being swallowed. That old man, as you might have guessed, has been my husband for eight years and my partner for ten. Together we have brought three children into this world. We have buried loved ones, we have sat in hospitals, at each others bedsides. I have seen him through cancer, I broke him out of the hospital one time, having had to pee for him so the nurse would release him, and it resulted in an emergency 2am phone call and a catheter (remind me to tell you about that some time).

My point is, those triumphant moments happen. They have to be worked for, they need to be earned. And you need to savor every morsel of bone marrow they give up because Life will bitch slap you again.

Remember though, as you are slogging through the muck, wondering ‘why the fuck am I doing this?’ that those improbable circumstances are bringing you somewhere, and it might just be to the Golden Egg.

 

The Thankless Job of being a Mother

There are no 15 minutes mandated breaks for mothers,
no putting children on hold to lullaby music
while,
we stop to pour a cup of coffee, or chat
over the water cooler at another adult.

‘What do you do?’ is often met with
the sheepish smile, downward eyes and
‘I just stay at home’.

As though she, childless and
with her briefcase, high heels, 
a hot fucking coffee, from a store.
is instantly more powerful than me.

Me, at home shaping humans out of feral animals.

I imagine her, filing files.
Stopping to re-gloss, or pee alone.
I am envious in the ugliest of ways.
I do not even know what hot coffee tastes like anymore.

This is a thankless job, mostly.
No praise or promotion for;
getting all the laundry folded.
No accolades for bandaging a wound or
managing to free the unruly tangle
of curly four year old hair
without taking a scissor to it. 

But there are those moments,
the kind when she is thirsty at three am,
and I am too lazy/tired/mostly delirious
to get a cup from the kitchen.
We make my hands into cups,
and she drinks until she says ‘I’m better’.

I have no files for these occurrences,
they are phenomena uncharted,
and I am the
greatest and first explorer.

Are we done or aren’t we? The Baby Discussion.

Reasons why I try not to stay up at 3am. (Also known as, reasons why I try not to think too far ahead, reasons why I try not to get caught up in the past and reasons why I am probably more parts crazy than sane)

The other day I took the two older Wildlings to Monster University. It was the first time Sam had been back inside of a movie theater since the arrival of his glasses. The entire thing was a positive experience for him (unlike those times pre-glasses when I thought he was being difficult about hating the theater and then taking a nap in it. When really, he was getting headaches and I was too dumb to realize).

The littlest Wildling, Judah, stayed home with his dad. Being at the movies reminded me how much I miss going. When I was working evenings, I would reward my house cleaning prowess with a movie date every so often. Just me, a large diet drink and whatever movie I had chosen to bawl my eyes out at. I haven’t gone since I had gotten too big to be comfortable in movie-theater seats and certainly not since having Judah. I’ve seen women do it, but the idea of taking an infant to the theater is Not my idea of a good time.

I would be lying if I said I don’t miss my solo movie dates though.

I think the farther out I get from having a new newborn, the more done I feel.

I feel conflicted about feeling done. I didn’t think I would. I thought I would mourn the idea of not being pregnant again and in a way, I do. I am. I will miss being pregnant. I will miss feeling a baby kick inside of me. I will miss feeling the most comfortable in my skin that I have ever felt. I will miss feeling that connected to another human being. I will miss feeling important in a way that no other events have come close to touching.

But I do not want to start over again. At least I don’t think I do.

Even now, with the tiny bit of independence Judah has gained (sitting up, entertaining himself for a second, responding to me and others, being able to start to feed himself) I feel less trapped. Judah is the only one of my children to be born in the winter. Winter was by far, the longest season I have ever experienced this year.

By the time Judah is done potty training I will have spent 10 consecutive years changing diapers.

I just think that maybe that’s enough. Why do I feel guilty about that?

When women, peers, friends, strangers in the grocery store, told me that I would ‘know when I was done’ I nodded in agreement, smiling outwardly. Inside though, I thought they had some done button I was just not equipped with. I could not imagine feeling finished, and figured at some point, I would just have to Be Done because Joe told me that we were done, or our wallets demanded we Be Done, or some other outside influence. But I would not feel done, how could I?

Except I could. (At least, I think that’s what I am feeling) Maybe I just hadn’t reached my child quota yet. I am struggling to decide if this feeling is the feeling those women in their secret Done Club meant, or if this is typical of a mother to three, overwhelmed by her obligations and under slept. Will, in a few months, I feel that fever for another baby?

Add to that, Joe being 15 years older than me… he’ll be nearly 45 when Judah is three. Do I want him to be 50 or older by the time we are done with diapers? Do I want him to be in his mid seventies before the last kid has graduated highschool?

Also, money. Which just- fuck money. It’s essential to living, but maybe I’d go around birthing babies every three years from now until eternity if I could live on a hippie commune with a village to raise them and organic non GMO health foods sprouting from our self-sustaining farms. Oh, and girlfriends to braid my hair. And lots of wine (from grapes I’d grown, of course)

But back to the point; I feel torn about Judah, about how I view his babyhood. When I had Sam, and he was the age Judah is now, I enjoyed every minute of what he was doing, but I also yearned so hard for what was coming next, how exciting it would be, how new, how amazing! that I lost some of the… the just being in the minute.

I know now that babies do not keep. They don’t keep for even a second, so while I am enjoying Judah in the now.. I am battling not to mourn who he is already shedding off.

Too much anticipating of the future is no worse or better than too much mucking around in the past. I have to put a lot of effort into just firmly planting myself in the very much right here and now.

I find myself thinking ‘will this be the last nap he takes on me like this?’/’will this be the last time his laugh sounds like that?’/’will this be the last swaddle?’ I didn’t fear those things with Sam, and maybe not even with Marilyn, because I still knew I would have more babies. With Judah being my final baby, (I think) everything has more meaning (not better meaning, just heavier meaning), everything is so finite, all things have a limited number and they are getting used up.

The Wildlings are growing up, and I just don’t want to miss it. I make myself crazy with how much I don’t want to miss. I obsess over when I stopped picking up Sam to cradle him or when I stopped carrying Marilyn up the stairs.

It’s those things you don’t even realize have stopped until you are months out from the last time they occurred and all of a sudden you are in the middle of some store wringing your hands because you didn’t realize that the last time you picked Sam up would actually be The Last Time of any consistency and so you rush home and immediately pick him up. You hug him and just stand there, even though he weighs 52lbs and your rubbery arms are shaking from the weight, and he smells like sweat and summer camp and chlorine. You just don’t want to let go.

I remember sobbing to Joe the last time that I nursed Sam and then Marilyn, the last time I gave Sam a bottle before bed, and more recently, the last time I nursed Judah (April 18th, and then he refused the next day and that was the end of our very upsetting bfing relationship) because I just didn’t realize it would end when it did, that I would have enjoyed it more if I had known.

Why? Wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying all of it? Even when they bit me? Even the nights it took hours to put them to bed? (Short answer: No. You can’t enjoy those moments, so why am I kicking myself over it?)

But, that’s how we have to live life, like anything, anything could be the last time, from something stupid to something unspeakable, so we have to keep all of it, remember everything (and this is also the double-edged sword that keeps me up at 3am. Am I enjoying it enough? Am I worrying too much?)

The Wildlings are growing. They are growing, they are growing. Babies don’t keep, and neither do children. But you know what? Nothing keeps. So cherish everything. The phone call from your mom to remind you, when the baby is sick, not to give them too much milk, even though you know that already. The way your daughter says your name fifteen times even though you are looking directly at her and giving her your undivided attention. The way your son gives you a sweat-drenched hug even though you’ve just gotten out of the shower. The way the baby wants you and only you (onnnnnnllllllyyyyyyy you) all the time right now. Because soon he wont. And there will be no one else to fill your arms.

(I don’t think so, at least).