13/02/2017

I hit shuffle on the mom lecture playlist and got schooled as a result

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This weekend was not unique, except it was. I think this is how most of life's daily reflections should start. "Today was normal, except it was exceptional." At least that is my goal for life; an exceptionally normal, wonderful life. 

So this weekend was a completely normal, usual, nothing of a weekend. The boy child had a soccer game. I had some work to do. The girl child had some homework to catch up on. And the dog was an annoying asshole. You know, the usual. So after arriving early for the soccer game, I told the Girl that we were going to walk to the coffee shop around the corner. "I found this place on google. It says there are snacks and caffeine. We should walk there." 

"Why don't we just drive?" replied the 12 year old skinny girl who under-appreciates a good outdoor experience until she's forced in to it.

"Because I was just in Spain for two weeks and homegirls don't drive in Spain; they walk." I call this parenting, y'all. I should probably attend some classes.

We walked along the dangerous, non pedestrian friendly roads to the "coffee shop", which turned out to be a drive through coffee stand at a gas station. I am not in Spain, I am reminded loudly by the cars and the cars and the bigger, more loud cars. We use the toilets, labeled "Restrooms" just to confuse the matter, and purchase a few "fresh" snacks that sit along shelves of car oil and greeting cards.  Continue...

09/10/2014

In which I write loud letters from the bathroom

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I can’t tell you how many times I hear the Lost in Translation quote in my head. It doesn’t sound like the movie, it sounds like a dear friend of mine from my First Real Job at Portland Public Schools; “But they learn how to walk, and they learn how to talk… and you want to be with them. And they turn out to be the most delightful people you will ever meet in your life.”

Jenna told me this when her own baby was only a few years old. I remember so vividly because I hadn’t had children yet, but the idea stuck with a tar-like dignity that warms in the sun on certain occasions.

Tonight was such an occasion.

The nine year old girl had asked for some time to take a bath; a legitimate luxury given the schedule most days. Tonight was a fine night to do so, so we answered with a “Of course!” like any parent who can finally grant their child’s ridiculously small wishes.

About thirty minutes later I sing-sang up to her that it is time to get out and hello, was it me she was looking for? Continue...

12/09/2014

A goodbye card to my Aunt Marcella

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Why do people die in December? Why does everyone decide to leave earth in December? Because the Christians are singing about a birth? Because families are together and can support each other? Because it’s cold?

My Aunt Marcella decided it was time to leave this earth today. You know my Aunt Marci. I wrote about her.

My mom texted me this morning with the news as I was entering a long, difficult, detailed meeting. I didn’t have time to think or process this news. I called my husband as soon as I got out and we met at Starbucks to talk through it. His eyes teared up as I bawled in front of strangers in the coffee shop. I recounted stories about her and my Uncle Charles. “She was like my Grandma, such a classy lady,” I hear myself saying through sobs, “and I am honored to have had her influence in my life.” I told him stories he has heard before, stories of childhood and of recent trips to see her as she aged.

She was old when I knew her as a six year old. I have memories of my Uncle Charles and Aunt Marcella’s house before my sister was born. I have memories of my sister and I doing handstands in the grass in their backyard. I remember Uncle Charle’s cane, a motorcycle accident had taken his ability to walk well, and his teasing. I remember our parents laughing openly with them at the table. I remember my Grandma and Grandpa animatedly chatting. I remember the way my dad would light up in their presence and I remember being very little, and then very much an adult, all in the presence of these same people.

Aunt Marci and Grandpa
Continue...

06/08/2014

There’s Gold in Them Hills

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Two of my best girlfriends and I take an annual Moms/Kids camping trip. We started this at a “close-ish” park in 2009 with a toddler and a few pre-schoolers. We stuck close in case shit hit the fan and we had to call home for emergency needs like running another set of matches out because these ones don’t work. You know, big things.

Of all the years we’ve been doing this now, there are a few stories that stand out more than all the others. Sure, there is the annual whip-cream shot after waffles in the morning. And yes, there’s usually a craft and some roasting of things. There’s some bike riding (and bike smashing that one year I backed up over my daughter’s bike) and scootering. Kids learned how to bike while another learned to walk.  But of all these stories the few we pass down each year go something like this:

——2009——

“The Year of Raccoons”

The year we all slept in tents was an epic achievement. It was the first trip and I was daring this adventure with a newly turned two year old toddler. As would become the “norm”, Michelle and Laura arrived first and had their shit together. I, probably after a wrong turn, arrived late and sweating. Continue...

01/06/2014

Love you forever, like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be

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You giggle as I kiss your cheeks. I hold your hands as you turn your face left to right, giving me full access to the large, luscious cheeks, round and red. You laugh as you spit and shove off my kisses. I pretend to look sad and then hold your arms and start the process over. You are giggling as you pretend to stop me. I win at the kisses, landing on your cheeks as you laugh. You tell me I’ll never give you another kiss again. I chuckle. “Do you remember the Love You Forever book?” I ask. You shake your head no. “The mom comes for all of her son’s life to give him love until she can’t anymore and one day, he sings the song, ‘I love you forever, I like you for always, as long as I’m living, My Mommy you’ll be.’” Your eyes are wide and you ask, “Why would you tell me that before bed? Now I’ll have bad dreams!” “No, Love, you won’t,” I reply grabbing your hands again from any defense of my kissing, “Because we have so many years before you have to worry about that. The point is, you can’t stop a mom from kissing her children.” I lunge for the final kiss assault and you squeal with laughter and turn your face. I plant five kisses on your cheek, nose, and forehead. You are still laughing when I promise to stop. “It’s bed time,” I say sternly. “Time for sleeping.” You look up at me with your brown eyes glowing in the light and whisper, barely audible, “I love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, My mommy you’ll be.”

I leave your room smiling with tears in my eyes as I go to see your sister, sitting in her bed reading Harry Potter, and plan my kissing attack. My life is an amazing wonderland. I shall never forget this. Continue...

10/05/2014

On handling things poorly: A how to guide for losing your eferloving mind

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You know that part of your gut that tells you wise decisions in which you promptly ignore? It’s also the same part of your gut that knows you’re holding on to some trauma that your brain hasn’t processed.

You should probably start listening to that part of your gut unless you want to lose-your-shit at a Laser Tag Team Building Exercise.

I’m not a gun person. I’m so not a gun person that the one time I shot a real gun at a range with my parents, I promptly set the thing down, walked in to the bathroom, and hyperventilated until the automatic lights turned off with me sitting in the stall.

Rule #1 to losing your shit: Deny your emotional response to tragedy.

I don’t think I’ve always had this phobia of guns. Up until a few years ago I might have been somewhat ambivalent about them. But now, well, things have changed in the world, my world, our world, and I am no longer uncertain about my thoughts on guns. Continue...

06/05/2014

My 7yr old knows more about pregnancy than I did at 29

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Dear Buddy,

Tonight you blew our minds with your ability to spell an entire birthday card for your teacher and read your Dinosaur book without needing much help. You practically outdid most of my previous freshman college students with your math test and ability to speak adverbs properly. So yea, we’re sort of expecting great things from you.

We chose a book called “The Human Body” to read tonight. To be honest, you couldn’t decide between that, the airplane book and another dinosaur book but Mama can’t take another book about the big ass lizards, and was way too tired to feign interest over airplanes, so Human Body it was!

We flipped through some of the pages and landed on the pregnancy page. You started asking questions about the babies in the pictures. While I read you absorbed everything and formed ideas.

“At five weeks a fetus is the size of a bean, and heart, lungs, and organs are developing. The baby gets its nutrients from the mother through the umbilical chord.” Continue...

11/02/2014

On birthdays

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My mom always made a big deal over our birthdays.  She would make a homemade cake and in very-detailed, time-consuming, 80’s perfectionist manner, decorate our cakes in secret under a banner of birthday wishes and streamer-lined dining room lights.

It was difficult for me to understand her when she told us all she wanted for her birthday was a cake. “A fancy cake?” we used to ask. “No, just a cake. That’s all I need.”

It wasn’t until last year that I believed her. Last year I sat at my brand new job, day two, in a corner struggling through onboarding. I didn’t realize how lonely it was to have nobody know it was your birthday. I realized, I don’t need a cake, or a party, or presents, or a big todo, but the value and warmth of someone saying, “Happy Birthday,” is highly under appreciated. I know people leave kind things on Facebook, but call me old fashioned, Facebook doesn’t seem as sincere as a person using their actual mouth to say, “Happy Birthday” with their eyes and a warm smile.

I’m clearly getting old. Authenticity is a hallmark for all that I value now. Well, authenticity and a clean laundry room. Before this I had a different take on aging. Continue...

12/12/2013

I like to run and jump over things

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If a 7 year old could have a steady, I’m speaking with her now. She’s been his “girl” for two years now, this little pixy of amazing energy and a bundle of wonderful for my son and myself. Her mom is a wondrous human, her friends have amazing parents and equally wondrous qualities and there’s absolutely nothing I could say that would not come across as me manipulating him to end up with a girl like this as a wife.

Remember, he is seven.

I’m so getting way WAY ahead of myself.

I’m not sure if you can foster children to marry a kind of girl like this or if he’s going to rebel against this very notion but when I met them on the playground today and I asked what they liked to do at recess, she beamed, “I like to run and jump over things!”

I glanced at my son and he shrugged. “Ok,” I offered, “Let’s run and jump over things!” Continue...

10/12/2013

Do the Hail Marys. Even if you aren’t Catholic.

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When I was 7year old, we sat in the bathroom during Hurricane Alicia. I was living in Houston with my parents and very tiny sister, who was only 2 at the time, sleeping quietly in the safest area of the house: under the bathroom sink.

My parents listened to the weather on a battery powered radio while the walls shook and tornadoes clamored around the neighborhood. We walked in to the eye of the storm where we found our fence down the street at our neighbor’s house, ten doors down.

At the time I didn’t realize my parents pissed off someone holy. I didn’t know God was a revenge sort of guy and that my mom probably chewed the wafer at Communion that week so we were doomed to lose a fence and all our backyard toys.

Now, though, I understand the weight of being a mother. We bear the responsibility for the natural, and the unnatural, disasters.

Including Lice. Continue...

06/12/2013

In soft whispered voices

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Sitting on the edge of the bed of my seven year old he whispers to me, “I’m writing a book about a Koala and a bear. You know that bear that made us have a lockdown at school? Well, that baby bear and the koala have a story and I’m writing it. You would identify with the Koala, Mommy. It’s a traveling Koala.”

“Oh, I’d like that story, Bud.”

“Yea, maybe you stay for a minute and rub my back?”

“Ok, I can stay another minute and rub your back.”

“Wait, you can’t leave yet. I’m not asleep. Maybe you go downstairs and do five minutes of work and then you come back and check on me? Then you can do the laundry. But five minutes of work, ok?” Continue...