Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Each Day, Each Day, Each Day

Sometimes I think I'm not going to be able to handle this anymore, this life, these huge responsibilities, these unending struggles.

Sometimes I think, god, what a drama queen, things aren't so bad.

Other times I think how is it possible I'm so blessed, look at the sky and at my family's beautiful faces and insides and wow, every day is a gift.

Yesterday Elijah got off the bus with a scowl on his face and red eyes. He didn't say anything on our walk home. He handed his book bag to me as he usually did but didn't laugh when I put it on my back, obviously too small for me. He didn't "Aw Mom! Stop!" when I ruffled his hair and told him how much I missed him during the day. Obviously something was bugging him.

We got into the house and he sat down at the table and started to get his homework out. He got a pencil and started at it without my prodding and pressing him to start. Under different circumstances I would have been pleased. But I knew something was wrong. I felt myself hoping that it was something trivial and not serious.

I had been really excited for him to come home from school and had a small plate of chocolate covered pretzels and a glass of cashew milk sitting in the fridge chilling for him to snack on while doing his homework. While he was writing and thinking I brought it out and put it in front of him. His eyes met mine finally and tears streamed down his freckled cheeks, red rims around his beautiful hazel eyes.

"Oh MOM!" He sobbed. I held him and after a few minutes he pushed me from him. Too tough for me.

"What's going on Lijah? Did something happen in school?" I sat close to him, preparing myself for something wretched.

"I am the hungry caterpillar PROP for the end of school musical! I was THE Little Elf for the Christmas one but I'm just a PROP for this one. And I told her I wanted to be a puppy or a cat and she made me a PROP. That's not what I want to be." He looked at me now with less grief and more anger. I sifted through my parental options here. One the far end of the spectrum, one that I barely considered was calling his teacher and telling her how he felt about having a different part in the musical. I decided against that almost immediately.

I decided to go with this approach, "Well baby, the teacher picked you for the biggest part in the Christmas play so she probably wanted to give someone else a chance to have a bigger role in this musical. You'll still have fun being the Caterpillar."

He wasn't biting. "But I'm not even the Caterpillar because I don't have ANY LINES."

"It will be OK Lijah. There will be a ton of other plays you'll be in and someday you'll try out for them and be able to pick your parts! Right now the teacher is just trying to make everything fair for everyone." I'm trying here, folks.

He seems to get it a little bit. Gets out of his grump mood and finally lifts his head, becomes aware of his surroundings, scowl leaves his face, deep wrinkles leave his brow. "Thanks Momma. I love chocolate pretzels."

"I love you Elijah."

"I love you more Mom."

So in those moments everything was OK, the clouds parted and the sun warmed our hearts and put our minds at ease.

Are these moments enough for me or you or anyone? Can they sustain us through the rest of our days?

I hope so. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Compare and Contrast

They tell us not to compare and contrast in focus groups so as not to bias our opinion of a product. Their marketing research should be based on our impressions of the product in front of us and not of other similar ones. Or dissimilar ones of the same general product type.

Like children. Don't compare your children to each other. Trust me, it's dumb and potentially hurtful.

But I can't help but constantly and consistently compare the three men I have loved in my 34 years to each other over and over again. It's like some kind of running clickety clacking old timey film roll, silent films, black and white and color and fleeting shots of this man's hands, this man's eyes, this man's shitty disposition, this man's hurtful words.

I know I am extraordinarily lucky. I have been graced with four amazing, healthy, loving children who fill my every day with challenges and joy. I have four siblings who make me laugh, let me down, pick me up and give me the strength that only blood ties can give you. I will never be alone.

But I also am lucky to have experience immense amounts of passion, romance, incredible moments of happiness and yes, even lucky to experience all of the crappy things as well. Because although cliche everyone will wade through the mire's good to have some experience mucking through the slime of life instead of just being thrown into the Bog of Eternal Stench without any idea how to escape from it.

One man I loved ended up not loving me. It's much, much more complex than that of course but in the end despite all of his sameness and words and my complete and total belief that he was my soul mate he did not choose me. That being said my two published pieces were written about him. Some of the most incredible thoughts I've ever made in my sometimes lacking mind came from the time we spent together. When I compare him to the two others I think for sure he is the most like me. We would chide each other often about our "sameness" and when things got bad between us and he pushed and pushed he used it against me...that we were too alike, that it could never work. He had told me once in an effort to help me grieve after losing someone I had loved fiercely that it would always hurt but that the hurts fades over time from a thumping throbbing pain to a vague aching feeling. He was right.

One man I loved for a very brief time. He was so different from Jeremiah the disparities are profound. Jeremiah burns red, yellow, orange, even when he's mellow he shines. Even in the banality of our everyday existence and its completely non-passionate routines his eyes search me out and I know how he feels about me. This Other Man is cool and blue, white, clear clouds and gentle lapping waves and tiny drops in translucent puddles. Jeremiah's hands are blunt and powerful, marked, strong, the Other Man's long, lean, soft and cold.

After periods of silence Jeremiah's voice makes me jump, look around, search for him in a crowd, miss him after a few hours. The Other Man's is silence, planning and plotting and I did learn for a short, very short time to enjoy the silence, to plan and plot a little myself instead of jumping, throwing myself into the ring.

The first time he spoke to me the Other Man looked surprised at himself and I thought it was endearing. It took a lot for him to make a simple comment to me, a stranger in a coffee shop. It was a bold move for him, this quiet, thin, Other Man with his thoughtful nature. He considers everything before he does it, his clothing is nice and he plans out what he is going to wear, what he should wear. He has many, many things just in case, kits and repairs and Kleenexes and water and first aid and extra everything. Jeremiah is a creature of comfort and of supplying his initial needs. He wears the comfortable clothes of his youth, always the same skate shoes he buys over and over again in different colors and styles, a cap of some kind always to pacify his wiry, curly mess of a head of hair. He is never prepared for anything and is most comfortable on the fly. Last minute life.

I have been a fairly fickle human and at times I've paid for my inability to be constant and sure but in the end (and that's what really matters) I knew I wanted to spend my entire life with one man. Jeremiah might not seem like the surest bet, but he's my fifth favorite person on the planet. When I'm not with him all I think about is how I can be. In the end I wanted not to be taken care of, to be sleepy and secure and content. I wanted to be in love forever. I want it not to fade away.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mother's Day for Me From UncommonGoods

Mother's Day is never too big of a deal for me. The kids usually make something very special and adorable in school and sometimes they'll have Mother's Day activities and really that's what itcomes down to...hanging out with the humans that made you a mother.

So aside from the tissue paper flowers and wee potted plants I don't get bought gifts per se and that's OK.

Until this day Tom from UncommonGoods sent me a very special Mother's Day gift! And by sent me a gift I mean he sent me goods to review for the UncommonGoods website but eh, whatever makes me happy, right?

Although I did get free items in exchange for a blog post I have shopped at UncommonGoods before and was super excited to learn about their company...came away a little surprised at their standard practices and initiatives they have supported and started.

"Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is an privately-owned retailer that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people. We run all our operations out of the historic Brooklyn Army Terminal, including our warehouse where the lowest-paid seasonal worker starts at 50% above the minimum wage. We make it our mission to support and provide a platform for artists and designers; in fact, half of what we sell is made by hand. Most of the products we carry are created right here in the USA, and about one-third of our entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials. At the core of our company is a great respect for the integrity of the creative individual and the belief that it is our responsibility to use our business to impact the world in a positive way."

More information about this and more on the UncommonGoods blog.

And now onto my Mother's Day "gifts":

Once upon a time I'd be eying up ceramic handmade yarn bowls on Etsy and low and behold the mysterious Tom sends me one from UncommonGoods and it's beautiful! You can find it and more Mother's Day gifts here:

Also with the bowl came an adorable Stitch Encyclopedia for Embroidery. It's so well done and helpful with step by step stitch instructions. You can find it and more excellent Mother's Day items here:
Mother's Day is coming very, very soon and Thursday is the last day to order from the UncommonGoods site for shipping before Mother's Day so get on the ball and buy your Momma a gift, or buy yourself a gift because you don't know when Tom will ever contact you about reviewing Mother's Day gifts. That Tom is a fickle, sometimes considered mythical, beast of fate and fortune.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bad Boy.

My partner was a bad boy when I met him 19 years ago. He was a bad boy when we broke up a year later. He was a bad boy 8 years later when we met again and fell madly in love.

I think I was always in love with him, even though as a 15 year old that’s hard to realize.

I remember the first time I met him and his mess of a head of hair, dark, dark brown half ringlet curls, half dreadlocks. And when I was close enough to him for the first time smelling his hair, the smell of his skin, sweat and soap and deodorant and smoke. And even closer to him, nose to nose, his hands in my pants, mouth on mine, kissing me just like I’d always imagined kissing was supposed to be like, looking right into the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. Dark and light green with flecks of what has to be the finest gold on the planet. Inky black lashes framing them, dark heavy eyebrows above that making them all the more noticeable.

He was a skateboarder (bad boy) and he smoked cigarettes (bad boy) and he already had a swagger. He liked me though, really, really liked me. He smiled his crooked smile showing his one slightly chipped tooth…his top lips have two peaks, almost sharp and they’re not quite full but just right. Sometimes when he’s thinking his mouth opens slightly like he’s struggling, something is on the tip of his tongue and he’s just about to say something. This happens a lot when he’s playing the guitar.

Deep inside though he’s not a bad boy in the least. He’s filled with self doubt and speckles of self esteem issues. I remember being struck with total surprise at finding out this, how shy he really was, how the confidence on the outside was more just a side effect of being a teenager, of being a skateboarder. He had to be outgoing to find people to skate with, he had to be confident to jump off of stairs or over some huge obstacle, he had to have some front and some game to get a girl.

But on the inside he always thinks people don’t like him, even when it’s obviously not true. He’s suspicious of people’s true intentions and has a hard time initiating contact with anyone. I have always considered myself special because he let me in and let me love him and see him for who he really is, shared with me how he feels about everything. Sometimes I see it as a burden, loving the bad boy who is not really bad at all, sometimes I see it as a gift, something I have been blessed with. How lucky am I to have a man with the most incredible intensity, the most confident hands, the most broken disposition, the most improbably sexy demeanor…

And the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.


My kids joke that I am a vampire because my hands are always ice cold. I think it's because my day job consists of lots and lots of typing and my side piece (she's a foxy minx Dork Designs by Erin) involves my hands constantly moving as well.

It makes me sad though that all winter long all of my loved ones cringe when I got to touch their bare skin with my hands.

I have such a warm heart.

And the weather isn't helping things. This morning the kids and I pulled their winter coats out from where I had hung them up and stuffed them into the back of the foyer closet. It was a sad moment.

Every morning when I wake up I feel so incredibly warm from the inside out like a little coal furnace is puffing away in my center and the heat is just radiating into all of my limbs. My cheeks are rosy and I'm so comfy and happy like a little round bunny tucked away in her den, covered with grass and leaves and straw and dirt. I wrap my arms around the extra pillows on the bed and pull them into me, rubbing my face against the smooth jersey. A ball of complete contentment.

I stretch out one round arm and that incredible happy warmth starts to leave my body, legs straight out, toes pointed, more of it leaves my body in sad wispy threads. By the time I'm up out of bed and ready to go into each bedroom and wake each child for school my hands are already like ice.

And everyone cringes when I go to stir them awake with my chilled fingers.

Friday, April 17, 2015


When my mother was 34 I was 16 and she was pregnant with my baby sister, Hannah. When I turned 16 my mom was giant and uncomfortable and counting down the next seven weeks till she was due with her fifth baby, her last baby, my beautiful blond babiest sister.

When my daddy was 34 I was 12 and had long wavy hair and insisted on wearing giant oversized Pearl Jam t-shirts, cut off jean shorts and Doc Martens. He was pretty much the same as he is now except a little wild still yet and with a tiny bit more hair. He had some more oats to sow.

When Jeremiah was 34 we went through the second most horrible trial of our relationship. I was thinner and unhappy. He was brooding as usual but much, much angrier. The last three years have mellowed him exponentially. And with his mellowness I've gained some weight.

When my beloved Grandma Bert was 34 she was a mother, a worker and living a life similar to mine in some ways. She had three children from a previous marriage and two with her husband, my pappy, the love of her life. She was struggling, there was never quite enough money. They fought, they had fiery personalities, they loved each other explosively. In the end they mellowed out as well and had a happy life. Trying at times, yes, but in the end she was happy. At least, she said she was happy.

I turned 34 yesterday. My mother tells me I was born a little after 10:00 PM, just long enough after 10:00 to keep my grandma at the hospital with her and not at a card game. Last night at 10:00 I was in the arms of the man I love, digesting ice cream cake and mushroom pizza, watching Babadook in our dark gameroom underneath an electric blanket while my children were in bed in their rooms above us.

When I woke up this morning I didn't feel all that much different. I did fall asleep a little earlier than I usually do and Maxine Jane and I were dragging our feet before school and she had to run down to the bus stop. I had half an english muffin, a honeycrisp apple, a big mug of coffee. The sun is not out, the air is slightly damp, my hair is curly and unruly, the dog needs brushed and there's much, much work to be done before end of office hours today but I am happy.

And I'm 34.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Curse

Blood. When Maxine Jane's nose bleeds I freak out even though it happens often and with gory results. I've taken her to the doctor and they tell me it's normal. My brother Joshua and I both had nose bleeds as children all the time.

But every time she comes to me with her hand filled with snot and blood and clots of thick mucus streaked with bright, bright red I feel faint and panicked at the same time. Calling for Jeremiah, running for the paper towels because tissues just don't work, soothing her when she doesn't really need soothed.

So you'd think my monthly bleeding might freak me out a little...but really until very recently it hasn't. I've always had light, short periods and I have no idea why. I also have no idea why in the last five months or so I have had painful, emotional periods with copious amounts of blood. I know we as a society don't like to talk about this but hey, it's my blog...I'll talk about what I want.

And what I want to talk about is why I now see why menstruating is seen as a curse, The Curse. I feel like I need a nap and I hate naps. I feel like I'm in early labor which after having four children, trust me, that fucking sucks. I snapped at Olive this morning and I cried when I found Elijah in bed with a stuffy nose and a mild fever. I didn't get any of my morning work done, I didn't stuff any of the bunnies or bears I have to finish by the end of the week, I didn't make my morning smoothie or the french press espresso I had been looking forward to the night before. Everything seems... wrong.

I am fully cognizant that this curse gave me the ability to have my four beautiful children. It stills sucks.

I had promised myself that I was going to have a cheery 34th birthday this Thursday, that I was going to shed the malaise that has been coming over me since my 30th. But now with this curse I'm not sure I'll be able to.

Maybe if there will be cake! Cake that I didn't have to make, of course.