Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fly On My Wall - it's just...Differenter

Littlest: Mom
ma? Why are you making all the grown-up candy first this year?

Me: Because I want to send some to my friend, and he's far away.

Littlest: oh…Okay…..Wouldn't you be happier if he lived here?

Me, laughing: No, pumpkin. I don't want him to live here. Then I'd have to see him all the time.

Littlest, confused: oh. You don't want him to see him all the time? Doesn’t he make you happy?

Me: yes, he does.  But no, I don't…I wish I saw him more, but not all the time. I like being alone and I like spending my time with you guys and my friends...I don't want to fit in time for him too.

Littlest: You talk to him every day...

Me, smiling: not every day, but yes, most days. But talking is way less time consuming than him actually being here. Does that make sense?

Littlest: yeah. It's just..differenter...

Me: yes, it is.  But differenter is good.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

guilty pleasures

Guilty pleasures.

Are they things you’re supposed to feel guilty about enjoying?  Am I supposed to feel guilty that I eat ice cream of breakfast?  Or that I read tawdry romance novels?  How about adoring all things Alice in Wonderland? Ooh, I know! How about counting down the minutes until the kids are in bed?

Are those guilty pleasures?

Because they don’t make me feel guilty. At all.

All those little likes add up to the whole of who I am.  Every little one. Makes me me.  I am not ashamed of who I am. So why should my likes and dislike make me feel guilty?

Because they’ll know.
And they’ll judge.
And they won’t like me.

Instead, pretend. Pretend I like sportsball, that I always adore my children and want to spend every moment with them.  Then. Then, maybe they’ll like me.  They’ll accept me and I’ll have friends.
Yay. Friends!

I don’t sport.  Shall I pretend to follow sportsball, just so you’ll find me interesting? If you don’t find me interesting without my liking sportsball, well, then, we’re really not going to be very good friends then, are we? Do I really want to be friends with someone for whom sportsball is so important that they won’t want to be my friend if, *gasp* they found out I don’t care who wins?

Why do I want to spend time with people that I’m afraid to be myself with?

I’m going to be judged.  Might as well be judged for being me, not for pretending to be someone else.

Own it.
Just own it. I did.

You’ve spent your entire life being you.  You have likes, you have dislikes. They’re part of what makes you interesting.  Why would you want to associate voluntarily with someone who doesn’t like you for you?

Stop pretending.

Own it.
Just be you.

In order to find the people who belong in your life, you have to be you.  If you’re constantly hiding the you, or pretending to be someone slightly different than who you are, you’re not going to be happy.  You’re constantly going to be striving to be something you’re not.

They’re gonna judge. Be judged for who you actually are, not who you think they want you to be.
Just stop trying to be liked.  Stop caring what other people will think.

Be yourself.
Be who makes you happy. Spend time with people who make you happy.
The rest will come.
Trust me.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sharing Space - untitled

My Amy wanted to share a bit of my space again.  More about My Amy, and a list of her posts here.

Dear Boss,

You asked me the other day if I regretted taking this job. I laughed it off and said no, of course not, but it was a question that gave me pause. That word, regret: it sits heavy in your mouth, like sand weighing down the bottom of your shoes. Formally, it means ‘a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done’. So do I regret being a caseworker for the better part of 2 years? Do I regret being at the agency for 5? That is a consideration of enormous proportions.

This has been the hardest 19 months of my life. I have lost sleep, hair, some liver functioning, and the majority of my social life. I have gained 40 pounds, a
penchant for whiskey, a shoulder that is frozen due to stress, and an 
cynicism. I will never look at the world the same way again. Like you said today, nothing surprises me anymore. Not the beatings, the domestic violence, the physical pain people inflict on each other; not the abandonment and the narcissism and the emotional trauma that our parents deliver to their children—not a bit of it surprises me, and I so wish it did. Swallowing my own feelings when looking into the face of a sobbing child or parent on the worst day of their lives and knowing that I am the catalyst of that grief has broken a part of me. Watching relatives walk away is beyond comprehension; I have learned to surrender to the ‘mutant logic’ and be grateful that I can’t understand it better. There is no way to stay removed; as hard as I have tried to shelter my heart, each moment bites through me like wind on the coast. The bureaucratic red tape is enough to make me bang my head against the wall daily. Wrangling attorneys, court reports, psychological evaluations, appointments, teachers, CASAs, and angry, bitter relatives is overwhelming; navigating our court system gives me a stomachache and so many times the quick changes bring headaches and tears. The what-ifs and should-haves and if-only-we-could have eaten me alive as I was afraid they would. 

This has been the hardest 19 months of my life. But hard is not without merit. Yes, I have learned that people can be terrible to their children; however, for every parent who hurt their kid in a million different ways, there was a cast of thousands in the wings waiting to soothe those little hearts. The community in which I have been immersed is fighting the tide daily, and though I don’t think there is any turning it back we are at least damming it up. I have learned how strong addicts in recovery are, and that the capacity for second chances is immeasurable if a person works hard enough. There are parents and relatives I have been lucky enough to work with who showed me that there are those who can come back from the edge. And I feel privileged to have learned at their feet the lesson that sometimes is the best thing their kids can see: Mama screwed up. Big time. But she’s not giving up. In an even more poignant light, the parents who give their kids up because they know they can’t give them what they need demonstrate a whole different kind of courage. I have yet to work with a parent who doesn’t feel the harm they have done, who isn’t angry with themselves for the pain they’ve caused, who doesn’t want the best for their child. I have yet to work with a parent who doesn’t love their child whole-heartedly. 

I am not disappointed about the work I did personally, nor about the work our team does on a weekly basis. There’s no grief over the intense bonds formed with our coworkers. We know each other’s lives and hearts. The bonds forged in struggle are the strongest and that is so evident in the unit you lead with an open heart and courageous soul. I have learned to ask for help in ways I never knew possible. You taught me that to be openly vulnerable is the best way to discover how much support you truly have. Tonight I am overwhelmed thinking about how much I will miss all of you and how very sorry I am that I don’t have anything left to give you all. If there is grief it comes from the knowledge that while I am making the best choice for myself, I am letting you all down. I wish above all else that I could have found a way to genuinely balance my work life and my personal life; perhaps then I could stay. The way we care for each other is nothing short of remarkable and I was so lucky to work alongside you all. I have nothing but utter respect for you, and I have learned so much more about humanity and heart from our motley crew than I dreamed was possible. You have walked me through the hardest days of my life. 

And oh, my children. Our children. They are ours. How could I possibly wish that I had never met them? They sparkle. Even in their most broken-down moments, they have a capacity for recovery and wholeness, one that rolls me, astounded, every time. They have taught me about sharks and trucks and resilience and ballet and joy. They are my grace. I am thrilled to have gone to their parent teacher conferences, shepherded them through upheavals, held them when they were scared or sad, and celebrated the small triumphs with them. I am thrilled to have brought them birthday presents, taken them to lunch, heard about their favorite part of school, and been if only for a moment or two the voice they each deserve. Knowing their need for as many safe and secure adults in their lives as possible, it was my pleasure to be one of those people for them.There is a part of me that wants to stay, if only to discover who they will become and how far they can go. Of course, as they age and move out of our system, we won’t ever learn that. I wish I could be at their 16th birthdays, their graduations and their weddings. This world we live in is one of hardship but it is also one of hope. They are that hope, and I genuinely believe that some of my kids will make it. Some of them will be ok. Not being there to see that is a sadness I will carry with me. Yes, their safety and happiness is our job. But more than that, it is our passion. This is no ordinary job. This is not your typical 9-to-5. I can’t think of another line of work in which you can watch your heart walk around outside of your body as you put everything you have into kids that are not yours. 

When I moved those kiddos last week, I was terrified. You know. It’s always terrifying. Walking into their new home, they clung to my hands. Cooper* hid behind my knees; Claudia* snuggled under my arm. For the first half hour, I couldn’t leave Coop’s side. Little by little they relaxed; after all, this is one of the best foster homes I have ever placed kids in. By the time I left, two hours later, they were happily unpacking, chatting, and running around the house. Still, when I said goodbye, they wanted long hugs and little kisses. I reassured them I would see them tomorrow and that they were going to have so much fun with their new foster parents. Claudia burrowed into my arms. Amy, she said. Yes, sweetheart? She sighed. I love you so much. The foster mom stared at us. I love you too, missy. So much. 

This is not your typical 9-to-5. 

There are many, many choices and moments in my life that I regret. Not one of them has been in the last 19 months. How could I possibly regret this work? There you have it.

Thank you for giving me this chance to find out how far I could get, and thank you for not holding it against me that I can’t go any further. 


*Name changed

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Bedtime Conversations

About once a week I make a point to chat with each of my littles, one on one, when they're cozy in bed, settled for the night. Sometimes we talk about nothing, other times we talk about "stuff".

They never cease to amaze me.

Conversation #1

Me: What would you think if Prince Charming* stayed here the next time he was in town?

Boy: Where would he sleep? Would I have to sleep in the girls' room?

Me: No, he'd sleep in my bed.

Boy: Then where would you sleep?

Me: In my bed too.

Boy: And I don't have to give up my bed? 

Me: Nope. You'd still sleep in your bed.

Boy: Then it doesn't really matter to me...Oh, Mom! You won't be so cold at night if he stays here, he can keep you warm!

Planning on it, my boy. Planning on it.

Conversation #2

Me: What would you think if Prince Charming* stayed with us the next time he was in town?

Eldest: Would we be here too? Or would we go to Dad's?

Me: More than likely you'd be at Dad's. But I wanted your opinion, in case you're not.

Eldest: Oh, like if dad works?

Me: Yep.

Eldest: Well.... It's fine with me...as long as I know before I go to sleep that he'll be here when I wake up. It would totally freak me out to wake up and find a guy in my house.

Me, laughing: fair enough. I'd make sure you'd know the night before.

Conversation #3

Me: What would you think if Prince Charming* stayed with us the next time he was in town?

Littlest: Why? 

Me: Well....I work, and I'd like to spend some time with him and if he stayed here, I could see him more.

Littlest: Oh, that makes sense. You do work a lot...Where would he sleep?

Me: In my bed, with me.

Littlest: Can I still come in if I have a bad dream or can't sleep? 

Me: Of course. I'd probably tuck you back in your bed though, you wouldn't get to climb in bed with me.

Littlest: Oh.....Yeah. I guess your bed isn't really big enough for three.

Me: True. And he's not used to kids climbing into bed...

Littlest, giggling: Yeah. And he might snore, so I wouldn't sleep anyways.

Me: ..... I hadn't thought of that.

Littlest, patting my hand reassuringly: Don't worry momma, if he snores you can sleep with me.

I love my realistic, honest, pragmatic children. 

*name has been changed. 
Obviously.  Because he's not a prince. Or charming. and I'm not Cinderella.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fly On My Wall - my side of the conversation

Um...Hi. .....

So, I was thinking..
You. me.
Whadda think?
No, I'm not kidding.

Not that....
been there, done that. 
I don't have time for that.
I don't want that.
....You don't want that, why should I?

This, I want this.
this suits me much better than that.
because this is what I have to give.
can't give more.
won't give more.
Yes, I'm sure
Yes, I know.
Well aware.

...does that really matter?

Then is not now, then is later.
Then hasn't happened yet.

Let tomorrow take care of tomorrow.

Today, this.
I want this.
just this.

Crazy, right?
Surprised much?
Yeah me too.

Figured I'd throw it out there.....
I don't have time to wait for you to pick up the hints....
and really, you're not that great at picking up hints...
and I'm too old for games.

So. Telling you.

What do you say, my friend?

Shall we see where this takes us?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

life. it happens.

Um, hi.
Didn't mean to fall of the face of the earth.
Just been busy, really busy.

Got a new job a month ago, 40 hrs a week. My current schedule has me getting up at 4am.
painful, 4am.
It's not really morning.

By the time I get home from work and then do the mom thing, there's not a whole lot of brain power left for writing. 
or dishes.
or laundry.
or mopping. 

or anything else.

Right now, I'm tired all the time.
exhausted. all. the. time.

I'm sure the grammar and formatting in this post are atrocious.
I'm too tired to care.
I drive at least an hour each day, so I've plenty of time to think. I write posts in my head, just don't get them out of my head.

About what? well -

I'm continuing to make discoveries about myself and what's important to me, and (more importantly) what's not important.

I've had really awesome conversations with my three not-so-littles about different kinds of relationships, how different people need and want different things, and how that's okay. 

I've embraced the fact that I am who I am. I like who I am, and I really don't care what anyone thinks. I'm quirky. I'm a lot.
Deal with it. Or don't, I don't care.
Really. could not care less.
Each of these deserve a full, stand-alone post. The serendipitous events that spiraled into these discoveries are pretty awesome. They're also personal.

and, my personal life is, well, mine.

So, until I find the brain power to write about these lessons abstractly, know this:

I'm happy.
I am content to enjoy the now, without stressing about what comes next.
Because I don't know what comes next.
I only know what I know.

And what I know makes me happy.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

and this is good

It’s been quite the month. 

didn't realize how much has happened in the last month until I was sitting at the bar grinning at one of my closest friends, trying to figure where to start.  She and I hadn’t talked in a month.   I really didn’t know where to start. 

And I was grinning.
ear to ear, my face hurt, grinning.
So many good things.

Remember a while back when I said I was done treading water?  Well, I just started swimming.  I didn’t consciously pick a direction.  I just moved.

I decided I wasn’t going to worry about what people thought.  No one knows what you’re thinking unless you tell them.  You can hint, but really, being blunt and honest is so much clearer. Harder, but so much clearer.

Twenty seconds of brave, that’s all you need.
With today’s technology you can be brave, hit send, and wait for the fallout. So much easier than being brave in person. 

‘Cause rejection so totally blows.

I stopped playing games.  I don’t have time for that shit. Time passes too quickly to be caught up in the viscous cycle of “did they get my hints?" - or - "oh, that kinda really hurt.”

fuck that.

I’m done.  I know how fleeting time is. I know that there may not be a next time.

So, I’m gonna tell you how I feel.
If I want to shut the door and kiss you, I’m gonna tell you. 

(yes, I did actually send a text with those words. No, there was no kissing.
But hey, no games. He knew I was interested. He just wasn't.)

 Six months ago I wouldn't have. Six months ago I would have pretended I had no feelings and walked away shy, scared, and numb.

Today I know that this may be the only chance I have to make my feelings known.  So I’d better make them known.

Anyway, back to the bar.

We sat at the bar, and I liked it.

All the tables were full, so we really didn't have a choice, but instead of dreading being in the center of the room where everyone could see me, I sat right down and grinned.  I spent all night watching people watch us.  didn't think we are particularly notice-worthy, but people were watching us. It was awesome.

didn't order my usual whiskey.  I wanted to try something new. So I ordered something new. When they were out of it, I asked the bartender to pick something.  He did, and I liked it.

We sat there for over three hours, eating, drinking and talking.  We even had dessert and coffee. 

SO MUCH had happened.

I’d told different people bits and pieces, but to sit down and try to explain not only what had happened, but how it had happened, the order in which it happened, and my thinking behind my actions, that was difficult.

Luckily, she’s used to my jumping from topic to topic and kept up pretty well.

I was amazed at what I was describing.
I was not describing things I would have done a year ago.
I remember the look on her face when I described how I had….just…laid it all out there for this particular puzzle piece of happiness to accept or reject.   

“Who does that?” was the look and feeling.
Obviously, Kristin does that.

‘Cause what do I have to lose?  Nothing.

Good things have happened in every facet of my life.


A month ago I couldn't see past the next week.  Now, now I have a pretty good sense of where my life will be in June. I can see to June.



June is eight months from now. 
In June, many happenings will happen, and things will change.
I know that.
I’m okay with that.

Happenings will happen before June, both anticipated and not.

When they happen, I’ll do what I feel is right. 
I’ll think about the options, analyze the consequences of my decision, ask for opinions.
Then I’ll do what feels right.

This month, I did what felt right.

I broke my own rules.

I sent texts after whisky.
lots of whisky.
seriously, copious amounts of whisky

Because it felt right.
was right.
is right.

I am happy and that is terrifying.

One of the lessons I've learned this past year has been how to accept the shit that life threw at me.
continually threw at me.
continues to throw at me.

I found myself  handling challenges with a grace I didn't know I had. Leaning on friends more than I wanted to.

learned how to accept what best for me and mine, regardless of my feelings.
I learned to ask for help when I needed it.
I learned to graciously accept help when I couldn't do it alone.
I learned to look past my own little hurts to the big picture. 
I learned to decide what was worth my emotions and what was not.
I learned to determine what really didn't change anything, so why fight it.

Lessons learned.

But these new lessons? These are hard.

Obviously, or I wouldn't need to learn them.

Accept the good with grace, don’t question it, just accept and enjoy it while it lasts.
Accept that I am worth waiting for.
Accept that people want to help. 
Accept that patience is necessary.

I hate this lesson.
I am not a patient woman.
Never have been. 

Obviously, patience is something I need to work on.
I am learning. I can maintain an exterior of calm acceptance and patience. 

Inside I’m stomping my foot and demanding that I get what I've been promised, now.

Now. Not later. Now.

I’m learning to breathe, smile, and enjoy the waiting.

These are hard lessons to learn. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know how long I get to be happy. I’m learning to enjoy being happy and not question why, or wonder when it’s going to end. I'm learning not to fear the tragedy that will come tomorrow and smash my happiness to smithereens.

I’m trying, really trying.

Long story short, I’m happy.  

Happier than I've been in a hell-a-long-time.
Right now, every facet of my life has some happiness in it.
I’m enjoying it while it lasts, not dreading the end, or waiting for the knife in the dark.

And this is good.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


She closed the door behind her, listening for the soft click of the latch. She leaned against the door, eyes closed, enjoying the relative quiet.   She opened her eyes.

This was home.  Everything here was hers.  She would never share any of this.  It was all hers.  Behind her, on the other side of the latched door, was reality. That, she shared. Happily.
But this was hers.

To her right, the room opened to a cheery little sitting room.  There was a cozy little hearth, fire cracking and a pot of water heating over the flames.  An overstuffed and much patched chair was next to the hearth.  That’s where she could curl up in, tuck her feet under her and enjoy her solitude.  Across from the curl-up chair the work table stood, scarred and stained.  Her work table was big enough for her to spread out when she worked on her things.  A simple wooden chair was haphazardly set near the table. Everything in that room was well loved, homey, warm and quirky.  Nothing matched, nothing clashed.

Directly opposite the front door was the corridor. Two smallish, gleaming, polished cherry tables stood at the entry. The corridor was a wide hallway lined with grey industrial shelving units.  The edge of the first set of shelves lined up perfectly with the doorway, the tables were technically not in the corridor, but they belonged to the corridor.  The edges of the tables lined up exactly with the edge of the shelving units.  There was a measured gap between the table and wall which was exactly the same as the gap between the table and the shelving.  The left side matched the right, precisely.

Stacked haphazardly under each table were the boxes and their lids.  The boxes were made of a thin wood, the exact shade of the tables, but with a matte finish.  They were lightweight but strong.  They had been designed like cardboard filing boxes. Same size, shape, everything.  They all matched. Identical.

To her left was dull white wall that had a door at the exact center.  The door was slightly open.  Barely open, the casual observer would’ve thought it was closed.

For the last several months, the only time she’d been home had been to quickly cross the room to one of the cherry tables, dump her unfinished things into a waiting box, shut the lid and set it in the first empty slot on one of the shelves.

Today she carried nothing.  She walked slowly towards the corridor. She smiled. So many things.  All hers.  The shelves were all identical; the boxes, identical.  The spacing between the boxes was precisely the same as every other space on the shelves.  She spread her arms out, fingertips barely touching the row of boxes on either side.  Slowly she walked down the hall, feeling the smooth, polished wood under her fingers.  Each box was precisely placed, the same distance apart, parallel to the box set just so along the opposite shelf.  All this order and symmetry was so peaceful.  The silence was blissful.  The only noise was the soft patter of her bare feet on the cold concrete floor. She relaxed, simply enjoying trailing her fingers in peace. Every so often there would be a box out of place, just enough to not be perfect.  She acknowledged those imperfections. Those boxes contained her unfinished things.  When they were done, they’d get lined up perfectly.

The only light came from the sitting room. As she walked further down the corridor the hall got darker and her fingers found less and less boxes out of place.  Her steps slowed and she turned.  She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the scent of old cedar, forgotten flowers and cherished books.

Hugging herself, she walked back towards the light. She stopped in front of a set of boxes near the entrance; nearly all of these were unfinished.   She carefully selected one, pulled it down and carried it back to her work table, bare feet warming  on the hardwood floor of the sitting room.  She set the box gently on the table and with a deep breath lifted the lid.

What seemed like hours later she quietly slid the lid back into place. Exhausted, but happy.  Done. This box was done. She walked the box back to its proper place in the corridor, setting it just so, perfectly aligned with all the other straight lines, the space between the edge of the shelf and the edge of the box just precisely perfect.  Her eyes caught on all the boxes askew around this one finished box. Her smile faded and she began to despair at the number of unfinished things.
Spinning on her heels, she forced herself to look down the corridor, down the endless rows of perfectly placed boxes fading into the darkness.  Nodding sharply she turned back around, refusing to look anywhere but forward.  She’d finished all those.  She’d finish these too.  Just, not today.

Crossing to the hearth, she poured the boiling water into the waiting mug and curled up in her chair. Holding the steaming tea to her lips she drank in the scent of lemons, chamomile and spring rain.  The tea was too hot to drink, so she wrapped her hands around the mug, enjoying the warm peace.  The sitting room was not silent.  Not like the corridor.  The steaming water hissed, the fire crackled, somewhere a cricket chirped, and the water dripped occasionally.  Nothing was symmetrical here.  Happy angles and quirky colors dominated the space. Askew was normal. It made her happy. It too was peaceful.

She looked at the white wall across the room, its precisely placed door and the murmurs of sound behind it.  She was damn proud of that door.  Hell, she was damn proud of the room behind it too.  She had built both.  Looking at the door she was overwhelmed with sadness and acceptance. Old feelings, she knew, but still they tugged at her heart.

The door was a work of art, and she had created it.  Before it had been a door and a room it had been a hall, twin to the first, but lacking shelves and boxes.  This hall had been a crazy mess of everything that spilled out into the sitting room and into the proper corridor.  She’d cleared out all the chaos, carefully packing each scent, color, and taste into their own perfectly symmetrical wooden box on her perfectly parallel shelves.  Adjusting them, just so, perfectly in line.

The hall was not empty though.  Sounds cannot be contained in her perfect wooden boxes. She knew. She had tried.

Oh how she’d tried.

The attempt had threatened to destroy everything; the chaos had swirled into the corridor, into the sitting room, everywhere.  She had had no home, no safe place.  She had to live with these sounds, unless she wanted the rest of her world to be destroyed. So, she built the room and the door.

She turned the long narrow hall into a room.  A room with no corners, a true circle, symmetrically perfect.   If she had trailed her fingers along those walls, she would have felt the thick texture of muslin that has been painted over and over.  She had covered the muslin with layers upon layers of paint, trying color after color, until she realized the flat black paint that reflects no light was right.  No footsteps could be heard when she walked into that room. The concrete floor had been covered with painted muslin too.

When the room hadn’t been enough to contain the sounds, she’d created the door.  She was still amazed that she had made that. The edges of the door were capped in hammered silver.  There was no latch, nothing to keep the door closed, just the silver edges reflecting the firelight.  After trying and failing to keep the door closed an uncountable number of times, she’d accepted that the door would never shut, or, more precisely, could not stay shut. So, she’d covered the latch with the silver cap.  It had been so pretty, she’d done all the edges.

That’s was just the beginning.  Inset into the door, randomly scattered like stars, were faceted gemstones of every size, shape, and color.  The smallest was no bigger than the tip of her pinkie finger, the largest almost fist sized.  She’d drilled holes through the door and set the stones with gold and silver scrollwork.  Flowing vines, curls, and curves laced the surface of the door. No lines, no angles, just a beautiful mess of colors and curves.

From the inside of the room, the door was a scattering of flickering rainbow stars. With the door only open a fraction of an inch, the room inside was blacker than a moonless night.
And the sounds stayed there.  They spun along the ceiling, creating a layer of noise above the warm, humid air.  If she stretched her fingers up, she could just brush their iciness.

Dangerous that.
Twice since she had deemed the door finished she had done that.  She had slipped into the darkness, arms outstretched, and fingers touching the icy air.  Eyes closed she had slowly spun in circles, letting the sounds spin with her, until she was at the vortex of an overwhelming whirlwind of sound.

She let go and gave into the madness.  She loved the chaos.  It felt more perfect than lines, angles, boxes, or tea.  Both times she had been terrified she wouldn’t be able to find the door again.

Terrified that she would get so caught up in the spinning darkness that she would forget to look for the door.

Terrified that the joy being part of the whirlwind of madness and chaos would be greater than the glittering stars she’d set in the door.

Terrified she would not want to look for the door.

Both times she’d forced herself to open her eyes, look for the stars and spin toward the door. Both times she’d forced herself to want the glittering stars of brightness. Breathless, she had stood in the  center of her home; chaos, symmetry, and cozy comfort flooding her with the whole of who she is.  Never had she felt so complete, so perfect, so exhausted. Those brief moments of completion had cost so much.

Lost in the memory of release and perfection, she brought the mug to her lips, but it was empty.  

Empty.  Yes, those moments had cost so much.

Silently, she set the mug on the hearth, extracted herself from her cozy chair, and walked to the front door.  Hand on the worn glass knob; she turned, eyes taking in the door, the corridor and sitting room.

Sighing, she slipped back into reality, closing the door behind her with a soft click.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sharing Space - paws and pausing

 My Amy wanted to share a bit of my space again.  More about My Amy, and a list of her posts here.

Paws and I hit up our favorite breakfast spot yesterday morning. On the way into the restaurant, she ran ahead of me: a long-legged figure in small jean shorts, purple Crocs, and a blue and white striped shirt with ruffled shoulders.

Her shorts were too big and when they started falling down she stopped and tried to hike them up. I flipped over the waistband and on she ran.

So simple. And yet.

It gave me pause.

Sitting in the booth and coloring with her, cutting up her food, asking her to sit back down when she’s eating, giving Eskimo kisses: all of it was a moment of revelry for me, like I haven’t felt in a while.

The question that has been rattling around in my head for months again rose to the surface. Do I want to be a mother?

Since the first time Younger Girl fell asleep in my arms I have wanted to have a child of my own.

I love being with the kids who are my nieces and nephews.

The tantrums, the fights, the piggyback rides, the explanations. Love it.

The questions that come from nowhere. Once, when she was about 4, Older Girl turned to me, twisted up her face, and said Amy, why do soldiers like to fight?

Try fielding that one.

The delights that come from nowhere. After a particularly fun outing, the Seattle Boy asked me can you be my mom?

And explaining to a six year old why that made me cry was a little tricky.

These 16 kids range in age from 13 to six months, and they own my heart.

I have climbed trees and chased chickens with them.

I have made them peanut butter sandwiches, folded their laundry, and soothed them after bad dreams. We have had dance parties. We have gone on trips.

We have talked about everything from starting middle school and bullies to why ladybugs fly and how come it’s naptime even though THEY’RE NOT TIRED.

They’ve invited me to their graduations, told me about their friends, and blown their noses on my pants.

They have taught me a million times over the joyful parts of being a parent. The best and hardest parts, in snippets and weekends and hours.

Now I’ve got kids whose permission slips I sign.

I call their doctor’s offices, fight to get them the support they need, talk to their counselors, and worry about them at night.

I buy them birthday presents and take them to lunch.

Sometimes they call just to shout at me. Sometimes they want to show me their art projects. Sometimes I am the one they blame.

I try to imagine the best futures possible for them.

Then I try to keep the promise I made: I’ll do whatever I can to make that future happen.

They have taught me a million times over the gut-wrenching parts of being a parent. The parts that keep all parents hyper-vigilant and waiting for the morning.

We talk about everything from if they are happy where they are and what they’re worried about to what the coolest part of school is so far and what they had for lunch that WAS SO GROSS.

Sometimes they cry like their hearts are breaking right in front of me.

Try fielding that one.

I’ll never get it right. But at least I’ll be there.

My mom has always told me two things about having kids: there’s never a perfect time for it, not really. Better times than others, sure, but never a perfect one. And that being a parent is the hardest job a person can have. One that is, in the end, completely worth it.

Do I want to be a mother?

Aren’t I sort of one already?

On a strictly-part-time, not-the-total-real-deal-because-my-heart-isn’t-actually-walking-around-on-two-feet, you-can’t-totally-know-what-it’s-like-til-you-have-one-yourself kind of basis of course, but still.

If my mother, and my sister-in-law, and my dear friends are any example, being a mom is about loving someone else so much that you’d lie down in traffic for them.


It’s about being there for the big moments and the rough ones and the fun ones and the amazing ones.


It’s about the worrying, the protecting, the conversations. 

It is messy. It is hard.

It is incredible.

Check, check, check.

Last night, putting Paws to bed, she refused to let me snuggle her. Nothing new, she’s been doing that for several months now. So while she curled up with her baby doll and tucked it in, I lay next to her and softly sang some off-key lullabies.

To be honest, I’m not sure that Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys was originally intended as a lullaby but hey, if it works then go with it….even though the first time she sings ‘little warm puppies and children and girls of the night’ at preschool will be interesting.

Just as I think she’s dropping off, she rolls towards me. Her small warm hands reach out for me and she cradles my face.

I lean in and kiss her sweaty forehead, smelling the soap that we used to wash her face clean during her bath.

Mamy, she mutters. Is ok, Mamy. Love you.

Love you too, Bug, I whisper back. More than anything. Always.

Messy. Hard. Incredible. 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fly On My Wall - reasons for smiles ii

smallest child: "I like hugging you right before you go out with friends."
me: "Oh? Why?"
smallest child: "Because you smell good."


"...yes i really do want to know."


Boy: "My mom likes superheros...well....Mostly just Thor and Captain America....so, really just the blonde avengers."


Me: "How was your first day of school?"
Eldest child: "So, my music teacher was impressed that I knew the choral warm-ups
...and she was impressed you were my mom
...then all the boys were impressed that you're friends with the guy who makes the superheros fly in Marvel Universe Live
...I have the coolest mom. ever."


"Did I mention it makes me happy when I see the little green light blinking on my phone that means someone sent me a message?"


Me: "How was school?"
Smallest child: "Shiny."


*watching Firefly together*
Smallest child: "what's a whore?"
Me:".........someone who gets paid for sex."
Smallest child: "okay. thanks."