Goodbye moon

Ever Sophia, Love, pretty things, therapy

I spent my whole childhood imagining what it would be like to be a mother. I would have three kids, all named after early 90’s sitcom characters: Blossom, Clarissa, and Tapanga, respectively. At least one would be a boy.

I was to be happily married, but also an ultra bad ass working mom, like an astronaut working mom. I’d tend to the children between missions to Saturn and stuff. I also magically was going to be there everyday when the kids got home from school. I’d bake pies for snack time, be the room mom and be the biddy basketball coach.

My babies were going to be five times as smart and a light year better at making good decision than me, but also have blonde hair and blue eyes because did you see me as a child? (Okay not those unfortunate ones where I was a morbidly obese infant the other ones).

Let me count the ways that I fabricated what I was sure would be reality: family vacations, family dinners, family meetings, family game night, family sized packs of fruit snacks, pretty much the word family before any noun makes it bigger and better, and who doesn’t like bigger and better things???

I now know that the word family not only makes you look like less of a glutton in the check out isle but it also allows you to share the burden. It creates a home. Relief on the hard days and witnesses for the great ones.

Absolutely none of those things happened. Happily married evaded me the more I chased it. Three artfully named children turned into one artfully named girl. Being an astronaut turned into being a therapist, though I’m pretty sure that I’ve had an alien or two as clients. I can’t even remember a single time that I wasn’t rushing around in traffic at five o’clock trying to pick Ev up before her after school care closed. Last but not least I have no time to coach anything, other than the rousing peptalks that I give both of us to crawl out of bed and even still our morning routine makes it into double overtime pretty consistently.

The moments of feeling like I’ve balanced single parenthood, work, school, romantic partnership, dog ownership (my eulogy to who I thought I would be as a dog parent is next), has been far from eloquent. I’m inclined to say it’s the hardest thing that I have ever done, but also that it’s never once felt impossible.

I haven’t yet gotten to be the mom I dreamed to be. But I did get to be Ever’s mom over and over and over again. Couldn’t have chosen a more majestic little creature to negotiate this family thing with until the day I die, and then some.

There’s a whole other part to this but I’m keeping highly classified information about the most beautiful thing that happened today, so I’ll wait on until the photo deal goes through with People magazine and the gag order is lifted (I’m impatient, you know this).

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soul keepers

Ever Sophia, Love, pretty things, soulfood

In the past three months I have traveled physically, mentally, emotionally. I have unpacked my bag of family and school stress laid it out on my bed and evaluated it. Then I repacked my bag with neatly folded and tucked layers of uncertainty. Replaced despair with question marks. There’s a new grip on my sanity. It’s always seems to be a different version of the same fist doesn’t it.

Diagnosis- anxiety.
Comorbidity- exhaustion.
Treatment plan- trust.

Early this summer I kicked off two weeks of release with a one night camping trip with my baby girl. It was hands down the sweetest moments that we have shared maybe ever. Ev is her father’s daughter, she loves all things outdoors and is relentlessly handy. Ever-v-Woods I’d put my money on her every time.


We put up our tent at dusk. Walked to the lake, stood breathless at the infinite perfection of our Earth. Came back, set up the rest of camp by lantern. Ate raw s’mores and tucked ourselves into our tent sans rain flap so that we could take in the sky.


When was the last time that you were in the middle of no where and looked at the stars? If it has been awhile, clear your schedule, just go, do it. It’s unbelievable. More than stars, the galaxy. Perspective. Guaranteed dumbfounding beauty.

We laid there in that tent on the waters edge, lulled to sleep by the croaky growl of bull frogs. Directly above us perfectly framed by our tent poles hovered the big dipper. I took the opportunity to share a Lakota story that I had learned the weekend prior at a sweat lodge about a Lakota female ancestor spirit that lives in the very center of the big dipper. I will proceed to butcher what is truly a beautiful tradition because I don’t remember all of the details and the oral tradition (thankfully) evades the powers of Google. This ancestor spirit acts as the gate keeper of all souls. Souls travel to new babies born on Earth through a portal of sorts in the middle of the big dipper and when we die we all return to that place. A shooting star is the soul traveling across the sky, a baby being born.

And just then, in the middle of the constellation- brilliant and tactile as we lay simply in awe, the brightest most distinct shooting star that I have ever seen blazed directly across the stary ladle.

“Wow! Did you see that Mommy?!?!?”
“How could I not”.

It still gives me chills. Hums a low this place, your place, our collective being is bigger than you can ever conceive. And for 9 hours and counting every day our world goes still and quiet begging for you to look up. To witness the spray of magic breathing and burning in perfect unison with all that is. To swaddle you in her spangled darkness of destiny.

 

 

To Fail the Reflection of Yourself 

Ever Sophia, Love

 

You and I child

We are one.
Where I stop you begin.

There are a lot of things that I am good at:
Falling in love
Following through
Getting back up
and carrying someone with me.

 

I haven’t always been good at being your mother.

 

This is a new skill set for
Me-I
You-and-I .

 

And damn if we aren’t both constantly changing
Growing
and trying to keep up.
Hold my hand, we’ll look both ways.

 

You and I child.

 

 

In Response To Your Noise Complaint:

Ever Sophia, Love, soulfood

I will not apologize because:

-Because my baby- yes the padding foot steps of a 72 month old is a little louder than they used to be- is playing, singing, dancing. Practicing her tendus and haphazard cartwheels.

-Because my dogs bark at what they perceive to be a threat against their people. Me. Us. That big scary looking one, she is an absolute baby. An absolute baby that circled and brought to the knees a dangerous man that crept up on me and Meena’s little girl human. The little one, well we found her abandoned by a dumpster. She’s so excited to have a home, to have a dog friend and space to run in circles. She may never catch her tail but we’re going to give her the space and acoustic allotment to try.

-Because some times the stars align and the most magical throw backs stream out of Pandora begging me to shake my booty while doing the dishes. Ev is never one to sit out a dance party and the dogs quickly follow. It gets loud. The people in the apartment below  cross my mind, I’m just as fast to shoo them away. These days, her childhood, they’re passing far too fast. I won’t be quiet for it. 

-Because I love when my boyfriend dances. How he tries to hit all of the impossible high notes with Jill Scott. And because nothing makes us laugh quite as hard as his post-dinner serenades.

Because I have lived in loud houses before. Loud with screams, pleas for mercy. That’s how I grew up. The quite one, who was often forced to scream back in a house of loud. The bad kind of loud. The kind of loud that warranted a noise complaint that never came.

-Because as an adult I lived in another loud house. One where I was the woman on the other side of a duplex wall desperately screaming for my neighbor to call the police for me. For someone to intervene. To help me when I felt the most helpless. No one called. Eventually I was loud enough to get my phone back to call 911 for myself. I know exactly how loud that I can be, I’m never trying to come near that decibel again.

-Because tonight I got to read the email that my beautiful boyfriend sent to the leasing office. Amidst the explanations and a timeline of the ‘loud music’ incident was this line, “….other than the occasional sleepover for our six year old”. Our six year old.

Excuse me while I bubble over with happiness. Happiness and disbelief that I’m in a place in this world with a partner who says OUR six year old. Our might not feel so resounding except that it’s the pronoun that defines our day to day life that has lingered in the air waiting to be claimed for a year.

For instance this day I called J in a tizzy at 3:10 to remind him to take Ev to gymnastics.
“Hello, ohhh yeah we’ve been here it started at 2:30”.
“God, you’re so good at life”. When I have completely forgotten, there he is holding all of the pieces together. 

Yesterday he embodied OUR when he took Ev and her friend door to door peddling two dollar chocolate bars for her school fundraiser. They coined this genius sales pitch, “I’m selling chocolate, how much money do you got?” and “I’m selling chocolate, where’s your wallet”. 24 chocolate bars later I’ve got to say they’re a dynamic duo.

So thank you bitch ass down stairs neighbor lady you shined an amazing light into the fog of titles and accountability in my little family. It’s nice to bask in the glow. OUR happy, joyous, jump up and down, bumping soul jams at 4:00 in the afternoon, laughing fits before bedtime, loud life. 

I won’t be apologizing for it. 

I figured out what’s wrong with the world and the solution. You’re welcome.

Ever Sophia, social awareness

You know what’s wrong with our world? We’ve raised our children to be assholes. 1,000 years ago, 2 generations ago, me, you, mine and yours.

I’m 6 and a half years into to motherhood. And everyday I see things with new eyes. Everyday my baby becomes more and more like the adult version of her self and today I was alarmed.

Alarmed for the second time in 7 days. Tonight a little boy and her were playing in the pool with a raft with a rope on it. The little boy got tangled in the rope that Ev was pulling and was drug under the water for a few seconds. He wasn’t hurt just panicked. It wasn’t malicious on Ever’s part simply an accident. But the fucked up thing was when he started flipping out she swam over to him untangled him from the rope slyly and swam away. We pulled the little boy out, he was fine just shook but Ev kept her distance.

When Julius asked Ever very nicely to go apologize to the boy and see if he was okay, she refused. In a bashful way more so than in a defiant way but none the less she refused to apologize.

Parenting confession. This wasn’t the first time that a demanded apology was denied. In fact the majority of the time that’s her m.o. To stop just short of actually looking guilty and then execute a finely orchestrated dance of avoidance and refusal to apologize. Because, we all know, an apology concedes guilt.  

Maybe if today was any other day I would have reprimanded lightly and turned a blind eye. But it was today.

The day that my boyfriend texted me that his day was shit. He came home. I was fueled with a laundry list of anecdotes and condolences. To no avail my normal I’m sorry that worked sucked speech doesn’t counter you read a litany of news reports today about your fellow Black Americans being murdered by a regime that was put in place to ‘protect and preserve’ white men. The same white men shrouded in the a mythological concoction of the divine conducting themselves under the collective delusion that one man deserves life and another does not. Topped of by the nagging notion that even if you flea this country there is no place where you would be safe, safe from judgement, safe from persecution, safe from ignorance and violence. 

How do you pick up the puddle of anger and disbelief that is the light of your life from that kind of day. (A day not unlike any day before or any day to come). Welp you brainstorm. You fire out suggestions. You offer hope and the ridiculous. Here’s what I came up with:

-You can go to Cleveland to the #blacklivesmatter conference. It may give birth to the next big organized results producing civil rights movement.
-You can channel your rage into your writing, the pen is mightier than the sword after all.
-You can help organize the people of color for the Bernie Sanders campaign. There’s real hope there.
-We can move to a hippy commune, start our goat farm and never consume media again.
-Finally— just because my boyfriend is a super sci-fi nerd and often gets angry at me when I tell him that given no set of hypothetical situations would I actually travel through space with him— you can start the first Black colony on Mars.

He wasn’t really feeling any of my options, except for dissembling all of our household appliances to make a time machine or at least preoccupy his mind for the rest of his life laboring towards the absurd. Ohh and going to a former nuclear bomb site to acquire enough radiation to get super powers and then exterminate all of the terrible people in the world.

At least I got a good laugh or two.

In the midst of that my daughter refused to apologize to a little boy for hurting him. Awwwwhhhhh hell no. 

Granted this giant ball of– evil is continuing to prevail and the Earth is literally in the midst of the worst case scenario for the continuity of sustainable human life– may have exacerbated my even keeled parenting demeanor. 

Fair or not. I’ll be damned if I raise another shit head that will keep perpetuating unaccountability and disregard for other HUMANS and CREATURES as their equal. We’ll be good God damed to quote my man.

So Ever got snatched out of the pool and we went promptly home. While getting a speech littered with words about 10 years over her head. But she understood the inflection. Mama is pissed.

Really stewing. Weighing all of these things that I know to be true about me, her, the universe. Then concluding that the time has come. You see I wrote this paper entitled The Reality of Tiger Mom a year ago and can’t seem to shake it from my mental reservoir of solid parenting advice. (You should probably read it, I think it’s pretty fucking interesting but I’m biased). Here’s the part that always sticks out in my mind, uncoincidentally Ever has arrived at the age of understanding and I’m 8 months late to the Tiger Mom game.

” ……As the author’s hypothesis predicted Chinese immigrant mothers in this study highly endorsed the authorative caregiving style (Cheah et al., 2009, p.316). They were also found to support independence in their young children more so than their American counterparts. A major cultural difference of note is the Chinese concept of the age of understanding begins at six years old. Cheah et al. explains that before this time that the mothers are, “…lenient, warm, and affectionate towards infants and very young children” (Cheah et al., 2009, p.316). After the age of six children are held to a new standard and stricter discipline is imposed. This concept is the product of Confucian belief (Cheah et al., 2009, p.312.) At the age of understanding and beyond highly authorative mothers balance their goal-oriented demands with early self-regulation (Cheah et al., 2009, p.317). Importantly, Chinese mothers emphasize an awareness of the child’s impact on others through reasoning and induction (Cheah et al., 2009, p.317).

The children’s outcomes at the time of the study correlated to the widely held authorative parenting style outcomes. The Mainland Chinese parents that used this style did so in part by encouraging early self-regulation and emphasizing the child’s autonomy (Cheah et al., 2009, p. 318).

Consequently,
‘These children’s abilities to regulate behavior and attention was related to lower levels of children’s difficulties including emotional symptoms,conduct problems, hyperactivity, and peer problems, as rated by their preschool or day care teacher’ (Cheah et al., 2009, p.318)………”

I give Amy Chau a pretty serious analysis the good and the bad for the record. But at the end of the day being the doting, lackadaisical parent that I am in my heart of hearts is doing my daughter a great disservice. And yes it may have taken me seeing her stone cold reaction to potentially drowning a peer to make me realize that.

We came home. She went in her room after being grounded from electronics (my former stand by for punishment that is actually effective). Still the mash up of how is it possible that there is so much hate and ignorance exists in this world and how to actually effect change did back flips in my mind. 

In the room for round two (yes I know this isn’t parenting book protocol but to my credit Ever is alarmingly intelligent and pretty accustom to my rants) of my verbose speech on how you aren’t going to be a jerk. It went on and on. The take away,
“You will be kind, you will be nice to your friends and strangers. You will show remorse. You will be considerate. You will be empathetic and sympathetic. Peppered with that is the expectation and do you understands. The finally if you are not I will gladly punish you until those reactions become instinctual in you.”

End scene. Almost.

J and I silently went over the facts that the base line issue is the extreme privilege that my child experiences. “She is soo spoiled” seems like a slight misdemeanor charge given all of the terrible issues that can potentially intersect the parenting experience. But oh contraire. She is so spoiled removes her from reality. Yes, there is innocence in being young and naive and I don’t want to entirely spoil that. However, when I busted out the Save the Children commercials tonight the first thing out of Ever’s mouth was, ” Why don’t they have cars? They need cars? And how come those babies are just bones, ohhh that’s what happens when you don’t eat”. Seriously she has no clue. I’m not trying to bring down the white American land of obesity and hate crime hammer on my 6 year old but I sure in the fuck am putting the breaks on the, “Ever is the center of the universe campaign”. Gigs up kid. 

 

Between the State of the Union speech that I gave and the queue of youtube videos about homeless shelters in Michigan, slums of India and cleft palates in Uganda I made Ever fill a grocery bag with toys that she had to give away.

IT WAS THE MOST DEVASTATING THING THAT HAD EVER HAPPENED TO HER. She was violently sobbing. Had snot careening down her face. She meagerly filled the bag with dress up items that she had out grown and books that were less than thrilling. Nope go fill it up more. Pick two stuffed animals. She did an all right job. It was torture for her to give up one small bag of the mountain of useless objects that she plays with. What an allegory for the state of things on our planet in 2015. 


Our night ended with a few more gentle talks about what will go right next time. With a splash of any time that I see you being mean to your friends you will fill up another bag of toys. Tears ohhhh the tears. Tears at the thought of all of the toys that she will lose for being bad. Well Ev you don’t have to lose any more toys if you’re nice plus you could always decide to share.

At the end of the day (literally) I can now honestly say that I don’t believe that children are born innocent and blank canvases. They are born human. There is a primal human desire in everyone of us to sustain our status quo. At the most basic level that’s nutrition and safety but when you are born into swaddling blankets and a world bending over backwards for you the stakes are a little higher. I talk about in that paper about how American parenting philosophy changed drastically after WWII. It is ever changing and settling into a whole new disturbing land of entitlement. What are we gonna do about it? Write it out? Build a time machine? Make your kid give away a bag of toys? It’s my best idea yet.

Maybe even take stock of your own bag of toys and tricks. Maybe you have a little to give. If you can’t get past the devastation of sharing may you at least be kind. 

how I loved your father

Ever Sophia

The vessel that contains every ounce of my love, devotion and hope weighs 47 pounds and wears a size 1 shoe. Her name is the most perfect word that I could conjure. Ever. She is my dear sweet baby girl and I need to give her better answers:

Dear Ever,

Well Sis, you’re six and half (yes we’re counting the halves and every day in between). At this point I have lived the past seven years through the lens of you. I know that that’s hard to believe as a daughter myself. It’s hard when the world is convoluted and puzzling. Things feel unfair and unsolicited. And at the top of the list of WHYS will always be my name. I’m not particularly thrilled with that reality but there’s no escaping it. Our lives, our wellbeing are the ultimate responsibility of our mother. Mine, Grandma’s, Great-grandma and all of the great-great-great-grandmas before have fucked up their children’s life in one way or another. It’s the human condition. It’s inevitable.  Let’s talk about the elephant in the room that has hurt you so from the tender age of 3 and will still at the age of 33.

“I want you to love Daddy”.
“You weren’t nice to Daddy”.
“I don’t like it when you meet new ones”.
“I want you to marry Daddy”.

That’s how a verbose toddler and kindergartner breaks down– I have a broken family, one parent and I’m hurt.

*Fucking gulp.*

I have tried my damnedest since you were 2 to explain to you succinctly, using all of the made for emotional support children’s books words. “Mommy and Daddy love you very much. We tried very hard to live together  but we just didn’t get along very well”. There’s only so many ways to say that. Maybe it feels hallow. Maybe you can see right though me– well you definitely can. But up until a few weeks ago I haven’t blatantly lied to you (what, sue me if I bribed you to come into the house to see a surprise so that you would stop having an epic crying fit on the neighbors front porch). After which I told you in a very sobering way, more so for me than you, you’re right I did lie, that’s life, people lie.

All of that is to say that it has never been my intentions in life, love or motherhood to sugarcoat things. Sure I get stuck in my good Midwestern passive aggressive nature where I choose to bottle, bottle, bottle and inevitably explode. But we never got off on that foot and there will never be wool over your beautiful eyes.

There are some things that I want you to know. Things that I am afraid will get lost in time, space and animosity. I want you to know that love though flawed always shape shifts over the lifespan. Two people in like, lust and love are still two people. Human. Imperfect.

I could wax poetic about being young, irrational, adventurous, naive and brimming to the top with ego. But that would only provide a cautionary tale for myself while serving you in no way. Your own choices, trials, successes and God willing adventures are your only lesson. Some will turn out, some will turn you under. You may learn, you may not but one day the reverberations of LOVE IS COMPLICATED will reach right in your chest and grab something. The fog of applying logic to love will dissipate a little.  It still won’t make sense but you learn to look at all matters of the heart with compassion.

Forgive but never forget, that’s how we grow boo.

Tonight I talked (at) to your father. The sound of his voice makes me go numb. It’s not a healthy reaction but it is adaptive. I had to let him go from my heart some time ago. Our relationship ended in total exhaustion. We tried we just didn’t know how.

Though I wish for you to find a (mostly) perfect love with great speed as to spare you the upheaval of loving and loosing I know that isn’t realistic. Especially when you like I, infatuate easy. Jump in without checking the depth of the pool and fall down a lot. Ouchies heal but sometimes the scars linger and that’s okay because they show that you got back up.

The details of the breakdown have seeped out in many ways, it’s not a secret. I just want this one to be different. I want to reminisce about when things were good. When we had a house full of love. The palpable amazement that we shared for you. A friendship. Loyalty. Family.

Your dad is such a tactile person. Love manifests through him in a way that you can touch and measure. He loves to be the one who came through in a pinch, the guy who fixed it, the first at the scene. When your great-grandma died I drove myself out to her funeral and felt more alone than I could ever explain. Your dad, at that point only a friend, called me constantly, insisting that he would come out there just so that I wouldn’t have to drive home alone. I had to forbid him from coming. He just wanted to make things better for me the how was the only thing that was ever askew.

Your dad was like inhaling light for me at a time when I was in the doldrums of life. He was so young. Bubbling with jovial shenanigans. We had a lot of fun. We were reckless and hell bent. That was the only reprieve that I had in a year of emotional anchors. I would have been a very different person today had I not lived that first year of us with out you.

When I was growing you from embryo to eight and a half pounds of utter perfection your dad would get so excited. I was very pragmatic about the lot of it. There was an itinerary, deadlines to meet, mountains to move before I could make a suitable world for your to land softly into. Not Dean. He told everyone about you before I was willing to tell myself. He got so excited about your crib that he built the whole thing downstairs without thinking about it needing to go up the stairwell and through a door. Without skipping a beat he tore it down and rebuilt it before I could notice.

He would gently cradle my belly in his gorgeous manly hands while peering into my soul with those exact big beautiful brown eyes that you bat me. After you were born he would still reach out to rub my tummy and look up bashfully when he realized that you lived on the outside now. I didn’t mind it still felt like love.

evey

We would make really nice dinners every night. You would sit in your highchair stripped joyously directing everyones life with your laughs, points and NO!’s . You would smear your food everywhere, chuck bits of anything to the furthest baseboard. We swept and Swiffered every single day then. It would unravel out into music, dancing and harmonizing poorly to Crosby, Stills & Nash.

You were such a complete and total brat about sleeping in your crib. It didn’t last long after 9 months you would climb out and attempt to squeeze through. We all ended up in a big familial pile on the floor every night. You know how you insist on having your back rubbed before bed? That was your father’s doing. I would always be the first to pass out and there he was rubbing your back and singing Hush Little Baby out of key. He was never in a hurry to put you to sleep.

sleepy

There were the sobering times when you were sick and hurt. When you had a fever. When we rushed you to the emergency room. When we so desperately would have given up either of our lives to make you healthy and happy. There were so many times when we were a unit of three out of necessity. All of the crumbling pieces of logistics were futile at those times. We were simply a little family with the biggest concern in the world, you.

Evey, I agree that it was all to brief, but it was there. You were made in a place of love. Were you a life raft out of a storm in my heart? Yes. Was that fair to you? No. In the light of retrospect I can confidently say that becoming a parent is the most selfish thing that a person can do? Yes. Would I change a single choice, fork in the road or excruciating decision that came before you? Never. All of the signs pointed to you in some mystical way. It was you that I found so that my life could begin. Know that it has been you many times that kept your dad from choosing to end. You are my destiny and I your starting line, I’m not going anywhere. You were loved fully and deeply then like you will always be.

-Mama

A Note On Reproductive Decisions

domestication, Ever Sophia, Love

Two things on babies that the internet made me say today:
1) I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again. Do not collect children like chotchkies. No I don’t believe that we should go all China on you and charge 7 years worth of wages because your family planning methods are shit. I do believe that your body is your decision. But that you should act reasonably about it. Are you unable to afford the children that you have? Are you unhealthy or creeping up there in age? Do you have fertility issues because of chronic illnesses? Was your last pregnancy an utter nightmare because of how high risk that it was? Is getting pregnant putting your own health and wellbeing in jeopardy?

These are all deal breakers. Maybe not for your first child, or hell I’ll give you the first two. But if you have two or more existing children and it is very dangerous for you to have another, or if you cannot guarantee the health and wellbeing of your future larger family. THEN DON’T HAVE ANOTHER GOD DAMNED KID. Yes, I think babies are a blessing. Yes, my ovaries explode overtime that I get with in 60 feet of an infant. But you don’t see me popping out babies every year because I think that some how my life would be more fulfilled. And I’m young, healthy and financially responsible for my family.

SHIT.
If that offended you for personal reasons, then it’s you that I’m talking about. Not sorry. 

2) Incase you missed the announcement of the year. My best friend is growing a little baby bear in her beautiful womb as we speak. I’m a little excited. 

About this time years ago for a multitude of reasons and cosmic destinies I peed on a pregnancy test for the third time in 2 weeks and two little blue lines stared back at me. A long exhaled FUCK is about the best description of that feeling. I was 20 years old, full of false optimism about the trajectory of my life and my ability to be a parent. Up until that point everything that I had ever put my mind to, or wanted bad enough always worked out. That was of course all a direct reflection of me, my personality, my intelligence, my sticktuitiveness. Naturally. I was pretty great. And I could totally handle 1 baby. I mean yeah, it’s just 1 baby. Single mothers everywhere have 4 plus babies. Slaves gave birth to babies in the cotton fields, strapped them to their back and continued working. It’s not that hard. I could handle it.

I just needed to have a silent panic attack, walk my dog for an exorbitantly long time and get my shit together. Gulp. Well that went well for about 1 day. Then the skies opened up, the first bolts of baby daddy reality struck and the shit storm that would be the next 3 years of my life blackened my skies.

I strapped my self and the blastocyst that would become bouncing baby Ever in the car and drove to my friends house. I can’t remember which came first Ari or Laura. At Laura’s I ranted about my life to her and the unsuspecting bystanders. She was rational, collected, her friends were always in a life predicament. And then I went to Ari’s. Sat on the front step and broke down in completely sobs. She held me. She made all kinds of unsupported assertions about my superhuman capacity. She told me that she would help me raise it.

Life went on. 8 short and excruciating months later Ever became a shitting, screaming, vortex of happiness, love, loyalty and conviction.

Dysfunctional though it was I had a village in Kansas that allowed me to be a full time student, a fully time employee and a part time mother. It was love and support. It was also piecemeal parenting. No one wanted me to give up on my dreams, no one wanted me to miss rent on any given month and everyone wanted to be the best ______ to their granddaughter, niece, daycare parent’s kid.

Most of them did. But it was no substitute for a real family.

The concept of a real family is always on my mind. I’ve written about it, grappled with it, thought and twists in turns about it.  Maybe that’s what you do when subconsciously your soul is trying to make the sum of the parts a whole and complete family and not just for yourself anymore- though that would be nice- but because that’s the most absolutely fundamental thing that you can provide your progeny.

I couldn’t find the footing at home that felt right. Infact it all completely unraveled which is enough torment and then the skies turned green and purple and hailed down deceit, danger and mostly heartbreak.

I had to leave.

On an unassisted, parachute free, leap of faith I decided to move to New Mexico. Ari was there and it was far enough away. Those two pros out weighed all of the cons.

And she helped me raise it.

aribaby

lovessss

Somehow despite the bumps in the road the pieces have fell in place here (for now, I’m getting less naive). I’m learning to trust a path that I can’t explain and never understand in the moment. But on that road every day are the two most beautiful gals in my world, Ev and Ari.

Ariel- I probably won’t have to be the pillar in your parenting adventure that you’ve been for me, but when you need me I’ll be there. When you need a cheerleader that boldly exclaims that if Sarah Smith can do it than so can you, I’ll be that person. When you want to put that baby in the microwave (jeez I never actually did that) because you will, I’ll find you a bottle of wine and turn on Shaggy, I know how that makes everything better. And if for any reason your path gets knotted, unruly and incomprehensible I’ll hold your tinny little hand and walk blindly into the future with you and these beautiful children that we’ve created.

I love you and yours. Forever and Ever.

defining your family

Ever Sophia, Love

I was just over at offbeat bride reading one of their many fabulous articles that scratch my holly matrimony itch (huhhhhummmh, that was me clearing my throat). Ladies, you know you like wedding porn, let’s not deny it. This article is the sweetest. It’s about a lady who forgot her vows at the alter and just asked her husband if he would be her family. He responded yes. 

Read it, it’s short. Dawh. You died a little didn’t you.

It gave me all of the feels because it’s so exactly how I feel. Dysfunction doesn’t do my family justice. What’s left of my genetic family is tiny and hanging on by a thread. Essentially my Papa and my Mom. Save the pity,  I’m better off having two solid people than a line up of bench warmers.

So what happened to the rest of them? Time, space and a conscious decision to eliminate the crazy from my life.

I know that it’s hard to believe- because I’m such a sane, rational, warm and caring person- that everyone who shares my DNA is bat shit crazy. Some of them are just run of the mill crazy. The kind that you can totally deal with and honestly that I prefer. But most of them are certifiable. Seriously. Sociopaths, mentally unbalanced, explosive, violent, ignorant human begins. Yes, I’m from Kansas.

God damn, I wish it wasn’t the case. I’ve stretched myself into all kinds of contortions in attempts to accommodate them. But what do we know about trying to change people that think that they’re perfectly fine? It ends in knock down drag out fights.

I ain’t got time for that. Period.

For example: I’m 27 years old. It took me 22 years to tell my little brother to take a flying leap for good. This child, though he may be nice to you, has been absolute hell for me for the vast majority of his life. I can psychoanalyze him. I can point fingers. I can theorize about his brain chemistry. At the end of the day who he is and how he treats people, me specifically, is his problem not mine ANYMORE.

Maybe that sounds heartless. It probably sounds like a lot of things but unless you’re close to both of us you have no idea about the magnitude of bull shit that I endured by being his sister. It wasn’t a decision that I made lightly. This is the boy that I played way too big a role in raising as a child (let the big one watch the little one was real). I watched him shape shift though identities over the years and where he has settled is an ugly place.

This summer, violently, emotionally and painfully I broke up with my brother. Cut and dry. I am done with him. I don’t care what is going on in his life, despite it usually being more comedically ridiculous than my own. I don’t want to hear about any of it. I wish him well. I wish him better life choices and experiences. I wish him compassion and wisdom because he desperately needs both. But I am done.

Here’s the really great thing about letting heavy things go. You make space. You find light. You get to heal. 

I encourage you, if you have toxic people in your life. If you’re letting someone who is an energy vampire cling onto the coat tails of your life, then identify them and set them free.

In even better news. Time heals all things. People change or they don’t. You can revaluate at later time. Space can be a blessing and a life raft.

I’m learning to honor that. To set boundaries. To establish expectations. My dear dear friend is far more wise than me and I’ve watched her so many times approach hostile situations with very clear statements. Seeing it done so seamlessly in real life is like watching Sesame Street for adults. I call it WWSD?— what would Stacey do? When the squeeze of intensity rises with another person I’m really trying to think before I speak. Acknowledge the tension and demand respect.

That’s not what I want to do. I’m an emotional(ly shielded) person with a sharp tongue. I’d like to lash out at you. Instead, I’m choosing to grow. To practice self-love by requiring reasonable reactions. Simple.

Back to the gushy wedding story. The concept of family is something that I think of often. For a myriad of reasons:

-I fall in love easily. Men, women, friends, strangers. That’s a vulnerable position. Some times it burns me, turns out that neighbor girl Kim wasn’t the best let’s be best friends forever and have slumber parties every night material.

-The cosmic entities, fait, serendipity what ever it is or isn’t has put the most amazing humans in my path. I have a tribe of friends that I love fiercely. They get me (which shouldn’t be so hard, yet so many struggle. I literally got asked if I forgot to take my meds the other day.)

– Every time that I would be at the bottom of my emotional barrel over a break up someone would interject, “But hey you have your daughter”. It always felt like a little jab, the subtext being,  “Well no man has chosen you (read chosen to behave in a way that was worthy of you) but you get this consolation prize (your daughter) that doesn’t get a choice in the matter”. I finally am in a place where I can realize that they were right. I gave birth to this magnificent human being that is mine and me hers until the end of time. The gravity of that is bewildering. It hasn’t been easy. Some years and months were damn near impossible but somehow we’ve made it though dark and day for 6 years inseparably. As she gets older and when she’s old enough to define her own family there’s no doubt that I’ll always be her choice, this love is too pervasive.

-I’m in love with an incredible man. Yes, I’ve eaten the, “He’s the one and we’ll be in love forever” crow a few too many times. What I will never lose is having the freedom in love to be exactly who I am with someone who is exactly who he is. I really really like him as a person and he does a pretty good job of dealing with me 🙂 In all seriousness, we are both keenly aware of each other’s quirks (we’ll call them that). We’re learning to accommodate each others needs and buttons. We’re growing together. We are a family. It’s a limb that we’re out on together. Feeling like you truly have a family to trust is a welcomed change in my life.

Ohhh internet that’s cute

Ever Sophia, pretty things, your body

Fuckin elitedaily.com, uhhhh. I love-hate you. Because every 10th article was actually worth reading but more so that the 9 others were inciting enough for me to open and then proceed to shake my head in shame. G-damn. This is my generation.
The most liked comment after every article is this,

“Clearly a 20-somehting that has no idea about reality talking about things that they are mostly unqualified to discuss making an ass of themselves. Lowering the bar of journalism time after time”.

Yup. It’s what we were all thinking, even me a 20-something making overstatements without the experience to back them up time after time.

Here’s the latest rabbit hole that I got click-bated into:
6 Reasons Why Beautiful Women Are Also Insecure Women. 

I’d like to take a moment to pat myself on the back for clicking on it in the first place. Does that sound like the most narcissistic thing that you’ve heard all day? Well good. I am a beautiful woman and I said it. Let me explain. I spent a solid 11 years of my life hating the way that I looked. Nit picking every single part of me: my fat ass, my Jay Leno chin, my belly that never gets completely flat no matter how long I go hungry or the number of crunches I do, every freckle, my huge feet, my man hands. These are all real things. And they didn’t magically disappear. They’re all there more present than ever. But that’s okay. It was a very very long, winding, emotional path to get to the place that I am now: my body is the beautiful external reality of who I am. A very large part of my new-ish sense of self-acceptance is thanks to this lovely lady.

Maybe it just takes one person to bring to your attention that you shouldn’t be your own worst enemy. That you are worthy of your own love. I survived puberty, cat calls, attacks by other women and girls, the incredibly surreal process of growing and birthing a baby for the first time and the body that you’re left with afterwards before I learned, accepted, that I am okay.

The external me has been all of the shapes and sizes. I’ve been sick and well. I’ve been skinny and fat. I’ve ran races, I’ve laid on the couch eating cupcakes. I’ve spanned the gamete. Haven’t we all. Maybe it’s all just getting to be old news. Yeah yeah, this month I’m not crazy about my external appearance in three weeks it’ll be better, or worse, and eventually it’ll get better or worse. I just decided to get off of the emotional roller coaster that comes along with it. That’s a choice that you get to make. WHAM. You’re welcome. 

Any who, back to the girl that wrote this upsetting article. Lauren Martin, darling. Here’s the thing. You are beautiful. I actually am hard pressed to remember a woman that I’ve met that I didn’t think was.
So, I get it. Every point that you made was founded in a reality. The reality of way too many.

The following quote was prefaced by: We’re constantly paranoid and always comparing with a bunch of becuase’s this is one of the strongest arguments.

“Because it’s the primary adjective you describe them by

She’s not smart, she’s beautiful and smart. She’s not hilarious, she’s “decent looking with a personality that makes up for it.” The first adjective before any others is about her beauty. All her other qualities come second, as a definer.

When your entire life is based on a single adjective, you begin to think that’s all you’re defined by.”

I catch myself doing it to my daughter. Well, because she IS beautiful. It seems to be the first attribute that slips from my mouth on a regular basis. To be honest though, she could look like a total ogre and I’d still think that she was the most incredibly breath taking creature to grace this earth. Let’s take a moment to appreciate that she is in fact stunning:

SONY DSC

It’s hard not to mention. It’s also hard not to mention that she’s scarily brilliant. That she is more cleaver than is healthy for a 6 year old. That she lets out this laugh that makes you smile from three rooms over. That she’s amazing in every way and almost every single one of those reasons is the direct result of who she is as a person. She’s six. This only gets better, I am a little scared and a lot taken a back.

So, Lauren. Maybe one day you’ll be blessed with an amazing little human to call your own. Maybe then you’ll see the world through a whole new lens. Maybe then it will all make sense. You are beautiful. Everyone is beautiful, standards our not.

Here’s what get’s me the most. Ever’s eyebrows, totally unsemetrical— those are mine. Her checks those are my mom’s. Her nostrils one a differentiated sister of another, my own reflection.

nose hole

The 8 pack that she rocks, definitely from her dad. Those feet, I think I saw them once on her Grandma Carol. ‘Dat booty tho, yup I’ve tucked that same one in skirt after skirt. The 4 and a half feet that she already stands, must be a great grandparent that we never got the privilege to meet.

Maybe it takes creating your own human to realize that we’re all just the product of genetics, some traits dominant other recessed. So yes, you are a beautiful girl, woman. Yes, you are insecure, because you haven’t been taught yet, or you haven’t fully learned. You are a woman your beauty is inherent. Please own it.