Posts Tagged ‘ Coping ’

everything has a last day

{by Amanda of Last Mom on Earth}

(photo source)

We went on a special date, just Louise and me. She crawled through the aisles of the bookstore and I slowly meandered behind her, reading passages from crisp, unspoiled novels I knew I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe someday.

She talks a lot, when she’s alone with me. She points to things and tells me about them in her funny, amazing language. When something surprises or delights her, her tiny hand flies to her mouth and she chews on her perfect little fingers.

We came home to an empty house and I sat a carton of blueberries on the floor between us. My hands were clumsy and imprecise, picking up toppling handfuls and eating them without discretion. Louise, with her dainty, pointed fingertips, thought carefully about each berry before she chose it with an attitude of satisfaction and ate it, all by itself, like it was the most special and singular blueberry on the planet.

So much thought and care goes into chewing and swallowing a single blueberry when you’re one years old.



A Wedding, In Pieces

{by Lindsey from I Digress: Tales from a Baby-Starved Wingnut}

We are in a house of windows. In a glass house, which is ironic if you’ve been with me for the past 72 hours. Storms are rolling in back to back, rain is coming down in hard sheets. The wedding is outside. Or was supposed to be. Our host has an 80′s love music compilation CD playing in a house-wide stereo system. The bride stands at the window just outside of the yellow lamp light and watches the rain while REO Speedwagon plays in the background. I am oddly reminded of the movie Forces of Nature, where the bride waits in the hurricane for her groom.

It has been a long road to this day. The family is held together by gossamer threads of duty. The grandmother might not come, people are not speaking.

I don’t fit in with these girls. Of all the bridesmaids I am the only one that only knows the bride through the groom. I gravitate to the mother of the bride. Something about the entire day makes me need a mother.

****

I am getting my makeup done. The artist asks if I have babies. I say no, and don’t offer any explanation. When she asks me what I want my eyes to look like, I say dark and heavy.

****

I am getting my hair done. The hairdresser asks me if I have babies. I offer a slightly more hopeful answer than I gave the makeup artist and say, not yet! She does big, loopy curls in my hair while she eats a sandwich and I try not to worry about her dripping mayo on my back. She says her GPS brought her here, she has never been so far out in the country. I laugh. She says, seriously . . . where are we? I tell her the honest answer, that I don’t know. I am just as lost as she is.

****

Every hour the tension increases. The bride is screechy and stressed, her sisters hate her behind her back. Our host, her aunt, gives us a talk about Jesus Christ and His Plan. If His Plan is for rain on your wedding day, you accept it. She says: You have to bend to his will. Submit. What he wants is what you get. I think: Jesus sounds like an angry toddler. She says that one year her husband and her decided to celebrate their anniversary with Jesus. Her husband got her a card that said: Happy Anniversary to you, me and JC! The bride sets her plate down and walks out of the room.

****

The Aunt’s job is to be the time enforcer. In the last 15 minutes she yells the time left before we have to leave every minute. TEN MINUTES, she screams. Peter Cetera sings in the background. NINE MINUTES. My bag is packed by the front door, I stand there with my dress over my arm, it’s making sweaty creases in my skin. EIGHT MINUTES. When it gets down to the last two minutes the bride begins the epic meltdown. She is screaming at everyone except me, because I haven’t even gone near her in the last 2 hours.

*****

I am in the backseat of the car on the way to the ceremony. I hate the backseat, I get carsick. The maid of honor is driving. The bride is rocking back and forth with her veil neatly tucked in her stiff hair, chanting something about hating everyone. Her little sister is in the back with me. We are both texting people about how badly we want to be somewhere (anywhere) else. Her sister says: I swear, she is normally a nice person.

*****

We use umbrellas to shield her on the way in, because the groom is in the parking lot. When it’s time to put on her dress and its not fitting she screams and tells everyone to get away from her. The rain stops long enough to get our pictures taken outside. All of our heels sink into the mud. We forget that we are supposed to have bouquets. We are unhappy and tired but we smile radiantly any time someone raises a camera. I see B across the way, in his tux, and my eyes water. It’s the first thing that’s moved me all day.



I hope I’m wrong

{by Jennie from She Likes Purple}

I can’t remember if my relationship with my dad has ever been really easy, has ever been really good. I think so, I hope so, but still I can’t remember. I remember plenty of good times, sure — the way he used to swerve the car to the beat of the music on the radio, how he’s always up for a donut, when he drove so far out of his way last summer to see me another time before my plane left California. He appreciates good music and art and movies. He is whip smart and funny, too. When he’s on, he’s one of the most enjoyable people to be around. He’s not always on.

He can tell you who won the World Series 10 years ago and by how many games and who the winning pitcher was, but he’s forgotten my birthday more than once. I laugh because that’s funny, right? I laugh because what else am I going to do? “Remember when you forgot my birt….” I try to joke. “Don’t go there,” he warns. He means it.

I remember being so proud to be his daughter when I was much, much younger, but that feeling faded into something else entirely when I caught on to all the cheating and then it was smashed to smithereens once he walked out for good.

It’s the biggest conflict of my entire life, how to reconcile the very, very good with the very, very bad. There have been plenty of both.

I don’t blame him anymore for what he did all those years ago. What good would that do? But I have held out hope he would change, that he would stop doing it over and over again, year after year. I hoped he would get it, would see that his temper and jealousy has polluted every good relationship he has ever had. His temper has knocked so much over, left it broken on the floor. There was always so much wreckage left in the wake of his fury, wreckage I spent years sifting through. I’m done sifting now, and I’ve forgiven him, but, my god, I can’t fight anymore. I’m too tired.

I’m struggling, fumbling, tripping over myself to figure out how to have a relationship with a parent as a parent. “We’re both adults,” he said to me recently. Yes, we are, I thought. But I’m still your daughter.

I write here knowing anyone could read, imagining everyone I know is, just to be sure I don’t say anything to end friendships or make dinner parties especially awkward. He could find this space with one quick Google search. He could already be reading it. I’m fine if he is, if he has. I’ve said all this to him and then some. This is my therapy, this is how I heal, how I figure shit out, how I rise up out of the wreckage of all the broken dreams left shattered below. It’s not what you’d do, I’m sure, but write through it is all I can do. Those who love me will allow me that.

There’s been another fight, another long string of heartfelt, wounded emails, sleepless nights of thinking about what’s best, what I need, what I want. I wonder if it’ll ever end. I hope less these days.

One thing I used to say to Kyle when I was pregnant, when I’d be lounging, beached-whale-like, on the couch, was You don’t have to give back, you never have to give back. I’m not having you for me. I’m having you for the world. I’m not made of steel, but I mean it. I don’t have to be his first choice or his last call. He can prefer people over me and live a life apart from me. People have already gasped at how easily I hand my kid to anyone who wants him, how little it bothers me when someone else sees him roll over for the first time. God, I could never do that. I could never leave my kid! I don’t know how you do it! I’m not heartless. I just love him enough not to pin my happiness on him. That’s a heavy burden for him to carry, don’t I know.

I’ve often felt my dad has done things for me in order to have something to sling at me when we’re arguing. He wants to give, give, give, so he can remind, remind, remind. So I overcompensate. I tell Kyle as I rock him to sleep, Loving you is enough for me. You owe me nothing.

I try so hard to be different that I forget how much there is to love. My dad will hand money to any stranger in need, he’ll take me to In N Out Burger whenever I visit, he raised me to accept all people for exactly who they are, regardless of their race or who they choose to have sex with. He’s a good man with a good heart, and, yet, I can’t remember if we’ve ever really had a good relationship.

I’m afraid we never will.



Canoe Day

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published at Graceful}

A few weeks ago I realized that I am getting better at praying.

We were canoeing in the Boundary Waters, a remote, uninhabited wilderness in northern Minnesota. I should preface this by admitting that I am not a canoeist. Prior to this outing I had canoed twice in my entire life, both times when Brad and I were first dating (that alone speaks volumes). But Brad wanted to take the kids on a little adventure while we were in Minnesota, and I wasn’t going to be the only stuffed shirt who stayed home.

We glided across the glinting lake, our paddles dipping rhythmically in and out of the water. The kids dangled their fingers in the lake as we wove around lily pads and through golden lake grass, undulating like ribbons just beneath the surface. Noah admired the lavender iris springing from the edges of the marshy shore. It was, in a word, Heaven.

After about two hours of easy paddling, we pulled the canoe onto an island and portaged (i.e. lugged really heavy, cumbersome canoe across dry land while being viciously attacked by massive swarms of mosquitoes) to the other side. But as we rounded the corner on the far side of the island, we were surprised to find ourselves nearly knocked flat by a gale force wind. Somehow the wind that had been a barely perceptible breeze at our backs had escalated to Hurricane Andrew.

Brad and I secured the kids’ life vests, and as we plunged in, pushing off the rocks lining the shore with our paddles, it took about 30 seconds for me to realize that the return trip was not going to be relaxing. Though I was paddling as hard as I could, when I glanced at the shore, it wasn’t moving; we were literally paddling in place. To make matters worse, the water was no longer gently lapping but was instead gushing over the bow of the canoe in a torrent, and every few minutes the canoe threatened to turn broadside against the waves.



Embedded in Time

Religion and Philosophy Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Angie Muresan}

When older people get together there is something unflappable about them; you can see they’ve tasted all the heavy, bitter, spicy food of life, extracted it’s poisons, and will now spend 10 or 15 years in a state of perfect equilibrium and enviable morality. Irene Nemirovsky, Fire in the Blood

12th century church

12th century church

I have a few friends who are well into their eighties; women who have lived their lives thoroughly and enjoyed the amassed daily moments to their fullest extent.  I love these women for what they are.  There is wisdom in their advice, a sense of humor in their actions.  They’ve come to terms with the destruction life has in store. Physical health and beauty deteriorating, husbands and friends lost to death or alzheimers, children and dear ones far away, their bodies betraying them daily.  But their kindness, their compassion, their love survived every treachery and evolved into a beauty transcending the physical.

I know they have fears.  Whenever I see them upset at their lack of control over their bodies, they fear for their dignity. For their self-respect and the respect, or lack of, others have for them. I like to remind them that their self-esteem need not suffer because their bodies fail. They are more than that. More than fragile bones and decrepit muscles. They are the light in the eyes, the smile on the lips, the love they exude.



Bennett Ryan

Blog Nosh Magazine Pregnancy Birth Adoption{Originally published on Weddings by Heather}

It would be impossible for me to describe the emotion that I witnessed today with Jason, Kelly and their families. They entered the hospital with a terminal diagnosis for their son and the anxiety and emotion leading up to his delivery was difficult to process. But I can tell you this, in no uncertain terms, I witnessed a miracle when I heard Bennett cry as he was born. He was able to breath on his own. A MIRACLE. This is Kelly getting her first good look at her new baby.

Pittsburgh Newborn Photography

To capture these first, precious moments of Bennett’s life for Jason and Kelly is an absolute honor and I cannot thank them enough for allowing me to share in this very special, very private moment.



Me and My Two Selves

Blog Nosh Magazine Pregnancy Birth Adoption {Originally published on Sarcastic Mom}

Several nights ago I was sitting in the dark of Braden’s room; he was cradled in my arms, breathing quietly. As we slowly swayed back and forth in the rocking chair together, lullabies playing peacefully on the CD player, my mind jumped back and forth. It climbed mountains torturously, then lept off of the summits and plummeted into the valleys below. My face was slack, but my thoughts rumbled and tumbled below the surface while I felt the warm, soft life in my embrace cuddle deeper into sleep.

Suddenly, I burst out crying. Crying for the tiny life that I wasn’t able to hold onto in this way. I sobbed – quietly, so as not to disturb Braden – for a few long moments. Then I placed him in his crib and left the room. As suddenly as it had come upon me, the weeping was gone.

It’s been like that for weeks now. Since the miscarriage.

The extreme dichotomy of my feelings and thoughts lately has been a confusion at times, to me. At others, it has made no less than perfect sense. See what I mean?

I was pregnant one day. Then, suddenly, I wasn’t.

Riding the roller coasters at this Carnival From Hell that no woman wants to go to, but that is packed full of people, nonetheless, has been strange.

Some days, hearing about how many others have gone through this, multiple times, even, is a great comfort. I am actually incredibly buoyed by the scores of other women who feel somewhat betrayed by their bodies, or maybe even by God. By women who have experienced this same thing and are floating alongside me in this sea of uncertainty.

It means that I am not really standing out in the middle of a barren wasteland, alone, while a relentless wind tears and rips at my exposure-ravaged limbs, muffling my cries and carrying them silently away into the vast nothingness surrounding me, where they will mean nothing and no one will ever respond to them.



Our Time in Eden

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Slouching Past 40}

How does it happen that a sixteen-month-old girl with eyes that managed to reflect all of the abundant colors of the ocean at once and with a smile containing such joy that strangers couldn’t help but smile with her, a girl with all of it before her (only 500 days under her belt, give or take), might be here one moment and gone the next?

*********************

I do not know. I am one of the lucky ones. My son comes home with a sore throat and later spikes a fever. His temperature soars, and I fret. I take him to the doctor, who diagnoses strep throat and hands me a prescription for penicillin. Eighteen hours and three pills later, my child looks and feels remarkably better. He is no longer pale with a slightly greenish cast. He is not hot to the touch. Fatigue does not ring his eyes. I can’t believe how well this medicine works!, he grins. I could almost have gone to school today! And then he glances at me. Worry has crossed his face. He amends: Well, not almost… I’ll be ready tomorrow, though.

All of us wanted Maddie’s story to go like this, and most of us expected that it would.

But a few of you know better. Experience has taught you different and cruel lessons. You were cast out of Eden some time ago. The rest of us bite our lips and hold our children closer, huddling up against one another, afraid that we, too, might be called on, might have to forsake the complacence we clutch as tightly as we do those children of ours, might have to bump up against the fact that our children are mortal, no different from us, from our parents, from their parents and all the parents before them, too. What hubris we show when we congratulate ourselves on how well we’ve managed to protect our offspring when the reality is that we have so little to do with it.



The Years of the Monster

Personal Blog Nosh Magazine

{Originally published at Shamelessly Sassy}

When I was five, my mother married a monster of a man, the scariest person I had ever met. She was married to him until I was seven. It is safe to say that I spent those two years of my life scared of my own shadow, and I think I’ll spend the rest of my years recovering.

The monster spent a large portion of his time punching holes in the walls that mother tried to hold up single handedly. He also threatened daily to drive us off of a local bridge or back the car into the local lake with us inside.

(I still hate that lake.)

The monster was full of mostly empty threats, and he was eaten up with heavy doses of crazy. Even his eyes looked crazy, always opened as wide as he could possibly muster. As far as staying went, the last year and a half of the marriage, my mother stayed with him out of fear. Live with him or else he might really drive us off of a bridge or burn our house down with us inside.

With the monster, you never knew.

For those two years, I felt as if I would never get out from under his thumb. At age 6, I felt like our lives, particularly the end of them, were resting firmly in his hands. I didn’t think I would see my tenth birthday. Most likely I would be sitting at the bottom of the lake in a car with my mother and my younger brother. Feeling as if I might have died in the near future was a part of my everyday life, and it was so miserable. It was nothing that a girl of five, six, and seven should ever have to do. I knew that.

Luckily, the monster never managed to hit me. That doesn’t mean he didn’t try. I was small and fast. I excelled at running and hiding from him. The only time he came close I had warm salt water in my hand, I had just lost a tooth. So I threw it in his face. That was that…



Thomas’s Story

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine

{originally published on Because I’m The MOM}

When I started this blog I wanted it to be about my family, one of whom has special needs. What I didn’t want was a Special Needs Blog. I realized though, that to ignore Thomas’s story altogether means that there are things I can’t say because they wouldn’t make sense. So here you go.

When I got pregnant with Thomas I was considered high-risk because I was 36. My ob-gyn suggested that I have the 11-week Nuchal Translucency Test. No problem, I thought, this just goes along with being a little older. I have to say though, that every time someone said “advanced maternal age” within earshot I wanted to smack them sideways and shout “I’m not FIFTY for God’s sake. I’m 36! I’m YOUNG.”

About 2 minutes into the test I saw the sonographer’s face go still and she got very quiet. Not a good thing. She summoned the doctor, a very kind man with a very serious face, and he told me that there was a 50% chance there was something genetically wrong with my baby. Probably something like Down’s Syndrome. My husband and I were devastated, of course, and thus began my running of a veritable gauntlet of tests for the next 24 weeks. The thing is, EVERY SINGLE TEST came back normal. Chorionic Villus Sample? Normal. Multiple in-utero echocardiograms of Thomas’s heart? Normal. Ultrasound after ultrasound? Normal. The doctors were elated, but deep inside I knew there was still something wrong.