Posts Tagged ‘ Family ’

The Dying Season

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Chicken and Cheese.}

Not too long ago, we bathed The Poo while chatting about all the people who love her.

We listed off all her grandparents, and then spent time explaining how we, her parents, were also children.

“Your grandma and grandpa are my mommy and daddy,” Mr. Chicken told her, as he sluiced shampoo from her hair using a small container of water. “And meema is Mommy’s mommy.”

Suddenly, without warning, The Poo realized a new truth about our extended family.

“Mommy!” she exclaimed, the gears in her head grinding away. “You don’t have a daddy!”

I winced, her words hitting me as hard as any blow. My father’s been on my mind of late.

This is, you see, my season of loss.

*****

Even as we welcome a new soul to our household, my mind wanders – dreadfully – to this date on the calendar. Four years ago today, at 3:30 in the afternoon, my father drew his last breath.

Each year I think the hours will come and go like any other, just a pair of numbers and nothing more. I believe I will keep house and tend children, spending my time as I would on an ordinary day.

But this day, this terrible day, will never be ordinary again.

The immediacy of my grief has faded; that much is true. No longer do I wake in the heart of the night, veins pounding with dreams the color of blood. No longer do I wake each Aug. 26 precisely at 4 a.m., the time my telephone rang with the news that an ambulance was ferrying my father to the emergency room.

But when August begins to wane, a bruise rises to the surface, tender and easily irritated. The warm weather and the slant of the sun prompt recollections I’d rather forget – walking my parents’ dog in the late afternoon the week before my dad died, while they were away at The Mayo Clinic; the hope I felt when the doctors reported that the cancer was dead; the terrible tremor in my dad’s voice the last time I spoke to him on the phone.

I called to tell my mother I wanted to come out to Minnesota. I was on vacation, and something inside urged me to get on a plane and be with them.



Sacrifice

Birth and Adoption Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Lucky Thirteen and Counting}

I used to have a daughter. I don’t have her any more. This is something that is not easy to talk about nor easy to write about, even almost two years later. But today, in the spirit of February, the month of love, I think this is an appropriate day to share some of my feelings.

I love this child. I wanted this child. I made a sacrifice for this child and I still believe I did the right thing. BUT, there are days and times, that cause me to reflect on that decision. I don’t want to tell you I question it, or that I hope I did the right thing. Because honestly, deep in my heart, I KNOW that I made the right decision. But knowing this doesn’t make it easy, or the grief any less, or the loss go away.

When The Ex and I separated Embree was four years old. The Nanny started dating The Ex three weeks later, and I fired her. My kids lost two very important people in a matter of 21 days. Embree took it the hardest. She cried as hard, if not harder, than I did. It was devastating to watch. She loved her nanny. The Nanny started working for me full-time when Embree was one. She was her primary caregiver. When Embree cried, she wanted The Nanny, not me. That loss was substantial to my child. I was not above admitting that.

When The Nanny moved in with The Ex, Embree joined them. She moved in full-time. I couldn’t deny her who and want she wanted. She visited me when they went out. However, it wasn’t me she was visiting, it was the siblings. When I scheduled one-on-one time with her, she wanted the other kids to join us.

We continued life this way for one year. We lived in Utah so I knew what Embree was doing, and I still played a small role in her life. But, when we moved to California everything changed. The Ex and The Nanny were married and having a family of their own. My life was here in California with Brandon and the kids. When Embree came to visit she cried for her “mommy”. It was painful to hear, to see, and to feel. Embree and I both knew she belonged with her dad and her “new mommy”.

I talked to her about what this would entail. Brandon and I wouldn’t be her family any more. Her siblings would still be her brothers and sisters, but I would not be her mom, and Brandon wouldn’t be her stepfather. She understood the best a six-year-old mind could understand. She was thoughtful for a moment and said with confidence, “Yes, I want that.”



Dreams Can Come True; But They Sometimes Need Help

Politics Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Mid-Century Modern Moms}

Once upon a time, there was a little boy with a dream.

He dreamed of love. A romantic love, in fact. Of love that transcended the ages.

He knew that his dream was not really all that realistic. It was a dream, after all.

But he continued to hope that one day he would meet the one person in the world who was absolutely perfect for him.

The one person who would understand his dark moments.

The one person who would understand his sense of humor.

The one person who would be the yin to his yang.

The one person who would love him back with the same intensity.

The one person who was meant just for him.

There were many dark years as the little boy grew up. Many years when he thought that one person didn’t really exist.

Many false starts. Many times when he thought … maybe? This time? Is this the one?

And many times when his heart was broken. Not just broken, but smashed to little pieces by a person who turned out to be much less than he thought.

Until now.

The little boy is a week from his 25th birthday. Almost a year ago, that elusive “person” he was seeking appeared.

And he knows love.



Nature Study, FIMBY Style

Education Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally published at FIMBY- Fun In My Backyard}

I love the idea of Charlotte Mason nature study. No doubt other educators and naturalists advocate this approach but I hadn’t heard of it before investigating CM philosophy.

Picture this: a child in the woods, with a drawing pad and pencil. Diligently sketching a leaf, stone, tree, flower or butterfly. We actually tried this once or twice last year.

Our reality: three kiddos running through the woods, building forts and fairy houses, pretending to be drunken pirates (my son’s latest fascination). We are city folk so when my kids are in the woods I am less than inclined to require then to sit and sketch. In fact I WANT them to run around like crazies, minus the drunken sailor bit.

Don’t get the wrong idea, we are all over nature study at our house. It’s an everyday occurrence but it looks more like this:

- The kids find a couple pieces of brown felt and some fleece from the fabric bin. A copy of the ancient vintage sewing book “The Big Book of Soft Toys” by Mabs Tyler inspires an afternoon of tracing, measuring, cutting, stitching & stuffing. Behold, “Silent Sam” and “Cocoa” are born.

Laurent and Silent Sam
Laurent and Silent Sam



Stop, Thief!

Family Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally published on Is There Any Mommy Out There?}

I’ve been obsessed with time lately and how it passes. What a trickster time is, the way he seems to hand me moment after moment of joy and love and life in slow, lazy procession until I pause to look back and I’m cut down by how far I’ve traveled. All the tiny incidents add up to the whole year that my oldest children were three and my youngest was one and my last baby was thought of and conceived. I want to yell at him for the subterfuge, but he’s handing me new moments so fast that I can’t take the time, I’ll miss something important. I’m dropping the present and it’s shattering on the floor, gem by gem as I gaze backwards. I refocus on the moment in my hands and it all slows down again, to that disconcerting, tricky lull.

I tell time I know his game, I’m onto him, but it’s inevitable that I’ll forget until I look back once more. It makes me mad. I wish he’d leave me alone, stop stealing my moments and let me have them for mine. Maybe I’ll keep them in a carved wooden box on my dresser, magpie-like, the way I kept little bits of life in high school, a note, a charm, a worn braided bracelet.

I want to keep the way Quinn walks, steady but unsteady, on his toes, his fat little belly proceeding him. I want to keep the way Garrett laughs, mouth wide open, head back, his round baby face lit from within. I want to keep the way Saige runs to me at preschool pickup, the way it feels when she wraps her little body around my middle and wraps her arms around my neck. I want to keep this baby’s first tiny kicks, barely felt today, miniature popcorn popping inside my uterus.

Determined to stop his constant theft of my moments, I set a trap for time. I know if I turn and pounce quickly enough I can catch the decrepit old man. I wait for a slow, easy moment, a little lull in time’s flow and I spin faster than the earth, outside of time, grasping with both hands.

Then I falter in disbelief, caught off guard that I actually hold him in my hands and that the arm I hold is strong and young. He is timeless, handsome and confident with twinkling eyes and a devilish smile. “You got me,” he raises his hands in mock surrender. “There’s not much time. When should we go?” He leans forward, feverishly eager, “what should we change?”

Go? Change? I don’t really understand, not yet, I want a glimpse, that’s all, to steal some moments back and save them forever to visit at will. But I have this chance and time is staring at me, waiting. I don’t want to blow it. “What if I’d taken the other job out of law school?” I blurt at him quickly. “Would I have loved it? Maybe stayed an attorney? Maybe I’d have a big career now?”



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.



Soccer

Soccer

Family Blog Nosh Magazine {Originally posted on The Wind In Your Vagina}

Jenna always works 1 day on the weekend and you can never really tell if it’s going to be Saturday or Sunday. When Jackson started to play soccer games on Saturdays, Jenna suddenly started working every single Saturday. What an ODD scheduling coincidence. Poor Jenna. She is deprived of youth soccer AND the joy of watching a 4-year-old girl who hates her brother’s soccer games. No parent should ever be asked to miss these experiences.

But then she got last Saturday off. At last. Jenna could come to soccer with us.

MetroDad recently pointed out on his blog that we’re raising a nation of pussies. The kids are urged to “use their words” in a world where they can’t leave the house without a helmet and a safety net. The crazy thing about Jackson’s soccer league is that this insidious process of wimpification is being extended to the parents. We’re being declawed. Before the kids were allowed to play their first game, we had to sign a Spectator Contract and initial each rule (and yes I’m totally serious).

These included limited shouting. If we do shout, we promise to shout only positive messages. We are to cheer for our team’s successes but not the opposing team’s mistakes. At no time are we permitted to question the calls of the referees (this sets an example of bad sportsmanship for the kids). And my favorite: After every game, we promise to ask our child what was the most FUN about the game.

Ahh Ha Ha Ha Ha.

Anyway, the Soccer Gods saw fit to smile on Jackson on this particular Saturday and he found himself with the ball and no opposing players between him and the goal. GO JACKSON! Nothing but green grass and a nervous goalie. O MY GOD GO JACKSON! A defensive player was gaining on him but he had plenty of time. TAKE THE SHOT JACKSON! The crowd inhaled—KICK IT JACKSON KICK IT—as the kid behind him slid…



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.



All for one.

Overcoming Adversity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted on Mommy Pie}

It’s 2 p.m., I’m sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people. And the tears, they are streaming.

It’s funny, this community of ours. Call us Mommy Bloggers. Call us the Blogosphere. A powerful, and at times awe-inspiring collective voice. More often than not, a beautiful collective heart.

Our friendships forged over late night Tweets and Comments Sections, we find ourselves bonding with women we may never meet face-to-face. Yet, the invisible ties of the Internet that bind us are, inexplicably, many times, just as strong as the ties we feel with those we affectionately call our IRL (In Real Life) Friends.

Beginning today, I make no distinction between the two.

I’m no less happy for a Blog Friend when she lands a great job.

I’m no less sad when she loses it.

I don’t laugh less when she recounts her kid’s latest antics. (Or more times than not, her own.)

I don’t worry less about her during the tough times.

My heart doesn’t break less when she suffers staggering, unimaginable loss.

It’s 2 p.m., I’m sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by people. And the tears, they are streaming.



The Princess Problem: “There’s More Than One Way of Being Pretty”

Race & Ethnicity Blog Nosh Magazine{Originally posted by columnist Deesha Philyaw at The Anti-Racist Parent}

As the mother of two girls who do not live under rocks, I have not been able to escape the whole princess thing. A few years back, when my oldest was in kindergarten and my youngest was an infant, I wrote a column about how, as I kid, I had embraced media messages that promoted a “white is right” standard of beauty (show of hands: Who else wore the white towel on her head to become Farrah Fawcett’s character on Charlie’s Angels?). I didn’t want my own daughters to go down this path:

…I take a special interest in the media images my children consume, as do most parents I know, regardless of race. I don’t rely on entertainment executives or book authors to affirm or protect my children. That’s my job. But I do seek out age-appropriate books, movies, and other media that reflect the diversity of the world in which we live, with characters who look like us and the people we know and love.

But what about fairytales and the other “classics,” those all-white, generations-old stories and characters that are presumed staples of American cultural literacy, likely to turn up as “Jeopardy” questions? We love “The Sound of Music” and “Mary Poppins”, but quick: Name an American children’s classic featuring a black cast. The good, but depressing “Sounder”?

Should classic stories and movies be avoided then because they tend to feature all-white casts? In our family, we sometimes take a “don’t ask-don’t tell” approach. For example, we simply don’t do princesses. I never told my older daughter, T, about Sleeping Beauty and company, and she never asked about them.

Until this year. Nearly every girl in T’s kindergarten class is infatuated with princesses. I have an aversion to princesses. Actually, I have an aversion to pretty much anything that invites McDonalds or Burger King to stick a related action figure into a kid’s meal. But I find princesses especially grating. I don’t like the helplessness thing, the dependence on a man to feel complete…thing.