Saturday, February 06, 2016

Keening

As is usual, the family was all over the place last night. We sort of fall asleep where we may and it works for us. Last night ended up with Patrick on the couch with Evan and me sleeping beside Corinne upstairs. I took a moment to just stare at her profile and couldn't resist stroking her forehead, cupping her cheeks, and marveling in the beauty that is my 10 year old girl. I am so grateful that I can still sleep beside her and hold her in her sleep. It's the one time that I can hug them to my heart's desire, and she is the last one that still fits into the criteria of being ok to sleep beside. Trust me, no 13 or 16 year old boys want their mom to crawl into bed with them for a full body hug. 

Good God, I miss them, though. I miss that closeness that can only come from an extended embrace. I miss the familiarity of their skin and breath. 

Have you ever keened? It's a longing that literally cuts through your heart, into your stomach. You can FEEL the ache in every cell of your body...and I keen for my babies. Last night found me gasping sharply at the memory of Justin, age 3, curled up beside me in our too-small full size bed in the attic bedroom of our first home. His absolute trust and complete love for me... I had to hold my breath so as not to wake Corinne from my cries when I pulled up a perfect memory of Evan's sweet voice asking me to sing "You Are My Sunshine" just 'one more time, Mommy' as I laid beside him on his big boy bed in the big boy dinosaur bedroom... 

I miss my babies. My body rejects the knowledge that they are pulling away with a quickening speed. My mind understands it, but my cells... I can't breathe for thinking of it. I honestly can't catch my breath and the keening is fierce.

It's a struggle to not smother Corinne. I don't want her childhood to be full of memories of me saying only "I miss when you were little!" as though I am not enjoying the present, because I AM. I love these moments deeply and fully. They're flying by, and soon, they will be over, and I will be a mother without anyone to mother. 


Monday, November 30, 2015

A rant about teenagers. It doesn't make any sense. Neither do Teenagers.

"It's normal," they say.

"You can get through this," they say.

"Don't take it personally," they say.

I know. I will. But I am. I am taking it personally. Because in no other time of my life have I ever deliberately sought attention from people who are consciously, and sometimes, vehemently pushing me away. If a person doesn't like me, I move on.

Living with two teenagers is like living with two of your closest friends who no longer adore you as much as you adore them. I mean, it's happened before where I have followed a friend around and asked to hang out and get together repeatedly, only to be met with "Sure,sure! Let's do that," and then...nothing. I don't ALWAYS get the hint quickly enough, and have occasionally dangled at the end of a string..wondering. Eventually, the hint takes hold and that friend fades into a memory.

I can't and won't do that with my kids. OBVIOUSLY. But man...

I don't care that it's normal. I don't care that I did this to my own parents. I don't care that they will grow out of it. I don't care that this is their first time being teenagers and first step into adulthood.

Right here, right now, TODAY, is what we have. The future? Who knows what it holds? Who knows if it exists? At this moment in time, my feelings are hurting and it sucks. All I wanted was something as simple as the happy presence of our family of five to carry out a tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree. Instead of sucking it up and tolerating it for 45 minutes, one teen stomped through the mud and shot daggers at my head and the other teen carried his winter coat instead of wearing it, occasionally muttering about how "all of the trees are FINE. Why do we have to do this??"

Thank God Patrick is so kind. I didn't engage any of their retorts and Pat made sure to tell me how much it means to him that I insist on traditions. Corinne, at 10, still loves the tree farm, and enjoyed all of the stories I was sharing about tree farm trips of years gone by. She distracted me from melancholy and deserved a happy mom, so I tried to shake off the feelings of inadequacy for her sake. But there were moments when I was sitting alone on the bench, waiting for our tree to be shaken and wrapped up, that I couldn't choke back the tears. Moments where I watched a toddler boy skipping along with his parents, dropping more cookie crumbs than he was eating, and the memories were so poignant and fresh...I was grateful for my sunglasses. I am grateful for the memories I have of my own toddlers and children skipping happily alongside me, but so envious of that connection and assurance that my children love me.
Xmas tree farm 2015. Alternate title: "Smile, guys. PRETEND you're having fun."

I consider myself to be a fairly kind and generous parent. Generous with my time, our resources, and patience. I don't ask for an overabundance from these kids, but I do expect a few things, without fail.

Respect. For me. For Patrick. For our family values and traditions.

Kindness. Tone of voice is a big one, especially with teenage boys. Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I don't get my feelings hurt. I will NOT be spoken to with hatred or disgust. The words "I hate you" have not been uttered in my house. Lord help the child of mine who ever considers it. Their fate will not be pretty.

Accountability. Be where you say and do what you promised. I am grateful that this isn't a huge issue with my kids. They generally do what is required and have yet to truly be anywhere that they weren't supposed to be. (that I know of. The trust is not yet broken.)

My God, I have GOOD KIDS. I really do. I know that there are kids out in the world who push dangerous limits and make unquestionably BAD choices. In the grand scheme of things, I have little to complain about. I should grow a thicker skin, I guess? It's just...

I only have 14 months left with my oldest before he is officially an adult. Have I mentioned he's thinking about joining the military? So this means that I have one more Christmas with him as my child. One more birthday. One more Summer. One more first day of school. And then it's over...

16 years ago, it seemed like 18 years was a long time...








Saturday, September 12, 2015

The Leaves are Changing, and I'm Not Ready...

The leaves are changing. It feels like it's too soon, but it's actually right on schedule. Any earlier and it would have been summer. Any later and it would be winter. Still, it seems as though fall is arriving ahead of schedule this year. I naively thought I could hold off the change by having All The Fun... even if only for a few extra weeks...

Why does she need to become a pre-teen?

Why does my baby have to rush into this hormone-ridden stage of life? Can't I just delay it for a bit? Just a few more years? Months? WEEKS?

"Mommy, sometimes, I just feel like crying and I don't know why!" 

Yes. It happens, sweet girl. Hormones and growth spurts are invisible but powerful and may leave you with no other option BUT to cry. Cry. Let it out.  It's horrible and wonderful and confusing and thrilling and I am sorry that all I can do to help you is to hold your hand as you walk up to the roller-coaster park that is Womanhood. I wish I could sit beside you on every single ride. I wish I could protect you the entire way, guiding you to the rides that I am positive you will enjoy and steering you away from the rickety wooden coasters that nobody likes; in fact, I wish I could hold onto the safety harnesses and keep you from feeling nauseous or jarring your back. 

I wish so many things.

While I cannot choose your path, trust me when I say that I will be beside you all the time. You don't need to feel my hand within your own to know that our love surrounds you. No choice you make will ever change that. No triumph or failure is greater than the love of our family for you. 

So quickly, these years have sped by. So soon, you are nearly as tall as I am, and can fit into my shoes! It's been years since I have chosen your clothing and rarely do you ask for my help on fixing your hair. My youngest child...my most mature child. 

"I'm scared, Mommy. I don't want to grow up! It's scary..."

Me too. 

You will always be MY baby.

Yes, Life is scary; but without the risks, there would never be thrills. Trust me, sweet girl, the thrills are worth the risks. YOU were a scary risk; one we almost didn't take. My third child, conceived after an operation that left me truly petrified - you were the most amazing reward for climbing onto that new, towering roller coaster 10 years ago. 


Monday, August 31, 2015

Not Back To School

If you had told me 8 years ago that there would come a time when whole months would pass by without posts on my blog, I would have literally laughed at you.

The stories I have to tell aren't my own anymore, though. The kids, they grow.

Damn them.

And my own life has felt less shareable as of late. Add those compounds together and shake vigorously to get a blog with cobwebs and crickets in every corner.

Still, I have these stories in my head... They may get told. Maybe not.

Until then:

 Checkers outside. "So Fun, Mommy!" Score.
 A week studying Italy resulting in art, flags, and dinner prepared by my 9 year old. Score.
 Helping with the Ricotta cookies. YUM.
 First day of school on the floor in the middle of many storage boxes.
A fourth grader! She is the same age that Justin was when I pulled him from public school... Unfathomable.
Forced togetherness with my 13 year old because posing for first day of school pics is NOT COOL anymore.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sisters

This morning, Corinne and I were watching one of her favorite YouTube people, Rosanna Pansino. If you have never watched "Ro," I highly recommend her videos. Very adorable, totally kid friendly, and since my kid loves baking/cooking, it's right up her alley as most of Ro's videos are of cool cakes and such. Today, though, we were watching video after video of Ro and her sister Molly (Aka, Mo). Ro and Mo are hysterical together! Similar personalities that are really complimentary towards the other without taking life too seriously; as far as YouTube personalities go, these are definitely ladies I am 100% ok with my daughter watching.



It was these sister videos, though, that started our conversation today and led to a moment of wistful reflection. "Do you wish you had a sister, too?" I asked.

"Yeah," deep, meaningful sigh.

"Sisters are pretty awesome," I said, "but you have your brothers, and that's something special, too."

She quietly nodded, but I am pretty sure she was thinking "But brothers don't do THIS. They don't giggle and snort over silly games and share clothes and give advice..." 

I will admit, I had two pretty awesome sisters. We didn't get along 100% of the time, of course, but in the grand scheme of life, they are my best friends. I can't imagine life without them. Having never had a brother of my own, I have little experience in what that kind of relationship is like, other than the sibling bonds within my house right now. I know that Corinne wouldn't give up her brothers, but most of her female friendships are determined by the whims of the world; "Will this friend move away, too? Will this friend change her mind and lose interest in me? The age difference with this friend was too large, and she aged out of me." 

Sisters don't move away/lose interest/worry about age differences. Family is usually connected forever, despite any of those obstacles. I know she sees me and my own sisters and is wondering "Will I ever have that?"

My hope is that she remembers her girl cousins, especially the two that are born within a year of her (though she adores her older girl cousin, too). I hope they can remain her surrogate sisters and stay close (if not closer) as they grow up. 

Reminding her of the unique bond she has with her cousins, and how a sister isn't a guaranteed BFF, helped. She is still wistful for the unknown, and I would have loved to have provided her with the sister of her dreams, but it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps that mythical sister would have been her undoing? Maybe my easy-going and accepting girl might have been permanently altered if a little sister had been in the cards?

Friday, July 24, 2015

You cannot live in Tahiti and Italy at the same time

I never used to indulge in regrets. They're a waste of precious time and completely illogical. Why think about what you cannot change? And, if you COULD change something which you regret, what unforeseen adverse effects would that one difference bring about in your life? I've seen The Butterfly Effect; I am quite aware of the ripples caused by the smallest of moments.

This month has been... difficult. Why? Why, exactly. That is the question, to which there is no answer. I live a life full of love and privilege. It isn't without an enormous sense of guilty self-indulgence that I am allowing these feelings to be written about on this blog. I am fully aware that to complain about not being able to live to Tahiti when I am currently living in Italy* is a first world "problem." But to ignore it any longer isn't helping, either.

It's got to be the age. I am 39 years old. I have currently lived, hopefully, half of my life. Or more...Or less! Who is to say how many days or years we have left on this world? Within those 39 years, I know I have accomplished much and experienced every possible opportunity within my path. Within those 39 years, each time I turned left, I never once looked over my shoulder at the pathway that forked to the right and watched it slip further and further away. I knew that I couldn't go down each path; it's pretty freaking obvious. 

But this month.... THIS FREAKING MONTH... I have spent more time thinking about each and every pathway that wasn't explored. I have felt intense anger at myself; not for choosing the left instead of the right, but for feeling this overwhelming anger and regret. REGRET! WHAT THE FUCK?

Honestly, I don't know how to "get over" this, other than to go straight through it. And so I'm allowing myself this space in time to feel the anger and regret when it comes to me. Not for long, maybe 15 minutes a day? And then I will force myself to count, LITERALLY COUNT, my beautiful blessings. The results of every decision I've ever made are right in front of me and I will not waste this 39th year in mourning for anything I didn't choose. I will feel the feelings and acknowledge the losses. When regret and anger begin to knock, I will not ignore it. I'll answer that goddamn door and look it in the eye. I might even let it give a slick sales pitch. But when it comes right down to it, I will shut that door in its face and say "No thanks. I'm not interested."**




*I live in Illinois, not Italy. This blog is full of analogies, people. I am a fan.
** Because you really should be polite to door to door salespeople. They're just trying to make a living.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today

Knowing that my hormones are responsible for the crash doesn't make the impact any less painful. Kind of like knowing that the reason you got a sunburn was because you ran out of sunscreen. It still burns.

And so I am trudging through today, in this small but very significant portion of my life (approximately 6.7% of my procreative years. Yes, I did the math). I am plodding and plummeting and climbing back up and wondering why I can't just bring the dirty dishes to the sink, even though I didn't make them messy, so why didn't those who used them do it? In the midst of a full-on brain rant over the dishes, I brake everything to freak out over why it matters. WHY? Why do I care? I don't. I don't give a fuck if the house is a disaster, even though I DO, but "not really." Because, in the end, there isn't a score card for the dishes or the laundry. There isn't a prize for anything. Not academics or careers, or any sort of accomplishment we feel we can tack upon the wall and display for others to gush over. THIS IS IT. I was born alone, I'll die alone, and if I fall, only I can pull myself up. Alone. Alone.

Well, Fuck.

Haven't written on this blog in a regular fashion in over 2 years. Why? Is it middle age? Am I that predictable? Is being predictable BAD? DOES IT REALLY MATTER IF IT IS? The time I've wasted over wondering if I was good enough/funny enough/smart enough is mind-boggling.

I have so many things in my head. Posts about love and choices and equality and justice. Points that I want to make, even if only to my future self, about the Big Questions and revelations I try to hold onto, before they no longer matter. The Big WHY of life... Why are we here? Is it really as simple as "just because"  or is there some greater purpose? Is my life a long list of pre-determined situations and choices or as random as the splatters of paint thrown upon a wall? Which is more desirable? And if I was allowed to know the truth between the two choices, would I REALLY want to know? Which is a more depressing thought: that all that I do and am is at the whim of some omniscient being or that no one and nothing in the universe is able to account for the world within my mind?

Best part of this onslaught of hormonally charged questions is the knowledge that it is NOT unique. It is not particular to me as an individual but rather to all who are blessed with the ability to think beyond ourselves. Human existence is a blessing and curse. We are able to ask "Why?" but not ever able to receive a solid answer until the moment we die. And then? Will there be an answer or only silence?

Exactly.
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