First in the birthday rumble.

I am terrible at being timely with important posts, like birthday posts. My kids’ birthdays all come like ticks on a clock, so I am starting this terribly late.

Lucy. Just a few weeks ago you turned four.

FOUR.
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I would tell you how much we love you, how much joy you bring all of us and how much you shine. But we tell you every day, so I want instead to tell you about a conversation.

You told me not long ago that you had decided you wouldn’t cry anymore, because you were growing up and growing up meant being big. So no crying.
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Appreciating the sentiment but not wanting you to become a bottle of unspent emotion in your thirties, I tried to reason that line of thought out with you.

“Everyone cries sometimes, Lu. Even big people. Sometimes things are sad, or sometimes you get hurt and need to cry. Sometimes crying is good.”

You pondered this for a moment, swaying in one spot and watching your skirt swish around your scabbed knees.

“Well then mom, we can make a deal. When you need to cry you can tell me and then you can cry. And I won’t tell anybody. Then when I need to cry I can tell you and you won’t tell anybody either. And then we can both still be big.”

Deal. That’s a deal.

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I love you, my four year old. Stay this way.

Things I’ve Missed, part first

Since it’s been a sizable amount of time since I wrote regularly, there’s been some stuff that I haven’t mentioned. Big things that have come and gone and I’ve just lived through. In a way, that’s good – because now I can look back and attempt to be objective about how great, how indifferent, how scary.

My first impulse was to write a huge post and recount everything I could think of.

Then I realized that a wall of text might not be so appealing and plus BONUS, I might get some not-just-one post action out of it.

I’m relearning this stuff, guys.

Anyway, we moved.

 

Josh, me, the kids. The cat. We left Dan’s and we found a house that we think qualifies for us as the home we need.

It wasn’t an easy decision. We went back and forth and hemmed and hawed and what if’d and then that. Screenshot_2014-05-04-23-33-21_1

So much of how I saw my family had become so encapsulated in our living space. We were all so close and so present and all so CONSTANT. It was foreign to think of that as changing. But it did.

Adjusting hasn’t been easy. It’s been five months and I still catch myself thinking in terms of smashed-into-one-room living space, and there are still things that we just don’t have because we didn’t need them for four years.Screenshot_2014-05-04-23-32-57_1

Lucy’s adjustment was what I’d worried about the most, really. She had spent her whole life in our compoundish circumstance. Dan’s home was the only one she’d ever known.

I need not have worried. Once she realized that we would have a whole house of our own AND that she could still go see Dan pretty much whenever she wanted, she hasn’t looked back.IMAG0166_1And now we have formed our own unit. We are what we were, but somehow more so. My son has his own space, my girls have theirs. We are more together because we can be separate.

It was a good decision.

 

Notes on a Socially Awkward Existence

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I’ve never been what anyone would refer to as a social butterfly. There is a slim section of the population I can stomach being around for any length of time, and the rest of the world of people who breathe are simply not my wavelength.

I’m sure there are people I would like, if I put forth the effort. I’m sure I judge interaction too quickly and give up too easily.

But people – creating a rapport, being approachable and interested, making conversation and thinking of things to say…

Just typing about it makes me tired and anxious.

I grew up among people, though. This should go against everything my pew-studded history embedded within me. Right? I mean, there were times, children. Times when I loved being among people and I was loud and jolly and obnoxious. There are still those times, yet I couldn’t name the last one. These days I’d much prefer staying home binge watching Breaking Bad (again) or reading comics with the lights off.

Is that so wrong? Am I so different? If you prick me, do I not bleed?

I can’t be the only one.

For example, the text message.

People, if you text me and I don’t respond it means I have nothing to say. Or that I don’t have time to respond. Or that I don’t feel like settling into a ten minute back and forth of “no way, why?” “Where are you now?” “I think those shoes would match.”

AND ALL THE OTHER BULLSHIT.

I love people. People fascinate me. I love text messaging. It jives splendidly with my random stream of consciousness existence. I do NOT love feeling obligated to check in or small talk when I really don’t have reason to. Chances are if I haven’t responded quickly enough to your text and subsequently received a “?” text from you – unless you are my husband or mom or otherwise important family, then well… I may not ever text you again.

It’s just a fact.

Embarking

I could give you reasons I've been gone so long.

 

Except that would be stupid.

 

Cheesy as it sounds, one of my resolutions in the New Year is to reestablish myself on this blog. To do that, however, I have to convince myself I have things to say.

I do, of course I do. I think. I also have to learn to ignore “Hey Mom. Hey Mom. Mom. Hey Mom.”

Anyway, a new year. 2014.

I can't even believe that's real. I'm looking forward to the things the new year can bring, all the promise and fresh starts. I'm sure I'll be over it soon, but for now it's fun to be so full of promise.

 

Who thought up New Year's Resolutions? What sick sadist (is it sadist? Masochist? Whichever of the whips and chains likes to dole out the pain) thought it up? And why do we do it?

I accomplished some stuff in 2013. I started a new job. I gained some weight which is not so much an accomplishment as just a fact. I started watching Doctor Who and Sherlock. I finished another semester of school and now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I love you. I promise not to suck so much this year.

 

 

Random things I contemplated putting in this post but didn't:

The Simpsons is the best show in the history of animation.

Wine is unbelievable.

I've started getting zits. Like hardcore acne. What the fuck?

I got the Depo Provera shot in August (I think) and please for the love of all that is holy please never do that to yourself.

Josh now has a whole building for the podcast. He's well on his way to being very hotshot and official.

See you soon.

 

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.

I have spent the last few months…prioritizing.

Weeding out.

Facing realities.

And now, on a Sunday night with my kids playing happily in the back and Breaking Bad on my television, I have realized.

Things are good and I am happy.

Recent circumstances have made me face some startling facts.
Unnerving facts.

Like the fact that I’m a damn grown up. I’m a grown up and while that does mean that I can eat cookies for breakfast and swear in my blog, it also means that I have to deal with some very grown up shit.

Like the fact that the people I always expected to be in my corner might not be. At all. And as a matter of fact might not have even thought of being in my corner for a long damn time.

I’ve said goodbye to a lot of childish notions. Notions of friendships that last lifetimes and notions of people I love being invincible.

But in saying goodbye, I’ve gained…so much. I’ve realized that there are people who love me. That my happiness is not conditional on other people.

That I can hang on to what I have, and fight for the pleasure of treasuring it.

That my life will be a beautiful piece of art, and that I can craft it however I want.

It’s refreshing.
It’s freeing.

It’s badass. And I know now, more than ever…that I am living the perfect life for me. And I am grateful.

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Only a month late

I’m sorry, Max.

Your birthday was over a month ago and I’m just now mentioning it on this chronicle of my thoughts.

Which is not to say that I didn’t think of it. Quite the contrary.

For eleven years, I’ve thought of you every day. It’s inescapable, really.

My firstborn. My son. It’s all very poetic.

Except lately it’s been quite obvious that you’re growing up – turning into a teenager, exerting your own brand of independence, testing waters and boundaries.

All in all, you’ve been kind of an asshole.

I know, it’s your birthday post and I shouldn’t say that – but let me expound. You are your own person. You are so like both of your parents that we are often blown away, but at the same time you’re so foreign and strange to us that we wonder what we’re doing wrong.

But then we realize that without a safe place to be an asshole, things could get kind of bad for you. For anyone, really.

Because that’s what family is. What home is. A place to let go and be awful and be unbearable and to know without a doubt that everyone there will let you be you. And love you no matter.

We do, so much.

You’ve grown so much in the past year. Your sisters adore you, even though they won’t admit it.

Your dad…you’re just like him.
Josh…I don’t know what he’d do without you to infuriate.

And me? You drive me crazy. Crazier than I already am. And I am, at the same time, simply amazed by you.

Amazed that I had any part in producing you.
Amazed that I get to know you.
Amazed that I get to see where this goes.

I love you. You are a stressful, grating, mindbendingly wonderful person. I wouldn’t change a thing.

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Blank screens are depressing

Important things have passed.

My oldest turned eleven on Friday. Sunday was Father’s Day.

I choose to write first about the day of fathers today, because we all know I don’t like to think about my kids getting older and hey Max, if you’re reading this in ten years….you’re 21, let’s go get margaritas.

 

So, Father’s Day.

My father has always been a force in my life.

Sometimes a force of fear – I mean, I still don’t know what would have happened if he ever found out about senior skip day. Or all the European alcohol. Or the (totally platonic) bed full of 5 terrified people after my first viewing of The Exorcist.

Now you know, Pop. I’VE CONFESSED.

Sometimes a force of ingenuity. I’ll never forget coming home and finding my very first car in the driveway – one that he traded a gun for – and thinking that no one in the world could ever get as much shit done as my dad. Did you ever read about that one guy who traded all the stuff on Craigslist and went from something crazy like a piece of gum to a Corvette? THAT DUDE LEARNED IT ALL FROM LARRY WILKES.

Sometimes my dad has been a force of inspiration – I know that any “some assembly required” project is no problem because I am a product of my dad. My dad could assemble and rework anything ever and make it not only functional BUT KICKASS. He had a scuba store in Corinth Mississippi, people. He can do anything.

 

My life has not been perfect. But I’ve never doubted that my dad would move mountains for me.

In that, I know that I am lucky.

I’m also lucky in that my children have fathers who – while neither of them are quite on the trading-firearms-for-transportation level – love them and would do anything for them. And do. They love kids that aren’t theirs in any way except me. They love where they don’t have to. Where most don’t.

Seriously. Some people don’t have that. I see it every day and it makes me ache with gratefulness.

So even though it’s passed and even though my dad might not read this, I’m thankful for the fathers in my life. I’m lucky and I never forget that.

From the dad who gave me life to the dad I share a bed with, I know every day that I am where I am because of you.

 

Thank you.

 

Not forgotten

A week ago yesterday, my first baby girl turned nine.

Normally I’m on top of this kind of stuff. And Ava, because you are my daughter, you will one day look back into the troves of Internet history, you will see that in 2013 I didn’t write a post about your birthday until over a week after your birthday. You will inevitably read into this many things – neglect, ill will, suppressed resentment.

None of that will be correct. The sad and less interesting truth is that I am busy and I’m incredibly skilled at putting things off when I don’t want to face them.

And I don’t want to face the fact that you’re getting older.

I remember being young. And I don’t want you to have the moments I had. The times of being convinced that no one understood, no one cared. The preteen-erotica and angsty-poetry writing hours.

I know feeling that way is normal. And necessary.

But you’re so fantastic.

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I never want you to doubt that because at some point the way you think about yourself becomes a key part of your identity. Right now you know how amazing you are.
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Never lose that.

You’re perfect. You’ve made my life better for nine years now.
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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I love you.

Seventy times seven – for my husband

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Tomorrow is our anniversary.

Seven years ago, we cut out of Ava’s second birthday, we drove the silver Expedition to Selmer, and we got married.

I was nervous and I wasn’t. Looking back, I wish I’d worn something at least a little bit pretty as opposed to jeans and a potato sack of a blouse.

We arrived, we did our paperwork, and then a woman used her husband’s book (prayer book? Book of civil ceremonies? What exactly was it?) and we said our vows in an empty courtroom. I remember she got all choked up and I couldn’t help but wonder why. Was she overwhelmed by how sweet we were? How I didn’t have an engagement ring because we were broker than broke – but we had sweet engraved silver bands? I wonder where those are now. I wonder if, seven years later, that lady still works at the Selmer courthouse. I wonder if she teared up at every eloping couple she saw – and I know she saw a bunch.

Not much changed after that. We lived in the same apartment as before. We didn’t go on some big honeymoon getaway. But I was a wife. You were a husband. And somehow that changed everything.

It’s so easy to lose sight of what we had such a grip on that day.

So easy to say that we weren’t thinking of much besides how we wanted to join a church and they wouldn’t let us while we were living in sin.

Looking back from where we both stand now, the fact that church was a very real issue in our union is….kind of absurd.

But what was real then is no less real now. I love you. I love you even when I don’t like you. I love you enough to say that I’ve spent seven years being yours – and while I may have done a lot of things differently, while I may have taken different steps along the way, my best friend is eternally bound to me in one way or another.

I will never be sorry that you became my future. I will always be yours.

I love that we have grown over the years. Together, apart, together again. So many things have happened. Seizures and surgeries, jobs and houses. Failures and successes.

We’ve had so many roads to travel. You’re the best company I could have asked for.

We make mistakes and we take each other for granted. We do everything wrong.

But we’ll make it. We’ll be okay. We’ll be better than okay because that’s what we do.

Thank you for the past seven years. For our little girl. For being mine. For being what I always know is there.

I love you.

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On mothers, being and having

I'm thirty three years old and I've had a mother all of that time.

Triumphant, yes?

I love my mother. She has waded with me through waters that could have killed a boar. She's outlasted every friend I've ever had and hasn't blinked. I know I disappoint her. I know she wishes that instead of beer, liberalism, gay rights and swears I would devote my time to Jesus, Beth Moore, Billy Graham and being a Proverbs 31 woman.

But it's not me.

She knows that and she loves me anyway. Because that's what a mother does, dammit. She loves. There are lots of ways and reasons for giving up on anything and anyone – but she hasn't. She hasn't and she won't.

 

So all of this to say I lucked out in the mother load.

 

Now I am a mother. It's the hardest thing I've ever – EVER – done. My kids drive me crazy and they make every day into work, but I have no idea who or what I'd be without them. They've each made me into someone new. Every day I'm disappointed in something – I wish that Max wasn't so awkward or that Ava wasn't such an overdramatic queen, or that Lucy wasn't sometimes a brat.

But because I have such an amazing mold to try and fit, I know that somewhere in my DNA is a way to see past what's annoying and what I wish I could change. I know that my kids will know one day – they'll understand that I may be short and I may run from their ENDLESS RECOUNTS OF EPISODES OF GRAVITY FALLS, but that I would step in front of any non-guncontrolled bullet for any of them. I would spend every afternoon for the rest of my life signing permission slips and listening to rhythmic cup-stacking (yes, that's a real thing and Ava has decided that she is totally into it and watches YouTube instructional videos), if that were what I needed to do. Let's hope it's not.

 

So…thanks, Mom. I needed you. And you're awesome. Happy Mother's Day.