From both sides of the uterine wall

If anyone had told me three years ago that I would soon be a mother of three, I can think of a whole host of replies I would have had. They would have included distance, laughter, and a healthy dose of profanity.

To say that the news of your pending arrival was a surprise? Well, that’s one way to say it.

But it happened, you came.

And now it’s been two years since I met you. And not a day has gone by for the last two years that I have not slept with you by my side. Held you when you cried (and at first, during the colic days, it felt as though you would never do anything else). I know the way your weight changes in my grasp as you finally give up and start to dream. I know how many refusals it takes before you relent and take the juice instead of milk (three, sometimes four).

None of this should be new to me. I have, after all, done this twice before.

But this is different. I have never been this intertwined with another human being. If I had known this type of connection existed, I would never have been able to go back to work with your brother and sister. For 730 days you have changed everything. Daily.

To see you now – to watch Max and Ava and to see how they both stumble over themselves to be near you – I realize I had no idea how incomplete we were before we met you. You have filled a hole in our family we never knew existed.

I guess, Lucy Grace, what I need to say more than anything else, is thank you.

Thank you for the giggles and the sass.

Thank you for the kisses and the curls.

Thank you for turning my husband into a daddy.

Thank you for giving your brother and sister someone to be an example for.

Thank you for needing me more than anyone ever has.

Thank you for being my baby.

I love you so much, my big two year old girl.

Love, Mama

;

—————

(I’m so terrible with things like this, but thanks to my wonderful wife for letting me have a part of her blog today. I’ll go back to being geeky over at http://justusgeeks.com)

For the rest of my life, no matter what happens, I will always remember seeing you for the first time. I heard your first sound. I counted your fingers and toes at least ten times. At least. On a day, which I admit I was not at my best, you were perfect. Perfect.

One of the things I worried about was that even though your Mom and I had thought Lucy Grace was the perfect name for you, you’d be a Mary. Or Janet. Or something else entirely.

But there you were…my Lucy Grace Steen.

And how right we were. As you’ve grown up so much in the last few months and weeks you say that name with a certain authority. You are becoming your own person, and there’s not a lot your Mother and I can do about it.

But why would we want anything differently?

You amaze me on a daily basis. You’re learning more, getting smarter, and you somehow know that you are what makes us “go” on a daily basis.

I’d do anything for you. Anything.

Your Mother and I talked not long ago about just how perfect for us you were. One day we’ll explain to you about how we never thought we’d be able to even be anyone’s collective Mom and Dad, let alone yours.

And how you saved us.

How you saved me.

No matter what happens on the rest of our journey together, Lucy Grace Steen, I will always be in your debt. And although you might not always act it, you’ll still be my perfect little girl.

But for now, while I can, I’ll hold you. We’ll dance and jump. Take Big Steps. Watch Jessie until the DVD wears out. Ride your bike. And get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.

There are so many people who love you; don’t you ever forget that. You may take advantage of that, but always remember that all you have to do is be you and we’ll love you.

On your big big day, know that I love you more than the world. And I always will. I’m so glad to be Lucy’s Daddy.

 

What the ?£€¥

Brave Little Blogger Contest

 

See what I did there?

Earlier in the week, I took a stroll through my old blog at Xanga. This is old stuff, folks. The idea of a blig or a blog or whatever it was was completely foreign to me. Facebook wasn’t a thing yet unless you were actually a student, people still used MySpace, and the world, while shrinking, was still pretty big.

I wrote everything I thought in that blog. Insecurities, fears. Reading back over some of the stuff that is still there (not all, though, because I don’t even remember the password, so there’s no doubt all sorts of nuggets hiding in private mode) I was completely embarrassed.

And then I wondered why.

One of my main goals in my writing, whatever format it has been in, has been to be as bald and blatant as possible. To say the things that you might think but never admit. Things like sometimes I have farting competitions with myself and I think I just realized I haven’t worn deodorant in like three days, or that I have coupon codes for sex toy sites in excess. Things that everyone kind of ignores about themselves.

But I realized, in my reading, that I leave a whole lot out now. I don’t post my laments about my relationship…or not as much as I did. I don’t wonder in print about people who talk about Sue Schmo and what they say about me.

I don’t criticize or talk about people I love because I know they’ll probably read it. I don’t say things online that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face….even though I may think them. And while that may be the socially acceptable and responsible thing to do – the smart thing – it makes me feel like a hypocrite.

For instance, I can’t say on Facebook that my best friend’s family hates me or that there are certain people who I keep in my life only because they have to be. I can’t say that there are days I feel like the biggest loser on Earth because I feel like talking to someone and I have only the toddler and the cat. I can’t say the things that annoy me about the people I love most. Not even that I love them maybe too much.

In all honesty, I can’t say which is better. My Xanga posts were lamenty, embarrassing, angst ridden, teenagery blather…but they were straight from the gut. The posts I write today are struggly, observant, sometimes well written, and read by everyone I know.

To be straight, I don’t know where the line is. I don’t find anything appealing about airing marital issues online or sounding like the OMGLOL4RLZ chicks whose posts I ignore on my facebook news feed every day, but I don’t want to feel like I’m being anything less than totally honest.

First world issues, I guess. There are worse problems in the world than my blog. Or so I hear.

Random Ramble

Today is Friday the 13th. 

 

That’s bad luck, right? I’ve never really had much experience with good or bad luck on Friday the 13th, although I do remember that when I was young my dad signed his final hiring papers for a job on such a day –  a job that would end up being pretty much the worst thing ever.

But I think that was just the result of general universal shittiness, not really bad luck or anything.

I used to hear stories about people who stayed in their houses or beds all day on Friday the 13th. My opinion is that it would be a good excuse. Maybe I’ll use it someday.

The Steens are embarking on a journey this weekend. We’re heading over to Tuscaloosa, since I’ve never been there and as a student at the University of Alabama I feel I should at least know what it looks like. Then we’ll either geocache our hearts out or head down to Jackson, to laugh at everyone we escaped.

I hope everyone’s year is starting out well. Mine is – I think this could qualify as the best beginning of a year I’ve had in recent memory.

Oh and guess what, my therapist reads my blog (hi, Angela!). While initially I thought that might squick me out a bit, I’ve found it really doesn’t make a difference.

I suppose it’s true that misery breeds creativity – because honestly, I haven’t had much to write about lately. I’ve just been too damned happy. That sounds contrived – but I swear it’s true.

I vow to take lots of pictures this weekend. I have a kickass camera on my phone and I need to use it more often.

So, I leave you with this:

We MAY have convinced Max that butter was a delicious treat. It didn’t last long. 

 

We entertain ourselves the best we know how.

Happy weekend. I’ll be back in full rambley force next week. 

Forward Ho

 
I hereby greet the new year.
 
There are lots of superstitions about bringing in a new year. 
 
I stayed in one spot for a full extra thirty seconds after Lucy hurled on my shoulder and hair just so I could get my midnight kiss on Saturday night. 
 
You’re welcome, surrounding partygoers. You’re welcome.
 
My point is that there are lots of things that tradition dictates one must do or not do to usher in a new year.
 
Eat certain foods. 
Be loud at midnight to scare away evil spirits.
Refrain from paying bills.
Postpone laundry (something I only found out AFTER I put the puke clothes in to wash).
Along with lots of others…some that make sense and some that simply sound stupid.
 
But it can’t hurt, right? Like avoiding black cats or throwing salt or not stepping on cracks…why tempt fate?
 
Except I think sometimes I get so focused on the why-not-it-can’t-hurt-just-do-it mindset of a new calendar that I overlook some things that might actually be useful.
 
Like starting new. Forgetting things past and having a clean slate, letting go of baggage which serves no purpose besides gall.
 
So instead of remembering why QR Nobody  annoyed the shit out of me in 1999, or what Sal Asshole did to give him his Asshole name, I’m clearing accounts. 
 
Starting over.
 
Cleaning out.
 
Second (third, fourth) chances all around.
 
I feel it will help my soul.
 
Happy new year. Look ahead, not behind.

From beneath the ruins

 

Well hello.

 

In the aftermath of the holiday weekend, I should have lots to say.

 

Ava and Lucy hijacked my iPad and took some pictures.

 

In the weekish that I’ve been silent, things have been good. No news is good news, you know.

 

I’m pretty accustomed to just enduring the holidays. I have just never been a good mingler or family-gathering-goer, which makes me feel bad sometimes because I really do love being around family. I’m just not bubbly or vivacious.

 

Not that I changed that or anything, because I totally didn’t. 

 

But from somewhere in the rattling recesses of my soul, some damn happy bug bit me. 

 

I had so much fun.

 

Josh cooked (best meal ever), we made cookies, the kids were happy with all their loot. 

 

I also got those Tunisian crochet needles I’d hinted oh so subtly for, and a sewing machine. This should be interesting. 

Because I’m not a Christmas Card sender

I’ve tried before, a couple of years I even got the cards out in time.

I felt very accomplished those years. But it’s been a long time.

So in light of the fact that I’m not organized or competent enough to send out individual paper cards, here:

Also, in the tradition of those lovely people who do a family update letter every year at Christmas, I will do this.

2011.

The year started out like they all tend to do.

Resolutions were pretty much abandoned by week 2.

I turned 31.

The institution of marriage was defined by people in all different ways.

Ava lost her first tooth. Max lost several of his.

Lucy turned one.

Josh and I decided to go back to school, and we had our 5 year anniversary.

Josh was in many plays. I was in none.

Max and Ava and Dan were also in plays.

I started going to a for real shrink.

My sister got married.

Osama Bin Laden was killed.

Occupy Wall Street began.

Josh said goodbye to his grandfather.

I registered my domain name and began to blog with fervor.

Josh and I finished our first semester of school online.

And oddly enough, that seems to be all of note I can really remember.

I am giving myself this week of mostly leisure, so you may not hear from me for a while.

I love you.

Christmas Confessions

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit at a loss. Like I don’t have much to say.
 
Which is probably more than a little ironic, seeing as one of my main complaints these days is that I don’t have enough people to talk to.
 
This should solve that problem, right? To just blather out everything I think in the middle of the world.
 
It doesn’t. It doesn’t make sense to me.
 
Anyway, I wrote that whole other post about getting into the holiday spirit…but the truth is I haven’t. I love the tree and I love the time off that my family will have soon, but I haven’t gotten into the whole present/gift/happy buying spirit yet.
 
I haven’t bought the first present yet.
 
ISN’T THAT AWFUL?
 
Shameful. I know. It is.
 

There are people on my Facebook and Twitter and wherever else who have been buying gifts and planning since September.
 
SEPTEMBER.
 
Josh and I traditionally wait until Christmas Eve. 
 
I don’t see that changing this year.
 
And what’s worse, one of the main reasons I wait so long every year is that I just damn despise most people. We went in WalMart the night we put up the Christmas tree, and after the fourth person ignored Lucy’s, “Hi! Hi! Hi!” and the second old lady stood UNDER OUR ELBOWS at the checkout, I turned to Josh and said, “Oh my god I fucking HATE CHRISTMAS.”
 
I know. It’s harsh. But sweet Moses, what happened to grace? Manners? Decency? Personal space? Isn’t this the season of good will and brotherly love and all that shit?
 
I know I don’t exactly sound like the poster child for any of those things…but here in Baptist Town should it be me?
 
So anyway, this week is Christmas. Shop local. Be nice. 
 
Ho ho ho.

From a random act

I had promised myself I wouldn’t write about this. It seems…exploitative. Wrong.
 
But for some reason it keeps presenting itself.
 
Let me preface things by saying I’m not claiming to be some big mournful friend. I am not that, to the point that I wasn’t even Facebook friends with these people. I don’t really know why – there was no ill will. It’s just not something I ever did – hunt them down and friend them.
 
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
 
Tuesday morning, Josh was getting up and dressed for his day. He was up and about like always, and on one of his trips in and out of the bedroom, I heard him catch his breath. I turned over to see him standing in the doorway, his phone glowing in his eyes.
 
“Amanda Cossey was shot. She’s dead.”
 
It was the most bizarre thing I could imagine being said. He might as well have been talking about goats with purple horns and allergies.
 
I saw faces, names, confusion of memories and high school and passing acquaintances.
 
Amanda had been in school with me for years. I remember her as bubbly and popular, but one of the rare kinds of bubbly and popular where she actually seemed sincere. I remembered basketball games and cheerleading.
 
And then it was just there, like something raw in my belly. I felt completely useless, and the kind of pretentious that makes you feel dirty. 
 
This sounds awful – but she wasn’t my friend. She was a remembered presence, someone I thought of fondly.  I hadn’t seen her since high school. I didn’t know when she got married or when her baby was born.
 
To feel the way I felt was somehow misplaced.
 
I’m still not sure why.
 
The day passed, the requisite Facebook statuses were posted. News stories
 
I know it’s normal to be confused when something like this happens. 
 
Except, dammit all, it’s not. Nothing about this is normal. And it doesn’t matter if we were friends or not. 
 
The fact is that a girl I knew is dead. Not because she was sick or because a car crashed. Because someone saw her as an obstacle instead of what she was…

 
A wife.
A mother.
A friend.
A sister.
A daughter. 
 
She wasn’t these things to me. 
But it doesn’t seem to matter. 
 
I don’t want to be one of those people who immediately jumps on any tragedy to talk about how great the person was and how close we were. 
 
I have good memories of Amanda. She didn’t deserve this kind of end. 
 
I hope one day we understand things like this. 

Snowed

So, here I am again. 
Let me tell you, whatever this germ is that has assaulted my insides over the past two days, IT WINS. I have never been so miserable. Well, wait. The last time I was this miserable I was eight months pregnant and had the flu. That was bad.
 
But this, this has been awful. I took finals last night in a cold sweat and just prayed I wouldn’t hurl on the table. Or poop myself. Or both. And while I think I may be over it and Lucy didn’t seem to have it quite as bad, Josh has it now. Everyone knows that when the man gets sick the world is ending.
 
It snowed last night. There was a big uproar because we were under a WINTER STORM WARNING. The pink and blue on the radar was very promising indeed.
 

 And then this happened, and it was lovely and exciting. 

I even started to maybe believe the warnings, and i got a little excited. I live in Mississippi, people. We get real snow maybe a couple of times a year.

 

Then this morning I woke up and looked outside with huge anticipation….

 

Nothing. The pavement was wet. The end. I wanted to go find the inventor of the Weather Channel and punch him.

 

Max was excited, though. He had been upset that school might be closed because today is the chess tournament that he’s been prepping for for months. Which is why he woke up, looked out the window, and yelled, “SWEET!”

 

Yup. It’s my kid’s fault the snow didn’t stick. Maybe I should punch him.

 

Thanks be

(here’s the giveaway I know you’re looking for)

So there have been lots of thankful countdowns and such on Facebook.

Generally I don’t shy away from things like that.

AND WHO AM I KIDDING, NOW IS NO DIFFERENT.

I’m thankful.

I’m thankful for:

My health, however I may sometimes hate the way I look and think.
My heart, and the ability I have to love and care. Really. Some people can’t do that.
My desire to be more of a person.
School.
Wine.
The way Josh loves to cook.
Pumpkin muffins.
Friendship – over the past year I’ve done some regrettable things. I’ve lost people who meant a great deal to me. But I still have some people who love me, flaws and all. And that is a blessing beyond words.

And now for the hardcore love:

I’m thankful for Dan. He is exactly the father Max and Ava need, and we are all lucky to have him.
I’m thankful for my Mom. She is everything I have ever wanted to be.
I’m thankful for my Dad. He is, now and always, the measure of the type of man I need.
I’m thankful for my sister. She has been my partner in crime for my entire life, and one of the best friends I could have. Even if she left me out of her Facebook thankful countdown.
I’m thankful for my grandmothers. For how loving and sweet they both have always been, and the memories they’ve given me.
I’m thankful for Josh’s family. They have loved me and accepted me, they are my family.
I’m thankful for my son. Max has, in the past decade, taught me more about myself than I ever expected. His heart and sweet soul are something we should all strive to match.
I’m thankful for my Ava Thomas. For the fire and joy she carries with her. For the independence I envy, and for the beauty she carries, inside and out.
I’m thankful for Lucy Grace. She has given me new life, laughter, and a joy I didn’t know I had room in my heart for.
I’m thankful for Josh. I could gush and spew about every reason, but I can sum it in this: he has taught me what love truly is. I would have gone through my life an incomplete person if I did not have him.

Happy Thanksgiving.