Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Blogger Burnout

I think it's time for a break.

As much fun as I've had with this blogging thing, I think it's time I got serious about my intentions. I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I'm going to pursue that and I feel like this blog is limiting me.

So, for now, I am taking a blogging hiatus and channeling my literary energies into something meatier. Oh, I'll probably pop in from time to time when I have a funny story to share, but my focus is going to be working on some projects I started earlier this year.

I am so excited.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing.

Here's to Supermoms everywhere.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Gift

I had made mention of it about a year ago, but found so many reasons why I didn't need it. Too expensive. Not practical. Didn't need it. Computer labs at school.

But I really wanted a laptop.

Not to look cool carrying it around campus, but because while I had been thrust from never being alone to having hours, even entire days alone with my thoughts, I became inspired. I found myself creating stories and giving narrative to my surroundings in my head and wanted to write them down. However, this inspiration didn't occur within the cold, sterile computer lab. It occured next to the window of the restaurant, watching patrons brace against the chilly, autumn wind. The same wind that gathered the crispy leaves in a maternal embrace and sent them spinning in dizzy, carefree circles through the air. Pen and paper couldn't keep up with words.

A few months ago, my husband gave me a gift. Although I picked it out. I carried it from the store. He gave me the money for a laptop, because he knew I would never do it for myself. In our fourteen years of marriage, this is the single most romantic gift he has ever given me. It surpasses the custom opal necklace, the perfume, the beautiful angora sweater I coveted for months. This gift says more than "I love you". It says "I believe in you. Go and pursue your dream." Every time I use it, I think of that. His confidence in me is astounding.

Now if I could only convince myself...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

So, I haven't dropped out of school...or moved to Australia, even though it sounded pretty good Thursday. I woke up at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and could not go back to sleep, all in a panic about my Brit Lit midterm. The more I thought about it, the more I KNEW I had failed. I didn't want to go to class this morning. I didn't want to face my professor. What if she said something to me about it? What if she didn't? I didn't want to know my grade. I wanted to pretend it didn't happen and move on.

I had to ask myself, what would it mean if I didn't get an "A" in this class? Would it mean I was a failure? Would it mean I couldn't be a good writer? I have friends with their baby in ICU. Another friend whose husband is in Afghanistan and may be deployed again next year. People around me - people I know and love - are hurting and I'm losing sleep over one silly exam. An "A" in British Literature suddenly lost its significance and I found myself humbled.

It's hard to shift the focus sometimes, from what makes me happy, to what makes those around me happy. And even harder to dig down so deep I lose sight of myself completely and can give from a place that is real and unaffected.

Pray for this beautiful boy.

Pray for my friend, the military wife, who has been raising two kids on her own for a year and faces the possiblility of doing it again.

God help us.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tiny Dresses

It was cotton, crisp and soft, with cheerful white daisies and red, shiny cherries floating in a sea of pink. It was small. So small I couldn't believe it used to fit my Baby, when she really was a baby, also soft and pink with that delicious little crease in her forearm that separated her arm into three sections instead of two. When I took the sundress from the box to prepare it for consigning, I lingered with it, and hesitated to part with it.

But it's only a dress. A dress too small she will never wear again and will only take up space. Besides, you bought one for Sister, too, and Baby can wear that one when she is older and you can enjoy it again.

Right. I'll let it go.

Then it was the blue dress Baby wore to my Sister's wedding last summer. Powder blue taffeta with shiny silver threads woven throughout and a skirt made of layers of tulle and organza and satin and tiny little blue ribbon rosebuds housed throughout its many folds. It was practically a confection. And the color was perfect on her. She looked otherworldly, as if she were an airbrushed photograph in a magazine.

Be practical. You can't keep it all. And that's really what you want, isn't it? Come on.

Yes, of course I want to keep it all. It all means something to me. It all has precious memories associated with it. But it's ridiculous to keep it. I don't have room to keep it.

I hung the dress on a hanger, tagged it, and laid it in the pile along with it's pink sister, trying not to think of how much I wanted Baby to wear those dresses again. A majority of the clothes Baby wears were once worn by Sister. Packing them away when Sister outgrew them was easier. I knew I would probably see them again. But this time I was not putting them in a box to treasure for the next little girl. I was sending them away forever.

I tried to think about the happiness the dresses had brought me and the happiness they would give to another mother, possibly a first time mom, who doted on her new baby and was looking for the perfect dress for her first Easter. She would find shiny white shoes and ruffley socks to match, and hopefully, a bow, and she would think her baby the most beautiful that ever was, and she would, of course, be right. This brought me comfort and I continued emptying the box I had brought in from the garage.

But then I found this. It was the white cotton nightgown I bought at a yard sale for Sister. I remembered the mother who had sold it to me. How she cried as she handed it to me. How she lovingly folded it and asked me to take special care of it. How her tears seemed a little strange at the time, but now I found them on my cheeks as well.

I did not put it on a hanger. I did not tag it. There was no price, no sentimental thought of an unknown mother's joy that could pry it from my hands. I folded it and put it aside. It would not be sent away.

After emptying the box, I loaded up the car and took the many items to the sale. During the inspection process, about four or five employees, young mothers themselves, flocked to my lovely bounty and oohed and aahed over the tiny clothes, some of them intercepting pieces they wanted for their own. At first, I felt protective, as if I needed to swat away the vultures who were delighting in my sorrow. I felt hot tears behind my eyes.

Get away! Those aren't yours! Those are mine! My babies clothes!

But I saw their faces, and the delight in their eyes, and I knew I had made the right choice. They would love them. They would care for them. And it would all be okay. For right then, I knew there was a box of size 2T dresses waiting at home for me to unpack and hang in Baby's closet, and I wasn't going to think of bringing them here next year, but look forward to the spring and the new season life was giving me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Supermom and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I've had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

I think I'll move to Australia.

It was terrible because my husband was irritated with me and even though he didn't say so I could tell because he wouldn't smile and kind of huffed and puffed through his nose like he does when he's irritated and I left the house crying.

It was terrible because I cried all the way to school and was mad because I would meet with my study group with puffy red eyes and splotchy skin and my makeup would be all washed off and I knew it was silly to be crying but I couldn't stop because it's that time of the month and I always get ultra sensitive and emotional at that time of the month and I would have to tell my study group it was allergies or some other lie like that.

Do they have allergies in Australia?

It was terrible because I realized while I was studying that I had taken terrible notes and was not as prepared as I should be and the midterm was less than an hour away and there would be an essay question and I had no clue what I was going to do.

It was terrible because after we studied the rest of the group started leaving and I wasn't sure why because the class was supposed to start at 11:20 and it was only 10:50 but I figured they had plans or something before class so I just kind of hung out and got a bottle of water but then I finally figured out that my class started at 11:00 and that was where everyone went and I was five minutes late for my midterm.

I've been going to class for how many weeks and I forgot what time it started?

I'll bet they don't have midterms in Australia.

I completely bombed the essay part of my midterm and could not put two sentences together in essay form let alone formulate one single cohesive thought about morality and spirituality among Romantic and Victorian writers and compare and contrast two writers to support my analysis.

I cried some more.

I was not nice to a visitor on my blog.

I did not do my math homework and even skipped class tonight.

I cried some more.

I caved to my pre-menstrual monster and ate a chocolate chip cookie. And a Hershey bar. And a Little Debbie.

I'll bet chocolate is a health food in Australia.

But my friend says it will be okay and that everybody has those days.

Even in Australia.

If you have never read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, this post probably seems weird to you. Go and get it today and read it to your children. It is funny and poignant and a great story, even for adults.

Freudian Slip?

I was preparing to make muffins for my children this morning while my coffee was brewing.

Not a smart idea to try and use the oven and potentially dangerous kitchen tools before I've had my caffeine fix.

I got out the large 8-cup batter bowl and the muffin tin and sat my coffee cup next to it, ready and waiting to be filled.

When the coffee pot was finished, it called out to me, entreating me to come and partake. I grabbed the Splenda and ritualistically tore open two packets to prepare my cup to fulfull it's destiny and dumped it in.

But alas, I had emptied the packets into the wrong cup. I was preparing my batter bowl for coffee.

Is 8 cups too much?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are -
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
-Ulysses Lord Alfred Tennyson

Saturday, March 03, 2007

A Mom By Any Other Name

I used to have this neighbor, we'll call her Julie, who, despite my best attempts, never became a close friend. Actually, she never really became a friend at all. We just never "hit it off".

Sister was about two months old and Julie had just had her first child, a daughter also. I had invited her over to get her out of the house a little and chat. She was wrestling with the decision to go back to work or stay home with her newborn.

Now, I'm no dummy. I know this issue is a very hot topic among women. And though I sincerely believed no good mother would ever leave her child to pursue a career, I certainly didn't say that to her.

I mean, she might be condemned to hell and her children would grow up to mindless, broken heathens if she went back to work, but who was I to say?

Anyway, Julie was voicing her concerns and kind of working it out there with me and finally said, "I don't think I can stay home. I mean, I'm just a busy person and I think I would be bored."

I wanted to kick her condescending butt right then and there, and perhaps that was the deathknell for mine and Julie's relationship. Seriously, what made her think I wasn't busy? The messy house? The zombie-like expression I was wearing? My inability to shower or wear makeup? Who wouldn't want that kind of lifestyle?

Julie did return to work, and they were able to build a brand new house in a much nicer neighborhood.

You see, I became a mom and I was consumed. I was going to be the best mom EVER, and for a little while, until reality took me down a notch or two, I believed I was. I was told that staying home with your children was absolutely best, even preferred by God, so there was never a question for me. My son was 9 months old before I ever left his side, and it was another year before I left him again. This was much the same with my girls. I was a good mom and good moms don't leave their children.

But something strange happened. I started feeling frustrated, inadequte, and unhappy. And dare I say, unfulfilled? But how could that be? I was a good mom. I loved my children more than life itself. And I loved taking care of them. What was wrong with me?

I had drowned.

All of a sudden I had to face the fact that I was one of those moms I had condemned. I wasn't completely happy just being a mom. I wanted more.

Some women have but one desire, and that is to be home all day long being domestic and nurturing. I applaud them. And there are certainly days I revel in my own mom-ness. But it's okay if I want to have some time to explore who am besides that, because I wasn't always a mom, and one day my little ones will fly free. It's perfectly fine if I take two days out of seven to nurture myself and learn new things because I want my own children to do the same. They should know education doesn't have to stop when you're 22.

Furthermore, when did God say, "Thou must stayest at home with thy child every minute of every day"? And I often wonder, did the Proverbs 31 woman - the original Supermom - stay home all the time? Sounds to me like she had other interests, and ten to one she left the house now and then to attend to them.

Stay at home. Go to work. Do whatever it is you've got to do. The truth is, no matter what we do we will raise broken heathen children, because we are broken heathens, too. It is what we do with the time we are given, be it after school, on the weekends or in the dead of night, that allows for the grace to function within that brokeness.

Here's to every mom out there who is busting her butt to be the best she can be and botching it right and left. Here's to pizza delivery and unshaven legs.

Screw perfection. Let's just shoot for clean underwear.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Don't Go Breakin' My Heart

Is five-years-old too young to be pre-menstrual? After having two girls, I'm beginning to think the female species is born with a special mutant drama gene and PMS begins at birth...maybe conception.

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I leave for the day and wander off to college to (theoretically) gain some wisdom and knowledge, and perhaps one day, a degree. Poor Sister still hasn't quite warmed up to this idea and begins telling me the moment she wakes up that she doesn't want me to go. Our conversation usually goes something like this:

"Mommy, I don't want you to go." (said with very sad eyes and voice)

"I know, Honey."

"But, Mommy, I really don't want you to go."

"I know. I heard you. But you're going to have lots of fun with Daddy today."

"No I won't have fun." (pouting)

"Okay, if you say so."

"Mommy, I really need to tell you something."

"What is it, Sweetie?"

"I don't like it when moms go."

"I'm sorry."

"But, Mommy..."

"Honey, I know you don't want me to go, but I have to. It's good to learn new things, even when you're a mom."

"Mommy! (exasperated) I'm trying to tell you something!!"


"I really don't want you to go."


"Because I...I just like you."

"I like you, too, and I like being with you. I will be with you all day tomorrow."

"But I want you to be here today."

"I know."



"I really don't want you to go."

You get the idea? This continues the entire morning until I leave, and there are sometimes tears involved. But today she turned the drama up a notch and made a most heart-wrenching scene. Hubby had sent her to her room as a way to pry her from my leg and let me finish getting ready to go. This did not go over well with her. She began sobbing on her bed and performed a very emotional monologue that would rival the most seasoned of thespians:

"This is all Daddy's fault! Mommy? (I do not answer, but try to ignore it so as not to get involved in this daddy/daughter matter) Mommy?! Mommy's already gone. Daddy made me miss her! (more weeping) I don't like daddies! I only like mommies!"

And the Oscar goes to...

After a while, she finally calms down and is allowed to come out just as I am leaving. I hug her and try to talk to her about other things to take her mind off my departure, but to no avail. She is trying to be brave and not cry, but she just can't turn it off. "I want to open the door for you," she says, sniffling. She opens it and I give her another big hug and tell her I love her. I remind her to color some pictures for me so I can see them tonight when I get home as I'm walking out. She nods her head and closes the door, fighting the tears, but very unsuccessfully.

My instinct is to throw down my books, scoop her up and weep with her, but I figure that will only escalate the drama, so I pretend I don't notice and get in the car. Just as I am pulling out of the driveway she runs out the front door in bare feet in the chilly morning wind and I hit the brakes. I open my door wide and let her jump into my arms, plastering her cheeks with kisses. "I love you. I'll be home soon," I say. "Okay," is her tiny response and she heads back up the steps to the front door. I see her bottom lip trembling and her face contorting into that squished up grimace one gets when they're holding back the floodgates.

It was all I could do to back the car out of the driveway.