Friday, July 25, 2014

Poking at keys

"What do you write about?"

I've gotten that question a few times today because I'm at the annual BlogHer conference of women who publish online. And, to my surprise, I've met the question with a moment of pause. Not because I (admittedly) haven't written much lately, but because so often what my brain processes and sends to my fingers to poke out on my keyboard is a free flow and not well planned. But at the same time, the reason I go for days,weeks or months without writing is because I'm afraid of the free flow and exposing too much of what my brain is processing.

"I write about life with kids," I said.

And I guess that's what I do here. And I guess that's also what I stop myself from writing about. And it's hard to make that the answer because "life with kids" sounds so trivial and menial... an oscillation between boring and saccharine. But in reality, it's layered and complex and heart bursting... and hard. I overthink. "What do you write about?" is too close to "what do you think about?" and I won't give that away.

See? Not well planned.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Sad Goodbye

If I have learned one thing about motherhood in eight years doing it, it is that nothing should surprise me.

But yet, I am so surprised at how emotional I am about one thing in particular. My sister says it’s the hormones.

For 13 months, I have personally nurtured my baby girl with a gift only her mother can give. And now, that door is about to close. We are both growing and moving on.

When the boys were infants, I worked hard and did what I was supposed to do and went through the motions of nursing them because I had to and at six months, they each were done. They were too busy to sit still and just nurse. They had other things to do and couldn’t be bothered. And truthfully, it felt to me more bothersome than anything else. Finding the time and place to get it done seemed so much more impossible then. It was a chore and I pushed on as far as I could and when that chapter ended, I knew I did my best and gave them what I could and we moved on to formula and on with life. It was matter-of-fact. They needed to be fed and I fed them the way I was supposed to for as long as I could. And then I was free.

But now, feeding my baby isn’t a chore. It’s a bond. In fact, it’s a gift. And it’s ending.

We have survived sinus infections, flu, mastitis, pneumonia, and business trips. I have pumped in cars (parked and moving), in bathrooms, in airports, in offices, and in the Louisiana swamp. I remembered vitamins and counted ounces of water intake and measured and timed alcohol consumption. Whenever we left the house, I would keep an eye on the clock and a part of my brain would constantly be ready to alert me as to when it was time for the next feeding. My nursing cover was always ready to whip out, no matter when or where my baby needed to eat.

We plowed through The Great Incident wherein a certain very important person who shall go unnamed accidentally left an entire month’s worth of frozen pumped milk in a hot car and ruined it. I have never felt so devastated - as if I experienced the death of family member or the loss of a limb. And yet, we powered through and pumped and restocked the supply and soldiered on. Perhaps one of my proudest accomplishments.

Because it was that important. Not just for her consumption, but for our bond. Our thing that only we could have and only I could do for her. I am the only person who could give her the nutrition she has needed to live, to grow and to thrive. I alone have provided her with that, and all from within the cradle of my arms. But now it is coming to an end and so is this unique bond we share. And with it, I say goodbye to this life stage of mothering infants.

And it’s just so surprisingly sad.

Thursday, May 22, 2014


We pulled into the garage and your dad turned off the ignition. Everyone got out and went inside but something made you and I linger a little longer. It was your birthday eve – your favorite subject of the moment. “Can you believe you’re almost eight!?” I said. “This is the last night you’ll ever be seven.”

You crawled from the third row and perched yourself next to me, atop the console between the two front seats. “I can’t believe it,” you proclaimed with a sly smile. “I can’t believe that means I’ve been a mom for eight years,” I pointed out and grabbed you for a hug. “Did you know you made me a mom?” I said. “You gave me that gift.”

You held on tight – you, the kid who is always so pissed that you’re not yet a teenager, that you still have to live with mom and dad rather than on your own as a self-sufficient free spirit who answers to no one – you held on and so I did too, rubbing your back. “What a gift you gave me,” I softly repeated.

You looked at me with tears in your almost-8-year-old eyes. “Now I’m crying tears of happiness,” you said. And so was I.

These are the moments I treasure in the midst of ADHD and defiance and homework hell. In the mess of the daily grind, and anxiety, and hidden triggers that others around us can’t seem to relate to, like when you absolutely must be the last person in the gym after basketball practice, meaning that even the guy who turns off the lights and locks up better get out before you or else you’re gonna lose it.

You have moved on from calling me “Mommy” to “Mom,” from trains to skateboards, from pajamas to athletic shorts. Your feet stink, you leave the door open and you always have a ball in hand. But even behind your tough-guy persona I still catch you, though fleeting, as my first baby.

Your teacher told us this morning that you think differently than everyone else. When the assignment was to make an American flag, you refused to have yours laminated because you wanted it to ripple like the way you notice real flags rippling. When asked to create a city scene, everyone else drew buildings on paper but you had to fabricate yours in 3-D, consenting to not hang it up with everyone else’s so that your constructed buildings could actually stand up.

You are passionate and determined and quirky and individual. Sometimes the way you make everything uniquely yours can drive your dad and I batty. We try to remember it’s not about us. We try to not squash your spirit just because we have agendas and bedtimes to manage. But we’re still growing along with you.

You acknowledged recently that Autumn, whom you’ve said for maybe three years you are going to marry one day, doesn’t really hang out with you. You’re thinking maybe it’ll be Maggie or Brooke now. It’s all of course meaningless but your heart seems so fragile and sensitive. It’s amazing how at 8 you straddle the fence of tough guy and sensitive boy. And how you push and pull us back and forth with you, alternating between moments of sheer let’s-watch-a-move-and-snug-under-blankets joy and those of whatever-mom-wants-is-exactly-the-opposite-that-I-want discord.

You are one of my favorite people on Earth and I couldn’t love you more. You, who made me a mother. Who gave me that gift.


She looks out the window and points suddenly, a surprised expression on her face and an elevated voice: "Dad!" He's mowing the lawn. My heart pings a little. She says "Dad" so much more often than anything else. But she still clutches me as if I might disappear at any moment, she reaches her tiny arms out for me to come get her, hold her, hold on. She collapses her little self on top of me in the bed in the mornings. As if she had been looking for me in her sleep, and upon finding me, right next to her the whole time, she is almost relieved and determined to keep me there. I relish these little moments that make up our life today. The third time around, my sense of what is fleeting is keener than ever before. I know she'll push me away one day, but for now, I am her comfort and her hero and I couldn't have a more important title in my life. How funny that one year ago, we were just getting to know each other.