Score One for Moms!

The MOST amazing thing happened to me last night. As a mom, we often operate unnoticed hoping our love will be enough even if they can’t see it. But, last night, I learned that Samantha sees it, as she remembered something from many years ago.

I wrote a little bit about it.

Noise

Our life together is loud.  Work, homework, school, lunches, backpacks, permission slips, book reports, library days, gym days, art days, dinner, clean-up, gym time, me time, reading time, tubby time, and bedtime are the static. I search for a loose thread, something to pull on to slow the speed, but our daily tasks still orbit us with urgency.

Then last night, you are sick. Mommy, you beg, please put me to bed. Lay with me. Comfort me.

I pull the nest of your brown hair to my chest and hum a song I have hummed a million times when you were a baby, but haven’t done so in close to five years. The notes are automatic, like they’ve been buried inside of me just waiting to be uncovered. They cling together and form the melody of your infancy. Suddenly, with the glow of the nightlight holding us in the darkness, you begin to join me. Note for note, exactly right. This tune, this song, it is an echo of our life together.

“You know that song baby girl?” I ask welling with tears.

“Yes, you used to hum it while you rubbed our backs at night.”

With those words a bomb explodes inside of me as I remember the fleece of your onsie pajamas under the palm of my hand.

And all of the noise is gone.

And all that is left is a soft lullaby.

The “F” Word

Two weeks ago-yes it has taken me that long to recover from this incident-I brought my 8-year-old twin daughters to Target for an impromptu shopping trip. As we were sitting in the cafe’ chomping on a very salty soft pretzel, one of my daughters asked me who I thought would grow up to be fat, her or her twin.  Puzzled, I choked down the ICEE I was slurping and asked her why she thought one of them would be fat. Why would you think such a thing? She looked at me, slightly embarrassed, and said softly, “well, because Daddy is skinny, and you’re…not.”

iceeBefore you jump to the conclusion that my daughter is a jerk, let me just say this: I am fat. I have always struggled with my weight, and when I had finally gotten to a point where I was happy with my body, I was blessed with a twin pregnancy. The road back from that birth has not been easy, as most mothers will attest. Being a mom consumes you, and one day you realize that you haven’t really cared for yourself in that way in a really long time. Or, maybe that’s a nice, convenient excuse, I don’t know anymore. All I know is my daughter’s words hit me like a freight train, not because they hurt my feelings-I’ve been called a lot worse-but because her words opened my eyes to this: My daughters have no idea what makes people fat. They have no clue how to keep caloric intake down, which foods linger longer than others, or any of the other helpful and necessary information they need to help control their weight as adults, and you know what? It’s all my fault.

After having read 95,888,888 articles about how we as women are destroying one another with words, or how mothers can imprint their body image issues onto their young, I issued a moratorium on the word “fat” pretty early on. My daughters have never heard me say it, and thankfully have never heard anyone call me by that moniker. I’ve never weighed myself in front of them, or even uttered the word “diet.” I’m pretty strict about what they eat, and try my best to model “good behavior” and “self-control.” But now, here I was faced with a teaching moment, and I couldn’t help but think of it this way- In the effort to prevent future self-loathing, am I setting my daughters up for an unhealthy lifestyle? Would it be the end of the world if my daughter knew that sugary drinks and candy make you fat? So here’s what I said:

“You’re right honey, Mommy is a little fat.  But, I’m working on eating healthy and exercising so that I can be healthier. That’s why Mommy doesn’t eat a lot of junk food.”

I don’t know what I expected. But what I got was a crooked little smile and a quick story about some Minecraft video they had watched earlier that day. My other daughter wasn’t even paying attention.

Look, I don’t know what the answer is, how to shape the outcome of my daughter’s self-image. All I know is, I tend to lean towards no information being on par with misinformation. I want my daughter to love her body, and to accept whatever shape or form it may take, but I also want her to be healthy and to work towards being healthy as an adult. Not skinny, healthy. And I believe it is my job as Mommy to make sure she has all of the information she needs to make the best possible decision she can.

Moving

So this is it. This will most likely be the last night I spend in my home, the home in which I have felt protected and loved for the last eight years. Eight wonderful years. When I had no idea where I belonged or who I was, this home pulled me in tight and named me. When I felt rootless and unsure of the future, she nurtured me. I became a mother in this space. I became a wife in this space.  

This home has been the origin of three generations of my family, and now she will give someone else a new start. She has seen births, deaths, marriage, divorce, pain, suffering, kindness, and the deepest of love. We have loved her, have grown in her embrace, and will never forget our time here as a new family.  

Goodbye old girl, you will be missed.

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A Letter to Mothers of Sons From a Mother of Daughters

When your son comes to you with arms outstretched and pain in his cheeks, let him fall into you. Let him cry, let him soften, let him be cotton against this hard world.

When your son needs to be caught, catch him. When he needs to be propped up, stand tall against him like a dam. But don’t rush. Let him walk slowly towards you, so that he may learn to ask for the support he needs.

mom-and-son1-600x401When your son grows angry, sooth him. Be the cool against his heat. Show him that the world is bright, and that he is too.

When your son questions himself, question him right back, so that he might own the convictions resting on his tongue.

When your son asks about girls like they are puzzles, remind him that you are one too, and that the clues are the same.

When your son asks about love, don’t give him the answers. Let him wander through that magical universe and earn his stars.

When your son asks about my daughter, tell him she was loved with just the right amount of restraint, so that she can be her own dam. And that she was held with just the right amount of kindness, so that she can still be the cotton.

Grow

Each morning, as I ascend the stairs to your room, I know what I’m going to find-the static filled brown hair, the carelessly tossed limbs, the twists and turns of the covers-but today, today of all days, I forgot.

And for a split second, I expected cribs and baby breath, raised hands and awestruck eyes, warm cheeks and bald heads, shiny lips and the word “Mama.”

I had stop my stride and catch my breath.

Love Letters

I’ve been working on a project for about a month now.  I’ve decided to write a book to my daughters.  Not for publication, but for them.  Each day I have written about 250 words, and I thought I would share the first with all of you.  So, here it is: the first page of this new project.

Love Letters

Everyone on Twitter knows how much I love you, except you. Everyone on Faceboook knows the apprehension with which I raise both of you. Everyone on Tumbler knows I have eight-year-old twin girls, that you came to me after a fertility drought, after a bad marriage, after a long, hard battle of thick to thin, and there you were like bulbs in the earth waiting to be plucked.

I write letters to you in this white humming space of a computer screen, and give them to other people. I write love letters to you in the crowded room of my mind, and never see them again.

In my sentences you are still my babies. I remember the smell of you at one week old, ripe with a rotten belly button cord, sweet with synthetic milk on your tongue. I still feel the shape of you against the inside of me, the press of your unborn limbs against my skin.

When you are old enough to know what these words mean, those memories will be dull. They will melt into others and fade against the drama of teenage strife.

This is your eighth year and I’m writing you a book. Every day, 365 total entries, not for publication but for posterity. So you can remember my words, my voice, my addiction to you.

Dear Girls,

This is yours.

A New House! A New Book! Woot Woot!

Shortly after Timmy and I started dating, he told me that his dream was to build his own house.  Now, that dream is happening!

We are on a shoestring budget.  We are building it from scratch by ourselves.  The only part of the process we are subbing out is the block (the foundation walls, hubs did the footer himself).  Anyway, the house and the move is going to be completely life-changing and traumatic for me.  I’m one of those that gets attached to place easily.  But, this is what Timmy and I have been working towards for the last five or six years.  We always knew we wanted to live in the country, and now we will.

As a poet, I am bursting.  I want to write about so much of it all at once.  The construction of this house is riddled in metaphor, from “bringing it out of the ground” to talking about hip roofs and roof lines.  He’s building us.  He’s building me.  Anyway, that’s how my brain works, and once I can get my head around some of these images, there will be poetry!!!!

Which, brings me to my next announcement!

My first full-length poetry collection, BANGS, will be out this fall with Big Table Publishing.  I’ll be touring a little bit, lining up some readings for that book, so check back in a while for that info.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the building process!

The land "before"

The land “before”

The Hole!

The Hole!

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Block!

Block!

Caught with My Pants Down

This morning, as I was weighing myself half-naked like I do every single morning of my life, my five-year-old daughter crept around the corner of the bathroom door and stood watching me as I stared down at the rather large number.

“Mommy, what are you doing?” she whispered.

I froze, not because I was startled by her presence, but because I was startled by her question.   I mean, I knew eventually one of them would see the scale, would see my morning ritual and ask questions, but I was stunned because, despite months of dreading this very question, I was completely unprepared as to how to answer it.

Mommy’s weighing herself honey because her self-esteem is wholly dependent on a number.  Mommy’s weighing herself because if she doesn’t, she will grow really, really fat again and Daddy will go away.  Mommy’s weighing herself because Mommy is an addict and if she doesn’t check in with her “sponsor” every morning, she will become overtaken by her disease once again.  

All of these thing sound ridiculous in my brain, yet I believe them as truth deep down in the middle of me.  This self-sabotaging dialogue is a train track running down the center of me, charging through and blowing to bits any healthy infrastructure I have erected.  Yet…My daughters are untainted.  They are like cotton: malleable, soft.   My problems with body image are a deep dark canyon, and right now, they are on the precipice of self-loathing.  My answer can either push them over, or save them from this agony.

“Mommy is weighing herself because I want to make sure I stay healthy and strong.”

She wrinkles her nose for a second as if she is sniffing out the validity of my statement, and within minutes her attention  turns to the dogs and she is gone, chasing them up the stairs and into the ripples of her sister’s laughter.

I don’t know if I said the right words.  I don’t know the truth myself.  I don’t know if anything I say can make a difference.  When I think about it, my parents never said anything about weight.  They set a good example and exercised and took care of themselves.  So, I guess the question then becomes,  how did I get here?  And how do I keep my own daughters from this place?