Thursday, December 31, 2015

If it's not a resolution or a bucket list, WTF is it?

By now, you all should know that I'm not one to do platitudes. I don't do sweeping generalizations. I don't tell people that they should trust that things happen for a reason. That this next year will be the year of magic miracles and flying rainbow unicorns and happiness and all that.

Those things make me twitch, truth be told.

At the end of the year, though, I think it's human nature to take an inventory, muse about the things that have happened. The goals you'd perhaps set the year prior. Maybe you reached them, maybe you didn't. Maybe you just don't care about that anymore because life came along and gave you something else to do or told you that the thing you thought was important wasn't actually important at all.

I've had that last one happen so many times that it's essentially prompted me to stop trying to think I can control what happens. Plans are great and all, having goals is commendable, certainly.

Life just don't often afford us the opportunity to do a full check off on the list of things we think we want. At least for me it hasn't.

Instead of doing annual resolutions, I started a 40 by 40 list a while back. I'll be 40 in February 2017.

I try not to think of it as a bucket list.

I don't know what it is exactly.

Here's a picture.
Yay.

Here are the first 10. I haven't come up with the rest of the list yet.

1. I'd really like to scatter my parents ashes with my brother before then. I have to get their ashes first...which is a long damn story. Ugh.

2. I'd like to go to Washington D.C. since I've never been there before. (I know....I KNOW)

3. I'd like to run a mile. Just once. I've never been able to run a whole mile in my life, even when I was 15 and ran every day. I have bad knees. I have asthma. I tend to end up in a pile on the ground gasping for air almost immediately then limp for a week afterwards. I don't know why I want to do this, but it is mostly because I've never done it.

4. I'd like to finish one of my books. The problem is that I don't even know which one I should be working on right now. They're all so emotionally draining.

5. I'd like to start doing podcasts. But then people would be able to hear my voice and that freaks me out.

6. I want to get back to the beach by then. I miss the ocean.

7. I want to get at least one more tattoo. I have some of the funds squirreled away and I know what I want, it's just a matter of finding a place and deciding where I want it.

8. I want to finish repainting the rest of the downstairs, get everything back on the walls and not hate the color. Long story, but last time I did this, I chose poorly and then had to live with it a long time.

9. I want to travel more locally, go places we haven't been yet here in Colorado.

10. I want to go on a trip with my husband and no kids. Somewhere. Anywhere.

I wrote this last summer, and I'm now down to 13 months until 40. I don't know what the rest of the list will look like, but I've managed to check three things off already, four if we're counting the short trip I took for a friend's wedding where we only took the baby. Trust me, it was a piece of cake only having one kid to worry about.

I could totally get behind doing the podcasts, if I thought that there were people out there who would listen to them. Would you listen? Would I sound weird? Can I even figure out how to do it? What do you want me to talk about?

Maybe by my birthday this year, I'll have the rest of the list formed. Maybe.

But probably not.

After all, I'm not so good with following through on plans, and at some point I just accepted this truth about myself. It's amusing to me that I'm even making this list.

Have any of you done a 40 by 40 list or anything similar? What was on your list? Did you do it?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Top Ten Posts of the Year

I haven't done one of these end of the year posts in a while, but I figured I should try this year. I haven't written nearly as much as I would have liked to, and I'm hoping to get better about that in the new year.

This list is an interesting one, for sure, demonstrating how wide the the range of topics I write about truly is. If you click on the titles, you can read them if you haven't already.

Thank you all for sticking around this year. xoxo

Here they are, in no particular order:

You know they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions 
I wrote this one as a response to all the people in the world who insist on platitudes and placating us, who insist on minimizing our pain and grief, who try to tell us that whatever we're going through isn't that bad.

".... when I have written about how losing both parents translates to the reality that I'm now fully grown up, without a safety net anymore, not that she'd ever have been able to catch me if I'd needed her, and people placate me by saying things like, "you aren't alone". Well, yeah. I am. I have my brother and my extended family and my husband and my inlaws, but I don't actually have parents anymore. They aren't here. Let's not pretend that the idea of them or that the memory of them is the same as them actually being here, because it isn't at all."

Attachment Parenting as Children Grow Up
I wrote this one at request, as people were seeking more information on what attachement parenting looks like once kids are out of the toddler stage. Many people believe that AP is limited to infancy, or that it requires adherence to every principle to be legitimate. I disagree. AP is more of a general approach to how we've chose to raise our children.

Also, this is sexy as hell.


"...We don't expect or demand the same things from all the kids because they are all different people. What works for one won't work for another. What is a reasonable goal for one might be unattainable for another. We stay flexible, and we let them screw up. We just help fix it afterwards."

50 Shades of Abuse
I wrote this one when the movie came out, because it does a vast disservice to the BDSM community and portrays this relationship in highly unhealthy ways.

"...He tells her she can't leave him because he will find her. 

He dictates to her that she needs to take birth control.

He pushes her into doing things she isn't comfortable with.

Does any of that sound romantic?"

When the Tragedy is Local and the Horror is Real 
I wrote this in the wake of a horrific tragedy locally, when a pregnant woman was attacked, her baby cut out of her womb. The baby did not survive. When horrible things happen, people tend to rush to blame the place where it happened. Terrible things happen everywhere.

"...Nothing happened to this town. Terrible things happen everywhere. Live anywhere long enough and something will happen there. It's just reality. I grew up in a place with a bad reputation, with a name that still to this day leaves a bad taste in peoples' mouths. That place never deserved that reputation. This town where I live now doesn't deserve one either.

These two tragic stories have far more to do with mental health than geography."


We Ain't There Yet, A Guest Post from Anonymous 
This was a submission from a fan who asked to remain anonymous. It is a story about her fight for her child in a system that isn't equipped to help either one of them.

"...He set fire to my house and killed his sister all in one week, and went right back to watching Blues Clues. 

He melts down and calms down with out any notice, there are no indicators or blinking lights alarms don't sound, he just goes rageangerviolencecursingcryingsobbingthrowingscreamingkickingpunchingsuicidethreatsattemptsvoicessayingkillkillkill.... 

Then. Calm.

Mommy I love you.

I love you too."

5th Annual Photo Challenge Contest 
Always one of my favorite posts of the year, always one of my most popular. I host a 30 day photo challenge in June, then run the contest at the end. Learning, growing, sharing. It's amazing and it gets bigger every year.

friendship and loss and the lessons we learn 
I wrote this one, through tears, sitting on my front porch as I watched my daughter say goodbye to her very best friend in the world.

"...These two have known one another since they were first learning to walk. They toddled around the neighborhood together, trying desperately to keep up with their big sisters. They drove the little powerwheels jeep so fast they spun the tires bald, their blonde hair flowing in the wind behind them. We used to nervously laugh about what it would be like when they were driving for real.

And someday, they will both be driving, it just won't be together."


TTPMOT - the of course I am going there edition
The most read Things That Piss Me Off Post of the year, it was the one that I raged and ranted about the sexual abuse in the Duggar household.

"...Interesting that no one here is talking about the victims. Not Josh, not his parents, not the apologists.

They are but a mere footnote in this story, as they've been raised to believe that they are.

They, the female children, are just waiting until they can bear the fruit of their husband's will, at the mercy of his whims and wishes.

These girls were victims long before they were victims."

50 Things About My Mother
I challenged myself to write this one after seeing something similar online. My mother and I, we had a relationship that can only be categorized as complicated, though that doesn't seem big enough a word. I wasn't sure I'd be able to come up with 50 things, but by the time I got to the end of the list, I could have written four more posts.

"...34. Her tacos are something that people still talk about. Friends would always come over for dinner on taco night...even when my brother and I were away at school.

35. My favorite memory of her is when she'd ask me to help her make her bed, and I'd incessantly throw the sheets up in the air and dive under them. She'd tell me to stop and do what I was supposed to, then laugh. Over and over. Sometimes it took us half an hour to make one bed."


One of those women
Finally, one of my most personally revealing mental health posts, one where I talked at length about my personal struggle with postpartum depression. I share for my sanity. I share so others won't feel alone. I share to help lift the stigma. I am one of those women.

"...we need to admit that this happens far more often than most people realize. Then we need to confront the fact that most of what we believe about post partum depression is wrong. We need to understand that the images we are fed are misleading.

Postpartum depression looks like me."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Ten *More* Things We Should All Stop Doing In 2016

I know, I know.

I hate lists. I hate writing them, a lot of people hate reading them, but there is just something about the last week of December that makes me feel compelled to write things in this format. Again. The first list went live yesterday. If you haven't read it yet (and you may not have because my mobile app erased half of it for a while...technology hates me), you can find it here. 

Sorry for the lists.


I apologize.

Wait, no. I don't apologize.

1. We should stop apologizing for the way we are. 

Heh. See what I just did right there?

The apologizing is out of control these days. I find myself doing this all the time, and it drives me nuts when I hear the words coming out of my mouth. I'm sorry I'm sad. I'm sorry I'm happy. I'm sorry I share things. I'm sorry I don't share things. I'm sorry I'm angry. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry. Blah blah blah.

It needs to stop.

I am the way that I am, and you are all the way you are. It's not something we should feel compelled to apologize for. Take me or leave me, this is who I am.

2. We should stop trying to censor what children are taught.

This one is especially irritating me in the new world I'm living in as a homeschooler. I want to believe that people teach their kids for academic reasons, for medical reasons, for mental health reasons. That they keep them home for some compelling reason having to do with the school system's inability to meet the needs of that specific child given their specific situation. I want to believe that. I know that there are many people out there doing this for those reasons. I do.

There are a lot doing it for other reasons though, ones having to do with trying to limit exposure, control the curriculum, shield their kids from whatever they perceive the evil in the world to be. Those people, I'm in groups with some of them online. I left many of those groups recently because I couldn't handle the amount of censorship going on, not just with what the kids are being exposed to, but within the group itself. No one puts Baby in a corner.

It isn't just the homeschoolers of the world though. We live in a world where parents forced a school district to close because of an Arabic lesson, where creationism is put into science textbooks, where sex ed is removed entirely because parents can't stomach their kids learning about penises and vaginas and IUDs and HIV. (p.s. humans are sexual creatures. deal.) We live in a world where the vast majority of the history books ever written have been penned by those in power, from the perspective of the people in control, where the stories of literally everyone else have been ignored and left untaught. That creates a situation like we have now, where entire generations of people have been raised to believe that the stories told in their history books are the only ones that matter.

They aren't.

3. We should stop telling people how they should feel.

Ooooh, this one makes me start hopping around and doing high kicks. I hate this so fucking much, and I see it all the time. People, probably well intentioned ones, have even done it to me on more than one occasion. You'd think I have a warning label on my forehead by now, but apparently not.

Regardless of what is going on in someone's life, regardless of whether something similar has happened to you or to your friend or to your neighbor's uncle, twice removed....you don't get to tell them how they should feel about it. People get to feel however they want about the things that happen in their lives. Insisting that they should feel anything different does a vast disservice to them, minimizes their true feelings and shouts from the rooftops that you are incapable of actually being supportive to them.

Just stop it.

4. We should stop giving out unsolicited advice.

This one goes out especially to all the people who like to tell other people how to raise their kids. You know what is even worse then this phenomenon, though??? Ready for this??? The only thing I have found worse that human sanctimommies are pet sanctimommies. If you think people shaming you for parenting choices is bad, you haven't ever posted a picture of a dog wearing pajamas online...

Every person is different, every parent is different, every situation is different. We're all different. What works for you most certainly won't work for me. If I ask for help, please offer suggestions...but if I don't, please don't try and tell me that I'm doing it wrong.

5. We should stop believing there are arbitrary age limits how we dress, do our hair, etc.

This one annoys me as a freak flag flying nerd and cosplayer. I'm probably too old to paint my nails black and dress like a superhero. I'm probably too old to keep my hair long and buy t-shirts at Hot Topic. (p.s. they still let me in the store) I'm too old to ________ (literally insert anything there).

I'll do me.

You do you.

I really don't care how old you are or I am as long as we're comfortable in the skin we're wearing.

6. We should stop insisting that our experiences translate to other people.

This is a wide sweeping blanket request, applies to literally anything in the world. Have you only ever had friendly interactions with the police? Have you successfully breastfed your child without supplementing? Did you love your c-section? Have a totally functional relationship with your parents? Are you only surrounded by people who own and store guns responsibly? Were you able to receive help for mental health issues successfully? Did medication work for you?

Great!!!!

I'm super happy for you.

Your experience means nothing for anyone else, though. It's limited to you and you alone, and you can't think that your experiences translate to someone of a different age, race, gender, health status, etc etc etc.

7. We should stop condemning women who need help postpartum and instead find ways to help them.

This one is a fresh wound for me, given that there was yet another story in the news this week, this time of a mother who committed suicide while her children were with her. As soon as the story broke, the internet jumped all over her, condemning her situation, blaming her for what she'd done. The truth is, as much as the media thinks they're being accurate, what happened was a result of postpartum psychosis, not postpartum depression. They are related, but different conditions. It's an important distinction. Acting like all women with PPD are homicide or suicide risks actually makes it less likely that women in need of help will seek it out, actually makes it more likely that the stigma will keep them from calling, actually makes it more likely that a women teetering on the edge of psychosis won't get help in time.

We need to do better, we need to get her help and we need to do it before she kills herself in the car in front of her kids, instead of claiming to do it after she's gone.

We need better support systems, not just within the medical establishment, but among friends and family. We need to keep an eye on one another, ask the hard questions, offer to help, build resources.

8. We should stop qualifying what we're about to say because no good comes from that kind of justification.

You know this one, I'm sure.

The "I'm not a racist, but...." or "I have a gay friend, but...." or "I don't mean to offend you, but..."

Yeah.

It doesn't work. You can't magically erase the effect of whatever it is that follows those statements with the qualification. If anything, it makes it worse.

9. We should stop ruining things for other people.

This seems to be something that the internet encourages...as if there is an entire segment of society that gets off on ruining things for other people. Haven't seen the new movie yet? HERE IS A SPOILER. Haven't watched the latest episode of your favorite show yet? HERE IS A SPOILER. Posted a selfie? OMG YOU ARE SO FAT. Share a picture of your kids? JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE TEENAGERS. Frustrated with your parents? YOU KNOW THEY WILL DIE SOMEDAY.

Don't do that.

Let people be happy. Let them share what they share. Let them enjoy this moment or be frustrated in this moment.

10. We should stop picking on anyone who loves something different than we do.

Do you love the NFL? Major league baseball? Video games? Knitting? Comic books? Skiing?

Awesome.

I'm all about everyone finding the things they love and doing them with unbridled passion.

What isn't cool is mocking people who don't happen to love the same things you love, calling them names, picking on them. Not cool. For whatever reason, this phenomenon seems to have ramped up lately because of Star Wars, and it's "trendy" again to declare that you aren't a geek.

If you haven't seen the movies and don't get the appeal, that's fine. If you have seen them and still don't get it, more power to you. Honest. It's not everyone's thing. We don't all have to love the same things.

Just let me put my hair in Leia buns in peace. Mmmkay?

I think I'm done now, Hive. 

Maybe.

But hey....I'm writing again....so there's that.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ten Things We Should Stop Doing in 2016


A few years ago now, I wrote a post very similar to what I'm envisioning for this one. A post full of all the things that people should stop doing in the new year.

It's that time again, though the list from last time could bear a revisit. If you haven't already read it, or would like to again, you can find it here. It had good things like "stop talking. start listening" and "stop making judgments based on hypotheticals".

I fully expect this one to catch me some heat. Posts like this one usually do.

Anyhow, off we go.

1. We should stop being afraid.
There is a troubling trend in our society right now, one that seems to be working magnificently for some politicians (or wannabe politicians). It is this: tap into whatever deep rooted fear people have, focus disproportionate amounts of energy on it, and convince people to make decisions based on those fears, regardless of whether or not that fear is grounded in anything legitimate or not. There are people who are profiting from that fear. There is someone attempting to win the Presidency relying on the fear. Don't let them.

2. We should stop taking things personally.

I've said this before and I'll say it again - it's not about you. It's not about me, either. If there is any lesson I've learned in this lifetime more than the others, it's this one. One person's choices, actions, words, decisions almost never have anything to do with other people. Almost never. That doesn't, by the way, mean that those choices, actions, words or decisions don't affect other people, for they almost certainly will. It just means that people do what they do for their own reasons. It really isn't about you. Honest.

3. We should stop blaming victims.

Just in general, we should do this. Rape isn't about what a woman is wearing, child abuse isn't some slippery slope where children at one point deserve what is coming to them, 12 year old boys in parks gunned down within seconds of police rolling up aren't to blame for their deaths. Hold the people who make decisions to harm others accountable. Stop making excuses. Period.

4. We should stop policing women's bodies.

Just today a friend asked if drug testing in pregnancy is required everywhere. Sadly, it is becoming more and more common for states to pass laws stripping women of even the most basic rights just because they happen to be gestating. We seem to have no issues supporting patient autonomy in any other area, but pregnant women have fewer and fewer rights with time. It isn't just the pregnant women either. It's about limiting access to birth control options, about refusing funding for IUD programs proven to cut the teen birth rate in half, about girls being sent home for wearing leggings at school, shamed for being a distraction to the boys in a class just because they have bodies, women being told to cover up while nursing while people compare it to defecation.

5. We should stop being hypocrites.

If you want to enjoy a world where you can post whatever you want on social media, then demand that the rest of the world either refrain from commenting or agree, lest you defriend them immediately, then you sure as hell shouldn't be trolling other people's pages and entering comment wars. If something offends you, either engage it and deal with people engaging you or scroll on by. You can't have it both ways, and if you only ever surround yourself with people who agree with you, you'll never learn where other people are coming from, you'll never see the world through someone else's eyes and you'll never be forced to see the flaws in your own logic. There's a damn good reason that I encourage respectful discussion of controversial issues on my page. I want to know not just what you think, but why.

6. We should stop calling each other names.

The internet has become a place where people hide behind their keyboards, simultaneously calling anyone who disagrees with them a bully and often acting like one themselves. If you automatically label anyone an idiot (or use any one of the long long long list of names I've seen people called) just because of their opinions, no one is going to take you seriously. No one. Respect goes a long way.

7. We should stop assuming the worst about people and instead have compassion.
That parent with the screaming child in the grocery store? That young mother with 6 kids who look like they must have different fathers? That woman in the headscarf on the street? The homeless man on the corner? The woman who commits suicide? The child who is habitually ditching school? The bully making life hell for someone else?

Got some news for you all...there’s more to their story than whatever you see in the small seconds you observe them. That parent might be dealing with a child on sensory overload. That young mother might be fostering her friend’s children, or they may all be hers and they may all have different fathers and it’s not your business to comment on it either way. The woman in the headscarf might be Muslim, she might not be. It’s none of your concern. The homeless man has a story long before this day. He sees you. See him. The woman who commits suicide might have battled demons in her head for seconds or decades and you have no idea what led her to this place. The bully has, in all likelihood, first been a victim. Probably still is.

Snap judgments, assumptions, snide comments and rude remarks, online chiding of “I would nevers…”, they do no one any good. They may make you feel better. Bigger, stronger, more stable, whatever...but only for a moment. Compassion gets your further in life. It gets us all further.

8. We should all be more mindful of what we say.

This one got me monologuing in the shower today. I was musing aloud to my naked self, as I’m oft to do, about whether it’s hypocritical for me personally to ask others to be considerate of the world around them when I haven’t always been that way myself, when I still struggle at times even now. I don’t think it is. I don’t think it is because people necessarily change as we get older. We evolve, hopefully. We learn better, so we do better.

What I mean by asking that we should all be more mindful of what we say is that we should all take a moment to pause, run whatever is about to come out of our mouths (or keyboards) through our minds for a half a second, and consider what someone else would hear or read. Think about what we put out there into the world from the perspective of someone, anyone else but ourselves.

Of course doing this requires privilege checking. (told ya this one was going to ruffle some feathers...I'm here to make you uncomfortable...)

We cannot control what other people do with what we say, we cannot dictate the set of eyes that they see the world with or the ears they hear things we say with. We cannot alter how they twist our words, what they take personally.

We can, however, do our best to mean what we say before we say it.

9. We should stop competing with one another, and we should absolutely stop shaming each other when we feel like we can't compete.

Oh, the internet. So fun.

I've seen so many of my friends post a birthday cake they made or a gorgeous posed photo of their family or a pregnancy announcement or an album of vacation pictures...only to see someone in the comments come along and shit on their happiness, make it about them, compare this person's life to their own, use the post as some vessel to unload their personal insecurities. Life isn't a contest. Motherhood isn't a contest. None of us are going to win, and none of us are losers either. We all have things we kick ass at doing, we all suck miserably at other things. Personally, I'm rooting for us all. Most people online only ever share the good stuff, which seems to have warped an entire generation's self worth. I try to keep it real and share the good and bad, which...not surprisingly...has led some people to accuse me of being negative or pessimistic. I am those things sometimes. I'm also oozing with happiness sometimes.

10. We should stop believing anything blindly. Ask questions instead.

I truly believe that skepticism is a good thing. Questions are good things. Doubt is important. Blind faith in anything can be dangerous, especially if it's something that resides online. (No, Zuckerberg isn't going to give you stock, and no you shouldn't share that post just in case.)

Don't blindly share things. Do a little research first. Check sources. Check the credibility of those sources.

Ask where the data comes from. Ask who funded the study. Ask why they wanted the study done. Ask who tried to quash the results, or who skewed the data. Ask who made it impossible for the research to be done in the first place. Ask who stands to profit from the outcome. Ask who controls the information. Ask who writes the history books. Ask who writes the laws and who is funneling them cash. Ask who. Ask why. Ask how.

Question everything.

Teach your kids to question everything.

And then teach them to go find the answers themselves.

Happy New Year, Hive.

2016.

Let's do this.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Let's Go Bake Some Cookies and Shit.

I haven't had time to write consistently in so long that I'm starting to wonder if I've lost it. You know...it. There was a time when the computer would whisper my name, when I'd have running lists of things I needed to write about, when I felt compelled to find time, however I needed to do that, to come here.

I think the internet has sucked the joy out of writing.

I've been attacked so often, called names. I've had people make assumptions about me, about the people in my life, about the things that have happened. Those who tend to make those assumptions never seem to realize that we, the writers of the world, don't tell all the stories.

We don't.

For every story written down, there are countless left untold.

When you're like I am, and as seemingly open about things as I appear, that might seem odd. For certainly, there can't be more?

Oh, but there is.

So.
Much.
More.

These past weeks have been difficult for me. They always are anyway, the holidays and all the emotional baggage. The reminders of people who aren't here, whether they have departed from this life entirely or just from mine for one reason or another.

I didn't send cards this year. I just couldn't do it. I dragged out the address book to mail a package earlier this week and was reminded yet again of why. The book, one that I've had since we were married, full of addresses of people gone from my life. The dead. The disconnected. The divorced. The disowned.

It's just too goddamned much sometimes.

I've been edgy all week for a whole bunch of other reasons. My anxiety is ramped way up, so up that all my physical indicators are flashing their red lights at me. The insomnia, the heartburn, the carpal tunnel, the jaw, the sciatica. The feeling like I've been on the verge of a full blown panic attack for over a week now. It's a bit ridiculous how much my body punishes me for internalizing these things.

My husband, the good man that he is, he sees it. He nudges me away from the ledge, tries to reassure me that things will be okay, that we'll find a way to work through whatever it is. Urges me to believe that I'm not just some liability in this world when that's all I can see.

He sees it now, forces me to sit down and talk to him.

We weren't always that way, he and I. We became that way, by necessity. It wasn't a great path to walk, one that I highly recommend you all avoid if at all possible, but it was one that ended here. We're far more functional people as a couple these days, far more grounded, far more supportive. Instead of feeding into one another's fears and anxieties and pain, we balance one another now. He can see the edges of me, feel the sharpness, immediately see how fragile I am and how close to losing it I am, and he tempers that. Now.

It wasn't always that way, and I was reminded of those things in the past in the most unusual way this week. Reminded of just how far we have come, of how bad things really were.

That was the last straw. Sent me down the rabbit hole a bit. I'm crawling out now, slowly. Trying anyway.

I have to try.

Fuck that. 

I have to do it.

Do or do not, there is no try. Right?

I have to do it because Christmas is in a few days, and no matter what else is going on in my life currently or in the past, I have five kids who need me to get right with myself, who need me to muster whatever joy and happiness I can find.

And I need to do it because my burdens can't become theirs. 


I won't allow it.

Let's go bake some cookies and shit.

You with me?

Monday, November 30, 2015

All I want for Christmas, 2015

This is my seventh annual Christmas list. Which is crazy.

There's simply no way I have been doing this for that long.

If you're so inclined, you can read my previous lists here.

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009


I am terrible at making lists. I am terrible at asking for things. When people in real life ask me what I want, I tend to shrug my shoulders and mumble something about not needing anything. 

Which is probably super annoying. I need to be better about that. Gah.

Anyway, my concession is that I do this every year, this list making nonsense. Most of the stuff I ask for is unrealistic, but no one ever said it had to be a reasonable list.

Off we go.

1. I really want the cat we just adopted to get along with the dog. Or to rule over him like a great and powerful overlord. They met for the first time yesterday, and it went pretty well. The poor dog realized that he's not going to be the alpha anything around here. OH WE GOT A CAT, and I haven't written anything here in so long there is no way that you guys would even know that. For that matter, have I introduced the dog? Ack.

Here is Oliver Queen.


And here is Felicity. Of course her name is Felicity. Please tell me that you understand.


2. I want my old mom pains to go away. I'm attributing the uptick in aches to my age, which is naturally helped along by people who live with me saying that I'm SO much older than the last time I had a baby, so of course I've developed tendinitis, and my sciatica has flared up a lot. Of course. Yay.

3. I'd like a portal to the other dimension wherever people go when they die so that I could introduce my parents to the baby.

4. I need new whisks. This is so pathetic and evidence of the fact that being an adult is dumb. But yeah, I need whisks. The fancy ones with silicone parts so they don't scratch pans would be awesome. Did I just get excited about a whisk? For the love.

5. I want to be able to keep the pantry organized. This is a pipe dream, I know. Because 5 kids.

6. I really would like an extra two hours in the day, just for me. Where no one in my house, human, canine or feline, needs anything. Where I can sit with a cup of coffee and actually touch the computer. I haven't written anything in such a long time because I quite literally don't have time. Homeschooling is kicking my ass a bit. It's been awesome for the kids, hell on my writing.

7. I want a wall of bookshelves. A whole wall, floor to ceiling. With a rolling ladder and a handsome leather sitting chair with a tiny table beside it. You know, like on Pinterest. But in real life.

8. I want a dedicated game cabinet. Gawd, if my husband gets wind of this one...anyway, we have a ton of games. Table games, board games, cards games, ALL THE GAMES. The boxes are all different sizes, and because of that, we currently have some here and some there and some in this room and some in that room and I want them all to be in one place, preferably organized in some way that makes sense to me. Yeah. That.

9. I still want a tattoo. Three actually. I'm waiting until the baby is done nursing though, just on the off chance that I have some kind of bizarre reaction to the ink or get an infection or any one of the 8 million things that people with anxiety issues worry about. Yay.

10. I want to never get mastitis again. Twice this year, sonofabitch it hurts. I am currently dealing with the side effects of the antibiotics now. MAKE ALL THE KEFIR. 

11. Oh, speaking of my hippie tendencies....I still would like a clothesline for the summertime. 

12. New sheets would be awesome. More awesome would be having someone here to change the bed and make it all fresh and clean with turn down service and a little mint on my pillow every night. 

13. A Tardis or other method of instantaneous transportation so that we could spend Christmas with my brother and his family without either one of us ending up in a car accident. It would be funny if it wasn't true. We both totally had that happen. Hi, we don't travel for Christmas anymore. 

14. I'd really like an unlimited homeschooling budget. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

15. I want Jon Snow to be alive. 

16. I want Wonder Woman to kick ass.

17. I want Donald Trump to disappear from the face of the Earth for all eternity.

18. I want the keyboard warriors of the world to go outside and find a person in real life to talk to. Yelling at me in all caps isn't going to do anything.

(these last two are repeats, but goddamn they are worth another mention)

19. I want world peace, an end to hunger, freedom for all, true equality and for Citizens United to be overturned. I want Ginsburg to stay on the Supreme Court forever, and I want her replaced with someone as feisty and left leaning as she is when she retires.

20. I want Daryl Dixon sitting under my Christmas tree with his motorcycle and crossbow. Claimed.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

50 Things About My Father

Earlier this year, in May I think, I wrote a post about my Mom. I have made no secret of the fact that she and I had a complicated relationship, or that the circumstances of the last years of her life were not good ones. For her or for me, or for us together. I was struggling with her absence, as I often do, when I came across a post written by someone else about their mother. I challenged myself to do the same - to come up with a list of 50 things that were interesting, positive, genuinely good memories about her. I thought it would be difficult in all honesty given how badly things ended for us.

It wasn't. By the time I got to the end of the list, I could have written four or five more easily.

I promised myself then that when November arrived, I would do the same for my father.

Then November, as it always does, arrived.

I miss him more this month. I think I always will. It's the month of his birthday and Thanksgiving, two days that dance with one another most years, intersect occasionally, always reminding me of the man I called Dad. I'd like to tell you a little bit about him. I think you'd have liked him.


1. His childhood was spent between California and Florida, his father worked for Rockwell International at the height of the space race. Astronauts came to their house for dinner. He saw rockets take off from the beach. It was something that captivated the entire world for years, just a part of life for him.

2. When I was a little girl, he worked pretty hard to teach us about the space program. We even went to see a Shuttle land at Edwards Air Force Base once.

3. Even as an adult, he'd call me to talk about the launches. When the Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2003, I called him immediately, thinking for sure that he watched it live. He hadn't. He was out doing pick ups for work when it happened. We just sat in silence on the phone together.

4. The last gift he gave my son before he died was a LEGO space shuttle. It was built immediately and still sits on top of his bookcase today.

5. He spent his entire adult life pretending to be allergic to strawberries. He hated them, but people always tried to get him to eat them anyway. He started telling people he was allergic because he knew that no one would try to sneak them into food if he did. I grew up believing he was always allergic. He confessed a few days before he died, after apologizing. Then he made me swear I wouldn't tell anyone until after he was gone. I kept my promise.

6. He ran track in high school and managed to hang on to records for decades. When I was in high school, a friend attended the same school he did, and his name was still on the wall. He ran hurdles and steeplechase.

7. He really wanted to be a dentist. Applied to and was accepted at my alma mater. He didn't go because he couldn't afford it. He went to tech school and became a dental technician instead, opened his own lab.

8. The day I received my acceptance letter from college, he was waiting at the door with a huge smile and a bottle of champagne. I think he was more excited than I was. Actually, I know he was.

9. He was bowling a perfect game the night my Mom went into labor with me. She wouldn't tell him because she didn't want to jinx his game. He blew it in the 10th frame anyway. By then, everyone in the alley knew except him.

10. He loved to drive. I was with him the last time he drove, and having him hand me the keys as soon as he got out of the car that last time was heartbreaking. I had to drive him from then on. He knew.

11.  He was an amazing dancer. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

12. When we decided to move to Colorado, he supported me, never questioning why we were doing it. When he'd come out to visit, he was always standing on the porch, going for walks around the neighborhood, staring at the mountains. "I know why you moved here", he said to me once, as we stood watching the sunset. "You did the right thing."  What I wouldn't give to have him tell me that today.

13. When I made my First Communion as a little girl, he decorated the entire backyard with white streamers. It was so beautiful and still the thing I remember the most about that day.

14. He drove me to school every day in high school. He was constantly asking me to make good choices. I do the same thing with my kids.

15. He was my biggest, if one of my most silent, cheerleaders. He knew that life hadn't gone the way I thought it should, knew that I started writing because I had to, knew that I struggled with accepting things the way they were. I didn't know he read my writing until one day when he showed up on my list of followers. He read everything I wrote. When I finally outed myself for having post partum depression, he called almost immediately. Told me that he loved me, that he wished he had known. He was the first person who ever referred to me as a writer at a time when just about everyone mocked me for blogging. He bragged to people about his daughter, the writer, when he didn't realize that I could hear him. I've considered myself a writer ever since.

16. My husband and I got married the year of the last big El Nino. The reception was outside. Dad had tents reserved with several different companies just in case we needed them. We didn't.

17. When I got married and he was walking me down the aisle, he whispered into my ear, "You can still turn around and run." I laughed and told him I was good. He said he knew.

18. He inadvertently chose my husband. When I was a boy-crazy teenager, he detested the guy I was dating. He came home from work one day and told me he'd seen a "nice boy" at one of the offices, and why couldn't I date a nice boy like that. A few hours later, that boy he'd seen earlier rang the doorbell. He was basically in shock.

19. He loved tacos, in all forms. He could eat 6-8 of them at a time. It was an art form, watching him inhale them. He even liked terrible tacos from fast food restaurants.

20. He always helped coach or sponsor our teams when my brother and I played sports. I aged him a few years when I was working on learning the fastpitch windmill, but he still helped. He never told me he was too tired to play catch. Not once.


21. He made custom mouthguards for my friends who played sports at the high school level. For free.

22. He was a member of several community organizations over the years, from the Y's Men, to Rotary to Moose Lodge. I think he always longed to belong to something bigger than himself, even though he was truly an introvert at heart.

23. When I was a little girl, he worked a Christmas tree lot for Y's Men. He'd take me along with him. He loved, loved, loved doing it. I loved watching him share so much joy with others.

24. He was in a car accident after high school and injured his back severely. The recovery was difficult and never really complete. He spent the time he was healing constructing a bar for my grandparents, inlaid with old coins. It was beautiful...and too big and heavy for us to move out of there. I hope the people who bought the house still have it.

25. He loved to throw things away, to donate old stuff, to clear clutter. I come by it honestly.

26. He was meticulous about his appearance, never had a hair out of place. He always said that you couldn't decide what other people thought about you, but you could make sure you showed the world the good stuff.

27. One of his favorite father-ly phrases to repeat at us was "when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me".

28. On that note, he "wasn't a mindreader". He probably told me that 2,843 times.

29. Oh, and "do it right, or you'll do it twice". Sometimes I guess I really do sound like him these days...

30. When I was a disrespectful teenager, he and I argued almost constantly. One day when he was particularly frustrated with me, I slammed my door. He dared me to do it again. I did. He came, calmly, up the stairs with a hammer and flat head screwdriver, took the door off the hinges. I protested, saying it was my room. He just said that it was my room, and that was fine....but it was his door. He kept it long enough to make the point.

31. He never did manage to buy my mother a purse she liked, but god bless him...he kept trying.

32. For that matter, he always got her flowers and jewelry. He was good at the gift giving stuff.

33. When I turned 15, he gave me my first real piece of jewelry. He asked me what I wanted, got exactly what I asked for. A silver ring with a blue topaz stone. I wear it every day still.

34. He met my mother in high school. They broke up when they graduated. Years later, my Mom ran into his mother in the grocery store one day. They both thought the other had married someone else. They hadn't. In fact, she'd just called off an engagement to someone else because she'd had a dream about him. He spent hours searching his room for her number. He found it. Obviously.

35. He loved his dogs more than us, I think. They didn't talk back, they didn't grow up and leave. When they were puppies, he'd put them inside his hoodies to keep them warm. It was pretty much the cutest thing ever.

36. He was always more worried about my Mom than he was about himself. That wouldn't change, even after he was diagnosed with cancer.

37. When he was diagnosed, he made a short bucket list. No traveling necessary, no grand requests. He wanted to live long enough to see my nephew born. He almost made it to his first birthday.

38. He wanted to make sure that we took his car when he died. He figured we'd need the space. We drove it home after the funeral. I couldn't bring myself to drive it, but refused to get rid of it. Just after my mother died, my brother and his family were in an accident on their way here for Christmas. Their truck was totaled. They took Dad's car home.

39. Four days before he died, he took me out to breakfast for my birthday, told me that I'd given him the gift that year by coming and staying and taking care of him.

40. The first house we bought was a tiny thing in horrible condition, but it was all we could afford. It needed a ton of work, had a wall covered with wood paneling, was missing kitchen cabinets and had just had an addition built with a bizarre entrance that looked like the door to the batcave. He never once criticized us, questioned what the hell we were thinking or told us we'd made a huge mistake. He smiled, asked for a tour and somehow found positive things to say.

41. He loved all motor sports, but NASCAR was his favorite. A little of the joy left the sport permanently when Dale Earnhardt died.

42. All he really needed in life was a remote control, a television, a glass of water and a recliner.

43. His eyes were the windows to his soul. They were gorgeous blue and revealed everything about him whether he wanted them to or not. He could never lie about how he was feeling, his eyes told the truth.

44. He had a distinct scent, a combination of hair spray and Stetson and aftershave. I've smelled that combination exactly once since he died, and it damn near brought me to my knees.

45. The last day I took him in to the lab, he spent his time writing notes for the people he worked with. He even cleaned out his car. He tidied up the place before he left. I'm not kidding.

46. When my oldest son was 4, we were talking about the jobs people in the family had. I was trying to explain what my Dad did, that he made teeth for people who lost theirs. My son immediately asked if he was the Tooth Fairy, and I immediately said yes. He's been the Tooth Fairy ever since.



47. The last tooth lost on his watch was tucked into his shirt pocket after he died. It belonged to his oldest granddaughter, the one he'd talk off the ledge every single time she had a loose tooth.

48. He wasn't big on dessert, but he'd eat the hell out of a hand packed pint of 31 flavors chocolate chip ice cream. He'd insist that hand packed was better, and there was no use arguing with him.

49. When I was little and started to doubt Santa, he climbed up on the roof with jingle bells and stomped around on Christmas Eve.

50. He loved music and there are so many songs that take me back to my childhood because of him. This is one of them. There are so many fond memories in these notes and words.



Miss you, Dad. I love you.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

You Got This, Mama

I could write entire posts about what it is like to live with post partum depression, about each of the bizarre symptoms that I deal with, about the particular realities involved with my specific subtype of the condition.

I've written a bit about them here before, though not in too much detail. I don't go into the details so much for a few reasons, not the least of which is that I'm still very much dealing with PPD on a daily basis and paying too much attention to the details tends to send me into a spiral.

My form of PPD is closely tied to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have intrusive thoughts. Essentially what that means for me is that my brain is really good at imagining injuries that could happen to the baby. Sometimes in my head, usually in my head, I'm the one hurting him. Sometimes in my head, his injuries are the result of a horrific accident or trauma. Sometimes in my head, the harms come to him from other people.

It's really fucked up. There's no way to sugar coat it.

The thing about this particular form of PPD is that it almost never results in a mother perpetrating harm to her child, we are just stuck in this world where we're constantly imagining things happening to them.

I don't talk much, if at all, about the things I see in my head because they're so disturbing that I don't want to even speak them aloud. I tend to do better when I'm intentionally distracted. The quiet moments are generally the ones where the visions come more frequently.

I've been asked by some people to advocate more than I already do on behalf of maternal mental health issues. I will. I have done so in the past. I just can't right now.

I spent almost an entire year of my daughter's life avoiding stairs. I stopped driving mountain roads for a while after I saw myself driving the car off a cliff.

I have never harmed any of my children, although the truth is that this condition has kept me home probably more than it should. I tend to hide in my hole more than I should because I know it is safe here. There are not so many unknowns if I keep things close. The unknowns are more likely to weasel their way into my brain and turn themselves into intrusive thoughts.

Anyway, you might be wondering why I am writing this right now.

I'm writing this because a high profile celebrity mom, Hayden Panatierre, has just checked herself into a therapy center for post partum depression. As is par the course for the internet, it seems that everyone has an opinion about her right now, and because of the wonder that is social media, everyone feels compelled to share them.

Here's my opinion.

If you've never dealt with this condition and you are criticizing her (or any mother out there who deals with it), shut the hell up. 

That seemed harsh, I know.

God, that was harsh.

Here's the thing, though....it's hell. Truly hell to deal with, and until and unless you've been in this dark, messed up place, you really don't know what you're criticizing.

When you have a baby, people expect you to be happy and self-sufficient and blissful and content, they expect you to only have positive thoughts and energy about the child you've brought into this world. They expect and demand that you bond immediately, that you change everything about your life to accommodate this person who needs everything from you. Not only that, but in this fucked up society we live in, mothers are supposed to be perfect. You're supposed to have a beautiful, easy, unmedicated labor with a healthy child who eagerly nurses without incident. You're supposed to make every choice after diligent planning and research. You're not supposed to express any sadness or emotion other than pure love. Oh...and we expect you to do all that without help. You're on your own, mom. Society doesn't have time to actually help you out or give you time to heal. Nope. You'd better get back into those jeans in 6 weeks and not ever look tired, because GOD KNOWS IF YOU LOOK TIRED, SOMEONE WILL TELL YOU.

Then they'll offer some extremely unhelpful and unsolicited advice about all the things they think you're doing wrong.

And maybe, for some lucky women out there, motherhood looks like that. I have to assume that they exist, even if I've never known any of them. We're all expected to compare ourselves to these fictional happy, healthy, stable, fit mothers. Maybe there are some out there. There must be, right?

It just isn't realistic for most of us.

And for some of us, PPD sneaks in and whispers in our ears. Tells us that we are failing, that we are broken, that we are weak. It plays these evil movies in our minds about the things we might do, the harms that might come. The anxiety creeps in, the depression takes hold.

And none of that, not one single bit of it, makes us bad mothers.

It just means that we need help.

I've needed help. I still need help. I have to actively seek out ways to benefit my mental health, and I have to do it because I know that if I don't, a long, dark, scary path calls my name.


Hayden needs help. She is seeking it.

That doesn't make her weak, no. Not even close.

It makes her strong and brave and powerful. It means that she is doing what is necessary for her to be there for her child. She is doing what is required for her sanity.

And she's doing it in public, before a world full of criticism and judgment at a situation they can't possibly understand.

Unless they've been there.

And those of us who have been there, who are there now, we are clapping for her, chanting her name, lifting her up.

What she is doing, and how she is doing it so openly, will help countless women out there in the world right now trapped in their own heads feeling like there is something really wrong, but who are afraid to ask for help, who are afraid to tell someone.

If you are suffering from PPD, you are not alone. Please get help. Talk to someone. Reach out.

There's a whole bunch of us out here, fighting the demons in our heads, promising ourselves and our children that we're doing what we need to in order to get well and stay there. We're here. Talk.

Much love, Hayden.

You got this, mama.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you or someone you love could be suffering from post partum depression, please seek help. The symptoms vary in severity from person to person, are more severe than with the baby blues, last longer and can surface months, weeks (or even years) after a child is born. On occasion, PPD can be triggered by weaning after breastfeeding as well.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

It was all too much until it stopped

This past weekend, my husband hauled all the Halloween boxes from out of the basement for the annual decoration ritual. As the calendar changed from September to October, it all begins, the fall holidays that come and go, urging the winter ones right along behind them.

This time of year, like so many of them it seems, carry heavy reminders for me personally. From the first moments of October all the way through to the end of the year, it's as though each week practically has some date that means something in one way or another.

October carries more than a few of those dates.

The first of October has become one of the hardest days of the year for me, for reasons that I still haven't shared here and maybe never will. Probably never will. As time passes, I find myself even more protective of the people who were here in many ways, even though they've been long gone and are no longer in need of my protection, not that they ever necessarily wanted it to begin with.

Sigh.

Anyway, we were unpacking the boxes of all things Halloween, lamenting the fact that we almost never put things away in an orderly fashion. Costumes are supposed to have their own boxes, outdoor decorations their own, indoor ones separated, and so on and so forth. What ends up happening, regardless of our best intentions is that we tend to just throw it all into a box and banish it to the basement until the next time.

I need to be better about that.

As we were pulling things out, a pattern emerged. One that I didn't have to deal with last year because I was so deep in the postpartum fog that the decorations never even made it out of the basement. One that I didn't have to deal with because those boxes were never unpacked. Instead, the contents all remained stashed away down where I didn't have to see them.

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it's really the last remaining holiday that isn't encumbered by huge expectations. No gifts to buy, no places we have to be, no obligations raddled with guilt. Just fun. That, and my kids are clinging tightly to this idea of family costumes, which both amazes and amuses me tremendously. I know that I'm on borrowed time here, I feel like I have been for a while now. Waiting for someone, anyone to outgrow this thing we do, to demand that they go their own way. It hasn't happened yet, and for that I am grateful.

I love Halloween. I always have.


It usually makes me so content inside. The changing seasons, the earthy tones of the decorations, the chill in the air, the comfort of blankets and warm cups of tea. The mystery and the intrigue. You can be whoever you want to be this time of year. For a person like me, that's pretty fantastic.

I do love Halloween, but something happened this weekend as we were unpacking the boxes that made it all hurt a little bit in a way I didn't see coming. Grief is like that, though. It tends to sucker punch you in the gut when you least expect it to. I truly should know this by now.

We took the rug out for the kitchen, realizing that that the baby's name isn't on it alongside all the rest of us. My husband asked where my Mom had ordered it from, said we'd just get another one.

I took the candy bags out of the boxes, the ones that I don't even think the kids have ever used, the ones individually embroidered with their names, the ones that are too small to be practical for kids who won't stop trick or treating until they can't carry their loot any more. Those ones. They all have names on them. They were all from her.

But the baby doesn't have one.

He doesn't have one because she was gone before he came.

Then out came the pumpkins. The silly little decorations. The orange smiling plastic jack-o-lanterns that, not surprisingly at this point, are personalized with the names of the older four. From her.

This was my mother. All the things. All the things for all the holidays. Everything had to be personalized and so far over the top that it was almost nauseating. It was too much.

It was all too much.

It was always too much.

Until it stopped.

And now I just miss her. I miss her so damn much, and I'd give anything for another holiday full of silly things emblazoned with the names of my children. I'd give anything for her to have had a chance to meet this sweet boy and shower him with nauseating personalized trinkets for every single holiday.

I miss you, Mom.

It sucks to be here without you.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Unsettled

The past few weeks have been transitional ones here, with the move to homeschooling two of the kids. I've been mostly in a good place of late, but I know that that's largely because I have just been too busy to think about how I'm feeling. Not that it's a bad thing, to be honest. I tend to go down the rabbit hole when met with idle time.

The last couple of days, there has been something unsettled in my heart. A familiar, but uncomfortable feeling, one that I know well. Had I really looked at the calendar, I would have realized why.

It's been four years, today.

Four years since I received a phone call that told me she was gone.

Four years now without my friend.

If I'm being completely honest with myself, I wasn't nearly as good a friend to her as I should have been, as I needed to be, especially those last weeks and months. The last time she and I talked, really talked, she'd nudged me along the sidelines of a soccer game on an unusually cold morning and spoke with an urgency I should have recognized, that I did recognize but was refusing to see reflected in my own reality.

I was in too bad of a place myself to be the friend I should have been, and I carry that regret with me to this day. I haven't forgiven myself for it yet. She'd tell me to.

I wish I'd have reached out to her more, I wish that I'd have let her in more. I wish that I'd allowed myself to be vulnerable, I wish I'd told her that I understood things more than I'd ever let on. I wish.

Wishing doesn't bring her back.

Wishing doesn't give me that morning again.

Wishing doesn't remove that phone call from my life, from the days and weeks that followed, from the long goodbyes to someone gone too soon.

There are people out there that placate those in grief with trite words like everything happens for a reason, as though there would ever be a reason for the world to lose someone as amazing as she was.

She was a unique and beautiful force in this life.

She taught me so many things in the years that I shared on this planet with her. She taught me kindness, she taught me patience. She taught me organization, she taught me how to celebrate. She taught me to keep laughing even when it hurts and she taught me grace for all the moments when the laughter won't come.

There are still times that I will be out somewhere and I'll hear a laugh that faintly resembles hers and I'll think for a moment that maybe she's there.

She is still here in a way, in the gifts she left behind, in the lessons she taught so many of us.

It's not the same though. It never will be.

I miss you, my dear friend, and I love you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

To The One I Never Thought I'd Meet

Dear Sweet Boy,

I started this letter to you a few weeks ago, actually, sitting on the front porch of the house, staring up as the breeze blew, the afternoon sunlight filtered by the movement of the leaves. The air filled with the sounds of those leaves just beginning to dry out and crinkle on the edges and of you, talking to yourself as you played beside me. 

It's coming, fall. The tops of the trees are turning color ever so slightly, daylight shortening with each passing evening. It was this time last year that you arrived. I knew that you'd be here soon, though I wished that I could have altered the way you came. 

I tried and I failed to change that. 

It won't be the last time that I try and I fail to do what's best for you or for me, child. I know that with more certainty than I've ever known anything in my life.

Parenthood isn't easy. It's filled with times when I've wondered if I was doing the right thing, times when I questioned my abilities. I've learned now, through having done this for so long with your siblings, that my instincts are generally good ones and that I should trust them.


It's been different with you. It's all been different with you.

I'm different.


Your father is different.


With you, I think that we've become the parents we always wanted to be. Calmer, gentler, quieter. We're more in tune with you, we pause more, we hold back more at times, give more all the rest. Maybe it is you that is so different. There is a reason I call you my sweet boy. You adore your siblings, your smile is huge when you see one of them across a room. You eagerly crawl to them, walk to them, with open arms.





You love big, with all the wild eyed open mouthed kisses to accompany it.

You are stubborn and independent. You started walking a while ago, figuring out how to stand up without help just this past weekend. 

You are inquisitive and curious in a way I haven't seen since your oldest brother was a baby. You want to open everything, see everything, try everything.


You are good natured and already have a sense of humor that tells me you belong here with us. You've been laughing at yourself since you were just 3 or 4 months old. Keep doing that throughout your life.


Your hair is as unwieldy as can be. Double crowned, you are. They say that it's associated with intelligence, which would make sense. You seem to just know things, about life, about people, about the world around you. You figure things out quickly, already.


Your eyes are truly the windows to your soul, one that I'm convinced is an old one. I think maybe you've been here before. There are times that I look at you and I see your father, times that you resemble all of your siblings together, times you are just like one of them alone, times you remind me so much of my parents, of other people in our family, and then there are all the times that you are uniquely you - a force to be reckoned with in this world all your own.


I never knew that we'd meet someday. I thought for certain we wouldn't. And then one day, one year ago, you came into the world.

You told me that though I thought I knew so much, I really knew nothing at all. I had to learn you. Then I had to learn us.


You rearranged my priorities in a way I wasn't prepared for, wrapping us all around your tiny fingers from the moment you arrived.

You taught me to slow down, to soak up everything you are, and then you forced me to do it.


You still insist that I give you all of my attention every time you are nursing, demanding to hold my free hand with yours.

You forced me to accept my powerlessness to so many aspects of parenthood in a way I'd never confronted before. You forced me to accept a lot of things, and that acceptance has brought calm with it.


You healed me and heal me every day with your presence.

You've given me wisdom and peace.

I never knew I'd meet you someday, but now I know for sure that you've always been meant to be here.


We just had to wait.

I love you, sweet boy.


Happy birthday, baby.

Love,
Mama

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