If you’d just practiced more
You would have been better
If you’d just played better
He would have noticed you
If you’d have simply lost ten pounds
He might have acknowledged you
If you’d have known there were requirements to his love that made sense,
You might have:
Loved yourself more…
Never questioned your worth…
You might not have adhered yourself to the pain of non-existence…
If you were not so amazingly you,
You might not have:
Held me tight…
Shared your exquisite beauty with me…
If I could shelter you from the pain, I would
If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t
I would not have had YOU
My daughter decided today that she wants to have a party, at our house, next Wednesday. For her whole class. That meant, of course, that she had to start making invitations this morning when she was really supposed to be preparing herself to be school bound. There are plenty of little tidbits to talk about here, aside from the fact that we’re not having a party and I’m afraid to tell her.
While she is supposed to be putting her lunch box in her backpack she is stuffing crayons and note papers in her kindergarten hands. You see, she’s going to make the invitations on the way to school. Our drive to school is roughly 3 minutes give or take 20 seconds, but again…do I want to argue about this? Not so much it turns out. Part of me is avoiding any sort of Monday morning meltdown, and the other part of me just cannot wait to see what she is going to come up with. Her invitation paper of choice is about 1.5 x 2 inches, and she is a new and chubby handed writer…so she is lucky to get more than two unconventionally written words on a slip of paper; thus each invitation to a party that we are not having next “Wasay” requires approximately 5 sheets of said note paper.
Seeing as how when I picked her up from school today she promptly resumed invitation making, I had to have a plan a bit more effective than avoidance of the party. Sis, you spell it w-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y and, by the way, how many syllables is that? Two mama. Right, but sis we are not having a party next Wednesday. Or the Wednesday after that. Or likely not any Wednesday. At this house. With your class. And me. So… I know, how about if you make them all cards that you can pass out, and we can put them in cute envelopes? Nope, really want to have a party mom. Shoot…when is your birthday? F-e-b-r-u-a-r-y? That is when we will have a party! Mom, how do you spell Wednesday again? Is it w-a-s-a-y? The way I see it, I have a few options with my answer. If I say yes, I am encouraging her efforts while also ensuring nobody will be able to decipher the invitation and mistakenly show up at my house next Wasay when we are not having a party. If I correct her spelling I am making the invitation to a party that we are not having that much more clear. Do quick calculations and surmise that size of note paper times size of attempted letters has potential to equal at least 3 sheets of paper to write w-e-d-n-e-s-d-a-y. I can enhance spelling and have an un-party at the same time!
At some point in the evening, she retires from invitation making and starts reading from the book of old (her words, not mine). Book of old, in real people language, is the dictionary/thesaurus. She has taken to “reading” it, spouting out directions (which sound more like orders) which she admonishes anyone listening to follow. I don’t know why it is regarded as the book of old but I can’t even ask because I like having a book of old in my house.
And the book of old says it’s time for bed.
I used to think life held some great destination that I was going to arrive at one day and have it all figured out. I had a mental list of things that needed to be checked off and then somehow I was going to stop growing. Because I had gotten there. Or something weird like that. I don’t even know that girl anymore.
I am so aware of the journey now and cannot even visualize a destination, because that would be limiting myself from so many possibilities. I am cognizant of what I am passionate about yet believe there are a plethora of other things and experiences I don’t know I am in love with because I haven’t yet been exposed. And if I was only on board for the destination I wouldn’t be living the journey. And how do you ever realize your true loves if you don’t constantly have your eyes open to what you might encounter on your path?
I am amazed that I spent so many years trying to get there, but didn’t ever really know where I was going. My journey was more of a transport via conveyor belt through a tunnel with ten demerits for opening your eyes or asking questions. I’m not so concerned with how I got dead-bolted to the conveyor belt in the first place, but rather with how I took a free-fall off of it, with eyes wide open, and realized the journey was up to me.
Truth is, I cannot even ride those airport conveyor belts any longer because they take too much of the control away from me; how slowly or quickly I choose to pace myself, or what I want to pause and take in along the way. I had my eyes fastened shut for so many years I don’t think I even realized what I was not living.
I find myself overflowing with gratitude for my life. I am living the life I choose to live. And I get it now. That in itself is a celebration.
O lover of sweet treats and markers; I am a lover of you. Even with your guilty face and conniving ways my heart is sold to “and when I get back in here let me see all the colors laid out and ready for me” and “when I put this broom away I will take some money and a sweet treat” and “wow, so you’re doing the outlining first right mama? I bet I could outline better with those markers” and then there’s the (in whiny voice-at breakfast time) “but I just can’t think of anything to eat other than a cookie..that’s the only choice in my brain”. She is a sugar coated, double dipped, ride-your-bike-to-7-11-and-spend-all-of-your-allowance on candy-coated me.
I purchased some new supplies this week for a project on which I am working, and you-know-who couldn’t wait to get her paws all touching everything. I said no. No wrecking my markers. You have 4 cup-fulls of them that I have so nicely organized for you, and those you shall use. Well…I made it through family art session numero uno with my markers and paper both in my possession. With fine tips and miss scribble-scrabble not being such good bedfellows I am reluctant to say mi palette es su palette.
Tonight is night two of family art and she has, I’m pretty sure, been thinking about how to get those markers in her hand since family art session number one. And then, from the looks of it, she has been through law school already and I am no match for her arguments. Or candy-coated cuteness. But I do experience great laughter and joy, and think even she is starting to get herself. So, we are all working on our stuff, in their room, with the new lamp that nearly took out my right arm (and, unfortunately, left me looking like a cutter). And really, I guess it’s my fault, because I asked for her artistic input on my project. And guess what? It could only be added, you might guess, with MY markers. Markers = 17.99. True Love > everything else.
Sure sis, you can use these but be gentle with them. And then miss bossy pants arrives on the scene. You can feel the glow of accomplishment and marker-love exude from her every pore. I think this marker score may have trumped candy and sweet treat love. She begins with admiring her new accomplishment. Then starts bossing me about whose turn it is and what color we are going to use. Then comes the “turn the markers my way when it is my turn and I will turn it your way when it is your turn”. There is a lot of Quinn-loves-Quinn talk to herself about the markers. There are a few little prayers of some sort. There is a big-ol’-smile and an “I need my hair in a pony so I can concentrate” request (demand really, but I’m okay with it). And before anyone can scream out “I Love Sugar” she has full control of both my marker set and my sketch book.
And my heart. Always and forever my heart. Sugar-coated-candy-lovin’-sweet-treat-i-only-want-cookies-for-breakfast-can-i-use-your-markers-where’s-my-money kind of love. And I love it when you pick me up mama. Is your back better? I don’t care baby, I love you. Let me carry you to bed.
Does too much to say make the saying harder to come by? Have you consigned your will to create with the words that entice you or are they challenging you to do more and better, forcing you to feel deeper and stronger? You don’t know how to write yourself out of what you have fallen into so you simply stop writing because, maybe, if you don’t write then you don’t feel each moment as though it has permeated your soul.
You could fastidiously gather the words you love and compile them to write your story, punctiliously fashioning each chapter. But through trial and error you have learned that designing the chapters is not nearly as exciting as letting the chapters bring you to life. So you have an experience and define what it means to you; minute by minute, day by day, month by month, and you take pause with each temptation to formulate the words that will make perfect your sermon to self. Trusting and living with intention provides words abundant with which you can tell your story.
The words that are so much a part of you are simultaneously screaming to speak and begging silence. There are lessons learned you want to share; perhaps in hopes of precluding collective travels down the same path you have found to be lackluster by comparison. You are learning to welcome love and pain, to let raw emotion consume you as it provides the truest form of living you have experienced. You have feelings so intense that they threaten the pillars of strength you have built, brick by brick, which ground you. And as each step and misstep petitions for grace as it dissolves into your melting pot of growth, you see your authentic self with increasing clarity.
There are so many questions but you don’t know where to begin. What path led you to this leg of the journey; which choice or un-choice to this outcome. And as you think about your life and attempt orderliness of the pictures and flashbacks, of the note cards and summaries and dissertations, your omniscient core knows that the questions are not yours to have, to beg, to postulate. Journeys happen and they take you where they may and you tiptoe, run, walk and sometimes crawl as best you can in the moment.
Meanings are myriad depending on what you choose to believe in that moment and from that experience; to where you let it guide you, to what ensuing experience you let it lead. Life has many serendipitous happenings if your mind is open to receiving them. The relational nature of life becomes vivid when you seize what presents itself along the journey. Open-minded living is joyous because the surprise of the next serendipitous moment is looming… another opportunity to make a connection on your journey of here and now.
Life is education on your terms: you hold the power to decide how you will let each opportunity color, change, mold and improve you. Life is an auspicious exploration of self; an offer to learn, grow and attempt to understand you. One day at a time. And one day at a time really means one moment at a time, one experience and then another to form an existence, to create a story, to live a life.
Be in love with you. Be in love with life. Be.
Lot of tired
Lot of 2nd grade crying followed by
Lot of lecturing on when crying is and is not effective and acknowledged
Lot of great homework
Lot of togetherness
Lot of flag football lovin’
Little of mom actually playing football
Lot of praise on my skills (throwing not catching, just to be clear he says)
Lot of screams from the pig upstairs
Lot of ignoring of the pig by its owner
Little to a lot of lecturing on caring for pets
Lot of asking for more pets
LOT of NO to that
Lot of coloring
Lot of awesome breakfast’s (if I do say so myself)
Lot of reading in mom’s bed
Lot of trying to stay and sleep in mom’s bed
LOT of NO to that
Marginal bed infiltration, accepted, kissed and hugged
Lot of explaining this was a one night gig to strawberry haired underpants stealing girlfriend
Marginal accidental swearing not really at (well sorta) but in the general vicinity of rule following man-child all up in my space
Lot of pouting
Lot of talking about rules
Lot of apologizing for being human
Lot of explaining that I am, indeed human and not an endless vat of smiles and patience
Lot of forgiveness
Lot of love
Lot of gratitude
Lot of amazement
Lot of work, but
Lot of everything life is meant to be
And I am human, damn-it (insert smile here)
You, my child.
You are before me with eyes wide open and I search myself for what it means to raise you. Love over contempt, action over apathy, acceptance over fear. We teach by example, you and I; learning through each day we are allowed another opportunity.
I and you – anger and retract, push and apologize, cry and try harder. I see me in you – the good and the bad – and am too hard on you when I see pieces of myself that I wish not to see.
You act and I learn, you fear and I understand, you hurt and I die a thousand lives in one moment while I hold you with voice strong and embrace stronger. Together we hold hands that at times are hard to extend when we are at our most vulnerable existence.
We are beauty in that we are. And then there is you, and you. Individual and exquisitely you and I love with admiration deep and mind altering.
And when I think I have seen the most beautiful creatures on earth I am afforded the opportunity to view you through the looking-glass of another. And I am in awe. Always in awe of you but the view from outside in is truly breath-taking.
still, you have
desire. of. none.
not the me, of now, for
she – in all of her
is a trigger. that.
you (she hates that).
we have taken the
to display in all
you, and me,
blindsided, with eyes-wide
It’s hard to believe that eight years have passed since I have been in this house instead of that one; this life instead of that one. These responsibilities in addition to those. Surreal, really.
There is no super to call when the toilets overflow or the fridge leaks, but if you have known me for any amount of time, you know that I see that as: Challenge Accepted. There’s just something about me that is oddly bent on doing things my way, and I don’t really know what that is…I just know it is and I must.
I don’t like details. Well, I do, but only when my brain deems them necessary. Which is absolutely random and always surprises me, to say the least. Somehow I have raised two children with only the big picture – the end result – in mind. Or maybe it’s with just the day-to-day in mind. There’s even too much detail required for me to figure that out, so let’s just say I’m not fantastic (to say the least) with details. As in, too many of them overwhelm me. Too many of them make my brain feel like flapping hummingbirds run amok. Too many of them just feel like too much.
Today, though, the details mattered. Today, the details ripped apart my fucking heart. Today, the details that took my breath away labeled my child as “stupid”. And my heart, mind, soul, and fists are ubiquitously on fire.
I understand fear. I understand fear because you don’t understand. That’s where it ends for me, though; scared with awful and mean don’t resonate in my understanding. Telling your child to refer to my chid as “stupid” because non-binary pronouns are confusing to you, or them, is a cop out. Your words a display of blatant refusal to open your mind to options other than what you are; the middle- or high-school bully that has killed so many souls. And flesh. Have you ever thought about the powerfulness of words? My guess is no, you have not. They fly from your mouth without a thought and you don’t understand who you kill along the way.
Shame on you. As an adult and parent you have a responsibility to be better. It’s an unspoken oath. We raise them to be above and better than us, not to succumb to our myriad insecurities and biases. You could have killed another child with your words tonight; but not this one. Never this one. They are stronger and more evolved than you could ever wish to emulate. They have no use for hate.
Your words fill us with wonder and anger – and then we feel sorry for your pathetic existence. And we hope you grow. You are missing out on a ton of greatness with your eyes closed.
She views things much differently than I do is what I said. I thought little of my statement in the moment. And then my analyzer kicked in, hours later perhaps, and I realized the ubiquitous difference between what I uttered and what I actually believed. And then I knew I had to write it out.
I had to write it out because I needed to understand myself; I needed to understand what was flooding through my brain and stealing me away from me and delivering meh to myself. Writing is the vehicle that gifts me my grasp of self – the self that is too deep to unpack most often – as deep as my soul is willing to delve when thoughts and paper merge.
It is then, and only then, that I am free and alive and flying. Thoughts quicker than pen; feelings thicker than molasses; truth more real than non-fiction.
It is then, and only then, that I feel every sacred inch of my being purr and hum; exist in its own capsule; be steered by nothing other than its own idiosyncracies.
It is so real it takes my breath away. Forces me to gulp for safety. Defies my plea for the benign.
But I digress, because I came here to talk about what I really meant when my words came out as otherwise, and actually sound kind of bitchy upon rewind. Their purpose was to protect something or someone, though I am unable to define that presently. Or maybe ever. I got so caught up in finding me that I forgot about finding the meaning that I had set out here to do with this prattling piece. My apologies (but I am simultaneously in love with where my writing brain is allowing me to travel right now!).
The interaction that actually elicited the afore-mentioned utterance was but a speck of dust among the whirring particles of every day life. And yet, also, the brevity of that moment carried the weight of judgment being held and shared.
Judgment being held and shared.
And that is what made me sick about myself in those few precious blips of connecting time that I had with my eldest child. Minutes that could have existed of who I believe myself to be were actually snapshots of qualities I do not revere nor care to pass on to my children.
What I am saying is that each and every second absolutely matters. And I thick-black-sharpie scribbled over a field of pastel wildflowers. And I can’t get that moment back to do it the way I intended. The way that is vulnerable and kind.
What I want is to make sure I am sharing all the wonderful and amazing things I believe about our human existence in general – that the world is full of good people if you set your mind to believe that. And strive your best to be one of those people that makes the world a better place. And that it is always better to be kind than be any other way, because nothing will ever take precedence over just pure and blatant kindness. And yes, love is all around; you need only to open your eyes to see its metasticized beauty.
Or watch Love, Actually.
Truth is, it’s entirely up to you; how you choose to see this world of human existence, that is. It will meet you at the intersection of your choices.
Why not choose love?
My child identifies as non-binary. I don’t know how long they have identified this way, but they told me about seven months ago. Sometimes they correct me when I use she, and sometimes they don’t, and sometimes I catch myself mid sh and switch to they. Luckily for me as a parent, my child is gentle with my misspeaks and oft-twisted tongue as I progress along the learning curve of learning them.
Parenting offers us a plethora of second-hand life experiences. I am sure my brain would be void of half the knowledge that now fills its crevices had I not signed up for this parenting gig. And who knows if I would have had the opportunity to live with and breathe the same air as one writing their own #identity and #individuality had this morsel of #perfection not been gifted to me some fifteen years ago.
As a musing parent so many things seem clear in retrospect. A-ha! moments cascade in pictures on replay through my mind, and allow me to make connections that scream everything real and true about this #creationinaction. I want to pick the brain of said child and see how much they remember about their everyday life – a life in which each moment they were them. I don’t need to connect any dots or find any understanding; I just want to know this human sunflower on a deeper level.
Have you ever seen a 12 week old fetus-in-utero throw up a high-five on a sonogram? I have; it was this child when I was sure I was having a miscarriage. Their uniqueness began with that gesture and has not once waned. They have never fit a mold of any type; rather, they have designed life to suit their preferences. This one refused to suck as a newborn and instead lounged lazily whilst being fed with a syringe. This one spoke English and signed ASL in three- and four-word sentences before the age of one. This child came to me with their own plans for everything, and I have spent the last 15 years simply trying to catch up with their blueprint for life. (Which is and has always been VERY specific).
I’ve always known that this piece of my heart and soul was special and unique and destined for great things – things that I could not even begin to fathom as just an average human being – but still with each new expression of themself – I find myself, again, in awe. How do 15 short years of life fill one with more knowing of and unwavering conviction in self than I have managed to muster up in 50+ years?
Keeping in line with keeping me on my mental toes, said AP, compacted math, tutoring-peers-since-fourth-grade-I-do-it-my-way child bulldozed me tonight with their ubiquitous uniqueness whilst writing an AP essay on the current political situation in the U.S.:
Mama, who was that dude who wrote the, what was it called…Declaration of Independence again???
Thanks, Trump, for providing the necessary fodder for a literary allusion. Thanks, Sunflower, for providing the necessary fodder for a life full of smiles, laughter, and sheer amazement at what is humanly possible.
I love you more, and I call no regrets.
I saw your beautiful being tonight through tears. Tears that I had two years ago. Tears that were easier to define tonight, though. They were tears of joy and amazement at you…a young woman now; no longer a child…and they streamed from my eyes the moment I set eyes on your eyes.
You see, you were my child for the better part of a year, and then you were gone, and I didn’t know what to do with that piece of love and missing…and maybe you didn’t either. I wanted to be angry and protect my own, but you had become my own, so then I was torn between two loves and feeling everyone’s pain.
I want you to know that he was the guiding light; the guiding soul; the one who led me back to love for you because his capacity for love is unbridled. But you already know that; his being shows exactly who he is and how glorious it is to love through his eyes.
My arms and heart will embrace you forever, no matter where you are; part of you will always be my child, and part of my heart will always belong to you.