Did you hear that?

“Scuse me, while I kiss this guy” – that is probably my favorite misheard song lyric.  I suppose there was a time when someone standing not ten feet away from Jimi Hendrix looked to his left and to his right, desperate to make eye contact with someone else that heard what he had heard.  “Did he just say that? “Kiss this guy?”

I have what one might call an active imagination.  Pretty frequently I hear things that are not at all what was just said. I get a kick out of saying “Wait, hold up, I swear you just said [insert inane comment that could not possibly be correct.]” But the other day I had a real, live, honest to god “NO WAY. THIS DID NOT JUST HAPPEN” moment.  And nobody heard it but me.

Let me set the scene. Girl Scout Awards Ceremony.  It’s chaotic.  It is dinner time and Lucy is not really into meetings at 5:30 pm.  She is trying to be quiet-ish.  Emily is making faces at us both and I am trying to balance the “Please pay attention to your troop” with the “Please keep entertaining your sister, holy cow, it is a long day when you don’t come straight home from school to relieve me from my entertaining small people duties.”

I am seated next to a friend. Not a Mom Friend, the friends that you make because your kids are in the same class and you lock eyes at a horrible birthday party and realize you are of like mind but a Friend Friend that just happens to have a daughter in Em’s troop.  We are quietly saying howdy and exchanging twenty words (the highlight of my otherwise toddler-filled day) when I have that sudden realization that I am an Adult.  I should be paying attention.  I try to refocus my attention to the Scouts as they excitedly receive their goodie bags filled with badges they have dutifully earned.  The older girls are explaining their badges.

Scout meetings are held in a local church with gorgeous acoustics.  Acoustics that, I imagine,  can lift the voice of a passionate speaker and deliver their words to the pews in a neat little package.  However, the voice of a pre-teen girl that is not quite sure of herself can get lost in the sounds of thirty some girls wiggling at the end of the day. I listened harder. “Stereotypes….. and so we….. break down…. For example, white girls.  Everyone thinks that white girls are boring…. and then you get to know a white girl and she is fun…”  This is about when I could not keep my eyeballs in my head any longer.

I turned to my friend with the tamest version of my “Are you fucking kidding me? Is this real life?!” face on and whispered “Did she just say “white girls are no fun?!” I barely got it out of my mouth before I had to scoop up my three year old, holding her in front of my face like a visual excuse for being noisy.  “Shy girls,” whispered my friend.  “Shy.”

Oh.

Of course.

I wonder if the first person that thought Jimi Hendrix wanted to kiss a guy was really into dudes and not so much down with kissing skies.  Maybe everyone listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon on the Rise” was on their third beer and desperately had to pee and that’s why it sounds so very much like “bathroom on the right.”  Perhaps it really is just all about where you’re coming from in the moment and I am just a boring white girl.  Because heaven knows I am not a shy girl.

And boring? Am I boring?  Maybe.  I am running and biking and swimming and momming.  But mostly I am smiling and laughing and writing blog posts in my mind while I count laps or time running intervals.  I am nearing the end of the precious years I have spent sleeping with a sweaty kid head pressed against my chest so I am less and less inclined to sneak out of bed at night to write down the memories before they escape.

I will leave you with this. In case you wondered if I am a boring girl, white, shy or otherwise.  The other day I sat on the side of the bath tub and ate the last ice cream cone.  It was wonderful.  I was all alone.  It was delicious because ice cream.  But even more than that – it was the last one.  And I was hiding.  Now, tell me I don’t know how to have fun?

FUN

Big Girl Beds are for Babies

Three.

Three is a pretty perfect number.  It is the only number that is the sum of the numbers beneath it.  It’s a spectacular number according to mathematicians.  But ask a parent – you’d be hard-pressed to find a parent that says that they just love three.

But I do.  When you’re three you’re not a baby and you’re not a kid.  You can say hilarious things and roll your eyes and laugh at a joke, a real joke, but you can also crawl into your mother’s lap and fall asleep.  You believe in the power of mama’s arms around you and you are still my baby.  But you pee in a toilet and for the most part you do not leak bodily fluids on my shirt.

I think three is wonderful.

Most of the time.

Lucy Quinn

On Tuesday my baby is three.  This baby – the one that was born about five minutes ago.

My Lucy Quinn is a big personality and her birthday reflects that.  We have been celebrating for days.  She had cake and candles with family.  She had her first haircut.  She slept in her big girl bed for the first time.

Em got kicked out of my bed into a “big girl” bed and I learned a lesson. I slept in a twin bed with a tornado of elbows and tiny cold feet for years and I won’t make the same mistake again.  Lucy’s big girl bed is big – a queen.  She thinks she is hot stuff to have a big girl bed and told everyone that would listen that “my mom and I are moving into my own room!”  I smiled and said “No, baby, just Lucy is moving into your room” but she was right.

We snuggled.  She fell asleep.  I slipped out of bed and came downstairs. I spent five or six hours tossing and turning in my bed and checking and double-checking the baby monitor before I went upstairs and got in bed with her.  I made a brief pit stop in the chair in her room where I sat and watched her sleep and bawled about how big she is getting.  And then I admitted defeat and I climbed in next to her.

Tonight I am going to try… I am going to try and leave her be. But she is still so small, guys.  I can’t figure out if she needs me or I need her but I know that I don’t believe in arbitrarily changing things because it “is time.”  And yet somehow I decided that I was too tired, we were too tired to stay in my bed together anymore.  Nursing all night and waking one another.  So, I started telling her “When you are three you can sleep in your bed, right?”  And she got all kinds of neat stuff for her bedroom over Christmas.  And she helped me put glow in the dark stars on her ceiling yesterday.  And then all of a sudden she was in her bed and we were reading a book and we were turning off the light and she was asleep and I was the one that was crying.

She’s not three yet.  I have two more days.  I just want my baby back.

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And that is when she hollered “Mom!” just as I had shown her.  “Lu, all you have to do is say “Mom!” into the monitor and I can hear you.  See?  You’re not alone,” I explained.  She was listening. She had tears in her eyes but she wasn’t crying, exactly, when I entered her room last night.  I had just finished the sentence above about wanting my baby back when she cried out.  “Mom!” I wish it had been a “Mama” or a “Mommmmmmy!” but I am not picky.

This moving into her own bed will be a process for us both.  Em slept with me until she was nearly four.  And by then I had a boyfriend that quickly became a fiancée and we slept like you do when you’re newly in love, all wrapped up in one another.  And then while I was pregnant I went back to sleeping with Fisher because for reasons I don’t quite understand I can’t get enough of that boy when I am pregnant. And then I had Lucy.  I have slept tangled up in someone for as long as I can remember now.  While I am prone to fantasize about what it might feel like to stretch my legs out and fall asleep without anyone touching me (particularly late at night when I am desperate for sleep and pinned between a snoring dog and a sleeping kid) I am afraid.  I am afraid I will be lonely. I am nervous.  I am nervous like one might be before a first date.  MQD and I haven’t slept alone in a bed since we were married.  I came home from our honeymoon pregnant.

I am trying to tune out all of the advice.  I should night wean her.  I should have had her in her own bed all along.  I should just let her cry for a little bit.  I am trying to remember the advice that I give so many new moms – It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks but you and the baby and your partner. You guys are the only people that get a vote.  Our current sleeping arrangements aren’t working.  So, we are trying something new. And just like with a little kid I need to process that just because we are crying a little (or a lot, in my case) doesn’t mean that it isn’t the right thing to do.  Change is hard.  It’s only been two days.

Bear with me while I blather on about this for the next few weeks.  When she is brushing her teeth and setting an alarm clock for school I won’t remember this time if I don’t write it all down.   The days are long and the years are short and all that jazz…. it happens so fast.  And the promise of a full night’s sleep looms large.  We will make it.

Sappy birthday letter to my Lucy Q is coming…. if you’ve not been around long you can catch up starting here….

So, I stepped on my scale after an 8 month hiatus.

Diet and exercise.  It’s not an uncommon pair of things to talk about.  Doctors, nutritionists, fitness enthusiasts, jacked up freaks on late night infomercials – lots of people like to remind you that you can’t lose weight or change your body without diet AND exercise.

As a cardio junkie I am prone to nod along during these conversations.  I believe in the power of a good sweat – so much so that I probably haven’t written about anything that wasn’t tangentially related to exercise in over a year.

08f010684b0ca12ad433fb2752d8b758And here’s where it gets dicey.  It’s cool to talk about fitness and healthy eating habits but when you talk about the scale – it’s no bueno. Everyone wants to chime in and tell me that the scale is just a number, muscle weighs more than fat… I get that. I really do.  But the scale and I had a little situation last spring.  And I am still reeling in the after effects.

A little background….

When I first started triathlon training in 2013 I had no idea what it meant to race as an Athena.  (Click the link for a great post from SwimBikeMom about the Athena class.) The sport of triathlon lets athletes choose to race against their age group or their weight class.  To qualify as an Athena a woman must weigh 165+.  My entire adult like I have hovered around 175.  I was firmly in the Athena camp.  But as a gal that is pushing 5’10” I raced in my age group.  Why?  Truthfully – it wasn’t shame, I wasn’t scared of the A on my calf.  I have always been happy to tell anyone what I weigh.  I don’t freak out when a nurse weighs me in a hallway and I have never been embarrassed. I really do buy into the “your weight is just a number” thinking.

I never opted to race in the Athena class because I am competitive somewhere underneath my newbie swim cap.  I didn’t choose Athena for my very first race because I didn’t know what it meant.  And I placed in the middle of my age group.  After the race it dawned on me that I would have placed third in this all women’s newbie sprint tri if I had raced as an Athena.  So, for my next race I opted to stay in my age group for two reasons. First and foremost –  I decided that if there was a possibility to hit the podium in my first season than what would motivate me to push harder?  And second – it seemed like maybe racing Athena would be a dick move if I did it just to place.

So, I stayed in my age group.  And I hovered around the middle of the pack.  Not bad for my first season. And then the fall came and the holidays.  And then the race season was looming for 2014 and I was still too chicken to go farther but I planned to conquer my fear of open water swimming.  I had a full schedule of half marathons and sprint tris and I was excited.  And then I jumped on the scale and it said 163 – in January.

I couldn’t race as an Athena if I wanted to.  For a moment I felt elated and then I remembered that the scale is just a number and if I was to believe all the rhetoric I had been feeding myself (ha!) for the last fifteen years I shouldn’t be so excited.  So, I tried on my leather pants (the holy grail of “Holy Shit, do these fuckers still fit? that I keep in my upstairs closet) and they did! They felt good.  I could sit down even.  Sit. Down.  And breathe.

That weekend I got out of the shower and dried off and I put on my underwear and a bra and I dried my hair before I got dressed.  This might not seem all that interesting (unless you are conjuring up a mental image, dirtbag) but I stopped standing in front of a mirror in my underwear about ten years ago.  I can’t get dressed if I spend the ten minutes it takes to dry my hair criticizing my body so I just stopped looking.  I just get dressed before I stand in my bathroom.

But for some reason I didn’t hate this 163 pound body.  It didn’t really look all that different than my 175ish pound body.  But I was nicer to that girl that weighed less.  And that is fucked up.  Super fucked up.

Scale-memeThe next morning I stepped on the scale again and it was 164 and I was cranky.  The day after that 162. I compulsively weighed myself daily and then eventually it said 159.  (I might have been able to cut glass with my collar bones that day.) It was the beginning of March and I decided that I was maybe making myself insane.  I felt good.  I needed to back up and stop weighing myself like a crazy person.  I weighed myself again at the end of April.  162.

And so I stopped.  I stopped logging my food.  I stopped weighing myself.  I had a full summer of races planned and I had made it.  I felt good, really good about myself. I shamelessly wore a red bikini all summer.

And then it was fall and then it was Halloween and eventually Thanksgiving was looming.  I pulled out a pair of jeans that had fit the previous winter (the coveted size 8 jeans that had taunted me for years) and they didn’t even kind of button.  Shoved them back in my closet and tried not to think about it.  Thanksgiving weekend.  I yelled at my kids while I was trying to get dressed for church and I looked at the scale.  I just looked.  I hadn’t stepped on it in months because I was too good for it but now I was avoiding it because I was terrified.  I was already cranky with the way my clothes were fitting and having a number to attach to that feeling would just send me into a downward spiral.

So, I made a choice.  I decided to not worry about it.  I wasn’t going to let the number on a scale make me hate Christmas cookies or sweet potato pie or shitloads of Bailey’s in my coffee.  I would step on the scale in January just like everyone else and let the chips fall as they may in the interim. (The chips fell into a bowl of cheese and then right into my mouth, as you may have guessed.)

On January 2nd of this year the scale said 188.8.  Between March and December I ran 828 of the 1,015 miles I ran in 2014.  And I gained 29.4 pounds.  That’s a lot of muscle, guys.  Ha.  I did some serious damage in the month of December of the booze variety, so a good bit of that came right off as soon as I hopped on the January Sober Train.  But the rest of it? That was a direct result of being one of those people that fell face first into the big bag of chips called “I can eat whatever I want, I ran today.” Maybe add a side order of “I am almost 40 and my metabolism is in the shitter” and you have yourself a solid 25 pound weight gain.

So, what now?  I wrote 1200+ words about the number on a scale for what reason? I guess this is just some kind of weird Public Service Announcement.  I know I am not the only one with a twisted relationship with their scale.

So, what’s my plan for 2015?  A diet?  Nope, but I’m back on the logging my food wagon.  I’m back on the weigh yourself once a week wagon.  And I am registered for the Raleigh 70.3 Half Ironman.  Do I think that swimming 1.2 miles and biking 56 miles and running 13.1 miles will magically make me healthier again or feel better about myself?  Not really.  But everything I have read about endurance racing says the same thing.  You have to eat right.  I will have to learn to put the right food into this old body of mine or I will injure myself in training before I ever get to the starting line.

In 2013 I decided to become a person that exercises.  I did it.  Two years later and I really can’t imagine skipping a workout.  I guess now I have to learn how to eat right.  I really only know how to eat not much at all or whatever the fuck I want. There has to be an in between, right?  Because, diet and exercise.  This year I will learn to eat right.  And maybe next year I will learn to have a healthy relationship with an object that gives me only one small piece of information about my health, my scale.  Or maybe I will just keep trying on that same pair of jeans.

Edited to add: I know a lady doesn’t talk about her weight… but I am afraid the Lady Ship has sailed.

 

Wild Life

I am a pretty careful soul.  I always wear a seatbelt. I use sunscreen.  I don’t put my phone down on the table where there are toddlers drinking beverages.  I wouldn’t say that I am always looking for the potential disaster in a situation but I am not trying to tempt fate.

All of that is not to say that I do not ever live dangerously.  Two days ago I was in a hurry.  I had been to IKEA and it is a billion hours away and I got home and needed to fix dinner and get the kids into bed but I needed to hem the curtains that I had purchased.  Now.  I need to hem that RIGHT NOW.  I also needed an enormous glass of red wine.  Because I had been to IKEA.  With my children.

As I was ironing my new white curtains that were purchased a billion hours from my home and slugging back red wine I thought “I need to do this more often.”  Not iron curtains for damn sure and actually not drink red wine, either.  (January and February are routinely the months of drying out in out house.) I needed to throw caution to the wind.  I needed to live dangerously.  Take a risk.

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You might think that drinking red wine while you iron your white curtains is just stupid.  But in that moment it made me feel alive.  Not reckless, just alive.  I set down the glass next to the iron and thought “I just need to believe in myself, man.  Don’t picture the red wine all over the curtains. Just don’t.  Imagine that your curtains will be finished before the kids go to bed, they will be perfectly hemmed and you will be on your second glass of wine in practically no time.”

I believed in myself, guys.

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We think about New Year’s resolutions and it can seem daunting. We picture these huge life changes and enormous challenges.  Life doesn’t have to be BIG to be great.  Small changes, moment to moment, that is where the good stuff is.  Believe in yourself. Drink red wine while you iron your curtains. Go to the park instead of the grocery store in the afternoon and believe that you will find something to make a meal from in your refrigerator when you get home.  Wear red lipstick.  Tell that waitress at the diner she has beautiful eyes.  Live dangerously, whatever that looks like to you.  You’ll be glad you did.

Happy New Year, guys.  May you and your family find peace and love in 2015.

On the up and up…

The upside of being down is… well, it’s the upside.  You start coming back up one step at a time and before you know it you are back on top.  I beat back the blues (again) simply by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again as fast as I can.

I did not get to use my favorite treadmill today. And I brought the water bottle that leaks.  I turned on my music and I didn’t hit the playlist I had intended.  Instead, quite accidentally,  I started a single song.  On repeat.  Somewhere around the third time the song played I realized that I had it on repeat.  Somewhere on number five or six I had run just far enough to realize that I would definitely hit my goal for the year – one thousand miles.

This morning listening to the Cowboy Junkies’ cover of Vic Chesnutt’s  “Flirted with You All My Life” I ran.  I ran and ran and I cried (yep, on the treadmill like a lunatic) and I realized that I am not ready to quit.  (It’s not the first time that Vic Chesnutt made me realize that I am not ready to give up.) Chesnutt’s tune is about death and suicide but to me it has always been an allegory about letting go and moving on. Death is the absence of change, the absence of moving on and transforming.    And I am not ready to give up on Change.

I am so desperately afraid of that which is Unknown.  But sometimes to accomplish anything at all you have to change.  I am even more afraid of Hope.  But I am certain that in order to Change you have to Dream, you have to Hope.

When I decided that my bizarrely cathartic weeping and sprinting act really needed to stop I hit next on my phone.

And I had to smile.  The Universe was having a time at my expense today.  Jeff Buckley’s version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah serenaded me as I crossed my thousand mile marker.

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I updated my Facebook status from the gym today (like you do) – “I try not to be a runner that is all “holy shit, y’all, RUN. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.” But if you don’t do something every day that makes you feel like every song you hear is the best. song. ever. and that you are at peace with everything and you totally understand your life – well then, find it. Because it will save you some heartache. Really.”

I can’t seem to find better words than those above. I don’t care what you do.  Yoga.  Meditate.  Paint.  Organize your linen closet. Skateboard. Do it. And love it.  And listen to music and figure out your whole entire life.  I promise you that the Truths that you realize in that hour a day will vanish.  It is similar to the way that dreams tend to evaporate in the time it takes you to roll over and say “damn, I just had the most fucked up dream.”  But for that hour everything makes sense and music sounds so good and your Life feels like no matter what it will all be okay….

I wanted to tell you what I figured out this afternoon.  I wanted to wow you with my simple understanding of Life and Death and Fear and Change and Hope.  But it’s gone.  Up in smoke.  Rather it is up in the grocery store and laundry and math homework and nap time.  But I will find it again tomorrow.

I want that for you. I didn’t run one thousand miles today.  I ran them over the last 343 days.  I have twenty two days to figure out what I will do with the next 365.

If you’re not sure what you are doing with the next year of your life go hide in the bathroom and listen to these two tunes back to back.  You still probably won’t know but they are damn good tunes.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you to all of you that have reached out over the last few days to say “Hey, I am sorry that you’re blue.”  It’s imperative that I write it down when I am hurting.  I need to.  It makes it start to go away.  But sometimes I forget to make the time to write it down when things are on the up and up.  I am back on an even keel, guys.  xxoo

December = Blecch

Oh hey, guess what?  It’s December and I can’t stop crying.   If you’ve been around a while you have likely already guessed it.  I hate the weird lull between Thanksgiving and Christmas when you hemorrhage money and you wonder what it is all really for and you wish you could just climb into bed with the people that you love and knit hats and wear sweatpants and eat pizza and watch movies on repeat. Oh?  That’s just me?

But when I am not moping I am hanging Christmas lights and loving my people. That’s the real pisser about the Winter Time Blues.  It’s broken up by a lot of really great moments.   This year’s funk is extra special.  Because the only thing that makes me sad and scared and completely anxious more than cold weather is good, good news.

When MQD and I got engaged I was elated.  And then terrified that I wouldn’t get pregnant.  When we got married and immediately got pregnant I was over the moon and then beyond scared that I would never be able to grow a healthy baby.  When my perfect Lucy Q arrived I was certain that I would never be a good wife and a good mother at the same time and that my marriage was destined for the shitter.

So, I started running and swimming and biking and smiling and taking good care of me and of my people and things were good.  Really good.  For years, really. This last month things have been so good that I am starting the road to self-sabotage that I know so well.  It starts with candy wrappers shoved under the seat of my car.  And then I start skipping the gym.  And then I stay up too late too often and then I sleep in too often and then I start to knit hats and wear the same pants every day and whoa.  Before I know it I am weeping.  MQD says that depression is thinking about the past and that anxiety is obsessing about the future. I think I am anxiously wallowing in the present. I am a multi-tasker.

It has been more than ten years since I was fearlessly hopeful.  I had a new house and two new cars and a baby on the way and I was Living.  Things were Good. They were just going to get Better. Right? It was ten years ago that things started to crumble and I started to dismantle that dream one house, one car, one marriage at a time but it still haunts me.  I am so fucking scared to get excited because it hurts so bad when it falls apart.  I feel fearlessly hopeful for a moment and my head caves in and the “Don’t do this, you know better than that, you won’t survive heartbreak twice” starts inside my head and I beeline it to the gas station for M&Ms.  Not even my regular gas station because I don’t want to see anyone I know.

How long?  How long until I won’t be afraid when things get really good? And what’s so good, you wonder?  Nothing.  Everything.  We renovated the kitchen.  I like my kids.  My sweet three million year old dog is healthy. My husband is fucking awesome and he listens and he loves me so much and he really, really likes me.   And I have great friends.  And a Life that I really, really want.  I am good at struggling, I am good at working towards a goal.  But what do you do when you look around and you think “This.  I want this, just like this.  Can’t it stay just like this?” That’s terrifying.

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving.  I hope that you felt the same kind of  all consuming gratitude that I enjoyed.  And even more than that – I hope that if you are in a moment of your life that is Good that you can find the strength to let it be.  Being happy shouldn’t be so damn stressful.

To the gym.  To the grocery store.  Thanksgiving leftovers are gone.  And it’s not time to start eating cookies day and night.  Not yet.  Thanks for being here.  And for reading.

Photo on 12-4-14 at 8.46 AM copy

On the road to find out…

I did not want to run today. That happens to me if I take a day off. In my heart of hearts I am not an Exerciser. I am a creature of Habit. I like to do whatever I have been doing.  Yesterday I slept in and skipped a workout.  Hence, I wanted to do the same today.

I peeled myself out of bed and poured myself into running clothes, anyway.

For the first two miles I was only going to run four.  During the third and fourth mile I thought maybe I might run seven.  Somewhere in there my headphones died and I found myself in this weird, inexplicably flat neighborhood that I have never seen before.  And I ran and smiled and ran and smiled and marvelled at the flatness.  And then I checked the map and realized that in order to get home from there I would be running nearly nine and a half miles.

So, I settled on ten and and for the second time this weekend I just looked at the leaves and thought about what a ridiculous phrase “fall foliage” is if you say it a bunch of times in a row.

And I ran.  And I smiled some more and I sang to myself.

The seconds tick the time out.  There’s so much left to know and I’m on the road to find out.  Then I found my head one day when I wasn’t even trying and here I have to say ’cause there is no use in lying, lying.  Yes, the answer lies within.  So why not take a look now? ~ Cat Stevens

I didn’t have anything on my mind when I left the house.  Sometimes I will use a long run to tease some Truth out of whatever mess I have in my head.  But today, I was smiling when I left the house. And I just ran.  And smiled.  I stopped twice and took two pictures.

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When I turned down my street to head home I had the runner’s high smile.  I felt good.  Really good.  I was still singing.

Oh I’m on my way, I know I am, somewhere not so far from here.  All I know is all I feel right now, I feel the power growing in my hair.  ~Cat Stevens

Sometimes I have to work hard to make sense of my day. Today was an easy day. I run to find my Truth.  I am now and hope to always be “on the road to find out.”  Right now the road is a literal road and my feet carry me mile after mile, sometimes closer to the Truth and sometimes not.   My Truth, whatever it is that I cling to in order to stay sane, “it lies within.”  And when I feel like I am drifting above my life and not really feeling it or participating all I need to do is Locate Love and before I know it I will be almost home.

I feel pretty lucky today.  I feel pretty lucky most days.

The Tooth Fairy

It’s a gamble to take a shower with a toddler in your house.  As desperately as I want to get clean I know that I must also want to Magic Erase crayon from a wall, scoop dog food out of the water bowl, re-roll a roll of toilet paper…. something.

I got out of the shower and I heard her start running.  She was up to something.  “Luuuuucy,” I cried. “What are you doing?”

I did not hear her customary response, “Nothing.” Instead I heard her dive-bomb onto the couch.  “Are you hiding?” No response.

I peeked into the living room to see a pile of blankets on the couch and assumed (correctly) that Lucy was hiding with some kind of contraband.  Whatever it was, she already had it.  I figured I could quickly get dressed while she was hiding.  I threw my clothes on and took a deep breath and prepared to find out what she had been up to during my 87 second long shower.

“Lucy, where are youuuu?” From under the blanket I heard her “Hiding!” only it sounded more garbled than usual.

“Do you have something in your mouth, Lu?” She pulled the blanket down, eyes shining. “What do you have in your mouth, Lu? Spit it out.”  I put my hand in front of her face the way a parent does and steeled myself for halloween candy, a beetle, part of a magazine.

“Rocks!” she announced triumphantly as she spit into my hand eight teeth.  Yes.  TEETH.  Two days before Halloween Lucy was living out some kind of twisted horror movie and she spit into my hand a mouthful of TEETH.

They weren’t bloody.  She wasn’t crying.  And yet still for a brief moment I thought “This kid astounds me.  She has fallen and busted out all of her teeth in the time it took me take a shower and it didn’t even slow her down.”  I am not sure what made me turn back and look into my bedroom.  But there on my dresser was my jewelry box.  It was open and on it was a small blue box.  I started to laugh.  In 87 seconds she had climbed up to open my jewelry box, dig to the back where I hide Emily’s teeth after the Tooth Fairy does her thing, stolen them and shoved them all in her mouth.

With a fistful of spitty teeth I started to laugh.  “Yes.  Rocks.  Do not put rocks in your mouth.”  And I started to count.  I counted the “rocks” and I dug through the couch and carefully ran my hand along my white bedroom carpeting until I had accounted for all of the missing teeth.  Teeth safely returned to their hiding spot I all but forgot she had done this.  (Now that is indicative of how absurd life with an almost three year old truly is, she spit teeth into my hand that she had stolen from jewelry box and I all but forgot it happened hours later.)

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Emily got off the bus later that afternoon.  “Look at this, this tooth is loose.”  We had the usual “Let me wiggle it” “No, don’t pull it” “I am not going to pull it, just let me wiggle it” argument.  It wasn’t very loose.  Nevertheless, an hour later she came back downstairs with a fresh gap and a bloody tooth.  “It was a one day process! Loose tooth to missing tooth, Mom! Just one day!”

The world is weird.  That night as I reminded her to put her tooth where the the Tooth Fairy would be sure to find it she smiled at me.  “You’re the Tooth Fairy, too, right?”

“No.  Go to bed.  I love you.”

“But you’re the Tooth Fairy, right?”

“No.  Go to bed.”

“I know that you are.  You can tell me.”

“Do you want your dollar? The Tooth Fairy won’t come if she hears you talking like this.” She smiled and pulled her blankets up to her pierced nine-year-old ears.

In the morning she came down and said “Dad, I got a dollar coin from the Tooth Fairy.” He asked if it was Sacagawea or Susan B.  Without thinking I responded “Susan B, 1979.”

Em just smiled at me and said “Yep. Silver. From the Tooth Fairy.”


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Class of 1994

Here’s a weird thing to say out loud.  I think I was a cool kid in high school.  I didn’t know it at the time but as my 20th high school reunion approaches and the boxes of memorabilia have come out of the attic, I have had to face the truth.  That girl who spoke graduation weekend and got good grades and had a few nice boyfriends and friends in lots of different cliques – she was lucky.  If I am honest with myself  (or if I look at a high school yearbook with a discerning eye) I think I was, gasp, popular.

So, I should be excited about my upcoming high school reunion, right?  I even got conned into kicking around ideas with the planning committee, now if that doesn’t scream “in crowd” what does?  I should really be looking forward to this, right?

So, what gives?  I can’t be the only one that feels like I might throw up and has a knot in her stomach.  (Ha.  I never censor myself.  And I just did.  See? I must be nervous.  It’s not a knot in my stomach.  It’s a week’s worth of shit.  And about 12 teaspoons of Metamucil.  I have a friend that gets vicious diarrhea when she is nervous.  I am jealous.  It seems I am having the opposite problem.)

What am I afraid of?  It’s not seeing the people I knew in high school.  The 20th High School Reunion no longer holds the mystery it did once.  I am unlikely to be emotionally sucker-punched by an old flame or startled by the icy chill of a former friend.  The internet has kept us in touch as much as we’d like to be.

It’s me.  I am afraid to go home and see me.  High school me, that girl with so much potential.

I am in a good place.  I have fought hard to make peace with who I am and where I am and I no longer make self-deprecating jokes about figuring out what I want to be when I grow up.  I am in a really great marriage.  I am proud of the mother and the wife I have become.  My athletic endeavors give me something to make small-talk about. I feel pretty good (discounting the turd baby, of course.)

But fuck, I am nervous.  I really don’t think I am scared to see a bunch of people from high school.  They weren’t scary then and age has tempered most of us by now.  It has to be me.

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Does she look scary? I mean, she looks kind of bitchy, but I don’t know about scary.

So, here we go, 2oth High School Reunion Weekend.  Listen up Kelly circa 1994, your hair looks smoking, I will give you that. And you look like you have had a decent night’s sleep in the last decade.  I will cop to being super jealous of that. But you don’t have this one thing that I have now.  You didn’t know what you wanted. You thought you wanted to be an actress so that you could pretend to be all kinds of different people.  You thought that if enough people said “You’re so talented” or “You’re so funny” or the holy grail of teenage self-worth “You’re so pretty” that it would be enough to make you happy and it never, ever was enough.

But this life, this family, these people that love me – this is so much more than enough. This is all that I ever wanted.  And I have it.   I won’t return triumphantly home to say “Look at me, look at me and my fancy self and my great big life” but instead… Instead I will try to listen. I will say “How are you” and “tell me about your life” and “show me a picture of your kids” and I will let my smile speak for itself.  And I hope that when someone says “Did you see Kelly at the reunion” that someone will reply “Yes, she looked happy.”  I also hope that nobody says “Sure, she looks happy but it seemed like she was full of shit.  Seriously.  Full.  Of.  Shit.”  One can dream, right?

To my fellow classmates, I am looking forward to seeing you. Please, feel free to tell me a poop story as soon as you see me.  It will level the playing field.  Seriously.

 

 

Dear Emily June,

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Before coffee, before the alarm even went off this morning we sat down and I read to you.  Letters from previous birthdays. You were sitting on the kitchen table behind me.  We got to the year you turned five when I turned around and you had tears rolling down your face. “Stop after this one.  I am going to be sobbing when the bus comes.” Oh, my dear, sweet girl, we are cut from the same sappy cloth.  xxoo

 

Dear Emily June,

Yesterday morning when you looked at me and said “Last morning of being eight” I think you were disappointed that I didn’t leap over the kitchen counter and scoop you up in my arms and tell you that you will always be my baby. The truth is that I couldn’t get it out of my mouth without crying.

This year I have shed more tears over your birthday than I usually do (and we both know that I get a little sappy around your birthday.) I have tried to figure out what it is that has me so verklempt.  And here it is, kiddo.  The good, the bad and the ugly.

Sometimes I write you letters and I give them to you. Sometimes I write you letters and I know that I won’t give them to you for many years to come.  This is one that I will hang onto for a awhile.  This has been a big, big year for us.  We have had lots of big, scary conversations. You pushed hard on me about the truth about my marriage to your father.  You were ready to ask me hard questions about divorce and love.  For the most part, I think I was ready to answer them.  I had planned on answering them someday.  And the someday just showed up and we ran with it.

We have talked about how sometimes two people just aren’t happy anymore and you have to let go. But here’s the thing – sometimes we were happy.  I don’t really talk about that part much because it opens the little girl door to “why didn’t you just try harder” or “see, maybe you could have stayed married.”   I know both of those doors because if I am honest with myself I still peek inside them from time to time. And one of those times is your birthday.

Because the truth is, Emily, that Jeremy and I let each other down.  We did.  But for at least a few incredible picture-perfect weeks we had it in the bag.  I was enormously pregnant and your dad was on stand-by.  Your dad, who is allergic to answering his cell phone, picked up in the middle of the first ring.  Every time.   The weeks surrounding your birth continue to be some of the best days of my life.  And whether I like to think about it or not, he was a huge part of that.  And that’s hard for me to think about.

It’s weird. I know exactly what to do with the feelings of resentment, anger, sadness and disappointment surrounding a divorce.  I am not really sure what I am supposed to do with the good memories, though.  They break my heart a bit, every year.  I have been struggling with all of these feelings, the good memories that surface surrounding your birthday, since 2011. You were turning six and you were seamlessly sliding into this new life, a new house, a new baby.  A few years later and I still can’t seem to figure out how to feel happy and sad all at once.

You are so much stronger and smarter than me.  You love and forgive and look forward.  I have so much to learn from you.  I am trying so hard not to lean on you, sweet girl.  It is hard enough to grow up, you don’t need to be worrying about me.  I will grow up, too, in my own time.

Last week I had a tantrum on a Sunday morning.  Your dad and your sister left for church and we stayed home for a few extra minutes.  Wordlessly, you just started helping me pick up toys and make order.  You know that I think more clearly when things aren’t a mess.  I was trying to clear the counters of your dad’s canning shenanigans and I might have been screaming about jalapenos and you said so quietly “But it makes him happy.” I just sat down on the floor in the kitchen and cried.  I wanted to have clean counters and you just wanted the people who you love to be happy.  See? You are smarter than me.

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Every day I look at you and I am amazed that you are so big.  Your sister is just the same size as you when it was just you and me and our big, scary, new life. When she slides into the crook of my arm at night and I press my head against hers I can close my eyes and see your face.  It is almost impossible not to run up the stairs and climb into your bed.  You’re so smack dab in the middle of being little and big.  I wish you would climb in my bed and let me hold you while you sleep but I wish I could pour you a glass of wine and spill my guts, too.

This is the messiest, sloppiest birthday letter yet.  And I am afraid it is more about me than you.   I used to write you birthday letters that tried to sum up who you were that year so that we could look back and remember exactly who you were when you were two, three, four years old.  I guess nine is the magic age when I don’t feel like I can write that down for you. I know how you make me feel.  I know how I feel about your birthday.  But I don’t really know that I can say “This, this is who Emily is” anymore.  That’s on you.

Oh, Emily… there is nobody like you.  You are the sweetest, kindest person I have ever known.  I am smiling through my tears as I write this.  My 20th high school reunion is in a little over a week, and here I am writing a letter to my oldest daughter and I am tempted to sign it like a yearbook…. “Don’t ever change, LYLAS, Mom.”

Because I do, love you like a sister.  I never had one growing up, but I imagine this is what it might be like, growing up side by side with someone who understands parts of you that you can’t explain. Like it or not, I am still growing up, too, right along with you. And really, if I had one wish for you…. do not ever, ever change, Em.  You are unfuckingbelievably cool, just the way you are.  You are kind and funny.  And in my book, that’s pretty much where it’s at.

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I love you, baby girl.  Every day more than the day before. You turned everything I thought I knew inside out and I never looked back. Keep being awesome, Ems.  You got this.

Love,

Mom