Category Archives: Parenting

Divorce is stupid

I hate being divorced.  It’s so stupid.  It’s stupid that all of these years later it is still there.

I love where I am right now.  I love my husband.  I love my life and my children and my home.  I can even confidently say that I love myself.  And none of those things would be without my past.  But I still hate it.

I hate that it makes me cry out of nowhere.  I hate that it makes me feel like all of the things that should feel permanent might just disappear one day.

I hate it more now that we have come all the way out the other side.  Last week when we sat on the beach and exchanged pleasantries, I hated every minute. When I realized that more time had passed since I had seen him than ever before in the last 18 years, I hated it.  When we spoke last week and I said “how was your day?” and he laughed and said “not good” I hated that my heart seized up in my chest because I am so ready for all of his days to be “all good.”  He deserves that much.

I hate that I don’t know where he works exactly or what the inside of his home looks like because I used to know everything, even things I wish I didn’t know.

It was easier when I got to say that I was divorced but that he was still my best friend because he was the person that knew me best. He was the person that had known me the longest.  But the truth is, the last six years have changed us both so much that unless we are talking about “the good old days” (which we both know weren’t really very good at all most days) it is like talking to someone I just met.

If it is possible to stand side by side with someone and feel like it all happened to other people how can you not fear that the now, the present that you love so much could all just go up in smoke?

To recap: I love right now, today.  And I loved yesterday and I am certain that I will love tomorrow.  And in spite of the Fear that creeps up in me sometimes, I refuse to feel Doubt.  I will smile and hold on and be 100% certain that I will love my life decades from now.

10001246_602805879801095_4743717070025521868_oMQD made a wind chime this weekend. We talked about getting rocking chairs for the front porch and I smiled and teared up. I gave him a pair of rocking chairs when we had not been dating very long at all and said something cheesy about how it would be nice to sit and rock in them together one day a very, very long time from now.  That was years ago and that pair of old rocking chairs never made it to our new house.

Even though I am divorced and even though that first pair of old rocking chairs rotted beyond repair –  I still believe.  It won’t be easy.  And we might have more than a few pairs of rocking chairs in our future because it’s true, nothing lasts forever.  But dammit, I won’t let hating my divorce keep me from loving my marriage.  Because that doesn’t make any damn sense at all.

To second chances, spring time, windchimes and rocking chairs.  To divorce and marriage and Love and tears and starting over.  Cheers!

Edited to add: It’s strange that I am grieving now of all times. It was easier when it hurt all of the time. I understood that. This part, the part when it is ancient history is a whole new kind of hurt. J, it was really good to see you.  It made me happy.  And seeing you happy made me happy.  And then it made me sad.  Ugh.  Miss me?  Ha! -K

Inherent Worth & Dignity

Unitarian Universalists promote seven principles.  The first principle is the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  This week I was reminded that my eight year old is a far superior Unitarian Universalist than I may ever be.  Because after she told me what happened to her on the school bus I was really struggling to see the inherent worth and dignity in one particular little girl.

She was crying when she came up to the front door so it took me a short while to get an answer.  “Did something happen at school, Em?”

“Mom, she said I am a bad person.  She said I can’t be a Girl Scout if I don’t believe in God. She said if I don’t have God in my heart than I have the devil in my heart.”

I wrapped my arms around her tightly while she caught her breath.  And the words, the words that came tumbling from her lips next made me more proud than I have perhaps ever been. “I told them that I am a Unitarian.  And that I do go to a church actually. And that my church says you can believe in whatever you want.  I am a good person.  I am.  How could that God want to punish me when I didn’t even say anything mean when they were telling me that I was a bad person?”

The part of me that wants to start talking and never stop when I don’t know what to say exactly worked hard to stay quiet.  The less I said the more she spoke and the more I realized I needed to say nothing.

“The Girl Scout pledge says God but so does the Pledge of Allegiance. You don’t have to believe in God to be an American so I don’t think you do to be a Girl Scout.”

I kept quiet.  I was waiting for the shame, for the doubt, for the “what if they are right, Mom?”

“There is only one thing that I wish was different about our church.  I wish it wasn’t in the woods.  It’s kind of hiding and if we were right next to the road more people would know about us and more people would come because I bet a lot of people actually think that it is okay to believe whatever you want and just be a good person.”

She knows.  She knows she is a good person.  And it doesn’t matter what the Girl Scouts think.  Or a kid on the bus.  Or God.  She just knows.

In the last year I have thought frequently about our first principle as it applies to others.  I think about it in the moments that I try to apply my reality to another person and I see them coming up short.  I remind myself that they are their own person, they live their own reality, they have their own inherent worth and dignity.  It never dawned on me that if you believe in your heart of hearts in your own worth, in your own dignity, if you do not have self-doubt – it is so much easier not to condemn others.

My sweet Emily June, you have taught me more in your eight years than I may ever teach you.  This can’t be your first rodeo, kid.

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Unsolicited Parenting Advice #1

I’m not a quiet girl.  If you’ve met me in person I will give you a minute to wipe that “no shit” look off of your face.

I have a new parenting technique and it doesn’t feel right to keep it to myself.

One of the hardest things about being home with the kids full-time is the noise.  It is constant.  It is relentless.  There is a never-ending hum of sound. I think that is how parents end up being yellers.  We just have to compete to get heard.

I really don’t want to be a yeller. But I have a two year old.

Solution:  Quiet Riot. Specifically “Cum on Feel the Noize.

Scenario:  I am cutting chicken.  Shit always hits the fan when I have raw chicken on my hands. I have said “Lucy please stop banging that lid on the oven door” several times at a reasonable volume level.   She has interpreted this to me “Start yelling along with the slamming.”

Here is where I employ my new technique.  Instead of screaming “For the love of all that is holy, STOP with the banging for one blessed second!  I can not pick you up so do not start crying like I have ruined your life, I have chicken on my hands, RAW CHICKEN.  Jeeezus, stop crying.  I didn’t do anything, I just asked you to stop with the banging, Go.  Bang.  Bang all the lids.  Do whatever you want.  Nobody listens to me!!!” n0t that I have ever had this sort of situation go down. I, personally, never, ever lose my cool.

Instead, at the moment that I feel the crazy start to make its way up my throat and tickle my yelling muscles I open my mouth and I shriek “CUM ON FEEL THE NOIZE!” and I smile.  You have to smile while you do it or it is just like screaming at your kid. Remember, you are singing. You are FunTime Mom.  You are the mom that loves it when your kid bangs lids on the oven door.

“Girls, Rock the boys!  We’ll get wild, wild wild!! Wild, wild wild!!”  Take a minute. Catch your breath. If you’re doing it right your kid has stopped dead in their tracks.  They are staring at you like they have no idea what is going to happen next.

So, you think I’ve got an evil mind… that is the next line.  That isn’t a question.

That’s it.  This is my new Toddler Parenting Technique.  Go ahead and yell.  But yell a song, shake your hips and smile, smile, smile and you can pretend you are dancing, singing Fun Mom.  It works. It is the latest and greatest in my Fake It Til You Make It life plan.

Try it.  I suggest 80s hair metal, but I suppose any tune will do. Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” is a hit in our house. Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” will work. But you have to start right in with “Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?” and you have to really put your hips into it.

Come back and tell me your favorite song to scream, I mean, sing at your kids.

This kid is nuts.

This kid is nuts.

The Power of the Mind

mind-over-matter

I believe in the power of a strong mind. Couple a strong mind with tremendous focus and anything is possible.

I put the power of my mom mind to a test this past weekend.

I waited this long to write about it because I was afraid of jinxing myself.

Guys, I willed away a stomach bug. I did.  My sweet eight year old daughter came to me with tears in her eyes and said “I threw up.”  I pretended I did not hear her.  She repeated herself.  “Mom, I threw up.  Like nine times.”

I translated this from melodramatic kid speak to normal english in my mind.  Maybe she just vurped.  Maybe twice.  (Vomit burps, tell me I didn’t really need to explain that.  Vurps, you guys know what those are, right?)

She ran past me into the bathroom.  Her little self was hunched over the toilet.

That wasn’t a vurp.

She stood up and turned to look at me, tears in her eyes again.  I mustered every bit of strength I had and I looked deep in to her big, blue eyes.  I looked past the sweet face of the child I adore.  I’m not sure where stomach bugs reside (in the soul? In the gut?) but I looked there and I said “You can not be sick right now.  Do you understand me?  You can not be sick.  Right now we have lice.”

I was knee deep in laundry when she informed she had thrown up. I had spent more than two hours “nit picking” with the magical metal comb and having my own head picked.  I would spend the next 34 hours doing laundry.

I wasn’t fucking kidding.

There would be no stomach bug.

I was waging a war against lice.  I didn’t have the manpower to take on a stomach bug. And to be quite honest, there was no way I was spreading towels on beds right now.  We had an all out ban on fabric in our home at the moment.  You get one towel, one pillow and one blanket.  It goes in the downstairs bathroom in the morning and you put all of your dirty clothes directly in the washing machine.  I had no space in my washing machine or my head for puke towels.

And it worked.  It worked.  I was rewarded for this feat of strength with a blizzard and a headcold but I still feel like a winner.  At some point this week in between the Lice Laundry and the Snowpocalypse I gave my dryer a little break.  I have slugged enough NyQuil to need a trip to rehab but I still feel like I am coming out on top. Because my head doesn’t itch.  And nobody has thrown up.

Mind over matter, people.  You can do anything.  Anything.

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When I am not doing laundry I like to let my kids out of the car and then lock the doors. They fake cried until I broke down and got out of the car. But for a few blissful moments I was all alone.

Four

In February of 2010 Emily was little.  She was unabashed.  She danced in the driveway and she didn’t take long to get dressed.  She had bangs.  She liked zip-up hoodies and sunglasses and the more accessories, the better.  The Universe was all Emily’s.  She wasn’t selfish but the only life she had ever known was one that was all about her.  Today she went to a book fair at school and came home with several books for Lucy. “Because just because she is too little for school doesn’t mean she doesn’t get books, right?” 

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I don’t know exactly why I went digging through old pictures. Emily said something hilarious and followed it up with “Don’t put that on the Internet.” And I tried to remember when she became self aware.  Was it last year?  The year before? The year before that?  She has changed more in the years since Lucy was born than she did in her entire life prior.  She became something new.  She is a Big Sister now.

Maybe that is what is different.

I tell her she is still my little girl.  I tell her that she is lucky that she had me all to herself for so many years.  I tell her that I love her.  But sometimes I fear she will read through these posts someday and wonder where she is…. all this schmaltz about Lucy, what about me?

Emily June,

I am writing my story so I don’t forget.  And when you looked at me on New Year’s Eve after I took a perfectly hilarious video of you and said “Don’t put that on the Internet” it crushed me a little bit.  Not because I wanted to show the whole damn world how hilarious you are (well, maybe a little) but because I am afraid that as you get bigger and your story becomes yours to tell and I write less of it down… I will forget.  I will forget the moments, the details, perhaps, but I won’t forget the Big Stuff.  I promise.

You and I have butt heads this week. Big time.  We had the first of many screaming matches that ended with us both in tears and me saying “Listen, Em, I’m not your friend, I am your mother.  I know you are mad, and I am sorry.  If I knew a way to be your mother without making you mad I’d do it.  I am making this up as I go along, kid, and I don’t know much but I know I am supposed to be your mom first.  I can be your friend in between the cracks, but my first job is to be your mom.”  And you hugged me and you cried and you told me that it is so confusing.  You told me that you do respect me and you’re sorry that you get so mouthy but sometimes it just feels like you are with your friend when we are together.

I held you tight and I cried a little louder.  Because when you said I feel like your friend I felt like I was failing you as your mother.  But succeeding as a person.

I don’t know what I am doing exactly, Em.  You might as well know that. It is easy to teach Lucy the colors and the alphabet song. I have no idea how to teach you when it is hilarious to mock me openly and when it is disrespectful to even sort of roll your eyes.  It is confusing.  You’re right.   But I am doing the best I can.  And so far it has been good enough.

When you read all this some day and you wonder why I spilled my guts (and maybe a little of yours no matter how hard I try to protect your privacy) I hope you just ask me.  Maybe I will be able to give you an answer by then.  Because today?  Today I can’t explain why.  Writing it down makes things make more sense.  And sharing it makes it all less lonely.  Maybe you will understand that.  Weird that in this time of my life when I am never, ever, ever alone – well, it is the loneliest damn time.

I am watching you play with your sister right now.  You just looked up at me and said “Are you crying because of those old pictures? Don’t cry, Mom. I’m still little!” And you shook your tiny little butt and you smiled.

Yes.  You are.  For today.  But you are bigger than you were yesterday and you don’t show signs of slowing down.

Mom

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What does the owl say?

Most of the time we cruise along on autopilot. Life happens all around us and we turn around from time to time and we can’t figure out how we got to where we are or remember a time when we were anywhere else.

Very rarely do we have the chance to see Life happening. But when we do – what do we do? Do we stop it from happening, draw attention to it? Take a picture?

Me? I loudly say “What did you just say?” as though I caught a kid cussing me out behind my back.

Owl tattoo

For Lucy’s first birthday I got an owl tattoo to commemorate her life thus far and so that when the dark circles under my eyes fade I won’t forget the year that I stayed awake all blessed night long for a year.  Shortly after I got her tattoo I started seeing owls everywhere. Consequently she has owl pajamas and we point out the owls we see in stores and magazines. Like any good parent of a toddler I say “What does an owl say?” and she says “Hooo hoo.”

And that’s the long version of how owls came to be called Hoo-hoos in our house.

I am not big on Baby Talk.  We use real words to talk about things.  How else do your kids learn to talk? But something about Hoo-hoos made me smile and I may very well have asked a certain someone if she wants to wear her Hoo-hoo pajamas a time or two.

Today Lucy said owl.  I don’t even know what she was talking about but I wheeled around and shouted “What did you say?” and she said it again, “Owl.”

It’s just one small thing.  But if I don’t write it down I will forget.  I won’t remember when that part of Life happened.  And before I turn around Emily will be driving a car and Lucy will be begging to wear lip gloss to school. And I won’t be able to explain how it happened.

Someone will be wearing her hoo-hoo pajamas tonight. And maybe tomorrow night.

The Sad


It was years ago now.  At least five, maybe even more.  I was sad.  Scratch that.  I was Sad.  I was so sad that I never really answered my phone and I rarely returned a voice mail.  I didn’t have anything new to report.  So, my phone went unanswered and my voicemails were unreturned.

IMG_3645Emily and I were sitting in the car somewhere and I remember noticing how clear her speech had become.  We were talking, really talking about something and it made me smile.  I didn’t smile then like I do now so I took note.  I turned around in the front seat and said “Hey, do you want to leave my message on my voicemail? All you have to say is “This is Emily & Kelly, leave us a message and we will call you back.”

What she ended up saying was beyond perfect. “Emily and Kelly, leave us a message and call us back!”

It has been years now.  My voicemail remains the same.  I can’t seem to bring myself to erase it.  It was my go-to smile generator at a time that I needed one.

Today there are two people that I love experiencing a sadness that I can not even begin to understand.  Even more people if you count all of the people that love them and the sadness that they feel, too.  I have struggled to find words.  Words that carry more weight than “I’m sorry,” words that heal more quickly than “I am here.  I love you.” There really aren’t any words.

You will carry this Sad through days or weeks or months until one day something makes you smile.  It won’t eradicate the Sad but it will be a window into the world of “It’s going to be okay” that you have to believe exists.  There is no telling what will make you smile or when it will happen.  But you will.  You will smile.

I have stared at the computer all day.  I recorded my voicemail message in nineteen different ways just to keep myself busy.  Because I needed a project, I needed to be busy because I can’t really wrap my mind around the Sad that you are experiencing.  While I have never known the path that you are walking right now I have known a Darkness that I believed to be impenetrable. Hold on to one another and watch for the Light.  It will come.  I love you.

I told you the other day that people will say things that make you want to pound them in to the ground.  Because people don’t know what to say.  I hope that this isn’t one of them.  But I don’t know.  I really don’t know.

I love you both so very much.  I’m here, holding your family in Love and Light.  I won’t forget.  We won’t forget.

~

My apologies for the vague and unstructured nature of this post.  When you write to make sense of the world around you sometimes things happen in your world that are not your story.  The story belongs to someone else.  Comments are closed on this post because, simply, there are no words.  

 

 

Dear Lucy on your 2nd Birthday

Dear Lucy,

Happy Birthday, kiddo!  Two!!  I think you had a bang up birthday.  Daddy, Emily, Papa and Gram set up a Yo Gabba Gabba explosion in the kitchen while you took a nap and you were so tickled when you woke up.  It was like you couldn’t believe that all of your buddies from Gabba Land were here for a party.  It is impossible sometimes to tell if you are saying “potty” or “party” so the day was exciting.  You ran through the house yelling “party” while I trailed after you saying “Do you have to go potty, Lu?”

20140120-083023.jpgYou’re such a happy little lady. You’re always smiling.  You are such a menace.  Somedays I think you spend all day developing your crackpot plans for destruction but you mean well.  The delight in your face as someone yells “Oh, Lucy!!!” makes cleaning it all up worthwhile for the time being. Don’t feel like you need to stay in this phase for too awful long.  I will suffer through the momentary sadness when I mention to one of your many doting grandparents “I noticed today it has been weeks since Lucy mindlessly dumped out an entire drawer full of stuff.”

You love your babies with your whole entire little self.  You are frequently walking around the house bouncing a baby on your shoulder saying “Shhh, shh, shh.”  Your babies are busy, too.  They are always napping or crying according to you.  I ask you what they are doing all of the time. I think I ask you what you are doing a lot, too, because in the last month you have taken to constantly asking us “What are you DOING?” in this tone that suggests that whatever we doing is inane.

You are not the most graceful little person.  You have a tendency to crash and burn but nothing slows you down.  If I have to be honest with you, Lucy, your head circumference is off the charts, it’s no wonder you tumble from time to time.  But you never make a peep.  You are back on your feet, onward and upward, in no time.  I hope this “nothing keeps a good woman down” attitude serves you well in your life.

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You’re not really a baby anymore.  I mean, you got a bike for your birthday, man. Babies don’t ride bikes.  But I have news for you, Lu, you will always be the baby.  It’s going to drive you totally crazy someday when I hold you extra tight or kiss you in front of your middle school.  But I promise that being the baby will pay off.  You will probably also be able to stay out ten minutes past your curfew someday because everyone knows that the youngest kid in the family has slacker rules as a teenager. And we won’t even talk about the inappropriate movies you will probably get to watch because by the time you are your sister’s age I will have been watching heart-felt animal movies for almost fifteen years and sometimes a girl just needs a break.

Lucy, I love you like crazy.  You haven’t slept through the night a single time in your two years and you still won’t take a nap without a solid twenty minutes of snuggling with your mama in the middle but you know what – I wouldn’t change a thing.  Two years later and I still bend my face down to the top of your head and inhale and think about how these days will pass faster than I can even imagine.

Happy Birthday, Lucy Quinn.  I tell you all of the time, but don’t you forget – you’re a really good baby. And try not to think too much about how I sometimes say it in the same tone of voice that I say “You’re such a good dog” to Fisher.  You two spend a lot of time together but it isn’t like I can’t tell you apart.

Love,

Mom

Lucy Quinn - Blowing your dad's mind since 2012

Lucy Quinn – Blowing your dad’s mind since January 20, 2012

 

 

 

Oh, the future slipping past…

It is best not to try too hard.  But sometimes an opportunity presents itself and I just can’t help myself. Sitting on the couch on a cold and rainy night I am flipping through the recorded television options.

Austin City Limits.  Widespread Panic.  “You know this is the band your dad and I used to go and see all of the time.  I saw them when I was pregnant with you even.”

A million months pregnant with Emily, Panic in Portsmouth 2005

A million months pregnant with Emily, Panic in Portsmouth 2005. I had not yet blossomed in to the quiet, restrained woman that I am now.

Emily looked at me and with a sigh of resignation she leaned against me.  She was willing to go for this parental ride.  “Up all night, ohhh, been up all night…the best thing about New Years is the Christmas lights…” J.B. is singing and I am tickled. This was a seasonally appropriate moment!

I am pointing at Jimmy.  “That’s Jimmy Herring right there.  Oh!  And that is Sunny.  Watch him play drums, Em. It is unreal. That is Jojo and there’s Todd behind the drums.  That’s Schools.  We liked to stand Schools’ side.”

I am smiling. Nice little opportunity to share something with my big girl before she gets too big.  This was a Moment.

“So.  They’re a boy band?”

No.  No, they are not a boy band.  Moment over.

*Title taken from Saint Ex by WSP

And for your listenin’ pleasure, Widespread Panic on ACL

Funny

I try not to get all of my self worth from my kids.  Or from my husband. Or from anyone really but my own damn self.  That’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

As a person I am reminded that I am the only one that has to live with my decisions.  As a fledgling athlete I am competing only against my own times.

But sometimes something will happen and I can feel myself riding high.

Two words.  “Mama funny.”  She was smiling to herself in the car. Lucy said I was funny.  Man, there really is no better feeling.  This was on the heels of Em telling me that I was hilarious just a few days prior.  I know that the days are numbered, these days that my kids find me the pinnacle of good humor.  How many times can I drop trou in my kitchen when someone asks if I have seen the moon that night?  But for now I am funny.  Emily says so.  And now Lucy is in agreement.

I enjoyed this inflated sense of self worth for not quite 24 hours.  This morning at the breakfast table Lucy made a second proclamation.

“Yogurt funny.”

Dammit, man.  I swear I am funnier than yogurt.

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