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?” 

IMG_1124

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

DSCN2031

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.

Do Your Boobs Hang Low?

Body dysmorphic disorder is a serious affliction wherein a person is obsessed with some perceived flaw in their body.  The most difficult part to understand is that the flaw someone is consumed with might not even be visible to anyone else. It might not even be real.

I have the opposite of that. I am not under the false impression that I am runway thin or bodybuilder strong or movie star pretty but I pretty much stopped really looking very hard in the mirror without my clothes on when I was about 24.  By that point I had a pretty good idea what I looked like, I had a long-term boyfriend that I’d eventually marry and I had already been “the naked girl” in a play in college once, it was unlikely to happen again.  So, I just stopped obsessing over my body.  So I stopped really looking,

And then I had a baby and I was all “Holy fuck, what happened to me?” and then I got over that.  And I had another baby and aside from that one day that I took a long look at the road map that is my stomach I really haven’t done much looking since.  I stare at myself in the mirror at the gym just as much as the next person but since the invention of the wide-band yoga/running pant it’s not so bad a sight.  And really when you’re dumping sweat and lifting weights it’s hard to be too hard on yourself.

Where was I? That’s right, I have the opposite of body dysmorphia.  Instead of believing that there is something horribly wrong with my physical appearance I have this notion that I pretty much look like I did when I was about 23.  Most of the time this serves me well.  I am confident.  I am sassy.  I am not bogged down  with worrying about my aging body.  But then these horrifying moments of reality happen.  I accidentally catch a peek at the back of my thigh and think “holy shit, when did that start to look like THAT?” Or I chat up a kid in line at the grocery store and he looks right through me and I remember that I am not a spring chicken as I catch a look at myself all decked out mom-style.

Ordinarily, I let these moments roll off me and I settle back into being blissfully unaware of aging.

I was at the gym the other day feeling strong. Busted out a two minute plank and dropped to the mat.  I grabbed my phone and my water and I leaned back and looked back down to the mat and GASPED.  My tits were inches, almost half a foot, lower than my elbows.  IN A SPORTS BRA.  I almost ran to the weight room where I could get a better look in a mirror because HOLY HELL I know I have been pregnant twice and breastfeeding for eleventy billion years but come the fuck on when did this happen???

20140128-201143.jpg

But I couldn’t move. For one thing I was afraid I might trip over my knockers.  It was dangerous to run.  Things were sliding south and fast.

I took a deep breath.  And I began to laugh.  Look closely at the picture and you can see a second set of handprints.  Look at the bottom of that picture.  My knees.  AHA!  The wet marks were my knees!! I had pulled them up to the mat as I sat back to catch my breath.

And I got hysterical.  That kind of belly laugh, I might pee my pants, holy shit do you guys see what I see laughter that you have to share.  I looked around and there was not a single woman in sight.  Now I wasn’t picky.  I was ready to shout out “Oh my god, I thought those were boob sweat marks and it is only my KNEES!  Hallelujah, it’s just my knees!!!” to anyone that looked even remotely female.  Not a one.  Somehow I didn’t think that the fellas that work out with me daily were going to be impressed.  Or understand why this was such a reason to rejoice.

So, I snapped a picture and I strutted, yeah, strutted, my fine ass right out of the gym.  Because my boobs are nowhere near that low.  In a sports bra. So there.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

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.

20140120-083009.jpg

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

 

 

 

So, it’s been a while since I was totally disgusting.

You don’t come here to listen to me talk about running.  Or triathlon training.  Here is not the place for me to do some deep thinking and journaling about how I am going to get enough swim workouts done and also get a new tattoo this winter. It just isn’t.

Writing.  Write what you know.  A million people smarter than me have told me that before.  Blogging?  It’s not much different.  I suppose the only difference is that because you get live, human feedback you get to know your audience.   And I don’t think you guys want to listen to me talk about running and endurance training and the relative merits of Shot Bloks vs G1,  Gatorade’s energy chews.

You want me to show you pictures ofmy ass in mom jeans, my stretchmarks and my boob milk stains.

Guys.  Today I need to talk about running.  And there won’t be a picture.

I ran twelve miles today.  Twelve.  I have never run that far in my whole entire life. I have also never shit on the side of the road.  And I did that, too.  Oh.  Did you miss that?  Was I not clear?  I pooped.  Outside.  In the middle of running. I ran about six and a half miles and realized I was not going to make it five and a half more.  I wasn’t even going to make it the half mile to the coffee shop in town.  I scanned the immediate area and I POOPED OUTSIDE.  Two yards from the sidewalk.  It was an emergency.

And then I kept running.  And before you get all up on your “I have never, ever shit near a sidewalk” high horse let me tell you that I had baby wipes.  Two of them.  In a ziplock bag. Because (and here is where I consider if this is crossing a line to tell what my regular poop schedule looks like and realize there is no line, the line has been obliterated) I have not pooped in two days and I am an every other day pooper and I knew it could ugly and I thought being prepared would prevent it from happening.  Wrong.

So, after doing my business and with two used baby wipes in a ziplock bag I ran off towards the closest trash can.  Because while I will (apparently) poop in what is technically a person’s yard I will not litter.

I ran and ran.  I changed musical playlists.  I had this twelve mile run in the bag!  Not unlike a dirty baby wipe. And I ate a few more energy chews and I ran some more and then…. then my stomach started to clench and I started to feel nauseous and I realized I had crossed in to new territory.  I was now a person that shit on the side of the road.  There was no reason to contemplate trying to run three, almost four, more miles with my ass cheeks clenched.   AND I DID IT AGAIN. I made it in to the woods.  Should that make me feel better?

And I kept running again.

I am not sure what the takeaway is here.  I am a person that is just about ready to run a half-marathon.  That’s exciting.  I am also a person that pooped.  On the run.  I think that makes me a runner?  It might even make me a long distance runner?  Because this is a thing – other people have done this.  Really.  I’m not trying to go all Billy Madison on you and tell you that “it’s cool.” But I am not alone.  And that’s comforting.

So.  Yeah.  I’ve been quiet.  Because all I think about lately is training and which race should I sign up for and what am I going to do now that I own the last pair of hot pink New Balance 870v2 in a ladies size 10.5???

So, I told you a poop story so you wouldn’t leave me.  But I really can’t figure out how to get the carbohydrates in without making the poop come out.  Runners, can you help me?  Will my body eventually be able to tolerate a long run without revolting against me?  This morning I told MQD that maybe I need to try a different kind of “evacuation blocks.”  He looked at me sideways.  “I mean energy blocks, but yeah…” I can’t seem to not feel totally thrashed after about an hour and a half without a little something.

Trial and error is the answer, I suppose. And route my runs closer to a bathroom, huh?  We live and learn in this life. And this morning I ran twelve miles, pooped outside twice, lost my car key and locked myself out of my house.  That’s a whole lot of living.

IMAGE_1763

I can’t do it.  A post without a picture seems wrong.  Here I am.  In the bathroom at the gym.  Why?  Because Karen at Uncomfortably Honest and Honestly Uncomfortable takes adorable post-run pics in the bathroom at her gym and I wanted to test her theory about lighting.  She also tells a mean poop story in case that’s your thing.

Happy Sunday, guys!

Home for the Holidays

You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood … back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame … back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory. ~Thomas Wolfe

I am the adult child of a divorce.  (Is anyone ever the adult child of something great?  People are adult children of alcoholics and divorce and of narcissists according to Google but it seems there are no adult children of the well adjusted?)

Unlike many of my peers that struggled with a divorce as a young kid,  my family shifted after I was old enough to have already left the house.  I was in my early twenties when I was smacked in the face with the reality that my parents were their own people and perhaps their function in this life was not to wait by the front door to welcome me home bi-monthly.  There were growing pains and tears and eventually there were new family structures.

When my father sold the house I grew up in (affectionately dubbed the “free storage facility”) it was official.  I could no longer “go home again.” Boxes of notes from middle school, old prom dresses and family pictures were distributed to their rightful owners and it was over.  I drive by the “old house” sometimes and it feels weird.  My life was in that house.  My family.

Fast forward fifteenish years and here I am in a house with my own family.  A husband, two kids and a dog and a Christmas tree.  One would think I would no longer lament that original loss. But in the darkest hours, in the moments I am  flopped on my bed with over-tired, red swollen eyes and feel like I need a good cry I often say “I just wish I could go home.  To my mom and dad.”

1504079_10201924620548844_1484615996_nThat is what being an adult child is, I guess.  Instead of “I want my Mommy & Daddy!” the “adult” child laments the loss of their childhood in some way or another.  The “well-adjusted” adult child dries their eyes and doesn’t use the pain of being an adult anything as an excuse to be an asshole. Or at least that is what I aim for in my pursuit of being well-adjusted.  Try not to be an asshole.  I have lofty goals.

A few weeks ago I had a very emotional round of phone calls that resulted in an opportunity to go home again.  Thomas Wolfe says you can’t go “back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting” but when you realize that you will be having Christmas morning in your home with both your mother and your father for the first time in a long time and you never, ever thought you’d have that again… well, you get a little verklempt.

keep austin weird

I spent a few days trying to wrap my mind around it.

I mentioned to a friend that I don’t know how to process things I can’t write about.  The circumstances aren’t my story to tell.  I do my best to be respectful of my friends and family and find a balance between my compulsion to share my story with the world and the privacy of those that don’t. It’s a shame really because I had a great working title to the blog post – “The Christmas That Was Just Like Austin.”

I thought it would be weird.  I thought it might be sad and nostalgic and tense and wonderful. I thought I might go all Hayley Mills in Parent Trap only with wine instead of a twin sister as my devious counterpart.  But mostly I thought it would be weird.

I am sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee this morning and I have no house guests. The Christmas tree has been taken down, the gifts have been relocated to their proper locations. Both of my parents have returned to their respective houses.

I can’t find the words.  This week we will all crawl out of our holiday holes and someone will casually asks me “How was your Christmas?”  I suspect my eyes will well with tears and I will say simply “It was great.  We stayed home.”

IMAGE_1367

 

The Smell of Winter

I wasn’t just trying to get off the phone.  It was an emergency.  Something reeked. I had to find it.  “Mom, I have go to go, something smells like mildew or something!!”

I emptied out under the sink.  Nothing was leaking. It didn’t actually smell under there at all.

Earlier in the week we’d had a party. The dog was generously fed by everyone. In the following few days I think I said “Jeeezus, Fisher.  Man.  What did the dog eat?” about 857 billion times.  It smelled.  Bad.  Really bad.  Dog fart bad.

I have a top loading washing machine and I don’t close the top when I am not running it.  I don’t use the $7 tablets to wash my washing machine.  I just run a  load with bleach every now and again and I figure it is clean.  But this week I stood in front of the Affresh tabs for about 17 seconds (which with a toddler in tow at the grocery store feels like a millenium.) Because something smelled really bad when I was doing laundry.

The smell. It was following me.

My offspring are strange little beings.

My offspring are strange little beings.

When I was pregnant with Lucy I went on an all out rampage until I found one. single. mothball.  This was no mothball.  This was a bad, bad smell and I was going to find it.

Last week I pulled a rosary from Lucy’s mouth.  It was weird and frightening in the same way that those magicians pulling the scarves from their mouths can be, with an added bonus of overt religiosity.  I mentioned this on Facebook and several of my friends wanted to know why there was a rosary in my house to begin with.  I explained it away quite simply.  My husband has all brands of religious artifacts. He keeps most of them on an altar high up on a bookshelf.

I don’t mess with his stuff and he lets me write about our deepest darkest secrets on the internet.  We have an understanding. So when he said “I found the smell” sheepishly I had no idea it had been coming from his altar.  I had no idea what was even up there.

He could have just thrown it away.  He could have kept it a secret and I’d have been convinced the smell had gone dormant in the cold and I’d have worried and wondered about what was rotting under the floorboards of the kitchen for months.

But instead he told me.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do.  And I will admit that our family has had great juju, good times, lots of laughs and a relative absence of negativity in the last several months. I’m just saying that if you put AN EGG ON A SHELF IN YOUR KITCHEN DON’T LEAVE IT THERE FOR MONTHS.  Because it will eventually stink.  And your wife will be the only one that can smell it at first.  And she will start to lose her ever-loving mind.

But your trash cans will get cleaned out.  I suppose that’s a plus.

Whatever your religious and spiritual pursuits have you doing this holiday season I hope you remember where you put your egg!!!  Merry Christmahanakwanzika, y’all and enjoy your Yule and Winter Solstice tomorrow!

 

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.

20131205-080700.jpg