Starting Over

Posted on | February 3, 2018 | 3 Comments

When I looked at my life on December 31st, I felt…. stagnant.

Yes, I realize that’s a ridiculous thing to say when you’re 40 with a new-ish baby, and a new-ish husband. But I’m one of those people who needs new adventures. I need something on the horizon… something good, something bad… just SOMETHING.

So on January 1st, I wrote an email to an attorney I admire. It was nothing more than a spontaneous reach out to soothe some of the anxiety I was having at not going anywhere.

But then he responded nearly immediately.

And one week later I was sitting in an unfamiliar office with two familiar attorneys, laughing and talking about career options.

One week after that, I had a job offer and a decision to make.

For those of you who have been around a while, you may recall that when I got divorced, I had to haul it out of Savannah at rapid speed. I was so lucky to find a firm back in Macon who wanted me and I signed on the dotted line. I started to work there on June 1, 2011.

On January 19th, 2018, I sat across the desk from my boss of nearly 7 years, and told her it was time for me to move on.

It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve made thus far in my life, and I don’t say that with a smirk.

See, when I joined the firm 7ish years ago, I didn’t just start a job; I started a new life. Shortly after I started, we hired another attorney. Then six months later, we hired a third attorney and a law clerk. Then six years went by and those three people were three of the best friends I’ve ever had. 

The thing about being a lawyer is that shit very often gets incredibly real. And nine times out of ten the only people who understand the realness that comes with being a lawyer are other lawyers. These three in particular, knew nearly exactly what my life was like for six years. They experienced the highs and lows alongside me. They were the unofficial planners/photographers/cake wrapper-uppers at my wedding. They love my boys like their own.

And leaving that sort of environment… where you work with your people… is incredibly difficult. It felt so much like closing a door instead of opening one. It felt like abandoning ship in the middle of the ocean, with no life raft, while an incredibly awesome party was taking place on deck.

But sometimes you just have to hold your nose and jump. And so I did.

I start my new job on Monday morning.

Here’s to new beginnings all over again. And if these three think they’ve seen the last of me… they are sorely mistaken. Because Goonies never say die, y’all… and dammit, I love you guys.

 

Turning 40

Posted on | December 13, 2017 | 1 Comment

Yesterday, I had a cardiologist appointment.

Luckily, everything is fine and I can continue living in blissful ignorance of whether or not my heart is beating. But as I sat in the waiting room, populated with people who seemed much older than me, one thing loomed over me like a black cloud.

There on the paper in front of me, in stark black and white, it requested that I list my age, and for the first time in my whole entire life, I had to write in the number “40.”

As if it weren’t bad enough that I was at a cardiologist. As if it weren’t hard enough to be running on no sleep thanks to a habitually sick baby. As if it just weren’t tough enough being alive and forty… I had to see in on paper.

The thing is, I know it’s just a number. I don’t feel any different than I did last week when I was still in my thirties. I don’t really feel any different than I did ten years ago when I left my twenties. It’s just a number.

Only… it isn’t.

We prize youth so much in our culture. We put it up on a pedestal and celebrate it with advertisements and cosmetics and everything geared toward making most especially women look younger. Sporting wrinkles, showing spare tires, feeling the brush of thigh against thigh, placing reading glasses in pockets? These things are hidden. Tucked and pulled and pressed and injected to disappear, to be eliminated, to be covered up with “Anti-Aging creams and lotions.”

Know who doesn’t slather on anti-aging cream?

Men.

But somehow growing old as a woman is like growing obsolete. It’s like being told to move to the back and let the 20 year olds shine. Our beauty is not celebrated unless it is celebrated for looking younger than we are. No one looks at a woman over 40 and says “Oh you look gorgeous!” unless they follow it up with “You don’t look 40 at all!” Or 50. Or 60. Or 70. Or whatever age we are that is past the point of society’s acceptance of beauty.

Turning 40 as a woman in America feels like the end of being beautiful. It feels like the end of being accepted into a particular club of women you never knew you wanted to join.

I don’t feel older, make no mistake. I feel the same as I did twenty years ago.

What I feel is somehow…. disenfranchised from being a woman. Like I’ve graduated into being just old… not female… not a woman… just… old.

And it stings.

Especially when I stare at 40 on the intake sheet at a cardiologist.

Building a Village

Posted on | November 13, 2017 | 3 Comments

I was talking to a good friend of mine today about our town being “clique-ish.” Okay… talking is the wrong word. I was complaining.

And I was complaining for the same reason most people complain: I don’t have a clique.

Maybe it’s because I’m lazy, or maybe it’s because I’m mostly exhausted all the time, but I see all these people having fun with each other, their kids running around together like long lost brothers and sisters. Every time those images flash up on Facebook I think “Why am I not in a group like THAT?”

Not too long ago, the couple who set Banks and I up went on a camping trip. They went with a group of other families and the pictures were fabulous. It looked like everyone had a wonderful time, and it turned out we knew most of them. My first reaction was one of jealousy. That was a group I could be in, right? I could pack up a back pack and brave the wilderness, yeah?

But then I remembered….

I don’t sleep on the ground. Ever. Also? Bugs.

One “clique” down.

There are country club cliques and private school cliques and church family cliques and somehow, I always feel a little on the outside of all of them. I’m no longer a country club girl. My kid attends public school. I’m lousy at remembering to get up on Sundays for church.

It’s not that I don’t like the people in those groups… it’s just… it never seems like I’m the right fit for their groups.

I couldn’t hear my friend laughing at me as I complained, but I knew she was.

“You have to build your own,” she told me.

And I realized she was right. It’s not about fitting into little pre-fab cliques. It’s about pulling and choosing your village from among all the groups around you. I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be hard for me. I’m really exceptionally lazy when it comes to leaving my house for things other than house fires and work. But I think if I want to put down the roots I’ve been longing to plant, it’s time to step outside my comfort zone and look for people to build MY village with.

Maybe I can put out a personal ad?

“Desperately seeking friends. Women with children have first priority. Must love to laugh. Beer-drinkers preferred, though any alcohol consumption is fabulous. A love of sports is a definite plus. Must love people who are indecisive, moody, messy, often irrational, and overwhelmingly nuts in all the best ways and some of the worst. Applicants may apply via walking across the grocery store to let me know that I have failed to zip my pants, button my shirt, or that there’s something in my teeth.”

If only it were that easy.

 

Love Like Cheryl

Posted on | November 9, 2017 | 1 Comment

Everyone has that moment: the one that knocks you backwards and steals your breath away. The moment that whispers in your ear “You are temporary.” Some people are fortunate and they only have to hear the message once to fully appreciate where they stand in the grand scheme of the universe. Some of us need to hear it over and over again.

On Friday, my husband called me at work, his voice shaky, to tell me that the 42 year old wife of one of his friends had suddenly passed away. When I say suddenly, I mean suddenly. No warning. No explanation. Nothing to pin point as to why her heart simply stopped beating at that precise moment on Friday morning. Cheryl Ogle was many things to many people: a wife, a teacher, a friend, a guardian angel. But the role of hers that struck me in the chest was that Cheryl Ogle was a mother. She was the mother of two boys, barely older than my oldest.

Some things just hit you where it hurts.

I wasn’t close to Cheryl. We’d met a few times and I remembered her as being exceptionally kind with a Southern drawl that was 90% sugar with a splash of water. I couldn’t say that we were friends, though I think, in retrospect, that we would have been.

I watched the people move in and around the cemetery, holding pink flowers and hugging on the two boys and their father. I saw the signs lit up around town, reminding everyone to Love Like Cheryl Ogle. I listened to the minister speak about Cheryl and what she meant to her family and to her community.  I listened as her husband spoke to mine about his wife, I heard how his voice caught briefly in his throat, how his eyes misted over as he looked back toward the bright white casket adorned with flowers.

His was a woman who loved big.

She was a woman who was loved big in return.

As we left the cemetery hand in hand, my husband looked at me.

“We have to do better,” he said. And I nodded. Because I knew what he meant.

This is a big world. And it needs more people to Love Like Cheryl Ogle did. It needs me to love bigger, to be more patient with those around me, to remind the people I love just how much I love them. And to love the people around me, even when it seems nearly impossible to do so.

So today, buy the car behind you a coffee. Give a dollar or two to the homeless woman on the corner. Buy a new book and donate it to a school library. Tell your husband how much he means to you. Hug your kids just a smidge tighter before you say “have a nice day.”

And when they look at you funny or ask you why? Tell them you’re doing it for Cheryl.

I think she’d like that.

 

It’s Tricky

Posted on | November 2, 2017 | No Comments

Way back in the early 2000’s, when I lived care-free in Orlando, Florida, I worked in a burrito restaurant. I lived in a dirty little apartment with my roommate and a dog, and life consisted of dancing, drinking, and going to work then repeating the cycle again and again.

Most of the time, I am sublimely happy with my life here in Georgia. I love my boys, I love my husband, and most days I can even find something to love about the challenging job I do from 8-5. But on some days,  I drop the boys off at their respective schools and an old Run DMC song comes on my Spotify playlist. Like magic I’m transported to a little bar in Orlando, belly up to the bar with my roommate while the same song blares through the speakers.

“It’s a sign,” she says with a pleading smile. “Don’t go to work!”

We banter back and forth, sipping margaritas and staring longingly at the pool table.

“Seriously, it’s a sign,” she says again.

And I believe her. So I call in to work, and we stay at the bar and drink margaritas and laugh and shoot a game or seven of pool with some guys we know from around town. I think we stayed all day, just goofing off, enjoying the outdoor patio and the sunshine, tasting the sour-sweet margaritas and being young.

That day stays with me. The pout of my roommate as she begged me to skip work, the sound of the song in the amplified speakers, the crack and slide of the pool balls across a felt table. I can taste the margaritas, feel the sun on my face as I lean backwards with a smile.

Today, “It’s Tricky” came on as I pulled out of daycare. The thought occurred to me that those days are long gone… the days when I could just “call in” to work and drink margaritas. The days when I was young enough to spend a day in a bar with friends. The days when I could lean back in a chair on an outdoor patio and smile without wrinkles, without worries, without wondering if maybe I’ve had too much to drink or where the boys are or what time the baby sitter has to be home.

Most days, I’m sublimely happy with my life.

But on some days, like today, I want to call my husband and beg him to play hooky. To belly up to a warm, Florida day. To drink in sunshine alongside margaritas.

And to laugh, as though no one in the world has any cares at all. Least of all me.

As the last notes of Run DMC played loudly in my car speakers, I pulled into work with a sigh. It’s not a sign. Not today.

But maybe one day, it will be.

Until then, I’ll keep longing for those days when nothing else mattered save being young.  And happy.

Baby Brain

Posted on | October 31, 2017 | 1 Comment

I swear I’m losing my mind.

I mean… I remember being a little less together after J was born and saying stupid things and what not… but this is another level, you guys. Do you lose brain cells with each child? Am I feeding my intelligence to my child through his milk? Because I am an absolute moron these days.

Yesterday, J finished eating and started to put his plate in the sink. I stopped him.

“J,” I said with authority, “You just saw me put the dirty clothes in the dishwasher. Don’t you think your plate goes there?”

He stared at me for a long minute before bursting out laughing.
“Dirty dishes,” I mumbled. “I meant dishes.”

It happens like that… ALL THE TIME.

It’s like my words are backwards in my head. I’m scared to talk to clients on the phone because more often than not I say the wrong words or I can’t find the words I’m looking for. Is this normal? Is this one of those things that just comes with turning 40 and having a baby and an 8 year old? Because I am slowly. going. insane.

My entire world is poop and pee and “ba ba ba ba ba ba ba ba” and for what ever reason, I’m finding it harder and harder to leave that stuff at home. Every now and then I catch myself turning my head side ways and kissing my shoulder like it’s the head of my baby.

Kissing. My. Shoulder.

So far, I haven’t done that in front of anyone but Good. Lord. My brain is absolutely baby-fried with no end in sight.

Yesterday, I forgot C’s costume for daycare and today I dropped J off in Drop Off with a happy “Merry Christmas!” before shaking sense into myself. Tell me there’s a light somewhere that will turn on and I’ll remember that I’m a semi-competent attorney? Please?

Otherwise, I may as well stay in bed. Forever.

Send Christmas Movies… I’m apparently already celebrating, anyway.

Raging against the Dying of… Humanity

Posted on | October 12, 2017 | 4 Comments

First, I am angry.

Then, I am sad.

Eventually, I make my way back to angry again and I sit there, soaking in the sweat of my disappointment and rage.

How did we get here? As a country. How?

It’s not just about “respecting the flag” or “locker room talk” or Hollywood moguls and presidential candidates taking advantage of hopeful starlets and pretty women. It’s not just about a President using social media to insult other politicians, or split media factions painting stories in red and blue with nothing in between. It’s about…

it’s about…

What the hell is it about, you guys?

Is it that white males are feeling the press of equal rights, encroaching on their happy world of privilege? Is it that men in general are wanting to exert that last gasp of power? That push to say “we’re here, we’re stronger, get used to it?” Are they mad that women and people of varying shades of skin tone are in greater numbers in the work force?

I’m sick to my stomach with the hypocrisy of it all… the anger over a black man quietly protesting for the sake of his community vs. the shrug and sigh of “accidents happen” when yet another black man or woman is shot by a police officer. Where is the anger over a man saying he can grab any woman’s genitalia or kiss anyone he wants? Is it hiding behind Hilary Clinton’s emails? Is that why we’re mad about them?

It’s not liberal and conservative, people. It’s not. You can say that it is all you want, but it isn’t.

It’s common decency and respect for the lives of people and their right to say “No” vs. What, exactly? What do you stand for? Do you stand for “The Flag” or do you stand for “I hate professional athletes or singers or actors disagreeing with my politics.” Because if what you stand for is “The Flag” then you do know that these protests aren’t about the flag or the anthem, and were NEVER intended to be disrespectful toward the military, right? Do you stand against Harvey Weinstein and what he did to young women? Or do you stand for Donald Trump and his boastful bragging about groping unwilling women whenever he wants.

What. Do. You. Stand. For?

Me?

I stand for humanity. In all it’s colors and shapes and genders and orientations and ages. If a portion of humanity is hurting, then it has my attention and my devotion to doing whatever I can to make it better. Because that’s what we should be doing. As citizens of this gorgeous planet we’re slowly killing. People are hurting here. In the world. In America. Because the force in charge, the status quo, the 50-70 something white male who runs most of our media and politics and movie studios and hell, everything… that force is pushing away instead of pulling in.

Don’t be that force.

Don’t push away the people who are hurting.

Pull them in. Embrace them. Listen to them.

Because if you don’t? Don’t kid yourself.

YOU are the problem.

Marriage

Posted on | August 7, 2017 | 2 Comments

With several looped around each hand, the grocery bags leave red circles against my wrists.

“Darling,” he shook his head, “I can help with that.”

I shrug, weighed down but smiling.

“It’s no problem,” I smile, keeping my eyes averted so he won’t see the truth. “I can get it.”

The bags pile up on the table, load after load. Slowly, I unpack them, placing items one by one into nooks and crannies. Saving them to pull out later. Saving them to wave in his face with a flourish of “look what all I do for  you.”

I rub the circles into my skin, letting the marks remind me of my troubles, feeling the pain of plastic soak deep into my soul. Rings weighted with more than just groceries. Scars from a marriage prior, scars from so many broken things.

We argue later, voices raised, as I let his calm spiral and swoop around my Irish temper. I’ve been itching for a fight. I know it. He knows it. The faded rings on my wrists still there, where only I can see them.

The distance between us gets wider and wider, a chasm of silence as he slides into the bed beside me.

“I love you,” I want to say to this man who sighs with frustration yet love over my moods and baggage. I think about reaching out a hand, just to cross the distance, just to tell him without apologizing that I’m sorry.

I think too long. I always think too long.

His breathing deepens into a slight snore and I draw in a ragged breath. I waited too long to move or speak. The distance between us is so wide that I wonder if he’ll ever forgive me for the things I say, the bags I let pile up around us, the little odds and ends that I’ve hidden in the darkest corners of our lives.

I whisper an apology he won’t hear, an “I love you” he already knows despite this hole I’ve dug and filled with my insecurities.

I think for a moment that I will cry, that I will heave with sadness for the things I put him through, for the inevitable day when it’s too much and he packs his own bags to walk away.

And then with the slightest of movements, he reaches out a hand, fingers twining with my own. The pressure is slight but enough.

“I love you,” he says, without saying a word.

I love you, too.

Grace

Posted on | August 2, 2017 | 2 Comments

Grace: (1) Simple elegance; (2) Free and unmerited favor; (3) to do honor or credit to someone by one’s presence. 

Growing up in a Southern Baptist church, I heard a lot about Grace. Amazing Grace, “There but by the grace of God go I”,  “Come thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace”… and the list goes on and on. It’s like “God’s Grace” was a two by four and I was walloped with it twice a week for years on end.

Like most things in childhood, I believed I understood Grace and what it meant. I believed I had it all figured out. Yep, God loves me even though I’m not worthy. Got it. Put it in the bank. Totally understand. Because as a child we believe what we are told (or walloped with). We believe that the Grace of God exists because we are told that it does and because we sing about it at church and maybe because one time or another we did something wrong and cried out to God and suddenly felt better. That’s Grace, right? Letting God make you feel better when you break the rules because he still loves you no matter what. Grace.

Despite all the churching, I’ve still never believed I was worthy of much. If you’d asked me as a teen or young adult if I would ever get married, I would have sadly shaken my head “no” with the explanation that those sorts of things just didn’t happen to me. If I did manage to date, certainly no one would fall in love with me, because I am me, you know? I don’t deserve that sort of thing. And children? No. I would never be able to have kids because kids are wonderful and wonderful things don’t happen to people like me.

So you can imagine my surprise when I not only got married (twice) but also had two beautiful and healthy baby boys.

It was shocking.

It’s still shocking to me.

And when I look down in their eyes to kiss them goodbye on a school day or to tuck them snugly into bed at night, I realize that every single idea I ever had of Grace is wrong.

Parenthood may be the closest I will ever come to truly understanding God’s Grace.

I always understood the “not being worthy” part of Biblical Grace. But this feeling of not being worthy, coupled with not understanding why anyone would allow something so wonderful to occur to someone so completely ordinary? This is what all those men so long ago tried to put into the Bible. This is what they tried to explain to the masses… that something extraordinary could and did happen not because we deserved it. Not because we did something amazing and worthy and brought down the Grace of God like a medal at the end of a long race. No. It is Grace… not in spite of our ordinary but because of it.

Every single time I look at my boys I am stunned and spellbound by their sheer existence. It’s like they’re magic… little sparks of wonderful that were entrusted to me through absolutely no fault or success of my own.

I still don’t believe I’m worthy of the blessings that have fallen my way… but I’ve realized it’s quite simply because I’m not. There’s nothing inside of me that gives me a leg up or a step closer to the small successes I’ve reached in life. Believing in God, believing in myself, believing in anything hasn’t and won’t secure for me a hefty bank account or a better job or a happier life.

All that I am and all that I have has been handed to me by free and unmerited favor.

Nothing I could have ever done or will ever do would make me worthy of being called “Mom,” and that, my friends? Is Grace.

Simple.

Elegant.

Bestowed upon me through no fault or success of my own.

An honor just to be present with two such amazing souls who bestow favor on me by their very presence in my life.

All the riches of the world, wrapped up in two little boy smiles.

 

#survive

Posted on | July 27, 2017 | 4 Comments

This morning, about fifteen minutes before it was time for my oldest to leave for camp, he informed me he didn’t have any clean athletic shorts. I walked into his room and saw that his dirty clothes basket had basically birthed quintuplets of dirty clothes.

“You didn’t wash my clothes,” he mumbled under his breath, sliding me firmly into the position I most often find myself: no matter how many things I do, it’s always the one or two things I don’t do that stand out.

Mothering is the ultimate self-esteem check.

No matter how hard I try, there’s never even one single moment when I have everything together. It’s always, at best, a 75% success rate and that’s basically when I only have four things to do which is … never. This morning alone, I had a list of a billion and a half things and I accomplished exactly four of them: I got both kids and myself out the door and I remembered to let the dogs inside. Sure, it took getting in the car and backing half way down the driveway while my two sweet pups stared forlornly at me from the backyard before I remembered to let them in, but dammit I remembered eventually! I even remembered to toss a bag of pop tarts in my purse for breakfast which is good because I discovered when I ran out of time for my breakfast yesterday that my office supply of food has dwindled to half a bag of croutons and two jars of blue cheese dressing.

I know that I can’t expect to do it all just like I can’t expect to have it all, but all that “knowing” doesn’t stop me from trying. I run around like a crazy lady, slapping on mascara while bouncing a baby on my hip, pulling together a processed food lunch for J that makes me feel like the worst mom ever except FEEDING HIM so there, and sometimes… SOMETIMES remembering to make myself a second cup of coffee and food of some sort. Banks would help if I asked, but most of the time everything is in such a delicate balance, including my sanity, that I fear letting him take something off my shoulders would only cause everything, including me, to fall apart.

Here in the office, there’s an overflowing in box and emails that need to be read. There’s an item that needs to be boxed up to return before tomorrow, and a delivery man that has to be met at the house at some point today for the delivery of the new dishwasher. There’s a list of eight phone calls to return and a brief to finish and several odds and ends that need tying up. Then when all that’s either finished or put aside for tomorrow, there’s that pile of laundry waiting on me so that there are clean shorts for tomorrow. And a dishwasher that needs to be hooked up so that I can stop hand washing all the dishes. And a floor full of crumbs to sweep. And a toilet that needs repairing. And sheets that need to be changed. And beds that need to be made.

Above all that, there are children that need to be loved and held and cuddled and read to. And a husband who deserves attention and love as well.

Then, let’s face it, at some point tomorrow morning, something I haven’t even thought of yet will de-rail it all and one or more of my family members will give me that look of disappointment that says “Why couldn’t you get this done” and I will spend the day making mental lists all over again so that no laundry is left behind.

So all of that? That is why I was totally NOT crying in the parking lot of daycare… if anyone was wondering.

 

 

keep looking »
  • Creative Commons License
    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
    Based on a work at http://www.law-momma.com.
  • Twitter

  • Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

  •  


  • Grab my button for your blog!