Posted on | December 3, 2014 | 1 Comment
One thing you should know about me is that I’m not a night owl. I’m an early to bed, early to rise kind of gal… which either makes me smart or lame depending on who you ask. (Parents say smart, others say lame). But last night, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t sleep.
I tossed and turned; I got up to check on J a few times. I even read a few chapters of a book. Finally around 1:15, I got up.
I’ve always wondered how so many moms seem to keep everything in their house looking amazingly sparkly clean and I think that last night I discovered the secret… you just … don’t sleep. I got a load of laundry washed, dried, and folded. I ran the dishwasher. I organized the shoes in my closet and I even dusted the furniture in my room, for Pete’s sake!
Finally, I fell back into bed and into a nice deep sleep around 3:30 and that carried me through to my 6:30 alarm.
So needless to say, I’m pretty tired today.
Yesterday, I spent some quality treadmill time with another single momma friend and we were commiserating on how tired we always are. Because honestly, there’s just not enough time in the days. I know it sounds cliche, and I’m not saying that single mommas have the market cornered on tiredness because it’s totally a PARENT thing, but still. This whole be everything to all the people all the time can get a little exhausting. Just yesterday, I spent most of the day in the office putting out fires for clients, raced home to make cheese tortellini dinner, made my kid cry because I wouldn’t let him eat the candy off the gingerbread house, fixed the peppermint fudge my son requested, and then just as I sank down on the sofa to watch a movie with J, realized that the trash still needed to go out, the dishwasher needed to be unloaded and reloaded, and the dog was still outside. So I got back up, swept the kitchen floor, let the dog in, took out the trash, handled the dishes, and THEN sat down.
At which time, I promptly had to check the fifteen thousand emails that came in from work with clients desperate to know where their money is or was or will be, or why their prescriptions weren’t authorized. It’s probably why I can’t sleep… this holiday season is just killing me. Between clients who are stressed about money to ME being stressed about money… I don’t know how to turn my brain off. It’s a rough way to be at Christmas, torn between doing all the things and saving all the money for presents. Who knows. I just know I need a way to shut the brain off so I can sleep.
Why is Christmas so much more exhausting as a grown up?! I think tonight may call for sandwiches, hot chocolate, and The Santa Clause.
Posted on | December 2, 2014 | 3 Comments
I love Christmas.
I love the magic and the candlelight and the love and the full on explosion of good moods across, well, everything. And because I love Christmas so much, last year I started this idea of doing 25 days of Christmas with J. Each day, we’d do something else Christmasy. I’d bake or we’d decorate, or maybe just watch a movie together… but every day would be a celebration of what I love about the season.
Sounds great, right? What could be better than making that magic real and special for my child?
Well… turns out… a lot of things could be better.
Yesterday, I picked J up from school and told him we’d be making a gingerbread house. He was thrilled to say the least. We rushed home where I pulled dinner out of the freezer and then got out the gingerbread kit… because obviously it’s from a kit… and got to work making the icing. J wanted to eat all the candy and the gingerbread but I finally convinced him not to eat THAT gingerbread by promising to make real gingerbread, which I then started making while the frame of the house dried a little. When we finally started putting the candy on the house, it was more of a one on, one in mouth, sort of deal for J, but who am I to judge? I got dinner out of the oven, slid the gingerbread in, and started mixing up a batch of Chex Mix because it’s the best thing since crack, and J finished putting all the candy on the little house.
The Christmas music was playing, the house smelled all cinnamon and ginger, and dammit there was a gingerbread house and it was glorious.
But here’s the thing…. I was still cleaning up the mess while J ate his dinner. I was running a load of laundry and stirring the chex mix and cutting the gingerbread and in general doing ninety things a minute like I usually do… and my kid was sitting alone, eating his dinner. Sure, there was a gingerbread house. And yes, there was chex mix and hot gingerbread with whipped cream, and the house smelled and looked all Christmas-y. But was there magic?
Not a bit.
When I finally sank down beside him on the sofa to watch a Christmas special, he looked at me with a side eye and announced:
“I liked building the gingerbread house. But tomorrow, can you finish all your stuff earlier so we can snuggle on the sofa?”
It was a total gut check. I was trying so hard to make everything perfect that I forgot the best thing about Christmas is spending time with my kid. It’s not about 25 days of Christmas activities. It’s not about the perfect gingerbread house or cookies or even decorations… the magic that was and is so much a part of my childhood Christmases was about believing in Santa, spending time with my sister and brother and mom and dad. It was about trying to stay up to hear sleigh bells, and watching Christmas movies with hot chocolate and marshmallows. It was about being together… not about doing all the things.
So I slid a little closer to my kid, tossed an arm around his shoulders and promised him that tonight? Tonight we will watch a Christmas movie. Just the two of us. With hot chocolate and marshmallows.
And I’ll try a little harder to stop chasing it all the time and just let Christmas magic come to us.
Posted on | November 26, 2014 | 4 Comments
I’ve gone back and forth about posting this, but ultimately I decided to stop lurking in the shadows and trying not to piss people off and just say what I think. So this is me, climbing way out on an unpopular limb to announce that I am sick and tired of seeing articles that announce to the world something “White people” do or do not do or understand.
So. Sick. Of. It.
And before you sharpen your knives and raise your weapons, let me explain…. Saying that “white people don’t get something” is EXACTLY THE PROBLEM. It’s not a solution to say “Here’s why you as a global group don’t get me.” It’s not a solution to say “White people never understand.” It’s not a solution to racism to group a section of the population by their skin color and announce to the world that they are never going to understand another group of the population. Even if it’s true. No… Especially when it’s true.
Because here’s the thing… just like everyone else on this planet, I was born to parents who had a pre-selected skin color. When I popped up in my mother’s womb, I’m pretty sure no one flashed a color wheel in front of me and asked me to select my skin tone, because if they had, I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn’t have selected this strange washed out peach color that shows every single vein through the back side of my arm. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look at God and say “Make me pasty, please.” It’s just what I look like… it’s not who I am. It’s what was given to me by my parents, just like your skin tone was a gift from yours.
Know what wasn’t a birth right? Compassion. Neither was honesty or love or kindness or any one of the other millions of things that make us all individual people… not skin tones.
So when I see an article pop up with the title “Why White People Will Never Understand Ferguson,” I want to slap the stupid off someone’s face NOT because what they say isn’t potentially true, but because just like everyone else on this planet, I want to be judged by the content of my character, not the color of my skin. Can I understand what it’s like to be a black man in Ferguson? Nope. Sure can’t. Not any more than a black man in Ferguson can understand what it’s like to be a white woman in the South. It doesn’t make either of us have opinions that are less important. It doesn’t make either one of us a less valued individual… we are both so very much more than JUST a black person or JUST a white person. We are people. Complex, individual, sometimes strange and almost always unpredictable people… no matter the color of our skin. Lately, it’s become hazardous for me to have an opinion about anything with even remote racial undertones. Somehow, my opinion on anything with even the slightest tinge of color is considered null and void and honestly? That makes me angry. Because I think my opinions matter; I think my opinions should be valued just as much as anyone else. But I get scared because Dear God, what if what I say is taken the wrong way? What if the people listening don’t know me, don’t realize who I am or what I’m about? What if they think I’m racist just because I have an opinion? WHAT IF THEY THINK I’M RACIST? Because honestly, being told I’m racist is one of my biggest fears.
But here’s the thing… I still don’t want to have to qualify my opinion on Ferguson by saying “I know I’m white, but I still think the grand jury got it wrong.” I don’t want to have to apologize for my opinion, nor do I want to feel forced to separate myself from being white just to HAVE my opinion. I want to be able to say “THIS WAS WRONG” without having to also say “I’m sorry I’m white.” Because the truth is, I’m not sorry that I’m white. Because you can’t be sorry for something you didn’t do. Because I didn’t choose to be white any more than Michael Brown chose to be black. If there’s something I do, something I choose to be that bothers you, then let’s chat. But don’t make me apologize for being the color I was born. It wasn’t my choice.
And you know what? I’m more than the color of my skin. So was Michael Brown. So is the police officer who shot him.
So are ALL of us. Because if we aren’t? If we always just reduce ourselves and others to black and white? Then what’s the point of anything in this life.
Posted on | November 24, 2014 | 1 Comment
Sometimes Mondays just suck because they’re Monday and, you know, not Friday or Saturday or some other day that means you get to stay in your pajamas all day and act like you have nothing in the world to do. And sometimes Mondays suck because they follow a weekend that wasn’t quite what you had in mind when you raced out of your office at 5ish with the wind blowing your hair back like a freaking romantic comedy heroine.
This Monday sucks because my weekend was… just plain awful.
Well, that’s not entirely true. In fact, there were parts of my weekend that were pretty great. I got a lot of cleaning done around the house, and that’s good. I randomly decided to cook a ton of deliciousness, and that’s always fun. And Banks and I got to take J to an entertainment complex for a birthday party that just so happened to be the scene of our first date. So there were moments of awesome in an otherwise lackluster weekend.
It all started to go south when I made a quick run to The Fresh Market on Friday to pick up a bag of my all time favorite coffee. It’s only out around Christmas and every year, I stock up so that it lasts me through February. I wandered around the coffee aisle in circles, looking, only to find it wasn’t there. The produce clerk I spoke to said it was possible it just hadn’t arrived yet, so I went back on Saturday when the coffee manager would be working to ask again.
Oh the Peppermint Creme coffee that I live for? Yeah… it’s been discontinued.
I seriously almost cried. I bought a little jar of peppermint extract and have been diligently pouring it into my morning coffee BUT IT IS NOT THE SAME. Yes, I realize this is a stupid problem to have in light of everything else in the world, but dammit… I love that coffee.
From that moment on, everything just deteriorated.
The dinner I cooked on Saturday night (pasta with portabella cream sauce and sauteed shrimp) made Banks and I both feel awful. The Moravian Sugar Cake I tried to make was either made with bad yeast or I just suck at making them because the dough didn’t rise, leaving behind a sugar covered block of grossness. (Don’t think I didn’t eat the sugar off the top. Because I did. All of it.) And then on Sunday, I cleaned most of the morning, and baked a lot, and listened to Banks and J argue with each other about the world’s stupidest things. J never got out of his pajamas all day and cried three times. Banks did get out of his pjs, but spent the day being irritable at the sofa, or maybe the television, or maybe the football scores… or maybe J and I. No telling. But it wasn’t a good day for any of us. I think I yelled at J nine billion times.
And now it’s inexplicably Monday again, and I’m still just pissed off about my weekend.
First world problems, yes, but still… enough to make you want to call it a week already. Because when I don’t get to relax on the weekend, the whole week just feels… long. Like all I do is work. From work at the office to work at home and then back again… an endless, spinning merry go round of too. much. work.
Maybe I should have spent yesterday in MY pajamas.
Posted on | November 21, 2014 | 1 Comment
I think a lot about the things that I’ve given up; the friendships that have slid away, the career choices that fell behind, the romances that didn’t last. Something about the weather turning colder seems to rewind time and play the memories up against the backs of my eye lids… first kisses, first heartbreak, first cars and first friendships. So many people and places and things that have danced in and through my life and so many of them have fallen by the wayside, never to be contacted again… never to be heard from again.
It’s silly really, because I have some wonderful friends and a wonderful life. Yet it never fails that on overcast days, I think about the things I’ve lost and not the things I’ve gained. I remember the friend who wrote me weekly from Caracas when we were in fourth grade… letters that, for the most part went unanswered. I think about the guy in college who took me home to meet his mother, but I still never realized he cared about me as anything other than a good friend. I think about the people who impacted my life, who molded me into the person I am today … and who never got a second glance not to mention a thank you.
I’m sure that there are old friends of mine who think it’s bizarre that randomly they receive emails that say “hello” or “thinking of you” because they wonder why they’re even a blip on my radar. I’m sure they think there’s something off or strange or ridiculous about me thinking of them… because they don’t know the impact their temporary friendship made on my life. People who don’t know that on overcast and cloudy days, I remember their temporary perch on the branches of my life and I cherish those moments even if I didn’t keep them wrapped in the cellophane of my world.
Who knows who I would be today if I’d done what so many of my old friends did, and kept close those friends who molded me into … well… me. Who knows if I’d be somewhere and someone else. Often I look with jealousy on the high school friends who maintained their bond, the college friends who still stay close, the law school partners in crime who have disappeared into the annals of a non-existent yearbook. Who would I be if I’d kept them all tied to me? Who would I have become if I’d stopped for a moment to think about anyone other than myself, anyone other than the next and better and best?
On overcast days, I remember those I should never have forgotten and I whisper up long over due apologies for not realizing, at the time, how very much they meant to me. But maybe that’s just part of life… maybe it’s just that some people need to be temporary to make room in your heart for others. Who knows. All I know is that there are some times when I wonder if maybe I have fashioned myself into a dry erase board of friendship… penning them on and erasing them off with the same flourish of impermanence. I am the temporary collector of hearts, of friends, of people… a boarding call away from packing up and leaving for the next station on my quest for a life more full or less friendly… and I am not so sure that I like that about myself.
Posted on | November 20, 2014 | 1 Comment
So I have to admit that I lied to y’all. Because I’m pretty sure that at some point in the past I said something like “this is my favorite age” or something similar about some age that is not five. And I was a liar.
Because this time of year with a five year old is. my. favorite. thing. ever.
Better than Starbucks on a cold morning. Better than that moment just before someone you love kisses you. Better than anything.
J is so excited about all the things this year… excited about Santa, excited about the upcoming advent calendar, excited about s’mores and watching Home Alone. He is counting down the days until he can count down the days to Christmas and I am seriously loving every stinking minute. He’s even started washing the dishes after dinner because then “Santa will bring him even MORE presents,” in his own words.
There are still the moments… the minutes and hours and even days where or when he drives me to the brink of crazy and back again, drawing headaches on my brain in explosive red ink, in that way that only our loved ones can. There are still the days when my patience is fried from work and I get home and the last, I mean the VERY last thing I want to do is listen to my kid tell me about how this or that child pushed him or this or that teacher told him “good job” on something small. But I listen… because that’s what we do.
And in the midst of all that drama and crazy, there are also the moments when he wraps his ever-growing arms around me and announces that he loves me. In the midst of the tears and “DON’T MAKE ME TELL YOU AGAIN” there are also the moments when he’s lying on his stomach, lanky legs kicking in the air behind him as he squints and bites his tongue to sound out the words in his letter to Santa. (A letter that inexplicably includes a request for “an automatic water dispenser tub” which is a device of his own creation that involves me holding a large cylinder of water which fills up a bathtub in the living room… you know, so he can watch tv while he takes a bath.)
There are moments when I’m so in love with my kid that I feel like I could cry over the time that’s already behind us, and an equal number where I want to sigh in exasperation over the days to come.
But above all else, five is so much … fun. It’s full of creativity and expression, full of spontaneous explosions of love and quiet moments of witnessing his self-discovery. Five is drama and intensity and over-powering emotions as this little man in my life finds himself and his personality and plants himself into hopes and dreams outside of my own.
As Christmas hovers just over the horizon, I watch this little boy stitch together his world with his brand of humor and, yes, crazy, and I’m just blown away. Just full on blown away, by how far he and I have come from the broken down stagecoach of a twosome we were when we hobbled back from Savannah post-divorce. We’re happy, we’re thriving, we’re a family of two that could happily expand to three or even four and still be, well… perfect. Five is the first time I’ve been able to see just how far we’ve come, just how well we’ve done in this crap shoot of a job called parenting. Five is the first time I’ve heard my own words come from his mouth, my own thoughts pour from his mind… and I’m just so proud of who he’s becoming. And dare I say that yes, I’m proud of who I’m helping him become, proud that we’ve managed to make this work for three plus years and that he’s turning out so wonderfully awesome because of or maybe in spite of it all.
Over all, it’s just that five is… awesome. And five at Christmas is my favorite… my all time favorite. Because it is perfectly eccentric and weird and awesome. Just like me and this crazy kid I’m raising.
And I fully expect for five to be my favorite all the way until next year. When maybe six will take over.
Posted on | November 14, 2014 | 1 Comment
I grew up with a mother who stayed at home. I think this is important to the rest of my story, but if we’re being honest I’m not sure. See, when I was sick as a kid, I got to stay home. Sometimes, “staying home” meant going to my grandmother’s house and lying on the sofa in her living room and listening to the loud click of the clock on her mantle, but most of the time it meant actually staying home. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t necessarily milk the concept… I just knew that if I didn’t feel well, odds were I had the option of staying home.
For my kid, that’s not really the case. I mean, if he’s not well, he has the option of coming to work with me, but not of staying home. (And yes, I realize how freaking fortunate I am to have an office where that’s even a possibility.) Mostly, going to the office with me sounds like torture to me, but somehow sounds awesome to my kid, so he will often beg to come to work with me instead of going to school. I like to think it’s because he misses me, but maybe he just doesn’t want to deal with school kid drama. Who knows.
Either way, this morning, J woke up coughing and sniffling and in general pretty puny. He cried because it was time to get up, cried because it was time for breakfast, cried because his pants were too big. Well, if we’re being technical, he marched into the kitchen, pulled up his shirt to show me his stomach and announced “Really mom? They come up to MY BELLY BUTTON.” He’s a bit of a fashionista, apparently. Over all, he was a disaster. A runny nosed, coughing, pitiful disaster. And when those big alligator tears rolled down his cheeks and he begged me not to make him go to school?
I honestly tried to be tough. I tried to say he was going to school and that was that and be all bad ass mom, but I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t look into those weepy little eyes and tell him he had to go to school. And I’m just not sure what that makes me. Does it make me a good mom? Or does it make me a softy? Maybe it just makes me a product of my own upbringing and my own mother who recognized that sometimes even kids need a day off.
But really? I’m thinking it makes me a total sucker.
Posted on | November 3, 2014 | 7 Comments
This year, J and I were invited to a friends’ house for a Halloween party. We raced home from work and over to another neighborhood to get in a little trick or treating before the party, then raced over to the party. These weren’t new friends… J has known both the boys since they were little 8 week old newborns together in daycare. We’ve been fortunate to maintain a friendship with all the boys (and their parents) that he attended daycare with, even though pretty much all of them go to different schools at this point.
But I digress, the point is… J knows these kids. They’ve been friends for their whole lives. We walked into the house and immediately there were “boy” sounds: loud crashes, screams, fighting zombies… the usual. The parents congregated around the dining room table where our hostess had set a lovely Halloween table complete with the required Halloween pizza and candy. We talked about our worries over schooling, our thoughts on our boys, the troubles they may or may not be getting into on a daily basis. And it was good to just be around people who get what it’s like to have a 5 year old boy.
As we sat there and talked, I kept an ear out for trouble, as we do as parents. These boys had been playing together for years so I didn’t foresee any problems, yet suddenly every hair on my body stood at attention and I zeroed in on the scenario playing out across the room.
“NO J. This is our secret spot just for us. You have to go somewhere else.” Hands were on hips, fingers were pointing. My son was standing, head cocked sideways, listening to these two boys tell him to go away.
Dear God. Was this happening? Was my sweet, tender, fun-loving child being left out in a group of only three? In a group of boys that he’s known for years? Was. This. Happening?
I waited, on the edge of my seat. I just knew I was going to have to intervene. I was going to have to remind them to play nice… remind them to include my child.
And then I watched J shrug.
“Okay!” He happily announced, and walked away. He picked up another toy and went about his business until the other two boys grew tired of each other and raced to find him again. He just… dealt with it.
Suddenly it occurred to me that at some point, you just have to let go and let your child face hardship on his own. I realized that it was my heart that was broken by the exclusion… not my son’s. And I was so very glad I hadn’t intervened… so glad that I hadn’t jumped up and made it into a big deal, made it into something J felt was wrong. Instead, I clenched my fists and waited and by doing so… I realized that there will always be kids who don’t want to play with him. (To their own detriment, obviously because he is AWESOME.) But more than that, I realized that he can handle it. He can handle being excluded.
This parenting gig is so very tough. It’s difficult to trust our children to make the right choices… to stand up for themselves when they need to stand up… and to stand down when it’s time to stand down. On Halloween, J showed more strength of character than I did. While I wanted to rush in and scream “NOT FAIR” he knew that time would settle their differences and bring them all back together again.
So once again, I find that parenting J is just as much of a lesson for me as it is for my him.
Posted on | October 27, 2014 | 7 Comments
This past weekend, Banks and I went to Athens, Georgia, for an anniversary party. I’d never been to Athens, but I’d heard it was a lot like Chapel Hill (my alma mater), so I felt pretty sure I’d like it just fine.
We stopped for pictures at Sanford Stadium. We drove miles in circles looking for parking. We smelled the distinct smell of bleach covered vomit.
Yes… this was almost exactly like Chapel Hill. Except, you know, bigger. A lot bigger.
And the town was fun; a lot of fun. But I’m not here to write a travel review. I’m here because we stayed up until 3am on Saturday night and then had an early lunch at a taco restaurant, all cozied up under a big screen tv watching the Falcons epic loss without sound. I’m here because we drank way too much beer and had a “few” shots, and danced like we were still in college. I’m here because I almost lost my voice just from shouting over loud music, and my legs and back ache from wandering the streets in high-ish heeled boots.
I’m here writing because it hit me this weekend like a ton of bricks… or maybe a ton of fairy dust or rose petals or whatever love smacks you in the face with when it shows you just how much you adore the person you’re semi-tied to. Suddenly, reliving my college days with Banks made me desperately want to rewind time, to intertwine fingers with him on a walk down Franklin Street at 2 in the morning when we’re both still wrinkle free in the pristine bodies of our younger selves. I wanted to race sleds down the hill with him at age eight, wanted to have him beside me at the Beach Club in Orlando, wanted every single memory of my whole life thus far to have an addendum… a careted insert of Banks on the sidelines. I wanted him seated by me in Mrs. Trail’s creative writing class in high school, wanted him to be the one sliding a corsage on my wrist at semi-formal dances, wanted well… him. More of him. More time to share with this incredible person who just somehow gets me in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been gotten in the past.
Yes, I realize this is an epic love post to trump all love posts, but honestly … I don’t know how else to say it. This weekend it suddenly occurred to me that I haven’t had enough time with this man… that I don’t think I’ll ever have enough time with him.
And when you’re me and you feel that way about someone else?
That’s a pretty poetic thing.
Posted on | October 14, 2014 | 2 Comments
I didn’t sleep well last night, and as anyone who suffers through anxiety knows, sleeplessness makes it worse. So when I woke up this morning to thunderstorms and tornado watches, I have to admit the thought occurred to me to stay home with J safely tucked beneath my wing, riding out the storm together in the presumed safety of our home.
I thought about it so much that I actually emailed my assistant and asked her to reschedule my morning appointments. I thought about it so seriously that I stayed in bed until almost 7:30, weighing the pros and cons of just calling in “storm” to work and keeping my most precious person in my sight.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about parenting it is this: The absolute MOST important lesson you can learn as a parent is how to let go. And it’s a lesson I struggle with almost daily. My natural tendency is to cling. I don’t much like that about myself, but the fact of the matter is, if there’s a literal or figurative ship going down, I’m the crazy lady with her fingernails deeply embedded in the caulking of the deck and I will be damned if I’m letting go. I may not be a stage five, but I’m a solid three on the crazy clinger scale.
So you can see how it might have been difficult to pull up to the trailer-esque classroom at my son’s school and allow his teacher to pry him from my grip. You can see how I might have been a little crazy-eyed when I pasted on a smile and motioned for her to come closer… I’m honestly surprised that she did.
I waved to my kid with this crazy-woman smile and waited for him to step through the door before I turned my attention to the teacher.
“You. Have. A. Tornado. Plan.”
It was more of an order than a question, sort of spiraling out of the pit of my crazy in a terrifyingly high pitched voice, but she smiled in the serene way that all Montessori teachers seem to have, as if they load up on medical marijuana pre-seven am just to deal with our little angels. With a nod, she confirmed that they did, in fact, have a tornado plan, and that the teachers and children were very familiar with that plan.
It was the only thing I could do.
I unclenched my fist and watched the door close behind my child as the storm clouds gathered overhead, and then I pulled away, leaving him behind as I headed to the office.
Sometimes I wonder if learning to let go is the ONLY thing we have to learn as parents.« go back — keep looking »