Posted on | February 3, 2014 | 4 Comments
Everyone has their demons. For some, it’s drugs; for others alcohol. Some people fight demons of anorexia or bulimia, some fight the demons of poverty or depression.
Among the many, and yes… I said many, demons that I fight on a regular basis, the most ferocious of all is the one who hovers over me, dripping venom that I drink like wine and roars that I am never. good. enough. My biggest demon is the one that tells me no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I work… I will never be as pretty, as smart, as talented, as accepted, as picture perfect special as everyone else in any and every room.
And he’s a very convincing demon.
He drapes an arm around my shoulders, pretending he’s my friend, and points out the pretty, the special, the well-loved. He pats me soundly with his clawed paw and gives me a knowing glance that says “Not you, you see?”
I hate him. I hate the way he makes me feel. I hate the way he shows me the inside of my head, painted black and ugly and then tells me it’s all I am. I hate that he tells me I’m fat, I’m stupid, I’m not a good lawyer, mother, house keeper, girlfriend, or wife. I hate that he whispers the thoughts in my head so loudly that I swear everyone will hear him and everyone will know that I’m just no good. At anything.
But mostly, I hate that I have spent my entire life believing him. I hate that when I get dressed, he is who I turn to for approval… this monstrous demon in my head who will never tell me I look nice but who will always, ALWAYS, point out the stretching seams of my clothes, the worn tips of my shoes, the broken thread of my purse. He will be the one who tells me I don’t look like an attorney… I don’t look like a put together woman.
“TRASH,” he’ll yell, with a satisfied sneer, knowing I’ll believe him. Knowing I’ll always and only believe him.
He is ever present, ever watching, ever waiting for me to give the slightest indication that I need his approval… and then he pounces: reminding me of the brownie I had after dinner, the stack of work remaining to be done at the office, the cobwebs in the corners of my home, the tears on the cheeks of my child.
He is always there.
And the only thing that silences him, the only thing that keeps him at bay, is watching the distance creep higher on my phone, feeling my feet pounding beneath me, hearing nothing but the roar of my own breath in my ears. He is why I run… to outdistance him or rather myself, to remind myself that I can do or be or try anything. To reinforce that I am strong… stronger than him, stronger than I thought, stronger than I often believe I can be.
So when he roars, I run. Not because I am afraid, but because it is what makes me strong enough to turn and face him, sweat dripping down, my body and soul electric with exercise, and roar back, hearing my voice echo off my soul:
“I AM ENOUGH.”
Posted on | January 31, 2014 | 8 Comments
Over the past few years, I’ve read a lot about the “war between women,” the “war on women,” and in general, a lot of warring people mad at one or another form, sort, or type of woman. There’s the breast v. bottle war, the stay-at-home v. working mom war, the vaccine v. anti-vaccine war, the pro-choice v. pro-life war … and so on and on and on and…. on. It seems that for all of our “if women were in charge there’d be less war” talk, there are an awful lot of angry women who are inexplicably angry at, well, other women.
I’ve spent years feeling the stir of hatred when I saw a petite, blonde, 20 year old with perfect abs devouring a cheeseburger. It’s taken a lot of swallowing down unintentional bile that rises when I see a perfect figure, convince myself that she’s never had kids, then watch as a trio of toddlers clamber up her legs screaming “Mommy!” Hell, for a while, I even ridiculously hated the women my ex-husband dated after me because dammit, I wanted them to take MY side. It’s taken a lot of moments of sheer disgust towards other women for me to finally understand where the real problem lies.
The fact is, we women, more particularly ME, woman, have bought in to the lie that we have a shelf life.
We’ve basically agreed that in order to be a woman, we have to pinch, prod, stretch, inject, diet, exercise and if all else fails surgically make ourselves look like a well-formed, well-dressed, well-coiffed 19 year old. We bought that, hook, line, and sinker. And I’ll admit to being just as bad as the next. When I went out with Banks for New Year’s Eve and all the women in the room were in their 20′s and I was uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable not because they were making me uncomfortable… I was uncomfortable because I was making MYSELF uncomfortable. They were busy being twenty, all taut and tanned in perfect places and I, in my jeans and top was uncomfortable because I didn’t look like them… because I CAN’T look like them. Because, let’s face it, no one over twenty SHOULD look like them.
I had a lousy time on New Year’s Eve because I spent the evening sizing myself up against these gorgeous, young, women who weren’t doing anything offensive and yet, I was offended.
So I spent a lot of time thinking about why I was so uncomfortable around those young women, because… obviously that’s what I do. I thought about why I felt awkward and unkempt, strange and… well… OLD. And the only thing I know for certain is that it’s ridiculous that I let my own personal insecurities erode my ability to enjoy an evening out with the man I love. He wasn’t ogling them. He was as attentive and sweet as he always was. I was the only one of the two of us who paid them any attention at all.
Because I was jealous.
Because deep down, I believed in the lie that I have to look like them to be beautiful. I believed that after reaching thirty I couldn’t be attractive to anyone, least of all myself.
You know what though? I am never going to look like those girls. Because I’m not those girls. What I am, is a 36 year old me. I work out. I try to eat healthy. I twist and turn myself in front of full length mirrors and then twist and turn my mouth in strange shapes as I survey the damage… or let’s call it the delight that 36 years of life have rendered on my body. I have curves and shapes and cellulite. I have a jiggle under my arms that I wish would disappear. I have flaws that make me less perfect to a magazine but damn. Shouldn’t those things make me more perfect to myself? Shouldn’t I, of all people, embrace the me that 36 years of life has made?
If I learned anything from my night out on New Years’ Eve, it’s that the only person bringing me down, is me. The only person fighting and arguing and burying myself deep in the bunkers of this self-imposed hell is… well… me. The person who makes me feel insecure, less attractive, less perfect is and has always been only me. Because, as they say, other people’s opinions of you are none of your business, right?
So if I just stop believing there’s anyone out there who looks better than me at being me… if we just stop believing the lie that we’re battling each other for the attention of well, someone… well then.
What happens then?
Posted on | January 30, 2014 | 1 Comment
When I first moved to Macon, I cried.
I told my mother that the only things that could possibly flourish here were cows and insisted that the FIRST thing I would do after law school was get the hell out of this, well, hell. But then I got engaged, both with a diamond and with this city, and I stuck around. My soon-to-be husband hated Macon when he moved here as much as I’d hated it, and he constantly plotted our exit, finally succeeding when we packed up and headed to Savannah in July of 2010. From the moment I arrived there I thought: “This. This is where I’m meant to live.” It was eclectic and old and charming and crazy and I loved it. I thought I’d stay there forever, or at least for a while.
But then, there was heartache, divorce and a house still for sale in Macon. There were bills to pay, and a child to raise, and before I knew it, my car was trekking back down I-16, following the familiar path back to the place that had been my home for the better part of seven years. Savannah, I thought, held my heart in a way Macon never would. Although I’d only spent ten months there, driving each day over the cresting bridge to the islands, I felt that no where else would ever capture my soul that way again. I reluctantly moved back into my Macon house, announcing to anyone who stood still long enough that I was NOT from Macon and would NOT remain in Macon any longer than was necessary to find a way back to somewhere, anywhere else.
The first six months were full of agony. The first six months held the realization that old friends were no longer friends, the married couples I used to see no longer welcomed me into their homes with the same warmth of spirit. Divorce felt contagious and I was quarantined. I felt lonely and isolated and… well… stuck. I blamed it on Macon… this hell hole of a city that held nothing but the memories of a time when I was happy: Law School, Engagement, Early Marriage, Pregnancy. The first six months were agony.
Slowly, I settled in… embracing the regularity of routine: get up, drop J off at daycare, drive to work. Slowly I decorated and pruned and plucked and embraced, learning to breathe in the familiarity, the usual places and people and things. Slowly, Macon stopped feeling like hell and began to resemble, well… home. There were new friends to embrace, old friends to reacquaint myself with, special people and places who signed their names on my heart with a flourish of dearest calligraphy.
And then, so unexpectedly, I fell in love: mind, body, soul, heart… with the rise of the river, with the patterns of speech, with directions that invariably included something along the lines of “turn right at the old ____” and referenced a building or restaurant or store that hadn’t been at that particular site since long before I even moved to the town. I fell in love with the richness of the history, the warmth of the emotion in the people who had been born, raised, and baptized in the Southern charm that was and is and hopefully will be this town that has become my home and my heart. I fell in love with the potential that is here… the heart-aching potential that screams from every rooftop that if someone, anyone would just listen… this place could be special.
So I’m listening.
I’m wrapping my arms around this town I once rejected, embracing it as my own and realizing slowly that home is not necessarily the place you intended to end up. Home is not the perfect, the pristine, or even, maybe, the enchanting. It is not where you see yourself going… home is quite simply where you are.
And I am here, in Macon, Georgia… and my heart tells me that finally, finally, it is home.
Posted on | January 9, 2014 | No Comments
One of my friends was telling me about a guy she knows who is in the process of buying a ring for his girlfriend. She isn’t a fan of the girl and was talking about how all he sees is what she looks like and not who she really is. At one point I commented that “love is blind” and she laughed and said “not THAT blind” because apparently, the girlfriend is gorgeous on top of also being crazy as a loon and kind of nasty to be around.
It got me thinking though, about the whole “love is blind” theory that so many of us hear throughout our lives. Is it really blind? Do we really fall so head over heels that we can’t see the negative in the people around us? I started to think about my ex-husband and the things I pushed aside to embrace our relationship and it almost started to ring true, that feeling of blind love… blind adoration… blind acceptance. Maybe love is blind… maybe it’s the blinding of ourselves to the reality of someone else in order to believe the myth we have created. Maybe to be truly in love, one has to be blind… unseeing, unappreciative of the real person before them.
But then no. No, I can not believe that love is blind. I can not believe that we search our whole lives for someone who will blind us to their imperfections and render us sightless to the world we’ve finally found. How depressing. How very sad to think that you wander around waiting to be sightless. But infatuation? Yes… that, I believe, is blind. Infatuation is blind and deaf and often mute and it is a heavy wool scarf of emotion that drapes around you with a sense that it is the everything you’ve been looking for… the everything that Disney promised you in a rush of strings and percussion. Infatuation is what pushes you into tattoos and skinny dipping and 4am phone calls only to say goodnight again and giggle at how stupid it is that you just needed to hear his voice… just one more time.
Infatuation is so very blind.
But love? No. I can not believe that love is blind. Not anymore. Not now that I have love wrapped around my neck, strung with pink and red beads. In fact, I think love is the complete opposite of blind. I think love is all-seeing. Love is that moment when your eyes adjust to the light in a dark room and suddenly everything bursts into shapes and designs and creations that were, just a moment before, shrouded in black. Love is the instant when the sun hits the horizon and the world before you blossoms into pinks and golds.
Love is most definitely not blind.
As I write this, I finger the necklace around my throat… the soft pink string, the mis-matched beads, and I realize, not for the first time, how great a love I have for my son. I love him not with blindness but with heart-wrenching sight. I see where he struggles, I see the problems he may have in the future… the things that may trip him up or strip him bare. I see the nuances and scabs and scars of his heart and I worry oh so much about his life stretching out before him… worry about who will hurt him, who he will hurt. I love him completely BECAUSE I see him, not because I am blind to him. I see every inch of his soul, every curve of his heart, every tug of his skin and I love every, stinking, ounce of him… even the not so perfect parts. Because that’s what love is. That’s what real love is.
That’s what I strive for… what I yearn for… what I believe in with all my heart. A love that opens it’s eyes wide and takes in every imperfection alongside my strengths. A love that says “That? I can live with that” even when I think he can’t. That’s what real love is. That’s what we all, deep down, really deserve.
Posted on | January 7, 2014 | 3 Comments
I’ve been sick since Saturday, battling a fever with a nasty cough and runny nose. It’s not been pretty and the past two “snow” days of no school have done a number on my patience. I’m sick. I’m cold. And I don’t feel much like parenting, to be honest. My patience has been at about a negative seven on a scale of 0-100 and J has borne the brunt of my frustration at feeling so damn awful.
This morning, I decided that I had to go in to work for at least a few hours to get at least a few things done. I pulled out the warm jackets, grabbed a quick breakfast and started pressing the issue of putting down the iPad and picking up the toothbrush. J fought me about it, wanting to keep playing his game… just like he’s fought about everything else this weekend. And I lost my patience, just like I’ve done about everything else this weekend. Finally, I got him to turn off the game and go brush his teeth so we could get going. He looked at me with a sigh and mumbled “It’s really hard being four.”
My first instinct was to laugh. Hard? Four? Come on, kid. I WORK for a living. But then somewhere in the back of my mind, I remembered being a kid… remembered thinking everything would be so much easier when I was a grown up. Remembered thinking how hard it was to not be in charge of my own decisions, my own life.
It’s really not easy being a kid, you know. We think it is. We measure it against our lives as grown ups and we scoff at the problems and drama and ridiculousness of feeling like FOUR YEARS OLD is so hard. Or five. Or ten. Or fifteen. Because how could it be hard? No responsibilities. No bills to pay. No wrinkles.
Only it is hard. Think back on when you were a kid. There was a reason you wanted so desperately to be a grown up… a reason you yelled “IT’S NOT FAIR” so many times that your parents wanted to put it on a t-shirt for you. I know that I’m hard on my son. I know that he doesn’t understand that there’s such a thing as too much television or too much computer time. He doesn’t understand the hardship of paying bills or working long hours just like I don’t remember the angst of not being in control of my own time… not being able to decide to stay up later on a night I’m not tired and go to bed earlier on a night I am. He can’t fathom the pressure of deadlines and I can’t recall the heartache of having the person in charge of me just not getting what I’m trying to say or do or feel.
The truth is, being human is hard. We are such internal beings with such rich lives inside our heads that no matter what age we find ourselves in, we are always going to yearn for what we don’t have… what we lost or what we’ve yet to gain.
So while I wanted to laugh at my son, with his serious four year old face and his serious four year old words, instead I opened my arms and wrapped them around him. Because it’s true…. being four is hard. Just like every other age.
Posted on | January 3, 2014 | 21 Comments
When I was a kid, I took things like summer vacation, Spring break, Fall break, and Christmas break as a God send. My mom worked as a stay at home mom so when school was out, we were home and it was amazing: sleeping in, staying in pjs all day, watching cartoons, going to the park… all the things you just really want to do year round. I looked forward to every single break. Every single one.
Let’s just fast forward to now, shall we?
And y’all? School breaks are the DEVIL.
See, I’m a single mom who works outside the home. I pay an arm and a leg for J’s “school” and when it’s closed, I have to either find the money to pay someone else to keep him or take him to work with me. DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT’S LIKE TO TAKE YOUR CHILD TO WORK WITH YOU?
Oh please, let me enlighten you.
We get here at 8. By 8:05 he’s asking if it’s time to go home. He will then continue to ask that every fifteen minutes until it actually is time to go home… or until my head explodes. If I get on the telephone with a client or an adjuster or an opposing counsel, he immediately “needs” me to come see a video or hear a joke and he will say “MOM” at the top of his lungs until I acknowledge him. Santa brought him headphones so I wouldn’t have to listen to the movies or tv shows he watches at work or in the car only Santa didn’t realize that the natural effect of this would be that he would leave the headphones plugged in and scream “MOM YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS FUNNY VIDEO” right when I’m in the middle of being all bad ass attorney on the phone.
It’s hard to be a bad ass attorney when someone is simultaneously calling you mom. Trust me.
All of this to say, that there has to be a better option than this. It’s not fair to me or to J to drag him into the office and if it weren’t for my ex in-laws, then I would have had to do this for a week and a half over Christmas. What do other working parents do during these breaks? WHAT DO YOU DO? Because I’m at my wits end and there are so many “breaks” ahead that I’m already developing an eye twitch. Do I have to find alternative child care? Do I have to hire a nanny?
Seriously… what do you do?
Posted on | January 2, 2014 | 8 Comments
J spent New Year’s Eve with his grandparents and I picked him up mid-morning on the first. I’d spent the drive up immersed in Resolutions… ideas of what to improve and what to cut out during the coming year. I’d listed them all so many times in my head that it was starting to sound rehearsed: “Be kinder to myself, don’t use credit, long walks for the dog” over and over until the words didn’t make sense anymore.
When J was buckled into the backseat and we were back on the road, I looked up at him in the rear view mirror and asked him if he wanted to make any New Year’s Resolutions. His eyes were thoughtful in the mirror and then he grinned. In a forceful stage whisper, with his hand up around his mouth as though this were the greatest secret he’d ever told, he spoke:
“Mommy? Let’s just make New Year’s Pie!”
I laughed at first and tried to explain to him what resolutions actually were but his words stuck with me. And ultimately, I found that as is often the case, the truest words and ideas spring forth from the mouths of children.
What if instead of resolutions, we all just made pie. What if we took all the bad and all the good that this year has in store and mixed it all up into a flaky crust, filled with the sugary delight of just living the days that stretch ahead. What if we threw away the resolutions and the neatly pressed receipts of the year before and started fresh with the idea that life is meant for living… for enjoying… for delving into like a freshly baked pie.
We didn’t make a real pie when we got home, though the idea seemed a good one. Instead, I threw away my list of resolutions and vowed instead to live this next year as though each day held the promise of sweetness baked in its crust. I vowed to look at each moment as a warm slice of deliciousness, vowed to enjoy the taste of life on my lips, and tongue and heart. I vowed that there would be pie, both real and fictional, to sweeten our days ahead.
From now on, my only “resolution” is to live my life holding firm to the promise of pie. To live sweetly and fully… to live with abandon and hope and joy and love. To live as though my life were a recipe, each day an ingredient into the perfect dessert.
Because it kind of is, you know?
Posted on | December 31, 2013 | 2 Comments
Most years, my childhood home looks like a snapshot of a Norman Rockwell painting at Christmas time. If it stays still long enough, almost anything and everything is decorated with greenery or bows or something that sparkles or shimmers. There’s a North Pole village complete with snow and flickering lights, a perfectly decorated dining room table, and a tree that could stop traffic.
This year was different, though. This year, my mom scaled back because she was scheduled for surgery just after the holidays. When I got to North Carolina, I have to admit, I was a little surprised to see her with a cane. Her hip has been bad for a while but she always pushed through… doing everything for everyone the way she always has. She’s my mother, you know. She’s infinite and always. She’s immortal and immoving. She’s … my mom.
We met up in the small town of Tarboro to see my Grandmother, my mother’s mother, who was in the hospital for heart troubles and short term memory loss.
My grandmother looked old at almost 90 years of age.
Older than I remember her ever looking because she’s never stepped even one foot in the sun without a hat to shield her skin. We visited for a while in the hospital and moved on to lunch, all the while something about my own mother triggering something unexplained in the back of my mind… something I couldn’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it was the way she kissed the paperwhite skin on my grandmother’s face, or the way she sank slowly into the chair by the bed. Maybe it was just the shorter hair or the drag in her step. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something about her… something big. I drove us down the streets of her hometown, pointing out decorated houses and reminiscing about the times my Granddaddy had taken us with him to string the lights through the park in the town square, and the times he’d proudly perched my sister and I on bar stools at the Suburban Grille and announced to anyone who would listen that we were his grandbabies.
My grandfather passed when I was in law school, his “uniform” of faded blue jeans and a white v-neck t-shirt forever laid to rest alongside his thick-soled black Reebok-style tennis shoes that he was nearly never without. He had seemed so old to me then, as old as my Grandmother seemed now, with his clay jar full of canes and umbrellas and his teeth that popped out of his mouth with purposeful abandon. He had seemed so old.
We ate lunch at a little restaurant in the quaint Tarboro downtown then headed back to see my Grandmother one more time before we headed home. It was there in the hospital that second time that the tickle in the back of my mind blossomed into a sigh and a thought and I couldn’t help but squeeze my mother one extra time, just because.
As I watched my mom move slowly down the hallway to her own mother’s room, her cane lightly beside her for balance, her hip bothering her more than she might even let on… my eyes lingered for a moment on her feet.
Thick black soles. Dark black laces. Woman sized but still…
She was wearing my Granddaddy’s shoes.
Posted on | December 30, 2013 | 9 Comments
My ex and I never lived in the same town until several months before our wedding, so we spent a lot of time in a stage of dating that can only be called “pining.” He wasn’t really around enough for me to get aggravated or frustrated. He’d come in on a Friday night after work and stay until Sunday and it was all lovey dovey and “Oh you’re so amazing” for less than 48 hours until we went our separate ways and began the pining again.
The few times we did spend more time together, we usually fought over this or that and I wound up almost always wishing he would just go home so I could get good and “piney” again over the person I thought he was. It seemed I was often equally happy to see him go as I was to see him return.
Last night, Banks left my house after spending the better part of a week and a half with me and my son and with smatterings of my entire family, his family, and two 7 hour road trips.
That’s TWO seven hour road trips. With J in the back seat.
And you know what? When he left last night, all I wanted was for him to come back. Did we get along perfectly while he was here? Of course not. We picked and pulled and tugged at the seams of our relationship, but it never tore. It just… never tore. When I was a jerk, I apologized. When he was a jerk, he apologized. And at the end of (almost) every day of our time together, I went to bed pretty darn happy that he was still there.
So it seems that the holidays were pretty good to the Law Momma household… We spent time with my family and Banks’ family, Santa came and went, J left for his time with his dad, and then, last night, Banks said goodbye at the door around 8pm and you guys? Honestly, I felt a little sad. Even when he texted to say he was safely home. Even when we talked over text message before bed. Even though I know I’ll see him tomorrow.
So I guess it’s pretty safe to say what basically everyone here already knows… I’m head over heels for this guy.
Posted on | December 16, 2013 | 7 Comments
When Banks injured his leg and the race coordinators announced that the one mile would be a “stroll” and not a “run,” J decided he wanted to participate in the full 5k with me for our local “Reindeer Run.” It wasn’t his first race, he’d participated in two one mile races in the past, but it would be the longest distance he’d ever even walked, much less ran. I was concerned but didn’t really want to advertise my concern to this fledgling racer at my feet, so I told him I thought he could do it, and pumped him up by telling him all my co-workers had pledged to pay him a quarter if he beat them in the race.
On race day, we pinned his runner number to his chest and he puffed with pride. Banks planned to meet us just past the half way point in case J tired and needed to be carried, and then with an abrupt countdown, we were off across the start line with my little boy grinning ear to ear. He stopped once to pee on a tree, once to look down at a train track, and once to wave to people passing him in the opposite direction.
Mostly, though, he was full speed ahead, running for as long as his little legs would allow then slowing down to a walk to catch his breath. I spent the entirety of the race jogging alongside him, encouraging him to keep moving, and reminding him to keep his eyes forward, as he kept turning his head to look at the people over his shoulder… the people he left behind. Somewhere around mile two, it occurred to me that this was life, this moment… this race… this was my whole life. His curls bobbing beside me, looking to me for encouragement and advice. His blue eyes full of wonder and light at seeing Santa on the race route, seeing everything stretched out before him. He didn’t care who won, not really. All he cared about was that I was there beside him, ready to reach out a hand or to offer a word of support. I didn’t care who won… all I cared about was that he was doing his best, one step at a time, trying desperately to keep his eyes on what lay ahead of him.
Sometimes we ran hand in hand, sometimes he walked slightly ahead or slightly behind. There were moments when he’d drag, wanting to stop, wanting to turn back… but I was always reminding him that the finish line was just ahead, just around the next corner. Moments when I was parenting, even or especially there on the looping 3 mile route.
Fifty minutes. 50 minutes was all it took for my son to finish his first 5k, with me and Banks crossing just behind him, all of us light and smiles and joy.
Fifty minutes or maybe a lifetime… watching my son reach out his hand and wrap it around the world with delight. Fifty minutes to see him reach the first of many finish lines, the first of many goals, the first of many steps away from the safety of my arms.
I watched Banks give him a high five, watched my son glow with pride at his accomplishment… and I knew that this moment was something I would remember forever.
J’s first 5k.
And, like so many things these past few years… although we did it together, it was all for him.« go back — keep looking »