Are there any words, really, for the murder of children? I don’t seem to have any. Friday’s tragedy has rendered me speechless. And sad.
When my officemate got a news alert on his iPod about the shooting he said, “Oh, my God…”
“What?” I asked.
“There’s been a shooting in Connecticut and a lot of kids died,” he said.
I was sitting at my computer and Googled “school shooting.” The first thing that came up was a picture of a crying 6-year-old girl. I closed the window and said, “I can’t look at this.”
I left my office and walked across campus to where my own 6-year-old was watching the Nutcracker with her school. I waited outside until she came running through the door into the cold. <Read more>
I think I have control issues. Actually, I know I do.
I can’t let my husband do the grocery shopping and I’m having trouble letting him balance the checkbook. It’s not that I do such a stellar job at either of those things that I’m worried he’ll screw it up, it’s just I can’t let it go.
I have to be the one to turn in school forms, I have to be the one to call the mechanic. I have to make the bank deposits, call the doctor, buy the Christmas presents. Seth is not asking me to do all of these things, he’s actually begging me not to, but I think all of it – everything in our lives – is my job. I’m not sure how I’ve come to this place and I’m really not sure how to get out of it.
Seth and I recently switched banks. The idea was after the transition he’d take over the finances for a while. I cannot even write that sentence without holding my breath. He’s a grown up. He spends less money than I do. He owns a calculator. Why is it so hard? Maybe it’s because I’ve always been the one in charge of our finances? Maybe it’s a feminist/gender/power balance thing? Or maybe I just have issues. I’m going with the latter and hoping I can actually hand over the checkbook when the time comes.<Read more.>
Can we talk for a minute about my wee babe? My perfect, precious angel? That sweet creature that didn’t leave my side for nearly two years who was quiet, low-key and an absolute joy to be around.
Has anyone seen her lately? Because I haven’t.
When I asked Lucille a question the other day she turned her head toward me. Her were eyes soft, her face slack as she responded the way she does to nearly everything these days.
“Vagina? Butt crack?” <Read more.>
What was it Norman Maclean said? I am haunted by waters? Yeah, I’d say I am.
Ocean waters, rain waters, water that hangs in tall Douglas Firs. I can feel it on my face. I can feel it in my bones.
Seth and I spent the weekend in Port Townsend, Washington a few weeks ago. We’d never intended to go to the Olympic Peninsula but a broken door, an old boss who still likes Seth very much and willing grandparents landed us there late one evening. We left Seattle, hopped a ferry and drove the winding roads to an apartment over a family-run bakery. On the deck of the ferry we watched lights fade away and sailed to a place I’d never been. I don’t think either of us knew what to expect.<Read more.>
Twelve years ago a man I was halfway dating told me to write down fifty favorite things. When one is 25, one may halfway date a few people at the same time so I had to be a little selective with this assignment but I took it on anyway.
“Give yourself like five minutes,” he said. ‘Don’t think too much.”
I was a point in my life when I had the time and inclination to do such things so I scrawled out fifty things in fine-tip Sharpie on a legal pad. It didn’t take long and he was right to tell me not to think too much. Even then, I had that problem. <Read more.>
Parenthood stretches us. We all know this. It stretches us thin, it stretches us proud. Six years in, this is the stretching I’ve come to expect. The moments of pure frustration, the moments of bottomless love.
Then there comes a day like I had a few weeks ago where I found myself stretching, again, but in ways I never expected.
As you may know, my daughter is a tomboy. She never combs her hair, she wears boy clothes and is mildly obsessed with skateboarding. And a few weeks ago, she let me know in no uncertain terms that she needed new shoes.
“My toe is at the end,” she said. “And the back is bumpy.”
“The back is bumpy?” I said.
“Yeah,” she said, “back here it’s bumpy on my heel.”
I ran my fingers along the back of her shoe and, where shoe meets heel, it was, in fact, bumpy. The inside of the shoe had broken down to the point that it was scratching her heel as she walked. This, I imagine, is the result of putting said shoes on without untying them, but whatever, she was right. It was time. <Read more.>
I often joke that Missoula and I have a twisted relationship. You know the kind. When it is good, it is so good. And when it is bad…holy hell. Like, for example, last March when, after too many days and weeks of gray skies, I felt like I often have in “spring” around here. I wanted to pack my bags, fly south or west or ANYWHERE ELSE and never come back. I pictured me, Seth and the girlies on a Mexican beach, on the California coast or in the heart of Portland escaping the blank gray (at least it rains in Portland), escaping the unemployment, escaping the mountain tax. This happens every spring. Every spring. And I’ve come to accept it as part of living in Missoula, as a part of this delicate relationship dance she and I take part in.
Then comes a week like last week and I can’t think of living in another place. Ever. I understand, again, why I placed my heart on the altar of not-quite-sure-how-we’ll-make-it so many years ago. I understand, again, that we stay because of our people. <Read more.>
On my most recent trip back East I came face-to-face, quite literally, with some who may not be 100 percent comfortable with Eliza. Not so much with her personality, but with her gender fluidity. This landed in my lap as my grandmother was in her final days so, wanting to harness all of my thoughts and love toward the person dying in front me, I chose to push it aside, emotionally compartmentalize it, deal with it later.
Well, it’s later.
I have been trying to think of a loving response, a response I would be proud to share with my daughter one day, one that assigns neither blame nor judgment. One born of understanding but one that is unequivocal. This hasn’t been an easy task. <Read more>
I have to remind myself to be gentle. And I’m doing a better job. I’m giving myself space to not be perfect, which is a monumental step for me. I’m taking deep breaths before saying something to sharp to my children.
Be gentle. Be kind. Be tender. Be vulnerable.
I breathe these in. And it’s working.
Though it’s hard some days to remember to, as Mary Oliver writes, “let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” Then I let down my shoulders and follow her advice. <Read More>
Lately, my step dad and I have been trading pictures. Chocolate pound cake, chicken and dumplins, meatloaf wrapped in bacon. He doesn’t usually write much except to tell me to say hey to the girls for him. The pictures need no descriptors, they speak for themselves.
I thought about him tonight as I scraped together something to eat. We’d gotten home a little late after a meet up with a friend I don’t see enough of these days. We’d had the power-talk, the girl-we’ve-been-friends-a-long-time-so-spill-it-because-we-only-have-an-hour-so-go kind of date. Four kids in front of a movie and talk we did. We still have 480 other things to cover but we got pretty far down the road this afternoon which meant Eliza, Lucille and I landed in our dirty kitchen hungry and on the verge of cranky.
As I carried backpacks, my computer, coats, at least one pair of shoes, yesterdays ballet outfit and disemboweled lunches boxes through the door, our starving 80 pound lab nearly tripped me because she couldn’t wait to go stand beside her food bowl. I let fall all of the crap I was carrying and asked Eliza to feed the dogs while I put on my favorite pair of jeans. Hole in the knee, hole in ass. You know the ones. Back downstairs I rummaged in the fridge.
Tacos! I quickly browned hamburger meat while refereeing the nightly sister throw down that is inevitable these days and began digging for tortillas.
Corn? Nope. Flour. Nope. Hard or soft shell? Nope.
Chips! We’ll have nachos. Plan B. I’m rolling with it. I’m flexible.
No chips. Dude. <Read More>