It's Not a Black and White World

I'm not one to make a huge fuss about mother's day, for a few reasons, the biggest one being that I am not the mother of the person who'd ultimately have to go all out to make the magic happen.  I usually just cook breakfast crepes and then open my presents that the kids made me in class.  And anything else that might happen to show up.

Mother's Day, 2008.  Yum.



2008; that was a nice year.  *ahem*  And then The Donor goes to work in the afternoon and the kids and I watch some wholy inappropriate movie before bed. 

It works for us.

I could tell you all about how the actual mother of the guy who'd ultimately have to go all out to make the magic happen was with us for Mother's Day, and that same guy had to go into work at 10 in the morning.  And that she had to board a cruise ship at one to get on her way to Alaska for the summer, so all my plans got delayed.  And how it turned out that only her bags had to be checked by one and we had until three together. And how my head almost exploded.

But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that because of this, we had time for a lunch by the fountains and some serious discussions in past and future tense.

Peas and Cues
Braconet
Present, Past and Future Tenses

I could tell you how everyone got sick and tired of me hiding behind my camera preserving the moment in pictures and right as this one turned to tell me to knock it off in exactly those words, right in the middle of my goddamn picture, I realized that there was a clean and easy way out of this whole Motherfucker's Day debacle. And then I read the sign.

Throw mama from the rail



And I could tell you how I let her live and as luck would have it, we managed to survive just long enough for everyone to still be completely die-ablely adorable for one last fucking picture that I was taking dammit and you'd better smile, so help me god.

The Fam



Four out of five isn't half bad.  But, of course, I'd need to point out that the camera I was hiding behind all day was shiny and new and started in a D and ended in an SLR and was almost more fun than the can of cool whip from the year before.  Almost.

Aspiring



And I suppose I could tell you that the suddenly less cute than before video store guy still charged me $34 for my overdue movies even though it was Mother's Day and that I decided to plant flowers rather than go to the grocery store for dinner stuff to make it all better.  And then I could tell you that The Donor and I got into our Annual Fight over the fact that he'd actually wanted to cook me dinner when he came home from work and couldn't because I was covered in mud and worms and fertilizer and our fridge was covered in cobwebs and tumbleweeds.

But then I'd have to add that he ended up taking all of us out to dinner at 7pm on a school night and we had a really good time and I had a really good margarita. 

Until 3of3 decided throw her face at the cobblestone sidewalk, and oh how she succeeded.

And I could tell you that the night ended with her screaming herself to sleep and the boys fighting until they passed out and The Donor crashing out on the couch, but the truth is that he woke up and gave me something in addition to the camera that had come this week, something that had just been cut that day.

DSC00499



And also something that had been cut way back in the year we'd first met.

1996



Which is disgustingly romantic and made me a very happy momma, indeed.  Mission accomplished.

For You

I have this habit of marking dates and times in my life around events rather than calendars.  It's kind of like how, once I drive somewhere one time, I can get there again at any point in time but I could never ever tell you how to get there, simply because I've created my own private roadmap with landmarks that mean something only to me.

So the night before last, when I was mapping out the next day's events and I realized that tonight was my kids' spring fair at school, I remembered that it's been just about one year since your whole world bottomed out. 

A year ago, the person that I just barely was getting to know disappeared completely. It's not like I've known you all that long or all that intimately, but in the time I have known you, I feel like I've gotten a pretty good handle on your story mostly because it so blatantly mimics my own.  But only in the cliff notes, of course.  The chapters have been written differently, the characters changed, but the story is nearly the same.

Since that night that everything went so very wrong all at the exact same second, since that minute that my phone rang and you did something you'd never really done before and asked someone for help, the you on the other line has faded into obscurity and given way to the you that, a year later, hardly resembles her former self.  In a year, you've done impossible things, improbable things, uneasy things and truly brave things.  I've watched you teeter back and forth between the life you knew and the life you wanted.  I've watched you, one by one, burn down the straw walls holding up the house of you and rebuild them with bricks that no amount of huffing or puffing is going to blow apart.  

I see you traveling down much the same road I did at your age, and I've tried to keep my mouth shut and let you do things your own way because dear god, no one likes an overbearing know-it-all.  And so I listen.   I listen to your stories, I read them, I hear them through the grapevine and I learn things from you.  I see that your strengths lurk in the exact places my weaknesses go to hide, and I learn from you as you pile up and sort out the exact shit I'd swept under the rug to be forgotten about until a later day.  I see you wrestle the demons I've already exorcised, I see you walk over the roadblocks that had tripped me flat on my face, and I realize that you are leagues ahead of where I was at the same point in time you are now.

I honestly don't have any business even thinking about all of this; I'm just some wanna-be blogger chick who only really knows you on the fringes, but I like to think that those of us who share this common thread are stitched together by it, that we're all a part of each other a little bit.  And the fact that when it all crashed down for you, that I was the call you made, and the fact that I have spent hours, nights, days, thinking about your life in relation to my own, tells me that maybe I'm right.  I watched you have to move beyond the house that you and I and all of us who share this common history build for ourselves.  I've seen you start to lay a new foundation for your life with real, solid people.  I've watched as you've let yourself start to cultivate your own garden, and I've seen you bloom.  I've watched as you've dug your roots into the earth and started the very heavy business of growing upward, soaking in the breeze around you and opening up under the warm sun and reaching for the sky.

And it's been an incredible thing to see.

The road that you and I and so many others are walking down, this path of reckoning, this improvised grace, it may never be easy and it may never come naturally, but we keep walking it anyway.  We know we have to, for our children, for our souls, and through stubborn will we continue down a road that feels right but not necessarily natural.  Undoing is so much harder than doing, unlearning is something we have to teach ourselves while the learning just happened to us, and the one thing that makes even the hope of this succeeding is that we have each other.  We can look to each other for strength and inspiration and understanding and for reality.

You do that.  You give people, others like us, others who are just starting down the road you fell on head first one year ago this weekend, hope.  You give them the hope that it might be hard and it might really really really suck balls, but it can be done and it can be worth it.  You are a reminder that it's possible, that lives can be reconstructed and stories can be rewritten and lives can be redefined, if you just try hard enough.  If you just realize that you are worth it.

You, my dear, are worth it.

I'm leaving you nameless.  Because your story isn't mine and I have no business telling it.  I just wanted you to know that someone noticed, that someone is quietly keeping score for that you are beating the house.

Say Click

As parents, The Donor and I try really hard to avoid cramming our own unfulfilled hopes and dreams down our children's throats, but there are just some things in life that cannot be avoided, like cramming our unfulfilled hopes and dreams down our children's throats.

For example, my husband was a really really REALLY good swimmer for a very long time.

He's on the block



So when our first child didn't exhibit anything that started with "deadly" when near the water, we slapped a speedo on that very cute little diapered bootylicious and crossed our fingers.

Swimming



Both of my parents are freakishly talented musicians and I always wished I was more like them that way, so naturally when my children so much as bop to a song on the radio, I compulsively start leaving trails of instruments around the house.

Roll Over, Beethoven
Ain't Noise Pollution

When our children show pre-dispositions to our own genetic quirks, like being double-jointed or able to roll our r's, we can't help but encourage them to keep practicing to perfect those traits.

Genetic Brilliance



It's exciting to see yourself in your kids, to see what weird thing they've taken from you or your spouse while you weren't looking.  It's neat when one kid has blue eyes and one kid has green eyes and one kid has hazel eyes.  It's fascinating how one kid can be completely literal and unimaginative while one kid can live with his head at cumulus level at all times, but at the same time neither of them are physically capable of estimation, just because that's what you've passed on.  It's fun to try and figure out which of the penchants or quirks or ticks your children possess came from nature and which came from nurture.  It's the question between what is taught and what is given.

I have no doubt at all that my kids like to take pictures, however, because they've lived most of their lives with a lens in their face.

My parents are just artists.  They sing and paint and play and photograph.  All of my siblings and I are also artistically inclined.  I can't for a second argue the fact that our musical and artistic abilities are just engrained into our DNA, and I also have to acknowledge the fact that my two brothers and me, who essentially did not know each other for most of our lives and still all grew up pre-dispositioned for engineering must be sharing some genetic ability.  I also know for a fact that I am never more than 10 feet away from my camera because my parents were never more than 10 feet from theirs and this is a simply a habit that I picked up from them.

And then I passed it down.

While we were in Whistler Village last week, my daughter came up to me and asked me for the camera.  So I gave it to her and wept for its untimely demise.  Except she didn't break it; quite to the contrary, she kind of rocked it a lot.

Taking Pictures



My three year old, it turns out, has quite the eye for photography.  She took a lot of pictures of her fingers, but then she saw a bird that she HAD to photograph, so she followed it all over the square, trying to get the shot.

Budding Photog



Now, those two shots up there were taken on my new Dingleberry, but this one, the money shot, was taken by my three year old. And it's totally unedited.

First photography session, take two



Do you see the bird? The girl's good, yo.

In fact, she's so good that she managed to take a totally crisp, perfectly centered and absolutely horrifying picture of her mother. You know how y'all are always like, "Dude, do you ever take a bad picture?" Wanna know why? Because I am the one taking the pictures, and I care enough to delete the rancid ones before anyone else can see them. But my kid doesn't.

First photography session



Because she won't have her art tamed. She won't be censored by the man. And she says you're welcome.

MIA

My mother in law is here for a week.  My mother in law doesn't know about this blog.  It's kind of important that it stays that way. This puts me in a tedious position.

I honestly don't know anymore why I don't want her to know about it.  When I started blogging, no one that knew me knew about it, save a handful of people.  About a year and a half into it, my husband found it.  Right after I left him, conveniently enough.  Good times, good times.  Once it was outed to him, I started letting it slip to others.  My best friend sent me an email one day saying that she was starting one of those self-indulgent, woe-is-me blogs and to not judge her too harshly, to which I replied that I already had one of those myself and maybe our blogs should meet.  Then a mutual friend started one, and so I fessed up to her as well.  My old next door neighbor and PTA bestie found me on NaBloOhYouKnow totally by accident.  And then one night I got extremely trashed and sent my brother the link.  I will never understand why I told my ex-boyfriend about it, but I did and he still talks to me, so I guess it's okay.  Maybe.  I gave the link to my best work-friend when I moved to Canada and swore him to secrecy.  And I even told one and only one of my in-laws about it, which is kind of fun because now when I get busted, I'll have an accomplice.  Truthfully, I guess I've told three in-laws since both of my sisters-in-law know about it, but none of them really count as in-laws because I like them.

My point is that it's coming out, this blog.  But I still don't want my family to read it, I still won't tell any of my neighbors about it and dear god in heaven, I will die the day my mother in law finds it.  Because I like my privacy, which is completely fucking ridiculous since I'm talking about a public website that any old joe-blow could read at any given point in space or time.

I never claimed to make any sense.

So she's here for a week on her way to Alaska for the summer and I can't exactly sit around commenting on blogs logged in as Mr Lady and I can't exactly have her reading over my shoulder when I open the heymrlady email account and I can't explain that the girl I talk to on the phone 15 hours straight a day is a blog friend and so I just can't be on the computer while she's here.  Which is a whole lot like saying that Paula Abdul can't take pain medications for a week straight, and so I just have to get myself and the computer as far apart as I can.  Or get really sick.  Or exert myself more in one hour than I have in the past decade.  Or send my husband to have surgery on his balls.  Or do all of those things at the exact same time.

Which is what any totally reasonable person would do, of course.

The Donor had his snip on Friday and his mother got here on Saturday, and they had some wholly disconcerting lovely mother/son bonding time.

A Little Too Familiar
They get bigger if you click'em, and the rest are on FlickR.  

Which all sounds almost but not quite naughty.



At 1 am on Saturday night/Sunday morning, my throat swelled shut.  AGAIN.  After a week on penicillin for strep.  Which was awesome because A) it was 1 in the morning, B) my mother in law was here, and C) we were running in the Vancouver marathon in 8 ever-nearing hours.  Which we totally did anyway.

Sight for sore eyes.  And legs.  And arms.  And everything.
Better than a happy meal toy.

And directly after that, we rented a mini-van and drove it up a mountain to Whistler for an overnight stay on a school night, because we're great parents.  At one point, when 2of3 asked us to turn up the radio because Kiss was on, The Donor turned to me and whispered, "You gotta admit; it's kind of awesome that the kid knows who Kiss is" and a few minutes later 1of3 told 2of3 that the next day was (our last name) Family Ditch Day from school and 2of3 asked, "What does ditch mean?" and I leaned over to The Donor and said, "Yeah, but that's more awesome."

We drove for 2 hours and I passed out in the front seat for all of it because ohmygod I was so sick I could die, and I missed a whole lot of this.

Does Not Suck



We checked into the hotel and then checked out the town.  Which is like Vail's little brother and is going to rock the fucking kasbah in 2010.  We got directly to doin' it like they do on the Travel Channel.

Princes of Main



And then I sent my 68 year old mother in law and my mutilated husband and the children I am no longer capable of replacing off to strap harnesses around their special bits and slide on wires over ravines which loom in the fathoms below.   

zipline



We got home late on Monday night and woke up early on Tuesday morning for an all day track meet.  In the goddamnmotherfucking Pacific Northwest rain.  Because I'm totally not sick enough.

3rd Place



And tonight, the night I have to write the American Idol recap, the night I HAVE to be on the computer, Ms. I'm An Antique and Have To Be In Bed By Eight decided that she wasn't tired at all and would just read.  On the couch.  Directly behind the computer.

We were off to such a good start, too.  Now's it's 3:25 in the am and I just want to bring that bitch DOWN.

In The Springtime of His Voodoo

Five Star Friday I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met him.

It was winter and I was 20.  It was his first day at some terrible restaurant that I'd been working at for a year or two. He was in the solarium going over new hire paperwork or something when I walked in the room.  There were at least 10 other people in that room, but I can't remember even one of them.  At that moment, he was the only person on the planet.  I remember the shirt he was wearing, the necklace he had on and which side his hair parted to.  I walked into the room, my uterus lept of of me and lunged at him, I rolled that bitch up, shoved her back in and kept walking right out of the room.

I don't know that he even saw me that day.  I don't know that he knew my name for months after that, but that was the day I knew that someday, I was going to be a mother.  Not kidding.

It was spring and I was 21 when I first properly met him.  He was enchanting.  He was smarter than anyone I'd ever met, funny, so very very drunk, and he loved his momma.  He'd been an architecture major and I'd been a mechanical engineering major.  In a high school.  Whatever; it counts in my world.  He liked punk and I liked rock.  He drank Newcastle and I drank Tuaca.  He was a competitive swimmer with a body like a rock and I was an anorexic with a body like a bendy straw.  He had a girlfriend and I had a fiance.  So that was that.

Until the day came when I didn't have a fiance anymore and he didn't have a girlfriend anymore.

Turns out, my pheromones agreed with his pheromones and I was more or less pregnant at first sight.  What can I say?  The man makes eggs shoot out of me.  Our reproductive systems realized they were in love way before the rest of us did, and before we knew it we'd made this:

1of3



It also turned out that golf is the best fertility drug ever manufactured by The Scottish and twice following this:

Golf suits him.  Overly.



We ended up with this and this.

2of33of3



We had many, many years when the only thing we managed to do right was make babies.  We had a lot of tears and a lot of hurt and a lot of misery but in the end, we knew that we did one thing absolutely flawlessly.  We didn't mean to have any of these kids, we didn't mean to get married, we didn't mean to meet, we didn't mean to live in Colorado, we didn't mean to do almost everything we've done since 1995 but we did it all and we made it work and even when it was abysmal, we had this thing, this one amazingly beautiful aspect to our lives together.

We made this.  Together.  Just the two of us.  By accident.  Those three people make me believe in fate.  They make me think that maybe he chose me, and they chose us, that maybe it wasn't an accident but that we were supposed to have them, that we needed them, that they were a gift the likes of which we didn't deserve and never expected.

And today we ended the whole thing.

Today we woke up with the possibility of another perfectly beautiful surprise.  We woke up with the possibility of more toes to nibble and more necks to sniff and more fingers to count.  We woke up with the possibility of being parents again.  

Tonight we go to sleep knowing that we will never again hold a flashlight to my stomach so a baby will grab at the light from the inside.  We'll go to sleep knowing that we'll never walk our fingers across my stomach while a baby punches our fingertips.  We know that we'll never crank up The Sex Pistols into a pair of headphones, wrap them around my stomach, and teach a baby that Sid Vicious means ni-night time.  (Totally worked, by the way, and no one had to listen to Mozart for 3/4 of a year.)  Tonight we know we'll never watch another VHS tape with a video of a needle going into my uterus and a little baby girl's hand reaching out to grab it in the darkness. Tonight we know that we will never again hold a 7 pound person covered in blood and goop who looks like a feral lizard and smells like, well, blood and goop and feral lizards and think that we're seeing pure, unadulterated, heavenly beauty.  Tonight we know that there will be no more first smiles or steps or hugs or words or boo boos or spaghetti dinners.  Tonight we go to bed knowing that we laid that boy, who cast a spell on me 14 years ago, out on a table, did really awful things to his brother Darrell and his other brother Darrell and forced-quit the greatest thing we've ever done, the thing that spring and chemistry and destiny made sure that we would do.

So this is how fertility dies....with frozen peas.