Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Things I Want To Say

On any given day there are probably thousands of things that cross my mind. Some I keep to myself with purpose. Others I say out loud. I write down a few, but every now and again I am struck by the things I want to say, but don't.

There are so many things I want to say lately. More like so many things I want to shout. And I dont. Frequently I am called loud. I am even referred to as confrontational or even a bitch. I embrace this and yet still there are so many things I don't say.

I lean in. I also listen deeply. I am strategic, forthright and bold. I am loyal. I am thoughtful, spiritual and caring. I am funny. I am an intellectual and a member of the liberal elite.

But for all the things I am, I still do not say certain things that may make me seem unkind or bigoted. You see I fight for social justice. I fight because it's personal to me. Equality, equity, truth and a world without prejudice are vital and at times I feel might just be unacheivable.

The unachievable piece is because people do not understand their own interests. They seek things that do not exist. I do not call them stupid, but I certainly use the term misguided and uniformed.

Change is incremental. It does not happen overnight. It never has. Take a look at racial justice. Civil rights for all is still illusive. Women still make less than men for the same jobs and black women far less. There is a clear discrepancy. Progress is slow.

We live in a world of instant gratification. Technology makes this phenomenon even more potent. Want a pizza, order online and it comes to your door in minutes. Want a date, create an alluring profile and the suitors flock to you. Want to play a video game, go Pokémon go. Want a 60 inch TV, line up at Wal-Mart on black Friday and trample others for your piece of the pie. The list is endless.

For those of us with time and money we have a luxury and privilidge to be critical. We can think this all through. Not working long hours for little pay and trying to keep your family fed gives you the ability to be critical of more than what you see right in front of you. The immediacy of need is less immediate.

I will argue that the liberal elite who have been made the villian as of late are the very people who are sitting back and trying to figure out ways to help people. The policies they support that advocate for higher minimum wage or universal health care are for the inherent common good.

We want nothing more than for the coal miner to be cared for or retrained for jobs that support our changing needs as a global economy. But certain things are no longer a viable option and rather than empty promises of reverting to a bygone era we want to move forward but not just for the sake of change itself, but again for the common good.

There is a deep want for people to feel needed and appreciated and for those who want jobs to have them and make a living wage, but the dirty secret is that the richest of the rich may not want that for others because having an underclass keeps them richer. Since the existence of humanity, rich people have sought to keep poor people poor and make them feel like it is their own fault for being poor. At each turn the super rich hold back opportunity and at the same time extend a portrait of an unachievable dream. It's older than the tale of time itself.

And so I will say it. I am angry with the people who can only see what is only right in front of them and what matter only to them. I am angry with the evangelicals who have allowed the moral code to be hijacked by a political party. I am angry with all those who did not think about the long view for our country and our world. What scares me is that they did think about it all and just didn't really care. They just want what they want despite the broader impact. That is what truly frightens me. Selfishness.

So there, I said it before the year came to an end. I got it out of me. I realized no good can come from me staying in my own bubble on this one. I said the things I want to say.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Goodbye 2016

This year. An emotional year. Some awesomely amazing, some good, some not so good, some bad and some downright awful. So you will see I am not sorry to see it go, but I am also sorry to see it go. Tomorrow we say goodbye 2016!

The year began as it has for so many years with us at the beach. We spent the holiday in NC with my parents. Rolston was mending from his shoulder surgery after his second seizure. Still we all managed to have a good time and it was unseasonably warm and lovely.

In January, we asked for help. Rolston was still not driving thanks to the second seizure that happened only 8 short days away from being cleared and so our dear friend Stephanie came into our lives. An angel sent our way to bring balance, levity and delicious nutritious food. And thus began our year of developing deep and meaningful friendships.

By February we had a routine established and we embraced our new normal. My boss was extremely supportive and so many good friends to help us all when we needed it. We also had my parents to help. We are grateful for all we have and for the people who uplift us when we are feeling low.

It was hard. Really hard, but not too bad and definitely not as awful as some of the places we have been. And as winter began to thaw in March we glimpsed spring. Spring brings hope. Spring brings warmth.

It was April and I was away for work. My parents came to make sure all was well. It was Emerson's 2nd birthday when I was away. It was difficult. I felt guilt but when I returned we celebrated him!

In May, it happened. Good! Rolston got his license restored. A whole year after the first seizure. It was a breath of life. It was pure joy. He was back baby!

June brought the return of the pool. The pool means BBQs, friends and fun. We were really trying for a third child.  Everything felt refreshed.

We made a snap decision to host a French exchange student in July. Best decision ever. Paul was amazing! We got so lucky.

In August, Brenton took off his floaties and swam. He jumped off the diving board. He was so free. Emerson was trying to keep up, but was not there yet. It was still good. It was still summer our favorite time of year.

September arrived and we held on to the dream of summer for a long time. Our final pool party was the second Saturday and was wonderful weather. I could not let go and when the cover went on the pool the shift began.

In mid September things got more serious. School had started and routines restablished. Then Nanny died at the end of the month. She was our matriarch and although it was time it was so very sad.

In October, weeks began to feel like months. The election was looming with debates and town halls and so much media coverage. The mood was ominous and I responded. My monthly girls night officially began with appetizers, desserts, signature drinks, tarot card readings and pictures by the Halloween tree with our Halloween headbands.

I needed a way to be in touch. I wanted to feel connected as the light faded and the days got shorter. I had no idea how dark it would get, but my girls, my strong and empowered, smart, beautiful, amazing women, and although I did not know it quite yet, would keet me going.

In November it all came crashing down. It sounds dramatic because it was. Hot tears stinging my eyes watching all hope slip away, I watched it happen on November 8, 2016. As blue turned to a sea of red, at 11pm I went to sleep and woke up with a start just in time for it to be official. A Trump presidency was reality.

I sat in Brenton's room because he was already in our bed. As I watched the speech, I was stunned and not stunned. I was sick to my stomach. I was utterly and deeply afraid.

There was nothing about what was happening that felt real except the fear. I had to pinch myself. In all honesty it felt like the aftermath of a panic attack in its surrealism.

Facing both my liberal elitism and my anger at a nation that felt like it was rejecting me and my family on a fundamental level, left me feeling empty. We contemplated leaving. We considered where we should go. We made real plans.

Instead of packing bags, we leaned on our friends. We relied on the relationships we built with other blended families, gay friends and families and other people who felt at risk to hold ourselves together. Also our church vowed to stand up for us if it came to it. We were supported.

I deflected my deepest fears in order to work. Self preservation kicked in at the end of November. I had things to do. Life happens.

We had Friendsgiving at Stephanie's. Our first and it was a true blessing. It was food and framily. And we also celebrated Brentons 5th birthday.

That same week we celebrated his birthday as a family and had a lonely Thanksgiving, but on that day we decorated for the holidays. Decorating made it better. The lights and the beauty gave me hope again in the darkness.

So I did what I do and I moved ahead. I doubled down and kept it positive. I traveled for work even though I had a cold. I delivered training and felt good about myself for making it happen.

When I came home on December 1st, the prep began and I shopped and shopped and kept the Yule in Christmas as best I knew how. Then the following Friday, it was time for the monthly girls night holiday party. What a party it was. I relished in the smiles and happiness. It felt good to be so happy even if it proved fleeting, but thankfully it wasnt. It was the start of the beginning of the end of the end of a tough year.

Before I knew it was off to NYC for a final work trip before the official holiday vacation. During that mid December trip, my dear friend who I normally get together with was supposed to be away and instead his flight was delayed. We had drinks that turned to dinner and left me feeling not just physically but emotionally sated. He is a true gem and a kindred spirit.

As I left the city bound for home I was stuck in traffic and saw snowflakes fall. They reminded me that no matter how much I want to be in control, I am not. Life goes on. The world turns whether I grant it permission or not.

We left for the holidays at my parents later that week. We had a great Christmas. The boys were so happy. We all were and now we are at the beach again.

We have run and played and built castles in the sand. Rolsron and I have had time alone together. Tonight we sang happy birthday to Poppie as we do every year. It marks the end of our time together and the coming of the new year.

Tomorrow as the waves roll into the shore we will say hello to 2017. The new year I feel dread for as we watch our beloved black president leave office and be replaced by a deplorable excuse for a human. In 2017 I will go to Dallas, NY, Charltotte and London for work. We will watch our oldest start kindergarten and our youngest start preschool. We cross our fingers that we might get lucky and welcome a new baby. We hope to continue to strengthen the bonds of friendship. And most of all that it will not be as bad as we fear it could be. So it is with a hopeful yet somewhat heavy heart and bittersweet relief and cautious optimism that I look forward and also back and say goodbye to 2016.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Nanny

My grandmother died the other day.  She was 95.  She had been suffering from severe dementia for almost 4 years. It was time, but she fought until the end. Her name was Edith Darling, but I called her Nanny.

My grandmother, Nanny, was a fighter.  Her mother died when she was just 6 years old and hated carnations because on Mother’s day she had to wear a red one to signify her mother was dead. She was the only girl in a family of 4 and her younger brother was just a baby when her mother died.  Her father was a barber and they lived a very modest life especially through the depression.

Education got her places.  Graduating from Trenton High School, she went on to Trenton State and refused to call it The College of New Jersey and always told anyone that her obituary would reach Trenton State. Eventually she married a man who had more than she did.  It could have been considered social climbing, but I like to think she just aspired for more. They had a wonderful life and the 3 girls always said they were raised by Ozzy and Harriett. My mother describes her childhood as idyllic. It was that Norman Rockwell painting kind of life.

My grandfather, Pop-Pop, had his first heart attack at 50. His health was always an issue, but he was the kindest man you have ever met.  He was one of the first to undergo a bypass surgery. Then he developed a neurological disease.  He died at only 72.  I was 12 and it was winter.  I remember after finally deciding to go to the funeral, I was walking from the church sanctuary and I was crying.  My grandmother said somewhat gruffly, “Aren’t you glad you came?”  I was sure I was but also not sure I was. I will always remember that moment.

My grandmother never had another man in her life.  He was her true love.  She was utterly devoted to him in that stubborn way she had about her.  When we recommended perhaps finding a new companion in life she would scoff and wave us off.

I have come to realize Nanny was just self reliant.  For exercise, she would walk for miles and always took good care of herself.  She did yoga before it was even a thing Americans really did.  Her daughters ate wheat germ pancakes, wholesome food and everyone only had one pork chop at dinner. There was always just enough, but never too much.

Nanny was not the type of grandmother who would sneak you candy. Although she and my grandfather did walk me to Carvel as an excuse to get themselves ice cream on occasion, the indulgence of a child was against her nature.  She was not warm or snuggly like some grandmothers.  She was cold and hard and made sure I knew what was right and wrong.  Manners were everything and I needed to know what was appropriate and what was not. Everything was definitive because God spoke directly to her.

I was the oldest grandchild by 5 years and sometimes I do wonder if my experience was vastly different than my younger cousins.  Someday I may ask them or maybe not.  Everyone has their own version of people.  This happens when they are here with us and when they are gone. One thing I do know is that I am grateful to have known my Nanny.  Maybe she did take me to the Shaker museum instead of Great Adventure.  Perhaps Sunday in the Park with George was the best option for a 9 year old who only wanted to see Cats on Broadway.  It is possible that the symphony should have been my idea of fun, but alas it was not.

We did not share many common interests, but she certainly did guide our family in its traditions.  Christmas and Easter were spent at her house until she could no longer manage. My mother inherited some of her toughness and I think that passed to me.  That intellectual thirst for truth and knowledge too.  The value system she had about right and wrong.  She was more open to things then one would likely assume and never questioned me about my black boyfriend now husband.  Not once did she make me feel badly about going against the norm for love.  My waistline, manners or my choice of outfit…that was a different story, but she never once said a single bad word about Rolston.

Admittedly there was a rift between us because when I was young she called me fat and I never really forgave her for making me feel bad about myself.  I don’t even believe she knew it was there, but for me it was very real for a very long time.  Then I had my first child.  I made her a great grandmother and in the early stages of her more severe dementia she and my son met for the first time.  It was magical.

Nanny adored Brenton and Brenton adored his Nanny.  He would sit on her lap and touch her face and giggle.  She would snuggle him and he would snuggle her. Hugs and kisses were standard and he would tell her, “I love you Nanny.” They had such a bond. It brought all of us such joy to know that even though she didn’t know any of us this small little being that was a part of all of us, simply made her happy.

So when my mother called and told me Nanny was dying, I asked if she wanted me to go and be with her.  You see we are the only local family left.  My mother and her sisters have all left.  My cousins have all left.  All of her brothers have died.  It is just me. So I went.

I drove too fast, but I couldn’t help it.  I didn’t want her to die alone.  If I could make it I would do my very best to get there and I did get there.

Unexpectedly, the tears came as I greeted the hospice nurse.  The nurse walked me to her room and she was so small and still.  I walked to her leaned down and whispered to her, Sally and Linda are on their way.  I did not immediately notice the chaplain was there and he sat with me for a while.  He told me about how she enjoyed listening to him play the harp and I smiled and nodded. Then he left and Nanny and I were alone.

The classical music was the same song on repeat and I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and put a classical station on my phone.  My cousin posted some pictures on Facebook from a wedding they all went to, so I talked to her about them.  I told her it was Ellen’s, my cousin’s wife, birthday.  Then a hospice volunteer came in and I was comforted.  Her name was Linda like my mother.  She knew my grandmother.  It turned out we had so many common people in our lives as well.  She worked at the school I went to and lived in my town.  I was reminded how small the world can be.

Linda stayed for hours. When Arlene the hospice nurse checked Nanny she told me it wouldn’t be long.  They asked me to leave to change an reposition her to keep her comfortable.  I checked in and my mother was over 3 hours away and my aunt a little more than 1 hour out.  When they were done and I came back to the room, I decided it was time to sit in the very uncomfortable chair on the other side of the bed so I could hold Nanny’s hand.  I smoothed her hair and helped her to settle when she was agitated.  The body shutting down was not easy.  She was having trouble letting go.

I truly believe she was waiting for her daughters.  They both made it.  When I left almost 9 hours after I arrived she was still breathing.  Smoothing her hair once more, I kissed her telling her how grateful I was that she got to meet my boys.  I hugged my mother and my aunt and they told me once again how much it meant to me that I was there with her until they could be.  I told them I was happy I was able to be there and I meant it.  Before I left the room I said, “Bye Nanny, Brenton says goodbye too!”

It felt like such a long drive home. When I got home Brenton was sleeping and I gave him a kiss.  I was exhausted and I fell asleep quickly.  I knew when I woke I would have news.  In the morning, the message from my mother read “Nanny died at 4am we had classical music playing kind of loudly and I opened the window so her spirit could fly.”

Later that morning Brenton came into my room and asked if Nanny died.  I said yes sweetie she did.  He said so we can’t see her and I said no we can’t see her anymore.  He did not understand.  It’s age appropriate of course, but it is so hard to see his confusion about her death.

We took him to her home and to her room so he could see she was gone.  This closure is important for children or so I have read.  I think it was important for me too. The empty room except for the chair we were there to pick up that will stay in my office now reminding us of her. I have so many memories when I look back.  Not just holiday memories, but real true memories 39 years worth.  Some good and some not so good but they are mine and hers.  She was a true constant throughout my life.

Tomorrow we will gather as a family at the cemetery where her ashes will be laid next to my grandfather.  One of her former students who became a minister will say a few words.  Then we will leave to have lunch at the club where we all gathered so many times in celebration.  We will celebrate her long life and that her suffering has ended.  We will all talk about how much we loved her, tell stories about her and smile and laugh as we say farewell to our one and only Nanny! She will be forever in our hearts.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Snap Decisions

By nature I am more impulsive.  I think quickly, I speak quickly and I am commonly moved to act quickly.  My husband is the opposite.  He thinks things through very thoroughly.  He is more likely to take a pause before responding and swift action is not really his thing.  As you can imagine sometimes this disparity can cause tension in our marriage, but it also brings us balance.

So when I saw on our town Facebook page that there was a French exchange student in need of a host family and although it was Thursday night he would arrive Saturday, I was ready to jump at the opportunity.  I ran downstairs spouting about the boy and the program and my husband said simply after one of his pauses, “when do I need to tell you?” I said first thing in the morning.  To my surprise he did not say no but rather ok.

In my excitement I sent him all the information the chaperone sent my way. And I apologized because I knew he needed time to process, but also wanted to sway him to be quite honest. This was only for 3 weeks and I thought it would be a wonderful experience for us and for our boys.

Growing up I had exchange students.  My parents were friends with the president at Trenton State and so each year we had one or two exchange students stay with us.  It was to help them get acclimated to the US before they started their semester abroad. Usually they were British, but we had one German girl named Gabby.  I remember her the most because she made us schnitzel and had a huge mane of curly blonde hair.  She was so friendly and so tall.  I was in awe of her accent and her confidence.

When I was 13 we had an AFS exchange student for an entire year.  Her name was Nieves, but somehow in what I can only claim was some kind of cultural confusion we called her Maria.  In Spain all girls have Maria in front of the name they actually use.  But even to this day we call her Maria.  My mother recently visited her and her family in Barcelona.  She is my Spanish sister and my mother’s Spanish daughter.

The year she was with us there was another boy in the program in our town.  He was from France and his name was Richard.  Richard really enjoyed our family and spent lots of time with my mother and me.  I think somehow we reminded him of his family at home. I remember that year fondly meeting all the students Elena also from Spain, Bardour from the Faroe Islands, Simone and Marco both from Italy. It made me feel cool to be with all these older Europeans.  Walking around Princeton and running into a friend while I was with Richard made me the talk of my all girls school for quite some time.

So when I saw this plea for a host family and remembering the times I had fondly, it was clear this was a yes.  I only had to wait for Rolston to decide.  To my surprise the next morning he was still not saying no.  Instead he asked me why I wanted to do this.  Honestly aside from my experiences I thought it would be a good change in dynamic for our family.  I felt we were in a rut and this could be a way to inject some life into our stagnant routine.  He agreed!

And that was it.  We were all in.  I reached out to the chaperone and finally found out our student’s name was Paul.  Paul my husband’s birth name and Brenton’s middle name. I felt even more strongly that this was meant to be.  Paul would arrive late in the night on Saturday. So we had to have a quick background check and home visit.  All went well and we were cleared.

The adventure began with a little research, explaining to the boys that we would have an exchange student from France and that his name was Paul. We made a sparkly welcome sign for Paul.  We bought him little trinkets and some candy and treats to welcome him. We got his room ready together.  The boys were so excited and so was I. Brenton was allowed to stay up very late and come with me to welcome Paul.

When he arrived, Paul ran to me and gave me a hug.  He was smiling almost beaming.  Brenton was jittery with excitement and kept jumping up and down waving the sign saying hi over and over again. It was a wonderful hello.

On our drive home, I asked him about his flight and we got acquainted.  He was pleased to know my father would be arriving later in the week because he enjoys playing golf.  When he got settled with our wifi passcode so he could reach his parents, he offered us gifts from France. I received a beautiful Hermes scarf and Rolston got a lovely tie.  I couldn’t help myself.  I was so excited I gave him a kiss on the cheek not just for the gift, but for already being the breath of fresh air I was hoping for.

The next morning he slept in a bit and then it was off to church.  Brenton and I lit a candle of joy and introduced Paul to the community. We took him to our favorite diner where he had a burger and fries. Then we learned he wanted to watch the France and Portugal final match that day.  He was on pins and needles waiting.  He met Monica and her family and while we swam he watched the match with Rolston.  Sadly France lost, but he smiled and said now I swim to wash it away. We made summer chicken and corn on the cob with sautéed zucchini which is harder to explain then I thought and now know is corgette in French. He helped Rolston with the dishes while I put the boys to bed. A wonderful first day!

Monday was relaxing and restful for all the boys and then we went to a BBQ to meet the other students and their host families.  People asked us what made us decide to do it so last minute.  To a smiling nodding crowd I explained my history with exchange students and the fact that Rolston was the pragmatic one and had the final word.  I also shared that the other night after the soccer match that Rolston had leaned over and said, “Is it weird that I really like having Paul here? I mean he is fun and can do so much for himself” Everybody laughed saying they remembered the days of having very young children and we ate and talked while the kids played.

As usual Emerson hung back with Rolston and me, but Paul got Brenton right in the pool where he made friends with the boys and flirted with the girls.  Brenton is smitten with one of the students named Emma.  He insisted on saying goodbye and gave her a hug and a smooch on the cheek. We said our goodbyes and bribed Brenton with sweets to get him out the door without a meltdown.

Paul went with the other students to Philadelphia yesterday for their first outing.  He had a wonderful time.  When he came home he ran to get his bathing suit on and then did a dramatic dive into the pool. He popped up with a big smile and said, “Today was really great.” I smiled and told him I was so glad. He threw the football with Rolston in the pool and we all swam around. I got out to make dinner and Paul and the boys played soccer while Rolston sat and cheered for them. I watched at the window  while the noodles cooked and thought how very happy I was to have Paul in our lives after only a few short days.

He is charming and witty.  He is not complicated. He is helpful. He is also very honest. When we asked about his family he told us his grandparents on one side live far away and said they are like Don’t call us we will call you.  I thought at 16 what an understanding of the world he has.  He usually cooks dinner for himself except on the weekends.  The level of maturity is clear, but he also says things like “Dab is life” which remind me he is still a teenager.

Today he is off to Wal-Mart to buy shorts for his outing with the group tomorrow. Then a quick trip to Aldi and off to Bounce U with Rolston and Emerson.  What is more American than a warehouse full of bounce houses and inflatable obstacle courses to jump on!?!?  Tonight we may play mini golf or that might wait because the weather seems a bit dicey. 

Tomorrow my parents arrive so we will have a lot going on and it will be tons of fun. We already warned Paul that my mother will ask him thousands of questions and my father will slightly yell when he thinks Paul doesn’t quite follow what he is saying.  We will see how it goes with a few more people in the house, but I am optimistic the good times will continue.

It is only a few days into his three week stay, but one thing is incredibly clear….Paul is wonderful. We are all a little bit better with Paul around. The universe sent us exactly what we needed when we needed it.  I can only hope he feels similarly about us as his replacement host family. We are so lucky we decided to say yes because it is clearly one of the best snap decisions we have ever made!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our Third

Since I became a mother the first time, I knew I wanted to have more children.  Brenton was first and then Emerson.  Now we are seeking our third.

Rolston likes to say we are trying for the girl.  I cannot lie.  I would adore having a girl in this testosterone filled house.  Boys are also phenomenal.  Their energy and constant motion keep me engaged and exhaust me at the same time.  I feel a pull to dream of tutus and graphic floral print dresses and of using the name we picked over five years ago when we only dreamt of what parenthood would bring.

As the time ticks by though all I want is a healthy baby.  I want to be pregnant again and bring a healthy child into the world to love and treasure.  Feeling the pull to do something once more that I absolutely adored and never thought I would enjoy so much. Pregnancy was bliss even when it wasn’t.  Feeling life inside my body brought a peace I do not experience except in that state.

Sure the sleepless night are incredibly difficult and the newborn phase turns into the crazy toddler phase and the terrible twos and then the why phase and the teething and the diapers and the feeling like it will never end and then it ends and something new is coming at you like a freight train. It is constantly changing and watching small people grow bigger is a true wonder.  I adore nursing my babies.  The bond is unbreakable and I yearn to feel that connection and rush again.  The moment of the first bubbling cries and the warm tiny body snuggling into mine.

So it doesn’t truly matter if my last baby is a boy or a girl.  The little humans are never the same no matter what the sex, so it will be a new roller coaster. Brenton and Emerson are opposites, so I wonder what the third will bring to our family.  Will it be balance?  Will it be more crazy energy?  Will it be something completely unexpected and new?  I want to know the answer.

Wanting a baby is difficult at times.  Waiting for the line to appear on the ovulation test.  Waiting for the line on the pregnancy test.  Wanting and waiting, waiting and wanting and over and over again for the past 6 months has been enough to fill me with hope and anxiety all at once.  The hope outweighs the anxiety and so we keep trying.

A few times my mother has asked, “Could you be pregnant?” Sometimes the answer is maybe and other times it is no.  She will certainly be one of the first to know, but she can’t stop herself from asking any more than I can stop myself from being disappointed that I can’t say yes. I want to say yes.  I want to stare at the two lines.  The two beautiful pink lines that confirm all my hopes and wishes are coming true.  The lines that say our family is becoming complete and the minivan we bought will serve its true purpose. That I can decorate the last nursery, reuse some of the clothes I have packed away and feel the deepest love I never thought I would be able to feel for another human being one more time.

So bring on the morning sickness and the sciatica and the crazy cravings.  The blood draws, the syrupy sweet awfulness of the sugar test, the endless doctors visits and the waiting in that last month that seems to never end.  Bring on the list of atrocities that lead up to the c section in the cold sterile operating room even including the staples and the long recovery. Give me the first two weeks of nursing and the gel pads and all that comes with it including the pump.

I want it all, the good with the not so good.  I want one more to complete us one more to love with all my heart.  The kind of love that makes you feel like your heart might actually burst.  The kind you never knew was possible and that you didn’t know you wanted until it washed over you and brought you into the world along with the baby. The love that wakes you up.

So I shout it out into the universe.  I WANT TO BE PREGNANT!  I WANT A HEALTHY BABY!  I WANT OUR THIRD!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Away For Work

He is two. I am away for work. I feel immense guilt.

Ordinarily I don't do guilt. It's not productive. I am action oriented. If something feels bad I stop doing it. It's a life lesson I learned when I got  emotionally healthy.

I make plenty of mistakes. I acknowledge them and try to do things differently. In this case, I didn't make a mistake. It was simply a coincidence that the primary project for this year for our division was in the test phase and my wee boy's birthday fell right in the middle of the week.

I knew. I knew there was nothing that I could do the moment I looked at the calendar when I found out three months ago. My heart sank. I would not be there. I felt the guilt then. I feel it more today.

Every year when my boys have a birthday I snuggle them to sleep telling them the story of their birth. I quietly whisper in their ears each moment and how my heart filled up with love when I heard the first bubbly first cries. The experiences were different but that moment was the same with both boys. An explosion of love and emotion was overwhelming and awesomely powerful.

My mother told me the story of my birth each year as well. I still recall the story with a smile. The small intimate details that I appreciated with a deeper understanding once I became a mother are so close to my heart.

So now I am whispering his birth story to him even though he cannot hear me. I hope my words reach him. Not to ease my guilt, but because my love for him is so deep.

His story of how he entered this world is his own. It is his and mine and only we share it. He was born from my body. I was his home. I can only hope he still thinks of me this way even as he grows up.

Emerson I love you. You are forceful and quiet. You are full of energy and bring me peace. A smile that warms a room and everyone in it. You are angry and happy. A paradox. A yin and yang in one body. You bring balance to us all. I am so grateful for you.

So many people love you. I love you, your father and your brother love you. Gigi and Poppie love you. They are there with you when I cannot be. Singing to you. Holding you when I can only dream of it.

We will celebrate when I return. Not just with party hats, noise makers, cake and pizza but with your story. The story of how we planned for you. How much we wanted you and when you arrived how much I cherish you.

I will whisper it all in your ear when I get back. You will smile sleepily at me with your paci in your mouth and rub your eyes knowing how much I love you and how much joy you have brought to my life. Holding you my little two-fer no longer my little oner.

Time does go to quickly, but this week I hope it does because each minute that passes I am closer to being back with you. Still my heart is with you today and every day no matter how close no matter how far. Even when I am away for work. Across miles, across states, across oceans. No matter what.

Happy birthday wee one. Happy birthday to my beautiful boy! Two...Two!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Intentions

In the new year I set some intentions for myself. I am not the resolution type but I am goal oriented. Usually my goals are career focused, but this time I set some expectations for myself on a personal note.

I would build a framily. This is my new word. Friends who become family.

Our family has been redefined. Family by blood and adoption has fallen away through death and struggle and deep rifts. I needed a group of people that were there for me and for us especially since our lives have been in some form of crisis for years.

Freely I gave of my spirit. I opened myself up to people. Not just in my overly social way of my youth but truly welcoming people into my heart and into our home.

At church we became friendly with the twins moms Jen and Laura. Holly and Ray were in my fellowship group where already we knew each other in a way that went deep. Stephanie came to drive Rolston and Emerson and we all became fast friends. Leah was Ava's mom from school but also attended church. Libby was my fellowship group leader. Cheryl was our mentor. So many people to share with and to grow together in love in large and small ways.

Then there are old new friends who welcomed us into their family events when we moved closer to them. It filled a void left by the death of Rolston's parents. Caring for our children like their own. Inviting me into the kitchen to help with the meals. Embracing us in every way.

Gathering with families who have children also struggling with speech. It's a bond we share. Not having to ask questions or make excuses and just knowing we are doing the best we can and that some days are so frustrating and isolating. Nothing a little lasagna, salad, garlic bread and wine can't handle.

My framily has grown exponentially. I suddenly felt a deep sense of comfort knowing that our children would grow up together. It's how I have felt with Monica for many years. She will always be the sister I never had and the godmother to our children.

Maintaining old longstanding deeply meaningful friendships with Andy, Akbar, Zakiyyah and Allison and Adam while rekindling others that have waned. It's all been a journey of self discovery. I learned what I value and what I don't. What really matters and what does not.

Letting go of family was difficult because it was emotional and lonely at first. In that void I have found enrichment I never expected. Pain carves out the spaces where joy can enter. A therapist told me that once. There is so much truth in it.

Now my life is so full. My husband and my sons already bring me so much happiness. My parents are forever loving and supportive. My ever expanding framily. My incredible circle of diverse, wonderful, amazing and crazy friends surround me always.

If I were to tell my children anything it would be to open your heart and focus on people you love because when you do truly special things can happen. It is sometimes so hard to believe this phenomenal experience I am having now was all set in motion by a simple intention.