Teen Green….

Nope, not talking about cash. That’s what many, my girls included, would think of first. Nope. Talking about that green eyed monster: Jealousy.

In our big messy house, we’ve been running into a lot of jealousy. I have. I am telling you that this spring, but oh my goodness even more so, this summer, every time I turn around one or another of my girls is jealous of a sister. As they say here in the south, “You can’t swing a dead cat” without hitting a jealous sister. I know, yikes!

Jealousy. It’s the grown up, breathing, creature risen from the little kid version of sibling rivalry. This has morphed from little kid “gimme’s” and grabs to a stewing breath of resentment and envy. It’s jealousy. I think especially for girls, it’s a serious monster that waits in the closet, needing only a crack in the door to step out. Especially for teens. Especially when it comes to teen sisters. {And there are many who can/will point to the idea that we/I haven’t ‘formed’ them well enough….maybe. But I think this is part of our human nature, and it peaks in the toddler and teen years. And with the complexities in our family and it’s forming, well, I’m not sure how we could have sidestepped this entirely…But maybe I’m just being defensive; it could happen!}

Now, most of the jealousy ’round here centers around time with me. Which, on one level, is grand. They like me! Or, more to the point, they need time with me. And they WANT it! But on another level, it’s tough. It’s a pressure. Because I do make a point of trying my best to make sure each kid gets time with me, one on one, face time, checking in, sitting by them, ears and heart open…etc etc. Typically, the jealous version plays out around the idea of…wait for it….shopping. No surprise that, eh? If one of them needs something from the store: another pair of shorts, a new sports bra, heck, more conditioner…… then if I take them to the store to shop and/or get it…..then I can be quite certain that when I get home one or several will now be “jealous.” {Which explains why I try to do a great lot of the shopping alone, when they are in school….but it’s summer…..yeah, circling back to the problem now….} Heck I can lay money on it. They don’t seem to be nearly as jealous of time spent with me chopping vegetables for dinner….hmmmm…

Michael D. Edens, “Jealousy”

It’s wearing me out.

So, this is a post to ask for ideas from anyone who has multiple teen girls at home: How do you soothe and settle the green eyed teen? How do you address the cries of “H first! (no fair, me jealous),” “It’s just that I NEVER get to go with you.” “You NEVER get me stuff.” You only take/buy/do for ____fill in the blank____?” All of these statements have a fractional basis in reality – in that I cannot buy for every single child every single time another needs something. We’d go bankrupt. And I cannot take every child every time; nor can I take every child every day or week. I’d simply drop dead from insanity or sheer exertion.

I have four teen girls right now. I love them so. Each of them is an amazing individual; each with so many great qualities. But, collectively? The sisters, the hormones, the drama, the JEALOUSY?? It’s making for a LONG summer. And summer has only begun….

Moms?? Experience, tips…anything??

Siren Calls

So, this is the danger season.  It’s the crazy season for me.

How? Well, yeah, I’m in the birthday blitz season (seven months straight of birthday-o-rama and the ensuing  exhaustion).  But, no, I’m referring to the danger zone of the holiday season…but MOST specifically the danger zone of THIS holiday.

Yeah, there’s a reason Halloween is so scary:


It’s the candy, babeee.  If you’re a sugar addicted craving monster mama this season is nothing but danger.  Sure some folks go overboard with the sugar plums of Christmas or the laden tables and pies of Thanksgiving…but me, it’s the candy….the cheap mass produced childhood memory attached candy.  Don’t get me wrong, I can get all snooty about fantastic european chocolates or local foodie-gourmet specialties like this amazing wonderful addictive YUM of toffee (UPS passes my house every day, just saying, hint  hint…)  

Mmmm, candy.  It’s my major weakness.  Really.  (Ask my kids or coffeedoc, they’ll confirm….).

Just walking the aisles of the grocery stores this month is like a mini epic of Jason and the Argonauts sailing through that ocean passage, waiting for the Sirens to start their call. {Remember that movie?? OH wow, talk about a blast from the past, I watched that movie so many times as a kid, laying on the floor in my family room in front of the plaid sofa and being scared silly, but still, I had to watch.  An oddly formative movie, which I’m sure explains so much to you all now….}

So, yeah, nowadays my modern Sirens are named “Snickers” “Reeses” Sweet Tarts” “Baby Ruth“….the list just goes on and on.  But the queen of them all, perhaps Persephone herself, is this one:

Yeah.  “Candy Corn.”

Yup, it’s the queen of all cheap junk candy.  It’s pure sugar, sqooshed and molded into utterly unorganic form: dayglo orange and/or yellow, artificial brown anchoring the non-corn nib shape.  It’s seventies hip, and it’s pure sugar crack zing.  Which is why it so surely, so enticingly,  calls to me this month, every year.   And, as you can see, today I had no Orpheus to read me poetry and silence those sweet songs luring me at the market today.  I couldn’t be tied to a mast to prevent me from leaping overboard… I had to steer and load the darn cart.  So, yes, I fell overboard.  And yes, I have minor regulation insulin issues….ahem…..  And now, I have to hide this from myself, much less the kids.  Sigh. And yeah, I know all about the healthy bananas and fruit on the counter behind these lethal sweet nibs, it’s my kitchen, I took this shot…. but really I’m blind to them.  Because it’s the sugar calling……

Happily enough, and in an ironic twist of fate, I’m old enough that I forget, daily, where I stow things.  So, let’s hope it works before I succumb again, and again, and again……well, you get the idea……

Conference, day two

So here I am at lunch, day two (and final) of this conference. I guess I’m doing wht they call “live blogging”…..yeah thats right, I’m just hip like that!

Another great morning. I have missed running into a new friend (Elaine, where are you?) but have a good seat and the talks have been very good, meaty, much to digest. Additionally, we’ve heard two personal stories from extra guest speakers: moms who have been “through the fire,” so to speak. One of them was the great fav blogger pal of mine, Lisa Qualls (from the “one thankful mom” blog, a minimum daily requirement blog for me). No surprise, she gave a moving talk; brought numerous folks to tears…inspired. Another speaker was a gal named Debbie (I’m sorry I can’t remember her last name at this second) and her story also was just inspirational. And all too close to home for me…not in all ways, but, the ones that count. Yeah, blinking away in my seat again.

The other talks this morning laid the groundwork for the afternoon sessions: talking about sensory processing deficits and integration, the effects of history of brain development and so on. This afternoon is about addressing behaviors arising from some of these issues and finding ways to heal and connect. Of course, because thats what this conference is all about.

And i am grateful to be here. I’m getting close to maximum saturation myself…fantasizing a bit about a double espresso and some good chocolate to perk me up. ( I know, supposed to pound the water instead….what can I say, old dog, not many new tricks, etc etc…). But I’m gonna take notes in these afternoon sessions….I know they will be helpful. And they are, not only for my kids who have difficult needs or backgrounds…but really so much of this is good for all of my kids. Each and every one. And can I use reminders, refreshers, and new ideas? Oh. Yeah. Absolutely. Every single day.

So, heading back in. I have met some really nice people- Jamey of Zehlalum family! Lisa! Buttercup from Farmboy and buttercup (old virtual pals,that one, very nice to connect in person!)….and tho I still feel like my usual doofy self, I do love meeting these gals…a great treat! So, this afternoon if any of you are here or reading this, come say hi! I’m still the old gray mom, looking desperate for more caffeine and maybe some M&M’s…..

Connections and conferences – great buoys in the adoptive life.

For Every Mom; Lady of Sorrows

drawing by Kate Kollwitz, 1903
Today is the day we remember Our Lady of Sorrows.
Oh, there is so much to this one…
As a mom, this resonates with me.
Ok, maybe as an older mom it resonates.
As a mom of sons who’ve gone to college, who has just sobbed goodbye to them…
as a mom who has given her son back to God, as he discerns the call to religious life…
as a mom of kids who come from hard places and  have endured hardship and trauma…
as a mom who has held other mom’s babies and children across the world in dark hot smelly orphanages, waving flies off their face as I feel their damp bottoms but also their arms clinging to my neck, or see them lying limp in my arms just gazing out – disconnected…
as a mom of kids who have struggled with different needs, some of them very hard and/or intense…
as a mom of kids who’ve gone through life-threatening events and as a mom who has sat vigil bedside in the PICU….
gosh as a mom who has lain awake countless nights worrying over  her kids…
over things big or small….
As a friend to moms who have lost children…
as a friend to moms who’s kids have been in the PICU, or hospital too….
as a friend to moms who have had kids go through the hardest scariest time in their lives and/or those of their parents…
goodness, as a mom who WATCHES THE NEWS, for pity’s sake…
….this memorial is for me.  A mom.  Any Mom.  This memorial is for us.
Because this Blessed Mother, she is us. 
She is every mom.
She is the mom giving  her portion of food for her hungry child.
She is the mom sitting bedside by her sick child.
She is the mom who weeps sending her child off, to work, to college, to a new life in a new country.
She is the mom who wishes she could hurt so her child doesn’t have to.
She is the mom who carries them, bodily, but also in mind and heart….all day, every day, all night, every night.
She is the mama.
She is us.
She gets it.
And she helps us carry it all….all those things that no one but a mom can fathom, truly…well, she does.
As I wept and wept a few weeks (the dropoff)  ago, worried over my son, him moving out and having to say goodbye to him in a new place that didn’t feel like home, at all, to him or to me…my other son said this: “Our Lady of Sorrows mom….the litany, it will help.“  I nodded.  It was all I could do.
So…with that, I give you this, it helped me then, and it is a reminder that she is not just the remote Mother of God.
She is everywoman.
Every mom.  Us.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven,
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, .
God the Holy Ghost,
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
Holy Virgin of virgins, pray for us
Mother of the Crucified, pray for us
Sorrowful Mother, pray for us
Mournful Mother, pray for us
Sighing Mother, pray for us
Afflicted Mother, pray for us
Foresaken Mother, pray for us
Desolate Mother, pray for us
Mother most sad, pray for us
Mother set around with anguish, pray for us
Mother overwhelmed by grief, pray for us
Mother transfixed by a sword, pray for us
Mother crucified in thy heart, pray for us
Mother bereaved of thy Son, pray for us
Sighing Dove, pray for us
Mother of Dolors, pray for us
Fount of tears, pray for us
Sea of bitterness, pray for us
Field of tribulation, pray for us
Mass of suffering, pray for us
Mirror of patience, pray for us
Rock of constancy, pray for us
Remedy in perplexity, pray for us
Joy of the afflicted, pray for us
Ark of the desolate, pray for us
Refuge of the abandoned,pray for us
Shiled of the oppressed, pray for us
Conqueror of the incredulous, pray for us
Solace of the wretched, pray for us
Medicine of the sick, pray for us
Help of the faint, pray for us
Strength of the weak, pray for us
Protectress of those who fight, pray for us
Haven of the shipwrecked, pray for us
Calmer of tempests, pray for us
Companion of the sorrowful, pray for us
Retreat of those who groan, pray for us
Terror of the treacherous, pray for us
Standard-bearer of the Martyrs, pray for us
Treasure of the Faithful, pray for us
Light of Confessors, pray for us
Pearl of Virgins, pray for us
Comfort of Widows, pray for us
Joy of all Saints, pray for us
Queen of thy Servants,pray for us
Holy Mary, who alone art unexampled, pray for us

Pray for us, most Sorrowful Virgin, That we may be made worthy
of the promises of Christ.

**Full disclosure:  I wrote this last year.  But I feel just the same…so, I’m reposting. 

>Suddenly: Last Summer

>We are here.
The last real summer.
And it’s a doozy.

I am talking about this last summer with my Booboo, my Jon (I can still call him that, mom privilege).
He is a graduate now, all 18 and big and prepping to head off to college.
And while you might think, “Oh, there she goes again, being all maudlin and melodramatic,” and you would be right to a degree………
This summer is different.
It is rare and precious.

And, kinda excruciating.
And, kinda exhilarating.

Yes, he will be home again, on breaks and next summer too.  But it will be forever different, changed in tone, tempo, tenor.  Some of those changes are great steps forward, and important, necessary and even welcomed by us all.  But even so, change is hard, and even when he comes home for extended weeks in the summer it will be different.  It’s irrevocable.  That’s part of the process.  I know it. He knows it.  We all know it, and can feel it pressing on the edges.
It’s there, rushing toward us – too too fast.
But also, on those hard angry fussy hurting days, in it’s own way it’s too slow.
Especially too slow for my son, who is simply twitching right out of his skin to break loose and head off into his own life.
But, maybe, just maybe some days, also a little tiny bit too fast for my son…who loves summer and needs a bit of time to prepare himself for this big change….then again, that might just be ME.  (Oh, right.)

He needs us still, and will.
But he doesn’t, and shouldn’t as much, also.
Besides, there is work to be done; work that IS being done.
It is important work, but oh, it is the hardest work there is.

(Yup, I look just like that, feather-version…..yup yup…ahem.  
Maybe some of those hard days tho, we both do.)


The unconscious prep to start into a new life, and the classic process of parting those ties a bit: it’s textbook.  But, often the process finds itself played out in the short fuses and loud or hard arguments over often stupid things or stupid misinterpretations.
My husband asks me, “Why do you let him push your buttons? Just shrug and hold the line.” But it’s not so easy for me.
One, because I stink at doing that.  I am like one of those phones for toddlers or elderly where the buttons are enormous, to aid in their ease of pushing.  That’s me, easy buttons to push all over.  Especially here, I guess.  Tom/Coffeedoc’s right, of course.
Two, because often it’s me pushing my son’s buttons to a degree, having expectations that might not be utterly fair.  (Ok, I’m just saying, it took a lot to admit that…..ouch).  
This work is being done mostly by Jon and me, the family and dad too a little,  but the hard work…it’s the two of us.
We have to ease out of this tightly knit together life we have into a new stitch of knitting.
A looser stitch, no less strong, but even so, it has to be unraveled a bit to retie it anew.
Not far.
Just a bit, and with a new pattern.
Stronger even.

But right now, those unforeseen, loud or angry and/or frustrated misunderstandings are very hard.

This summer, suddenly, is about time together that is so good that it takes my breath with wonder at this great young kid/man who is smart and funny and good, deeply good.
Then, we both turn around and we are simply aggravating each other and stepping on land mines that blow up in our faces.  Ouch.
The swings and shifts are hard.
And that is so typical, it seems…of a mom and her boy, who is heading off to college, out of the house, into the world.

Suddenly…it’s the last summer.

>"Acoustic Flood:" Song for a Friday

>Ok, it’s late, but still worth a listen.

My son Jon, Booboo, wrote and played and recorded this for me for Mother’s Day.

It’s a song: “Acoustic Flood,” but I rather prefer the title, “Mom’s Song.”  Just for me.  It’s acoustic guitar, one of my favs….and it’s tailored to me, for me, because I fuss at him to play “something nice.”  Jon is very creative and loves to spend every waking moment a good bit of time fiddling with his music stuff.  Often however he asks me to listen to his latest creation or some music that he and his friends were making and that he recorded.  Often that music is, um, LOUD, and ELECTRONIC, or RAP and just too hard for my old stodgy ears, I guess. That’s when I fuss and say, “Good…but, oh, play me something nice.”  He usually rolls his eyes and says, “I am!”  And around we go, but with a smile.

So for Mother’s Day this year, he did it. Jon played me “something nice.” He made me smile, and he made me start to cry.  Because THIS sound is my son, my Booboo, and his playing makes my heart kinda burst.

Have a listen, it’s a treat {h/t to Marc}:


>Radio, oh, oh! Updated w/ link

>Well, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Sometimes it’s a crazy or hard one, and sometimes it’s a crazy or fun one! Today I just caught a curve ball…but this one is fun!

Yup, who’da thunk it?
I’m gonna be on the radio today!
Now it’s just a small, quick flash….maybe a minute or two, but even that has me very much a little bit nervous and excited both.
So who’d want to talk to me? Well, apparently Catholic Charities New York on Sirius/XM radio does, for a brief moment!
The weekly interview show, “Just Love” with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan has a brief bit in the beginning of lighter topics and they asked me to talk with the very nice Marianna Macri a bit about the whole “mom blog” thing.  I guess, I’m Catholic, I’ve got a blog, and I”m a mom – fits the ticket! And well you all know me, I will always talk if someone asks me to! So I said yes, and now I pray I don’t sound like a dolt.  Besides, I love Catholic Charities, they all do such great work and so I’m always on board for pretty much whatever they ask!

So, if you’re interested, it’s around 1:10-15 or so, eastern time.  Sirius Radio channel 159, or XM 117 or online.  It’ll either be good, or a really great way for God to make sure I never get too prideful, eh? Throw a prayer my way if you are of the mind to, so that I at least speak in intelligible sentences.  Whoa.

Msgr Kevin Sullivan, on “Just Love”.

UPDATED: I did it! It was great fun and they were so nice! I blathered a bit as I tend to do….sorry! But maybe the best part was that my mom called me IMMEDIATELY afterward, and she told me she listened to the whole thing (to my great surprise) and that she thought I did great.  Aw, what a good mom, but she MADE MY DAY.  Because I am still six.  Even so, I love my mom and this was fun.  
Here’s the link, I come on the show around ten minutes in, but the whole show is worth a listen of course.  Catholic Charities folks are always a good bet for a great conversation!

>Stepping Out


“Weeping Nude” painting by Edvard Munch, 1913
I have hesitated to post this.  
But, finally.  I am.
See that woman, in the painting?  That was me, minus the long thick tresses and youth.  
No longer.
But I was there.
This post is a stepping out.
I have hesitated, hemmed and hawed about writing this.  
I have a knot of fear in my gut doing it.
But I hope, maybe that if I do…then others will see that you can move on.  
Others will maybe realize that it is ok if they get snared.  
And so that I can be true.  To me.  To this record, my blog, my virtual journal.
So that it’s “out there.”

This post is about that dark secret: things can kinda fall apart for awhile after an adoption.
It can be to varying degrees, but it can also be a form of Post Adoption Depression.
Been there. 
Done that.
It maybe wasn’t only official Post Adoption Depression, but it was a huge squeezing tangle of that and just generally being overwhelmed by changes and hard differences. 
And it scared the life out of  me. 
It froze me.
And I feared to let anyone know that I was a mess, outside of a trusted two or three {and, oh bless you, you know who you are}….because no one really wants to be known as the big fat phony that they really are.  
Hello to you all.
That would be me. 
Bit fat phony.
Hypocrite extraordinaire.
Writer of old blog posts extolling the truth and joy of adopting and love and the swift sure glide into same, if only you embrace it fully, unreservedly.  
I extolled the utter beauty of adoption.
I still do, if not more so…but for the first time after four previous adoptions, I had hit a wall.
Let me emphasize, tho I felt during all this like a fake, looking out from the mire of last summer…
now, I still hold to those writings.  
I did write all those. They were not, are not, lies.  Still.  
Even now, still, I believe them to be true…and I see them more clearly.
But I also know, from my own shocked broken self, found too many times on the bathroom floor weeping in gulping panic, that sometimes….those feelings are out of reach.
And that it doesn’t even have much or anything to do with the particular child, it’s just the, um, whole “muchness” of it.
Those feelings of confidence, love and surety are grasped for, mutely screamed for…and they are out of reach.  
And the sharp cold piercing icepick of fear and despair stabs just under your ribs and you gasp in shock.
And you weep.  
Or, more accurately, I wept.
Then.  Last summer. Yes, then.
I wept at night after dinner, after bedtime until I couldn’t breath and my eyes were swollen shut. 
I woke looking like a bullfrog and could barely get out of bed.  
Only the pull of my toddler Gabey, prying open my eyes and telling me he wanted milk pulled me out into the world again…that and the clank and clamor of the early morning sounds of a house with many children.
The house won’t wait for despair.  
The children can’t understand, nor should they have to, the indigo binding cloths of bleak.
So you muddle along, faking it, trying to breathe even as you are a little bit frozen.
I tried the last fibers of poor Tom’s patience and endurance to be sure; him befuddled by my gulping sobs and shaking head.
I tried to pray, and grasped for words, instead groaning soundlessly.
Finally, stumbling through the first weeks and month home, last summer,  yes then….Tom finally, gently, said with a sad hug “You are hurting you and her and them.  You are not finding your way. Call your doc. Get  help.” 

It’s kind of like having a colossal migraine (I get those)…you think you can keep muddling along, dropping things and shunning interaction because it hurts too much, physically, and finally someone says, um, “Look, for pity’s sake, do what it takes to make this stop: lie down, turn off the light, drink some water, rest, take the med,…you’ll feel a lot better and at least be able to get through the rest of the day.”
Tom said that to me, in essence, but this time not about a migraine.
Shocked that he said it out loud, I did.  
I got help.  
And it humiliates me to type this, even as I know it shouldn’t.  
The getting help doesn’t humiliate me.
But the shock and confusion of finding myself overcome on the floor…yeah, those are not my proudest moments. 
But I am vain. 
I am full of pride.
But I am a phony.  And I know it.
So, I brace now for the embarrassment; but truthfully I have long ago flogged myself for it.

But here is the key, and why I am stepping out: IT HELPED.
It helped.
I thought that I was just a failure.  
I failed at my own words.
I failed at loving well.
I failed at persevering.
I failed at mom-ing. 
But getting some help, by which I mean admitting I was a mess, not making it.  
By which I mean, talking with close friends, family.
By which I mean, stepping forward blindly, soundlessly maybe, but trying to trust in prayer (because yeah this was kind of a spiritual crisis too).
By which I  mean, giving myself permission to be a mess and not a supermom.
By which I  mean, zoloft, for a few months…well it helped. 
I stopped crying at night on my bathroom floor.
I calmed and was able to be present for my kids again, fully. 
I looked to the wider picture.

Nothing changed on the outside of that picture.
The hards were still hard.
The lack of communication and slow building of bonds were still there.
But, with help, I stopped only seeing the disconnects.
I breathed.
I slowed. 
I stopped crying. 
I was able to look further, by which I mean, beyond my own panic.

So, did I fail?
Um, yeah.
And I do still.  Every. Day.
That’s not new, that’s not even new with this adoption…old old news, that one.
But again, I know I can live with it. 
I knew it before, but then, couldn’t see past it.
I really think, it was a good jolt of Post Adoption Depression (and let me say the acronym, “PADS” is simply dreadful..maybe that’s apropos…hmmm).
It’s real.
It’s kind of a post stress syndrome thing.   
Maybe lot of it, for me,  might have been unmet, unrealistic expectations.
Maybe it was an impatient, controlling thing.
Maybe, I don’t know…
It might very well be a “failed superwoman” thing.  
Because I can very easily get the “big head” and think I can take it on, as a mom.  
Well, now I know better, to be sure.
A lot of it was a spiritual “trust” issue, cause apparently I am really bad at that.
Ouch, and “surprise!”
I’ve been humbled to the utmost (well, maybe NOW upon posting I have..ahem)
I will NEVER think I am “all that” as a mom, ever again.  
Not that I did so much…but maybe a little, and maybe a lot more than I ever will again. 

Anyhow, that first month last summer….it did me in.  
Kicked my right back on my fanny.  Or the bathroom floor, whatever…you get the idea.  
Yes, I was sicker than ever in my life (can you say ‘swine flu in Africa?” I can!).   
That surely didn’t help a bit.
But also, this adoption was just somehow so different than any one before.  
Just like every birth is different, and every child is different, so, of course, every adoption is different.  Doh.  
Like I didn’t know.  
But.  I didn’t KNOW….because I hadn’t lived it to this degree. Or lived this one, maybe. 
I could go on.  You don’t want to hear more.  
But hear this:
I gave up Zoloft for Lent.
Yup.  I know, goofy maybe.  
But OH so hard…scary mostly.  
I feared falling under that dark shroud again.  I feared it.  
But I didn’t.  
And now, NOW, it is EASTER! 
{Yes, it is STILL Easter! The season of Easter, I mean…Isn’t that just the coolest thing?}
And with Easter comes the light.
So, I’m posting about this. 
I kinda think I must.
Because it is the gift of Easter – we are given back our very selves.
I’ve been given back my very self
It was time for me to move forward, all these facets (the friends, the bolstering support, the prayer and prayers on my behalf, and too the brief stint on zoloft) helped me walk out of it, that dark spot.
I am back to the me of me, out in the light.  I’ve stepped out.  
And it’s bright here.  
It’s also still the old standard me moody and louder and has the same ol’ land mines, but they are familiar turf.  The hards are still hard.  But they don’t make me crumple.  They might make me tired and cranky or loud too.  But I can withstand them.  Before, last summer, I could not.  Now, with this time, I can.  And do.
 (This is my fake “I am mama, hear me roar” pose! 
Too goofy this shot, but perfect for this post where I’m already at my worst.)

But for any of you out there in the blogoverse, if you have adopted and feel like you are under a stuffy shroud of hard and can’t breath…stop beating yourself up, think about help.
You’re not alone, even Melissa Fay Greene has written about this, multiple times, go check.
There are many kinds of help to pull you up from the panic: time, friends, talk, prayer, and yeah, maybe a med for a few months.
Maybe the most important help is to know it happens, to any one of us.
So, give yourself a break.
Help; different shapes and forms and ways.

It can help. 
It’s ok.  You are not alone.  
You might feel like you have to hide, that you’re alone…it’s isolating in a horrible way.
But you’re not.
You’re not alone.
Remember, been there, done that. 
And it will pass.  It can pass. 
Read that again, it can pass.  
Life isn’t gonna be what it was.  
It’s going to be different. 
But it’s going to be richer, not necessarily easier, but still oh so good.  
Not everything now is perfect or all adjusted or a dreamy soft focus portrait here in my newly grown family. 
It’s not gonna be.
And, truthfully, it wasn’t even close before.  
But, I want to step out.  I don’t want to be a hypocrite or phony even if you rightly want to call me so.
 I am just me, in this forum: this mom full of scars and cracks, bad hair and sweet tooth but trying her best.
Not holding her breath anymore. 
Step and exhale…..

>Old Dog, new tricks: potty training 107


New  underwear is so much fun.

Ok, I have to say it.  We’ve been potty training.  I wasn’t gonna post on it, because it’s just one of those things, right?  Well, I thought so. I mean, I’ve done this SEVEN times, right?  (Hence, the 107 in the title…erk) Right. 

But this time is different.  Not only because Gabey is a brilliant sweet charming talented child, and no I’m not biased, thank you for asking.  But it’s different because, for the first time ever, it’s been a snap.

Now, I hate potty training.  Because my nature is a lazy slug.  And potty training, it’s messy.  And inconvenient.  Just contemplating it makes me want to go lie down.  And there are thousands of books on “how-to” and “Secrets-of” and advice out the wazoo.  I think somewhere on my shelves I own at least fifty of them. 

But, little did I know…there really IS a secret to potty training.  Ok, two.  The first one is not so much a secret: timing.  Ya gotta wait until the kid is ready.  I did have a go at it once or twice w/ Gabey over the summer.  Clueless.  Hopeless.  NOT ready.  We bailed.  And ya can’t wait TOOO long (that was my mistake w/ oh, most of the others – except Miss M.  She did it on her own and told me after, I swear. At two. Brilliant girl.).  But, it’s been cold and snowy and we’ve been hunkered down in the house and he just turned three.  Plus he’s in a phase where he refuses to wear clothes.  So, apparently, it’s time. Now.  Whoohoo!

{Yes, my house is a mess, it’s that shedding clothes thing, what can I say?}

But here is the “new trick” for this “old dog.”  And before I say it, I will point out that I realize it’s one of those ridiculous  “everyone knows it but you” kind of things.  And I would also like to point out that I will – evenutally – overcome my resentment towards my friends failing to let me in on this.  And I might, someday, overcome the  humiliation of NOT knowing this.  I long ago accepted I was no “super-mom.” This confirms it.  No matter how many kids I have.

So, here it is: BACKWARDS.

Backwards.  DOH! You put the kid on the toilet backwards!! Why didn’t someone tell me? Ahem -Jean? Toni? All of you bloggy gals?  You can’t presume I know ANYTHING.  I’m a dolt.  I had no idea!  Forget the tiny messy potties and the slippery seats and holding them up on the seat getting a cramp in your back from lifting them….let them climb on backwards, facing the tank!



Ok, apparently, everyone!  This was a light bulb moment for me.
Thank you, finally, Jean.   
Maybe it’s a southern thing?
Feel free to sound off here and let me know if its regional so I don’t feel like a total dolt (tho I’ve lived in the south long enough to train a few and no one told me.  Not that I”m holding a grudge, Jean……).  Did you moms know about this?? Sheesh.  Well, I didn’t.  But it totally was a light switch for my Gabey.  Ok, and me.  Hey, he can climb up on  his own, check everything out, feel secure.  Very empowering.  Done deal.  He’s trained for daytime and almost for night.  In less than a week.  AMAZING!

So, for those of  you who share my prior lack of knowledge, I”m sharing.
For those of you who presumed we all know, you’re wrong.
For me, I’m just celebrating.  Whew.

>You’re so Vain

>Me, I mean.

I’ve been stewing about this a lot lately. Vanity. Me. How tied I am to it.

It’s Lent. And I guess it’s a good thing to stew about…if you’re trying to be a bit more detached from it. But sheesh, it’s like detaching a limb, for pete’s sake. Because, yeah, I’m SO vain.
Anchoress got me stewing about it more, with this post. She talks about how hard it is to finally post a pic of her, the real her, be seen on video, with all her perceived shortcomings. And I read it and thought, yup. Gee we are so hard on ourselves.

But I am the worst at it. And I’ve been thinking about it a lot this week. That’s probably due to the fact that I spent far far too long on the sofa, either sitting company with a sick kid (half done, waiting for the other half of kids to fall sick…) or lying sick myself; only barely conscious enough to register my hands bent into old feeble claws and the odd poochy lump that would be my stomach, not the pillow after all. It was made worse when I had to answer the door to the very nice yard guy. Saying hello, his eyes politely flickered then made a studied examination of his clipboard. He hastily retreated back to his truck, business finished. Grateful for the quick exit, I checked in the bathroom on my way back to the sofa. Oh dear, I thought, taking in the wild frizzy gray mop, and the baggy eyes and slack gray skin underneath, the rumpled sweats. I look like hell. Poor guy, now he has to go find some Airborne tabs, quick. And I thought, ah, sick and still vain. So sad.

And now I’m better but still feeling all out of sorts. It’s a vague malaise that’s been lingering in the atmosphere of my head lately. I’ve chalked it up to spring fever. I’ve chalked it up to the waiting blues (court, again). I’ve chalked it up to just plumb being out of shape (this one very likely) again.

But then I’ve thought more about it. And you know, maybe this is a sort of Lenten snag, at least that I’m stewing about it now, more. Maybe I’m supposed to stew about it more, now. It’s one of my personal thorns. I have always been insecure to some degree (yeah, we all are, but still), some eras really much so and some less (40’s really are better, except the failing body thing). Which is vanity, the wishing you were somehow more, better.

So what to do about it? Workout again? For real? The problem with that is twofold: first, I tend to go the compulsive route…I don’t just run (ok run/walk, I’m being honest here), I obsess. It’s not enough to go a mile or two or three a day…I have to do more, it creeps up, it consumes.

(Me, after my one and only marathon….and I can put this up because I’m proud I did it but it almost killed me and also, I look like what I was, stinky smelly exhausted…so it’s oh so apropos for this post, no?)

Second, no matter how hard I work out, I’m not gonna look like I’m twenty-two anymore. I’m 46, ’nuff said. Should I go back to my cheerleader mainstay and say, when I am not working out: “Hey, I’ve got bigger fish to fry?” That might be true, sometimes. Go back to my postmodern woman mantra: you all know this golden nugget, “Hey, I need to make time for me!” and then slice and dice our daily schedule to make room for my workouts? (And I’m referencing above marathon photo…that was a tough one to carve out family wise…like rearranging the planets. Those days are gone. Aw)

Actually, it’s three fold. Third: it’s not just about working out or not. It’s about that sticky sense that if you don’t, and don’t follow the current cultural standards closely enough, it’s not good enough. This is the sticking point of course. The sickness. The deep seated, bought in, vanity.

Sigh. I don’t know. It’s very hard in this pressure cooker modern culture of ours to withstand the tide of push pull tug to be some freaky franken-fabu-mama. Can’t be done and yet we all scan every new moisturizer that comes out promising the erase the wrinkles or tighten the sagging. (Ok, me). It, this culture, breeds self loathing. Our very culture swims in vanity.

But it is Lent. So I will put this up. Because Anchoress started it, blogwise. Because, I want to detach from this nagging snagging vanity that drains my joy when my jeans get snug. Because I do have bigger fish to fry (no, that’s not a Catholic Friday pun…but it could be!). Because I want to be more than what size jeans I wear or how my hair is coiffed or how floppy my jowls are getting.

I want to be holy. Ok, I want to grow in holiness. Really.

And to do that, I have to detach. I have to only want God, not me, not me as I wish I was. Love what God loves. Which, shhhhh, means even me. And then, finally, if I can let go, detach…..maybe I can grow into the most real beauty of all; the kind that counts.
For me, it looks like this.See. Um, clearly…..looonnnnnnggg way to go here. Sigh.
But, it’s Lent. And we are in week two. So, something to work on……

This song has been rolling in my head today, sheesh, hence this vain post. But the subtitles make me laugh.

>Snared, part 2


Sometimes, I let myself step right into the bear trap.
And it happens that fast, one minute strolling along on a regular day, generally happy and busy, then CRACK, it snaps.

And in shock and surprise I feel the tremor of frustration and anger race right through me.
And in shock and dull recognition of this familiar path I watch it play out, once again.
The whipcord (figuratively speaking people, sheesh!) of cold anger, splaying out of the reel toward circumstances that really, in so many ways are beyond my control (hence, my frustation) but are not beyond my influence.
And that is the sharp pointed teeth of this bear trap, digging into my heart, my soul, my self.

It can snap as fast as a light switch flipping on.
Only sometimes do I get the warnings, the signs and signals that I’d better watch out, there are bear traps set about….

It’s so frustrating: when I fail to control that temper, when I respond to this particular, well known bear trap. It’s my job to stay calm, to get dead calm, when the one who needs me most gets so out of control. She needs me to not respond to the many buttons pushed, to the lashing attempts to provoke me, or anyone in range. When she gets like this, it is in so many ways and on so many levels, literally, physiologically, out of her control. We all know this by now.

And yet. It is hard some days. It is tiring. I fail. (See becca, is it Friday already?) And as I am the one home around the clock, I am the safest one and thus the one that gets the full brunt of it. And most days I can do well to work through it. Most days I am the one who can calm and weather the storm and understand it as well as it can be understood. It is my duty, my honor, to do so.

But some days, I find my foot in the bear trap and I don’t stay coldly flat calm. I get tired and angry or too busy and I fail. And of course, that only makes it worse; if I respond with any intensity at all. So, soon enough, I then call my fallback, my lifeline and he does the job. {I hate to call him to step in, he’s so busy.} But I’m no fool, I will use the help I can get. See, no mom of the year awards here, ever. But, his voice will be the one to stop the slide. And then we only need time. The trap is sprung. The day goes on. We pick up and begin again.

>On Not Being Able to Paint


study of Leonardo, mmg

It’s a bit of a curse, being a perfectionist control freak.
It is stifling.
It is limiting.
It is stupid.

I used to be, back in the day, almost an artist. I say almost, in that I was never quite tortured enough (though I tried) to be one, I suppose.
And really, never talented enough either. Not driven. Not truly.

And therein lies my problem. Because, if I was a REAL artist, I’d wouldn’t care. I would just paint for the joy and release of it. And sculpt and draw. All those things that ARE such a release and a joy….all those things that when I remind myself that’s it’s ok to take the time to do it, and then DO it….I feel such joy, such pleasure. I feel such a flood of “oh, yeah, I love this, no matter what, this is part of me.”

So, if I get that feeling, that simple pleasure, every time, WHY can’t I just jump in and keep up with it? I can only guess because I am not deep down a true artist. It’s ok, I can live with being a dabbler. The problem lies in the control aspect, the perfectionism. Because I want every piece I start to be, well, perfect. And if I don’t have the time to devote to making it so, or if I am rusty or in a medium where I am less proficient, then I am somehow…..stifled.

And I do nothing.

And I think that is the saddest thing. And when I intellectualize it, I can jump start myself again, because the intellect in me knows that the control freak is an idiot.

And then I realize, this overflows into so many aspects of my life and choices. I gave up running, back in the day, when I knew I would never be anything but laughably slow (and they did) and to run any distance whatsoever would be almost beyond my ability. I do the same thing with gardening, sewing, quilting, some cooking….I often don’t start because I fear that I or it will not be good enough.

It can even overflow into mom-hood. I can choose to not start or to shut off, out of fear of not being ‘good enough” or totally in control of a situation – of a ‘life-painting’, if you will. The intellectual side of me can easily live in fear.

That is what the urge to perfectionism is, the control freak side really is: fear.

But, I did end up running that half marathon. Then I ended up running that marathon. And I was laughable. And it was still awesome. Worth it. Joy, pleasure, amidst the dorkyness and pain. And I didn’t care about that anymore. It was liberating. I gave up the perfectionism there, and it worked.

So I am determining to choose. I choose to not choose fear. {And yeah, that scares me. Ha!}

I am tired of not of being able to paint.

So, I think I am going to carve out a bit of time, even if it is nowhere near the amount I used to spend in my marathon painting sessions, back in the day. And I think I am choosing to paint again…in different new mediums, new canvases.

I’m going to go find my brushes.