Killing me softly.

“Mama…mama…mama…”  I’m driving.  I’m ignoring.  I’m tired coming home from the gym one day about a week ago.  “Mama!”

Yes Amelia?  (I am fighting the urge to say WHAT?!?”) ( Thank you stage management training.)

“Mama, what’s a salami?”

A salami?  I am contemplating explaining encased meats to a four-year old.  Aunt Becky knows what I’m talking about.  I do love encased meats.  Salami, kielbasa, Hormel cheese wranglers, bright red natural casing wieners (heh, heh).  I’m not a fan of brats and I’m not sure why.  I think it’s because I never had a brat until I moved nearer to Wisconsin and they were hyped for so long that they just didn’t live up when the time came.

So I start talking about how salami is like a giant sausage but it’s cold and sliced for sandwiches…

“No!  A SA-LA-MI”  Slower and louder like the voice you reserve for foreigners.  “Will all that water come to our house?”

Salami?  Oh…tsunami!  You mean tsunami right?  All the water in Japan?

“Right,” she says.  “Salami.  Will we have a tsunami water at our house?”

No.  We don’t live near an ocean.

Ella pipes up.  “But what if we do get a tsunami?”

We won’t.  There’s no way.

“I know.  But what if it does happen?  What will happen?” 

We have the same exchange of me saying it won’t happen and Ella demanding an answer about what if.  She’s getting worked up.  I really hate it when she does this.  My patience with this day is gone.  Gone.  Really gone.

Okay girls, it’s not going to happen.  If there is a tsunami and it washes up in Nebraska…this whole world has bigger problems.  Even I don’t like my tone at this point.  You know when that tsunami happened in Japan?  There were a lot of people who couldn’t get out of the way and all the water came.  What happened to lots of those people?

Ella says, “They died.  They drowned.”

That’s right.  SO if it came to our house we could die too.

Amelia has just been listening to Ella and I going around and around about this and how it’s not going to happen here.  We are about to pull into the driveway and it is very near bedtime and all I want to do is kick my chair back, eat my dinner and not answer any more questions. 

And Amelia says…”Yep.  And then we could go to Heaven and then I could get to see my daddy and I would run to him and give him a great big hug and say DADDY!”

You’re killing me, kid.  Just…killing me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m more than pleased that she gets it.  That she isn’t even five years old and she has more faith that I have ever had in my entire life.  In fact, it makes me realize how little faith I have.  How her whole world is centered on what comes after this life as all of ours should be.  I think.

See…there it is.  The doubt.  I don’t think anybody blames me at this point for my thoughts going that direction but at least the message has come through loud and clear to my children.

Lions.

I made the decision right around the time that my baby decided to get into bed with me.  And then have a chat.  About preschool and her babies and life in general.  At 4am.  What?  Is this college again?  Move over or get out.  So about that time, I decided that we would be skipping church today.

At 8am the phone rang.  It was my mother.  Coming to my house.  To go to my new church with me.  Oh, and dad was with her too.  So I did what any good daughter would do.  I made a pot of coffee, unlocked the front door and got in the shower. 

We made it to church.  So I’m sitting there with my big girl hanging on one side and my baby rifling through my purse, and the minister is talking about Daniel.  Daniel, thrown to the lions.  Thought to be dead.  Should have been dead.  But the lions decided (by an act of GOD no less) that they weren’t hungry that particular day. 

The life lesson is this:  be thankful…on your knees thankful…that God lets you live another day.

The End.

I’m having a little trouble with this.  I’m having alot of trouble, actually, with my faith.  And not just faith in all things spiritual.  But faith in the system, faith in the economy, the government, the food supply.  I cannot take things at face value because I am not allowed to do so.

Maybe it’s too many spy movies.  But nothing is as it seems.  And, I have to believe (and I do), that most of the danger is in our own minds.  I let my kids play in the yard.  Without (eek) a grownup!  And without shoes!  Or a helmet!  Say it isn’t so!  I also sleep with the windows open.  I have no fear that someone will cut the screens and enter my home and rifle through my junk drawers.  I guess that’s faith in something.  Faith that all the shitty things that can happen to a person has already happened. 

Then why am I still not sleeping?  Grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw when I do sleep?  Why have I gained 35 pounds in the last 18 months?  Why do I crave my own home and my own space but go crazy from being alone and not going anywhere?  Why does major surgery sound appealing, if only to get a really long nap? 

These are the questions that go through my head.  At church.  That, and, why oh why is it okay to wear white jeans?  I just don’t get it.  And baby doll tops?  Look good on nobody.  Except those that are gestating.  I’m just putting that out there.  Not that I have any fashion sense at all.  I’m the one who cannot imagine a day without yoga pants and Keen sandals. 

Part of me wants to meet with the minister.  Tell my story.  Again.  And see if he has some wisdom that I may have overlooked.  Maybe he can tell me something to make me feel better…some little gem that will reveal the peace that I have been seeking.  I know…deep, right? 

Maybe it’s not about that moment of clarity.  Maybe nobody knows. 

I could use a really good cry but I’m fairly certain that all the tears have been medicated out of me.  I feel like there wouldn’t be anyone to pick my up from the bathroom floor except my babies and,well, that’s not fair to them.  I want to throw something.  But then I’ll just have to clean up the mess.  I want to drive far, far away.  But then if I came back, everything would be gone.  I want to run.  Okay, maybe not run (black eye) but walk.  Fast.  Like mall walking.  I wish I was one of those people who can lose themselves in exercise.  Who could push themselves until they tore their bodies apart only to do it again tomorrow.  I tried that once.  And couldn’t lift my baby for a week.  Or the remote.  Or a hairbrush. 

What if Daniel had been eaten?  What if he’d stubbed his toe and left a drop of blood on the rocks?  What would the moral of the story been if that had happened?

Daniel did what was right and the lions got a snack.

Because that’s how it goes for most of us.  I answered my phone.  And instead of a lazy day with my coffee and my newspaper and a donut run…I put on makeup, shushed my littles, sang Jesus Loves Me and thought about what it would be like to get stitched up after a brutal lion attack. 

I’ll bet I know what it feels like.

Hey lady, what’s with the Crocs and sweat pants?

God only gives you what you can handle.

Discuss.

Want to know my thoughts?  Horseshit. 

I am personally offended to think that there is someone out there who thinks for a second that I can handle this.  I mean, I am handling this…I do every day.  I have to or it won’t get done.  Like every effing thing else around here.  But just because I have the strength of character to handle “this” shouldn’t mean that I need to be tested by this or punished (?) because I can handle it. 

A different take on it (and it wasn’t my idea so I can’t take credit…I’m just reporting) is that if God gave us only what we could handle then why are there suicides?  Somebody, somewhere was given too much and couldn’t take it.  But she is Catholic and believes that suicide is a mortal sin.  Or her church does anyway so you’re screwed both ways.  You can’t hack it so you end it but then you’re in trouble with the big guy anyway.  Doesn’t make any sense.  Any of it.

Or…is this something that you say when there are no words?  When someone is going through something so troubling that you must, absolutely say something because to not say anything would make you feel unemphatic?  Just thinking out loud here.

We all have our issues.  I heard about a seemingly normal lady tonight who spent mother’s day getting her jewelry out of pawn because she has a gambling problem.  Several marriages are on the rocks.  Mamas with sick kids.  Babies born too early.  You never can tell by looking at someone.  Except that meth thing ’cause…yuck. 

I used to wonder (and now have come to realize that everyone is so wrapped up in their own shit that nobody ever gives a second glance to anyone else) if people could read my story from my face.  If they looked at me and wanted to know what my deal was.  What’s with the sweat pants and crocs, lady?  Do you ever clean your kid’s face?  Are you really going to eat that?  I think about that when the conditions are ripe for people watching.  Airports, waiting rooms, church, the bar after 11.  What’s her deal?  And why did her friends let her go out looking like that?  I wonder what kind of cancer that guy has.  Lady, your kids are brats but from the looks of things, you already know that. 

Again with the talking out loud.  I don’t really think that God has a whole lot to do with it.  I think we just handle it.  We have to.  The ones that get away…who don’t handle it at all…who fall off the grid and I mean really, really off…those are the ones that God takes care of.

Dry drowning.

After almost two years, I have started dreaming again.  I have these short, vivid dreams just about every time I lose consiousness for more than ten minutes in a row.  They are, for the most part, not happy or overly pleasant either.  It’s almost a case for going back on the ambien.  At least then I didn’t remember dreaming.  I hear that I can rob a bank on ambien and not remember that either so that’s kind of fun.

I don’t know if it’s the addition of my nocturnal fantasy life or what but I’m in a funk.  I shouldn’t be.  I have no real right to be but I’m in a funk.

Sunday is Stephen’s birthday.  He would have been 34. 

Yesterday was almost 60 degrees.  I try not to talk about the weather but we got outside, played with chalks, rode bikes, walked the dog (or the dog walked me, I’m not sure) and had our afternoon snack on the front step.  Today?  We are planning for a snow storm.  Argh.  As much as I don’t like heat (comes with the Big Boobs McGee territory), I’m starting to think that winter is just not for me. 

Water Aerobics is going well.  Too well.  I’m finding myself cruising the interwebz for water aerobic shoes and gloves.  I didn’t go today so I could let my forearms and thighs rest (that sounds dirty but it isn’t) and now I feel like a lump of…butter?  No, that’s not right.  Frosting?  Melted Cheese?  Mmmm…melted cheese….  Anyway, I’m down about 5 pounds in the almost 3 weeks that I’ve been in the water.  Not too shabby considering I’m always freaking hungry.  What’s that all about?  It’s not that intense.  What is it about the water that makes me want to eat everything in sight?

I have baby lust.  Big.  Time.

Ella is over the sickies and back to normal.  We are working on manners.  Big time.  Amelia is naughty.  I almost committed a felony the other night when I caught her with a (washable) marker, drawing all over the sheets and pillows two hours after I changed them.  And fifteen minutes before bed.  We really need to be outside more.  Much like the dog, everyone does better with a little fresh air and exercise.

The urge to date comes and goes.  It all boils down to the thought that I really just want someone to give a shit. 

About me.  And only me.  For, like, ten uninterrupted minutes.

I am also struggling with feeling jilted.  Short stick.  Screwed.  Whatever.

I shouldn’t.  I have so, so many things going right.  More so than they have a right to be.  We were talking tonight at church about greed (among other undesirable traits).  I decided about a minute in that this was my vice.  Greed.  I feel screwed therefore I have a huge sense of entitlement.  I don’t “love thy neighbor” because life screwed me and not him.  I don’t give as freely as I could/should because so much has already been taken from me. 

Kind of ironic, really, that I have chosen to spend my mornings in the water when it is the rest of day that makes me feel like I’m drowning.

Walk the walk you talk.

Seven days into the new year and we are finally sorted out from the holidays.  In a mental way, not in a physical way.  I still have to dig out from the toy bomb that happened in our basement (ignited by a couple of two year olds) but that appears to also be an ongoing theme.  The kids are sleeping well, eating well, back to school and peeing on the tiny pink potty chair with amazing regularity.  (The second kid is a piece of cake in comparison to the first…if only in this particular instance.)

But then there’s the 40 pound wrench that gets thrown into the equation.  I think I have her almost figured out.  Maya is an attention whore.  We all have friends like this.  Except me.  And, since I don’t, the universe has seen fit to bless me with a dog that feeds off attention.  Craves it.  Demands it.  From.  Me. 

Well, shit.

I have to close us all into the girls’ room to get dressed in the morning or before bed.  I have to put Amelia on the table to put her shoes on for her.  Even taking a crap involves closing the door.  In all these cases (not to mention nursing, reading to or cooking for the littles) Maya makes a full hearted attempt to get between me and the kids.  Lays down; refuses to move. 

Also annoying:  knocks over food dish and then piles the kibble with her nose and eats it off the rug.  Goes ape shit crazy when I let her out of the crate.  So much so that Amelia has been knocked down several times in the last few days.  I either have to get her into training STAT or…I don’t know.  I hope training is the answer.  I know she’s only been here for a week and I know that she’s been through alot in the last year.  I’m not asking for much.  But if I had wanted to get a lap dog, I would have gotten a Yorkie.

I started a new bible study tonight titled “Walk the walk that you talk.”  We only got about 45 minutes of actual study in but I think I will like it.  We are starting with Ephesians.  Key words:  blessed, lavished, chose, predestined.  Not in that order. 

I keep taking myself (and the littles) back to the church.  I think it was probably my upbringing that makes it a safe place for me and I want my kids to feel safe.  Ella and I are visiting a Lutheran elementary school in the morning.  People seem suprised that I would drive my child(ren) more than 10 minutes to school when there is a perfectly good public school four blocks away.  Maybe this is another one of my wild hairs.  I’m not sure I can afford private school and I’m not sure why I want  my kids to be different. 

Honestly, I’d homeschool if I were just *that much* more motivated.  Truth is, I’m happier when my kids and I have a break from each other.  And I’d like to go back to working at some point (not working too hard, mind you…). 

I’ve not been happy with Ella’s preschool.  Actually the preschool itself is fine but I have very little faith in the competency of her teacher.  It’s her first year teaching.  I know everybody has a first year but why, oh why does it have to be with my kid???  I feel the same about nursing students.  I’m all for education but not on my family, okay? 

So here’s my short list of things that bug me about my kid’s preschool:

  1. There are DHS lists of approved snacks.  Please follow them.  Pudding, ice cream and fruit snacks are not acceptable. 
  2. If my kid goes to school with a jacket, she comes home in one.  Don’t stuff it in her backpack, citing time issues.
  3. Coloring book pages are not conducive to creativity.  Blank paper is.
  4. Make sure that all art supplies are washable.
  5. There is NO room for Santa in a Christian preschool.  Sorry to be a buzzkill.
  6. I don’t give a crap if my kid can read or write anything beyond her name when she leaves preschool.  I do, however, expect her to be able to talk through a conflict with a peer. 
  7. For the love of all that’s holy, check your grammar and spelling before you send out your weekly missive.

I’m just.  Irritated.  I could go on and on.  I’ve met with the director.  I’ve met with the pastor.  I’ve spoken to her teacher, briefly, but it’s trying to reason with a puppy.  Lots of head nods and excitement but not much comprehension going on.  Maybe this is a good thing.  I’ve been complacent in my kid’s religious education and, well, education in general.  School is for learning.  Home is for kicking back and being part of a family.  So, it’s off to private school we go.

Ella is very bright, very creative and articulate.  She is also emotional, impulsive and manipulative.  Or maybe that’s just to me.  She will do better in a smaller class setting and with teachers/administration who get to know the individual kids and families.  I think.  I don’t know. 

This could all be just another wild hair.

Coventry Carol.

My house is clean and dim, I am writing by the light of Christmas tree.  John Tesh and his radio show is playing softly.  I can barely make out the music over the din of the dishwasher which is, in and of itself, very comforting.  The littles are asleep and quickly so tonight. 

I have the blinds open and the snow is falling very slowly.  The sky is a steel blue/purple/grey.  It looks like theatre “night”.  The reflection of the town lights on the snow will keep it from being totally dark tonight.  I can see the flakes falling only by the orange glow from the streetlight. 

I am humming the “Coventry Carol.”

Lully, lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Christmas can be a hard time for anyone who feels like she is missing something from her life.  The sense of loss is deep and dark.  The Christmas after Will died, we didn’t do Christmas cards, we barely put up the tree, we cut way back on gifts.  We stuck to ourselves and regrouped.  But we were definitely missing something.  The noise, his cries, his schedule, the ritualistic “just checking on the boy” in the middle of the night.  His door was still closed.  We were lost.  Even with a new life inside me, it was never going to be the same.

O sisters too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day
This poor youngling for whom we do sing
By, by, lully, lullay.

You cling to those that know you best in times like this.  We really only had ourselves then.  We were newly married, newly mourning.  There isn’t a word for what happens when your child dies.  A child who loses his parents is an orphan, a wife who loses her husband is a widow but what do you call a mother who buries a child?  There are no words.  And never will be.  Never can be.  Only tears and the sympathetic head tilt that says “how are you doing?”

Herod, the king, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young to slay.

When Will died, we didn’t get to say goodbye.  He was just gone, nearly half an hour before it was “called”.  I knew it, Stephen knew it, the doctor knew it.  But they humped away, and humped hard on his little body for many minutes after his soul had gone to heaven.  When Stephen died, he never said goodbye.  He was gone several hours before his heart stopped beating.  There was nobody breathing for him, there were no extra tubes down his throat, nobody to try and restart his heart.  He was just gone. 

Then woe is me, poor Child for Thee!
And ever mourn and say,
For thy parting neither say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

******************************************************************

Thanks to Wikipedia for helping me to get the words right.

Giving thanks (or It could be worse).

The verdict is in: we are staying home this Thanksgiving.  I could have done it.  The drive, the family (that isn’t mine), the curse of the traveling littles.  In fact, as I was cruising down the interstate to the Amish bulk foods store (where else are you going to buy *just* the marshmallows that go into a box of Lucky Charms?), I kind of wished that we were in it for the long haul.  It was a beautiful day for travel and the littles were quite content. 

Oh well…tomorrow will be good too.  I have a handle on the turkey thing and I have a plan.  No chores or sewing or yelling.  We will stay in our sweats (or not get dressed at all) and play CandyLand and Memory and Playdoh.  We will make forts and I will drag the dollhouse out into the living room.  I might even get out some Christmas decorations and movies but maybe not.  We aren’t getting our tree for a week or two yet so other decorations are kind of early.  I do wish that I had a wreath for the door or something. 

I have been on edge for about three days.  I wish I knew why.  It might be the pound of Reese’s Pieces that may or may not have been consumed.  By me.  It might be the lack of either fruit or vegetable.  Maybe I might have forgotten to shower for a day or two.  Maybe it’s the guilt?  The guilt that comes from knowing a weakness and preying on it.  Hard to say.

Is it the impending holiday season that, last year, I effectively ignored?  And now it is staring me down and challenging me to a rematch.

Or maybe it’s because I went to my first movie theatre movie on Monday.  And we used to go all the time, together.  He would have loved Twilight.  (I did…it had a kick ass soundtrack) 

So instead of being all up in my own funk, I should just be thankful since that is the season.

I am thankful for my girls.  For their health mostly but also their spirit, energy, spunk and their distinct lack of being publicly bratty.

I am thankful for my friends.  The ones that don’t tell me that I’m crazy (to my face) and who invite us into their own families and memories.  Thanks for sticking around.

I am mostly thankful for my family.  As families go, they stay out of my day to day life but are there when I really need them. 

I am thankful for my own health.  Although I have come down with every virus west of the Mississippi since last holiday season, I have never been afflicted with anything serious enough to warrant worry. 

I am thankful that Stephen is still the provider for this family and I am able to be home with my girls.  As much as I bitch about how things would be easier if I could just go to work, I have always been happiest at home being a mom.  I am happy that we are fed and sheltered and warm and blessed with so much more than we truly need. 

I am blessed.  That’s for sure.  You wouldn’t think that I could or would even have the energy or the strength to see beyond what really is a shitty situation and one that I never imagined, asked for or even, arguably, deserved.  I am able to shrug my shoulders and say to anyone that asks…

“Meh.  Could be worse.”

A maybe conversation.

I am exhaused.

Physically, I have been coughing for over a week.  The gunk is gone from my lungs but there is a risidual tightness left.  By the end of the day, I feel like I’m sucking air through a straw again.  I don’t sleep well which makes Amelia not sleep well. 

The littles are playing well together…a little too well.  Amelia is in her pushing-buttons phase.  Figuratively and literally.  She makes me crazy.  And Ella enjoys egging her on, laughing like a damn fool at her little sister doing something naughty.  If you know it’s wrong, then why does it feel so right to laugh? (Ever see the “Jackass” movies?  I rest my case.)  Yesterday was the height of the madness.  I was too tired to care and ignored them and their messes all day.  Until, back to back, Amelia emptied the kleenex box, one tissue at a time, and then the very new baby wipes box.  And Ella just laughed and laughed.

And I lost my temper.   Nothing horrible.  But very loud and very abrupt.  I hurt my own voice.  And they went to bed, together…partners in crime… at 6:30.  Exactly what my own mother would have done.  Amelia was horrified.  She never got out of Ella’s bed; I think she knew she was in trouble.  Oh, but she cried and cried.  For two hours she cried.  And I sat in my chair like a zen master, eating cookies by the handful (take that WW…I really must eat my feelings or there will be consequences) and reading the Sunday paper.  When I had finished both cookies and paper, I went in and rescued Ella from the noise her sister was making.

“I tried to calm her down.  I was rubbing her back.”  I know baby.  We’ll try another day.  I took an exhaused Amelia into my arms.  Amelia mumbled “Mommy’s bed….mommy’s bed…night-night mommy’s bed…”

Good night, Ella.  I love you.  “Mommy?”  Yes, Ella.  “Tomorrow remember to take your medicine that makes you happy mommy.”  Sigh.  I will.  Note to self:  don’t take oldest child to pharmacy anymore.  (Sidenote:  those would be the birth control pills that my midwife put me on to end the constant PMS…I know it’s not fixing the problem but at least I feel in better control…I should really explain them better to Ella but I don’t want to her think that I’m actually sick.)

Mentally, it was a taxing morning.  I met with my pastor today which was significant because we haven’t really talked since the morning that we planned Stephen’s funeral.  He and Stephen are the same age and Stephen’s death was as significant to him as it was to anyone else.  I had some very specific, nagging questions that I felt could only be answered by him.  Not that he knew God’s answers but that maybe Stephen had said something to him when I wasn’t around much in his last two days.  I know that Kurt had visited when I wasn’t there and I have always wondered what they talked about.

My most pressing question was this:  Did Stephen know he was dying?

I have been thinking alot about it lately and I don’t know why.  Stephen had a ton of fight in him, even to the last day.  He had more than I am capable of understanding.  And I don’t know why.  Maybe that’s where he and I were different.  I would have fought, sure, but at some point I would have wanted to bow out gracefully.  I would have wanted to say goodbye. 

And he never did.  Say goodbye, that is.

Because, in his mind, saying goodbye was tantamount to admitting defeat.  To being done.  To rolling over and admitting that this cancer had gotten the best of one more good person.  Had broken up yet another family. 

But did he know?  Did he know that the hours were numbered?  He had to know something was going wrong because of the throngs of long distant relations coming to touch his hand and see for themselves the hollow cheeks and pained expressions, the curtains that were never drawn open and the food trays delivered and picked up untouched.  Did he know?  Did he know what the purple bracelet meant? 

That was my other question.  One, did he know he was dying and two, did he know that I had put a DNR on him?  I never told him.  I carried that secret with me that last day.  If he would have asked, I would have told and would have been glad to unburden my soul to him.  Maybe it would have opened the conversation that could have started with “I will never love somebody the way I have loved you…”

Maybe I could have asked the tough questions.  I could have asked what he wanted the girls to remember most.  I could have asked him if he wanted me to dare love again…if it was okay for his girls to call someone else “daddy”.  I could have asked him if he was scared or if he was ready.  I could have told him that he didn’t have to fight anymore…that it was okay to rest.  He didn’t have to care what anyone else thought…not me, not his dad, not the girls, not the doctors.  He could just be still.

Maybe.  It could have gone that way if I had had the courage to tell him about the empty purple bracelet. 

Maybe he would have told me about a secret stash of love letters to me…one to open on each anniversary.  Or maybe there was a journal somewhere.  Or a video.  Maybe there was a random password in his wallet that contained answers to all my questions.  Maybe he had prepared what he was going tell Will. 

Or maybe it took all the energy he had to steal that peppermint and oxygen flavored last kiss.

And maybe I’m left wondering, palms up and jaw slack.  Waiting for the answer to strike like lightning in a snowstorm.

Selfish.

I’m really trying not to be anti-social.  But I really don’t like people.

I take that back.  I like some people.  As for the rest, I find them fascinating in a bus wreck kind of way.  How do you not stare at a 300 pound, 50 year old woman without a bra on?  Why is there a 10 year old boy in a suit?  How many Lutherans *does* it take to change a lightbulb?  (Change?  What’s change?)

I just wonder what their story is.  I try to give even the surliest clerk or the spaciest waitress the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe she was up all night with a sick kid.  Maybe her ex called out of the blue.  The oil pressure light on her van is on.  Maybe her boss is breathing down her neck about whatever is important to him but she could care less. 

And, because this is about me, what do people think when they see me?  And I’m not just talking about people who know us (that would be the girls and I…and I’m talking about my actual offspring and not the girls out front just to be clear on that point).  What about the people who have known us or known of us for more than a year? 

I see the girls and I, hand in little hand in little hand, walking together.  Always walking.  On the sidewalk, through a parking lot, at the pool, at the beach.  Walking together.  The three of us.  Or me walking and two little girls walking behind me.  I believe the word I’m looking for here is poignant.  There we are.  Just us.  A mama and two babies.

On Monday I was having coffee with a friend.  She knew Stephen before he got sick although not well.  I was talking about how I never really ever got to go into that self-pity mourning, don’t-get-out-of-bed-for-days crying and sleeping phase.  I didn’t get to do it this time.  I did it with Will.  For two weeks I didn’t really leave the house.  Didn’t answer the phone.  Didn’t do much.  And then one day, I got up and went to work.  And that was it.  Well, it wasn’t it but I got that part out of my system.  But this time, I got up the day after the funeral.  When everyone except my sister went home.  When my living room was full of plants and flowers that I didn’t want…that I requested that I didn’t want.  I got up.

I made breakfast, I dressed the littles and dressed myself.  I took Ella to school.  I went and got Amelia’s pictures taken because I had neglected to do so at her birthday.  I paid bills.  I put away laundry.  And so it went. 

At what point did I get to cry and make a scene?  Never.  At what point did I not dress or feed my children even though I didn’t feel like it?  Not once.  And now I feel like it’s too late.  A year after the fact and I should be better.  I shouldn’t want it or need it.  If I had the chance to have several days alone to crawl into (and, frankly out of) that dark place…I’m not sure that I would do it.  I’m sure that I would use the time to do whatever it is that I do every day. 

Anyway…enough of the self pity.

I went to my third Bible study/parenting class tonight.  The topic was discipline.  I have to say that I was annoyed from moment one.  First of all, Drs. Les and Leslie make me want to throw my shoe at the TV.  They convey a “perfectness” that is irritating.  I don’t know why.  I used to think that it was women in general that bothered me but now I think it’s the everything-is-just-peachy-thankyouverymuch perkiness that is the trigger.  That woman has got to have some skeletons in her closet somewhere.  There is no. way. that everything in her life has always been blessed with the hand of God.  And I don’t know her backstory.  I don’t know how she got to where she is in life.  Maybe she, too, had a tough row to hoe. 

That’s the thing about blessings.  If a person has many blessings…publicly…what about the rest of us?

I don’t know what I’m trying to say.  That maybe I feel slighted?  Even though I have two beautiful daughters who are mostly happy and healthy.  Even though I have a roof over my head and food on the table and decent insurance and a modest but secure income. 

In talking about the parenting, we are told that God loves us as His children.  He doesn’t keep record of our wrongs and He doesn’t punish us equal to our sins.  But I’m wondering if it’s okay with Him if I’m just a little bit angry.  I wonder if I get to be all dark and twisty inside for a while.  I wonder if He will just keep my kids safe and healthy while I work things out for myself. 

And I wonder…I can’t help it…do people look me in the eye and think to themselves “What’s her story?” or is it selfish to even think that way?

A true daily double.

Not to begin a conversation (with myself, no less) with a question but…

Do you ask the question when you already know the answer?

This is a hypothetical situation and doesn’t involve my own children but let’s say that a child stole a cookie.  You know the cookie is gone and even though you have several children to blame, it’s always the same child.  Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that you have irrefutable evidence as to which child stole the cookie.  You, the mother (or parent) are not wrong and you know you are not wrong.

Do you ask the child “Did you take the cookie?” when you already know the answer?  What do you say when the child denies it with chocolate chips in his teeth?  Is it a sick pleasure to try and get him to confess?  What gets accomplished?

When I worked for the preschool, I learned that small children tell you what they think you want to hear whether it’s the truth or not.  They will also do just about anything to not get into trouble and to make you (the teacher) happy.  The combination leads to some interesting stories.  When teaching kids to resolve conflicts you don’t teach them to blame each other.  You teach them to talk about how something felt from the other person’s perspective and what can be done to fix the problem.  It’s all very non-aggressive and tree hugging and let’s all get along.  But for most kids, it works.  I mean the kid has to have an inkling of empathy but it’s usually an okay thing.  It’s not the easy way but it makes for better kids I think.

My point is that it doesn’t do any good to ask the kid (because the kid perceives it as threatening) “Did you take the cookie?” when he knows that you know the answer.  Why should he answer the question?  He’s in trouble either way, right?

I mean, what do I know?  My kids scrap at each other all day but you can’t reason with Amelia…she’s 2.  Even Ella has come to terms with that.  I’m not the end all, be all in parenting and that should be obvious.  My kids are lucky that they aren’t sold to the gypsies by now.  I never have to ask the question “Did you pull your sister’s hair?” because I already know the answer. 

So then why do we question?  And this is a metaphor for something that I’ve been kicking around in my head for some time.  By forcing myself to keep asking the questions…are my answers changing?

Here are the answers, in no particular order:

-Yes, I think I would like to be married again.

-Yes, my daughters need a father.

-No, I don’t want to go without a companion.

-Yes, Stephen would want me to be happy.

-Exercise does make me sleep better.

-No, I don’t believe in angels and yes, I realize I’m in the minority with that belief.

Oh so that’s the other think I’ve been kicking around in my head.  Most Americans believe in angels.  You’d think that I would be one of them but I’m not.  In theory, I have two angels, yes?  I’m told that all the time.  But I don’t buy it. 

Also, it could be just generalized grumpiness (and lack of a nap due to a very busy day) but I think that what happened to Stephen and Will were both very random.  One was not contingent on the other like genetics.

We knew before we had kids that there was a 50% chance that our kids would have the same genetic condition (NF, Type 1) that he had.  Will didn’t have it.  The girls do.  Figures.  But genetics don’t know if you already have kids with that condition.  All of them could have had it or none of them.  Just like it could have been me that got cancer.  Or one of the girls that got sick in infancy.  Or we would be a family of five.  Instead of three.

And do you know why I believe it had to be random?  Do you know why I don’t believe in angels?  Do you know why I don’t ask the questions when I already (deep down) know the answers?

Because this?  Could not have been planned.  Could not have been the original answer.  And I cannot live with a memory for a companion. 

I have to have something else to believe in…another chance.  But I’m not even going to ask.  I’m pretty sure that I know the response and I don’t think I’m going to like it.