Saturday, December 3, 2016


Hi.  I've been gone for a while.  Have you noticed?

A lot has been going on with me.  I can't go into it right now.  Suffice it to say that I have been struggling a lot with depression, and things which would be distressing even without depression have exacerbated it.  I simply have not had the energy or focus that I would like to devote to writing.

There are sustaining forces, thankfully.  I want to tell you about one of them.  Really, I should have mentioned her long before now.  It always feels personal writing about someone I know, and it can be hard to get the words out.  I'll do my best to tell you about Julie.

This is Julie.  Well, one of them is.  They aren't both Julie.  The other person is Savanna, about whom I will tell you another time.

But seriously, guys, Julie is AMAZING.  I am an introvert by nature, and shy about asking people to hang out.  I haven't always been that way.  Years of unpleasant happenings and various rejections drilled that into my psyche.  So if I seem unfriendly, or I don't ask you over, or I say we should hang out and yet I never make plans--it's because I am terrified, TERRIFIED of rejection.

Somehow Julie understands this.  She texts me, "Hey, what are you doing this weekend?  Let's hang out."  And of course I want to, because she's completely awesome, and lots of fun.  I just find it really, really difficult to extend the invitation myself.

See, here's the thing.  I think that EVERYONE is much too cool to want to hang out with someone like me.  Logically, I know that's not true.  Logic doesn't play well with feelings.  It took years of Julie's persistence (I've known her since 2004!) for me to finally accept that maybe I'm not a pity case.  Maybe she actually does enjoy my company.

Quite apart from the much-needed self-esteem boost, she just does wonderful things.  When she moved to North Dakota, she gathered together a box of the most wonderful, random, exciting things and mailed it to me.  Such a lovely surprise!  Tea, chocolate, honey, and lots of fun toys.  Most of the cool mugs I use are from her, and I think of her every time I have my morning coffee or tea.

I can talk to Julie about what's going on in my life, without fear of judgment.  She dotes on my children, and they adore her.  I've been seriously depressed for some time, and last week she showed up with a bag full of good things, including an autographed CD.

Looking over what I've written, I realize that I still haven't managed to capture the essence of Julie.  She is goodness, she is hope, she is light in a dark world.  She is kindness personified, and she shares her journey toward personal betterment, which in turn inspires me to be a better person.  I can't believe how lucky I am to call her my friend.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Conversations with a 7-year-old

[Written April 30; not finished & published until now.  Because that's how it happens sometimes.]

This morning the kids slept in.  Which is to say, when I got up at 7:30 this morning (after actually getting enough sleep last night, for a change!), they were still snoozing.  I got a shower without interruption and got dressed, still without interruption.  The baskets of clean laundry which contained the socks I wanted to wear were in the kids' room, though.  When I walked in to get them, I saw Rowan lying in his bed, eyes wide open, looking peaceful.

"Good morning, Mama," he said.  

"You look quite comfy," I remarked.

"Yes," he said.  "Will you snuggle me for a while?"

I needed to work on finances.  I needed to have breakfast.  I needed to figure out the logistics of registering him for school today.  I looked at that happy face, just wanting some time with ME, and said, "Sure for a minute." It was much longer than a minute, of course.  We lay snuggled together and talked about our fun day yesterday, going to a children's museum and his cousins' house.  His eldest brother, Noah, turned twenty yesterday (!), and dyed his hair blue to celebrate.  

Rowan and I talked for quite a while before I asked, "So, what do you think you'd like to be when you grow up?"  

He thought for a while, then asked, "Do the people who work at fairs get to go on the rides?"

 I laughed.  "Well, not while they're working, but maybe after hours."

He thought again for a while, then said, "You know, Mama, when I grow up, I think I'd just like to be me." 

To be me.   Oh, that struck me right in the heart.  How many of us truly just want to be ourselves?  I mean, we talk about it all the time.  "Be true to yourself."  "Be the best YOU you can be."  "Just be yourself."  But how many of us really like ourselves well enough that that is our chief aspiration?   

I know there are parts of me that I really, truly don't like.  There are parts I like, too.  I am (mostly) kind.  I am (mostly) generous.  I am (mostly) thoughtful.  I am (mostly) honest.  But that honesty, that tends to get me in trouble.  Because the thing is, I like to be absolutely, perfectly clear about what I'm saying, with whomever I am conversing.  Sometimes that means over-explaining things.  Sometimes that means saying too much.  One can be honest without spilling everything in one's mind.  So then I try to backtrack or conceal, and I hate that, because that feels like deception.   

I want to just be comfortable being myself -- a bit too open, loving people fully and freely, speaking my thoughts without apology, saying what needs to be said without retracting it if it doesn't meet with the reception I hoped for.  I want to say what I think without worrying what other people think about my words.  I want to be considerate of other people's viewpoints without conceding my own. I want to accept that I am human, I am flawed, I make mistakes, and that's okay.  Making a mistake (or a whole heap of them) is not the end of the world.  Truly.   I want to be so confident in myself that others who are struggling can look at me and say, "If she can do it in her imperfect state, so can I."  

So can I!  I am trying to find the way to being authentic, being true to myself, to be the best ME I can be.  For now I'm here, putting one foot in front of the other, plodding along and trying to stay upright.  And that's okay.   

I squeezed Rowan a little tighter and said, "You know, Rowan, I think being yourself is the very best thing you can be."  

Friday, March 18, 2016

Rowan, Age 7

Rowan is my first child.  Or my third child, depending on how you look at it.  He's third in order of age, but the first one I gave birth to myself.  Blended families are complicated when it comes to figuring out number order.  In any case, Rowan is seven.  He is bright as a button and smart as a whip, and he adores his elder brothers and their friends.

Rowan also has a stubborn streak a mile wide, and lately he has begun to assert his independence.  He's been saying things like, "I don't have to," and "You can't tell me to do that," and "You're not the boss of me!"  Oh my.  I haven't been letting him get away with it.  There's been lots of, "Excuse me, young man?" and "Would you care to repeat that again?" and "As long as you are living in a house that Mommy and Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa are paying for, eating food that we buy with money that Daddy works hard for, wearing clothes that we bought for you, you are not in charge and you don't get to make that decision."  We do try to be reasonable and discuss options when it's not a vitally pressing matter.

Rowan's latest interest is watching marble videos on YouTube, particularly the Wintergatan Marble Machine, the Epic Christmas Marble Run, and the ROBLOX Mega Marble Run Pit by EthanGamerTV.  That last one inspired him to create his own explanatory video yesterday.  We were playing in the backyard when suddenly he said, "Mommy, I'm going to make a YouTube video.  You need to video me."  I obliged him by taking out my iPhone.  The results were hilarious, and, I thought, pretty darn good for a 7-year-old making a video for the first time.  He did have to chide his camerawoman a few times when she didn't immediately catch what he wanted her to do.

Note: does not actually exist (yet).  Rowan just thought it sounded cool.

He's something, that Rowan.  He is simultaneously supremely confident and insecure.  He will brag and show off like nobody's business, but put him in front of an audience under pressure and he will curl up in Mommy's lap, hiding his face.  He loves to play with other kids.  He loves to stay home and play alone.  He only wants to play games EVER, Mom!  and he devours chapter books like a starving man.  We're currently rereading Ozma of Oz, the third book in the Oz series.

Last night I sent him upstairs to take a shower before bed.  When five minutes had passed and I didn't hear water running, I went to investigate.  I found him standing on the shower bench, which had been parked in front of the sink, stark naked, with the mirrored doors of the medicine cabinet angled to reflect himself countless times.  He was dancing and shaking his booty.

"Rowan," I said, "what do you think you're doing?"

"I just like to look at myself, Mommy," he said.  He got down and hopped in the shower.  When he was done, he toweled off and swaggered to his room.  Oh, he's got the swagger and the strut down, alright.  I'm not sure where he got that.  I don't think I've ever been that body-confident in my life.

There were tears yesterday.  There was conflict--a lot of it.  There were headaches and frustration.  I wondered, as I wonder every day, if he will ever get it.  But as we snuggled up to go to sleep, he leaned over to kiss me and whispered, "I love you, Mommy."  Somehow, that makes it all worth it.

That's my boy.