Mother’s Day 2018.

growed up

When my daughters were little I used to want to celebrate Mother’s Day with time alone. They’d bring me breakfast in bed along with the cards and gifts they’d made then either my husband would take them out for the day or I would go out.

Back then, that is what I needed. Time alone to recharge, to remember who I was besides “Mommy.”

little

Now, my daughters are 21 and 24. They just finished up this semester at college and both had trips to go on this past week. Katie attended a LeaderShape conference and Emily went on an Alternative Break where she volunteered on a Native American reservation in South Dakota.

All those years ago I couldn’t even picture having all the time I now have. Now, all I want is to spend time with them. Today, we went to a restaurant for a vegan brunch then browsed the bookstore.

Right now, we are all just hanging out together in the family room, watching “The Good Place,” pausing it to talk then playing it again.

And it’s been the perfect Mother’s Day.

 

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“Tully” is the Perfect Movie for Mother’s Day.

Warning: If you haven’g seen “Tully yet, A) Go see it. B) Spoilers ahead so read this after you’ve seen it.

Tully

Image found via Pinterest.

I took myself to the movies yesterday morning. I slipped into the theater for the 10:10 showing of “Tully” reminding me of how I used to go to the movies as stress relief when my daughter were little.

The movie swept me further back to that time of my life. The lack of sleep, the isolation, the monotony, the joy, the boredom. That feeling of every nerve being on edge from being pulled in ninety different directions throughout the day.

Marlo (played by Charlize Theron) is about to give birth to their third child. She is already stretched thin and her son Jonah, labeled “atypical” by doctors and “quirky” by teachers, is both a blessing and a challenge. After Mia’s birth, Marlo finally breaks down and gets the night nanny that her brother offered. Tully, the nanny, says she is there to care for her and helps her not only with the new baby, but also bakes Minion cupcakes for her son to take into class, gets the spark back into her sex life with her husband Ron and just generally brings the spark back into Marlo.

As Marlo comes back to life, I found myself crying. I remember those times so well. When I watch videos of myself back then, there is always this empty look in my eyes. I call it my Stepford-wife look. Part of it is being self-conscious and uncomfortable being filmed.

But it was more than that. The occasional movie couldn’t offset all the energy I gave to motherhood. My own spark was so faint back then. So when I saw Marlo reviving hers, I cried. I wished I had my own Tully back then. Then I thought that we should all be our own Tully. Be that inner voice guiding us back to ourselves.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what Tully was. There was no nanny, just a piece of herself that Marlo conjured up to remind her of who she was. Tully was her maiden name. Tully was her.

At first, I thought I didn’t even see it coming just like in “Sixth Sense.” But obviously I did. I sensed it without quite understanding the turn the movie was about to take.

I didn’t feel tricked or manipulated. It was exactly how it needed to be.

It’s the perfect message for woman and girls everywhere, whether they are moms or not, to take care of ourselves.

To put our needs first sometimes.

To listen to what we need.

To let that inner voice guide us back to our spark, to fan that spark, no matter how dim and faint it may be, so that we have a light to shine onto our families and out into the world.

A Book I Love. #TBT

Each Thursday in honor of #TBT, I am going to feature a book that I truly love, that helped shape me as a writer, as a woman, as a human.

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This book saved me. I read it when I was a new mother myself. It was before I had found my circle of other mom friends. I was far from family, my husband was often on the road for his job so it was just me and the girls. Her daily reflections sustained me through the dark times when I was exhausted, had no idea what I was doing and felt incredibly alone and lonely. It wasn’t a sugar-coated version of motherhood. It wasn’t the Hallmark version. It was real. It was honest.

Exhausted, she leans over the bassinet as her son wakes up from his nap and thinks, with great hostility, “Oh, God, he’s raising his loathsome reptilian head again.”

I laughed out loud, I cried and found solace in her words. Here was another mom going through the same joys, the same shit, the same despair, day after day. She gave me permission to not enjoy every single aspect of motherhood even though it would go by so fast. By being herself, she gave me permission to be more of myself.

 “We had another bad night. We finally slept for two hours t 7:00 AM. What a joke. I feel like thin glass, like I might crack.”

The Practice of Devotion to all that Lights Me Up.

Wednesday Writing Prompt

winter swings

Image found on alice-eve-lithium.tumblr.com

 

{Fiction}

She hadn’t been to a park since it happened. Just couldn’t bring herself to be around all those children, all the moms who don’t seem to realize how lucky they are. Lucky? Does that mean she is unlucky? Does luck have anything to do with it? It’s science. She knows that.

People don’t know what to say to her. Even her own husband has no words. She actually finds that comforting. No words are better than some of the words that have been tossed her way like tiny breadcrumbs designs dot lead her out of her grief. Words like God’s will, not meant to be, try again…

Her husband is asleep in their bed now. She envies him that space he has to retreat. She had trouble sleeping toward the end. Her belly so big, so cumbersome but secretly she loved it. She carried that huge belly proudly. They had tried long enough. She wanted to savor every second…even the crappy uncomfortable ones.

But nothing prepared her for that night. That night she just knew something was wrong. Her belly felt so still. Probably sleeping her husband said. Even the nurse tried to reassure her but then came the ultra sound. And the silence. From the machine. From the technician. From her belly.

She’d known. Even as the doctor delivered the news, part of her felt like at least she’d known, like it was some kind of badge of honor, some secret link to her baby.

Now she can’t sleep for other reasons. Her belly is soft and empty, but her mind is hard and jagged. She crawls out of bed each night, slipping gout into the night, walking the neighborhood, a few random lights still on well after midnight, the occasional car passing her, its lights streaming over her for a brief moment before leaving her in the dark again.

Tonight it has snowed. She can handle the park at night. An empty park. layered in snow is even better. The silence is profound, dense against her ears. She feels the cold seep deep into the canals of each ear, almost painful but she welcomes it. A different kind of pain. The snow crunches beneath her boots. She holds one of the chains of the swing in her bare hand, squeezing gently as the cold metal presses into her skin. She sits in the soft layer of snow on the swing and feels the cold permeate the layer of jeans she pulled on over her pajamas. She kicks her feet out in front of her, leaning back, gripping the linked chains with both hands, pumping more and more, gaining speed and height, flinging her head back, eyes wide open as the world flails around her at odd, sweeping, disorienting angles.

 

Celebrating the White Space of Motherhood.

Celebrating Motherhood

Three months into our empty nest and I am feeling the emptiness.

I’m surprised that I never noticed how similar those two words sound.

Empty nest.

Emptiness.

Our house feels empty.

My days feel emptier.

The girls came home from college last weekend with a bunch of friends. I fell gratefully into my mom role—preparing a delicious homemade dinner for them including an apple crisp; making a big breakfast in the morning with a fresh fruit salad; taking them shopping for clothes, shoes and food.

(Read the rest of the piece here.)

What I loved about writing this is that I wasn’t even aware of what I was thinking or feeling until I wrote my way into it.