This is posted not in admonition,
but in explanation (of silence) and
pursuit (of quiet, grateful presence now).
I hope to have just two children.
Now at the end of my second pregnancy, this means I have only a handful moments remaining in which my body houses another soul. It is a strange thing to feel those flutters of life in my belly, but a sweet and sacred one, too.
I am trying to savor every tiny stretch and jostle.
I want to be here, now, enjoying these irreplaceable moments from within the cocoon of my family. That is all I want right now.
My first instinct is to scream every time someone asks me, “Is the baby here yet?” My second, the truer and lasting one, is to cry. Read more…
“Argh!” I exclaimed in the direction of my four-year-old son’s homework Tuesday evening.
Li’l D looked up at me wide-eyed. “Are you frustrated because I’m doing it wrong?” he asked.
“No, no, sweetie,” I told him while reaching to ruffle his hair. “I’m frustrated that you have homework.”
We had a short but candid conversation about why I dislike homework. I explained that my problem wasn’t with his teacher, Ms. A, or his school’s principal, Miss N, but with the school system for which they’re trying to prepare him.
I believe in open discussion with kids, but there are some risks. In this case, I was pretty sure my son would report some version of the conversation to his teacher. The question was, which one?
I wrote my first blog on June 23, 1995. It was a text file I began with the earth-shattering words:
My, doesn’t she aspire to a lot! She aspires to be Bobby’s girl, and that’s all that’s important to her!
I was sixteen years old at the time. My only objectives were killing time and making my super-stellar website into more than a collection of links, which was what 99% of the web felt like at the time.
I didn’t write very often at first. I used a single short text file for all of 1995. My 1996 text file was even shorter, and included an entry written almost exactly eighteen years ago, on March 19, 1996:
[B] and I – the ‘giant teddy bear’ – moved into a rather groovy (if I do say so myself) house on eighteenth and Jefferson […]. It’s a wonder – I would never have thought that we would get it.
I’m trying to get into the Youth Corps. Hope I make it – I’m so sick of washing dishes you wouldn’t believe. I do love my coworkers, yes, but that’s not enough to combat the loneliness and feelings of incompetence I deal with through every moment of every shift. “Am I such a loser that this is the best job I can get?” It’s not, actually, but I’ve not had the energy to look for a job again until recently.
In early 1997, I was writing enough to warrant a text file for each month. I wrote only one very long entry that March, detailing how I’d emailed my boyfriend’s parents about some unkind words they’d spoken about my mom:
I wrote a letter to [B]’s parents, a letter wholly honest, nothing hidden or omitted. [B]’s father called last night and said that he wanted to talk things over with [B] – one of those things being the letter that I wrote. He said that it had them very upset. It was then that I realised that no words will ever enlighten them; no understanding will ever touch their hearts. They lost me when they left that message – and when they lost me, they lost something good. They lost an intelligent, sensitive, creative and caring human being.
I wrote about anything and everything at the time, though I surely wrote it more dispassionately than I felt it. Shortly after I wrote this particular entry, I walked to a nearby park and swung in the darkness for a long time. I ached to realize my time with B was almost over. I knew there was no way we’d be able to overcome familial differences, and that our relationship was gasping its last (prolonged) breath.
For a seventeen-year-old, even a seventeen-year-old college student versed in poverty and abuse and long since moved out of her family home, that is huge stuff. And still I had time to write about life lessons, the kind I have to keep learning every few months even now:
I talked with an old friend of mine yesterday evening, and something I said remains with me still. Our conversation had fallen to the parts of our pasts that have hurt, and I remarked that this is why I look to the future rather than at the past. We can only relive something so many times before it becomes only an exercise in agony, a reminder of pain that we have already learned from. Though today may bite, tomorrow always has the potential of being a beautiful, wonderful day.
Not As Sweet As I Look occasionally blogs here, but is more easily found at her vibrant, active Facebook page, which is where I came to know and love her. Despite what you might first assume based on her potentially daunting moniker, she’s loving and supportive. As you’ll see below, those traits are matched with strength and conviction that make her not only sweet but also formidable.
You Will Not Be A Good Mother
I have a wretched mother. I mean, really wretched. If she were not a nursing instructor and friends with most of the social workers in town she probably would have been arrested for child abuse. So, when Darling Husband and I decided to have children, my father and many of his family members repeatedly told me how not to be a mother, because they were sure I would screw it up;
“Now remember, be kind to your children, especially when they are sad or sick.” Oh yes, because I really needed to be told that it was inappropriate for my mother to slap me across the face because I was sent home sick at age 11.
“You’re not supposed to belittle your child. You need to be a positive influence in their lives.” Right, because without that advice I wouldn’t know it was wrong for my mother to call me stupid bitch because I didn’t understand algebra at age 9. Read more…
Dear Li’l D,
Your face is inches from my own as I peck this out with one finger. Your snores are sweet and steady, music of unparalleled beauty to my mama ears.
Today I picked you up early from preschool. You were excited to see me, and even more excited to learn we’d be stopping for ice cream shakes. You saw my smiles, which were real, but didn’t see the also-real tears that preceded them.
I am so excited to meet your little sister or brother sometime in the next couple of weeks. Remembering my awe meeting you, I can’t believe I’ll get the chance to feel such wonder a second time. How can that be right? Even once seemed too precious and rare a thing to be true.
I know it will be wonderful, but I’m scared, too. For four and a half years, you have been my sunshine. You have lit up every part of my life with your compassion, mischievousness, curiosity and forgiveness.
Having known the joy of your particular light, it’s hard to wrap my mind around the idea of having two sunshines. Your auntie Emily says two suns worked for Tatooine, a sentiment that makes me smile. I think it will make you smile someday, too.
Even so, I have grown accustomed to my one beautiful lifelight: you. I know I’ll be overjoyed when that second sun hits my sky. I’ll learn to live with that extra light and not be blinded by it.
But now, right now, I listen to you snore and hopeprayentreat that you know my heart is turned equally toward you even when my eyes and hands are turned toward my second sun. Read more…
Long before my son was born, I occasionally crossed paths with childrened people. They were a strange lot to me, with one particularly peculiar habit: sharing their kids’ newest accomplishments. To my non-parent ears, these accomplishments were pretty unremarkable.
- Oh, your kid can smile now? You must be so proud.
- Your kid’s pooping in a toilet now? That’s . . . wow. I can’t imagine your sense of achievement.
- Your kid knows the alphabet now? Better sign him up for med school, pronto!
The end results these parents shared hardly seemed noteworthy to me. So why, I wondered, were they spoken of with such pride?
My conclusion then: Parents are weird.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to help my four-year-old son with his capital “R.” Read more…