Posts Tagged ‘thunder thighs’

Thunder Thighs Forever

February 10, 2017 Comments off

For more than three decades, I shared a birthday with my mom.

In October 2010, I faced my first birthday without her. Cancer had claimed her body in March 2010.

mom me n d

(but not before she met my Li’l D, the first of her many beautiful grandchildren)

Writing about her sometimes challenged me, especially early in this blog’s days. How could I show all her love, humor, compassion, and ferocity, while still being true to the hardships I endured both growing up and saying goodbye to her?

I got as close as I’ve ever gotten in my 2014 birthday letter to her, my blog’s most popular post by far, “Dear Mom.” In a single paragraph, I was able to sum up my experience of being her daughter better than I had before or have since:

You always begged me not to write about you. You thought I’d write about how you beat my siblings and me, how you yelled at us, how you could barely feed us and only kept us in a home by selling other people’s trash. I do write about these things, because they’re part of you. But they’re a small part, so enormously insignificant compared to your laughter, your love, your lessons in forgiveness, our birthday trips to Farrell’s and Pietro’s. I wish I’d written more about you in your life, so you could have seen how greatly your loving acts overshadowed your lost and tired ones. I wish I could’ve started writing sooner, or that you could’ve lived longer to see your love through my eyes.

I was a little nervous when I wrote about my mom in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor: Poverty, Predation, and Understanding Love.” I posted it on Progressive Army, a site with readers knowing nothing about my mom but what I wrote there. Since they didn’t know my mom, I worried they’d take away from the piece a unidimensional understanding of a woman enormously complex and vivid.

My mom was and remains my foremost superhero. While the word “superhero” is thrown around a lot these days, I mean this fairly literally. One of my favorite things about my mom was her superhero alter-ego, the uniquely malodorous Thunder Thighs. Read more…


Thunder Thighs & a victory most malodorous

Victo Dolore’s recent post on sad times in school lunchrooms reminded me of my own like experiences. I was always one of the odd ones out. I remembered my mom’s like tales, too, and a post I’d written remembering those.

I think my mom–aka Thunder Thighs, my favorite superhero–would have loved its ending.

like my mom


A Victory Most Malodorous
September 10, 2015

Tonight, my older son asked me to tell him “the story about the cat and the dog.”

“Which story?” I asked him. “This isn’t ringing a bell. Could you give me a little more detail to remind me?”

“The one where the dog brings the cat milk.” Read more…

Hope within my reach

I will be worthy of that cape.

I ended my post “Becoming a superhero” with these words.

How could I earn that cape? Not by battling super villains or saving entire countries from natural catastrophes, but by my attention and engagement with my kids.

I’ve remembered that cape here and there, and gone through periods of donning the cape and losing it deep within the wreckage of my perpetually untidy house. (It’s okay; Thunder Thighs had a perpetually dirty house, too, but she saved the world for four kids all the same.)

like my mom

Thunder Thigh’s powers were much more exciting  (and inspiring) than “keeping an immaculate house”

These things seem to come in cycles as life’s balances shift. I’m comforted remembering no one can be a superhero all the time. Even Superman needs the downtime of being inconspicuous Clark Kent, as Batman needs to occasionally intersperse weaponed battles with the usually more mundane ones of Bruce Wayne’s day to day life.

Yesterday, I sat down at the kid table with my sixteen-month-old son while my husband and older son slept. Littler J and I ate together slowly.

I burped. Littler J laughed uproariously, so I burped again.  Read more…

Words changing lives

Rachel Platten sings that “a single word can make a heart open.”

I’ve harnessed and witnessed the power of words countless times in my life. Only last week, I read a few sentences that will have changed my whole life before long.

Words are powerful generally, but sometimes, a few words can change entire lives and history all at once.

I read such words today, and remembered why I ever wanted to be an attorney.

I wanted to be like my mom’s attorney, Bill. It’s easy to remember that.

Another large part, a part forgotten until some external circumstance jogs loose a distant sense of longing, was wanting to work the kind of word-magic that could change lives for the better. I wanted to wield my pen for a better world, for better, safer lives, for joy and for happiness. I envisioned being a lawyer as like being a superhero whose superpower was words.

Today I read the text of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on OBERGEFELL ET AL. v. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, ET AL.

I felt like I was witnessing a superhero at work, not in the end decision but in the actual steps leading up to it. Read more…

10 Ways I’m an Awesome Mom

“10 Ways I’m an Awesome Mom,” a blog title boldly proclaimed this morning.

I had to read it. It’s not often I see the words “I,” “awesome” and “mom” in the same sentence. From experience, I’d only expect to see them in the (way) negative:

  • I fail at being an awesome mom.
  • I suck at being an awesome mom.
  • I will never be an awesome mom.

Life is full of imperfect moments and good intentions translated into hurtful actions. It’s important to share those moments and, seeing others’, understand we have so much in common. We face many of the same trials. There’s no shame in them.

Still, I sometimes feel heavy-hearted at how imbalanced sharing. Many bloggers I love share their faults far more often than their successes. I want to read about both. I wonder if they even see their successes.

Catherine, Peeper, Littler J and me last summer

Catherine, Peeper, Littler J and me last summer

Catherine’s list of ways she rocks motherhood lifted my heart. Like Catherine, I enjoy improvising songs for my little ones. Like her, I don’t fear dirt. It just so happens I spent a chunk of childhood running barefoot around my neighborhood.

I thought, “Maybe I should write my own 10 ways I’m an awesome mom!”

But you know what I just said about difficulty seeing our own successes?

It applies to me, too.

I started drafting my list in my brain. For the first couple of hours, it looked like this: Read more…

The true hero

I used to say Superman was my hero. Heroes took superhuman actions for the good of the entire world, and they also had really big muscles.

I gradually understood the word “hero” to mean something else to me. Sometime in my mid-teens, I started saying my godmother was my hero. She’d demonstrated tenacity and love not in some single heroic act but in action after loving action throughout my life. Neither laser beam vision nor the ability to fly seemed especially powerful by comparison.

My relationship with my mom was more complicated, so it took me many more years to describe her as one of my heroes. Now I see her as a hero every day. I mean that literally, since this drawing of her as Thunder Thighs (together with me, and Li’l D) hangs in my living room.

thunder thighs sg Since my mom died, I’ve seen how people often shy away from talking about death and subtly encourage others to speak of the deceased only in passing platitudes. I’ve countered that by writing more about my mom, as well as by reading stories of those grieving. I want those grieving–whether after one day, one month, or one decade–to know not only that I see their grief, but also that I see the love behind their grief. I see their loved ones through the stories they share, and in so seeing become a small part of how their loved ones live on.

This feels especially important when a child dies. It’s hard to face that children can and do die. Many friends quickly fade away. I continue to believe this response is borne not of ignoble things, but of helplessness sprung from incorrectly believing that grief is an ailment to be cured, and that: This grief is stronger than me. I am powerless to fix it, which means I am useless to my friend.

It’s important to me to witness people’s love shining on after death of their loved ones, and to acknowledge that I’m moved by the people who inspired that fierce love.

I’ve been reading about now forever teenaged Nolan for a few months. I daren’t boil his life–or death–down to a sentence; you can read his mom’s blog to learn more about him.

I read Nolan’s last essay while feeding a hungry baby at 2 o’clock this morning.

Nolan’s mom, Amy, had to work to find someone who could and would grade the essay impartially. She did the work because she knew it would have been important to Nolan.

I’m glad Amy shared his essay through ugly sobs. His perspective on heroes is one the world would be better for adopting more universally … and one I must, in honor of both him and Thunder Thighs, point you toward today.

As a society, we have masked the meaning of a true hero by suggesting that they are immortals that slay monsters and soar through the skies in search for evil, while the true heroes have been in front of us our entire lives.

– Nolan Berthelette, “Nolan’s Final Essay

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I still have two of your voicemails.

Hello, farewell

Those voicemails riled me up when you left them. Marry that sweet man of yours! you told me. You loved Anthony the moment you met him. And why wouldn’t you? He exudes loving patience, something you had so little opportunity to experience in your life.

Just drive to Vegas and marry him! you followed up, in your living room, on the phone, in your voicemails. It’s really not that far, and you’ll be glad you did! Even if he’s bad at finances. What couple doesn’t argue over money?

I grumbled that I’d stop taking your calls if you kept trying to push marriage on me. You knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I’d hid under the table as your own husband beat you black and blue. I’d heard your screams as you tried to keep him from hurting my siblings and me, too. I’d absorbed every single word of blame others spoke not only when you tried to leave, but afterward, too: Read more…

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